Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wow! Could The Weekend Have Been Worse?

...Not for the Cincinnati Reds. Friday the Reds give up small-ball and lose a game while allowing just three hits. Saturday Votto goes on the disabled list. Saturday night Harang does nothing to ease the pain. Sunday the Reds leave 11 men on base while scoring just two runs. The result, three losses and panic-time in Redsland.
I thought they could go 4-3 on the trip because the pitching would win the day. But I wasn't banking on Votto leaving the lineup, and taking with him the timely hitting that has made this team an efficient machine. Now, I just hope they can keep the amount of wins within five or so of the amount of losses while Votto is out of the lineup.
I was glad to hear Brandon Phillips pop off some after Sunday's game. He was right about the Reds not doing the little things right in Milwaukee. We'll see if this was just a hiccup as the team tries to steady itself after getting walloped with the news that their best hitter is on the disabled list.
We will never know if Harang's outing Saturday night had anything to do with staying in last Monday's game after a two hour rain-delay. We will never know if the outcome would have been different Friday night if the Reds had tried to bunt in the eighth inning Friday night. But I do know both of those decisions were very unnecessary risks. I like a lot of things about Dusty and his managing style. Contrary to popular local belief, or at least popular local belief before he managed the Reds, Dusty does a nice job handing young players. I think he's a good manager when it comes to setting an air of confidence for a team. I think he keeps things very positive. But the two aforementioned decisions have given me a major headache. Here's hoping the team, and more importantly the manager, learned something from it.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Votto Out, The Reds Get One Hour Of Self-Pity

For the Reds, this stinks. It really stinks. Worse than that old carton of milk we once found under a reporter's desk in the newsroom. Rancid. But losing Joey Votto to the disabled list is something the Reds have to deal with, and have dealt with, in a positive way. While Joey has been in and out of the lineup the past three weeks, the Reds have played well. But Milwaukee and St. Louis on the road is a whole different animal than dealing with Cleveland and Houston at home. I'm not sure they can weather this storm. But this is where we will give the manager credit. Dusty has instilled a positive vibe in this team that is contagious. Hopefully that's the only thing that is contagious, but I digress. They had to battle the absences of Votto and Phillips. They get Phillps back in the lineup Saturday night. We should learn in short order if he is healthy enough to give the Reds the kind of juice he was giving them before the injury. But what has carried the Reds so far is the one facet that has remained healthy, and that's pitching. It's up to Harang to set the tone on that tonight.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Small-ball takes a back seat to something else

All of this talk about the Reds playing small-ball and they blow off an obvious bunting situation. It led directly to a rally-killing double-play Friday night in Milwaukee. Runners on first and second, nobody out, in the eighth inning with the Reds trailing the Brewers by one run. Let's see, it's late in the game, you can push two runners into scoring position, and pinch-hitter Chris Dickerson doesn't even make an attempt at laying one down. Dusty had statistics on his side with Todd Coffey allowing lefthanders to hit him at will. But you also have to keep in mind what has been working for your team all season long. Coffey ran the count to 2-0. Dickerson fouled off the next two pitches, then came the fateful bouncer to second base. Rosales could have made himself a tougher out as opposed to running head-on into the tag, but that is beside the point. It's amazing that the Reds have a pretty good season going while playing a certain style of ball, and that style goes out the window at the most critical juncture of Friday night's game. I didn't like it.

Anyone else have an uneasy feeling about this Votto thing? I'm sure you all do. Votto had to leave another game early, and I'm sure it's just the inner-ear thing. Make that I hope it's just the inner-ear thing. This will sound crazy, but I figure all of the changing air pressure that comes with flying could be taking a toll on Votto's situation. Maybe they should just have him drive from city to city. Or maybe they should sit him for a couple of weeks. I think the latter is more likely than the former. Not good. Not with all of these upcoming games against N.L. Central foes.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Maybe Dusty Likes Young Players After All

No question this is a big stretch for the Reds. Three games at second place Milwaukee followed by four more at first place St. Louis. But it doesn't end there. The Reds come home for a three game weekend series with the Cubs, then it's on the road for six more games. So 13 of the next 16 games are on the road. A brutal stretch to be sure, but a stretch this team can handle.
It's nice to finally see what good pitching means to a team. The Reds have been searching for way too long for this kind of reliable pitching, both in the starting rotation and the bullpen. That coupled with a youthful bunch that doesn't seem to know what it doesn't know yet has made this team resilient. Nothing bothers them because they don't know what's supposed to bother them. They just know there's a game to be played and they're going to do whatever it takes to win it. This fearlessness has been a joy to watch develop, and it's developed in a short amount of time. For that we should give some thanks to manager Dusty Baker, a guy who had a reputation for dismissing young players.

