Playoffs? Cincinnati Bengals still alive, but not by much

Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 12:00 AM


            Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) looks for an open receiver during the second half of their 23-20 loss to the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) looks for an open receiver during the second half of their 23-20 loss to the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

The Cincinnati Bengals’ playoff hopes took a big hit as they let Monday night’s game against the Steelers slip away , but as disappointing as the loss was, there is no time to dwell.

Despite questions still centering around Pittsburgh on Wednesday when the team returned from an off day, the Bengals (5-7) were ready to move on.

They are hanging on by a thread in the AFC playoff picture heading into Sunday’s home game against Chicago (3-9), sitting two games behind the Ravens (7-5) for a wild card spot with three other teams still ahead of them. The Chargers, Bills and Raiders are all 6-6.

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“At this point, we just have to handle our business and worry about what we can control, and that’s trying to win every game we play,” quarterback Andy Dalton said Wednesday. “We’ve been in this position before and made it. I think we made it our first year (2011) — we had to have help, and we were able to make it happen and end the year 9-7. At this point, we’ve just got to win and hope everything falls into place.”

Dalton said it’s difficult to erase what happened Monday – the Bengals gave up a 17-point lead and lost on a last-second field goal – but especially in a short week, it’s important to move on quickly.

Others said the loss is one that can make them stronger going forward. The Bengals played arguably their best half of football as they took a 17-0 lead in the second quarter, but the Steelers gained the momentum with a field goal heading into halftime and came back to score on the first drive of the second half to continue their climb.

“You have to have a short memory,” defensive end Chris Smith said. “Anything can happen in this league, so we just have to maintain (composure) and have a short memory and move onto the next week. In the NFL, you have your wins and losses, and you have to learn from them and move on.”

It helps their next opponent has been struggling, too, but the Bengals can’t afford any more slip-ups and are still relying on a lot of help from other teams to get through to the postseason.

“We’ve got to learn from it,” linebacker Kevin Minter said. “Now we don’t necessarily control our own destiny and that’s on us, but we’ve got to keep playing and hope everything works out for us. It’s a strong team, and if we get a chance, I feel like we can do something but stuff has to get corrected. I feel like we’ll figure it out.”

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Cruiser cam: Troopers rescue Colombian players from I-71 berm

Published: Friday, July 20, 2018 @ 5:51 PM

Ohio State Trooper finds Colombian disc team on I-71

Three Colombians in Ohio for the World Flying Disc World Championships chuckled as they were delivered to their hotel in an Ohio Highway Patrol cruiser on July, a cruiser-cam video shows.

The drop-off at the Cincinnati Marriott Northeast concluded a series of events on July 12 touched off when two players and a volunteer affiliated with Oso Club Ultimate were put off a Greyhound bus about midnight on Interstate 71 north of Cincinnati, according to Lt. Scott Kuntz, commander of the highway patrol’s Cincinnati post.

RELATED: 3 Colombians in town for world championships put off bus on I-71

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“Sorry you guys had a bad experience,” the unidentified trooper said after pulling up next to the three men standing with their luggage in the berm.

The trooper also expressed surprise the men were let off on I-71.

“The interstate is dangerous,” he said in the video obtained by this news organization.

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After talking briefly with the men, the trooper tells them he will have to call for another trooper to carry them and their luggage to the hotel.

He also expressed surprise after the men, one of whom was able to speak some English, told him they were let off because they spoke Spanish.

“That’s not illegal,” the trooper said.

Kuntz said a motorist reported “pedestrians walking on the interstate” southbound in the northbound lanes.

“We were just basically helping them get to where they needed to be,” Kuntz said Friday.

No citations were issued.

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“We were just thankful we were able to get them where they needed to be,” Kuntz said.

The incident prompted some controversy after another player contacted media and posted on social media claiming the three were taken off the bus for speaking Spanish.

Greyhound investigated and issued a statement:

“Upon our investigation, we determined that this was not an act of discrimination. In fact, English is not the driver’s first language either. Our policy states that customers must be transported to the destination that is printed on their tickets, and the customers were upset and became unruly when the driver refused to drop them off in another city about 32 miles outside of Cincinnati.”

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On Friday, the Oso was still playing to place, but was out of medal contention.

Play continued in Lebanon today and moves to Mason on Saturday for the final games and closing ceremonies at Mason High School.

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Hamilton grad impressive, but Dragons fall 1-0 in 10 innings

Published: Friday, July 20, 2018 @ 5:42 PM

Hamilton High School graduate Patrick McGuff turned in another impressive outing for the Dayton Dragons on Thursday night, but that couldn’t prevent the host Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Brewers) from posting a 1-0 win in 10 innings.

»KATZ: After the draft

McGuff made his second start since being signed as a free agent from the Evansville Otters of the independent Frontier League. He pitched five scoreless innings, allowing two hits, two walks and striking out three.

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Dragons reliever Wendolyn Bautista (3-5, 3.61 ERA) was charged with the loss. He was just as impressive, working 4.2 innings, allowing two hits, walking one and striking out six.

»RELATED: Dragons photo gallery

All minor-league games begin extra innings with a free runner at second base. Dayton couldn’t score despite runners on first and third with no outs.

Andy Sugilio had three hits to lead the Dragons and catcher Mark Kolozsvary the team’s other two hits. Both had doubles.

»RELATED: Dragons fall in series finale

It was the third straight loss for the Dragons (12-15 second half and 43-52 overall). Wisconsin (12-14, 43-52) hosts Dayton in the series finale at 8 p.m. Friday. Scheduled to start for the Dragons is pitcher Hunter Greene (3-7, 4.69 ERA). It’ll be his first appearance since pitching in Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game.

