Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day in Cincinnati-"And This One Belongs to the Reds!"

This year it was my youngest son Michael's turn to go to the Cincinnati Reds' Opening Day with me. Cincinnati's Opening Day traditions are unlike any other in baseball.

Michael and Me at Great American Ballpark Today
It begins with the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade in downtown Cincinnati. Cincinnati Reds' Hall of Famer Joe Morgan (one of my all-time favorites) was this year's Grand Marshall. Over 190 bands, dance groups, floats, politicians and businesses marched in the parade, which followed a route from Findlay Market in the Over The Rhine neighborhood past Fountain Square, a total of 2 miles.

Of course Great American Ballpark was sold out for the game between the Reds and the Brewers. The sun was out, which made the 45 degree temperature quite bearable.

(The Enquirer/Cara Owsley)
The Reds won the game 7-6 in the bottom of the 9th on a walk-off 3-run homer by catcher Ramon Hernandez! It was a great way to end an Opening Day Game. Maybe this will lead to a wire-to wire World Championship like the 1990 Cincinnati Reds. My son Michael posted this on his Facebook Page:

Best Reds game of my life. Perfect way to end opening day. Walk off by Hernandez. Unbelievable.

He is right!
Ramon Hernandez Greeted at Home Plate in the Bottom of the 9th

You can read all about the game on the Reds website:
Hernandez's Heroics lift Reds on Opening Day

Pete Rose at Opening Day 2011
It wouldn't be Opening Day in Cincinnati without a Pete Rose sighting in the ballpark. The crowd got a glimpse of Pete Rose in the 3rd inning, and he of course drew a big cheer.

I love Pete Rose, but the jacket and hat...someone needs to dress that guy!

The best lines about Pete's outfit were from Scott Van Pelt's (ESPN anchor and radio host) Twitter posts:

 Scott Van Pelt 

Pete Rose.....transcendent

 Scott Van Pelt 

Worth one more look @ ole Chuck Hustle just murdering fools in his Lid lifter get up (no annoying channel id)

 Scott Van Pelt 

What happens to a dude? You just wake up one day and go- where's my clown hat and my Joseph and the amazing techincolor dreamcoat jacket at?

Monday, March 28, 2011

365 Days of foursquare!

Today marked my one year anniversary of using foursquare! My son Brian turned me on to this last year (Obviously 365 days ago, duh!). Of course I'm hooked. Brian always let's me in on the latest cool stuff.

There's something simple and elegant about foursquare. ( Basically you check into the places you visit using an app on your phone (iPhone, Blackberry, Android), whether it is a restaurant, a store, a sports venue or just a favorite spot. You get points for every check-in, badges for special events, and you can even become Mayor of a location if you check into it more times than anyone else over a rolling 60 day period. You can have foursquare friends, and follow people, brands and companies to earn special discounts when you check in to particular spots. foursquare currently is reporting over 7 million users worldwide!

I like it because I get to keep score.
PA Groundhog Day Badge

So to celebrate my 365th day on foursquare:

- I have checked into 1,952 places in the last year.

- I have 36 Badges

- My favorite Badges? PA Groundhog Day and Baggage Handler

- I currently hold 31 Mayorships

- My first check-in? Columbus Crew Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

Baggage Handler Badge
- My last check-in? Miami University Voice of America Learning Center, West Chester, Ohio

- Where have I checked in the most times? Besides work? Starbucks, Liberty Township, Ohio. And I have earned the Starbucks Barista Badge, Fresh Brew Badge, Starbucks Tribute Badge and Century Club Badge for my efforts!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Juan Agudelo's Week of a Lifetime!

I want to be Juan Agudelo. Last Saturday he scored his first professional goal for his MLS club, the New York Red Bull. Tonight he came on as a substitute for the US Men's National Team in the second half and scored a goal to help the National Team earn a 1-1 draw with Argentina.

Argentina fielded a very strong side, led by Lionel Messi. This is a very good result for the US Men's National Team.

Juan Agudelo is only 18 years old.
Juan Agudelo and Oguchi Onyewu, USMNT (getty images,

Columbus Crew 0, New York Red Bull 0 March 26, 2011

Luke Rodgers, RBNY Sebastian Miranda, Crew (
Wow, it was brutally cold at Crew Stadium this afternoon.

