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.
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I was doing my job with one heartbeat when I said to myself, "Self, now is the time to recap what the Bengals have done in the offseason.'' Here goes:
Refused to trade C. Johnson, forcing Ocho either to (1) sit out the season or (2) come in ticked off and immediately begin sharing his displeasure with the world. You think he ran bad routes last year...
Kicked off the team their leading tackler from '05, let go their leading tackler from '08.
Kicked off the team their best deep threat.
Let go Madieu Williams and Justin Smith.
Target a couple free agent D-linemen, miss on both.
Get outmaneuvered for Sedrick Ellis in Round 1 of the draft.
Slap a franchise tag on a semi-starter at tackle. Meantime, the guy who arguably should have had that tag earned Pro Bowl alternate status in Cleveland. And the current starter at left tackle wants to be traded.
Have lots of important veteran leaders show everyone the Bengal Way, by blowing off team-building activities like offseason practices.
Now, I can't wait for training camp.
Things That Please Me Today
My best friend for 40 years, calling out of the blue from his home in Tucson, AZ.
Sheryl Crow's new disc, Detours, which I found at the library.
UC's record for football season-ticket sales. Helps a financially strapped athletic dept., gives media folks something else to discuss in the fall besides the mediocre monopoly on the river.
Chuck Weber. Cyclones coach. Media star in waiting. On The Show tonight at 6.
West Coast baseball. Headphone, in bed, listening. Just like I'm 10 years old again.
The sprinter with the prosthetic legs, Oscar Pistorius, earning a chance to compete in Beijing. What is it about disabled athletes that frightens us? Baseball can post record attendance #s to watch juicers, and yet we freak out when Pistorius or Casey Martin enobles his sport by attempting the heretofore unthinkable.
The NL after years of decline, catching up the AL. For me, the NL is the league of younger, better players now. The AL is a haven for older, overpaid boppers.
Interesting story on a stats guy whose approach has been rejected by every NFL team... hit the link to read about his take on the Bengals last year kicking a field goal v. the Steelers on 4th and inches from the Pgh 2, down 14-3 late in the 1st half, at PBS... remember that one?http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/20/sports/football/20nfl.html?ref=sports
Starting later this week, this blog will be published in a new blog tool on our new Cincinnati.Com Web site. The blog focus isn’t changing, but it will have a lot of improvements.
When we move to the new blog, this one won’t go away just yet, but it will have a link to the home of the new blog. Eventually, any bookmarks and links to this blog will take you to the new one.
Once reporters start posting to the new blog, you’ll get a sneak peek at the new Web site before anyone else. A link will be posted here when that happens.
We’ll also be launching a couple of new sports blogs on the new Web site. One will be dedicated to sports in Kentucky – with University of Kentucky athletics and Kentucky Speedway as the focus - and the other will be a general sports blog written by the entire Sports staff that will offer off-beat news that doesn’t fit anywhere else and links from around the Internet to give a glimpse at what the rest of the world is saying about our local sports and athletes. We’ll provide links to those new blogs when they’re started.
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Speculating on Odell's release
Given the patience the Bengals have shown Thurman the past two years, it's illogical they would let him go
simply for blowing off three days of voluntary workouts. Especially knowing that the funeral of the grandmother who raised him occurred a day before the workouts began.
There is something else.
Maybe we'll never discover what that is. The proof could come if Thurman decides to file a grievance. Again, the workouts were voluntary. Lots of players didnt attend. None was cut. If Thurman had been adhering to the apparently extensive laundry list of league-ordered requirements to keep his NFL license, so to speak, a grievance just might go in his favor. If he had not, it wouldn't get off the ground. If Thurman decides not to file at all, we'll know he wasn't doing what he'd been asked.
It even appeared as if the Bengals were counting on him. A few weeks ago, they announced Ahmad Brooks would be moving to outside LB, a move interpreted as making room in the middle for Thurman.
Regardless, it's a very sad day for a guy who had the potential to be a very good player and, by extension, make a nice life for himself and his family.
Jillian Gets a Summer Job
When you have a child with a disability, all you want is a fair shake. You don't want favors, you don't want an easier path, you don't want to be patronized. You just want those in the business of judging to see with clear eyes.
My 18-year-old daughter wants to be a teacher's aide. She has prepped for it the last two years by leaving her public high school at 1 in the afternoon, to work in an elementary school classroom. She has helped kindergarten and 4th-graders to read and do simple math. She's very good at it.
A few months ago, she decided she'd like to try it over the summer, for pay. As Jillian's parents, my wife and I were ecstatic. One thing you learn quickly with these kids -- and it should be a universal lesson -- is that you allow them to tell you what they can do. Passing premature judgment on anyone is wrong; for kids with disabilities, it can be stifling.
