About Me

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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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Xavier Women Play Southern California Thursday

The breathers are over.

Xavier won its last three games by margins of  62, 31and 45 points over Troy, Delaware State and Mississippi State.

The upcoming schedule is a little different.

The University of Southern California Trojans (5-2) come to the Cintas Center.  They can nearly match Xavier's height. Senior Kari LaPlante is 6'5" and been through the wars in the Pacific Coast League.  Coming into the season she averages 5.7 points and 3.8 rebounds.

The Trojans are coached by Michael Cooper, who had a 12-year playing career with the Los Angeles Lakers.  Cooper led USC to a 19-12 record in his first season last year.  He has also coached in the WNBA and the NBA D-League.

Xavier plays Cincinnati in the Crosstown Shootout on December 5 at UC, then play a stretch in which they play three NCAA tournament teams in four games, Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State and Stanford, which prevented the Musketeers from appearing in the Final Four last season.  Xavier also plays at Duke on December 21.

Wanninger and Gray Help Xavier to an 85-40 Win

Ashley Wanninger (Colerain) and Amber Gray (Lakota West) both scored 10 points in fourth ranked Xavier's sixth win of the season.

The local pair joined All-American candidate, Amber Harris, who led the Musketeers with 16 points, Tyeasha Moss with 14 and Ta'Shia Phillips with 13 in double figures scoring.

Phillips, Xavier's all-time leading rebounder, added 15 more to her total.

Wanninger played a season-high 19 minutes and Gray logged 17.

"I'm really happy to be able to play a lot of our young people," Coach Kevin McGuff said.  "I think this stretch of games will allow us to have more depth later in the season."

Wanninger also contributed five rebounds and five assists, including two that set up scores by Gray.  Gray recorded a rebound and an assist

"Ashley and Amber are getting more comfortable with our system.  They are both talented players but now the are doing a good job learning the system."

Amber Harris is getting used to playing with the newcomers.

"We have great team chemistry.  I know what Tyeasha (Moss) is going to do, what Special (Jennings) is going to do.  The newcomers takes some getting used to.  They (Wanninger, Gray and Lynnette Holmes) are talented players they'll get it."

Number 4 Xavier Women Tip-Off Early Against Mississippi Valley State

The Xavier Musketeers take on The Southwest Athletic Conference, Mississippi Valley State in an early game.

The marketing department filled the stands with elementary school children taking a half day to watch basketball.  They are also quizzed on health tips and various other subjects to justify the half day out of class.

One end of the Cintas Center is filled as Xavier puts its 5-0 record on the line against the Develettes, who are 1-3.

Sophomore Katie Rutan will miss her third game with an ankle injury.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Derek Jeter To Reds?

Maybe circumstance and spite will give the Reds a second chance at Yankee star Derek Jeter.

The 37-year old shortstop was not offered arbitration by the Yankees and is essentially a free agent. The negotiations have become contentious.

After finishing his senior year at Central High School in Kalamazoo, MI, Jeter was taken by the New York Yankees with its first pick in the 1992 draft.  The Reds had the fifth pick.  Its choice was outfielder, Chad Mottola.  Guess who got the better player?

You can understand the Reds thinking to a point.  The Reds already had two young and talented shortstops in the system, Barry Larkin and Pokey Reese.  However, Jeter should have been hard to turn down and history has proven that he would have still been the better choice.  But what's done is done.  It can't be reversed.  Or can it?

One source in the Yankee front office was quoted by an ESPN.com reporter.

"Tell Jeter that it is three years at $15 million, take it or leave it.  Where's he going to go, Cincinnati?" the source said.

That should make Reds owner Bob Castellini fighting mad.  Or should I say signing mad.

The Reds need to watch the budget and of course Jeter at this stage of his career is seeking security in the form of a longer guaranteed contract.  Of course his pride more than his financial needs dictate more money too.

The insult to both the Reds and Jeter could however, build an alliance.

