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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Reds Trade Pitchers Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon


When the 2014 spring training opened, Mat Latos had knee surgery.  Manager Bryan Price dropped the bombshell news that Alfredo Simon was going to get a chance to start in his place.

The plan was for Simon to hold the fort until Latos returned but the big right-hander put together an All-Star first half of the season and finished the season in the starting rotation.

On Thursday both Latos and Simon were traded by the Reds.

Simon, who pitched so well that he may have priced himself out of the Reds small market, went to the Detroit Tigers for the Tigers first round pick in the 2013 draft and shortstop Eugenio Suarez.

Crawford a 6'2" right-hander from Stuart, Florida, was 8-3 in 23 starts for Western Michigan of the Midwest League.  He pitched at the University of Florida.

Suarez, 23, hit .242 with four home runs for the Tigers in 85 games.

Latos was dealt to the Miami Marlins for 24-year old right-handed pitcher Anthony DeSclafani and catcher Chad Wallach.

Latos will pitch for his hometown team this season. He grew up in South Florida.

DeSclafani made five starts for the Marlins last season.  He was 2-2, striking out 26 and walking five in 33 innings. DeSclafani also pitched for the Gators at the University of Florida

Wallach 23 is a right-handed hitter, who hit .321 with two home runs at Single A Greensboro last season.  He was the Marlins fifth-round pick in 2013 from Cal State Fullerton, where he was the teammate of Reds' pitching prospect, Michael Lorenzen.  He is the son of Tim Wallach, who played for the Montreal Expos.  Chad's brothers Matt and Brett played professional baseball.

"We're in a better position to start looking at some other possibilities to improve our club -- the hitter we're looking for and some bullpen depth," Reds general manager Jocketty said.

The trades themselves did not directly address the Reds' need which is a power hitting leftfielder but it frees capital to sign a free agent.  Simon and Latos were due to get huge raises in arbitration.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Xavier Snares Jaguars After Slow Start


Xavier rebounded from a slow start to improve to 7-2 on the season against the Indiana University Purdue University of Indianapolis Jaguars with a 66-43 win.

"There was no excuse we just didn't come out ready to play," James Farr said.

IUPUI ran off to a 10-3 lead five minutes into the game.  Xavier finally caught the Jaguars (2-6) on a 3-point basket by Dee Davis at the 8:10 mark.  The bigger, stronger Musketeers didn't trail after that, leading 27-23 at halftime.

"It happens no basketball team is perfect," Remy Abell said.  "It didn't start the way we wanted to.  We didn't come out like we needed to come out.  I will buy that we took them lightly.  We came out against Alabama with a lot of pop.  Games aren't won in the first half.  We have to take this as part of our learning curve."

Xavier had eight of its 18 turnovers in the first 10 minutes.  Dee Davis, Jalen Reynolds, and Jamie Farr had two apiece.  Trevon Bluiett and Myles Davis had one each.  Davis turned it over again at the 4:08 mark but played errorless ball from then on.

"I thought we were non chalant.  We were uncharacteristically sloppy in the first half," coach Chris Mack said. "Guys started to play with much more intensity in the second half.  The point guard (Dee Davis) sets the tone.  I'm sure he would admit that.  It is disappointing that he is a senior.  Good teams consistently play both halves with equal intensity."

Xavier pressed the Jaguars and forced 22 turnovers of their own and pulled in a season-high 14 steals.

The Musketeers dominated the second half, out scoring IUPUI.

Xavier did hold IUPUI to its lowest point total at 43.

"Our defenses was better.  We got some steals with the press.  For the most time when we pressed, we turned it over," Mack said.

No one played more than 27 minutes for Xavier.

Bluiett lead all scorers with 12 points. Abell had 10.  Marcellus Barksdale was the only Jaguar in double figues with 10.

Mack's wife gave birth to their first son, Bradon.

"It was exciting but it was really odd not being at practice the day before a game," Mack said.  "I didn't like that feeling at all but it was great to see the look on my daughters face."

Mack and his wife Kristy Hester Mack, who was the head coach at Colerain High School have two daughters.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Xavier Rolls Tide To Get Back On Track


Xavier took the loss of two games in California out on the visiting Alabama Crimson Tide in a high-scoring 97-84 win at the friendly confines of the Cintas Center.

