Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Can the Bengals beat the Broncos this Sunday? Why not? Did you see any of that Denver vs Oakland game last night? Kyle Orton looked clueless most of the night and the Oakland running attacked ripped the Denver defense to shreds. One very big concern about playing in Denver (and it has nothing to do with history. History in sports is the most over rated stat, period.) is weather. It will be hot in Denver. September is always one of the warmest months out there. And the air is thin. For players no accustomed to those conditions, it will be a big adjustment....
Cedric Benson had to be drooling on himself watching the Raiders run through the Denver defense. I don't believe that Benson drools, however...
Andrew Whitworth's sore foot is a bigger concern than Andy Dalton's sore arm. Whitworth protects Dalton's blind side. No Big Whit, no good...
Scott Rolen will probably finish the 2011 season on the shelf. Dusty Baker said today it's unlikely that Rolen will play again. He's been out since mid July with shoulder soreness and subsequent surgery. Just as well that Rolen doesn't play. The Reds need to see as much of Juan Francisco and Todd Frazier at third base for the balance of this season to determine their best option for 2012, backing up Rolen. But what makes this situation more infuriating is that the Reds waited until September 1st to call Francisco up from the minors and gave Miguel Cairo far too many starts at third base, while sitting Frazier.
Francisco was hurt at inopportune times in AAA and missed out on earlier call ups. But he certainly was healthy enough to join the team in early August. Cairo is a valued player, a super sub. But EVERYONE knew that LAST season. Why this team was reluctant to bring its young talent up from AAA earlier than it did is a complete mystery. But so was playing Jonny Gomes for two and a half months while Chris Heisey rode the bench. Very, very strange year for your Cincinnati Reds.
UC football coach Butch Jones says his defense will be more mature and more polished vs Akron Saturday. Considering Akron has been outscored 83-3 in two games, it better be......
Ochocinco caught just one passes for 14 yards in a game that Tom Brady threw for over 500 yards? Man should change his name to Ochouno...
Did TJ Houshmanzadeh's skill dimish that much since signing on with Seattle a few years back? Was it the Bengals system that made him the receiver he was? Or was he was simply Palmer's 'go to guy'? Just askin....
NHL camps have opened already? Really? What happened to summer?
What happens first: the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs or the opening night of the next NBA season?
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Thursday, September 08, 2011
And I think they've got a legitimate shot to pull it off. But a lot of things have to go right for the Bengals. It starts by getting off the field on third down, defensively. The Bengals had trouble doing that last season. But in this year's pre-season games, the Bengals did a better job at third down defense. Cleveland will almost certainly try to pound Peyton Hillis. That's their game, or at least it was under Eric Mangini. New head coach, Pat Shurmer may have other ideas. But Hillis has been their horse. Last year, in the game played at Cleveland, Hillis ran for 102 yards on the Bengals defense. Just as important, he helped the Browns control the game clock. When the two teams played again in Cincinnati later in the year, Hillis wasn't so successful.
The Bengals will have to counter with Cedric Benson, for the same reasons as the Browns will try to run. Benson is the security blanket for rookie quarterback, Andy Dalton and new offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden. Benson can help manage the game for both. And, the Bengals offensive line is more adroit at run blocking than pass protection. So a lot of what will go down Sunday in Cleveland will come down to which team has the better defense against the run. That's where I think the Bengals have the edge. They demonstrated in this year's pre-season games they've tightened things up defending the run. If that was any indication of what the regular season may hold, advantage Bengals Sunday, and a real chance at winning their opener.
Here's another reason why the Bengals may have an edge: the Browns are 1-11 in season opening games, since returning to the NFL in 1999.
Other random thoughts on this random night.....
Great, and I mean great opening game for the 2011 NFL season. 76 points total and a game that went right down to the last play. And what a debut for former University of Kentucky star, Randall Cobb. The Packers' second round pick in this past April's draft caught a touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers. And then, Cobb returned a kickoff for a touchdown....108 yards! Kickoff returns may not hold the drama they have in seasons past, due to the new rule placing the ball on the 35 yard line for kicks. But Cobb's return may be an indication that every once in awhile, you get that kind of magic.....
I like the Steelers, Falcons, Bucs and Chiefs Sunday, for what that's worth....
Can UC pull of an upset at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville Saturday afternoon. UC senior running back Isaiah Pead said this week "we're going to shock the world". Tennessee isn't a top tier team in the SEC this season. But road teams not named Boise State traditionally have trouble in SEC stadia, any of them. Like to think it will happen. Tough to think it will....
I don't know about you, but I've had enough of Ramon Hernandez and Edgar Renteria this season. If I'm Dusty Baker, I was through playing each a long time ago. Nothing against either, particularly Hernandez who could, in a certain set of circumstances wind up back here next season. But there is no excuse for not playing the future now. That would be catcher Devin Meseraco, third baseman Juan Francisco, outfielder Yonder Alonso and short stop Chris Valaika. Honestly, no one other than the players involved cares about individual 'goals' like winning a league earned run average or scoring a set number of runs. To give the team it's best shot of contending again in 2012, we need to get beyond those kinds of things.
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Monday, August 29, 2011
The game within the game at Bengals games is back, I'm afraid. Throughout the dark days of the early 2000's, the guessing game in the press box was always, guess the attendance. After looking at the gathering at Paul Brown Stadium last Thursday night for the Bengals first home exhibition game of the year, I think attendance may be a bit better than what a lot of us may think. I don't think we'll see a sell out, besides the annual visit from the heathens from Western Pennsylvania. But I could see a consistent crowd in the neighborhood of 40,000 this year. And for a team that's done its best to run off its fan base, that's saying something for your Cincinnati Bengals.
Which begs for answer to this latest poll question see on this blog: if you go to Bengals games, are you a loyal fan or an enabler?
Here's the big question tonight sports fans: will NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell challenge the players union and attempt to suspended Cedric Benson for taking a plea bargain and jail time. Benson took the deal today, before his trial began in Austin. This was from an incident in 2010, when Benson was involved in a bar fight. Benson's contention then, was that he was jumped by an assailant and was merely defending himself. At the time, he met with Goodell and got off with a warning from the commissioner. But Benson's contention then was that he was the aggreived party. Just a side note here: aggreived parties rarely get jail time. Today, Benson cut a deal with the county prosecutor and took a 20 day jail sentence, which will probably be reduced to a week, meaning Benson could miss zero games. But will Goodell now elect to revisit this situation. And if he does, will the players union challenge him on it, on sort of a double jeopardy argument? Stay tuned.
Yonder Alonso at third base tonight? Why not. The Reds should exhaust every option to find a position for Alonso to play before using him as trade bait. He's that good with a bat. But I still contend, he should be given another chance to play in left field. If he played 70 plus games at "AAA" without an error, he deserves a longer look at the Major League level.
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Tuesday, August 09, 2011
So there you see the poll we're offering up this week: which Bengals quarterback will be the starter come opening game? My money is on Dalton. And its not just because he's the 'future' for the Bengals. If you want to win games, you start a veteran, right? And that would be Bruce Gradkowski. His numbers as a starter wouldn't make anyone take notice, 6-14 in 20 NFL starts. But you want a steady hand to show the young the way, much as Jon Kitna did with Carson Palmer in 2003. Except....
Everything is new this year on that side of the Bengals ball. Jay Gruden is the new offensive coordinator. Do you really think he wants to sacrifice a year, waiting for Dalton to grow up? If it's all new, why not start the future, now? Do you really think Mike Brown is going to sell a lot of tickets (and apparently, there are a lot of tickets to sell) by promoting a team with Bruce Gradkowski as its number one quarterback? The folks will be lined up to buy that. In a perfect world, Dalton isn't the guy you want lining up under center against the Browns on opening day (in Cleveland no less). But the NFL, particularly this year, is far from perfect. And the Bengals, well....you know the rest of that line.
