Monday, March 31, 2008

Random thoughts from Opening Day in Cincinnati (my 19th as a paid journalist).....Brandon Webb is one of the best pitchers in the Majors. But the Reds have dragged a disturbing trend from 2007 into 2008: the inability to move base runners along and the lack of big inning rallies. To be sure, they'll face easier pitchers than Webb. But I wanted to see more today....Corey Patterson will cover a lot of turf in centerfield. But Junior saved him big time on a catch off Stephen Drew....Patterson must have a great percentage of successful stolen bases, as infrequently has he gets on case. He had 82 the last two seasons, while in Baltimore....The entire Reds team wearing Joe Nuxhall's number 41 for pre game introductions was one of the best tributes I've ever seen. Whoever came up with that idea needs a pay raise, immediately....I talked with the Diamonbacks' Erick Byrnes after the game. He says the goal, everytime Webb pitches, is to score three runs. Three is plenty for Webb, says the DBacks' outfielder...Bronson Arroyo will have a much easier time of it on Wednesday night in game two of this series than Aaron Harang had today. Harang was good, good enough to win. But the rain delay didn't help him and neither did the annual distractions of Opening Day. He's a pro and needs to deal with those things and he did. But Arroyo will benefit from the typical second game of the season start Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It may be just days before the start of another baseball season. The NCAA Tournament is moving into the Sweet 16. But in Cincinnati, it's never an off season for "Chad". Another week brings another round of news on Ocho-No Show. Johnson, as he promised to do, failed to show up for the start of voluntary workouts this week. He's still mad at some un-named folks in the Bengals front office for some un-named slights directed at him during the 2007 season. Marvin Lewis re-iterated Monday in an NFL Network interview that the Bengals will not trade Johnson.

But Chad has kept the fires burning. Here's what he had to say in an ESPN interview this week.

And, of course, that just spurned all kinds of opinions on what the Bengals should do. The Sporting News says, salary cap be damned, the Bengals should trade Johnson immediately.

And if he is being shopped (again Lewis has said the team won't trade Johnson), the feeling from Philadephia is, send him there. A good take in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Meantime, check out this video. It's one of the best baseball plays I've seen this spring.

Anybody think that rookie Edison Volquoz has NOT nailed down a spot in the starting rotation? Here's his 'line' from today's start vs the Phillies in Clearwater, Florida: 5 innings, 5 hits, 1 run and 5 strikeouts. Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquoz and Josh Fogg as the starting five? OK, I'll go with that. It's the best 'five' the Reds have had in years.

Xavier by eight over West Virginia Thursday and UCLA by 19 over Western Kentucky. But those are just my early 'lines'.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Here’s what I’ve taken away from the first round and a half of this NCAA Tournament. There are no great teams anymore in college basketball. None. I think it’s the one year rule, early entry, the fact that just about every team in the top six conferences plays on TV virtually every game…all of that are the reasons why there are no great teams. Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, UCLA, they’re reputations, not greatness. Not anymore. The on court difference between a UCLA and say, a Villanova is one player. The difference between great and good is that razor thin.

You know, when I was a senior at Ohio, then known as Ohio University, we played UCLA in Pauley Pavilon. UCLA had Keith Wilks, Bill Walton and the wizard, John Wooden on the bench. We had Denny Rusch, Walter Luckett and a coach who’s nickname was Gentleman, Genntleman Jim Snyder on the bench. We had no shot of keeping this game within 20.

For the most part, in Division I basketball, those kind of days are gone. No team, like UCLA, is in any danger of going on an 88-game winning streak.

Want more proof that there are no great teams in college basketball anymore. Take a look at your bracket this morning. It was a mess before the second games of opening day.

This is important to understand, given where Xavier is this morning. Yes, it’s in the round of 16. It’s one win away from equaling the best NCAA Tournament run in school history. But what team still standing today has better guards than X? Are the inside players that UCLA, Stanford and Kansas have really that much better than Xavier’s? No. Which is why I believe there is not reason to believe that Xavier can’t make it to the Final 4. West Virginia is hot. So was Georgia. UCLA has talented big men, some with outstanding pedigree, so did Purdue. I’m not predicting Xavier will make the final four. Because to do that, would run against my theory that no great college teams are anywhere this morning. But I am says that the path to the final four is as wide open to Xavier today as it is to any other team.

Xavier is the right team, with the right combination of players are the right time in the game of college basketball. Terrific guards, good inside players, smart coach and a team that plays excellent defense. Not saying the final four is going to happen. But tell me today, what team has a better chance of getting to San Antonio, right now, than Xavier. I’ll tell you: no team.