The Reds have not offered arbitration to its incumbent shortstop Orlando Cabrera.  The Reds are trying to resign him at a reduce rate, given his age 36 and his health.  Cabrera is a five months younger than Jeter but was on the disabled list toward the end of the season.   Jeter had his worst season since breaking in full time in 1996 but still hit 11 points higher than Cabrera and played in 157 games.

The Reds at this point are counting on Paul Janish at shortstop.  It is the same scenario that existed last off-season when the Reds signed Cabrera late.

Could the Reds and Jeter show up the arrogant Yankees with a one-year alliance?  Let me know what you think.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Amber Gray and Ashley Wanninger See Action at Xavier

Ashley Wanniger and Amber Gray saw significant playing time against the Troy Trojans on Saturday.

Gray played at Lakota West and was the Cincinnati Enquirer Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007 and a McDonald's All-American in 2008.  Gray transfered from Tennessee and got a waiver to become eligible this season. She scored two points against South Carolina in seven minutes.  She grabbed five rebounds against the Troy Trojans and added six points.

Wanniger, who was a four-year starter at Colerain, had not scored in three minutes of action but played 28 minutes against Troy.  She was 3-for-9 from the field and 2-for-8 from 3-point range.  She found teammates open for four assists.

"It's a process," senior Special Jennings said after the game.  "Our freshman played pretty well.  They are a little nervous and make mistakes because they are trying hard not to make mistakes.  But I think they got it during the game."

"Depth is going to be important for us," Coach Kevin McGuff said.  "We got a chance to play our younger players and they did a great job."

Xavier Women Tip Troy 99-37

The Xavier Musketeers (4-0) had little trouble with the Troy Trojans (1-5).

The 62-point margin of victory was the most since Xavier defeated Northern Kentucky 84-7 in 1983.

Ta'Shia Phillips, who had limited to 20 minutes in Xavier's last game on Tuesday, scored a career-high 29 points and pulled in 18 rebounds.  She also held Troy's leading scorer to one field goal and nine points.  She came in averaging 15.6 per game.

"Our emphasis on playing good defense. Coach McGuff told us to be aggressive.  One of our intangible goals is not looking at the scoreboard," Phillips said.

Amber Phillips, who picked up the slack for Phillips on Tuesday, scored 16 points and contributed five rebounds in just 16 minutes.  Xavier scored the first 24 points of the game, allowing Xavier to play a lot of younger players.

"Depth is going to be important for us," McGuff said.  "We got a chance to play a lot of people.  They did a great job."

Katie Rutan was out with a sore ankle.

"It's not serious but we decided to hold her out," McGuff said.

Freshmen Lynette Holmes and Ashley Wanniger saw significant time on the floor.

Holmes had just 13 minutes coming into the game and Wanniger just three.  They logged 25 and 28 respectively.  Transfer and local talent, Amber Gray had just seven minutes in the first three games but played 17 against Troy. Sabrina Johnson, a junior transfer and freshman, Latisha Walker, played six minutes.

The newcomers contributed to the win.

Holmes scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds.
Wanninger scored eight points and dished out four assists.
Gray scored six points with five rebounds.
Johnson picked up four fouls to limit her time but scored four points.
Walker scored two points and contributed three rebounds.

The Musketeers never let up on the Trojans.

"We have talked about not looking at the scoreboard, good or bad," McGuff said.

Xavier has another 2pm game on Saturday against Delaware State.


It was the fourth time in the last three seasons that Xavier has held an opponent to under 40 points.....The 37 points that Troy scored was the lowest since they held Cincinnati to 38 in a 69-38 win on December 6, 2009...Local high school products, Amber Gray from Lakota West and Ashley Wanniger from Colerain scored their first career points for Xavier.....Coach Kevin McGuff is now 189-70 as a head coach.  That is a .730 winning percentage.

Xavier Women Face Troy

The Fifth ranked Xavier Musketeer women's team will host the 1-4 Troy Trojans from Troy, Alabama.

All five of Xavier's starters average more than 10 points per game.

Senior Amber Harris leads the Musketeers in scoring with 21.7 points per game.  Fellow senior Ta'Shia Phillips scores at a 14 point per game clip.  Junior Tyeasha Moss is third with 12.7 per game.  Sophomore Katie Rutan has an 11.3 average and Senior Special Jennings is a 10 point per game scorer.