Letters of recommendation from teachers in hand, Jillian interviewed at two daycare facilities. She got job offers from both. All that remains is for her to decide. Her feet havent touched the ground for days.
Jillian gets her foot in the career door. She gets the respect and the responsibility that comes from working. Her employer gets a dedicated, happy, smart employee. This is what can happen when eyes see clearly.
Congrats to the daycare centers for that. And to my little girl, not so little anymore, for seizing the day.
Why Arlen Specter Isnt Wrong
Sometimes, things are written that explain an issue far better than I can, or clarify an issue in a way I hadnt thought of. This is one, Bill Rhoden's column in Sunday's NY Times re Spygate.
I didnt have a problem with Specter's zealous pursuit of the Pats, but I couldnt adequately explain why. A big part of me just took pleasure in watching B. Belichick, pro sports Ultimate Smug Man, squirm. But it was more than that. And here it is:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/18/sports/football/18rhoden.html?_r=1&ref=sports&oref=slogin
Batting 3rd for the Reds...
Forever talk about trading Ken Griffey Jr is beginning to miss the point. If a deal involving him is inevitable, it's news to me. If the Reds intend to keep him beyond this year, the Titanic will rise from the deep.
More likely, he's here the rest of the year, so the better question is:
Why is he still hitting 3rd?
I'm not among those who think Junior is done, though you do wonder what his legs have left. (To those who suggest he doesnt run hard, please ponder the thought he's running as hard as his legs will allow.) You dont go from 30 homers at age 37 to, say, 10 or 15, at age 38, not if you play 135 games or so. He'll hit better. Griffey has always hit HRs in bunches, and I think a bunch will come.
For now, though, why is he still hitting 3rd?
Since 4/23, Junior has 1 HR and 6BI... those are 7- or 8-hole #s. Compare them to these, over the same time:
Phillips: 6 and 15;
Double E: 3 and 9
Votto: 4 and 8, though 3 HRs came in one game.
Baker can bat Dunn 7th, why not Griffey?
Your 3 hitter has to be your most productive hitter. That's Phillips. Since Griffey isn't likely to be traded or benched, don't you do what's best for the team and move him out of the 3-spot, until he heats up?
Mayo and One and Done
Since it came out that a sports agency bought and paid for OJ Mayo for about $30,000 worth of trinkets -- allegedly -- we havent been able to blame the NBA fast enough. One and done, we've decided, is the root of all this evil. Poor OJ was just doing what he had to do to survive.
Sorry, but that airballs the point. Entirely. The point is, rules is rules, as Bobby Bowden once said. You wanna play in the NBA, here's what you have to do. The blame does not rest with a pro league that is entitled to do what it sees fit to protect/improve its product.
The fault lies with (alleged) dirt bags like Mayo's (alleged) bagman, Rodney Guillory. And with Mayo himself, for knowing the rules and ignoring them... allegedly and allegedly, amen.
To my knowledge, no one associated with the NBA instructed Mayo to take clothes, airplane tickets, a flat-screen TV etc etc and no one demanded that guys like Guillory make their living as human leeches. If you want to be part of an organization, whether it's NBA or IBM, you have to play by their rules. When you don't, it's not their fault. It's yours. Thus endeth the lesson.
The NL Needs the DH
Look at it this way: If the NL had the designated hitter, Jay Bruce would be playing right field in Cincinnati now.
Look at it another way: Would you rather watch a hitter hit? Or a manager think?
Hail the beauty of the double switch, purists. I'll take Big Papi, mashing.
The NL doesnt need a DH. It needs two. Imagine the Reds with Junior and Dunn DH-ing in the same game, batting 8-9. Look at the careers that have been extended: Dave Parker, Don Baylor, Dave Winfield, Paul Molitor etc etc. Players who could still hit, who were still worth watching. Meantime, in the traditional NL, we get to watch pitchers try to bunt. Fascinating.
It's the same logic that puts all the "genius'' managers in the NL... and all the World Series trophies in the AL.
Oh, but DHs arent "complete'' players. Is Dunn?
As for interleague play: Keep it, slim it. We don't need Reds-Blue Jays, but no one can deny the appeal of Reds-Red Sox or Reds-Yankees or Reds-Indians. In a year when their attendance is in the early dumper, the Reds see interleague play as a box office savior. It can be a very nice jolt for small revenue clubs.
Chicken and egg?