"We definitely wanted to get the bad taste of those two losses out of our mouths," Myles Davis said.  "We talked about it all day."

It started out slowly for the 6-2 Musketeers. Alabama 5-2 lead by five points early  Matt Stainbrook, the leading scorer and rebounder for Xavier was whistled for two fouls in the first 90 seconds. He sat out most of the first half. His understudy Jalen Reynolds and freshman Sean O'Mara filled in to help Xavier build a 41-30 lead at halftime.

Myles Davis led Xavier with 18 points off the bench.  Freshman J.P. Macura scored 13.  Reynolds scored 12 and led the Musketeers with seven rebounds. Remy Abell had 12. Dee Davis had 10 and Matt Stainbrook contributed all in the second half.

"Sean O'Mara hasn't played much this year.  He really, really helped our team with his defense," coach Chris Mack said.  "The bench won the game."

Remy Abell held Alabama's leading scorer, Levi Randolph to two points in the first half and 15 for the game, one under his average.

"Most of his points came after the game was decided," Mack said.

Alabama's Ricky Tarrant scored 23 to lead all scorers.  Shannon Hale put 12 points up for the Crimson Tide.

Xavier outrebounded Alabama 32 to 22.  Michael Kessens had five to lead the Tide.

Rodney Cooper scored on a layup to start the second half.  After Matt Stainbrook made two free throws, Hale hit a 3-pointer to cut the margin to eight.  Xavier outscored Alabama 21-10 over the next five minutes to take control of the game.

Alabama closed the gap over the last two minutes.

Xavier Takes On The Crimson Tide At The Cintas Center


It is the seventh all-time meeting between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Xavier Musketeers.

The teams split the first six games down the middle.  Xavier won a 77-74 decision in Tuscaloosa last season.

Alabama is 5-1 with its lone loss to number 13 Iowa State on November 24.  They have wins over Arizona State and South Florida.

The Crimson Tide is led by Levi Randolph, who is averaging 19.3 points per game and 6.2 rebounds.

Xavier is 5-2 on the season with losses to Texas El Paso and Long Beach State in the Wooden Legacy Classic in Anaheim, California.  The Musketeer defeated Long Beach State at the Cintas Center on November 18.

Matt Stainbrook and Trevon Bluiett are tied for the lead in scoring at 16 points per game.  Stainbrook leads the team with a 8.1 rebounding average.

Bearcats Gain Share Of American Conference Championship

It is the fifth title or share of a title for the University of Cincinnati Football Bearcats in the last seven years.

The Bearcats held on after the Houston Cougars drove 84 yards for 38-31 win..

Gunner Kiel threw for two touchdowns as Cincinnati built a 21-10 halftime lead.

The Bearcats held a lead throughout but Greg Ward Jr. threw two fourth quarter touchdown passes to threaten the lead.  Ward's pass from the Cincinnati 11 was high with two seconds left.

Cincinnati (9-3, 7-1) scored on its first possesion of the second half when freshman Mike Boone ran for his second touchdown of the game out of the "wildcat formation".

Houston (7-5, 5-3) answered on its first second half drive when quarterback Ward scored on a 40-yard run.

Boone and Cougar tailback, Kenneth Farrow each rushed for a touchdown in the first quarter.

Boone finished his fresman season with three touchdowns in the game and nine for the season, including two third quarter scores that allowed the Bearcats to survive two touchdown passes by Ward.

Kiel threw one pass in the second half.  He was replaced by Munchie Legeaux.  Kiel's two touchdown passes gave him 30 for the season.

Cincinnati, Memphis and Central Florida ended the regular season with identical 7-1 conference record.  Cincinnati lost to Memphis but Houston, who played all three, defeated Memphis and lost to UCF.  Connecticut's lone conference win was a 37-29 upset of UCF on November 1.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Jim Stoeckel Beats Bushes In Bahamas For Reds


The Reds' Director of Global Scouting is searching the world for baseball talent.

Baseball is hugely popular in the Caribbean, with nearly every country participating in international competition.  Asia has a growing base of players and a well developed high school baseball system. Europe is gaining ground in this area.

