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.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Xavier's 43 Game A-10 Winning Streak Ends As Saint Louis Wins

Xavier has not lost a conference game in five years.  Since Saint Joseph defeated the Musketeers on February 28, 2006, Xavier has won 43 games against Atlantic 10 opponents at the Cintas Center.

The Saint Louis Billikens took a 73-68 victory in Xavier's house.

Building a 14 point lead early in the second half, the Billikens held on, surviving a second half run.  Xavier evened the contest at 50-50 with 10:00 minutes to play but Saint Louis scratched and clawed its way to a win.

"The way we started was disappointing," Xavier guard Tu Holloway said.  "We gave up 41 points in the first half."

Saint Louis senior Brian Conklin led Saint Louis with 19 points, seven from the free throw line.  Conklin has never experienced a win anywhere against the Musketeers but had a feeling that this might be the year.

"To finally get a win over Xavier is fantastic," Conklin said.  "They have been the cream of the crop of the A-10 for so many years."

Indeed Xavier has won the last five A-10 conference titles.  They have suffered their second straight conference loss against Saint Louis and third overall.

"We have been so close before," Conklin said.  "Last year at our place free throws cost us the game but this year we made them when we had to."

Conklin went to the line nine times and hit seven of them.

"The guys did a good job of making foul shots, relatively speaking." Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus said.

Conklin made his teammates aware that Xavier had not lost to a conference team in awhile.

"I told them after the game.  I'm like a cagey veteran. I didn't tell them until after the game."

With Xavier's home crowd getting louder as they closed the gap on the Billikens.  Conklin and his teammates held their composure.

"We knew they would make a huge run.  We had to keep doing what we're do; set ball screens, rebound," Conklin said.  "This is one of my top two places to play.  Their fans love their team and they know when to get loud.  The 43-game streak shows you how good they've been."

Mark Lyons led Xavier (13-7, 4-3 A-10) with 27 points.  Tu Holloway scored 22 and Jeff Robinson 10.

The Billikens (16-4, 4-2 A-10) had four players score in double figures.  Rob Loe was second to Conklin with 14 points. Jordair Jett and Cody Ellis each had 11.

Reds Obtain Wilson Valdez and sign Nick Masset

The Reds announced the signing of  IF/OF Willie Harris to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

The acquired Wilson Valdez in exchange for LHP Jeremy Horst.  Valdez hit .249 for the Phillies in 99 games with one home run and 30 RBI in 99 games.  Valdez played 2B, 3B, SS and pitched for the Phillies. 

Valdez pitched and won the 19 inning game between the Reds and Phillies on May 25th.  He pitched the top of the ninth inning retiring Joey Votto to lead off the inning.   He hit Scott Rolen with a pitch then retired Jay Bruce and losing pitcher Carlos Fisher on fly outs.

Horst appeared in 12 games for the Reds and had a 2.93 ERA in 15 1/3 innings over 12 games.

The Reds also signed reliever Nick Masset to a two-year contract.  Masset was eligible for arbitration.

Jose Arredondo is the only arbitration eligible player that remains unsigned.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Xavier Women Invisible To Hometown

Amber Gray is used to the spotlight.  Her father played football in the NFL and she earned a name for herself at Lakota West High School with her own ability.

It is a different story at Xavier this season.  The Musketeers were a big story.  Barely missing the final four two years ago with two of the top three women basketball players in the country in Ta'Shia Phillips and Amber Harris.

This year the light is dimmer.  Would a player on a 3-15 team really want a spotlight shining on her?


"We're never in the newspaper or on TV.  You always hear about UC or you always hear about the guys but the girls, it's like we don't exist.  It's hard for a lot of people to, even my family members want to see what was the score. Want to see an update.  They want to see us play."

It was different at the high profile program at Tennessee.

"Even when I was in high school the scores were always in the newspaper or the scores were scrolled across the bottom on Channel 5.  That's one thing that we need now more than ever is our fan support.  But they don't know what's going on or they don't know when our games are."

The season hasn't been the best after Xavier had been a program on the rise for so long but Gray is looking ahead to better days.  She should know surviving a brain aneurysm after her freshman year at Tennessee.  She sees light through the haze.

"We're not having the best of seasons right now.  It's going to turn around. We're going to get better but our fans don't know.  So it's hard for them."

