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.
Wrigleyville on the Ohio
Radio listeners know how I feel about "Cubbie'' fans... bad enough over the decades to put up with them in Chicago. Today, I'm watching at Great American Small Park while A. Soriano plays catch before innings w/fans in left field... and hear the thunderous cheers when Soriano hits a leadoff, 1st-inning homer... and hear Let's Go Cubbies every damned inning... how fun was it for Reds employees to clean up the visitors clubhouse after the beery celebration of 2 nights ago?another reason Reds ownership needs to be embarrassed enough to make an offseason run at Average. Because Average would have kept them in contention in this Triple A division... and Average is something the Reds havent been since 2000... it's sad when the motto is Lets Play Like Average Today. But that's where we are.
Memo to BC.. Pay up, measure up, live up to what you've promised. Hire a manager w/cred... bring in a 3rd and 4th starting pitcher (D. Willis would be nice)... fill the bullpen w/people younger than 40 who can actually get people out. Make it so next year, we don't to listen to CubsFan in left field, drowning out the local customers, whose loyalty has been rewarded with 71 wins this year and an average of 75 since 2000.
Never Enough Brian Kelly
No more media-savvy coach exists... I thought Pitino was good, he's Triple A compared to this guy, who yesterday asked me if I'd gotten Springsteen tickets yet. Never mind that he recalled a conversation we'd had several months ago about The Boss, or that unlike most big-time college and NFL coaches he'd escaped the film-room cocoon long enough even to know Bruce was touring. He took the time to mention it to me, unsolicited. That doesnt sound like a big deal; it is. It is. He also chided UC PR guy Kelby Siler about a mention in this week's media game notes of "If UC Loses'' to San Diego State. "We don't mention negative stuff in press releases'' Kelly said, or some such.
Memo to Marvin: I'll broker a meeting w/you and BK, on the way to deal with the press.
Also: Sincere apologies to Rick Minter for my mistake in this AM's column. I knew Minter coached the Humanitarian Bowl, not Tim Murphy... was in a hurry, mind was on something John Arena had said about Murphy. Rick, I owe you a beer. Keystone Light?
Marvin's Charge: Keeping it Together
If you believe the Bengals will be 1-3 by midnight Monday... and key players will still be limping or suspended or otherwise MIA... and that fingers will begin to point... if you feel how I do, in other words... Marvin Lewis' biggest job won't be fixing his spare-parts special teams or convincing Rudi Johnson he's a bulldozer and not a Ferrari. It'll be keeping his team from flying apart until people get healthy and (hopefully) Chris Henry can make an impactful return...
The schedule after Monday is easier, aside from 2 w/the steelers and one in Baltimore... if Henry makes it back, A. Brooks, R. Jeanty get healthy, Willie can be effective etc., this team should be better in its last 10 games than it will be in its first 6... 8-2 not out of the question... but Lewis has to keep them together... we'll see...
Weird and wonderful Seattle
Back in the Lost Decade, when any Bengals win was a surprise, all that really mattered was the road trips. Any year that included Seattle, San Fran, San Diego or Miami was a bonus. Now that the Men are winning about half, the games have become compelling, and the trips are still great. Which brings me to Seattle.
Some cities affect a weirdness, to make themselves known. I think LA is that way, some. Also, Asheville, NC, one of my favorite places on earth, tries to sell you on how different/strange it is. Seattle is the real deal.
My favorite spot in Seattle when I dont have a car is Queen Anne Hill. It's an $8 cab ride from downtown. It's an area of big, old and not tacky-rich homes, many of which have incredible city views of the sort Frasier Crane enjoyed in the TV show. It's also an area of tiny, quarter-acre green spaces with benches for sitting and admiring the panorama. Anyway, I'm up there yesterday, at one such park, reading a book. On one side of this park is a wedding party in full wedding regalia, getting pictures taken. Formal, beautiful. Not 20 feet from them, behind the photographer, a bum (er, homeless person) is sleeping it off. Great Seattle metaphor.
Then this morning: Back up to Queen Anne for a 6 am walk and then breakfast at this earth biscuit, latte joint. I'm walking down the hill. On the other side of the street, a 30-something washout is singing and dancing to himself, while walking. Dude's wearing a red jester's hat. Coming the other way is a 60-something woman, with a pacifier in her mouth. They walk right past each other, neither acknowledging the other. Go ahead: Find that in Hyde Park.
The great thing about traveling to other cities is discovering their Queen Anne Hills. The depressing thing is realizing Cincinnati is so far behind many cities, when it comes to fun and interesting places to see. Seattle is weird, but vibrant. Cincinnati will never be weird (at least not permanently) but it won't be vibrant, either.
