NFL Schedule: Bengals to open season at home for first time since 2009

Published: Thursday, April 20, 2017 @ 8:00 PM


            Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) runs up the middle during their game against the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

The Cincinnati Bengals will open the season at home for the first time since 2009 when they play host to the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 10.

Among the other highlights on the regular schedule, which the NFL released Thursday night, are two primetime games, both of which are at home. The first comes in Week 2 against the Houston Texans on Sept. 14, and the second is a Monday night tilt against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 4.

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Here is a full look at the 2017 schedule. All times are local.

Sunday, Sept. 10, vs. Baltimore, 1 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 14, vs. Houston, 8:25 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 24, at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 1, at Cleveland, 1 p.m.

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Sunday, Oct. 8, vs. Buffalo, 1 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 15, Bye Week

Sunday, Oct. 22, at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 29, vs. Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

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Sunday, Nov. 5, at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 12, at Tennessee, 1 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 19, at Denver, 4:25 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 26, vs. Cleveland, 1 p.m.

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Monday, Dec. 4, vs. Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 10, vs. Chicago, 1 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 17, at Minnesota, 1 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 24, vs. Detroit, 1 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 31, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

Upon further review, MLB interleague play has run its course

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 5:22 PM

Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips tags out the Indians’ Francisco Lindor, who was trying to stretch a single into a double, on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Interleague play used to be great.

Now it’s just… there.

Disagree? Well, let’s try an experiment.

Who won the Reds-Yankees series last week?

If you answered “Reds” or “Yankees,” you got it wrong.

It was neither. They split two games at Great American Ball Park.

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Yes, it was a two-game series. Did you know two-game series are a thing? Well, they generally weren’t until MLB had to start messing with the schedule to keep alive interleague play, a once-novel idea that has run its course.

Also, did you know the Reds-Yankees series was not last week? It was actually two weeks ago.

I know this because I looked it up.

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That I couldn’t quite remember should tell you all you need to know about the current state of interleague play.

Hence why it’s not hard to conclude interleague play is not worth keeping around.

Was it worth trading in that second trip the Dodger Stadium in a year? Seeing Coors Field more than once a year?

How will Cincinnati media ever figure out what is going on in the outfield at the Marlins’ stadium (whatever it’s called) if they only get to spend three or four days in Miami?

These are burning questions left unanswered by the current state of affairs, one that comes to our attention as the Reds get ready to host the Cleveland Indians for a two-game series. Then the teams will head up I-71 and play two more times in Cleveland.

Yes, two more ridiculous two-game series.

What is the point of that, again? To make the intrastate series as unremarkable and hard to attend as possible?

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As a friend of mine pointed out, Reds-Indians used to be a fun weekend in one city or the other. Some years, they played in both.

As a practical matter, it’s easier to travel between the cities (or from somewhere else various fans of either team might live) to take in what should be a big event on the weekends. 

Aside from that, big series are meant for the weekend.

Which begs the question, is this no longer an important series?

And if it’s not, why is it being played?

If the geographical rivalries aren’t important… there’s really no point to keeping them alive. 

And geographical rivalries are pretty much the only good thing going for interleague play as it enters its second decade.

By now, every club has been to every major-league city. All the classic World Series have been replayed a couple of times or more.

Yawn. 

With the novelty of Reds-Yankees and Reds-As having worn off, I’d rather see NL West and NL East teams more.

Whatever Cincinnati gained from seeing the Indians every year, it lost in the old rivalry with the Dodgers, who still seem to instill more animosity in people from my dad’s generation than the Indians do in mine if that’s any indication of where things have gone. 

I hear complaints about breaking up the monotony of the schedule — who wants to see the Brewers AGAIN??? — and I get that, but I’m not proposing more divisional games. I think the number of those played now is fine, but I also know familiarity breeds contempt.

Right now, there aren’t enough games against the teams from the other five divisions to be remarkable one way or another.

Let’s put interleague play back on the shelf.

Eighth is the place for Mesoraco (for now)

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 4:53 PM
Updated: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 4:53 PM

CINCINNATI — After a slow start — and he was crawling on all fours during his rehab in Double-A — catcher Devin Mesoraco’s bat is beginning to reverberate.

