The Ohio river flows 981 miles from the southern edge of lake Erie to its mouth on the great Mississippi river, passing through – and by – two hall-of-fame sports cities along the way: Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Combined, the two have 19 championships as follows: Steelers – 6, Penguins – 3, Pirates – 5, and Reds – 5. Unfortunately, the Bengals are one of a few NFL modern era teams yet to score a Lombardi, but hey, there’s time.
In 1975, nicknames were flowing for the Superbowl winning Steelers and World Series Champion Reds. For the Reds and Steelers, these nicknames were off the tongues and typewriters of sports writers … fluently-friendly they were – these words with the heft of a linebacker and the grace of a finely tuned, well-executed fast ball. The “Big Red Machine” including Bench, Rose, Morgan, Pérez, Concepción, Foster, Griffey, and Gerónimo took care of business pretty much the whole decade, not just that year. The “Steel Curtain” nickname came easy as well for the quartet of the Steeler’s defensive front four, L.C. Greenwood, Joe Greene, Ernie Holmes, and Dwight White.
Yep, 1975 was a year to celebrate the Ohio river’s glory. “La Belle Riviere”, as this magnificent body is so aptly nicknamed, has outlasted – and will continue to – the hoorays and cheers of those years. Forty-five years and millions of heart-breaking moments later, we have memories and, maybe, a few autographs and game day programs. The players are retired, coaching, or, well, … dead. This applies to many of us, too – the fan base who held on to our dads’ hand while walking into a stadium for the first time as a deep, rich announcer’s voice echoed throughout.
1975. Ohio river and two teams. Also the year a sit-com taught us one really valuable lesson. Not through really bad acting (which there was), or quite mundane script writing (which there was) or, kinda bad wardrobe choices (which there was), or my complete disdain for Bonnie Franklin (which there was), or my wish that the writers would never develop a plot around Mackenzie Phillips (which they never honored), or my sincere love toward Valerie Bertinelli (which WAS honest and for true 😍)… It was the title: ONE DAY AT A TIME.
This is a saying I toss back and forth once in a while with a wonderful friend of mine. Certainly not an original phrase, it has been twisted, turned, modified, memed, run up and down the motivational speaker pole, and shouted from the pulpits of every denominational oratoty. I claim no originality in posting it here. “One day at a time” has no greater meaning than it does today, or any day for that matter … especially in 2020.
My friend, with whom I transfer this glorious pentaword phrase, sometimes approaches her days cautiously, but even then, undaunted with silent resolve is she. Under the black light of a pandemical petri dish as all of us are, she’s a survivor’s survivor.
When we were born, the maker of our forms placed a timer on our spans. The width between coming and going we don’t know. All we’re guaranteed is that it’s significantly shorter than 981 miles and less important, overall, than the Ohio river to our great American society. Yes, collectively, we add up to a great team if we played as one; However, if 2020 has taught us anything, we ‘ain’t all wearing the same jersey, are we? Each one if us, simply, were given one-day-at-a- timers and it’s up to us to use them.
Those timers are the other people in our circle who make a difference and can help us when we need help. Friends who we reach out to with a text saying, “I’m sad today and here’s why …”, or “My job is frustrating me. Can we talk for a few minutes?”. These co-breathers, especially now, are the real champions in our lives. They go to bat for us. They stay under center when we seem to be running all over the field.
We have no fancy nicknames for these heroes in our lives, nor are there hall-of-fame buildings erected in their honor. Timers must suffice for now. No sit-coms will ever come close to script the lines, fashionably drape a cast, or hire a lead actress that will ever gratify my need to priviledge the timers in my life. I’m so ok with that truth.
Heading down one of the greatest unknown rivers in the past 100 years, we need all our friends to help us stay afloat right now. Reach out to a champion. Our world is not a bell-bottomed, steel curtained, big red machine forty-five years later, for sure. We have each other, though, and also one day at a time.
Both, together, make any show worth watching and walking into a stadium with a dad, for any day’s game, a championship moment.