KEN'S BOOS AND BRAVOS

December 1, 2006

Just back from the Bengals vs Ravens game. Spent most of my time in the dining area and not the press box because the dining area has all the TV sets. I need to be there to monitor both the Bengals and the Ohio Bobcats in the MAC Championship game.

The Bengals game with the Ravens has a score that appears to suggest a boring game, 13-7 Cincinnati. But as far as defensive games go, this was pretty entertaining. Some observations:

1: Baltimore played far too passively on defense. It did little to disrupt Carson Palmer's rythym. I had the sense the Ravens felt this was a game they really didn't need to win the AFC North division. And if you look at their remaining games, you'll see why. It's a very forgiving schedule.

2: Carson Palmer is over his knee injury. We now have four solid weeks of proof of that. Against a terrific Baltimore defense, he threw well. Yep, the Bengals scored only one touchdown. But Palmer picked apart a very good Ravens secondary.

3: The win did nothing to appreciably help the Bengals playoff chances. They had to win this game to remain in the hunt. But they're still digging themselves out of the hole they were in a month ago. In their final four games, Cincinnati must go 3-1 to have any shot at the post season. And we know two of those games remaining are on the road at Indianapolis and at Denver. The odds are still against this team making the post season. But the Bengals are alive.

As for the MAC Championship game, it was a long night for the Ohio Bobcats. Their top quarterback, Austen Everson left the game early. He's not over his leg problem. And the Bobcats turned the ball over way too many times to expect to win. Central Michigan exploited the Ohio secondary and seems to attack the Bobcats at their strength: linebackers.

Tough loss to be sure. But this team played with a lot of heart. It never seems to give up, which is the greatest compliment you can give a head coach. With five weeks to go before their bowl game, I have no doubt Frank Solich will have the troops ready.

He's only a junior. But Ohio running back, Kalvin McRae has a chance to play on Sundays. He is the real deal.

Ken



November 30,2006

Just posted on my web site www.kenbroo.com is the latest edition of Bengals Report. The executive editor of that fine publication, Marc Hardin, and I discuss tomorrow night's game with the Ravens. You'll hear comments from T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Carson Palmer. There's some other cool audio over there too. But if you're in a hurry, here's a link to the latest Bengals Report podcast.

Also, just posted on my web site is the latest edition of Broo v Broo. The opinions are flying fast and furious on this week's NFL match-ups, as well as the latest in college football. UC and Ohio get plenty of play this week. You can find it at www.kenbroo.com under the "Podcasts & More" category.

Bengals are getting healthier. It appears Brian Simmons will be able to play Thursday night against the Ravens. The game will be televised on WLWT Channel 5 in Cincinnati. At 7pm, I'll host a 'live' special from Paul Brown Stadium to get you ready for the game.

Major blow to the UC football program today. Seven assistant coaches have left to join Mark Dantonio, immediately. Left behind are only interim head coach Pat Narduzzi and one other assistant, believed to be the strength coach. Narduzzi has informed UC Athletic Director, Mike Thomas, he has until December 6th to decide whether or not he wants Narduzzi as the Bearcats new head coach. If Narduzzi doesn't hear by then, he says he'll join Dantonio's staff too.

Here's the amazing part: UC is not holding the current assistants to their contract, which run through January, 2007. Rather, they've let them go and will allow them to come back to UC for one week prior to whatever bowl game UC is sent to. Can you imagine a Division I school allowing its football team to be coached by coaches from another Division I college? Will Thomas allow these guys who skated on him to use their same officies, when they come back for their one week encore? Unbelievable.

On the other hand, the Ohio Bobcats are in Detroit tonight, getting ready for their MAC Championship showdown with Central Michigan. It's a match up of coaches that seem to be on separate paths. CMU's Brian Kelly is a hot ticket, coming close to getting the head coaches' job at Michigan State, as well as Iowa State. Frank Solich has found a home in Athens, and has played the coaching carousel game. I think this will be a coach's game. Sure the players will ultimately determine who wins and who loses. But Solich's deliberate ball control offense and his attention to detail on defense should be the difference. Don't get me wrong, Central is very good. But as active as the Ohio front seven is, I think it will be difficult for CMU to get its vertical passing game going.

This will more or less be a road game for Ohio, with CMU located right down the road from Ford Field. No problem for the Bobcats. They're road warriors. Ask Kent, Illinois, Northern Illinois and Miami.

First Tri-State High School football team to play for a state championship this weekend, the Ryle Raiders in Kentucky AAAA. Good luck to Bryson Warner's team. We'll have the highlights Thursday night at 11p, on WLWT Channel 5 in Cincinnati

Busy, busy day Thursday.

Ken


November 25, 2006

Thoughts on college football after all the finals are in this Saturday....USC vs OSU in the BCS Championship game.  I know that's a lot of letters, but there's no way USC loses to UCLA after beating Notre Dame Saturday night...University of Cincinnati locked up a bowl with their last second win over Connecticut.  At 7-5, UC pretty much assured Pitt it won't be going to a bowl.  Pitt is 6-6....West Virginia's home loss KO'd the Mountaineers from a BCS bowl....Enjoy playing before Christmas, Morgantown...That loss, coupled with Rutgers win means Rutgers will play in the second Big East BCS bowl game, provided that Rutgers beats WVU this coming Saturday.  If Rutgers doesn't, the Big East may get only one of its teams, Louisville, in a BCS game....

You want some NFL teams that have to win Sunday?  How about the Jets at home against Houston.? At 5-5. the Jets are out of wiggle room....How about 5-5 Atlanta at home with 6-4 New Orleans?    9-7 might be enough for a wild card in the NFC, but there'll be a lot of 9-7 teams if this schedule plays out like I think it will....How about 6-4 Jacksonville at Buffalo?  The Jags will catch a break.  The weather is supposed to be decent in Buffalo.  But the Jags need four more wins in their final six games to reach 10 wins, the minimum I believe for a wild card in the AFC....How about the 5-5 Bengals at the 3-7 Browns?   Same deal as the Jags situation here.  The Bengals need to get to ten wins and they have only six games to win five.  Two of those remaining six are at Indianapolis and at Denver.

Ken

November 12, 2006

Disturbing is the only word you can use to describe the Bengals latest loss.  Well, OK, I can think of a few other ones....but not for this blog.   Losing is one thing.  Having 49 points dropped on you is another.    But allowing a team you had down, 28-7 at halftime to come back and beat you?   That's inexcusable.

Random thoughts on this loss to the Chargers....Chris Henry is playing with fear.  For the second week in a row, he failed to go all out to catch a pass. Actually, he did this twice on Sunday.  The ball he 'alligator armed' in the end zone cost the Bengals a chance to tie the game.  Given all of his off field trouble last winter, and now this, the Bengals have some serious decisions to make about this guy...Safety Dexter Jackson, the former Super Bowl MVP said after the game today certain players 'quit'....Marvin Lewis looked simply bewildered at the game's end....Marlon McCree's cheap shot on TJ Houshmandzadeh will surely draw a heavy fine....TJ said on the locker room radio show that he knows McCree hangs out in LA and that TJ and some of his posse may have to "kick his ass" in the off-season...This was Carson Palmer's best game yet, further proof he was anything but 100 percent to start this season...The Saints rolled up 450 yards of total offense against the Steelers today.....That means next week's game between the Saints and Bengals will probably have a final score of 17-10...It will probably be another shootout....Three games out of first place in the AFC North with seven to go, realistically the Bengals will have to go 5-2 in their final seven to have a shot at the playoffs...Even at 5-2, they'd finish 9-7...road games at New Orleans, Indianapolis an Denver make 5-2 a bit of a reach....

Ken

November 7, 2006

Was this a meltdown we witness Sunday?   Chad Johnson mouths off because he isn't seeing the ball enough.  BTW, he  'did' catch one third of the completions Carson Palmer had.

Chris Henry gives up on a last desperate attempt of a pass from Palmer and the quarterback ripped into him.

And TJ Houshmandzadeh fires his helmet to the Baltimore turf when he doesn't get an interference call.  He 'did' draw a 15 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Clearly, these are frustrated Bengals now.  Halfway through the 2006 season, they're a disappointing 4-4.   It will take 10-6 to win their division.  That means the Bengals have to go 6-2 in their final eight games to win the North, or at least tie.  It doesn't look promising.  Among the final eight are road games at Denver, Indianapolis and New Orleans. A home game this Sunday against the Chargers is no gimmee.  

The Bengals are beaten up, with two starters gone from their offensive line and all three starting linebackers sidelined.   Now they're fighting with each other.

Even the most die hard Bengals fan has to admit today, they'll be fortunate to go 9-7.