The Trojans have three players averaging in double figures.

Senior Donnette McNair leads with 15.6 points per game. Junior DeAngela Sword averages 12.8 per game and  Junior Kristen Smith scores 10 points per game.  Smith will sit out with a concussion suffered November 12 in a game against Stoney Brook.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Xavier Women Defeat Louisville 71-59

Amber Harris scored 28 points and pulled in 18 rebounds to spur the Xavier Musketeers to its third victory of the season.

Xavier is ranked 5th in both major polls but had to comeback from a halftime deficit to beat Louisville (3-2).

Katie Rutan, the 3-point specialist had just one point at halftime but her 3-point shot to open the second half tied the score to propel Xavier on a 12-2 run to take control of the game.

Ta'Shia Phillips was in foul trouble all game but Harris set a career high in rebounds.  Phillips fouled out with five points and six rebounds well below her average for the season.

Special Jennings was 3-for-3 from 3-point range in the second half after dishing out four assists in the first half.

"It is being selfish if I don't take a shot when I'm open," Jennings said.  "It opens things up for Amber and Ta'Shia underneath.  We didn't make our shots in the first half but coach told us to finish the shots.  We were going to start making them eventually."

Xavier did not hit a 3-point shot in six first half attempts.

"We did a good job on defense in the first half but we started to turn the ball over," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said.

"Amber Harris is fantastic.  She is unbelievable.  Mya Moore (Connecticut)is the best in the country but I wouldn't be surprised if Moore was the first choice in the WNBA draft and Harris was second and Ta'Shia Phillips third.  You have to make Harris get the ball at the foul line extended.  We did a good job of doing that in the first half but as the game went on we started to break down."

Xavier Women Trail Louisville at Half 31-28

Amber Harris has 13 points and 10 rebounds at the half but Louisville has the upper hand.

The Cardinals hit 5 of 10 3-point shots while the Musketeers are 0-for-6 from behind the arc.

Ta'Shia Phillips drew two fouls early and was limited to eight minutes, allowing Louisville to own a two rebound advantage over the home team.

Shoni Schimmel leads Louisville with 12 points.  Tia Gibbs has eight rebounds at the break.

Xavier Women Host Louisville

The Xavier women return from a successful road trip in which they pounded South Carolina and Michigan.

They open their home schedule against the Big East's Louisville Cardinals. The Cardinals lost its opener to Tennessee 63-50 but have three straight wins over Ohio University, Houston Baptist and South East Missouri State.

Amber Harris and Ta'Shia Phillips lead the Musketeers with identical 18.5 points per game.  Phillips, who is already the all-time leading rebounder at Xavier, leads the team with 11.5 per game.  She pulled in 13 against Michigan.

Junior Monique Reid leads the Cardinals with 16.5 points per game.  Senior Keisha Hines is the leading rebounder for the Cardinals with 6.8 per game.

The Reds Sign D-Train

Dontrelle Willis was a rising star with the Florida Marlins.

The Marlins were struggling in early 2003.  They team fired manager, Jeff Torborg, and hired former Cincinnati manager, Jack McKeon.  McKeon, who was an advisor to the general manager, knew the Florida minor league system.

McKeon brought the then 21-year old Willis to the Major Leagues.  He made his debut on May 9 pitching six innings against Colorado.  He beat San Diego in his second start.  He won back-to-back starts against Cincinnati before the month ended.

He won 14 games for the World Champion Marlins that year.

When Florida held a fire sale in 2007, Willis was packaged with Miguel Cabrera and traded to the Detroit Tigers.  He appeared in just 24 games with the Tigers and shipped to Arizona late last season.  He was released and signed by San Francisco, who allowed him to become a free agent on November 6.

Still just 28 years old, the lefthander was signed by the Reds and invited to spring training.  The Reds a flush with good young starting pitching.  Willis will likely work out of the bullpen if he earns a spot on the Reds roster.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Votto Rides Emotional Roller Coaster to MVP

Joey Votto's life turned upside down late in the 2008 season when his father, Joseph, passed away at the age of 52.

