Sunday, January 31, 2010

Good Monday Morning!

The bus industry got a boost this week from your Cincinnati Reds. Three busloads of Reds players, front office folks and Dusty Baker fanned out over three states, spreading the word…optimistic of course at ever stop….to the small towns and ‘burghs that at one time were chock full of Reds fans. There are still plenty of Reds fans in southern Kentucky, Northwestern Indiana and the hills of West Virginia. But not so much anymore. Oh, there are plenty of fans who’ll listen to the games here on the Big One and follow the team in the hometown papers. But buy a ticket? Drive to Cincinnati? Spend the weekend at a local hotel and support the local eating and drinking establishments? You’ll get the answer on that from the restauranteurs and hoteliers in the Tri-State. Or just check out the license plates in the parking lots around Great American Ball Park on game day. You’ll see a lot of Ohio and Kentucky plates, a few Indiana plates. But not like it was even ten years ago.

We used to be able to park our news cars close to the players entrance at Riverfront Stadium. Walking out after covering a game, it was fun to see the cars from distant locations. You’d see Kentucky plates with dealership ads from Frankfort, Owensboro, Pikeville and Paducah. You’d see plates from Illinois, Tennessee and even Arkansas. Saw more than a few of those.
But lately, the Reds have become less of a regional draw and more of a local team. That doesn’t matter really to you and me. But it matters a lot to the guy who writes the checks. And that’s why Bob Castellini is going Greyhound this weekend.

The Reds Caravan was a big deal, back in the day. Anytime you had Pete Rose or Eric Davis or whomever the stars of the moment were rolling into Chillicothe, or Charleston, or Cambridge, it was big news. But then the team got bad, Marge got cheap and the the economy went south. Not too surprisingly, the Reds stopped be an attraction for a lot of people outside of Cincinnati.

But that’s changed now. The buses are rolling and the Reds are on the verge of being relevant in a lot of homes again. If you haven’t heard, a lot of the baseball experts are hopping on the Reds bandwagon. The latest diamond mind projections are out today. I won’t bore you with the statistical detail of the study. It factors in a lot of things, to come up with projected wins, projected wins vs actual wins in 2009. It’s the stuff that makes your eyeballs roll up into your forhead. Anyway, the latest projection has the Reds winning 86 games this season. That’d be an increase of eight wins over last year and would put them smack dab in the middle of the playoff chase..

PECOTA is another statistical study that would bore anyone who can’t spell sabermetrics. It’s big if you’re addicted to fantasy baseball Anyhow, the 2010 numbers are out for that and it has the Reds finishing second to the Cardinals in the NL Central, with an 81-81 record.

I think what I’m getting at here is that I think the Reds are going to be a lot better than some of us think they will this season. I’m not drinking the Kool Aid. I’m just looking at facts.

Joey Votto is now one of the top hitters in the league. If he’s around for the full season, he could deliver monster numbers. Remember, the Reds were very much in the race until Votto left for a month in late May. Brandon Phillips is just a year removed from a Gold Glove season. Drew Stubbs has blistering speed and showed flashes of power at the major league level last season. Ramon Hernandez is back to handle the pitching. He offers offense that the Reds haven’t had behind the plate in a long time.

The rotation isn’t bad. Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey are the young guns. I’m willing to bet that Aaron Harang is back to his 2007 form. Bronson Arroyo will be his typical ‘500’ self. And the bullpen still has a legit closer in Francisco Cordero, with Jared Burton Nick Massett and Micah Owings providing set up and middle relief.

Jay Bruce is a large question. He hit well for the first two weeks of his major league career. After that, not so hot. There is no answer for left field and there’s no way the Reds are serious contenders with a short stop who hits ‘211’. The good news: Orlando Cabrera may be here by later today.

Look, the Cardinals signed Matt Holiday this winter. They still have Chris Carpenter and the best player in the game, Prince Albert. The Cubs just signed Xavier Nady and the Astros added pitcher Brett Myers among others.

