Numero uno: When is Mike Leake going to get off that fat goose egg in the win column? Indications are that it will be soon, as Leake pitched a great game against Pittsburgh last week only to receive minimal run support in a 3-2 loss. Although the Reds have again lucked out in not having to face Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg during this weekend's series, Leake opens the series against the Gio Gonzalez (3-1), the Nationals' number two. The Nationals have received plenty of hype this year between their first place standing in the NL East and the introduction of 19-year-old standout Bryce Harper. Surprisingly, Washington’s offensive numbers are far from gaudy, in the bottom third of major league ranks in three major offensive categories — the Reds are only slightly better.
Clearly the Reds have decided to save the arm of Chapman for later in the season. He could have stayed in for the ninth, but limiting his innings will keep him fresh. I expect to see Chapman inserted into the starting rotation sometime in July if the Reds remain the hunt for a playoff spot. With clutch performances like last night the Reds can only continue to improve — a must considering their next five series are against winning clubs.
Mick Cronin’s overhaul of the University of Cincinnati basketball program was destined to be a multi-year effort. No one could be expected to take over a program with one scholarship player and only the summer to recruit his first class and then immediately compete in the Big East. UC’s first two seasons under Cronin were going to suck because of the talent level available — even at the JUCO level — at that point in the game, and starting that late with such a sketchy group affected Cronin’s first full year of recruiting as well.
Though few people in Cincinnati could watch the game on TV, those of us who dug out the old Walkman tape deck to listen to the radio broadcast were treated to a well-played ballgame by the Bearcats last night. In beating Georgetown, the ‘Cats have overcome their first major obstacle to earning consideration for an NCAA tournament berth this year.
It happened again. This time it didn’t include cat chasing or yelling in the streets at 3 a.m., but Brian Kelly’s outrageous head coaching decisions yesterday threatened to ruin a perfectly good Friday night, just like they did last Saturday.
Roller derby fans won’t be able to catch the Cincinnati Rollergirls’ season-opening contest against Grand Rapids this weekend because it’s taking place in Michigan, but the group will host its second tryout of the season next week, leading up to their March 10 home opener against St. Louis.
On Saturday the Cincinnati Rollergirls will get their season started with a bout against the Grand Raggidy Roller Girls. The Rollergirls’ A-team, the Black Sheep, open the season ranked No. 8 in the Women's Flat Track Derby Association's North Central Region. The Grand Raggidies are No. 11, though the Black Sheep have handily defeated them in both previous contests, the most recent of which was two years ago.
Next week the Rollergirls will host their second tryout of the year, scheduled for Feb. 26 at The Skatin’ Place in Colerain Township (3211 Lina Place). Tryouts are open to women who are at least 18 years old and will include this set of minimum skill requirements.
The Rollergirls won’t start their home schedule until March 10 when they host the Arch Rival Rollergirls of St. Louis. During halftime a new roller derby team for girls ages 8-17, the Cincinnati Junior Rollergirls, will debut.
Rollergirls home games
take place at the Cincinnati Gardens (2250 Seymour Ave., Norwood).
Tickets are $10, parking is free and lots of beer is available, with
$1 happy hour specials starting at 6 p.m. (bouts start at 7). Season
tickets are now available at www.cincinnatirollergirls.com
and single-game tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com.
Kids’ tickets are $5 advance/$6 door (kids 6 and younger free) and
you can sit right next to the track and have people crash onto you
Here's a funny commercial the Rollergirls put on the internet.
When Reds pitcher Mike Leake hit his first career home run Monday night off Braves starter Mike Minor at Great American Ballpark, it landed directly in the lap of 20-year-old casual-turned-hardcore fan Caleb Lloyd, who was sitting at the edge of the left field bleachers.
It was also Lloyd's first home run catch, he said later.
When Zach Cozart hit a homer to mark the occasion of the Reds first back-to-back jacks since last season, the ball headed toward the same general vicinity of the first homer, bounced a couple seats away from where Lloyd was sitting and landed directly into his free hand (the other was occupied by his previous homer catch).
