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.
Monday is its last day. Sad for those who work there or have worked there. I got my start writing columns at The Post, in 1988. At the time, Cincinnati was the best place in America to write sports opinion, and would remain that way for the 6 years I worked on Court Street. Consider the material: Marge, Pete, Boomer, Sam, Huggs, Stanley Wilson (sigh), Lou, Nasty Boys, wire to wire and on and on and on. What I learned at The Post was it's OK to take chances, to be a little outrageous, to stretch propriety's bounds. Newspapering is not a polite business. Number-two-in-town newspapering is less so. The Post gave me some latitude; encouraged it, in fact. I'm forever grateful.
Newspapers might have character still, but they lack characters. Their corporate, cookie-cutter nature discourages quirks. Bill Peterson -- shoulder-length red hair, dressed in combat fatigues -- might not get a shot in newspapers today. He did well at The Post before moving on to Austin, TX (and writing a column still for CityBeat). Sarge got the first interview with Pete after the Hit King's banishment.
So many good people... my friend Jerry Crasnick covered the Reds... Bob Queenan, an institution at The Post, among the kindest people I've ever known... Joe Posnanski, talent on loan from the Hemingway Estate... Todd Jones, Jack Brennan, Butch Hobson, the patient and empathetic Mark Tomasik, George Diaz, Jeff Lenihan. I could go on. The current guys, especially Lonnie Wheeler, a gentleman in an arena not always gentlemanly... CT Rosecrans, whose blog posts sometimees pushed my radio gig forward... Josh Katzowitz, ditto... Kevin Goheen and Little Takeo...
I've worked for 2 papers that are extinct, The Post and the Dallas Times Herald. While I've been fortunate enough to stay a step ahead of the Reaper, I feel the loss of both. A newspaper isn't just a place to punch a clock, because these days, no one who works at one does so unwillingly. It's very much a living, breathing institution, given life and personality by those who work for it. The Post was feisty, edgy, fun, right to the end. It also, to a large extent, showed us the future of what we do. The Reds and UC blogs were a compelling mix of fact and whimsy, where you learned not only about the teams, but about the guys covering those teams. Trent and Josh got that. They taught me a little about it.
Rambling here. I'll miss The Post, but no more than I'll miss seeing the guys who worked there. It will be weird not having Lonnie or Josh or Trent to my right or left on press row. My best to each of them. They will be missed.
All I Want For Christmas...Next Year
It's too late this year... besides, FedEx blew my surprise this year by dropping off a box today with a picture of what was inside. Thanks. So here's what I want under next year's tree... if you're like me and have no life on Xmas Eve, feel free to add your own list... live merry, and thanks for all your help in '07...
1 -- a Bengals GM
2 -- B.Castellini thanking fans for all their support, and saying it was his pleasure to bring them the '08 NL pennant.
3 -- someone to put up my outdoor lights... I am Clark Griswold. How come I always end up with 2 female plugs?
4 -- 1 of those retro tabletop hockey games. Know what I mean? Those things with the knobs that move the men up and down the ice, and the ball bearing puck inside the rubber/plastic doughnut? One of those.
5 -- My man Curran the Golf God to give me that one, sure tip on hitting mid-irons consistently. OK, on hitting anything consistently.
6 -- My 1st hole in one. Have never come close.
7 -- Winnin' Time for M. Cronin, who cares deeply and has suffered much.
8 -- BK announcing he'll be UC football coach emeritus by the time he's done in Clifton.
9 -- My memory. Lately, I remember my keys and forget my car.
10 -- Jobs for The Post guys
11 -- A job for T. Hume, one of the better guys around.
12 -- A backrub for M. Lewis. Also, scouts.
13 -- Time.
14 -- One more "rounding third. . .''
15 -- Less Deion.
16 -- More Cris Collinsworth.
17 -- No Chris Berman. Yabba-dabba-do.
18 -- Chad w/o Rosenhaus.
19 -- Darlene Love's hand in marriage, er, D. Love's autograph.
20 -- Smart posts from you guys.
Number 20 is easy. The others. . .?
Live merry. Hope you get what you want. Or at least what you need.
Say Hello to .500
It's understandable the Reds don't want to be hijacked by the Orioles. Bedard is a nice lefthander. He's not Steve Carlton. All you can do is trust the judgement of those paid to be smart about the likes of Bailey, Cueto and the kid from Texas.
But once again, unless Joe Blanton magically appears, the Reds are playing for a future that never arrives. Bedard: 13-game winner in 5 months. Bailey, Cueto etc. : Unopened package. Bedard: Puts Reds immediately in Central mix. Bailey etc.: Leaves them wishing on potential.