But I get the feeling we’re going to be saying good bye to these 76-78 win seasons. 2011 looks like it could be a huge year, when Chris Heisey Todd Frazier, Yonder Alonso and Aroldis Chapman join the core talent that will play at Great American Ball Park this season.

It’s a good time for the Reds to spread the word. Maybe they’ll become relevant again, to a lot more people, besides you and me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Check out my interview with Xavier basketball TV analyst, Steve Wolf, the former Musketeer. We're talking about Xavier coach Chris Mack and the always fundamentally sound Muskies. It's on the front page of
How's your Tuesday going?

Got a injury you need help with? Tonight at 7:30p on Channel 5 in Cincinnati, we're hosting another 'Call The Docs' show. It's your chance to call in and talk with the good doctors from Beacon Sports about whatever malady you may have. Free medical advice, no HMO or co pay. Such a deal!

There's a brand new Broo View Podcast ready to download. This episode features Matt Bowen from We talk about whether or not Carson Palmer is still a quarterback capable of leading a team to the Super Bowl. You can find the podcast on the front page of my web site:

When you're number one, you never know who'll be calling. The UK Wildcats got a big surprise today. Right after a mid day practice for their game tonight in Columbia, South Carolina, John Calipari's team got a phone call from President Obama. He was calling to congratulate the Wildcats for raising over $1 million for Haitian relief efforts. While he was at it, Obama also congratulated the Wildcats ascending to the top of college basketball. UK is number on in both major polls this week, unbeaten so far this season. Super freshman, John Wall invited the President to watch UK in person and challeged him to a game of 'horse'. Obama politely declined saying, "I don't want to lose". There's a good chance they'll meet in person this spring, with the way the UK has been playing an NCAA Championship isn't out of the question.

For the first time ever, the NFL stages the Pro Bowl before teh Super Bowl. The game is this Sunday in Miami, site of Super Bowl 44. It's a better idea than playing the game as an after thought, which has been the case forever. But more than ten Saints and Colts players elected to the Pro Bowl will now have to beg off, with the Super Bowl, of course, taking precedence. Here's my idea: play the game BEFORE the season, much like the NFL used to do years ago when the reigning champion took on a team of college all stars. Play the game in August, AFC vs NFC and use it for what it is, a glorified exhibition game.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Good Monday Morning!

This is what I'm thinking about today: what do the Jets, Colts, Vikings and Saints have that the Bengals don’t? Why were those teams still playing Sunday, and your Cincinnati Bengals have scattered for the winter? The easy answer is this: they all play great defense, they all have impact players on both sides of the football and they all can throw the ball, even the Jets.

The tougher question is why. Why can the Jets do all of that and the Bengals can’t? A lot of it is talent. A lot of it is scheme. A lot of it is simply putting dollars into personnel that will have impact in the areas of the game that are now the most important.

There was a time when you could win in the NFL simply by running the ball, controlling the clock and then playing solid defense. It was a blue print to getting deep into the playoffs. The New York Giants did it under Bill Parcells. They did a few years ago under Tom Coughlin. And we know all about what the Steelers have done. But the game has changed.

This is what Bill Cowher said on the CBS NFL pre-game show back in October. And this is a direct quote:

‘The game has changed, the rules have changed," he said. "I think right now, I hate to say this, but the running game is a complement. It's not the foundation that it once was. “ Cowher went onto say, “You look at the last three AFC teams that were in the Super Bowl, that's Pittsburgh, New England and Indianapolis. They're all passing teams. The running game is a complement.”

Think about how many times you’ve seen a team get into the red zone simply because it throws the ball downfield. Sometimes, the receiver makes a spectacular catch. Sometimes, he turns that into a touchdown. But more often than not, the receiver doesn’t have to do anything.

In the NFL, pass interference is a spot foul. It’s not college, where the distance of the call is just 15 yards. If an NFL defensive back is called for pass interference on his own five yard line, that’s where the offense gets the ball. In college, 15 yards from the line of scrimmage, max.

