Sports Today: The NFL gets dumber by the day

Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 9:34 AM

Bengals blow 17-point lead

Everyone involved in making the rules and handing out punishments in the NFL needs to be fired.

These folks obviously don’t know what they don’t know. 

Suspending George Iloka and JuJu Smith-Schuster for hits already penalized during Monday night’s Steelers win in Cincinnati is excessive and ridiculous. 

It is clearly a public relations move by a league that doesn’t know what it doesn’t know about PR either because if anything it just makes the NFL look worse than if it did nothing. 

Much like Jabrill Peppers of the Browns a week before, Iloka and Smith-Schuster were caught doing football things.

Iloka was trying to knock the ball loose to prevent a touchdown while Smith-Schuster was making a block on an active defender who reasonably still had a chance to make a tackle. 

Both acts used to be legal but aren’t anymore because the NFL thinks it can convince the public the game isn’t really that dangerous if it just throws enough flags for stuff that looks bad regardless of intent. 

(Or more likely they’re just trying to provide themselves legal cover when accused of not taking care of the players who don’t want to be taken care of in that way.) 

Could both of them have done it less violently? Probably. 

But violence is part of football. 

Were they both trying to send a message with their hits? Probably — especially Smith-Schuster given his reaction and the recipient of the blow. 

I am for limiting unnecessary roughness in the most extreme forms (intentionally hitting someone in the head, from behind, trying to take out knees, late hits, etc.), but I don’t think deciding to fire off punishment at everything in the gray area of the rules is productive at all. 

Meanwhile, Rob Gronkowski gets the same punishment for something that happened after a play and was far more dangerous and out of line. 

Regardless of how he might try to explain himself, what Gronkowski did was not a football play at all. He shouldn’t play again this season. There is no excuse for his action. 

He saw someone who was literally defenseless (not the NFL’s moronic interpretation of that word) and with time to think about it did something that can only be interpreted as intended to hurt his opponent. 

And beyond that, everyone seems to have already forgotten about the hit from Monday night that actually put a player in the hospital.  

Unfortunately, Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier has a history of hitting people with the crown of his helmet. When he grabbed his back immediately, I thought he injured his spine and feared he had cracked vertebrae. 

I didn’t need to be a doctor to know that was possible — I just had to remember a decades old video called, “See What You Hit” that explained how the physics of how that works. 

The bones in the neck and back line up when a tackler goes in face down. That exposes the spine and can lead to everything getting dangerously compressed. Lots of things can go wrong then because that’s not how the body is designed to function. 

And yet for all of the obviously warranted concern about Shazier now, those are hits that are never talked about even though they are the most dangerous of all. 

I don’t bring that up to try to shame Shazier but because it’s an example of a larger problem: The NFL doesn’t seem to understand football anymore. 

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Dragons’ Marshall wins Midwest League All-Star Game with walk-off hit

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 11:26 PM

Dragons first baseman Montrell Marshall (right) greets manager Luis Bolivar. The Dragons defeated the visiting Lake County Captains 9-3 at Fifth Third Field in Dayton on Wed., April 11, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Dragons first baseman Montrell Marshall (right) greets manager Luis Bolivar. The Dragons defeated the visiting Lake County Captains 9-3 at Fifth Third Field in Dayton on Wed., April 11, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Montrell Marshall, of the Dayton Dragons, singled with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning to score another Dragon, Stuart Fairchild, with the winning run Tuesday in the Midwest League All-Star Game.

The East Division beat the West Division 3-2 in Lansing, Mich. Marshall was named the game’s MVP, joining Jay Bruce (2006) as the only Dayton players to win the honor.

» RELATED: Dragons well represented in all-star game

Marshall, the Reds’ 12th-round pick in 2014, went 1-for-2. Fairchild went 0-for-2. Hendrik Clementina, of the Dragons, also went 0-for-2.

Dragons pitcher John Ghyzel retired all four batters he faced with two strikeouts and pitched a perfect 10th inning. Cory Thompson struck out the only batter he faced in the top of the ninth.

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Dayton offers scholarships to two more 2019 recruits

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 6:26 PM

Dayton Flyers: A look at 2018-19 roster

Two more 2019 recruits earned scholarship offers from the Dayton Flyers on Tuesday.

• Moulaye Sissoko is a 6-foot-10 center originally from Mali in West Africa. He attends Lincoln Academy in Atlanta. The school reported his offer on Twitter. Sissoko is a three-star prospect who ranks 288th in the class, according to 247Sports.com. Mississippi State, Penn State and South Carolina are among the other schools to offer him scholarships.

» RELATED: Casey Cathrall reflects on year with Dayton

• Lester Quinones, a 6-5 shooting guard at St. Benedicts Prep in Newark, N.J., also received an offer, according to Pat Lawless, of PrepCircuit.com. Quinones is a four-star recruit who ranks 69th in the class of 2019, according to 247Sports.com. Connecticut, Illinois and Providence are among the other schools recruiting him.

