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Nick Bakay's Tale of the Tape: Bengals vs. HMO

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One of my favorite ways of killing time is the age-old game of "Gun To The Head": Gun to the head, would you rather take a solid left from George Foreman in his prime, or run the Oky drill against LT? Which coach would you rather "disappoint" -- Bobby Knight, or Frank Kush? Who would you rather be right now, Scott Norwood or Bill Buckner? You can sit around for hours, weighing a pantheon of hideous dilemmas, or you can cut to the chase and get really ugly:

If you had to pick, which would you rather be -- a pro football fan in Cincinnati, or stuck with an HMO that cuts as many corners as Mike Brown? Only the strong need venture forth on this one. Bengals, HMO's, the twin towers of cheapness. Let's see how they stack up at the Tale of the Tape ...

Nick Bakay's Tale of the Tape: Bengals vs. HMO
Category Bengals HMO Advantage
Super-secret corporate motto "A complete NFL roster for the price of a utility infielder!" "We turn those beds over!" Bengals
Why so proud? We're millions under the cap again! Taking undertaker kickbacks since 1982! Push.
Bottom line Throw nickels around like hubcaps. Diagnosis, schmiagnosis, it's just a cold! Push
The prescription Rub some dirt on it. Throw some dirt on him. Bengals
Signs that you're in trouble The Whirlpool has algae They recycle needles and buy morphine on E-bay Bengals
You're not going anywhere Slap the franchise tag on you Slap a "do not resuscitate" tag on your toe Bengals -- hey, it's for one year, not eternity.
More corners cut The team doctor works for Costco coupons You're covered for a tent and one aspirin Push
Something they don't do very often Score touchdowns Cure you Bengals
Painkillers The offseason Going towards the light Push
Chow time Pregame meals at Denny's All the water you want! Push
Travel Your very own donkey shuttles you from the hotel to the stadium. A teamster with a handtruck hauls you and a crate of rubber gloves to the ER. HMO
Prognosis Turned a project like Akili Smith into a decent high school QB Turned your toenail fungus into gangrene Push

So there you have it, it's all so simple when you break things down scientifically. In a defibrillator-comeback special, the big advantage goes to the Bengals. But hang in there all you HMOs, with all the money you've saved, why not grab up the naming rights the Bengals' new crib? I can just see it now -- "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to 'Share a catheter' stadium!" Until next time, I'm Nick Bakay reminding you the numbers never lie.

Humorist Nick Bakay, currently a writer for the CBS sitcom "King of Queens," is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and Page 2. He has a Web site at

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