We are exactly one week from opening day. One week from tomrrow, the games start to count. Bronson Arroyo was smacked around pretty good by the Astros Saturday. He says he’s not concernred. I am. Arroyo pitched a grand total of six innings before Saturday. He want six yesterday and gave up four runs, three earned.

What I’m more concerned about. And what I’d like to talk about today, is what’s going on in centerfield. Is there anyone around here who’s wondering exactly what the Reds smart guys are thinking about?

I have a theory. And I know there are a lot of people who think exactly the opposite. My theory is, you never trade someone who has the potential to win 162 games a year for you, for a guy who can potentially win a game for you once every five days. In other words, you never trade an everyday player for a pitcher. Unless that pitcher’s name is Greg Maddux and the year is 1995.

But I understand some of baseball’s smart guys don’t agree with that. And that’s OK. So when the Reds wanted to deal Josh Hamilton in the off season and they got the Rangers’ best pitching prospect, Edinson Volquoz, I said, OK, it opoens up a spot for Jay Bruce in the outfield. Sounds good to me. Well, where is the best prospect the Reds farm system has produced since Johnny Bench today? I’ll tell you where: on some back lot, on some water logged turf in Sarasota. The big club plays on the Big One this afternoon. Jay Bruce will be playing on a field with a chain link back stop..

Your opening day centerfielder will be Corey Patterson. The Reds traded away one of the top five outfield arms in baseball to open up a spot for Corey Patterson. Sounds like a plan to me!

And what, exactly did Jay Bruce do to lose his fight for a starting spot to Corey Patterson? He got hurt, missed five games with a sore leg. He only hit ‘262’. There is a theory now, that Jay Bruce will be a better corner outfielder than a centerfielder. I wonder if that theory has anything to do with Adam Dunn making 13-million in the final year of his contract and Ken Griffey, Junior, a year away from a team option 16-million dollar season?

Here’s what would have been the best path for the Reds to travel this spring with the man voted the best player in all of minor league baseball last season. Are you ready? Stand by. This is a radical concept that may need some thinking. Why not just begin the spring by telling Bruce: centerfield is your job this season. You have nothing else to prove by playing another inning of minor league baseball. Son, grab a bat, go up there and hit. The job is yours even if you fall flat on your face. We have that much faith in you and your talents. If I’m a major league baseball prospect and my manager or general manager told me that, I’d run through the left field wall for them.

Instead, what Jay Bruce was told was: go to Louisville. We’ll call you when we need you. Jay Bruce, the best prospect the Reds have developed since Johnny Bench, the best in over 40-years. Losing out in the battle for centerfield to Corey Patterson and Norris Hopper. Norris Hopper, who’s hitting ‘238’ this spring and has gotten on base a grand total of 28-percent of his at bats. A man still looking for his first major league home run.

Josh Hamilton for Edinson Volqoz. OK, fine, Marge Schott decimated the Reds scouting department so badly during her regime it couldn’t find a pitching prospect with a GPS. I understand it. But you open an outfield spot and give it to a combination of Patterson and Hopper? And you send the best player in all of minor league baseball back to the minors? 


I may be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time. But I think this is a big mistake.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Good Morning!   Let the games begin.  For the record, Pitt, Kansas, UCLA and North Carolina are my final 4.  I think Xavier moves on with a win over Georgia today.  But I think Marquette KO's Kentucky.

Check out my latest Broo View Podcast.  It's on the front page of my web site:   You'll hear comments from Xavier players and coaches on their first round match up.

Chad Johnson is shooting  his mouth off again.  Now, he's saying he'll not only skip voluntary workouts, Johnson is also not committing to playing for the Bengals this season.  Hmmmm, seems to me he's under contract in Cincinnati through 2011.  And now, the NFL Network says Chad's running buddy, TJ Houshmandzadeh may sit out the workouts too!  Check it out here.

Wonder how Marvin Lewis is going to handle all of this, when the voluntary workouts begin Monday.  I'm sure his 'spin machine' will be working in over drive.

The Reds had their one and only off day of spring training Wednesday.  When they reconvene, Dusty Baker and his staff will have some tough decisions to make.  Homer Bailey, Matt Belisle and Josh Fogg are all in a foot race for the fifth and final spot in the rotation.  Belisle may win by default, as Bailey, still a decent prospect despite his flat curve ball and shaky attitude, needs to pitch every fifth day.  A fifth starter in major league baseball pitches infrequently in the early season.  