The Crew played to a 0-0 draw with the New York Red Bull today. After last week's debacle against DC United getting 1 point out of the Red Bulls today was OK. Problem was that the Red Bulls were missing several starters due to National Team call-ups. Also, Thierry Henry was ruled out due to injury. This was a perfect opportunity for the Crew to get 3 points from a weakened Red Bull side, but they didn't take advantage.

I thought the line-up Crew coach Robert Warzycha started was interesting and effective. The midfield combination of Eddie Gaven, Robbie Rodgers, Kevin Burns and Dejan Rusmir controlled overall possession for most of the first half. Emmanuel Ekpo was effective as a withdrawn forward.

The problem for the Crew this afternoon was poor crossing and finishing. Several of the Crew newcomers had great opportunities to serve the ball to teammates in the box, but their crosses were hit off target. Both Dilly Duka, on as a late substitute, and Andres Mendoza tripped over themselves when they had great scoring opportunities and were unable to get effective shots off.

Ultimately the Crew should be pleased that they dominated possession and demonstrated an overall good effort. By all rights they should have been able to get a victory in the match, but that's soccer.

An additional note: Only 10,306 people showed up for today's match. It was the home opener! I know it was cold, but c'mon Crew fans, show up!

I have to give the Crew Supporters groups credit...the Nordecke was packed and in full voice once again!
Crew Nordecke, 3/26/11 versus Red Bull New York! (Skyler Schmitt,

All I Have Left is UConn...

With Ohio State's loss last night to Kentucky all I have left in the Final Four is University of Connecticut. And I have them losing in the Final Four.

The good news is the Columbus Crew's home opener is today and the Reds opening day is only 5 days away.

I'm done with basketball...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chad Ochocinco's Trial With Sporting KC, I Like It!

In typical fashion, Cincinnati Bengal wide receiver Chad Ochocinco has generated a wide range of opinions with regards to his trial this week with Sporting KC of Major League Soccer.
Chad Ochocinco at his Press Conference

One opinion: This is just another Chad Ochocinco publicity stunt, meant to only promote himself. Sporting KC doesn't need this kind of distraction as they begin the 2011 MLS regular season.

Another opinion: Why now? Chad Ochocinco hasn't played since high school. Why would Sporting KC bring Chad Ochocinco into training, risking injury to team members as there is no way that he can keep up with the pace of these professional soccer players. What does Sporting KC gain, as the chances that Chad Ochocinco makes the team are very small.

I'm a Cincinnati Bengals fan, admittedly a tough thing to admit with the poor results the Bengals have had over the last several years. As a resident of the Cincinnati area, I've experienced life with Chad Ochocinco as a player, self-promoter, etc. My take? Chad Ochocinco is giving an honest effort to make the team. He respects the game, respects the players and has been very honest in his self-assessment as a player. Just look at some sample Tweets from his Twitter page,!/ochocinco:

 Chad Ochocinco 
Headed to bed with a (humble pie) in the oven on low tempature,to be able to grace the pitch with elite futbol athletes is  goodnight

 Chad Ochocinco 
@ I understand the skill it takes it to play at this level,I just love the beautiful game n have much respect for it,see u soon.

 Chad Ochocinco 
I wish you all can see the skill it takes to play FUTBOL,even with my speed these guys still make me look like shit on the pitch

 Chad Ochocinco 
Speed is nothing without control, let the ball do the breathing

 Chad Ochocinco 
Taking the entire team to Fogo De Chao tonight,I'm the rookie in a sense so this should be fun,what are y'all doing?

Chad Ochocinco has been respectful and humble during his trail with Sporting KC. Will he make the team? I don't know. But I'm rooting for him.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My 2011 Major League Soccer Predictions

Can't get enough of the prediction game. I realize Major League Soccer had their First Kick last weekend, so I'm cheating a bit by making my predictions now.

2011 Eastern Conference Champions:
New York Red Bull

2011 Western Conference Champions:
Real Salt Lake

2011 MLS Cup Playoff Teams:

2011 Supporters Shield Winner!
New York Red Bull
DC United
Columbus Crew
Real Salt Lake
LA Galaxy
Colorado Rapids
Sporting KC
San Jose Earthquakes
Philadelphia Union
Houston Dynamo

2011 Supporters Shield Winner:
Real Salt Lake

2011 MLS Cup Champion:
New York Red Bull

2011 MLS Cup Champion!

Monday, March 21, 2011

My NCAA Bracket is F**ked Up!

