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.
Ben-gal-ized: A condition unique to those who coach for the NFL franchise located in Southwest Ohio. Symptoms include glazed-doughnut look in post-game news conferences, frequent references to "working harder'' and "positives'' and curious game-management decisions. Those stricken often show signs of life and vitality upon taking the job, but eventually become worn down or comfortable with mediocrity or both. Current head coach is becoming Bengalized later in his tenure than his three predecessors, probably because he had the misfortune of working in winning cultures previously, in Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Now, he's catching on.
"I'm not under fire'' current coach allowed Monday, and he was absolutely right. In Bengaldom, the only # that matters is butts-in-seats. The Bengals set attendance records twice in the last four weeks. If current coach is loyal to owner, he can stay as long as the seats are filled. Unless he determines being Bengalized is not how he'd like to be remembered. Remember the year the Bengals went 3-13 and the only move made was to fire the special teams coach?
Bengalizing someone requires a unique blend of stubbornness, cheapness and immunity to change. No GM, no more scouts, blind loyalty, the ability to hold hostage a gullible fan base with the same old, same old. It occurs within an industry that makes so much cash, and has such a monopoly, those who own stakes in it have a license to print money. And no huge financial incentive to win. It's sad to see what is happening to current coach. But not unexpected. Bengalizing gets them all, sooner or later.
Dusty talks to Prior and Wood
2 Chicago papers report Dusty has had talks with both. I'd look at Wood, depending on the price. I wouldnt touch Prior with a 10-foot Louisville Slugger. BTW, Dusty-bashers, if he "ruined'' these 2 arms, why would they want to talk to him?
Happy Birthday, Royals
50 years ago today, the Cincinnati Royals played their 1st game... to those of us who grew up loving the NBA in the 60s and 70s, the Royals always meant the incomparable O and Jerry Lucas... O missed by three-tenths of an assist a game of averaging a triple-double as a rookie... he got the triple-double average the next year. That's simply unheard of today... I dont know how he'd have handled the media madness of today back then. But I'm guessing it would have been the way he handles everything now, with understated dignity and class... it's a shame we couldnt have kept the Royals around...
Did you go to Royals games? I grew up in DC... my dad and I used to take a bus to the Baltimore Bullets games (now Washington Wizards)... I was a Philly fan, when the Sixers were Wilt, Hal Greer, Bill Cunningham and my favorite player, Wally (Wali) Jones... but I loved the old Bullets, especially Gus "Honeycomb'' Johnson... and Wes Unseld and Earl "The Pearl'' Monroe...
Sadly, no pro game has suffered a bigger disconnect with its fans than the NBA... I watch it a little now, which is a lot more than I watched 10 years ago... but usually only at Finals time...
we're working on getting Oscar, Connie Dierking and Adrian Smith on WLW SportsTalk tonight, 6 to 9... if you remembetr fondly the Royals, take a listen and grab a line...
Good news for the Bengals. Better news for Henry. We're talking about a guy's life here. Wonderful talent, chance to secure himself for life. Without football, who knows? I dont know him, but he comes off as quiet, even shy, which is why it was a little surprising to hear all the trouble he created for himself. Point is, while his presence will make the Bengals offense a whole lot better, it will also hopefully make him the player and person he can be.
While I'm at it, I never understood why players in Henry's situation couldn't practice. The structure and regimentation, would seem to me, would help a guy like Henry keep his nose clean. Especially a guy like Henry. The money-fame-free time trap has hooked pro jocks for many years. Taking away the daily drill of the season just gives these guys more time to get back in trouble.
Regardless, here's hoping Henry does better with his second chance than he did with his first.
Guys like Thornton make the radio gig a pleasure. He was on with me an hour last night. Thoughtful, candid, bright, versatile. He's the kind of guest I'd like to have more of. When I took over Sports Talk last April, I said I wanted it to be less confrontational and more conversational. Not to cut back on the passion-- sports w/o passion is chess -- but to make it more civil and informative. Thornton epitomizes that. Says he plans to live here after he's done playing. What an asset he'll be to the community.
A few things about Chad
Read the Sunday column before you decide I want him traded.
Ask yourself where the Trade Chad discussion started. It wasnt in the media.
Read the book I wrote with him. It explains who he is, why he is how he is, and where he comes from.
Read Chapter1. See if it doesnt sound a lot like what I wrote Sunday.
Everything written Sunday has been said to Chad by his closest friends and associates, many, many times, most recently by his mentor Charles Collins, after the New England game. "Channel your emotions properly'' has been the message for years.
Chad doesnt need to attract attention to himself anymore. He's household. He's too old to behave the way he does, on the field and behind closed doors. If you dont think his actions have negative repercussions in a losing locker room, you've never been in a losing locker room.
He's not the reason the Bengals are 2-4, obviously. He's merely today's column and/or talk show topic. I hadnt written about Chad all year, unless you count the fluff I wrote over the summer about his trip to Africa. But as an opinion writer, I'm not going to ignore an issue that has gone national.
