Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Case For Mike Leake

Good Morning!

Look, I'm all for drama.  Drama makes the mundane more interesting.  It creates excitement (as long as you're not part of the drama, just watching it).   To be honest, there's been plenty of drama surrounding the return of Johnny Cueto.   It's not so much whether or not he can still do his patented El Tiante wind up (watching his rehab starts in Dayton, apparently he can).  And it's no so much whether or not he'll pull another muscle before the All Star break.  The drama has been the impending answer to the following question:  when Cueto comes back, who goes?  Mike Leake?  Or Tony Cingrani.

Turns out, it's been Cingrani all the way.

Cingrani is the wunderkind whose had a meteoric rise through the Reds minor league farm system.   A year ago right now, he was pitching in Single A baseball.  Now, instead of facing hitters who'll be selling vacuums door to door in a few years, he's facing world class baseball players.  And Cingrani is  learning fast.  But he's not there yet.  And he's not in Mike Leake's class yet.

You're saying, Ken, you're back on the "sauce" again.  Well, OK, but only at home and only when I'm alone, which is come to think of it, just about always.

Cingrani is good, for the first or second time through a batting order.  He'll look like Cy Young for five innings and then immediately become Brigham Young, or Neil Young.  Southern Man, Cingrani is not.   His problem is, he falls in love with his fastball.  I'm somewhere between like and love with his fastball.  But then again, I have a commitment problem.  Early in games, Cingrani won't throw his breaking enough to let hitter know it's coming later int he game.  He relies on his fastball.  By the time the fifth and sixth innings roll around and Cingrani has to throw his breaking ball for a strike, he can't.  And by then, opposing hitters can sit and wait on his fastball.  It's a common mistake a young pitcher makes.

Leake, on the other hand knows all about that.  He's been around awhile.  He's pitched himself in and out of trouble.  And that's important for a manager.  Dusty Baker knows, Mike Leake is a know commodity.  Cingrani is not.

Leake will always throw his complete repertoire of pitches.  He only gets into trouble when he can't locate his pitches.  He'll never blow away a batter.  Rather, Leake will nibble and tease.  And like Bronson Arroyo, Leake knows the difference between throwing and pitching.  Cingrani is still learning that.   That's why Cingrani will head back to the bushes of Louisville next week when Cueto returns and Leake will stay.  One is a pitcher, the other is a throwing learning to pitch.  It's as simple as that.

OK, the song I can't get out of my head today

One of the best studio musicians on the planet co wrote this song, David Paich.  He was/is the keyboardist for Toto, but so much more than that.  His co writer was Joe Williams, the leading singer with Toto at the time, who's also the song of noted film score composer, John Williams.  Joe has done some film scoring himself.  Anyhow the song is from Toto's "The Seventh One" album, a song that peaked at #22 back in 1988.  Hard to believe this is 25 years ago.

Hard to also believe that Thursday was the 47th anniversary of the Beach Boys classic album "Pet Sounds"  Glenn Campbell played guitar on this album and Leon Russell was on piano.  But the star of the musicians, prejudiced as I am, was one of my heroes:  drummer Hal Blaine

OK, go out and make it a great Friday.  I'll see you on WLWT News 5 tonight at 6p & 11p and I'll be talking sports on 700 WLW Saturday from Noon-3:30p and Sunday from 9am--12:30p.  Lots of baseball talk and a few football tidbits as well


Monday, May 13, 2013

The Case For Tim Tebow

All Tim Tebow does is win.   Check his college resume, check what he did with the Denver Broncos.  Forget the Jets, they never gave him a chance.   All Time Tebow does is win.

Ask Dick Lebeau.

Tebow is a man without a home today.  Notice, I said 'man' not quarterback.  And I'm proposing a new home for Tebow:  your Cincinnati Bengals.

