Saturday, January 28, 2012

More Ups than Downs This Weekend

At least so far... The biggest downer was U.C.'s basketball team playing an awful game at Rutgers losing 61-54. The offense against a zone defense is extremely troubling. The veteran guards are in a terrible slump. No doubt, UC looked as bad at Rutgers as the Bearcats looked in early December. UC has 9 games left. The Bearcats probably have to win at least 6, maybe 7 to get in the NCAA.

Xavier had to hold its breath at Charlotte, winning 74-70. Xavier can take solace in Brad Redford drilling 3 of his 5 three-point attempts. Dez Wells reemerged with 7 rebounds and 6-8 shooting for 12 points. The fact was Xavier had to win this one. A loss at Charlotte would have been the bottom of what has been a lot of lows in the past couple of months.

UC football got a boost from Isaiah Pead. He was named the MVP of the Senior Bowl. He helped the North squad to a 23-13 win with a couple of impressive punt returns, one for 60 yards and another for 38. Pead's total of 98 yards returning punts is a Senior Bowl record. Notes from Mobile claimed he was impressive in practice all week. It's safe to say Isaiah's stock is going up. UC defensive lineman Derek Wolfe was a late add to the Senior Bowl but I'm told he showed he belonged, and played well.

It will be fun to watch four Bengals in the Pro-Bowl. You never know how much they'll get to play, but I would think AJ Green will get plenty of chances to go yard in a game that is usually wide open. You can watch it unfold on WLWT-TV 5 in Cincinnati, Sunday at 7:00 p.m.

Maybe the biggest UP for the weekend is the Reds Caravan. If they are as good during the season as everyone seems to think they are during the caravan, then it should be a bang-up year. Dusty Baker says its the best team he has had here so far. So that means no less than a Central Division Championship should be expected!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Madson and More

What a wild last 30-31 days it has been for Cincinnati sports. Now comes word the Reds are signing closer Ryan Madson. This is a huge signing, but I'm still not one of those who feels you have to overpay for the position. Initial reports say the Reds will pay more than 8-million dollars for one year of service. Not out of whack with the market, but a big chunk for Cincinnati. Does this mean the Reds are content with Chris Heisey starting in left field? If they are content with that, then this signing is fine. My guess is they have looked at available talent at the position and figure they are just as good with Heisey as they are the other candidates. This appears to be true, and I am more than happy to see the Reds give Heisey the chance as opposed to overspending for Cody Ross or Ryan Ludwick. But Heisey a bit of a strikeout issue, and the lineup could be overloaded with k-candidates again, especially if Juan Francisco ends up playing a lot of third base. At least the Reds are doing something and not standing pat like last season.

Now back to the crazy past 30-31 days. Think about it. Starting with the Crosstown Brawl, there has been a major story every week. Maybe two major stories every week. The brawl, the Mat Latos deal, the U.C. bowl game, the Bengals to the playoffs, the Bearcats start winning basketball games while Xavier starts losing them, and Barry Larkin elected to the hall of fame. Even a week before the brawl we had Redsfest and two northern Kentucky schools (Highlands and Holy Cross) winning state titles in football. All big stories, and all big reasons why Cincinnati remains a b ig sports market. I know our attendance will lag at times, and for very good reasons, but the appetite for sports information in this area remains at a very high level.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Thanks BCS

...for an absolutely horrific LSU-Alabama Part 2. Yeah, it would have been a real shame to have Oklahoma State and it's powerful offense spice up the Championship game. Nope, we don't need a playoff, the BCS has perfected boring. I would almost suggest an LSU-Alabama part 3 to really settle the score since they are 1-1. But that would be considered torture. There were a lot of good, exciting bowl games. Too bad the biggest one turned out to be a snoozer. But, I think we could have predicted that.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Post Game From Houston

You saw the game and you know the score. 31-10 Texans over the Bengals. The Texans made the big plays and the Bengals didn't. The Texans did a nice job attacking the Bengals with the two running backs, Foster and Tate. The Bengals locker room was not overly subdued. They talk of youth and how much more they can grow. That is how they have to look at it. Marvin Lewis talked about how the Texans came together by growing up while adding players along the way. He sees the Bengals as the same way, just a little behind. There is a lot of truth in that. But a lot of irony too. The Texans spare no expense to make this team better. In fact, it was the Bengals losing a promising young cornerback to the Texans. Now Johnathan Joseph is heading to a pro bowl. The Texans have a stadium with a retactable dome, but they don't practice there. The practice facility is across the street, compelete with outdoor fields and an indoor bubble. So if it rains or gets cold, the players aren't spending their time trying to stay warm or dry and comfortable. No, they are spending their time learning and working. The Bengals could learn a lot modeling themselves after the recent ways of the Texans. Defense, running game, and support. We saw the difference Saturday on the field and across the street.

Game Day In Houston

Game Day is here and the Hoston fabs are tailgating en-masse. We went to the stadium for some morning live shots and there was a line of pickup trucks a quarter-mile long waiting for one of the lots to open. Many of them were pulling big grills behind them. Apparently Houston has some serious tailgating. One fans claims reseasrch has shown Houston is ther number one tailgating site in the NFL. I haven't been able to get confirmation of that from the commissioner's office, but one quick eyeball check will tell you these folks are serious. As for the game, it's the usual dilemma: stop the run. The Texans can run the ball as well as anyone. But the Bengals did a terrific job stopping the Houston run last month. But the recent problem of big plays against the Bengals run defense could be an Achille's heel. Not allowing big plays on the ground will be critical to the Bengals' chances.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Morning

The Bengals are set to arrive here later this afternoon and they will be greeted by some pleasant weather. It has been in the mid to upper 60's since we arrive Thursday afternoon. We checked out the scene around Reliant Stadium last night and I was surprised to see the old Astrodome still standing. It is about 100 yards away from the new stadium. It appeared rundown. like the kind of place that would be full of rats and bats and other critters. A very eery looking place especially considering all of the history there and that it was once the Eighth Wonder of the World. We're entering Katy, Texas as I type. It is the hometown of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. We'll check back in after we see a few fols here!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

No Problems

We made it to Houston with no issues. My new titanium neck whizzed thrugh security at the airtport, Delta gave our crew the red-carpet treatment(I think because Sheree Paolello is with us, although maybe it was photographers John Tapogna and John Massey!)and our flight could not have been smoother. Our crew could not notice when we were flying in that across the street from Reliant Stadium is a....... practice bubble! So they have a stadium with a retractable roof and a bubble. And it's about 65 degrees down here. I'm not saying that matters Saturday, but during free agent season it certainly does.

Heading To Houston

Our crew is getting ready to shove off to Houston and follow the Bengals in their quest to beat the Texans and advance to the second round of the playoffs. My first personal hurdle is getting through airport security. I had neck-fusion surgery back in October, so I have some new hardware in my neck. It's a titanium plate with 6 screws. Here's an x-ray view of it from the back:

I had cadaver bone placed between the C-4 and C-5 and the C-5 and C-6. (I believe Peyton Manning had his just below, between C-6 and C-7) Basically my discs had collapsed and the vertebrate were squeezing some nerves. So Dr. Jaideep Chunduri and Dr. Ian Rodway of Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine pried them apart, put in the cadaver bone, and it is all growing back together to make one nice, solid bone. Hopefully the special card they gave me to show the TSA agents will get me through the gate if/when they see the following on my body scan!