Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Random Thoughts On The Last Random Tuesday Of 2010

OK 'men of a certain age', 2011 is hours away. Show of hands, who thought they'd make it this far? Liars....

Carson Palmer threw the ball so well Sunday because his offensive coordinator did NOT abandon the running game, despite averaging just 2.7 yards per rush. The Bengals ran the ball 38 times Sunday. Regardless of the yardage, when a team commits that much to the run, the safeties MUST come up for support. That left a lot of one on one coverage. And that's the reason why Palmer was so effective throwing. The Bengals are a team built to run the ball. Why it took them 13 games to figure that out, God only knows. But it's further proof that changes need to be made on the coaching staff. It lost its soul this season...

The Bengals OL had its best day in years, not allowing a sack to a team that came in with a league best 44. Again, that was because the Bengals RAN the ball for 38 snaps.

Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth deserves to go to the Pro Bowl. You can make a case that the other four spots on that OL need upgrades, in some instances serious upgrades.

Cedric Benson should be the Bengals number one target for signing team free agents this off season. I'd franchise tag him, except that would be a salary in excess of $10 million and the Bengals already are in dutch to Palmer for $11.5 million. But ask yourself, would the Patriots do it? Would the Colts do it? Would the Steelers do it?

Interesting that the Reds were pursuing RHP Brandon Webb. That would mean another 'shoe' would had to have dropped, with Arroyo, Cueto, Bailey, Wood, Volquez already penciled into the starting rotation in 2011. My guess is, there was another deal in the works. Maybe not so much now.

I still think the Reds pursue Scott Podsednik for at least a platoon in LF, maybe a bigger role.

I think Mick Cronin did the right thing by padding his early season schedule with patsies. Some of those teams, you couldn't find on a map if your name was Rand McNally. But the Bearcats better win at least 10 of their 18 Big East Conference games this season or they'll have no shot at making the NCAA Tournament, even with an expanded field. With one more out of conference game to play (the traditional in city Crosstown Shootout with Xavier) UC will need at least 22 wins and a better than .500 conference schedule. From what I've seen of this team, I think they can pull it off. They'll have to, with a strength of scheduling rating right now of 333rd among all Division I teams.

Best sports Christmas season story has to be the University of Albany offering Xavier guard, Mark Lyons a ride from Albany to Cincinnati on the team bus. Lyons, like a lot of Northeasterners, was stranded in his hometown of Albany by the blizzard that hit the East Coast. His flight was cancelled. He had no way to get back to Cincinnati in time for the game against the Great Danes. So graciously, the Albany head coach offered Lyons a seat on the bus, and the sophomore guard made the nine hour trip sitting with players he'll do his best to beat tonight at the Cintas Center. I couldn't tell you two things about University of Albany basketball, but now I'm a fan. Good stuff....

Heard this song the other day for the first time in a long time. Absolutely beautiful in its simplicity of chord structure and lyrics. Tom Springfield, the brother of the late Dusty Springfield and group leader wrote this for The Seekers. The female lead is Judith Durham, who is just terrific.

We'll see you tonight at 6p and 11p on News 5, right here in the greatest city in the world, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Jerome Simpson, Is That You?

He's been basically a rumor, since the Bengals drafted Jerome Simpson in the 2nd round back in the 2008 NFL draft. In fact, Simpson could walk through Fountain Square at high noon on any day of the week and chances are, no one would recognize him. If it wasn't for Andre Smith, Simpson would be considered the Bengals biggest draft day bust, in the last ten years.

Sunday might've changed some of that. Sunday, Simpson had his best day ever as a pro. That's not saying a lot, since Simpson hadn't been good enough, or smart enough, or just enough to get onto the field on Sundays in the fall. But against the Chargers, Simpson got his first start as a pro. He made the most of it, catching six passes for 124 yards and two touchdown receptions. To say the least, a lot of Cincinnati (at least the part of it that still pays attention to the Bengals) was shocked.

Simpson arrived in the spring of '08 from Obscure U, otherwise known as Coastal Carolina. He could leap, had big hands, but seemed to a lot of Bengal watchers are a 'stretch'. For almost three seasons, he struggled in practice, struggled to get onto the field, struggled to stay on the active roster on game days.

But Sunday, the Bengals were without their Dynamic Duo, the twin duds known a Ochocino and TO, who like to refer to themselves as "Batman and Robin". Both were hurt (TO done for the year and Ochocinco, like TO maybe done in Cincinnati). Simpson and his 2008 draft-mate, Andre Caldwell took over, catching 10 passes between them.

The few Bengals fans paying attention were just downright giddy after their performance. But don't count me in that crowd. I've seen it far too often around here: late season, contending team comes to town, Bengals stink, contending team thinks it just has to throw its collective helmets onto the field to get a win, contending team goes home beaten. The following year, the Bengals still stink. One game does not a season, nor a wide receiver make.

But for about three hours Sunday, we got to see what the Bengals might've seen before they spent a high draft pick and a lot of time on Jerome Simpson. Whether or not he's the future is a matter of great debate. But at least after Sunday, Simpson has an immediate future in Cincinnati. And that's a lot more than what he's had up until now.

Should the Bengals bring Carson Palmer back for another season, even though he's due to make $11.5 million in 2011? That's the subject of today's Broo View Daily Podcast. You can find it on the front page of my web site: www.kenbroo.com.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Some Pre-Christmas Eve Ramblings

While decking the halls, some things that are coming to mind.....

Aren't you about over the Marvin-Ochocinco marriage? And for Lewis to chastise media members on Thursday for reacting to him referring to Ochocinco as 'moping' is about as disingenuous a thing as I've heard in awhile. Lewis said it, Chad reacted to it. This is a 24/7 365 media and it became a rather large story. I'm wondering if, as a child, Marvin tried to put the toothpaste back in the tube. Further reason why Mike Brown should just blow this whole thing up after this season. They all need to go, Lewis, Ocho, TO, Palmer. Goodbye, thanks for playing. It didn't work out good luck in your next life....

But Brown won't....

I heard an interesting theory the other day that might be a good way for Brown to gracefully admit that his way of conducting a football team simply doesn't work. Rather than hiring a general manager (which he should do) and admitting that he's been an abject failure at that end of things, Brown could keep the title and simply hire a fleet of good, competent scouts. The theory being that Brown probably knows football but consistently operates with bad or insufficient information on players because he doesn't have enough eyeballs on the college game.

Think about this: is the reason why the Bengals take so many chances on players with character issues because the team doesn't draft well and, not being free spenders, chooses to fill in the holes with bargain basement guys who've washed up because of their off field indiscretions?

I think the answer to that question might be....yes.

I really don't want Carson Palmer to go. I want to see him resurrect his career here. But he's simply been polluted by the situation in Bengal-dom. I'm not exonerating him at all for this year's debacle. I just don't think he'll ever again be the quarterback he was before he got Von Oelhoffen'd. And with the Bengals looking at a rebuilding project for the next two seasons (don't kid yourself, that's what this thing is) Palmer at 33 years old when this team has a pulse again isn't so appealing.

The Texas Rangers have signed Arthur Rhodes. On one hand that's too bad. He gave the Reds some terrific work in his time here. But at his age, I wasn't one counting on much from him going forward. Dontrelle Willis? Your ball.

Mick Cronin's Bearcats unbeaten going into the Christmas break. No one not named Cronin would ever have predicted that, forget about the quality of teams that UC has played.

