Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sugar Bowl Blog

My blog has been temporarily moved to the New Orleans Sugar Bowl page.
Here is the link to my blog on our Road to the Sugar Bowl page.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Hope...

I hope Mike Thomas has promised Jeff Quinn and U.C.'s interim coaching staff fat bonus checks if they win the Sugar Bowl. With Quinn taking the Buffalo job, it would be human nature for him to spend more time getting himself well positioned for his first head coaching job rather than the team he'll leave behind. I know Quinn and company want to do right by the U.C. players, but they also have to worry about their own futures. But there's nothing like a little, or a lot, of cash to help keep your eye on the prize!

I hope the Bengals I saw Sunday in San Diego is the Bengals team I'll see during the final two weeks of the regular season. Yes, they lost, but they played well against one of the hottest teams in the league. I thought Carson Palmer was terrific in the fourth quarter. And that quarterback draw? SWEET!

I hope officials never end another game like the one in Indianapolis Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler had just scored the go ahead basket against Xavier with 1.2 seconds left. Then someone realized the clock had stopped inadvertently during the flurry just before Butler scored the basket. It took 12 minutes to figure it out, and then they decided since the clock had stopped for 1.3 seconds, the game was over. Unless it's blatant, going back to split hairs like that is a crock.

I hope the Reds find a left fielder who can produce 20 home runs and 51 RBI in 281 at bats. That's what Jonny Gomes produced last season after starting the season in Louisville. (I'm still trying to figure out how Gomes didn't make the club out of spring training)

I hope the family of Chris Henry can find peace and understanding during this difficult time. The same goes for every family grieving the loss of a loved one.

I hope everyone has a joyous and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I think this past year has given local fans more to cheer than jeer and I hope it gets even better in 2010.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Greatest Cincinnati Sign Ever!


This one simple sign did something that I'm not sure anything has done before. It had U.C. and Xavier fans sympathizing for each other ON THE NIGHT OF THE CROSSTOWN SHOOTOUT!

The Crosstown Shootout deserved to be an instant classic. There was little or no hype, and I think the fact it was on a Sunday night during the NFL season played into that. Please play it in the middle of the week when it can be a showcase. At any rate, once the ball went up the players reminded us why we love this game: it was a "war on the floor"! The kids on both teams played their butts off. The skirmishes were unfortunate, but it reminded me of the days when this thing was nasty. Huggins and Gillen turned it into the city's own cold war with detente nowhere to be found. U.C. players pronouncing it "Eggs-zavier" in pregame news conferences while Xavier players claimed it was "just another game." Sunday night proved it will never be "just another game", and reminded us the city is very fortunate to have the Crosstown Shootout.


The U.C. coaching search should be concluded by the end of the week. A.D. Mike Thomas surely started calling back-channels the minute Brian Kelly failed to guarantee he would coach the Sugar Bowl.

You don't hire a guy for any other reason than he is the best man for the job. But U.C. could throw quite a curve ball at Kelly by hiring Jeff Quinn.

The Bengals better show up in San Diego. Their first playoff caliber test was a disaster in Minnesota. Another one of those against a playoff caliber Chargers team makes it seem foolish to think they could do any damage in the playoffs.

It seems opposing defenses have no respect for anything down the field for the Bengals. No wonder, they haven't completed a pass over 20 yards in two of the past three games. The only passes over 20 yards in that time span were the three against the Lions last week, all three to Ochocinco. The longest during the past three games is the 36 yard td from Carson to Ocho against Detroit. It's almost like teams play red zone defense anywhere on the field, and it's tough to throw into that kind of coverage. Carson Palmer claims he's fine physically. If so, it's time to show it.
Either receivers can't get open, Carson isn't right, the Bengals have zero speed that needs to be respected, or horror of horrors, all of the above!

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's Never Easy, But I've Seen Better Exits

On a day U.C. sold it's allotment of Sugar Bowl tickets, on a day U.C. celebrated an undefeated football season, and on a day electrifying wide receiver and return man Mardy Gilyard hoisted a team MVP trophy, all of the attention went to the proverbial "elephant in the room." The elephant being the head coaching situation. For a guy who practiced politics, I'm not sure Brian Kelly could have been more clumsy in the way he left his undefeated team behind. It's almost like he was taking advice from Tiger Woods' publicist. Sure, he had hoped to be able to keep a lid in things and tell his players first about his departure. He certainly did the right thing Monday by telling them firsthand he was going to listen to Notre Dame's offer. But it really got away from him Thursday. He had to know as soon as a deal was done it would start to seep out. It always does. Reports were seeping out of South Bend by late afternoon. Kelly had to know those reports were true. That very second he owed it to his team to tell them, and if that meant right before the banquet, so be it. Instead, players sat through the banquet while the rest of the world outside was learning Kelly was a goner and the undefeated Bearcats no longer had a head coach. It was very odd before the banquet to see young men giving interviews about the situation, the speculation, and the "elephant in the room" while their highly paid 47 year old coach with all of the answers walked in with a police escort but nary a word to say. I have no doubt Brian was sworn to secrecy by Notre Dame. That became apparent when, after the banquet, just moments after telling his players the news, he appeared on ESPN and would not admit he had accepted the job. It was numbing to watch. It would have been more numbing to witness him slipping out the back, without a single comment to the heathen media he chastised two and half years earlier for not covering his team properly. No question, Kelly did great work at U.C. and the program is much better off because of him. He set the bar high. But he left one thing behind that any coach will be able to improve upon: making a better exit.

Monday, December 7, 2009

U.C. Needs Another Big Comeback, This Time To Keep Kelly

There have been bigger upsets, but this one would be along the lines of Joe Namath and the Jets beating the Colts in the Super Bowl. There have been bigger come from behind wins, the Bearcats erasing of a 21 point deficit at Pitt Saturday immediately comes to mind. Now the U.C. administration faces a similar deficit, and I'm not sure what they can do. Should the reports be true, Brian Kelly will meet with Notre Dame about the coaching position. That would make him the first to meet with them about filling the large leather chair Charlie Weis left behind. Believe me, if they had met with anyone else in the past week, we would hear about it. It's possible Stoops, Meyer, and others gave the Irish a big fat no through the back channels. But as far as anyone knows, Kelly is the first to sit down and listen to the Notre Dame pitch. That's a problem for U.C. Unless both parties are ultra-interested, it doesn't reach this point. Sure, there have been some times in the past where it's made it to this point and the candidate turned down the job. Guys have even accepted a position, then turned around a day later and went running back to their previous post. But I cannot believe Notre Dame would get to this point with Kelly if the Irish didn't think it was practically a lock that Kelly will take the job. No program wants to go through that embarrassment, especially Notre Dame given the string of missteps that program has made over the last 15 years. You know Notre Dame has reached out and taken the temperature of Kelly's interest. Apparently that interest in strong enough that Kelly would not guarantee he would be coaching in the Sugar Bowl. That's a shame, and a topic for another post. It's time for Mike Thomas to pull his best Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard. But unlike Saturday in Pittsburgh, I think it's too late in the game for this comeback.

BTW, should Kelly go, then he goes. U.C. should find its man and start out with that guy coaching in the Sugar Bowl. As much as he has meant to the program, it is not the University of Brian Kelly. He doesn't get to call all of the shots. Cut the string and find your man. Plus it's a nice little plum to attract the new guy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Willy Taveras or Brian Kelly? Hmmmmmm.

On November 7, against Navy, an onside kick by Notre Dame bounced out of bounds, and essentially bounced Charlie Weis through the arms of "Touchdown Jesus", over the Golden Dome, and into the next phase of his professional career. Since that day more than a dozen names have been linked to the Notre Dame coaching position. Billick, Dungy, Fitzgerald, Ferentz, Gruden, Harbaugh, Johnson, Meyer, Patterson, and Peterson are ten of the names already mentioned for a position that didn't exist until Monday afternoon. No wonder U.C. head coach Brian Kelly calls this the "silly season." Oh yeah, Kelly. That's the guy this posting is all about. It seems to me that Notre Dame is coming down to BK and BS. NOT THAT BS, although there's plenty of that kind of BS to go around. I'm talking about Bob Stoops. I have some knowledge, but not enough to say it will be one of those two guys. I do have enough knowledge to say this, and I quote:
"U.C. needs to get a new deal finalized with Kelly ASAP. I know he just signed a contract in June, and it stinks that college coaching contracts mean nothing these days, but that's the current landscape of big-time collegiate football. Make BK the highest paid coach in the Big East Conference. Just as important, make his staff the highest paid bunch of hard working, successful, assistant coaches in the Big East and continue the commitment to facilities. Do it before Saturday and your problem is solved. Make this a preemptive strike before the other schools have an opportunity to make a run at the guy who has made your football team relevant. That's right, I said schools. Plural. Because if you think Notre Dame is the only school coming after your guy, you are wrong."
None of that stuff in quotations is secret. The U.C. administration knows it. So why is this so hard? Think of it this way: The money the Reds paid Willy Tavares in 2009 ($2,250,000) would cover the salary of the highest paid coach in the Big East in 2009. I repeat: A lead off hitter with an on base percentage of .275 in 2009 made more money than a football coach who found a way to sellout Nippert Stadium and make U.C. football a part of the national conversation. Not to pick on Willy (or the Reds obvious overpayment), but who do you think is more valuable to the local sporting landscape? This is much easier than recovering that onside kick that that spelled the end for Weis.


