As the World Series draws to a close, ending another baseball season, I can’t help thinking about the place the game has in my life. And it’s not because the franchise I’ve rooted for my entire life, the Philadelphia Phillies, is one win from claiming the championship ... although that feels pretty special.
For many of us, baseball is a passion that’s difficult to explain rationally.
It's been a long, strange journey for the 2011 Cincinnati Reds. The team's first 92 games have seen injuries, lengthy slumps, poor starting pitching and more close losses than a team with such a good bullpen should statistically endure. Still, with 70 regular-season games remaining, the Reds sit 2 games below .500 and just 4 out of the division lead, which puts the organization's executives in a tough spot.
Mayor Mark Mallory says there is no room for debate over whether or not Cincinnatians should keep supporting the Bengals. He's going to hang out before Sunday's game against Pittsburgh and grill food and act like he's one of us. The concept got Mr. Mayor laughed at by reporters at his weekly news conference yesterday. And what's worse, it wasn't even sports reporters who were laughing at him — it was the regular city dork reporters!
It's pretty bad when a team is 0-6 and its fans are again selling their tickets for below market value like it's 2001 and Akili Smith is the starting quarterback. The Bengals' brief brush with respectability is long gone now, as evidenced by the very small amount of football knowledge one must have in order to make the following positive assumption: The Bengals fucking suck.
It's really quite hilarious how badly the organization has messed up an opportunity to draft quality linemen around their talented skill players who led the team to its only playoff appearance in the last 15 years. But this is a discussion (or a joke) for another day. Why should we even bother?
That's why it's nice for Mayor Mallory to step in and give us something else to laugh about. On Sunday Paul Brown Stadium will be at lest half-filled with Pittsburgh fans, and it's because their organization, team and city is better than ours. Mallory showing up to tailgate is just another embarrassing footnote in the story of Cincinnati sports history.
I'm sorry to do it, but I must quote a good friend whose self-hate reached an all-time high after the Bengals missed numerous kicks that would have sent them to the playoffs during the final week of 2006: "We're all just a bunch of fucking losers."
Good work Mallory. Now you're included.
Today is one of those days where it's hard to imagine any activity being more appropriate than baseball. Hopefully, Reds fans flock to the stadium tonight, and the rest of this homestand.
Are you too scared of ice skating to play hockey? Too old to play soccer? Too lazy to keep the floors of your home free of dust and debris? Regularly thirsty for adult beverages during dark, cold January evenings? If so, the Fountain Square Broomball League could solve all your problems (unless one is alcoholism — 3CDC doesn't promise to cure that).
Fantasy sports bring out the worst in me, and that's why it is with great excitement that I tell the two losers who regularly read my illustrious column that my fantasy sports franchise, Hoagy Time Ltd., will be throwing it's hat in the ring and entering the rarified air of fantasy baseball this year.
Not a lot of time, and nothing much to say. Sometimes, that's just how it goes. Perhaps I'm too pissed at Chien Ming Wang. I don't know if my fantasy league is punishing pitchers too much or if Mr. Wang has truly been that bad (I suspect he has), but to get -20 points or worse for his first two outings is, as Charles Barkley would say, "Turble."
It's the time of year to act like you know what's going to happen in baseball this season, because you are smart. Usually, most of the picks you make will be wrong, but such is life. I doubt I will end up forecasting a Royals vs. Pirates World Series ... or that a team will sign Barry Bonds.
Last week’s win over Louisville has gone a long way toward
moving the Bearcats off the NCAA Tournament bubble and into the 10-seed area of
most projections. A win at South Florida last Sunday would have all-but-secured
the invitation, but the dudes lost by a point on the road, 46-45.
[UPDATE: The Bearcats whooped on Marquette, 72-61; here's the AP recap: Cincinnati halts No. 7 Marquette to pad resume.]
Tonight UC will welcome No. 7 Marquette to Fifth Third Arena under a bunch of weird circumstances: Marquette kicked the crap out of the Bearcats 95-78 on Feb. 11, and it’s Senior Night for a couple of UC players who aren’t used to being trampled so badly (at least not in recent years).
Here’s what Yancy and Dion told The Enquirer’s Bill Koch yesterday.
“You know that it’s Senior Night and we feel it,” Gates said, “but I think we’ll feel it more when we get on the court tomorrow. Right now, our focus is so much on we need this win that we really don’t have time to sit back and think, ‘Oh, tomorrow’s Senior Night.’ ”
“I don’t know how I’ll feel tomorrow,” Dixon said. “We’re just trying to focus on getting this win. That’s the main thing.”
After tonight, the Bearcats have one remaining regular-season game, at Villanova on Saturday. Assuming they can’t handle the rematch with Marquette, they’ll really need to beat Villanova to avoid entering the Big East tournament on a three-game losing streak. If they were to drop their first tournament game after that, they’d be sitting at 20-12 on Selection Sunday with a real ugly RPI.
One win out of UC’s remaining regular-season schedule or in the Big East tournament should be enough to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. But a win over South Florida last Sunday probably would have assured it as well.
It is under such circumstances that two of Mick Cronin’s most influential recruits take the court tonight for their final home game. Gates is a hometown player who chose UC over Ohio State, West Virginia and Xavier, among others, and has traveled a fairly up-and-down road during his four years. Gates surely wants to end his senior season on a high note after the Crosstown Shootout fiasco, which threatens to overshadow his years of hard work and importance to Mick Cronin’s rebuilding effort at UC. Gates currently ranks 17th on UC’s career scoring list and is the only Bearcat to ever lead his team in rebounding four straight seasons.
Dixon came to UC from a Chicago public school where he used to jam on a bunch of high schoolers. He’s contributed every year, as his 1,183 career points show — good for 27th all-time at UC. Dixon’s versatility has been a huge help to Cronin, who has used Dion as a shooting guard and point guard during various parts of his career. And Dion tries to thump it on people even though he’s just a little too small to do it all the time. We still really appreciate that.
After everything this year’s team — and these two seniors, specifically — has been through, tonight is surely going to be an energetic and emotional night down at The Shoe. Hopefully the ’Cats can hang with Marquette — securing an NCAA Tournament-securing win on Senior Night would be a beautiful way for the careers of these two players to end.
I'm short on time and ideas. Prevailing circumstances have kept me and my homey from finishing Week 3 of the Greatest Season Ever before due time came. Merrill Hoge busted off 179 rushing yards in a game, Vinny T and the Bucs got loose. My homey's Chiefs lost to the Oilers. Both our teams are 2-1. There's a lot of football left to be played.
Now I will channel the ALF of sports analysts, Peter King. From time to time I read his column on SI.com, and that guy has got it made. What an incredibly easy thing to do. I love talking about snackin' and travel and such.