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.
three-dot lounge update:golf is a sport
Thanks to the Associated Press for honoring the athleticism of Tiger Woods and Lorena Ochoa as male and female athletes of the year. Anyone who has ever tried to play golf understands the skill involved in doing it well. Now it's official. (Even if I might have picked LaDainian Tomlinson ahead of Tiger)...
James Brown or Otis Redding? Otis, lungs down. Brown was an entertainer; Otis meant it all. The real king of soul...
Saw Apocalypto yesterday... needed a full-body massage afterward. Edge of your seat from the first minute...
Rumor has it Huggins will make an appearance at the Sleepy Hollow Inn in Loveland next week, before K-State plays X...
Congrats to Richie Braham, a pro's pro, whose absence this season has hurt the offense more than most suspect. Hopes for a bright future, and that he'll walk without a cane in 10 years.
best christmas song
I'm not much for Christmas carols. Beyond Oh Holy Night, they're kind of forced beauty to me. I like Christmas music, though, especially what rock writers and musicians have done with it through the years, from John Lennon to Bruce Springsteen to the Beach Boys. (Candy apple red with a ski for a wheel, and when Santa hits the gas, man just watch her peel... who couldnt like that?)
The only Christmas song that absolutely slays me, though, that literally makes my spine ripple, is the original, Darlene Love version of the genius Phil Spector's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)''... Forget, if possible, Love's amazing, pleading vocal... slip past the Clarence Clemons-y sax run in the middle, a sound so rich and right, it speaks to perfect Christmases past, when Baby was home...
It's the words. I'm not a lyrics guy. But these are simple, beautiful and to the point. Anyone who has ever loved and lost, anyone ever in a troubled relationship and putting on the happy face at Christmas, knows exactly what Love and Spector are talking about. Christmas is equal parts love and loneliness, fulfillment and isolation. It's either the best time of year, or a time to be endured. In this song, the subject is never lonelier than in the Christmas crowds, never more miserable than among the joyous.
It's been done over a few times, and it's such a great song, it sounds fabulous no matter who performs it. Love's version is head and shoulders the best, followed by Dion's and U2's...give it a listen. Merry Christmas to everyone out there. Thanks for reading this often self-absorbed blog. Feel free to post your favorite Christmas tune(s)... Live big. Amen.http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/u2/christmasbabypleasecomehome.html
It's welcome news that MLB has allowed the Reds to host a Pete exhibit at the team's Hall of Fame. Fans shouldnt be denied a chance to share in the Hit King's considerable legacy as a ballplayer. It also might signal a slight thaw in the Rose-MLB relationship. He belongs in the Hall.
Put a disclaimer on his plaque, if that's what it takes. As a Hall admission requirement, the facade of good citizenship wears thinner every day. The man is among the best players ever. He shouldnt be allowed back working in Baseball; he compounds his mistakes by repeating them. But I don't take my kids to Cooperstown to see saints and Boy Scouts. The rule that requires Hall members to be in the game's good graces needs to be junked, or at least tweaked.
Honor the player. Punish the gambler.
tuesday morning quarterback
Through the ashes of Monday night:
Somebody e-mailed me that TV caught Chris Henry yawning on the sideline in the 4th quarter. True?
TV does a Day With Chad pre-game story that includes his obligatory daily McDonald's run. Then he misses most of the 3rd q to get an IV, including a crucial drive when the Bengals were still competitive. I love Chad. I did a book with him. He needs to decide if he wants to entertain or be Marvin Harrison.
Downtown Indy makes downtown Cincy look like a ghost town. Oh, wait a minute. Downtown Cincy is a ghost town.
Bob Bratkowski alternately delights and infuriates with his game plans. Last night stunk. Again: When you have a high-powered offense, you take what you want, not what the defense gives you. Peyton Manning has no problem with that concept. Rudi Johnson is a nice, straight-ahead back. He's not LaDainian Tomlinson. Why was T.J. invisible? Why does Henry even play after short-arming balls and dropping a TD pass?
