Sports Today: Marvin Lewis’ predictably uninspiring prescription for a Bengals turnaround

Published: Tuesday, November 07, 2017 @ 10:20 AM

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis speaks during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, in Cincinnati. The Bengals won 24-23. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Staff Writer
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis speaks during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, in Cincinnati. The Bengals won 24-23. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)(Staff Writer)

Marvin Lewis met with the media in Cincinnati yesterday and confirmed there’s not much reason to be excited about the rest of the Bengals season. 

“We’ve got enough ability to get it done, but we got to go do it,” he said when asked why he believes this team has what it needs to make a run in the second half of the season. 

Well, glad that’s settled! 

But there’s more: 

“They’re going to work. We just need to continue to work smarter, play smarter, and eliminate the errors and the things that occur that we (have to overcome) in the scope of the game. We just need to get on the right track. We have to make things happen.”

That all sounds great — which is why he said it — but what reason is there to believe it really comes true? 

Unfortunately, there’s no more benefit of the doubt with this team or this coach. 

The Bengals have issues, but they also have enough talent to win more games than they lose. 

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I don’t blame Lewis for all of the Bengals’ problems, but I don’t get the impression he knows how to fix many, if any of them

He’s a leader of men, not boys, and it would be nice if they would just go out and do their jobs. Maybe eventually they will, though only if they decide to on their own. 

Seems like they need more than being told, “Be better.”… 

I guess there was a similar tone to Urban Meyer’s Ohio State press conference Monday, too. 

The questions in Columbus really ran the gamut, as they tend to do more after a loss than a win. 

He brushed aside a question about the direction of his program, but he acknowledged a variety of issues added up to being embarrassed at Iowa. 

“I think Iowa played well and we didn’t play very well. Turnovers. Not being able to get off the field on defense caused that game to turn out the way it did.” 

That’s not a bad summation if you’re trying to keep it simple. 

The defense couldn’t get off the field because it didn’t seem to know what it was doing. 

The offense was inconsistent because the coaches still don’t seem to know what their players should be doing. 

How long will that continue? 

RELATED: 5 things Urban Meyer said about the Iowa game

At least with college guys, there’s more mystery and thus more reason to think something might change in the locker room or position group as they gain experience. 

Just look at Iowa — or this week’s opponent, Michigan State. 

The Hawkeyes just played their best game of the season, and so, too, did the Spartans, who knocked off Penn State to give themselves a shot to make another surprising run to the Big Ten East title…. 

In related news, Wayne receiver L’Christian “Blue” Smith made it official Monday: He is going to play basketball for the Warriors this season instead of enroll early at Ohio State... 

In case you missed it, Joey Votto is among the finalists for the National League MVP Award

Now I guess we’ll find out just how dominant the nerds have become in the BBWAA, but they’ve already scored a major victory considering two of the three finalists — Votto and Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins — play for teams that did not make the playoffs. 

Maybe that makes Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt the compromise candidate? He was a step below both Votto and Stanton (not to mention a half-dozen or so other guys) statistically, but his team got a wild card. 

We shall see. 

My vote would go to Stanton, who had eye-popping traditional numbers (59 homers, 132 RBIs) but also had a higher WAR (wins above replacement) than Votto and Goldschmidt whether you go by Fangraphs or Baseball Reference

I still say if we’re calling it “most valuable,” team success matters

“Most outstanding player” of 2017? That’s Votto. 

But, hey, if he wins there’s no reason for any Reds fan to apologize. 

Maybe it would help make up for his getting robbed for Rookie of the Year… 

The drumbeat for some kind of in-state college basketball showcase for Ohio is getting louder. 

Some things just make too much sense not to do, right? 

In this day and age with so much sports on TV and so many games going on at once, you need to give networks something to promote and something for casual fans to be able to grab onto. 

Hardcore fans are in anyway, but this also serves as a reward to them for enduring so many crappy matchups over the years... 

