Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Oh, so that's what it feels like to get the crap kicked out of you

Ladies and gentlemen, I love the New York Giants. Really, I do. If this isn't already painfully obvious from reading this blog or talking to me ever once in your entire life, well, you just haven't been paying even the most minimal amount of attention. As a result of this love, I do silly things for the Giants. I wear the same jersey each weekend if they've won, I wore the same pants and underwear each Sunday of last season's Super Bowl run and two or three times a year, I venture to a new and different city for the pleasure of seeing Big Blue in a different environment.

On some occasions, however, this leads to problems.

See, I love seeing new places, new stadiums, new game environments and  seeing the Giants win. I like seeing the Giants win anywhere. But there are few things worse than watching the Giants get the crap kicked out of them, fewer still than seeing it happen in person and almost nothing is worse than seeing the Giants get the crap kicked out of them in person when I've flown halfway across the country to see it.

This Sunday I got a refresher in just how brutal that can be when I went out to Cincinnati to visit my lovely friends Isabel and Joe and to see the Giants visit get shockingly pulverized by a Bengals team they were widely expected to beat if not do so convincingly. Now how pulverized is pulverized? Let's just say it's pretty pulverized. The New York Giants played the single worst game I have ever seen them play in person and, given the potential of the current group which just nine months ago had a pretty big win, may have played the single worst game I've ever seen them play period. Now, there is some close competition for this. After all, I did fly to Indianapolis two years ago to see the pain and brutality that was Manning Bowl II. But that was a game against a team with not just high expectations, but that just so happened to be the defending AFC Champions.

The Bengals are not a bad team. They have some very nice pieces like quarterback Andrew Dalton and stud wide receiver A.J. Green, to say nothing of the fact that they did make the playoffs two of the last three seasons. But Cincinnati isn't an overwhelmingly good team either, or at least not yet, and this shouldn't have been a challenge so overwhelming the Giants couldn't handle it. And yet there I was in the fourth quarter watching my hapless outfit while Isabel, a Cincinnati native, took pictures of me at my most despondent while she smiled in the foreground as you can see above. I suppose it's fortunate that the middle finger I was flashing is cropped out of the shot.

That isn't a knock on Isabel of course. I have traveled far and wide across the country on these silly trips and been hosted by many wonderful people, but I think one would be hard-pressed to find hosts that were more welcoming and hospitable than Isabel and Joe, and certainly none who are as welcoming and nice as Isabel's father Nes, who, just so we're clear, is basically the kindest, nicest, most well-humored man in the history of the world.

I will not hear arguments against this.

Unfortunately for Nes, his pre-game prediction of a 17-8 Bengals victory was not meant to be. Unfortunately, the actual result was much, much worse. The Giants were outclassed on every corner of the field and in particular at the line of scrimmage, where they failed to get any pressure on Dalton and where the Bengals sent Eli Manning running for his life on nearly every passing down. The result was a series of embarrassing gaffes and turnovers that seemed more reminiscent of Eli's early years than his championship ones.

I should note that this experience came on the heels of watching Northwestern deliver one of its most heartbreaking losses since I first stepped into Evanston in a fashion so utterly brutal I'm still not entirely ready to talk about it in mixed company. Those two games combined to become what has to be one of the worst weekends of football I've ever experienced on both the college and professional levels, though the two games played their parts in completely different fashion. Northwestern's loss to Michigan felt like someone had swiftly and brutally reached into my chest and ripped my heart out for all the world to see, whereas the Giants' loss to Cincinnati felt like being strapped to a chair and slowly pistol whipped for three and a half hours.

Of course, I did still get to enjoy some of the highlights of Cincinnati. Isabel and Joe took me directly from the airport to their local Skyline Chili, where they, bizarrely, serve chili and cheese over spaghetti and items are hilariously named "three-ways", and we also got to stroll the Roebling Bridge to Kentucky and get some Graeter's Ice Cream, where the attendant told me he thought the Giants "just aren't that good" despite the whole defending Super Bowl champions. All in all I couldn't have asked for more from the city or from my hosts. A few victories -- or, you know, one of them -- would have been nice, though.

But hey, the world isn't entirely ending. After all, the Knicks are undefeated and have the best record in the NBA, so in some senses things are looking up. Or at least they are as long as I ignore the fact that some teams, like Oklahoma City, have played twice as many games as the 'Bockers to this point.

Either way, my trip to Cincinnati didn't go exactly as I had planned, but in the end, given the things relatively in my control, it went about as well as it could have. When you make these trips on the regular, that doesn't always happen. All I can hope is that when I make my next trip in six weeks -- I'm looking at you Baltimore -- my lasting memory won't be a panorama of the stadium with my glum face in the corner.

Some more chili would be nice, too.

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