"I've had people tell me the same thing," Wanniger said.  "They haven't been able to follow us. It's always on the internet but a lot of people can't find it."

Girls GMC Represented On Xavier Women's Team

After losing the best team that Xavier University ever had, first year coach Amy Waugh is rebuilding with local talent.

The former Musketeer player started three women, at various times, that honed their skills in the Greater Miami Conference in the Cincinnati suburbs.

Amber Gray out of Lakota West High School is the most noted player of the group.  Gray was the Enquirer Girls Player of the Year in her senior season for the Firebirds.  She was good enough to land a scholarship to play for the famous Pat Summit at Tennessee before returning home to recover from

Gray has started 12 games for the Musketeers this season after earning plenty of playing time with last year's team that was upset in the regional final by Louisville.  Gray saw playing time as a freshman at Tennessee but had to teak a medical redshirt due to an aneurysm.  She received a waiver from the NCAA that allowed her to play her sophomore season of eligibility with Xavier.

Gray is averaging 8.8 points a game and 5.9 rebounds.

Jessica Pachko played at Oak Hills High School for four season on the varsity. She was named South West Regional Player of the Year after leading the Highlanders to a district title.

Pachko played two season at Marquette and was second on the team in scoring as a sophomore at 10.4 points per game.  She transferred to Xavier last season and had to sit out her transfer year.

Pachko has been a starter in all 18 games this season, averaging 9.6 points and 8.8 rebounds through the first 17 games.

Ashley Wanniger was recruited out of Colerain High School where she started all four years.  Her high school coaches had plenty of Xavier connections.  She played for a former Musketeer, Nickie Kramer Drew then the wife of current Xavier men's head coach, Kristi Hester Mack.

Wanninger known for her effective outside shot, averaged 16.3 points per game and five rebounds for the Cardinals. She was named D1 All Ohio.

Wanniger had to learn the system as a backup for Katie Rutan, who transferred.  Wanniger has taken advantage of the opportunity.  Her first career start was against Morehead State on December 6.  She has been in the starting lineup in each of the last six contests, including Tuesdays matchup with Temple at the Cintas Center.

She is averaging 2.8 points per game and 1.4 rebounds.

The trio's familiarity with each other is starting to show on the basketball court in spite of the Musketeers current 3-15 record and its 64-38 loss to Temple.

"Jessica and I have played with each other since the 5th or 6th grade," Gray said.  "Ashley played in the same organization."

Having been rivals at the high school level wasn't a challenge for Gray and Pachko, who are two years older than Wanniger.

"We knew each other's names. It wasn't a challenge," Gray said.  "Ashley brings a lot to the team.  She's a vocal leader at practice."  Pachko agreed.

Wanniger admitted to a bit of a challenge at first.  "I was scared to death  of them in high school.  They already had a name.  Every time I went up against them, I was that little freshman," Wanniger said.

Waugh sees the entire Xavier team coming together even if its record doesn't indicate it.  "There is only eight of them now," Waugh said.  "I see the team coming together.  When you get into college in practice every day, you start to come together quickly.  Those three had an advantage but the rest of the team is catching up."

Trey Griffey Will Play Football At Arizona

Trey Grifey set season and single game receiving records at Dt. Phillips High School in Orlando.

The son of former Red, Ken Griffey Jr.,  will follow his uncle Craig's lead into college football.

The Orlando Sentinel reported this morning that Trey will play college football in Tucson Arizona for the University of Arizona.

Griffey transferred to Dr. Phillips before his senior year.  He had played mostly defensive back until this year.

His record breaking season earned him a roster spot on the Under Armour All America squad last month.  First year Wildcat coach, Rich Rodriguez, stepped up his efforts to land Griffey, who was considering, Washington State, Michigan State, Iowa State and FAU.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Buddy Bell Promoted by the Chicago White Sox

Buddy Bell, a former Reds player and Moeller High School graduate, has been promoted to Vice President of Player Development and Special Assignments by the Chicago White Sox .  Mark Gonzales reported today in the Chicago Tribune.

Bell has been with the White Sox organization since, 2008.  He previously managed the Detroit Tigers, Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals.

Since he rejoined the White Sox, Buddy's role in the organization has continually evolved and expanded," general manager Ken Williams said.  "Buddy and his staff have played and integral part in developing our young talent, and he has been a great resource for me on special scouting assignments as well.  The move reflects the confidence we have in Buddy."

