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Did you know Tracy played on 5 major league teams?
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I will gladly accept bribery to put your site on this list.
My favorite site. Not for those easily offended.
This is a great NBA blog. The NBA (National Basketball Association) is a professional men's basketball league, consisting of 29 American teams, and one Canadian team. It was founded in 1946. Cincinnati used to have a team. I wish it did now.
Better Off Red
Jamie Ramsey is the Assistant Media Relations Director of the Reds. He takes you behind the scenes of a Major League team. And he writes funny captions for his photos.
Plenty of scenery and funny stuff on Big Smudge. I'll be honest, these guys told me they were fans of my show, and even if they didn't mean it, that gets them linked.
Bugs and Cranks
If it's about baseball, these guys usually have something to say about it. And it's usually funny.
Booze, Ladies, and Football.
Calling It Like It Is
A guy from Cincinnati, who uh, well he calls it like it is.
Chris Sabo's Goggles
A Reds fan stuck in Chicago does a blog. He says the purpose of the blog is to inform people of the Reds without the geeky stuff, like facts for example. My kind of guy.
You're probably thinking this website is about me. Actually, it's not.
Local college basketball blog by two guys...one a UC fan, the other an XU fan.
The Godfather of sports blogs.
My favorite baseball blog. I thought I loved the game, then I read these guys.
Stuff guys like. At least stuff normal guys like.
Hugging Harold Reynolds
Very funny sports blog with one of my favorite names.
John Clay's Sidelines
John is an outstanding writer who covers everything and anything UK-related.
Larry Brown Sports
The other Larry Brown, not the guy who's coached half the teams in the NBA.
Look At Me Shirts
Be the guy in the ironic shirt. Take credit for someone else's joke.
Mo Egger's Blog
Did you really think my blog wouldn't be on a list of "favorites?"
Do you like mind-numbing statistical analysis of the Reds? Do you treat every game like the fate of the world rests on it? This site is probably not for you.
Most negative man in America. And I usually agree with him.
Pro Football Talk
Not daily, but almost hourly reading for NFL fans.
Everything and anything Reds...and more, by Reds fans.
Rush The Court
The Ubiquitous college basketblog.
A little UK, a little Louisville. A lot of funny.
Anything and everything hoops.
A Cincinnati guy based in Vegas. What I'd write if I could write.
Because some things can't be taught.
I admit, I'm a geek.
Who Dey Revolution
No site better captures the frustration of being a Bengals fan better than this one. Fan empowerment at its best.
1) Ryan Hanigan. The Reds got a living, breathing human in return for a soon-to-be 34 year-old catcher who's coming off his worst offensive season and who was still due a raise. They did this all while signaling to everyone that they intended to dump Ryan weeks ago when they agreed to a deal with Brayan Pena.
This living, breathing human they got from the D-Backs actually plays baseball professionally.
Walt Jocketty might be the early frontrunner for Executive Of The Year.
This isn't meant to knock or demean Hanigan, who's had an imprint on the organization that should be felt for years, it's a statement about both about what he is and how the team feels about Devin Mesoraco. A part-time catcher who's an offensive zero heading into his mid-30s is simply not worth what he was going to make and between now and free agency, his value was only going to decline.
The move does put Mesoraco in the cross-hairs.
The Reds are taking Devin's training wheels off, and upping both the playing time and expectations for a former first round pick who's had limited success. It's time for Mesoraco to hit more and it's time for him to catch all of the Reds pitchers, not just some of them.
Maybe even the guy they somehow pried away in exchange for Ryan Hanigan.
2) The Reds Hall of Fame class of 2014. Those who voted on the modern player ballot got it right. Ken Griffey Jr. was, with no disrespect to the other candidates intended, the obvious choice. I wrote about this on August 1st. Instead of re-typing it, I'll just cut and paste...
The Modern Player Candidates for Reds Hall of Fame Class of 2014 is out. Among, Brantley, Graves, Franco, Sanders, and Ken Griffey Jr, Junior gets my vote. A couple of reasons...
*His stature in the game itself is immense. This is a first ballot National Baseball Hall of Famer, one of the best players of all-time, and he played a significant chunk of his season here, reaching milestones in a Reds uniform. There's a good argument that he's the best baseball player to ever play for the Reds.
*He ranks among franchise leaders in homers, slugging, and OPS.
*He's from here. Sorry, this factors in.
*Longevity. The guy played nine seasons here. They might have been disappointing seasons in terms of the team's record, but nine seasons is longer than anyone else on the ballot except for Danny Graves, who leads the franchise in a devalued stat and whose final three seasons here were unmitigated disasters.
*Halls of fame exist to tell a story. The Baseball Hall of Fame exclusion of Pete Rose, and now many, many others is silly because the sport's story can't be told without them. You might be able to tell the story of the Reds while excluding the other four deserving nominees. You're not telling the story of baseball's oldest franchise without including Ken Griffey Jr.
Dave Parker's inclusion is overdue. He might not have been a Red for long, and he's far more identified with the Pirates. But he put up one of the team's best individual seasons of the past three decades in 1985, when he was jobbed out of the NL MVP voting (Cobra over Willie McGee is something I will fight to the death.) and his four seasons in Cincinnati were productive even if not extraordinarily memorable. Plus, the dude was just a total badass.
Ron Oester. Meh. He played here for a long time. He's from here, which is consistent with the 2014 HOF class. He shaved his head in 1990. He was pretty good with the glove. I guess that's Hall of Fame worthy.
Jake Beckey has the third-highest batting average in the history of the franchise. He died almost a hundred years ago. That they're finally getting around to honoring him is a little odd, but you can't induct every player every other year.