Here is the USA Today database on NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Coaches Salaries. I'm glad they don't do this for sportscasters. You guys would howl at the pittance I make, and I'm probably still overpaid!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

College Hoops Capital Again

Wow! What a difference a week makes with Mick Cronin's crew. Last Monday night looked like the second half of the DePaul game last March in Madison Square Garden. This Monday night looked like a team that will be playing somewhere beyond Madison Square Garden next March. And that somewhere is the NCAA tournament. It's great to see the team look this good this early. If Ibrahima Thomas is as good as Mick says, adding him to the mix will make this team very dangerous. With Xavier, Kentucky, Dayton, Ohio State, Louisville, and U.C., (heck, throw in Butler too!)the tri-state area is challenging ACC country again. In fact, find me seven schools anywhere in the world that are clustered that close together and provide the kind of basketball we have in this area. I'm too tired to check on it, but I'll bet it doesn't exist. Man, I wish we could get them all together for a holiday tournament.

Take A Deep Breath Bengals Fans

Step back from the ledge, think a couple of happy thoughts, and then say it out loud: "The Bengals are not the 2007 New England Patriots!" I hate to break it to you, but it's true. The Bengals are not perfect. I didn't like what I saw Sunday either. An opening touchdown drive was marred by several mental mistakes leading to silly penalties. That was a clue that the Bengals were not going to be at their best Sunday in Oakland. They looked like a poor excuse for a playoff team. But here's the deal: every team outside of the 2007 Patriots and the 1972 Dolphins have clunkers in their system. Nobody wants to admit that, but it's true. Look around the league every week and you see teams coming off a two or three game stretch of impressive performances just stink it up on "any given Sunday." I don't know why it happens, but it does. Maybe it's biorhythms. The older I get, and the more I see things happen like what happened to the Bengals on Sunday, the more I believe in biorhythms. The Bengals are good, but they aren't great. Not yet. But they are a playoff team. So let's stop with the "Return of The 2002 Bungles" talk and remember that hiccups occur in the NFL. The Bengals will gulp a glass of water this week while holding their breath and take care of business the next two weeks. (If they don't, please horse-collar me and keep me from jumping off the ledge)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Alabama vs Chattanooga.... WHY?

It drives me bonkers when I see some of these elite college football programs playing teams from lower divisions in November. What a waste of everyone's time. Today's waste is Alabama hosting Chattanooga. The only positive out of this game is the nice payday for the Chattanooga program. That's all well and good, but please, play these lower division teams in September. In fact, I wish there was a rule: No lower division teams on the schedule past September 30. If you do, you are penalized at least one spot, heck let's make it three spots, in the BCS Standings. Get these cruddy games out of the way early. The Tide has played an excellent schedule, but this game at this point is a joke. From the beginning of October you should play the big boys and leave these exhibition type of games far behind.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sorry Charlie

When an athletic director says a decision on a coach will come at the end of the season, that's not a good sign. At least not a good sign for the coach. Such is the predicament of Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis. All signs, including a disappointing record, point to the demise of the Weis era in South Bend. So it's going to be a hectic month chasing Notre Dame rumors, which have already been swirling for a couple of weeks. Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer have already been the target of rumors in printed daily newspapers. The list of potential candidates on the Internet is in the twenties, with UC's Brian Kelly at, or near, the head of the pack. Here's a link to Kelly addressing the Notre Dame situation on the Dan Patrick Show Thursday. It's just a shade more than halfway through the clip. It might actually be some encouraging audio for U.C. fans worried about Kelly's departure. At least one internet blogger thinks Kelly should STAY at U.C. Here's a link to a blog written by former UConn defensive lineman Rob Lunn.

I understand why Zach Collaros appearing before a judge is something that needs to be reported, but let's hope it ends here and now. Trying to get into a bar with a fake id 6 months before your 21st birthday is somewhere in the bottom .01% of crimes committed in the city on a daily basis. But kids, please, do what the judge tells ya!

Even though I'm still not sold on the Larry Johnson signing, I'm very curious to see how he performs in a Bengals uniform. It's looking like we'll get a peak this weekend in Oakland. With a two-year contract signed back in March, Benson should not feel overly threatened by any of this. LJ will certainly be motivated since he's auditioning for a new contract and probably new team in 2010.

Xavier gets one more tuneup before playing a team that might make the Musketeers break a sweat. The X-Men play Sacred-Heart Saturday night at the Cintas Center. I didn't know much about Sacred Heart either, so here's a link to the Pioneers basketball page. Sacred Heart lost to Fordham the other night, snapping a 12-game losing streak for Fordham.

The tuneups are over for the U.C. basketball team, The Bearcats face Vanderbilt Monday evening at 5:30 p.m. in the Maui Invitational. The Commodores broke 90 in their first two games.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I hope he means what he says and says what he means. During his news conference at PBS Tuesday, Larry Johnson seemed like a guy who has learned a lesson or two. But he could have been stronger in condemning some of his past transgressions. To lay some of it on Kansas City being a small market and that anything he says will be blown into "mythical proportions" is quite weak. I still think there were better options for the Bengals if they are that concerned about the Benson workload. I don't mind Leonard and Scott each getting 8 or so carries a game to take the load off Ced. But the Bengals are willing to gamble that LJ will recapture a part of his past on-field success while leaving behind his off-field troubles. If my team is having a playoff season, I let someone else take that gamble. I'm all for second chances, but I am not thrilled about the timing of this one.

U.C. fans hoping that some of the other undefeated teams lose down the home stretch of the regular season can forget about it happening to Texas this weekend. Kansas plays the Longhorns this Saturday night and it appears things are blowing up for Mangino and the Jayhawks.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Larry Johnson? Really?

What an interesting move, the Bengals signing Larry Johnson for the stretch run. I'll tell you straight up that with the knowledge I have, I wouldn't do it. I don't know the guy, but his production of late doesn't merit taking any chances to upset a nice, serene, playoff-bound team. I wasn't against the Cedric Benson signing because Benson's track record wasn't nearly as troublesome. Plus Ced was/is much younger, he's not cruising around on legs that already have major NFL mileage on them. I'm aware of the expert analysis: Scouts were saying Johnson still has some mileage left, and the former NFL types on television saying Johnson still has it despite his 2.9 yards per carry this season. They all claim the Chiefs are terrible (true) and the KC offensive line is brutal. (they would know better than I) Then I see Jamaal Charles run for 103 yards behind that line Sunday in Oakland. So put me in the extremely skeptical category on this one. It's nice to see a bold move by the Bengals during a stretch run, but I'm convinced this bold move is not worth the effort.

The Larry Johnson ordeal overshadowed an excellent move by the Reds. Bringing back catcher Ramon Hernandez at a reduced rate is good news. The guy is a gamer, he's clutch, and he handles the pitchers well. He gives the Reds a legitimate big-league player at a critical position.

U.C. looked like a basketball team still finding its way. That's expected at this point in the season. These guys play year-round, so you wouldn't think they would have to knock the rust off. But playing together the way a coach wants you to play together is a little different than pickup games and summer leagues.

It's been debated, reviewed, and scrutinized more than Nicholas Cage's tax return, but I still am not convinced beyond a doubt that the Isiah Pead touchdown Friday night was legit. Based on what I saw on television, and based on the still-frames I've seen on the Internet, I could not have come to the same conclusion as the replay ref. The ref has the ability to freeze, slow, and turn the video inside out, but I'm pretty sure he has the same angles I saw on television. If that camera is not straight down the goal line, and I mean straight, not two feet one way or the other, it's just not conclusive enough to make the call. But being an old Bearcat and seeing how things have gone for UC teams over the last 40 years or more, maybe it's about time the 'Cats catch a break or two.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Too Much Football? Never!