If you're not going to blitz Manning, OK. But can the guys who aren't blitzing be within 10 yards of a receiver down the middle?
Hope Willie Anderson isnt hurt seriously. The kids Whitworth and Andrews were overmatched last night.
It might be easier to win in Denver than at home against Pittsburgh.
Live big. And throw the damned ball.
It didnt take long
Ohio State crushes UC and it's Nancy's fault. Nancy ruined the program, Nancy should never have let Huggins go. We're not going to a game until Nancy leaves town. And so on. Here's a question:
When Mick Cronin brings the program back, will Nancy get any credit?
I didnt hear anyone on Thursday praising Zim for the Xavier win. I haven't heard anyone who said months ago she wouldnt allow Cronin to recruit JuCos say they were wrong. Cronin is doing the best he can in a bad situation, one created partly by Huggins himself. If you don't believe that, get copies of all the communication between the lawyers.
Meantime, give Cronin a chance. He's a great recruiter, he wants to be here for a long time. Two decent classes and UC should be top 5 or 6 in the Big East, which is almost always a ticket to March. Most programs like UC's are going to have their ups and downs. Good fans will hang with them. The rest will fire on Nancy. Which is productive and which isn't? Which are you?
just in time for CHRISTMAS
A good thing about getting older is, you can get smug about how much better it was to be a kid when you were growing up. For example, those of us of a certain age know with certainty that Strat-O-Matic baseball was way cooler than anything Nintendo can conjure. And that 3 hours of Wiffleball in Fred's backyard beat the hell out of some organized team with fancy uniforms. With that in mind, some killer toys I had as a kid, in order of preference. Read and weep, fellow Boomers, and feel free to add to the list:
Strat-O-Matic was simply the best board game ever. I played the entire 71 and 72 seasons of the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Just me and my Strat cards, day after day. I was a strange young man.) Willie Stargell hit 50 jacks each year. The dice werent even on steroids.
My tabletop hockey game was so classic, the players didn't even move up and down the rink. The puck was a marble. Slap shots frequently left the ice. Once, an errant slapper smashed the glass in my mother's curio cabinet.
Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. A game of incredible skill. A true test of manual dexterity. Plus, you had to love the sound when your guy knocked the other guy's head up. Sounded like a termite colony in a blender.
Foto-Electric Football. You put your offensive play card on the top of the board. He put his defensive alignment on top of that. A 40-watt lightbulb was beneath the board. Yeah, a 40-watt light bulb. As the guy on offense pulled a piece of cardboard slowly, the play was revealed. I believe this is how Bruce Coslet got his start as an offensive genius.
Sure Shot Golf. Six-inch tall Arnold Palmer, attached to the bottom of a club the size of a putter, with a trigger attached. L'il Arnie had a l'il set of interchangeable clubs. Balls were either marble or foam, depending on the shot. I played this for hours. It says a lot about my personality. I couldn't hit a green in regulation then, either.
Lastly, no Christmas toy column would be valid w/o a mention of Electric Football. It was so weak, it was strong. Linemen square-danced, wide receivers circled like they were jets at LaGuardia. The damned kicker/QB couldnt kick or QB. And how 'bout that game timer? Quite possibly the dumbest sports toy ever. Made the robots look like little plastic MENSA men.
dumb golf lessons
It was 50 Monday, it's gonna be close to 60 tomorrow and Friday. Global warming? Bring it on, brother. This is the best time of year to play golf. The courses are mostly empty and in great shape. Rates are low. As everyone knows, golf is the world's greatest game.
Except for the tips.
The tips are idiotic.
All that stuff about swing planes and spine tilts. You'd think to break 90, you'd have to be a chiropractor or a contortionist. Every month, the golf magazines offer impossible "help'' for your game. I found a couple classics this month, in Golf mag:
(1) to align your putter, "attach a straw with a big wad of bubble gum to the center of your putterface so it points straight out from the sweet spot. The straw lets you see exactly where you're aimed.'' And makes you like a damned fool.