3) A Brandon Phillips trade now seems unlikely. From Ken Rosenthal....
For much of the offseason, many in baseball expected the Cincinnati Reds to trade second baseman Brandon Phillips.
A deal, however, appears increasingly unlikely, according to major league sources.
The Reds discussed Phillips with the New York Yankees earlier in the offseason, and later received inquiries from teams on his 10-team no-trade list. None of those discussions was serious, sources said.
A trade still is possible if a team makes a substantial offer, but the Reds are not actively shopping Phillips, sources said. Clubs in need of second basemen also can consider free agents such as Robinson Cano and Omar Infante.
I'm going to guess that the "substantial offer" the Reds are hoping for isn't coming. And given the fact that BP's ten and five rights kick in at the end of the season, the Reds front office better start thinking about ways to make nice with their second baseman for the sake of a relationship that has years, and a lot of money, left in it.
The questions now are, how do they get better and how do they find financial flexibility for both the short and long term?
4) So now your conference doesn't matter? I've spent the past two years listening to and engaging in endless conversations about conference affiliation and how important it is. Gotta be in a good, steady, prestigious league, right?
So how can you not expect me to look at your league first when it comes time to rank teams and choose them to play in a national championship game?
There hasn't been a hotter topic in college sports than conference realignment, a discussion which has essentially been about being affiliated with the right schools to bolster a school's on and off-field profile. It's drastically changed both football and basketball, destroyed rivalries, helped legitimize new TV networks, and flat-out changed how certain universities are perceived.
Yet, I'm not supposed to look hard at the Big Ten when determining whether Ohio State should be ranked ahead of Auburn? Or Missouri?
5) Wanna win tickets to the Crosstown Classic?
If you're a Xavier fan, I'll be at Stone Lanes in Norwood starting at 1:00 before Saturday's XU/Bowling Gree tilt. I'll have Xavier tickets as well as tickets to the Crosstown Classic.
If you're a UC fan, I'll be at Murphy's Pub for Saturday's Bearcats/New Mexico game starting at 4:00. I'll have UC tickets as well as tickets to the Crosstown Classic.
If you're a fan of neither, I expect you to be at both.
As I mentioned this morning, it's been a busy day for me and should be a busy day on the show. A lot happening today, including a pending trade involving Ryan Hanigan being dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Frankly, I think any deal where the Reds get a living, breathing human complete with two arms and two legs in return for a 34 year-old part-time catcher coming off of his worst offensive season is a good one.
Hanigan's best attribute is that he throws out base-stealers, which is great. That one quality isn't worth what he'd be making in 2014, not with steal attempts around the Majors at an eight year low.
Here's today's rundown....
3:20 - John Fay, Cincinnati.com
4:04 - Joe Reedy, Cincinnati.com
4:33 - Mike Leake
5:20 - Brendon Kay
5:42 - Jesse Palmer, caling UC/UofL Thursday
The Hanigan deal, it's inevitability and the player it puts in the hot seat.
The Bengals, past playoff failures and what they mean for future playoff results.
Putting the Big Ten's problems in perspective.
UC plays Louisville for the last time for a while on Thursday? Who's the Bearcats' biggest rival? Do they need one?
A ton to get today, and we're giving way RedsFest tickets. The fun starts at 3:04 today on ESPN1530.
I've had some additional broadcast duties thrown my way tonight. I will be filling in for Dan Hoard, calling play-by-play for tonight's UC basketball game. There has never been a steeper dropoff from the regular announcer to the fill-in. Anyway, this coupled with the regular prep for the radio show and a side trip to go interview Brendon Kay for Thursday night's pregame show means I won't have time to blog this morning.
We do have one killer radio show this afternoon, with Joe Reedy, Mike Leake, and ESPN's Rece Davis on the guest list. Catch it at 3:04 on ESPN1530. Here's a Channel 5 newscast from 1987.
Yes, Sears had a Back To School Sale today. Also, the cameraperson (Lindsay) was trying to shoot today's rundown video like she was filming an episode of The Real World.
It's the Rock and Mo Football Show on ESPN1530.
3:04 - Marvin Lewis
5:50 - Dave Lapham
Was yesterday's Bengals win the blueprint for postseason success?
Andy Dalton something something something something.
Is this the best Bengals defense in their history?
Do you like football?
Crazy endings and now in college football, crazy arguments.
Should Mike Tomlin be barred for life?
It is going to be an incredible three hours. We invite you to listen starting at 3:04 on ESPN1530.
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
1) The Blueprint. If somehow, some way, this team has defied the odds, common sense, and its own history and is still playing two months from today, we'll look back on yesterday.
Yesterday's win over the Chargers wasn't just important for what it meant in the standings, although the fact that it helped them maintain a two game lead in the standings while allowing them to keep pace with both New England and Indianapolis is significant. The San Diego game will be the one where we look back at the day when the Bengals finally - and forcefully - established what they are.
Forget the Andy Dalton debate, at least for a few minutes. Stop searching for style points. For the Bengals to get to where we want them to go, they're going to have to win a lot of games that look just like yesterday's.
It might have lacked the craziness of some of their previous games. Frankly, it might have been their most ho-hum game of the season, assuming any game where you spend the entire fourth quarter nervously pacing can be considered "ho-hum." It was also their toughest, most hard-fought, and as of today, their most significant victory of 2013. And it was the one win that most future wins will have to resemble.