After a weekend chock-full of football, I'm watching the Steelers on MNF and getting ready for another weekend of high school, college, and NFL ball. This past weekend may have been the best ever for football in Cincinnati. All of the high school playoffs, the national stage for UC, and the Bengals and Ravens in a key AFC North tilt. My only complaint: my job got in the way and I had to watch far too much action on television instead of being there. For all of those guys I hear say "it's a hassle going to the game with traffic, parking, the crowds. I'd rather stay home and watch it on television with my bathroom, my beer...." Well guys, you just aren't real fans in George's book. In fact, you are wimps and whiners. If you can't afford it, I get it. But if it's not a financial hardship, I don't get it. I'll take end zone seats with the noise and the buzz and the excitement of being there over a tv screen any day. Unless the game is airing on WLWT. In that case, please stay home and watch.

The Bengals are still getting quality play from an offensive line that appeared to be a weakness coming into the season. I paid particular close attention to the offensive line in the first half of the Ravens game and the line was excellent. Even when the Ravens were firing blitzes up the middle with you know who, the interior line was up to the task. Who woulda thunk it? The line is becoming a strength and center Kyle Cook deserves some serious credit for that.

What's more surprising than the Bengals having a solid offensive line? The Bearcats having a quarterback controversy/situation. I'm not sure how you sit Collaros at this point unless Pike is 100 percent. Even then, it would be tough. But I will say this: I saw West Virginia play Colorado earlier this season and before falling apart with 3 picks, Cody Hawkins was a having a good time against that West Virginia secondary. I was thinking "man, Pike will kill these guys." After seeing Collaros throw that ball to Armon Binns against UConn the other night, I'm thinking "man, Collaros will kill West Virginia." UConn's Cody Endres toasted the Mountaineers for 378 yards 3 weeks ago.

I almost forgot. The UC game Saturday night against UConn pulled in a local television rating of 22.1, which means 22.1% of the television households in greater Cincy were tuned into the game. That is a big number. Our General Manager asked Friday if we thought it would go over or under 21. (wow, he was close!) I picked the over but I wasn't confident. I was the only one in our group to take the over. The Ohio State/Penn State game pulled a 8.8 (not bad at all), while Notre Dame/Navy did a 3.1. The Bengals on Sunday did it's usual number of the mid to upper 30's, averaging out to a 34.5 for the time period. I checked ratings of hit shows throughout the week and didn't see anything close. (14.8 for a 15 minute time period was the biggest number i saw) But maybe the regular programs are in reruns, I don't know. If it's not a sporting event, news shows, or history/military channel type stuff, I don't watch it. I'm not real interested in whether Kim Kardashian's dad cut his mullet or if some large person lost 3 more pounds than another large person. By the way, the final World Series game between the Yanks and Phillies pulled in a local rating of 11.3, which isn't bad.

And another thing. If NBC already has the Notre Dame home package, could the Peacocks please expand their Saturday programming to include a Big East Game of the Week? Maybe they could couple it with a Mountain West/WAC package so NBC can do regional telecasts and have something more to offer on weekends besides bull riding and time slots for infomercials.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Big East Expansion And BC--Mess

It's clear that the Big East Conference is still seen as a little brother in the BCS pecking order. So how do you fix it? Expansion. The Big East needs at least 10 football schools. Notre Dame will never get on board so cut ties. In fact cut ties with the rest of the non-football half of the Big East. Time to move on. Sixteen teams is too many anyway. My buddy Ken Broo last week suggested the Big East make a run at Kentucky. At first, I thought that was crazy. Then I thought, "that will never happen." Then I kept thinking about it. And then it made perfect sense. I'm not sure how it would affect other sports, but it would help Kentucky immensely in football and be no worse than a wash in basketball. Even in years Kentucky is decent, the Wildcats are still nothing more than a punching bag for the rest of the SEC East. Annually the Wildcats have a chance of beating Vanderbilt and perhaps one or two other SEC teams at most. Then they get another guitar for playing in the Music City Bowl. They need the Big East. That will give the Wildcats a chance to mine recruiting territories that are not dominated by the other SEC schools. Any player south of Kentucky is going to Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, LSU, Arkansas, Auburn, or South Carolina. Maybe even Ole Miss these days. That leaves Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State feeding off the bottom. Should Kentucky join the Big East, the Wildcats could start mining Ohio a little more, and certainly Pennsylvania. And think of the natural football rivals: Louisville, Cincinnati, West Virginia, and Pitt. Aside from Tennessee, exactly who does Kentucky have a good football rivalry with in the SEC? If the dollars even come close to adding up, it's a no-brainer. Kentucky football has been affiliated with the SEC since 1933. The Wildcats have exactly two championships, the last one coming in 1976 (thanks to a game later forfeited by Miss St.). So what's the point in staying in a conference where you are at a huge recruiting disadvantage in a high-profile sport like football? Kentucky backers have been searching for years to find a way to make football successful. Being the northernmost school in a conference so steeped in southern tradition is not working. You know what else isn't working? Indiana football in the Big Ten (11). There's your plan Big East.

The Big East owns a 6-5 record against other BCS teams this season, but the biggest of those wins came against Florida State and Oregon State. Bad losses in my opinion include Pitt losing at N.C. State (how?), West Virginia fumbling four times in the fourth quarter at Auburn, and UConn losing at home to North Carolina. Those losses make the Big East appear weak, and that has U.C. battling to get respect as a worthy candidate for the national championship game. That part I understand. But to hear some of these national pundits who profess to know so much, to sneer down their noses (yes, you Herbie)and act like there no way U.C.(you too, Bob Davie) belongs in a national championship game is snobbery on the surface. Below the surface it points out what a joke this system continues to be. If a BCS team goes undefeated in the current BCS system and is left out of the championship game for a one loss team, that will blow up the system. Maybe that's not such a bad thing. Sure, the national snobs get to say "we told you so", but the rest of us get another drum to beat for a playoff system.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why Sabo Still Connects

Chris Sabo was an immediate hit with fans in Cincinnati. Tuesday at the Reds Hall Of Fame announcement, he gave us several reminders why. He genuinely does not see anything he does as a big deal. He just goes out, does it, and moves on. It was also a given that no matter what, Sabo busted his butt in every day, every night, every season. He didn't cheat himself, his teammates, his manager, ownership, or the paying customer. He has immense athletic talent, and it's a shame a bad back cut his baseball career short. But he continues to excel at golf, making the semi finals of the Cincinnati Met Amateur this past summer. I think he still is amazed that people in Cincinnati took such an immense liking to him.

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There are so many funny stories involving Chris. Remember the night his bat cracked and super balls started bouncing all over home plate? He had no idea what happened, but some of his teammates did. Talk about a set-up. Congratulations to Chris, Pedro Borbon, and Tony Mullane. I remember Borbon well. Old "rubber arm " could pitch every day, and he will forever be remembered for taking a bite out of Bud Harrelson's hat in a scrap with the Mets in the 1973 playoffs. I don't quite remember Mullane. I ain't that old! Mullane pitched for the Reds from 1886-18892. Mullane's story is fascinating and I am shocked as a lifelong Reds follower I didn't know more about him. Click here for more on Mullane and the Reds HOF inductees from the Reds Official web page. It's worth the read as Mark "The Gosse" Sheldon covers all of the bases. I still can't get over the Mullane stuff.

I checked out the Miami hockey team on Tuesday. The Redhawks are number one in the USA Today coaches poll and fourth in the CBS poll. Somehow, they are picked third in their conference, the CCHA. The kicker, a lot of the same coaches they voted in the national poll that has Miami first, are the same coaches who voted in the conference poll. Weird. Miami coach Enrico Blase had a funny take on the situation.

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Miami opens Friday night at Steve "Coach" Cady Arena in Oxford.


The Bengals cannot afford to have the offense go to sleep in this game against Baltimore. To win there, they are going to have to play their best. Even though they are 3-1, we have not seen this team crank it up for four quarters. The Bengals have played well at Baltimore over the last fiver years, coming out of there with a 3-2 record. The two losses during that period were by seven points and six points.