Bell's son David was recently promoted to manager of the Reds Triple A team in Louisville.

Bell is the son of former Reds player Gus Bell and is the father of two sons, David and Mike that have played in the major leagues.

Eastern Kentucky Grad to Play in the Superbowl

Former Eastern Kentucky defensive back, Antwuan Molden, will be representing the Colonels in the Super Bowl.

Molden is from Warren, Ohio.  He wanted to play football at Warren Harding but he was undersized and slower than his classmates.  He worked hard and went out for track.  Eventually, he transferred to Cleveland Glenville to play for Ted Ginn Sr.

He improved enough to walk on at the University of Toledo, then transferred to Eastern Kentucky where he played three seasons.  The Houston Texans drafted Molden in the third round of the 2008 draft.

The former Colonel signed with the New England Patriots and played in all 18 games.  He finds himself in the Super Bowl against the New York Giants where he will bump into Mario Manningham, who played high school football at Warren Harding.

Molden joins Danny Copeland (Washington Redskins), Myron Guyton (New York Giants), John Jackson (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Tim Lester (Pittsburgh Steelers), as former Colonels that have played in the Super Bowl.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ryan Madson Signing Is Official Reds New Closer Ready For Role

Ryan Madson wanted to close games and jobs for closers were scarce.

It is such a buyers market that Francisco Coredero, who closed games for the Reds the last four season, is going to take a big pay cut, if he gets a job at all.

Madson found out how tight the market was when his team, the Philadelphia Phillies, declined to meet his price and signed Jonathan Papelbon away from the Boston Red Sox instead.

"I wanted to close for a team with a chance to make the playoffs," Madson said.

He left a team with the best starting rotation in baseball.  The Phillies are as close as any team can come to being a shoe in.  Their starters like to finish games, so Papelbon could be snacking on bon bons in the bullpen much of the time.

Madson, who broke into the Major Leagues as a starter, replaced Brad Lidge at the end of games last season and apparently savored the role.  Lidge has been injury prone the last few seasons.

Madson had a 45% percent save percentage in his first seven seasons.  He started 17 games in 2006.  The save percentage can be misleading because a middle reliever can be charged with a blown save without having an opportunity to earn a save.

He saved 32 in 34 chances for a 94% save rate.

"I learned to take pressure off myself and put it on the hitters," said Madson, who uses a nasty slider as his "out pitch".  "The first few times I tried to close, I tried to be perfect.  I had some pretty good baseball people tell me that's not the way to do it."

Madson is used to pitching in a small ballpark, like the Reds home confines which are unfriendly to pitchers.

He doesn't walk a lot of hitters and has given up just six home runs in 113 2/3 innings in Citizens Bank Ballpark. He walked just 2.29 batters over the same period of time.

"Now I know when to throw strikes and when not to throw strikes," Madson said.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Best Team in the Atlantic 10 Bounces Saint Joseph 68-55

Phil Martelli has coached in the Atlantic 10 for 26 years, the last 16 as head coach of the Saint Joseph Hawks.  His 300 career wins allows him to speak his mind and he has no problem doing so.

"Xavier is the best team in the league," Martelli told a post game gathering at the Cintas Center after his Hawks without the leading scorer in the A-10, Carl Jones feel to the Musketeers on Wednesday.  "I may get myself in jam for saying it, but they are like a giant boulder and you say holly mackeral...."

Mark Lyons led four Musketeers in double figures with 17 points.  Kenny Frease scored 13.  Jeff Robinson scored 12 off the bench.  Freshman Dez Wells scored a painful 12, getting hit in the jaw during the contest.

Although he didn't score a lot, six points, Tu Holloway distributed 12 assists.

"It is phenomenal to get 12 assists against a team that doesn't extend its defense," Xavier coach Chris Mack said.

Jones from Garfield Heights, Ohio leads the A-10 with 17.2 points per game but he sprained his ankle and against U Mass on Saturday.  He didn't practice for two days.  It was a game time decision for him to sit out.

"We practiced for him," Mack said.  "We played very well tonight.  Langston Galloway (14 points) and Halil Kanacevic (13 points, 14 rebounds) played like pros in the first half.  We put more ball pressure on them in the second half."

C.J. Aiken added 10 points and Ronald Roberts added 14 points for the Hawks.