Now think about the number of times the Bengals threw deep this season. In a lot of ways, what was wrong with their offense, could have been fixed, or hidden, by simply throwing deep. The difference between these four teams left standing and the Bengals? It was the Bengals inability to throw the ball with any consistency. But why?

I did a little digging, a little research. Three of the four teams left in the Super Bowl chase were in the top eight in passing offense: Indianapolis ranked second, New Orleans fourth, Minnesota eighth. The Jets were 31st, second to last.

Throwing deep, testing the secondary, keeping the safeties from cheating up into run support is something else the Final 4 NFL teams can do well, and the Bengals didn’t’.

Here’s the stat: plays of 20-or more yards this season, passing plays. The Colts had 62 of those. The Saints had 58, the Vikings 55. The Jets had 37 plays of 20-yards of more. Your Cincinnati Bengals, only 36. 36 pass plays of 20-or more yards in 477-passing attempts.

Passing leads to points. I’ve said this since October, the Bengals offense could not score enough points this season to make any reasonable thinking fan believe they could play with the big boys come playoff time. Eleven of the 12 playoff teams ranked in the top 17 for points scored this season. When you extract defense and special teams scoring, the Bengals total of 281 offensive points in 2009, left them at 22nd in the entire league. That comes out to 17 and a half points from the offense per game.

New Orleans and Minnesota, incidentally were one-two.. The Saints offense averaged better than 28 and a half points per game.

But why?

Of the 10-playoff quarterbacks, nine had better passing stats than Carson Palmer. Only the Jets Mark Sanchez was worse. Does this mean that Palmer isn’t the quarterback a lot of us think he is? Or did these teams have better talent around their quarterbacks?

Let’s start with the offense line. The Bengals line allowed 56-hits on Palmer and 29-sacks for a quarterback misery total of 85. The Colts allowed just 13-sacks, 44-hits for a misery total of 57. The Saints allowed just 20 sacks, misery total of 72. The Jets line, considered the best in the business, allowed 30-sacks and 53-hits on Sanchez. The Vikings total was a whopping 117. Favre was sacked 34 times.

But the Colts threw the ball over a hundred times more than the Bengals did this season. Manning, Favre and Brees were all top ten in attempts. Palmer was 19th, making the sacks and hits on him more glaring.

You know what the four teams left standing have that the Bengals don’t? A legitimate tight end. The Vikings Visante Sciancoe had twice as many catches as JP Foschi did this season. The Colts Dallas Clark caught 100-passes. Foschi caught 27. Sciancoe had eleven touhdown catches. The Bengals receiving corp, tight ends and wide receivers and running backs, together caught just 21.

Cowher is right. This is a passing league where you must score points to win. It was great watching Cedric Benson run all over the field this season. It was terrific to see the Bengals defense shutdown some big time play makers. But the name of the game now is throwing the ball and scoring points. And unless the Bengals figure that out between now and next season, my guess is we’ll get to this final four weekend without them…again.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Let me just say this: cardio rehab is a killer (if that oxymoron makes sense). How can a guy who got his heart rate up to 152 as late as December 21st be so winded after hitting 120 for just a few minutes? I actually nodded off for a few minutes tonight during a commercial break in the UC basketball game.

UC beats South Florida...good win. It was one of those games a team has to win if it thinks of itself as an NCAA team. It's also a game UC had to win, considering it had two bad losses already in the Big East (St. John's and Seton Hall). Impressive win, considering Lance Stephenson didn't play and Yancy Gates was in foul trouble from what seemed like the warmups.

Different deal for Xavier tonight. The Muskies had another chance to beat a ranked team and failed to do so. Temple isn't great. It takes no risks defensively and it's offense isn't exactly astounding. But the Owls don't turn the ball over and don't give up a lot of second chance shots. Did it kill Xavier's chances to make the NCAA Tournament if it doesn't win the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament? No. But this is at best a two bid conference. So you can do the math.