I offer several compelling reasons.  First, Tebow offers numerous possibilities as an alternative weapon.   You can line him up  as a fullback, an H Back, a tight end.  He can play special teams.  And, yes, in very contained situations, Tebow can be under center.  Opposing defensive coordinators would have to spend time during the week before playing against the Bengals, figuring out ways to stop Tebow.  And that would take away from time they'd need to prepare to stop A.J. Green, or Tyler Eifert, or the "Law Firm" or anyone else that may line up on that side of the ball.

Tebow needs to play on a team that has no quarterback controversy or need.  The storyline is fairly simple here:  Andy Dalton is the starting quarterback.  Period.  He needs to play on a team that has a strong willed head coach, who will not be bent by public pressure.  Obstinate is a word that comes to mind when describing Marvin Lewis.  And, he needs to play on a team that has a creative offensive coordinator.  Jay Gruden fits that description.

And here's something else that Tim Tebow will do:  sell tickets.  The last I checked, the Bengals were exactly playing to sold out crowds every Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.  The Steelers game, season finale against the Ravens sure.  But consistent sell outs haven't been the norm lately.  You don't think that Tebow would sell tickets?  Really?

I heard some fear expressed by callers to my Sunday Morning Sports Talk Show on 700 WLW, that Tebow would bring with him the same circus that dogged him in Denver and New York.  I offer two reasons why he would not.  One, this is not New York, it's Cincinnati.  We're not awash in media here.  We have four television stations, one newspaper and one radio station that does news.  That's it.  Remember when TO came to town?  It was a big deal for a day, maybe two.  And that was it. And two, even if Cincinnati was inundated by national media during the season, the team knows full well how to handle it (see TO and Ochocinco).  Most important, Tebow isn't about Tebow, as TO and Ocho were.  It's the media that causes this.  Someone, please save us from ourselves.

Look, he's going to sign somewhere.  And right now, I can't think of one team that would bring him in to compete for a starting quarterback's job.  Jacksonville?  After two years of Blaine Gabbert?   Tebow, of course, must get past wanting to be exclusively a quarterback.   That's not happening.  But when (and if) he does come to the conclusion that his NFL future doesn't including dropping back to throw, the Bengals should be waiting, and ready to sign him.   Think of the possibilities.

But for another point of view, here's my buddy Gregg Doyel at 

So does anyone, besides Mark O'Meara get along with Tiger Woods?  Oh, that's right, Lindsey Vonn.  But Sergio Garcia needs to get a grip if he thinks His Tiger-ness was trying to distract him with this:

If Garcia thinks Woods needs to do that to win a tournament, or even a shot, he and reality are going in separate directions.

Which brings to mind a song....

I've always liked Foreigner.  But only the original line up with Mick Jones and Lou Gramm.  But, like most things anymore, I digress.

Now, to the Bengals.  They've got half of their draft picks signed up already.  With a rookie salary cap, gone are the days of hold outs.   Their first and second round picks remained unsigned.  But it's a mere formality anymore.  Both Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard (and the Bengals other second round Pick Margus Hunt will all be in camp come July.  You know what the best part of this recent Bengals draft is?  None of the players will have to play.   Some will.   I think Bernard and Eifert will play a lot, actually.  But none will be necessary to whatever success the Bengals have this season, unless there is some catastrophic injury.   It says a lot about where the Bengals have come from.  Last year, the only draft pick that logged significant playing time was offensive lineman, Kevin Zeitler.  The team won ten games.  They've come a long way.

Playing golf tomorrow and testing some new clubs.  Got new set of Razr Hawks (Callaway) and a vintage set of Ping irons (I3 Oversized).  But as a wise man once said about golf:  it's not about the arrows, it's about the indian.

See you tonight at 6p and 11p on WLWT News 5.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


How many games do you think the Reds will win this year scoring just two runs?  They won a grand total of eight last season, scoring just two or fewer (I guess that'd be one, wouldn't it) runs.   Eight out of 97 total wins.   Just sayin....