The running game returned in a big way. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, his fumble aside, ran as hard and he has as a Bengals. Giovani Bernard lacked pizazz but not production. And both were aided by an offensive line that was as good as we've seen it all season. (Andrew Whitworth was forced to play guard because of the Clint Boling injury. I think he's better suited to play there.) Most important, the Bengals stuck with it, using the pass to compliment what they were doing on the ground and never really getting too cute with the playcalling, instead sticking with what worked.
Andy Dalton was neither great nor terrible, which for at least yesterday, was good enough. The three most important pass plays of the day - the touchdown to AJ, the sideline pass to AJ, and the long catch and run by Hawkins - were perfectly thrown balls. His one pick was at least akin to a punt (and thrown like one) and no Dalton passes resulted in the other guy celebrating in the end zone.
At some point this season, the Bengals will need their quarterback to more prolific that he was yesterday, but they can win games with the Andy Dalton we watched yesterday.
And they can win big games with that defense.
What else can you say about the D? We had Vontaze Burfict covering more ground on a bum ankle than most linebackers can cover with two healthy wheels. We had Philip Rivers dealing with collapsing pockets. We had three takeaways, including a welcome-to-the-team moment from Dre Kirkpatrick against a guy who'll end up in Canton.
We had a defense that held Philip Rivers to his second-lowest completion percentage and his lowest passer rating of the season.
We had a defense that held the same Chargers team that dropped 41 on the Chiefs to just ten points.
We have a defense that more than anything else we talk about, gives the Bengals more than a puncher's chance in game game. Against any opponent. In any stadium.
It would be great if the Bengals could bottle the weather they played in yesterday and bring it east. I'd love nothing more than to not have to wear a winter coat to PBS on Sunday. But there's a likelihood that every game the rest of the way will be played in cold weather, with the running game at a premium and low-scoring games probably becoming the norm.
The way they won yesterday will be how they have to win next week, next month, and maybe, just maybe, two months from today.
2) Is this the best Bengals D ever?
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
I repeat, you simply cannot say enough about the Bengals' D.
They've faced four of the NFL's top 12 highest-rated quarterbacks, as well as Tom Brady. Here's how they've played compared to their current season statistics....
Ben Roethlisberger: Lowest completion percentage of 2013 at 54.1% (compared to 64.4 for the season) and his lowest passer rating (73.1) of 2013 (compared to 92.4 for the season).
Aaron Rodgers: 60.5 completion percentage/64.5 rating against the Bengals. 66.9% and 108 for the season (Aside from the game he came out of due to injury, Rodgers worst yardage day came against Cincinnati and the only game where he threw more picks than TDs was played against the Bengals.)
Tom Brady: Posted both his lowest completion percentage and passer rating of 2013 (47.4% and 52.4 compared to his season totals of 60.7% and 88 for the season). They broke his streak of 52 straight games with a TD pass.
Matthew Stafford: Had a pretty productive day (357 yards and three TDs) but did post his third-lowest completion percentage of 2013 (54.9% compared to the season total of 59.2%)
Philip Rivers. Lowest completion percentage (62.2%) of 2013, which is very good considering he's completed 70% of his passes. His 80.0 passer rating was his worst of 2013 and well off his season total of 104.4
They've had just two backs go over 100 yards on them. They're within striking distance of the franchise sack record set last season (36 through 12 games). And in an era when teams are routinely putting up comical offensive numbers (nine teams have already scored 30 or more this week), the Bengals have given up just 30 once, and that effort by the Packers came with a fumble return for a TD and field goals forced by the Bengals defense after being given short fields after turnovers.
In their last five games, the defense has given up nine against the Jets, 13 against Miami, 20 against Baltimore (seven of those came on an 11-yard drive and three more came in OT), 13 to the Browns, and ten to the Chargers.
Mind you, this is 2013. It's never been easier or more advantageous to play offense. Middle East election laws are less tilted than NFL rules are toward quarterbacks and wideouts.
And yet this defense keeps stopping opponents, sometimes good opponents.
And all the while suffering the team's most critical and damaging injuries.
Their best defensive lineman last played more than a month ago. Their best DB was done for the year before the season was half-over. They've got old guys and unheardofs in the defensive backfield, three former undrafted free agents logging playing time at linebacker. And they've had to thrive often this season in spite of an offense often hellbent on giving the other team the ball.
What more can you ask?
What other Bengals defense has done this much?
I can't recall a Bengals defense that's been this good, that's continually had to do what this unit has been called on to do. None have ever had to play under the league's current rules. And their better defenses that I can recall had the fallback of more explosive offenses. I probably need someone who goes back further than I do to answer this question, but any comparison to Bengals defenses of yesterday has to put into context other defenses against what the league was and what it is now.
I think this is the best Bengals defense I've seen.
3) The problem isn't the arguments, it's that the arguments exist.
First off, wow. If you're entire sports-viewing weekend consisted of nothing but Ohio State/Michigan and Auburn/Alabama, you were sufficiently entertained. Conference championship weekend and the entire bowl season will both seem anti-climatic compared to the two wildly entertaining epics in Ann Arbor and Auburn.
Now to the debate.
If it's up to me, and I think we can all be glad, it isn't, RIGHT NOW (those words are key), I'd put Auburn ahead of Ohio State. But before you fire off your nasty email to me.....
The problem isn't my argument, it's that such an argument has to be made in the first place. The problem is that college football, as good as it is, still leaves room for individual interpretation. I admit that I'm not completely comfortable with arguing against a team that won all its games playing for a championship. The only thing I truly loathe about college football is that a team can do everything you ask a team to do, which is win all its games, and they still may not play for the big prize at the end.
