WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 

W&S Open is (Almost) as Big as Tennis Gets

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 15, 2012
As he sat at a podium in Mason, Andy Murray wasn’t quite sure where his gold medal was. Murray, a week removed from winning the Olympic gold medal for singles in men’s tennis, was in Cincinnati while his prize was far away.  
by tt stern-enzi 08.14.2012
Posted In: Tennis at 01:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
w&s day 1

W&S Open: Day One

All of the qualifying matches, on both the men and women’s sides, have been played and today marks the official start of the main draws. There are preliminary press conferences scheduled with a select group of top players and while the interviews may have star power and a hint of intrigue – especially in light of the impact of inserting a grass court Olympics event into the already crowded summer schedule – I am drawn more to a few first round match-ups.  Veteran Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) dispatched the 13th seed Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) with such ease and efficiency [6-1, 6-1] that I never even made it out of the press box above Center Court down to watch the match from inside the stadium. Dolgopolov fumed a bit, but was clearly not ready for the steely Davydenko who is never unprepared. I was able to march over to the Grandstand though for the second match of the day on that court, featuring two Americans – the qualifier Jesse Levine and young upstart Donald Young who has cracked the mid-to-upper ranks (world top 30) thanks to strong recent Grand Slam showings. He’s got natural athleticism and solid command of his shots, but the knock on him has been that he’s not as disciplined mentally as he needs to be to truly make a sustained run. And, unfortunately, today’s match offered proof to support these claims. The duel between the two American lefties kicked off with loose play from Young as he was broken easily in his first service game and then sloppily dropped enough points for Levine to hold. Watching Young, it felt like he started out in a much lower gear, so low, in fact, that I would argue it’s a gear that the top players don’t even have anymore at this stage. The guys in the Top Five start in third and shift up from there, but Young was definitely in first and seemingly stuck, although Levine wasn’t ready to jump on the opportunity. He played down to Young’s level and I found myself pondering how quickly the winner here would exit in the next round. In a fit of frustration after a listless point, Young muttered to himself that his shot “was the worst ever” and sadly, it would have been hard to disagree with him. That attitude though, without a corresponding rise in the level of play, is going to knock the wind out of his sails and those of his fans. Buck up, Young man!The next match on the Grandstand, I was sure, would be better. In another battle of countrymen, Francesca Schiavone (ITA) faced off against wild card Camila Giorgi and I was hyped for a passionate display from Schiavone who impressed me during last year’s W&S Open with her never say die approach and gritty shot making. She has won a Grand Slam on clay, which lines up with her skills (and robs the larger, stronger players of their strengths), but the shots have to fall and alas that was not the case against Giorgi. Schiavone struggled to withstand the power of Giorgi, a player who certainly looked equal to her in stature. There was discipline and poise in every move Giorgi made, while Schiavone settled into a surprising degree of resignation over the shots she was spraying all over (and beyond) the boundaries of the court. She quickly transitioned from frustration to acceptance that today, in this match, Giorgi was simply better, but she fought to the last point, as we would expect. In this case, as opposed to the Levine-Young match, I give Giorgi solid odds to possibly advance further, mainly because she didn’t simply let Schiavone give her the match; she earned it by seizing control of points and making shots. My final match of the day, the first of the evening on Center Court featured the 13th seed and former Number One Jelena Jankovic (SRB) against Shuai Peng from China. Jankovic won the women’s W&S title back in 2009, but has been struggling to rebound back into the top ranks of late. Rather than watch from the sheltered remove of the press box, I ventured down to the photographer’s pit on court and by chance ended up next to Peng’s coach. While I offered little more than a nod of greeting when he initially sat down, I found myself alternating between my own study of the match and a sneak bit of observation, focusing on his reactions to his player’s efforts. Much is made of the idea that players should not receive coaching during a match, but a simple clap of encouragement or a reminder to keep your head in the game or to watch a stroke seems perfectly acceptable. Peng’s coach did these things, sparingly, and often, it was little more than confirming something Peng (and many of the observant fans in the stands) already knew. It was intriguing interplay that never crossed the line, but also wouldn’t intrude upon the player’s ability to think and strategize for herself. She is the one out there in the match and any adjustments, whether large or small, must come from her and their arrangement certainly gave her the control she needed. Peng is a crafty and solid player who primarily uses a two-handed swing on both sides. I’m not much of a fan of the two-handed backhand because I believe that it limits the full range of the player’s stroke and forces them to get into position faster to reach and make certain shots, but watching Peng’s form, I must admit that she nearly won me over. When she was set and on top of the ball, the two-hand swing allows her to generate a great deal of power, which she can control and direct to either side. The best facet of her game though is her discipline and mental toughness. Peng never once succumbed to rushing either a shot or the pace of her play. There was always a sense of an inner calm and this match certainly ended up pushing her to the limit. Peng and Jankovic slugged it out for three long sets, the final going to a tiebreak, alternating between brilliant shot making and loose points. In addition, they suffered through a 45-minute rain delay, but in the end, Peng stood triumphant, as Jankovic seemed ready for the match to be over. After nearly 3 hours, it was hard to blame her.
 