You can have every one of the bowl games that New Year's Day will offer. I'm watching the NHL's Winter Classic. It's Washington vs Pittsburgh outdoors at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The teams are meaningless. It's the spectacle of NHL hockey on an outdoor rink. Fabulous viewing on an HDTV.

If the NCAA had any real clout and, well you know, those other things, it would have suspended those five Ohio State players for their bowl game. I could care less that Terrell Pryor or any other Buckeye was trading tickets and game used jerseys for tatoos. They should be able to do whatever they want with that stuff, so long as it wasn't taken illegally. But don't make it sound like you're taking some high and mighty road by suspending the "Buckeye Five "for games next season. That may only hasten their road out of Columbus and into the NFL.

Merry Christmas to all. I hope you have a wonderful time. I know I will. And I know for me, it will be a helluva lot better than last Christmas. For background on that, go back about a year in the archives.


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Monday, December 20, 2010

Losing your compass, then finding your soul

The best thing about the Bengals win Sunday over the Brown was also the worst. The Bengals showed us why they've been so awful, so unwatchable, or terrible this season on offense, while playing so well Sunday. They ran the football. A lot. And Cedric Benson looked like the 'horse' that the Bengals rode in 2009 to the AFC North championship. Benson carried the ball 31 times for 150 yards. His total pushed him over 1,000 yards with two games to play. The fact that he's gone over 1,000 yards this season has been no small trick. The Bengals, in particular offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski and Marvin Lewis, seemed to have forgotten about Benson this season. And in doing so, they forgot what had them running away from the pack last season.

Think back to 2009. The Bengals swept the AFC North, going 6-0 in their division games, behind Benson's power running. 120 yards at Baltimore, the first running back to rush for over 100 yards against a Ravens team in 40 games. Then, 117 more against the Ravens in Cincinnati. He rushed for 1,251 yards last season. He rushed for 100 or more yards six times. And all of that, while missing three games with injuries. You'd think a team would fall in love with that kind of production, particularly when it led to a 10-6 record. But not the Bengals.

The Bengals decided to fall in love with diva wide receivers in the off season. It led to a lot of broken hearts among Bengals fans.

While signing Terrell Owens and pairing him with the ultimate 'look at me' Ochocinco (whom we truly do like because of his infectous personality), the Bengals went high on the glitz meter. But the wins didn't come. Largely, that was because they have an offensive line that was built for run blocking and not so much pass protection. TO wasn't around in the off season to pick up the Bengals offense quickly. Ochocinco was away so much, he seemed to have forgotten the Bengals offense. Palmer, for all of those reason and the fact that he was not good himself, has had an horrendous season.

In two weeks, it will be over. Most probably, the Bengals will part ways with Lewis and a new staff (as new as Mike Brown will allow it to be considering assistant coaches are pass on to each incoming new head coach) will be charged with fixing this mess. Owens will command much more than the $2 million contract he had this season. The Bengals will probably let him find that money elsewhere. Ochocinco has a $6 million dollar option for 2011, Palmer a whopping $11.5 million. Most teams would let both of those players 'walk'. Maybe the Bengals will too.

Benson is a free agent as well. His NFL modest $3.5 million salary figures to get a sizeable bump. Maybe the Bengals will choose to let him go as well. But they should think long hard about that. They should consider what he offers more than Palmer, TO and Ochocinco. Benson was 'found money' when he washed up on the Bengals' shore in 2008. Sunday, he gave us a refresher course in what that meant to this team in 2009. 2011 will look a lot better, if the Bengals decide to keep Benson around.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

So money can't buy you a pennant? I guess you can make that argument, considering the millions of dollars free agent pitcher Cliff Lee left on the table late Monday night when he agreed to terms with the Philadelphia Phillies. Reports had the Yankees paying him $132 million. He reportedly will rejoin the Phillies for $120 million over the same six years the Yankees were willing to pay him $12 million dollars more.

Why don't we just hand the World Series trophy to the Phillies now? A rotation of Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay could be the greatest four man rotation in the history of the game, better than that rotation of Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz and Avery that Atlanta had back in the 90's.

But it begs the question: what exactly does this do for the betterment of baseball? How does this help the smaller market teams stay competitive with bigger market clubs?

For more on that, download my latest Broo View Daily Podcast on the front page of www.kenbroo.com. Will there ever be a salary cap in baseball like in football, basketball and hockey? ESPN's baseball insider Jerry Crasnick has an intriguing thought about that.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Just posted to the front page of my web site www.kenbroo.com is the latest Broo View Daily Podcast. The topic today, what should the Bengals do with their 1st round pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

New Broo View Daily Podcast

My Broo View Dailey Podcast for December 8, 2010 is now posted on the front page of my web site: www.kenbroo.com. Thoughts on how the Reds can get better positioned for 2011 with one simple player acquisition. Download it and check it out. You can subscribe in iTunes
Who's Minding The Bengals Store?

I've said it a lot this season and I'll say it again: the Bengals will climb out of the abyss they seem to be consistently in ONLY when they hire a General Manager and give him total control of the on field product. Period.

Hockey in Hell will happen first.

You only have to look at the teams who consistently contend for playoff spots and Super Bowl titles to see that a lack of a GM and a legitimate front office is the most compelling thing that is holding this Bengals franchise back.

Mike Brown is both the team's principal owner and its GM. But in this day and age, can a team really win with one person holding down both jobs? Only the Dallas Cowboys, with Jerry Jones mimicking Brown, plays the game like the Bengals do. Unlike the Cowboys, the Bengals can't fix their problems by throwing a lot of money at them. Jones has always traveled that road.

There are some who believe that Brown has done a decent job in attracting talented players to Cincinnati by holding down both of those jobs. Hub Arkush, the editor and publisher of Pro Football Weekly certainly thinks so, and said so on one of my recent shows on 700 WLW.

But a lot of us think differently. Here is the most recent example. It's taken the Bengals more than $24 million dollars in just two year to try to replace departed wide receiver, TJ Houshmandzadeh. First, they spent two draft picks (and money) on Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell in the 2008 draft. They signed free agent Lavernious Coles in 2009, cut him after one season, but paid Coles $11 million in guaranteed money. In 2010, the Bengals signed free agent wide receiver, Antonio Bryant, cut him after just one training camp practice, and paid him a guaranteed $9.5 million. Then, came their one year deal, at $2 million with Terrell Owens. Total dollars, in excess of $24 million.

Now ponder this: Brown could have hired a GM and paid him a generous salary of $1 million per year. He could have hired ten scouts and paid each a generous salary of $100,000 per year. Added up, it would have taken 12 years to reach the $24 million price tag of their wide receiver search. Do you think with a competent, empowered GM and a fleet of ten scouts it would have taken $24 million to replace Houshmandzadeh? Me neither.

Brown could actually save money by hiring a legitimate front office. Maybe that will be impetus to get it done. But don't bet on it.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Random Thanksgiving Day Thoughts

If the NFL gives NBC the right to 'flex' games out its last six weeks of the season (for better or more attractive games) why then does the NFL saddle viewers with the Cowboys and Lions every Thanksgiving. Let's face it, the Lions are years removed (and at least a few more away) from being a significant team. Dallas has only been interesting in recent years as a 'train wreck'. Seems to me, the three Thanksgiving Day games should be rotated among all 32 teams, so no team has a consistent advantage (or disadvantage such as the teams traveling this week) and the viewers have more attractive match ups.