I have a sneaking suspicion that Walt Jocketty and his smart guys at GABP have already begun the process of finding an everyday left fielder by trade.  He'd be crazy not to be looking right now.  It may be too early to deal, but not too early to trade.   With no offensive production coming from left, or right field, shortstop or catcher, it makes it very tough to string together wins against the better teams in the league.  The Marlins and Cubs are awful and give the Reds credit for dealing with them in the last homestand.  But the true test for the Reds will be, as always, how they do against the better teams in the league and on the road.  So far, not so good.....

Now, I like this from Andy Dalton....but talk is really cheap at this time of the year....

Happy 80th birthday today to a true American legend and hero, Willie Nelson.   Patsy Cline sang this song and made it a mega hit.  But Willie Nelson wrote it.  And it might be the greatest country music song ever....

I'll never forget Willie's annual 4th of July "picnics" and the one that he brought to Tulsa when I lived there.  It was July 3, 1977 and one of Willie's guests was Lynard Skynard, just months before the devastating plane crash that decimated that band.

So UC's new conference is debating where to hold it's men's and women's college basketball tournaments and one of the sites is Cincinnati.  Hmmmm.   But a competing site is a casino in Connecticut.  Hmmmm.  Don't see Cincinnati winning that one....

Here's the deal on any NFL team's draft:  no one, not you, me or even the guys in front offices know for sure how well a team did.  The Bengals appear to have done well.   In particular, I like there second, second round pick, SMU defensive end, Margus Hunt.  Take a look

He's another big 'wingspan' guy, cut from the same mold as current Bengals Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson.  Their first round pick, Tyler Eifert, the tight end from Notre Dame appears to be solid too.  And I really like the Bengals second round pick, North Carolina running  back Giovani Bernard.  Look...

But in truth, any of them could be an early draft bust (see David Klingler, Akili Smith, Chris Perry) or a late round steal (see Tim Krumrie, TJ Houshmandzadeh or Jonathan Fanene.  But you can't deny this:  the Bengals have done a better job drafting players in the last three seasons.  As Sports Illustrated's Peter King wrote this week:  "Be careful Cincinnati, or we'll start to think you know how to draft"

 Song I just can't get out of my head today.   

Song written by Sedaka with lyrics by Phil Cody and although you don't hear it on this version, a very distinctive sax solo by Jim Horn.  It hit #1 in February of 1975, spawned by the album "Sedaka Is Back".
Danny Kortchmar is on guitar, a guy who did his best work, IMHO with Carole King (on Tapestry in particular) and with Don Henley.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Ah Choo!

So along about, what? 5:00 yesterday afternoon, you were ranting over how dumb it was for the Reds to  either a: trade for Shin Soo Choo or at least b:  put him in centerfield.  As if Drew Stubbs was some cherished jewel that was traded for a box of pliers.  Choo had a couple of adventures in centerfield that suggested it was his first day in long pants.  A Stubbs, he is now.  And as Marvin Lewis would say, that’s a good thing.
Choo is on this team for one reason and one reason only:  he can get on base.  Stubbs is not on this team for several reasons.  But the biggest reason Stubbs is not on this team is he can not get on base.   Defensively, Stubbs probably saves 9-12 wins per season.  But offensively, he probably costs is team twice that number through his inability to get on base, or drive in runs or do anything with a bat that furthers a team’s cause.
Choo certainly won’t cost the Reds 18-24 wins a season because he’s not the defender Stubbs is.  In truth, he’s better than adequate as a centerfielder.    But his ability to get on base (at a .400  clip last season vs right handed pitching) is a complete game changer.  Joey Votto had 18 home runs before he hurt his knee in late June.  He also had just 47 RBI.  The disparity in that production should tell you how few runners were on base when Votto knocked the ball over the fence.  And with a runner on base when Votto is batting, other things happen that would benefit Votto.  The pitcher will have to pitch out of the stretch.  He’ll be distracted somewhat by the runner.  And because of all that, Votto (and Phillips and Bruce and Frazier after him) will have a significant advantage over the pitcher.  That’s what Choo offers, and what Stubbs could not.