I wish it was cut and dry - and starting next year it will be (maybe) - you win all your games, and you play for the title. Every other freaking sport on earth works that way.
College football doesn't.
Don't blame me, blame it.
What I hate about this very argument is how we frame it. SEC hacks will claim that anything other than an Auburn (or perhaps eventually, Missouri) title game appearance is a downright slap in face to the school, the league and the sport as a whole. They'll drone on and one about the egregiousness of the Tigers being left out of the championship game and how it's one of the worst exclusions in history.
Auburn might have a case. In fact, I think it does, but when you're being left out of a championship game in favor of a team that never lost, we're not exactly talking about a crime against humanity.
The problem is, it's not about which team deserves to be left out less or which exclusion is more egregious. It's about making subjective interpretations about which team is best, which had the best season, and for some - which team would help give us the best title game.
Therein lies the problem, the human element means everyone is up to their own devices, own biases, own prefaces, and own individual criteria.
And so given that freedom, I give preference to the team with the tougher schedule. And I'm willing to forgive a blemish.
I'm making this simple, because it is simple. Ohio State's schedule was not as good as Auburn's. Each team played cupcakes. The Buckeyes played more. That's not completely their fault. In fact, it proves that Urban Meyer's plea for his conference peers to recruit better was justified. The Big Ten isn't very good and while Auburn didn't exactly play a who's who of college football before SEC play, they simply play in a more challenging league.
Their one blemish in excusable. They lost at LSU is a stadium where the home team has lost just once in 32 games. I'll forgive a blemish if you give me reason to. Auburn did.
The Buckeyes and Tigers were three and four respectively in last week's rankings. Each won extraordinarily close games that were within a play of being lost. Had Alabama's kick at the end of regulation gone through the uprights and had Brad Hoke's two-point conversion try (which I loved) worked, which team would have dropped more?
Probably Ohio State.
So why, given the razor-thin margin each team won by, can't the Tigers pass the Buckeyes?
Again, I hate making this argument. But the sport is making me make one. I wish "but they won all their games" was enough.
But it isn't.
The argument that a team should automatically play for a title simply because it won every single game doesn't work. Schedules and conferences must be combed through, and every season must be put into context. Let me ask you this....
If UC, playing in a massively inferior AAC, won every game on their schedule, one that included Big Ten dregs Purdue and Illinois, would an "They won all of their games in a AQ league. Enough said." argument hold water?
I'm as big a Bearcat fan as you'll ever find, and I'd laugh at that.
And while we're at it, past seasons don't count either. The Buckeyes' streak of 24 straight wins is an incredible accomplishment, but for the purposes of placing teams in BCS bowl games, they're currently 12-0. UK didn't get to go to the NCAA Tournament simply because they won it the year before this past March. The undefeated season of 2012 was nice. It has no bearing on this season.
(Similarly, OSU's failures in past BCS title games should have nothing to do with this season.)
Look, if Ohio State ends up in the championship game, there'd be no reason for outrage. And given how good they are offensively, I'd give them a damn good chance to beat Florida State. They do deserve a chance.
But the system allows me to use my own criteria, and given that freedom to apply it to both OSU and Auburn, I think the Tigers deserve it more.
At least this week.
4) Xavier went to the Bahamas and lost three games. They played in one of the more entertaining games of the young season on Thanksgiving night against Iowa and lost. Then they seemed to let that defeat fester for the next two days, sleepwalking against Tennessee and often looking disinterested against USC. Maybe the time frame caught up to them. Maybe they missed Erik Stenger. Or maybe this team lacks the toughness it will need by the time the real important games get here.
They have a month to find it.
5) Radio, RedsFest, and Tickets. Rocky Boiman and I kick off a full week of radio today on ESPN1530, starting at 3:04. With the Bengals, a huge college football week, and RedsFest, it will be a busy week.
Speaking of RedsFest, I will be hanging out in the 700WLW area from 11:00 until 12:30 on Saturday. I'm also thinking of going on Friday afternoon for a little while just to walk around.
And today we'll be announcing two places where you can win Crosstown Classic tickets. One will be a Xavier bar, the other will be a UC establishment. I'm sure the wait to find out where will be unbearable.
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I also hope you aren't reading this while sitting in some mall store waiting for your significant other to make up her mind on buying some gift that the person it's intended for is going to take back anyway.
If you're out helping the nation's economy tonight, you can catch me filling in on SportsTalk tonight, after the UC game on 700WLW.
1) Bengals v. Chargers. First off, I was pleased with last night's result in Baltimore. Either the Steelers or Ravens were going to pull within a game and a half of first place, and while the Bengals have lost to Baltimore, I was pulling for them.
The Steelers look to me like a team more capable of reeling off wins than the Ravens do.
I still say it's going to take ten wins to capture this division. I just don't see the Ravens (Vikings, @Lions, Patriots, @Bengals) winning out and getting to ten. The Steelers, who now have zero chance to get to ten wins, had a more favorable schedule (Dolphins, Bengals, @Packers, Browns) and while getting to ten wins would have been an uphill battle, they seemed more likely to do so.
Tiebreakers being what they are - I simply looked at the Steelers as the bigger threat.
Of course, it will help if the Bengals start playing better. Yes, it would help if Andy Dalton would start playing better.
Maybe a bye week helps, but the Bengals offense we've watched these last three games ain't cutting it in December and January big-boy football games.
Taking away three kneel-downs, of the Bengals last 46 drives going back to the beginning of the Miami game, the offense has scored just seven touchdowns. One came on the short field after the Harrison pick against Cleveland. Another came on the Hail Mary pass that completed a very disjointed final few plays.
