Monthly Archives: February 2010

“My 3rd Bearcat News Story: Baseball Preview”

This was a rough script to what would have been my 3rd story on Bearcat News with Denise Thomas.  Due to time restrictions, the last episode of the quarter will not be filmed.  So here is the draft of what I would have said:

Enjoy..

Thanks Denise.  This is Josh Kramer coming at you with your sports, on Bearcat News with Denise Thomas.  It may be bitterly cold and snowing in Cincinnati, but Bearcat baseball is back.  The team headed south this past weekend for their opening sets against Florida Atlantic and in the Big East/Big 10 Challenge.  The Bearcats are poised to rise back to the top of the Big East this season after a disappointing year where they finished 8th in the conference with a 500 final record.

Many regulars and familiar faces are returning including senior leader and center fielder Jamel Scott, sophomore second baseman TJ Jones, shortstop Chris Peters, catcher Jimmy Jacquot, and first baseman Kevin Johnson (KJ).  The team will sorely miss the big bats of All Big East performers Mike Spina and Lance “the Bull” Durham.  Lance was the man who put the ball on top of 5th 3rd against Crosstown rival Xavier last season.  Both are currently playing professional ball.

The Cats are recommitted to strong pitching and solid defense.  Last year the team hit well, but the pitching staff really struggled at times, costing the team a shot towards finishing near the top of the Big East.  The UC pitching crew amounted an Earned Run Average of 6.73, which was dead last in the conference.  So even though the Cats hit the 2nd most HRs in the Big East with 72, they finished just 29 and 29 due to the lack of consistency from the pitching staff.  Only one UC starter pitched a complete game the entire season.  This really led to the bullpen being overworked which showed late in the season.

 Coach Cleary has always been a coach that has stressed speed and a small ball approach, and this year appears to be no different.  He will be looking for consistent strong starts from returning pitchers Tyler Smith, Dan Jensen, and the rest of the Bearcat staff.  As most baseball fans already know, strong pitching wins championships.  Not to mention the majority of the recruits brought in this year are expected to field some of the pitching duties.  So though many pitchers will be young, the Cats will not be short for arms this year.

A major storyline of this season is the hoped resurgence of Senior center fielder Jamel Scott.  Though Scott may be the shortest player on the roster, standing at just 5 foot 4, he may have the biggest impact on where the Bearcats finish this year.  Scott is one of the only guys on this team who has seen significant playing time for all 4 years of his career as a Bearcat.  Jamel possesses a great blend of speed, skill, and experience.  Last year was a very tough year though for the senior as most of it was marred by a shoulder injury.  Jamel really looks to get back to playing the way he did as a sophomore, when he batted 311 with 38 RBIs, and an astounding 35 stolen bases.

Get excited for the Cats long awaited return to Marge Schott Stadium at the beginning of March.  The Cats have an 11 game home stand over a 3 week period.  So be sure to check out the baseball version of the Bearcats in the Big East’s best baseball facility according to voters.  It should be a fun year for UC Baseball.

That’s all for sports on Bearcat News with Denise Thomas.  I’m Josh Kramer.  Denise, back to you.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

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“Welcome to the D-League”

There is no amazing incite to provide on this new development.  But it definitely is a headline that caught my attention. Hasheem Thabeet has been demoted to the D-League.  Talk about a smack in the face.  The Grizzlie’s 7 foot 3 center and the number 2 overall pick in last year’s draft could not cut it with the big dawgs.  At 7 foot 3, Thabeet was stinking it up so much, Memphis decided to ship him off to North Dakota.  Talk about a demotion.  Going from playing in the NBA, to playing in North Dakota.

Now Thabeet had an outstanding career at Connecticut and definitely has plenty of ability.  You are not Co-Big East Player of the Year, National Defensive Player of the Year, and a 2nd team All American because you are lacking ability.  A guy does not get drafted ahead of guys like Tyreke Evans if they have no potential.  The man is a work in progress and I highly doubt this is the last of him that we see in the League.  Give him some time to develop and he will be a role player in the real League in no time.  Hopefully his pride is not stung too much though.

When you are the number 2 pick in the draft, you expect to most likely be a starter right away.  You do not expect to be shipped to North Dakota midway through the season.  Hasheem was making 4.5 million in salary this year.  So worse things could happen in a guys life.

Any thoughts on if Thabeet will ever develop into a formidable NBA player?  Or will he migrate around the D-League for years to come and maybe even pop up on the Harlem Globetrotters?

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

“Brotherly Love”

Mark McGwire has stated today that he does not plan on ever seeing his brother Jay again.  Jay is Mark’s younger brother by 6 years.  Jay has a book coming out called “Mark and Me: Mark McGwire The Truth Behind Baseball’s Worst-Kept Secret” chronicling their relationship among other things.  In the book, there is apparently talk about Mark’s steroid usage.  Mark feels betrayed by baby bro.  He feels sold out.  He feels ratted out.  How do you think the MLB and your fans feel about you Mark?  Oh yeah, we feel betrayed too!

Mark says that he cannot believe the actions of his brother Jay.  He says that he just tried to do nice things for Jay and take care of him like any big brother should.  Things cannot get any worse for Big Mac anyways.  Now everything about the home run hitter is finally coming out.  I mean, Mark and Jay apparently have not spoken since 2002.  Who doesn’t talk to their brother for a decade?  The story is that Jay’s son tickled McGwire and made him spill coffee on himself.  That was the beginning of the falling out between the brothers.  Mark swatted at Jay’s son’s backside enraging Jay’s wife.