It hit Votto hard but he pushed it aside and played out the rest of the season.

Baseball has always been Votto's escape.

"I concentrate every day on how I can work harder and improve that day to see what comes out of it.  I was never a trouble maker but even at a young age, I would concentrate on something I loved to do to stay out of trouble," Votto said after winning the National League Most Valuable Player award on Monday.

Votto is polite and cordial but introverted.  He does not like attention but he also has a competitive drive that pushes him to be the best.

The Baseball Writers Association of America recognized him as the best player in the National League in 2010.

"I will need a little more time to put things into perspective," Votto said.  "I couldn't help but cry for what it meant to me and what it would have meant to my father.  I have overcome a lot and I'm very proud of myself."

Votto had a good year in 2009 but missed a lot of time.  He was alone at his home in Sarasota, Florida during the winter following his father's death.  The emotions that he set aside during the season caught up with him.  He was able to push the emotions aside but when he missed a couple of game with an ear infection in early 2009, it gave him time to think.  The loss of his father hit him hard.

The combination or illness and the delayed feelings of grief caught up with Votto.  He went on the disabled list because he felt like he was going to die.

I can remember Dusty Baker, who is as open as a man can be, pleading with the media to respect Votto's privacy.

"I had a really really difficult time getting over the death of my father.  It was a difficult 2009 and a much less difficult 2010 and that made a big difference," Votto said.

The desire for anonymity and the missed time that put a drag on Votto's 2009 numbers, kept the 27-year old Canadian out of the national consciousness.

He was not chosen for the All-Star time by the fan voting or by Charlie Manual in spite of being among the league's leaders in home runs, RBI and batting average.

MLB.com held an online Votto.  That vote put Votto on the squad.

"Sometimes attention happens very quickly.  I went to the all star game by being voted on by the fans.  Then I went to the all-star game and saw A-Rod and Jeter and thought about being with those players."

During the season Votto never discussed personal goals and possible awards.

"I never read the papers or look at stats during the season," Votto said.  "But after the season I read some of the things you guys wrote and looked at the stats.  It was a toss up.  I looked closer at the stats and said, 'holy cow'. Albert (Pujols) beat me in a lot of stats but I beat him in some qualitative stats.  It was a toss up.  It was very close.  Most importantly we won and went to the playoffs.  It was pretty freaking awesome to beat Albert Pujols for the MVP."

"Albert is probably the only great guy.  I don't throw that word around.  Carlos Gonzalez and I are learning to be great," Votto said.

Pujols offered the younger, by three whole years, Votto advice.

Pujols encouraged the introverted Votto to talk around the batting cage.  The talk wasn't always about baseball.

"Pujols helped me first of all, there is something about a star pulling me in and saying its ok to talk about things.  For him to talk to me about things was very generous and awfully nice of him."

National League MVP Joey Votto

NL MVP Joey Votto
Joey Votto was named MVP by the Baseball Writers Association.

Votto was named first place on 31 of 32 ballots.  Two Association members in each of the 16 National League cities voted.  Votto was named second on the 32nd ballot cast.

Albert Pujols, who won the last two MVP votes, was named first on the other ballot, finished second.

Pujols won the the Gold Glove Award and the Silver Slugger Award which was selected by players and coaches.  The Baseball Writers selected Votto, although Pujols won two of the three Triple Crown categories, home runs and RBI.  Carlos Gonzalez, who finished third in the voting won the batting crown.

Votto, however, led the National League in on-base-percentage and slugging percentage and led his team to a division title, while Pujols and Gonzalez were on teams that did not make the post season.

The 27-year old native of Toronto, Canada is the first Cincinnati Red to win the award since Barry Larkin in 1995, the last time the Reds had a playoff team.

Cincinnati manager, Dusty Baker pointed out that since Votto is from Canada, weather conditions prevented him from playing as much baseball as Pujols and Gonzalez as a youth.  Baker thinks Votto is just scratching the surface and will get even better as his career unfolds.