Unqualified Cleveland Browns general manager Sashi Brown held a press conference Monday to talk about all of that team’s issues. 

I didn’t get the impression anyone was too satisfied with the results.

You’ve got to feel good about a situation in which real reporters found the idea someone sabotaged the A.J. McCarron trade credible enough to ask about it in a press conference. 

›› Browns GM says it’s “wholly untrue” he sabotaged AJ McCarron trade

Definitely a sign things are going well. 

But, hey, there’s this: 

Brown also accepted responsibility for not doing a better job in acquiring talent for Jackson.

“It’s my responsibility to deliver a roster here that is talented enough to win week in, week out,” he said. “And we haven’t done that, yet. We have a very aggressive plan as we move forward to bolster this roster in a huge offseason, probably the most important we have coming up.

“We’ll plan to execute on it.”

It’s nice to see the Browns will finally be treating an offseason seriously, although they did sign away one of the Bengals’ best players last winter, so maybe that says something about Cincinnati, too… 

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Hartman: Earle Bruce is one of the most influential Ohio State Buckeyes ever

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 9:25 AM

Ohio State coach Earle Bruce
Skip Peterson/file photo/Skip Peterson
Ohio State coach Earle Bruce(Skip Peterson/file photo/Skip Peterson)

There will never be another Earle Bruce. 

The Hall of Fame Ohio State football coach, who died early Friday at the age of 87, was an import from out of state, but he ended up being one of the most influential Buckeyes of all time. 

A hotshot halfback from Cumberland, Md., “Lefty” Bruce had his playing career cut short by a knee injury. 

PHOTOS: Earle Bruce through the years

First-year head coach Woody Hayes re-recruited him to stick around and help out the team, though, and that turned out to be a fateful decision for both men and the program. 

Bruce is best known nationally for his nine years as head coach of the Buckeyes. 

The College Football Hall of Fame tenure began with a Big Ten championship and an undefeated regular season and ended with his players carrying him off the Michigan Stadium field after an upset win over the Wolverines. 

Ohio State coach Earle Bruce(Skip Peterson)

He won (81-26-1), but not enough to live up to the high standards of Ohio State. 

The firing of “Ol’ 9 and 3 Earle” at the end of a disappointing 1987 season was controversial at the time, but subsequent seasons showed recruiting had declined and a change was probably needed before things got worse. 

Regardless, it proved to be far from the end of Bruce’s association with the Scarlet and Gray. 

Better days were to come, and Earle Bruce played a large part in making them possible. 

Bruce’s successor, John Cooper, modernized the program by nationalizing recruiting and updating Ohio State’s schemes, but two Bruce proteges took the Buckeyes back to the top of the college football world. 

Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer, winners of the national championship in 2002 and 2014, respectively, both were brought to Ohio State initially by Bruce, and both counted him as an important mentor. 

Bruce was also a difference-maker away from the field.

Through multiple efforts — including his annual Beat Michigan Tailgate — he helped raise over $1 million for Alzheimer’s research, a disease that claimed his father and two sisters. 

His family revealed last summer he was also in the early stages of battling the disease. 

Death is a part of life, and few lived as full of one as Earle Bruce, a player, coach and mentor who left an indelible mark on Ohio State football. 

Over the past 20-plus years, he remained a presence with the program and a go-to resource for media members who wanted first-hand accounts of the days of Hayes or insight on what makes Tressel and Meyer tick. 

During the Tressel days, “Hurricane Earle” was famous for blowing through the Woody Hayes Athletic Center early in Michigan Week. 

He would give one of those old fashioned fire and brimstone speeches to get the players fired up to face the Wolverines, a fitting coda to a life lived as one of the ultimate Buckeyes. 

One can’t help but wonder how many young Ohio State players -- including those who like him came from out of state -- first learned about the intensity of The Game from Bruce. 

Too many to count. 

That might not be the biggest part of his legacy, but it’s perhaps the most appropriate. 

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Former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce dies at 87

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 7:57 AM

Former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce reacts as he's honored by dotting the I in Script Ohio before a game against Rutgers on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff
David Jablonski - Staff Writer/David Jablonski/Staff
Former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce reacts as he's honored by dotting the I in Script Ohio before a game against Rutgers on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff(David Jablonski - Staff Writer/David Jablonski/Staff)

Former Ohio State Buckeyes head football coach Earle Bruce died early Friday at 87, according to a statement released by his daughters.

Bruce, who was hired in January 1979 and followed Woody Hayes, coached the Buckeyes from 1979-89 and had a record of 81-26-1 in nine seasons.

» HARTMAN: Bruce one of most influential Buckeyes ever

Bruce remained close to the program. Two years ago, he dotted the “I’ in Script Ohio before a game against Rutgers at Ohio Stadium.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, Coach Earle Bruce, early this morning, Friday, April 20,” the statement by his daughters (Lynn, Michele, Aimee and Noel) read. “He was a great man, a wonderful husband, father and grandfather, and a respected coach to many. Our family will miss him dearly, but we take solace in the belief that he is in a better place and reunited with his beloved wife, Jean. We thank you for your prayers and good wishes.”

Current Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was a graduate assistant at Ohio State in Bruce’s last two seasons.

“I’ve made it clear many times that, other than my father, Coach Bruce was the most influential man in my life,” Meyer said in a press release. “Every significant decision I’ve made growing up in this profession was with him involved in it. His wife (Jean) and he were the role models for Shelley and me. They did everything with class. He was not afraid to show how much he loved his family and cared for his family.”

Bruce was 5-4 against Michigan in his career and 5-3 in bowl games. He won four Big Ten championships (1979, 1981, 1984, 1986). He won his first 11 games in 1979 and was named national coach of the year.

» RELATED: Meyer wishes Bruce happy birthday in March

“I'm proud of about three things in my career,” Bruce said in 2001. “One is the Michigan record: 5-4. And the only games they won were because there wasn't a fifth quarter. If there had been a fifth quarter, we would have kicked their butts. We just ran out of time, that's how I look at it. And I went against Bo Schembechler, the best coach they ever had, no question.''

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Dragons first baseman delivers game winner for 8th straight win

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 11:45 PM

Dragons first baseman Montrell Marshall had the winning hit in a 3-2 defeat of visiting South Bend at Fifth Third Field on Thursday, April 19, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Always athletic and tall for his age, Montrell Marshall was a natural at football and basketball while growing up in Pinehurst, North Carolina. That’s also prime stick-and-ball country; golf.

“I’m not a good golfer, but I pass by it all the time,” the Dragons first baseman sheepishly admitted.

»RELATED: Another gem by Hunter Greene

A solid 6-feet-5 and 215 pounds, Marshall gave up football at his mom’s insistence. “I didn’t play after middle school,” he recalled. “My mom, she was terrified of it.”

Basketball, too, is a distant memory.

Apparently headed to Auburn University to play baseball, the Reds took a chance and drafted Marshall out of high school. The rest is developing minor-league baseball history.

“It was a tough decision to make,” said Marshall, who was drafted by the Reds in the 12th round of 2014 and spent the last two seasons in rookie ball at Billings, Mont.

“I really liked Auburn. They showed me a lot of love. That’s a fun atmosphere and my best friend was going there the year after. It was a tough decision.”

»RELATED: Adult beverages, rain delay and Dragons baseball

Marshall is among a core group who graduated from Billings last season to low Class A Dayton in the Midwest League. On Thursday night, his run-scoring single was the difference in a 3-2 defeat of visiting South Bend at Fifth Third Field. That was noteworthy for all the right reasons.

• It was the Dragons’ eighth straight win. The last time that happened was in May of 2011 when Billy Hamilton was setting stolen base records for the Dragons.

• The win streak has all played out at home. That’s just two wins shy of matching the home win streak of 10.

• The Dragons (8-3) previously swept home series from Bowling Green and Lake County, and now have rung up South Bend, a Chicago Cubs affiliate.