Vince Young goes Corey Dillon? Remember when Dillon tossed his shoulder pads and helmet into the stands at Paul Brown Stadium on the final day of the 2003 season, when a loss to the Browns ended any playoff hopes and Dillon's Bengals career? Now Young does the same thing in Tennessee? The only thing worse than what Young did was what his team's owner did. He publicly chided both Young and head coach Jeff Fisher, saying they both have to find a way to co-exist. If I'm Fisher, I'm telling Bud Adams to stick it where the sun don't shine. Jeff Fisher is not only the longest tenured coach in the NFL, he's also one of the best. On the open market, he could have his pick of jobs, most of them better than working for the clown that owns the Titans.

Giants' quarterback, Eli Manning hasn't learnesd to do the quarterback slide yet? That effort against the Eagles last Sunday night was not only pathetic, it might have cost his team a shot a playoff berth.....

If a game is on the line and you absolutely need a score to win, who would you take ahead of Tom Brady? Answer: no one.

Carson Palmer may yet be an elite quarterback. But I'm afraid he's 'damaged goods' in Cincinnati. It's not that he's done anything wrong. It's the cast of characters he's been surrounded with in his Bengals career. TO, Ochocinco, Lavernius Coles, to name just a few. Mix in an awful offensive line and players who've simply never lived up to their potential (Chris Perry would come to mind) and whatever career Palmer has left may best be salvaged by an exit from Cincinnati to another team. Don't count on that happening. He's under contract for four years and players don't leave the Bengals until Mike Brown is done with them. I feel badly for Palmer. He seems like a genuinely nice guy....

Dontrelle Willis signs with the Reds? What, Todd Van Poppel wasn't available? Not a bad flyer for the Reds to take. But honestly, what are the Reds going to salavage from Willis that the Marlins and Tigers couldn't? And if you saw him pitch with the Diamondbacks this season, you probably came to the conclusion that you had better stuff than Willis. But, in this holiday season, we wish him well in his comeback....

I admire the 10,000 or so who will wake up Thanksgiving morning and run in the 101st annual Thanksgiving Day Race through downtown Cincinnati. But honestly, at 9am when the race begins, there's no place I'd rather be than in bed. Hope you set a personal best....

Third straight loss for the Miami Heat, losing Wednesday night 104-94 to Orlando. Must be Juwan Howard's faul they're just 8-7. Memo to Pat Riley: this is not fantasy basketball.

Hope you get enough to eat Thursday. And if you do, remember how lucky you are. Millions in our country alone go hungry every day. Support your local Freestore Foodbank. We need to take better care of each other.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

The Case For Scott Podsednik

With congratulations to Joey Votto for winning the 2010 National League MVP award, here's what I think the Reds need to do tomorrow morning. It will be the first step in this off season to insure that they'll be NL Central Division champions again in 2011.

Sign Scott Podsednik. That's right, by tomorrow.

Signing Podsednik will accomplish two things: it will give the Reds a legitimate 150 game left fielder. It will also fill the need for a legitimate lead off batter.

Podsednik is a left handed bat, who has bloomed late in his career into a major leaguer. He didn't become a semi-regular until the age of 27. He's bounced around the league. But everywhere he's been, Podsednik has excelled.

He'll be 35 next Opening Day. Yet Podsednik has retained his speed, stealing at least 30 bases each of the last two seasons. Imagine Podsednik at the top of the order and centerfielder Drew Stubbs hitting seventh, with similar speed. Imagine Podsednik setting the table for Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto. He hit .297 last season, played in 134 games with three different teams and drove in 51 runs. He also got on base a very respectable .342. His fielding, while not Gold Glove, is more than adequate. He committed just five errors in 285 chances last season.

The Reds got decent, but sporadic production from Jonny Gomes in 2010. His numbers were heavily skewed to the early part of the season. With Podsednik as the everyday left fielder, it would allow Gomes to do what may play to his strength: spot starting and a lethal bat off the bench. It would also free up Chris Heisey as potential trade bait. Heisey, for whatever reason, does not seem to be a player of choice with the current Reds regime, limited to spot starts and bench work, hardly worthy of the second best prospect in the organization after the 2009 season.

Podsednik will cost the Reds about $4 million for a one year deal, if signed now. They could risk waiting later in the winter to sign him and hope his price goes down. That may prove to be a fools game. After Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth, Podsednik would be the next best option for a team looking for outfield help.

The Reds are looking for outfield help. Signing Scott Podsednik should be a priority for the Reds.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Working for the weekend and thinking the Bengals season is over if they don't beat the Dolphins Sunday at PBS....

Fire Brian Kelly for the death of a Notre Dame student videographer? That's the position of the always engaging Jason Whitlock from foxsports.com in this article. The student videographer, if you haven't heard, was killed Wednesday when a crane he was atop tumbled over in gale force winds.

Among other things, ND has a giant PR problem on its hands. Most important, is the death of a young student, who according to his facebook postings, was concerned about his safety long before climbing onto a lift that took him 50 feet in the air.

Kelly won't be fired and he won't quit. Notre Dame is far too arrogant to do or accept that. But if that was my kid and the investigation ultimately pointed to athletic department officials who were responsible, there wouldn't be enough money left at ND to field a football team. And the turnover in the athletic department would be enormous.

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

While waiting to see if Dusty Baker returns to manage the Reds after this season....

What if the Reds miss being the second seed in the NL Playoffs by one game? How important would they then think last night's game against the Astros was? The line up the Reds ran out to the field Tuesday night would have looked right at home in Louisville. Why did it Baker start the likes of Juan Francisco, Yonder Alonso, Corky Miller and others? Baker said, historically, few teams start their regulars the night after clinching. Really?

Look, I'm all for celebrating and blowing off steam. The MLB season is a long, long process. But the name of the game has always been two fold: make the playoffs, secure home field advantage. Why? Because for awhile now, the only way you can avoid the Phillies is to finish right behind them. With four games to play, the Giants now have a two game lead on the Reds for that second seed. They won last night, playing all of their regulars and moving pitcher Tim Lincecum up a day to start. The Reds were took pooped from partying the night before to start anyone of significance.

Their reward may be getting Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in the first three games of the Division Playoffs.

Bengals placekicker, Mike Nugent, found out today he's been named the AFC special teams player of the month. Nice deal. And Nugent has been a nice find. He's been consistently good on field goals and extra points. And his kickoffs have found the end zone, more often than not. What has to be refreshing to head coach, Marvin Lewis, is to have a kicker who is reliable inside the parameters of range and emotion. Shayne Graham had a booming leg. But too often, when the situation called for a 'big kick', Graham withered.

The worm can turn on a kicker in a matter of moments. Graham has certainly found that out, as he's not unemployed. But so far, so good for Nugent, who grew up rooting for the Bengals.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Eventually the Reds will clinch and this piece of drama will be over. Might happen tonight. As we speak today, the magic number remains at one.

But beyond that are some real question. And the answers don’t appear to be a clear as the questions are today. Here is a fact that this team can’t get away from. In 16 road games against teams still contending for playoff spots, the Reds have two wins. Two. That’s it. And while it’s great to beat up on the weak teams, you’re supposed to do that after all, those teams are going home in a week. The teams still standing have the Reds number. They’re 2-5 against the Phillies this season, including an oh-for in four games out in the city of Brotherly Love this summer.