By Mark Schmetzer

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bud Black Edges Dusty Baker by One Point for Manager of the Year

Bud Black received 16 first place votes to Baker's 13 in a voting by 32 members of the Baseball Writer's Association.

Baker was named on 26 ballots and Black on 25 but the first place votes carried the San Diego Padres manager to a one-point win over the Reds' Baker.

In addition to the first place votes, Black was named second on seven ballots and third on three for a total of 104 (5 for 1st, 3 for 2nd, 1 for 3rd).  Baker had 12 seconds and two thirds for 103 points.  He fell one short of his fourth Manager of the Year award.  Baker won in 1993, 1997 and 2000.

Both managers use the same style.  They are considered player's managers in that they communicate with their players and give reasons for their moves.  Both have the reputation of dealing with their players in an up front manner, so they know where they stand.

Baker, in particular, relies less on stats than he does on what his eyes tell him.  He is often criticized by fans for moves that they see in games that seem to go against percentages.  Baker will use his own intuition and will throw away "the book" when he feels it is appropriate.

He stuck with young players like Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce in the 2010 season while both were struggling.  In August Bruce was stuck on 12 home runs but finished strong with 25 home runs.  Bruce finished with a respectable .281 batting average.  Stubbs finished the season with his highest average at .255.

Baker was not afraid to let the young players learn on the job at the risk of losing a game or two along the way.

"A lot of times we get impatient and want them to be great right now," Baker said during the season.  "We have to let them learn if we believe in them.  We might lose a game now but win a lot of games later."

His young team won the National League Central Division over the more experienced St. Louis Cardinals.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Holloway's 20-Point Second Half Gives Xavier a 68-65 Win

Tu Holloway struggled with his teammates in the first half but rallied to take over against Western Michigan on Friday at the Cintas Center.

Trailing by nine points at halftime, Xavier was in danger of losing its first ever Cintas Center opener in the 10-years of the building's existence.

The Broncos won 18 games last season and built a nine-point lead at the break by boxing out on the defensive boards and taking care of the basketball.  Their guards held Holloway to 1-for-5 from the field in the first half.

But Holloway took control of the game and scored 20 or his 25 points after WMU built an 11-point advantage with the first score of the second half.

"The bigger the moment, the bigger Tu plays," Xavier coach Chris Mack said.

Xavier is missing two veteran players in addition to the loss of leading scorer, Jordan Crawford and leading rebounder Jason Love.  Brad Redford, tore the ACL in his knee in pre-season practice and Jamal McClean broke a bone under his eye socket in an exhibition game.

Holloway had to step up when the going got tough.

Western Michigan had only four turnovers and allowed Xavier just one offensive rebound in the first half but seven turnovers and seven offesive rebounds by the Musketeers, cost the Broncos the upset.

"Our problems came on the offensive end," Western Michigan coach, Steve Hawkins said.  "When we started turning the ball over, we became disorganized in transition.  Holloway showed what he can do late in the game.  He took over.  He was very aggressive."

Friday, November 12, 2010

No Silver for Votto Either NL's Best Hitting Team is Shut Out

Albert Pujols was chosen by players and coaches over Joey Votto for the second day in a row.  The National League's best hitting team was shut out for The Silver Slugger Awards.

The Silver Slugger award for the best offensive player at each position went to Pujols as did the Gold Glove award on Wednesday.

Players and coaches tend to dismiss statistics when making their choices.

Pujols hit more five more home runs (42-37) and drove in three more runs (118-113) than Votto.  Votto finished second to Carlos Gonzalez, who won one of the OF Silver Sluggers, with a .324 batting average. Votto led the league with a .424 on-base percentage and a .600 slugging percentage.

Players and coaches, however, give more weight to ability than statistics.  It is hard to argue that Pujols does not deserve the award over Votto, although the less established Votto showed signs of equal talent.