So how many do they win in St. Louis and Milwaukee? I'm going to take the pitching and say the Reds come home with four wins. I know that's not going out on a limb, but any road trip above .500 is a good one.

One more thing about the Reds. A lot has been made about the pitching, but what about that catching tandem of Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan? It was just last year when the Reds carried three catchers on the roster (Bako, Ross, Valentin) and none of those three would be kept ahead of the current duo of Hernandez and Hanigan. This is a serious upgrade. We expected the veteran Hernandez to help the cause, but how has Hanigan developed into the player he is today? I love the way he handles himself behind the plate. (how can he crouch that low?) Plus, he can hit. In 66 plate appearances this year he has struck out twice. It's unthinkable that the guy was a non-drafted free agent. Usually, 1,200 or so players are drafted each year. Hanigan was still around when the 2002 draft ended. That doesn't mean Hanigan wasn't on some one's radar. He was on the radar of Reds scout John Brickley. After playing three years at Rollins College, Hanigan was playing in the Cape Cod summer league in August of 2002. That's when the Reds swooped in to sign him and Hanigan decided to forgo is final year at Rollins. The Reds should be on their knees thanking Brickley for signing him. But Brickley had a soft spot for Hanigan. Brickley played at Rollins too, back in the 70's.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dusty Did it, Not Sure I Would Have

After a two hour rain delay, Dusty Baker sent Aaron Harang back to the mound. The Big Hoss of the reds rotation was one out away from qualifying for a win. If you know Aaron Harang, you know he would pitch 20 innings one day and try to pitch 20 more the next. He's fearless when it comes to his arm. He's a gamer. Managers need to keep gamers from overdoing it. But Dusty has a soft spot and wanted his big man to get a win. Harang's suffered through miserable run support in the past, and the Reds had a 5-spot on the board. No doubt, Harang is a moose. But given what happened last year after the relief stint in San Diego, I would have told my big man to hit the showers. Dusty sent him back out there, and in the end, Harang got the win and probably loves his manager more than ever. I get all of that. I just would not have had the nerve to send Aaron back out there. Way too many much too lose with way too little to gain. For Dusty and Aaron's sake, I hope it worked out for the best. So far it has.

By the way, this road trip coming up against Milwaukee (three games) and St. Louis (four games) is huge. I'm guessing we won't see Brandon Phillips try to play before Friday. Get that right thumb as healthy as possible before the games against the Brew Crew. It was good to see Joey Votto enter the game Monday and stay in the game. Hopefully his problems are a thing of the past.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Phillips Not Happy That Indians Are Coming To Town

Brandon Phillips is like a lot of greater Cincinnatians because he doesn't like Cleveland. At least he doesn't like the Cleveland Indians. He's also tired of hearing about them, since each and every time the series comes around he gets a questions or two about it. Phillips was drafted by the Expos in 1999, then traded to Cleveland in 2002. It was in the Indians organization that his career practically flamed out. The Reds traded for Phillips in April, 2006, and you know the rest. The Phillips acquisition is on target to go down as one of the best trades in Reds history. The only downside for Phillips, he has to face his former team each season, and field questions about them. If he didn't have such an obvious dislike for the Indians, the questions might go away. So here's the question. Does playing his former Cleveland team matter any more?

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For the record, I love that answer. In six game against the tribe last season, Brandon had 9 hits, 1 homer, and 7 rbi. The Reds won five of the six games. I understand Brandon was asked a few question about Cleveland earlier in the day, and I bet he gets a few more tomorrow. They won't be coming from me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Moving Andre Means What?

