Sunday, August 31, 2008
The experts around the country, the guys who make their living writing for web sites and preview magazines are whistling the same tune. Just got my recent issue of Sports Illustrated last week. Bengals picked to finish dead last in the AFC North, behind the Ravens who you could quarterback right now.
I wouldn’t be so quick to join the chorus. After the next 17 weeks, we all may be singing “Hallelujah” when the seasons ends. But today, I’d at least think about a different tune.
As I’ve said, on WLW Radio, on WLWT channel 5, to the to the other interview requests I get from stations all over the country, the hardest thing about covering the NFL is predicting what teams will win from week to week. To correctly predict how a team is going to finish now, in August, is next to impossible.
Sure you know who the dogs are And you know who the power teams are. There are always five great teams, five really lousy teams and the 22-other teams in the league will finish anywhere from 10-6 to 6-10. The Bengals, I think, will be in that bunch.
Your Cincinnati Bengals are not a great football team. They’re not a ‘dog’ either. The Bengals are a pretty average football team that has to play extremely well each week to have a chance to win. The tackling on defense is chronically bad. The offensive line has gone ‘south’ in a hurry. And if TJ and Chad (or Ocho Javon Cinco or whatever he’s calling himself now), if they don’t play well, the Bengals don’t win.
We’re talking about all of this today because in less than one week, the games start to count, because the Bengals have looked inept this summer and because two veteran Bengals were among the cut down casualties Saturday.
Rudi Johnson was done last year. I think the Bengals only brought him back to hedge their bets on Chris Perry getting hurt again. Let’s face it. Perry is like crystal. He can snap, anywhere, at any moment. You knew it, I knew it every Bengals fans knew there was no way Rudi was going to get $3.2 million once Perry proved that he could stay healthy.
Willie Anderson? The man deserved better than what he got. That was no way to treat someone who gave a lot of good years, all but one of his seasons in the NFL, to some horrid Bengals teams. Anderson is the second best lineman in team history. End of discussion. Anthony Munoz got a royal on field send off. Tim Krumrie rode out of Riverfront Stadium on a Harley. Willie got thrown out of Paul Brown Stadium when he wouldn’t write the Bengals front office a check.
But honestly, who didn’t see something like this coming? This story wasn’t going to have a happy ending for Anderson, not after the Bengals dropped $7.5 million on his replacement.
More than what Anderson might have been able to contribute on the field this season, what he leaves behind is a gaping hole in Bengal morality. If you haven’t noticed, that’s not exactly in ample supply these days. Drop a two year 600-grand deal on Chris Henry. Let Willie go. Sounds like subtraction by addition.
You have any idea who the team leaders are now? Where is that in the Bengals locker room? Maybe this is a perverted twist on that old line about Ralph Kiner: we can get arrested with you Willie, we can get arrested without you. Kids, if you don’t know who Ralph Kiner is, wake up Dad and ask him.
Look, I’m not very encouraged about this season. I think the Browns will be good again. I think there’s a lot of Browns-hatin’ going on and its clouding some sensible thinking here in the ‘nati. The Steelers play the toughest schedule in the NFL this season. But you and I both know that team has the
Bengals number. Two words: Dick LeBeau. Don’t let the Cincinnati part of his resume fool you.
The Ravens appear to caught in a vortex. They’ve got an older defense and they’ve got quarterback issues. Willis Magahee may not be ready to start the season. But they’ve got a new head coach and one of the best offensive coordinators on the planet. That team will find a way….
And then, there are your Cincinnati Bengals. The haven’t been able to run block very well this summer. They allowed their quarterback to get hit in the mouth far too often Any team with an edge rusher (and name one that doesn’t have one) can beat their tackles. Their secondary has been blown up about as much as the Cincinnati sky will be along about nine tonight.
But with all of that said, the Bengals are 0-0 today, like every other team in the NFL. Everything that happened in training camp this summer was important. But none of it matters now.
There’ll be plenty of time to panic in a month. But today, keep your options open. Things aren’t always the way they appear. Despite their worst efforts, your Cincinnati Bengals might figure this thing out, inspite of themselves.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Yikes, more and more bad press for you Cincinnati Bengals. Here's former NFL'er Matt Bowen with his take on the running Ocho Cinco sports opera.