Against the Giants, it’s a little better, 3-4. Against the Braves, 3-3, 0-2 in Georgia. The Reds 3-4 against San Diego. Those aren’t numbers that give you a whole lot of confidence heading into the playoffs. They’re 10-13 so far in Septmeber with a disturbing 95 runs allowed so far this month.

In a lot of ways, this shouldn’t be all that surprising. The Reds have played with a short roster most of the season. Players who’ve been hurt have been simply held out of games, rather than sent to the disabled list. When you only have 22 or 23 going up against the other guy’s 25, games become difficult to manage. And the Reds don’t have an ‘ace’, that top of the rotation guy who can take the ball and match up against the other team’s best. If they get the Giants in round one, who matches with Cain or Lincecum? If they get the Phillies, who matches up with any of that teams top three.

But funny things happen when you get to the post season. Players who seem pedestrian during the summer can grab the spotlight. Reggie Jackson may have been crowned Mister October in New York. But in the 1978 World Series against the Dodgers, it was Brian Doyle filling in for the injured Willie Randolph who hit .478 and led the Yankees to the championship.

In a short series, pitching most often carries the day. He with the better arms tends to have the better body of work. But sometimes, not quite so often, it’s the team with the best fielding and situational hitting, the team with the extra guy or two who can add a dynamic to the game that wins the game. If you want a reason to believe that a team like the Reds, a team that’s struggled most of this year against the better clubs, has a puncher’s chance, that’s it.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Nothing wrong with Bengals quarterback, Carson Palmer. That's the diagnosis from head coach Marvin Lewis on the day after Palmer struggled again. Lewis got testy in his weekly news conference when the questions about his quarterback and his struggling offense continued. Lewis as much as said if the line of questioning continued, he would say little more this season and would instruct his player to say less.

If you watched any of the three games so far this season, you could make a strong case for this being wrong: Palmer's protection from his offensive line isn't so hot. It's no secret, this is a line that run blocks a lot better than it pass protects. Maybe it's given Palmer reason to have 'happy feet'. Maybe it's just a case of the Bengals passing attack, so dependant on timing routes, not having having enough time to allow pass routes to develop. But there is something wrong with the way it's going about it's air attack. That Carolina defense isn't bad. But it's hardly one of the elite 'D's' in the NFL.

Like a lot of us in the Tri-State, we're tracking the Cardinals against the Pirates tonight in St. Louis. Part of me wants this thing to be over with, sooner the better. But on the other hand, better the Reds simply win Tuesday at GABP and let their fans share in the celebration. The last thing anyone wants is for the race to drag on deep into the week. Clinching sooner, rather than later, will allow Dusty Baker to set his playoff pitching rotation and let some of the ailing starters heal. Brandon Phillips, Orlando Cabrera, Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen all have nagging ailments that could use a day or two of rest. It can't be much more than that. The Reds need to keep winning and secure that second seed, guaranteeing them home field advantage in round one.

I never believe in "moral victories". You either win or you lose and deal with the aftermath. But UC playing Oklahoma close at Paul Brown Stadium Saturday night should set the Bearcats up for a decent run in the Big East conference. UC should handle Miami easily, when the MAC school comes to Nippert Stadium two Saturdays from now. The Big East looks like it's down this year. West Virginia appears to be the only team in that conference playing well. This certaily won't the kind of season that UC football has given us the past two years. There probably won't be a BCS bowl bid. But a strong run through the conference will set things up nicely for Butch Jones next season. Make no mistake about it, Jones didn't inherit a championship team. Mark Dantonio did the heavy lifting for the last two seasons, under Brian Kelly's leadership. But the recruiting for this current year of 2010 left a lot to be desired and a lot of holes on the UC offense. Jones is a good coach, if not the pied piper that his predecessor was.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Like Loverboy rhapsodized all those years ago...Everybody's working for the weekend.....

I don't think the University of Cincinnati has the horses (or the riders) to beat Oklahoma. But I don't think this game Saturday night at Paul Brown Stadium will be the blowout that a lot of national pundits are predicting. UC is having a hard time blocking people and it's secondary was shredded by North Carolina State last week. But the Bearcats will get a little 'juice' from the hometown crowd and OU doesn't travel all that well. But I don't see a lot of scenarios where teh Bearcats come out with a "W".....

I'm embarrassed by what the Ohio University mascot did on the field at Ohio Stadium last Saturday. While a lot of the country found it amusing, I found the 19 year old inside of that costume, Brandon Hanning, to be nothing short of an idiot. He claims that he took the job as team mascot, over a year ago, just for the opportunity to tackle the OSU mascot, Brutus. In a number of other areas of life, that would be tantamount to stalking with serious implications. What's worse is that the Ohio University athletic department allowed a non-student (Hanning has since transferred to nearby Hocking College) to continue in the role of playing the team mascot. In a number of other businesses, that would be cause for dismissal of someone, in this case whomever was charged with assembling cheerleaders and mascots. I'm still waiting to see something like that from a guy I admire a lot, school president Dr. Roderick McDavis....

I fielded a lot of phone calls after the Bengals beat the Ravens last Sunday on 1530 ESPN and the Bengals radio network from fans who are convinced the real problem with the Bengals offense is Carson Palmer. Callers insisted that either Palmer was over rated, or his elbow is still bothering him or that he was running scared from his knee injury five years ago and those were the reasons why the Bengals offense has been non-existant so far this season. Here's some breaking news: the problem isn't Palmer. It's his line. It can't pass block. Further, the Ravens defense will make a lot of good quarterbacks look bad this season. So will the Steelers defense.

Palmer isn't an elite quarterback right now. He's a top 10 quarterback, but not among the top three or four. He could still get there. But the problem with the Bengals offense isn't its quarterback. You'd want Jordan Palmer playing instead? Arnold Palmer might be better than that.

Good wishes to Mark Dantonio, who like me, just found out how mortal we all are. Dantonio's heart attack after his Spartans beat Notre Dame last Saturday night resulted in doctors placing a stent in one of his veins. Dantonio will heal and be back coaching soon. Trust me, it gets better. But watching him pull a play out of Brian Kelly's book to beat Kelly's Irish had to be particulary gratifying for Dantonio. Kelly won at UC, largely, on Dantonio's recruiting. Kelly's first BCS bowl team, the 2008 squad, was heavily populated with Dantonio recruits.

Imagine how UC fans had to feel watching that MSU-Notre Dame game, with both of their former head coaches competing against each other on national television. No disrespect to Butch Jones, who may someday be in Kelly and Dantonio's league, but the sight of those two slugging it out in East Lansing with UC sitting at a very shaky 1-2 had to be tough for Bearcats fans.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Far be it from me to raise a red flag, but is anyone else noticing that the Reds have this tendency to score runs in bunches, two big innings or so, and then go into a shell? We saw it again Wednesday night, when they scored five times in two innings and then had to scramble for a 7-5 win over the Diamondbacks.

You can say it's the sign of a good team that can do damage early and hold the status quo. And I suppose I'd be comfortable with that, if they weren't preparing to play some of the best teams in the National League in a few weeks. But it seems as though opposing pitchers are doing well making adjustments to Reds hitters as they pitch through the batting order for a second time. It appears the Reds hitters aren't doing much adjusting.

I could be wrong. I often am wrong. But I could be right.