We have a running debate between the paper and the "niche'' teams in our market: They say more coverage would mean more interest. We suggest more interest would mean more coverage. It's an unanswerable question. But I will say this:
Last Friday night, the 'Clones drew 2500 for a Game 7 playoff tilt. For this this past Friday, I wrote a Cyclones column
, touting the experience of attending a game and asking people to give that night's Game 1 of the conference finals a look. I talked it up on radio, too, having the coach Chuck Weber on twice. (Guy's a sheer delight, by the way.) Plus, Marc Hardin did a story advancing the game.
Attendance doubled Friday night.
Maybe it was the perfect, um, cyclone: Reds out of town, weather lousy, a local pro team actually winning more than it loses. And, oh yeah, dollar beers.
Or maybe it was, partly, the pub. I've never been one to believe I had that much influence on anything around here. I've been telling the Bengals how to run their business for 20 years, made nary a dent. But I don't think the 'Clones attendance bump was coincidental.
Which prompts a question: If we covered the Bengals/Reds less, if we shoved their news to the inside pages, would their attendance suffer and force changes?
I'm not saying that would ever happen, or even that it should. I'm not suggesting that's my call. It's not. But would it have an impact?
The best, smartest newspaper sports columnist in America is Sally Jenkins, daughter of the great Dan. At a time when sports journalism, whatever that means, consists mainly of who can shout loudest and longest, it's good there are still a few people who make sense, eloquently. Here's her take on the Eight Belles tragedy.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/06/AR2008050602714.html
I will no longer publish comments dealing with race, in any form or fashion.
Let me see if I have this straight
The USA Today piece on Ken Griffey Jr. was, in Junior's way of thinking, not that big a deal, and certainly not worth the attention it received in the home clubhouse yesterday afternoon. Apparently, it was just coincidence that a national newspaper had a guy in Atlanta for the weekend just, you know, hanging around hoping it'd be OK with Junior if he wrote a big piece about, among other things, the Reds' RF's desire to return to Seattle.
It was also happenstance that the writer has been a frequent and favored Junior chronicler for years.
And really, you know, there is nothing new, because #3 said the same stuff in Seattle last year. The fact that he's coming up on an option year that the Reds most surely won't exercise is simply coincidental.
And what Junior meant when he said he wanted to return to Seattle was he wanted to retire the way Emmitt Smith did with the Cowboys.
Look, I have as much respect as anyone for how Junior has conducted himself his entire career. When he hits 600, we should all feel very good about it. Unlike Sammy and Bonds, it will be an occasion to celebrate.
But don't insult my intelligence on this one. The interview in Atlanta was not happenstance. The desire to exit stage right is real. The notion he'd like to win a championship here is, well, a little transparent. If you're a veteran star looked to for leadership, or at least looked to by younger players because of your achievements, maybe you don't go national with this sort of information when your team is in the tank.
That said, as I wrote in the Enquirer this morning, there really is nothing else to be gained from the Reds-Junior partnership, except maybe a few more tickets sold for the prospect of 600 homeruns. And even that benefit is dubious, given how little the club has marketed the achievement and how faint the interest in it is among Reds fans.
Another beautiful morning in a long string of them... soon enough, the air will make the turn to thick and we'll close the windows, shut out the day and pump in the air conditioning. Spring is the shortest season around here.
I count AC among the world's necessary evils. As a kid, I grew up in a house with fans, open windows and nights spent above the sheets, listening to the dark. Also, to the sounds of life. It's amazing what you miss when the weather heats and the windows close. As a kid, I never missed air conditioning, because we never had it. What I miss now, between June and September, are the sounds: Birds, kids, dogs, the ice cream truck, conversations across the front porch. What Joni Mitchell called "the hissing of summer lawns.''
This morning, I'm sitting on the brick patio I built in the furthest reaches of the backyard, shoulder to shoulder with a hundred-year-old shagbark hickory that will thrive long after I won't. The woods have bloomed, so the houses behind me are hidden. Cardinals peep and play tag, squirrels are acrobats, the golden retriever looks at them all and wonders why she can't fly.
It's quiet enough I can hear my own breathing. None of it means a thing, except maybe this:
If we don't allow ourselves moments such as these, from time to time, we tend to forget why we're here.
Look. See. Listen. Feel. Appreciate. Live big, in the moment.
Wrote for Sunday's paper what the Reds should do to get off the schneid. Among the suggestions was to deal A. Dunn... obvious move, but maybe not for the obvious reasons. The big one is...
They can't afford him.
If you're paying a guy 13-mil in Cincinnati, he has to do more than hit lots of home runs. Dunn is a 1-tool guy. Whether he doesnt work at the rest of his game or simply can't be any better than he is, is great stuff to debate. But it comes back to money.