Ken




November 2, 2006

I'm not sure this is a good idea.  Chad Johnson called out the Ravens leader on defense, Ray Lewis.  Frustrated over what the Falcons and D'angelo Hall did last Sunday to take Chad out of the game (OK, he scored a TD but wasn't really a factor besides that), Johnson said today that he'll take his frustrations out on Lewis.

Lewis responded by laughing and brushing off Chad's latest comments.   In fact, Lewis said he thought it was like a kid saying he was going to beat his father up.

Check my latest podcast "The Broo View" on Wednesday afternoon.  You'll hear what Johnson had to say.  You'll laugh too.  But who'll be laughing last, on Sunday?

Ken



October 30, 2006

The Bengals lost Sunday because they couldn't get off the field on third down.  They were a horrific seven of 13, defensively, on third downs.   Because of that, they allowed the Falcons almost a 15-minute advantage in time of possession.   That's almost a full quarter more of offensive football than what the Bengals offense had.

The Bengals lost Sunday because you couldn't find Rudi Johnson with a search warrant.  Just a week after offensive coordinator, Bob Bratkowski was diefied for his gutsy four and one, 32-yard pass play from Carson Palmer to Chad Johnson, Bratkowski was villified for only rushing Rudi seven times after he carried five times, in the Bengals first possession in the ballgame.

The Bengals lost Sunday, because they created zero turnovers.  This is an average defense at best that's played over its head by  taking the ball away.  No turnovers means it's just an average defense, period.

The Bengals lost Sunday for all of those reasons and more.   It has all the appearances today, of a middle of the pack football team that now must scramble to get into the playoffs.

Ken


October 23, 2006

One of the reasons why the Bengals beat the Carolina Panthers Sunday was the way the offensive line handled maybe the best defensive front four in the NFL.  Considering two of the five starting linemen out, that's a truly amazing statement.

Rookie Andrew Whitworth, a massive 6-7 man, was plugged into the left tackle spot, protecting Carson Palmer's 'blind' side.  Whitworth didn't allow a sack, working against one of the NFL's more ferocious pass rushers in Mike Rucker.

At center, Eric Giachuc has gotten better with each start, and will probably hold onto that position, at least until December, when Rich Braham is expected back.

The Bengals ability to run the football was another key Sunday.  Whenever Rudi Johnson runs for a hundred or more yards, they usually win.   That he could accomplish a 100-yard effort, against the Carolina defense and with a patchwork line, speaks volumes of what this team can accomplish this season.  

To be sure, the teeth of the Bengals schedule awaits them.  But Sunday's win over the Panthers, a team many had picked before the season to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, was a major, major win.

Ken



October 2, 2006

Whoops!

That was interesting.   The definitive team of this decade took a 'hurt stick' to the team that wants to take its place.  Advantage Patriots!   By beating the Bengals Sunday in Cincinnati, 38-13, the Patriots revealed several things, mostly about the Bengals.

For openers, the Bengals still haven't fixed their inability to stop the run.   Willie Parker exposed that last week, when the Bengals beat Parker's Steelers.   But Sunday, Laurence Maroney rushed for 147 yards and Corey Dillon added 60 more.   The Patriots had 67 offensive plays and 41 were rushes.

Secondly, this Bengals team is having a difficult time protecting Carson Palmer.  That is bad karma waiting to happen.  Palmer was sacked four times Sunday.  That's 15 sacks in the first four weeks.  While most of the pressure Sunday was up the middle and right at fill-in center, Eric Giachuc, some of it was coming from the perimeter too.

This has to be fixed in the off week or the Bengals risk injury to their best player and one of the top five players in the NFL:  Palmer.

And Palmer is having trouble holding onto the ball.  He fumbled three times in Pittsburgh, though lost it only once.   Sunday, he fumbled twice in back to back series, losing it both times.

Yep, the Bengals are 3-1.  But after Sunday, they looked a little more average and a little less super human.  There is work to be done.

Ken


September 29, 2006

To be in a playoff chase with a week to go in the season is great.  But, when the Reds look back on their season, they’ll be able to see exactly where they lost a chance to play in the post season.  It was that west coast swing in September, when they went 2-8 and lost the wild card lead and fell six games back of the Cardinals in the central division.

The stat within that stat is Adam Dunn hitting below ‘200’ for the month…and Junior out the majority of September with a sore toe.  Had both been healthy and hitting, who knows what might’ve happened?

The Reds played the contenders tough.  St Louis and Houston were dominated by the Reds this season.  But the bottom dwellers, particularly the  Brewers beat them up pretty good.

This team, as designed by former general manager, Jim Bowden, is changing   Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez are already gone.   There’s a good possibility that Dunn will be gone in the off season too.  

Ken

September 24, 2006

Is it a revenge game?   Are the stakes are high today as they were in January?  Does the AFC North title rest on who wins in Pittsburgh this afternoon.  The answer to all three questions are:  no, no and no.

The Bengals play the Steelers today in Pittsburgh.  It is simply just game three of a 16 game regular season schedule.   The players and coaches know that, even if the fans of both teams don't.   Nothing happens Sunday besides this:  if the Bengals win, they're two games up on the Steelers and if the Steelers win, they each have identical records of 2-1.

Hype is great for fans.  It's meaningless to the players as of 1:02pm EDT Sunday.

For the record, I think Pittsburgh will win.  The Steelers are back home after an embarrasing loss in Jacksonville.  The Bengals are banged up and on the road.

But win or lose, for both teams, it's only one of 16.

 

Ken


September 19, 2006

The Reds is dead.  That's how my seven year old nephew put it last night.  He's right.  They died, for all intents and purposes, on that west coast swing a couple of weeks ago.  But when they dropped two of three in Chicago, that was it.   It was great while it lasted.  The ride was phenonenal.   But in the end, the Reds were over achievers, a big swinging, shaky defense and poor pitching team.

There are still a couple of weeks to go before this all ends.  But I look for owner Bob Castellini and GN Wayne Krivsky to continue their over haul in the off season.  I think they'll shop Adam Dunn.  They may not trade him.  But they will listen to offers.  Dunn has come to symbolize the free swinging, poor defense that have become the Reds.  Krivsky, who learned at the alter of the Minnesota Twins, is a man who believes in pitching first, second and last, with good defense in between.

Due to make nine million dollars in 2007, Dunn should fetch a premier pitcher and a competent replacement in the outfield and save payroll for other players.

If they can't move Dunn (and let's face it, they can't move their other big ticket guy, Junior) then Castellini will be faced with two choices:  be the same 'dark horse' in 2007 he was this year or dig deeper into his pockets for pitching.  Neither must be an appetizing choice.

Ken



September 1, 2006

If it ever was an issue, it’s an issue no more.  Carson Palmer will start Sunday September 10th.  That’s opening game in Kansas City.   And Palmer’s slam dunk performance against Green Bay this week was the clincher.

All along, we’ve heard that palmer was ahead of schedule, months not weeks.   All along we heard about how his surgically repaired left knee was responding well to rehabilitation.  All along we heard how palmer was a fast healer.

The Bengals quarterback was so fast at that, he made Lazarus look like a malingerer.

Palmer always had this third pre season game as his target date to return. He made his goal.  And the Bengals will cash in along with him.  With Palmer, they are now a legitimate playoff contender again.   Despite a shaky defense, a rush offense that’s been comatose this summer and despite a brutal schedule, the Bengals can legitimately say they’ll contend now   Without Palmer, they looked average.   With him, they look anything but.

Here’s Carson on where he is and what he thinks he’ll be doing this Friday night against the Colts.

Another Bengal who’s had an outstanding pre-season is Dexter Jackson.  Signed away in the off season from Tampa Bay, Jackson has two fumble returns for tourchdowns in the last two pre-season games.   He says it’s no fluke.  He’s going for the ball every down.

My web site, www.kenbroo.com has a lot of interviews with Bengals and Reds.  And I’ve got clips from the hottest sports show in Cincinnati, Sports Rock.  Check it out.


The best reason to believe that the Reds still have a shot at the playoffs is that the national league is brutal.  It’s a limp to the finish line.   The cardinals have only two solid starting pitchers and their line-up isn’t what we’re used to seeing.

A lot of teams are bunched up in the wild card chase.  And this is what I believe:  some team, maybe a couple, will get hot in mid-September.  That’s where the wild card will come from.   But the way this reds team is playing now, it may not be in a position to be one of those two or three teams, come September

Ken


August 13, 2006

How 'bout some quick hits…

Think Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells is happy having TO on the team now?  TO’s pulled hamstring has overshadowed everything about that team this summer.

Reds GM Wayne Krivsky is privately fuming over what he believes was benign deception on the part of Washington GM Jim Bowden.  At issue, whether or not reliever Gary Majewski was damaged good upon his arrival here in Cincinnati.  Majewski, just this week, revealed he got a cortisone shot to his inflamed shoulder, days before the deal that sent him here.  Stay tune on this one.