If you think I'm tough, check out Ditka, Parcells, Esiason etc on TV and Whitlock in print. I know Chad a whole lot better than any of those people, so I give him the benefit of the doubt.
Bottom line: Skip the celebrating, unless it's with your teammates. Stop giving your emotions free rein. You're almost 30 years old.
3-dot lounge welcomes the "odyssey generation''
... the 20-somethings who live at home or live with friends or live anywhere that doesnt require much capital upfront, so they can indulge their whims and not grow up... NY Times syndicated column about them in this AM's Enquirer... how tough it is now being 20-something. I'm sorry, but is this 1943? 1929? 1966 Vietnam? Finding yourself used to mean graduating from college or high school and looking for an apartment. Now it involves navel-gazing and blowing off adulthood...
Pete Mackanin for bench coach.
Anyone else a little mystified about the popularity of UFC? Kinda barbaric, arcane rules, borderline staged? Saw one UFC match, local guy M. Hamill and Brit M. Bisping... in London... Hamill beat the guy up 2 of 3 rounds, judges gave it to Bisping... only conclusion was it made for a nice return bout in the States, playing up the grudge/revenge angle and all that. Seems a little cheesy to me, but I'm old...
why the outcry over a 16-0 high school soccer match? The little dears can't handle a blowout? Then they need to get better. Question: Would you rather be blown out or patronized? I'd rather be blown out. By the time you get to high school, sports is no longer play hard and have fun. It's play hard, compete and win. Life Lesson #1...
new report says drug testing high school athletes isnt a deterrent to their use of drugs... do it anyway... playing sports is a privilege, not a right... and if you're innocent, you should welcome it...
Hopefully, Paul O'Neill tonight on SportsTalk, 6-9, 700 WLW...talking about Joe Torre... Big won four rings playing for Torre, who yesterday told the Yanks to shove it... I'll talk to O'Neill and about all the stuff above...
Live big, Don Draper.
Many, many e-mails from too-smart fans in Chicago who just know the Reds won't win w/D. Baker. Here's a question: What do Cubs fans know about winning? Do we need to review the record? Yes, I think we do: No WS since 1945. No world title since, what, 1908? Go ahead, Cubbie Fan, tell me all about winning.
Cubs tried to buy themselves a winner this year... earmarked $300 mil for the project... won the worst division in baseball and were swept in the playoffs... Baker gave CubFan a whiff of success and suddenly, CF is an expert. HaHa.
Bengals and Baker
From the KC Airport, which has free wireless... sorry I can't respond individually to more than 300 emails since yesterday...this post will have to do... Re the Bengals:
Am having horrible Dick LeBeau flashbacks...Lewis came out totally paralyzed in the postgame yesterday...he is unable to reach this team, which has more talent than 4 losses in 5 games and 7 in the last 8... this was a game the Bengals had to win. It followed an embarrassing display at home on MNF... if ever a team had any pride in itself, and showed it in a critical game, this should have been the one... with the playoff-dream portion of the season on the line, they fell behind 27-10 w/8m to play, against a mediocre club that begged them to get back in the game...Lewis responds by saying his team played as a team in the second half... it was a Bruce Coslet moment that should anger every Bengal fan...
As for Baker... I'm an "ass'' according to many, for suggesting part of the anti-Dusty backlash is racial... so be it. Thing is, not one of the hundreds of posters, e-mailers etc. has said anything beyond the standard he-ruins-pitchers and he-coddles-veterans that makes any rational sense... and even the Pitchers and Coddling arguments can be shot down. Baker's the first legit major league manager the Reds have had since McKeon, and all anyone can do is bitch about it. What's wrong with you people?
Again: Who, exactly, would you have chosen? La Russa wasnt coming. Ownership decided against Joe (1 year, 78 wins) Girardi... Brenly? Mackanin? Who? Baker has 1,100 wins, 3 manager of the year awards etc. The overwhelming negativity around here never ceases to amaze... that said, keep those cards and letters coming... it's great conversation and I appreciate it very much.
Because we're able to communicate quicker than instantly now, everyone's feelings about D. Baker as the Reds new manager were evident several days before he actually got the job. The verdict was resounding: Baker is the least popular choice since Vern Rapp. I said this on the radio last week: I don't understand the condemnation... 1,100 wins, 8 top 2 finishes in 14 years, players respect... he's not LaRussa or Torre, but the cred is there, and why does everyone assume the Reds could do better? Believe it or not, prospective skippers don't grow up dreaming of managing in Cincinnati.
Is Baker the best choice? I'd have held out awhile for LaRussa. But the chances of him coming here dimmed daily. You can't always get what you want. If you try sometimes, you get what you need.
Here's what Baker needs to do to win hearts and games here: Not allow Junior and Dunn to set the clubhouse tone. Stay with J. Votto -- and Keppinger, Hopper and eventually Bruce -- when they slump. Expect from Day One that this team play as a team. Play no favorites. Get yourself a big-time pitching coach. Leo Mazzone is available. Watch the pitch counts of Bailey and eventually Cueto. Lead, because if you don't, nobody else will.