Hey, we're number...what??? Yes, the ESPN power rankings are out for yet another year in the NFL and your Cincinnati Bengals are ranked 32nd out of 32 franchises. But hey, that's up from 122 out of 122 total professional sports franchises, where the world wide leader had your men in stripes ranked just a few weeks ago.
Go Bengals. Who Dey.
Now we know why Mike Brown was so giddy about getting the CBA down with the players union (and why he voted for it this time, unlike 2006). Come to find out, in the small print it says there is NO floor to the salary cap this year and next for individual teams. Which means Brown, and any other owner in the NFL can spend as little as he wants on player salaries until the 2013 season. Factor in last year, which was an uncapped year, and that's millions to the bottom line for Brown. Details, details...
Why is the Yonder Alonso experiment in left field over after just three starts? Can someone help me out, figuring out this situation. First, they draft the guy in 2008 knowing that Joey Votto was going to be the Reds first baseman for the foreseeable future (to say nothing of being under cost control for at least three seasons). You had to figure someone (and yes, Walt Jocketty was in charge when the June draft rolled around that year) had a plan for Alonso just in case Votto would blossom into the players he eventually became. So this year, with Votto under contract for at least the next three, the Reds instructed their Louisville team to play Alonso in left field, a lot. In 70 plus games, he committed no errors in left field. Let me repeat that total: zero. Finally (and again Walt, riddle us this: why did it take sooooo long to bring Alonso to the majors) up comes Yonder and he gets a grand total of three starts in left before manager Dusty Baker declares, Alonso doesn't have the skills to play in left.
To be honest, Alonso did have a few adventures at Wrigley Field last weekend. But he also brought a disciplined plate approach to the Reds and happened to hit the ball very well. As an aside, let's hope Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce were taking notes. And let's also be honest about this: Jonny Gomes, and before him Adam Dunn were in no danger of winning Gold Gloves playing that position in years past.
And isn't this the same group that gave Gomes eight weeks (EIGHT WEEKS) this season to figure out how to hit the ball, the same group who gave us the nightmares known as Corey Patterson and Wily Tavares? And Alonso gets three starts?
So Monday, Baker has Alonso out at third base taking ground balls, in the hope he could play that position at some point. But what's the point? If you want him to eventually become a third baseman (where Alonso allegedly played before arriving at the University of Miami several years ago) why not send him back to AAA and let him play there every day?
By the way, there are only two ways the argument over drafting a player who projected to the majors at one, exclusive position can go. Either the people the Reds had scout Alonso failed to evaluate him as a player who could play at some place other than first base. Or, the organization failed in properly evaluating the long term potential of Joey Votto.
In that 2008 draft when they took Alonso, the Reds passed on, among others, infielder Gordon Beckham, the 2009 Sporting News American League Rookie Of The Year, and pitcher Aaron Crow, now with the Royals. Crow, incidentally was good enough to pitch in this year's All Star Game. Memory refresher: in 2008 the Reds had no short stop (Alex Gonzalez was basically a ghost in his three years here) and not a whole lot of quality pitching.
This whole Alonso incident makes you wonder if anyone who's in the baseball operations department down at Great American Ball Park knows what they're doing. Let's hope it's just another example of Baker and Jocketty not 'being on the same page'. And then, let's further hope that Big Bob Castellini calls both into his office quickly and fixes this.
But hey, what do I know? I'm just some guy on TV.
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Monday, July 18, 2011
I keep hearing the Reds are one of several (as many as 12 has been reported) teams who've kicked the tires on a trade for Rockies 'ace' Ubaldo Jiminez. Admittedly, in the last couple of months, Jiminez has returned to his 2010 form, a year in which he tossed a no hitter and got off to a blazing start. But the asking price for Jiminez will be enormous. One, he's relatively non-expensive through 2013. And two, with so many teams interested in dealing for him, the market will dictate a huge asking price. How huge? Well, I believe it will take one of the Reds young starting pitchers (Mike Leake, Travis Wood or Homer Bailey), as well as a major league ready prospect (either Yonder Alonso or Devin Mesoraco) and one of the Reds low level prospects (Yasmani Grandahl or Billy Hamilton). For a pitcher who hasn't had the track record of say Justin Verlander, that would be a prohibitive price for the Reds to pay.
Like you, I want to see the Reds be proactive and do something, quickly to re-establish themselves are a legitimate contender in this race. It was great that they took two of three from the Cardinals this past weekend. But the true test will be what they do over the course of these next 13 games. If they win two of three in Pittsburgh and follow that up with a 7-3 record in the upcoming home stand, I believe they'll be either in first place or within a game of first. But that's a tall order for a team that hasn't pieced together back to back wins over its last 24 games.
Interesting week for your Cincinnati Bengals, wasn't it? Three arrests. They now lead the league in something. Since 2000, the Bengals have had 35 player arrests. Some of course, have been multiple offenders. But in those eleven years, the Bengals have managed to win just 72 games. When your arrest total is almost half of your total victories, that's not good. My guess is Cedric Benson, barring any lock up time for his latest transgression, will be back. And this team needs cornerbacks, so my guess is Adam "Pacman" Jones will be back. Marvin White was a long shot to return. My best guess is that Benson's problem will be settled out of court. Jones plead guilty today to the disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace charges against him. That will go to trial.
And I'd like to get excited about the end of billionaires fighting with millionaires. But I'll hold off until the owners and players have agreed, in writing, to a new collective bargaining agreement. My guess is, that will be sometime late this week. Why the urgency on both sides? Remember, as we like to say, the answer to all of your questions in life is money. With the players sharing now in total revenues, it's in their best interest to settle sooner rather than later. In the past, the owners have taken a sizable chunk of revenue off the top for expenses. No more. Now the players will get a piece of the total league revenues. That would include revenue (ticket sales, TV rights, etc) of pre-season games. Most estimates had the league losing up to a billion dollars if the entire exhibition schedule was wiped out by a lockout. Losing a piece of that was simply too much of a pill for the players to swallow. Apparently principle does have a price.
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Tough to believe, isn't it? Last year, so much promise, so much fun. This year? Not so much. You'll get a lot of answers to the question, 'where did it go wrong'. But I think this season was lost in the winter. Other teams in the Reds division decided to go shopping. The Reds sat that out. Other teams in their division made strategic changes (Cardinals with Berkman, Brewers with Marcum and Greinke and now Rodriguez). The Reds reinvested in their own talent, doing contract extensions with Joey Votto and Jay Bruce.
You can look this up: rare is the team that repeats as division champ that does NOT do some retooling in the off season.
The Reds front office, including last years MLB Executive Of The Year Walt Jocketty, simply over-valued too many of their players and thought they made even exchanges for the players they lost. Fred Lewis for Laynce Nix? Not even close. Edgar Renteria for Orlando Cabrera? Cabrera isn't tearing it up in Cleveland. But they signed him for $1 mil and Renteria is costing the Reds $2.1 million, minimum this season. He has incentives that kick in with added playing time. Cabrera, though, was a great team leader and it's no small reason why every team he plays for contends. Aroldis Chapman for Arthur Rhodes? Not even close. Chapman has been better lately. But for the first two months of this season, he was a 100 mph disaster.
