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by Isaac Thorn 12.10.2008
Posted In: baseball at 11:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Remembering Glenn Sample

It's too bad you don't get to see your own funeral, because if you lived a really good life and had a lot of close friends it'd be a good time. Monday night a coworker and I headed over to the Fifth Third Arena for Glenn Sample's memorial service.

I met Glenn last year when I began working for Major League Baseball at Great American Ballpark, and like everybody else says, he was the nicest guy you could ever meet. He would write down people's names upon meeting them so he wouldn't forget their names later. Glenn wore many hats throughout his life, and his nearly 30-year tenure as Official Scorer for the Reds is what led me to meet him.

Glenn loved UC athletics. He has a street named after him on campus and is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame (and eight others). In some ways, he reminded me of Jerry Orbach's character from Law & Order in that he was distinctly from another era and knew a ton more than you. He grasped a great deal of the sort of knowledge and life skills which are timeless.

The only player who ever hated Glenn was Davey Concepcion. Apparently, Davey thought he had never committed an error as a member of the Reds. Not once. Sometimes Concepcion would come off the field, angered that he had been charged with an error, and offer Glenn his extended middle finger or another vulgar gesture. Others in the booth would say, "Glenn, I think Davey's really mad with you this time!" to which he would reply "No. That's Spanish for ‘I love you.’”

I remember when the Mets were in town last year and their catcher Brian Schneider came up to bat. Before he was done digging in at the plate, he had purposely kicked and muddied up the batter's box so that all the lines were pretty much disintegrated. Obviously, Schneider was doing this so that he could creep up an inch or two further than he was allowed when he was back there catching: an old veteran shady move that vets try to get away with all the time.

I can say this was the only time I ever saw Glenn get angry. He said, "He can't do that! It's against the rules. They should throw him out of the game for doing that."

Somehow, it made me realize how guided an individual he was, and that nothing could affront him more than breaking the rules.

Many people's funeral video slideshows would consist largely of beer-in-one-hand poses and other forgetful occurrences. What I found impressive the night of Glenn’s service was how many years were spanned during the slideshow, and not a single picture was of him sitting on his butt doing nothing. They were all hitting, catching, coaching, refereeing — action shots.

Perhaps that's why I was so stunned to hear of his death. When I worked the last game of the season (which was a makeup game vs. Florida scheduled on a Tuesday afternoon that Fox SportsNet didn't even broadcast), he was as lively and full of vigor as ever.

To see Don Zimmer get up on stage, weep, and compare Glenn's jump shot to Shaquille O'Neal's foul shots was something else. These guys played high school ball together on the West Side and have had their lives intertwine for more than 50 years since then. The same Don Zimmer that got so pissed off at Pedro Martinez that he tried to attack him was moved to tears.

Former UC wrestler Frank Shaut cried through his eulogy, and while he was speaking I glanced up to see a photo of him from his wrestling days. In the photo he looks like a guy who would beat your ass and not think twice about it. To see him so hurt by Glenn's passing was a testament to the kind of life he lived.

Memorials are never fun, but this one was educational.

by Brian Dill 03.09.2012
Posted In: College, Basketball at 11:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Queen City Hoops: Conference Tournament Edition

UC in Big East semis, Dayton awaits Xavier

It’s a big night on the hardwood for the Queen City this evening. UC faces No. 2 Syracuse in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament — a place the Bearcats have never reached since joining the conference in 2005. Xavier has had far more success in their endeavors in the A-10 tournament, although last year Xavier bowed out in the quarterfinals as the No. 1 seed. The opponent that night was the Dayton Flyers, the same team the Muskies face tonight with hopes of cementing an NCAA bid.

Let’s start with Xavier, who is in a far more intriguing position heading into tonight’s game. Joe Lunardi, Jerry Palm and Shaw Siegel — all well-known braketologists — have XU in as either an 11 or 12 seed. Fair enough, although as the 3 seed in the A-10 Tournament I believe the Muskies should have to win at least one game to earn a bid to the big dance. I’m going out on a limb here — win and in, lose and lock up a home game in the NIT.

Xavier split the regular season series with the Flyers with each team winning at home. The Flyers pounded Xavier by 15 points in Dayton and forced the game into overtime at Cintas. If the Flyers can get past Xavier tonight in Atlantic City then my I would place my money (the pun was intended) on Dayton to be the A-10’s third team along with Temple and Saint Louis to be accepted into the NCAA Tournament. Currently the Flyers have one more win than the Muskies, 20-11 compared with 19-11, and will have two wins over Xavier. Let’s be honest here, Xavier doesn’t have the same look it has had in previous years or even three months ago before a couple suspensions and a Kenny Frease black eye.

