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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.
FIVE MO; THINGS, 1/7/13
1) Andy Dalton.
A lot of things have to happen for the Bengals to not only make the playoffs, but advance in them, in 2013.
They need more playmakers and they need something more dynamic from their running game. They need the offensive line to improve. They need some turnover in both the secondary and among the linebackers. And given his now startlingly bad record in the postseason, one might argue that they need a new coach that they won't be getting.
Most important though, the Bengals need better play from Andy Dalton.
Andy has had two nice, productive, NFL seasons. Let's be honest though, if prior to the postseason, you came up with a confidence ranking of playoff quarterbacks, Andy would've probably been listed as 11th, right?
(Don't confuse that for a ranking of which quarterbacks will have better careers, or which ones have the most or least to work with, or which ones are dating the hottest college football sideline pop-tarts, it would be a ranking of which quarterbacks are most and least likely to win big playoff games)
That's not a knock on Andy, it really isn't. No one thought that he'd be keeping company with guys like Brady, Rodgers, and Manning, but at some point he's going to have to rank a lot closer to those guys than quarterbacks like Christian Ponder or whomever that dude behind center was for the Vikings on Saturday night.
Andy deserves the credit he's gotten for winning 19 games in two seasons (ok, Gradkowski won the opener at Cleveland last season), and this isn't intended to pin the latest playoff loss squarely on Dalton, but if you watched the Bengals throughout their 17 games, how often did you think that you were watching one of the NFL's top five QBs?
I can hear Andy Apologists clearing their throats now. I get it. The offensive line was not great. The running game lacks sizzle (though it was almost criminally underused on Saturday) and the Bengals need to either develop or find more outside weapons.
But among the recurring themes throughout this season were Dalton throwing too many interceptions, Dalton not finding AJ Green enough, Dalton not being very accurate, Dalton not exhibiting good pocket awareness, Dalton either getting rid of the football took quickly or holding on to it too long, and Dalton's offense not getting into the end zone nearly enough.
(Again, one TD in their last 36 drives to end the season. That's nearly impossible)
Those themes from 2012 carried over into 2013. Andy Dalton did not play well against the Texans.
This wasn't just a one-game thing. He was not very good for most of the season's first half. And after being very good throughout November, his play took a nosedive in both December and January.
What Andy has done in his first two seasons is fine, but for a team that will now be judged only by how often they win in the playoffs, he's going to have to do better.
Maybe he can, but a big part of me worries that he can't.
Year three, especially in the NFL's new age of accelerated success for younger QBs, is a pivotal season for a quarterback. Gone are the rookie-season training wheels. Done are the excuses about inexperience. The third year, especially for a team that HAS to do better in 2013 is when Andy Dalton HAS to make a leap from good to something greater.
The Bengals must do better in 2013, which means Andy Dalton must do better in 2013.
It's not to say that their window is closing, for starters the window is always at least cracked open in today's NFL, at least for any team not based in Cleveland, and the Bengals have intact a good nucleus that should give them a chance for the next few years, but keeping this particular group intact beyond 2013 and 2014 is going to be extremely difficult. The Bengals will have some tough decisions to make about some key players within the next few years, and the inevitable pay raises due to some their better guys will make keeping all of them nearly impossible.
Throw in the fact that the Steelers are in transition and that the Ravens face some pressing questions this offseason on top of an already mediocre AFC, and 2013 sure looks like the year where the Bengals could be best positioned to make a run.
It won't happen if Andy Dalton doesn't improve. And soon.
The big games where the team's QB fails to target his best weapon even once in a half must be in the rear-view mirror. Accuracy needs to improve. A better sense of the pass rush and the pocket must develop. And without getting all technical here, something I'm not qualified to do, Andy Dalton has to look the part of a higher echelon quarterback than he has in his first two years.
Oh, and plays like the deep ball he overthrew to AJ in the end zone? The play we'll be thinking about for the next eight months? He has to connect on those more often too.
Chances are, if we're drawing up a list from top to bottom of the playoffs QBs we're most and least confident in heading into next year's playoffs, and Andy's near the bottom, the Bengals stay in the postseason will again be a short one.
The Bengals are not getting a new quarterback. They're not drafting one. They're not trading for one. And they aren't shuffling QBs on the depth chart. Andy Dalton is the guy in 2012, and you could certainly do a lot worse than him as your starting quarterback heading into a season.
The main question is, will Andy do a lot better next season so they Bengals, in turn, can do a lot better next postseason?
2) Marvin Lewis. With each loss, his playoff record moves up a few paragraphs in his bio. His offensive coordinator did him no favors on Saturday, with near total abandonment of the running game, nothing demanding that his QB throw the ball to AJ Green in the first half, and the two shakiest play calls of the season, on the final two plays of the game. But still, his team yet again looked less composed, less prepared, and less capable in a playoff game. And he's been the common denominator.
I believe that Marvin deserves a chance to see the project that began two years ago to and end point different than the way this particular season ended, but his winless postseason mark is becoming and more prominent part of his narrative which each defeat. And given his already shaky relationship with many Bengals fans, I'm not sure how much longer this team can employ a coach who has put in a decade worth of work with zero playoff successes.
3) Vegas. Spent Thursday through yesterday morning there. A Sin City trip for the first weekend of the NFL Playoffs might be better than the first full weekend of the NCAAs (which I finally did last year). Lower D-bag quotient, fewer amateurs, less crowded sportsbooks, but with the NFL highlighting a full slate of sports, plenty of action.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, is worse than some dude's gambling stories, so I won't bore you, but this guy violated the bettor's rule of never putting your money where your heart is. I felt like the Bengals could cover at +4.5, but didn't think they'd win. I bet them to do both. I felt like -13 was waaaay too steep for the Bearcats to cover, and I bet them anyway as well.