The Baseball Writers will announce the Most Valuable Player Award, chosen by its members on November 22.  Votto may get the award despite Pujols success with the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

Votto was the best hitter on the top hitting team.  He did not have the luxury of another Silver Slugger winner, Matt Holladay batting behind him a Pujols did.  Pujols team had this advantage and the top two starting pitcher in the National League Central.  Yet Votto led the team that finished five games ahead of Pujols' Cardinals.

The Silver Slugger winners were:

C    Brian McCann
1B  Albert Pujols
2B  Dan Uggla
3B  Ryan Zimmerman
SS  Troy Tulowitzki
OF  Ryan Braun
OF  Carlos Gonzalez
OF  Matt Holliday
P     Yovanni Gallardo

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Silver and Gold Keys to Winning Baseball

Manager Dusty Baker said of the Big Red Machine, "They won with silver and gold."

He was referring to "Silver Slugger" and "Gold Glove" awards.

The Reds had three players win the defensive honor on Wednesday.

Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen and Bronson Arroyo were awarded the Gold Glove.

It is the first time that Cincinnati claimed four winners since C Johnny Bench, 2B Joe Morgan, SS Dave Concepcion and CF Cesar Geronimo won four years in a row from 1974-1977.

For Rolen his eighth award put him behind just Brooks Robinson (16) and Mike Schmidt (10) for 3B Gold Gloves.

"I like to think of it as an unselfish act," Rolen said.  "I think our defense won a lot of games."

Arroyo unseated Adam Wainwright, who was the 2009 winner.  Greg Maddux was the perennial winner until his retirement.

"It is not something that you think to much of as a pitcher.  It is mostly reaction.  I was not something that I anticipated," Arroyo said.  "It's icing on the cake.  I was shocked."

Phillips won the award for the second time in three years.

"It takes a lot of hard work," Phillips said.  "I work on pop ups and fielding balls in the hole.  I try to be the pitchers best friend.

Arroyo know the value of good friends.

"Having good infield defense can get a pitcher out of some bad situations.  If they turn a double play or just make a throw to get an out or save a base, it really helps a pitcher."

Joey Votto was considered in the voting by players and coaches.  Albert Pujols won the vote at 1B.

Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn and Carlos Gonzalez, edged Jay Bruce for an outfield award.

Baker would like to see Votto, Bruce and Drew Stubbs join the gold rush.

"I look back at plays that save runs," Baker said.  "Stats don't always tell you a lot.  Some players get to balls others don't and even players that make a error, make one because they get to balls that others don't.  I had four gold glove winners in San Francisco.  I look for guys like Joey, Jay and Stubbs to win one."

"As these guys get more established in the big leagues, I think you'll see these guys win one," Rolen added.

The Reds defense turned in 106 errorless games in 2010, seven more than the previous best year in franchise history which was 99 in 1992.

From May 4-16 the Reds put together a streak of 11 games without a miscue, the longest stretch since a 13-game streak in 1997.

Reds Defense is Full of Gold Phillips, Rolen and Arroyo

Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen and Bronson Arroyo won gold gloves this season.

For Phillips it was his second.  He won the honor in 2008.  He committed just three errors during the regular season and made many outstanding plays.

It was the eighth for Rolen, who last won it in 2006.

Arroyo won the honor for the first time.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Gray and Wanninger Get Taste of NCAA in 90-46 Win

Amber Gray, wearing a protective mask and Ashley Wanninger joined a talented group of seniors led by Amber Harris and Ta'Shia Phillips against Division II Bellarmine.

The Knights were know match for the more taller Musketeers as Xavier rolled to a 90-46 win at the Cintas Center.

Wanninger, who was finished her high school career at Colerain in the top 25 all-time in field goal percentage with 37.6% hit her first two 3-point shots in the last 10 minutes of the game.   Gray played excellent post defense and will help spell Phillips, who pulled in a whopping 22 rebounds in the contest.  Gray pulled in six rebounds and added four points.

"The newcomers played hard," coach Kevin McGuff said.  "They are not comfortable with our system yet, so all I can ask of them is to play hard."

Phillips is already the Musketeers career leader with 1,156 for an average of 11.7 per game.  She pulled in 20 rebounds or more three times last season and owns a Xavier single game record of 25 set on November 19, 2008 at North Carolina.

