New England Patriots sign Rex Burkhead from Cincinnati Bengals

Published: Tuesday, March 14, 2017 @ 5:47 PM


            New England Patriots sign Rex Burkhead from Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals lost another free agent Tuesday when Rex Burkhead signed with the New England Patriots.

The Bengals drafted the running back out of Nebraska in the sixth round in 2013, and he made his biggest mark on special teams with 27 tackles.

RELATED: Should the Bengals draft offense or defense in the first round?

Burkhead ran for 344 yards and two touchdowns while cathicng 17 passes for 145 yards last season, when his playing time increased following the knee injury of Giovani Bernard.

His departure leaves the team with the rehabbing Bernard, fourth-year veteran Jeremy Hill and second-year man Tra Carson as running backs on the roster.

Bernard is not expected to be ready when the season begins.

Cedric Peerman, also a special teams standout, is a free agent.

The Bengals previously lost tackle Andrew Whitworth (Los Angeles Rams), guard Kevin Zeitler (Cleveland Browns), defensive end Margus Hunt (Indianapolis Colts) and defensive tackle Domata Peko (Denver Broncos) as free agents this month.

Brady tells Kraft he's willing to play six or seven more years

Published: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 @ 7:40 AM

Brady tells Kraft he's willing to play six or seven more years

Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft shared a part of his recent conversation with Tom Brady Monday during the owner's meetings in Phoenix. 

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"As recently as two, three days ago, he assured me he'd be willing to play six, seven more years at the level he performed," said Kraft. "There's no one that would be happier than I, and our fan base... There's one player at the age of 40 who had one good year (Brett Favre) for the Vikings but he didn't do so well before. 

"I think Tommy's sustained excellence is just unbelievable and it's a lifestyle. You know, he's in training now. It's not like he's stopped. He works out. I remember after our first Super Bowl in '01, going down in the training room in the old Foxboro Stadium, three days after we won and he's in there with the music blaring working out, so he's really dedicated and the thing that's amazing about him is to this day, he hasn't changed as a human being in terms of how he relates to people but also how he works out, and the only thing that's probably changed is how he eats. I'm not sure avocado ice cream is right for me, but if I could look like him and perform half as well, I guess I'd do it." 

When asked about the future of Brady's backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kraft deferred to Bill Belichick's expertise. 
"I charge him to handle all football matters," said Kraft. "We're privileged to have the greatest quarterback in the history of the game and it looks like he's playing pretty solid and he's off the charts in my opinion and we're lucky to have him.

"That's the most important position on the team, needless to say. I don't think anyone can say, 'You've got too much depth at that position,' and I've charged Bill to make those decisions and I'll leave that with him." 

Malcolm Butler, the center of speculation regarding a possible trade with the Saints, remains an unrestricted free agent who has the option to sign a one-year offer sheet from the Patriots. 

"I hope he's with us and signs his offer sheet and plays for us," said Kraft. "I have a great affection for him and he actually was part of probably the greatest play in the history of our team, but there are a lot of people involved in that, on both sides."

When asked if the intention was to trade Butler, Kraft quickly said, "No," but also made it clear that he didn't want infringe on Butler's rights and re-stated his hope Butler returned with the Patriots in 2017.

As for Commissioner Roger Goodell, and whether he's welcome at the Patriots season opener in September? 

"I think I'll let you all ask him that," said Kraft. "Look, he's commissioner of the league. As we all know, he has the right to go wherever he wishes to go and if he wanted to come he's welcome to come. We're happy that we're celebrating our fifth banner and he can decide whether he wants to be there." 

Reds’ Reed crushed by Giants regulars, 14-2

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 7:00 PM
Updated: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 7:00 PM

It was a mismatch when the managers turned over their lineup cards to the home plate umpire Monday afternoon when the Cincinnati Reds traveled to Scottsdale to play the San Francisco Giants.

