Mick, the Coach UC Doesn’t Deserve

Mick Cronin is a good coach.

I am not sure why he receives the flak he gets, but Mick is legit. I have been a Cincinnati Bearcats fan all my life, or at least since I could understand sports, and the turnaround that Mick wrought at UC is something you would figure precludes him from most sorts of criticism…but it seems to have galvanized his haters, and boy, they had a field day on Monday.

In case you missed it, the Bearcats played their Senior Day game against Tulsa and won. Some may say the margin was concerning, as they beat the unranked, conference foe by only eight points, with a lackluster defense to blame. “Mick Ball,” if you will, is predicated on defense and rebounding, so I understood the question that the reported posed to him after the game. Mick’s answer, though, was legendary.

“I will give you a stat. Kentucky, Indiana, and Louisville have combined to lose 32 games this season. We have lost four. Tell me how long it has taken this program to lose 32 games? If you look around, people ought to be real happy at Cincinnati with the way the basketball program at Cincinnati is being run. Next question.”

Firstly, there are some folks erroneously perceiving this as some sort of shot at Kentucky (Indiana and Louisville fans haven’t really weighed in). That’s false. Mick was using them to illustrate how good a year UC is having. Look, Mick doesn’t live with his head in the sand. He understands where UC falls in relation to the other programs in this region. All three of them have won championships since UC was even in the Final Four last. He wasn’t putting them down, he was comparing their down years to UC’s strong year. When was the last time UC was consistently ranked in the top ten? That’s what Mick is getting at.

Secondly, without actually coming out and saying it, Mick is asking what more do you want? The Bearcats are four games away from being undefeated this year. Yeah, yeah, I hear you, way in the back, asking about strength of schedule and blahdy blah blah. Ask Villanova about their wins against ranked opponents…and their losses to unranked ones. Talk to Duke about their unblemished record. And don’t even get me started on Kentucky. Maybe the UK fans are so butt hurt about Mick uttering their school in a sentence because they understand it’s been a rough season? Which, by the way, the Cats have looked real good here lately, but I digress. But the point is, the Bearcats play the schedule that is made. There are cupcakes, sure, but the majority of NCAA Division 1 teams are able to beat the majority of NCAA Division 1 teams. UC IS HAVING A GOOD SEASON, DARN IT!

The thing this boils down to is this, the Bearcats are poised to win their first AAC regular season title since their inaugural season in the conference and they look like a favorite to win the conference tournament. They even look like a good bet to make it to the second…maybe even third…weekend in the NCAA tournament. Mick has done a heck of a job putting together a team that, despite its struggles of late, plays his style of basketball really well. He doesn’t…nay can’t…recruit one-and-done type guys and still has a team to be reckoned with year-in and year-out.

Mick Cronin is a good coach.

Image credit – Associated Press

NBA Tuesday

Watching a little basketball tonight, thought I write down a few thoughts.

I cannot stand watching Lebron play. Call him the greatest, call him the king, call him whatever you want, I get so annoyed when he drives in the lane, lowers his shoulder (which is a charge) and gets a foul called on the defender as he goes up for the shot. What is the defender supposed to do? Lebron literally trucks the dude, causing him to fall back like an elephant on skates, and then the ref rewards what should be an offensive foul by giving Lebron a pair of free-throws, or an and-one. He did average a triple-double for the month of February…but whatevs. There are a lot of other players I enjoy watching more than him.

On another note, regarding the Cavs, I actually kind of like the trades they made. I know I dogged em for basically making an insane amount of deals at the deadline, but they shed the dead weight they had. Larry Nance is fun to watch and George Hill seems to fit in well. Still figuring how Jordan Clarkson fits in, but to his credit, he doesn’t look like a deer in the headlights. The moves gave them some interesting lineup mix possibilities. I’d love to see the five on the floor be Hill, Clarkson, Osman, Korver, and Lebron. Not sure if that’d be any good, but that would cause some headaches for opposing defenses trying to figure which shooter to watch. The one thing they lack, though, is an inside presence. Tristan Thompson is still in left field somewhere, and you aren’t putting Larry Nance on Andre Drummond or Al Horford and feeling good about it. That will be a key area of weakness in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

On another game’s note, what in the heck is up with Washington? The Wizards have gotten better since John Wall got hurt. I mean, seriously, John Wall is one of the top 3 best point guards in the game of basketball. No team loses his services for an extended period of time and gains momentum. Hey, somehow, Bradley Beal and company have done just that. Kelly Oubre has had plenty of time to shine, and shine he has. Otto Porter has really developed into a good scoring option, and you still got Marcin “Big Tater-Tot” Gortat cleaning up down low (Can’t even take credit for that nickname, my fiancee’s idea).

