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.
scary movies maybe you missed
anything w/Jessica Simpson, trying to act... any Bond movie w/o Sean Connery... any movie featuring an ex-jock... oh, man, Brian Bosworth was absolutely frightening... any sports movie that doesnt have Kevin Costner in it... and, oh by the way, a few hidden gems that were, you know, intentionally scary:
(1) Wait Until Dark: Audrey Hepburn is blind and living in a basement flat in Manhattan... she has something bad guys want. Alan Arkin is very, very bad.
(2) Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte: Classic, over-the-top Bette Davis schtick. Follow the bouncing head...
(3) Halloween: Saw the original on AMC the other night. Great music, great fright, great chills w/o a ton of blood.
(4) The Mothman Prophecy
Of course, the classic isn't obscure. The Exorcist was flat-out the scariest movie ever made. I was 17 and a high school senior living in DC when it opened. We went to the midnight show. After it ended, we went to what became known as the "Exorcist steps'' where the priest heaves himself out Regan McNeil's window. We just stood there, too scared to move. Outstanding.
keep it together bengals
The worst thing about the loss yesterday was the sniping afterward. Good teams pull together in bad times. Is this a good team? The coaching staff is very careful not to single out players for criticism. Marvin Lewis goes so far as to take blame for things that arent directly his fault... we saw that Sunday when he took the blame for taking a stupid timeout on a kickoff. Quotes from Willie Anderson and Rudi Johnson intimated that the play-calling stunk. Really? The Falcons were 27th against the pass. The Bengals' passing game is among the best in the NFL. Allegedly. So you're supposed to pound Rudi between the tackles all day? The difference on offense yesterday was Carson Palmer's inability to hit Chad Johnson deep down the left sideline on the first play of the 2nd half. It was symbolic of the entire passing game which, for whatever reason, has been disappointing all year. That's not coaching.
So here's a suggestion: If you're as dominant upfront as Anderson said they were, do a better job on blitz pickup. Meantime, let the coaches coach. Do your job, before the season spins out of control.
Chris Henry has paid his debt. He should play Sunday. Here's hoping he doesnt have to go through this junk again. Time for him to respect his gift... Jeff Brantley liked ESPN, but not the commute to CT from his MISS home. He should be very good in the booth... The Cardinals win by ID-ing a "core'' of 12-14 players and keeping them under contract, then filling in the edges w/cheap, bit players. That's a good strategy for the Reds, assuming they can gather 12-14 worth core-ing... chuckling at the national (i.e. East Coast) experts ripping the World Series... any Series w/o NY or Boston stinks, as far as they're concerned... I've enjoyed watching it. Mostly tight and competitive, featuring 2 Hall of Fame managers... sucks for you, NY... If you knew him or even if you only went to his restaurant once and had a good time, pay respects to Willie DeLuca: 5-9 pm Sunday, Holy Trinity Church in Norwood, corner of Drex and Montgomery, or burial Mass at 10 am Monday, at the same place... it's guys like Willie that make up the stitches in our town's fabric... Live big in Heaven, Willie.
a call for a proper sendoff
I'm going to write something for the Enquirer to honor Willie DeLuca. I have my own memories, but Willie belonged to everyone. I'm looking for some folks to share some thoughts on this big-hearted guy.... e-mail me w/memories and/or a contact # at email@example.com
, and we'll send Willie off right. Thanks very much.
My friend died of a heart attack Sunday, too soon. If Willie was going to leave us at age 58, it would have to have been the way he did. If Willie weighed 300 pounds, 299 of them were heart. Willie was blessed with a wonderful affliction: The inability to say no. There wasnt a softball team in Norwood that didnt benefit from Willie's generosity. There wasnt anyone who went to his restaurant that didnt get something for free. Most will remember him as The Guy Who Balanced Stuff on His Nose, or for the sports memorabilia he collected. Willie had more junk than Fred Sanford. I will recall his abiding generosity, and a spirit even larger than he was. Rest peacefully, my friend. Heaven is a better place today.
A "great'' story? For whom?
Every once in awhile, I do a story that's at once horrible and life-affirming. The only problem with these stories is, they usually chronicle tragedy and, in so doing, resurrect it for those directly affected.
Like today. I'm writing for Sunday something about Rod Huber, the football coach at Mount St. Joe. It should be the best time of his life, and in many ways, it is. In one, heartbreaking way, it isn't. The Mount is undefeated, has lost just 1 regular season game in 3 years. There is no better local football story.
It's also been 3 years since Huber's 12-year-old son committed suicide. I can't ignore that, even as I know the last thing Rod Huber's family wants to read about, again, is Jake's death. If it's true we can't know pleasure without first knowing pain, this family knows all about pleasure.
I feel damned guilty today, peering into the unmade bedrooms of the Hubers' lives. And very, very grateful and humbled they're willing to let me in. The only way to justify a piece like this is to write it hoping it will change one life, move one heart, nudge one soul that drifts. Otherwise, there is no point in retelling a "great'' story.
Live big. Gratefully.
3-dot lounge welcomes lou piniella
Congrats to Sweet Lou, who just torpedoed further his managerial legacy by taking a job w/the Cubs, 3 years, $10 million. Piniella wanted the Yankees job, it says here, because he believes his ticket to the Hall of Fame will be punched because of his managing... so he goes to the Cubs? It only means 1 thing: When they tell you it's not about the money, it's about the money... Bengals couldnt have picked a worse week to lose Levi... Peppers and Rucker are the best bookend DEs in the league... Palmer will be running and ducking unless Rudi makes like Jim Brown...