ESPN.com is writing about what we all know here in the 'nati. Things are getting a little dicey for the Bengals.
I'm sure glad Walt Jocketty is somewhere talking about the future of the Cincinnati Reds. Apparently, it's in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he reveals the Reds are in fullfledged rebuilding.
Wait 'til 2010 isn't just the Olympic battle cry of NBC Sports. It's the cold, hard reality of baseball in Cincinnati.
He's one of our favorite guests on 700 WLW's Sunday Morning Sports Talk. Here's some more of profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio on the return of Chris Henry to the Bengals.
My over/under on Henry getting into legal trouble is November 15. I'm taking the under.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
And now, your Cincinnati Bengals....
I need some help here. I’m really struggling right now to find something good to say about your Cincinnati Bengals. They’re certainly not my Cincinnati Bengals today. They’re all yours.
Saturday night, I wasted three hours of my life watching their exhibition game against the Saints. Exhibitionists, your Bengals are not.
Up front, I admit I understand the ramifications of not having Chad and TJ in the line-up. I get that. But here’s what I don’t get: Carson Palmer getting hit on virtually every passing play. Not just last night, through three exhibition games this summer. Here’s the morning memo to the Bengals offensive linemen: you sent the most important player on your team to the locker room at halftime with blood streaming down his face. It’s OK to block the other guy. Really, it is.
The way this Bengals offense has performed so far this summer will be the biggest bargaining champ Houshmandzadeh will have this off season. And if the Bengals are sincere in re-visiting Johnson’s deal next winter, same thing for him.
The way the rest of the Bengals wide receivers played last night made me salivate for Chris Henry. It was that bad.
Chris Perry ran well. Guess what: other teams will give the Bengals that all day long. You know what he wound up with? 12-carries, 36-yards. Take out his one carry for 13, he averaged two yards a pop
Other teams will gladly let Perry run for a buck, if they don’t have to worry about pass coverage. Antonio Chatman caught a few nice passes Saturday night. Guess what: the Bengals were so impressed with Chatman’s play this summer, they went out and sold their souls, they signed Henry.
The Bengals calling card, their offense? 165-yards, total. 38-on the ground.
The Bengals defense allowd the Saints 458 yards. The Saints threw over the middle and deep. The Saints had more than seven more minutes of clock time than your Cincinnati Bengals.
Every single Bengals….you can’t call them drives…there were eleven possessions and three ended in negative yards….every single possession ended in a punt except the final possession. That ended with an interception.
For the first time in team history, it was shutout at home in an exhibition game. Do you know how hard you’ve got to try to get shutout, do you know how inept you have to play to get shutout in a National Football League game?
When Palmer and the first team offense was in the game Saturday night here were the numbers: 27 plays, 94-yards. The Bengals crossed he 50-yard line once last night, once, all the way to the Saints 49.
Does this sound like a team that’s ready to begin an NFL season?
So I’ll ask this question to get things rolling today: is there a chance that this Bengals team isn’t as good as we, or they, thought? We’ve had three exhibition games to see if this team is any better than last year’s, and the answer today is a resounding ‘no’. Do Houshmandzadeh and Chad mean that much to this offense, that without them it appears to be clueless?
Saturday night, after the game, offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said, in essense, that the protection problems weren’t all on the O-Line, but on the running backs (it was only Chris Perry for the first half) , the tight end (that would be Ben Utecht, one of the only bright spots) and the quarterback (that would be the guy who left with his DNA running into his mouth). If that’s the case, then Bratkowski’s side of the ball was total failure.
Is it all a lack of TJ and Chad? Or has this offense suddenly gone stale? Both are legitimate questions.
And now, if you’re Marvin Lewis, what do you do? You have your fourth and final pre season game coming up next Thursday night. The last thing any head coach wants to do is play his starters deep into the final exhibition game. The Colts certainly won’t do that. So if you’re number ones are going up against the Colts’ twos and threes, how much are you going to gain from that?
As for the other side of the ball, the secondary was again picked apart and the pass rush was, how can we put this, limited? The Bengals gave up 458-yards of offense. The first team was pretty much out of the mix two series into the second half, But listen to these numbers: 54 plays, 342 total yards.