Brooklyn really came back down to Earth, huh? They began the season by turning everyone’s head, even had a winning record. That’s all out the window. At least they can say it wasn’t a wire-to-wire losing season. They are in that tank-off with the Kings, Suns, and like five other teams that nobody cares about.

On a side note, I found out if you try to play NBA 2k18 on Hall of Fame mode, you will want to destroy everything with fire…or maybe I just stink at it? Either way, I turned it back to rookie where I can enjoy the game.

Carry on.

Photo credit – Getty Images

More Man Than Machine: Historic Reds from Before 1970: Johnny Vander Meer

Baseball is an unforgiving sport. Seldom does a player follow a great performance with another. The law of averages is a real jerk on the diamond. Take Scooter Gennett, for example, and his magical four homer performance. That game (June 6th) was the first game he hit even one home run in since April 11th. He didn’t hit one single home run for the month of May. Then he went another two weeks without getting a round-tripper. The way baseball statistics typically go is this: one or two really good game usually means a slump is coming.

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Today I’m talking about Reds legend Johnny Vander Meer. You have most likely heard of him as he is the only pitcher to ever throw back-to-back no-hitters. June 11, 1938, he threw a no-hitter against the Boston Braves. He then followed up by keeping the Brooklyn Dodgers from tallying a hit on June 15th, on the very first night game at Ebbets Field, no less. What’s funny about the two starts is that Johnny allowed as many walks as batters he struck out (11). Still a feat no one has reached, and it’s doubtful anyone will ever beat it.

Back in that day, pitchers pitched deeper into games. In fact, Johnny’s second no-hitter came on three days’ rest. In fact, he threw 16 complete games (baseball vernacular for he pitched every inning). By comparison, the league leader in complete games last season accumulated five.

Johnny Vander Meer, despite this historic feat, did not have a Hall of Fame career. A few years after getting two no-hitters in a row, he began having trouble with his control. He ended his career with 1,294 strikeouts and 1,132 walks. Some baseball historians account for Vander Meer’s lackluster career finish to his time served in the military as he joined up with the Navy in 1944 and 1945.

In all, Vander Meer finished his career with 131 complete games and 29 shutouts, all in Cincinnati. His best three seasons, ERA-wise, came in the three seasons leading up to him entering the Navy as he finished all three seasons under 3.00. He is also one of only four pitchers to lead the National League in strikeouts for three straight years (1941-1943), with the other three being Tim Lincecum, Randy Johnson, and Warren Spahn.

As far as personal accolades, Johnny went to four All Star games, all before he went in to the Navy. He pitched in the Reds World Series championship of 1940, albeit only one, three-inning appearance, as the 1940 season was when his control issues began to surface. Johnny was elected into the first Reds Hall of Fame class of 1958.mlb_a_meer1_580

Look for more posts on the Reds historic players before the Big Red Machine as Spring Training rolls on to Opening Day!

Top Ten Marvel Movies of the Last Ten Years

It’s been ten years since Marvel embarked on its journey to take over the cinematic world. Ten years since Tony Stark dawned the Iron Man suit, for the first time, and flew around the planet. At that time, Avengers: Infinity War was an idea that the top brass at Marvel knew about and fans dreamt of. Now, with a little over three months til liftoff, Infinity War is on deck. There have been 18 movies leading up to this point and I felt like ranking my top ten. Here goes…

1.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2img_3604

What??? A sequel? They’re never as good as the original…eh, wrong. At least in this case. Guardians 2 took up where the first left off and then threw things into hyper drive. Growing up, Spider-Man was my favorite hero…but that’s because I had never heard of Peter Quill aka Star-Lord. Chris Pratt easily became one of my favorite actors through these movies and I cannot wait until I see what the Guardians do in Infinity War. Also, and this isn’t a factor of deciding a movie’s ranking, but this movie had the best poster.