If I sign the checks at Great American Ball Park, I'm calling both Jocketty and Dusty Baker into my office and asking them why they do what they do. The General Manager didn't make a meaningful change until late last week, when he finally relented and called up AAA shortstop Zach Cozart, who should have been up here early in June. The manager insists on playing veteran players who under perform, at the expense of younger players who show promise.
What kind of message does that send to Reds fans? This one: mediocrity is acceptable. And the same message is delivered to the players in the Reds clubhouse. It's naive, to say nothing of bad business, to think that one season in the last 15 has built up enough equity to carry this team through a season like this. It's 2001, 02, 03 or any other year since 1995 all over again.
There's a line that separates patience from stubbornness. Four games out of first, two games under five hundred and showing absolutely nothing since opening week that would lead you to believe this team is capable of a prolonged winning streak, the Reds have crossed the line.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011
I thought long and hard about this. Not so much how to make the Bengals more fan friendly, get them out of that 122 spot. I thought long and hard about even blogging about it.
We all know, this is a bigger exercise in futility, talking about how to make the Bengals better, than what free agents they should pursue or why they should bring their personnel department into 20th century standards. Forget that it’s the 21st century.
There’s only one voice that matters in all of this. And he isn’t speaking. Unless of course you consider the carefully crafted response to the ESPN rankings that are now on the Bengals official, in house web site. Give Mike Brown credit for that. In the past, he wouldn’t have acknowledged any public condemnation of his team.
But I’m wondering today what you would do, if you were the target of something like the ESPN rankings and your team, your franchise was rated dead last among every professional sports organization.
The easy answer is win more ball games. Too easy. Of course the Bengals should have won more ballgames in the last 20 years. This topic, their bad ranking would’ve never been issue if we hadn’t had the lost generation.
I got a list of what I believe to be realistic ways (at limited cost) to drag the Bengals out of ESPN's basement.
Number one: embrace your past. No matter how much a team has underachieved, there is always something, some place in time, where you can conjure up nostalgia. Nostalgia sells. Look at the number of radio stations that play retro music. Nobody with any buying power listens to what’s passing for music now. Maybe in 20 years the people who listen to every song that now sounds like the next one will be able to buy things. They can’t now. Tap into your past. Have an alumni weekend. Bring back the 1981 team for a weekend, throw a dinner for them, open it up to the fans.
Guess what? You’ll have to spend some money. Guess what, your franchise has just been valued at 945 million dollars, or roughly $937 million more than Paul Brown and and his investors had to pay for the franchise back in 1967.
Number two: retire jerseys. There is no way any Bengals player should ever wear numbers 14 or 78. Plain, simple end of story. The worst thing, the absolute worst thing that team has done in years….and this is saying something….is to let Andy Dalton hold up number 14 at his introductory news conference. Shame on the Bengals for that. I don’t care what number Dalton wore in college. You don’t get that one here. It should have been retired long ago. And the number 78? That’s about as sacred as it gets. You whip out 14 for a kid to wear who hasn’t even played a down for your team, you better believe somewhere in the bowels of Paul Brown Stadium someone is sprucing up a 78 for another kid to wear.
138 player numbers have been retired by NFL teams. The Bengals have retired exactly, one. The Giants have retired eleven, the Chiefs ten. The Bengals? One. Number 54 Bob Johnson, the original Bengal, nice guy, worked some games with him years ago. Doesn’t deserve to be the only member in this club. Retire jersey numbers 14 and 78, have a big ceremony at the center of the field. Ken Anderson doesn’t coach anymore. He’s available. Anthony Munoz is simply Cincinnati sports royalty.
Guess what? You’ll have to spend some money.
Next thing I’d do. I’d turn that stadium, that has all the charm of a parking lot into something that screams Bengals. Is there anything in that stadium that screams Bengals? The stripes on the walls? The 1968 logo of a screaming Bengal at the 50 yard line. Really?
How about a Ring of Honor. Now that’s a novel concept. The Dallas Cowboys have only been doing that for the last 40 years. You don’t want to retire a bunch of jerseys. OK, how about on the wall that separates the middle and top tiers of that stadium, how about a ring of honor? Numbers and players names who’ve been standouts for this team, back when it won games and championships. Remember, nostalgia sells.
You could recite the names and numbers in your sleep. 14 Anderson, 80 Collinsworth 30 or 31 whatever Ickey wants, 22 Thomas, 13 Riley, 7 Boomer. You mean to tell me that you can’t come up with two or three numbers every year? You don’t think that would be a great halftime show? I’ll be even those marching bands you get to perform for free wouldn’t mind skipping a rendition of “Feelings” for that.
Guess what? You’ll have to spend some money
Here’s another idea that might drag you up to 85 on the list: how about embracing the art of tailgating? Rather than just selling parking spaces, how about turning those parking lots into pre game playgrounds. Games, things to do, with a little charcoal and lighter fluid along the way. Gotta work with the county on that? I think they have phones. Call ‘em.
Guess what? You’ll have to spend some money.
Autograph sessions. Now there’s a novel idea. How about, rather than having your players sign autographs in your team gift shop, where I’m sure the real idea is for fans to buy your team gear….how about a team autograph session at Fountain Square, high noon on a Tuesday. For free. It’s the players off day. You don’t think that’d spread a little good will? Sure you do that, for a few minutes after practices, at Georgetown. Why make your fans drive all the way to Georgetown to meet your players?
And speaking of Georgetown, no disrespect intended to that town or the Commonwealth of Kentucky, but isn’t your team based in Ohio? Aren’t the tax payers of Hamilton County funding that stadium for the next 30 years with a sales tax? So if you’re letting your players mingle with fans in Georgetown, en mass, why not Fountain Square, or the plaza level of your stadium or anywhere in Hamilton County? You pick the spot.
Guess what? You’ll have to spend some money.
When Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis had their painful to watch news conference in January, they created more bad than good. All they had to say was this: we know we’ve let you down a lot in the last 20 years. We know we’re not doing right by you, our fans, who’ve stuck with us through losing seasons, off field embarrassments and poor personnel decisions. But it’s our solemn vow that we will change and we will change starting now. Better players, bigger personnel department, more fan friendly. It wouldn’t have taken 20 seconds to say that and we would have lapped it up like lemmings.
Instead, we got their version of a root canal.
This week, after the ESPN rankings, the Bengals had another chance. And while we got some of what we should have gotten in January, it wasn’t enough.
Now, in this off season of our discontent, with labor war in the NFL, with a franchise quarterback who’d rather pick sand from in between his toes than stand in between his center’s legs, we get a rookie quarterback holding up a number 14 jersey.
You want to be something other than the lowest rated franchise in all of professional sports? Start thinking like your fans think. They give you their money, in ticket sales, at your team gift shop, parking, concessions, traveling to your games.
Guess what? They know it costs them money to be your fan. How about spending some of it on them?
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Thursday, May 19, 2011
And the lesson here is pretty simple: it's great to get worked up into a lather over sweeping the Cardinals. But every one of these games counts the same. Maybe it was a let down. Maybe it was Pirates Pitching that seems to have the Reds number this season.
But at the end of any season, they don't ask you who you beat. They only ask you how many you've got. At least that's how the Reds won their division last year.
And as we wait for the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on the legality of the NFL lockout, one word of caution to the NFL owners: you've won the latest round. Don't overplay your hand.
Even in the conservative 8th court, there are no guarantees you'll win the next round. And rather than wait on that, work even harder now to get a settlement. Don't just say you want to do it. Do it.
What good is winning the war, when you lose the peace?
Finally, a word about the whining that continues to come out of St. Louis. Give Tony La Russa credit: he said he doesn't believe Francisco Cordero was throwing at Albert Puljos Sunday. Of course he wasn't. Not with the tying and winning runs in play because Prince Albert got plunked.