»FACEBOOK: For more sports you should like Marc Pendleton

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After the draft: Teams always on the lookout for the next best thing

Published: Friday, July 20, 2018 @ 4:18 PM


            Dragons outfielder Malik Collymore was signed by the parent-club Reds as a free agent. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
            MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Dragons outfielder Malik Collymore was signed by the parent-club Reds as a free agent. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF(MARC PENDLETON / STAFF)

With the potential of 40 new players being signed by major league franchises every summer from the free agent draft – not counting international free agents mostly out of Venezuela and the Dominican Republic – it would seem franchises would have enough players to stock their teams.

Think again. Attrition – including injuries, releases and other needs – create vacancies, especially in the minor leagues.

»RELATED: Dragons photo gallery

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Certainly the Reds have enough players to fill their seven stateside minor league teams. The rookie-level Greeneville, Tennessee Reds were added this season. They just don’t want to have 18 second basemen in the system and no catchers. Sometimes, though, extra players are needed.

That’s why all teams check out other players, often working trades or signing dropped free agents.

This season, the Dayton Dragons have already used six players not originally signed by them: outfielders Lorenzo Cedrola, Malik Collymore and Logan Taylor as well as pitchers Aneurys Zabala and Patrick McGuff and catcher Hendrik Clementina.

»RELATED: Dragons drop series opener to Timber Rattlers

To have so many imports in the low minor leagues is not unusual. The Reds have a history of dipping into independent leagues, where teams are not owned by major league franchises. McGuff and Taylor fit that profile.

One of the most successful Reds’ acquisitions came near the end of the 2002 season when the Dragons ran out of healthy catchers. Reds farm director Tim Naehring – and other scouts – spotted undrafted Ryan Hanigan in the collegiate Cape Cod League.

Offering an immediate position, the Reds landed Hanigan in late August. He hit .273 while playing excellent defense with the Dragons in six games.

»RELATED: Dragons fall in series finale

That was enough to get him invited to spring training, followed by a longer stint at Dayton, where he batted .277 in 92 games for the Dragons, augmenting his defense, in 2003.

He made it to the Reds in 2007, playing most of 11 seasons in the majors. This summer, he is with the Giants’ Class AAA Sacramento River Cats.

Oddly, in the same season he joined the Dragons, Hanigan became teammates with Matt Boone, who was signed after failing to get higher than Class A ball with the Tigers over several seasons. Matt is the son of Bob Boone, who was winding down a short career as manager of the Reds. Bob insisted Matt was the best of his baseball-playing sons, which was not the case.

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Matt Boone hit .190 in limited duty in 2002 and .195 in ‘03. He still wasn’t going to get out of Class A ball, but the Dragons had a third baseman.

There was also the case of infielder/outfielder Jeremiah Piepkorn, a fifth-year senior at North Dakota State who was signed prior to the 2004 draft. He looked like a bust, too, posting a .168 batting average over 28 games before his season abruptly ended with what was thought to be an appendicitis attack - it was food poisoning.

The next season, now 25 and still in the Midwest League, Piepkorn hit a fine .266, leading the Dragons with 22 homers and 77 RBIs. He played a couple more years, making it to Class AA, and finished his career in an independent league.

Minor league teams also obtain players from trades made at the major league level.

»RELATED: Dragons first baseman suspended

That’s how Hendrik Clementina made it here, a prospect gained from trading pitcher Tony Cingrani to the Dodgers. Former major league outfielder Scott Van Slyke also came to the Reds in that trade. He was released, picked up by the Marlins and released again. Clementina is among the Dragons’ top hitters.

Sometimes a trade will cost a minor league team a player. In the Ken Griffey Jr. trade to the Reds in 1999, outfielder Mike Cameron and pitcher Brett Tomko went to the Mariners and minor leaguers Jake Meyer and Antonio Perez went west. Perez likely would have been Dayton’s second baseman in 2000. He eventually made it to the majors.

Also in 2000, pitcher Brian Reith was traded from the Yankees to the Reds and played for the Dragons, eventually becoming the first Dragons player to make it to the majors.

Reith came to the Reds organization along with celebrated former Michigan quarterback Drew Henson, a third baseman whose major-league career spanned just nine at-bats and one hit.

The following March, Henson went back to the Yankees along with outfielder Michael Coleman for Wily Mo Pena, a star with the 2001 Dragons who had received a large free agent bonus from the Yanks.

Sometimes you don’t have to draft a player to get a good one.

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Amazing stat explains just how good this Reds player is at the plate

Published: Friday, July 20, 2018 @ 12:53 PM

The Reds' Joey Votto hits a grand slam in the third inning against the Tigers on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
David Jablonski - Staff Writer
The Reds' Joey Votto hits a grand slam in the third inning against the Tigers on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto pointed to his ability to hit the ball hard and where he wants to on a consistent basis as his greatest strength last week.

“If I want to hit fly balls all the time, I can,” Votto said. “If I want to hit line drives all the time, I can.”

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The numbers prove that. According to FanGraphs.com, Votto has popped out on the infield only 16 times in his career and not at all in 2018. Jeremy Frank, of NGBaseball.com, brought this stat to everyone’s attention this week on Twitter.

Votto has popped out in the infield only seven times since 2010, and according to Frank, the average player with the same number of plate appearances (5,341) would have popped up in the infield 127 times.

» MORE ON REDS: Five questions for second halfThree storylines to follow

Votto and the Reds return to action Friday in their first game after the All-Star break, playing the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park. Votto leads the National League with a .422 on-base percentage. He’s hitting .289 with nine home runs and 55 RBIs.

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