But if the Musketeers can hold on for a “W” the 11 to 12 seed range looks far more promising than you may believe. Xavier is talented on any given night to beat most of the 5 and 6 seeds. Here’s a mouthwatering thought: Lunardi has Xavier against Louisville in his latest projection. That would be one hell of a game.

Despite the wonders Mick Cronin has worked with the Bearcats, they sit in a far less intriguing but far more troubling position. All projections indicate that UC will fall in as an 8 or 9 seed. The way the 'Cats are playing, the first round is certainly doable but barring any major upset a second round meeting with a 1 seed awaits. Both Lunardi and Palm have UC in the Midwest region with Kansas — I guess that’s the least of the other three evils, North Carolina, Kentucky and Syracuse.

The Bearcats will be more than familiar with Syracuse after tonight’s game and a regular season meeting, but I think the Bearcats match up better with the Jayhawks. If things go according to (my) plan and UC gets Kansas, Yancy Gates is going to have to go into beast mode against player-of-the-year candidate Thomas Robinson. I digress; a win against Syracuse tonight in the mecca of hoops, MSG, might push UC into the realm of a 7 seed. Oh how magical that would be.

Hopefully an abundance of 3-pointers will take the place of a woeful 2-21 performance yesterday. The Bearcats played the Orange tough at home back in January, losing 53-60.

If Gates can put up a performance similar to yesterdays and the defense can limit the opportunities of Dion Waiters and Kris Joseph the ‘Cats have a fighting chance. It would also be nice if those cool new uniforms — 28 percent lighter than the old ones, I hear — could supply and additional 10 points or so just for good measure.

As a UC fan I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a 7 seed. I really would like to see Xavier in and prove that their recent struggles aren’t a true reflection of their potential. Check back Monday for a Selection Sunday analysis.

by Zachary McAuliffe 10.07.2013
Posted In: football at 10:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
league of denial book cover

Hidden History of Concussions and the NFL

New book reveals connection between football and brain injuries

A new book set for release Tuesday called League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth is set to challenge the NFL and their denial of a connection between concussions and football. 

Written by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, investigative reporters for ESPN, the book claims the NFL has not only known about the connection between concussions in the NFL and long-term brain injuries for about 20 years, but the league has been actively trying to cover up these facts.

The suicides of Junior Seau as well as former NFL players such as the Bears’ David Duerson and the Eagles’ Andre Waters have brought this issue to the forefront of players’ and fans’ minds. All three players are thought to have suffered severe brain damage from injuries while playing football, all of which lead to their unfortunate suicides.

The NFL has claimed for years they had no knowledge of any relation between the brain injuries sustained from concussions and the deaths of professional players. Even in the face of a recent lawsuit from players, the league held firm to their stance.

The league did settle the recent lawsuit out of court for $765 million, and many questions were raised asking if the league has been honest with how much they know about the possible link between concussions and football. 

For a long time, concussions in the professional level of football were not seen as a big issue because no one knew of the long-term effects. Former New York Jets defensive lineman Marty Lyons talked with Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com where he described his own sideline concussion experience. 

Lyons said whenever a player would come off the field, the physician would hold up some fingers, ask how many and, despite the player’s answer, the physician said, “Close enough.” A couple plays later, or even the next play, the player would find themselves on the field once again. 

“That wasn’t the doctors or trainers saying, ‘You’re OK,’” Lyons said in the interview. “I’m not saying the league didn’t know, I’m not saying the players didn’t know. It was part of the game.” 

According to the authors of League of Denial, the cover-up of how much the NFL knew about the connection started when the former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue created a concussion committee in 1994 to better understand the effects of concussions on players. A few members of the committee came forward in 1995 saying concussions were not “minor injuries” as previously thought. These claims were quickly hushed by the NFL. 

Another claim the book makes is that around 2000, some of the country’s top neuroscientists told the NFL the big hits in football, especially those considered head-to-head, led to not only concussions, but also what is known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Some of the symptoms of CTE are higher rates of depression, dementia, memory loss and brain damage.

The NFL, rather than publishing these findings and telling players of the potential harm, made no such effort and tried to ignore the facts.

Then in 2005, the authors report the NFL tried to persuade a medical journal to retract articles and findings on concussions and their effects on individuals. The journal in question refused and the findings continued to circulate without interference. 

The authors spoke with Dr. Ann McKee, a former assistant professor of neuropathology at Harvard Medical School and one of the leading professionals on the link between football and brain damage, who said of the 54 harvested brains of deceased NFL players, only two did not have CTE.

However, all of these findings are not just exclusive to professional football. Youth, high school and college football players are also at a high risk for concussions. 