2.   Deadpool

Yeah baby! Disney bought 21st Century Fox and Bob Iger made no bones about the fact that the X-Men and Deadpool will now be integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This movie, in particular, was amazing. It had all the drama and intrigue we’ve come to expect from a superhero movie, while turning the humor up to 11. There has never been, nor may there ever be, such a perfectly casted character as Ryan Reynolds playing Deadpool. Really looking forward to seeing him get thrown in with Iron Man, Spider-Man, and all the classic Marvel heroes he chummed around with in the comic books.

3.   Guardians of the Galaxy

Yup, two of my top three are the Guardians. Seriously, I had never heard of these guys before this movie. When I left the theatre, I knew they were my favorite part of the MCU. They just happened to make a sequel that I enjoyed even more.

4.   Thor: Ragnarokimg_3607

Chris Hemsworth and crew stepped it up in the third Thor movie. The first two were only sort of decent, but this one smashed it out of the park. It can kind of double as the good Hulk movie…because the other ones that exist suck…because both Thor and Hulk had an awesome team-up. Some thought this movie too light-hearted and funny, but I thought it was just the right amount and seriously entertaining.

5.   Spider-Man: Homecoming

Yeah, I am a sucker for Phase Three Marvel, but I am also a huge homer for the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Tom Holland played an awesome young Peter Parker, really nailing the awkward dichotomy of being a superhero and a high school student all at once. I honestly think he is the best of the three guys to play Spider-Man. Tobey Maguire was too old and Andrew Garfield was too cool. Also loved Michael Keaton as Vulture. Disney made an interesting decision with his character background, giving the audience a murky view as to why he was a villain. Sure, he was opposing Spider-Man, but it was also the niche he found to take care of his family. And Michael Keaton is one of the best actors there is, so that doesn’t hurt.

6.   The Avengers

Now, depending where you are from (and given that 99.9% people who read my blog are from America, this isn’t a thing) this movie is also called Avengers Assemble which I think helps clear up any confusion as to which Avengers movie someone is referring to. That being said, Loki was great in this movie. Marvel showed the world that a good team-up superhero movie could be done. Remember what everyone was worried about back then? “Will it be too busy?” “Will it be too confusing?” “This many characters in one movie, how will anyone get enough screen time?” Marvel answered those questions then, and has been answering them ever since.

7.    Doctor Strange

Also known as “Marvel can get any actor it wants” as the superhero giant nabs Benedict Cumberbatch to play the brash genius, Dr. Stephen Strange. Think of what a perfect mix of Inception and a superhero movie looks like, and you got this movie. Chiwetel Ejiofor was awesome as Mordo and I look forward to seeing where Marvel takes his character. Also thought they did another phenomenal job of presenting a character I, previously, knew nothing about, and making me like him. Looks like he is going to be big in Infinity War and I cannot wait to see him in it.

8.   Captain America: Civil War

At this point in Marvel’s pursuit of cinematic dominance they have well-proven that they are capable of delivering a coherent team-up movie. This one they even take it a step further and pit two teams of good guys against each other. The result was a tense feud that finds you on the edge of your seat by the end of it. To be fair, all three Captain America films are phenomenal, but this one was just the icing on the cake. Plus the nice twist at the end with Hydra….oh…well…in case you haven’t seen it, I will leave it at that. Just know that Captain America cannot escape Hydra constantly harassing his life. This movie also had very satisfying, introductory cameos of Spider-Man and Black Panther.

9.   Captain America: Winter Soldier

This one and number ten are pretty much a tie, in my mind, it just depends on what kind of mood I’m in. Today I’m feeling the Stars and Stripes. Plus, Steve Rogers kind of goes through a Mission: Impossible-like scenario. The return of Bucky with a metal arm hits all the points of intrigue that my child-like brain can handle, and his battle with Cap was pretty awesome. Plus, I mean, Hydra. I won’t say it…because I will type it…Hail Hydra.

10.   Iron Man

By far, the best of the Tony Stark trilogy, I love the very first entry into the MCU. I enjoy seeing the beginning of the eccentric Stark and seeing all of his crazy technology at his house. Jarvis is also awesome, and Obadiah Stain is an easy-to-hate bad guy played by The Dude. Add in AC/DC and you got a solid movie.