OK, the high priced free agent lineman, Antwan Odom didn’t play. Neither did Chinedum, who’ll probably be a starter again when he’s healthy. Neither did Rashad Jeanty, who may be a starter when he’s healthy. But what else does that side of the ball offer up for an explanation.
The games start to count two weeks from today. The Bengals open in Baltimore. About the only good thing you can say about that today, is that the Ravens still have Kyle Boller as their quarterback. Other than that, I’m looking for answers. Help me, beause I’m fresh out of them.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Out in the desert, it seems as though they value Adam Dunn a lot more than we do around here.
According to the paper out there.
More on Dunn in the desert, from Yahoo Sports!
I still maintain, the Reds will rue the day they let Dunn walk. They've now sent a letter to their ticket holders telling them to be 'patient'. Isn't that what they've been, since about, oh, 1991?
Our friend Mike Florio is checking in with his preview of the NFC South.
I've got Tampa Bay in the South. If it's Atlanta, you've got the all time upset of this coming season. For the record, I'll take Dallas in the NFC East, Detroit in the North and Seattle in the West. In the AFC, I'll go with New England in the East, Indianapolis in the South, San Diego in the West and Pittsburgh in the North. Wild Card teams will be: Cleveland and Jacksonville in the AFC, Giants and Saints in the NFC. What do you think? Hit the comment icon.
Also, the latest edition of the Bengals Report Podcast is up and running. You can find that as well, on www.kenbroo.com. But if you'd like, you can download it here.
Olympic congratulations to former St. Ursula soccer star, Heather Mitts, who won the gold medal with Team USA today. And the same to former Wyoming High and UC track star, David Payne, who won the silver in the 110m hurdles.
Monday, August 18, 2008
His legal troubles are well documented. And Henry can't play for the Bengals until the fifth regular season game (he's sitting out yet another NFL suspension). Whether or not he's cleaned his act up, and I hope he has for his sake not any one elses, why on earth would the Bengals want to re-visted their troubled past? Why would an organization subject itself to the kind of ridicule and league scrutiny it will fall under? Do you mean to tell me the young wide receivers they drafted this spring aren't showing a scintilla of NFL hope? Is Antonio Chatman not capable of playing as a third down back? True, TJ Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson are both injured. Johnson may be out for an extended period. But are we to believe there are no other street free agents the Bengals can pursue now, instead of bringing back Henry? Will there not be a fairly large, if not talented, pool of receivers who'll be lopped from rosters in the next couple of weeks.
As late as last week, Marvin Lewis, for at least the third time in the last three months, said he didn't want Henry back. Maybe not in so many words, but he certainly left that impression. Now he's forced to take him back. This can't be his call. It smells of a front office maneuver.
If you're Marvin Lewis tonight, how do you save face. Do you even want to?
Let me know what you think. Comment away
Sunday, August 17, 2008
If you’ve read this blog over the last eight or nine months, you’ve heard me say this at least a hundred times. The reds need to keep Adam Dunn. I haven’t wavered in that. I looked at his age, his durability, his ability to hit for power, work the count, get on base, drive runs in. I tempered all of that with his fielding deficiencies and his infuriating amount of strike outs.
Obviously you listened to me. The Reds obviously did not.
There were a lot of you who would never consider the positives that Dunn brought to the game. And that’s fine. But you have to consider this.
You’re losing who holds 4th place all time in Reds home run hitting history
You’re losing a guy who hit a home run in less than every 14 at bats, who three times produced 100 rbi, 100 walks and 100 run scored seasons. Only one other Reds player has done that. Thanks to the Enquirer’s John Erardi for that. He’ll be joining us in a little bit.
Who does Adam Dunn compare to, statistically at this point in his career? How about Reggie Jackson, Harmon Killebrew, how about Barry Bonds? Not my opinion. That’s straight out of Baseball Reference.