Livan Hernandez to the Diamondbacks may the deal that clinches the NL west for Arizona.

Floyd Landis got caught.  Why the charade?

Sounds like Maurice Clarett is going away for a long time.  What athlete in the last 25-years has fallen from grace as hard and as quickly at Clarett?

Which one of these teams gets left out of the AL playoffs?  White Sox, Red Sox, Yankees or Tigers?  Nobody catches the Tigers in the AL Central.  My guess?  Red Sox, out.  Losing Jason Varitek will be the thing that kills them.  He’s their glue.

The Reds Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey, Jr are a combined 0-20 through two games in Philadelphia this weekend.  A lot of the experts think the thing that will prevent the Reds from making the playoffs is a shaky bullpen and lack of starting pitching.   They may ultimately wind up costing the team dearly.  But I wouldn't discount lack of consistent hitting by the two big bats in the line-up.  I'd trade ten of Dunn's walks and a couple of Junior's home runs for a half dozen singles with runners in scoring position.  

Ken


August 2, 2006


The Bengals got a surprise Monday night.  I don’t know if was a welcomed one.  Odell Thurman showed up in Georgetown, Kentucky.

His team mates seemed, some of them anyway, seemed genuinely happy to see him.  As Thurman met the media for a short, impromptu news conference, several of his buds walked by and shouted encouragement.  One said…and this is a quote, remember no comment is really a comment.

Cute.

But Thurman owes his team and his team mate and the fans more than that.  Absent since before the June mandatory mini camp, suspended for four games for either failing or skipping a mandatory drug test, Thurman has almost replaced Chris Henry as the Bengals poster child for bad behavior.

Thurman’s absence has created several problems.  One:  Brian Simmons is moving inside  and away from his position of strength.  Two, the rookies the Bengals drafted this spring, with their own off field troubles, now move up on a depth chart where they should really be understudies.

It’s significant that Marvin Lewis isn’t allowing Thurman to practice until after the Bengals leave Georgetown.  In reality, they don’t have to hurry.  He’s gone until October 15th.   But Thurman can play in pre-season games.  By keeping him off the field until at least August 14th,  Lewis has guaranteed Thurman will not play in the pre-season opener.  Behind in his football conditioning, it would appear the earliest he’d get into a game is pre-season week number three.

Ken




July 29, 2006

The Cincinnati Bengals go to camp this Saturday.   And unlike any other off season, they arrive in Georgetown, Kentucky with a rather large, off season cloud hanging over them.

For one, there are the lingering questions about Carson Palmer and his knee injury.   We’re told he’s two months ahead of schedule, nothing short of miraculous.   If that’s true, how will palmer handle his surgically repaired knee.  It’s as much a mental deal as physical.   How will he handle the first time he’s hit…has to scramble to avoid a rush, has to plant that left foot on a follow throw.

Then, of course, there are the lingering questions from all the arrests and suspension since last season.

If you’re scoring at home, that’s six bengals who’ve been implicated or suspended since the end of last season.  Heading the list, is wide receiver chris henry, who may have set an NFL record with four arrestes in three states since December.  Mix in a draft that included three draft picks who’ve been arrested, jailed, been booted off college teams and have tested positive for drugs several times and you’ve got a team that needs a warden as much as it does a coach.

Thursday’s news of Odell Thruman’s four game suspension for violating the NFL drug policy was only trumped by the Bengals taking a linebacker in the supplemental draft two weeks ago who had a checkered career at the University of Virginia.  Ahmad Brooks’ reputation was so bad on supplemental draft day, the NFL had to issue a statement that Brooks passed five drug tests in the past ten weeks.

This week, the Bengals coaches and owners met the media in Cincinnati.  It’s a yearly ritual, dating back to the days of Paul Brown.  The media gets to interview the coaches and owners, then listen to how great everything is going to be this season.

Clearly it may not.  Bengals owner, Mike Brown was forced to make a statement two weeks ago, after drafting Brooks.   He said something to the effect that he’s closely monitoring his team’s taste of auditioning for the TV show Cops.  

Podcast 64 pp.2

This week, Marvin Lewis read a prepared statement that said, basically, his team doesn’t have a problem with keeping withing the confines of the law….moving into the surreal when he said that everyone of the accused six has good legal representation.

That’s a comfort.

Ken


July 8, 2006

The Reds traded for a closer this week.  Too little, too late?  It’s a ligitimate question.  

Eddie Guardado was a solid ninth inning guy, three years ago.   Even last year, he saved 36 with a no so hot Seattle team.   But he lost his fastball this spring and lost his job to JJ Putz.   That’s how the Reds got him….for a song really.  All it took was minor leaguer, Travis Chick and presto, the reds get someone who can actually get people out in the ninth inning.

Guardado is an upgrade.  But he’s only a short term solution to a chronic problem.   He’ll settle down a bullpen that’s been atrocious and take some of the pressure off younger pitchers like Todd Coffey and Jason Standridge.   But the long term solution lies in a trade, a mega trade perhaps, in the off season. 

I’ve been told there is no bullpen solution in the Reds minor league system.  A high ranking official in the Reds front office told me last week that double-a phenom, David Shafer is just that…a minor league phenom.  The official says despite being 23 for 23 in save opportunities this season, Shafer’s fastball doesn’t come close to 90-miles and hour, making him, in effect, a Danny Graves type closer.

There are no answers in Triple-A.  We’ve seen what’s there, the Mike Burns of the world.  And one time can’t miss, top pick Ryan Wagner is simply abysmal in Louisville, with an earned run average well over six.

At some point, Reds GM Wayne Krivksy will be forced to take a hard look at bringing phenom Homer Bailey to the big club.   He’s 3-0 at this point in double-a.  He hasn’t allowed a run since he got there.   The temptation will be, if the Reds are still in playoff contention in a month, to bring Bailey up and let him work out of the pen.   It would be a way to get his feet wet with major league hitters, while not putting the pressure of being a starting pitcher on his young shoulders.   Krivksy will fight the temptation to bring Bailey up.   But if the Reds are still breathing, and they’re still in the playoff hunt, that’s a temptation he’ll have to give into.

Unless David Weathers can figure out how to throw left-handed.

Ken


July 1, 2006

We end June with the Reds dead even with the Cardinals, tied for first in the naional league central division.  To even say that this late in the season is simply amazing.  Remember, the reds were picked to finish dead last, sixth in a field of six, in the central division.  Almost every pre season publication, expert and opinion had the Reds finishing dead last.  In Vegas, the over/under on season wins was 73.  As the Reds finish June, they have 44 wins.   And in the national league, only the mets have more.

The starting pitching, particularly Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang have been better than expected.   Eric Milton is finally healthy, but still less than reliable.  Brandon Claussen has been a disappointment.  Paul Wilson hasn’t thrown a pitch in a major league game so far this season.  

The bullpen has been a disaster.  Over and above the blown saves, and there’ve been ten of those, the earned run averages in that operation are higher than interest rates during the Carter administration.   There is no situational left-hander, no reliable set up man and closer Todd Coffey appears to be operating on a daily option. 

And don’t get my started about defense.   Through 77 games, the Reds have committed a whopping 64 errors.  Extra outs happen every game.

So why is this team in cntention?  Two reasons:  big ball offense, and a st louis cardinals team that has played sub par.   It’s as much one as the other.  Friday night was a good example.  The Reds fell behind the Indians 7-0, then scored all nine of their runs in the final two innings.  Of those nine runs, eight were produced by home runs.   The reds won, despite leaving eleven men on base.

If that were only a rare occrance it’ wouldn’t be a big deal.  But its almost become a daily thing.

I know this, the Reds won’t remain  in contention for long unless they get their bullpen straiighted out…and unless then begin hitting with runners in scoring position.  The Cardinals won’t be bad, for long.  The reds have done a good job of making hay while st louis has been struggling.  The real test will come, when the Cardinals are back on their feet and winning again.  Will the reds be able to keep pace?

Ken

June 22, 2006

Official line tonight from the Reds "AA" team in Chattanooga Tennesse:  Homer Bailey, 6 innings, five hits, no runs, seven strike outs.

Prediction:  Bailey will make two more starts at "AA" and jump to "AAA" after the All Star break.   He'll be in Cincinnati by mid-August IF the Reds are still in contention.

What's worse, the Reds bullpen that gets beaten like a pinata on a nightly basis?  Or, Ryan Wagner, the one time phenom who's spent the entire season in "AAA".  How bad must he be, when the Reds will take any stiff with a pulse for the 'pen right now?