This is a much different team, and less lethal, without Scott Rolen healthy and in the line up. We saw it again Thursday afternoon when the Diamondbacks Rodrigo Lopez shut down a batting order that had Jonny Gomes hitting clean up and Brandon Phillips also out of the line up. The goal for Dusty Baker is two fold: he has to get his team healthy for the playoffs, while trying to earn the best record in the National League. No small trick. And earning the best record in the NL, which assures home field advantage in the playoffs, will be a big deal for the Reds. When the top of a team's pitching rotation doesn't feature stud starters, and the Reds don't have those, you want as many home games as you can get, to insure final at bats. Don't get me wrong, Bronson Arroyo, Travis Wood and Johnny Cueto have pieced together very solid seasons. But the Reds don't have a Roy Halladay, Matt Cain or Cole Hamels, who will be very difficult to handle with multiple home starts.

Why do I feel the Bengals will get a heaping dose of TJ Houshmandzadeh Sunday? He's the third wide receiver in the Ravens offensive system. But you and I both know Baltimore head coach, John Harbaugh is cooking up ways for Houshmandzadeh to 'burn' his former team.

What concerns me even more, is the Ravens running attack. It never got off the dime against the Jets on Monday night. But with its three headed attack of Laron McClain, Willis McGahee and Ray Rice, you know that will be the way the Ravens will first try to attack the Bengals defense.

There's good news on the other side of that equation. Last season, the Bengals rushed for 142 yards against the Ravens in Baltimore and 146 when the two teams met later in the year in Cincinnati. This could also be a big day for Cedric Benson.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Random thoughts for a Wednesday

The Bengals say they need to change their attitude this week. Huh? You've got seven months to prepare for an NFL opener and you're already talking about 'changing your attitude'? Really?

I think last Sunday was just the case of a good team having a bad day. Period.

But Cedric Benson will have to rush for more than just 2.9 yards per carry for this team to have any chance of having a good season.

I think Ochocinco is in line for a very big year. Last Sunday was just a 'taste'.

The Reds appear to be running out of steam. Or at least, some of their better players need a few days off. But when you still have a "Magic Number" of 12, that's almost impossible. Good to see Rolen getting a night off tonight.

Lot of UC fans are getting a little anxious over the Bearcats 1-1 start (particularly with the way the team looked in the second half of the Fresno State loss and the first half of the Indiana State win.). But the facts are this: the team lost its best impact player from last year, it's number one wide receiver this year and the defense has switched back to a 4-3. Mix in a new coaching staff and anyone who thought this would be a seamless transition from Brian Kelly to Butch Jones isn't paying attention....

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Just published to the front page of www.kenbroo.com is my latest Broo View Podcast. I'm joined this time by www.cbssports.com national baseball writer, Scott Miller. We're talking about the Reds real chances of making the playoffs. Check it out!

I’ve got to admit, I’m drawn to train wrecks just like everyone else. So this week, when I heard national radio guy Colin Cowherd go off on the Reds, Bengals and everything else Cincinnati, I couldn’t turn it off. I knew it was exactly what Cowherd wanted me, you and everyone else to do around here, listen. And we did. And the more we listened to his incessant rants about the Reds and every other team around here being frauds, the more we fumed.

A little shop talk first. First thing you should know about all sports radio stations: they really don’t do well in the ratings. Outside of a station in New York City and a couple of stations out West, most all sports radio stations struggle to find listeners, ratings and revenue. It’s a real niche audience, narrow demographic as we say in the biz. You can make money programming all sports radio, but not as much as a total service station like, well, The Big One.

In truth, what Cowherd said about us, as a town and our teams in particular, got infinitely more exposure when his comments were excerpt by Willie on his shows this week. Thousands more heard them after that. And I’ll admit, I like listening to Cowherd. I think he’s very good at what he does and what he does best is generate listenership through opinion.

I just think his opinions about us, you, me and our teams are wrong.

And it got me wondering, why Cincinnati has such a lousy reputation nationally. Another admission: I couldn’t care less about what someone in New York, LA, Cleveland or anywhere else thinks about us. I choose to live here because I like living here and my guess is, so do you. I like the fact that we’ve got great neighborhoods, schools, restaurants as good as any in cities three times our size, college and professional and high school sports and that we don’t have a lot of traffic that we have to maneuver through to get to any of that.

But I gotta tell you, Cincinnati doesn’t enjoy a great reputation nationally.

Have you ever met a stranger lately, someone you bump into in an airport or some place of business in another town. Here’s what I get when I tell someone I’m from Cincinnati: how many Bengals were arrested last night? Or something about Pete Rose’s gambling or Marge Schott’s collection of World War Two memorabilia. If I’m with someone who’s up a notch or two on life’s food chain, Maplethorpe will invariably come into the conversation.

I guess that’s what happens when you live in a fly over town. Most people only know about Cincinnati from changing planes at CVG (although with Delta shrinking faster than a freshly washed cotton shirt, that’s not happening a lot either these days).

I think one of the reasons we may suffer from this lack of knowledge and respect is because our sports teams have been down so long. Up until three months ago, the Reds hadn’t done anything in 20 years. So when they have the kind of season they’re having now, maybe someone like Cowherd, who doesn’t know any better, views what they’re doing as fraudulent. The Bengals? They tapped into a lot of equity with all of that nonsense a few years ago. Perceptions take a long time to chance when you don’t live it and see it on a daily basis.

All I know is what I heard this week bothered me. Because when someone attacks your city and the things you like and have an interest in, they’re really attacking you.. Colin Cowherd has a national voice, with all of the muscle of a machine called ESPN behind him. What he said about us might be true. We’ll certainly find out about soon enough with the Reds, not too long after that with the Bengals.

But I know this: the only way to shut someone up, is to prove them wrong. Another admission: I don’t root for the Bengals or the Reds. I can’t, and neither can anyone else in sports journalism who wants to be taken seriously. It’s bad business when you don’t check your pom-poms at the door.

But I sure won’t be upset if things keep going around here like they have been. Because that would be good for our city. And our city needs a break. And so do the people who want to keep running it down.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Random thoughts on this mid week night....

Terrell Owens isn't the player he was even three years ago. But he's an immediate upgrade over every receiver the Bengals had on the field last season not named Ochocinco. Even a shadow of what he's been TO will distract defenses just enough to allow Ochocinco to have a monster year.....

The Steelers aren't dead and won't roll over this year. In the four games (yep, it'll be four not six) that Ben Roethlisberger is away the Steelers will win by running the ball and playing defense. I think they'll go 3-1....

The Ravens should still be the favorites in the AFC North. But that depleted secondary sure makes them look mortal....

I love the way Paul Janish has stepped in for the injured Orlando Cabrera. And this is really some Monday morning quarterbacking, but why didn't the Reds at least think about trading for a middle infielder who can bring some 'pop' at the plate before the July 31st trade deadline. Cabrera and Scott Rolen are both playing well this season, Rolen more so. But they're both long in the tooth. Janish can play anywhere in the infield. But if Rolen were to go down again, what do the Reds do now? It's asking a lot for a rookie like Juan Francisco to step in and take over. Remember, the 1990 Reds made an August deal on their road to a World Series title. They had Ron Oester, Barry Larkin and Mariano Duncan, but that didn't stop them from trading for Billy Doran. That deal probably put that team over the top.....

I don't think Aaron Harang has pitched his last and best in Cincinnati. I look for the big man to make several key starts between his return and the end of the season.....

But I also don't think Harang and Homer Bailey will both be in the Reds five man rotation, when each is back and healthy....

I'm glad Shaq found work today, signing with the Boston Celtics. Even at his age, he's one of the fun players to watch....

