Three Things: The Value Of Nostalgia, The First 50, And Zack Cozart.

posted by Mo Egger, ESPN1530 -

Every day there are three things, here are those three things.

The three things today will not include an OJ take, mainly because my opinion of OJ Simpson is the same it was on October 3rd, 1995. He killed two people. He should be in jail because he killed two people. Anything else involving OJ Simpson - including his current incarceration and his now pending release - distracts from the fact that he killed two people and got away with it.

If the topic doesn't involve him serving a punishment for killing two people, I'm really not interested in OJ Simpson.

And really, OJ Simpson is so far removed in my mind from being a sports figure that devoting any more space than I already have to that piece of human excrement seems like a waste.

1) The Bengals and value of nostalgia. The Bengals' First 50, fully revealed yesterday, has been fun to peruse, talk about, and debate. It's been a nice distraction from the Reds - who continue to get clobbered on almost a daily basis - and during a time when very, very little has been happening with the Bengals, it's been nice to talk some football.

I hope the Bengals are paying attention.

We talked for a long time now about things like the Bengals' refusal to do a ring of honor, construct a team hall of fame, build a few statues, and celebrate their former players.  I've come to accept that we may never see these things, while at the same time wondering why the people who run the team don't see the value in executing them.

The value lies is in making people feel good. About your team. About your brand.  About something besides an endless playoff-win drought, last year's six-win total, and free agency defections this offseason.  The value lies in jogging people's memories to the point where they remember moments that brought joy and crafted fan-hood.  Do those things turn people into new season ticket-holders?  No.  Do they maybe create a little more interest than ordinarily might have been there?

Yes.

You can go overboard with nostalgia (ahem, the sport of baseball and most NBA fans over 35), but when done right, remember-when can be both a mechanism to make people feel good about their memories of the past and what's happening in the here-and-now.  In talking about things like Boomer's 1988 season, Corey Dillon v. James Brooks, my dad's stories about Isaac Curtis, and even the fondness I have for the omitted Jeff Blake, I'm a little more excited for the contemporary version of the Bengals.

(Related: ESPN1530 Podcast: Dave Lapham, On The Bengals "First 50.")

2) Now, about that list.  If you voted, you noticed that when you did, the players weren't ranked. All you were asked to do was vote for guys to among the top 50.  I understand that things like human nature, age, and depth of intimate knowledge of franchise history each play a role in how someone chooses. And at the end of the day, this is supposed to be fun. But here's a few thoughts.

Boomer Esiason is the eighth-best retired Bengal of all-time? Please. I'm biased, as Boomer is my favorite player of all-time.  I actually think Boomer is overrated by some and underrated by others.

Those who overrate him scoff at the notion that players like Andy Dalton and Carson Palmer could ever be as god as Boomer, which undervalues the current players and puts Boomer on a level that - across his career - he was never really at.  And Boomer's individual and cumulative performances in the playoffs were, um, not good.

Those who underrated them tend to focus solely on his MVP season of 1988 when he won the award in a league that included Marino, Montana, Elway, Moon, Kelly (to be fair, it was a down year for future Hall of Fame quarterbacks), ignoring that fact that Boomer engineered top four offenses in '85, '86, '88, and '89, and the fact that the Bengals offense was incredibly complex for its time, demanding more from Boomer than many of his peers. 

Regardless of how you feel about Boomer, he doesn't belong ranked behind Jim Breech, David Fulcher, Tim Krumrie, or Cris Collinsworth.  At worst, he's fourth (I'd actually rate him there behind Chad) and there's arguments that he's third.  Not eighth.  Christ. I'm getting pissed.

The Cincinnati Bengals legitimately had 14 players that were better than Corey Dillon?  13 that were better than Willie Anderson?  Ten that were better than Ken Riley?  How does this franchise not have multiple Lombardi trophies?

If Jim Breech is fifth on the list (I love Jim Breech, easily one of the nicest people I've ever met), which, again, wow....then Shayne Graham should be somewhere on it.  Probably instead of Doug Pelfrey.

Greg Cook played in 11 games in his Bengals career. Many of those 11 games featured him performing incredibly, but if your entire career is limited to less than entire season's worth of games, then you can't be on a franchise's top 50 list. Jeff Blake - and I'm biased because I love Jeff Blake more than any Bengals fan who's ever breathed - would be a better choice.

How would this list change if current players were part of the process (which they shouldn't be)? Dalton, Green, Atkins, Burfict, Whitworth, Palmer would seemingly be locks.  Leon Hall (still technically active) would merit consideration. Domata Peko would earn votes (14th in franchise history in Football Reference's approximate value metric), as would Michael Johnson and Reggie Nelson. Adam Jones too. 

(RelatedESPN1530 Podcast: Kenny Anderson, On The Bengals "First 50.")

3) On what planet does signing Zack Cozart make sense? Lance has a post this morning examining the Reds' options with Zack Cozart. It includes the options of making him a qualifying offer (which could cost them $18 million (!!!!!!) to keep him for a year, extending him long-term, trading him (the market doesn't seem there) or letting him walk. 

If a trade's not there, a trade's not there. And if it's not, then that could be both a reflection of the fact that contending teams are happy with their shortstop and of Cozart's overall value, despite his excellent 2017.  Zack might represent an upgrade at his position for some teams, but not that much of an upgrade that he's worth parting with anyone of value. 

The other options, well, I'll just ask this...

On what planet does it make sense to pay Zack Cozart - who will be 32 in a few weeks - a bunch of money? If you're not comfortable with the money Joey Votto (who's 84343405 times the player Cozart is) he'll be making when he's, say, 37 years-old, do you really want to be paying Zack the kind of money he'd be making if the Reds extended him when he's 35? 

Do you really think that Zack Cozart, whose performance this season I've enjoyed immensely - is more likely to repeat his 2017 than he is to replicate his 2012 through 2016 as he enters his mid-30s? For a franchise that's gone out of its way to clear room for younger players to get playing time and has gone to great lengths to stockpile the system with middle infielders, does keeping Zack make any amount of sense whatsoever?

And please, if you think that paying Zack Cozart the qualifying offer salary of $18 million (which he'd be smart to turn down) next season, then really, stop reading.

What's wrong with letting him walk?  Granted, it's always nicer to get pieces back in return, and for the sake of giving Zack a chance to play in the postseason, I'd take something cheap from a contender to trade him into the pennant race, but the Reds aren't going to be set back for years because they couldn't get something for Zack Cozart.

They could be set back if they fall so much in love with a season of production that's probably no real reflection of the kind of player Zack Cozart is going to be that they pay him money that - in a year or two - would be better spent elsewhere. 

Recommended Link Of The Day: The Last Cowboy: Joe West Is On A Quest To Preserve The Sanctity Of Umpiring

Radio Show: I'm taking a couple of days off from the radio game. I'm going to attend baseball games, drink beer, attend a soccer match, bar-hop before said soccer match, and have someone else watch my kid. The show is back on Wednesday with a big pre-training camp extravaganza.

Reach me....

Follow me on Twitter @MoEgger1530.

Like me on Facebook.

Email me: mo@espn1530.com

Comments

Mo Egger

Mo Egger

Mo Egger delivers his unique take on sports on Cincinnati's ESPN 1530! Read more

title

Content Goes Here

This ad will close in X seconds.