But somebody should tell that to his leiutenant, interim manager Joe Pettini, who said it's always something when the Cardinals come to Cincinnati. Really? Like that deception a couple of weeks ago in St. Louis on a rain delay was the way to handle things fairly? Really?
Chris Carpenter didn't like the fact that fireworks smoke, after he allowed a home run, delayed the game. The way he was pitching, he should have welcomed the delay. Carpenter should be more upset with the way his right fielder, Lance Berkman played. The man behaved like it was his first day out of short pant.
The arrogance of the Cardinals franchise is forever astounding. They're good, just ask them and theyll tell you. The Cardinals win with style. They should learn to lose with grace.
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Monday, May 09, 2011
Nick Masset? I'm sure the Reds have considered him a candidate in the past two off seasons. But Masset is a notoriously slow starter and using him in that role beginning Opening Day would have been a disaster.
Aroldis Chapman? Control has always been a huge issue with him. And he is still trying to figure out how to keep runners on base from stealing. Saturday, with two out and runners on second and third, Dusty Baker left Cordero on the mound and did not bring Chapman in for one very big reason: Chapman could have brought the winning run home with a wild pitch. Turns out, the Reds lost anyway. But to think that Baker doesn't consider the pitfalls of using other relievers in a closing situation is simple wrong.
Cordero must be included in the conversation, if that conversation is about the top ten closers in baseball. Look at the numbers. Yes, he's good for eight or nine blown saves a year. Virtually everyone who has that job in baseball will finish the year with the same number. The greatest closer in the history of baseball, the Yankees Mariano Rivera, has blown 68 saves in his 17 year career. If the greatest closer in the history of baseball blows an average of four save opportunities a year, blowing eight a year really isn't all that bad.
The larger issue with the Reds continues to be hitting with runners in scoring position. They had a grand total of nine runs in the three game series against the Cubs and, as a team, hit less than .200 in that three game series.
The glaring problem with the Reds right now isn't their closer. It's the missing bat of Scott Rolen. Until he returns, this team will struggle for runs. The more you have in the 9th inning of a game, the easier it is on your closer. Plain, simple, end of story.
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Monday, May 02, 2011
The batters with the two most chances to drive in runs this eason are Jonny Gomes and Jay Bruce. And each is struggling, mightily.
Gomes had an RBI this weekend. But he's hitting just .200 with runners in scoring position. Bruce is hitting just .167. And what makes this one of the strange anomalies that baseball offers, is that the Reds, as a team, are 4th best in the National League in driving in baserunners in scoring position.
The problem for the Reds gets compounded, when you notice that the two batters who've had the most chances to drive in runners in scoring position are.....you got it, Bruce and Gomes. Joey Votto is hitting .363 with RISP, but he's had fewer chances than either Gomes or Bruce.
The law of baseball averages dictates that the game will eventually come back to Gomes and Bruce and each will find that key hits that aren't happening now, will eventually.
But right now, it's killing this team.
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Thursday, April 28, 2011
This is a good pick.
But now, the Bengals have to find somone to throw him the ball. Even if they wind up with TCU quarterback, Andy Dalton, sometime later in this draft, they'll also need to get a quarterback who can play right now, get the ball right now to Green and the other receivers on this team. The Bengals need a veteran quarterback. It looks like the Arizona Cardinals have some sort of agreement already in place with Mark Bulger. That would leave the Bengals looking at quarterbacks like Donovan McNabb or Vince Young. Young would be an interesting signing, as he wasted numerous chances with the Titans and would wind up in the land of football redemption, Cincinnati. McNabb went from a bad personal situation (playing behind Michael Vick was the way the story was playing out in Philly) to just a bad situation in Washington. He may be a short term answer, until Dalton or whichever quarterback the Bengals wind up with is ready for the NFL
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011
He did it again today.
In the 4th inning at Milwaukee, pitcher Sam Lecure led off with a double to center. Stubbs was the next batter up in a 4-2 ballgame with the Reds in the lead. Stubbs proceeded to strike out on three pitches. He strikes out a lot. But the infuriating thing about this strike out was that Stubbs was caught looking by Milwaukee pitcher Yovani Gallardo. He didn't even offer at the third pitch. To me, that's the most inexcusable out a player can make with a runner in scoring position. You at least have to make an attempt to put the ball in play. Stubbs slinked back to the dugout with Lecure still on second. He got no farther than 3rd base.
Yet, the other Drew Stubbs is the guy who can track down fly balls in center field that not many other players can. The other Drew Stubbs arrived in the 10th inning of a tie game and delivered a solo home run, the difference in a 7-6 Reds win. It was the difference in going 3-3 on this road trip or 2-4.
Yes, I'd like to see Stubbs bunt more. Why that hasn't been a priority with Dusty Baker and his hitting coach, Brook Jacoby is beyond me. As a wise mind like Reds TV broadcast, Chris Welsh said several times last season, if Stubbs would turn 15 of his strike outs into bunt base hits, he'd be a .280 hitter with killer power numbers. But he's also young (and more important to the Reds front office salary cheap). Stubbs upside is enormous, even if his current stock seems stagnant.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011
And that more than anything is a major problem with this team. Jonny Gomes (who sat the game out Tuesday night) along with Jay Bruce have had the most chances of all Reds batters to drive in runs this season. Both have been less than stellar doing that. In fact, Gomes was hitting .167 with runners in scoring position coming into this series at Milwaukee. Bruce, not much better at .211.
Clearly the Reds miss Scott Rolen's veteran bat. But even Rolen look slow with his swing before heading to the disabled list this past weekend.
There is no help, down on the farm. Most of the players the Reds have at AAA Louisville aren't hitting. So what they have here at the major league level must find a way to battle out of what's becoming a team wide slump. It's early in the season. But unless the Reds find a way to catch fire, it may be later than we all think.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Chris Mack said ‘no’ this week. It was the right answer. You know Mack, young, local guy makes good head coach at Xavier. Maybe not the greatest player in his high school and college days, but played the game hard. A much better coach than he ever was a player.
Mack has it good right now. A traditionally strong program, great arena to play in and a big time recruiting class just about every year. There’s nothing that Butler is doing right now that Xavier can’t do. Similar stories, in a lot of ways.
Mack watched Skip Prosser take Xavier basketball to a whole new level. He followed Prosser to Wake Forest and got all the clippings, saw all the highlights about ‘X’ was doing under Thad Matta and Sean Miller. Came home to help Miller as an assistant.
Every one of those coaches, Miller, Matta, Prosser all left Xavier for better money in bigger conferences. He probably heard Prosser lament, once or twice, about leaving Xavier, a good deal with a nurturing community. He watched Miller leave for a school that never misses an NCAA Tournament. He knew all about Matta going to Columbus and the opportunity to excel at a school where basketball was an after thought to spring football.
He’s smart, Chris Mack. You don’t have to around him for five minutes to get that. He knew this week that Ohio State, Wake Forest and Arizona were all better situations than the one that was wide open to him at Tennessee.
Tennessee is a cess pool right now. Toxic by collegiate sports standards. Bruce Pearl thought so highly of his boss that, at the first sign of trouble, he lied to the man. The man Pearl lied to about the recruiting violations that ultimately got him fired, is the same man who’s responsible for the Lane Kiffin fiasco. It’s better than even money that the Tennessee athletic director, Mike Hamilton, is gone before the next basketball game. So why listen for a moment to any offer he, or his school had on the table.