It's a little like saving your money for a rainy day, while choosing to live in Palm Springs.
When you've been lousy since 2000, the way to being not lousy is crystal, and you hoard your prospects rather than give winning a shot, it's a little discouraging. Part of the reason you have prospects is so you can trade them.
A big reason the Cordero signing excited me was it spoke of winning now. You don't throw 46 mil at a soon-to-be 33-year-old closer unless you're going for it. Now?
Harang, Arroyo and ? and the Mysterians. That's no way to bring championship baseball back to Cincinnati.
Being funny is serious business. Being funny 5 days a week is just incredibly hard. Doing what Gary Burbank did for the last 26 years at WLW is practically unheard of. It takes a special individual (and a weird one) to create the parallel universe of people that he did. I knew folks who thought Earl Pitts was, you know, real. Who wondered how Gary got an old guy like Howlin' Blind into the studio as often as he did.
Gary had some very talented help (Doc Wolfe tickled me Senseless) but ultimately, 3-6 M-F was Gary's child. I will miss Earl and Gilbert and Howlin' and we-e-e-e-e-el-l-ll... I'll miss Gary's humor, his light touch, his common sense, his presence. Icons don't leave often, mainly because there aren't many of them. Come back and see us, Gary, heah?
Live big, Deuteronomy Scaggs.
Hamilton deal, 1st thoughts
Since I'm not an expert on minor league pitchers and how they'll develop in the majors, I can't say it's a homerun. But the Reds are fat in the outfield, and I'm not talking about A. Dunn. Is J. Bruce more of a sure thing than J. Hamilton? All things considered, I'd say yes. So to get a club's best pitching prospect, and another prospect with such a (supposedly) live arm, seems like a good deal to me. This opens a spot for Bruce to be a Red in April, a good thing. But here's the question:
Are they done?
Was Hamilton a probable chip in any deal involving a major league starting pitcher? Or does it mean that now that the Reds have traded for 2 good young arms, they'll be more willing to cut loose H. Bailey or J. Cueto? Was this deal a preview of coming attractions?
The Reds arent good enough now to contend seriously for the Central. They need Bedard or Blanton to do that. I've been assured by smart people that they're not done, but that was before this. Are they done? Let's hope not.
Meantime, best to Hamilton, whose story inspired. He's written the 1st chapter. Let's hope there's one hell of a book there.
Cleveland without end, Amen
Thought Bengals fans might enjoy this exchange with a Browns fan. A few things before you read it:
(1) I was wrong. The Browns overachieved. The Bengals achieved not at all. So much for optimism as it pertains to the home football team. The Browns are clearly the better team, have been since Week 2. Browns fans right; Doc wrong.
(2) After reading this guy's message to me from yesterday, no wonder Bengals fans dislike the dopes up north. Here it is:
Subject: Cleveland Browns
It is at this festive time of year that we endeavor to make some small provision for the poor. It is also at this time of year that people often become introspective and try to make themselves into better persons, perhaps by becoming more honest or raising their integrity level.
Do you remember this conversation from September?
(From me, back in September: Thanks, Tom... do me a favor: when the browns have a better record at the end of the year, write back and tell me how wrong I was... I'll be happy to acknowledge it, on the blog and on the air on 700 wlw... of course, if the bengals own the better record, i'll expect the same from you... thanks for reading...Paul)
Consider this to be an opportunity to improve your standing with the Lord as to being honest and having integrity. Browns fans everywhere look forward to reading your acknowledgement as to the excellent season they have experienced that you, in all you wisdom and experience, did not see coming. (oline wins games, Browns is vastly improved, this was not that hard to predict, just as the demise of the Bengals can also be in large part traced to the reduced performance level of their oline.)
Thanks and God bless us everyone!
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I really hope this improves my standing w/the Lord, who is a Browns fan.
Deion and Marshall and Bryant
For what it's worth... I'd heard so much about the telecast of Bengals-Niners I decided to hear some of it myself. There's a TV monitor in every press box, Monster Park included, but the sound is down. We'd TiVo'ed the second half. I watched/listened to the 3rd quarter. What I heard set back TV football about half a century.
Did Deion Sanders really say the Bengals defense "sucked"? Why yes, I believe he did. On national TV. He and Faulk seemed to be competing for who could be the bigger critic. Are they auditioning for a job in the booth? Prime's implication that C. Johnson doesnt get many yards-after-catch because he doesnt enjoy contact was laughable. Great corner, maybe best ever. Did he ever hit anyone?