Saint Joseph led by two at halftime shooting 46 percent.

"We just went out and defended like we can in the second half," Frease said.  "They hit a lot of tough shots in the first half.  The second half was probably the best defensive half we've played all year."

Missing Jones would not be used as an excuse by Martelli.

"The team that practiced the last two days was on the floor," Martelli said.  "It would have made little difference.  It begins and ends with one number, 19 turnovers."

Kanacevic, a sophomore from Staten Island, NY, scored a career-high and pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds, one short of his career high.

"It is always tough when you play a man short," Kanacevic said.  "I didn't feel any pressure to make up for him (Jones).  It's about picking up a teammate.

Saint Joseph dropped to 12-7, 2-3 A-10.  Xavier won its fourth straight game and stands at 13-5, 4-1 A-10.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Reds Avoid Arbitration With Three of the Five Eligible

Homer Bailey, Bill Bray and Paul Janish have signed one-year contracts to avoid arbitration.

Jose Arredondo and Nick Massett are the other two arbitration eligible players that have not signed.  It has been reported that Arredondo is seeking a two-year deal.

Reds Filling Roster Signing Ryan Madson, Ryan Ludwick and Dionner Navarro

Only the signing of Navarro is official.  The Reds signed the catcher to ad depth, having traded Yasmani Grandal to San Diego earlier this winter.

Navarro and Corky Miller will give the Reds veteran catchers to rely on should Ryan Hanigan or Devin Mesoraco are injured or fail to handle the job.

According to published report Ryan Madson has signed to replace Francisco Cordero as the team's closer.

Ryan Ludwick was drafted by Oakland in the second round in 1999.  The 33-year old had his best season in 2008, protecting Albert Pujols in the St. Louis lineup.  That season he hit .299 with 37 home runs and 113 RBI. All figures represented career highs.  Since 2008, Ludwick's numbers have decreased.  He was traded to San Diego at the trading deadline in 2010.  San Diego sent him to Pittsburgh late last season.

Ludwick is expected to compete with Chris Heisey for the starting left field position.

This signing like the Madson signing have not been made official.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Xavier Handles St. Bonaventure 77-64 For 3rd Straight A-10 Win

Xavier continued to regain the form that allowed them to start the season 8-0.

They hosted the Bonnies of St. Bonaventure, who is fresh off a win at Dayton.

Mark Lyons poured in 21 points, including four 3-point shots to lead all scorers.  Andrew Nicholson had 20 points for the Bonnies.

Jeff Robinson (13), Tu Holloway (12) and Brad Redford (10) all scored in double figures for the Musketeers.

With Kenny Frease limited to 13 minutes with a twisted ankle, Dez Wells pulled in a game-high nine rebounds.

Xavier shot an even 50 percent from the field and from 3-point range.  The Musketeers were exactly even in both halves from the field, a statistical abnormality.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Larkin Family Discipline Led to Hall

Robert and Shirley Larkin had five children in four years.  "No twins," Shirley added.

"When you have that many children that close together you have to have discipline or the children end up running the house," she said.

Her husband and the father of recent Hall of Famer, Barry Larkin, wisely agreed with his wife.

Asked if she knew when she realized Barry was special as he received the highest honor that baseball has.

"I've been put on the spot here," Mrs. Larkin said.  "The boys competed a lot.  It was hard to say who was better (athletically) but I never thought of Barry as being special.  He was just one of the five."

For being on the spot, she explained volumes about Larkin's humility.  It explained volumes about why he put his team first.  Larkin genuinely considered himself just one of the 25 guys on a major league roster.

Robert  had a story to tell too.  His story illustrated why Barry is an all-for-one guy.  It also indicated that his father saw the indicator that his son had special talent.

"I thought his head was getting a little too big when he was 12," Robert said.  "All of the knothole coaches were fighting over him to play on their team."

The elder Larkin was determined to keep his son grounded.

"I decided to take him out to the field with a bucket of baseball's.  I told him that I was going to strike him out.," Robert said.  "I couldn't do it.  I could not strike this 12 year old kid and I threw pretty hard in those days."

Barry's wife Lisa grew up just behind the Larkins.

"I can tell you about that discipline," Lisa said.

Shirley Larkin was a disciplinarian but she also balanced it with love.

"You have to have discipline but you also have to let them know that you love them."