It's not funny, it's a legit concern:  third Bengal now posing for mug shots.  This time, it's defensive lineman, rookie Frostee Rucker, up on two counts of spousal battery and two counts of vandalism.  This happened almost a year ago, but the LA district attorney is now filing charges.  Did the Bengals know about this before they drafted Rucker?   Did they know about AJ Nicholson's sexual assault charge, since dropped, before they drafted him?  If the answer to both questions is yes, than what are we to believe?  We're there no players with clean rap sheets better than these two?   If the answer to the question is no, than who is in charge of background checks at Paul Brown Stadium these days?  

The USA world cup team scores exactly one goal in three games (other than a gift from Italy).  This means, the USA scored exactly one more goal than a team of dead men.  Lovely.

Ken


June 17, 2006

We've seen this before, haven't we?  Two years ago, almost to the day, the Reds began on a spiral into baseball's abyss.  Within ten days, they went from first place, to second, to thrid....and another baseball season went down the tubes.

We seeing the same script being played out this year.  Saturday night's loss had all the ingredients of what's ailing this ballclub.  The Reds left too many men in scoring position on base, Felipe Lopez threw away a double play ball in the eighth.  If his aim was better, the Reds would've gotten out of the inning tied with the White Sox.  Then, the bullpen stunk it up with David Weathers, Chris Hammond and Todd Coffey all having a hand in the final implosion.

The Reds remain in contention for the NL Central and the wild card, but in stats only.  In reality, they don't have the bullpen and they don't hit for average.  They win, when they hit home runs and grab an early lead.  It's not a recipe for contention.

Is there an answer that will salvage this season?  Probably not. Roughly 18 of the 30 major league teams still have a shot at making the post season.  They're not trading anyone now.  The other 12 are out of the mix because they don't have what the Reds and everyone else needs:  pitching.

I'm not giving up hope.  But the only long term answer to fixxing this team is to deal one of the "crown jewels':  Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns or Felipe Lopez.   I don't think the front office is there yet.  But it better hurry up.  The season is slipping away.

Ken


June 6, 2006

Is now the time?  Is the time now for the Reds to make that deal that will keep them in contention the rest of the season? 

Most in season trades are made just before, or right at the trading deadline on July 31st.  Conventional wisdom says that’s when you’ll get the greatest value.   But there’s also something to be said about being the first to pull the trigger on a big trade.

There is no doubt, as long as the Reds remain in contention for a playoff spot, they’ll be buyers.  They don’t have a lot to offer, the minor league system is very thin.  But with three catchers on the 25 man roster and an extra infielder, the Reds have options.

Ryan Freel could be attractive to a team needing speed.   Jason LaRue is working with a four million dollar price tag and is signed through next season, which would have been his first year of free agency.   And while he’s not hitting, he is one of the best in the game at throwing out runners.

Any of that could bring the Reds what they really need:  middle relief.   Right now, the starting pitcher are doing a decent job of getting the game into the seventh inning.  But there will be nights when they can’t.   As the season wears on, pitching usually wears down.   You tell me, who would you trust in that bullpen right now?  David Weathers has lost his job as closer.  Kent Mercker has yet to piece two consecutive solid appearances together.  Maybe the wild card is the newly acquired Esteban Yan.  But his track record suggests he’s nothing more than a one inning, journeyman.

I’m sure GM, Wayne Krivsky has thought of all of this.   But pulling the trigger is as much about timing as well as value.  Putting something together now will not only give the clubhouse a little bounce.  It will also serve notice on the rest of the national league, that the Reds mean business.

Ken


May 30, 2006

Until and if the Reds front office restructures this team, we’ll get what we’ve seen the past couple of weeks.  

This is a team that lives and dies by the home run.  It was constructed that way by former Res GM, Jim Bowden.  Aside being in love with five tool outfielders, Bowden also drooled over home run hitters, almost the exclusion of hitting for average and speed.

That’s why you have Adam Dunn and his over whelming strikeouts.   That’s why you have a team that, in the last series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, was 0-15 with runners in scoring position.

What the Reds are today is a hybrid team….spanning three regimes in the front office.  Bowden is responsible for most of the everyday eight.  Dan O’brien is responsible for the atrocious bullpen…and failing to get any value for fading stars, like Danny Graves.   Wayne Krivsky inherited the mess and tried to make the best of it.  His two big trades, Wily Mo Pena for Bronson Arroyo and Brandon Phillips for a suspect to be named later, look really good right now.   But he has a lot of heavy lifting to do.

Krivsky was the second banana in the Twins front office.  But if you look at the way that team was pieced together over the last five years, two things jump out at you.   The Twins had very good starting pitching and, they played solid defense.

The Twins finished dead last in their division in 2000.  But were secondin ’01 and won the AL Central in 2002 and 2003.   In 2002, they made only 74 errors as a team.  That was the best in baseball.  In ’03, 87, fifth best in baseball.   Your  2006 Cincinnati Reds?
47 errors in only 51-ball games.

The 2000 Twins had a staff earned run average of 5.14.  Only five other teams in the majors had an earned run average worse than that.   That team ERA fell to 4.12 in 2002.
Ironically, Eric Milton was a part of that horrid 2000 staff, but still managed to go 13-10.
But…three years later, he was gone.  So was every other starter, except Brad Radke.

Wayne Krivsky, working side by side with his boss, the GM Terry Ryan, was in a large way responsible for the turnaround.

Pitching and defense.  Two things the Reds don’t have a lot of this year.  Bet on some changes in the off-season.  Krivsky will have to trade some familiar faces to get where he wants to go.  But his track record suggests, he’ll get there.

You can always e-mail me what you think.  If you’re on my web site, kenbroo.com, there’s a link on the podcast page…just click and write. 

Ken


May 24, 2006

As the Cincinnati Reds continue to stay in the National League Central division race, it's becoming apparent what they need, more than anything else, is a solid back of the bullpen arm.  In baseball-eese, they need a closer.  Already in this young season, David Weathers has four blown saves.  He does not have the over powering 'stuff' that premium closers have.  And haven't we been down that road before around here with Danny Graves?

More and more, the best option for the Reds at 'closer' is Todd Coffey, a right hander who possesses blistering speed, but has been mostly setting up (more baseball-eese) in the eighth inning.   Moving Coffey to the 'closer' role seems to be the best end game for the Reds.  But it creates another problem:  who then 'sets up'?   We're back to the problem created when the Reds dealt away Chris Reitsma three years ago.   This bullpen has no one it can rely on to get the game from the sixth or seventh inning to 'closer time'.

That's the deal Wayne Krivsky needs to pull off.  It will be no small trick.  Quality set up pitchers are precious commodities.  Ask the Atlanta Braves.  They're the ones who were lucky enough to fool the Reds and trade for Reitsma.

Ken



May 23, 2006

Despite dropping three games in the last eight days that were very win-able, Jerry Narron was in a good mood when I spoke with him Monday.  The Reds manager says his starting pitching has been better than expected.   He also seemed pleased with the recent work of his bullpen.  Strange, coming just 48-hours after David Weathers’ meltdown that cost the Reds a win in Detroit Saturday night.

Narron’s biggest problem has been the inconsistent play of the reds in the field.  Defense.  It’s been anywhere from workable to horrid.   The reds continue to give opponents extra outs, by booting ground balls, dropping fly balls or making bad throws to first base.


Through 44 games, the Reds have committed 40-errors.  Every Reds starter, with the exception of Austin Kearns, has at least one error.  And the worst offender is third baseman Edwin Encarnacion.  He has eleven in 100-total chances.  That’s more than an error every ten chances.  You don’t win with that kind of defense.

Ken



May 12, 2006

Guess Junior didn't miss a beat.   Did you happen to catch the way the Reds won last night?   Yep, the bullpen and bad defense wasted another great outing by Bronson Arroyo.   But in the bottom of the eleventh, down 4-2, Griffey, Jr, just back from almost a month on the DL, nailed a walkoff, three run home run.  The Reds beat the Nationals and sent that shocked bunch packing for the airport.  In the now completed six game series this season, the Reds went 5-1 against Jimbo's Nats.

Junior also had a double in the game.  Before it, he was asked about facing the Phillies pitching phenom, Cole Hamels, up from the minors to pitch tonight against the Reds.   Junior's answer:  I don't know anything about what he's done at the triple-A level.  I never played AAA baseball.   He's dead on on that one.  And last night proved to some of the critics who've said he needed a few starts at AAA to rehab from this latest injury, when you've got it, it's hard to lose it.

