Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Case For Mike Leake

Good Morning!

Look, I'm all for drama.  Drama makes the mundane more interesting.  It creates excitement (as long as you're not part of the drama, just watching it).   To be honest, there's been plenty of drama surrounding the return of Johnny Cueto.   It's not so much whether or not he can still do his patented El Tiante wind up (watching his rehab starts in Dayton, apparently he can).  And it's no so much whether or not he'll pull another muscle before the All Star break.  The drama has been the impending answer to the following question:  when Cueto comes back, who goes?  Mike Leake?  Or Tony Cingrani.

Turns out, it's been Cingrani all the way.

Cingrani is the wunderkind whose had a meteoric rise through the Reds minor league farm system.   A year ago right now, he was pitching in Single A baseball.  Now, instead of facing hitters who'll be selling vacuums door to door in a few years, he's facing world class baseball players.  And Cingrani is  learning fast.  But he's not there yet.  And he's not in Mike Leake's class yet.

You're saying, Ken, you're back on the "sauce" again.  Well, OK, but only at home and only when I'm alone, which is come to think of it, just about always.

Cingrani is good, for the first or second time through a batting order.  He'll look like Cy Young for five innings and then immediately become Brigham Young, or Neil Young.  Southern Man, Cingrani is not.   His problem is, he falls in love with his fastball.  I'm somewhere between like and love with his fastball.  But then again, I have a commitment problem.  Early in games, Cingrani won't throw his breaking enough to let hitter know it's coming later int he game.  He relies on his fastball.  By the time the fifth and sixth innings roll around and Cingrani has to throw his breaking ball for a strike, he can't.  And by then, opposing hitters can sit and wait on his fastball.  It's a common mistake a young pitcher makes.

Leake, on the other hand knows all about that.  He's been around awhile.  He's pitched himself in and out of trouble.  And that's important for a manager.  Dusty Baker knows, Mike Leake is a know commodity.  Cingrani is not.

Leake will always throw his complete repertoire of pitches.  He only gets into trouble when he can't locate his pitches.  He'll never blow away a batter.  Rather, Leake will nibble and tease.  And like Bronson Arroyo, Leake knows the difference between throwing and pitching.  Cingrani is still learning that.   That's why Cingrani will head back to the bushes of Louisville next week when Cueto returns and Leake will stay.  One is a pitcher, the other is a throwing learning to pitch.  It's as simple as that.

OK, the song I can't get out of my head today

One of the best studio musicians on the planet co wrote this song, David Paich.  He was/is the keyboardist for Toto, but so much more than that.  His co writer was Joe Williams, the leading singer with Toto at the time, who's also the song of noted film score composer, John Williams.  Joe has done some film scoring himself.  Anyhow the song is from Toto's "The Seventh One" album, a song that peaked at #22 back in 1988.  Hard to believe this is 25 years ago.

Hard to also believe that Thursday was the 47th anniversary of the Beach Boys classic album "Pet Sounds"  Glenn Campbell played guitar on this album and Leon Russell was on piano.  But the star of the musicians, prejudiced as I am, was one of my heroes:  drummer Hal Blaine

OK, go out and make it a great Friday.  I'll see you on WLWT News 5 tonight at 6p & 11p and I'll be talking sports on 700 WLW Saturday from Noon-3:30p and Sunday from 9am--12:30p.  Lots of baseball talk and a few football tidbits as well


Monday, May 13, 2013

The Case For Tim Tebow

All Tim Tebow does is win.   Check his college resume, check what he did with the Denver Broncos.  Forget the Jets, they never gave him a chance.   All Time Tebow does is win.

Ask Dick Lebeau.

Tebow is a man without a home today.  Notice, I said 'man' not quarterback.  And I'm proposing a new home for Tebow:  your Cincinnati Bengals.

I offer several compelling reasons.  First, Tebow offers numerous possibilities as an alternative weapon.   You can line him up  as a fullback, an H Back, a tight end.  He can play special teams.  And, yes, in very contained situations, Tebow can be under center.  Opposing defensive coordinators would have to spend time during the week before playing against the Bengals, figuring out ways to stop Tebow.  And that would take away from time they'd need to prepare to stop A.J. Green, or Tyler Eifert, or the "Law Firm" or anyone else that may line up on that side of the ball.

