Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours

The Bengals defeated the Ravens tonight 13-7. I caught the game at a new location, Phebe's Taven & Grill in the East Village. I arrived with the lady and a friend at 9, just in time for kick-off. Wait, is that a 2 in the corner of the screen? Fuck, I guess I mean the 2nd quarter. I really hate the NFL network now, their website definitely said kickoff was at 9. We find an empty spot at the bar while I watch the Bengals drive and take in the new surroundings.

Phebe's is a little different from my usual viewing spot, the Turkey's Nest. I don't know quite how to put this, but Phebe's is just a little classier I guess. There aren't any drunk guys clearing out the crowd for their 3 year old daughter to use the bathroom for one. The drinks don't come in styrofoam cups for two. And there aren't any concrete-league softball games happening across the street for three. Oh and the 8 zillion flat screen HD TV's with full audio were a change from the usual 20-inch-Zenith-over-the-pool-table-setup. Also, no one yelled at me for the Bengals not covering the week before. Anyway, the game:

The Bengals looked great at the end of the first half sustaining a long drive downfield. Palmer was getting solid protection and making some great throws. They got to the goal-line and stalled out, though, after a Jeremi Johnson drop and a near TD completion to Reggie Kelly that Carson threw a little too much to the outside. Field goal, Bengals up 6-0. This worries me, only because I have bad memories of previous 2nd half defensive meltdowns, and six points are not a whole lot in the NFL. McNair and the Ravens confirm my fears by driving into Bengal territory as the half winds down. They get the ball to the 15 and go for the field goal. It's good. Shit, 6-3 at half. No they're kicking it again. This time it's not good. 6-0. Way to use that timeout Marvin.

The 2nd half opened up with the Bengals D getting a huge three and out from Baltimore. After getting the ball back, the first possession was destined to end in a Bengal punt. Offsides penalty, stuffed running play, bad protection forcing an incompletion (the Bengals lost Eric Gesundheit, their backup center at the end of the first half, and were playing some guy who had never taken a snap before at center) led to a 3rd and 14 from the Bengal 20. Time for the ole' shovel pass. I love this play. They tried it a few weeks ago against San Diego and it got stuffed, but when it works, it's a thing of beauty. Kenny Watson, 20 yard gain, first down. Then, a few succesful running plays and the highlight of the night, the flea-flicker to TJ. That was pretty much the game right there.

Random Thoughts (this post brought to you by beer #5):

1. Johnathan Joseph is a pretty good corner. If he could catch, he would be a great one. He dropped four, count em, four, possible INT's.
2. The Bengals D has come out of nowhere and started to play very well. They're using their coverage guys (Dexter Jackson, Kaesviharn) in blitz packages to get pressure and it's working.
3. Chad's highlight reel catch actually might have saved the whole game. If he doesn't bring that ball down, it sails right over his head and into Samari Rolle's hands (which are not Johnathan Joseph's hands) and possibly the other way for 6. With the game at 3-0 then, who knows what happens if it's intercepted.
4. If you want to beat the Ravens, don't turn the ball over. Their offense is mediocre at best.
5. I will now be carrying a Morrissey ProSet MusicCard in my wallet to every Bengals game for the rest of the year. My friend J-Ro brought it to the game tonight for me after unearthing it in his parent's house in Houston. It might be the coolest gift I've ever received. I'll let you behold it in all it's glory:

It's kind of hard to see, but the last sentence of his "stat sheet" reads as follows:
Bona Drag (1990) is a collection of rare, hard-to-find and
otherwise inacessible Morrissey tracks.

I'm sorry, did they say inacessible Morrissey tracks? I don't think they exist.

Check out the other amazing artists ProSet decided to immortalize here. I'd love to get my hands on that Lita Ford promo card.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Talk About The Passion-Part III

An ongoing (and highly subjective) series highlighting the ten greatest moments in Cincinnati Sports History.

8. Pete Rose shoves Dave Pallone, makes him gay (April 30, 1988)

The Key Players:

To say Pete Rose was a legend in the city of Cincinnati would be an understatement. I had a giant poster of him above my bed when I was 5. Coaches in Knothole leagues around the area didn't even bother to teach kids how to slide feet-first. When he was traded from the Expos to the Reds in 1984 and named player manager, the city went crazy. He won 426 games in four and a half seasons as the team's manager, finishing 2nd each year in the NL West while gambling on the team constantly. People in Cincinnati defended Rose throughout his gambling scandals, and many remained convinced that Pete had never bet on baseball until he finally admitted it in 2004.