Heard this on the radio today and now I can't get the song out of my head..HELP!
Joey Levine of Ohio Express (Yummy Yummy and Chewy Chewy) is the voice. The song, which might be one of the first 'rap' songs (and I use the term loosely) was penned by Paul DiFranco and Norman Dolph. DiFranco wrote the melody and Dolph the 'rap'

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Random Thoughts On A Random Tuesday....

Can the Bengals beat the Broncos this Sunday? Why not? Did you see any of that Denver vs Oakland game last night? Kyle Orton looked clueless most of the night and the Oakland running attacked ripped the Denver defense to shreds. One very big concern about playing in Denver (and it has nothing to do with history. History in sports is the most over rated stat, period.) is weather. It will be hot in Denver. September is always one of the warmest months out there. And the air is thin. For players no accustomed to those conditions, it will be a big adjustment....

Cedric Benson had to be drooling on himself watching the Raiders run through the Denver defense. I don't believe that Benson drools, however...

Andrew Whitworth's sore foot is a bigger concern than Andy Dalton's sore arm. Whitworth protects Dalton's blind side. No Big Whit, no good...

Scott Rolen will probably finish the 2011 season on the shelf. Dusty Baker said today it's unlikely that Rolen will play again. He's been out since mid July with shoulder soreness and subsequent surgery. Just as well that Rolen doesn't play. The Reds need to see as much of Juan Francisco and Todd Frazier at third base for the balance of this season to determine their best option for 2012, backing up Rolen. But what makes this situation more infuriating is that the Reds waited until September 1st to call Francisco up from the minors and gave Miguel Cairo far too many starts at third base, while sitting Frazier.

Francisco was hurt at inopportune times in AAA and missed out on earlier call ups. But he certainly was healthy enough to join the team in early August. Cairo is a valued player, a super sub. But EVERYONE knew that LAST season. Why this team was reluctant to bring its young talent up from AAA earlier than it did is a complete mystery. But so was playing Jonny Gomes for two and a half months while Chris Heisey rode the bench. Very, very strange year for your Cincinnati Reds.

UC football coach Butch Jones says his defense will be more mature and more polished vs Akron Saturday. Considering Akron has been outscored 83-3 in two games, it better be......

Ochocinco caught just one passes for 14 yards in a game that Tom Brady threw for over 500 yards? Man should change his name to Ochouno...

Did TJ Houshmanzadeh's skill dimish that much since signing on with Seattle a few years back? Was it the Bengals system that made him the receiver he was? Or was he was simply Palmer's 'go to guy'? Just askin....

NHL camps have opened already? Really? What happened to summer?

What happens first: the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs or the opening night of the next NBA season?

This blog may not be reproduce, re-transmitted or repurposed in any manner, in whole or in part, without the written permission of Ken Broo.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

I Want To Believe The Bengals Will Beat The Browns Sunday....

And I think they've got a legitimate shot to pull it off. But a lot of things have to go right for the Bengals. It starts by getting off the field on third down, defensively. The Bengals had trouble doing that last season. But in this year's pre-season games, the Bengals did a better job at third down defense. Cleveland will almost certainly try to pound Peyton Hillis. That's their game, or at least it was under Eric Mangini. New head coach, Pat Shurmer may have other ideas. But Hillis has been their horse. Last year, in the game played at Cleveland, Hillis ran for 102 yards on the Bengals defense. Just as important, he helped the Browns control the game clock. When the two teams played again in Cincinnati later in the year, Hillis wasn't so successful.

The Bengals will have to counter with Cedric Benson, for the same reasons as the Browns will try to run. Benson is the security blanket for rookie quarterback, Andy Dalton and new offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden. Benson can help manage the game for both. And, the Bengals offensive line is more adroit at run blocking than pass protection. So a lot of what will go down Sunday in Cleveland will come down to which team has the better defense against the run. That's where I think the Bengals have the edge. They demonstrated in this year's pre-season games they've tightened things up defending the run. If that was any indication of what the regular season may hold, advantage Bengals Sunday, and a real chance at winning their opener.