The other big decision Baker has, is who's on first.  Not the Abbott and Costello bit, but rather who starts at first.  It appeared to be Joey Votto's  job to lose as camp opened.  It appears Votto has succeeded in losing it, with a poor hitting performance.  Veteran Scott Hatteberg, thought to be a bat off the bench, looks to have regained the job he held the past two seasons.  Hatteberg is sorching the ball.  Like Bailey, Votto needs to play consistently and won't, sitting on the bench watching Hatteberg.  Phenom centerfielder, Jay Bruce has just about punched his ticket to AAA.  So it now appears that the three most promising prospects in the Reds system, all given chances to win jobs at the major league level, have failed to do so.  Things could change in the final ten days of camp.  I wouldn't bet on it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sorry for the delay on the postings. I'm in lovely Sarasota, Florida, home of the early bird specials, 'blue hairs' in running suits (who never run) and the spring home (for at least one more spring) of the Cincinnati Reds.

I'm just back from Clearwater, Florida, where tonight I saw the future and the future will be astounding, so long as Johnny Cueto keeps it up. He worked four innings tonight of scoreless baseball and if he doesn't make the Reds starting rotation this year, it will only be because Wayne Krivsky will have acquired Roy Oswalt, Josh Beckett and Dice-K before opening day. Cueto is the buzz of this camp. Bronson Arroyo started tonight and tossed five solid innings, allowing only a run. Put that with what Aaron Harang did against the Astros Tuesday and the Reds rotation is off to a flying start. But remember, it's only March.

Check out the latest Broo View Podcast. Its on the front page of my web site, In this latest edition, I have an extensive interview with Harang. Another podcast is coming Thursday.

Back with more Thursday.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I was thinking about this yesterday while I was shoveling snow. And let me just say this before anything else, shoveling snow may be the most useless thing a grown man can do. The beauty of having kids is watching them do the menial tasks while you relax with a beer. I think its reason number three to have children, right up there with carrying on the family name and extending the love you and your spouse have. I really believe that when God said, ‘be fruitful and multiply’ that he knew that Cincinnati would be hit by the mother of all blizzards in March of 2008 and children would be needed to shovel snow. But I digress.

Here’s what I was thinking as I discovered my driveway again:

Maybe it wouldn’t be all that bad if Chad Johnson wasn’t a Cincinnati Bengal anymore. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to grant the man his apparent wish and trade him away. You’ll remember, of course, Chad’s radio row marathon at the Super Bowl, where he vacillated between cryptic and blunt just how under appreciated and how mistreated he’s been here in Cincinnati.

Now, we’ve been told Chad has calmed down in the last month. And Marvin Lewis is on record as saying the Bengals won’t trade Johnson. And even though I’m on the record, numerous times, as saying that the Bengals are much better with Johnson than without him….as I was shoveling white death, I had one of those revelations: why not trade the guy?

See, what triggered the thought was the video of Shaun Smith at some banquet the other night, up in Cleveland. If you remember Shaun Smith, you remember him for his mouth. Because the man talked a much better game than he played, at least around here. Smith left the Bengals last season in free agency and got the Browns to drop a whole lot of money on him, a whole lot more than his game deserved. At this banquet the other night, Smith was asked about what really happened in the Bengals locker room, at halftime in the one and only playoff game they’ve managed to qualify for since the current President’s father was our president.
You know the set up. Bengals and Steelers. First play from scrimmage for the Bengals, Carson Palmer goes down. In comes Jon Kitna, big heart, small hands, team heads for the locker room, its offense sputtering.

What happened next, has been more Bengals lore and rumor than actual fact. Nobody in the locker room, on the record at least, has said what happened. Not until the other night, when Shaun Smith confirmed that Chad Johnson, in a fit of anger over who really knows what, took a swing at and connected with Marvin Lewis’ eye. Then, according to Smith, took another swing and connected with then Bengals wide receivers coach Hue Jackson. Old Shaun had the Cleveland crowd’s attention now. And he certainly wasn’t misquoted. The entire thing was taped and on youtube within minutes. One of the biggest moments in Bengals lore, right up there with what really happened when Barry Foster quit after one day and why Gary Reasons tugged Dave Shula’s cap on national television… of the biggest moments confirmed.

Well, by the next morning, the youtube video was eradicated and Smith was back pedaling like a cornerback. But it got me thinking about how much the Bengals really need Johnson.