Here's what fans need to do: Open your minds.
Very good reason why Reds cant hide beneath the small-market skirt anymore... if you're smart, resourceful and work a good plan, you too can reinvent your team on the fly... the Indians have done it twice, while never reaching the depths the Reds have.
Wishing for Walt Jocketty
Total speculation: Just because Jocketty won't be the Reds GM doesnt have to mean he won't be here. How about Reds President Walt Jocketty? He could deal with big-picture issues, while allowing W.Krivsky to evaluate talent, something he was trained to do, is comfortable with and, with a few notable exceptions, has been good at here, unless you think Phillips, Hamilton, Burton, Keppinger were bad decisions. Jocketty would come in over Wayne and deal with things like a bigger presence in the Dominican, a better relationship between the front office in Cincinnati and the scouting people in the field etc. His expertise on acquiring useful veterans at decent prices would be invaluable. Just a thought. Otherwise, what I see is Kriv, Griff and Mackanin, not nearly enough new pitching and 78 wins.
BTW, J. Torre wouldnt be a good fit here, even if he were interested. His strength is dealing with the egos and personalities of veteran players, not pumping up kids.
Searching For Service
We have cellular telephones that take pictures, make movies, surf the 'Net (on a 1-inch square screen...great) and cook a five-course meal for a family of four. They do everything but give you a working signal from your house in the suburbs. I can go to the Olympics in Australia and Greece and be given cell phones that make it sound as if I'm calling home from a pay phone at UDF. I'm in the US of A and I can't get a signal from my close-in house.
Very good column in the NYTimes not long ago, by Tom Friedman, the best op-ed guy on the planet. He lives in Bethesda, Md., where I grew up, a close-in DC suburb. Friedman said he has trouble making a call from Bethesda to his office downtown. Recently, he bought a disposable cell at the airport in Beijing. He used it to call home. The reception was clear.
Can you hear me now?
Sure can. I need to leave the country to make a phone call.
Reassessing 1 and 3
After a few days of talk, talk, talk, I'm going back to what I said about the Bengals before the season started, after they lost K.Irons: They didn't upgrade the talent from a year ago, and they've been hammered by injury and suspension. All the stuff about selfishness, immaturity etc. -- fueled by me and Marvin and media hacks coast to coast -- is great for discussion. It might actually be true. It's not really the point.
When you're playing pass defense with 2 green guys like J. Joseph and L. Hall, how do you expect to do against Hasselbeck and Brady? When you're trying to stop the run w/a safety and a down lineman playing LB, why should you expect to contain even Sammy Morris?
When your offense is minus C. Perry, C. Henry, R. Braham, E. Steinbach, K. Irons etc. -- and half the players you do have are one false step from IR -- why would you expect it to perform the way it did 2 years ago, or even last year? The Bengals offense is living on rep. It's too dependent on C. Palmer's right arm, and the ability of TJ and Chad to shake double teams.
Could the Bengals grow up a little? Sure. Yeah. I spoze. Could they play more as a team, if only so they don't look foolish on national TV? Yup.
But the real problem is talent. They don't have enough. They've taken the momentum of '05 and flushed it. I still see 9-7, given the schedule and the chance that some important players will heal enough to play. But the promise of '05 needed to be built upon. It hasnt been.
That's Topic A tonight on SportsTalk on 700 WLW... as well as remaking the Reds and the task UC faces in leaping to the football big time... and really, doesnt the city have better things to do than enact laws against kids playing on the street? check it out 6-9 tonight...
It's silly to lay the Monday disaster at the feet of one of the best players on the team. Chad Johnson was hardly the reason the Bengals lost by 3 TDs at home. But it is disappointing, after all these years, to see that Chad has not grown up. What was with the head-holding after he nearly scored? He helped the team with a great effort on that play. Shouldnt that be enough? Not for 85. He didnt score on national TV.
Then the end of the 1st half. He and CP get crossed up on a crucial interception. Chad gives it to Carson coming off the field, on the bench and heading off the field at halftime. Had to be at least 5 minutes. ESPN caught it all. Cameraman follows the pair off the field. A. Whitworth tries to block the cameraman's view. Chad keeps jawing.
What's the word here? Unprofessional? Immature? Selfish? Embarrassing? Yes, four times.
Palmer, being Palmer, took all the blame after the game. He deserved none. I wouldnt swear to this, but as the camera zoomed in on the duo as they walked off at halftime, I thought I saw Palmer say, "You f---d up, man.''
That's putting it mildly. Look, I like Chad. I did a book with him. I know how excited he gets when the spotlight shines. Part of his exuberance/frustration occurs when he thinks he should be doing more to help the team win. But you'd think after all this time, he'd channel it in more productive directions than showing up his QB in prime time.