• The Dragons did not commit an error in the three-game series. It’s the first time since August of 2016 that has happened.

»RELATED: Dragons shortstop delivers a make-up play

Dragons catcher Mark Kolozsvary’s two-run single in the second inning evened it at 2-all. Dragons starting pitcher Packy Naughton (1-0) earned the win, going six innings, allowing four hits and two earned runs. He also struck out four. Relievers Luis Alecis, Cory Thompson and John Ghyzel (third save) also pitched shutout innings.

“This is fun,” Marshall said. “I don’t think I’ve ever won eight in a row. It’s a fun team.”

Dragons catcher Mark Kolozsvary makes a putout. The Dragons defeated visiting South Bend 3-2 at Fifth Third Field in Dayton on Thu., April 19, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Dragons tales: Wednesday was shake-up day for the Reds with the firing of manager Bryan Price and pitching coach Mack Jenkins. Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said that wasn’t a hot topic among players.

“We don’t address anything with them,” he said. “They’re aware of what’s going on, but it doesn’t affect us much of what’s going on here. I don’t want them thinking about stuff. I want them concentrating on games and to get better.”

Reds special assistant Eric Davis, with the Dragons for practice and the game, declined to address Price’s firing.

• The Dragons took a roster hit Wednesday when closer Sarkis Ohanian was promoted to high Class A Daytona. Taking his place was former Dragon Dauri Moreta, who had been in extended spring training.

»TWITTER: You should like @MarcPendleton

Ohanian (1-0) had four appearances, collecting two saves and a 5.40 ERA. Moreta was at his best during the Dragons’ postseason last year. In his final 16 appearances he had a 1.85 ERA and earned a save in two playoff wins. He didn’t allow a run in four playoff games.

• The Dragons are at Fort Wayne for a three-game series beginning Friday, then at Lansing for a four-game series. Their next home game is Friday, April 27 to start a three-game series against Fort Wayne.

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

FRIDAY’S GAME

Dayton at Fort Wayne, 7 p.m.

WONE-AM (980)

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Hartman: Firing Bryan Price shows winning might actually matter to Cincinnati Reds

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 9:19 AM

Bryan Price reacts to loss to Cubs

Turns out losing games actually does have consequences in Cincinnati. 

That’s reassuring, I guess. 

RELATED: What’s a manager worth, anyway?

The Cincinnati Reds firing Bryan Price might not make them better, but at least he will no longer be able to make them worse. 

I wanted Price to work out as the team’s manager, and I don’t want to celebrate anyone losing their job. 

He seems like a good man who knows baseball. I hope he lands on his feet, and I believe he will. 

But he had to go. 

Dusty Baker (Price’s predecessor) did some great things to help close the door on a decade-plus of losing, but he had taken the Reds as far as he could with his managerial style (good) and lineup-building foibles (bad).

Price, the architect of a great pitching staff under Baker, made as much sense as anyone to get the job four years ago. 

He stumbled out of the gate with a flawed team, but he showed some progress as the manager even as the roster got worse and injuries multiplied. 

Certainly making a change after last season would have been justified, but sticking with him wasn’t the worst idea, either, considering he had not really had much to work with and there was reason to think the Reds would be better this season. 

With a 3-15 record, they are not, of course. 

» MCCOY: Groundhog day for Reds, who lose 2-0 again

So far, this has looked like one of the worst Cincinnati teams ever, in fact, and Price blew multiple games last week with bizarre late-inning decisions. 

The manager doesn’t swing the bat and he doesn’t make the pitches (or throw the ball over Joey Votto’s head), but he’s in there for some reason, right? 

This team needs new direction. 

They needed to do something to shake up the clubhouse before losing became a way of life for another summer on the riverfront. 

After players’ managers like Baker and Price, perhaps a good ol’ fashioned butt kicker could do some good. 

We shall see if Jim Riggleman is that man. 

If not, well, we’ll see next year if it’s someone else. 

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