Here is some fun for U.C. football fans. Since the Bearcats don't play for over a week, chew on this Boise vs U.C. vs the BCS stuff from CBSSportsline. This is a link to Gregg Doyel's story that contends that U.C. and Boise do not deserve a whiff of the BCS Championship. I know Gregg, so I'm allowed to say he is one of those SEC snobs. But there are also links on the page to Dennis Dodd making a case for Boise and Mike Freeman making a case for Cincinnati. It's fun reading, but don't let Doyel get you too steamed.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Odds and Ends

This past Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday were about as busy as I remember in a long time without being out of town at the NCAA's, the Orange Bowl, or other big events. Anyway, I checked in with the Bengals today and it seems all systems go for Cleveland. Some guys are dinged up, but it sounds like most, if not all, (including Maualuga) will be ready for the Browns. You never, ever, know in the NFL, but if there is ever a road game I think the Bengals can grab, it's this one. The Browns are a messed up group at this point. Dissension seems to be rampant in Cleveland.

U.C. should be able to cruise into Oxford and take care of business with the Miami Redhawks. Miami seems to have found something with quarterback Zac Dysert, but it won't be enough. U.C. will be bringing the Victory Bell back to Clifton. It's a very nice schedule set-up for the Bearcats. Play at Miami, then a week and a half off to prepare for South Florida. This way U.C. is not tempted to look past Miami because they know they have plenty of time to study up on the 4-0 Bulls.

How are the South Florida Bulls still not ranked? I'll tell ya: Wofford, Western Kentucky, and Charleston Southern, before the big win over Florida State. Why so many cupcakes? That's just dumb in my opinion.

There was a big play in the Rockies-Cardinals game over the weekend. Clint Barmes made an amazing grab and turned it into a game-ending double play. Then a fan sitting in right field posted some photos he took of the play, and well, it may not have been a catch after all. The television replays didn't have this angle. This is just the latest example of how mass media is changing thanks to the internet and small electronic devices that capure clear pictures and video. Click here to see the pictures taken by fan Craig Welling. A special hat tip to the Sporting News Blog.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pittsburgh Burning?











This is what happens when your team loses eight straight games to the Reds. Cincinnati wrapped up a three-game sweep Thursday afternoon against the Pirates, and the outrage was immediate. Most news outlets are attributing this behavior to the G-20 economic summit commencing in Pittsburgh, but we know better. Pirates fans are mad as heck and they're,,, well,,, I guess they're acting like Steelers fans! Seriously, the Reds really have it together right now, going 21-10 since August 22. It may just be fool's gold, and it may be another reason for the front office to stand pat in the off-season. I'm not liking that. I am liking Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, Joey Votto, (his stroke is back), Scott Rolen (he's healthy), and Brandon Phillips (avg. up to .280). I still don't think they have enough to win in 2010. The big question mark is the health of the pitchers. Harang has to come back strong in 2010 for the Reds to have any shot at all.


Back to Pittsurgh, I hope these are the players The Steelers plan on sending to Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday.



And Steelers fans, please behave yourselves. Knock off the bull in the stands and quit wanting to fight anyone that happens to stand up and cheer for the Bengals, or happens to yell "Who-Dey", or any other transgression that seems to set you people off. I know it's not just the Steelers fans every time, but each year it is the nastiest game in the stands with more trouble than any other event at PBS. And you, Steelers fan, are the common denominator. So welcome to town, have fun, and if you need it, call the jerk-line and security will take care of any issues you encounter.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

U.C. Fun and It's The Bengals Time

It's time for the Bengals to show Pittsburgh a little swagger for a change. The unvarnished truth is that the Steelers come to Cincinnati not only expecting to win, but expecting to push the Bengals around. From crashing into Carson's knee with no fear of retribution, to the Bus spiking the ball at Bengals feet, to Hines Ward breaking the jaw of Keith Rivers. All of those things happened right here in Cincinnati. When was the last time you really thought the Bengals whipped Pittsburgh's posteriors? The Steelers have won the last five meetings. It's time for the Bengals to take the physical upper-hand in this series. With this defense, the Bengals should be able to do some damage against a struggling Steelers offensive line. It's time to dish it out to the black and gold. If the Bengals don't, shame on them.

How fun is this U.C. thing getting. Pete Fiutak of CollegeFootballNews.com painted a scene that has the Bearcats taking on Florida in the BCS Championship game. Then before anyone had a chance to digest that, U.C. sophomore running back Isiah Pead declared U.C. the "top dog" in Ohio. Now people in Cincinnati AND Columbus are buzzing about this stuff. The NBC television station in Columbus requested the videotaped interviews from U.C. players about the issue. I've worked at WLWT for better than 25 years and I never, ever, recall a Columbus television station wanting anything from our U.C. football coverage outside of the occassional U.C.-Ohio State matchups. So Isiah stirred the pot and brought some attention to the Bearcats. He might have a future in marketing. Here's Isiah igniting the fuse, followed by Tony Pike's and Brian Kelly's comments.



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Monday, September 21, 2009

When Is U.C.'s Next Real Toughie?

It's time to play that time-honored game, "When is the next tough test for the U.C. football team?" You, Tony Pike, you are not allowed to play. Brian Kelly and staff, you're out too. The players and coaches have to approach every game like it's tough, and if they don't, they'll find themselves fighting for a win that should have been a gimme. Plus, they actually have to play the game and deal with injury issues that might hamper key players. But me, and you, we can play the game all night long and as loud as we desire. Rutgers was supposed to be a tough test and U.C. blasted the Knights. Oregon State was a tough one, but a 10 point win in that venue raises the Bearcats pedigree a few notches. Especially with the defense clamping down when needed. So let's peer into the future, and look at the upcoming opponents.

Sept. 26 Fresno St. at Nippert Stadium
Fresno played Wisconsin tough at the Badgers home field. Then the Bulldogs returned home to play Boise and lost by 17. Now they come back to the midwest to play a noon kickoff at Nippert. Fresno is good, but not that good. Plus the Bulldogs surrender a lot of points. A porous defense is not a good recipe against the Bearcats. Oddsmakers opened the line at U.C. -14. It's already up to 16 1/2. U.C. will be 4-0 by 3:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Oct. 3 Miami, Oh at Yager Stadium
Do I have to explain this one? The Bearcats should save room on the bus and just leave the Victory Bell in Cincinnati. I know, Miami's offense exploded in the final 23 minutes at Western Michigan over the weekend. After starting the season with 10 scoreless quarters, the Redhawks put up 26 in the final quarter-plus at Western. But Miami allowed 48 points at Western. How many will the 'Cats ring up?

Oct. 15 South Florida at Raymond James Stadium
This game appeared to be a tough one at the time it was announced. A Thursday night game on the Bulls home field will not be easy. But the Bulls best quarterback in school history is now out for the season. Matt Grothe tore a knee ligament during Saturday night's 59-0 pasting of Charleston Southern. His replacement is redshirt freshman B.J. Daniels. Daniels appears to have enormous talent. After replacing Grothe Saturday night, he completed 10 of 13 passes with a touchdown, and ran for another 105 yards and a two touchdowns. We'll find out more about South Florida this week when the Bulls meet Florida State. U.C. has beaten the Bulls in their last three meetings. The Bearcats coaching staff gets 12 days to prepare for this game. That's a good thing for U.C., a bad thing for opponents. When U.C. finishes with the Bulls young quarterback, it will be four straight over South Florida. I believe that, and I also believe this is the next tough one! But this is fun, so let's keep going.

Oct. 24 Louisville at Nippert Stadium
The Cardinals seem to be emerging from the fog of the past couple of seasons. After the way they went after Kentucky, I don't think this game is a layup. But it's at Nippert, it's Homecoming, so the 'Keg of Nails' will be available for another year in case the 'Cats need to bust it open and use the nails for facility upgrades.

Oct. 31 Syracuse at Carrier Dome
It's Halloween, and the 'Cats have to play a team nicknamed the "Orange". Wow, talk about karma! Seriously, this is not the laugher one might have expected at the beginning of the season. New coach Doug Marrone has brought a nice attitude to the Orange. Plus, Greg Paulus is proving to be more than a curiosity as the Syracuse quarterback. Paulus shredded a depleted Northwestern defense for 346 yards Saturday as the Orange picked up its first win under Marrone. But a three-point win over Northwestern at home isn't in the same class as a 10-point win at Oregon State. U.C. is still a cut-and-a-half above Syracuse and will carve up the Orange like a Jack'o lantern.

Nov. 7 Connecticut at Nippert Stadium
Remember that truck that ran over the Bearcats in the second half of last year's game at Storrs? Donald Brown plays for the NFL's Indy Colts now, but U.C. should still be a little wary of the Huskies. Quarterback Zach Frazer is the transfer from Notre Dame, but he's a little dinged up right now. Maybe UConn is better off with Cody Endres running the show anyway. Frazer had fired 7 interceptions in three starts this season. Endres made his first career start against U.C. last year and helped engineer the 40-16 thumping. If this game were in Storrs, I'd be a little more worried. But UConn plays at Pitt, home against Louisville, at West Virginia, and home verus Rutgers, before coming to Nippert. Will they have enough left to beat a very good U.C. team on the 'Cats home turf? Nope.