The Bahamas are loaded with quality athletes and Stoeckel, with the help of nationally renowned coach Patrick Knowles of Freeport, have identified quality athletes with the potential to excel in the Major Leagues.

"There are a lot of world class athletes in the Bahamas," Stoeckel said.  "They don't have high school programs like they do in Asia, but they have athletes.  Baseball is turning toward a traditional National League style, where pitching and defense are emphasized.  We are looking for players who can win games without the bat."

Recently the Reds signed two very young players from Freeport on Grand Bahama Island located just 55 miles from West Palm Beach, Florida.

Outfielder and left-handed pitcher Reshard Munroe, 17, and thirdbaseman/catcher Quinton Rolle, 16, signed with the Reds on September 8.  The Reds sent them to an instructional camp in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic with other young, raw talent.
Quinton Rolle                        Reshard Munroe

(see more detail about these two players in future posts)

The pair hope to follow in the footsteps of outfielder Antoan Richardson, who broke in with the Atlanta Braves in 2014 and returned with the New York Yankees this past season.

"I have heard of Antoan Richardson because he made it to the top," said Munroe, who has seen very little big league baseball played and only on then on television news from a Miami TV station that is received on the island.

Richardson is one of six major league players born in the Bahamas, all from the more populated Nassau Island.  Andre Rodgers, an infielder, was the first. He had an 11-year career with New York and San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates, beginning in 1957 .  Outfielder Tony Curry played for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1960-61 and the Cleveland Indians in 1966.  Wenty Ford pitched in four games with the Braves in 1973.  Ed Armbrister played five seasons with the Reds from 1973-77.  He was involved in a controversial bunt play in the 1975 World Series against the Boston Red Sox as a fifth outfielder on the Big Red Machine.  Outfielder Wil Curry was the last player from the Bahamas to play in the Major Leagues.  Curry played in seven games for Cleveland in 1983.

There have been 30 years between Curry's brief appearance and Richardson's current stint.

Stephen Adderley, a general manager of Freeport Oil Company, who is enough of a big league fan to keep a baseball card of Pete Rose in his wallet.  Adderley accompanied Rolle to the interview nd explained that Nassau had a good league until the late 70's but it fell apart.  Rolle played Little League Baseball from the age of six through 12 on a team sponsored by FOCOL.

Freeport began home rule in 1973.

"Baseball is making a comeback," Adderley said.  "They are trying to qualify for the World Baseball Classic.  That is one of our goals.  Somewhere along the line that is going to happen.  The last of our guys played for England National Team if they were born before the Bahamas was independent, they could play for England. We have new leadership and baseball is making a comeback in the last 10 years with new leadership.  We have a national tournament with over 500 kids in it."

Knowles coaches the Youth National team and Rolle born in January 1998, is the youngest player ever selected to the National Softball Team.

There are still not a lot of players in the country yet but the competition is getting better. 

"We don't have a lot of players here yet," said Munroe.  "The baseball is not as good as the US or the Domincan Republic. You basically play the same teams, so you never get any better. I had to go to the Dominican to find that out."

There are plenty of athletes in the Bahamas,

"My competition for players here has been the other sports, basketball and football.  There is a football player for the University of Miami," Stoeckel said.

Look for more baseball players from the islands in the future.

"Since I signed there have been a lot more guys who want to play baseball," said Rolle, who graduates from Jack Hayward High School in June.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Reds Trade Chris Heisey For A Pitcher


The Reds traded popular reserve outfielder Chris Heisey to the Los Angeles Dodgers for RHP Matt Magill.

Heisey was drafted by the Reds in the 17th round of the 2006 draft.  The outfielder who turns 30 on December 14, played 543 games with the Reds.

Magill, 25, in 2014 went 7-6 with a 5.21 ERA in 36 appearances and 12 starts for Triple-A Albuquerque.  In 2012 for Double-A Chattanooga, he posted a 3.75 ERA and struck out 168 batters over 146.1 innings and 26 starts and was named to the Southern League All-Star team. In 2013, the native Californian made 6 starts for the Dodgers in his Major League debut.

