On the Nightmarish Debacle

That’s the view of Cincinnati as one approaches from the Kentucky side of the river on I-75. Paul Brown Stadium is on the left – home of the Cincinnati Bengals.

I didn’t plan this post, but events in recent days motivated this post. Some are curious on my take of the craziness that was the Bengals-Steelers game at the stadium this past weekend. After all, some readers told me they thought of me during and after the game. So, pardon me as I stray from my normal routine in order to get things off my chest. My audience isn’t sports-based, but they know I enjoy sports.

It’s been interesting to read and hear the trashing aimed at the team, it’s coaches and players, the city, and the fans. I try to go beyond the surface where most of the comments reside. Most of the national press doesn’t tell the reaction here … the reaction by the fans, players, coaches, and writers. Actually, the news here has been much deeper and profound than most of the commentaries from anywhere else … and certainly including the Pittsburgh paper that I’ve purposefully read.

To loyal fans, this loss not only hurt, it left us frustrated and embarrassed. After all, we’ve been waiting for the next playoff win since 1991. Bottom line – the Bengals lost, and the Steelers won. Since the game ended, the city, the fans, the coaches, the players, the organization, those attending the game, and anyone I’ve left out has been battered and bruised by many … as if losing wasn’t enough.  So here’s a Cincinnati perspective – a reasonable one – an honest one – and one not filled with fan bias.

Two Bengal players lost their composure. They let their emotions overcome professionalism. No excuses because one must take responsibility for their own actions. Take the Bengal who fumbled late in the game. He’s feels the weight of all the subsequent events on his shoulders – yet accepts the blame.

A Bengal player who made the flagrant hit on a Steelers receiver near the end of the game. Unnecessary and horrific! The NFL suspended him for three games – but for this fan, that is not enough.

Referees are responsible for controlling the game, enforcing the rules, and protecting the players. The referees tried to control the game, but they let get away from them by the judgmental decisions they make. There were two clear instances of Bengals being targeted with helmet-to-helmet, but neither called. Helmet-to-helmet contact is in the rules, but like any rule, enforcement is left to the judgment of the enforcer. These misgivings by the referees increased tensions, not defusing them.

Are coaches responsible for the actions of their players? Absolutely, but not totally. Coaches don’t run, pass, catch, or tackle. They don’t interfere, jump off-sides, or fumble. They try to teach players the right way. It’s important they create the balance for a competitive environment. In the end, it’s on the players to execute their tasks and be responsible for their behavior. Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis is a respectful coach, and he certainly isn’t about disrespectful and irresponsible behavior. I wonder if those head coaches even exist.

A certain Steelers assistant coach frequently harasses opposing players … and on the crazy play in the final 30 seconds, he was on the field around Bengals players (yes, a clear violation of Rule 13, Section 1, Article 8). For whatever reason, no penalty was called (another referee judgment that would have offset the second Bengal penalty during the incident.). Keep in mind that when this coach was a player, referees threw him out of a game before it even started.

The NFL has created a macho-fan culture that leads to disrespect, harassment, and even violence. It’s not just in Cincinnati, it’s league wide. Finding fan-on-fan incidents is easy, let alone the throwing of batteries, beer bottles, snowballs, and whatever is available – and let’s not forget verbal abuse. The NFL, in their ever-pursuit of maximizing revenue, scheduled a playoff game between two bitter rivals on a Saturday night – thus creating an opportunity for an all-day tailgating experience. Not a good idea.

The majority of the players on both teams are good people, thus are not representative by the stupid. Anyone thinking that the Bengals organization is a house for thugs is extremely misinformed. Outside of the game, more players make the news because of bad off-the-field behavior than good – but those players are a small percentage of the whole – and this is true in all NFL cities – so is the fact that the good guys get involved in the community. After their playing careers are over, many stay in that city and remain good examples. Others return to their hometowns to build a successful life.

The majority of the fans in the stands are good people, not represented by the people jeering or throwing objects at an injured player. Sports fans can be terrible, and anyone thinking that bad fan behavior in the NFL is limited to Cincinnati is either naive or misinformed. As do the majority of fans across the nation, Cincinnatians condemn the behaviors of the few.

In the end, I think about these what-ifs. What if the Steelers  assistant coach would have been penalized, and the Steelers lost the game?

