Sports Today: Joey Votto learns honesty doesn’t pay

Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2018 @ 10:10 AM

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 10:  Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds is greeted in the dugout after scoring a run in the fourth inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 10, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 10: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds is greeted in the dugout after scoring a run in the fourth inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 10, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)(Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Joey Votto set aside 45 minutes or so for a podcast and some people lost their minds

In case you missed it, the Cincinnati Reds ace batsman opened up about a few things during a long conversation with Yahoo Sports. 

He spoke about his admiration of Ichiro and Bryce Harper (among others), his view of PED users, his outlook for Shohei Ohtani and more, but lots of writers latched onto his saying he is disappointed with the team’s terrible start to the season. 

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Why that is newsy is not exactly clear to me because it would seem to be the natural reaction to losing almost every game. 

RELATED: Votto calls Reds’ early season struggles ‘actually a good thing’

Now, if he had said, “I’m glad we can’t win because I hate this team and I want to be traded,” that would be something to blast from the mountaintops. 

Truly though he did more the opposite. 

Votto reiterated he feels personally invested in the team since he has spent almost half his life as a member of the Reds organization and he really wants to see things get better. 

That is rather, I suppose, than ask for a trade to a contender, something MLB Network oddly suggested in an awkward mini-commentary during its daily highlights show. 

RELATED: What a difference a week makes (again)

I thought his passion for Cincinnati and the Reds was worth highlighting because many times players, coaches, etc., don’t necessarily come across like they know or care how fans feel about various issues. 

Also more interesting than Votto stating the obvious — “This is the worst start I’ve ever seen” — was his ability to look on the bright side, noting that sometimes teams get off to good starts and start paying more attention to the good things than to potential long-term problems bubbling beneath the surface. 

He went on to say every time he struggles he finds imperfections to iron out of his game and thus implying the organization has to do the same thing. 

He ends up better in the long run and hopes the Reds do, too. 

(Sports media of course will not end up better in the long run because we seem to have a lot of people driving the conversation who don’t know what is news and what is not. That becomes even more problematic when mix in the hot take artists who know better but just say things they may or may not actually believe just to stir the pot. But I digress…) 

Naturally, Votto was asked about all this before the Reds lost in San Francisco last night.

"I never want to be apologetic for anything I say," Votto said. "But, I think I may have been a bit overzealous with some of the things I said because I feel at the time we weren't playing very well, and I was frustrated. Ultimately, I want what's very best for the organization -- everyone throughout.

"I miss the days of playing really good quality baseball. I don't know what to say. I've been with the franchise for a long time now. More often than not, I bite my tongue. Probably, I went a little too far with some of the things I said, just out of frustration.”

He went on to say he overstepped his bounds, but I don’t really think that’s the case. 

There’s nothing wrong with a player expressing the opinion a team that loses almost every game is playing badly. It’s not like he called for anyone to be fired, though he did at least imply there are still things the organization needs to change in order to become a winner again

But isn’t that obvious to everyone? 

When Dick Williams fired the team’s manager and pitching coach he said it was a sign of organizational failure, so I’m not sure why we need to rehash all this. 

RELATED: Firing Bryan Price shows winning might actually matter to Reds

Votto also flippantly explained he doesn’t care about Canadian baseball or the accomplishments of Canadian baseball players, which resulted in his writing a letter of apology

If he was describing his true feelings in the first place, I’m not sure why that was necessary, but I’m also not surprised Votto would take the high road. 

So, what’s it all mean? 

I can only assume we can look forward to even fewer candid conversations between athletes and reporters, which is not good for either side or fans… 

Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics handled the Cleveland Cavaliers in game two of the Silver Medal Series in the NBA playoffs

I am not going to declare this series over by any means, but things don’t look good for the Cavs. 

After laying an egg in game one, they played reasonably well in game two but still lost by double digits. 

I didn’t think the Celtics played out of their minds, either. Their performance is replicable, but sometimes things change drastically when a series changes venues. 

The Cavs might look totally rejuvenated on their home floor, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. 

LeBron James was magnificent as usual, and his supporting cast wasn’t bad with the exception of J.R. Smith, who did not score and should have been thrown out of the game for a cheap shot on Al Horford. 

If the Celtics execute, they should be headed to the Finals to lose to Golden State, but they are still very young and James has brought teams back from the dead before... 

Finally we’ve got more on the Bengals. 

Billy Price got to work with Bengals veterans for the first time Monday as voluntary offseason workouts continue, and he received an early stamp of approval from Andy Dalton

Price, who is recovering from offseason surgery to repair a torn pec, said he pushed the envelope a little bit by taking part in some things on the field as he tries to absorb as much as he can. 

“He’s doing a good job, as much as he can do right not to learn what’s going on,” Dalton said of Price. “For him, he had never snapped under center so we have to work through it a little bit but for the first day, I think he did a good job. Obviously, we will know more when we are going against defenses but the start today was good for us.”

Meanwhile, Jay Morrison’s takeaways from the Bengals rookie minicamp include the difference between new offensive line coach Frank Pollack and predecessor Paul Alexander. 

I tend to doubt Alexander was a big part of the problem with the line the last few years, but sometimes a new voice and a new approach are beneficial. 

