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,

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.

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:

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?

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.