Bengals mini camp starts today and runs through Monday.  If you're in the area and can watch, our guest this Sunday night on WLWT Channel 5's SPORTS ROCK will be the quarterback turned 'slash', Texas A&M's Reggie McNeal.   See you Sunday night at 11:35pm

Ken



May 11, 2006

We saw again tonight why the Reds desperately need to address their bullpen.  Kent Mercker is not the Kent Mercker we've seen around here in years past.   Todd Coffey is being over worked.   And Jerry Narron can't use Matt Belisle late in games, for fear of not having him available when his more unreliable starters like Elizardo Ramirez and David Williams are scheduled to pitch.

The Reds desperately need a guy like Chris Reitsma.  Oh wait a minute they had him once, didn't they?   Traded Reitsma for pitchers Bubba Nelson and Juen Kuen Bong.   How's that working out?

GM Wayne Krivsky had a startling revelation while speaking to a civic group the other day.  Krivksy was asked, who was responsible for trading away Sean Casey.  In so many words, Krivsky blamed his predecessor, Dan O'Brien for making a bad deal.  The new Reds GM says he would have tried to work out a long term deal for "The Mayor".   He also said that Casey is a free agent after this season, hinting "The Mayor" could be back here, next year.

Have you seen where ESPN will schedule Sunday night college football games?  I'm told the NFL is "po'd" royally about that.  Is this payback for ABC not getting Monday Night Football?   ESPN's Sunday night games will butt heads with NBC's NFL game.   UC has a Sunday night-er, October 22 against USF at Nippert Stadium.  The Bengals play the Carolina Panthers at Paul Brown Stadium at 1pm that same afternoon.

Ken


May 8, 2006

Wild finish to a five game road trip for our Redlegs last night.  It took a terrific defensive play by first baseman, Scott Hatteberg to prevent the Arizona Diamondbacks from completing a sweep.   The Reds, still in first by a game over St Louis, are back home Tuesday night to open a home stand.

They need Junior, now.

Out since April 13th with a sore muscle behind his knee, Junior has gone from day to day to an extended stay on the 15 day disabled list.  Without him, the Red flourished intially.  Ryan Freel played well early on, but as is the case with him, he's tired lately.

Then, when Rich Aurilia went down with a sore groin, things got a little more complicated.  Aurilia was hitting close to .300 when he got hurt.   And, the Reds were using him as a clean up hitter at times.   He's not close to coming off the DL, still with more than a week to go.   But they need Junior now.  

I understand why 'careful' is the operative (ouch didn't mean to use that one when talking about JR) word.  But you tell me.  Is 75% of Ken Griffey, Jr better than 100% of some of the other opitons the Reds have right now?

Just asking.

Ken



May 5, 2006

One of the topics this week on Sports Rock will be whether or not the Reds management, in particular Wayne Krivsky, should begin trolling for a pitcher to make the Reds legitimate contenders.   With Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang now bona fide "front of the rotation pitchers', the Reds need to find some 'back of the rotation guys'.

Paul Wilson is apparently not an viable option for the forseeable future.  His shouldar has weakend.  Friday, it was announced his next rehabilitatoin start is on hold.  While David Williams and Brandon Claussen have shown flashes of what could be, they remain inconsistent.  Elizardo Ramirez, called up to start with Eric Milton on the "DL" hasn't shown he has the ability to pitch, unless under optimum conditions.

The Reds have a surplus of catchers and infielders.  And while each has performed well and has helped the Reds win games this season, it's time to start thinking about what to do when the dog days of summer come.  If not to deal, the time to start preparing for a deal is now.

For the record, the defense the Reds displayed tonight in Arizona was some of the worst I've seen from a major league team in years.

 

Ken 

 

May 3, 2006

I'd like to say I'm excited about the Bengals draft.  But it's bad to lie in a blog. 

First pick?  No problem.  I think cornerback Jonathan Joseph will be a terrific NFL player.  He's got a safety's size but can fly like a sprinter.  A 4.3 40 in the combine opened a lot of eyes, including the Bengals, who took this guy with the 24th overall pick.  Joseph will ultimately take Tory James spot on the roster.  But not this season.   With James and Deltha O'Neal at the corners, Joseph will be a great nickel back.  And, let's face it, most downs, you need three corners on the field.

The only other pick I'm intrigued by is sixth rounder, Reggie McNeal.  The Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski will have wicked fun coming up with plays for this guy.  He will be everything Antwan Randel El has been to the Steelers.  And now, El is out of the division, gone to the Redskins. 

Reds off to play a five game road trip, starting Wednesday night in Colorado.  I'll have more on that, tomorrow.  But this team is the real deal.  The starting pitching is the key. We knew all along they could score runs.

Junior?  Don't look for him until the weekend. I wouldn't be surprised if he's out until they're back home next Tuesday.  What's the hurry?

Ken


May 2, 2006

A month into the season, Reds General Manager, Wayne Krivsky looks like a baseball genius, Einstein with a jugs gun.   First he trades Wily Mo Pena for Bronson Arroyo.  Then, he picks up infielder Brandon Phillips for a song.

All Arroyo has done is go 5-0.  Phillips was just named the National League player of the week.

I'm sure Krivsky will pull off a few clunkers in his say as Reds GM.  But this kind of a start is unparalleled for any Reds GM.

Arroyo went the distance Monday night.  It was the best performance by a Reds starting pitcher since Paul Wilson's  starts during a 7-0 run in 2004.  

Philips had a sixth inning hit that drove in an insurance run.  Against the defending NL Central champion Cardinals, the Reds looked stellar.

Credit a lot of things for this 18-8 start:  better than expected starting pitching, better defense and terrific run production.   But don't leave out Krivsky.  What a genius...so far.

Ken 


April 14, 2006

The Reds keep rolling, now 6-3 and heading to St Louis for the weekend.  They are living on offense and so far, life is good.

6 More home runs on Monday, three more on Tuesday, now 20 home runs on the season.   20 home runs in just nine games.  By far, the Reds are outhitting their competition.  The Reds are now averaging 9-point-three runs per game.   It’s not just a handful of hitters.  Everyone is pitching in.  6 More home runs on Monday, three more on Tuesday, now 20 home runs on the season.   20 home runs in just eight games.  By far, the Reds are outhitting their competition.  The Reds are now averaging 9-point-three runs per game.   It’s not just a handful of hitters.  Everyone is pitching in. 

Felipe Lopez is hitting ‘333’, Austin Kearns, ‘310’.  Adam Dunn, a robust ‘417’.   That’s the good news.  The bad news?  The Reds have to score a lot of runs.

While their starting pitching is respectable…and Bronson Arroyo has been stellar….the reds’ bullpen is a mess.   It’s ERA before Monday’s game was just under nine.   And in two innings Monday, the pen allowed two more runs….keeping pace with its nine ERA.

It seemed like a good idea in the off-season:  sign veteran pitchers for the bullpen, help younger pitchers along.  But it’s not working.  40-year old Chris Hammond is pitching like a 40-year old man.   Mike Burns and Rick White have been virtually ineffective.   And while the Reds bullpen has only lost the lead once, so far in seven games, it has made every game except Monday’s an adventure.

You know what?   This team hasn’t recovered from dumping Scott Sullivan in the middle of the 2003 season and unloaded Chris Reitsma the following spring.  Maybe it stabilizes.  It better.  Relying on an offense to score six and seven runs every night is simply bad strategy.   I look for the Reds to make a trade, soon, to get a middle reliever…someone Jerry Narron isn’t afraid to give the ball to, when things get tight.

As for the offense…credit a lot of things:  extra batting practice this spring, players maturing and being more selective at the plate.   But don’t forget about hitting coach Chris Chambliss.   He’s helped adam dunn retain his power while working on his average.  He’s done wonders with Edwin Encarnacion.

Now, if he could only help easy Edwin with his fielding.  Five errors in eight games?  Ouch!

Ken


March 8, 2006

Just got back from my morning tour of the Reds clubhouse...Kent Mercker has been nursing a sore left shouldar....says he'll probably pitch tomorrow....it'll be his first action of the spring...Eric Milton was lit up in Dunedin Tuesday by the Blue Jays....in two thirds of an inning, he faced seven batters, five reached base, a home run and four earned runs...Milton has been nursing a sore calf and missed his first start of the spring....says he won't pitch again until his calf has healed....not good news....UK fan Austin Kearns thinks his Wildcats will do well in the upcoming SEC Tournament, as long as they don't have to face Florida...fishing is big around here, with a pond out behind the batting cage...we tagged along with Adam Dunn and pitcher Brian Shackleford....Shackleford caught a three pound bass...Dunn left empty handed.

The Pirates are in for an afternoon game today. Sean Casey and Joe Randa are making the trip. It will be great to see both. Casey is one of the all time nice guys. Randa is a little more reserved than Casey. But he was great to deal with in his short time in Cincinnati.

