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.
JB Lyric of the Day: "I like mine with...'' No, wait.
"She came down fr...'' Please, anything but that.
"Some people claim..'' Not that, either.
"If I don't die by Thurs..'' Getting closer.
"I spent four lonely days...'' Almost there.
"He died about a month ago/When winter filled the air/ And though I cried, I was so proud/ To love a man so rare/He's somewhere on the ocean now/In a place he oughta be/ One hand on the starboard rail/He's wavin' back at me.''
There. Perfect. Name the tune, win a B. Castellini-signed head of lettuce.
Name 'em all, win a condo at The Banks. Enter soon. Supplies are limited.
Brandon Phillips has a chance to be the most popular Red since... who? If you had to pick a player to build a marketing campaign around, it might be someone who signs every day, poses for photos, smiles brightly and often, does whatever the club asks in the community, says he wants to be a Red for life, intends to establish a charity locally and, oh yeah, hits 30 homeruns, steals 30 bases and should have at least 1 Gold Glove.
He's another guy in what appears to be a growing list of Redlegs who appreciate what they have and who don't wear the star suit. I've spent the last 4 nights talking to half the team on the radio. I know it's February, pressure is low and no media nerd has written/said a bad thing about them yet. But not one guy was anything but gracious. Not one big-timed me, or acted like it was a pain to be there. Very impressive.
Phillips maybe most of all. On the radio, he was candid and funny. Off, he was a one man chamber of commerce. What he needs is for the Reds to start winning. Then the national notice will come. Winning is probably a year away, at least, but you can feel the mood and face of the club changing for the better. B. Phillips is at the head of the new line.
Jimmy Buffett lyric of the day: "Spinning around in circles/Living it day to day/And maybe 24 hours or 60 good years/It's really not that long a stay.''
Guess the tune, win Chris Sabo's Escort.
Jay Bruce was in the outfield the other day, making throws D. Baker considered lacking. "You're not getting quality work in now,'' manager told Big Thing. "You havent been around long enough to give the effort you're giving. You need to get better every time you step on the field.''
Bronson Arroyo is living on his 55-foot, 2-bedroom boat down here. Compared to Junior Griffey's 120-foot vessel, Arroyo says his is a dinghy.
Is there any one pitcher more important to the Reds potential this year than the guy who starts today? Is M. Belisle coming into his own, or destined for long relief? Answers begin in about an hour.
Crown Jewels, The Sequel
Jimmy Buffett Lyric of the Day: "Spending those renegade pesos/on a bottle of rum and a lime.''
Name that tune, win a Cuban cigar signed by Jose Rijo.
If Jay Bruce and Joey Votto are the offensive cornerstones for a decade, the Reds have chosen well. Amazing how easy-going, positive and utterly lacking in pretense these two are. Their collective goal, they say, is to be part of a winning Reds organization their entire careers. For a guy who has been told how great he is forever, and never failed at any level, anywhere, Bruce's head is level enough to shoot pool from. He looks like he's 18, acts like he's 48, speaks like he's running for something, except his remarks seem genuine. Votto is equally polished.
Who knows what time, fame and money will do. I told Votto his "Red forever'' remarks were being recorded on the radio, and we'd make sure to play them 6 years from now when, if all goes well for him, he'll be a free agent seeking lots of money. I gave up a long time ago guessing how pro jocks would be affected by money and fame and agents. These two seem the real deal. Besides, six years is six years.
Worth Rooting For
JB Lyric of the Day: "Then they're off to catch a stripper, with their eyes glued to her --, but I don't think that I would ever let 'em cut on me.''
Guess the tune, win a D. Baker toothpick.
Kent Mercker came back to baseball because, at 40, he figured he was too young to be spending his days packing his kids' school lunches. Also, because he missed The Guyz. They all miss The Guyz, and the surreal world of pro baseball, in which grown men are paid stupendous amounts of swag to spend hours in a clubhouse wearing compression shorts. And oh yes, perform a few hours a night.
Mercker estimates pitchers work hard 25 minutes a day down here. That's it. He said he worked harder being Mr. Mom. No wonder he wanted to come back.
Regardless, if he has anything left, maybe he makes the team as a lefty specialist. Maybe the Reds will eat Stanton's money. Mercker says he feels better now than before he blew his rotator cuff some 18 months ago. We'll see. Meantime, best of luck to one of the better guys down here.