At the beginning of the NCAA Basketball Tournament I had all hope for a great year in NCAA bracketology. I posted my picks for all to see with confidence rarely seen in picking winners.

Now it's Monday, and my bracket is a mess. I am ranked in 1,305,406th out of over 5.9 million entries (78th percentile) on the Tournament Challenge, but small consolation as University of Pittsburgh and Purdue are now out, leaving me with only University of Connecticut and Ohio State left from my Final Four picks, and Ohio State picked as my winner.

Base on the teams that are left, here are my revised picks for the Final Four:

Ohio State
University of Connecticut
Kansas (New)
BYU (New)

Ohio State
Kansas (New)

2011 NCAA Champion:

2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Champions!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

DC United 3, Crew 1

Charlie Davies (Getty Images)
Had to watch this game on the DVR. Turned it off last night after Charlie Davies scored on a PK to make it 2-0.

Watched the rest this morning. Some quick thoughts, keeping in mind this is the first game of the year.

- DC United looks like a much improved team from last year. The additions of Dax McCarty in the midfield and Josh Wolff up top were certainly factors in the game.

- DC United and American soccer fans should feel great about Charlie Davies' return to competitive soccer. 2 goals, one on a PK and a second after he beat Chad Marshall were the feel good moments of the match, even for a Crew fan like me.

- The Crew have some work to do. The two goals scored by DC United during the run of play were off of defensive blunders by Rich Balchan and Chad Marshall. Both got beat one-on-one while losing their footing. Chad Marshall doesn't usually get beat like that. Rich Balchan is a rookie and is learning. MLS teams will continue to attack the right side so he will continue to be tested.

- The Emmanuel Ekpo experiment as a central midfielder should end now. Too many give-aways, no offensive creativity last night. He is best used wide.

- Robbie Rogers and Tom Heinemann provided offensive sparks off the bench late in the match. Admittedly the Crew were down 3-0 when they began to show life in the final third, but it is reason for optimism. Maybe Robbie Rogers got the message after not being in the staring 11 last night.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day! NCAA Final Four Predictions

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I just can't help myself...I have to predict the NCAA Final Four!
I know I blew the Super Bowl and the Oscar's, but this time I'm prepared and ready.

2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four:
Ohio State
University of Connecticut
University of Pittsburgh

Ohio State
University of Pittsburgh

2011 NCAA Champion:
Ohio State!

Go Bucks!
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Random Soccer Thoughts-MLS, CONCACAF Champions League, ESPN Broadcast

Major League Soccer (MLS) kicked off it's 16th season last night with the Los Angeles Galaxy beating the Seattle Sounders at Qwest Field 1-0. I'm thrilled that the season finally started!

The environment at Qwest, the Sounders home field, was fantastic. I'm sure the Galaxy are very happy getting 3 points out of the match. The MLS should be pleased with the opening match broadcast on ESPN, except for the fact that Real Salt Lake was playing the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals at the very same time on Fox Soccer Channel.

MLS executives have said many times that success in the CONCACAF Champions League is very important for MLS clubs. Real Salt lake is the first MLS club to reach the semi-finals in the current format of the league. They ended up winning at home against the Costa Rican club Saprissa, taking a 2-0 lead into the second league which will be played at Saprissa's home field on April 5th. I just don't understand why they would have scheduled the MLS season opening match on the same night as an historic match for Real Salt Lake.

Speaking of scheduling snafus...March 26th is a FIFA International fixture date. Several National teams around the World will be playing friendlies, including the US Men's National Team. Another problem. The MLS continues to schedule regular season games on International fixture dates. On March 26th, the Columbus Crew play the New York Red Bull at home and the Red Bull will be missing 6 potential starters due to various International call-ups. Obviously this is good for the Crew, playing a weakened Red Bull team, but as a season ticket holder of the Crew, I would rather see them play the Red Bull at full strength.