When he was healthy in the good ol’ days, back in 2014, when he hit 25 home runs and drove in 80, Mesoraco batted in the filet mignon part of the order, fourth and fifth.

Right now he is batting eighth, a normal spot for a catcher, but not a normal spot for Mesoraco. Manager Bryan Price, though, is content to have a productive piece batting eighth and plans to keep it that way as long as his offense continues to perform at peak efficiency.

WHAT IS IT LIKE HAVING Mesoraco batting eighth? “It’s nice,” Price said with a smile.

“The really good teams have that hitting component low in the order,” he said. “You don’t have that pocket in the bottom of the order that lesser teams have. It is seven, eight and nine, the low probability inning of doing anything offensively or setting the table for the top of the order.

“Devin can line a base hit or draw a walk just as easily as he can hit a home run,” Price added. “He can do some things in that eight-hole because he has enough discipline for a guy who has hit in the middle of the order. He understands how to hit eighth and I doubt if he has a ton of experience hitting there.”

Mesoraco has hit safely in eight of his last 10 appearances — 10 for 26 (.385) with two doubles, two home runs and two RBI.

SO IF MESORACO CONTINUES to progress and becomes the offensive force he was in 2014 does Price see him moving up in the order, reclaiminng the fourth or fifth spot?

“I like the way we’re doing things offensively to the point I’ll leave it where it is until or unless the time comes that we struggle,” said Price. “I like what the guys are doing in this order. Guys dictate where they hit based on their performance, but in this case I really like the way we’re set right now. But I have the right to change my mind if we have any extended periods where we struggle, then I could inject him higher in the order.”

OF MESORACO’S LONG, SLOW process of recuperation, Price said, “Injuries are such a mental challenge. We all think about the physical stuff and the rehab stuff, but it is the mental toll that weighs on you, not being able to compete.

“Having two or three seasons of continuous injury becomes a mental beatdown,” Price added. “I know when he hit his first home run he made it around the bases faster than I can ever remember seeing him run the bases. There was so much adrenaline about being back and doing something at this level and contributing to the team.

“It was a special moment for me, too, because I wasn’t lost in what that meant to Devin. Having him back is good for our performance and he enhances the morale of our ballclub.”

THE RETURN OF THE three missing starting pitchers is getting closer and closer. Homer Bailey will pitch a camp game Wednesday. Anthony DeSclafani threw his first bullpen Sunday and Brandon Finnegan throws his first bullpen Tuesday.

Finnegan, out since April 16 with left shoulder issues, is marking the minutes and seconds to get back on the mound.

“I thought when this happened it would be a 10-day thing and I’d start throwing again,” said Finnegan. Instead, it has been a two-month thing and the hopeful date of his return to the rotation is mid-June. “I thought at most I’d be out two weeks, but they’re just being smart with me and I can’t be mad at that.

“I feel good now and that’s all that matters,” he said. “Once I start throwing off the mound I think it will go by pretty quick instead of just playing catch every day. I get to start (throwing off the mound) tomorrow, so I’m pumped.”

Finnegan said he’ll throw 20 pitches Tuesday, then throw 35 on Saturday and build from there.

SPEAKING OF THE MISSING rotation members, Price was asked if the team’s rebuilding program would be on a faster track with Bailey, DeSclafani and Finnegan in the rotation, if the team might be contending.

“Yes, without question,” said Price. “If .500 makes you average, we were an average team in the second half last year, one game under .500, and we were missing some pieces there.

“If you take 60 per cent of your rotation and put it Arizona doing rehab it doesn’t make any team better,” he said. “And there are plenty of teams going through it. I heard the other day that Seattle has all five of its starters on the DL, so there is no violin playing in the background in here right now. This is baseball. We’d certainly be better with all our players healthy, as would every team.”

WITH THE CLEVELAND INDIANS in town, the subject of how the Tribe uses relief pitcher Andrew Miller whenever needed in the middle of the game came up.