"She did a lot of work on her body in the off-season and it showed today," McGuff said.

Phillips is visually lighter than she was in her first three seasons a Xavier.

Xavier scrimmaged a Division I team earlier in a closed session but NCAA rules prohibit McGuff from revealing who it was.

"It was a team that matched up better with us talent wise," McGuff said.

Xavier Women Take the Court With Local Talent

Amber Gray, Jessica Pachko and Ashley Wanninger competed against each other in the Greater Miami Conference.  Now they open the 2010-2011 season as Xavier Musketteers in an exhibition game against Bellarmine University.

Xavier is top five team in the Associated Press Poll and are ranked sixth in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll.

The Musketeers nearly reached the women's final four last season.  A pair of missed layups prevented them from  advancing to the final four, suffering a painful 55-53 loss to Stanford.

Gray was the top player in the GMC at Lakota West.  She accepted a scholarship to Tennessee but was granted a medical waiver to transfer and compete without sitting out a season.

Pachko played at Oak Hills and signed with Marquette.  She must sit out this season as required by NCAA rules. Pachko will have two years of eligibility at Xavier.  She scored 1,410 points for the Highlanders in high school, more than any other player male or female.

Wanninger played at Colerain and signed directly with Xavier.  Wanninger was named All-Ohio in Division I after her senior season at Colerain.  She played under Christy Mack, the wife of Xavier's men's coach, Chris Mack.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sparky Anderson Passes

The "Main Spark" of Cincinnati's Big Red Machine died today near his hometown of Thousand Oaks, California.

He was 76.

At his request there will be no funeral or memorial service.

The family also requests any donations be made to CATCH, Sparky’s charity for children in Detroit, or the charity of one’s choice.Donations to CATCH may be made online at http://www.catchcharity.org/ or mailed to:

223 Fisher Building
3011 West Grand Boulevard
Detroit, MI 48202

Sparky gave all the credit for his success to his players.  It takes a special person, though, to lead a group of players with the enormous egos to the heights they reached.

On a personal level, he was the type that made you feel important, even though he hardly knew you.

For one personal anecdote, I was covering the Reds in spring training at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida about five years ago.  The Reds were playing the New York Yankees in an exhibition game.  Sparky was talking to George Steinbrenner in the box seats as I was walking in the aisle toward the press box two rows behind them.  Anderson spotted me and made a point to leave Steinbrenner, walk up the two rows and greet me.

As a non-essential person in the baseball world, that made me feel like I belonged.  That was Sparky's way.  There was not one usher, grounds crew member or fan that Sparky would not acknowledge and have a conversation with.

The world is slightly diminished today with the loss of such a man.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Arroyo and Gomes Back in 2011. Harang and Cabrera May Not

The Reds exercised its options on Bronson Arroyo and Jonny Gomes, assuring their return for 2011.

The Reds did not exercise it options on Aaron Harang and Orlando Cabrera, making them free agents.  Both could be signed by the Reds during the free agent process.

LHP Phillipe Valiquette and Catcher Devin Mesoraco have been selected to play in the Arizona Fall League All-Star game.  The Rising Stars game will be played Saturday at 9:00pm eastern time at Surprise Stadium in Arizona.

Valiquette showed a strong arm in Goodyear last year during spring training but needed work on his command.  He was 4-1 with five saves in 54 games with a 4.15 ERA at Carolina and Louisville last season.

Mesoraco was the Reds first pick out of Puxatawny High School in 2007.  He hit .302 with 26 home runs and 75 RBI in his three stops in the Reds chain.  He played at Lynchburg, Carolina and Louisville last season.   In his Louisville debut he belted a walk-off grand slam and followed that up with a grand slam in his first at bat in the very next game.

Sparky Anderson in Hospice, Jocketty Wins Executive of the Year, Sweet Returns

Sad news comes from Thousand Oaks, California.

Sparky Anderson, the pilot of the Big Red Machine of the 1970's has been placed in hospice by his family for complications resulting from dimentia.