Tebow needs to play on a team that has no quarterback controversy or need.  The storyline is fairly simple here:  Andy Dalton is the starting quarterback.  Period.  He needs to play on a team that has a strong willed head coach, who will not be bent by public pressure.  Obstinate is a word that comes to mind when describing Marvin Lewis.  And, he needs to play on a team that has a creative offensive coordinator.  Jay Gruden fits that description.

And here's something else that Tim Tebow will do:  sell tickets.  The last I checked, the Bengals were exactly playing to sold out crowds every Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.  The Steelers game, season finale against the Ravens sure.  But consistent sell outs haven't been the norm lately.  You don't think that Tebow would sell tickets?  Really?

I heard some fear expressed by callers to my Sunday Morning Sports Talk Show on 700 WLW, that Tebow would bring with him the same circus that dogged him in Denver and New York.  I offer two reasons why he would not.  One, this is not New York, it's Cincinnati.  We're not awash in media here.  We have four television stations, one newspaper and one radio station that does news.  That's it.  Remember when TO came to town?  It was a big deal for a day, maybe two.  And that was it. And two, even if Cincinnati was inundated by national media during the season, the team knows full well how to handle it (see TO and Ochocinco).  Most important, Tebow isn't about Tebow, as TO and Ocho were.  It's the media that causes this.  Someone, please save us from ourselves.

Look, he's going to sign somewhere.  And right now, I can't think of one team that would bring him in to compete for a starting quarterback's job.  Jacksonville?  After two years of Blaine Gabbert?   Tebow, of course, must get past wanting to be exclusively a quarterback.   That's not happening.  But when (and if) he does come to the conclusion that his NFL future doesn't including dropping back to throw, the Bengals should be waiting, and ready to sign him.   Think of the possibilities.

But for another point of view, here's my buddy Gregg Doyel at 

So does anyone, besides Mark O'Meara get along with Tiger Woods?  Oh, that's right, Lindsey Vonn.  But Sergio Garcia needs to get a grip if he thinks His Tiger-ness was trying to distract him with this:

If Garcia thinks Woods needs to do that to win a tournament, or even a shot, he and reality are going in separate directions.

Which brings to mind a song....

I've always liked Foreigner.  But only the original line up with Mick Jones and Lou Gramm.  But, like most things anymore, I digress.

Now, to the Bengals.  They've got half of their draft picks signed up already.  With a rookie salary cap, gone are the days of hold outs.   Their first and second round picks remained unsigned.  But it's a mere formality anymore.  Both Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard (and the Bengals other second round Pick Margus Hunt will all be in camp come July.  You know what the best part of this recent Bengals draft is?  None of the players will have to play.   Some will.   I think Bernard and Eifert will play a lot, actually.  But none will be necessary to whatever success the Bengals have this season, unless there is some catastrophic injury.   It says a lot about where the Bengals have come from.  Last year, the only draft pick that logged significant playing time was offensive lineman, Kevin Zeitler.  The team won ten games.  They've come a long way.

Playing golf tomorrow and testing some new clubs.  Got new set of Razr Hawks (Callaway) and a vintage set of Ping irons (I3 Oversized).  But as a wise man once said about golf:  it's not about the arrows, it's about the indian.

See you tonight at 6p and 11p on WLWT News 5.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


How many games do you think the Reds will win this year scoring just two runs?  They won a grand total of eight last season, scoring just two or fewer (I guess that'd be one, wouldn't it) runs.   Eight out of 97 total wins.   Just sayin....

I have a sneaking suspicion that Walt Jocketty and his smart guys at GABP have already begun the process of finding an everyday left fielder by trade.  He'd be crazy not to be looking right now.  It may be too early to deal, but not too early to trade.   With no offensive production coming from left, or right field, shortstop or catcher, it makes it very tough to string together wins against the better teams in the league.  The Marlins and Cubs are awful and give the Reds credit for dealing with them in the last homestand.  But the true test for the Reds will be, as always, how they do against the better teams in the league and on the road.  So far, not so good.....

