The close of 2009 marks the end of the 21st century’s first decade. Instead of developing a debatable list of the decade’s top sports stories, here’s my personal top sporting stories for 2000-2009. The non-prioritized list looks at broad events in my life as a sports fan.
Reds Achieve Mediocrity
As a long-time Reds fan, I’m troubled by the floundering franchise. After starting the decade with a 2nd place divisional finish, the Reds ended the decade with 9-straight losing seasons. Ownership by a local philanthropic legend actually helped the organization as a whole after Marge’s penny-pinching charade, but MLB results were lacking. Although new ownership is local, they are still asking fans to buy more tickets so they can raise payroll. Sorry guys, that strategy doesn’t work
Bengals Rise to Respectability
Marvin Lewis began as coach in 2003 vowing to make a change. After a pathetic 1991-2002 run, the Bengals are at least respectable – look at the season records yourself. After all, I really believe that most fans will hang their hope on competitiveness … a chance at winning – and the Lewis era has achieved that. By the way, the 2005 edition was an awesome offense.
The Rise and Fall in Clifton
Clifton is the part of town containing the University of Cincinnati. Basketball has long been king of the hill, and the Bob Huggins era brought success and excitement. With one big swoop, he was gone, the team dismantled, and forced to start over. Coincidently, the rise of UC football began – and who would have ever imagined the heights they’ve reached. It may be short lived (yet it may not be), nonetheless, it has been exciting run for this season ticket holder!
Continued XU Success
Although Xavier and UC are located only miles apart, in some ways, they are on opposite sides of the world. Nonetheless, their basketball rivalry is intense and exciting. Skip Presser coached the XU to start the decade, yet Thad Mata (Ohio State) and Sean Miller (Arizona) followed. Those 10 years produced 8 NCAA bids, including 2 Elite 8s and a Sweet 16. Wow – good luck Coach Mack.
The Urban Legend Begins
Urban Meyer’s first head coaching job was at my alma mater – Bowling Green. His first year (2001) produced the biggest turnaround that year (from 2-9 to 9-3). His fast-paced style changed the way MAC schools play football. Although he left for Utah after two seasons, my wife and I traveled to Purdue and witnessed the 2003 Falcons score late in the game to beat the Boilermakers – and to think that two weeks later BG had the Buckeyes on the ropes late in the game.
Current news aside, Tiger Woods has (without question) risen golf’s popularity. His competiveness and success is unbelievable. What a treat it was for me to attend 2 days of the 2007 Bridgestone Invitational. Yes, he won that one too.
On Cincinnati HS Sports
The Cincinnati parochial high schools are noted for their successful sports teams. Football, basketball (boys and girls), and volleyball lead the way. Teams as St. Xavier, Elder, and Moeller get nation attention and college recruiters flock to the area, yet it was a smaller school (Roger Bacon) that beat LeBron James’ team in the state finals of his junior year.
On Bud Baseball
Despite Bud Selig, baseball continues to be popular. Despite its goofy economic structure, attendance continues to rise. Despite baseball’s double standards, Bud Selig continues to prohibit the Reds from retiring Pete Rose’s number.
On the Olympics
The decade gave us 5 Olympics games (Sydney, Salt Lake City, Athens, Turin, and Bejing) and countless number of heroes and moments. Enough said.