Well, it could mean the Bengals didn't like what they saw of Andre Smith at left tackle during the rookie mini camp, or it could mean they meant to use him at right tackle all along, or it could mean they're not sure where he fits.
Let's start with the first part of my supposition: Is there any way in the world the Bengals would see something in 3 days of drills in shorts that they did not see in four years worth of game video? I can't imagine anyone being that inept. seriously, i mean, there's no way, right? right? someone out there convince mean there's no way that could happen? hello?
So, the second part of my supposition would have to include the question: why? why in the heck let him put his left hand on the ground like he did for so many games at Alabama. why not get him used to playing right tackle from the jump? maybe they just wanted to let the big guy get comfortable in his orientation to the nfl. hey, that sounds logical. except they immediately moved Rey maualuga to the outside, and he played the middle for his entire career at u.s.c. now i'm getting that uneasy feeling again. anyone else have that feeling? i have that feeling, and it doesn't feel good.
So, the third part of my supposition: maybe they're not sure where he fits. I really don't think that's the case. I think , and this is assuming a lot of competence that the Bengals don't deserve, I think they just wanted a look at Smith at left tackle to make sure he wasn't the next Munoz. Obviously he wasn't, and that's not a knock on Smith. Could he be the next Willie? That's asking a lot too. Again, no knock on Andre. But as the sixth overall pick in the draft, Andre is the highest drafted right tackle in the history of the franchise. Big willie was tenth overall. The highest drafted lineman in Bengals history? no, not Munoz, try again........ of course, center bob johnson, the first overall pick by the franchise in 1968. (he's still #1 with all of us who know him. what a man) munoz was the third overall pick in 1980, but of course he's number one in my book too. we'll give andre a little time to determine where he fits in the book.
As a parting piece of advice from an old man to andre: please, do not change positions as often as it appears you change agents.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Maybe Tuesday Is The Reds Biggest Day...

...now that Joey Votto will be examined again Tuesday. Hopefully they find the problem, get it fixed, and if he has to miss some games, miss some games. Getting healthy for the long haul is the big thing.

I'll be keeping Brian Grant in my thoughts and prayers. The former Xavier star and NBA veteran was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Grant graduated from my high school, Georgetown High School in Georgetown, Ohio. I knew his dad Tommy growing up, and his aunt Pam was in my class. Brian is a class act and is taking this new battle head on, taking his fight to the web with this website: http://www.briangrant.org/
here's the link to our story about Brian on our WLWT website:
http://www.wlwt.com/sports/19498342/detail.html

Talk about getting passed around! I'm hoping the horse with the super-kick down the stretch doesn't take offense to three different jockeys in the three triple crown races. Mine That Bird is facing that reality. Mike Smith has a prior commitment to race for the owners of Giacamo out at Hollywood Park on the same day as the Belmont Stakes. So it was Calvin Borel at the Derby, Smith at the Preakness, and tba at the Belmont. If I'm one of the world class jockeys I'm running as fast as I can to jump on Mine That Bird and grab 10 percent of the Belmont purse. At one and a half miles, I like the "Bird" to bring it home.
By the way, if Borel happens to win the Belmont, does he get anything for winning the Triple Crown?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Is Monday The Reds Biggest Day Of The Season?

Pick up 3 in Arizona, spit them back out in San Diego. A 3-3 road trip has to be deemed a loser for the Reds, especially after winning the first three. Dusty is going to take some heat for shoving Alex Gonzalez back into the lineup after the Reds had just won 5 of their last 6 games. He should get a Bunsen burner or a can of Sterno on full flame under his rear for doing that. I can see working Gonzalez back in, but don't just announce he's my shortstop and jam him back in there. I'm not sure I would have messed with the lineup until a loss came along. Now the Reds have to try and turn it around against the defending World Champion Phillies. But perhaps Monday is the biggest day of the season for the Reds. That's when doctors take a closer look at Joey Votto and his dizzy spells. This season goes south in a hurry if Votto is out of the lineup for an extended period of time. The Reds lineup aside, let's just wish the best for Joey's health.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Your Weekend Viewing Pleasure

Pay the cable bill, stock the 'fridge, and shun all forms of exercise because there is plenty to watch on the old tube this weekend, beginning with:



The Cincinnati Reds at San Diego

10:10 p.m. Friday, 10:10 p.m. Saturday, 4:05 p.m. Sunday. With Harang, Volquez, and Arroyo throwing, I like the Reds chances to keep on rolling. The Padres have lost 19 of their last 23 games.

Number 2 on the my hit parade is the Preakness.
Post time on NBC/Channel 5 is Saturday at 6:15 p.m. oddly, I've seen 6:05 in some places as well, so tune in by 6. There's plenty to watch in this one. Can Mine That Bird possibly run as well as he did in the Derby? I can't believe he will, but I can't completely discount him either. Can Rachel Alexandra put the smackdown on the boys? She appears to be the best filly in a long time, beating an admittedly weak Oaks field by 20 lengths. If Rachel goes off at the current 8/5 odds, I'm going to opt for more value. Of course Pioneerof the Nile is a threat, but I'm looking for even more value. Like Big Drama and Papa Clem.

