Welcome back to another edition of the Friday Funblast – the only column that saves you from having to click on Reddit to learn what’s going on and what happened in the Week that Was for FC Cincinnati.

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In Nijkamp We Trust? 

◾ Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but FC Cincinnati got absolutely worked this week by Philadelphia Union. This, of course, came on the heels of FC Cincinnati getting absolutely worked by Minnesota United. In grand total, FC Cincinnati conceded 5 goals, scored 0, and have now thoroughly flushed away any goodwill the squad brought back with them from Hashtag MLS is Back in Orlando.

At what point here do we start to ask some fucking questions of Gerard Nijkamp? Or, at what point does his Dutchness need to grace the media and the fans with a press conference to offer up some answers for why this team has been so bad under his watch and, seemingly, impervious to improvement? Look – pandemic, brought in midseason last year, unprecedented shit, blah blah – I get it. I also understand that he was handed an absolutely dogshit roster and told to go make the best of it. But, what exactly has Nijkamp done in his time with FC Cincinnati to make you say “Yup, this guy is gonna fix shit?”

His first major act as GM was to hire EFRU (Everyone’s Favorite Racist Uncle) Ron Jans – a move that drew more than a few questions regarding how fucking thorough the search process was given that Jans had managed at Nijkamps old club. Then, apparently (and we’ll never fucking know because no is capable of giving a straight answer here), Nijkamp sat asleep at the wheel like some dipshit Tesla driver while Ron did Klan Karaoke in front of the team and (again, apparently) said some fucked up racist shit at a history museum. The well-documented fallout was a PR Nightmare for the club and allegations of a divided locker room. His follow up act? That would be Designated Player Yuya Kubo, the most over-hyped and fucking disappointing export from Japan since “End of Evangelion.” Outside of one wonder-strike goal, his performances have ranged from “adequate” to “oh shocker, someone fucking took the ball from him again.” Following this dud, Nijkamp’s second major acquisition (after failing to land Gaston Pereiro – who was such a difference maker that he went on to average 34’ and score 1 goal over 10 matches in Serie A) was Jurgen Locadia, who was better at generating whiffs that Trevor Bauer and appears destined to finish off the year in the trainers room after being helped off the field on Wednesday. Again, dud.

For those of you scoring at home, that’s one (1) absolute failure of a managerial hire (with an added fun bonus for embroiling the team in yet another race-based controversy) and two (2) absolute failures of Designated Player signings. That adds up to three (3), which is one more than the number of fucking goals FC Cincinnati has scored since the team came back from Orlando in August. As future poet laurate of the United States, Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner once observed: The Numbers Don’t Lie.

So, that brings me back to the question: when the fuck does the heat get turned up on Nijkamp’s seat? Because even if we set aside the bullshit he was handed, he’s whiffed spectacularly on the majority of the decisions he’s made as GM, and there’s very little compelling evidence to suggest he has what it takes to turn this ship around.

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A Mystery Reveal So Stupid Even M. Night Would Be Embarrassed To Write It

◾ We were all witness this week to the end of one of the dumbest fucking mysteries in FC Cincinnati fandom: Who is “Lettuce?”

Lettuce, for those of you with enough common sense to not read rumors posted by people who use produce pseudonyms online, was a reddit account (later a twitter account of the same name) who posted purportedly “inside information” about potential transfers for FC Cincinnati. Actual journalists, with actual blue checkmarks, read his shit and commented on his musings. In my real job, I actually had someone I know ask “Hey, what do you think of this lettuce dude?” (fortunately for my opinion of this person, he followed up his own question of “I think he’s full of shit.” You survived that test, Andy). It turns out not only was Lettuce full of shit, he was actually just a bored high school student killing time while trying to finish a term paper. So he did what all bored and in-no-way-psychotic high school students do: He created an online persona (complete with stories about kids he didn’t have and bars he wasn’t old enough to go to) dedicated to the idea that he was an insider with transfer rumors about FC Cincinnati.

I could dedicate a few paragraphs to why Lettuce caught on (hint: it’s because fans are desperate to read player acquisition rumors and “silly season” shit that the Traditional Media™ couldn’t give less of a fuck reporting about), or a few paragraphs about how fucking bananas and psycho it is that a high school kid stuck with his completely bullshit bit for as long as he did (all I’m saying is don’t be surprised if this kid pretends to be a Hawaiian girl who dies in a car wreck at some point in the future), but that’s not the real story here. The real story is how many people, year after year and in sport after sport, get absolutely got by obvious fucking idiots on the internet. I mean – fucking hell, it’s not 1995 out there. A solid 2/3 of this fanbase probably isn’t even old enough to have sent an “A/S/L?” or experienced a world where you couldn’t get online because your modem kept getting busy signals (perpetual “Fuck You” to AOL). Yet, time and time again, dumb motherfuckers keep believing stupid anonymous internet accounts about shit because they so desperately want the information being given to be true. I saw it with Bearcats fans a few years back, where people were reposting shit written by people with names like “The Dude” and “Yoda” who allegedly had inside information about how billion-dollar academic institutions were going to realign their athletic conferences. Actual human beings, who we trust to fucking vote, were saying shit like “Well, Yoda seems to be indicating an announcement could come as early as next week…” unironically.