Nov. 13 West Virginia at Nippert Stadium
West Virginia missed a great chance to wave the Big East flag last Saturday at Auburn. The Mountaineers took a lead to the fourth quarter, then came four turnovers and the game slipped away. The Mountaineers committed 6 turnovers in the game, including a whopping 5 interceptions. You never take anything for granted against West Virginia, especially a win. This will be tough, but can it be any tougher than that win U.C. escaped Morgantown with last season? Plus, West Virginia has been ok under Bill Stewart, but not great. U.C. protects the home turn on a cool Friday night under the Nippert lights.


Nov. 27 Illinois at Nippert Stadium
The Illini could be playing out the string by this point. They lost star linebacker Martez Wilson for the season with a neck injury. Juice Williams will return from a leg injury this weekend to face Ohio State. Illinois faces Penn State and Michigan State the following weeks. It could be lights out after that stretch of big games. But if Williams and his offense are healthy, this will not be a layup. If U.C. happens to be undefeated or a one loss team at this point, it will give Illinois a reason to get up in late November. But if the Bearcats are rolling along at that pace, this Illinois squad isn't going to derail them.

Dec. 5 Pittsburgh at Heinz Field
Since the schedule was announced, we all knew it could come down to this. Hopefully for U.C. and Pitt fans, it will come down to this game. Little freshman running back Dion Lewis is averaging 5.9 yards a carry. Bill Stull is completing 70-per cent of his passes and has 6 touchdown throws against just one interception. The Panthers held Navy to 2.8 yards per rush. Navy picked up 4.2 per carry against Ohio State. So this team is good. Pitt has won its first three games for the first time since 2000. The Panthers have a somewhat deserved reputation of fading down the stretch under Dave Wannstedt. That wasn't the case last year. It probably won't be the case this year. A win at N.C. State this weekend should get the Panthers in the top 25. If all goes according to plan, and it almost never does, this will be the game of the year in the Big East.

Monday, September 14, 2009

24-Hour Rule

I firmly believe in the 24-hour rule. When something bad happens in your line of work, you have 24 hours, at most, to think (or whine) about it. Then you better move on. In television, like anything else, things go wrong. Sometimes it's self-induced, sometimes it's not. I've been so mad some nights I want to drive up to Clifton and chop down our tower. But by the time 24 hours passes, the whining, brooding, and stressing better pass too. The Bengals better use that rule after Sunday's events, and if the locker room on Monday was any indication, it appears they are following the rule. That doesn't mean they are going to beat the Packers. It doesn't mean they'll be a better team than the one we saw lose Sunday to an inferior bunch from Denver. It only means they are handling this in the best way possible. But what else can you do?
As for fans, forget the 24-hour rule. Bengals fans will be sick about this for a long time. They should be. Some may completely give up, thinking this team truly is cursed. For the record, I think it is cursed. The older I get, the more I believe in Karma. I'm just not sure who did what to whom in the Bengals organization to hack off the football Gods, but it happened. Too bad that can't be solved in 24 hours.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Six-burgh or Sick-burgh?


















Reeeeeeeeal American Herooooooooes! Here's to you, Mr. Ate-up Pittsburgh Steelers fan. When the rest of America returns to work on Monday, you shower in one more warm can of IC light, just so you can pretend it's Sunday again! And when your team wins the big one, you don't silkscreen a tee-shirt, you silkscreen your Primanti Brothers-fed biceps!



Yep. That's exactly what you think it is. In honor of the NFL kicking off a new season in Pittsburgh, I thought I would allow a peak into the sick world of a Steelers fan. A former co-worker and friend of mine has added tattoos after the last two Steelers Super Bowl wins. He really is a good guy. He just happens to have this illness, or maybe perversion is more fitting. Last year he landed a sweet job in Pittsburgh so I don't have to see his Jerome Bettis or Hines Ward or Big Ben or Willie Parker or you-name-it-he-has-it jerseys every day. Or the Steelers-gold vehicle. Or his Steelers electric train that circles his Steelers Christmas tree decorated with Steelers ornaments. I'm not making this up. He would shave a few points off of his IQ just to say he has something in common with Terry Bradshaw! And those tattoos, oh those tattoos! But I do miss our bantor every day, and darnit, even a diehard, sick, perverted Steelers fan can make the world a better place. And yes, even qualify as a Real American Hero. Cheers Mikey!!!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Keeping U.C. Football Healthy

Somebody get the Lindner family on the phone and convince them to shower Brian Kelly with multiple UDF stores, Great American Insurance annuities, and maybe throw in a banana farm in South America. Cincinnati, not just U.C., needs to get even more creative to make sure Kelly and his merry band of assistants continue to rob from the collegiate football rich and give to the poor, long-suffering, football fans of Cincinnati. The man is a treasure, an asset to the local community, bringing cheer and good publicity to an area sometimes lacking in both. U.C. football is enjoying a kind of success and popularity that hasn't been experienced in over 50 years, if ever. So how can U.C. keep the ball rolling into the future? We all know the answer is to keep Brian Kelly. If Washington and Tennessee made runs at BK last year, you better believe more teams will come knocking at the end of this season, and they'll be holding bigger and better offers. Mark my words. Sure, if Kelly leaves, U.C. might catch lightning in a bottle again and find a great coach. But why take the chance?
In the past coaches have done some of the things needed, but not all. This current regime is the total package. Check-off all of the following on the U.C. football to-do list:

1. selling the program to recruits and parents
2. maximizing the talent on hand
3. playing an exciting brand of football on offense and defense
4. engaging the administration, alums and students
5. getting the greater Cincinnati area to actually pay attention
6. making U.C. football relevant on a national scale

Coaches in the past have made some inroads on some of the above points, but not all. Kelly and his staff had a major leg-up on point six because of the Big East conference. As much as the national pundits continue to try and ignore what is happening in Cincinnati, Kelly is grabbing their attention once again. Monday's butt-stomping at Rutgers put to rest the prevailing national attitude that U.C. was a one-hit wonder in 2008 and merely the product of 10 seniors starting on defense. Once again, Kelly and his very capable staff have shown an ability to take their 22 best players and beat you, or take your 22 best players and beat you. So why gamble on losing a good thing? Just make sure Kelly goes nowhere. Give him a huge balloon payment if he stays 5 years, 10 years, whatever it takes. I realize most fans don't have the money to make that happen, but somewhere among U.C. alums and local fat-cats there has to be a collegiate football fan that loves winning. Right? Meanwhile I suggest the rest of U.C. football fans follow these steps to help ensure Kelly remains past 2009:

1. Sell out Nippert Stadium every game
2. Root very hard for Notre Dame and a 10 win season for big Charlie
3. Do the same for Boston College, just in case
4. Eat lots of ice-cream and hope the Lindner family likes winning football too.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Glad This Didn't Happen At The Bengals Game

I thought the Bengals looked good, but they should against the team the Colts threw out there. But the Bengals first team, second team, and beyond did a nice job, making hard decisions that much harder for the coaching staff. But as soon as I got home from the game and post-game radio coverage, I fired up some college football. Opening night, 16th ranked Oregon and 14th ranked Boise State. Boise wins 19-8, but after the game came some real fireworks. Boise defensive end Byron Hout hit Oregon tailback LeGarrette Blount on the shoulder pads and said something that must not have been nice. Blount responded with a right to the chin. Then Blount tried to go after a fan, no doubt the fan was being a clown. Two huge back to back no-no's by Blount. Anyway, I recorded the replays off the game coverage for a little late-night, early-morning entertainment. By the way, Blount's team not only lost, he was held to -5 yards rushing on 8 carries and was tossed for a safety. At least he can't lose yards while he's suspended.

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I am so glad college football is back, and I'm fired up that Friday night is the last night of NFL preseason football. So the pros, the colleges, and the high schools are all playing for keeps.

I wish I could tell you who the Bengals are going to keep at running back, but I can't. Do they keep 1 fullback and 4 running backs? If they cut DeDe Dorsey he's gone. He'll get picked up by someone. But they can't cut Brian Leonard. I think if they cut Vakapuna or Pressley, I'm thinking they can get at least one of them back on the practice squad, and Leonard becomes an emergency fullback if Jeremi Johnson gets injured.