On Reds manager Bryan Price’s card there was one regular and it was Jose Peraza, playing shortstop instead of second base, where he will be on Opening Day.

Meanwhile, Giants manager Bruce Bochy had his Opening Day lineup on the field — Denard Span, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Aaron Hill, Joe Panik, Madison Bumgarner and Hernandez.

IN YEARS PAST, WHAT Price did was a violation of an unwritten agreement. During spring training exhibition games a visiting team was expected to have at least four regulars in the lineup.

When the Reds trained in Sarasota, Fla., in 2000, the Minnesota Twins visited Ed Smith Stadium and manager Tom Kelly’s lineup card contained nine mystery men.

When it was mentioned to him that he was violating the commissioner’s edict about four regulars in the lineup, Kelly said, “If the commissioner can tell me who my starters are he can fill out my lineup card.”

Kelly was right. The Twins lost 93 games that year and finished last.

REDS STARTER CODY REED needed all the help he could get Monday because he didn’t help himself. He gave up 10 runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings during a 14-2 loss.

He walked the first two batters he faced in he first inning, Denard Span and Brandon Belt, and both came around to score on singles by Brandon Crawford and Aaron Hill.

He hit Joe Panik with a pitch to start the second and walked pitcher Madison Bumgarner and Panik scored on a double by Gorkys Hernandez to put the Reds down, 3-0, after two innings.

IT DIDN’T GET ANY better for Reed in the fourth inning. He retired pitcher Bumgarner, but Hernandez doubled Span singled for a run, Belt singled and Pence doubled for two more runs and a 6-0 Giants lead.

And it didn’t end there. Reed walked Crawford and with two outs Hill doubled to push the count to 8-0.

And it didn’t end there, either. Jae-gyun Hwang, who had just entered the game at second base in the top of the fourth, drilled a two-run home run to make it 10-0.

And that’s where it ended for Reed and his miserable afternoon: 3 2/3 innings, 10 runs, 10 hits, four walks, no strikeouts and a home run, pushing his spring earned run average to 7.08.

WHAT IT ALL MEANS, mostly, is that there are only six days remaining before Opening Day and the Reds starting rotation is still a mystery beyond Scott Feldman and Brandon Finnegan.

AS ONE MIGHT EXPECT, Bumgarner toyed with the Reds’ lineup of minor leaguers — one base runner through four innings, a single by Sebastian Elizalde.

Elizalde became the Reds’ second base runner in the fifth when he led with a double, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Rob Brantly’s sacrifice fly. Stuart Turner then homered, cutting the deficit to 10-2.

Bumgarner pitched seven innings and gave up two runs, four hits, no walks, struck out nine, including Nick Senzel, Elizalde and Alex Blandino in his last inning.

RELIEF PITCHER MICHAEL Lorenzen put some semblance of order into the game by pitching a 1-2-3 fifth and facing only three batters (a walk and a double play) in the sixth.

Blake Wood took over in the seventh and struck out the first two, then gave up a double to Hernandez and a single to Span for another run and an 11-2 Giants lead. Wandy Peralta replaced Wood and got the final out on a line drive to first base.

The carnage, though, continued in the eighth inning against lefthanded bullpenner Tony Cingrani. He gave up three runs on two hits and two walks.

While the Reds gave up 13 runs and 15 hits, the accomplished only two runs and six hits offensively.

They lost three games over the last two days and gave up 43 runs in those three games.

Before the game, the Reds released Ryan Raburn, an infielder/outfielder they signed to a minor league contract on February 19.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Middies’ new ball fields ‘crown jewel’ of community

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 3:00 PM
Updated: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 11:33 PM

The Middletown City Schools District unveiled “the crown jewel of the community” Monday afternoon when the MHS softball team opened its season at Lefferson Park, said Athletic Director Aaron Zupka.

The complex includes four ball fields — one for baseball and three for softball — complete with concrete block dugouts and backstops, a concession stand, scoreboards and plans for an indoor complex to eventually to be built on the grounds, Zupka said.