Dave Pallone was the third youngest umpire to ever work in the major leagues. He joined the league in 1979, during an umpire strike. He called the All-star game at Comiskey Park in 1983, and in 1985, he called Nolan Ryan's 4,000th strikeout after catching Ryan's 3,997th strikeout in the family jewels, shattering his protective cup (which was subsequently signed by the pitcher). He was fired after the 1988 season by MLB, basically for being gay. He now works as a keynote speaker for diversity issues.

The Event:

Early in the 1988 season, the Reds played the Mets at Riverfront stadium. It was Kid Glove night at the stadium, so a bunch of young Knothole players (myself included) attended the game. With the score tied at 5-5 in the top of the ninth, Mookie Wilson was called safe at 1st base by Pallone. Rose charged at Pallone like he was a black jack table and began arguing with him. Pallone (Rose would argue later) jabbed Pete under the eye during the argument causing a small "abrasion". Pete lost his shit and shoved Pallone. Then the Reds fans lost their shit and threw debris on the field, pelting Pallone with beer bottles AND a boom box (or a ghetto blaster, it was 1988). The Reds went on to lose the game, and during my walk back to the parking lot, a group of drunken fans started up a cheer that I have never been able to forget:

To the tune of "When the Saints Go Marching In"

"Oh when the umps....
Come marching in...
Oh when the umps come marching in....
We will cut off...
All of their testicles...
When the umps come marching in."

Rose ended up with a 30 game suspension after the game, which was the longest suspension for an on-the-field incident in the history of the game. I'm not sure what Pete was up to during his suspension since the Dowd report only covers 1987. Pallone was fined $100, but the close brush with Rose changed his life forever. In 1990, he wrote "Behind the Mask", a book detailing his experience as a gay umpire. The world is still waiting for other baseball figures closely related to Rose (Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Ray Fosse) to follow suit and come out as well.

Pete Rose 0.
Dave Pallone 1.

I think Pallone's the clear winner.
He doesn't have any kids in jail for distributing steroids. Also he's never appeared on WrestleMania. I still love Pete though. And Jim Gray still sucks.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


We couldn't get closer than this

The Bengals beat the Browns 30-0. That was special. That was just special. Let's recap the last three weeks of Bengal defense:

Wk10: vs. Chargers. The Bengals D let Philip Rivers and LDT return from a 21 point halftime deficit and give up 42 points in the 2nd half. Tomlinson admits after the game that it's actually easier to score on the Bengals in real life than in Madden 2007.

Wk11: @ Saints. Drew Brees throws for over 500 yards against a beat-up Bengals secondary, setting a Bengals franchise record for futility. The Saints only manage 16 points, though, thanks largely to two endzone INTs.

Wk12: @Browns. The Bengals D get their first shutout since 1989. Charlie Frye does his best Ben Roethlisberger imitation. He gets knocked down about 10 times, throws 17 INTs, followed by Braylon Edwards going completely out of his mind and trying to rip Frye's jersey off on the sideline. Bengals win 30-0.
Can't wait for next week. I mean....uhhhh.....four days from now? This Thursday game thing is weird. I can't get the NFL network, and I don't know anyone who can. Is the NFL just trying to piss me off or do they want me to spend even more time at bars? Very confusing.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Oscillate Wildly

My dad loves Ethan Kilmer

The Bengals beat the Saints 31-16 yesterday. And a guy named Ethan Kilmer returned a Drew Brees' INT for a TD. Kilmer played only one year of football in high school and was a walk-on for two years at Penn State. Great story.

Honestly, I kind of don't know what to do with this. I figured this would be my nail in the coffin blog, especially after the Saints tied the game at 7-7 with a Bill Cowher-esque flea flicker to Joe Horn (whose dance was completely ridiculous). The defense was missing all of its starting LB's, one CB (Deltha O'Neal), and one SS (Dexter Jackson). The O-line was missing three starters. Drew Brees passed for 500 yards. And I'm talking about Ethan Kilmer. Wow.

The fact that the Bengals were able to pull this game out is pretty amazing. They beat a division leading team with a high powered offense on the road. But let's get one thing straight. The Bengals defense is bad. I still fear for the future when they face Peyton Manning or any other quarterback not named Frye, Brooks, or Walter. Even still, they are in a position make a run for the playoffs. Beating Cleveland on the road will be a tougher game than it looks like on paper as Cleveland's D is very strong against the pass, but it's certainly winnable. Then it's Baltimore and the Raiders at home. A sweep of these three games would leave the Bengals at 8-5 going into two brutal road games @Denver and then @Indy. They could afford to lose one of these games and then come back to beat Pittsburgh at home on New Year's Eve to finish the season at 10-6. I see them winning a close game next week against Cleveland leaving their season to hinge on the Baltimore game next Thursday. I will be requesting the night off of work for that game, provided the Bengals take care of business this Sunday.

