Commentary: Reds fans should relax and enjoy the ride

Published: Saturday, September 08, 2012 @ 1:31 AM
Updated: Saturday, September 08, 2012 @ 11:21 PM

The Cincinnati Reds are in the home stretch of a near historic season. Battling the Washington Nationals for the best overall record in baseball, this team is evoking memories of the Big Red Machine of the 70’s.

Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman could finish 1-2 in the Cy Young Award voting, Todd Frazier has made a strong case for Rookie of the Year, Ryan Ludwick could be Comeback Player of the Year, and common sense says only his absence from the lineup after knee surgery is keeping Joey Votto out of MVP discussion.

Yet I hear no Reds fans endorse Dusty Baker for Manager of the Year. Instead I hear complaints about lineups and batting orders. There are doubts that the team can make a title run without a better leadoff hitter, and worries that Mat Latos and Bronson Arroyo are inadequate second and third starters behind Cueto in a short playoff series.

Granted, the Reds have not won a postseason series since 1995, but it’s not as if Baker is going to bring Corey Patterson out of retirement to play center field and spark an implosion. This team is not perfect, but there are no flaws large enough to prohibit a deep playoff run, if not a World Series title. However, what happens in October should take nothing away from the summer of 2012.

I have often witnessed Dayton basketball fans begin speculating about NCAA tournament bids after a big win in December. Victory celebrations are cut short by worries about how many more wins it will take to get to the Big Dance.

I said to them the same thing I say now to Reds fans. Relax. Enjoy the ride.

NFL loosens up celebration dance rule

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 11:12 PM

The National Football League is relaxing some rules around celebration dances for players, according to an announcement from Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday.

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“We know that you love the spontaneous displays of emotion that come after a spectacular touchdown," Goodell said a letter to fans. “And players have told us they want more freedom to be able to express themselves and celebrate their athletic achievements.”

The New York Times reported that the decision was made by NFL owners as one of several rule changes at the Spring League Meeting in Chicago Tuesday.

Other rule changes include decreasing regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10, allowing two players to come off of injured reserve instead of one, banning jumping over the line to block kicks, and the elimination of one of the preseason roster cuts.

The letter lists some examples of celebrations that will be allowed under the new policy: 

  • Using the football as a prop after a touchdown, such as simulating a basket ball jump shot with a football,
  • Celebrating on the ground -- such as making snow angels, and 
  • Group demonstrations, like a coordinated dance move.

Those approved types of celebrations, allowed after scores, are illustrated in the letter in GIF form. 

Still, it’s not a free for all, ESPN reported.

“In my conversations with NFL players, it was also clear how much our players care about sportsmanship, clean competition and setting good examples for young athletes,” Goodell said. “That is why offensive demonstrations, celebrations that are prolonged and delay the game, and those directed at an opponent will still be penalized.”

So things like weapon imagery, such as a machine gun simulation, or sexually suggestive acts -- like Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown’s end zone twerking, are still things that can be penalized.

The strategy may lessen the number of unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties called on touchdowns. According to ESPN, the 2016 season had the highest number of penalties of the past five seasons with 29 called. Of the past three seasons, it has the highest cost of fines for touchdown celebrations at $310,301, up more than $240,000 from the 2015 season.

Former Buckeye hoping to impress the Bengals

Published: Saturday, May 06, 2017 @ 9:59 PM
Updated: Saturday, May 06, 2017 @ 10:18 PM

Corey Smith says all he wants is a chance to prove he can play, which is something he never really got in four years at Ohio State. The former Buckeyes receiver gets that chance as one of several free agents trying to make an impression at the Bengals rookie minicamp.

“I’m just going to go out there and compete and do what I’ve gotta do,” Smith said. “I know how to get open, I know how to catch the ball, and I’ve got a very high IQ of what to do when I’m out there.”

A rare junior college recruit at Ohio State, Smith caught 2 passes for 76 yards in the Buckeyes win over Oregon in the 2014 national championship game. The next season he broke his leg and missed the last of the 2015 schedule.

