By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, counting the hours before the Cincinnati Bengals beat Kansas City and the TV guys blame it on Patrick Mahomes’ high ankle sprain. And I can’t believe, being a life-long Cleveland Browns fan, that I’m dangling on the on the overcrowded Bengals bandwagon. Joe Cool won me over, especially for his love of cigars.
—Unfortunately, this has to be said.
Once upon a time, there was a football franchise in Cincinnati that should have changed its name to the Cincinnati Penny-Pinchers.
It was the butt of more jokes and insults than Don Rickles could muster. They were the Cincinnati Bungles. Fans wore two paper bags over their heads in case one fell off.
On the field, they couldn’t move the football even if the running back was a road grader.
Fans clamored for the owner to sell the team to somebody who cared about winning.
Meanwhile, just down the street a block or two was a glorious and much-admired baseball franchise, the Cincinnati Reds. They won. They did it right. Fans were proud and supportive.
That was then and this is now. Talk about turnabouts.
Suddenly, over the last two years the Bengals are the team that has fans busting their buttons. They are winners. They do things right.
Meanwhile, just down the street a block or two, there is a baseball team that is the Bengals of old. The jokes are on them. Fans believe they are a joke.
They should change their name to the Cincinnati Penny-Pinchers. There are not enough fans in the stands to wear paper bags. Fans want ownership to sell the team to somebody who not only wants to win, but knows how to win.
For years, Mike Brown was the villian of Cincinnati sports. No more. It has shifted to Reds majority owner Bob Castellini.
As my friend and former sports writer Bill Koch put it so eloquently in a Facebook post: “I wonder how Reds owner Bob Castellini feels. Does he watch the Bengals every Sunday like the rest of us and root for them to win or does he worry that every Bengals win makes him look worse in the eyes of local sports fans?”
—QUOTE: From Reds CEO Bob Castellini after I asked him why he fired GM Wayne Krivsky: “We just aren’t going to lose any more.” (Krivsky was fired on April 23, 2008. Since then the Reds are 1,092-1210 (.474) with five seasons of 94 or more losses.
—FLOUNDERING FLYERS: While we’re in a critical mood, what in the name of Nike basketballs is amiss with the Dayton Flyers?
With everybody back from last season’s team, the Flyers were picked to win the Atlantic 10 this season. And they started 4-and-0. All good.
Now they’ve lost three of four to fall to 5-and-3. That championship trophy seems to be headed to VCU or Saint Louis.
The same guys who last season beat Rhode Island twice and George Washington twice (by a total of 51 points), have lost to those teams in their last two games.
What’s wrong? Many, many things. One is that the Flyers depend too much on DaRon Holmes II to carry them all on his back
The other teams recognize that and double/triple team him every time he touches the ball. It forces him to force up bad shots or kick the ball out to the open man. The open man is not hitting those open shots often enough.
Knowing UD’s reputation, the other teams bring their ‘A’ games. During their recent spiral, the Flyers have been outhustled and outplayed. The opposition is aggressive and the Flyers are passive.
Injuries have hurt the Flyers massively, but all teams endure injuries. Good teams find ways to overcome adversity. The Flyers have not discovered the formula.
It is perplexing that the A-10 is down this season, no dominant team. The Flyers should be that team. But should is a six-letter word that starts with ’s’ and ends with ‘d,’ as is sapped.
One word described the Flyers so far: Disappointing.
—QUOTE: From UD coach Anthony Grant: “We have to handle the physicality from the other side, based on the way teams are being physical with us. Things that we normally get, they are making it difficult and we are not handling it well.” (He is referring to how the opposition manhandles and sometimes mugs and mauls Holmes under the basket.)
—MYSTIFYING STAT: It is unfair to place team problems on one set of shoulders, but there is a curious stat next to UD’s Mustapha Amzil’s name.
In Dayton’s 13 wins, the Finnish-er from Finland has averaged 12.8 points, In UD’s eight losses he averaged 5.5 points. In the mammoth loss at Rhode Island, nearly every time Amzil’s number was called, it came up zero. He was 1 for 7 (0 for 4 from three) and scored two points.
—QUOTE: From former NBA star Charles Barkley: “You got to believe in yourself. Hell, I believe I’m the best-looking guy in the world and I might be right.” (There is no doubt Amzil believes in himself without looking in the mirror.)
—SAD LOSS: When Billy Packer and Al McGuire were on a basketball broadcast together, they were usually better than the game.
Packer was unfiltered, controversial and highly critical of bad play. Fans of every team thought, “You hate our school.” McGuire was full of mirth and humor, the perfect foil for Packer.
Packer, who covered 34 straight Final Fours from 1975 to 2008, passed away Thursday. He was 82.
—QUOTE: From former college coach/TV analyst Al McGuire, who led Marquette to the 1977 NCAA championship and immediately retired: “My rule was I wouldn’t recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house. That’s not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk.” (And a cracked-up mind.)
—MRS. TV CRITIC: My wife, Nadine, is very discerning, when it comes to TV sports personalities.
“There are three sports guys on TV they should take out back and shoot,” she said. “Jim Rome, Stephen A. Smith and that Mad Dog guy (Christopher Russo).”
Evidently, she doesn’t like guys screaming at her from a TV screen and hasn’t seen (or heard) Colin Cowherd.