Next on the list. Two Game 7's in the NBA on Sunday
3:30 p.m. Houston Rockets at L.A. Lakers (winner to meet Denver)
8:00 p.m. Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics (winner to meet Cleveland)


Now to Auto Racing: There's no official Sprint Cup race this weekend, but things are humming at Lowe's Motor Speedway for All-State weekend.
Saturday is the main event, or events.
7:00 p.m. Sprint Showdown
8:30 p.m. Sprint All-Star Race
Hope you have the Speed network.


Qualifying continues this weekend at Indy
Saturday Noon-6 p.m.- they'll fill the rest of the field, positions 23-33
Sunday Noon-6 p.m.- it's Bump Day. faster cars get a chance to bump cars from the field
Hope you have Versus network

I love golf, but the PGA tournament this weekend has zero big names. David Duvall provided some early drama at the Valero Texas Open with a 66 in the opening round. If he's competing on Sunday, that could be a little interesting.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

First Place, The Scene Of The Crime, and Hard Knocks

The Reds aced the first part of their west test. Now it's on to San Diego, and the scene of the crime in 2008. Maybe it's good that Aaron Harang starts for the Reds in his hometown Friday night. The last time he pitched in San Diego may have derailed his 2008 season. May 25, 2008, the Reds and Padres were battling through an 18-inning marathon. Harang volunteers to help out with a relief stint. He goes 4 innings, strikes out 9, and fires 63 pitches. In his next 8 starts, Harang only had 3 quality starts, then had to be shut down for a month. Harang has a chance to exorcise that Diego demon Friday night against a Padres team that stinks of late.

Soooooo, what happens when Gonzalez is ready and Edwin is ready? I would work Gonzalez back in slowly. I swear the Reds would have put him on the D.L. if they had known Hairston was going to get hot at the plate and in the field. Considering Gonzalez hasn't played in 10 days anyway, the D.L. would have been the move anyway. I would suggest the Reds work in Gonzalez slowly, against left handed pitcher. That will keep Hairston in the lineup and in the 2 hole as he plays left field against lefties and shortstop against righties. The Rosales-Gonzalez thing is easy, at least for now. Edwin gets a nice, long, convenient, minor league rehab assignment until/if Rosales cools down.

HBO is about 3 years too late on this Hard Knocks thing. Can you imagine if they had been on hand for all of that drama? There is still plenty left, with Carson's elbow, Chad, Andre Smith, (more on that in a moment) Coles, new defensive players, and the usual Bengals hilarity that seems to pop up every year in the weeks before the season. (see-Aug. 2008, return of Chris Henry)

Red Flag, Red Flag- ugghhhhh. Look, Andre, pick an agent and get ready for the season. If all of this uncertainty coming from the Andre Smith camp concerning his agent is true, I'm concerned. I'm more than willing to give the guy a chance after all of the drama, from missing the bowl game through skipping out on the combine. After he was drafted, the Bengals first round choice told anyone who would listen that it was all behind him and he had learned from it. Now this? This really smacks of interference from his inner circle of family and/or friends. Get a handle on it big fella, get focused, and start thinking about your job. The NFL is hard enough without distractions. As I sit here right now and think about it, I'm concerned.

I can't leave on a downer. Don't you just love the way this Reds team plays the game? Remember when they used to talk about doing all of the little things right, and they did none of the little things right? That's what Arizona reminded me of this week. They were the gang that couldn't shoot straight, couldn't throw straight, couldn't hit straight, and couldn't think straight. Just like the Redlegs used to do it.


