I flipped through the latest issue of The Sporting News during a stop at Fountain News (far and away the best source for magazines and newspapers downtown) yesterday. A few locally related mentions caught my eye:
1. Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty was named SN’s 2010 MLB Executive of the Year by a group of 24 peers. Jocketty tells SN that the biggest challenge was to instill a “culture of winning” into a franchise that hadn’t delivered a winning season in a decade. Both those in the organization and the fan base knew Jocketty and President and CEO Bob Castellini were serious when the team shocked everyone by signing Cuban exile Aroldis Chapman, which led a season-ticket holder to tell Jocketty at the time, “Even if this kid never pans, the fact the Reds made a statement like this and went for it showed that the organization was serious about winning again.” No doubt, dude.
2. The MLB Hot Stove is already warming up, and Sporting News’ new National League Power Poll has the Reds at No. 2 behind the Phillies. No. 2, ahead of the just-crowned World Series champion Giants? That’s a bold but reasonably accurate statement. Central Division rivals the Cardinals were at No. 4 and the Rockies at No. 5. The poll doesn’t mention what criteria went into determining the rankings. Is it based on teams as they stand now; based on what off-season moves are likely; based on their potential next season; or a mix of each? No matter, the Reds are clearly on the upswing. The most pressing questions heading into the off-season are pretty much the same as they were last year: What do they do at shortstop (resign Orlando Cabrera or hand it over to Paul Janish), in left field (sign a free agent or use a mix of Jonny Gomes, Laynce Nix and Chris Heisey) and with the starting rotation (if Chapman is moved back, that gives them seven worthy guys for five rotation spots). My guess? Janish is given a chance to be the everyday guy, they use a mix in left field and Chapman stays in the bullpen, leaving Homer Bailey and Mike Leake to fight it out for the fifth rotation spot.
3. A brief Q&A with Bengals running back Cedric Benson, who, when giving an example of how Bengals fans have shown him more love than his previous team, the Chicago Bears, said, “There’s a lot of support and fans wanting autographs and such when I’m out and about in Cincinnati.” That tepid answer begs the question, “If that’s love, what happens when someone only likes you, Ced?”
4. The UC Bearcats Men’s Basketball team was picked to finish seventh in the always-powerful Big East, which is higher than I’ve seen them placed in any other preseason mag. Even more interesting is that former Enquirer writer and current SN contributor Mike DeCourcy has the Bearcats making the NCAA tournament for the first time in Mick Cronin’s tenure. I’m not quite as optimistic as DeCourcy, but the potential is there — the ’Cats have veterans coming back at every position. On the other hand, Cronin has not shown an ability to get the best out of his players. In fact, one could argue that several guys have regressed or underachieved under his guidance: See Yancy Gates and the career of Deonta Vaughn. One thing is for sure: Expect Cronin, who has seemed oddly out of touch with reality when assessing the program’s progress in the past, to be on the hot seat if UC struggles again.
Oh, and before I get out of here, check this hilarious interview with refreshingly eccentric, mondo-bearded Giants closer Brian Wilson on The Tonight Show late last week. My favorite moment is when Leno asks Wilson to come up with a word that rhymes with orange: “No, I don’t want to.” Awesome.