  • Would there be talk about the Steelers head coach who couldn’t control two assistants who received misconduct penalties?
  • Would anyone be talking about the two Steelers players who danced on the field while a Bengal player lay motionless on the ground?
  • Would anyone be talking about the Steelers hits to the head if they were called?

I think not … but as I said to others starting the day after the game, there is a lot of blame to go around on this one – and they all should not be pointed to Cincinnati. Interestingly, Cincinnati has owned up to their role – something that none of the other parties have done – not the NFL, not the referees, and not the Pittsburgh coaches, players, or organization.

On a Rite of Spring

Thousands of people descend on downtown for a parade, the game, and the general excitement of this annual rite of spring. The young and old, male and female, tall and short, rich and poor, workers and nonworkers, locals and out-of-towners … most dressed in red.

Many workers do not go to work – and many of those who do are not as productive. Kids skip school – and many those who do not face a day of study halls or atypical activities. These behaviors happen every year – thus predictable – then normality follows the next day.

For those who do not know, professional baseball started in Cincinnati. For many years, a Reds home game served as the start to the Major League Baseball (MLB) season. In recent years, that tradition has given way to MLB’s quest for more money, but the Cincinnati Reds remain as the only team that starts the season with a home game – so this day was Opening Day…a special day in Cincinnati … and no other city in the country embraces the day as my city along the Ohio River.

After a horrendous winter, weather brought us sun and warmth. With this setting serving as the perfect opportunity for me to get away from the move-related activities, I went downtown to join thousands of others who were also dressed in red.

For ease and convenience, I parked on the Newport, Kentucky side of the river, and emerged from the garage at Newport on the Levy …

Newport on the Levy with shops, eateries, theaters, and an aquarium

Newport on the Levy with shops, eateries, theaters, and an aquarium

… then had lunch at this establishment (the owners won venture capital money on Shark Tank) …

 

Excellent source for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup

Excellent source for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup

… the Cincinnati skyline and the quiet baseball stadium 4 hours before game time

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood

… the Ohio side with three sports venues on the river and a glimpse of the Brooklyn Bridge’s prototype

Cincinnati has a beautiful riverfront ... and parks are behind me

Cincinnati has a beautiful riverfront … and parks are behind me

… looking back to Covington, Kentucky and the other end of our famous bridge

Daniel Libeskind designed the building with the slanted roof

Daniel Libeskind designed the building with the slanted roof

… while walking beside the stadium, banners remind me of important events in Reds history

Sorry Yankee fans, but our Big Red Machine was one of the best teams ever

Sorry Yankee fans, but our Big Red Machine was one of the best teams ever

… fans eagerly awaiting the start of the festivities around Great American Ball Park

The party goers are just to the right (next pic)

The party goers are just to the right (next pic)

… but many others found a party a short distance away

This must be the no-alcohol zone

This must be the no-alcohol zone

… but for me on this day, I was heading into the city center where thousands gathered for an Opening Day tradition … and that will come in a post next week … besides, I didn’t have a ticket to the game.

On the Approaching Traditions

NOTE: This post is about college football in the U.S., but there is something here for everyone!

Saying that college football is big in the U.S. is an understatement. Not only is it popular, it is also big business – actually ginormous! Nonetheless, with the 2012 season starting toward the end of this month, fan excitement is building.

I like the traditions of college football – and oh my, there are many – but one post cannot capture them all. Much like politics, one’s favorite traditions stems from their loyalties. Simply put, here are some of my favorites.

Colleges have their collection of spirit songs, fight songs, and alma maters. Here’s mine – a song that I played many times in my time as a member of the BGSU Falcon Marching Band – Forward Falcons. (Yes, that’s me on the album cover here.) BTW – Here’s a site where one can find a plethora of college spirit songs.

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From the Michigan’s “Big House” hosting 110,000 to the small stadium holding 4,000, fans file into colossal venues across the land to watch their gladiators. One of my favorite venues is also one of the oldest in college football. Nippert Stadium , located in the center of campus at the University of Cincinnati, is a cozy place with great site lines for fans. Given a full house and a raucous crowd, it’s a tough place for opponents. (My past post on Nippert) The band racing down the old concrete steps is always a risky venture, but a traditional pre-game entrance.