(2) to hit better chips, "Balance a club on the top of a water bottle and place your club 12 inches behind the middle of the grip. Make your chip stroke without knocking the shaft off the bottle.'' And look like a damned fool.
All of it reminds me of Nicholson's classic diner scene in Five Easy Pieces. To play better golf, play more. If you want tips that make sense and don't make you look like a damned fool, read Hogan's Five Lessons and The Bobby Jones Way, by John Andrisani. And keep your bubble gum where it's supposed to be: Stuck to the leather seats in your car.
Character matters only if you want to win. Do you want players who do their jobs on and off the field? People you can count on? Or do you want Stanley Wilson? What if habitual violators such as Chris Henry do their violating the night before a playoff game?
Is it coincidence that every free agent Marvin Lewis has imported to Cincinnati has come from a winning background, and has been known as a "character'' individual? From Kevin Hardy to Dexter Jackson, there hasnt been a dope in the bunch.
Deltha O'Neal made a dumb mistake. He isn't a bad actor. He's the exception that proves the rule. Character counts.
Of course, when you drink too much, then drive, there's always the chance you might kill someone. There is that.
the state of the reds
Knee-jerk: Reds go to the winter meetings and add a drug addict to the roster.
Real: Josh Hamilton is barely a gamble, at $50,000. Krivsky did well w/lesser names last year. See: Brandon Phillips, David Ross.
Knee-jerk: Reds are no better now than a year ago.
Real: True. But neither is anyone else. Cubs got stupid and showed their desperation, buying 4 years of Ted Lilly for $40 mil. C'mon. Guy's 59-58 in his career. Once again, Wood and Prior will hold the team hostage to their porcelain arms. The team that spent $95 mil on payroll last year, to win 66 times, will be lucky to get to .500
Astros could lose Pettitte to the Yankees, and have to rely on 600-year-old Roger Clemens, if he favors them with his presence. Cards made a nice pickup in Adam Kennedy. But Kip Wells?
Knee-jerk: Who is Griffey to say he'll "consider'' switching to RF?
Real: Accommodations have always been made for star players. The issue with Junior isn't where he plays, it's how. As in, how 'bout taking BP with your team? How 'bout running to your position? How 'bout showing lots of impressionable young players that stardom comes from hard work and preparation?
Here's hoping Narron & Co. have the, um, courage to tell Junior and Dunn to behave like the leaders they should be.
just ban all food
Look, I dislike smoking as much as the next guy. My dad smoked for half a century. It took him almost as long to quit. He tried patches, gums, nicotine implants, hypnosis, cold turkey. Finally, he just stopped. It's an ugly, expensive and altogether useless habit.
But c'mon. When do we stop with the social engineering? Ohio's new law has accomplished what I never believed possible: Smokers are now sympathetic figures... I never was bothered by a smoker at a restaurant... restaurants have sophisticated air circulating systems that keep smoke to a minimum... was never bothered at a ballgame, either. These people arent criminals; they're just being treated that way.
Check out the above story and see if we're going too far with this. Rest in peace, Marlboro Man.
MD 1 last time
Don't normally do this, but there seems to be some confusion out there about certain viewpoints, so here goes: I was OK w/Dantonio leaving a week ago Monday, when it was announced. Everyone has the right to better himself, financially and otherwise. That was before we discovered Dantonio wanted nearly his whole staff with him, and quickly. That was before the guy who professed his love for the school and his players hijacked most of his staff before the bowl game, then followed it up at the banquet Sunday with a bunch of "I love these guys'' nonsense. It was how he left that was the problem, more than that he did.
Also: Anyone who holds himself to high standards -- as Dantonio did -- is going to be questioned when he violates them. The honorable thing for Dantonio to have done would have been to coach his team in the bowl game they worked so hard to deserve. Failing that, ask the coaches he planned to take with him to coach in his stead. Dantonio chose neither option. It would have interfered with recruiting at Michigan State. And oh, yeah, God wanted him to help more people.
In comparison, Brian Kelly deserves credit today, for assuming the bowl-coaching duties abandoned by his predecessor. And Kelly has left some of his coaches at CMU to coach that team in the Motor City Bowl.