Nice benefit coming up Thursday night at Mason High School. The dual wrestling meet with Harrison has been dubbed "Pin Cancer". Mason student, Geoffrey McPherson is battling cancer.
The meet will be free admission. But they're asking you to buy a t-shirt for $7 with proceeds going to "Pin Cancer"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Just latest Broo View Podcast. My guest in this episode is Dan Wetzel of He's got a great idea how to implement a playoff system in Division I college football right now....the the proper guy with enough muscle to make it happen. It's on the front page of my web site, But here's a quick link to it.

Is Born Ready really ready? Tonight at 6p on WLWT, Cincinnati's channel 5, I've got a story on UC freshman, Lance Stephenson, who's progress from McDonald's High School All American to Divsion I college basketball has been slower than some would like.

More reports today that Tiger Woods is in a Mississippi clinic that treats sex addicts. America loves a comeback story. But Tiger is going to have to win a lot of golf tournaments to escape being the punchline that he's quickly become.

If Xavier beats Temple Wedensday night, look for the hype surrounding this team to blossom nationally. Xavier has been quietly piecing together a nice season (do they do it any other way on Victory Parkway) and flying below the proverbial radar. Temple is now the 16th ranked team in the USA. The Musketeers have a rematch with Dayton and a road game at Florida, down the road. But a win at Temple blows the cover off this quiet season Xavier has been enjoying. It could happen. But Dante Jackson has to continue his torrid shooting and Jason Love will have to bring his "A" game to his hometown of Philadelphia.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Marvin Lewis coach of the year in the NFL? I've always been a big fan of Marvin's. But I think he's smart enough to know he got the award this year from the Associated Press football writers in large part for what his team did defensively. And for that, he should thank defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer. Marvin did a nice job holding together the team through the death of Zimmer's wife and Chris Henry. But the performance of the Bengals defense under Zimmer was just terrific.

I've said, the one thing Marvin needs to do is improve his public image. His foundation's work is exemplary. Every football coach should try to emulate what he does. But the personna he puts on display at his weekly news conferences needs a lot of work. Marvin comes off as distrustful of the media. Whether or not he is, isn't the point. The point is, he comes off that way. Bengals fans never hear the questions, whether good or bad. They only hear his answers. And too often, he comes off as curt. Marvin needs to take a page out of the Bill Cowher or Rex Ryan book of how to handle the media. It's about the only thing I can think of that he needs to work on.

I love the fact that the Reds have signed Cuban pitcher Ardolis Chapman. It's a bold move for a team not known for those kind of things. But I think selling the future is a tough sell for the Reds. They really need some sizzle for 2010. Good luck selling tickets with a short stop who hit .211 last season and a left field situation that got worse with the departure of Jonny Gomes. Mix in the loss of pitching ace, Edinson Volquez, for most of the season, and the prospects of a 70 win season don't look so hot. Have you seen the commercial the Reds are running right now? It's not about 'come see our young players take on the the goliath Cardinals". It's not about the youth and enthusiasm of players like Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Drew Stubbs. The Reds first big ad campaign of 2010 is for a ticket package that includes four hat give-aways, hardly the stuff that will energy the casual fan to buy a ticket, let alone your ticket base.

UC did well in beating Notre Dame Saturday. But what the Bearcats desperately need now to feather their nest before Selection Sunday is a win over a nationally ranked team. They'll get plenty of opportunity for that in the Big East. Most of their higher profile games remain. But with the way the Bearcats shoot the ball (not particularly good) and with the way they seem to crumble at crunch time (the win over ND excluded), how can you realistically expect them to beat Syracuse, West Virginia or Villanova, teams they need to beat to climb into the top six in the Big East standings.