Barry got the lesson as well as his brothers Byron and Stephen, who joined Barry at the press conference.

"He is such a good person," Byron said.  "I am so proud of him.  I am proud of the way he's handled all of this."

Stephen played professional baseball too but only appeared in one game.  It was in a dog and pony show that former Reds general manager, Jim Bowden IIII put together much to the distaste of then Cincinnati manager, Jack McKeon.

Bowden placed Stephen Larkin on the Reds roster, then insisted that McKeon put Aaron Boone at thirdbase, and Stephen at first.  The starting infield that season included Barry Larkin at shortstop and Brett Boone at secondbase.  That gave Cincinnati an infield with two Boones and two Larkins.

McKeon thought they were patronizing Stephen and didn't like it.

Stephen had one hit in three at bats in the only game he ever played in the major leagues.

When he was reminded that he retired with a higher career average, .333 to Barry's .295, he had a hearty laugh.  "Make sure you tell him that," Stephen said with a laugh.

Another incident that portrayed just what a talented family this is.

Former NFL defensive back, Deion Sanders, who had a couple shots in MLB was on the Reds roster.

He was talking loud and proud about his football ability in the Reds clubhouse one day.

Ken Griffey Sr, was a coach at the time and his own two sons played football at Moeller High around the time the Larkins were there.

"You're not even the best defensive back in this clubhouse. Lark is," Griffey told Sanders.  "And Barry isn't even the best DB in his own house.  Byron is."

Xavier Routs Duquesne 78-50

The Xavier Musketeers took a step forward after a suspension marred stretch of games.

The fourth game with all of its players available, proved that Xavier has put its broken team back together.

Since losing 5-of-6 following the UC game, the Musketeers have won two Atlantic-10 games in a row.

Dez Wells, who served a four game suspension, haunted the Dukes with a couple of dunks.

"He's one of the best freshmen in the conference," Xavier coach Chris Mack said.  "We have two of the best guards in the country and when they can get in the lane, they create a lot of opportunities.  Even when we missed Jeff Robinson was there to get some big rebounds."

Wells scored team-high 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds, desperately trying to get the 10th.

Jeff Robinson scored 12.  Kenny Frease and Tu Holloway contributed 11 each.

All six of Robinson's rebounds followed missed shots.

Rebounding was the key for Xavier, grabbing 16 of their 40 off the offensive glass, leading to 17 second
chance points.

Xavier's early offensive rebounds gave them a huge start.  They led 44-16 at the half.

"It felt like we were getting back to normal and everyone was involved," Xavier's Andre Walker said.  "It was a good feeling.  We've got to put everything behind us, the bad and the good.  We've got a fresh start."

"We knew coming in they had a lot of athletic guys that can rebound," Duquesne senior Eric Evans said.

Junior guard Sean Johnson led Duquesne with 12.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Barry Larkin Reacts To Hall of Fame Election

The cameras were set up in his Orlando home.  The area in which the call from Jack O'Connell, president of the Baseball Writer's Association of America and Jeff Idelson, the director of the Baseball Hall of Fame were expected to tell Barry Larkin that he would be elected to the Hall of Fame.

Larkin was told the call would come around 1:00 and it was put off for a while.  He was told that if he was elected he would get the call well before the official announcement at 3:00.  By 2:53 pm he had decided he wasn't going to be elected.

As he walked from the kitchen to the living room to turn on the TV with thoughts of picking up his daughter from school and other daily events of his current life, the call came from O'Connell.  He couldn't believe what he was hearing.  He HAD been elected to the highest honor a baseball player could have.

"I was floored.  It was so far fetched that I couldn't believe what I was hearing," Larkin said.  "My phone has been blowing up ever since."

Thoughts started running through the mind of the 47-year old, born in the modest Cincinnati neighborhood of Silverton.    "I looked at the caller ID and saw that it was the 212 area code.  I didn't recognize that it was from New York," Larkin said.

"The support from the baseball writers has been over whelming.  I wondered how I would celebrate with the fans of Cincinnati.  This is huge.  How in the world am I going to celebrate with the Cincinnati fans?"

Larkin never dreamed or thought of being elected to the Hall of Fame.  He considered himself a support player, the type that would never be elected.  He did all of the little things to win games,  moving runners along, making a defensive play, stealing a base when it was needed.