By the way, Dorsey's blocked punt came against Colts punter Pat McAffee. McAffee was the kicker for West Virginia last year and hit the 52 yard field goal against U.C. that sent last year's game into overtime and U.C. fans into cardiac arrest. McAffee had a big second half in that game with several booming punts. He and Kevin Huber went toe to toe in that one. Of course it was Huber's 'Cats coming out with the win in o.t.

Monday, August 31, 2009

U.C. Football, Bengals Over-Hyped Draft Picks, and More

Why is there such little respect for U.C.'s football team? In Vegas last week, the Bearcats odds of winning the Big East were as high as 8 to 1, most had it 7 to 1.
Here's essentially what I found:
Pittsburgh 5/2
South Florida 5/2
West Virginia 5/2
Rutgers 9/2
U.C. 7/1
Connecticut 8/1
Louisville 15/1
Syracuse 50/1

So the defending champs are the best bet on the board in my book. If U.C. can get past Rutgers, look out! But the scary thing for U.C. fans, the boys out west get it right a lot more often that they get it wrong. I'm betting they're a little off on this one.

While on the subject, it's inexcusable that Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musberger (aka Burnt Cheeseburger) didn't mention U.C. in their short video preview of the Big East. Herbstreit has given the Bearcats a lot of love over the past couple of seasons so I won't club him for this. But fellas, the defending champs, and they don't even get a mention? Even if you would say Cincinnati is the defending champ but needs to rebuild that defense, I would say fair enough. But not even a mention? A special hat-tip to the posters at the fine web site, bearcatlair.com

Click here to watch Herbstreit and Musberger forget all about the defending champs of the conference they are previewing!


Now that Andre Smith has signed with the Bengals, what do you expect? Despite all of the comments that he looks fat, he's way behind, he's this, he's that, no one will know until the guy gets a few games under his belt. (should anything else fit under his belt) I remember Anthony Munoz driving a defender all the way to the bench on one of his first plays in a preseason game. We knew right then and there Munoz was a stud. But it's rare that a first round pick shows that kind of stuff right away. Some never show much at all. The most over-hyped thing in sports is a first round draft pick in the NFL. We look for twitter tweets, rumors, anything that updates negotiations with your favorite team's top pick. Then the player turns out
to be okay, but not a major impact player. Rarely are they worth the large rookie contracts they receive. That's been the norm around here. Since Carson in 2003, the Bengals top picks have been Chris Perry (gone, bust), David Pollack (gone, injury), Johnathan Joseph (was on his way, has to beat injury bug), Leon Hall (improving, might get there in his third season), Keith Rivers (showed tremendous promise before Hines Ward gave him the cold shoulder), and Andre Smith (we shall see). No wonder commissioner Roger Goodell is looking into the NBA rookie salary scale.

Apparently L.A. Dodger Manny Ramirez had a lot of fun in Cincinnati, at least on Saturday evening. My friend at WLWT sent me this in an email:
Manny-would? Manny did.
Manny-wood was everywhere in downtown Cincinnati this weekend. After polishing off an offering from Reds pitcher Matt Maloney in the first inning Saturday, he was seen demolishing a pork chop at a hip 6th Street restaurant. Through a series of circumstances, Maloney, a rookie, decided to dine at the same restaurant at the same time, and was, by chance, seated at the table next to the dread-locked, satchel carrying superstar Ramirez’s table of five. Inside sources said that that not only did Manny pick up the check for Maloney, who was recalled from the minors to make the start, but he thanked him for the tasty pitch.-- Michael D. Altman

I'm thinking Manny said it with a smile and good natured tone because all of the major league types say Manny is really a cool guy. If not, Maloney should have thrown some croutons in that salad Manny's wearing on his head.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Brian Kelly On Sports Rock

One week from the kickoff to the regular season, U.C. Head Coach Brian Kelly joined us in the Sports Rock Lounge. The two-time "Big East Coach of the Year" talks about his team, Rutgers, and Tony Pike taking his place among the nation's elite quarterbacks.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Worst Decade For Reds In Decades

The Reds 2009 season is rapidly approaching the worst since 2003, with an outside chance of being in the ballpark of 2001. The Reds finished 69-93 in 2003, 66-96 in 2001. If they fail to make 70 wins, this would be the first decade since the 1950's that the Reds have failed to reach 70 wins in three different seasons. The first four seasons in the 50's, the Reds failed to reach the 70 win mark. In fact, they went six consecutive seasons without reaching 70, from 1948-1953. But back then, they played 8 fewer games in a season, the 154-game schedule. Since 1953, the Reds have had a total of six seasons below 70 wins. After Sunday's win, the Reds need to go 18-21 the rest of the season to reach 70. I don't see that happening, not with the injuries piling up. 1983 should be safe though. That is the year the Reds won a whopping 61 games while losing 101. The Reds would have to lose 30 of their final 39 games to match that low-water mark. Any way you slice in, 2009 has turned very dark, and the decade of 2000-2009 will be the worst decade in terms of wins since the advent of the 162 game season in the 60's. OUCH!

No More Kicks For Chad and Other Quick Hitters

With the signing of another kicker, Ochocinco goes back to full time wide receiver and emergency kicker. Chad did show some nice ability.

Sam Swank is the kicker the Bengals signed. That's a name for the movies. What kind of movies? I cannot say.

I think Chad is going to have a big year. If he does, he might have trade value, and if he has trade value, I move him as soon asap. He has another year left on his contract with a club option for 2011. Should he have a big 2009, guess what is coming in the off season?

I don't care if it's a mild ankle sprain, I don't like my quarterbacks smarting in August after missing most of the previous season. I know Carson Palmer could play if he had to, but I get uneasy feelings about durability when things like this happen.

How much longer can the Bengals pretend Andre Smith's camp is going to take a deal that isn't up to market value? The system stinks, but based on the system, the Bengals are not offering enough dough.

If you aren't excited about the defense yet, you will be. The defensive line is the best the Bengals have had in years. There is depth at d-line, linebacker, and safety. I cannot say there is depth at cornerback, but I can say the starting combo of Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall will be the best since Eric Thomas and Lewis Billups were part of the S.W.A.T. team.

How funny is it that the Bengals have higher ratings for "Hard Knocks" than the Dallas Cowboys had last year? I guess people were really expecting a train wreck. I can't put my finger on it. The Bengals have some star power with Ochocinco and Carson, but they are coming off a 4-11-1 season. It has to be the "train wreck" factor, doesn't it?

With the way J.T. O'Sullivan is playing, I wonder if the 49ers are having second thoughts. Probably not, but J.T. is outperforming anything he left behind in San Francisco.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Odds and Ends As We Get Ready To Roll

You want cynical? I'm half thinking the Bengals camp is so boring that HBO and NFL Films teamed up to back the Bengals in their offer to Michael Vick. That would have stirred the Bengals pot. I'm also half thinking HBO and NFL Films trucked in Muhammad Ali to spice things up today. How's that for cynical?

Speaking of "Hard Knocks", I guess the Bengals didn't take Mike Brown's advice and move defensive end Chris Harrington to tight end. They signed two free agent tight ends today.

I keep vacillating on Carson Palmer's status. If he can play Thursday night, should he? I want him to get in as much work as possible under live-game action, since last year he saw very little action. This offense needs to be clicking, and needs the work to get all of the timing down. Carson looked pretty good for the first time out of the box Friday night. I'm guessing he won't play, but I really want him to take the field for most of the first half.

I can't wait for U.C. football. Think about this. Last year U.C. had the experienced defense and an All-America punter. Fighting through the quarterback injuries in 2008, the 'Cats could afford to play conservative offense and let the defense and special teams win games. With 10 new starters on defense and a new punter, head coach and resident mad scientist Brian Kelly is probably thinking he'll need to score some points. There could be a mushroom cloud over campus by the time he's through. Just think of the wild plays he'll conjure up for his offense. With qb Tony Pike, wr Mardy Gilyard, and a slew of other home run hitters at the skill positions, I think this is going to be fun. I hope they added a third digit to the scoreboard at Nippert Stadium!

High school football is about to kick off, and as you probably know that's a big deal around here. Kentucky games begin this Friday and we'll have our tailgate show up and running this Friday at Ryle. The Raiders are hosting Covington Catholic in a mammoth tilt to start the season. Another game that is intriguing Firday night involves NewCath and Dixie Heights. Beechwood coach Noel Rash and Simon Kenton coach Jeff Marksberry will be watching that one with interest. Beechwood plays Dixie while Simon Kenton will meet NewCath the following Saturday in the Crosstown Showdown.