In that time, the Bengals have turned it over 11 times.
This isn't about blaming one person or one position, it's about hoping, and figuring out, how they get better.
Nearly one in every four possessions in the last three games has resulted in a turnover. (The ratio is even worse if we count the walkoff safety as a turnover, which the NFL does not.) Is this solely a reflection of the Andy Dalton's ineptitude? Of course it isn't. The offense's problems go beyond issues at quarterback, but there's no denying that Andy's play as well as the output of the offense both have to improve.
The defense and special teams have done a great job of at least keeping them in games, but there's probably going to be times when instead of the other way around, the offense is going to have to bail of the D.
That might have to happen this week.
The good news is that the Chargers can be had on D. The bad news is that the offense I've watched these last three weeks just can't be trusted. Especially on the road. Especially against a quarterback having as good a season as Phillip Rivers.
The Chargers have been one of the more difficult teams in the league to figure out - giving away games against the Texans, Dolphins, and Redskins while winning against the Colts, Cowboys, and last week hanging 41 on the Chiefs. But Rivers has been great, and he's capable of putting up the kind of number that right now, I just don't think the Bengals can match.
I think the bye week will help a little, even if just to give the Bengals a badly-needed mental break. I never count out a Mike Zimmer-coached defense. And there's reasons why the Chargers enter December below .500.
But I just don't trust the Bengals enough offensively right now.
The race is going to tighten up, and while I think the Bengals will still win the division, the next few weeks will be a little more uncomfortable than I originally thought. Given the other race the Bengals are in - a game behind New England and even up with Indy - every loss the rest of the way will have major consequences.
Get ready to deal with them next week.
Chargers 27 Bengals 23
2) A 2-1 Turkey Day has me at 93-88. The Bears are brutal against the run. The only thing the Vikings do well is run. They'll do it well enough to pull off the upset. Minnesota (-0.5) wins at home over Chicago....A few weeks ago, the Browns beat the Ravens and inched a little closer to first place, setting up that "epic" Battle of Ohio two weeks ago. For a few days, I got emails from swagger-filled Browns fans. For some reason, the emails have stopped. Jacksonville (+7.5) keeps it close against Cleveland....The Colts aren't the world-beaters everyone made them out to be a month ago. They're not the dogs people are making them out to be now. They're a good team with a bad offensive line, a shaky running game, and in need of more pieces on defense. They've got injuries to key positions, but enough left to comfortably make the playoffs. They'll all but clinch their division this week. Indy (-4.5) beats Tennessee....Either the Jets or Dolphins will be a .500 team at the end of the first week of December. Your 2013 National Football League, ladies and gentlemen! New York (-1.5) behind their D over Miami.....I'd have a hard time picking the Patriots this week after such a long, emotional game against the Broncos if they were playing almost anyone else. But they're playing the Texans. LOL. Texans. New England (-8.5) cruises over Houston....The Eagles win the best game of the weekend (you read that right), but I'll happily take the points and pick Arizona (+3.5) to cover....No one's talking about Cam Newton's disingenuous smile anymore, are they? Carolina (-8.5) beats fiesty Tampa Bay. Fiesty....Enjoy this turd, Canada. Atlanta (+3.5). Not Buffalo.....The 49ers are about to get going offensively. San Francisco (-9.5) drops St. Louis....No pass rush, no chance for the Chiefs. Denver (-4.5) bounces back against KC....I might have to make alternate plans for my Sunday night. New York (-1.5) wins. Washington loses. No one cares.....Homefield is worth a touchdown for both the Saints and Seahawks, so I'm picking Seattle (-5.5) by that much over New Orleans.
3) Me, the couch, a remote, and probably some beer. I wish the UC/Louisville game was this weekend because I think it's going to be a great game and the atmosphere should be incredible.
But I have to wait 'til Thursday. As a consolation, I get a pretty solid day of college football tomorrow, from noon to midnight. Throw on top of at a full slate of games (to compliment the college hoops Ill be watching) and I've got enough worthwhile college grid action to make me glad that te Bearcats and Cardinals are waiting a few extra days. As bad as last weekend was, this one has the potential to be a pretty memorable college football weekend.
Ohio State v. Michigan. It's not going to be much of a game. The Buckeyes will hammer the Wolverines because they'll dominate them up front, then every Buckeye fan will turn to the Gators, Tigers, and Johnny Football for help. They won't get any. Buckeyes 42 Wolverines 19
Kentucky v. Tennessee. This is not the biggest game in the SEC this weekend. Hold The Rope 24 Wildcats 13
Miami v. Ball State. Why wait 'til Saturday to complete a winless season, right? Get this over with, then hire Kerry Coombs. Cardinals 35 Redhawks 2
4) Can we send some bananas to the Bahamas? Xavier lost a really good game to a solid Iowa team last night. No shame in that. But I thought we might be past the "Semaj Christon can't play because of cramps" portion of his Musketeer career. Figure out what the problem is and fix it.
5) Radio Show Stuff. 6:30ish until 9:00 today on 700WLW. 12:05 - 3:00 on ESPN1530 and 700WLW. 3:04 with Rocky Boiman on ESPN1530. Now you know. Enjoy your weekend.
1) Look, if you don't cut Thanksgiving dinner short so you go stand out in the cold and wait in line outside a toy store to buy some gift your kids want, they will still love you.
Nothing saddens me more on this holiday than the people who willingly sacrifice time with the people they're buying gifts for.
2) A Football Life. This week, the NFL Network's excellent series chronicles former New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason, who's living - and this man is definitely living - with ALS.
