With Opening Day fast approaching, you now have 225 million reasons to go watch the Reds this year. Bob Castellini opened up the checkbook and Walt Jocketty busted out his best persuasive vocabulary and Joey Votto accepted; to the tune of a 10-year, $225 million contract extension — the fourth largest in major league history.
Reds ownership — unlike our dear friend, Mike Brown — has embraced the recent successes of their young nucleus of talented players and has spared no expense to keep the "Little Big Red Machine" well-oiled. Votto joins fellow all-star Jay Bruce, who signed a six-year, $51 million deal after the 2010 season. It’s nice to see a professional sports owner in Cincinnati who actually loves the sport and is in it for the right reasons.
The Reds will have plenty of offensive talent this year, something that really has not been a problem over the past couple of seasons. Any lingering doubt has to relate to the recent injuries that have plagued the bullpen. Ryan Madson is out for the year after Tommy John surgery while Nick Masset will start the season on the DL with shoulder cuff inflammation. This means that Aroldis Chapman will start in the bullpen even though most Reds fans — and manager, Dusty Baker — know his services would be better used as a starter. Sean Marshall will step in to the closer role until the Reds have more depth in the bullpen; he isn’t a bad option and has consistently kept a low ERA in a relief role.
One thing hasn’t changed, the Reds still play in Great American Ballpark and they have an abundance of young, strong bats in the lineup. Between Votto, Bruce, Todd Frazier and Chris Heisey, expect the Reds to be amongst the league-leaders in home runs. Drew Stubbs will hit some too, but if he could take a little constructive criticism to heart: Please, learn to bunt. This will be a key in the Reds venture for success this year.
If Stubbs can get on base, he is going to steal — there are very few players in the majors that have his kind of speed. If the bats behind Stubbs perform up to expectations, the Reds will score more than enough runs to support the pitching staff. And the single most important key to success this year is battling through injuries; if the young guys can step in and compete there is no reason the Reds won’t win the division — after all, we do have the best first baseman, if not player, in the National League.
The Reds will open their season against the Miami Marlins at 4:05 p.m. on Thursday following the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade. For more celebration of Opening Day, check out C. Trent Rosecrans' column from this week's CityBeat here.
Larry Davis was just trying to act right during his first-ever postgame interview session after UC’s 93-83 win over Notre Dame Wednesday night at US Bank Arena. But Deonta Vaughn and Yancy Gates noticed Davis’ increased perspiration as he leaned across the podium to speak into the microphone, and they couldn’t help but relentlessly laugh at their teammate.
Andy Kennedy, were you hanging out at the Lodge Bar until 1 a.m. last night? Was your pervy looking “Director of Operations at Mississippi,” 31-year-old William Armstrong, trying to hunch on some rich girls into the wee hours of the night only to get his crackerish ass thrown out of the bar? Did y’all act like dicks to a cab driver?
We’re still a few weeks away from the Major League Baseball All-Star break and the NFL’s training camps don’t begin until after that, but it’s never too early to start thinking about how much smack we get to type to our friends during the fall. Those of us too
old, bitter and uncoordinated busy to participate in the recreational sports leagues of our youth find excitement in the all-day changing of numbers and the friendly competition of fantasy football (which is much better than fantasy baseball).
It seems like months ago that football was actually interesting. The first round of the NFL playoffs is cool, and the conference semifinals offer a nice slate of games over a two-day period. But once the conference championships get here, it’s like, “Ah, I’m bored. F the Steelers, and the NFC sucks.”
Then the two-week media break comes, and all we have is speculation, feel-good stories and those weird video game demonstrations on ESPN. (Does anyone else hate Mark Schlabach?) If I have to listen to John Clayton answer another Coors Lite six-pack of Super Bowl questions, I’m going to drink six of those watery beers and smash each bottle over my head. I’ve done it before.
The UC Bearcats came from behind in the fourth quarter to beat Hawaii 29-24 and finish off an amazing 11-2 regular season. Receiver Mardy Gilyard, who graces the cover of this week's CityBeat, caught the winning touchdown pass.