Anderson's wife Carol, sons Lee and Albert and daughter, Shirley Englebrecht, have expressed appreciation to all of those who have shown support and kindness throughout Anderson's career and retirement.

I got to know Anderson after his managing career ended.  He was one of the most down-to-earth people anyone would want to meet.  He and his wife Carol were always willing to stop and talk baseball or any other subject with people.

Anderson was an unknown and one of the youngest managers in baseball when he took over the Cincinnati Reds in 1970. He had just turned 36 when Bob Howsam named him to the post.  He led the Reds to the National League pennant in 1970, 1972, 1975 and 1976.  The Reds won back-to-back World Series in 1975 and 1976.

He was named to the Hall of Fame in 2000.  He won the Manager of the Year award in 1984 and 1987 as the manager of the Detroit Tigers, winning the World Series in 1984.

Good News For Reds Player Development

Rick Sweet will return as manager of the Louisville Bats in 2011.  Sweet, 58, is the all-time winningest manager in Louisville franchise history at 466-394. 

Sweet has been essential to the Reds player development effort.   Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Aroldis Chapman, Travis Wood, Chris Heisey, Drew Stubbs and Ryan Hanigan all have benefited from Sweet's guidence.

Sweet, who was Ken Griffey Jr's first professional manager, would make a fantastic major league skipper, if given the opportunity.   The Reds are fortunate to have him return along with his hitting coach, Smokey Garrett and pitching coach, Ted Power.  Tomas Vera, who was very helpful as Aroldis Chapman's interpreter, will also return as trainer.

Walt Jocketty was named Executive of the Year by the Sporting News today.

The Reds General Manager and President of Baseball Operations,  won the award for the third time.

He also won the award in 2000 and 2004 while with the St. Louis Cardinals.  It was the fifth time that a Cincinnati Reds executive won the honor.  Warren Giles won it in 1938.  Gabe Paul won in 1956.  Bob Howsam received it in 1973 and Bob Quinn in 1990.

Bob Feller Turns 92

Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller was born in Van Meter, Iowa on November 3, 1918.  The fireballing righthander know as "Rapid Robert" made his Major League debut in 1936 at the age of 17 with the Cleveland Indians.  When the season ended he returned home to finish high school.

He led the American League in strikeouts seven times, including a then Major League record 348 in 1946.

Feller, who still dresses in uniform and signs autographs, is the All-time Indians leader in wins (266), strikeouts (2,581), complete games (279), starts (484), and innings pitched (3,827).

His numbers would have been higher but he served in the Navy from 1941-1945 during World War II.

Also ret

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Xavier Defeats Northern Kentucky in Exhibition 73-62

Kenny Frease notched a double-double over the NCAA Division II Norse, which had one 6'-8" player on the roster.

Frease scored 17 points and pulled in 10 rebounds for the Musketeers.

"I've been working on scoring down in the post," Frease said.

Mark Lyons scored 13 points and Jamel McLean scored 12 before leaving the game with 19:17 left in the second half.  McLean was felled by a shooters elbow in the first minute of the second stanza.  He was on the court for about two minutes before leaving under his own power but was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital for evaluation.

"When Jamel went out, I had to step it up," Frease said.

"Kenny did a great job.  That's what we're going to need from him.  He got six offensive rebounds.  For him to do that shows me that he's getting is moving around people.  It doesn't matter who its against.  It shows he is in better shape," Xavier coach Chris Mack said.

The Musketeers have already lost three-point specialist, Brad Redford, for the season with a knee injury.

Northern Kentucky, which fell to Louisville Sunday 83-66.

The Norse trailed by a 33-30 margin at halftime.  They hit 12 of 33 three-point attempts.

"They have a lot of guys that shoot the three,"  Lyons said.  "They make a lot of handoffs off the dribble, that is something different for us."

"We generally we don't see five perimeter players, that rarely throw the ball into the post," Mack said.  "NKU is a very good shooting team."

Dennis Gagel scored 15 for Northern Kentucky, all coming from behind the arc.  Josh Tabb scored 12 for NKU.  Jon Van Hoose added 12 points for the Norse.