It's Better Here
Jimmy Buffett Lyric of the Day: I drink a lotta whiskey/it gives me such a glow/ it makes me quite immobile/ but it lets my feelings show.''
Guess the tune, win fabulous prizes.
D. Baker might not be the world's greatest manager -- then again, it's Feb. 25, so who's to say -- but he's definitely the coolest Reds manager since. . . since. . . ever.
I like guys who can step outside what they do. D. Miley and J. Narron didnt exactly qualify. Baker leaps. Small example, more to follow in a column either tomorrow or the next day: Baker has Tupac on his iPod deck in his office...
Decent chance you can't say this about any other manager in the game.
You know we're not far from the Madness when you start hearing the coaches stumping for their clubs. Mick Cronin says if UC finishes top-6 in the BE and the committee takes at least six BE teams, his should be one of them... also suggests committee should consider that UC played its first 6 games w/o J. Warren...
I think he makes a decent case. I also think UC better win twice in the BE tournament to justify it. Joe Lunardi, the ESPN Bracketologist, is on Sports Talk w/me tonight at about 7. You'll be surprised to hear what he thinks about UC's Dance chances.
Who are the Reds?
Anyone else see a rotation that looks like this:
Where are the wunderkids? The prospects that couldnt be dealt? Crown Jewels, the sequel?
Does anyone else see the contradiction of hiring a manager who favors older players to lead a team where everyone loves the young guys? Dusty called Bailey "Bush'' the other day.
If you're going to audition your kids, why bring in Fogg? Why talk openly of dealing for Lofton or Patterson? Who do you want to be?
Fogg's not a reliever. Affeldt will be given a chance to win a starting job. If he's even decent, don't you think Baker will take him over Cueto or Volquez? If the team were so sure about its kids, why does it continue to bring in/talk about acquiring older guys?
For years, the Reds have vacillated between development and winning, and have committed fully to neither. Looks like more of the same.
Tonight at 6 on Sports Talk... bring your arguments.
Is there a split in philosophy in RedsLand, between those who want to win this year and those who want '08 to be a big test drive for '09? Could be.
You can't have it both ways. Now that Bedard is gone and Blanton is headed that way, play the kids. No point in bringing in a mediocrity like Josh Fogg, to take a bottom of the rotation spot that should go to Cueto or Volquez, at least for the time being. If you want to go with prospects, go with prospects. If you want to win now, do better than Josh Fogg. You can't do both.
Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes
Bengals apply franchise tag to backup lineman Stacy Andrews... it buys them time to negotiate a long-term deal ... if that doesn't happen, they will pay him nearly $7.5 million this year, the average of the 5 highest-paid players at his position in the league... if no one is injured, Andrews will be the 6th lineman on his own team.
Bengals don't do this last year for E. Steinbach, a Pro Bowl alternate, similarly versatile. Bengals tag J. Smith instead, because they have no one to replace J. Smith if he leaves, unless you think Frostee Rucker is fabulous. J. Smith gets top-5 cash, even as he might not be top 5 in his own division.
Meantime, in the last 2 days the Chiefs tag Jared Allen, Ravens tag Terrell Suggs, Colts Dallas Clark... all Pro Bowl-caliber players.
Bengals overpay players because they don't have enough quality talent to replace decent players who can leave. Bengals don't have enough quality talent, in part, because they don't have a quality personnel dept., or a GM...
Props to Andrews, the beneficiary of the Bengals' forever weakness. Props to Paul Alexander, the O-line coach who has developed Andrews from a green 4th-rounder into a valuable player.
Just guessing. But adding 3-5 scouts and a GM might not cost the club much more than what it had to overpay Smith and might have to overpay Andrews.
Winning is Overrated?
I keep banging on this because I don't understand the thinking... have had several people, on the blog and e-mail, tell me that I shouldnt look at a pitcher's W-L record when determining what kind of a player he is. In essence, wins and losses don't tell the story.
Uh, yes they do.
What's the point in playing, if not to win? Is it to lose, but to argue that I pitched well, they just didnt get me any runs? Do clubs win championships this way? The fact that J. Blanton has 42 wins in the last 3 years is somehow diminished, because he doesnt pitch as well on the road as he does at home. The notion that Blanton was 7-5 at home and 7-5 on the road last year is lost on some people.
This is when statistics get in the way of truth. Winning is winning. Give me 14-10 over 9-15. I don't care what any of the guy's other numbers say. The only number that matters is the W.