Let’s say they trade him. What do you figure they could get for Johnson? The conventional thinking is a second round draft pick. But what if they got a draft pick and a player? Shaun Rogers fetched the Lions a starting cornerback and a third round pick. You don’t think Chad Johnson would bring at least that? What if Johnson got the Bengals a starting tight end and a second round pick, or a starting defensive tackle and a draft pick?

Would you make the deal? Yesterday afternoon, I was ready to pull the trigger. Look, I like his game. His talent is not easily replaced. You don’t simply go to the wide receiver store and find a guy who can deliver 14-hundred and 40 yard season. And most of the time, the best deals are the ones you never make. But it may be time for a parting of the ways. The Carl Pickens divorce, the Corey Dillon divorce, those were nasty separations. This doesn’t have to be.

The timing isn’t right now. The big name free agent wide receivers are locked up, guys like Donte Stallworth and Randy Moss. But Justin McCareins is out there, so is David Patton and some other not so great but serviceable wide receivers. And if trading Johnson does bring a player plus a pick, who’s to say you can’t use that pick on a receiver?

The popping off on radio row, now the Shaun Smith confirmation of the locker room meltdown, maybe it’s time. Or maybe it was just a lack of oxygen to my brain as I shoveled away. But I do know this: the Bengals were mediocre the last couple of seasons with Chad Johnson. They can certainly be at least that without him.

Friday, March 07, 2008

If you haven't already noticed, the video I posted last night of Shaun Smith, the former Bengal, confirming that Chad Johnson took a swing and connected to Marvin Lewis in an up til now rumored locker room scuffle at halftime of the Bengals vs Steelers playoff game two years ago, has been removed from One of my favorite destinations, has the skinny.

Mike Florio also has free agent winners and losers in his videocast. Check out the teams he designated as loser, in the first week of free agency.

I've had a lot of people ask me today whether or not I think the Bengals should try to bring LB Takeo Spikes back. Spikes has just been released by the Eagles, the second team he's played for since taking a walk in 2003. Spikes never gave Lewis a chance to prove he could turn the Bengals ill fortunes around (he hasn't really done that yet, to be honest about it). But that has nothing to do with the reason why I don't think the Bengals will make a play for Spikes. For openers, Spikes appears to have little left in his tank. Secondly, which Bengals current linebacker is Spikes better than? Rashad Jeanty? Ahmad Brooks? Dhani Jones? If Odell Thurman is re-instated, it's more reason not to pursue Spikes.

The Bengals ended the week by watching LB Landon Johnson take a hike. Johnson signed with the Carolina Panthers: three years $10 million. I like Johnson. He's a good locker room quote. But I don't think he's a guy who would wind up starting on this Bengals defense, when and if it gets good.

I'm heading to spring training next week. I wonder if my interview will Bronson Arroyo will be as good as this one, conducted by something called

Speaking of our Cincinnati Reds, did you catch the pitching line of 22 year old phenom, Johnny Cueto? Cueto started against the Pirates today: 3 innings pitched, ten batters faced (one over the minimum) four strike outs, one hit, zero runs. If he strings together three or four more starts like that before the spring ends, he'll be in the Reds rotation come opening day. Guarantee!

As we gear up for another weekend of college basketball, what's been the big reason for the big turnaround the UK Wildcats are delivering? Mark Story has an interesting take in the Lexington Herald.

I don't think their loss to St. Joe's on Thursday night will hurt the Xavier Muskies all that much. Even if they were able to 'run the table' and win out through the Atlantic 10 tournament, they'd be no better than a #3 seed in the NCAA's.

Thursday night's loss to DePaul shouldn't hurt UC all that much either. The Bearcats had no shot at an NCAA tournament bid. But if they want to play in the NIT or the new CBI tournament (that one takes an additional 16 teams, meaning 103 division one teams make a post season tournament this year) they'll have to win at least two games in the upcoming Big East Tournament.

I'm talking sports again this Sunday on 700 WLW, the 50,000 watt flame thrower here in Cincinnati. Among my guests, Bengals beat writer Mark Curnutte, Xaver TV analyst, Steve Wolf and's Mark Sheldon, direct from spring training. I'm on from 9am-12:30pm. If you live outside of this part of the Midwest, you can always catch my show on line, at or on XM Channel 173.

Sunday night, on Cincinnati's channel 5, I'll be hosting another edition of Sports Rock! Former Bengal Eric Thomas and WEBN's "Wildman" Walker join George Vogel and me. From, Geoff Hobson stops by to talk about a wild week in "Bengal-dom".