Okay, I will leave on a downer. Adam Dunn. He says after he was part of a pennant race last year with Arizona he now knows how to prepare for the game. He says he knows a lot more about hitting now, that he never really knew about hitting before. If baseball is your job, how did this not happen sooner? It's maddening, and perhaps outside influences could have been at play. You wonder if it would ever have clicked here. I'm guessing that getting traded last year and enduring a less than enthusiastic courting in free agency woke the big fella up. He currently has a .310 avg., 11 Home Runs, and a .444 on base percentage.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The First West Test

Here it is, the first west test for the Reds. Lucky for them, they go to Arizona and San Diego. Arizona fired its manager last week, while San Diego has a record (13-19) that is identical to the Diamondbacks. This might be a west test the Reds pass. As we all know, they've had some brutal trips out west in the past.
The game Sunday between the Reds and Cardinals was disappointing, yet amazing. Disappointing that Volquez was charged with 7 runs. Disappointing that 5 home runs were wasted, including Adam Rosales belting his first as a big leaguer, Joey Votto hitting one in his return, and pitcher Micah Owings delivering with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th to tie it up. But it was also amazing to see all of the hitting accomplishments listed above. The Reds may have sent a message to the first place Cardinals. Here's Jay Bruce and Dusty.
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A lot of people don't believe in moral victories, especially at the professional level. I can understand that. But with a young, emerging team, of course you can have moral victories. You just can't live off of them. So far this team has shown an excellent ability to accept a given situation and deal with it. They faced adversity with the loss of Phillips, Votto, and Gonzalez in the past week, and ended up with a winning home stand. And look out for Bruce. The kid is coming alive at the plate and in the field.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Reds Keep It Rolling.

What a day for Aaron Harang. His 31st birthday begins at the Dunham complex on the west side. He helps cut the ribbon for a synthetic baseball field built for the Miracle League. It's a league that brings baseball to children with special needs. Harang and his wife, Jen, donated 55-grand to the project along with a lot of enthusiasm. Seeing the joy on the children's faces may have been the highlight for Aaron. But he contributed more to the goodwill of Cincinnati before the day was over. 7 strikeouts in 7 innings, and a rare 2-run, 2-out, bases loaded single to break the game open in the bottom of the 6th. He did this before a sellout crowd of victory starved Reds fans. I know they came out for the Joey Votto bobbleheads, but maybe they'll come back for good baseball. That's what the Reds are playing these days.
Good, solid, team baseball with a pitching staff that is starting to scare me. And really scare the hitters around the National League. The Reds go for the 3-game sweep Sunday afternoon at 1:10 p.m., and Volquez is on the mound.

By the way, with 40,651 on hand Saturday night, the Reds have drawn 73,300 or so in the last 3 games. I need a sellout on Sunday to make it to the 115,000 I predicted for the 4 games starting Thursday. I don't think it will happen, but I'm guessing they bust 30-grand on Sunday. Now my prediction doesn't seems as utterly ridiculous as it did after Friday night. I really thought they would get 20-grand for singles night on Thursday. But they only managed 14, 700 so my prediction basically blew up in the test tube. But I still have a chance to save a little face.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Do They Need Phillips And Votto?

Of course they do. It is nice to see a young team pick up the slack and put together back to back wins with two of their biggest guns out sick. The Reds took the first game of the series against the Cardinals Friday night 6-4. Johnny Cueto was awesome again. He did allow a run, and that is front page news. After allowing 4 runs in his first start of the season, Cueto has allowed 1 run or less in his last 5 starts. Zilch, zero, nada in two of those starts. Cueto (3-1) says there's a big difference between the 2008 edition of Johnny and 2009. He felt like he was tipping his pitches last year. Ramon Hernandez played interpreter after Friday night's game as Cueto talked about the difference so far this season.
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The Reds are 2-0 with the current lineup, but you know Dusty wants his guns back as soon as possible. Still, I had to ask, and Dusty had a nice answer.
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Sometimes Dusty gets drilled for his game management, but he has a big picture approach to the season. The video clip above is a window into that kind of thinking. There was also this: Arthur Rhodes begins the 8th inning with a 6-1 lead. He retires one batter, then Dusty yanks him for David Weathers. Weathers allowed 3 runs, the first runs he's allowed all season. I'm not sure why you would use two of your bullpen hammers in a 6-1 game except to keep them sharp. But I'm not a big picture guy. I asked Dusty if he was just looking to get Weathers some work. Dusty said the reason Rhodes only faced one batter was to keep him fresh for the entire weekend because the Cardinals run a lot of lefty batters at you. He also said it's a long season and you want to keep Rhodes fresh for the long haul. I understand some of that, I'm not sure I understand all of it. But I'm really bad about looking at the big picture when it comes to a 162 game season. I probably would have just run Burton out there since he had not pitched since Monday. Burton came on to finish the 8th inning for the Reds. But maybe there's more to it than Dusty wanted to let on. Injury or illness, who knows? That I can understand. Bottom line, the Reds beat first place St. Louis and are 2 1/2 games back.