Faulk and Gumbel going off on Marvin for saying the D wasnt his responsibility was irresponsible. Obviously, as head coach you're the CEO, not the coordinator. No one is saying Lewis is blameless, but c'mon, a little common sense would tell you what the coach said was reasonable. Otherwise, why have coordinators? Regardless, any cred Gumbel had leaked all over the microphone when twice he referred to Frank Gore as "Al'' and credited "Shayne Graham'' with kicking the FG that put the Niners up 17-10. He never corrected himself, meaning either he has no one credible talking in his ear, or those doing the talking believed it amusing that Bryant would goof up yet again.
Gumbel is very good on HBO's Real Sports. He is, quite possibly, the worst football play-by-play guy ever. And his two sidekicks in the booth Saturday were abject embarrassments.
A final thought: Any time I think I ask an athlete a stupid question, I think about the ex-jocks doing radio and TV, most of whom seem to take their "journalist'' lessons from people like me. Same dumb questions.
NFL play of the year
Lapham and I talked about this on Bengals Line Monday night, but it bears repeating. Brian Westbrook's knee-taking in the last 2 minutes at Dallas Sunday was the single best thing I've seen in the NFL all year. Doctor M. Lewis needs to copy that 54 times and make it a Christmas gift to his entire team. Two copies to Chad.
Recap: Philly up 10-6 with 2m left, Westbrook breaks free, obvious TD, stops at the 1... Dallas has no timeouts... if Westbrook scores, D gets the ball back, could score, get the onside kick, score again... Westbrook takes care of that... McNabb takes 3 knees, game over.
Smart, unselfish winner. Everything the '07 Bengals are not. Everything pro sports could be, but is not. If you want a reason to believe, there it is.
As for the Bengs... interesting to see how 85 plays on Sunday, after his Pro Bowl omission. Lap confirmed what many of us have suspected: The 'tudes have taken a toll on Palmer, who seems disgusted and en route to full Bengalization. Would ML be interested in the WVU job? Would MB let him out of his contract? I'd say no and no.
Meantime, we'll see Sunday who wants to play and who does not.
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Annual blog-plug for the greatest Christmas song of all time, Darlene Love's interpretation of the Phil Spector classic. You can find it on You Tube if you type "Darlene Love David Letterman''... Letterman has her on every year to perform it. The words, the emotion, her take all as fresh as the day she recorded it. Anyone who has ever loved and lost and is feeling alone at Christmas -- which is to say all of us, at some point -- will get chills listening to D. Love belt this one... please, please, please, baby please come home... baby please come home. Simple, poignant, beautiful, perfect. Check it out. The 2005 version is especially expressive. (It's also on CD... Phil Spector's Christmas, I think it's called. All girl group, wall-of-sounding Christmas standards. Classic.)
As always, I'll take your suggestions for best Xmas songs as well.
And then they played the game
During the Lost Decade, the most interesting day of any Bengals season was the day the schedule came out. I'd look to see if the trips were good. San Diego, Seattle, Tampa, Jax, Miami... good. Buffalo, KC, Houston, Minneapolis... bad. The games were the penance you did to get to go on the trip.
San Francisco was in a class by itself.
Since the Bengals seem to be steering the Good Ship 90s again, Schedule Day is back to being big. Here's hoping for many more good trips, to compensate for the bad football. Anyway, for what it's worth, here's your P-Doc 24-hour guide to everything great in Frisco that you might not have known before, in order of my affection:
Marin Headlands... all those car ads in magazines? Where the new vehicle is on the edge of an abyss, with the Golden Gate Bridge and the city in the background? That's the Headlands. Very easy to get to, very hard to forget. Drive across the GGBridge, make the second right onto Alexander Avenue... if you go right, you're headed for Sausalito, so go left and up the hill. The road winds through the hills... for the first mile, every couple hundred feet is an oh-my-god view of the bridge, the bay and the city. Keep going until you get to Rodeo Beach, where the waves smash against the cliffs and the surfers rule. If you go on a rainy day, you'll have the place to yourself. If it's nice, take a hike or rent a bike and ride the trails. Incredible beauty, 10 minutes from a couple million people.
Bonita Point lighhouse, Headlands... bear left instead of right once you're up in the hills.. the road leads you to the light, and past all these former artillery batteries...