Especially if it comes along with new players like Price and tackle Cordy Glenn...

 

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Preseason football: Franklin Wildcats

Published: Thursday, July 19, 2018 @ 9:42 PM


            QB Braden Woods directed Franklin to a 24-21 defeat of Brookville last season. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
QB Braden Woods directed Franklin to a 24-21 defeat of Brookville last season. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Team: Franklin Wildcats

Division/Region: D-III, Region 12; no change from last season.

Affiliation: Southwestern Buckeye League, Southwestern Division.

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Location: Atrium Stadium, Franklin Field (Warren County).

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Head coach: Brad Childers, entering his fifth season as the Wildcats’ head coach and 24th year overall. Owns a 29-14 overall combined record.

Assistant coaches: Mike Schneider OC/QB; Frankie Russell, DC/DB; Steve Woods, RB; Tom Parker, OL; Mark Mullins, DL; Landen Brown, WR; Kevin Allen, DE; Todd Centers, LB; Rick Thompson, freshmen; Brian Salmons, freshmen.

2017 records: 4-2 SWBL Southwestern, 8-3 overall.

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2017 highlights: Overcame season-ending injuries to nine starters to tie for second with Bellbrook behind division winner and unbeaten Valley View. Stumbled 35-22 at Oakwood in Week 9, but knocked Brookville out of playoff contention 24-21 in Week 10. That secured a home playoff game and 17-10 loss to New Richmond. That was Franklin’s 11th postseason appearance and sixth since 2008.

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Of all those injuries, losing graduated senior Ryan Montgomery to knee surgery hurt the worse. As a junior dual-threat QB he accounted for nearly 2,000 yards of offense and rushed for 30 TDs. He shifted to running back as a senior and had 740 yards rushing (8.3) and 13 TDs until he went down in a Week 6 blowout win at Waynesville.

Franklin was 5-1 when Montgomery was lost. He signed to play football at Miami University.

Returning junior QB Braden Woods had a breakout season with 1,309 yards passing and 12 TDs. “What I can tell you is that Braden is a smart, athletic, and a well-polished football player as well as football coaches’ son. He has been around the game since the day he was born and we all knew he was going to be a good one once his time came. His work ethic is second to no one and his leadership skills are valuable.” - coach Childers

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Key returners:

Matt Centers, 6-0, 210, sr., LB; first team All-SWBL.

David Figliola, 5-11, 303, sr., OL/DL.

Drew Gesuck, 6-3, 195, WR; 19 catches, 241 yards, 3 TDs.

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John Harris, 6-3, 225, sr., TE/DE.

Ryan Russell, 6-1, 165, jr., WR; 26 catches, 288 yards, 1 TD.

Logan Willis, 5-10, 175, jr., DB; 48 tackles, 4 INTs, 1 TD.

Braden Woods, 6-2, 190, jr., QB; 1,309 yards passing (60.6 percent), 12 TDs, 1 INT.

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Transfers: Cyre Williams (Middletown), Dylan Dierks (Miamisburg), Zarek Welch (Miamisburg) and Izak Proctor (Springboro).

About the Wildcats: An abundance of optimism is always a good thing and Franklin isn’t lacking in that. A robust class of 20-plus seniors is significant.

Franklin is on a 19-4 overall run – 10-2 in the SWBL Southwestern - over the last two seasons, both of which were playoff teams.

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Three schedule changes. Madison (11-3) visits in Week 1, bumping Carlisle (7-3) in the SWBL crossover rotation. Franklin is at GWOC American South member Xenia (2-8) in Week 3. The Bucs replaced GWOC American North rep Piqua (6-4). Also, Preble Shawnee (8-2) visits in Week 6. The Arrows bump Waynesville (1-9) in the SWBL crossover rotation.

“This football team is hungry to get back on top in the league. We have had an excellent offseason and the kids have been receptive to coaching and getting better. I think we have a physical football team.” – coach Childers.

»RELATED: Fairmont Firebirds preseason preview

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Fun fact: Well-traveled Mike Schneider has landed as Wildcats’ offensive coordinator and QB coach. Schneider was a Middletown assistant last season. He previously was the head coach at Miamisburg and Wayne and was a longtime assistant under his son Lance Schneider at Northmont.

»RELATED: New transfer rule approved

Schedule: All at 7 p.m.

Week 1: Fri., Aug. 24 MADISON

Week 2: Fri., Aug. 31 at Edgewood

Week 3: Fri., Sept. 7 at Xenia

»FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton

Week 4: Fri., Sept. 14 MONROE

Week 5: Fri., Sept. 21 at Bellbrook

Week 6: Fri., Sept. 28 PREBLE SHAWNEE

»TWITTER: You should like @MarcPendleton

Week 7: Fri., Oct. 5 VALLEY VIEW

Week 8: Fri., Oct. 12 at Eaton

Week 9: Fri., Oct. 19 at Brookville

Week 10: Fri., Oct. 26 OAKWOOD

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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.

RELATED: 5,000 expected for ‘Olympics of Ultimate’

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.

RELATED: 128 teams from around world coming to Warren County

“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.

»RELATED: Making rosters work just part of the formula

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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