"I didn't have that one thing that defined me as a Hall of Fame player.  Ricky Henderson had his speed.  Barry Bonds had his power.  When you think of players like Eric Davis and Albert Pujols, they are the one guy on the team that you don't want to let beat you.  Bonds was the type of player that you would tell Norm Charlton to waste four pitches, don't let him hit it, then he reaches out and hooks the ball down the line for a hit.  You didn't want to let Henderson get on base and if he did, you were going to pitch out and still he would end up stealing the base.  I was never like that."

"At times when I was hot or in certain situations I was that guy but I was usually the second choice. The way I was taught to play was to move the runner along.  Sometimes I would leadoff, sometimes bat second, sometimes third but I wasn't the guy you built the lineup around."

Larking also learned how important it was to be a good teammate off the field.  He would take rookies, who made the minimum on a clothes shopping spree in New York every season.

"That's the way I was treated.  I was shown what to do by Buddy Bell (a fellow Moeller grad) and Davey Concepcion.  A lot of players don't have that.  I feel sorry for them.  A lot of players never learn how to do that for teammates but it was how I was taught when I reached the Major Leagues," Larkin said.

When Larkin arrived in Cincinnati in 1986, David Concepcion had manned shortstop through championship seasons for 16 seasons.  Larkin was asked if Concepcion should be elected to the Hall.

"I'm not sure," Larkin said.  "I've never been one to analyze the numbers and his numbers are comparable to mine.  I don't know what the criteria is to become a Hall of Fame shortstop and I don't have a vote.  All I know is that when I came up Davey was in a position near the end of his career that someone like me was going to come along and take his job.  Davey took me into his home.  He taught me so many things.  He taught me how to make the bounce throw to first base.  He taught me the hitters around the league.  He helped me learn Spanish.  He taught me to meringue, to salsa.  For what he did for me, he should be in the Hall of Fame.  In the next few weeks, I am going to get to talk to Hall of Fame shortstops and find out what the criteria is to be in as a shortstop.  I will definitely put in a word for Davey."

Larkin will be inducted along with Ron Santo on Sunday July 22nd in Cooperstown.

The Hall Calls and Barry Larkin Answers

Barry Larkin hit 30 home runs and stole 30 bases in 1996 the year after he ran away with the 1995 Most Valuable Player award.

Larkin becomes the 22nd shortstop to enter the Hall with votes on 86 percent of the ballots.  Seventy-five percent is required.  He joins Ron Santo, who was elected earlier by the Veterans Committee.

Those two seasons defined the career of the Cincinnati native, who along with David Concepcion, held down the Reds shortstop position for a quarter century.

Larkin a Cincinnati native hit .295 over 2,180 games.  He hit 198 home runs, drove in 960 runs and stole 379 bases.

Frequent injuries prevented him from getting coveted milestones like 3,000 hits and 1,000 RBI.

Among the best defensive shortstops of his era, Larkin was an offensive force.  He could leadoff.  His career on-base-percentage was .352 and he exceeded .400 twice over a season with .440 over 152 games in 1996.  He had excellent bat control.  He could spoil good pitches deep in the count with a flick of the wrist.  Larkin walked more times (939) than he struck out (817).

"He is the smartest player I ever played with or against," Eric Davis said.  "He could do anything you needed him to do.  He did not shy away from clutch situations. There was nothing on the field that he could not do.  If you look at his body of work, it was second to none."

From Silverton to Cooperstown Barry Larkin Gets The Call

The Cincinnati Reds are setting up a conference call today in the event that favorite son, Barry Larkin is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this afternoon.

The vote by the senior members of the Baseball Writers Association of American was due on December 31.  The selections if any will be announced on the MLB Network at around 3:00 pm this afternoon.

Larkin narrowly missed election last January in his first year of eligibility.

Larkin played all 19 season with the Reds, having been born and raised within seven miles of Riverfront Stadium.  He attended Moeller High School and played football, basketball and baseball for the Crusaders. The Reds drafted him in the second round out of Moeller in 1982.  Larkin decided to play baseball at the University of Michigan.  Jerry Faust Larkin's football coach at Moeller once told me that Michigan coaches begged him to play football.  The Reds drafted him again with their first round choice in 1985.  He signed this time and broke in with the Reds in 1986 playing for Pete Rose.

Larkin was also a member of the USA 1984 Olympic Baseball Team.