“I’d make an argument that we did it first,” said Price, referring to how he used Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias the second half of last season and how he is using them this year. “We didn’t want to limit them to being one-inning situational guys. Because of our bullpen’s struggles, we did it out of necessity last year, utilizing our better pitchers when we needed to.”

QUOTE OF DAY

“For me, personally, the interleague play stuff has been a novelty and I imagine the people of Ohio enjoy it (Reds versus Indians)more than I do. I like playing National League teams specifically. I may have just offended the entire state of Ohio and I hope I didn’t.” — Reds Manager Bryan Price on interleague play.

Former Wright State rival headed to Xavier

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 3:46 PM


            CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 29: Green Bay Phoenix F Kerem Kanter (1) drives to the basket as Cleveland State Vikings G Rob Edwards (3) defends during overtime of the NCAA Men’s Basketball game between the Green Bay Phoenix and Cleveland State Vikings on December 29, 2016 at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, OH. Green Bay defeated Cleveland State 76-75 in overtime. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

A former Wright State rival is headed to Xavier after Kerem Kanter withdrew his name from consideration in the NBA Draft on Monday.

XU coach Chris Mack announced that Kanter, a 6-foot-10 forward who played for Wisconsin-Green Bay from 2014-17, signed an athletic financial aid agreement.

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A native of Turkey, Kanter averaged 11.3 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds for the Phoenix this season, appearing in 31 of 32 games with 20 starts. He is a graduate transfer, which means he will not have to sit out a year before playing his final season of eligibility.

Wright State held Kanter to a combined 10 points and six rebounds in two meetings last season.

He is the younger brother of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Enes Kanter.

Dayton Flyers assistant looks back on facing UD in Elite Eight

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 1:35 PM

Dayton's Devin Oliver, center, hides his tears as Dyshawn Pierre consoles him and Vee Sanford, far right, looks on as the final seconds tick away in a loss to Florida in the South Regional final on Saturday, March 29, 2014, at FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn. David Jablonski/Staff
David Jablonski/David Jablonski/Staff

Darren Hertz arrived at the University of Dayton in April, joining new Dayton Flyers head coach Anthony Grant’s staff a little more than three years after coaching against UD in the Elite Eight.

Hertz was on Billy Donovan’s staff in 2014 when top-seeded Florida beat No. 11 seed Dayton 62-52 in the South Regional final in Memphis, Tenn.

Hertz looked back on that game Monday in an interview with the Dayton Daily News.

“This says a lot about Dayton,” said Hertz, whose official title at UD is assistant to the head coach. “I do recall walking out on the floor literally minutes before the game, and I just remember an uneasy feeling of, ‘Wow, this almost feels like a road game.’ I had heard about the Dayton faithful, but I hadn’t seen it or witnessed it firsthand. I couldn’t believe how much red and blue I saw.”

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A 15-1 run in the last 4 minutes, 30 seconds of the first half doomed the Flyers. They trailed 38-24 at halftime and got no closer than eight points in the second half.

Hertz coached on Donovan’s staff from 1996-2015. Grant was an assistant on the staff for the first 11 seasons of that span. Florida won 467 games and two national championships during Hertz’s time with the program.

The 2013-14 Florida team had lost in the Elite Eight the three previous seasons. It would be the last of last of four Final Four teams for Donovan, who left the program in 2015 to coach the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“To pretend that there was no pressure going into that game would not be accurate,” Hertz said. “That team, that’s what they wanted to do. They really wanted to break through, for lack of a better term, and win that game. Obviously, we didn’t know who the opponent would be, but we felt like that was a Final Four-caliber team.”

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Dyshawn Pierre scored 18 points for Dayton. Devin Oliver had 12 points. Dayton’s leading scorer on the season, Jordan Sibert, was held scoreless and missed his only three field-goal attempts.

“We were fortunate that day,” Hertz said. “I don’t know that we played great. I know Dayton didn’t play their best game that day. They had played phenomenal throughout the NCAA tournament. We felt very fortunate that we maybe caught them on not their best night. Otherwise, it could have ended in a different way. It was two teams fighting hard. I remember how excited we were to win the game, but there was also a sense of relief.”