Eight years, $16 million dollars, according to CBS Sports. That was the offer that Tennessee was dangling in front of Mack. Heady stuff for a guy who’s been a head coach just two seasons. Big time money, the kind that would take care of his family for life, even if he never earned another dollar after that deal.
Mack had the brains to say no. Or knowing Mack, the brains and the politeness to say “no thank you”
We’re all tempted by the greener grass on the other side of the fence. Sometimes, we jump over the fence to get to it. I did. Maybe you’ve done it once or twice yourself. I know when I got there, the grass I left behind looked pretty good. Maybe Mack had that figured out all along.
I asked a coach once, not long ago, when none of them seem to honor contracts anymore. Why a guy signs a five year deal at one school, and two years into it is moving on to someplace else. I told him it seemed sleazy to me. His answer startled me a little bit. He said coaches do that, because school presidents and athletic directors have no commitment to a coach beyond the piece of paper that both parties sign. One or two bad seasons, and all of a sudden the school starts looking for a new coach, because the boosters, the money guys who keep an athletic department afloat get antsy. If the school will do it, the coach reasoned, than he had to play the same game too.
Maybe that’s why Matta, Prosser and Miller took off. Probably not, Xavier doesn’t strike me as that kind of place. Maybe they didn’t think they could ever get to a final four with Xavier, let alone win a national title. Matta and Miller are still searching for that. Prosser, of course, is no longer with us.
Maybe Mack sees something at Xavier that they didn’t. Maybe that’s why he said ‘no’ this week. Other schools will come after him, maybe not this year, but soon. The right offer may bring a different answer next time.
But this time, Mack gave the right answer. This time, it wasn’t about the money. It was about the ‘fit’. If you’re a Xavier fan, your coach just turned down more money than you’d make in ten lifetimes. You oughta feel good about that.
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Thursday, March 24, 2011
Scott Rolen made back to back errors in this exhibition game today vs the Rangers? Will never happen in 162 games this coming season...
Now Jonny Gomes.....
Actually, look it up. Gomes only committed four errors last season. As a team, the Reds only committed 72. Brandon Phillips won a Gold Glove, largely because he booted the ball only three times in 702 chances.
For the record, Rolen had eight E's in 2010.
Decent outing for Bronson Arroyo today, which is good considering he's been sick for about two weeks. Today in a minor league game vs the Dodgers, Arroyo went 5.2, allowed 6 hits and three runs. He whiffed six and walked only one. I believe Arroyo has walked just two batters all spring.
I also believe aliens are programming several of my DirecTv channels. But that's a story for another day....
NFL owners are now saying that Mike Brown was a visionary back in 2006, when only he and Bills owner, Ralph Wilson voted against the CBA that just ended. The Giants John Mara said "We should have listened to him", back in 2006. Jim Irsay chirps in as well, in an article written by Geoff Hobson on the Bengals official web site.
Brown is one of the smartest people I've met on this earth. But he places no value on what his image is. Or offensive linemen, again a story for another day.....
I still think the NFL labor situation spills into the season. Both sides have to hurt for this to be settled. And the only way hurt enters into the equation is for players to miss game checks and owners to miss revenue stream. We're a long way from that. I'm sure the judge in Minnesota who'll hear the suit filed by several players to end the lockout will rule shortly after the April 6th hearing. And I'm equally sure the NFL or the players will appeal whatever decision she makes. But I laugh when I hear that one side or the other will 'cave' after a non-favorable ruling. The owners have a 'war chest' to operate from. The players are out nothing until September. Why would they want to settle now? To get ready for mini-camps? Really?....
Elizabeth Taylor's best movie was Who's Afraid Of Virginia Wolfe. But I'll watch Butterfield 8 anytime, anywhere. Who's left from the Golden Age of Hollywood? Can't think of any....
Zsa Zsa Gabor was rushed to the hospital upon hearing the news of Taylor's death. Her publicist says Zsa Zsa's blood pressure went sky high. She feared she'd be the next to go. True story.....
Eva Gabor, totally unappreciated, particularly in her finest role as Lisa Douglas on "Green Acres"....
Is Merv Griffin still with us?.....
Does any college basketball coach tell the truth when he talks about an opponent before an NCAA Tournament game? Today, John Calipari was gushing over the Ohio State Buckeyes, making it sound as though if he team beats OSU Friday night, it'd be the biggest upset since the election of '48. Just once, I'd love to hear a coach say "Well, they're lucky to be here. We're so much better than this team, I hope we don't die of boredom before the final horn". I'd be the mother of all sound bites...
Of course, the coach who says that gets villified, then fired, win or lose...
And OSU is 5-0 all time against Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament.
It's gotta be me, but all of the network TV shows I like have been or are about to be canned. Loved "Flash Forward" last year in ABC. Gone. They even left a cliff hanger for a season that would never be. This year, it's "The Event" (on life support) and Detroit 1-8-7 (Lt. Louis Fitch, my kinda cop) who both figured to get whacked. I would rather watch a yak fall asleep than watch Kirstie Alley prance around a stage. But 50 million people can't be wrong, right?
See you tonight at 6p & 11p on WLWT, News 5 in Cincinnati.
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Tuesday, March 01, 2011
So today's news is that the Bengals will now entertain offers for Carson Palmer (after a new collective bargaining agreement is reached between the NFL owners and the players union. That should be the spring of 2013, right?).
Palmer is done with us. I'm done with him.
I’ve thought a lot about this lately: Palmer wants exactly what we’ve been doing lately.
He wants a public debate of his trade request, his alleged threat of retirement. He wants it, without being directly involved in it. In short, Palmer wants the publicity, but doesn’t want to work for it. And for the last six weeks or so, we’ve been playing into his hands. You, me and everyone else who’s been debating this issue.
If he’s dumb enough to turn his back on 50-million dollars, if he’s that non competitive that he doesn’t want to play anymore, that’s his life, let him live it. If Mike Brown doesn’t get that he should he solicitous of the most identifiable player on his team, rather than engaging him in some sort of wild west, dirt street stare down, then have at it.
Me, I’m done with it. Bored. They were 4-12 with Carson Palmer last season. They can easily be 4-12 this season without him. Call me when you’ve got your act together.
I’m moving onto the Reds.
Speaking of the Reds, how is it that Edinson Volquez can get into this country with a visa that’s only good for sight seeing, rather than one that helps his team win another division title. Have you heard about this? He was supposed to be the starting pitcher in Sunday’s exhibition opener against the Cleveland Indians. But late last week, the Reds discovered because he’s in the country with a visa that’s good only for a tourist, rather than a wage earner, he can’t pitch. Not in front of a paying crowd. And worse, he now has to go back to the Dominican Republic to apply for a visa that will let him work for the Cincinnati Reds.
Now how did that happen?
Two words: substance abuse. Volquez was suspended for 50 games last season when it was discovered that he was using a substance banned by major league baseball. It was a fertility drug. He says he was taking it, so he and his wife could produce a little Edinson. But Major League Baseball says that drug is really used as a mask, to avoid detection for steroid use.
Because of that, Volquez could only get a visa for sight seeing in our country, not working. Now, it could be a while before he gets the visa he needs to strike opposing batters out, or walk them, depending on how things go.
Do you mean to tell me one of the smart guys in that Reds front office, Walt Jocketty, one of his minions or even Big Bob couldn’t figure this out before now? You actually go ahead and announce Volquez as, not only your exhibition season opening pitcher but your pitching on Opening Day and you don’t know you have this problem? Really?