And the Reds let him go. They got three players for Dunn, two we know about, one we think we know. One is a 23 year old pitcher in Single-A, coming off Tommy John surgery. The other is a 24 year old catcher who was stuck in triple-A when the Reds got him. We think pitcher Micah Owings is headed here. His arm trouble right now actually had some baseball experts suggesting the Reds may try converting him to an everyday player. For a guy who compares favorably to Reggie Jackson.
I’ve heard this a lot since the deal when down on Monday: well, the Reds couldn’t afford to pay Dunn the dollars he’ll be looking for this winter. I’ve never heard Bob Castellini says that. But if it’s true, then the Reds are playing a fool’s game. You want the numbers that Adam Dunn puts up, you want to run with the big dogs, it’s going to cost you.
If you were in the Dump Dunn camp, I’ll ask you the same question I ask every week, and never seem to get an answer: where are you going to get those 100-rbi he’s taking with him to Arizona?
Opening remarks pp.2
Where is the bat in the Reds line-up that will make the opposing pitcher work the count as well as Adam Dunn did? What bat in that Reds line-up strikes fear into any opposing pitcher’s heart?
It’s never been about Dunn. It’s always been about where the numbers come from. You think they’re in the Reds minor league system? Go look.
You think they Reds will be able to trade for those numbers this off season?
Who do they trade for that? You may get 100-rbi, but it’ll cost you Jay Bruce, or Joey Votto or Brandon Phillips or a combination there of. You can always ask Texas if they’ll send Josh Hamilton back. But my guess is the asking price begins with Edinson Volquez. You think they’ll find 100-rbi on the free agent market this year? Really?
And the last time they did that was when?
Here are the top two free agent outfielders this winter: Pat Burrell now with the Phillies and, Adam Dunn.
The Reds probably have a plan to address all of this. But I couldn’t tell you what it is right now. In the last seven months, they’ve dismissed a man who could win the American League MVP, paid the White Sox four million dollars to take Junior off their hands and they’re sending another four million to the Diamondbacks to be rid of Adam Dunn.
All the while, an entire generation of Reds fans bave grown up knowing nothing but losing.
The business of baseball is more than OPS, OBP, average with two out and runners in scoring position. It’s about selling tickets. Winning sells a lot of tickets. So do star players. Please tell me today, when does the winning begin, and where exactly are the star players.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Just trying to help the product along!
Friday, August 15, 2008
Karolyi has been a breath of fresh air, openly taking on the Chinese for allowing, what appear to be, under age kids competing for gymnastic medals.
Have a great weekend!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
And being of Swedish heritage, I've always been told our greatest virtue is patience. Another diappointment in life!
I actually heard a rather knowledgable baseball fan say the other day that he didn't care if Dunn left, that it hadn't worked with him and let's see if it worked without him. Frustration, I guess, is what brought that on, frustration over an under achieving team. It was completely misguided.
You want to sign a free agent this off season to replace him? You know who the top two free agent outfielders are in 2008? Pat Burrell and Adam Dunn. They will both command the same free agent money and Dunn is younger and has never been hurt.
You want to bring someone up from the minors to replace Dunn? Good, who? Chris Dickerson will get a shot, but he's an older AAA player. And you need two corner outfielders, right? If Jay Bruce moves to center, you'll need that. If he stays in right field, you'll need a center fielder. Please, don't get into Ryan Freel and Norris Hopper. Exactly where have they been this season?
You want to trade for an existing outfielder who hits for power? Great, who are you going to trade. Do you actually think you'll get any player of any value for anyone on the current Reds roster besides Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Bruce, Edinson Volquez or Aaron Harang? Do you want to trade any one of them?
Despite the blather you'll hear from the front office and ownership, this team is a long way from competing. Check back with me in 2010.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Fox sports still think the Bengals are going to be something special this season. Alex Marvez is a former Bengals beat writer, years ago, for the Dayton Daily News.
Speaking of that, our pal Chick Ludwig has the sobering news that the Bengals may be considering Chris Henry Part II. I hear this is all Mike Brown. Marvin Lewis wants no part of this bad news guy.
Bummer about the US women gymnasts. Had a shot at the gold, until Alicia Sacramone fell a couple of times. Don't get on her for that. She'll liable to knock you out. Have you seen this video of her at a party at Brown University from about a year ago
And folks, you know that's gotta hurt!
