Monday, August 29, 2011

Less Than 2 Weeks To Go Before The NFL 2011 Season Kicks Off. Do You Know Where Your Season Ticket Holders Are?

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

Sitting here wondering how a guy like Andy Dalton gets such orange hair....

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, 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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