Now, I like this from Andy Dalton....but talk is really cheap at this time of the year....

Happy 80th birthday today to a true American legend and hero, Willie Nelson.   Patsy Cline sang this song and made it a mega hit.  But Willie Nelson wrote it.  And it might be the greatest country music song ever....

I'll never forget Willie's annual 4th of July "picnics" and the one that he brought to Tulsa when I lived there.  It was July 3, 1977 and one of Willie's guests was Lynard Skynard, just months before the devastating plane crash that decimated that band.

So UC's new conference is debating where to hold it's men's and women's college basketball tournaments and one of the sites is Cincinnati.  Hmmmm.   But a competing site is a casino in Connecticut.  Hmmmm.  Don't see Cincinnati winning that one....

Here's the deal on any NFL team's draft:  no one, not you, me or even the guys in front offices know for sure how well a team did.  The Bengals appear to have done well.   In particular, I like there second, second round pick, SMU defensive end, Margus Hunt.  Take a look

He's another big 'wingspan' guy, cut from the same mold as current Bengals Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson.  Their first round pick, Tyler Eifert, the tight end from Notre Dame appears to be solid too.  And I really like the Bengals second round pick, North Carolina running  back Giovani Bernard.  Look...

But in truth, any of them could be an early draft bust (see David Klingler, Akili Smith, Chris Perry) or a late round steal (see Tim Krumrie, TJ Houshmandzadeh or Jonathan Fanene.  But you can't deny this:  the Bengals have done a better job drafting players in the last three seasons.  As Sports Illustrated's Peter King wrote this week:  "Be careful Cincinnati, or we'll start to think you know how to draft"

 Song I just can't get out of my head today.   

Song written by Sedaka with lyrics by Phil Cody and although you don't hear it on this version, a very distinctive sax solo by Jim Horn.  It hit #1 in February of 1975, spawned by the album "Sedaka Is Back".
Danny Kortchmar is on guitar, a guy who did his best work, IMHO with Carole King (on Tapestry in particular) and with Don Henley.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Ah Choo!

So along about, what? 5:00 yesterday afternoon, you were ranting over how dumb it was for the Reds to  either a: trade for Shin Soo Choo or at least b:  put him in centerfield.  As if Drew Stubbs was some cherished jewel that was traded for a box of pliers.  Choo had a couple of adventures in centerfield that suggested it was his first day in long pants.  A Stubbs, he is now.  And as Marvin Lewis would say, that’s a good thing.
Choo is on this team for one reason and one reason only:  he can get on base.  Stubbs is not on this team for several reasons.  But the biggest reason Stubbs is not on this team is he can not get on base.   Defensively, Stubbs probably saves 9-12 wins per season.  But offensively, he probably costs is team twice that number through his inability to get on base, or drive in runs or do anything with a bat that furthers a team’s cause.
Choo certainly won’t cost the Reds 18-24 wins a season because he’s not the defender Stubbs is.  In truth, he’s better than adequate as a centerfielder.    But his ability to get on base (at a .400  clip last season vs right handed pitching) is a complete game changer.  Joey Votto had 18 home runs before he hurt his knee in late June.  He also had just 47 RBI.  The disparity in that production should tell you how few runners were on base when Votto knocked the ball over the fence.  And with a runner on base when Votto is batting, other things happen that would benefit Votto.  The pitcher will have to pitch out of the stretch.  He’ll be distracted somewhat by the runner.  And because of all that, Votto (and Phillips and Bruce and Frazier after him) will have a significant advantage over the pitcher.  That’s what Choo offers, and what Stubbs could not.

Heard this on the radio today and now I can't get the song out of my head..HELP!
Joey Levine of Ohio Express (Yummy Yummy and Chewy Chewy) is the voice. The song, which might be one of the first 'rap' songs (and I use the term loosely) was penned by Paul DiFranco and Norman Dolph. DiFranco wrote the melody and Dolph the 'rap'