Got a call from my best friend today... he lives in Tucson, I see him once every few years... nothing reminds you about the power of friendship than an out-of-the-blue call from someone you can tell anything to... loners are not loners by choice...
We know Mick Cronin can recruit... we're about to learn if he can coach...
Am I the only one wanting Chad Johnson to be as audacious as he has been in previous years? 85 has been Marvin-ized... it has taken some of his spunk and, I think, some of the offense's swagger along with it... give me brash Chad any day, over "mature'' Chad... BTW, Sports Illustrated is running a big feature on him in the next few weeks...
Another reason to love Bob Castellini: Back in about May, I wrote that the Reds had .500 talent and that the best thing about baseball is, over a 6-month season, teams almost always wear they face they deserve at the end of 162 games... the owner sent me a note, proposing a bet: They finish above .500, I owe him 2 pints of Graeters... below .500, he owes me... last week, 6 pints of Graeter's coffee ice cream arrived at my door, express-sent in dry ice, in a styrofoam box... I hate it when I'm right.
Live big, with raspberry chip.
Every so often, we all could use a good smack upside the perspective. I've been reading my friend and colleague Mark Curnutte's blog lately and if you haven't, you should. He writes with eloquent pain about returning home to Illinois to visit his dying mother, quite possibly for the last time. The tears flow from the keyboard to the screen.
We'll all be orphans, sooner or later. Those of us who are middle-aged and remain blessed with two healthy parents must take the time to appreciate that. Life is a prelude to eternity's symphony. We need to dance while we can.
I'm going home today. I call it home even though I've never lived there. My parents live in Bradenton, Fla., an hour south of Tampa. They moved there in 1982, three years after I graduated from college. Home is a state of mind.
My dad's 74, my mother a year younger. Each has had his share of health issues, but nothing to provoke much floor-pacing at 3 a.m. They're healthy, vital people and today, I will wrap each in hugs and familiarity. I will take none of it for granted. What an absolute blessing. Thanks, Mark, for giving me pause to celebrate what I have.
Live big. Joyfully.
running up the score
Very good story in Friday's Washington Post about a football game between 2 high schools in West Virginia. They're 10 miles apart, yet 10 years apart in terms of their players' abilities. Long story short: The one team's best player has a shot at the national single-game rushing record. His team is up 35 at half, he's already run for more than 300 yards. He figures he's done for the night. Instead, his coach keeps him in the game and goes no-huddle the entire 2nd half. Late in the 4th quarter, the kid got the record. You can imagine the reaction from the losing team and, now, nationally.
Is there any question the winning coach did the wrong thing? I believe there is.
Is it better to pat your weaker opponent on the head, empty your bench and win by 40? Or to keep your 1st team in, win by 60 and, in some small way, honor that weaker opponent? Of course, this was an over-the-top case. Nobody should be going no huddle in that situation. But what is the best way to handle a blowout? I've always thought I'd rather be humbled by the best than pitied by the second-best, and that part of the fault lies with me, for not having a better team.
What do you think?
If you like the Reds, how do you root against either Minnesota or Oakland?...
2 good books I've read lately: Rick Reilly's Shanks For Nothing and The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert... Shanks is a golf novel written by the best sportswriter on the planet, a sequel to Missing Links; Man is a true story about a guy living on 1,000 acres in the NC mountains, in a teepee...
Best new TV show: Justice, Wednesdays at 9 on Fox. Runnerup: Shark, Thursdays at 9 on ABC...
Tony Kornheiser on MNF isn't working, isnt not working. He's a newspaper guy who's very funny in print, but he gets lost in the booth w/Theismann who gets paid by the syllable, and Tirico, who's as good as it gets at TV play-by-play...
Thom Brennaman wants his kids educated in cincy. The press conference should be any day now...
Marty and son on the radio. It gets no better.
Tall Stacks is an incredibly diverse musical event that lots of local folks ignore. Check out John Hiatt, Delbert McClinton and the Blind Boys of Alabama. Don't miss Al Green. All for 20 bucks, if you buy at a Kroger...
WNKU, the absolute best local radio station for music, has been playing lots of Stacks artists. Eighty-nine-seven. It's an oasis in the local radio wasteland...
Having traveled all over the country courtesy of Hertz, I can say w/o equivocation that FM radio in Cincinnati is embarrassingly formated and limited...
If the Reds trade power for pitching and defense -- a reasonable idea -- shouldnt they also do something about the laughable coziness of Great American Small Park?...
Live big, Al Green.
Once more in Sunday's paper, Jerry Narron said the Reds need players who "play the right way.'' He needs to stop.
Every time the manager makes that statement, he's unwittingly indicting himself. The guy has sung that tune for 2 years. His players never added the chorus. While Wayne Krivsky has busied himself dumping power for pitching, the players that remain still play the game one home run at a time.
The Reds don't bunt. They don't hit behind runners. When Griffey and Dunn played every day, they struck out too much. Defensively, they left gaps in left and center as big as a mall parking lot. In the infield, Brandon Phillips is the only guy w/consistently good range. For a manager who dwells to distraction on the "little things,'' his players sure lived big, to borrow a phrase. That doesnt reflect well on Narron's leadership.
He's also too forgiving. Most obvious is allowing Dunn and Griffey to walk to their positions, inning after game after season. It's embarrassing. When I mentioned to Narron that Dunn's loaf out to left could best be timed by sundial, the manager said, "He'll never run out there.'' Oh, really? Why not?
That said, this team probably maxed out its potential. And until the last West Coast trip, it never gave in. That's a tribute to Narron. I just wish he'd either stop talking about the little things, or get pissed enough to make sure the little things get done properly, and by everyone.