BEST LOCAL SPORTS STAR TURNED INTO A CARTOON
On March 17 last year, Reds star Joey Votto made his prime-time debut … as a cartoon character. Votto voiced the animated version of himself, alongside David Ortiz and Jimmy Rollins on the now-canceled The Cleveland Show on Fox. During the episode, the trio is recruited by the show’s animated star, Cleveland Brown, after he becomes a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cartoon Votto was all set to leave the Reds, but then he found out Brown’s offer (a billion dollars) was bogus. Reds fans — real and cartoon alike — are ecstatic that Votto is still holding it down at first base at Great American Ball Park, hitting line-drive laser-beam home runs and getting on base almost half the time. cincinnatireds.com.
BEST NEARBY EXTREME GOLD MEDALIST
Lawrenceburg, Ind., native Nick Goepper was part of an American sweep in men’s ski slopestyle at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Goepper, who won gold at the X-Games in January, finished third behind American teammates Joss Christensen and Gus Kenworthy in the men’s ski slopestyle. Although our Tristate area isn’t exactly known for its mountain peaks, Goepper has climbed to the top. The local skiing savant also recently appeared on an NBC television event titled How to Raise an Olympic Athlete. He’s on Twitter @NickGoepper.
BEST UC/XAVIER CROSSOVER
After years of brawls, trash talking and general bad behavior by both University of Cincinnati and Xavier fans, Crosstown Shootout organizers renamed the annual UC vs. Xavier basketball game the “Crosstown Classic” in 2012 and moved the game site to downtown’s U.S. Bank Arena. Since then, the rivalry has mellowed and there has been an interesting crossover as far as the teams’ broadcasters goes. It’s kind of weird to hear the voices of Brad Johansen and Steve Wolf, both with strong ties to Xavier broadcasts of the past, calling UC games on the CBS Sports Network this year, after UC’s move to the new American Athletic Conference. Can you imagine Chuck Machock becoming Xavier’s regular color commentator? Machock was once ejected from a UC men’s basketball March Madness tournament game for getting mad and yelling at the officials. We’ll see how this sort of behavior plays out in the Big East. gobearcats.com; goxavier.com.
BEST ALTERNATIVE TO "THE WAVE"
The “Wooo” rally cry from Reds fans that usually begins a few innings — and beers — into home games must be commended for its originality — and for how much it annoys some fans. The random, spreading “Wooos” echoing throughout Great American Ball Park provide a refreshing alternative to the tired old “Wave” sports fans have been doing for decades. Also, there was something about the viral video of the red-haired gentleman many credit with starting the trend — now referred to on YouTube as “The Cincinnati Wooo Guy” — that was mesmerizing and endlessly entertaining. The Wooo even has its own Twitter account: @TheRedsWoo. cincinnatireds.com.
BEST UC SENIOR CLASS SINCE THE LAST ONE WE LIKED A LOT
Mick Cronin consistently lauded his three seniors during the 2013-14 season, and for good reason. Sean Kilpatrick, Justin Jackson and Titus Rubles led the Bearcats to their first conference title since 2004, with Kilpatrick earning multiple first-team All American honors and Jackson taking the American Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award. Rubles set a career-high with 24 points during a crucial win over Memphis on Senior Night, the final game the trio ever played together in front of their home fans at Fifth Third Arena. Cronin named his seniors co-captains during the season and repeatedly praised their leadership and consistent effort, which resulted in UC’s highest NCAA Tournament seed during the Cronin era. gobearcats.com.
BEST USE OF JUGGLING SKILLS
A.J. Green makes defensive backs look helpless on the football field, using an unfair combination of speed, agility and a 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame to make awesome catches all over the field against them. Many people might feel inclined to believe that they could do cool stuff like Green does if they were big and fast, but it turns out there’s more to A.J.
than meets the eye — dude started juggling in second grade, a skill he says has helped the development of his hand-eye coordination over the years. Green became the first rookie to earn a spot on the NFL’s Pro Bowl team in 2012 and secured his standing among the league’s top wide receivers with another stellar campaign last year. Having such an elite playmaker offers the Bengals a legit window of opportunity to build a great team around him as long as they don’t bungle any upcoming drafts like they used to. cincinnatibengals.com.
BEST PROGENY OF RANDY MOSS HOOPING IT UP FOR THOMAS MORE
Former NFL All-Pro wideout Randy Moss once explained to a reporter how he planned to pay a $10,000 fine for pretending to moon Green Bay Packers fans after scoring a touchdown in a playoff game with a simple, dismissive statement: “Straight cash, homey.” We assume Moss’ daughter, Thomas More basketball star Sydney Moss, hasn’t duplicated such antics, but she’s giving opponents the same problems her old man did during his Hall of Fame-worthy career. Sydney set the NCAA Division III single-game scoring record this season, dropping 63 in one Presidents’ Athletic Conference tournament game, and later broke the league’s season scoring record. Unfortunately, she was injured in the first half of the Saints’ Elite Eight game in mid-March, which the team ended up losing. Good news is Sydney, a sophomore, will be back next year to build upon the team’s program-record 31-1 finish this year. thomasmore.edu.
BEST CROP OF BASKETBALL RECRUITS HEADING TO VICTORY PARKWAY
The more things change over on Victory Parkway, the more they seem to stay the same. When Chris Mack took the Xavier men’s basketball coaching job in 2009 he became the school’s third coach in an eight-year span that saw Thad Matta bolt for Ohio State and Sean Miller head west to take the Arizona job. Mack picked up right where these great coaches left off, leading X to NCAA Tournament appearances in five of his first six seasons, including three Sweet Sixteen runs. Next season Mack will enjoy an influx of talent, as his 2014 recruiting class ranks in the top 10 of most recruiting analysts’ lists, headed by wing Trevon Bluiett out of Indianapolis, who was ranked No. 41 overall by Scout.com and No. 43 by ESPN.com in his class. goxavier.com.