List of reported offers

» 2019 OFFERS: Tre WilliamsDontaie AllenMaceo AustinAndre GordonTyler Bertram Tyson EtienneJovan Blacksher Jr.Diante Smith Toumani CamaraKira LewisPrince Gillam and Ismael Cruz | Joshua Pierre-Louis

» 2020 OFFERS: Zeb JacksonSymir Torrence | Andre Curbelo  | Posh Alexander | Max Amadasun | Luke Kasubke

» 2021 OFFERS: Wesley Cardet | Franck Kepnang

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How successful was the Dayton Dragons’ first half?

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 3:07 PM

Fans take over during a 7th inning stretch in Peoria????€??™s 5-2 defeat of the Dragons

The Dayton Dragons wrapped up the first half of the Midwest League season with an 8-0 loss to West Michigan on Sunday

Let’s take a closer look at what’s been an up-and-down season so far for the Cincinnati Reds’ Single-A affiliate. 

1. After losing their last four games, the Dragons finished with a record 31-37. 

Dayton finished the first half in sixth place in the Eastern division, 15.5 games behind leader Bowling Green. 

This marks a major departure from last season when the Dragons streaked through the first half and had clinched a wildcard berth when it was over. 

2. Speaking of streaks, those have marked 2018 for Dayton. 

The Dragons opened the season on a three-game losing streak. 

Then they won their next nine only to lose eight in a row. 

After that came a six-game winning streak. 

Things leveled off to a certain extent after that, but there were still losing streaks of seven and eight games along with a five-game winning streak. 

3. Home sweet home? 

The Dragons were a league-worst 9-23 on the road in the first half. 

They posted a 22-14 mark in front of the fans at Fifth Third Field, however, and that might not come as much of a surprise for a roster that is pretty young. 

Speaking of youth... 

4. Jeter has notable name and game. 

Many of the preseason headlines were devoted to Hunter Greene, the 18-year-old pitching phenom with the triple-digit fastball who was the No. 2 pick in last year’s MLB draft

However, the best teenager on the team so far has been Jeter Downs. 

The infielder leads the team in hits (68) and stolen bases (18) while sharing the team lead in doubles (15) with Montrell Marshall.  

RedsMinorLeagues.com notes Downs, who turns 20 on July 27, has already put up some impressive power numbers compared to previous teenage Dragons

5. What about Greene, anyway? 

Hunter Greene made 12 starts in the first half and finished with a 5.53 ERA. That is the best it has been since he gave up seven runs in less than an inning during his third start. 

Green has allowed six runs and seven walks over 23.3 innings in his last five starts. He has struck out 27 while walking seven and allowing 20 hits. 

RELATED: Greene loses pitchers’ duel

He has gradually worked up his pitch count, throwing 86 his last time out, and shown that while he is raw, Reds fans have a lot to be excited about. 

Reds top pick strikes out eight hitters in three innings in first appearance in Dayton

6. Catcher impresses.  

One of Greene’s batterymates, Hendrick Clementina has been the team’s best hitter so far. 

A catcher acquired in the Tony Cingrani trade, Clementina is has a team-best .971 OPS and also leads the club in batting (.316), homers (nine) and RBIs (35). 

He is one of five teams to make the all-star team, joining outfielder Marshall, outfield Stuart Fairchild and pitchers Cory Thompson and John Ghyzel. 

7. Final verdict. 

Was this a successful first half for the Dragons? 

In record, obviously not. 

The Dragons had the worst on-base percentage in the Midwest League and finished 12th in runs scored. They also had the worst team ERA in the league. 

Development is the name of the game at this level, though, and a handful of the guys in Green look like keepers. 

That includes Greene, who appears to be on the right track after a rocky run in late April and early May

Was last season’s postseason appearance a freak occurrence? That remains to be seen, but at least fans at Fifth Third Field were more likely to see a win than a loss. 

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Romano, Votto lead Reds past Tigers

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 10:44 PM

Reds starter Sal Romano pitches against the Tigers on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
David Jablonski - Staff Writer
Reds starter Sal Romano pitches against the Tigers on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

Sal Romano delivered one of his best starts of the season as the Cincinnati Reds beat the Detroit Tigers 9-5 in the opener of a two-game series Tuesday at Great American Ball Park.

Romano pitched seven scoreless innings. He allowed four hits and walked four. He struck out six.

» RELATED: Suarez playing like an all-star

Romano pitched a season-high eight innings in his previous start against the Royals in Kansas City, allowing one run on four hits June 12. In his last two starts, he has lowered his ERA from 6.23 to 5.18.

Joey Votto got the Reds on the board with a grand slam in the third. He shooed a bird away from the plate two pitches before the home run and then flapped his arms as he crossed home plate.

Tucker Barnhart drove in the Reds’ fifth run with a double in the fourth. Billy Hamilton hit a solo home run in the sixth. Adam Duvall drove in two runs with a bases-loaded double in the sixth to make it 8-0.

The Tigers didn’t get on the board until the ninth when Wandy Peralta allowed five earned earned runs on four hits without recording an out.

The Reds (27-45), who have won five of their last seven games, lead the all-time series against Detroit 12-11.

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