Also, I must take some credit for the victory this weekend. In my 12 team Fantasy Football league I benched Drew Brees for good luck. Don't worry, I still won and clinched a playoff spot thanks to the Miami D. Who Dey?!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Here Comes Your Man

It was a wait so long

With the Paradise Jam on tap for this weekend, the Xavier basketball season has officially started. The team lost to Gonzaga and the hated Adam Morrison last year in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and this year returns all of its starters while adding former McDonald's All-American Oklahoma transfer Drew Lavender. A strong freshman recruiting class gives the team extra depth, and the team's best player is named Stanley Burrell. In case you didn't know, that is also Hammer's real name. You can't touch that. (Xavier will also have Charles Bronson on their roster next year; this team is badass)

I get most of my Musketeer related news from my father; an alum of the school who hangs out around the O'Connor Sports Center a couple of times a week. This week we talked about the team's 79-46 opening win over Coastal Carolina. Apparently everybody looked good, but the pops wasn't thrilled with the play of Drew Lavender, the new point guard everyone has been drooling over. Let me give you some back story here. Last year, X's point guard, Dedrick Finn, was a terrible player and teammate who somehow managed to get himself embroiled in a custody battle over a dog and then got kicked off the team for good right before the conference tournament. Enter Johhny Wolf:

Johnny was a very good basketball player at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. His father was a great tennis player who my father apparenly runs into around town. Johnny did a fantastic job as a freshman of taking over a struggling team and putting them in a position to win basketball games. And win basketball games they did. Four in a row in the A-10 tournament in fact. But this year, Johnny's on the bench. And this really pisses of my dad.

Everybody's got their thing. For me, it's The Smiths and Morrissey. For Matt Ufford, it's cats wearing clothes. For Mark Foley, it's congressional pages. For my Dad, it's white point guards. He loves em'. He just can't help himself. Even if they're walk-ons, he still finds ways to demand that they should get more playing time. In the late nineties, there was this guy Pat Kelsey (who was another local kid, from Elder I think) on the Muskies roster. He got some PT, but the teams he was playing on were loaded with talent (James Posey used to come off the bench in 97). He was the co-captain and voted "most inspirational" player for 96 and 98. This was not good enough for my dad. Every time X lost a game, it was "I just don't get why Skip didn't put Kelsey in there. I mean, he can really shoot."

I completely understand where this is coming from. My dad loves underdogs. And since he's white, he usually loves white underdogs. And since he's only 5' 9", the only guys he can watch play basketball that remind him of himself are back-up white point guards. This is fine. I just am not looking forward to hearing constant criticism of Drew Lavender this year, juxtaposed with what-would-Johnny-have-done revisionism.

On a completely different topic, what's up with Keke Okerake singing all the songs for Bloc Party?

I hear Gordon Moakes (far right) has an awesome voice. They really ought to give him a chance.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Hurting

Is it an horrific dream
Am I sinking fast......?

The Bengals lost to the Chargers on Sunday, 49-41. And I cannot believe I just typed that sentence.

I watched the game at my neighborhood Bengals bar again, with some of my friends from Cincy. Before the game we actually talked about how the Bengals really needed a blowout to get their confidence back and start a run at the playoffs. In the first half, our words were prophetic. The offense finally came around and dominated the game. The Chargers' couldn't get any traction on offense, and Palmer and Johnson looked unstoppable. At halftime we were practically giddy. We went across the street and threw the football around in the rain for a little while. Life was good.

Just before halftime, I checked my voicemail. My dad had called, excited about the first half. He ended the message by saying "I hope I didn't put the jinx on them".

(Interestingly enough, I thought about calling or texting a few friends before the 2nd half as well, but for some reason stopped myself. Perhaps it was because I didn't see the point in tempting fate with these Bengals. Or maybe I've just come to terms with the fact that I am hated for loving)

I can't really talk about the 2nd half too much. I will say that what the Chargers did to the Bengal defense was pretty similar to Frank Reich's comeback in 1993. Also, the Bengals defense is very bad. Peyton Manning may put up 80 on them. When Palmer fumbled on the 10 in the 4th quarter with the Bengals up 38-35, I sort of figured the game was over. When Tomlinson scored on the next play, I could feel the soil falling over Cincinnati's head.