 

Yonder Alonso Recalls Time with Reds

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 8, 2012
It’s tough enough to make it to the big leagues — but when an MVP blocks your way, the road to the majors is even tougher.   
by Pete Mentrek 08.02.2012
Posted In: football at 11:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Free Who Dey This Weekend!

Bengals scrimmages at Paul Brown Stadium are free and open to the public

Well, it’s August and to sports fans — real sports fans — that means one thing: preseason football.  The Bengals preseason training camp, for the first time ever, is being held at Paul Brown Stadium and all practices and scrimmages are free and open to the public. Capacity shouldn’t be an issue this year, unlike their former Georgetown, Ky., location which, let’s face it, sat less people than most middle school lacrosse games.  If you’re really jonesing for a Bengals fix, check out the Intrasquad Scrimmage 3 p.m. Saturday, which features the most full contact of camp.   Sunday at 6 is the Black/White mock game (take it easy Kathy Wilson, it’s not what you think), where they split the team into two squads who play a minimal-contact game against one another. They keep score in that one, which, depending on what side A.J. Green is on, could be a good thing.   Speaking of wide receivers, Jordan Shipley’s back from that pesky ACL tear that sidelined him for all of last season. The talented Mr. Shipley will be running routes alongside Brandon Tate, Antonio Bryant (yes, that Antonio Bryant) and third-round-pick Mohamed Sanu.  Some other new faces worth checking out are former Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis and rookie tight end Orson Charles.  Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait on buying tickets to Kirkpatrick Island (wow, that really doesn’t have a ring to it) as the new cornerback, and first-overall draft pick, is missing most of camp due to an undisclosed leg injury.  So check out the 2012 Bengals while it’s still free. It’s the best chance you’ll have to dip your toe in the water before deciding if you want to sell a kidney to afford those Party Deck tickets. For the complete preseason schedule, click here. 
 
 

Atkins Is Bengals' Lesser-Known Star

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 1, 2012
If you want to buy the jersey of the Bengals’ best player, you can’t just head down to Dick’s and pick up his jersey off of a rack.   

Bengals Preseason: Many Questions, Many Options

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Looking for their first back-to-back winning seasons and consecutive playoff appearances in 20 years, the Bengals enter the 2012 season with the swagger of a Pro Bowl quarterback-receiver tandem that could be the backbone of a winning foundation for years to come (haven’t we heard that before?).   
by Paul Smyth 07.23.2012
Posted In: Boxing at 12:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Cincinnati's Broner Scores Fifth Round TKO, Loses Title

Cincinnati's Adrien "The Problem" Broner won the fight Saturday night, but he lost the title. Broner, contracted to defend his WBO Junior Lightweight title (130 pounds) against Vicente Escobedo on Saturday in a fight broadcast nationally on HBO, failed to make weight, coming in more than three pounds heavy. The undefeated Broner automatically lost his title, while Escobedo, who faced more risk fighting the heavier Broner, had the option to cancel the fight. After negotiating substantial additions to his share of the purse, Escobedo agreed to proceed.   No longer a title fight, the 12-round bout began with a pattern Broner continued throughout the night:  jabbing low to the body early each round, then mixing his punches — crosses, hooks and uppercuts with both hands — with jabs higher up. Broner struck at first in single or a few shots, but increasingly unleashed torrents of hard shots with speed and power in both hands throughout the first four rounds.      Both men landed punches, but Broner landed significantly more jabs and the more telling power shots. For four rounds Escobedo stayed in the center of the ring with Broner, though faring worse in the exchanges.   At the end of the fourth round, both men headed back to their corners. Broner gave Escobedo a long look then told his trainer, "I'm going to walk him down." Calm in his corner, Broner remained sitting until the final moment when the bell signaled the beginning of the round.   Broner's pace and intensity ratcheted up. The battered Escobedo barely forced his way off the ropes through a barrage of punches, circling not Broner but the whole ring, his back to the ropes.   The final, measured attack saw Escobedo bent double, nose bloodied, unable to respond to Broner's attack. The referee halted the bout in the fifth round as Escobedo's corner threw in the towel.  "It was time to open up," Broner said after the fight. "I was opening up every round, getting closer and closer. He's a world class fighter who has a chance win a world title one day, but today was not his day." "I felt his power. He's fast and hard to hit," Escobedo said. "I did my job and came in here like a professional and he didn't. That's the past, and he was the better man tonight."  For Broner, the TKO victory means he can explore bigger possibilities in higher weight classes as an unbeaten, phenomenally skilled, yet only modestly, tested pound-for-pound candidate.   Broner's trainer Mike Stafford said Broner "can be comfortable at 135; he can be comfortable at 140. But right now, we're going to [135]. We're not going up two weight classes because we don't have to."  Broner, who previously has said he might go as high as 154, said, "The task only gets bigger from here, going to lighweight. We'll give them all hell: [Antonio] DeMarco can be next, after that, [Juan Manuel] Marquez, [Brandon] Rios ... anybody." Broner's failure to make weight on Friday has been criticized by many and interpreted to reflect his attitude toward life both in and outside the ring. It's too soon and the situation too complex — networks, promoters, pundits, the fighters and camps are all in play — to reach definitive conclusions about how Broner will continue to develop as a person and a fighter. In the meantime, the measured approach of Broner and his team gives him the best chance to demonstrate possibly elite skills against more challenging competition.  Three other Cincinnati-area fighters on the undercard won their bouts Saturday night, including middlewight Chris Pearson, junior lightweight Brandon Bennett and heavyweight Danny Calhoun.                                              
 