"We are excited to be adding a player with a power arm who has a chance to help our club next season," Jocketty said of the 6-3, 210-pound Magill.

The Reds did not offer arbitration-eligible relief pitchers, Curtis Partch and Logan Ondrusek, contracts.  The players become free agents and can sign with any team, including the Reds.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reds Making Changes To Great American Ball Park For All-Star Games


Steve Watkins of the Business Courier details changes the Reds are making to Great American Ball Park for the 2015 season, in which Cincinnati hosts the All-Star Game.

See Watkins article by clicking the link below.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Musketeers Out Run Racers


The Murray State Racers are picked to win the Ohio Valley Conference but the Xavier Musketeers were too big and fast for them.  As evidence I offer you the 89-62 final score, the fourth win of the young season for the young Musketeers.

Murray fell to 2-2 after a close loss to Houston at home and wins over Middle Tennessee and Brescia.

"We absolutely decimated them on the glass," Xavier coach Chris Mack said.

Xavier's 56-23 rebound edge turned into 16 fastbreak points and 27 second chance points.  Xavier had more offensive rebounds (27) than Murray State had total rebounds (23).

Trevon Bluiett scored 19 points, the first Xavier freshman to score 16 or more in their first four games since Mark Lyons did it in 2009.

"He's a great teammate," Mack said of Bluiett. "He's humble and a coachable kid.  He has to get better on the defensive end, but we're glad he's on our team."

The two seniors on the team, Matt Stainbrook and Dee Davis scored in double figures.  Stainbrook scored 19.  Davis had 13 points and five assists.  Jalen Reynolds scored 12 points and garnered 11 rebounds.  James Farr scored 10 and led all rebounders with 14 rebounds.

Xavier had a 20-point lead at the half and expanded it in the second half by seven.

Potential OVC Player of the Year, Cameron Payne led all scorers with 23 points and led the Racers with seven rebounds.

Xavier freshman sharpshooter J.P.Macura went down hard trying a layup after a steal.  Murray State senior Terron Gilmore fouled Macura in the air.  Macura landed hard on his tailbone and had to leave the game.  The officiating crew ejected Gilmore for the foul and Jalen Reynolds for leaving the bench.

"It wasn't a flagrant foul," Mack said.  "J.P. was in the air and Gilmore tried to block the shot, he just hit him with his body.  You can't change momentum once you're in the air.  I told Steve (Murray coach Prohm) that.  Jalen left the bench.  He didn't go after Gilmore.  He went to aid Macura, but rules are rules.  The good thing is it is just for this game and Jalen will be able to play all the games in Anaheim."

The officiating crew of Mike Roberts, Roger Ayers and Doug Shows took control immediately.  The Cintas Center was the scene of an ugly fight between Xavier and the University of Cincinnati in 2011.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Xavier Fells Jumberjacks For Third Win


For the second time in three games the Xavier Musketeers defeated Lumberjacks of Stephen F Austin, 81-63..

There are only two teams in Division 1 with that nickname.  Last Friday Xavier defeated the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks 93-60.

These Lumberjacks wood, excuse me would prove to be a much tougher opponent.  The smaller Lumberjacks shot 25 3-point shots, making 10 of them to hang with the Musketeers.

At the 15:19 mark of the first half, Xavier had to look at its first deficit of the year.  They never trailed Northern Arizona or Long Beach State in their first two wins.

Xavier's largest lead in the first half was eight points, finishing the half with a seven-point lead.  The :Lumberjacks were within five points at 66-61 with 5:44 left in the game.

Xavier pulled away from there with 15 unanswered points fueled by Dee Davis' 12 assists.

SFA won the Southland Conference last season with an 18-0 record.  They had a 14-game road winning streak snapped at the Cintas Center.

"That was a tournament team, in my mind," Xavier coach Chris Mack said.  "That is one of the hardest playing team the Cintas Center has ever seen."

Matt Stainbrook scored a team-high 20 points.  Freshman Trevon Bluiett scored 16 and Remy Abell contributed 12 points.

The Lumberjacks' Jacob Parker led all scorers with 21 points and five 3-point shots out of 10 tries.  Thomas Walkup scored 17 and Ty Charles added 10.