Dusty added that Brandon Phillips will be back in the lineup Saturday night. Votto? Not so sure. It's too bad if Joey misses his own bobblehead night.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Nice Win Without Votto and Phillps

The Reds made it happen without the heart of their batting order. Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips were both feeling ill, so the Reds had to make-do without their usual number 3 and number 4 hitters in the lineup. The lineup was juggled with Ramon Hernandez moving from behind the plate to make the start at first base. The patchwork lineup was bolstered by a run scoring triple out of pitcher Micah Owings. 6-5 Reds, a nice win that kind of, sort of, steals back a win the Reds should have had earlier this week in Florida. Owings gets the win and also gets to talk about his big hit after the game.

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Now for my stupid prediction that the Reds would draw 115,000 fans over the next 4 games. I'm off to a rough start. Just 14,724 on hand Thursday night. I was figuring on 20,000. I guess there aren't as many desperate single people as there used to be. Actually, they probably all stayed home and did their date shopping on the computer. Sooooo, I need roughly 33,000 per game to make it happen. I'm counting on 35,000 plus on Joey Votto bobblehead night. I'm also banking on some Cardinals fans bolstering the gate.

Are Bengals Better? Reds About To Draw Fans.

You never know until they are on the field, but the Bengals appear to have helped themselves with the addition of safety Roy Williams and running back Brian Leonard. Both guys need to put last year's injury issues behind them. Williams could flourish after reuniting with Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. Coach Zimmer used Williams as an enforcer close to the line of scrimmage down in Dallas. So Williams comes back to the same 4-3 alignment that made him a pro bowl player and leaves the 3-4 alignment that raised questions about the status is his skill set.
Zimmer and his scheme is the big reason Williams is with the Bengals. Williams remembers Zimmer's defense and his salty language.
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I was able to speak with Roy after the news conference. He comes across as a great guy. Roy says his injuries were 2 different breaks in the left arm. He's says it's all good now. Here's Roy about the arm and coach Zimmer about Roy.

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I forgot this in the earlier edition, but Williams was anxious to get to Cincinnati. When the deal was done Wednesday, Marvin Lewis told him they would get him a plane ticket and get him to Cincinnati next Sunday for the start of a new week. Williams said hey, it's only Wednesday, I want to finish this week with my new team. So the Bengals brought him in a.s.a.p.

I also like the Brian Leonard trade. I remember him as the fiery, emotional leader of a Rutgers team that woke up the Scarlet Knights program several years ago. Fearless is one word that describes the style of play I remember from Leonard. The thing I remember most is the Insight Bowl game against Arizona State in December of 2006. Leonard was amazing in that game even though Rutgers lost a gut-wrencher. He says the should injuries that sidelined him most of last year have healed, thanks to rotator cuff surgery. Leonard should be a nice backup to Cedric Benson while helping special teams. So the off season has been productive in terms of acquiring players. But the two big ifs remain: Carson's elbow and the makeover of the offensive line.

The Reds had just 10,000 at their game Wednesday night. They should get a real boost the next 4 games. Singles night tonight should bring out some folks. Then it's the Cardinals over the weekend, and that should be a huge draw. Plus Joey Votto bobblehead night on Saturday. I'm guessting at least 115,000-120,000 over the next 4 nights. If there's only 10-grand again tonight, my prediction is in deep doo-doo.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Don't Tell Me You Can Still Say The Reds...

...aren't on the right track. I continue to hear people deride the Reds and laugh that anyone believes they are making headway on the field. But here we are almost one week into May. You still want to say the starting pitching is a mirage? You still want to say this team can't clamp down defensively? You still want to kick and scream about not scoring enough runs? Go ahead, amuse yourself. And when you're through Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto will still be one of the best young starting pitching duos in the game. Aaron Harang will still be looking more like the Harang of 2007. And Bronson Arroyo will continue to throw more quality starts than the Reds used to get from their number one starters. Look, they could be more consistent with the defense. But that game in Florida Tuesday night was off the charts defensively. I counted at least 5 stellar plays. Ramon Hernandez played like an All-Star behind the plate. He needs to give the Reds a little more of that. Brandon Phillips sprang to life at the plate and continued to make Gold Glove plays in the field. For the Reds sake, this pitching and defense thing needs to be contagious. I'm not saying they are going to win the division. I'm not sure they are going to finish above .500. I do know with Volquez, Cueto, Votto, Bruce, and Phillips this team has a better foundation of young players than I've seen in Cincinnati for quite some time. Don't tell me this team isn't on the right track.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Rey Rey On The Rock Rock.