It's not about Blanton anymore. The Reds don't seem interested in winning this year -- it's more of a test-drive for next year, to see how the kids do -- it's about the thinking of those who would argue every stat but the only stat that counts.
Rocket and The Hit King
I'm writing this for tomorrow or the next day, so I dont want to give too much away. But when it comes to voting for the Hall of Fame, I won't vote for Clemens, Mac, Bonds, Palmeiro. But I'll write in Rose. And honestly, I'm not entirely sure why. I'm going to talk to a few people today whose opinions I trust, essentially to explain me to me.
I mean, what's the difference? Are there degrees of cheating? Is one form Hall-worthy and another not? Is one petty larceny and the other grand theft?
Rose bet on the game while (as far as we know) a manager. I believe the other 3 used PEDs as players. I think their crimes are worse. Rose should be voted in as a player, with an explanation on his plaque. And yet, he's not eligible. Mac is, and there's a decent chance that, in time, he'll make it. What's the difference?
Cool movie deal
I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to TV and movies, so I happened to notice the deal on movies at Newport on the Levee: This Saturday, the 23rd, you can see all 5 Best Picture nominees for $30... seen all of them but Juno, would put my cash on No Country for Old Men... at least that was my favorite, though D.D. Lewis in There Will Be Blood absolutely chewed scenes, start to finish..
anyway, if you have nothing better to do...
BTW, my boy Chip Rosecrans loaned me the 1st season of the HBO series The Wire, out on DVD... routinely fabulous. Joe Bob says check it out.
I know it's spring training and everyone is supposed to be optimistic. And I do think the Reds will be better this year than last. But the notion they'll challenge for anything but .500 with the pitching the way it is now is incurably optimistic.
Everyone seems to believe only 2 spots need to be filled in the rotation. Everyone assumes M.Belisle will be much better than 8-9, 5.32. Why?
Everyone takes for granted that Bronson Arroyo will put up #2 starter numbers. Why? Since June 19, 2006, Arroyo is, I believe, 14-23. If not, very close.
Everyone assumes a couple of the unproven young guys will suddenly bloom into 12-15 game winners, which is what they'll need to be for the Reds to make September relevant.
Listen, I hope it's all true. I just don't see the evidence. Either they bring in Blanton at some point, or they don't win.
After a day to digest it all, a few observations on the Clemens/McNamee hearing:
Clemens is an egomaniac of the worst sort, content to throw under the bus anyone he believed might help his case, from his agents to his good friend A. Pettitte to even his wife and his mother.
The rep from Indiana, Dan Burton, ought to be embarrassed for the way he "questioned'' McNamee. The Republican from Connecticut, Shays, who referred to McNamee as a "drug dealer'' and Clemens as "a baseball icon'' ought to feel the same.
Congress, which can't help itself, even went partisan on this issue, Republicans glorifying Clemens, Dems trying to stick it to him.
The notion that Clemens could spend days before the hearing touring the offices of the same people questioning him leaves me cold. Wonder how many autographs/photos the honorable Mr. Burton got for his staff.
If the Justice Department doesnt pursue this, there is something very wrong, given the vigilance shown in the cases of B. Bonds and M. Jones.
Clemens will never get a Hall of Fame vote from me.
Very good to see he has been working out and should be in shape when/if NFL reinstates him... should be no reason the league doesnt let him back in the game. Forget the fact he could still be a very good player. Odell Thurman the human being seems to have made big strides. Here's hoping we can write/talk about him in the same inspirational vein we did Josh Hamilton last spring.
And of course, there is the notion of having him, Brooks and Geathers playing LB in the 3-4... there is that.
Marvin Lewis re Chad Johnson, to Mark Curnutte in this morning's Enquirer: "It's unfortunate for Chad that he is being cast in this light because it's not fair.''
Not sure I understand. Who cast the light? Not fair to whom?
Seeme to me Chad has spent the last month saying the team has cast him in that light. Also seems to me that the team has no idea how to handle him. (Not sure any team would have that idea, but we're talking about the team that employs him.)
The rift is between Johnson and Lewis. That's the distinct impression Johnson has left. More likely, it's between Johnson and the Bengals' bank vault. But that is not how the receiver has framed the discussion. So to say it's unfortunate that Chad is being cast in this light, while taking no responsibility yourself, is disingenuous at best.
Lewis has said over the years he wanted less selfishness from his team. Johnson isn't the only target of that comment, but he certainly is the most obvious. Yet when Johnson celebrates a TD by himself, by hopping atop a TV platform and commandeering a camera, his coach's public reaction is to smile and tell Johnson he understands.