Here’s a bat signal out to Jean Schmidt, Steve Chabot and Rob Portman: while you’re busy solving the debt crisis that’s consuming all of us, can you pick up the phone and grease the skids so the Reds can get their ‘ace’ back in the country for Opening Day? Somebody in some government office surely could use a couple of diamond club seats for the opener on March 31st.
It’s called taking one for the team.
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Sometimes you read things beyond belief. I had one of those moments Saturday and maybe you did too, if you read the comments of one Terrell Owens, otherwise known as TO, otherwise known at “Batman”. Otherwise known as reason for therapy for people like Wade Phillips, Tony Romo, Donovan McNabb, Andy Reid and Jeff Garcia, just to name a few.
Speaking on the NFL Network, TO spotted some daylight under the Greyhound. So he sprang into action as only a Batman can.
He said…quote….I think if you look at the talent we had in that locker room this year and we mustered four wins, that should let you know something is not right,” Owens said. “Throughout the year, I saw some things that really wasn’t right.
Well, OK, so far so good. No problems yet. The Bengals were classic under achievers and “Batman” was certainly a part of that. But TO was only warming up.
Obviously if you have your franchise quarterback who is supposed to be that guy for your team (and) trying to get out of there, that’s kind of telling the organization something, and that’s telling a lot of people out there something as well.
OK. But the problem begins with his TO-ness trying to bring it home.
Another quote: I’ve made a comment about if you’re trying to win some championships, it starts from the top down…..I think even before I got there, they said the owner was a little different. Obviously, I saw that. You start with the head coach, and then you start with the staff on both sides of the ball. … Offensively, we really didn’t have the coaching that we really needed to muster what we had on the offensive side of the ball.”
All that, before lunch. You’ll notice, TO didn’t mention whatever it was that he did or didn’t do, like cutting off routes early, not fighting for the ball to prevent interceptions and leaving the field early to get some sort of fluid injected into him. You notice, he didn’t mention his running buddy in any of his comments. That’d be “Robin”, who chose to dance with the stars all last spring while the rest of his teammates were actually trying to get a head start on the 2010 season.
Mike Brown is as culpable as anyone for the disaster that is the Bengals. Marvin Lewis is a co-conspirator. You got the titles, you take the heat. But in one brief interview, we got a glimpse of why TO has bounced around the NFL like a flu bug; and a glimpse of why the Bengals way of doing business breeds this kind of stuff.
He arrived here only because what passes for a front office and a now dismissed medical team signed off on a one legged Antonio Bryant. Owens arrived here because a quarterback, who now wants out, became the primary Bengal official scouting the artist soon to be known as “Batman”.
What Owens said Saturday on the NFL Network was an insult to Brown, Lewis, you and me. We should be insulted, but not surprised. They snickered in Philly and Dallas when TO landed here. Now we know why. I guess, now it’s our turn.
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Monday, February 07, 2011
I hope by now we’re by the ‘who’s he’, and ‘why now’ and how come not John parts of the Jay Gruden hire. Honestly, I think this is a smart move the Bengals pulled off this week.
Look, I know, you and I lived through the “Dave, not Don Shula” era. If you’re a Reds fans with a long memory, you’ll remember, we once had a Guerrero playing here, Wilton, not his brother Vladimir. But in Jay Gruden, the Bengals have at the very least gone outside the family tree, starved for sap as that is right now.
Jay Gruden’s dad was a very good coach, a position coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, surviving the acerbic wit of John McKay for a lot of years, as well as enduring a lot of losing seasons. We know what Jon Gruden has done. And if any of what his father and brother have accomplished has managed to rub off on Jay Gruden, offensively the Bengals are in a lot better shape today than they were a week ago.
Jay Gruden said this week that he wants to pound the ball between the tackles. Good, it’s what they should have been doing all of last season. If talk is cheap, it may get Cedric Benson back here for a lot less money than what the Bengals might’ve had to have spent if they maintained the status quo.
He says the Bengals won’t throw the ball down field 60-times a game. That’s also good news. Look up any box score from the last ten years in the NFL. If you see 40-or more passing attempts next to a quarterback’s name, you’ll probably see an ‘L” next to how his team did that day.
Gruden says he’s going to tone down the no huddle and the shotgun formation. Good and good. This isn’t 2005 and that entire offensive line, except for Bobbie Williams doesn’t live here anymore.
This sounds like a breath of fresh air, which is something the mildew-infested Bengals need. But Jay Gruden is no savior. And that isn’t a white horse he’s riding into town on tomorrow.
The bad news here, is that Gruden inherits an entire set of assistant coaches. This, of course, is called ‘business as usual’ in Bengal-dom. At Paul Brown Stadium they treat assistant coaches like family jewels. Here’s a lovely piece from the Wyche Dynasty I’m sure you’ll love wearing. It’s not that these guys are bad coaches, or bad guys. It’s just that they’ve been around awhile. They’re not ‘dead wood’. But they haven’t exactly floated the good ship Bengals like the Queen Mary either. Gruden will have to work around that.
And one other thing we got to get straight here now that he’s gone: Bob Bratkowski wasn’t the boogey man. He was just a good coach whose offense had grown stale. The Bengals lost their way last season. And Bratkowski had a huge hand in it. But his wasn’t the final word on any game preparation, on any game day or any play call.
But if you’re long for change, change that matters, hiring Jay Gruden is at least a start. There a lot more that needs to be done. And if all the change the Bengals make between now and their next game is bouncing Brat and hiring Chuckie Junior, there won’t be a lot more than four wins again next season.
This is a team that needs serious upgrades at left guard and right tackle. It needs to find a running back. It needs more and better playmakers on defense. Bengal fan, stop lying to yourself and look into the mirror. There is not a player on that Bengals roster that is a difference maker the likes of James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, Tramon Williams or Clay Matthews. Carson Palmer can be a good quarterback again. But he has a long way to go before he’ll be mentioned in the same sentence as Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger.
The NFL is the easiest of the four major professional sports leagues to engineer a turnaround. It can be done overnight. In Peyton Manning’s rookie season, the Colts were 3-13. The following year, the Colts finished 13-3. The 2000 Patriots were 5-11. In 2001, they went 2001 and won the Super Bowl. It can happen, even here. It will take more than Jay Gruden arrival and Bob Bratkowski’s departure. It will take a lot more to get Palmer back here, and more than that for Mike Brown to convince his skeptical and tortured fan base he really means business this time.
But it’s a start. Help us Obi Jay Gruden. You’re our only hope.
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Thursday, February 03, 2011
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Just posted ot my web site kenbroo.com is my latest Broo View Podcast. Today's topic, the 13 Golden Rules of Tweeting. My guest expert on the subject is CNBC's sports guru, Darren Rovell. Here's a direct link to the audio. And you can always subscribe free to my Broo View Daily Podcast through Itunes.
Monday, January 31, 2011
A couple of things caught my attention about your Cincinnati Reds this week. And maybe they caught yours too.
They spent all this money on Aroldis Chapman, right? What was it, 30-million dollars, total? The guy throws in excess of 100-miles an hour, consistently. And though he had trouble holding base runners on during his stint in the majors last summer and even though he was a bit wild at times, 100-mph is equaled by few in big league baseball. I envisioned as a top of the rotation guy some day. I thought, this is a guy who could make up with the other guy’s ace, an invaluable piece, particularly when the Reds would arrive at playoff time. Think mature Chapman up against Roy Halladay. That kind of deal.
Turns out, my vision is through a jaundiced eye.