The last time that happened was never. I think dude should call Guinness.
(Drew Stubbs followed Cozart's jack with a home run of his own, making it a rare back-to-back-to-back homer hat trick. Sadly, it went to right center field, not directly in Lloyd's pocket.)
The Reds' TV crew invited Lloyd up to the broadcast booth to hang out for a bit. He spoke to the media before last night's game, where he was also named the team's honorary captain and delivered the game card to the ump before the first pitch.
To make the story even more perfect, Lloyd reportedly returned to Leake his first home run ball to keep as a memento and he gave the friend who he said "dragged" him to the game the other ball. What a guy!
That wasn't the first Reds fan's fancy fielding move this year to trump any made on the field (at least for the day). At Yankee Stadium just four days before Monday's miraculous catches, a young Reds fan amongst the savage Yankee masses gracefully swooped a Joey Votto foul ball out of mid air with his glove while his father (also decked out in Reds gear) hoisted him up a good four feet into the air.
The father/son combo was up for ESPN's Web Gem that night, put up against a play at home by Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers. The Reds fans won the vote 63 percent to Andrus' 37 percent. (He's probably pissed. I mean, he had to perform his play all by himself!)
The cool surprise ending to this story — according to Jim Day's postgame report on Fox Sports Ohio, the man from the two-person foul-ball catching team was Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan's brother-in-the-law; the kid was the catcher's nephew.
After a hot start, the Reds have lost eight of 11 and each of the last three series. It's not a good time to be falling flat — the surging Milwaukee Brewers host the Reds tonight, opening what could be a key, pysche-altering three-game series.
Get up-to-the-minute info on today's Opening Day festivities from our media partners at WCPO.com, including the latest weather forecast, traffic conditions, season preview and a poll asking what makes Opening Day so great.
In yet another episode of "I'm a Real Person and McCain Is a Phony," Barack Obama yesterday told ESPN's Chris Berman that if he could change one thing about sports that it would be to eliminate the current college football championship format in favor of an eight-team playoff.
The exchange was a pre-taped segment that aired during halftime of Monday Night Football. McCain was asked the same question, and his response was that he would do everything he can to eliminate performance enhancing drugs because they threaten the integrity of the game. What an asshole.
ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi has Xavier as one of his first four out, and I tend to agree — although I disagree with the pointless bickering in the comments section regarding the brawl that happened — wait for it — almost three months ago. The Bearcats are listed as a 10 seed, a much better prospect than having an 8 or 9 seed and having to play Kentucky or Syracuse if they can make it past the first round. With the current mock up, the ‘Cats would play San Diego State in the first round — a winnable game — and North Carolina in the second — maybe, with a hope and a prayer.
Not to say that crazier things haven’t happened: VMI, Butler (twice) and George Mason have all knocked off No. 1 seeds in the tournament. UC has more talent than any of those teams, and if they can continue playing like they did against Marquette this past Wednesday the Sweet 16 or even Elite 8 isn’t out of the question.
The Bearcats played stifling defense against Marquette, forcing 17 turnovers. They dominated the paint, outscoring the Golden Eagles 42-24, and JaQuon Parker was a revelation. Parker used his size and strength to drive to the hoop at will and went 2-for-4 from behind the arc, including a halftime buzzer-beater that put UC up 16 at the half. Parker finished the game with a career-best 28 points.
The Bearcats didn’t look back. Yancy Gates finished the game with 13 boards despite being limited to less than four minutes of first half play because of foul trouble. The 72-61 final wasn’t as close as the score indicated, as UC coasted to victory. With the emergence of Parker the 'Cats now have a steady combo of inside and outside threats that will make them a difficult team to face both in New York and in the NCAA tournament.
Xavier, on the other hand, isn’t a lock for a ticket to March Madness. Winning the A10 tourney would put all doubt to rest. The Muskies host Charlotte tomorrow; with a loss the NIT will certainly be beckoning. A win leaves a glimmer of hope, but in all likelihood, Chris Mack and his team will be on the outside looking in next Sunday.