The Cyclones will miss coach Chuck Weber, who's moving onto a bigger league (AHL) and a more influential job (head coach of the Rochester Americans). Weber will be coaching players who are just a phone call away from the NHL. And Weber will be just a phone call away too. Good guy, terrific coach. You don't coach teams to two Kelly Cup wins in three years unless you know what you're doing. That series against Reading this spring, where the Cyclones rallied from down 0-3 in games to win in seven, was one of the more stirring comebacks I've seen. Good luck Chuck!

I don't play poker. But watching people play poker on TV is absolutely absurd. It's on a lot. So a lot of people must have a tough time finding a life....

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Just published the latest edition of The Broo View Podcast. My guest in episode #246 is Hub Arkush, the editor of Pro Football Weekly. Hub and I discuss the unsteady labor situation in the NFL, as well as the prospects for the Bengals in 2010.

You can download this latest edition here.

You can also find this latest Broo View Podcast on the front page of my web site, www.kenbroo.com.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

So are you ready for some TO? In the be careful for what you ask for department, Carson Palmer has apparently sent back glowing reports on his new workout partner. If you haven’t heard, Palmer has been playing pitch and catch with TO out on the left coast.

But hang on, now we hear that the Rams are ‘seriously interested’ in signing Donovan McNabb’s BFF. And, that’s the ménage a tois that Drew Rosenhaus was looking for. Two teams, one client. Let the bidding war begin.

The Rams, according to various reports, will meet Monday to decide whether or not to offer a contract to Owens. The Bengals?

If you’re a Bengals fan who believes that running a football team is just like you running your fantasy football team, please go butter some toast. The adults would like to talk for awhile. It was on some chat board Saturday where a ‘get a lifer’ posted, “Just sign TO right now”. Sure, and deactivate some other wide receiver, make sure you have a quarterback and a defense that isn’t on a bye week and post your line-up. You’ll be all set.

Terrell Owens has been a very talented plague on some very good football teams and a rash on some very good quarterbacks. Carson Palmer has sent glowing reports back to the Bengals on TO. Somewhere, Tony Romo just did a laugh spit. Here’s what TO has done in his career: he’s sicked wide receiver against wide receiver, quarterback against wide receiver and pouted when he didn’t get the football. That’s not opinion, that’s fact. You don’t know about this? You obviously haven’t been paying attention. Google him and see what you find.

But Terrell Owens is tremendously talented, even at the ripe age of 37. He’s a big man, who can still run, still get open, still catch the ball. He didn’t do a lot of catching last year when he was banished to Buffalo, consoling himself with six millions dollars. In fact, the great TO only had a couple of touchdown catches in his final five games, only 15 receptions over that time too. But of course, Trent Edwards is no Carson Palmer. TO was also on his best behavior, knowing that he was on a one year deal and would have to pedal his services all over again this spring. Except, nobody was buying, not even teams that really need wide receivers.

Seattle? No thanks. Chicago? Not interested. Tampa, Pittsburgh, Kansas City? Thanks for thinking of us, sorry. If a wide receiver is as talented as TO, if teams what have a real need at wide receiver have all taken a pass, do you think there might be a reason why he’s unemployed?

We’re all judged by what we do in life. Most of us make mistakes, some of us get second chances. TO is on his fourth chance by my count. Maybe the real TO was the TO in Buffalo last year. Maybe he finally understood that when divas get older, so does their act.

Your Cincinnati Bengals have done very well with reclamation projects. Tank Johnson, Cedric Benson, the late Chris Henry. The latest class includes Pacman Jones and Matt Jones and maybe TO

It may be that the Bengals are interested in TO, not so much because Palmer is filing glowing reports. It may be there is something wrong, really wrong, with Antonio Bryant’s aching knee (and just for the record since there hasn’t been an ounce of physical contact since Bryant sign his deal for potentially 28-million dollars, if his knee continues to be an issue, didn’t any doctor pick up on that BEFORE he was signed?) It may be the Bengals are thinking about TO just in case there’s something that keeps Bryant off the field for a significant amount of time, or just in case some of the younger receivers on the roster simply can’t yet cut it.

Being a great wide receiver, being an asset to a team, is more than just running downfield, getting open, making the touchdown catch. A winning team is made up of more than just great athletes. Teams that stand with the Lombardi Trophy every February all seem to have one thing in common: discipline and a no nonsense approach to the game. The Saints, the Colts, the Patriots, pick a team from the last decade.

If To can really help the Bengals, if he’s grown up, if he now understands how wrong he was in the way he dealt with McNabb, Romo and Jeff Garcia, then Mike Brown, go get him. You and your staff, your head coach and his staff have put together a team that appears to have the talent to win and win deep into January this year. I’ve said this for awhile: I like this 2010 Bengals team. But if TO is just a player at the end of the line looking for a payday, keep moving. There’s nothing to see here….nothing that all of us haven’t seen before.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A reminder that this blog may not be reproduced, retransmitted or repuposed in any manner without the express, written consent of Ken Broo
Some random thoughts on 'hump day'.....

The Reds aren't thinking about signing Jason Isringhausen to replace Francisco Cordero...yet. Isringhausen, who impressed Reds GM Walt Jocketty enough in his Tuesday tryout to earn a contract offer, will be strictly for set up, no closing. But, should Cordero falter, Jocketty will have someone in Isringhausen that he knows a lot about. While in St. Louis, Jocketty signed Isringhausen to a free agent deal and the righty wound up giving the Cardinals several good years of game enders......

Since Isringhausen and another recent Reds signee, Russ Springer both played for Jocketty in St. Louis, I'm wondering, can Jim Edmonds be far behind? Just kidding...no really, I am.....

Very interesting move by Reds manager, Dusty Baker in Tuesday night's 8-7 win over the Nationals. Baker pulled a double switch in the top of the 8th with one out, bringing in Laynce Nix to play right field, along with pitcher Arthur Rhodes. Nix replaced Jay Bruce. Both are left handed bats. But Bruce has looked clueless at the plate since late June. Nix, who got to hit in the bottom of the 8th inning, delivered a double......

No first round pick will sign until Sam Bradford gets his deal done in St. Louis. But a few more will have to sign up before the Bengals do business with their first round pick, Jermaine Gresham. With the Bengals due to report one week from today (Wednesday), a Gresham holdout seems likely. But, what do you think? You can vote on the poll that's on the front page of this blog.....

Lou Piniella, who announced Tuesday he'll retire at the end of this season looks like a beaten man, doesn't he? He takes forever to make a pitching change and his dugout demeanor is of a man who looks like he'd rather be anywhere but managing the Chicago Cubs....

37 years ago yesterday (Tuesday), the White Sox Wilbur Wood made history by pitching in and losing both games of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. I know because I was there. Never seen that before or since. I paid $1.50 for a seat down the first base line in the upper deck of the now 'old' Yankee Stadium. Can't imagine what a ticket in that location of the new park goes for....

41 yeas ago Tuesday, man walked on the moon for the first time. If you're old enough to remember that, I'll bet you can tell me where you were on the night of July 20, 1969. I was in a hotel room in Breezewood, Pennsylvania, on my way out to look at Ohio University for the first time. It's mind boggling to think that the man who first stepped on the moon, Neil Armstrong, lives about two miles from where I live today.....

If some major league baseball contending team is looking for bullpen help, they should call the Nationals. Tyler Clippard appears to be the real deal. He was 3-1 as a starter with the Yankees before winding up in DC. All he does is throw strikes, topping out at 96 mph on Tuesday, and his fastball 'moves'.....