Here's some of Rey Maualuga from our Sports Rock show on Sunday night. I picked him up at Paul Brown Stadium, then after the segment drove him from the studio to a downtown hotel. He got a decent look at Mt. Auburn, Over-The-Rhine, and the downtown area around the Aronoff Center. I'm still not sure he is serious, but Rey brought up several times that he wanted to make sure he wasn't going to get cut by the Bengals before the season. Maybe that's why he was clutching his playbook almost the entire time!

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Rey Maualuga Appears On Sports Rock.

I think Mike Brown is smiling because the Bengals aren't paying Maualuga much more than lunch money yet. Rey is our guest Sunday night on Sports Rock. I don't think Maualuga quite yet understands the fuss being made over his selection by the Bengals. There's a lot of buzz among the fans about this guy. His fiery, emotional play and his on-field swagger is something the Bengals can definitely use.




SPORTS ROCK
SUNDAY NIGHT
11:35
WLWT-TV
Channel 5

Friday, May 1, 2009

Locals Looking To Turn Heads Of Bengals Brass

Rico Murray and Eric Thatcher are together again. They wore the blue and gold at Moeller High School. Now they are trying to fit into the professional football world of orange and black at Paul Brown Stadium. Both friends, both listed as cornerbacks, and both hoping to somehow fit into the same defensive backfield. Murray was signed as a rookie free agent and Thatcher is getting a tryout. Before the signings and after Moeller they went their separate ways. Thatcher played at Pitt and Murray at Kent State. Now they are back in Cincinnati and getting a shot to play for their hometown team. I had a chance to talk with them about it after practice Friday afternoon.
Eric is on the left, #21. Rico on the right, #28.

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Other locals besides 5th round draft pick Kevin Huber attending the Bengals camp include Pernell Phillips of Taft (Central State), Steve Rehring of Lakota West (Ohio State), and Will Nolte from Indian Hill (Davidson). Linebackers Ryan Manalac and Torry Cornett from U.C. are also in camp in a tryout basis.

The Kids Are In, Andre Is At Left Tackle.

The Bengals rookie mini-camp is underway and first round pick Andre Smith is lining up at left tackle. If he shows the Bengals what they are looking for, will that allow them to cut ties with Levi Jones? Smith expects to play left tackle and the Bengals are giving him that chance. Some of the pre-draft reports stated Smith was more suited to play right tackle, but Andre says that doesn't bother him.
Rey Maualuga lined up at the strong side linebacker position in the base defense, and in the middle on nickel coverages. Rey says he's getting a lot out of this first day with the x's and o's of the pro game. He is also thankful he has some former USC guys on the team to help his transition. He had dinner with fellow Trojan linebacker Keith Rivers last night, and Rivers was taking in some of the workout this morning.
Third round pick DE Michael Johnson says he and Maualuga talked about their draft positions. They both felt they should have gone higher. Maualuga says he's not going to let it bother him anymore, but Johnson said they both talked last night about how they are going to prove everybody wrong. Johnson added he doesn't like the idea that he was stuck with the tag that he takes some plays off.
Sixth round pick RB Bernard Scott pulled on a Bengals baseball cap and faced the questions. Allegedly arrested 5 times, 4 different college teams, kicked off one for a practice fight that resulted in a coach allegedly getting punched. Kicked off a high school team too. He said all of the right things and was by no means a dolt. He was on the ball during his media session, he needs to stay on the ball and stay out of trouble to keep the eggs in the skillet and not all over Mike Brown's face.
Our photographer with me at the workout is in his late 20's, but to me he appears to be more like 18. Anyway, he remarks to me that the players appear to be looking younger and younger each year. If they look young to him, how do you think they look to this old goat?
Punter Kevin Huber from McNicholas High School and U.C. said he was surprised the Bengals dumped veteran punter Kyle Larson and newcomer Ryan Plackemeier. That means no competition for the fifth round pick. Huber also allowed that he was able to find some peace and quiet this week after becoming the toast of the town after Sunday's draft. He found the off button on the cell phone and the on button on the video game console.