BEST LIVE SPORTS TALK SHOW AT A BAR WE LIKE
Former CityBeat columnist and current Enquirer Reds beat writer C. Trent Rosecrans hosts a monthly gathering at MOTR Pub called The CDot Show, offering a unique opportunity to interact with the Reds’ beat man and featured guests. February’s guests were former MLB umpire Randy Marsh and comedian Josh Sneed. Stay in the loop with Reds baseball, grab one of the many quality beers available at the bar and learn something from insiders. You won’t be made fun of for believing in the validity of sabermetrics. MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com/events.
BEST PLACE TO GET OUT YOUR SEAT AND JUMP AROUND
Sky Zone indoor trampoline park in Springdale has only been open for about two years, but it’s the perfect place for kids and adults alike to minimize their odds for tendon, ligament and bone trauma while trying to show-off like jackasses. (Everyone likes to do flips.) Now, trampolining takes less coordination and muscle tone than ever before! Billed as the “Ultimate 3-D Play Experience,” visitors can take part in high-flying fun activities like dodgeball, SkyRobics fitness classes or unstructured party packages that allow you to flail about at your own pace. Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park, 11745 Commons Drive, Springdale, 513-671-1333, skyzone.com/springdale.
BEST PLACE TO PLAY DISC GOLF AND ENJOY THE OUTDOORS AND STUFF
Out of the 89 18-hole disc golf courses found within the great state of Ohio, Mount Airy Forest ranks third. This local gem features multiple pin placements and more than 7,000 feet of disc golf through one of the prettiest parks in the city. Hole lengths range from 250 to 700 feet, and a variety of elevations and angles makes the course technical and demanding — although it is far less likely to draw blood and lost discs than its evil sibling Idlewild over in Burlington, Ky. Go to the park and enjoy a round or two, but don’t litter while you play. If you’re too lazy to put trash in the buckets provided throughout the course, CityBeat hopes a rabid forest creature sinks its teeth into your littering ass. cincinnatiparks.com/mt-airy-forest.
BEST PLACE TO NOT BE BESIEGED BY RUBES WHILE TALKING BASEBALL ON THE INTERNET
We’re still not sure if people aren’t supposed to talk about Reddit or no one uses it or what, but reddit.com/r/reds is a great source of Reds information, live game threads and more. If you prefer your sports chats to be in lowercase instead of ALL CAPS TO SHOW I’M RIGHT, this is a good spot for you. While many comment sections are populated by unhappy people who never have anything positive (or factually correct) to offer to the discourse, this outlet is full of even-keeled fans who aren’t as prone to knee-jerk “FIRE HIS ASS”-style analysis. Also, the ability to downvote stupid commenters makes you feel all-powerful, like Commodus from The Gladiator. reddit.com/r/reds.
BEST DEFENSIVE DUDE THE BENGALS NEED BACK FAST
The Bengals rolled out to an early division lead last year, impressing analysts with a defense chock full of young talent. But the Who Deys’ Super Bowl dreams took a major blow when defensive tackle Geno Atkins tore his ACL during a Thursday night game on Halloween. The team ended up holding on for an AFC North title but again lost in the first round of the playoffs. The Bengals signed Atkins to an extension before the season, a smart investment in one of the league’s top defensive players. After the season, ProFootballFocus ranked Atkins’ injury as the costliest any team suffered in 2013. Atkins hopes to be ready for training camp this summer, as do all the unfortunate souls who still call themselves Bengals fans after so many bad things have happened to them. cincinnatibengals.com.
BEST PLACE TO GET SWEPT UP IN A GAME OF BROOMBALL
The Cincinnati Broomball Association (CBA) was created in 1992 to grow the sport of broomball in the Greater Cincinnati area. They have overseen the creation of multiple leagues and even started playing games during the winter at the skating rink located on Fountain Square. Find out how to get involved in this fun recreational sport and how you can take part in something on ice while looking less awkward and uncomfortable than you would playing anything else on the aforementioned surface. cincinnatibroomball.org.
BEST BLINK AND YOU MISSED IT MOMENT
Stealing a base is a hard thing to do. Stealing a base when everyone knows you were just brought into the game to do exactly that is even harder. Last year, watching Reds rookie Billy Hamilton’s pinch-running thievery was like watching a safe-cracker in action — a really fast safe-cracker. Now that Hamilton is projected to play every day for the Reds, fans will get many more opportunities to watch this star-in-the-making. Come watch panicked catchers from visiting teams throw the ball into center field as Hamilton goes from first to third on stolen bases at any given home game this year. Great American Ball Park, 100 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown, cincinnatireds.com.
BEST NEW TEAM IN TOWN
The Cincinnati Saints soccer teams know that beer and sports go together — Rhinehaus in OTR is their official bar during the indoor season and it streams live video during matches. The club, founded in 2009, is dedicated to bringing the highest level men’s and women’s soccer to the Queen City. The Saints play their games during the outdoor season at Taft High School’s Stargel Stadium, which is just a stone’s throw from Washington Park. The 2014 National Premier Soccer League runs from May to July and will provide downtown denizens a chance to see our city’s own square off against teams from Detroit, Lansing, Buffalo and Pittsburgh (blarf). cincinnatisaints.com.