Another thought:

-Taylor Twellman has joined Alexi Lalas and Max Bretos as an analyst on the ESPN MLS broadcasts for the 2011 season. Alexi Lalas is over the top in his opinions, but fairly entertaining. Taylor Twellman has improved since I saw him last year on ESPN broadcasts. But both were extremely critical of David Beckham last night regarding his training regimen and for not joining the the Los Angeles Galaxy until late in the preseason. I actually agreed with some of their points, but I think both made it a bigger deal than it actually is. I'm actually rooting for David Beckham to have a great year for the Galaxy!
ESPN Broadcast Analysts Max Bretos, Alexi Lalas and Taylor Twellman

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

You Say It's Your Birthday Na Na Na Na NaNa NaNa! (think Beatles)
Today is my Birthday! I'm 48 years old...

I won't dwell on getting older, but I'll use the opportunity to list the things I wish to happen for my Birthday:

I want my Daughter Mallory to have a successful academic career at University of Pittsburgh now that she has been accepted to graduate school there. Oh, and I'm very proud of her getting her Athletic Training degree at The Ohio State University this Spring!

I want to figure out how to get my son Brian to New York City! His dream is to live and work there...we're going to figure out how to get it done!

And soon my youngest son Michael will graduate from High School! I want him to find a college that fits his interest and makes him happy!

On a much less serious note...

I want a  2011 National League Pennant for the Cincinnati Reds!

And a 2011 Supporters Shield for The Columbus Crew!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just Like All The Others? Jim Tressel's Transgressions

I had a long drive last night after finishing a business trip to St. Louis. Listening to sports talk radio 700 WLW out of Cincinnati, I was able to hear highlights of the Jim Tressel press conference and local Cincinnati reaction to the story.

Jim Tressel was obligated to report information he received in emails about Ohio State football players selling/exchanging memorabilia with a tattoo parlor owner in the Columbus area months before the information became public this past December. The players implicated have received 5 game suspensions to be served at the beginning of the 2011 football season.

Jim Tressel screwed up. He said as much in the press conference last night. Talk radio callers generally gave him credit for standing up and taking his punishment. I'm not so sure. First of all, he didn't come out and self report it. He was caught. He had to face his punishment.

Secondly, I have to wonder about the inconsistencies of the punishments related to this incident. The players received a 5 game suspension for selling the memorabilia. Jim Tressel, the man who is supposed to be their leader, the man who is supposed to set an example for these young men, withholds information he was obligated to provide to his superiors, and signed an NCAA certificate of compliance at the beginning of the 2010 season stating "he has reported any knowledge of possible violations to the institution". What is Coach Tressel's punishment? A 2 game suspension and $250,000 fine. The NCAA will probably add to this punishment. But shouldn't the coach receive a harsher punishment than the player?

My take? No defense for what Jim Tressel did. He didn't get fired because he beats Michigan, wins Big Ten titles, and has won a National Championship. The disappointment for me is Jim Tressel seems to hold himself to a higher standard as does The Ohio State University. Both the coach and the institution are no different than any other College football coach or program.

But in the end, who cares? All will be forgiven when Jim Tressel leads The Ohio State University to another win over Michigan, another Big Ten Championship, and another BCS Bowl game.

As reported in the Columbus Dispatch:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Book Review-Portnoy's Complaint (1969) by Philip Roth

I know it's a little strange reviewing a book that was originally published 32 years ago. I had heard of Portnoy's Complaint many years ago, but had never gotten around to reading it.

Outstanding book. It is best described as the story of a young man, Alexander Portnoy who describes his upbringing in a Jewish household. It is narrated in the first-person by Alexander Portnoy (as an adult) to his psychologist.

This book made Philip Roth famous. The book is brilliantly written. I felt as if I was sitting in the psychologist's office as Alexander described his youth, his infatuation with all things sexual and his frustrations with the same.

This book must have been quite a sensation in 1969. Alexander describes in detail his latent sexual attraction to his mother, his father's frustration with his job and his inability to move his bowels. It is very apparent that his experiences as a young boy has contributed to his inability to maintain healthy relationships with women, and the sexual roller coaster ride he finds himself on as an adult.

Portnoy's Complaint is considered one of the hallmark American novels of the 20th Century. This is a classic book that inspries me to continue to explore the writings of Philip Roth.

Portnoy's ComplaintPortnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book, must have been way ahead of it's time when it was published. I reviewed on my blog on March 6th, 2011.