Fortunately, the Packers came through, as did the Bengals and Texans combined offensive ineptitude, helping me hit the under. And the saving grace was the easiest bet in the history of gambling, the Knicks as a pick 'em at home against a Spurs team playing its fourth game in five nights. (I allowed my buddy Matt to place a wager on the Spurs. I'm a bad friend.)
I realize that the preceding three paragraphs qualify as a gambling story. I hate myself. Let's move on.
4) The Bearcats. The offensive problems are no longer an aberration. They are a trend, and a frightening one for a team whose best player has gone cold. They're going to be good enough to win a lot of games because of their defense, and because Cashmere Wright will find ways to bail them out with big plays on offense. But the sheer stiffness of the bigs when they get the ball, the enigma that is Titus Rubles, and the lack of options in the halfcourt, especially in close games down the stretch, are all troublesome, and the teams they'll be playing will mostly be much, much, better than that St. John's team that just handed UC and unforgivable home loss.
5) The NFL Playoffs. As I've mentioned in this space before, the first two weekends of the playoffs are among the best sports weekends on the calendar. But three of the four games this weekend were turds, with only Washington/Seattle saving the weekend.
Bad games happen, which is fine. But can you imagine what this weekend would've looked like had we had in place Roger Goodell's idea of expanded playoffs?
Don't expand, Rog. Let well enough alone.
But wait, there's more....
-Like my concerns for the well-being of this young man....
Even this dude is wondering if AJ Green was actually playing in the first half.
-There's RGIII and Mike Shanahan. It didn't take an orthopedic surgeon to come to the conclusion that Robert Griffin III was clearly compromised and should not have been playing. It didn't take a Redskins' diehard to know that his backup, Kirk Cousins gave DC a better chance to win than a guy hobbling around on one leg. And it doesn't take a holier-than-thou sportswriter to hammer the 'Skins Head Coach for being irresponsible with not only RGIII's career, but with the franchises most important investment as well.
But as Twitter blew up late last night (thank God for on-board WiFi and TV) when Griffin finally came out of the game, I thought back to when we had a similar meltdown after Jay Cutler was yanked in the NFC Title Game against Green Bay.
Had RGIII's coach pulled him (which again, he should've), you do know that he would've incurred the wrath of thousands for being soft, right?
I'm not saying that reactions like that had anything to do with what Mike Shanahan did, both to the detriment of Griffin's career and his team's chances against the Seahawks, but next time we see a guy come out of a game, let's remember that we lost our minds when one player's coach insisted on him staying in one.
-And there's tonight's BCS "National Championship Game. Notre Dame v. Alabama. As usual, when there's a big game involving two teams I really have no feelings for, I had to determine whom I will be rooting for by completely superficial methods.
A) Which fan bases will be more insufferable if their team wins? If 'Bama wins, I get SEC guy hammering his conference's dominance in my face, yet again. If ND wins, I get more completely off-base assertions that the Irish having a championship team is ultimately very, very, very good for the sport.
Notre Dame fans at least let the rest of us participate. SEC Guy thinks all of the other college football teams from all of the other conferences should be abolished. Notre Dame Guy knows his team needs someone to play, because, you know, the Irish refuse to join a conference.
Oh, and we have no confirmed reports of any Notre Dame fans tea-bagging anyone in fast-food restaurants.
Advantage: Notre Dame.
B) Forrest Gump or Rudy? I don't like either of these movies. Gump isn't one of Tom Hanks ten best films. Rudy is probably Sean Astin's third-best movie. I say that because I liked Goonies, because I thought 50 First Dates was kinda cute, and because I refuse to see any of those Lord Of The Rings movies.
Both movies are fast and loose with the facts. Forrest is pitiful because he spends an entire day babbling on about himself to complete strangers. Whining Rudy is loathsome because of his selfishness in pursuing such a shortsighted goal and how many lives he ruined along the way.
Neither film has any redeeming value, but at least Rudy tells a bad story about perseverance, even if being so persistent results in your life's crowning achievement coming before college graduation. Gump really only teaches you to not sleep with hippies.
Advantage: Notre Dame
C) Does Harvey Updyke root for Alabama or Notre Dame?
Advantage: Notre Dame
D) Which of the two head coaches would be fun to have a beer with? This is very, very, easy. Nick Saban seems like he's about as fun to hang around with as a that guy you know who always interject politics into everything (you and I both know that guy and we both do anything we can to not hang out with him), where Brian Kelly would be fun to hang around with, even if he spent most of the time talking about himself.
A conversation with Saban would go about as deep as various ways to stop the screen pass. A conversation with Brian Kelly might go about as deep as how he invented the screen pass, but at least he would make it interesting.
I'm rooting for Brian Kelly. As a UC fan, I'm in the minority. I didn't like the way he left, but I never like how any of these guys leave, and as an overall body of work guy, I'll take the full scope of his contributions to UC football ahead of how he left UC football.
The guy went 34-6 here. He helped make it possible for me to buy a $14 beer the night before the Orange Bowl in Miami, and he helped make it possible for eight days of debauchery, most of which I can't remember, before the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
Brian Kelly is the most important individual in the history of University of Cincinnati football. He was good to me and my radio show while he was here, and while I don't love everything about him (I hammered him for what happened with Declan Sullivan, but certainly didn't think there was any malice intended.), I think he's a good guy who significantly raised the profile of a team and a program I care for very much. I hope he gets his title tonight.
And yes, I'm predicting that he will. In an upset, Irish 23 Tide 17
-The return of the radio show, including some thrilling moments with Artrell, today at 3:04 on ESPN1530. Here's the first "Hit Play, Turn Up, and Walk Away" video of 2013...