Really the rest of the MCU can fall into line in no particular order from 11-18. Except for maybe Iron Man 2. That one will always be the bottom.

Bring on Thanos!

More Man than Machine: Historic Reds from before 1970

New computer! You’re reading a post typed on a MacBook Air. That’s right…that good ol tax return sure helps sometimes. So maybe I can step up this blog game, huh? We’ll see. For now, I’ve got my new toy, I’ve got a nice cold glass of a good drink, let’s get to it.

The calendar is fast approaching what is, perhaps, the best time of the year. March Madness and, more importantly, the beginning of baseball season. It is on the latter that I will focus on this post, specifically the oldest franchise in Major League Baseball, the Cincinnati Reds.

The history for the Reds is no mystery. The 70’s brought, arguably, the best team the sport has ever seen. The Big Red Machine is well known, but the Reds have a rich history dating back well before 1970. The casual baseball fan can tell you about Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, or Joe Morgan, but what do you know about guys who dawned the Red C well before them? How bout the “Big Klu”, Ted Kluszewski? Or the only pitcher to ever throw back-to-back no hitters, Johnny Vander Meer? I am going to throw out a few posts in the coming weeks about these dudes who helped shape the history of the Reds. Going to start with the man who started it all, Harry Wright.

While they were made in America, the Reds were not made by an American. Harry Wright was born in Sheffield, England. His dad was really good at Cricket. Once he moved to America, Harry learned Cricket from his dad and decided he liked baseball more. Harry got his start in a small league, called the National Association of Base Ball Players (back then they spelled baseball as two words). He then got the idea and began the first ever professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, in 1869, when the nation was still cooling off from the Civil War.

Though he stuck around for merely a season, it is Harry Wright who began the Reds. In 1869 they were apart of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players. Harry formed a team of super talented men who didn’t lose a game the entire season (they were a lot shorter back then). Harry brought his brother George on to the team and paid him the highest salary of any player in the league, $1400 for nine months. Ironically, Harry Wright assembled such a talented team because he paid a lot…so the whole “buying a championship” argument predates even the National League.

Along with giving up oodles of cash for the players he wanted, Harry also instituted a few defensive innovations to the game. He is credited as being the first to teach his players to back up infield plays with outfielders and he is the first to shift his defensive players based on the situation at hand. Another hotly debated topic in baseball, the defensive shift, started in Cincinnati…and predates the National League.

Harry moved on a year later and managed the Boston Red Stockings. He hung out there for 12 years and won four National Association titles in a row, beginning in 1872. Back then, all you had to do was finish first in the league during the regular season. There was no postseason. He would take Boston into the brand new National League in 1876 and manage the team for 6 years. He then managed the Providence Grays for the 1882 and 1883 seasons, creating the idea of the “farm team” of which he stocked with amateurs who could step in to replace injured pros, when the time came. Harry Wright finished his managerial career with the Philadelphia Quakers from 1884-1893. The Quakers are now more commonly known as the Phillies. Theres another Red who went to Philly.

Harry was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953 and into the Reds Hall of Fame in 2005. It is interesting to me, personally, that Harry Wright died on October 3rd, 1895. October 3rd is my birthday.

Harry Wright laid the base for what is now the Cincinnati Reds. As Joey Votto said in an interview just a few days ago, Cincinnati is a baseball town. We all have Harry to thank for that.

I’m not actually this smart…Wikipedia helped out, a lot, with information in this post. If you want more details on what I posted here today, check out https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Wright

Please Sir, May I Have Some More

I have a hot take today…ok, well, it’s not a take I’d figure would even be a take. A hot take is a controversial opinion on something. So in order for it to even be controversial, a good number, maybe even a majority, of people have to believe the opposite. Which is ludicrous to me because I never would have thought this would strike some cord in someone’s mind as a bad thing, but I digress.

I love the fact that Disney loves to make money. There, I said it, call me a sucker, call me an idiot, whatever. I love the fact that Marvel and, to a lesser extent, Star Wars movies are just pouring out of the studios and on to the big screen. Think about the alternative.