Quick conference basketball predictions: UC beats Syracuse tonight, but loses to UConn in round two...Xavier will handle UMass, but Charlotte is waiting on Thursday night.I don't think "X" gets past that.UK will beat Mississippi in round one of the SEC Tournament. I think the Wildcats will beat Alabama after that. After that? Feg-gedda-boud-it.

Ken

March 5, 2006

Still in Sarasota, Florida. Another sunny and 72 degree day forecast.Two thought on the latest exhibition game, won by the Reds Saturday against the Yankees.

1:The Reds appear to be enroute to a difficult decision on third baseman, Edwin Encarnacion.The young right handed hitter knocked another home run Saturday, this timem off Yankees opening day starter, Randy Johnson.That's three for Edwin in three exhibibition games this season. Do the Reds elect to keep Encarnacion on the 25 man roster if he CAN'T play everyday.And if he wins the third base job in camp, what do they do with Rich Aurilia, who they're paying more than a million dollars to this coming season?

2:While the pitching so far has been adequate to good, two troubling things have popped up.One is the health of David Weathers.His index finger on his pitching hand, his right hand, is badly disfigured, injured in an off season workout.He can't straighten his finger out, although it does conform to the shape of the ball.Weathers didn't pick up a baseball until he got to camp.He's projected as the 'closer' this year and was shelled in his only outing so far this spring.

The other troubling thing about Reds pitching, at least from what I've seen, is that Paul Wilson and Eric Milton are both out of action.Wilson is still recovering from his shouldar surgery and won't throw in a game for another couple of weeks, at the earliest.Milton is suffering from a calf muscle problem.He missed his first scheduled start of the spring and his next is TBA.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays are in for today's (Sunday) game.They have a list of players who aren't household names....even in their own households. But they do have one interesting player making the trip:ex Red Russell Branyan.

Ken

March 3, 2006

Hello from "Sunny Sarasota"

I'm at spring training to get a handle on our Redlegs. So far, an intra-squad game, that was far from memorable....and a road game at Lakeland. The Reds lost it, when Ryan Wagner gave up the game winning run in the Tigers' 8th....

It's the usual ha-hoo. Everyone believes the team will be better, the team will win, yada yada yada. It's at a point right now, where the media and fans need to see it to believe it.

This team can score runs. That's never been an issue. The issue is, can it stop the other team from scoring runs. That's pitching and defense.

The Reds imported former Yankees manager, Bucky Dent to work with the infielders. He'll also be Jerry Narron's first base coach. Dent has a reputation for building defense, particularly infiend defense. We'll see.

As for the pitching, the theme so far has been 'just pitch well enough to keep us in it'. I'm hearing that a lot from the everyday players. We haven't seen any of the starting five so far. That begins tomorrow, in Tampa, against the Yankees.

Check back soon. I'll try to keep this updated as much as possible from down here.

Ken

February 24, 2006

Tough, but not a devastating loss for the UC Bearcats Thursday.  They had Villanova down two with 1:10 to play, but couldn't finish the number 2 team in the USA off.

I believe the NCAA Tournament selection committee will view this game favorably, come selection Sunday.  But, UC still needs to win one more game.  They have two fairly good chances to do that in their remaining games.  At Seton Hall and home with West Virginia remain on the schedule.

Whatever Dedrick Finn did, and I hear it was an off the court incident, it had to be a fairly significant offense. Why else would a team boot a senior off the squad, just a couple of weeks before the end of the season?

Let's face it: Xavier isn't going anywhere. It'll be a stretch for this team to get into the NIT. Carrying Finn, admittedly a headache for this school throughout his collegiate career, wouldn't have been that tough...unless....

I'm hearing the Reds really don't want Ken Griffey, Jr to play in the World Baseball Classic, and that desire is coming straight from the top of the organization.  I wouldn't be surprised if Junior skips the tournament.  Then again, his dad is one of the coaches.

Ken

February 16, 2006

As wins goes, this one could not have been bigger for the UC Bearcats.   Without a full time coach, with injuries, with defections, this season has been like no other in Clifton.   Wednesday night, they limped in to Syracuse to play a team that beat them by 19, just a month ago.   And UC flew home with a win, a huge win.

Yes, Syracuse is struggling too. But, this was a road win, late in the season in the toughest basketball conference in division on basketball. It will be hard for the NCAA selection committee to ignore.

OK, the Bearcats are still two wins away from serious consideration for the field of 64.   But, with a top ten ranking in strength of schedule and an RPI that’s consistantly around 30, it appears right now those two more wins are attainable.  Still to come is a home game against Providence and a road game at Seton Hall.   Those games offer excellent chances for wins.  And Villanova is due in town later this month.  And while Villanova is a legit top ten team and the favorite to win the Big East Tournament, its three guard line up offers a favorable match up for the height challenged ‘Cats. 

Yep, nothing wrong dreaming after the win at the ‘cuse.

Ken

February 9, 2006

Looks like the Reds new owner got his man.  In fact, at the news conference to announce Wayne Krivsky as the team's new GM, Krivsky sounded like a younger version of Bob Castellini.

Both came off as no nonsense and serious about turning this franchise around.

Krivsky is enough of a baseball guy to know there's little he can do to help the Reds at this point.  Spring Training begins in less than two weeks....except....

Castellini wants him to try to do something.  The new owner didn't want to talk about it in specifics Wednesday.  I asked him, on paper is there anything that can tangibly be done to improve this team at this point.  He seemed to mutter the words 'on paper' several times before begging off saying I asked a 'cerebral question'.   But I pressed him on it.  I thought at first he was going to bark at me for being persistent.  I have a tendency to be that way.   But Castellini instead said the two things he'd like to see Krivsky do is find a 'closer' and another arm for the rotation.

Finding a closer, Krivsky admitted to me, will have to come from the current crop of relievers.  The most likely candidate, if his injured finger has healed, is David Weathers.

The new GM did say he'd look for a rotation candidate.  There remains one 'name pitcher' on the market:  Jeff Weaver.   But, the reason he's on the market is because Weaver is asking for an outrageous salary, too much for a guy who's basically a .500 pitcher.

Still, what torpedoed Krivsky's predecessor, Dan O'Brien, was inactivity on the trade front.  Castellini wants action, now.  He doesn't want to hear about some young talent that might someday make the 'big club'.   He wants someone for the 'big club' now.  He does, after investing $190 million to buy this team, have to sell tickets.

Stay tuned.  The Reds haven't seen this much energy from an owner in decades.

Item: the Bengals sign free agent quarterback, Doug Johnson.  This tells me three things.  One:  Jon Kitna is gone.  He'll get better money or a better job somewhere else.  Two:  Carson Palmer is about where he should be in his rehab, which is still a late September to early November return.   Three:  if Doug Johnson starts for this Bengals team next season it could be the ugliest thing on the Ohio River since a dead cow was mistaken for a body, floating in the current.

Johnson didn't take a snap in the NFL this past season.  Two years ago, filling in for an injured Michael Vick in Atlanta, Johnson led the Falcons to a rip-roaring 2-9.  He's Scott Mitchell in a different wrapping.

You know that gambling scandel that's just hit the NHL, Rick Tocchet, the Phoenix assistant coach who allegedly funded a nationwide gambling ring?   What the NHL is really worried about here is whether or not its games have been 'fixxed'.

The special investigator assigned by the NHL to the case prosecuted the 'Unabomber'.  This is serious, serious stuff.  And while the alleged ring involved only non-hockey bets, the NHL can't afford to leave anything to chance.  Not after coming off that strike/lockout year.

Not with the wife of the greatest player in the history of the NHL allegedly laying bets.  Janet Gretzky, getting 'juice' on the over/under. What's more American than that?

Ken

February 2, 2006

Carson Palmer won the FEDEX player of the year award Wednesday.  It was bittersweet.  It was great for Palmer.  But how could any Bengals fan not wonder 'what might've been' had Palmer not been hurt on his first pass attempt in that playoff loss to the Steelers.

Palmer continues to nurse his surgically repaired knee.   The Bengals issued a statement Wednesday that Palmer rehabilitation is "progressing nicely".  But they have idea whether it is or it isn't.  Palmer remains on the west coast and his time table for return is still six to nine months.  Those familiar with his specific surgery tell me it's 50-50 at best that Palmer is ready by the season opener.

The parade has begun at Great American Ball Park.  The first of seven candidates for the Reds general manager's job was interviewed today.  Twins assistant GM, Wayne Krivsky was first in the door.  He left here two years ago thinking he had the job, only to have it pulled out from under him by Reds owner, Carl Lindner.  Krivsky remains the favorite this time around.