How can the Reds be this bad? I NEVER thought it would come to this in 2009. Have you already given up hope on 2010? I'm getting close.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Michael Johnson Moving On Up

After a productive weekend that included two sacks in Friday night's scrimmage, rookie defensive end Michael Johnson is moving on up. He's second on the depth chart now at right defensive end. If he shows he can hold up against the run, who knows if he'll ever stop moving up. When a player is blessed with overwhelming talent, he can makes his presence known immediately. These guys are known as "freaks". During an interview before training camp I noticed defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's eyes light up like disco-balls when he mentioned Michael Johnson's name. So I asked Zimmer if he considered Johnson a "freak", and he answered "yeah", followed by this:

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Four or five guys in his career. Zimmer has been in the NFL game since 1994. He's been at coach at the collegiate level or above since 1979. That's a lot of guys he's seen. It's too early to go nuts over this, but I'm more than cautiously optimistic about Johnson than most. How many times in the past have you had high hopes for a rookie only to hear the kiss of death. Statements from coaches that go along the lines of "he's having trouble picking up the system", or, "he has some things to work on before we can put him into a game situation." That's a red-flag for "this guy ain't panning out." There's only one rookie I remember getting that tag and then he turned out to be gangbusters. Corey Dillon. Bruce Coslet used the blitz-pickup excuse to keep Dillon on the bench a little longer than he should have been. So far nothing even close to that is being said about Johnson. In fact, coaches might be trying to temper their glee. I can't wait to see the kid in action Friday night when the live bullets are being fired.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bengals Airplane Banner

This is the banner an airplane pulled above the Bengals scrimmage Friday night in Georgetown. It circled around the stadium for the entire, and I mean entire, scrimmage. You couldn't help but hear the airplane's engine droning above the stadium, drawing more and more notice to the banner trumpeting the Bengals' poor team record since Mike Brown took sole control of the franchise. Then I remembered someone asked Mike about the General Manager issue at the pre-training camp luncheon back on July 21. Here is the answer in it's entirety. The question was presented to Mike that Pittsburgh has invested in a G.M., so why not the Bengals?
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Mike is right, Pittsburgh does not have a General Manager. But the Steelers do have a "Director of Football Operations", and his last name is not Rooney. For the record his name is Kevin Colbert, and even Steelers fans routinely refer to him as the "G.M." I know Mike prefers the spartan ways of days-gone-by, when the late, great, Paul Brown was still around. But times have changed and pro football has become such a year-round evaluation of talent that Mike needs help. Maybe not even a lot of of help, but at least some. It's too bad he doesn't see it that way.

Monday, August 3, 2009

What The Heck Is Going On?

First of all, a quick rant about my health. How in the world do you get a debilitating head cold at the end of July? This really tees me off and if the symptoms continue much longer I'm going to have to turn to some 100 proof to see if that can kill the germs. While I'm at it, I may just swallow a bottle of Listerine too.

Watching the Reds is enough to give anyone a debilitating headache. Sometimes you wonder if they will ever make it work. What did this franchise do to deserve this? Was it Marge's mouth? Was it Bowden's arrogance? Of the firing of the beloved Tony Perez after just 44 games as manager? Was it Jerry Narron saying "Shooooot, Marty" every day on the pre-game show? Was it Bob Boone saying "points" instead of "runs"? It couldn't be Pete could it? After all, the Reds won the World Series in 1990, just after Rose and MLB ran the game through the mud. It can't be having a bobblehead night every other weekend because the losing ways started long before that. Was it allowing Jimmy Haynes or Joey Hamilton to take the mound on Opening Days? Maybe it was trading Paul O'Neill away. Something, somewhere, somehow, really hacked off the baseball gods because the Reds can't catch a break, even when the deserve one. How else do you explain bringing in Scott Rolen taking a fastball to the skull in his second game with the Reds? Then the very next day the club learns promising young pitcher Edinson Volquez needs his elbow reconstructed through Tommy John surgery? No, there's something evil at work here. It might be time to build an alter at home plate in G.A.B.P. and sacrifice something, Gapper, Mr. Redlegs, or the all-you-can-eat section, something! Maybe we should just sacrifice the rest of the 2009 season.

As for the Rolen trade, everyone else has weighed in, and now that I can lift my head without screaming, I'll weigh in. When a team is trying to build for the long haul, I hate to see young starting pitching leave while a 34-year old veteran comes up board. But Rolen gives the Reds a nice upgrade at third and fills a glaring hole for 2010. But if he doesn't stay healthy and doesn't wear a Reds uniform past 2010, the deal is a dud. Even if Rolen stays, this will further hamstring the payroll, so somebody better start selling a lot of canteloupes.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wow, What A July For Cincy!

July! It's a great month! Love the warm weather, even during this coldest July on record. Red White and Blue on the fourth. Parades, cookouts, swimming pools, drinks with limes, and nothing but baseball. It's a great month for codgers like me who love red, white, and blue. And baseball. The Reds are once again blue in July. A bruising shade of blue, soon to be black and blue. 10 games under .500 for the season, and falling faster than Aaron Harang's trade value. Quick!!!! What was the Reds record on July 3? It was a respectable 39-38 with the Cardinals rolling in for a three-game series for the holiday weekend. Yep, one game over .500. What a fateful Friday night it was. The Reds up 3-0 in the eighth inning, bases loaded, a fella named Pujols at the plate. Since Albert swatted that ball to the left-center field seats for a pre-fourth of July roman candle up the you-know-what, the Reds have amassed a record of 6-17. That's S-I-X and SEVENTEEN. What happened? The pitching that looked so promising has cratered, and Harang is at the head of the class. The Volquez injury aside, Aaron has lost it and that has been crippling to this team. I don't know if he has lost it for good, but Aaron hasn't had "it" for some time now. We go back to the relief appearance in San Diego last season, or the comeback after the rain delay on Memorial day 2009. Remember that? All for the sole purpose of getting one in the "win" column for Aaron. That was the last "win" in his column. I don't blame Aaron for wanting to go out there and pitch. In pro sports, there are adults and there are kids. The players are the kids. So guess who needs to be the adult?

Looking ahead, the Reds merely need a shortstop, third baseman, left fielder, and center fielder for 2010. As for the pitching,,,, wow,,, and I thought this organization was on the right track. Okay, here's the plan:
Dickerson gets healthy and plays center every day. At least then you'll know if he's a viable option for 2010, because Taveras has impressed no one.
Heisey comes up and plays left, (i know he generally plays center, but i've seen dickerson play center, and i KNOW that guy can track the ball like a champ. i don't know that about heisey)
Third and shortstop, i guess you better go get some people. I've been an Edwin backer for so long I almost confuse him with Wade Rowden and Nick Esasky. It seems like it's been that long since we've been waiting for him to turn it on. Not gonna happen. But please, I've always loved Scott Rolen, please, do not burn 11 million on a 35-year old third baseman with little power. You don't have that kind of payroll space to burn. In fact, you should be shedding luxurious salaries (CoCo) before you start adding them. Like they say, baseball is a funny game. I really convinced myself a month ago this team was built to make a decent run in 2010. Now I think Pete might have a plaque in Cooperstown (or maybe decent sunglasses) before the Reds make a run.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Reds Progress and The Cardinals Swoop Again

I've always felt the Reds are on a better path than they were a year ago. I still feel that way because of youngsters on the major league roster and a few guys in the minor leagues who are showing some serious promise. But if you compare the Reds last year to this year, it looks the same. I'll still take this year's Reds squad because I think the youngsters are one year closer to bearing fruit, but the slog from the depths of the national league is a long, slow one for Cincinnati.
2009 Reds After 94 Games
.......W.....L......Runs Scored......Runs Against...Net Runs
......44.....50........382..............447............-65

2008 Reds After 94 Games
.......W.....L......Runs Scored......Runs Against...Net Runs
......45.....49........406..............463............-57

So they were one win and eight net runs better at this point last season. Ugghhh!