And if you're snowed in this weekend, check out my web site:

Have a great weekend and don't kill yourself shoveling snow.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I first saw this posted tonight on Now, watch this video below. It's Shaun Smith, former Bengal, now with the Cleveland Browns. He asserts what's been rumor around Cincinnati since that Bengals vs Steelers playoff game in January, 2006. Smith says Chad Johnson did indeed take a swing at head coach Marvin Lewis and, according to Smith, connected. originally reported the incident, quoting an anonymous Bengals source in the week following that playoff loss. Now, if one more Bengal, former or present, goes on the record, we've got a major stinko concerning Ocho Cinco.
Not that these games mean a whole lot, but did you catch the final from Sarasota today? 12-8, the Reds beat the Yankees. True, the Yanks didn't bring Jeter or ARod or Posada. But enough of their stars were their to make you sit up and take notice, particularly when you saw that Aaron Harang tossed three innings of shutout baseball. $46 million dollar closer, Francisco Cordero followed with a shutout inning featuring two strike outs.

The Bengals have made one big splash in free agency, signing defensive lineman Antwan Odom away from the Titans for $29.5 million. Might they want to bring back the one time focal point of their defense? Check out this from

And when it comes time to draft, in April, here's the latest guess from Personally, you've got about 15 so called experts each selling their opinions on round one of draft day. And each figures to change his or her mind at least five times between now and then.

I'm supposed to spend next Friday watching the Reds play the Yankees in Sarasota with my good friend Jerry Springer. Maybe then I'll get an answer as to what exactly was going on in this clip from one of his shows.

You gotta love, 'mascot tension'

UC holds its 'Senior Night' tonight before the Bearcats and DePaul tip off. It's always a special night, but even more so this year. The five UC seniors who play their final game at Fifth-Third Arena helped ressurect the Cincinnati basketball program from the ashes. It's not that long ago, when Andy Kennedy and Bob Huggins were both either forced or chased out. Mick Cronin came to town and had to throw together a team just to compete. With a lot of work from the "departing five", UC made a bit of a run at an NCAA Tournament bid. The 'Cats have qualified for the post season Big East Tournament and, with a couple of wins there, could secure an NIT bid. Not bad for a program left for dead a couple of springs ago.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Now, less than four weeks until Opening Day, do you think the Reds signing Corey Patterson is another hint that Dusty Baker isn't interested in playing young players? That reputation dogged Baker when he managed the Cubs. Now this week, we not only hear stories of how concerned Baker is with what he perceives to be recurring leg problems with phenom, Jay Bruce. We also got a double dose of baseball Dusty style Monday, when the Reds signed infielder Jerry Hairston, Junior, and Patterson, both of whom played for Baker in Chicago.

Of coures, if Dusty really has trouble with younger players, how do you explain this? If this pitcher is that good, he's liable to be on the mound Opening Day 2010!

With Brett Favre retiring today, it brought back memories of his first action as a Packer. It was September, 1992. Dave Shula brought his first-ever Bengals team to Wisconsin, fresh off a 2-0 start. The Bengals had the Pack on the ropes and knocked starting quarterback, Don Majkowski out of the game. Off the bench came Favre, acquired just that year from the Atlanta Falcons. Favre led the Packers to a stunning comeback win. Matter of fact, check out the NBC-TV post game coverage from that day. If you're not interested in the game, you'll see OJ, while he was still employable.

Two teams that ultimately went in opposite directions. You could argue the Bengals never really got over that loss, though all the players from that team are long gone.

Would you trade Chad Johnson to the Oakland Raiders, as suggested in this story? If you really wanted to send him to the NFL's version of Siberia, Oakland would be the place. That's a team that is going nowhere fast. And by the time Jamarcus Russell finds him stride as an NFL quarterback, Johnson would be ready for retirement.

Speaking of trades, why did the Bengals proposed deal with the Jets for defensive lineman, Dwayne Robertson fall through? Robertson's agent said Monday night it was because the Bengals wanted Robertson to re-negotiate his contract, that's due to pay him $9.8 million in 2008 and $8.5 million in 2009. But today, while introducing newly signed free agent, defensive lineman Antwan Odom, to the Cincinnati media, Marvin Lewis bristled at the suggestion that money was involved with the deal falling through. But check out this article today from the New York Daily News.

Lewis says Robertson still may wind up with the Bengals. Since it's a real possibility that the Jets will release Robertson in June if they can't find a trade partner, he may well wind up in Bengal stripes this summer.