His older brother Mike played football for Moeller and Notre Dame.  His younger brother, Byron, played basketball at Xavier University and remains the schools leading all-time scorer.  Byron is the analyst for Xaviers radio broadcasts.  Youngest brother Stephen played baseball at the University of Texas and played 11 season in the minor leagues.  Stephen played one game for Cincinnati in 1998.  At 1-for-3 he actually finished with a .333 average.  Famous brother Barry finished his 19-year career as a .295 hitter in 2,180 games.

Larkin's son Shane is a freshman guard on the University of Miami (Florida) basketball team.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Martin Luther King - Ralph Abernathy Inspire Cincinnati Bearcats Win

Ralph David Abernathy Marches with King
Martin Luther King had a dream.  His friend and close associate, Ralph David Abernathy shared the dream in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968.

Both men stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel near downtown Memphis.  James Earl Ray shot Dr. King.

Ralph Abernathy took over the fight for equality. The dream of these two men was that their "young children would be judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character."

The civil rights movement pushed for racial equality, so that all United States citizens had the opportunity to do everyday things and participate in every facet of American life.

When Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a Birmingham bus, it was Abernathy, who organized the transit strike that forced the city of Birmingham to reform its prejudicial and unjust policies.

Abernathy and King at Lorraine Motel, Memphis April 1968
On Saturday in the city in which the movement lost its charismatic leader, the grandson of the man, who replaced King, marched 90-yards with a kickoff for the University of Cincinnati in the Liberty Bowl against the Vanderbilt Commodores representing the Southeastern Conference.

The return gave the Bearcats a 24-21 lead in a game they won 31-27 but the game aside the "Dream" of participating on an level playing field was part of a new reality in which ability and effort are judged rather than ethnic background.

Ralph David Abernathy IV is a 5'6" 180 lb freshman for the University Cincinnati Bearcats, who has been the main kickoff return specialist of the team, was recruited by Cincinnati as a running back out of Westminster School in Atlanta.  He was promised nothing but a chance to prove himself.  That is all his grandfather ever asked of the nation.

http://www.gobearcats.com/allaccess/?media=268006  Click to Watch video interview

There is added significance that the touchdown came competing with a team from the Southeastern Conference.  The SEC was the last conference to integrate.  There were no African American athletes at any conference member until 1966, three years after Kings historical, "I Had a Dream Speech" that was delivered in Washington D.C at the Lincoln Memorial.  It is considered by historians as one of the greatest and powerful speeches in history.

William Rollins, one of 35 African Americans enrolled at the University of Tennessee, attempted to play basketball.  He was not selected for the team.  Georgia, Louisiana State and Mississippi did not feature a black American until 1972.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bengals Lose But Back Into Playoffs

Two long runs by Ray Rice doomed the Bengals to a  24-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens but will go to the playoffs as the AFC's sixth seed.

Kansas City defeated the Denver Broncos, 7-3 knocking them from contention for the spot, finishing 8-8.  The New York Jets lost to Miami earlier.  Oakland will win the division with a win over San Diego but a loss will also make them 8-8, one game worse than the Bengals 9-7.

Tennesee beat Houston by a point but the Bengals had the tie breaker over the Titans with their win in a head-to-head earlier this year.

Bengals Close Gap to A Touchdown 17-10

Bernard Scott's 25-yard run cut the Ravens leas to seven points. The Bengals allowed just one first down in the quarter.

Bengals Trail at the Half 17-3

Baltimore drove 80 yards in 11 plays culminating in a nine yard touchdown pass from Joe Flaco to Dennis Pitta.

Cincinnati's only scoring chance in the 2nd quarter ended in a missed 36-yard field goal by Mike Nugent.

Baltimore Lead Bengals 10-3 at the End of 1st Qtr.

Ray Rice ran 70 yards of the fourth play from scrimmage to give Baltimore a quick lead.  Billy Cundiff kicked a 42-yard field goal on the next possession for a 10-0 lead.

The Bengals drove 47 yards in nine plays for 46-yard field goal by Mike Nugent.

Miami Beats the Jets 19-17, Bengals Benefit

The easiest way for the Cincinnati Bengals to make the playoffs is to defeat the Baltimore Ravens.  However, a New York Jets loss to the Miami Dolphins allows the Bengals a margin for error.