The NCAA Tournament without UC and Xavier.  It is a legitimate possibility.  UC had a much needed win over South Florida Tuesday night.   That was the Bearcats's 15th win this season, 14th against an NCAA D-1 team.  It will take at least two more wins for the Bearcats to finish at least 12th in the Big East and earn a trip to that conference's post season tournament.  Their best chances for those two wins:  home games later this month against Louisville and Providence.

Xavier has a huge game Thursday night, at home, against George Washington.  With its RPI on the 'bubble' for an NCAA berth, XU could pick up serious ground with a win over 16-1 GW.  Since the NCAA will take, at best, two teams from the Atlantic 10, the Muskies will have to win the conference post season tournament to get in, if they don't beat GW Thursday night.

Check out my latest podcast "The Broo View" on the major podcast search engines and also at my web site: www.kenbroo.com

Ken

January 27, 2006

Dan O'Brien is looking for work today because he couldn't pull the trigger on a deal to improve Reds pitching.   And the guy who just bought the team is not a big fan of inaction.

Bob Castellini says he made his mind up ten days before his purchase of the Reds was approved the MLB club owners to launch O'Brien.  Castellini simply said, he wanted his own guy in the GM chair.

The likeable, if not dynamic, O'Brien was two years into a five year plan to rebuild the Reds from the minor leagues up.  That kind of plan takes patience.  Former owner, Carl Lindner had it.  Castellini, 190-million in the hole after buying the team doesn't.

Castellini says he'll have his new GM in place by March.  But it may be too late in the game to find better pitching for 2006.  The time to deal, or sign free agents, has long since past.  And what team will part with a solid starting pitcher at this time of the year? The Reds will have to win with what they've got.  It is, at this point, a sobering thought.

Quick hits...I like Pittsburgh by five at this point in Super Bowl XL....Peter Warrick was never healthy the final two seasons he played for the Bengals.  The Bengals grew weary of his lingering injuries and released him last summer.  The Bengals are out of the playoffs and Warrick is playing for a Super Bowl ring with Seattle...I'm hearing the Bengals may be content to let another team sign Jon Kitna....If UC manages four more wins this season, they should hold a parade for the team in Clifton....UC's football team is on track to have the worst recruiting class in the Big East this winter....National Letter of Intent Day is next Wednesday....on his personal blog, Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer is telling fans he'll be ready to go by opening game next fall.  Someone very familar with his surgery tells me, it's 50-50 at best....You're the Houston Texans coming off a horrid season and have a chance to draft home state hero, Longhorns quarterback, Vince Young.  BUT, you have a good young quarterback in David Carr.  You're desperate to sell tickets.  What do you do?   Call the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  In 1987 they were coming off another dismal season.  Vinny Testaverde was the darling of the college seniors.  The Bucs, desperate to sell tickets, used their number one pick on Testaverde and let their good, young quarterback go.  His name?  Steve Young.  The Texans should take note and draft Reggie Bush...The NBA, struggling as always, has signed off on the marketing of a Lakers jersey with Kobe Bryant's name on the back and the number 81.....to commemerate Bryant's 81-point game....you can call Kobe a ball hog in that game.  But the guy shot 60 percent from the field.

Ken

January 23, 2006

Never figured on the Steelers beating the Broncos. But, now that it's happened, it's hard tp pick against Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.

The Steelers seem to be the team of destiny. Two plays from Sunday's game could have changed the course of things. One, was the interception that bounced off Denver cornberback, Champ Bailey and in to the arms of the Steelers' Hines Ward. If Bailey holds onto the ball, he's got six, the other way.

The other play was the touchdown pass to Ward, that went right through the hands of a Broncos defensive back. It should've been intercepted, but wasn't.

Now, its onto play the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. Pittsburgh matches up well with the Seahawks. The opening line is Pittsburgh minus 3 and a half.

Makes you wonder what might've happened had the Bengals beaten the Steelers in the wild card round of the playoffs.   If Carson Palmer hadn't gotten hurt, this may be the Bengals in Detroit for the big game.   Remember, had the Bengals won, they would've played at Denver in week two.  The way things went down Sunday in Denver, it would appear the Bengals would've matched up favorably with the Broncos.

We'll never know.

Ken

January 20, 2006

“The” winter event went down Thursday night.  It will eventually be remembered as a classic.  As UC-Xavier games go, this was one of the better ones.   UC played stout defense in the first half ahd went to the locker room up seven.

In the second half, Xavier nursed a three point lead, until the final five seconds, when UC senior Jihad Muhammad nailed a shot from outside the arc.  It tied the game.  It forced overtime.

That’s when the game was taken out of the players hands.

There’s nothing worse than an official who determines the outcome of a game. It happened Thursday night, when Muhammad was whistled, with 14-seconds to play in overtime, for what looked like a very marginal call.

An officiall will tell you, a foul is a foul, no matter when it occurs in a ballgame. But I would counter with this: a good official, in any sport, always has a feel for the game, knows when he must, for the good of the game, let the play flow and give the players a chance to determine the outcome.

Apparently, the crew working the Cintas Center on Thursday night didn’t believe that...or get the memo.

Ken

January 19, 2006

It's Crosstown Shootout night in Cincinnati.  But more than a few UC basketball fans aren't feeling the 'buzz' this year.

Without Bob Huggins, with a UC team decimated by defection and injury, it's hard to remember a year when the Bearcats went into a Shootout so short handed. And worse for the UC faithful Xavier seems to have found it's game, just in time for tonight's 9pm EST tipoff.

UC needs to win desperately.   It will have precious few chances to pick up the seven wins needed to get 20 wins, usually the minimum number needed for a team to snag an at large NCAA playoff berth.

Xavier enters this game on a six game winning streak.  It has all five of its starters back from last year's game, a loss at UC.

But this game will be no blow out.  UC still has four decent starters.  Foul trouble will be the key.  If UC avoids it, game on.   If Xavier can induce the Bearcats into early foul trouble, it could get ugly.

For the record I predict:   Xavier 77  UC  64.

The Major League Baseball owners vote today on the proposed sale of the Reds to Cincinnati businessman, Robert Castellini.   It will be a slam dunk.  Castellini has been a major league club owner, first in Baltimore and lately in St Louis with fellow Cincinnatian Bill DeWitt for the past 15 years.

Now, watch for changes.  I'm told you'll begin seeing front office changes immediately.  But I believe Castellini will give GM Dan O'Brien and field manager, Jerry Narron to prove themselves worthy, while under his watch.

Interesting item from the preliminary rosters released Wednesday for the upcoming World Baseballl Tournament.   Adam Dunn was left off the Team USA roster.

As expected, Ken Griffey, Jr., is on Team USA's roster.  Felipe Lopez will play for Puerto Rico and Wily Mo Pena for the Dominican Republic. The Tournament begins in early March.  And that's only if the USA allows Cuba to play games in the United States.  A 45 year old trade embargo, a left over from the Cold War, remains in place.

Ken

January 16, 2006

Carson Palmer’s surgeon was telling the truth this week, to someone.  I think it was me.

I was the first to talk to Doctor Lonnie Paulos this week, in an interview I did for Cincinnati’s channel five.

By phone from his office in Houston, Paulos told me Palmer snapped three ligaments:  his ACL, his MCL and the ligament that holds the peteller tendon to the knee cap.  In addtion, the hit Palmer took from Steelers’ lineman Kimo von Oelhoffen also dislocated his petellar tendon.  That’s why Palmer’s surgery took a very long three hours and 45-minutes.

podcast 33 pp.2

Paulos told me this kind of injury has ended careers for other athletes.  He said he thought that wouldn’t be the case with Palmer.

The Bengals front office went crazy when they heard the doctors making those statements.  Later that evening, Paulos was whistling a different tune to other media outlets.

What changed in those couple of hours?  Did Paulos suddenly come up with a different prognosis over dinner?

What happened was, someone in the Bengals front office got to him, chastized him for, basically speaking truth.

Palmer’s injury is severe. His healing time will take Palmer into the start of next season.  The Bengals don’t want that information out there.  They don’t want their opponents to know it, they don’t want Jon Kitna to know it. He’s a free agent and sure to try to cash in on this misfortune.  They don’t want agents of other quarterbacks, potential replacements for Palmer to know it.  They don’t want their ticket buying fans to know it.

But above all else, the Bengals don’t want anyone to know it, until they tell them about it.  The Bengals weren’t controling the flow of information on this thing. Don’t kid yourself, that’s the only thing they were  upset about. It’s their own fault.  They should have coordinated the release of the information on Palmer with the doctor, before the operation.

Ken

January 11, 2006

Mounting evidence that there really was something that happened at halftime Sunday, in the Bengals playoff loss to the Steelers.

Tuesday, an internet web site Pro Football Talk, reported that Bengals wide receiver, Chad Johnson got into a physical confrontation with his position coach, Hue Jackson and Bengals head coach, Marvin Lewis.  At issue, said the web site, was Johnson's lack of passes in the first half of the game.