The second suit in command at Great American Ball Park is Bill Bavasi. He’s Walt Jocketty’s right hand man. This week, Bavasi was on the proverbial rubber chicken circuit, speaking at a gathering near Dayton when the subject of Chapman was raised. Here’s what he said….quote…
“A decision has not been made, but I think it is going to be impossible to get him out of the bullpen. You build your pitching staff from the back to the front - if we can shut you down in the eighth and ninth innings, you aren’t going to beat us.
Now I know the numbers game and I know the Reds have six guys right now for five rotation spots. But really? Bavasi made a good point: Chapman as a starter isn’t going to throw in excess of 105 an hour. But what about 98 miles and hour, with a slider that tops out around 93? Who else has that kind of stuff wearing Cincinnati Red?
I get the bullpen importance. It’s clear, they’re thinking ahead of the curve. Francisco Cordero could be gone as soon as mid season and if Chapman is the closer, it makes sense. But to use the kind of ‘stuff’ that Chapman has in a set up or mid relief role, to me, is a waste of his talents and Bob Castellini’s money.
The other thing the Reds did this week was commit a lot of money to pitcher Johnny Cueto. I believe the figure is four years, $27 million. That’s big dough to a little pitcher.
How about this stat that was sent to me by one of our faithful listeners. Since the end of World War II, 1945, only 32 right-handed pitchers under six feet tall have managed to deliver 100 or more starts in their careers. 519 right-handed pitchers over six feet tall have made 100 or more starts. Just 32 of them under six feet. For the record, Cueto stands 5-10 and has made 92 starts.
The all time leader in starts for right-handed pitchers under six feet is Camilo Pascual, who left Cuba and had 404 starts in the majors, one for the Reds when he pitched here briefly in 1969. Pedro Martinez is second on the list with 380 starts.
The point being, under sized right handed pitchers don’t last particularly long in Major League Baseball. Cueto is just eight starts away from reaching the 100 mark. But 15 of the ‘under six foot right handed starters’ never made it to 200 starts. That just a little under half of them.
So is it risky money they Reds have committed to Cueto? If he turns out to be Camilo Pascual or Pedro Martinez, obviously no. But it certainly bears watching, particularly on the back end of that four year days, when Cueto is due to make $10 million in 2014.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
You reap what you sow in life. And now we see more of what Mike Brown has planted. It's so bad in Bengal-dom, Carson Palmer is apparently willing to leave $50 million dollars on the table rather than continue to be the Bengals starting quarterback.
He's a modern day Elvis Grbac.
In case you missed it, ESPN's football smart guy, Chris Mortenson reported Sunday that Palmer has requested that the Bengals trade him. And if they don't, Palmer is reportedly willing to call it a career. The last Bengal to try this was Ochocinco, a couple of years back. That worked out so well, he all but crawled back to the Bengals, kissing Brown's ring upon arrival.
Palmer is a different story. He's the franchise quarterback, under achieving certainly in recent years. But he is the epitome of a good soldier. He always says the right things in public, stoic on the field and never in headlines outside of the sportscasts.
There's a temptation to say, if (and if is a very big operative word in this case) this is true, Palmer is quitting on his team mates. He's quitting on Bobbie Williams and Andrew Whitworth and the rest of the offense charged with protecting his butt and helping score touchdowns. But can you blame him?
None of this was in the brochure, when the Bengals drafted him with the number one overall pick in 2003. There was nothing in the brochure about dealing with diva wide receivers, idiot team mates who got arrested with regularity in 2006-2007. There was nothing in the brochure about an owner who stubbornly refuses to operate his team like a 20th century business. You couldn't expect in your wildest dreams it would operate as a 21st century business, now could you?
Years ago, when the Bengals were desperate for a quarterback (as they've been far too often in the last 20 years), they chased Elvis Grbac, a free agent who'd spent some notable time with the Chiefs and Ravens. Grbac was a free agent, looking for a new team. The only team that showed an interest were the Bengals. They dropped a very big offer on him, something not befitting his resume. Grbac, instead, opted to retire rather than play in Cincinnati. Now, reportedly, Palmer is at that same destination.
What he wants to remain here isn't clear. Maybe it's a new offensive coordinator, and few would blame him for wanting that. Maybe is a return to the normalcy that contending football teams operate under. You don't hear about the nonsense that goes on in Bengal-dom in any other franchise that consistently contends. Maybe he wants the Bengals to staff a front office with personnel people who can find the kind of talent that teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore can find. Maybe it's all of that or maybe he's just tired of it all.
But I do know this: if Palmer is traded, or allowed to simply quit, good luck to Mike Brown trying to resurrect this mess anytime soon. Good luck attracting quality free agent talent with your franchise quarterback walking on you. Good luck selling club seats and suites with Palmer wanting out on the heels of yet another atrocious season.
You reap what you sow. Barren is a word that's coming to mind today.
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Monday, January 17, 2011
If a $38 million dollar paycheck could be a 'win win' for both sides, then this is it. Joey Votto has most of his baseball career ahead of him, if he remains injury free. He'll earn tens of millions of dollars in addition to this latest contract he's signed with the Cincinnati Reds. He's set for life. The Reds avoid the nasty process of arbitration, surely to lose with each upcoming round to Votto. The total dollars of this deal most probably would have been for more than the $38 million they're spending now on their NL MVP first baseman.
But what does it mean to you and me?
Look, I'm happy for Votto and I think it's a wise move by the Reds. But the real game wasn't coming for three years anyway. All this deal does is cover Votto's arbitration years. In three years, he can still become a free agent. And if he continues to produce the kind of numbers he has the past two seasons, he'll simply be unaffordable in Reds-land. In St. Louis, Albert Puljos (who incidentally shares the same agent as Votto) might price himself out of that market. And if the Cardinals, who consistently draw three million fans each season, can't afford to pay Puljos (he'll probably command and get $20 million a year from some team), how can the Reds expect to pay Votto when he become eligible for free agency?
Joey Votto wasn't going anywhere for the next three years. The Reds simply made life for him, and them a little more palatable. But for you and me, this deal means nothing. Get back to around Christmas 2013.
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Friday, January 14, 2011
Less than two weeks after Mike Brown declared that it will be business as usual for his spartan front office, I'm beginning to wonder if he's got it right. You're saying, Ken, a moment please. You spent the better part of the Fall lamenting the Bengals inability to compete front office for front office with the Ravens and Steelers (to say nothing about some of the other solid organizations in the NFL). You are correct. But...
Look at the Bengals last couple of draft classes. OK, Andre Smith is well on his way to 'bust ville' (literally, as well as figuratively). But after Smith came Rey Maualuga and Michael Johnson, two players who will be counted on heavily to produce in the coming years. In that same 2009, they got a decent cover corner in Morgan Trent, in round six. Later in that round, the Bengals drafted Bernard Scott. So after round one, not bad.
From the 2008 draft, the top five picks remain with the team and all are contributing at various levels. First rounder, Keith Rivers, has been a bit of a disappointment. He simply doesn't make enough plays. But Rivers played the majority of 2010 with a bad foot. Second round pick, Jerome Simpson, whom you could not find with a search warrant, finally blossomed in the final three games of 2010. Was it the real deal? Or is Simpson just a couple of dropped balls away from the same road to 'bust ville'? Pat Sims, Andre Caldwell and Anthony Collins are are potential starters for the Bengals in the future.
Brown has a compelling argument for continuing business his way by pointing to the success his few personnel people have had in the past two seasons. But his position takes on a lot water when you continue back in time.
2005? First round pick David Pollack lasted a season and a half before a neck injury ended his career. OK, probably couldn't have predicted that one. But second round pick, Odell Thurman was a red flag for a lot of teams that year, at least the one's who had enough front office people to do a thorough background check on him. Same thing was true, with the late Chris Henry. The ONLY player from that draft who's had any kind of career to speak of is the player the Bengals took in the seventh round, Jonathan Fanene. 2005 came as close to a complete whiff as any team has ever had.