You can't make vague references to some "light'' without assuming some of the blame. He is your player.
At some point, there's a decent chance we'll see coach and player at a podium, smiling and saying it was all "blown out of proportion'' and that there never was any real problem. Might as well happen sooner than later. The team isn't trading Chad and, given he's already the fourth-highest paid wideout in the league, it isn't likely to redo his deal a third time.
It falls to Marvin to do what's best for the entire team while also keeping his star wide receiver happy. You don't get what you expect. You get what you put up with. Time for Marvin to change the light.
SI swimsuit issue... outdated?
The new one is out, at least online.
Is it relevant anymore?
When you can subscribe to Maxim... when you have the 'Net... when you see more skin at the Oscars... when the culture has changed to where looking like Alicia Keys at the Grammys is more the norm than not...
Who cares about a bunch of models on a beach?
Those of us of a certain age still think Cheryl Tiegs emerging from the surf in that fishnet one-piece is a highlight of our lives... but that was awhile ago. Maybe now, you look at that and shrug.
Personally, the presence of that thick SI in the mailbox every February is a reminder that winter doesnt last forever, that Moscow-on-the-Ohio will be warming up soon enough. I like the idea of the swimsuit edition as much as the execution.
You? The online photos are fabulous, especially some of the body-painted ladies. But maybe the whole notion is becoming a little outdated.
The Hard Core Section
The Reds have eliminated camping out for Opening Day tickets, by having all those interested apply online. The winners are randomly selected, and can buy up to 4 tickets. It is, I guess, a more orderly and civilized way to do things, and gives their marketing people a lot of new e-mail addresses to jam with promotional "information.''
What does it do for the Hardcore fan? The guy who wants to stand in line for OD tickets, who wants to camp out?
Why not leave out a couple hundred tickets, in a specific section? Put it out there that the first 200 people in line will be guaranteed a ticket. Allow them to preserve an OD tradition by camping out and lining up. Give them all Hardcore Section T-shirts? Or, if that offends you, Diehard Section?
That in itself could be a good promotion.
What do you think?
Reds assembling softball team
After signing Kent Mercker and Craig Wilson to minor-league deals, the Reds evidently are interested in Kenny Lofton, who will be 106 on May 31. (Actually, 41, but who's counting.) That would give them 3 CFs, unless they figure Freel or Hopper is gone in a deal for. . .
Joe Blanton... kills me, the way many of us think around here. Lived here since '88, not many places I'd rather be (Virgin Islands, maybe, or Montreat) but we take no chances... daring to be good is not a civic strength... and the comments re trading prospects for a proven winner are evidence. Give Oakland Bailey/Cueto, Votto and a lesser name for Blanton and let's get about the business of daring to be good.
People laughed at me 2 months ago, when I wrote Xavier had a shot at the Final 4... fewer laugh now. Senior guards, selflessness, depth, versatility, rising star coach, singleness of purpose. Gonzaga has been a sexy F4 pick for years. The Zags aren't as good as X this year or overall in the last decade. Only weakness I see is in the post. Love doesnt do enough at either end. And of course, the draw they get.
UC will make the BE tournament, a preseason goal. Its sights should be set on an NIT bid. Simply outstanding work by Mick, who has exactly one big-time BE player and no post presence. Poor Adam, looks entirely at sea out there. And Biggie is a project.
Caught the last hour of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am... couldnt have cared less who won, other than to root against Vijay. But the Monterey Peninsula on hi-def... whoa.
Somehow, missed the incredible excitement and over the top thrills of the Pro Bowl...
Building for the future and other mistakes
Interesting how so many fans are so concerned about trading prospects for established talent. This time, it involves acquiring J. Blanton from Oakland for, apparently, Bailey/Cueto, Votto and a lesser prospect.
I do it in a second because (1) a reason you build your farm system is to have players to trade and (2) If you are a small-money club, you don't get chances to win every year. The Reds' equation this year is simple: Make Matt Belisle your #3 starter, finish 3rd or 4th, win about 80 games; trade for Blanton, win 85 or more, be in the mix all summer.
I look at prospect-hoarding like this: You save your whole life for retirement. You sacrifice when you're young, so you can take it easy when you're not. Then when you retire, you become sick or infirm and all that money you could have spent when you were young enough to enjoy it just sits there.