Xavier has a different problem. Right now, the Muskies are 4-0 heading into Wednesday night's game at #16 Temple. The Muskies may well win the Atlantic 10 Tournament and gain the conference's automatic bid. But failing that, they'll have to follow up their win over Dayton this past Saturday with another win at UD Arena later this year. Right now Xavier's RPI is strong and its schedule has been deemed 3rd toughest in all of Division I basketball. But the Atlantic 10, past Dayton and Temple, isn't very strong. Xavier will gain nothing from games against Rhode Island, Fordham and St. Bonaventure. If it can't win the A-10 Tournament, I think Xavier will have to all but 'win out' to get one of the two bids the conference will be limited to.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Random thoughts on a random Wednesday.....

More absurdity in college football. How can a school the size of Tennessee get duped into a 'one and done'? Maybe now, the NCAA will be more inclined to look into the silliness of college football coaches contracts.....

Former Bengals wide receiver, Ron Dugans, named today the wide receivers' coach at Louisville. I never remembered him as being a clutch receiver in his time with the Bengals. Maybe it's easier for him to tell others how it's done, rather than actually doing it...

If the Bears hire Bengals quarterbacks coach, Ken Zampese as their offensive coordinator, why didn't the Bengals look at him in that capacity? Bob Bratkowski has to be on 'life support' right now....

I think the Ravens are going to beat the Colts this Saturday night. But I have no data to support my theory.....

The Jets dream ends in San Diego. Same for the Cardinals....but the Cowboys will play on....

Outside of China, is there another country in the world whose athletes are so little known as Cuba's? And because of that, isn't it a little risky that the Reds are forking over $30 million to a Cuban pitcher, Ardolis Chapman, whom scouts have seen pitch just six times....and in simulated situations at that?

Just askin'.....

Conan O'Brien is going to walk on how many millions of dollars? To go where?

Jay Leno is the guy who played it smart. He said nothing when the network suits decided to send him back to 11:35pm. Leno let O'Brien react. Now, if O'Brien leaves, Leno gets the entire hour and the job he never wanted to leave in the first place.

Unless Leno walks.... we lookin' now?

UC desperately needs a win tonight at St. John's (Madison Square Garden, actually). The meat of the UC schedule is still to come. 2-3 heading into a Saturday game against Notre Dame with Louisville, a rematch with UConn and Villanova down the road, not good....

We'll know if Xavier is for real in a week. Tonight, it's a home game with Charlotte, then a home game Saturday against Dayton and a road game at Temple next Wednesday. If the Muskies sweep three, then we'll know they're legit....

When somebody tells me they're 'serious as a heart attack' anymore, I cringe. Is that part of the depression phase my doctor was telling me about?

Tiger Woods now loses his free ride from GM. The auto manufacturer announced today it's not giving Tiger and more free loaners. Has anyone had a worse two months than Woods? He's lost endorsement deals, his wife, now the car. You the the house is next...

Three things the Bengals absolutey have to get before next season: a legit deep threat at wide receiver, an NFL calibre tight end and something that will fix whatever is wrong with Carson Palmer....

The only way the Bengals fix their wide receiver problem is throught he draft. I've been screaming for Mardy Gilyard since October....

I don't see the Bengals trying to get Brandon Marshall away from Denver. I know it's the fodder that makes radio talk shows 'hum', but it will take too much (at least the Bengals first round pick this year and some subsequent later round picks)...

The tight end situation may be fixed with finally getting Chase Coffman on the field. But riddle me this: how is it a third round pick can't make it onto the field for one snap this season? Who does Coffman think he is, Jerome Simpson? Oh that's right, Simpson was a second round selection....

Doesn't say much about the coach charged with getting Coffman NFL ready, Jonathan Hayes.....

Palmer either has something physically, mechanically or mentally wrong. Everyone in Bengal-dom, including Palmer, says it's not a physical problem. But look at the game tapes from the Bengals vs Jets playoff game and you'll see his passes sailing high, wide and low. If it's mechanics, how was that not fixed during the season. And if Palmer is having trouble reading coverages, finding receivers or worrying about some past or present injury (mentally), then we've got real trouble, right here in River City....