Johnson, in a news conference Tuesday, emphatically denied any confrontation and tried to make light of it.   But, as someone in the media once said to describe his scepticism to a story..."I smell a fish in the laundry."

Not present and still not heard from in this matter was Lewis.  Nor has Jackson weighed on on the report.

At least two players have confirmed to WLWT sports reporter, Dave Lapham, that the confrontation did occur.  Now, the agent of another unnamed Bengals player is saying his client is blaming Johnson's halftime outburst for the Bengals lack of focus in Sunday's second half.

All of this might seem like some juicy sidebar to the Bengals season ending loss.  It would have stayed that way, had Johnson not called his news conference to emphatically deny the internet report.   But he didn't stay silent.  Now he's on the record.  All it will take is one player to publically confirm that story.  Don't think it'll happen?  Think again.

If the Bengals should release or trade a player who, shall we say, leaves reluctantly, he'll be free to talk.  If there's this much smoke at this point, there will be fire down the road.

Unless Johnson is telling the truth.  For his sake, and for Lewis', Chad better be.

Ken

January 9, 2006

The air was sucked out of Paul Brown Stadium about 4:40pm Sunday.   It was at that precise moment Bengals fans, playoff starved for 15-long seasons, saw the heart and soul of the Bengals prone on the stadium carpet.

Carson Palmer was down and out, victim of a hit to the knee from former Bengal, Kimo von Oelhoffen.   Waiting until the last possible moment for Chris Henry to spring free, Palmer left himself vulnerable to the hit.   Despite what you might be hearing, the hit was legitimate.  It was no cheap shot.   Those who know him know that von Oelhoffen would never do something like that.

And, if you objectively watch the video tape of the hit,  you'll see that von Oelhoffen had his head down, falling into Palmer at the end of the play.  It was the kind of play that hasn't happened to a Bengals team in a long long time.  It's been years since a skilled player in Bengals stripes has been seriously injured.

Now, the Bengals are out of the playoffs.  But the larger question surrounds Palmer, who's headed for surgery to repair both his ACL and his MCL.   Palmer is looking at six months, minimum or recovery, nine months on the outside.   That could keep him out of training camp all of next summer.  It begs a larger question.

What do the Bengals do about his back up.  Jon Kitna's contract is up.  It's been widely thought he'd move on.   Kitna had some success as the starter before the Bengals drafted and annointed Palmer as their starter.  But in relieving Palmer for three games in 2004 and in his performance last Sunday in Kansas City and against the Steelers, Kitna has looked something less than adequate.  This may have hurt his chances to take his talents to a team searching for a starting QB.

But now do the Bengals drop another contract, with bonus money, on Kitna, knowing his limitations?   Or, do they shop for a quarterback this winter, knowing he will need time to get comfortable with the Bengals system?

This is a major problem the Bengals will need to deal with, as their heart and soul heads to major surgery and a long road to recovery.

Ken

January 5, 2006

Big road wins Wednesday night for both the Bearcats and the Musketeers.  UC made its Big East Conference debut with a big, 82-60 win over DePaul.   Xavier had an impressive road win at St. Joe’s, 62-58.

Growing sentiment among UC followers for interim coach, Andy Kennedy, to secure the head coach’s job on a permanent basis.   It’s the right thing for UC to do.  Which means, it won’t happen.   UC school president, Dr. Nancy Zimpher seems determined to purge her athletic department of all things prior to her arrival.   Kennedy’s status is guilt by association with Bob Huggins.

What it’s done is hamstrung UC’s recruiting efforts.  A UC insider told me last week, there has been no basketball recruiting done since Huggins’ departure.  “We’re just making a few phone calls. What do we have to recruit anyone with?”, is what the insider told me.

But at Xavier, Sean Miller has things humming again.  The Muskies are still being out-rebounded on a consistent basis.  But, they find ways to win.  Brian Thorton dropped in a strong 13 against St Joe’s.  Stanley Burrell had ‘hammer time’ working, with 17 points.
(Pop culture note:  Stanley Burrell is the real name of MC Hammer, hence the nickname for the Xavier sophomore guard).

Back again soon.  Watch our Bengals playoff special, Thursday night one WLWT Channel 5 in Cincinnati. 

Check out my latest podcast “The Broo View”.   You can find it on my home page at www.kenbroo.com.

Ken

January 3, 2006

Now that they’re in the playoffs, how far can the Bengals go?  On  the strength (or lack of) their last two games, I’m tempted to say…not very far.

Here’s what concerns me.  At this time of the year, you have to run the ball well and stop the other guy from running.  The Bengals are doing neither particularly well. They’re 4-3 since their bye week.   And in those seven games, they’ve allowed their opponents an average of 31 points per game.

And now come the Steeelers, again.

1-1 with Pittsburgh so far this year, the Bengals know the Steelers will get off the bus Sunday (no pun intended) running.   In their first meeting, here in Cincinnati earlier this year, the Steelers got an early lead on the Bengals and proceeded to deliver a steady diet of Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker.   If Pittsburgh happens to  get the lead Sunday, that is what’s coming.

The longer the Bengals allow the Steelers to run successfully, the longer the Steelers will control the clock.   That will keep the high octane Bengals offense on the sidelines.

The Steelers are playing their best football of the season right now.  The Bengals aren’t.

After back to back losses, giving up 37 points to both the Bills and the Chiefs, the Bengals appear to be stumbling at the most critical time of the year.

I hope I’m wrong.   It’s early in the week.   But this doesn’t look good, Bengals fans.

Ken

December 27,2005

The Bengals slipped, Badly, Saturday. How much it will hurt them the rest of the season, we won’t know for awhile. But we do know this: they will ‘not’ have a week off, when the playoffs begin.

Perhaps they wouldn’t have anyway. Perhaps Denver would have won out and retained that second seed in the AFC, thereby nailing down an opening week bye. We’ll never know. By stumbling around the field Saturday against the Bills, the Bengals can now be, only a number three seed. That means a opening week game.

And the three seed is no given. hould the bengals lose in Kansas City this Sunday in the regular season finale and should the Patriots beat the Dolphins...both very real scenarios...the Bengals would finish fourth in the playoff seedings. That could bring good and bad news.

The good news? They would then open the playoffs, at home, against Jacksonville. And even though the Jags beat the Bengals in Florida earlier this year, playing Jacksonville is a lot more winneable than a third match up with the Steelers. The Steelers are healthy and “The Bus” owns the Bengals. In 20-regular season games against Cincinnati, Jerome Bettis has 17-touchdowns. He and the Willie Parker could shred that Bengals rush defense.

The bad news? Should the Bengals wind up the fourth seed, it would then send them to Indianpolis in round two. The AFC championship goes through Indy, anyway. But what team in its right mind wants to face the Colts sooner than later. And…that would be after the Colts had their bye week….and after resting their starters for three straight weeks.

“That’s” what losing to the Bills did to the Bengals. Now, it appears to be ‘pick your poison’.

Ken

December 19, 2005

Hell froze over Sunday. The Bengals clinched a division title and a playoff berth. The dead shall rise up from their graves and the seas will part. This is a miracle nothing short of biblical portions.

Reggie Rembert, Alonzo Mitts, Wayne Haddix, the deamons have been exorcised.  Barry Foster, he of the one day stay in Bengal-dom, exorcised.  Andre Collins, Rod Jones (both of them), exorcised.

There is a new day dawning.   The striped warriors left the Lions for the road kill they are on Sunday afternoon.   Now, the Bengals can begin concentrating on two things:  the playoffs and winning out.  The final two games remain crucial to a first week playoff bye (I can't believe I'm writing this).  Denver has to lose at least once, and that could very well happen on the final weekend of the season, when the Broncos have to play San Diego.  The Chargers looked pretty tough Sunday knocking off the Colts, in Indy no less.

For the third week in a row, the maligned Bengals rush defense held the opponent to under 100 yards.  The Lions managed only 59 Sunday.  And just one thing about the Lions:  how does a team become that bad?  Oh...how about by drafting a wide receiver with a first round pick THREE years in a row!

If the season ended today two things would happen.  About 65 thousand folks with tickets to Saturday's game against Buffalo would be fuming.  But, it would also mean the Bengals would host a first round game against....ta da...Pittsburgh.

Our town would be in absolute delirium.

But line on all of this came from the Bengals defensive end, Justin Smith.  Speaking on WLWT's Sports Rock (it is hard driven, sports opinion every Sunday night at 11:35 on Cincinnati's channel 5.  OK shameless plug), Smith said, "Our goal has been to make the playoffs and for the first time since I've been here, we've been able to say that with a straight face."

Amen brother. Welcome to the party.

Ken