 

Life in the Fast Lane

Fast cars, sketchy women, Cuban lawsuits and sleazy agents. What will it take to slow down Aroldis Chapman?

2 Comments · Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Two months into the 2012 baseball season, the Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher was flying high. In the Reds’ front office, though, worries about Chapman persisted. Not about his choice or location of pitches. About other stuff, like his compliance with traffic laws and his choice of companionship. Some insiders fear that the 24-year-old Cuban’s personal life is approaching, well, the velocity of his fastball.  
by Paul Smyth 07.20.2012
Posted In: Boxing at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Hometown Boxer Adrien Broner to Defend Title on Saturday

Westwood resident will defend Junior Lightweight World Champion title at U.S. Bank Arena

Cincinnati resident and elite boxing prospect Adrien "The Problem" Broner will make his second WBO Junior Lightweight World Champion title defense at the U.S. Bank Arena Saturday. The Cincinnati pugilist (23-0, 19 knockouts), who lives in Westwood, faces Vicente Escobedo (26-3, 15 knockouts). The fight will be broadcast on HBO's Boxing After Dark and represents the next step in a career that may propel Broner into the highest levels of the sport. This will be Broner's fifth appearance on HBO.   Broner is the youngest current U.S. title holder after winning the WBO Junior Lightweight belt with a third-round knockout of Vicente Rodriguez last November. His first title defense came in February of this year, also in Cincinnati. He easily defeated Eloy Perez, prompting additional fan, cable and promoter attention. His second title defense this Saturday may be a turning point, leading to the next tier of exposure and reward — and perhaps much tougher fights.    Escobedo is a 2004 US Olympian, though he did not medal. He's fighting at 130 pounds, having tasted defeat as a pro at 135 pounds in a split-decision title fight loss versus Michael Katsidis in 2009. After four victories in the new weight class, the 30-year-old Escobedo now faces one of the most highly touted prospects in boxing today in Broner.  In the ring, Broner's athleticism, speed, power and preparation, as well as his side-on fighting style and offense-from-defense positioning, have led to comparisons with current pound-for-pound great Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Broner says he doesn't watch tape of opponents but prefers to adapt in the ring.   Outside the ring, he's known for a flamboyant style that also has brought comparisons to Mayweather's flashy persona, but Broner shows adaptability in the arena of life as well. Broner describes strong and apparently nourishing interests, including recording his own music. So far, when it's time to focus — in the ring or answering serious questions about his claims to elite status — the 22-year-old can be frank, direct and thoughtful.   But he's also being called over-the-top. A rare talent. And, of course, undefeated.   Cincinnati sports fans are on notice that maybe, just maybe, they have a new, hometown, world-class athlete worth following on the international stage.   Broner-Escobedo headlines an extensive undercard on Saturday, July 21. U.S. Bank Arena doors open at 5 pm. HBO Boxing After Dark coverage begins at 10 pm. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
 
 

Billy Hamilton Turns Heads at Futures Game

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 11, 2012
A hundred stolen bases? That’s so 2011. Today, Vince Coleman’s minor-league record of 145 stolen is the goal for Cincinnati minor-leaguer Billy Hamilton.  

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