Sunday, August 29, 2010

Down The Stretch They Come!

A five game lead coming down the stretch of the baseball season?  I really like the Reds chances.  I've moved from thinking they can do it, to they will do it.  Twelve of the final 15 games of the season are against Milwaukee and Houston. The Reds are currently 7-2 against the Astros this season and 4-1 against the Brewers.  Nice.  So the Cardinals better wipe out that 5 game lead within the next three weeks.  With three games in St. Louis at the end of the week, the Cardinals have their opportunity.  If the Reds get out of St. Louis with a four to five game lead, the Reds will win the division.  It would take a N.Y. Mets type of September to blow it.

Okay, So Aroldis Chapman didn't make it to Cincinnati for the Cubs series.  I guess the Cuban Missile will launch in Cincinnati on Wednesday.  It should be fun.

Was that the real Bengals offense in the first three series against Buffalo?  That was something.  Really, it was the best they've looked since running up and down the field against the Bears last season.  They might want to keep the uptempo style of offense on the front burner.  The running game looked very effective out of the no-huddle too.  So they don't have to change the run-first philosophy to go no-huddle.  But the real identity of this offense will be learned the first two weeks of the regular season against New England and Baltimore.   Don't mess this thing up Bengals, use your weapons.

Brandon Ghee's hit on Saturday night was something.  First, I'm glad he appears to be okay.  Second, give me a corner that plays run support like that any day of the week.  That was a wicked hit!

The first weekend of high school football in Ohio was a wild one.  It ended with a great game between Moeller and Huber Heights Wayne.  Moeller wins with a touchdown with seconds remaining. 35-38, Moeller wins, and senior running back Tucker Skove scored all five touchdowns for the Crusaders!  What a way to start a season!  La Salle looked good in a win over Lakota West, while Harrison came out smoking with a shutout win over East Central.  Middletown appears to have reloaded and Colerain will be very good.  The second weekend in Kentucky provided this nugget: Highlands is still the class of Northern Kentucky.  But keep an eye on the rematch between Ryle and Highlands.  It's October 28, and it's at Ryle this time.  That should be some fun, especially if both teams come in relatively healthy.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bengals Fans Say The Darndest Things

I tried to post this earlier in the week but I ran into technical difficulties. It is from the Bengals practice in Dayton Sunday. It's still worth a good chuckle. 
Bengals fans says the darndest things!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's Like It Never Happened

First, can the Reds bring up Aroldis Chapman now? Isn't there enough evidence over the past three days that a lefthanded flamethrower just might come in handy BEFORE September 1?

If you look at the standings, it's like the San Fran series never happened. If you look at the Reds team e.r.a., well that's a whole different story. Somehow the Cardinals dropped two out of three in Pittsburgh while the Reds lost two out of three in 'frisco. About that game in San Fran, I can't believe a lot of things about that game It seemed apparent to me Homer Bailey was done, yet he goes back out there for the sixth inning. I know the bullpen was a wreck, but this was a big game. So Bailey gets in more trouble in the sixth and the Giants get within 5 runs. Starting the eighth with Ondrusek was another move I wasn't sure of at the time. I certainly would have had somebody ready for the first sign of trouble. A man gets on, and Ondrusek gets yanked. I'm not taking my chances in the eighth inning of a game the Reds really needed to win. Masset and Rhodes would have been ready to go for me, since you're off Thursday anyway. I had a sick, sick feeling this might be the one to do the Reds in. But thanks to Superman (Votto), the Reds win one of the craziest games I remember. Actually, it was ridiculous. I mean, at 6:45 Wednesday evening, Reds fans were ready to jump off the top of scoreboard at GABP. Then by 10 o'clock that night the Reds push their lead in the division back to 3 and a half games. I don't know about you, but this rollercoaster of a season has been a blast! Get ready for September.