Let's just say this, Bob Castellini isn't getting a lot of love from at least one New York paper. Newsday isn't very kind to the Reds owner.
Castellini's biggest problem are the promises that he makes. He said the day he bought the team that we'd have a championship here in Cincinnati. Hasn't happened. He said after he fired Wayne Krivsky the team wasn't going to lose anymore. It has. And as late as two weeks ago, Castellini said his team was still in the pennant race. It wasn't then, it really isn't now.
The time for talking is over.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
And Bob Castellini now says that his team can win next year. After he fired general manager Wayne Krivsky in April Castellini said "We're just not going to lose anymore". As late as ten days ago, he told one of his TV announcers "We're not out of it". When he bought the team in 2006, he proclaimed that the Reds would contend for a championship. I don't doubt the man's sincerity. But the time for talking about things is over. It's long past the time for accomplishing things.
2009? They've got no shot.
Look, I had nothing against trading Dunn.....except the fact that he's taking 100 rbi a year with him. Look at the current Reds roster, then look in the minors, and tell me what player will deliver 100 next season. To get even close to that, you'll have to trade any one of these players, maybe a combination: Brandon Phillips, Edinson Volquez, Joey Votto or Jay Bruce. They're exactly the kind of players you need to win. You could always go the free agent route. Guess who's one of the top two free agent to be outfielders. You got it, Dunn. The other is Pat Burrell, who is Dunn from the other side of the plate and two years older.
2009? They got no shot.
The biggest problem the Reds have isn't personnel. The biggest problem they have is 'lack of buzz', in other words, no hype, no 'gotta see'. For the rest of this season, like most lately, they're reduced to an after thought in the sports world. Hello Bengals, see ya Reds. If a generation is defined as 25 years, then almost an entire generation of Cincinnati sports fans have grown up knowing nothing but losing baseball. You think that's not a big deal? Ask Mike Brown.
2009? They got no shot.
The Dunn deal is taking more shape tonight. It appears Arizona pitcher, Micah Owings is one of the 'players to be named later'. It'll be later than sooner, as the Arizona Republic is reporting.
Owings started the year 6-1, then developed arm trouble and has since been sent to AAA. He's also a very good pinch hitter. With the current Reds rotation, he'd be a 5th starter and maybe challenge for a 4th spot. He's better than Homer Bailey, period.
Out in Arizona, they seem happy to have Dunn, if only for another six weeks or so.
As for our Bengals, well not bad, not good in their exhibition opener. There will be plenty for the coaches to work on this week. Apparently, Chad Johnson has some things he's working on....like changing his name, according this in profootballtalk.com.
It's almost time for the nightly Phelps fix...gotta go. See you on News 5 tonight at 6p and after the Olympics.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
First, is a column that John Fay has in Sunday’s Enquirer. Apparently, Reds GM,Walt Jocketty believes the Reds are a team that can be fixed quickly. After watching this team play the last week and a half, my initial reaction was a loud guffaw. A bad Nationals team swept them, the Brewers toyed with them and for the last three nights, a very pedestrian Astros team has smacked them around. And to use the cable television news vernacular, the Reds offense has gone missing.
And Jocketty thinks all that he needs to do is a little tweeking.
You know what, I’m not sure he’s wrong. Look around the diamond. First base, young and solid. Second base, one of the top five at his position. Short stop, lots of options. Third base, lots of options there, too. In the outfield, questions, but not tottaly devoid of answers. Sign Adam Dunn and that corner is set for three to five years. Jay Bruce should be the right fielder for at least five years. Centerfield, you need to address that.
Starting rotation? Harang, Arroyo, Cueto, Volquez in some order or another,, solid. You can find a fifth starter somewhere in the land of Homer Bailey, Darryl Thompson, Matt Maloney, maybe Bobby Livingston come back.
Bullpen? Burton, Bray, Cordero for at least another year, maybe even Majewski and the new guy, Masset. You don’t need to add much. You say a team is close, when it’s 15 under 500 and you can come off as foolish. Walt Jocketty hasn’t gotten this far in his life by being foolish.
