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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. 

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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Six-run third leads Kenton Ridge past Ben Logan in sectional baseball final

Published: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 7:21 PM

Kenton Ridge beats Benjamin Logan in baseball sectional final

Calvin Dibert didn't have to think long when he was asked if this was the most important start of his Kenton Ridge baseball career. Of course, it was. He's only a sophomore. This was a sectional final.

"It was a little nerve-wracking," Dibert said, "but once I got through the first inning, I was fine after that."

» PHOTOS: Kenton Ridge vs. Ben Logan

Dibert gave up a run in the first inning and one in the seventh inning. In between, the top-seeded Cougars scored three runs in the second inning and then nine in the third to beat No. 2 seed Benjamin Logan 9-2, advancing to a Division II district championship.

Dibert struck out eight batters. He improved to 8-0, and the Cougars improved to 19-5. The key to his performance, Dibert said, "was just letting my defense work. Just throwing strikes the whole game."

» SOFTBALL: Cougars beat Northwestern in sectional final

Kenton Ridge coach Aaron Shaffer praised Dibert's maturity.

"He doesn't show his age up there," Shaffer said. "He looks like a seasoned veteran. He doesn't get rattled in any situation."

Kenton Ridge's Calvin Dibert pitches against Benjamin Logan in a Division II sectional final on Thursday, May 17, 2018, in Urbana.(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)
 

Kenton Ridge, which won its second sectional title in a row after a five-year drought, will play Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy or Bishop Fenwick in the next round at 11 a.m. Saturday at Miamisburg High School. Those teams play at 5 p.m. Friday in Lebanon after their game was rained out Thursday.

» TRACK: Photos from D-I meet at Wayne

Senior Drew Wichael (3-1, 3.54 ERA) will get the start for Kenton Ridge in the district final. The Cougars seek their first regional semifinal berth since they reached the state semifinals in 2008, Shaffer's first season. They lost in the district final in 2009 (8-2 to Franklin), 2010 (13-4 to Franklin), 2011 (9-4 to Cincinnati McNicholas) and 2017 (10-8 to Waynesville).

"We're due to get over the hump," Shaffer said.

A victory would give Dibert a chance to start an even bigger game next week. He looked ready for the opportunity against Benjamin Logan.

"He was efficient today," Shaffer said. "I think he only pitched to more than four batters one time, and that was in the last inning. It was four or less every inning. He was around the plate. We played good defense. That's what we've done all year. When we've been good, our guys pound the zone, and we play good defense."

Kenton Ridge's offense did its part as well. Jordan Ward, Jaxon Wright and Quinton Roach drove in runs in the second inning.

» FOOTBALL: Area coaches talk about concussions

An inning later, a single by Bailey Armentrout started a six-run rally. A single by Zach Schneider brought in the first run. Matt Tateman walked with the bases loaded to bring in the second run. A single by Ward scored two runs. A single by Roach scored the final two runs.

Kenton Ridge did all that without recording an out.

"That third inning was big," Shaffer said. "We were able to string a few hits together, get their starter out of the game and get into their bullpen. We just had guys with great at-bats. We were putting the ball in play. We put a little pressure on them. Before you know it, you look up, and we've got four, five, six runs. We competed at the plate."
 

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Giannis Antetokounmpo on his brother: ‘Kostas can be really good’

Published: Friday, May 18, 2018 @ 3:09 PM

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 17:  Kostas Antetokounmpo speaks with reporters during Day One of the NBA Draft Combine at Quest MultiSport Complex on May 17, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 17: Kostas Antetokounmpo speaks with reporters during Day One of the NBA Draft Combine at Quest MultiSport Complex on May 17, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)(Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Former Dayton Flyers forward Kostas Antetokounmpo, seeking to become the first UD player drafted since Negele Knight in 1990, worked out for NBA scouts Thursday on the first day of the NBA Combine in Chicago.

» RELATED: Antetokounmpo works out for Raptors

Antetokounmpo, one of 69 players invited to the combine and the only one from the Atlantic 10 Conference, measured 6-foot-9 without shoes. He was the fifth-tallest player of the forwards. He was 6-10½ with shoes. His standing reach of 9-2 was the best of the forwards.