You can watch the show, broken down into segments, by going here. It is not easy to watch, in fact, it is downright heartbreaking.
I think the best thing about the show is the story it tells of Gleason's friendship with former teammate Scott Fujita.
If you're lucky enough to have a friend in your life as good to you as Scott Fujita is to Steve Gleason, you have something - and someone - to be extremely thankful for today.
3) I'm 91-87. There are three games today so here you go: The Lions will take care of the ball better and Matt Flynn will turn into a pumpkin. Or a turkey. He most definitely will not turn into Aaron Rodgers. Detroit (-5.5) wins at home over Green Bay....The points are tempting, but I just can't trust the Raiders' secondary. Dallas (-9.5) wins comfortably over Oakland....The Steelers have lost to the Bengals so I'm rooting for them tonight. I think. Pittsburgh (+2.5) is just good enough offensively right now, they win at Baltimore.
4) Feel free to stop by the studio to bring me a plate. Retail workers aren't the only ones being pressed into service tonight. I'm filling in on Sedano and Stink tonight on ESPN Radio. We're carrying the NFL games on ESPN1530, so you'll have to find another ESPN Radio affiliate, and my bosses will definitely not like that. So just go to here and click on and "listen live."
5) Someone has to put this on their blog, right?
We have no radio show today, not because I took today off to get a head start on some Thanksgiving Eve debauchery, because I will, but because there's a UK game at 4:00, bumping our show and giving me a day off. I've decided to go to today's tilt at Rupp Arena, meaning that across three consecutive days, I will have attended Xavier v. Abilene Christian, UC v. UMass-Lowell, and Kentucky v. Eastern Michigan.
I clearly only choose the marquee events.
A trip to Rupp requires a side trip to the liquor store, since the SEC has silly rules about alcohol being consumed at their sporting events unless you're one of those snobs in a luxury suite. So before I head to my nearest hooch-seller to load up on the airplane bottles I'll be sneaking in, here's today's Thanksgiving Eve blog.
1) Carlos Beltran. OMG! From C. Trent....
Could the Reds be looking at Carlos Beltran? According to a report in Primera Hora, a newspaper in Puerto Rico, the Reds have reached out to Beltran’s agent, Dan Lozano. The author of the report, Noel Piñeiro told the Enquirer in an e-mail that Beltran said Lozano informed him of the Reds’ interest. Piñeiro said Beltran also told him he expects to make a decision by mid-December.
Beltran, 36, is also being courted by the Tigers, Yankees, Rangers, Orioles, Mariners, Red Sox and Royals, according to the same report.
The Reds would seem to be a long-shot to land Beltran, who has spent the last two seasons in St. Louis. Not only will he command a hefty price tag, but according to at least one report (from Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News), Beltran is the Yankees’ “No. 1 target.” The same report says the Yankees are Beltran’s top choice, as well.
Beltran has played mostly right field in each of the last two seasons with the Cardinals, but would likely move to left for the Reds. A switch-hitter, he hit .296/.339/.491 for the Cardinals last season and is a career .283/.359/.496 hitter.
Beltran is reportedly seeking a three-year contract. It would seem an American League team would be a better fit for a player who will be 37 in April and would be 39 at the end of his contract, although he told Piñeiro that he would prefer to play in the National League, but did stipulate he didn’t have a preference in geography. Beltran said he would prefer to play for a playoff-caliber team. Beltran told Piñeiro that he has not had any firm offers as of yet.
Lozano is also Joey Votto’s agent.
A) Today I am going to go to Rupp Arena, and if newly-divorced Ashley Judd is there, I am going to "look" at her. And if given the chance, I will "reach out" to her. This is because I am "interested" in her. None of these things mean that Ashley will be returning to Cincinnati in my buddy Jerad's Toyota (Oh yeah, Jerad. You're driving).
B) Carlos was very good for the Cardinals last season, but I'm not sure he was $13 million good. Of the 12 seasons where he's played at least 140 games, his 2013 OPS was his third worst. It was still pretty good - at .830, it was good enough for 16th in the league - but it was still just the fifth best total on his own team and more important, it was not up to his usual standards when he was being paid a salary commensurate with his best years. (He made almost exactly what he was getting during his best two seasons in New York.) His WAR was 2.4, lowest of any season in which he had played 145 games. (That I'm spending what amounts to an off day looking up Carlos Beltran's WAR should make my sabermetrically-inclined friends proud)
He did kill it with RISP- hitting .374 and driving in 50 runs in 142 plate appearances (by comparison, Votto hit .291 and drove in 50 in 193), surrounded by guys who were always getting on. Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday, and Yadier Molina were each in the NL's top 16 in on-base-percentage and Beltran spent various points of the season hitting behind all three. A Beltran signing in Cincinnati would most certainly mean the end of Shin-Soo Choo in Cincinnati, meaning they lose one high OBP guy and likely lessening Beltran's RBI chances.
He contributed in the postseason as well. In St. Louis' first three playoff games, he had four hits, two homers, a double and he drove in four. In game one of the NLCS, he put on a show, driving in all three Cardinals runs - including the game-winner and he made a ridiculous throw from right-center to nail Mark Ellis at the plate, saving the Cardinals from a probable loss. Every baseball writer in American spent the middle part of October trying to make Carlos out to be the greatest postseason player ever.
He's actually been a great postseason performer throughout his career - hitting .333 with a 1.128 OPS in 51 October games, but I'm not sure postseason numbers alone are worth the kind of money Carlos Beltran is seeking.
Was he a key member of a good Cardinals team? Undeniably. Did he have what could be considered a "good" season? Yes. Was he worth $13 million? I'm not so sure.
