Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium marks the first Hell is Real match in MLS play between the Columbus Crew and FC Cincinnati. The rivalry derives its sobriquet from the ominous billboard on I-71 asserting the veracity of unspeakable eternal punishment. It’s worth noting that the sign is situated such that it faces the people driving away from Columbus and toward Cincinnati.
As a public service to Crew fans, here’s a deeper look at the Crew’s newest rival in MLS.
Once Kentucky’s largest city, Cincinnati was dumped and abandoned on the Ohio side of the river, just far enough from Dayton that real Ohioans wouldn’t notice until it was too late. The city is named after Cincinnatus, the Roman statesman who left power to return to the plow. Despite the hope offered by its name, Cincinnati has yet to be plowed under. Unless you count the MLS standings. Or the AFC North standings. Or the National League Central standings.
Visitors to Cincinnati often remark, “There must be something in the water.” This is undoubtedly true as Cincinnati is located downriver from Pittsburgh. Bathing in kidney-filtered I.C. Light has not caused Cincinnatians to fully develop their own indecipherable language like the gibberish spoken by Yinzers, but Cincinnati does have a few peculiar linguistic quirks, such as using the word “chili” to denote diarrhea, which is then poured over spaghetti noodles and consumed, thereby begetting more “chili.” Cincinnati is exceptionally proud of its culinary sustainability.
Cincinnati has several nicknames, such as the Queen City due to its love of operatic classic rock, the Nati because of its fondness for cheap light beer, and the City of Seven Hills, although former Cleveland Cavalier Tyrone Hill is the only one I can think of. He must have six siblings.
Cincinnati has produced many notable politicians, such as the 19th President of the United States (Rutherford B. Hayes), the 67th Governor of Ohio (Robert Taft), and the 63rd Mayor of Cincinnati (Jerry Springer.)
Several major corporations call Cincinnati home. Most prominent is Procter & Gamble, a company that has developed a large arsenal of cleaning and hygiene products as a result of incessant outbreaks of “chili” and the relentless messes it creates. For those with functioning taste buds who have abandoned “chili” and therefore an overwhelming need for P&G’s products, the company recently introduced Tide Pods as an alternative food source. Alas, they have yet to catch on beyond the unreliable and unlucrative teen Darwin Award demographic.
This history lesson could go on forever, so perhaps it’s time to get to the matter at hand and to summarize it in chart form.
HELL IS REAL PRIMER: COLUMBUS VS. CINCINNATI
|Notable sports heroes||Jack Nicklaus, all-time winningest golfer.
Buster Douglas, knocker-outer of Mike Tyson in his prime.
Archie Griffin, 2x Heisman Trophy winner.
Brian McBride, U.S. Soccer Hall of Famer.
|Pete Rose, eternally banished baseball gambler.
That one guy (perhaps apocryphal) who played for the Bengals in the ‘00s and yet didn’t get arrested.
Rose Lavelle, World Cup champion who is too awesome to exclude and much too awesome to joke about. (Dammit.)
|Local MLS team||
|Team nicknames||The Crew||FC Kentucky, FC Food Lion, The Flappy Knife Lions|
|Notable MLS achievements||2008 MLS Cup champions.
2004, 2008, 2009 Supporters’ Shield winners.
2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champions.
|First Ohio MLS team to ever lose by six goals.
Most allocation money ever donated to other clubs.
Averaging a minimum of three coaches per MLS season.
|Supporters Section||The Nordecke. (German for North Corner.)||The Bailey. (Named after someone’s beagle puppy?)|
|Looking forward to Hell is Real?||Yes.||Yes.|
Well, that’s all I have for now as I eagerly anticipate the Crew and Flappy Knife Lions duking it out on Saturday for Buckeye and Bluegrass State bragging rights.
Out of fairness and good fun, I will give FC Cincinnati the final word with their epic A+ tweet that literally made me laugh out loud.
A MASSIVE SEASON is now available as an ebook.