Do you want to go back to a world where George Clooney in Batman and Robin is the sole superhero movie of the year, or maybe two years? Did your Star Wars loving self just revel in the decades without stories from a Galaxy Far, Far Away? I sure as heck didn’t.

I love spending my money at the box office, so maybe I am a little on the extreme side of this. However, give me more, give me more. I will watch it, I will pay for it, and if it’s good (which it pretty much has all been so) I will love it. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, all the way to Ant-Man and Doctor Strange. Marvel can do no wrong. Then Star Wars, bringing in the new characters, new stories. Doing origin stories of characters, I love it. Don’t stop.

The Solo trailer brought about some strong feelings against Disney. Now, I don’t know if it was because they didn’t like the trailer or if people were just waiting for the trailer to be released, but this movie was announced a while ago. It has, not-so secretly, gone through some personnel shifting in the production team. So this isn’t out of nowhere. In fact, most Star Wars fans knew that the release date is this May, causing speculation a trailer may have been released on Episode VIII. Yet, there were a good number of folks saying the movie isn’t needed, it’s too much, leave Han Solo alone, it’s just a money grab.

First, let’s address that last point. The point of Disney is to make money…so yeah, it’s a money grab. They don’t make this movie, they aren’t doing their jobs. Secondly, what movie is needed? Has anyone said they needed a movie? I love Star Wars almost as much as life itself, but I don’t need it. SO far as leave Han alone, I would love to see a whole series, let alone one movie, about Han before he helped save the Rebels at Yavin IV. Heck, bring on a whole movie about how Han and The Millennium Falcon made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. So yeah, bring on Solo.

On that note, I loved the trailer. I think the kid they got to play Han looks like a good pick and I love DannyDonald Glover as Lando and can’t wait to see how his character is unveiled. Woody Harrelson as Han’s mentor/boss is interesting, in a good way, and, of course, who isn’t happy about Chewie being in another movie? Also, a brand-spankin new Millennium Falcon just gets me all giddy.

So, yeah, bring on yearly Star Wars movies and monthly Marvel movies. I’ll continue to hemorrhage cash while beaming from ear to ear with movie theater butter all down my shirt.

Tweets of the Trades

The NBA trade deadline was extremely eventful…for one team. Sure, one or two teams made a deal here or there, but the Cleveland Cavaliers were wheeling and dealing like a stock broker trying to beat the closing bell on Wall Street.

The Cavs made three trades on Thursday, and all in a manner of about 30 minutes. I’ll not get into the effect of the deals, whether they make Cleveland better or worse, but rather I’m here tonight to focus on the whirlwind that was Twitter regarding these deals. Lebron James is a very polarizing player and person…and that stemmed a lot of different reactions to the Cavaliers cavalier trade deadline approach.

I’ll start you off easy:

Not necessarily a super hot take as pretty much everyone who knows the NBA is saying Lebron is out of Cleveland after this year. It does confirm a lot of other articles claiming the Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert, runs the show and doesn’t have any sort of relationship with Lebron anymore. He sees the writing on the wall, so he is positioning the Cavaliers to move on…before they’re even done with the season. But I digress. Let’s dive a bit deeper into this Twitter recap.

PFT is legit. Need a laugh? Check him out. If you’re unfamiliar with Barstool Sports, the website he works for, they do sports, but with a much more humorous tone. Here lately, PFT and a few other Barstool employees have been making fun of Lebron and his wine “addiction.” Sure, you may have to look that one up…but the image is funny. Though, not as funny as the MVP of the Twitterverse, Doug Gottlieb.

Simple, but hilarious. He didn’t put a ton of words…but then aren’t pictures worth a thousand words? You can only tweet 280 characters…so 1,000 words ain’t going into a tweet. And the Dwayne Wade one was classic. The Cavs basically freed him and sent him back to home to Miami. Just check out Wade’s wife, Gabrielle Union’s thoughts on the matter:

She sure seems happy about this.

We’ll wrap up this post with a couple of tweets regarding the crazy amount of turnover that a professional sports team isn’t accustomed to. Like McDonalds employee turnover rate…

Forget the 2017 Finals team, how many Cavs remain from Wednesday night’s game? Only time will tell if this reshuffling of the Cavaliers’ deck does any good.

I’ll leave you with this tweet…