Smith spent more time on the sidelines than on the field in 2016, but he saved his best for last with a pair of catches against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

“It’s feeling like I just got to Ohio State,” Smith said during a break in practice at Paul Brown Stadium. “I have to pick up the speed of the game, but it’s funny because everything coach (Urban) Meyer talked about is actually true.”

Bengals rookie on the ‘art’ of sacking a QB

Published: Friday, May 05, 2017 @ 9:15 PM
Updated: Saturday, May 06, 2017 @ 11:13 AM

It’s a violent game full of contact, collisions, and pain but Carl Lawson sees football in a much different light.

The Bengals fourth-round draft pick made a name for himself at Auburn as a guy who can get to the quarterback. To some it’s a talent, to Lawson it’s more of an art form.

“It’s a thing of beauty just to watch somebody else on film do something cool,” Lawson said in the Bengals locker room today. “ I study it and I watch it all the time…it’s a beautiful thing.”

Lawson lined up mostly as a defensive end at Auburn, but the Bengals see him as more of a linebacker.

“They want me to play both and this is what they brought me in here to do. I need to be able to learn to do that and do it better than anybody else in the league.”

The Georgia native struggled to stay healthy in college and he anxious to put the injury bug behind him, but back to the “beautiful” part of the game. Lawson says there is more to pressure than meets the eye.

“Rushing the passer is not always about getting sacks,” the rookie said. “It’s being able to affect the quarterback and make him move his feet, make him throw off balance, just anything to disrupt the passing attack. It’s a critical part of the game.”

What former Ohio State Buckeye tops NFL merchandise sales?

Published: Wednesday, May 03, 2017 @ 12:48 PM
Updated: Wednesday, May 03, 2017 @ 12:48 PM

The NFLPA released the list of players whose merchandise sold the best in the past year, and a face familiar to many Ohioans is on top.

Here are five things to know about the best-selling player products from the NFL:

  1. Ezekiel Elliott became the first rookie to lead the league in total sales of officially licensed merchandise.

The former Ohio State Buckeye is joined by two more Dallas Cowboys in the top five. Quarterback Dak Prescott was No. 2 in total sales while receiver Dez Bryant came in at No. 4, between Tom Brady and Odell Beckham Jr.

HOUSTON, TX – FEBRUARY 04: Quarterback Dak Prescott, right, excepts the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year with this teammate Ezekiel Elliot during the NFL Honors at the Wortham Theater Center on February 4, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

  1. The list covers more than just jersey sales.

Prescott actually sold more jerseys than Elliott, edging out his fellow rookie for the top spot in total jersey sales.

Elliott was No. 1 in sales of McFarlane Toys figurines, selling more than 10,000.

Other things tracked include wall decals, figurines, toys, matted and framed photos, vinyl collectibles, bobbleheads, ugly sweaters, plush dolls, drinkware, socks, mobile gaming, virtual goods, holiday ornaments and other novelties.

  1. Only one member of the Cincinnati Bengals made the top 50 in overall sales.

Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green checks in at No. 38, just ahead of Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins and behind Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

Nobody from the Cleveland Browns made the list.

  1. The top sales generator in the AFC North was a Pittsburgh Steeler.

At No. 11, Steelers receiver Antonio Brown led the way in the division, which also put Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell on the list.

Nobody from the old Browns (the Baltimore Ravens) made the list either.

  1. People like to have their own Tom Brady to have and to hold, apparently.

The New England Patriots quarterback led the league in sales of Funko Pop! vinyl figures (whatever those are) and Bleacher Creature plush dolls.

He was also No. 1 in sales of player-identified kids tees and jerseys, so it looks like Pats fans are determined to make sure his legend lives on to the next generation no matter what Roger Goodell might think.

Source: NFL Players Inc. – Ezekiel Elliott Surges To Top of Year-end NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales List