Paul Daugherty has been an Enquirer sports columnist since 1994 and has been chronicling Cincinnati sports since 1988. He has covered almost every major sporting event in America, as well as five Summer Olympics. Along the way, he has been named one of the country's top-5 sports columnists four times, and Ohio columnist of the year on seven different occasions. Last year, he was voted 2nd-best sports columnist in the country, by the Associated Press Sports Editors.
I wrote about him for Sunday's paper. And I'm loathe to admit I'm squarely on the fence in deciding what the Bengals should do with the guy. The knee-jerk opinion is, get rid of him. You can't say you want character guys on your football team while keeping someone like Henry. That's the easy, predictable rip. Then there's this:
In the Florida case, he hasn't been convicted of anything. His case comes up Tuesday. He's charged with carrying a concealed firearm. And while coaches like to blame most of their players' troubles on the people the players choose to hang around with, this one is solely on Henry: He was the one outside his limousine, brandishing a handgun. Allegedly.
But here's the thing: If you cover sports long enough, you learn there are few absolutes. As an opinion writer, I'd love to blaze the guns every day. Wrong, right, black, white. Let 'er rip. But it's usually not correct, or fair. And if you rip everything, all the time (see: Jay Marrioti) when you're really inflamed about something, no one can tell.
So with Henry, I'm inclined to see what the court says and trust Marvin Lewis' judgment. This time.
On a related matter, I got lots of e-mails after I wrote a column on Adam Dunn this week, wondering why I went "too easy'' on him. The column basically asked the question, "what do you want from this guy?'' while pointing out the good (OBP, OPS, power), the bad (Ks, ability with RISP) and the ugly (defense)... again, a chance to nail someone with a definitive opinion... but that wouldn't have been entirely accurate or fair... Dunn and I do not get along, but that doesnt mean I use the column as a bully pulpit... while I do believe he doesnt get as much from his ability as he could, I also realize he puts up big numbers, and he's only 26... so, again, I wrote more of a middle-of-the-road opinion. Not as sexy or controversial as it could have been, but probably more responsible. Live big.
My son and a friend went to Felipe Lopez Bobblehead Night last night. During the game, they went to the restroom, and left the dolls on their seats. When they returned, the dolls were gone. Which prompts the question: What kind of greedy, braindead, permanently adolescent moron who already has his own bobber steals someone else's? What do these people do, put these things up on eBay as soon as they get home? Put a pair in a shoebox and pray they have kids? I was at the game last night. I watched people pay for their tickets, get their toy, turn around and walk out. They wouldnt know Felipe Lopez from Felipe Alou. The whole bobblehead phenomenon is very strange.
The best sport few people care about is on ESPN and ESPN 2 this weekend: The NCAA lacrosse Final 4. If you've never seen it, do yourself a favor and tune it in. TV does an OK job of presenting the speed and skill involved, but the best way to appreciate it is to see it live. At its highest level, there is no more exciting sport. Check it out.
Chris Henry's trial in Florida, for waving that handgun in public in Orlando, is Tuesday. Given Marvin Lewis' emphasis on "character'', it will be interesting to see how the team handles this latest display of dopey by their talented and wayward wideout. Especially if he escapes jail time.
the dixie chicks
They're on the cover of Time magazine this week. You might recall the story: At a concert in London in 2003, Chick Natalie Maines told the crowd, "We're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.'' Uh-oh.
They're releasing a new album, so the world wonders what sort of reception it will get. Here's what I wonder: Why should anyone care what a trio of musicians thinks about the president?
I've made this argument a million times, be it about Tom Cruise or John Rocker or Bruce Springsteen. Their political views don't please me or anger me. They make me chuckle. I don't care what Nelson Mandela thinks about the designated hitter. Why should I care what Natalie Maines thinks about George Bush?
Maybe in a larger context, I'm missing the boat. You could argue effectively that music played a role in our pulling out of Vietnam. You could look to Bono and say he has raised awareness of global hunger and the like, especially in Africa. I have no problem w/high profile entertainers using their status to do something grander than make money. I just don't give a damn what they think about politics or the environment or foreign relations. I enjoy Springsteen's music, much of it. I couldn't care less about his take on Bush.
Act. Play music. Be a Chick. If you want to be political, run for office. Meantime, entertain me.
short attention span's guide to the weekend
The Reds on Saturday night showed why they won't be on the Cardinals' radar by Labor Day. Their outfielders don't get to enough balls, the left side of their infield is ridiculously charitable, the bullpen is down to one reliable body and if Eric Milton doesn't improve, the starting rotation is Harang, Arroyo, Undecided, To Be Determined and Not Available. Hitting comes and goes, even on a club that hits the way this one does. Pitching and defense stick around, game after game. The good news is, the people running things undertstand that.
Barry Bonds ties Babe Ruth and it's the third story on Sports Center
Fans are sheep: Oakland's gave Bonds a standing ovation and demanded a curtain call. The Giants are their biggest rival and Bonds their most hated opponent. Naturally, they cheered him Saturday. Can you say hypocrite?
Barbaro's ugly breaks in the Preakness won't set horse racing back the way Ruffian's broken leg did in 1975. That's only because racing had lots of fans to lose in 1975. Now, racing's as relevant as boxing and track and field.
West Sider Brett Wetterich followed up his win at the Byron Nelson by missing the cut at Colonial. That doesn't bode well for his U.S. Open chances, assuming he makes it through qualifying. Colonial is long and tight; Wetterich's boom-boom game is suited to long and wide open. Winged Foot is a minefield for players who don't hit it straight. Wetterich begins local Open qualifying Monday morning at 7:40, at Maketewah.
Haven't seen the DaVinci Code, won't see the DaVinci Code, don't care about the DaVinci Code.
Anyone else a little squirmy watching Vito and that diner cook, um, kiss on the Sopranos? Anyone watching Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV, wondering when, if ever, the Loveland guy Matt Hamill will fight? Anyone else waiting for Rescue Me to return on Fox? If you didn't catch it last year, try it this year. Denis Leary is worth the whole hour, by himself. Leary and Michael (Vic Mackey) Chiklis are the best reasons to watch television now. Better, probably, than listening to George Grande call every Red by his first name. Live big.
live or memorex?
A column I wrote Monday on Barry Bonds elicited an interesting email. I offered Bonds a backhanded compliment, suggesting that at least he was true to himself, by being a boor 24-7. The writer wondered who was worse, a guy like Bonds, or a jerk who comes off as nice when the cameras are rolling and the note pads are out. I've known a few of those: Tommy Lasorda and Jim Valvano come to mind. That's always one thing I liked about Bob Huggins. You knew where you stood w/him at any particular moment. There was no pretending.
That said, Bonds is in a category by himself. Lots of athletes dislike the media and make that plain. But Bonds seems to dislike everyone, except himself. Even Carl Pickens -- as close a local athlete to Bonds as I've dealt with -- could be engaging when he chose, even if it was rare.
On another subject: When I heard my peer and friend Richard Skinner on the radio Sunday, comparing Adam Dunn and Ichiro Suzuki, I damned near drove off the road. His point was that Dunn's OBP compared favorably w/the Seattle slap hitter's. So what? Ichiro is paid to get on base. Dunn is paid to drive in runs. The fact Dunn walks a lot when he should be hacking is nothing to praise him for. If he swung the bat instead of walking, he might have more than 203 RBI to go with his 86 HRs in the previous 2 seasons. Dunn's best spot in the Reds lineup is No. 2, after Felipe Lopez. He'll get lots of fastballs, Lopez will get lots of steal chances and close to 40 pct of the time each will be on base w/Junior or Kearns coming up.
That said, Skinner does a great job on the radio, day after day, than I could ever do. Live big.
Went to buy my mother a Mother's Day card today. Same as it ever was. There are no cards for any occasion that remotely say what you want them to say. Greeting cards break down into 2 categories: Stupid or really stupid. When buying them (talk about your necessary evils) I have a few rules:
1 -- no dog cards
2 -- no cards that mention orifices
3 -- no lame cards about sex that appear to have been written by Peewee Herman
4 -- no cards containing the words "fart'' or "boobs''
5 -- especially not for mom
6 -- no cards with little bows and ribbons
7 -- no cards with really fat people on the front
7A -- no black and white cards with hilljacks on the front
7B -- no hilljacks, anywhere
8 -- no ironic cards
9 -- no Peanuts cards
10 -- no Garfield cards. Definitely
I'm sorry, but the people who write cards are either failed poets or didnt graduate the 3rd grade. I go to Walgreen's or CVS or whatever, and I start muttering like a street person. I say "God help me'' a lot. I end up buying the least offensive card I can find, which usually amounts to a picture of a sunset or something. "My appreciation for you is as eternal as the sun'' or some crap. Because if I don't, mom will think I forgot about her. She'd rather I insult her intelligence.
Are you with me on this? Shouldn't we take out card companies' headquarters with a full-frontal assault of hilljacks, little lace doilies and dogs sitting on the toilet wearing party hats? I believe we should. Live big. Without cards.
Those who say the Reds are better with Griffey in the lineup have it half right. Griffey in centerfield will not improve them. It might make them worse. Griffey in center weakens them defensively. Ryan Freel gets to more balls and will lay out his body more. The Reds will be better offensively with Griffey out there, but since when has offense been a problem? Instead of winning 9-8, they'll win 11-8. He was comeback player of the year last year, and the team still finished 73-89 and 27 games out.
The pitching is, again, suspect. Better defense will help that some. That means Griffey in left, Dunn at first and Freel in center as often as his body will allow. Don't bet on that happening, though. Griffey won't agree to it. Whether you think he has earned the right to dictate where he will play doesn't matter. He will dictate it, and no one will challenge him. Lots of players over the years have moved for the good of the team. It's going to be interesting to see if Griffey will the next. Live big.
somebody's gotta do it
They tell me part of the purpose of this blog is to give you some idea of what I do. Why you'd care is beyond me. Regardless, I had 5 column ideas today, and ended up writing about the Bengals winning the offseason. The other 4 didnt strike me as strong enough to keep people reading for 5 whole minutes, no easy task now. Idea 1 was John Daly's blow-off of PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem's meek suggestion that Daly get help for his major gambling problem: What if jocks in other sports did the same?
Idea 2 was how AAU basketball is neutering the high school game. Good idea, but I didnt research it as much as I needed to. Some important calls -- to coaches, parents and players -- weren't returned.
Idea 3 was Earl Woods' death and the importance of fathers in our lives. May revisit that one on Father's Day.
Idea 4 was Barry Bonds being just 2 homers back of Babe Ruth. Had a local 4th-grade class weigh in on why they liked Ruth and didnt like Bonds. Just wasn't strong enough.
Idea 5 was talking to Marvin Lewis about creating the culture of winning in the offseason. I thought that one had the biggest across the board appeal. Plus, Lewis is great to deal with one on one: Pleasant, insightful, revealing, never condescending. Nothing like his press conference persona.
I've said for years that writing the column is the easy part. Finding something you think people want to read is hard. Spent six hours today, foraging, and about 90 minutes writing.
Anyway, if you think this was at all insightful, great. I'll do it occasionally. If you really couldn't care less, I won't be offended. Sometimes, I bore me, too. Live big.
He has written a book, "My Life in and out of the Rough''. Apparently, it offers more detail on what we knew already: Daly is a gluttonous hedonist who has an impulse-control issue. He admits to losing $50-60 million gambling. As recently as last year, Daly dropped $1.65 mil in Las Vegas in five hours. When PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem offered a logical assessment -- namely that Daly consider counseling -- Big John allowed as how he "wasn't really into that.'' Imagine if MLB had asked Barry Bonds to get drug-tested and he'd said, "I'm not really into that.'' Come to think of it, what if any of us w/a problem that could be helped with treatment used that answer: "Doc, you just jabbed your Bic in that player's eye and smashed your laptop over that coach's head. Maybe you should see someone about your anger.''
"Nah, I'm not really into that.''
Daly will sell lots of books by telling everyone what a wreck he has made of his personal life. Maybe he'll donate the proceeds to the Betty Ford Clinic or Gambler's Anonymous. Maybe not.