Long rant, sorry. If you ever visit Seattle, check out Queen Anne Hill. And the ferry to the San Juan Islands and the town of Snoqualmie, where they filmed Twin Peaks, and the Eliott Bay Book Company and Mt. Rainier and...
Interesting Bengals from Forbes
This is just the Bengals snapshot from the magazine's annual story on the value of NFL franchises... the teams constantly dispute Forbes' figures, but it's the best peek inside these privately held business we get, year to year, and it's authored by a reputable financial publication... key #: Bengals franchise worth, and that the worth has increased 11 pct in the last 12 months... how'd it be if your house increased 11 pct in value in a year? Many thanks should be forthcoming to the taxpayers of Hamilton County, for their generous contribution to the Brown Family vault, via tax money for PBS. We won't hold our collective breath.
The Mourning After
I understand the knee-jerk anger from fans. Fire Marvin! Fire Bresnahan! Much use of the word "suck.'' But really...
This is a .500 or slightly better club, with a 1st-place offense and a 4th-place D. Still. The only way this defense reaches average is to show up every week with the same face it showed against the Ravens.
Did you really think the Bengals would excel playing 1 rookie corner, 1 second-year guy and the indifferent D. O'Neal? B. Edwards and K. Winslow undressed them. What might R. Moss, W. Welker etc. do?
The game against McNair & Co. was fool's gold. McNair played poorly at the end of last year, and carried it over. Pressuring him was like blitzing a 3-legged chair.
It's a shame to squander the primes of Palmer, TJ, Chad and Rudi with such a small-time D. It's like recruiting the best center in the country and never getting him a point guard.
As was written here in August, why would anyone look at the '07 roster and believe it was an upgrade from '06?
Anyone else tired of post-game post mortems filled with phrases like "mental errors'' and "coverage breakdowns''? Anyone besides the heathen media weary of M. Lewis' smug, condescension? Ask him what happened with the D, he answers "that's our business.'' Well, OK. All you season-ticket-holding true believers out there, why the D doesnt work is not your concern. You/we couldnt hope to understand it, anyway.
All that said, what's most worrisome is the Bengals lingering lack of maturity. Nice win last Monday. Get over yourselves. You'd think if any team would understand the consequences of believing your press, it'd be this one. Apparently not. Not sure who to blame for that.
for all you Jim Bowden haters
from Tom Boswell of the Washington Post:
Of all the Nats worthy of a season-ending salute, nobody -- not Chad Cordero
with 33 saves or Ryan Zimmerman
with 87 RBI, not Ronnie Belliard
who saved the infield or Brian Schneider
who changed the diapers of the pitching staff -- deserves more credit than Bowden. While everybody talked about the "plan" of the Lerner family and president Stan Kasten
, Bowden prevented the present from being a disaster. And he did it on as thin a shoestring as stingy Marge Schott ever provided him.
Bowden was told to scrub the Aegean Stables -- with a toothbrush. His mission: Slash payroll by $30 million to the third lowest in the sport, yet still field a respectable team. Oh, while you're at it, see if you can't unearth a half-dozen overlooked gems who could be part of a future contender.
Somehow, Bowden and his staff did it. Even though, without bad luck, they'd have had no luck at all. Cleanup hitter Nick Johnson
never played. Shortstop Cristian Guzman
hit .329, but missed 119 games. Everybody knows whom the Nats subtracted: Alfonso Soriano
, Livan Hernandez
, Jose Vidro
, Jose Guillen
, Ramon Ortiz
, Tony Armas and a quality bench. But look what Bowden added -- at almost no cost. Besides Young, Belliard and Pe?a, he traded last September for center fielder Nook Logan
, who's hit .291 since the all-star break. Bowden got Chico in the Hernandez deal and added Bacsik, Hanrahan, Redding and reliever Jesus Colome
as discarded minor- league free agents. Bowden knows junk better than Fred Sanford.
Yet none of these may be Bowden's best long-term move. Young catchers are gold. Bowden spotted Jesus Flores
, a 22-year-old Met at Class A who was exposed as a Rule 5 player. The Nats grabbed him, though it meant keeping him in the majors all season. No problem. Flores already has game-tying homers and game-winning hits. Maybe he needs more polish in the minors, maybe not. Maybe he'll be good soon, maybe later. But he will get there. The division-rival Mets
have nobody comparable in their system behind 35-year-old Paul Lo Duca
. That's how you steal a march on a mega-market rival.