2006 was better with Jonathan Joseph, Andrew Whitworth, Frostee Rucker and Domata Peko taken with the first four picks. But the number of draft busts the Bengals have had make up a not so impressive list. Quarterback David Klingler in 1992, linebacker Reinard Wilson in 1997, quarterback Akili Smith in 1999 just to name first round flame outs. Along the way, there are plenty of examples of later picks that never panned out. Who can forget the chain smoking tight end from San Jose State the Bengals took in round 3 of the 2001 draft, Sean Brewer?
Has every team whiffed badly in the NFL draft? Yep, even the great Patriots, even the great Steelers. But those teams have won Super Bowls. And the Bengals haven't won a playoff game since 1991.
Recent history may suggest things are getting better. Maybe they are. But when you look at the total picture, you gotta wonder.
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Thursday, January 13, 2011
The great guessing game in Cincinnati these days is which, if any, of the Bengals assistant coaches are going away. The early line says, none. Don't kid yourself, Marvin Lewis would love to shake up his staff. He. like every Bengals coach since Paul Brown, has been forced to inherit assistant coaches from previous regimes. Lewis was forced to do that in 2003 for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was he was a rookie head coach desperate for a head coach's position.
Lewis wanted to make changes several times since taking the top job in Cincinnati. He got his wish on the defensive side of the ball, going through three coordinators in his eight seasons. Reportedly, two years ago, he wanted offensive coordinator, Bob Bratkowski out. Owner Mike Brown would let Lewis do that. Brown reportedly has a soft spot in his heart for the son of a former coaching legend, perhaps finding a little common ground with Son Of Zeke.
On the final day of the 2010 season, when all signs pointed to Lewis skating from the Bengals, he hinted that he wanted more say in a lot of things in Bengal-dom, including who was on his staff. Quickly, his tune changed. The offers he thought would be coming his way didn't. And by all indications, Lewis went back to Brown, hat in hand, trying to keep his job.
The bigger issue here isn't whether or not Lewis will get to make changes on his staff (he should, every NFL head coach should be able to hire and fire the people who will help determine his success.). The bigger issue is how will the Bengals organization sell a new season of hope to a fan base, which now has to be on the brink of complete disillusion. Hope and belief that better days are close at hand only works if you've given someone a clear indication that there may be some truth in the statement. Seen any of that around here lately?
So it should be no surprise to anyone if the Bengals way of doing business changes little this winter. Mike Brown has never been someone who's offered sacrificial lambs to his now dwindling fan base. And Marvin Lewis may have over played his hand.
Bengals fever catch it.
I'm happy the Reds addressed their left field shortcomings by signing a major league veteran like Fred Lewis. But I still believe Scott Podsednik would have been a better option. But neither are long term answers to that position. Nor is Jonny Gomes. The Reds must find out this summer if either Todd Frazier or Chris Heisey can answer that challenge.
I'm thinking Juan Francisco plays more than a few games at third base this season. Over/under I've got at 40. What are you taking?
We can talk all we want about which team did what this off season. Zach Greinke to the Brewers, Lance Berkman to the Cardinals, Matt Garza to the Cubs, etc. You and I both know the key element to a team winning a division title is health. If the Brewers lose Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder for any appreciable amount of time, they're toast. The Reds stayed relatively healthy in 2010 and won.
I'll take the Steelers over the Ravens this Saturday and the Patriots over the Jets on Sunday in the AFC playoffs. But I feel a lot stronger about the Pats than the Steelers...
NFC? I'm going with the Bears and Packers.
Lebron needs to let it go. He defeated Dan Gilbert last summer.
OJ Mayo gets into a fight with a teammate in a card game on the Memphis Grizzlies charter? Really? Trouble has been hounding him since high school.
I'm enough of a cynic to admit that I believe the soft schedule UC played leading up to their Big East Conference schedule will do as much harm and good come NCAA Tournament selection time. But you've got to give it to Mick Cronin for this: it built confidence for a team that was desperate for it.
But UC better win at least 10 regular season conference games if it wants to get in.
The paper had an article this week from some recruiting guru who thinks Butch Jones will have the best 2011 recruiting class in the Big East. He better. Broad-based interest in UC football is so fragile, it'll sink into the abyss again with another season like this past one.
UK wide receiver and utility man, Randall Cobb declared for the NFL draft today. He says he's been told that he'll go anywhere from rounds two through four. Whoever drafts him is getting a steal. I think his Sunday afternoons will be busy for a long time.
Among my guests this Sunday on 700 WLW will be none other than Sprint Cup driver, Joey Logano. He's won the Nationwide Series race at the Kentucky Speedway each of the last three years. You think he might be the favorite for the first-ever Cup race at Kentucky this July? You think?
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Ochocinco, It was nice knowing you. Now here's a version of the 'home game'. It's time. You need to move on and the team needs to move on without you. What you both want in life don't intersect anymore. You've grown apart. You're not the same people who 'married' all those years ago.
Look, the artist formerly known as Chad Johnson will forever be remembered here. And some day down the road, maybe sooner than later, he'll be remembered fondly. Ochocinco is not only the Bengals all time leader in receptions and receiving yards. He's also a player who never once did anything to bring harm to the franchise. Ever. In the winter of 2006 and 2007, when Bengals were being arrested on a nightly basis, Ochocinco was a model Bengal-citizen. He could infuriate us with his bizarre and narcissistic behavior. Who could forget his insipid ramblings along radio row at the Super Bowl a few years back, demanding a trade. He could confound us with what seemed to be warped priorities, Dancing With The Stars while the rest of his teammates were busy preparing for a football season. But he could also disarm us with his crazy comments, silly stunts that he pulled on the opposing team, with his end zone celebrations.
Ochocinco is a character, with strong character. He'll always be a Bengal. But it's time for him to go.
The Bengals, by all account, have sufficient talent to continue without Chad and his off field priorities. Jordan Shipley, Andrew Caldwell, Jerome Simpson and Jermaine Gresham form an adequate receiving corp. Maybe Quan Cosby needs to finally get a chance. Maybe there's a wide receiver in this next draft that can give the Bengals that deep, down field threat they've been missing. Remember, the Steelers found Mike Wallace in the third round of the 2009 draft.
The last thing the Bengals need, as they try to rebuild this mess of an offense that is of their own creation, is a wide receiver whose interests have moved onto the internet, cable TV shows and tweeting. It's just going to get in the way, like signing another narcissist, Terrell Owens got in the way this season.
Ochocinco is due $6 million this season. That's a lot of money to pay someone who might be, at best, the third best wide receiver on the team. $6 million will probably buy you an impact player on the free agent market, or at least provide a pretty good down payment on one. Face it: Ochocinco isn't an impact player anymore. It's been awhile since he has been.
Does that mean he's finished in the NFL? Hardly. In the right circumstance, with the right team poised to contend for a Super Bowl title, Ochocinco could be the right fit. In a big market, with lots of media, Ochocinco could be a big hit. Maybe he's outgrown Cincinnati. Maybe the Bengals are at a point where to grow, they need to do it without him.
For all of that, it's probably time to say goodbye. Divorces are never easy. But sometime, it's the right thing to do. Often times, both parties move onto better lives.
It's time for the Bengals and Ochocinco to declare irreconcilable differences. It was fun while it lasted. But it's time to move on.
This blog may not be reproduced, retransmitted or repurposed in any manner, in whole or in part without the written consent of Ken Broo.