More on Nippert

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Avid fans help create an atmosphere that seems unique to college football. Some say that game day in Madison is the place to be because those fans know how to have a good time while intensely supporting their Wisconsin Badgers. I’ve been there once, and what an experience – and witnessing their eruption in song was both a surprise and a treat!

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Teams have nicknames (my past post) and mascots, such as Herbie Husker, Bucky Badger, Freddie Falcon, Puddles the Duck, Tommy Trojan, Benny Beaver, Buster Bronco, or single names as Smoky, Cocky, Testudo, just simply The Bearcat … animals as Bevo (longhorn steer), Uga (bulldog), Ralphie (Buffalo), Tusk (bore hog), Traveler (horse), and many more.

Before you get to the video, here are a few other links about mascots: Wikipedia list of mascot names , a photo gallery of mascots , a video of bad mascots, and my post on nicknames. Meanwhile, I gotta love this short video about Puddles, the Oregon Duck.

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As the home team finally enters the field shorting before kickoff, fans erupt! I’ve never been to Clemson University, but someday I want to be in the stands as their Tigers enter the famed field known as Death Valley.

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Pregame and halftime is for the college bands, which add to the atmosphere and have historic traditions of their own. I may live in Ohio, but that does not mean I root for Ohio State. Nonetheless, as a former band member, I respect their long-standing tradition of Script Ohio.

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Meanwhile, the college football season starts by the end of this month. Good luck to your favorites, and if my team plays yours, I wish you the best with the other games.

On Satire Bits: Vol. 25

Whew … What a steamy late afternoon on the golf course. Needless to say, perspiration drenched me! I played well, but putting continues to cost me strokes.

The Summer Olympics from London are about to start. Let’s hope the games go off without a hitch. In the Olympic spirit, I went to The Onion’s archives for your mid-week dose of satire. Enjoy …. Any favorites?

World Shocked at Possible Link between Olympics and Big Money

Nike Releases Olympic Track Suit Designed to Limit Penis Wind Resistance

Nation to Leave Olympic on in Background

Report: Olympics to Mathematically Happen This Year

IOC Clears Pros to Wrestle in Olympics

Many Viewers may be Using Oympics-Enhancing Drugs

Woman Turns Down $50 Million Offer from Professional Steeplechase League to Participate in Olympics

Green Clad Archer Steals Gold Metals from Rich, Gives them to Poor

Olympic Kayaker Hoping to Receive Endorsement from Good Paddle Manufacturer

Vaguely Irish Guy in Bar Thrilled by Rugby’s Inclusion in 2016 Olympics

Olympic Swimmer to Return to Tank at Sea World

TV Employee Pleased with Olympic Jacket

Nation to Seek Permission to Stop Watching Olympics

Quaint English Village Bulldozed to make room for Quaint English Olympic Village

Former Olympian Endorses Ultimate Workout Machine

On a Special Cap

I was still on summer break after my first year in college and working at a power plant during the 1972 Olympics. My sophomore year would not start until well into September, but an event of 40 years ago is etched into my memory with pride.

Many recall the Summer Olympics in Munich regarding an act of terror on Israeli athletics, but for me, it also was a golf cap worn by an upper classman who shared chemistry lecture time with me. I can’t recall ever speaking to him, but he is on the cover of our recent alumni magazine – and the accompanying article shows the cap.

Some readers around my age may remember this Olympic 800-meter race involving two sprints around the track; meanwhile others may appreciate the thrill. As a result, during a halftime show at home and away, we formed the Olympic torch and played the Olympic theme in his honor. This less-than-two-minute race is simply a wonderful memory. Does anyone remember this?

On the All-Time Girly Girls

The start of the World Series is a good time for a baseball post. As many of us know the song A Boy Named Sue, and some of us actually remember when it was a Johnny Cash hit.

Although nobody named Sue has played in a major league baseball game, the lineup below features players whose name could be of a female. Keep in mind that my goal is to include as many female-like names as possible. To ramp up the difficulty of fielding a team, I have added a self-imposed rule of only one person per name, with the exception of Hall of Fame (HOF) members.