Belichick the cheater
Sorry, but I'm not going to get especially worked up about the Patriots stealing defensive signals. This has only been going on forever, in some form or fashion. Cloak and dagger stuff is routine in the NFL. You could get indignant about it, but only if you don't believe the average NFL head coach would sell his mother to gain an edge. What I don't get is why B. Belichick, of all people, felt the need to do this. Guy's a great coach, with very good players. Romeo Crennel needs this stuff. Not Belichick.
Regardless, the edge gained seems minimal to me. You still have to have the players. If the NFL wants to stop it, put the same device in a defensive player's helmet that the QB has in his. That's take care of it. Until some other coach figures a better way to cheat.
This, from today's NY Times:
Defensive coaches use hand signals to tell their team what defense to play on each snap. It would be a decided advantage for an opposing offense to figure out the menu of signals by matching the videotape of the signals with video of the plays. That would allow offensive coaches to use the in-helmet communication system with the quarterback to tell him what defense to expect.
Defensive coaches frequently try to change their signals from game to game to avoid detection, so the Patriots were likely hoping to break the codes for use in the same game. Because the video camera was taken in the first quarter of the Jets game, it’s unlikely that the videotaping had much impact on the Patriots’ 38-14 victory.
Injuries and competitive balance in the NFL
The tragic injury of Kevin Everett Sunday was the worst of a bad day for the NFL. It's getting to the point w/injuries where who's healthy is more important than who's good. You can't say that about any other sports league... the Bengals won Monday because their defense stood and delivered, but also -- and no one's mentioned this -- because their O-line was far deeper than Baltimore's... they could withstand no Levi and a cameo from Willie A., because A. Whitworth started 12 games last year, 10 at left tackle, and S. Andrews played a lot... the Ravens were toast when O. Pace couldnt go... when injuries start dictating outcomes, your league should be concerned... column topic for Thursday's Enquirer...
What do you think of Pete Rose now? How does it differ from that night, 22 years ago? Put it this way: What might you say to your 12-year-old about Pete today that you would not have said back then? Doesn't Pete's story epitomize the changed nature of hero worship? Buyer beware. We still sometimes equate hitting a ball or catching one with true virtue. But not so much anymore.
I think that's a good thing.
Ultimate Hose Job and Matt Hamill
Watched the fight from London the other night featuring the Brit Michael Bisping and Matt Hamill, the Loveland guy who made his mark as a world-class wrestler. It was a joke.
If mixed martial arts intends to go mainstream -- if its goal is to broaden its fan base beyond testosterone-fueled, quasi-adolescents and the 18-35 male demographic -- it needs to judge its bouts with a whole lot more credibility than it judged this one.
Three rounds, 5 mins apiece... Hamill dominated Round 1, won Round 2 and broke even in Round 3... yet the three wise guys judging the farce saw it as a split decision in favor of the local, Bisping. No wonder... Hamill comes into the arena to a chorus of "Born in The USA'' and boos from the crowd... Bisping is cheered so loudly, my TV shook. When it was over, the fans cheered Hamill, partly because they knew the result was idiotic and felt sorry for him. Hamill, to his credit, handled it well, saying Bisping "won fair and square.''
Uh, not exactly.
I wasnt a huge MMA fan going in, but because I know Matt, I had a rooting interest. After the decision, I'm still a fan of Matt. The "sport'' remains on the outside, looking in.
Willie and The Dunner
Just spoke with Bill Cunningham... he apologized this morning personally to ADunn, for saying on the air last Friday that Dunn was drunk during the previous night's game in Pittsburgh... Cunningham seemed truly contrite, said in 24 years of radio, he'd never before apologized to a Reds player for anything he'd said on the air. Dunn was not impressed. "Pathetic. You'll be hearing from me,'' was Dunn's response, according to Cunningham.
A few things: You can't say someone is drunk,not on the air, unless you know it's true. You can say he "looked'' like he was drunk or "played'' like he was drunk, not that he was drunk. It was good that Cunningham had the integrity to apologize in person; it was reckless that he said what he said. Talk radio allows a lot more leeway when it comes to passing harsh judgment on public figures. But there is a line.
I talked this morning with Enquirer attorney Jack Greiner, who said Cunningham's words probably were not slanderous. The irony is, the more hyperbolic the rhetoric, the better the slander defense. The theory is, if you make the words ridiculous enough, everyone listening will know you're not serious. So, if you're on the radio and you feel like assassinating someone's character, go overboard with it and you won't get anything but a fat lip from the assassinated.
I'm having Cunningham on Sports Talk tonight at 630, 700 WLW... we'll talk more about it.