And I disagree w/the "that's-life'' approach to this. Asking players for loyalty while not demanding the same of yourself sends a lousy message. If you think that's life, that's a problem.
To the poster claiming to be a "very good friend'' of Dantonio: If he indeed felt bad that some sports at UC might be lost to pay his salary hike, why didnt he say so? Why didnt anyone? Why didnt he honor his contract? Oh, that's right, nobody does that, not even honorable coaches. Nor does your post explain what was so great about his departure and the departure of his staff. As for looking into his heart: I didnt do that. Didnt have to. His actions spoke for themselves. Clearly.
Living big. Moving on.
hosing your players
I just heard on the radio that new UC football coach Brian Kelly will not be coaching his "old'' team, Central Michigan, in the Motor City Bowl. That makes him as honorable as Mark Dantonio, who couldnt leave Clifton fast enough. Not only will Dantonio not coach his "old'' team in the International Bowl, he has already taken most of his staff with him to Michigan State. You wanna coach the Bearcats in the game? Apply today.
This is wrong on so many levels, I dont know where to begin. Let's start and end with this: Coaches preach loyalty to impressionable kids, then bolt when the bolting's good. Nice life lesson there. Congrats to Kelly and Dantonio. I hope they got what they wanted. Their next move? Checking their consciences at the door.
shameless chad-book plug
I'll be at Champions on Crookshank on the West Side tonight, Monday 12/4, 7-9 pm, w/the book I wrote with Chad Johnson, I Can't Be Stopped. Chad probably won't be there (small chance he will be) but he has signed all the books. Signed copies are going for $75 on eBay... mine go for list, $30... For East siders such as myself, take 71 downtown to 75 North, to 74 West to Exit 17 (Montana)... Montana to Boudinot, left on Boudinot, which becomes Crookshank after you cross Glenway... Champions on the left...
Chad will definitely be signing the book at the Barnes and Noble at Newport on the Levee, 7-9 pm Friday 12/15... nice Xmas gift
For the love of a child
I had the unrivaled privilege of attending a fundraising dinner last night for the 12-year-old son of my friend Harry Alexander. Grant Alexander has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, an especially cruel form of the disease that limits the life expectancy of those afflicted to, on average, 17 years. Harry and his wife Terri have dedicated themselves to doing all they can to find a cure. Harry, a PGA club professional, has hosted a charity golf tournament each of the last four years. The dinner last night was the second annual.
I'm the parent of a child with a disability, though it's nothing compared with what Harry and Terri deal with. Here's what you learn; here's what's "good'' about it:
The power of compassion. The magic of friendship. The perpetual cauldron of emotion that lets you know you're alive. Every day, every moment, is bittersweet and deeply realized. It's gratifying and humbling. Harry isn't good at asking for things, which makes him one of those people you just want to do things for. Each of these gatherings, dinner or golf tournament, stands as a testament to what we think of Harry. The ballroom at the Madison in Covington was packed last night. Thousands of dollars were raised.
Here's to you, my friend. Whatever you need...
tunnel of love
A digression from the sports norm: I have a habit of playing certain music again and again, then not listening to it for years. Always, when I come back to it, it sounds as good as the day I first heard it. A few months ago, I wore out Get Yer Ya-Ya's out, the Stones live from '69, which has an incredible take on Sympathy for the Devil. Before that, it was David Gray's White Ladder and before that, Van Morrison's Into the Music. All are in mothballs now.
What's in the player now is Springsteen's best album, in my opinion, Tunnel of Love. It's The Boss' anguished meditation on love and loss, recorded I believe after his first marriage busted. One Step Up (and Two Steps Back) is required listening for anyone having relationship issues. Walk Like A Man inspired me after the birth of my daughter, now 17, who has Down Syndrome. It's a tune about Bruce's shaky relationship with his dad, but one line spoke to me, and still does:
I was young and I didnt know what to do
When I saw your best steps stolen away from you
But I'll do what I can
I'll walk like a man
Live big, Bossman.