A report from 2007 titled “Concussions Among United States High School and Collegiate Athletes,” found that about 300,000 people aged 15 to 24 suffered traumatic brain injuries every year from contact sports. This number is only second to brain injuries sustained from motor vehicle accidents. 

This same study also found of the total number of concussions from other collegiate sports, including boys’ and girls’ soccer and basketball, football was responsible for more than 40 percent of the concussions.

Concussions in high school sports have even led to the death of young athletes. Jaquan Waller and Matthew Gfeller are two football players who died in North Carolina after head injuries sustained during high school games this season.

A study from the University of Pittsburgh found that over the past decade, 30-40 high school football players have died from concussions, and the likelihood of contact sport athletes to receive a concussion is 19 percent. 

Changes are coming to the NFL, however, most notably in the minds of players. Bengals’ cornerback Brandon Ghee received two concussions in back-to-back preseason games against the Falcons and Titans. Ghee was forced to take a five-week break from contact because of these injuries. 

In an interview with The Enquirer, Ghee said if it weren’t for the recent deaths and lawsuit, he would have wanted to go back to play immediately. Now though, he’s not so sure. “After the second one you have to think about your kids and family,” Ghee said in the interview. “You don’t want any long-lasting issues.”

by Isaac Thorn 06.03.2009
Posted In: baseball at 03:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Random Sports Ramblings

I went out of town and you wouldn't believe the things I saw! It sure was different!

As you can see, I've been working on my leads and intro paragraphs. I spent a week in Maine and had more fun watching the New England Sports Network I ever could have imagined. My little brother went to college up there, so he had four years of watching/enduring their unique brand of sports coverage.

The folks at that station really exemplify what it means to be a homer. Aside from that, I hear they have a regular segment in which a man takes a woman on a date to Fenway Park. The most confusing footage I watched was when former Patriots tight end Christian Fauria did a segment at McGreevy's bar, and he was holding this mammoth burger called the "Josh Beckett Burger."

It's for charity or something, which is good. Fauria's assessment of the burger was something else entirely. The camera focused on him, he held the burger up and said "This thing will go right through you!"

I'm not sure if that means something else up there by the Freedom Trail, but around here that is not how you describe something you want someone to purchase and eat.

The Boston Red Sox have many smart, level-headed fans. They also have a lot of fans who wear Red Sox hats and T-shirts that say things like "YANKEES SUCK" across the front.

My brother is correct in thinking that these folks exhibit the behavior of someone who has been bullied somehow. Yankees fans aren't nearly as concerned with Boston. I think they just want to win, and if they get to climb over the Red Sox to get there, then all the better.

The lunatic Red Sox fan has some distorted notion that the Yankees are a big market "Evil Empire," when their team is run no differently. I understand why A's and Twins fans might feel this way, but for Boston fans to makes no sense to me.

The more I watch Jonathan Papelbon the less I care for him. Also, the Dunkin Donuts ads featuring Dustin Pedroia are shot so that Pedroia looks like he's 6-5 and not 5-8 or whatever he is.


The worse my fantasy baseball team plays, the less I'm going to talk about it. I'm playing like the Diamondbacks.

I will say that Volquez's mystery-voodoo ailment coupled with Mike Cameron deciding his knees hurt on MONDAY really helps. A lot. Thanks.

I think I still love sports, but SportsCenter is getting harder and harder to watch. I just can't shake the notion that until they can routinely call the Mets catcher "Omir" instead of "Omar" Santos they should shy away from having Barry Melrose offer baseball analysis and certainly shelve those moronic moments in front of a screen where two or three anchors stand around sipping coffee, somehow trying to make their personalities (of which there is little) shine into the stories they are supposed to be telling.

More objective, coherent content to follow.

Image: Dustin Pedroia in yet another coffee-themed optical illusion.  

by 01.22.2009
at 03:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Using Two Wheels is for Wimps

There are some sports that are so jaw-dropping and unique that you can't help but stare and beg for more.  The sports that inspire this kind of reaction are usually very dangerous or really funny. Few are both. But it's your lucky day, I found one.

Off-road unicycling.


Need I say more. Check out more about unicycling here. Be sure to look at the gallery to see more great photos.


by Danny Cross 04.11.2012
Posted In: Basketball, football at 11:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Helicopter Is Back!

Former UC basketball player Eric Hicks to suit up for Cincinnati Commandos

Anyone who misses the days of Eric “The Helicopter” Hicks jamming on people’s heads for the University of Cincinnati basketball team will have a chance to see Hicks suit up for another local team later this month, but this time he’ll be playing football.