During the walk home in the rain, I realized that I hadn't properly stretched before my halftime display of manliness. Stretching is important, I've learned, as one approaches 30. Also, when one has two herniated discs. Really though, at the end of this day, having stabbing pain in my back wasn't entirely inappropriate.

Friday, November 10, 2006

You're the One for Me, Fatty

Promise you'll say if I'm ever in your way

Everyone, meet the new Reds pitching coach. His name is Dick Pole. I think I had one of his old baseball cards. Here's what he had to say about his new job:
"When (manager) Jerry (Narron) and Wayne (Krivsky) talked to me about this, I got excited...."

Nothing like a Dick Pole at full mast. I already love this guy.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Headmaster Ritual

Sir leads the troops
I am a waaaay better coach than Marvin Lewis. No disrespect intended Marvin, but what's your record this year? Like, 4-4? That's what I thought.
Let's compare that to This Charming Fan's record who is coaching TWO football teams this year, Ballz Deep and Portis Heads. Their records? 7-2 and 6-3. That's a combined 13-5, a winning percentage of 72% to Marvin's 50%. So naturally, I've got some tips for the beleaguered B-leaguer coach (get it, beleaguered B-leaguer? Hahaha!). Here goes:
  1. Try and keep things light. The guys on Ballz Deep seem to respond really well to my weekly habit of getting completely shitfaced on gameday. They know that my preparation always happens earlier in the week (when I'm usually sober) and that I'm one of the best gameplanners in the league. They don't mind if I "enjoy myself" during the game. Sometimes (when I'm really drunk), I'll even ask Chester (Taylor) during the game if he wants a shot of apricot brandy when he's not playing well. He gets a kick out of it; he knows I'm just playin'. Marvin, you just look so serious all the time on the sidelines. I think your team could really benefit if you loosened the reins a little, y'know, let the guys have their fun. They're adults man, they know how to handle themselves in a professional manner.
  2. Talk more smack to the other coaches. All I ever hear from the postgame press conferences is some pretty vanilla stuff Marvin. "That's a good football team" and "They're defense played well". Bullshit man. Before the game is when you need to really get it going you know, like last week, I was playin' Turd Sandwich and he picked up the Ravens' Mark Clayton and I was like "Hey that's not the 85 Mark Clayton man" and he was like "I don't even know who that is" and I was like "Yeah, that's why you suck" and he was like "whatever, stop calling me". But the thing is, I got in his head. And then after the game (which I won, of course) I was like "And you still owe me forty bucks" (cuz we're in a money league and he hasn't paid me yet). None of this "good game man" shit. I really chapped his ass about it; he won't even return my calls anymore. Chester thought it was a riot! Awesome!
  3. You never give up on a bad bye week. Now first of all, I have no idea how in the hell you managed to draft a team that had every single player on the same bye week (maybe it's because you're in a keeper league, I don't know), but even still man, you cannot just let that shit go! You could have swung some trades, worked the waiver wire, whatever. I made it through all my bye weeks this year and always fielded a full team. It's just unacceptable to not even put a single player out there; it's really bad for the team's morale.
  4. It's time to go out and get a better Defense. Listen man, I liked your D at the beginning of the year too, but you gotta read the writing on the wall. The turnovers just aren't happening this year and there's a lot of tough matchups down the road. I say drop the Cincy D immediately and just start picking up new Defenses on a weekly matchup basis. Shit I dropped your D four weeks ago and now I've got Carolina's. Check if they're available in your league, that's a huge upgrade.
  5. Ignore all that shit about "locker room poison". Dude, I picked up Barry Bonds at the end of my baseball season this summer and the guy did nothing but produce. He got me the Trophy baby (even though Yahoo still hasn't mailed it or something, maybe I should've requested the T-shirt instead), and him and Jeff Kent totally got along! Seriously man, don't cave in to all those people who say "character matters" and "people need to buy into the team concept", they're just making excuses for why their teams suck so bad. My teams have always gotten along and always kicked ass. I don't see why yours should be any different. As long as your guys produce, who cares what they do in the off-season.

Bottom line Marvin, if you want to win it all this year, you need to start listening to me. I've got a lot of hardware in my virtual trophy case (my Yahoo! rating is All-Star baby!); what do you have in yours?