Oh, those pitching woes. I'm not sure where to start. Just 4 nights ago it seemed the Reds had the pitching world by the tail. Bringing up Chapman won't cure everything by any means. But it will help. A bigger help would be solid starts from Johnny Cueto and Bronson Arroyo to start the Chicago series.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Reds Still Going, What To Expect From Bengals

This Reds team continues to be fun to watch. Throw in the recent usage of the suicide squeeze and they up the ante so much more. This is what Cincinnati has been longing for, a team that plays smart baseball. Edmonds leads off the ninth inning Wednesday night with a double. Scott Rolen battles, taking a two-strike pitch to the right side, moving Edmonds to third. Then it's Heisey with the perfect bunt to score Edmonds, and Heisey is safe at first to boot. Does anyone reading this think the Reds could have pulled off this kind of sequence from 2001 to 2008? I can't imagine. The Reds have been much better in terms of statistics when it comes to sacrifices in recent years. But there were some brutal seasons earlier in the decade where the Reds fell below a number of American League teams, and that's tough to do with the designated hitter in play.

By the way, I hear all of this talk about the Reds not being able to handle to the better teams. True, but when did I fall asleep and miss the part about the Reds being everyone's favorite to dominate major league baseball this season? I think if any Reds fan were told back in the spring, "Hey buddy, on August 19, your team will be in first place by three full games. The only problem is your record against the Cardinals and other quality teams stinks." So what? For the last time (at least today) I'll say it: The Reds are building a team that will last. That means taking steps to get better. They are immensely better this year and the future looks good. I already consider this season a success, and if they make the playoffs, it's a huge success. First step: change the culture. Second step: get quality pitching. Third step: learn to play winning baseball. Fourth step: make the playoffs. Fifth step: win it all. I'm not sure if and when steps four and five come about, but the Reds have managed to take the first three steps while acquiring some fresh talent to stock the minor leagues. So let's cut all of this crap about not being able to beat this team or that team and appreciate the fact the team is winning, growing, and grooming an organization that will last.

Bengals preseason game three. What will I be looking to see? Here's my top five.

1. Improvement from the first team defense.
2. The continued growth of roles for Shipley and Gresham
3. Adam Jones to continue to make me feel good about the nickel corner
4. Carson and T.O to continue force-feeding their cohesion
5. Andre Smith? Maybe. Something out of him soon?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Yeah,, They Did It Again.

The Redlegs. They have what Cincinnati loves,,,,, a throwback club. They really are a club. And all of the boys belong. Miguel Cairo for crying out loud! And was that really Orlando Cabrera out there picking up Cairo's bat? And delivering baseballs to the umpire? This is a club that loves winning baseball. Better than that, this is a club that loves baseball. Any baseball. I get the feeling from this team that if they weren't getting paid, they would play for beer. Or bragging rights. Or fun. Or the chance to compete. We used to have that every year in Cincinnati. We took it for granted, and we should have taken it for granted. Who doesn't love playing baseball? Well, there have been times I could swear guys wearing a wishbone "C" looked as though they didn't love playing baseball. This three game sweep of the Marlins was an emphatic answer to the "here we go again" crowd. But,,,, here comes the problem. A nine game march through Arizona, Dodger Stadium, and the Giants. This is it folks. If they come back from this trip in good shape, order the playoff tickets.

Two touchdowns in three series by Kyle Orton and the Broncos is a little disconcerting. But what is more disconcerting is the fact the NFL charges full price for preseason tickets. These games are worthless and must be cut down to two games or less in the next CBA.

By the way, Jordan Shipley might be the Bengals best rookie receiver in a long time. I'm hardly the only thinking that way. Did you notice how early in the game he was seeing playing time?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Can The Reds Do It Again?

They have been the bounce back bunch this season. Any time adversity hits, the Reds have come back stronger for it. Now they have to do it again. I think they are good enough to do it, but like everyone else in this area, I fear they might be running out of gas. That's based in part on other collapses in the past. Honestly, it has nothing to do with this team. It says here they stick around, but some guys better pick it up at the plate.

Many seem to be baffled by the suspensions and fines stemming from the Reds-Cardinals brawl. To me, it's what I expected. If you throw a punch or kick someone, you are looking at a suspension. If it is just pushing and shoving, you won't get a suspension. But managers who yell at each other and fail to control the situation get suspended. That's the way it's always been. But since the Reds haven't been a battling bunch in recent years, I guess I can understand why so many people, and media types, in Cincinnati don't seem to grasp this yet.