Hicks signed a one-day contract to play in the Cincinnati Commandos game against the Marion Blue Racers on April 28. He’ll be in town practicing with the United Indoor Football League team during the next couple of weeks. He calls it his “OchoCinco moment.”

Although he never played in the NBA, Hicks has been a professional basketball player since leaving UC after his senior season in 2006. Hicks has been a very good player in several European leagues, having played on championship and All-Star teams in such countries as Belgium, Poland, Russia, Israel, China and Spain.

Several notable NFL players had college basketball experience, including tight ends Antonio Gates, Jimmie Graham and Rob Gronkowski. Hicks, who is 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, hasn’t played football since his sophomore year of high school in North Carolina. Although he doesn’t expect to end up in the NFL any time soon, Commandos coach Billy Back says his size and athleticism could be real advantages in this league.

“He’s an all-time fan favorite Bearcat and one of my favorites as well,” Back said. “He’s an athlete, and we can use his height to our advantage.”

Hicks plans to return to Europe soon to resume his basketball career, but said in a release that he’s excited about playing for the Commandos.

In addition to the April 28 game in which Hicks will play, the Commandos have home games at the Cincinnati Gardens May 12, May 26 and June 2. Tickets are $10-$22 and available through Ticket Master or the Cincinnati Gardens ticket office, 513-631-7793 or 2250 Seymour Ave. Find the team's website here.

Here’s a video showing a bunch of cool stuff Hicks did as a Bearcat.

by Danny Cross 09.14.2011
at 10:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jaworski Drops S-bomb During MNF

Did anyone else think they heard Monday Night Football broadcaster Ron Jaworski say "shit" during the Patriots-Dolphins game? I vaguely recall thinking something weird happened, but probably was too distracted by my fantasy football team getting totally destroyed.

Jaws apologized later in the broadcast, and ESPN said that was good enough for everyone to move on.

ESPN spokesman Bill Hofheimer says the network won't put out a statement since Jaworski himself apologized at the end of the game.
Gotta think Jaws was pretty much justified in cursing this throw. Brandon Marshall probably did, too.

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by Matthew Murray 07.13.2009
Posted In: football at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Big Gamble — Bengals Agree To Do 'Hard Knocks'

Drama, controversy and possibility. Three ingredients for television success and three ingredients the Cincinnati Bengals are all too familiar with. So when HBO’s Hard Knocks, a television series that follows NFL teams through their preseason regiments, had to select a team to feature for the upcoming season, it would have been hard-pressed to find a team more fitting than the Cincinnati Bengals.

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by Danny Cross 03.14.2009
Posted In: Air Hockey at 03:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Live Webcam of Air Hockey World Championship

The Air Hockey World Championship brackets have been announced in Las Vegas, and the first-round is underway as of 4:30 p.m. The USAA is streaming the matches live at airhockeyworld.com.

The 65-man bracket has Jason Cornell as the 54 seed and Jeff Huisman the 56. They will be matched up against the 11th and 9th seeds, respectively.

A live chatroom is also up and running, so get in there and support the local air hockey dudes. Cornell's opponend is a left-handed 57-year-old air hockey veteran with two national championships under his belt.

Go dudes go! Hit that puck hard!

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by Danny Cross 03.02.2012
Posted In: Basketball at 01:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Twelve Year Anniversary: Kenyon Martin Goes Off

The year 2000 seems like only yesterday — everyone all hunched up in our bomb shelters assuming the bank was going to turn our life savings into some kind of repeating decimal instead of the hundreds of dollars we had in there, all because a computer doesn't know how to count above 1999.

Once we made it to the Millennium, many Cincinnatians' concerns shifted from ultimate survival to how awesome it was going to be when Kenyon Martin and the UC Bearcats won the National Title. We're not here to recap how much it sucked to witness Kenyon's broken ankle in the stupid Conference USA tournament or to apologize to the girlfriend at the time who walked in the room during the injury and expected some semblance of reason to be demonstrated despite the fatal blow to the 'Cats' chances. (She says she forgave me, but her recent marriage to a hockey player in California speaks otherwise...)

Before the conference tournament there was the Bearcats' second-to-last regular season game, a contest against future pro Quintin Richardson and the DePaul Blue Demons on March 2, 2000. UC had four of its own players who would be drafted following the 1999-00 season: Martin (1st overall pick in 2000), DerMarr Johnson (6th pick in 2000), Kenny Satterfield (53rd in 2001) and Steve Logan (30th in 2002).

Witness, via the beauty of the Internet, the final 3:46 of gametime, the No. 2 Bearcats trailing 60-50 and Dick Vitale in the house to go off about how awesome Kenyon was.