I Wanna Be Adored

I wanna I wanna I gotta be adored

I remember a conversation I had with a friend at a wedding this summer. I was concerned about what would happen if the Bengals off the field problems started becoming on the field problems. More specifically, I wondered just what would happen if the Bengals got off to a rough start? They are a team full of personalities, chemistry problems as B.S. would call them. Last week, Willie Anderson and Rudi Johnson called out the team’s play calling, and this week TJ threw his helmet after an incompletion (costing the Bengals 15 yeards), Chris Henry gave up on a late game hail mary and got chewed out by Palmer walking off the field (kudos to Carson on that one), and CJ pulled a Keyshawn immediately after the game, angrily demanding more touches while dropping the f-bomb. Then his Keyshawn morphed into his Meryl Streep when he was interviewed again on the way out of the locker room during halftime of the Sunday night game. His voice was cracking and the eyes were glistening a little; he was just a "Hue" away from You Tube fame again. Chad really doesn't know what to do with himself when he's not in the spotlight, especially now that the Bengals have higher expectations than they have ever had during his career. And the team is 4 and 4 with the Chargers coming into town. I’m not ready to count them out yet, but if they lose to San Diego, it’s over. And then what? Does Chad start demanding a trade and cry every week? Does Rudi continue to bitch about his touches? Does Chris Henry go to Amsterdam and never return (possibly a good thing)? I really worry that if things turn for the even worse this season in Cincinnati, everything may fall to shit. Which would be sad, because even if it doesn’t work out this season, a team with the offensive weapons that the Bengals have locked up under contract could be a force for years down the road (like the Colts, only with a QB who isn't a proven choker). They just seem to be missing Marvin Harrison’s class and a pass rush right now (for starters).

Friday, November 03, 2006

Talk About The Passion-Part II

An ongoing (and highly subjective) series highlighting the ten greatest moments in Cincinnati Sports History.

9. Sam Wyche rips Jerry Glanville a new asshole (Dec. 17, 1989)

The Key Players:

Sam Wyche coached the Bengals from 1984-1991. This was a great time time to be a Cincinnati sports fan. Wyche led the Bengals to the Super Bowl in '89 and was a Lewis Billups dropped INT away from a championship. The next year, the Reds won the World Series after leading their division for the entire season and sweeping the heavily-favored Oakland Athletics. Wyche was the mastermind behind the Bengals #1 ranked offense in '88 which featured the first real no-huddle-offense, a RB tandem for the ages (Ickey Wood and James Brooks), a great QB (Boomer Esiason), and a wildly underappreciated group of WR's (Eddie Brown, Tim McGee, and Cris Collinsworth).

Jerry Glanville was a giant douchebag who coached the Houston Oilers from 1985-1989.

The Event:

It was Week 15 of the 89 season and the Bengals were still in the hunt for the wild-card in the AFC. The previous two meetings between the Oilers and Cincy had both resulted in Bengal losses (24-26 earlier that season, and 6-41 the previous year). Wyche was particularly annoyed that Glanville had run up the score in the 88 game in Houston and was looking to exact revenge. Here's what happened:
Up 45-0 in the final period, Wyche called for a fourth down conversion attempt (which was successful), and an onside kick (also successful). The final score was 61-7. After the game, Wyche said his only regret was that Bengal kicker Lee Johnson missed an extra point. Sam also observed that that Glanville's Oilers were the dumbest, most undiciplined team he had ever seen.

Sam Wyche 1.
Jerry Glanville 0.

I wish the Oilers were still around; so I could hate them.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Never Tear Us Apart

Much-maligned Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski

Everybody's pissed off at Bob Bratkowski this week in Cincinnati. I don't know if anyone remembers last week when he was a genius for the 4th and 1 play call to Ocho Cinco, but hey, that was last week, and this is the NFL. To his credit, Carson Palmer at least defended the Bratman:
A lot of people want to point their fingers at (Bratkowski), but if you're looking for somebody to point your finger at, you can point it at me, because I'm calling a large percentage of the plays (in the no-huddle offense)," Palmer said.
Palmer then added: "And if I hurt Bob, I'll make wine...from his tears.

Personally, I think that all this anger is more than a little misdirected. After all, this team gave up 29 points to the Falcons and made Michael Vick look like the 2nd coming of Steve Young, only faster. So how about sending some of those shit sandwiches over Chuck Bresnahan's way Cincinnati fans? He's the guy who designed the give-Michael-Vick-all-day-to-carve-us-up defense that worked so well. Atlanta punted 3 times the whole game, and Vick would've had less time to throw in a 5-Mississippi two-hand touch game. I know you don't want him to beat you with his legs, but if he's making the throws (and he was last Sunday), you can't let him get comfortable. In other news, Kaesviharn got beat by another tight end for a touchdown so the gloves are off again. Fuck you KK, you almost had me won over with last week's e-mail. You're dead to me now.