Stephen Strasburg mania hits Cincinnati Wednesday night. Can't wait....no really, I mean that.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Reds are one game up at the All Star break. It’s not that being in first place at the break guarantees anything. In fact, baseball history gives up about 15 strong examples of teams that have looked woefully out of it at this point, that’ve rallied to win division titles or pennants. But being in first at this time of the year, this late in the season, should be a strong psychological boost to a ballclub.

Except, look what we’ve seen the last three ballgames.

Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Travis Wood have each delivered outstanding starts in Philadelphia. And the Reds have nothing to show for it. Nothing. The offense has left small armies stranded, on base, in each of the last two nights. And the bullpen has failed this team in all three games.

You want names? Ryan Hanigan whiffing twice last night with a chance, in each at bat, to drive home the go ahead run. Jay Bruce hitting into a double play Friday night, turning a potential three run inning into an inning that produced only one run. And pick a name in that bullpen. They’ve all had a hand in these losses. Jordan Smith Thursday night. Francisco Cordero and the usually reliable Arthur Rhodes Friday night. Bill Bray and Logan Ondrusak on Saturday night.

And now, after this afternoon’s game in Philly, the Reds have some serious thinking to do. It’s good they’ve got five days to figure things out. But figure things out they must, if they’re going to contend this season.

Here’s what we believe. The Cardinals aren’t going away And the six head to head games the Reds have left with St. Louis will go a long way in determining who wins the NL Central. Don’t bank on a wild card. The Wes and the East divisions have strong contenders for that.

Here’s what we know: as presently constructed, the Reds will have a tough time outgunning the Cardinals. Maybe Travis Wood and Mike Leake can match up well with Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. But who in that Reds line up will be able to hit off either of those guys? Not even a perfect game for eight innings from Wood was enough last night.

So now, if you’re Walt Jocketty, what do you do? It’s less than three weeks to the trade deadline and you’ve just missed out on the best pitcher on the market. You know you have Edinson Volquez back by next weekend. You know that Aroldis Chapman might be here soon after that to give your bullpen a power arm. But will that be enough? Wood, Leake, Bronson Arroyo, Cueto and a combination of Aaron Harang, Matt Maloney and Homer Bailey might be good enough. You know you’ve got a problem with your closer. So do you pursue someone like the Mariners’ David Aardsma? He’s not pitching well this year. He’s allowed 17 runs in 27 innings of work. But he saved 38 of 42 chances last year. And Aardsma, while making just $2,75 is arbitration eligible after this season. But he’s also an established closer, insurance just in case Francisco Cordero continues to refuse to pitch on the inside part of the plate.

What ever he chooses to do, Jocketty must do something. This team is hanging onto first place because the Cardinals have chosen to lose everytime the Reds have. That won’t continue. Somewhere there’s an arm that can come in and stabilize a shaky bullpen, someone that Dusty can trust on a nightly basis. Somewhere, there’s a solid bad that can come off the bench and pinch hit and, every so often provided solid offense and defense when you need to rest Scott Rolen. Jocketty must do something to show to the players that the team is committed to winning this season. Players aren’t dumb. They like their team mates, but they also know what the team needsl Jocketty knows they know. And if the general manager is smart, which I know he is, he’ll get it done quickly.

You don’t choose when you contend. It’s chosen for you The Reds have been chose this year. Now it’s up to Jocketty to make sure it will happen.

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Monday, July 05, 2010

Don't you love it when a player plays 'mad'. The night after getting snubbed by National League All Star manager, the Phillies Charlie Manuel, Joey Votto delivers a three hit night in New York tonight, including two home runs.

I don't know whether or Votto was really mad. But he sure played that way.

Manuel can't be totally faulted for not picking Votto. The fans voted the Cardnials Albert Puljos as the starter. The National League players, and I don't know what they're looking a this season, voted Adrian Gonzalez, from San Diego, as their choice. And there was no way Manuel was going to pick Votto over his deserving first baseman, Ryan Howard. Think about it: if Dusty Baker was managing the NL Stars this year, do you really think he'd take Howard over Votto?


But where Manuel fails the test, is when he chose a bench player, Atlanta's Omar Infante, simply because Manuel felt Infante would serve the team well because he swings the bat well coming off the bench.

Really? Charlie never impressed me as being that deep of a thinker. And if that is an indication as to the depth of his thoughts, perhaps Charlie should give his cranium a rest.

Votto will make the team. Someone will either become injured or sick and he'll certainly be the first replacement picked by Manuel (best way to work his way out of a bad situation). But you can vote Votto onto the team as the final National League star. You can find a link to the balloting on WLWT's web site. You'll get 20 chances to cast a vote. But you have to do that before Thursday afternoon.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Good Monday morning to you....

I’m having a hard time trying to figure out what a lot of people have against Dusty Baker. You listen to this show, you listen to any of the talk shows in the Greater Cincinnati area and you hear a constant grumbling about his way of managing. Even the support he has around here is tepid at best.

I guess Bob Boone and Jerry Narron are officially off the hook.

And now comes a couple of fresh attacks on his style, one from Baseball Prospectus and another from Sports Illustrated. In each, the writers question exactly how Dusty manages to keep managing. The guy who wrote the SI piece is Joe Sheehan. We’re going to hear from him in a little bit. His contention is that the only thing that made Baker as successful as he was in San Francisco was putting Barry Bonds in the line-up every game. The reason for the article this week was the Reds signing of Gary Matthews, Junior. I’ll admit, I don’t get that move. Matthews appeared to be washed up playing for the Mets this year and the Angels the two years prior to that.

He appeared to be stealing the 22-million he’s made the last two seasons.

Sheehan’s worry, and mine too for that matter, is that signing Matthews could cost at bats for Jay Bruce, or Drew Stubbs or Chris Heisey, a man who needs to be playing everyday somewhere, and not rotting on the bench here.

I’ll give you that Baker stuck way too long with Corey Patterson. He was a latter day Eric Milton. But what other choice did Baker really have? And besides, a general manager spends an owners money on a player, the player should be good enough to play.

I’m not here to carry water for Baker. He’s big enough to do that for himself. But what I’m hearing a lot these days is that the Reds are winning despite Baker. Don’t think that’s true.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: there’ve been two managers this town has embraced and accepted since Sparky Anderson left town: Pete Rose and Lou Piniella. Davey Johnson was the last guy to manage a Reds team to the playoffs. He was run out of town by the owner and the fan base here didn’t produce a whimper about it. Jack McKeon? Too old. Bob Boone? Thought he invented the game. Dave Miley? Minor leaguer. Jerry Narron? Talked like he was an escapee from the cast of Hee Haw.

In a way, Dusty Baker is a lot like the general manager we had around here a few years ago, Dan O’Brien. O’Brien inherited a mess. Under Marge Schott, the Reds minor league system went to hell in a handbag. She let Jim Bowden go out and buy aging veterans, but never saw the need to build a franchise the way you have to do it in a town like Cincinnati, through player development. Carl Lindner kept Bowden. Bowden’s talents at finding and developing young talent had apparently eroded by the time Carl started signing the checks. Look back on any of those drafts that happened while Lindner owned the team, while Bowden and his staff did the selecting and tell me what players have lit it up. O’Brien began the thankless task of rebuilding a system, without enough players at the major league level to compete. Ultimately, it cost him his job,

Baker spent the first couple of years watching his best talent go through growing pains. Jay Bruce and Joey Votto come to mind. Lately Drew Stubbs. That’s what happens when you inherit a team with dead wood and not enough big league talent.