Mama's Restaurant, North Beach... I once embarrassed George Wendt here... 1989, I walk into the place early on a Saturday, he's sitting there reading the paper. Before I could stop myself, I blurt out "NORM!!!'' He looks at me, shakes his head, gets up and leaves. Mama's has the best omelets and French toast anywhere, and when you're done, you can walk off your gluttony by hoofing it around Telegraph Hill. End up at Coit Tower for more heart-stopping views. (By the way, the cathedral on Washington Square next to Mama's is where Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe. DiMaggio grew up in North Beach, but exactly where, I don't recall.)
City Lights Bookstore... also in NB... Kerouac, Ferlinghetti, Beat Poets... go there and hope the magic rubs off.
Angel Island... it's that big, green, uninhabited knob in the middle of the Bay. Take the ferry from Fishermen's Wharf, a loaf of sourdough you bought in an Italian bakery, maybe some Anchor Steam beer, which is almost as good as Keystone Light. Eat. Drink. Hike. Listen to the channel markers clang and the foghorn clear its throat every few minutes. It's the Ellis Island of the West, where they processed Asians hoping to start a new life inn America. Great city views, peaceful walks. Gather some eucalyptus pods. Scratch and sniff.
Haight Ashbury... gentrified long ago. The Victorians once occupied by Jefferson Airplane, the Dead etc. now run $2 million or more... but the hippie vibe still exists, and if you're old like I am, shops there still sell honest-to-god records.
Sausalito... Take your wallet.
Wine country... if you must. A little crowded. Take Route 1 up the coast instead, to Stinson Beach and Bodega Bay, where Hitchcock filmed The Birds.
If you have more than a day, go south to the Monterey Peninsula... once spent the night in a lighthouse about an hour south, between SF and Carmel... it cost $40 for the night, and even though the accommodations were hostel-like spartan, we were right on the water, went to sleep hearing the waves pound.
There you go. Best city in America. Pre-Katrina New Orleans was a distant second.
Steroids: Who Really Cares?
The Mitchell Report comes out in 1o minutes and honestly, who outside the media and those directly affected cares?
Players? Nope. All refused to cooperate.
Fans? Not hardly. Recall the crowds for Bonds at GABP.
Team owners? No way. The Royals signed FA Jose Guillen AFTER he was found to have bought HGH. If M. Tejada's on the list, Hsn will have dealt 5 players to get him.
Selig? Shoot him up w/truth serum, he'll say this is about appearances, not solutions. According to an extensive report by Howard Bryant on ESPN.com, investigators never asked how Baseball might cleanse itself. They just wanted to know who was dirty.
Fact is, no sport wants to know everything, because every sport relies on big names to make money. No fan goes to games, watches TV, reads sports pages to feel bad, or to be bored into a coma by Senate hearings and court proceedings. Bengals fans no longer care that Odell Thurman has battled a drinking problem. They're sad he's not playing middle linebacker.
The Mitchell probe is better than nothing, but don't think for a second it's close to what has really happened. No one wants you to know that.
It's a game for the underdog. Always has been. It's the best game around here every year, any sport, because it never fails to reveal truths about players and teams. It honors worthwhile cliches: Toughness and want-to, mostly. It makes every player nervous. Poor Adam H. looked fairly scared to death.
It's a game that should have had M. Cronin asking his players afterwards, where have YOU guys been this season?
It was a game where the XU PA announcer should have been embarrassed. He mispronounced A. Hrycaniuk's name all game, and referred to "Rasheed'' Bishop without ever correcting himself.
(And yeah, I'll call myself out, too. I used last week's rating for X. The X-Men are 17th, not 21st. Apologies.)
It was a game, again, where XU's inside presence lacked. This is a pretty good basketball team with lots of options, but if it doesnt rebound better and play better generally in the post, things could get disappointing. Only seen them in person twice, last night and at Miami. Tim Pollitz, 6-5, took it to them inside at Millett; John Williamson did it last night... even AH had nine rebounds.
Above all, the Shootout redeemed itself as our premier local event. The play was ragged. The theatre was magnificent.
We don't need no stinkin' contract
It's a good thing coaches have contracts. Otherwise, they'd be moving all over the place. In July '06, Bobby Petrino signed a 10-year extension at Louisville. By January '07, he was gone to the Atlanta Falcons, who paid him $24.5 million for 5 years. Yesterday, Petrino left that job after not quite 5 years, to become the coach at Arkansas, where the Hogs had him sign a contract made of asbestos.
There was Petrino last night, doing that embarrassing Pig-sooey thing while swearing his perpetual, temporary loyalty to Arkansas. Meanwhile, Les Miles gets indignant at anyone who'd question his affinity for LSU, while at the same instant he's dialing Michigan.
As a general rule now, if you are a big-time college coach, your father was a snake, your mother a rat.