Monday, January 04, 2010

Good Tuesday Morning..

I haven't posted in awhile. This may explain why...

Somebody once said that life is something that happens to you, while you’re making other plans. I thought about that line a lot on Christmas Eve this year.

On Christmas Eve, I had a heart attack.

I’m 57 years old. Unlike a lot of people in my line of work, I don’t mind telling my age. What’s the difference? There will always be people younger than me and there are plenty of people who’ve died wishing they would have made it to 57. If you take care of yourself, age is only a number.

And to be perfectly honest, I thought I was taking care of myself. I’m not overweight (180 pounds give a take a few depending on the season). I work out three times a week (cardio as well as weights). I eat well, maybe not as much as I should, but well. I’ve never smoked a day in my life. I don’t drink (maybe a merlot or two on Saturday nights) and I’ve never done drugs.

So you can imagine my amazement at approximately 8:15 Christmas Eve morning, when I awakened to numbness in my arms, unable to catch my breath and sweating profusely. I felt as though the next contestant for The Biggest Loser was sitting on my chest. I had all the signs, but was still in denial. I told my wife to get dressed, we were going to the hospital, but that it wasn’t anything big, no need for a 9-1-1 moment in our driveway.

Interesting side note here: hospital staff say the worst heart attack victims are the ones that don’t arrive by ambulance.

15 seconds on an EKG machine convinced the hospital staff at Anderson Mercy that I was having a heart attack. It wasn’t a Red Foxx special (kids, ask your parents about it). But it was significant. Later, the cardiologist would tell me it would be classified a s a ‘major heart attack’.

I was fortunate. From first chest pain to getting prepped in the “Cath Lab”, it was no more than 30 minutes. Doctors say if you can get to the hospital within 90 minutes of the onset of a heart attack, you should be in good shape. Of course, they’ll add, plenty of people simply keel over or die in their sleep. I was fortunate.

Some other poor guy, who’s name I didn’t’ get but I hope is doing well, rolled into Anderson Mercy about an hour before I did. The staff had to haul in the cardiologist on call, Dr.Craig Sukin, to assist him. The good doctor thought he was done for the day, when they wheeled my sorry butt into the OR. He knew from looking at my EKG what was going on. But there was only one way to make sure. If you get a little queasy about surgery, you may want to skip the next couple of paragraph.

The only want to see what’s really going on inside your heart, is to go inside your heart. And the way to a man’s heart is through his groin. You’re saying Ken, I think I heard this once in an adult film. Well, most likely yes, but let me continue. The major artery from the heart to the groin is the femerul artery, groin right. Slice it open, and stick in tube and up you go. A couple of right turns later, they found the root of my problem: I had blockage in the artery in my heart that feeds the lower right side of it. It was the mother of all blockages: 100%.

I’m not certain if it was at this particular time or not, but at some point, a hospital staffer burst into the operating room and screamed “Do you have insurance?” I assumed she was asking me. Actually, I was hoping she was asking me and not the doctor. If she was asking him, I might have climbed off the table. Nothing like being reminded of what hospitals are really all about while you have a tube stuck into your groin.

I needed stints, three actually, little things that keep your artery open so the blood can flow freely again. And I need drugs, a lot of drugs. Plavix is apparently my new BFF. I found it comforting that, when he was finished with my heart and my groin, the good Doctor Sukin looked down at me as I was lying on the table and said (and this is the actual quote) “You have to take Plavix for the rest of your life. If you miss a day, you’ll die. “ I was ready to take 100 on the spot.

I spent one night in ICU, two others in another room and was back home on December 27th. And that’s how I spent my Christmas. Physically, I feel fine. Mentally, I have to admit, it’s a challenge. I’ve never turned down an assignment, always worked late into the night and tried to be all things to all people. I know I can’t do that anymore, and I probably shouldn’t have been doing it all along. I’ve got to learn how to work smarter. That’ll be tough. But if it keeps me alive, I’m all for it.

So how was your Christmas?