We always wanted more from Dunn. I'm starting to think the expectations were a little unfair. I know, I know: He doesnt always run hard, he's dangerous in LF, he's not a model for the young guys etc.
But maybe Dunn just is who he is. Seven years into it, what you see is what you get, a very large man who hits lots of baseballs a very long way. An average of 40 homers, 100 runs and close to 100 rbi isnt the worst thing in the world to have on your team.
If you're Boston or the Bronx, you can afford a 13-mil DH. Given Dunn's production, in Boston or NY, you see him as very important to the whole. In Cincinnati, and in the National League, he's simply not worth the investment.
That said, if Dunn stays (and my inside peeps tell me anything the Reds get for Dunn will be less than what you'd expect, maybe shockingly so), you bat him 2nd, where he'll see more fastballs, has some protection and is comfortable hitting.
Agree or disagree?
Call to the post
Going to River Downs today, to play some ponies and watch the Derby... might as well burn up a couple $20s right now... I'm going to do what some women do when picking NFL games and the NCAA Tournament (sorry to be sexist, but what's true is true.) I'll bet names I like, jockeys I admire, silk colors.. you know, everything a hardcore handicapper trusts when picking winners.
Does anyone handicap races anymore? I mean, anyone who doesnt get paid for it? If I get one (legit) response here from someone who goes to the track, devours the Racing Form and actually works it, I'll be surprised. I always loved the romance of the guy in a rumpled suit and fedora, sucking a stogie and reading the Form. I also loved the idea of the Brooklyn Dodgers... and horse racing, save for three Saturdays in the spring, is about as relevant as the Bums.
Anyway, I'm picking Adriano to win, because I admire Edgar Prado for the job he did when Barbaro broke down. I like Denis of Cork to place, because I'm Irish, and Big Brown to show, because I'd like to make a little money, though with 20 horses entered and BB in PP #20, his favorite status might do him no good.
Any experts out there? Gimme your 1-2-3.
Buzz Bissinger v. Deadspin
I just saw about 4 minutes of video on youtube, of the Pulitzer-winning author B. Bissinger, slamming Will Leitch of Deadspin, on B. Costas' HBO show. It's must-see for anyone who blogs.
I'm interested in your reaction. Bissinger looked and sounded arrogant, which was too bad, because he made some valid points. Being an almost charter member of BlogWorld (I started this more than two years ago) I can give you a few observations of my own:
It's a nice way to say things I can't get in the paper or on radio. For a word-churner like me, that's great. I mean, I'm probably not going to write in the paper about my love for Keystone Light. Though maybe I should.
It occasionally enlightens me to a different way of looking at an issue. It sometimes provokes thought that generates a column. Again, good.
It gives readers/listeners a chance to see a different side of me. I've had people say their opinion of me has changed for the better after having read the blog. Good again.
But here's the point Buzz was making, and it's very valid:
Under the current form, this forum is a way for gutless ax-grinders to take personal shots. Anonymity is not a good way to do business here. While a majority of the responses are thoughtful or at least genuine, many are cheap and ill-informed. I'm not saying my opinions are any more worthy than anyone else's. What I am saying is, they come with my name attached.
Time writing this stuff is almost always time well spent. You guys have found me new music, new beers, new ways of getting rid of the GD deer eating my horticulture. Time spent moderating mindless crap from Messrs. Anonymous is the other side of the deal.
Anyway, check out Bissinger. I'd be interested in your reaction.
The Hit King and the Rocket Man
The similarities are striking. Anyone else notice this?
Roger Clemens' barrel-chested arrogance during this whole post-Mitchell Report era looks a lot like Pete Rose's act after 8/24/89. You could see it right away, during Clemens' 60 Minutes interview. If his chin had been thrust out any further, it would've clocked Mike Wallace right between the eyes.
There is something in a great athlete's makeup that causes him to believe he can win any contest if he just keeps at it long enough. That's good and bad. Pete kept denying he bet on baseball because he believed he could outlast the charges, same as he outlasted Ty Cobb's record. Pete believed there was no game he couldnt win, so long as he had the time and the will. Watching him deny for more than a decade was no different than watching him bone his bats.
Clemens is the same. He seems to think if he aggressively denies he juiced, that the force of his personality/celebrity/achievements will carry the day. And he doesnt care who gets smashed beneath the bus in the process.
King Roger has embarrassed his wife completely, put his family under unfair scrutiny and has said everyone lied but him. Rather than take the Jason Giambi route and admit what he did, Clemens chose to fight. The only difference between he and Pete is that Pete's downfall hurt mainly himself. But there is a good chance the outcome will be similar. I wonder who Clemens will pick to write his confessional memoir.