View all my reviews

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Soccer In America-My Dad's Thoughts (Written February 5th, 2011)

My dad's thoughts on soccer in America!

To All Family Members by Birth or Blood,

I was surfing the net last night and found a blog by, a Jiresell, in which he, rightly so, laments the fact that MLS (Major League Soccer) has not released itʼs 2011 schedule for league play which begins March 11th (since then released). If releasing the schedule for major league football, basketball, or baseball or even college ball, was this slow there would be a national uprising and commissioners of the different sports, subject to skewering if caught. Why not the Commissioner of soccer? By the way the United States is the only civilized country that does not call it football.

The reason is our national psyche has been conditioned since Columbus, Erica the Red, America Vespucius, or the Phoenicians discovered our land and people from many other countries began to populate it. This conditioning began, very early, when the pilgrims and puritans began to play the native americans in the home grown, American sport, of lacrosse. The idea being for the non-native americans to win, win, and win by the biggest score possible. To always be on the offensive. Being offensive then, through natural selective, became part of our national gene pool. Other traits that were learned and incorporated into our national inner being were: impatience (do everything fast), if your going to win - win big, do not depend on your feet to get ahead, man has opposing thumbs - use them.

Another factor in americans not being as enthusiastic as other people from other countries about soccer (football) is that we have more sports to choose from, both amateur and professional. But the biggest factor is that soccer is slow. Not in motion and movement, for players are continually running and seldom slow down, but in scoring. The mentality of non-believers in soccer (football) has been conditioned to higher scores. Defensive playing in other sports is acceptable for it is part of the strategy to win and a tactic employed to eventually outscore your opponent big time. This is what the fans look forward to. Soccer (football) means sitting on a hard bench for 90 minutes, with a short break after 45 minutes, to see one or perhaps two points being scored. So our our mentally conditioning is such that it will take a much longer time to break down the barriers Americans have for soccer (football) and to give it greater stature.

In thinking about soccer, there is a serendipitous moment! Is there direct relationship between menʼs soccer (football) and a countryʼs status? Status meaning international influence and esteem, living standard, economic importance, and the many other factors that determine a nationʼs importance in and to the world. Using the insight and reasoning developed by Aristotle and his teacher, Plato, and not a more technical, statistical analysis, it is evident that there is an inverse relationship between a countryʼs status and itʼs mania for soccer (football). It appears that the lower a countryʼs status and worldly influence the higher their ardor and vigor for football (soccer) with the exception, perhaps, of Brazil.

As a countryʼs fervor for soccer (football) increases, its status diminishes. After World War II, Englandʼs avidity for football (soccer) increased, concomitantly with a decline in cricket. An empire where “the sun never set” became a much smaller universe. French, the universal language of diplomacy, was displaced, as Franceʼs national prominence decreased and soccer (football) became a more prominent sport after guillotining.

Japan, for a while too, had major status, but as baseball, relegated sumo wrestling to a background sport, and soccer (football) devotion and play increased, Japanʼs status declined, but not solely because of soccer (football). They still make a very good stable of cars.

The capstone on the premise of the aforementioned relationship - soccer (football) vs. status - is China. They are and will continue to be a rising power in the world and they play very little soccer (football). They are, however, very good at ping-pong and gymnastics.

So it could be an arguably assessment that if America wants to maintain its International status, it should both pay down the national debt and de-emphasize increasing the scope of soccer (football) in the United States.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Columbus Crew lose 4-1 at Real Salt Lake

This one was ugly. The Crew got it close early in the 2nd half on an Andres Mendoza goal off a cheeky pass from Eddie Gaven. It was 2-1 at that point.

But Real Salt Lake scored two more times (the first should have been disallowed due to a missed offside call) and clinched a spot in the CONCACAF Champion's League semifinals.

Rooting for Real Salt Lake to win The Champion's League, and they definitely have a shot as it seems no one can beat them at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Don't know what to make of The Crew. Thoroughly dominated tonight. Defense porous, very few chances on goal. It's early, the MLS season hasn't even started, but I'm worried.

Crew man of the match? Eddie Gaven for the assist. Mendoza played well too.

Not so good? Robbie Rogers, Jeff Cunningham, Ray Burse and Andy Iro. Ray Burse is the third goalkeeper on The Crew, so expectations are low for him anyway. But the other three need to step it up.
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