The Cardinals swoop in and grab a bat for the stretch run. Matt Holliday will help the Cardinals, and what do you want to bet he's there for the long-term? He's a free agent at the end of the season, but you know how St. Louis operates. They'll find a way to make Holliday more than a rent-a-player. He'll see the big baseball-crazed crowds, the Cardinals commitment to winning, and he'll be ready to sign the dotted line. It's a shame the Reds have to be in the same division with an organization that has done it so right for so many years. It's similar to what the Bengals are up against when it comes to Pittsburgh. One of these years the Cincinnati organizations might figure it out. I say the Reds are a lot closer to figuring things out. But the Bengals haven't see the bar very high, have they?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Opposing Sluggers Get Fat Against Reds

I don't have a single stat to back any of this up, but I'm willing to bet it's so true. The Reds always get burned by the opponents' best slugger. Always. It sure seems like always. It stands to reason the other team's top slugger is going to get his share of big hits over the course of a season. Albert Pujols is good, and smokes many a pitcher in the National League. But every single time the Cardinals need a miracle against the Reds, Albert parts the seas, moves the mountains, and hits the key home run. Just like Prince Fielder seems to be doing for Milwaukee these days. Just like Manny Ramirez did for the Dodgers Wednesday night. A pinch-hit grand slam on the first pitch from Nick Masset. The ball didn't even have a chance to get dirt on it. From the umpire's hands, to the catcher, to Masset, to the left field seats. On Manny Ramirez bobble head night. You knew he would do it. The other team's big gun always shoots the Reds right between the eyes.

The upside, this should put an end to any thoughts the Reds had of rolling the dice and trying to bring in a veteran bat to make a run at the playoffs. I officially waved the white flag on the Sunday before the All-Star break. It was apparent injuries, lack of hitting, and struggling pitching had taken it's toll and the Reds were back in Nowheresville. As I posted earlier, improving this team with a bat or two would be like putting chrome wheels on a rusty Ford Fairlane. What's the point? Even if the Reds were to slip into the playoffs, they weren't going further than round one. The goal is to build a team that can win the World Series. So do not sell off one single piece that can help the cause over the next three to four years. Just keep planning and plodding ahead for next year, the year that never seems to come. They do have a good mix of young players that can be a true foundation of future success. But they have to find some veteran help. Good luck Walt.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Edwin and Eldrick, Who Would Have Thunk It? Oh, John Daly's Pants Too!

It's a crazy thing when Edwin Encarnacion is having a better week than Tiger Woods. Edwin storms out of the All-Star break with seven hits in two games. Bronson was big again too, as the Reds beat the Brewers 4-0 Friday night.

While Edwin was racking up seven hits, Eldrick "Tiger" Woods was suffering big-time at the British Open. He gets back to even par, then ends up 5-over, and just missing the cut. Soooooo, you think they may as well take in the pins and close up the pro shop since NOBODY cares about a tournament without Tiger? Enter Tom Watson, and the man with the crazy pants. If the 59-year old Watson is still hanging with the leaders going into Sunday, this will be unreal. If he wins the British Open, it will be the biggest sports story of the year. He would smash the record for the oldest player to win a major championship. Julius Boros was 48 when he won the PGA Championship back in 1968.
Meanwhile, how can you not get a charge out of John Daly? Those Loudmouth Golf pants must have some of those stoic British blokes blowing tea out their noses. Just for fun, let's take a look at some of John's drawers:







Monday, July 13, 2009

All-Star Break Boredom and Early College Football Talk

The All-Star break stinks for me. I loved the All-Star game as a kid, so I'm not sure at what point I lost interest, but it happened. I'm not even juiced about it deciding home field advantage in the World Series. That has had no bearing on Cincinnati since Bud Selig instituted that silly gimmick. I mean really, why should the All-Star game have any bearing on the fortunes of individual teams in October? It's ridiculous, but like I said, it doesn't have a bearing on Cincinnati. I know the Reds needed a break, but I want games that matter. Well, never mind the part about "games that matter", but Reds games still interest me. But how much longer will that last? They are teetering on the edge, and another 10 games like the last 10 and that will just about do it. But that will just about get me to Bengals training camp, and that seems to be the goal each summer.

As for what the Reds should do, see my previous post. Even without Jay Bruce, I feel that way.

A lot of people are down on Bruce, but I still think that once the kid gets it, he's going to take off. I'm not saying he's the next Mike Schmidt, but it's interesting to note Schmidt's batting average his first full season in the major leagues. Schmidt hit a robust .196 in his rookie season of 1973. He also had 18 home runs in 443 plate appearance at the tender age of 23. Bruce has 18 home runs already this season in 333 plate appearances, at the tender age of 22. Schmidt did have a better on-base percentage (.324 to jay's .283) by taking more walks. But Michael Jack Schmidt struck out 136 times, about once for every 3.3 plate appearances. So far in 2008, Bruce is striking out about once for every 5.2 plate appearances. That's enough stats for now.

As I write this, the home run derby is going on. Thank goodness there's not a gun nearby, since Berman just uncorked one of those annoying "back, back, back, back..." calls. If I had a gun, I'd have lead in my temple before this post was finished. But he does seem to be calming that tired act down some from years past.

There is an All-Star game in Cincinnati this week. The Cincinnati Steam host the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League All-Star game Wednesday night. If you haven't seen the Steam play, it's really worth checking out. They keep the game moving, and the baseball is good. They expect a healthy amount of scouts from major league teams at the All-Star game. It's Wednesday at 6:35 p.m., at Western Hills High School.

The latest Sporting News Magazine has the rankings for all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (Division 1-A, why can't it still be good old division 1-A?) college football team in the country. It's really a very cool read. They have Florida at #1 and Texas #2. They have a comment from Carson Palmer regarding Texas. Carson says he has Texas number one and believes Colt McCoy is the best quarterback in the county.
Ohio State is ninth, and U.C. is all the way down at 46. They have a quote from former Buckeye Bobby Carpenter saying that U.C. at 46 is by far the biggest travesty in the poll. Bobby says coming off their first Big East championship, the Bearcats deserve at least a top 20 ranking. It's good to hear a Buckeye have the Bearcats' back. But you should know Bobby's younger brother Jon is a grad assistant for U.C. and played for the Bearcats from 2004-2007. By the way, I think U.C. will prove to be better than 46th.
Some more teams of interest: Kentucky was ranked 61, Louisville 73, Ohio U. 100, Indiana 103, Miami Oh 104, and the team picked dead last by the Sporting News is Western Kentucky at 120. It's the Hilltoppers first season in the FBS.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Buyers Or Sellers? Here We Go Again.

Don't do it Reds! Don't reach out in desperation to take a shot at the playoffs in 2009! I implore you, don't mess this thing up. I admire you if you are thinking big, but don't do it, at least not yet. I can't even believe I'm thinking this way, but I'm thinking long-term, something I don't often do. I wish I could think long-term when I have money in my pocket, have to wake up early, or see a bag of donuts for the taking. But what the heck, I'll allow myself to think like an adult for a change.

It's common for baseball teams to reach out and grab a piece of the playoffs if the teams feels it has a decent shot to make it. I'm not sure the Reds have what I would call a "decent shot". But the Reds have a very good reason to go for it: They haven't made the postseason in 14 years. That's an embarrassment. Fans are starved, not only for wins, but for signs that management is serious about winning. But believe it or not, I'm hoping the Reds show restraint and don't go for it this year. Am I crazy? Maybe. Am I a glutton for punishment, content watching a team that is so-so at best? No. But at the risk of sounding silly, I see this team as a year ahead of schedule.

Do you really think the core of this team is ready for prime time? Me neither. But they are getting closer. The hope is Jay Bruce will improve next season and get his batting average where it needs to be. The hope is Chris Dickerson takes over one of the outfield spots, preferably center field. The hope is Phillips and Votto continue to grow as star players. The hope is the young pitching gets to a point where it is among the top staffs in the league, if not leagues. I think these are all reasonable hopes. Although Dickerson may be pushing it thanks to another, less attractive, plan in center.

But who do you think the other teams will want from the Reds in a trade? More than likely, young pitching. I don't touch one of my young pitchers. Arroyo or Harang? Maybe I would move them for the right guy. Edwin? Sure, but you would have to get a third baseman in return. I don't think Edwin is going to bring the Reds what they need. Garrett Atkins and Scott Rolen would not put the Reds over the top. I would love to see Rolen in Cincinnati, but let's face it: While he is hitting around .330, the injuries seem to have robbed him of his power. He would be an improvement, but I would not mortgage the future for that. But I would have to consider him, especially if the price is right. The Reds appear more interested in getting a guy with a big bat who can play the outfield than a guy who plants himself at third base.

Hey, if it's the right guy for the right price and it fits long-term, I have no problem. But I wouldn't mess with the future to make an improbable run this season. While the record doesn't suggest any sort of massive growth, the way this team plays most of the time shows a serious departure from years past. Keep moving forward with the plan. The plan is to make this thing work for the long term. The plan is to build for a World Championship. The Reds aren't there yet.