I loved how Petrino said he longed to return to the realm of the "student athlete'', where he could have a four-year influence on the minds and futures of 18-year-olds. What's he gonna teach 'em? How not to live up to your commitments?
Whenever a coach starts talking about loyalty, commitment and Staying, you should make only one move, and that's for your coat.
Shootout role reversal
Little Bro has the ball, owns the stage and is nice enough to allow Big Bro some face time. Sound unfamiliar? This year, Xavier can be as dismissive of UC as UC occasionally has been of Xavier. Remember when B. Huggins wondered what good his team took from playing X? Can Sean Miller make the same statement now?
Xavier is rolling, playing w/purpose and teamwork not always seen so early in the year. Already, the Musketeers' eyes are on March. UC? An appetizer for UT, Dec. 22. That's a really big game.
Meantime, the Bearcats are in no condition, physically or mentally, to go to Cintas and steal a win. One-year "veterans'' arent acting like veterans, and the kids aren't yet all right. Plus, the Musketeers might recall what happened to them last year in Clifton. I've been here since '88 and don't ever recall a year in which Xavier could be accused of looking past Cincinnati. Is this the year?
Nobody else got Bedard either
But disappointment should rule the day. To add Cordero and not a quality starter is half a loaf. Right now, the Reds arent good enough to challenge in the weak Central. A. Harang is all you can count on. I don't include Arroyo, because he's not consistent. After those 2, the dropoff is dizzying. And getting someone like Lieber or Tomko is a waste of time.
Lots of time before April, and I still think ownership intends to win now. But part of the reason you have good prospects is so you have people to trade. By acquiring Cordero, ownership expressed a willingness to play for Now. If they don't add a quality starter, they're stuck between Now and Later, which doesnt work.
I need some good online shopping sites, fast. Thanks... ran into D. Baker in downtown Nashville Tuesday night, at a blues club I visit whenever I'm there... Dusty is something of a music nut, another reason I like the guy... speaking of blues, my man Stacy Mitchart (Sycamore High), famous guitarist, is now steady at B.B. King's in Nashville... he tours, too, and is scouting a Cincy location for a concert featuring his band a and a couple local acts... he liked the Madison over in Covington... I suggested the theater on Oakley Square, the name of which momentarily eludes me... I saw Dickey Betts there a few years back... to me, dealing Bailey/Votto/Freel to B-more for Bedard makes sense... I'm a little tired of Next Years...
230 Miles Every Year
CANTON -- Our high school writer Tom Groeschen reports on the Enquirer's HS blog about keeping the state football championships wa-a-a-y up here in Canton and Massillon through 2011. Gresh deals with this stuff far more than I do, and if he says it runs like clockwork, that's good enough for me.
It's still a load.
The reasons given are familiar: The stadiums up here are the right size, their proximity to each other is convenient and practical, the traffic flow is good and blah and blah and blah.
The fact that fans in our area are inconvenienced matters not at all. The notion that a very good event should be spread around a state where HS football is equally fanatic is ignored.
Sorry, but I can't help but think part of it is a big ol' up yours to SW Ohio, which the way some view it, isn't even Ohio at all.
It's funny. When you read in-state publications about travel within Ohio, golf within Ohio, anything within Ohio, most can't say enough about everywhere else in Ohio but our little corner of the state. If you've lived in the Tristate any time at all, you'll hear us referred to as North Kentucky or worse. Hard not to feel like the orphans of the state. Except when it comes to D-1 titles. SW Ohio had won 4 of the last 5 heading into the game tonight.
Stadium size? Really? If you're a kid in these games, do you care? Or would it be better to dress in a locker room at Paul Brown Stadium? No telling if the Bengals would allow a local entrant to use their room, but who knows? And you cannot tell me that you would not get 30,000 to watch a local team play in the D-1 final.
Traffic? Would you rather enter and exit a place surrounded by interstates, or a place surrounded by 2-lanes? Fawcett Stadium here is on I-77, but it might as well be a 2-lane, constantly torn up and slow. And once you get off 77, forget it. Twenty minutes a mile.
They want turf, they want 2 venues, they have PBS and Nippert. And maybe, fans traveling from elsewhere in the state who spend the night can locate a restaurant better than a Bob Evans.
And the weather in Cincinnati would not be routinely dreadful, as it is here. As I type 1 minute before kickoff, snow is falling sideways. Nice.
Even if none of that were true, an event this special has to be shared. Or put in Columbus, where north and south make an equal hike.
Meantime, we feel like 2nd-class citizens. Everywhere but the field.