Four days removed from Monday's decision to send down Travis Wood, I still stick with my initial reaction. I asked a Reds employee Monday if they had made a decision on who to send down to make room for Edmonds. When I was told Travis Wood, my reaction was "Really?" When I was told the Reds didn't need a fifth starter for a while, I responded, "I guess that makes sense." But it didn't make sense. Travis has pitched like one of the top two pitchers in the rotation, if not top two then definitely top three. So that's the guy that gets sent down in the middle of a pennant race? Weren't the Reds just recently wrestling with ways to cut back on innings for Mike Leake? Hindsight is 20-20 but I think the Reds blew this one.

What a letdown of a week for Reds and Bengals fans. All of the hype heading into Canton about Carson and his new weapons, and thud. All of the hype heading in the Cardinals series, and thud. Then thud. Then another thud. It took a day or two, but I think I've recovered just enough to start thinking ahead again.

By the way, one more thing looking back. There was criticism of the crowds this week for the Cardinals game. I thought all three crowds were nice. Not the sellouts many expected or hoped for, but still big crowds. In weather that made GABP rival Death Valley. The extreme heat and humidity had to kill walk up sales.

As for looking forward, I'm looking forward to seeing Adam Jones again this weekend. He looked pretty darned good in his Bengals debut. I thought T.O. looked good int he two series he played too. It was good to see Carson firing his way.

So Tim Tebow ends his collegiate career against Cincinnati and begins his professional career against Cincinnati. At least one would think Tebow wouldn't have the same kind of numbers this weekend that he had in the Sugar Bowl against U.C. Reports out of Denver have Tebow looking good.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Big Weekend In Canton

We're in Canton this weekend for the Bengals Hall of Fame game against the Cowboys. The Bengals players I talked to this week all seemed to be keyed up for the weekend. They are well aware of the significance of the weekend to pro football. This is the first time veteran Bobbie Williams has played in the game and he was really looking forward to seeing the hall and the history of the game. He and his mates are also looking forward to hitting other players besides their own. Here's what I'll be looking forward to seeing in Sunday night's game:
1. Chad and T.O. getting open.
2. Adam Jones in action, on defense and punt returns
3. The tight ends. Gresham and Chase Coffman should be seeing a fair amount of action. Coffman has been under the radar in this camp and if he has the blocking down, he could be a big help.
4. The play of the defensive line. There are some real battles for spots on that line.
5. Ditto for the rest of the wide receivers. Jerome Simpson has stood out at almost every practice I've seen. Can he stand out in a game?
6. Last but not least, the accuracy of Carson Palmer. We all know how poorly things looked in the passing game at the end of last season.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Reds Still Rolling But...

There are reasons to be concerned. Mainly offensive punch from the outfield positions. Overall the Reds are still leading the N.L. in several key statistical categories, like runs scored, batting average, and RBI. They are top 5 or better in many other key offensive statistics. Overall they are looking sweet in run differential. But the recent slumber by the usual starting outfielders has been alarming. Maybe Gomes has broken out of it with three hits in Pittsburgh Wednesday. Unfortunately for the Reds, Stubbs and Bruce are looking more and more uneasy at the plate. More like a deer in the headlights, especially in pressure situations. I wasn't nearly as alarmed just a couple of weeks ago, but instead of getting better, it's getting worse. I've felt for months Heisey should get two or three starts a week and I think he's forcing his way into even more starts with his recent play. So what do you do to snap Stubbs and Bruce out of their funks? Stubbs is 1 for his last 35 at bats. Earlier in the year he was at least driving in some runs and scoring some runs, but that has dried up lately. Bruce has just 2 RBI in his last 10 games. Jay has too many situations to drive in runs from the 6 hole and he's just not getting it done. Since June 30 Bruce has 107 at bats and 0 Home Runs. Not good for a young guy with power. I'm thinking Dickerson comes up to the big club, and you work a rotation with him, Heisey, Bruce, Gomes, and Nix. I'm not giving up in Stubbs long-term, but the Reds are in the hunt now. They have to use their best combination of players. It appears Stubbs is lost, and Bruce isn't far behind, especially in pressure situations. Dickerson is on fire at Louisville, so you might as well get him up here.