The NBA released numerous other data points on each of the players. Antetokounmpo weighed 194.8 points. His wingspan was 7-2¼, which ranked 13th among the 69 players.

Antetokounmpo played 20 minutes in a game with other prospects Thursday. He had two points on 1-of-3 shooting, four rebounds and two blocks.

In an interview posted to NBA.com, Antetokounmpo said the NBA coaches “showed me film on myself and helped me see my mistakes and stuff I do good on the court.”

Asked what part of his game will translate to the NBA right now, Antetokounmpo said, “I feel my shot-blocking ability and the way I run the floor.”

In an interview on ESPN, Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks star who’s the older brother of Kostas, said he worked with Kostas in Phoenix this spring. Giannis is also at the combine.

» FORMER FLYERS: Three UD basketball alums teaming up again

One mock draft by ESPN had Kostas being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round with the 56th overall pick.

“He’s just got to work hard every day,” Giannis said. “When I was his age, I paid attention to detail. You can never be satisfied. You always have chapters in your life. This is a big chapter in his life. No matter what happens today, no matter what happens tomorrow or no matter what happens in the draft, he’s got to come out the better player. That’s the most important thing: be a better player every day. Kostas can be really good. He’s got to work on a lot of things. He’s got to work on his game. He can get a lot better. But with the right fit, the right team, he can do great things in the NBA.”

Antetokounmpo spent two years at the University of Dayton. He sat out his freshman season as a NCAA partial qualifier. He averaged 5.2 points and 2.9 rebounds and blocked 31 shots last season and then left the program and the school in March, telling coach Anthony Grant he wanted to pursue a professional career.

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Sinclair baseball one win away from junior college world series

Published: Friday, May 18, 2018 @ 4:12 PM

Sinclair baseball coach Steve Dintaman has his team one win away from the NJCAA Division II World Series. STAFF FILE PHOTO
Sinclair baseball coach Steve Dintaman has his team one win away from the NJCAA Division II World Series. STAFF FILE PHOTO

The Sinclair Community College baseball team is one win away from the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II World Series.

The Tartan Pride (beat Cuyahoga Community College 10-3 on Friday to reach the finals of the Region 12 tournament in Sandusky.

»ARCHDEACON: Sinclair baseball one of nation’s best

Sinclair, which won its 31st straight game, will face the winner of this afternoon’s Cuyahoga-Kellogg winner at 9 a.m. Saturday in the championship game. Kellogg or Cuyahoga would have to beat Sinclair twice in the double-elimination tournament.

On Friday, Colin Shepherd went 4-for-6 with three RBIs and scored two runs to pace Sinclair (43-8). Brandon Henson added a double, triple and three RBIs. Luke Williamson was the winning pitcher.

The NJCAA Division II World Series is May 26 through June 2 in Enid, Okla.

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Dayton offers scholarship to center in 2021 class

Published: Saturday, May 19, 2018 @ 7:15 PM

The Dayton Flyers huddle before a game against Saint Mary’s on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017, at McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, Calif. David Jablonski/Staff
Staff Writer
The Dayton Flyers huddle before a game against Saint Mary’s on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017, at McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, Calif. David Jablonski/Staff(Staff Writer)

The Dayton Flyers offered a scholarship to Franck Kepnang, a 6-foot-10 center in the class of 2021, according to a report by Andrew Slater.

Kepnang plays for The MacDuffie School in Granby, Mass. He also has offers from La Salle, Virginia Commonwealth and Fordham, according to VerbalCommits.com. Kepnang is a native of Cameroon, according to the New England Recruiting Report.

» RELATED: Antetokounmpo competes at NBA Draft Combine

This is the second scholarship offer Dayton has made to the class of 2021. Wesley Cardet, a 6-foot-5 guard from Northeast High School in Oakland Park, Fla., just north of Fort Lauderdale, received a scholarship offer May 9.

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