Blanton is a proven winner, a guy who threw 230 innings last year, gave up only 16 homers in the AL and walked only 40 hitters. Cueto is. . . is. . . we don't know. Same for Votto and Bailey.
Do you want to win after 8 years of losing? Or do you want to brag about the prospects? Spend your money now, while you can? Or hoard it, for an uncertain future that might never arrive?
On good authority
The Reds and Dodgers are talking with Oakland about Joe Blanton. Blanton has won 42 games in the past 3 years, was 14-10 last year and is already signed this year, to a relatively cheap $3.8 million deal.
your laugh for the day
Go to YouTube and search for Drew Rosenhaus' video re Ocho Cinqo. I honestly don't know how the man keeps a straight face.
It was just like him to leave the way he did, on his terms, no retirement tour full of rocking chairs and fishing rods. I knew Knight a little, liked him a lot, always thought attempts to describe him as This or That were futile. Complex guy, with an unfortunate streak of self destruction, a la Woody, that will forever brand him to some as The Guy Who Threw The Chair.
He was also The Guy Who Gave 5 Million to The IU Library.
I guess the best that can be said is this: As a college basketball coach, you are paid to win games and graduate players. Nobody did it better than Knight. His players were invariably polite and well spoken. They went on to lead productive lives. Isnt that what matters, when all's said and done?
Knight was a substance guy in a style world, who was true to himself, even when it hurt him. And oh, yeah, he was arguably the best basketball coach who ever walked a sideline. Here's hoping he's casting a trout line right now.
Rush the passer, protect the passer. Build from the inside-out. Wide receivers are among the easiest to find and replace. You wanna win, rush and protect. I wrote that here and in the paper last week, in reference to 85's ongoing melodramatics. A few of you disagreed. It proved out in the Bowl.
A guy who had more tackles than catches this year makes the biggest catch of the game. Giants pass rush debilitates the Pats offense.
One more time: Robert Geathers producing 15 sacks next year would have a greater impact on Cincinnati winning games than Chad Johnson catching 1400 yards of passes. If they trade him (doubtful) or if he holds out (likely), plug in Glen Holt or Tab Perry or get a wideout off the waiver wire. Draft a speed rusher or go to a 3-4 and let Geathers loose from outside LB.
Chad's a very nice player. Just not as important as a guy like Osi Umenyiora.
Important Super Bowl stuff
Tom Petty's set list, in order: 1. American Girl; 2. Runnin' Down a Dream; 3. Freefallin'; if there's a 4th, Don't Do Me Like That. I nailed the Stones' set in Detroit 2 years ago... didnt predict last year. Prince doesnt thrill me.
Length of national anthem: 1 minute, 34 seconds.
Shots of TV actors in Fox shows: 17
Shots of TV actors in other network shows: Zero
Number of references to "the football'' so as to distinguish it from other types of balls used in the game, i.e. "you have to be able to run The Football in this Football game.'' -- 479
Length of time it takes to clear smoke from pre-game pyrotechnics: Six minutes.
Mentions of the upcoming season of "24": 24
Who dumps the Gatorade bucket on Belichick: Vrabel and Bruschi.
Who's MVP: Brady. Ya think?
Who wins: Pats, 27-17.
Shameless Friday radio show plug
Talking to a TV expert about the magnificence of High Definition. If you're not watching the Big Bowl on HD, you're not watching.
Talking to a Kentucky state rep about making exercise mandatory in school. Legislated recess: Who'd have thought?
Talking to MLB ump Randy Marsh about Baseball invading his privacy in conducting heavy-handed background checks.
Also want to know how much of your annual budget is spent on sports...face value Super Bowl ticket going for $700.... who has that kind of cash? I get into everything for free (somebody has to) and I added up all the things I cover annually and what it would cost me if I had to pay... It came to almost $5,000... how do people afford this stuff? What do you give up to do it? Or have you given up going?
And other junk...
tonight, 6-9, 700 WLW
Regulars to this space understand I'm techno-challenged. I mean, I didnt get cable until 2 years ago. Until 3 months ago, I was Dial Up Man. I thought life began when I bought my first leaf blower. That was a year ago September.
So maybe you'd heard of Google Earth a little before now.
If not, read on.
Google Earth allows you an overhead view of just about anyplace you can imagine. It's one of the great time-wasters of our age. It's also a good tool for checking out a vacation spot. We're going to Tortola in August. Wanted to see where the villa was, in relation to the beach, roads, town etc. GE'd it, got so close I could see the red tile roof of the house. Amazing.