Make no mistake, there are actual people in this fanbase who have actual inside information about how the club works. There’s a reason why the phrase “Hey, don’t tweet this out, but…” will generate chuckles around anyone who has been in SG culture for a minute. You know what the people with said inside information AREN’T fucking doing though? Creating burner accounts on reddit and twitter to launch all of that information into the ether. Yet, even knowing all this, I’m positive some new dipshit will pop up claiming to “know what’s up” and we’ll be back at this again in a few months. Just saying: Try Skepticism. You’ll never end up showing your ass stanning for a dude in 5th period AP Bio who’s firing off bullshit transfer rumors while waiting for his turn on the microscope.

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FC Cincinnati Nostalgiafest 2K20 Will Never Fucking End

◾ FC Cincinnati is pushing ahead with another of their patented Nostalgiafests, hyping the “Final Game at Nippert Stadium” and asking fans to send in memories. I’ll leave the idea of “best Nippert memory” to someone sappier and sentimental than I am (truth be told, I’m actually squatting on a take that we ignore a shitload of problems with Nippert because we remember it as a place where FCC was good at one time), but I’m actually more shocked that the club feels confident announcing in October of 2020 that we’re not playing any more games at Nippert. This either speaks to an extreme confidence that Carl’s. Jr. Stadium (“Carl’s Jr.: Fuck you, I’m eating.”) will be open on-time in 2021 (confidence level: unlikely) or that FC Cincinnati will be opening 2021 on the road for an extended stretch of games (confidence level: likely) to build in extra time for construction to complete. Unless something radically changes about this roster and play quality, opening on the road for a bunch of games strikes me as a bad fucking idea. Which is of course what it makes it the most obvious outcome for all this. We’re nothing if not consistent about doing everything the hard way.

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PIGS POST-OFFICE

Because there’s only so many hours in the day scour the internet for stuff about FC Cincinnati or rant about losing, we’re also gonna open the War Pigs Mailbag to answer questions / respond to takes. Here’s our first batch of entrants:

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Dear War Pigs,

As I sit in my home office (desk in spare room that sits between my wife's hair and makeup stuff and a dead plant that hasn't seen the sun since FCC's last goal) I wonder to myself, "Where is the individual that wronged the Gypsy woman that cursed this city's sports teams?"

Well?!?!?! Where are they, Damnit!!! Because this perpetual nut shot that is Cincinnati Sports has made me barren, infertile, sterile and otherwise lacking in any juice to reproduce the enthusiasm I once sprayed hap-hazardly for my local teams.

Anyway...my question is what's your favorite place to eat/drink before the game?

Forever a fan,
Matt

Great question, Matt. I was never a big “sports curse” guy until Pittsburgh Pirates fans (fucking Pirates fans – half of them were drunk and wearing Steelers gear to the game) got Johnny Cueto to drop a baseball and be bad at pitching because they started chanting his name. There are so many possible culprits. I personally lean towards the idea that someone in the famously-Greek Skyline Chili family wronged a minor God who had taken mortal form and come into the Ludlow location looking for a couple coneys and hospitality. Fucking that sorta shit up always seems to end poorly for people and villages in most mythology stories and/or Percy Jackson books.

As for your second question, in spite of my aforementioned disdain for Pittsburgh sports, I’m a huge Martino’s enthusiast for FCC pre and postgame. What it lacks in diverse beer selection and (inexplicably) high definition televisions, it makes up for in incredible cheap domestic beer and fantastic bar food. If you were looking to get fucked up quickly before the game and then eat off your hangover after the game, Martino’s was always a top-tier choice. They’ve got some of the best non-smoked wings in the city and any sandwich you order could feed most normal adults for multiple meals. Plus, I’ll never forget that they made a fresh pot of coffee for the table after the Union game last season because we were all soaked and on the verge of hypothermia and would’ve drank vinegar if it was hot in that moment.

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Pig / Pigs,

Is Jimmy McLaughlin actually injured or fine and hoping no one notices he’s still getting paid to be on the team?

It’s incredible to consider, but Jimmy McLaughlin has yet to log a single minute in MLS. I had to actually look that up, because I would have sworn he was one of the guys who got a “Hey, thanks for being here” run in the Seattle game last season where we got our shit kicked in for starting USL dudes. It turns out Jimmy has made a career of this – he’s in his 6th year on an MLS roster and has logged a grand total of 19’ in that span. It really is an incredible achievement, ranking up there with some of the best NFL backup quarterbacks like Jim Sorgi (who got paid to never start a game and occasionally high-five Peyton Manning when he walked off the field) or Chase Daniel (2 starts in 9 years of NFL play). To me, Jimmy always be the greatest “What if” of this era of FC Cincinnati – because I’m convinced his first appearance for the club would’ve drawn the biggest cheer in recorded history from all the fucking casual fans around Nippert.

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Alright, that’s all for this week. Send in your questions for next week’s mailbag, pray that we score a goal in the meantime, and I’ll see you motherfuckers in the Thunderdome.