Built for $1.3 million, the ball park is part of the $96 million construction project Middletown voters approved three years ago. The district is renovating the high school and building a middle school on North Breiel Boulevard and used land that formally housed the high school baseball and softball diamonds, Zupka said.

The City of Middletown and the district swapped land: The district received Lefferson Park and the city received the former Roosevelt Elementary School property, said Sam Ison, the district superintendent.

He sees the Lefferson project as more than a sports complex.

It’s a vehicle to “bring the community” together and create activity to the park, which is near Pickleball courts, Elley’s Hope Playground and Berachah Church, Ison said.

“This is progress,” Ison said after the Opening Day ceremonies that were held under threatening skies. “We always talk about Middie Pride. This is Middie Pride.”

The high school baseball team was scheduled to open its season at home Monday, but the field wasn’t “safe” for play after the weekend’s rain storms so the game was moved to Hamilton, Zupka said.

Carmela Cotter, the high school principal, threw out the ceremonial first pitch on the softball diamond. Then Greg Schwarber, the city’s former police chief and father of Chicago Cubs standout Kyle Schwarber, threw out the first baseball pitch.

Zupka said there still is some work to be done. A new scoreboard will be erected at the softball field and there was no flag pole, so high school students held an American flag before the national anthem was sung by Middletown senior Zayion Hyman.

Zupka hopes the complex becomes “a breeding ground” for future baseball and softball players.

“To me, it’s more about what we can do for our community,” he said. “This will be a central point for building that.”

He said the district has discussed allowing Miami University Middletown, the YMCA and youth groups to also use the facilities.

The Middies will also play two other headline contests in premier venues this season.

On April 19, Middletown and Oak Hills are two of 84 local programs who will partake in the sixth annual 47-game Skyline Chili Cincinnati Reds Futures High School Showcase.

That game will be held at Legacy Field at Prasco Park in Mason at 7:30 p.m.

On April 24, the Middies return to the big stage as they’ll clash with GMC foe Lakota East at Fifth Third Field in Dayton at 7 p.m.

Excitement surrounding the Middies softball facility upgrades are at an all-time high too.

“Our new facility is a hallmark beginning for a new era in Middletown softball,” said head coach Tyler Callahan, whose squad lost to Lakota East 15-1 on Monday. “We are determined to take our program to new heights and keep it there consistently.”

On April 22 at noon, the Middies will also partake in the Skyline Chili Cincinnati Reds Futures High School Showcase.

“We’re excited to participate in the Skyline Chili Cincinnati Reds Showcase,” Callahan continued. “They’ve done an excellent job promoting the sport of softball, and we’re honored add our team to an impressive lineup of competition.”

Middletown will battle Seton at the P&G Cincinnati MLB Youth Academy located at 2026 E. Seymour Ave in Cincinnati.

Atlanta Hawks fan celebrates major dunk with silly dance

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 11:10 PM

Atlanta Hawks fan celebrates major dunk with silly dance

At the Atlanta Hawks game against the Brooklyn Nets Sunday in Atlanta, one fan got the crowd going with his dunk and his dance.

In a video posted on Facebook by the Hawks, a man dressed in jeans, a shirt and Nike shoes, first dribbled the ball from across the court and then made the jump of his life.

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His body reached heights taller than the basket, but he was able to make the daring basket and land on the pad below.

If that didn’t get the crowd going, his dance surely did.

He somersaulted off the pad and “butt-bumped” on the court and then finished with a full-body spin.

The clip has more than 368,000 views.

Some commented with skepticism on the video and suggested it was staged, comparing it to some of the “kiss cam fails” that have gone viral, like the proposal fail at a January Hawks game.

Whether or not he was a real fan, it was a fun sight for the crowd.

As for Sunday’s game, the Nets won 107-92. 

Watch the video of the dunk and dance below.