The other thing that’s bugged me since the news broke Friday, is what’s happened to Ben Mauk, now the former UC starting quarterback. If you haven’t heard, the NCAA has denied Mauk an extra year of eligibility. It would have been his sixth. You can make arguments on both sides, as to whether or not he deserved it. Personally, I’m old school, I think a student athlete gets four years and that’s it. I’m not a big fan of redshirting. It’s just a way for schools to stock rosters. And I’m also not a fan of a school making it tough on students, athletes or otherwise, from completing their education in four years. You get out of course sequence, and you’re locked into education hell. Or you’re parents are, depending on who’s paying for it. But that’s another topic for another genre of show.
Mauk appealed his initial appeal twice, going 0-3 against the NCAA. My problem is the how the NCAA toyed with Mauk, allowing him to practice, while it’s appeals committee took its sweet old time deciding his fate. Hope is great. But there is nothing crueler in life than false hope. Mauk will be OK. Seems like a strong kid. But the NCAA didn’t do him right.
And last but not least, your 2008 Cincinnati Bengals. Their exhibition opener….and let’s be clear here, these are exhibition not pre-season games. Please NFL God Roger Goodell , please, lop two games off this August madness….this exhibition opener is interesting for one reason; to see if the Bengals defense is any better this year than last. I don’t need to see Carson Palmer, TJ, Willie or anyone else on offense. I know what they can do. I know Palmer is one of the top five quarterbacks in the game. I know TJ is his go to guy. I even know there’s a 50-50 chance of some drama with Chad Monday night. Monday night, ESPN, Chad. What, you think this is NPR? He lives for this. No, what I want to see is whether or not the interior line can stop a sneeze this season. I want to see if the secondary can stop the track meets that teams have consistently thrown at them. I’ll watch for about a quarter, and then, it’s over the rhythmic gymnastics. NFL pre season games are about as interesting at that, particularly in week one.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
The Bengals Report Podcast is now available. It's on the front page of my web site: www.kenbroo.com. And you can also download it here. Mark Hardin, the executive editor of Bengals Report joins me twice a week, every week, this season to deliver to you the latest information on the Cincinnati Bengals. This time, we're talking about the battle for the #3 wide receiver on the team and a look at the Bengals defense.
Speaking of the Bengals, it appears safety Chinedum Ndukwe avoided serious knee trouble, when he went down injured in Wednesday's practice. But, Ndukwe, we hear, may miss significant training camp time and is in danger of missing the season opener at Baltimore. Stay tuned on this one.
Good fodder on that, and other things Bengals, as always in Chick Ludwig's blog "Ludwig At Large!"
Whoops! Not good news in the Miami Herald today about the Reds first round pick this past June, Yonder Alonso.
I'm on the record with this: Alonso was a "safe pick". He was the most major league ready of all the available selections in this past draft. But is safe always best? Well, when the club fires it's general manager in April, the staff left behind understandably scrambles to remain employed. This is Wayne Krivsky's staff. Did the Reds scouting staff go 'safe' with it's pick of Alonso in order to look good for the new boss, Walt Jocketty? Just asking.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
The Bengals signed their number one pick while you were sleeping last night. Linebacker Keith Rivers ended his nine day holdout and will be on the practice field later today. One of my favorite things during a player-holdout is listening to the lavish praise directed at the player who's in camp taking the hold out's spot. We heard nothing but great things the past nine days about linebacker Brandon Johnson, signed this off season after two rather unspectacular years with the Arizona Cardinals. But to hear the coaches talk about him, you have thought Johnson was the second coming of Lawrence Taylor.
Now, with Rivers in the fold, watch for Brandon Johnson to fade into the world of second teamers. He had his '15 minutes of fame' and did well. But money talks, and Keith Rivers will be the starting outside linebacker come opening game against Baltimore.
Just how stupid are the Green Bay Packers? Do you mean to tell me, after coming within one bad pass of playing in the Super Bowl, they're going to dump Brett Favre for Aaron Rogers? Really? If that team tanks this season without Favre, there won't be a moving van big enough to get GM Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy out of town.
Here's Kevin Seifert's take on the Favre Fiasco, on espn.com
Meantime, back to your Cincinnati Bengals, my buddy Chick got the first local interview with his Sigh-ness, Chadly. It's in the latest 'Ludwig At Large', courtesy of the Dayton Daily News.
