Most fans of Major League Baseball in the Mid-Ohio Valley follow one of three teams -the Cincinnati Reds, the Pittsburgh Pirates or the Cleveland Indians.
Needless to say, it's been a while since any of those franchises won the World Series.
Cleveland's last moment of glory came in 1948. Pittsburgh's last title celebration was in 1979. Cincinnati hasn't won the World Series since 1990.
It's fair to call fans of all three teams long suffering.
Yet, maybe they won't be suffering much longer.
Just look at the latest Major League standings.
The Reds, who have had just two winning seasons since Y2K, are in first place in the National League Central with a 39-32 mark. It seems like every year Reds fans begin the season filled with hope only to watch their team disappoint them yet again.
That could happen in 2012. It seems that dissension has set in and unless it goes away, the Reds will be doomed to another disappointing year.
Then again, this team has enough talent to make a run, especially in the NL Central, which lacks an overpowering team. The Reds have pitching in the form of starters Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Mat Latos and Homer Bailey and closer Aroldis Chapman, who at times is virtually unhittable.
The everyday lineup is solid with 2010 MVP Joey Votto a legitimate superstar. Throw in the intensity of Brandon Phillips, the youthful exuberance of Zack Cozart and a grizzled veteran like Scott Rolen and the Reds lack a glaring weakness.
Cincinnati is just one game ahead of the Pirates. Yes, it's late June and not only are the Pirates in second place, but they are five games above .500. Pittsburgh, the franchise that hasn't had a winning season since 1992, may be about to break that frustrating streak.
The Pirates have pitching. Veterans Eric Bedard, Kevin Correia and AJ Burnett head a starting staff that has been consistent. If they can hand over a lead to the bullpen, then setup man Jason Grilli and closer Joel Hanrahan most likely will hold it, just as they did in close Friday and Saturday wins over Detroit.
The Pirates have an electrifying player in outfielder Andrew McCutchen and while the rest of the lineup lacks stars, it is solid at every position.
Pittsburgh fans have every right to be excited this year. Manager Clint Hurdle seems to push the right buttons day in and day out.
On to the American League Central, where the Indians are 37-34 and just half a game out of first place. That's remarkable when you consider Grady Sizemore is yet to take the field. This is yet another blue-collar team that lacks a superstar.
But it is getting good play from virtually every position. Catcher Carlos Santana, second baseman Jason Kipris, shortstop Asbrudal Cabrera and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo all have exceeded expectations.
If pitchers Derek Lowe and Ubaldo Jiminez ever find the form they enjoyed in recent seasons, the Tribe will get even stronger.
It's great to see the Reds, Pirates and Indians all winning.
Let's hope it continues.
Contact Dave Poe at email@example.com