C) How many bad investments can you make and if you lose Choo and get Beltran, are you really that much better?
The guy is going to be 37. And I'll guess that if he did come to Cincinnati, he'd get his third year, meaning the Reds, who already have some questionable contracts as they're presently constructed who have to be looking ahead to some key financial decisions for players already on the roster, would be paying a good chunk of dough to a 39 year-old outfielder who doesn't exactly have the cleanest injury history.
Is that a good investment?
And if it isn't and you're still willing to take it on, how many bad investments can you have?
Pretty much everybody on the Reds who hasn't gotten a raise yet will, most starting next season, within the next three years. Latos will get eight figures in 2015. Bailey - still a Reds right now - stands to get close to $9 million. Leake will get a little more than $6 million. Chapman can opt into arbitration. The other regulars will start making more. Same for the relievers. Hell Skip Schcmaker conned this team into giving him just signed for $5 million for two years.
This becomes a little easier if the Reds trade Brandon Phillips, but they haven't. And if they do, is the offense really that much better losing Choo and Phillips and pretty much just adding Beltran?
More to the point, if you're going to pay Beltran, why not pay Choo?
Now I don't think a heavy investment in Shin-Soo Choo makes much sense either, primarily because you're likely to get the same or even worse production at more than twice the price, but he is younger, and while you'd have to take on more than three years, Choo would - worse case - be the same age Beltran is right now.
Choo's 2013: .285/.423/.462, 21 HR, 51 RBI, 107 Runs, 20 SB, 263 Total Bases, 4.2 WAR in 154 games
Beltran's 2013: .296/.339/.491, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 79 Runs, 2 SB, 272 Total Bases, 2.4 WAR in 145 games.
Using the hyper-geeky runs created per-game metric, Choo created 7.9 per 27 outs used. Beltran, 6. (What the hell is wrong with me?)
Offensively, they're at least a push and I would argue that Choo is better.
OK, so maybe there's zero chance Choo is staying here and if he isn't, you have to find someone to help the offense, and maybe that guy can be Carlos Beltran.
But will they really be that much better off if they're replacing one with the other?
And again, one guy is about to be 37. The other just turned 31.
D) I'm skeptical of the agent's confirmation of the Reds' interest. Beltran and the Yankees have been linked since before the season ended. Carlos wants three years. The Yankees are interested, they just want to give him two, at least that's the story.
So how do you get the Yankees to kick in that third year? Try to make it seem like as many teams as possible are willing to do just that.
E) I just devoted 935 words to a guy the Reds probably won't be signing, so you win Carlos.
2) The Bearcats. I like their defense. They're applying pressure, forcing turnovers, and most important, they're playing hard enough for Mick Cronin to play the kind of D they'll need to when they start playing teams I've heard of.
I like what I'm seeing from Justin Jackson, who's far more in control and confident with the ball as he attacks the rim, even if he takes bad angles.
I like what they get from Troy Caupain, whose stats might not wow you but seems to play both within himself and with maximum effort, which is tough for young guards. His willingness and ability to chase other guards for 94 feet will be key.
I like what Sean Kilpatrick is doing, and not just statistically. He's far more engaged with his teammates than I remember, encouraging them from the bench, offering advice during dead balls, and he's completely bought into not taking nearly as many shots.
I'm not yet impressed with Jermaine Lawrence, who's been neither awful or good. He's been what you expect from pretty much every freshman, but with an added look that suggests that he's just coming to grips with how much more difficult the college game really is.
I worry about bigger teams, or at least teams with frontline depth. There might not be a ton of either on UC's schedule, but the foes that do size, big guys off the bench, or both, do concern me.
Alright look, I'm out of thoughts. Frankly, I spent the last 25 minutes of last night's game thinking more about where I was eating and watching the UD game afterward. I like this UC team and I understand both the reason for playing them and importance of teams getting better in these games against schools that might have just been invented solely to produce fodder for far more relevant basketball programs. But I'm ready for the games against teams that have actually appeared on television before. There's two games against Kennesaw State Bible Academy and South Carolina Upstate Technical Beauty School and then the Bearcats will play a decent slate of non-league games for the following few weeks. I've watched UC play enough online trade schools.
Bring on actual accredited universities, please.
3) The Flyers. Look, I'm not going to start saying a bunch of nasty things simply because they lost a game to ranked team by one point on a neutral floor.
That's a lie.
You could feel that game slipping away as the second half wore on. The UD offense was prolific from three, but severely limited otherwise, and they were murdered on the glass. The Flyers are more physical than usual, but last night they were beaten on the glass and schooled by a better offense.
Leads built by the three are rarely sustainable and the advantage the Flyers had in the games final five minutes always felt like it was double what it actually was.
They're playing well in Maui and their season is off to a good start. No one is going to hold a close loss to the 18th-ranked team in the country against them.
But that game - which Dayton led pretty much the whole way - was tantalixingly there for the taking.
4) More pity for me.
Ever since the last NBA season ended, I've been resigned to the fact that the Knicks were likely to spend this season in the league purgatory - not good enough to win a championship, not bad enough to get a lottery pick. You don't want to there, especially this year with a loaded draft coming up in June.
Even as they've stumbled to a 3-10 start, I've just sort of assumed that they'd figure out a way to get to 43-46 wins, make the playoffs and go home around the second week of May.
Defensively, there's nothing they're good at, at least while Tyson Chandler is out. Offensively, they're even more unwatchable than last season, when Carmelo Anthony at least pretended to want to pass the ball. They clearly loathe each other, but not as much as they simply don't like their coach. And they have so many genuine nut-jobs (look at this roster and tell me if you see many examples of mental stability) that my prediction of a mid-January practice ending with blood being spilled looks destined to be realized before Christmas.