And our good pal Mike Florio from profootballtalk.com has a look at what might be in store this year in the AFC West.
The Chiefs, a train wreck? Imagine that!
Sunday, August 03, 2008
There are other stories this week. The Bengals are still waiting to sign their number one draft pick, Brett Favre and the Packers have a Monday deadline to work out their differences or the commissioner will step in, the Olympics are about to begin. But around here, there has been no bigger story, than the trade of Ken Griffey, Junior.
As quickly as the deal fell together back in the winter of 2000, it fell apart at the same speed this week. I’m told Walt Jocketty was taken completely by surprise, when his counterpart with the White Sox inquired about Junior. I’m told, Ken Williams called Jocketty to inquire about a trade involving a Reds relief pitcher. When Williams casually inquired about Junior, Jocketty let it be known in no uncertain terms, Griffey was available. Then, all that was left to haggle over, was the price. And with that, the Griffey era was over.
It’s clear, the Reds wanted Junior out of here. They may tell you differently, but the facts don’t lie. They’re paying half of the eight million dollars that remain on Junior’s active contract. It may be more than that, because one report had the White Sox only paying the pro rate Major League minimum on the balance of Junior’s contract this season, not the two million that was reported. But whatever the dollar amount is, whenever a team pays another team to take a player, they don’t want that player anymore. The Reds didn’t want Junior anymore.
Maybe it was just a jump start on the inevitable. For sure, Griffey was out of here at the end of the season, regardless.
It left a lot of us in the media to wonder, where did it all go wrong? At the end of his Reds life, Junior was a shell of the player the Reds traded for in February of 2000. His swing was all arms, his speed had left his legs, his Gold Glove had turned to lead. The worst enemy any athlete has, is time. Time robs you of skills. Griffey was fleeced. But the point of where it went wrong wasn’t this week, or last or even last year. It was a long time before that. It really happened the night of that theatrical event the Reds called a news conference back in February of 2000….February 10th, actually.
On that night, the Reds committed to spend 119-million on Griffey, and little on anyone else. Look at who the Reds surrounded Griffey with. Sore armed pitchers like Pete Harnisch, Joey Hamilton, Jimmy Haynes. Chris Stynes, Alex Ochoa, DT Cromer. That wasn’t a team, it was a collection of spare parts.
And worse, we now told, then general manager Jim Bowden was ordered to dump salary after added Junior, not build around him.
Pick the greatest player in the history of the Big Red Machine. Now extract every one of the others who made up that terrific team, except ‘that’ guy. What do you think you’d have. We found out about that around here, didn’t we. You can ask Johnny Bench about it.
Yes, Griffey was injured, a lot during his time in Cincinnati. But how? Doing what? Did he throw his back out dancing? Cut himself with a knife slicing food? Or did he get hurt simply trying to make plays?
Look, I’m not here today to try and make a case for you changing your mind about Ken Griffey, Junior. You’ve made your mind up. If you’re happy to see him go and soured on him while he was here, nothing that I’m going to say today is going to change your mind. But as I’ve often said, on this show, on these air waves, nothing happens in sports, in life, in a vacuum.
Baseball may be a sport based on individual accomplishment. But it’s a team sport. If you bat third, you better have someone in front of and behind you who can hit, or you won’t see many good pitches. If you play center, you better have guys on either side of you who can help cut down on the amount of turf you have to cover. If you want to contend for championships, you better not change general managers like socks, or managers like t-shirts. For the record, Junior had five GM’s in his nine years here and six managers. Find me a teams with that kind of turnover that wins a pennant.
Ken Griffey Junior arrived here with great fanfare and great promise, one of the top 50 players in baseball, all time. He left town with no fanfare, just a press release from the Reds that he’d been traded. He arrived young, he left old. And in the middle not a whole lot happened to put the Reds on Major League Baseball’s championship radar. Blame him if you want, but at least examine the facts. In a lot of ways, the guy never had to a chance to be what you or he wanted.
Friday, August 01, 2008
And there's a whole archive full of "Broo View Podcasts" on my web site www.kenbroo.com