SFA outrebounded the taller Musketeers 40 - 36 with 16 coming on the offensive end.

"That was disappointing," Mack said.  "Our guards at this point of the season don't want to box out."

"We have to get better," said Stainbrook, who grabbed six rebounds.  "We can't let them show more heart the us."

Friday, November 14, 2014

Gunner Kiel Out Guns Pirates Shane Carden

Gunner Kiel and Shane Carden both threw for more than 400 yards in a shoot out at Paul Brown Stadium but it was Andrew Gantz and a fumble return by Terrell Hartsfield that sealed a 54-46 Cincinnati victory over East Carolina.

With 4:47 left Kiel threw his fourth touchdown to seemingly ice the game for the Bearcats but Carden passed the Pirates down the field in 57 seconds to bring East Carolina to within a score. Carden missed a two-point conversion attempt.

Cincinnati needed to run out the last 3:34 to ice a 45-40 victory.  That didn't happen.

Kiel fumbled on a fourth and two play from the Bearcats' 33.  Lamar Ivey recovered on the Cincinnati 27.

"It was a stupid call," Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville admitted.  The Bearcats were setting up a pooch kick by Kiel unless the Pirates gave them a certain look on defense.  They got the look they wanted but not the results.

The Pirates had 2:03 to score the go-ahead touchdown.  They ran eight plays, two of which Cincinnati was called for pass interference.  The Bearcats thought they had a stop on a fourth and goal from the seven but Howard Wilder was flagged, giving Carden a chance to run it in from the two.  The second two-point try fell incomplete.

The quick score left Kiel with 57 seconds to get the Bearcats into field goal range from his own 35.

Kiel found Casey Gladney for 15 yards.  He found Mekale for four and 16 yards on the next two plays to put the ball on the East Carolina 30 with a timeout left.

A clock play and two incompletions left Cincinnati with a fourth down and 19 seconds in the game.

Gantz kicked a career-high 47 yard field goal with nine ticks left on the clock to give the Bearcats a 48-46 lead.  The freshman from Centerville, Ohio had never kicked a game winner before at any level.

"It is something everybody dreams of.  I can't describe the feeling," Gantz said.

East Carolina tried a hook and lateral play but the last lateral fell loose at the Pirates 20.  Hartsfield scooped it and jogged into the end zone for the final six points of the game.  UC celebrated its sixth win of the season rather than tacking on the extra point.

Though Carden had just two touchdowns throw in the game, he set up rushing touchdowns by Breon Allen, Marquez Grayson and Justin Hardy in addition to his own running score.

Cincinnati improved to 6-3 overall and 4-1 in the American Athletic Conference to tie Memphis, who beat the Bearcats 41-14 on October 4.

East Carolina suffered its second straight conference loss.  The Pirates are 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the AAC.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Gunslingers Gunner Kiel and Shane Carden Shoot It Out At PBS

Shane Carden from Houston, Texas is the only quarterback in East Carolina University to pass for more than 4,000 yards (4,139) in a season and 10,000 yards (10,046) and counting in a career.

Bengals fans should note that Jeff Blake, who quarterbacked the Bengals in the mid-90's played for the Pirates.

Gunner Kiel from Columbus, Indiana has had an astounding start of his career with the Bearcats in spite of a pair of rib injuries.

Kiel is the only quarterback in the 127-year history of Cincinnati football to pass for four or more touchdowns in three straight games.  He threw for six against Toledo in his first game,

Only four Cincinnati quarterbacks have thrown four or more touchdowns in more than one game in their career.

Zach Collaros threw four or more on four occasions in a two-year period.  Greg Cook, another former Bengal quarterback threw four or more touchdowns twice.  Brendon Kay had four games. Gene Rossi had two games.

Kiel is the only quarterback with at least three such games in one season.

Xavier Makes Big Changes At The Cintas Center


The Business Courier's Steve Watkins outlines interesting changes to enhance the fan experience at Xavier basketball games this season.

Xavier opens the season against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks Friday at the Cintas Center at 7:00pm.

Among them is an extensive selection of craft beers.

See Watkin's article by clicking on the link below......