They look genuinely capable of losing enough games to be miss the postseason.
And under normal circumstances, I'd start thinking about what this team needed to do to tank and get as many ping pong balls as possible.
But these aren't normal circumstances.
The Knicks don't have a first round pick in 2014.
Find me a bigger sports laughingstock right now. I dare you.
5) You want to win this.
This is one of the coolest Bengals-related item I've seen! Someone is going to win the 2013 Marvin Lewis Harley Davidson. Painted with Bengals colors, and signed by the players too, this 2013 Road King Harley-Davidson motorcycle is the grand prize of this year's Marvin Lewis Community Fund raffle to benefit the community outreach programs of MLCF throughout the year.
Tickets are $10 each and are available at MarvinsHarley.com. Online ticket sales end at midnight on Wednesday, December 18 with the drawing on Saturday, December 21st. Winners will not need to be present to win.
-I LOVE this. Deadspin bought a BBWAA Hall of Fame vote....
Recently, as you may recall, we announced our plan to subvert the annual elections for baseball's Hall of Fame by buying votes from voters. Our idea was to make a mockery and farce of the increasingly solemn and absurd election process, and to take some power from the duly appointed custodians of the game's history and turn it over to the public.
Well, with the Baseball Writers' Association of America having released its official ballot today, we can happily announce that we have a vote. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America thought our plan sounded like a pretty damn good idea and sold us his/her vote, making a stand against the idea that a somewhat random subsection of the baseball press should maintain the power to confer what is, regrettably, the game's most prestigious honor. For obvious reasons, the voter will remain anonymous for now, but he/she will be filling out his/her ballot on behalf of Deadspin readers, who will be polled in binding elections. The voter will announce his/her name and motivations once his/her vote has been officially cast.
Tremendous. Look, it's a fraudulent, silly process to begin with. Why not make it more-so? And good luck convincing me that your average BBWAA voter could do better than however Deadspin's ballot shapes up.
-The night before Thanksgiving. I enjoy going out on the night before America's quickly-becoming-forgotten holiday. I enjoy going out most any night, so the previous sentence should come as no shock. I do admit that the combination of the kickoff of the holiday season (which, for those poor people who have to work at all-Christmas/all the time radio stations can't be over soon enough) adds something festive to the night, as does the excitement for a four-day weekend (I'm working three of the four days. More on that later.) And I enjoy watching people who have never really handled alcohol before, and tonight is the perfect night for that.
But if you're over the age of 22, please stop with the whole "I might see some people I went to high school with tonight" lameness.
I've heard this line in the office three times in the last week. Every time it's been uttered by someone far too old to look forward to, or even care about, seeing someone from their high school days.
This is Cincinnati. You haven't moved. And if you have, you've come back. Often. You haven't been cast in Beautiful Girls Part Two. People from your hometown haven't come from far and wide to convene at the local tavern.
You might run into a former classmate if you go grab some drinks tonight. That's because you either still hang out with these people or because you run into them all the time. (And if you're like me, when you do, you run the other way. If the last memory I have of you is the time we ditched sixth period to go buy that new Jerky Boys tape, there's a reason that's my last memory of you) You saw Jennifer from your junior year history class last week pumping gas, and you were unmoved by it.
You already know where everyone will be anyway. You're friends with these people on Facebook and when they update their status by informing all concerned parties where they're going, you're making a mental note to not go there.
There could be chance encounters with people from the high school days, but if there are, they won't matter. These things are a big deal when you're 20. By the time you're in your 30s, your bestie from the good old days is just some jag-off talking about themselves and wasting your time. If you actually cared what the guy you cheated off of in Algebra was doing with his life, you'd already know.
And maybe your high school classmates aren't lushes like you and I. Maybe they actually want to spend time with their families, or they have kids, or jobs that consume them to the point that going out seems exhausting. Maybe they don't drink. Perhaps a quiet night at home is their thing. Why assume that just because you feel the social pressure to go out on the "biggest bar night of the year" that everyone else does?
OK, look. Earlier this week, my producer and I were discussing topics and she suggested I bring this up. I wasn't feeling it then and I'm not feeling it now, but I wanted her to feel like she contributed and this particular issue seemed important to her so there you go Lindsay, eight paragraphs.
-It seems like everyone is jumping on my "NFL ties are stupid bandwagon."
-Tuesday Morning Quarterback looks at a passing fad and a probably shift to more passing. Plays on words, and poor ones at that, intended.
-OK, I'm off to make some purchases before the trek to Lexington. I'm actually working tomorrow, filling in for Stink and Sedano on ESPN Radio tomorrow from 7:00 until 10:00. We're not carrying that show on ESPN1530 due to the NFL game, but you can hear it by going here.
I'm on 700WLW Friday night after the UC game, from around 6:45 until 9:00.
And I'm hosting Pregame SportsTalk on ESPN1530 and 700WLW Sunday from 12:05 until 3:00, getting ready for the Bengals and Chargers.
If not, back at it on Monday at 3:04 on ESPN1530.
Follow me on Twitter and enjoy your Thanksgiving.
This our final show of the week, so we're cramming everything in.
First, something for you to try with your co-workers.
Can you talk about Andy Dalton without making a face?
If you're gonna honor Chad, how do you do it?
Should it take 770 words to explain an NFL rule?
If you were Brandon Phillips, would you attend RedsFest?
Join me for our Thanksgiving Eve Eve party today at 3:04 on ESPN1530.