I don’t know if Dusty Baker will get this team into the post season this year. Don’t know if he’ll ever be the kind of manager you want him to be. But I’m not running him out the door, right now. Last I checked, the Reds are in first place.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Good Monday Morning!

Walt Jocketty is CIA all the way. Stealth. The only one who knows what he’s up to is him. Remember the trade last year for Scott Rolen? Didn’t see that one coming, did we? Aroldis Chapman? Fidel Castro didn’t see that one coming either. So today, as we sit here with your Cincinnati Reds a game and a half out of first place, who knows what the silver fox is up to? Let’s hope he’s up to something. Because, as constructed, this Reds team isn’t good enough to win their division. And worse, the Cardinals haven’t made their big move yet. And you know that’s coming.

Here’s what the Reds don’t have that they need to be considered serious contenders: they need power pitchers in their bullpen. They need a legitimate number one starting pitcher. Mike Leake? Nice story, but the guy has only got so many more miles on him. The way they’re doing the math at Great American Ball Park, he’ll be out of gas by early September, or just in time for what could be a showdown series with the Cardinals in St. Louis. Bronson Arroyo? Historically, he’s a .500 pitcher and there aren’t too may legit number one starting pitchers who’ve been called that. Aaron Harang careens from good to bad like mood swings. Johnny Cueto throws too many pitches and lasts too few innings. Homer Bailey’s return has no arrival date and Sam Lecure, a month ago, was the answer to the question “Who’s That?”

It’s not Jocketty’s fault. But it’s his problem. This franchise stopped developing starting pitching at Scott Scudder. Richie Gardner, Ty Howington, Dustin Mosely, Chris Gruler, Ryan Wagner. The list of first round pitching selections by the Cincinnati Reds from 1999 through 2003 is astoundingly bad. Jim Bowden’s barren field has been left to Dan O’Brien, Wayne Krivsky and Walt Jocketty to sow.

But the man in the chair now has a decision to make. He knows he doesn’t have a pitcher that matches up with Chris Carpenter, or Roy Halladay, or Clayton Kershaw, or Ubaldo Jiminez. Jocketty can find one. He can go to the Mariners and ask about Cliff Lee, or the Royals and ask about Zach Greinke. But it will cost him, in prospects and money. Trading for now, could hurt the future.

Except, there is no future in baseball. Baseball, like every other professional sport is day to day. We hear that 2011 will be the year the Reds will blossom with their prospects ready to help the big league club. But seasons don’t translate. Teams don’t get to pick up where they left off, one season to the next. What guarantees are there for 2011? Will Scott Rolen stay healthy, and as effective as he’s been this season? Will Jonny Gomes hit in 2011 like he’s hitting now? Can anyone say for certain that arm injuries won’t infest the Reds key pitchers?

The 1999 Cincinnati Reds were similar, in a lot of ways to this current club. Bowden went out and traded for Juan Guzman. He went 6-3 and got the Reds to within a whisker of the playoffs. But the Reds paid a price. They gave up BJ Ryan to Baltimore, who turned out to be a very good closer.

In 2006, Wayne Krivsky traded two everyday players to get, at the time, the two best bullpen pitchers available. It turned out to be a lose-lose for both the Reds and Nationals. Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez were busts in DC. Gary Majewski arrived here hurt. Bill Bray has been nothing but a rumor since the deal.

Now, like Bowden and Krivsky before him, Jocketty must make a calculated decision. He needs to decide if his team is a player or two away from making the playoffs. And then he needs to do something about it, without being completely beholden to the future.

The playoffs don’t come our way very often. That’s why Bowden and Krivsky did what they did. It didn’t work out either time. But you’ve got to try. And you have to start trying now. Play it smart,. But play it quickly.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

It is game on in college football In the last 48 hours, we’ve seen more upheaval in college football than anything in the last 15 years.

Here’s what’s gone down since Friday morning.

Boise State jumped from the WAC to the Mountain West Conference. Now we’re hearing that the Mountain West, tired and irked at not getting into the BCS automatic bid club, is pursing Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri.

Except hang on, says ESPN’s Joe Schad, the Pac 10 leaders want Utah instead of Kansas…which means the Mountain West may have to add someone else.

Those schools are available because the Big 12 is imploding as we speak. Colorado has jumped to the Pac 10, soon to be Pac 16. Nebraska has booked for the real Big 12 now, running alongside Ohio State and Michigan.

Stand by for more.

The lower tier of the Big 12, the south division, has split from the rest of that conference like the San Andreas fault line. Saturday, the Pac pick your number commissioner, Larry Scott was in Oklahoma and Texas, delivering personal invitations to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech and Texam A&M to join his conference. He may only get four of those five teams. But late last night the Oklahoma City newspaper reported that Oklahoma gave the Pac 10 a thumbs up.

Because late Saturday, SEC commissioner, Mike Slive was in College Station Texas to talk to that school’s administration about joining his conference. One report last night had the A&M Board Of Regents ready to OK a move to the SEC. But one of the regents, Gene Stallings, the former A&M and Alabama coach says nobody has asked him about voting on a move.

Are you with me so far?

Over at East Carolina, Athletic Director, Terry Holland posted an open letter on the school’s web site to his faithful, detailing the life and death struggle that he believes the Big East Conference finds itself in today.

Interesting that Holland got an urge to write about this, as he’s been salivating all over the Big East, wanting to bring his Pirates the land of Bearcats and Cardinals.

According to the gospel of Terry, the Big East is trying to figure out a way to not only hang onto its eight football playing teams. It’s also trying to add teams who play football.

Oh and Holland adds this: the Big East is holding out hope that Notre Dame will finally join as a football playing member.

Someone needs to get Holland an aspirin

Meantime, at Notre Dame, the body snatcher posing as an athletic director told the Chicago Tribune his school has no interest in joining a conference.

But that opinion will only hold until another super conference or two is formed. Think about it. If we really do get to four 16 team super conferences, the majority of the conference games will be against each other. Who does Notre Dame, as an independent schedule if that happens? Maybe the Irish can make Tulsa, Western Michigan and the military academies yearly opponents. That oughta get NBC to keep forking over $14 million dollar contracts.

All of this affects nothing at UC, not yet. But here’s how it will. If Notre Dame continues to cling to its independent status, the Big 10 will look elsewhere to get to 16 teams. It will need four more. The most likely league to be poached is the Big East. The most likely teams would be Pitt, Rutgers…they want Rutgers for the New York TV market but honestly, the majority of people in the New York area couldn’t give a flying hop about that team…..and Syracuse. If that happens, that would leave the Big East with just five football playing members. Here’s the math: that’s seven teams short of the 12 needed to stage a conference championship game, which appears to be the critera for futre BCS status.

The Big East’s problem is also it’s strength. It’s the best basketball conference on the planet right now. But eight of its league members don’t play football. If you add seven teams to the equation….if you add only two, you’ve got an unwieldy lot of teams for basketball scheduling. Does the Big East, as was suggested in some reports this week, tell schools like Seton Hall, Providence and DePaul to take a hike? Don’t see that happening.

In short, college athletics have been a mess in the last 48 hours. And the domino effect of what the Pac 10 is doing right now will be significant. One of the epicenters of the shake up could be right here, in river city.