Even with that in mind, the roster still includes ten members of the HOF accompanying many All-Stars. This team can hit and pitch, thus would be a contender and far outdistance the All-Time Randys who can’t hit, field, and are thin at pitching. Meanwhile, the Randys are perfect for being repeatedly beaten by a bunch of girly guys.

To see the All-Time Randys and other all time teams, see Categories in the right-side sidebar, and then Sports > All-Time Teams or click here.

After the roster, make sure you see the honorable mention list, plus the video.

Ladies and gentlemen, now taking the field, the All-Time Guys with a Girl’s Name.

1B – Lee May (AS)
2B – Jackie Robinson (HOF)
SS – Cookie Rojas (AS)
3B – Judy Johnson (HOF)
C – Jody Davis (AS)
OF – Babe Ruth (HOF)
OF – Jesse Burkett (HOF)
OF – Robin Yount (HOF)
DH – Dixie Walker (AS)

SP – Christy Mathewson (HOF)
SP – Sandy Koufax (HOF)
SP – Robin Roberts (HOF)
SP – Jesse Haines (HOF)
SP – Candy Cummings (HOF)
RP – Lee Smith (AS)
RP – Allie Reynolds (AS)
RP – Lynn McGlothen (AS)
RP – Rosy Ryan

Mgr – Connie Mack (HOF)

Bench: Ryan Klesko (AS), Shannon Stewart, Taylor Douthit, Kim Bautiste, Dana Fillingim, Angel Barroa, Lena Blackburne, Tillie Walker, Kitty Bransfield

Honorable Mention: Jackie Jensen (AS), Jesse Barfield (AS), Sandy Alomar Jr. (AS), Connie Ryan (AS), Lady Baldwin, Sadie McMahan, Dolly Stark, Goldie Rapp, Blondy Ryan, Cuddles Marshall, Daisy Davis, Bonnie Hollingsworth, Faye Thorneberry, Snooks Dowd

On the All-Time Willies

Music has brought forth legends as Willie Nelson and Boxcar Willie, but the song Little Willy (by Sweet) was never a favorite of mine. Free Wily made it to the big screen while Groundskeeper Willie appears on The Simpsons – but the most famous may be Steamboat Willie who became famous with a different name.

While Wiarton Willie is the famous Canadian groundhog who prognosticates the weather. Willie the Wildcat serve as mascots at Northwestern and Kansas State. Ever received a wet willie, tasted Famous Willie’s BBQ, gotten the willies while watching a movie, or know what the British call willie? I didn’t realize that the SS Wily served as a Dutch cargo ship (1938-1939). But it wasn’t a floating chocolate factory nor captained by Willy Wonka.

Nonetheless, these Willies are about baseball … yes baseball – our timeless national pastime – so why not a quote from a non-Willie: “The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be again.” (James Earl Jones from Field of Dreams)

Similar to the All-time Mickeys, not that many Willies have made it to MLB, Nonetheless, this team boasts some offense – even the bench is stacked with notable All-Stars. Opponents will fear the heart of the batting order, but will be eager to bat against a shaky mound corps. Even though the Willies will play good defense, given their pitchers, they must rely on out-scoring other teams in high-scoring games. One thing for sure, they will distance themselves from the All-Time Randys who have difficulty fielding, hitting, and pitching.

To see the All-Time Randys, All-Time Mickeys, and other all time teams, see Categories in the right-side sidebar, and then Sports > All-Time Teams or click here.

Ladies and gentlemen, now taking the field, the All-Time Willies.

1B – Willie Montanez (AS)
2B – Willie Randolph (AS)
SS – Willie Wells (HOF)
3B – Willie Kamm
C – Dan Willie Wilson (AS)
OF – Willie Mays (HOF)
OF – Wee Willie Keeler (HOF)
OF – Willie Stargell (HOF)
DH – Willie McCovey (HOF)

SP – Wee Willie Bill Sherdell
SP – Willis Willie Hudlin
SP – Willie Sudhoff
SP – Willie Blair
SP – Willie McGill
RP – Willie Hernandez (AS)
RP – Willie Frazier
RP – Willie Banks
RP – Willie Adams

Bench – Willie Davis (AS), Willie Horton (AS), Willie Jones (AS), Willie McGee (AS), Willie Wilson (AS), Willie Bloomquist

Mgr – Willie Randolph