Here's another reason why the Bengals may have an edge: the Browns are 1-11 in season opening games, since returning to the NFL in 1999.

Other random thoughts on this random night.....

Great, and I mean great opening game for the 2011 NFL season. 76 points total and a game that went right down to the last play. And what a debut for former University of Kentucky star, Randall Cobb. The Packers' second round pick in this past April's draft caught a touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers. And then, Cobb returned a kickoff for a touchdown....108 yards! Kickoff returns may not hold the drama they have in seasons past, due to the new rule placing the ball on the 35 yard line for kicks. But Cobb's return may be an indication that every once in awhile, you get that kind of magic.....

I like the Steelers, Falcons, Bucs and Chiefs Sunday, for what that's worth....

Can UC pull of an upset at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville Saturday afternoon. UC senior running back Isaiah Pead said this week "we're going to shock the world". Tennessee isn't a top tier team in the SEC this season. But road teams not named Boise State traditionally have trouble in SEC stadia, any of them. Like to think it will happen. Tough to think it will....

I don't know about you, but I've had enough of Ramon Hernandez and Edgar Renteria this season. If I'm Dusty Baker, I was through playing each a long time ago. Nothing against either, particularly Hernandez who could, in a certain set of circumstances wind up back here next season. But there is no excuse for not playing the future now. That would be catcher Devin Meseraco, third baseman Juan Francisco, outfielder Yonder Alonso and short stop Chris Valaika. Honestly, no one other than the players involved cares about individual 'goals' like winning a league earned run average or scoring a set number of runs. To give the team it's best shot of contending again in 2012, we need to get beyond those kinds of things.

This blog may not be reproduced, re-transmitted or repurposed in any manner, in whole or in part without the written permission of Ken Broo.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Less Than 2 Weeks To Go Before The NFL 2011 Season Kicks Off. Do You Know Where Your Season Ticket Holders Are?

The game within the game at Bengals games is back, I'm afraid. Throughout the dark days of the early 2000's, the guessing game in the press box was always, guess the attendance. After looking at the gathering at Paul Brown Stadium last Thursday night for the Bengals first home exhibition game of the year, I think attendance may be a bit better than what a lot of us may think. I don't think we'll see a sell out, besides the annual visit from the heathens from Western Pennsylvania. But I could see a consistent crowd in the neighborhood of 40,000 this year. And for a team that's done its best to run off its fan base, that's saying something for your Cincinnati Bengals.

Which begs for answer to this latest poll question see on this blog: if you go to Bengals games, are you a loyal fan or an enabler?

Here's the big question tonight sports fans: will NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell challenge the players union and attempt to suspended Cedric Benson for taking a plea bargain and jail time. Benson took the deal today, before his trial began in Austin. This was from an incident in 2010, when Benson was involved in a bar fight. Benson's contention then, was that he was jumped by an assailant and was merely defending himself. At the time, he met with Goodell and got off with a warning from the commissioner. But Benson's contention then was that he was the aggreived party. Just a side note here: aggreived parties rarely get jail time. Today, Benson cut a deal with the county prosecutor and took a 20 day jail sentence, which will probably be reduced to a week, meaning Benson could miss zero games. But will Goodell now elect to revisit this situation. And if he does, will the players union challenge him on it, on sort of a double jeopardy argument? Stay tuned.

Yonder Alonso at third base tonight? Why not. The Reds should exhaust every option to find a position for Alonso to play before using him as trade bait. He's that good with a bat. But I still contend, he should be given another chance to play in left field. If he played 70 plus games at "AAA" without an error, he deserves a longer look at the Major League level.

This blog may not be reproduced, retransmitted or repurposed in any manner, in whole or in part, without the written permission of Ken Broo