Not everyone is the type of person who throws pennies in the garbage rather than collecting them in a coffee can, rolling them into groups of 50, bundling them in a plastic bag and taking them to the bank to collect the $5 bounty. Luckily for professional athletes, sports agents aren't this type of person.
Late Sunday night, as the Cincinnati-Florida State game prepared to determine the final member of this year’s Sweet Sixteen, the national analysis dudes all started talking about how the state of Ohio had gone 7-0 up to that point — Ohio University had just defeated South Florida to get into the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since the 1960s. Ohio State and Xavier were both already in.
Cincinnati went on to win a physical, back-and-forth game against FSU, which finished third in the Atlantic Coast Conference and won the ACC tournament. It was the first time in the history of UC’s program that the team beat a higher-seeded opponent in the NCAA Tournament. The No. 6 seed Bearcats will play No. 2 seed Ohio State at 9:45 p.m. Thursday in Boston, which means the state of Ohio will suffer its first loss of the 2012 NCAA Tournament then.
After a second-round comeback win over Notre Dame, Xavier found itself in the fortunate position of facing a team called “Lehigh” rather than one called “Duke.” Lehigh was one of two 15 seeds to defeat a No. 2 seed in this year’s second-round of play, and the “Mountain Hawks” made actually game of against Xavier, which didn’t have the game in hand until less than five minutes remained. Xavier will now play No. 3 seed Baylor at 7:15 p.m. Friday in Atlanta.
Ohio University upset 4-seeded Michigan in the second round and then ousted No. 13 seed South Florida in the third. The Bobcats will play No. 1 seed North Carolina at 7:47 p.m. Friday in St. Louis.
Ohio State beat Loyola (Md.) and Gonzaga to earn its spot in the Sweet Sixteen. OSU and Cincinnati last faced each other in the NCAA Tournament in the 1962 National Championship game, which UC won 71–59. (UC also defeated OSU in the 1961 title game, 70-65.) The Ohio State-Cincinnati winner will face the winner of Syracuse-Wisconsin, setting up a potential rematch of the Big East Tournament semifinal game when Cincinnati upset Syracuse.
MORE SWEET NEARBY TEAMS:
The Ohio Valley’s hoops success easily spreads beyond just the Ohio teams — three more schools within 100 miles are in the Sweet Sixteen: Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana. Kentucky and Indiana are actually matched up in the South Region (9:45 p.m. Friday in Atlanta), while Louisville faces Michigan State in the West (7:47 p.m. Thursday in Phoenix).
BIG EAST REPRESENT:
The Big East again this year sent more teams to the NCAA Tournament than any other conference, and four of its nine are still standing: Syracuse, Marquette, Cincinnati and Louisville. Each of these schools is in a separate region, so it’s still technically possible for an all-Big East Final Four.
SWEET SIXTEEN SCHEDULE:
Thursday, March 22
Wisconsin vs. Syracuse
(Boston): 7:15 p.m. on CBS
Louisville vs. Michigan
State (Phoenix): 7:47 p.m. on TBS
Cincinnati vs. Ohio
State (Boston): 9:45 p.m. on CBS
Florida vs. Marquette
(Phoenix): 10:17 p.m. on TBS
Friday, March 23
Baylor vs. Xavier
(Atlanta): 7:15 p.m. on CBS
North Carolina vs. Ohio
(St. Louis): 7:47 p.m. on TBS
Kentucky vs. Indiana
(Atlanta): 9:45 p.m. on CBS
Kansas vs. N.C. State
(St. Louis): 10:17 p.m. on TBS
A sparse crowd arrives early on Center Court for the first match of Day Three (Aug. 16), which features one of the more intriguing players on the WTA roster thus far in 2011: Li Na, who reached the finals of the Australian Open and became the first native-born Asian player to capture a Grand Slam title when she won the French Open. Kicking things off here, the tournament was proud to recognize a group of young girls from the Mountain Flowers Chinese Youth Tennis Academy in attendance. Although light, the crowd warmly greeted Li during the player introductions; a sign that the dedicated fans of the game wanted an up close look at her.