This is a really odd situation.  I feel like a Jerry Springer story is unfolding in front of me.  So McGwire not only cheated, but he apparently lays hands on young boys, and does not speak to his blood.  The steroids may have healed Mark and helped him recover faster, but they apparently screwed him up in the head. 

Just come out and admit that you used them to improve your performance Mark.  Until you do so, you are living a sham.  Also don’t lay hands on baby bro Jay, he was a bodybuilder and looks pretty strong. 

Mark may have been a great player on the field, but apparently there are a boatload of issues he had going off the field that people were completely in the dark about.  I hope Tony LaRussa enjoys the roller coaster that he is about to embark on with McGwire serving as the Cardinals hitting instructor. 

Jay’s book hits stores on Monday.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

“Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better”

Kobe Bryant made a triumphant return to the Lake show last night.  The Lakers trumped the Grizzlies in the most exciting of fashions.  What a surprise.  Bryant hits another game winner.  Kobe hit a big time three to tie the game with around a minute left.  Then capped things off with a go ahead 3 pointer with a few seconds left in the game.  OJ Mayo’s rebuttal at the buzzer clanked off the back of the rim.

For those of you who do not remember, in one of Kobe’s last games before the injury at the beginning of February, Kobe passed the ball to an open Ron Artest for the game winning three-point attempt as time expired.  Artest missed the open look and the Lakers lost.  On this night, Phil Jackson and Kobe knew better and made sure that the superstar got to shoot in the end.  This was Kobe’s 5th game winner of the season.  Talk about Mr. Clutch.

One of the background stories in this game was the old lion vs new lion.  The superstar vs the up and coming star.  Bryant vs Mayo.  O.J. Mayo is one of the finest talents in the League at this time.  For those of you from the Cincinnati area, you must remember the O.J. Mayo show that hit Cincinnati a few years  back.  O.J. and his traveling all-star buddy, Bill Walker, took Cincinnati high school hoops by storm for a three-year period.  Mayo enjoyed beating up on the likes of Cincinnati Country Day and Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy.  I will never understand why Mayo decided to go to a division three school like North College Hill and not a big time division 1 program.  Either way, the kid turned out fine and is playing fantastic basketball. 

In a way, O.J. played the part of the kids from those smaller schools like Cincinnati Country Day last evening to an extent.  He did everything in his power to keep up with the king of smooth, Kobe Bryant.  Unfortunately for him, he will probably never be as good as Kobe.  Just like those lesser opponents he played in high school a few short years back will never be as good as him.  In a way it is karma.  O.J. beat up on the rich kids and now the Kobe Bryants of the world are going to beat up on him (on the court obviously).

Now O.J. is having a phenomenal year scoring nearly 18 points a game.  Also he did put up 25 last evening.  But he was unable to come up with the big shot down the stretch and showed why he is not quite on the level with Kobe and Lebron.  Mayo is very comparable to a John Wall type prospect.  He is just more polished at this time.  Both are 6 4 guys who can play both the 1 or 2.  Wall has more speed than Mayo.  But Mayo can shoot more proficiently.

It will be interesting to see how both Mayo and Wall develop and I will be very curious to see them match up next year in the League.  Maybe Mayo will take on the Kobe role and show the young fella who is boss.  Mayo is only 22 years old by the way.

So Kobe comes back with a fury last evening dropping 32 points and willing his team to a hard-fought victory.  O.J. Mayo will keep getting better, but on this night, anything he could do Kobe could do better.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

“Chopped and Screwed”

I guess it is out with the old and in with the new in the NFL.  Over the past day, 2 of the leagues finest running backs of all time have been released by their respective franchises.  Both Brian Westbrook and Ladainian Tomlinson are looking for work.  Who would have seen that coming 4 years ago when these were the two premier backs in the League?

Each player spent their careers giving to their respective franchises.  And what do they have to show in return?  Both owners feel very sorry that they had to let them go.  Talk about getting chopped and screwed.  Each of these backs exhibited the versatility needed to be a huge threat in both the passing and running game. 

Westbrook and Tomlinson are now both over 30.  They have lost a step or two over the years.  Not to mention both have suffered the wrath of becoming injury prone.  In other words, it is an unforgiving league.  The NFL is a what have you done for me lately League.  The Eagles feel like they have found their running back of the future in LeSean McCoy and the Chargers feel they can get enough production out of the speedy Darren Sproles to satisfy their rushing needs.

Nobody would have ever seen this coming 4 years ago.  Brian Westbrook and Ladainian Tomlinson are on the open market.  Do not be surprised if the Steelers and Patriots take a look at these guys.  Both are winners and I wish them the best of luck with whatever team they join in the future.  I feel that both of these guys have a couple more solid years of production left in them.  There is a little gas left in the tank.

I would feel bad if I were the owner of the Chargers or Eagles too.  Believe me, it doesn’t make either of these great backs feel better.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

“Thank You Tim”

Tim Tebow is no longer deaf to the media.  Tebow is finally listening.  He is going to change-up his mechanics in order to help better prepare himself for playing at the next level.  I knew you had it in you Tim.  For the past four years, Tim Tebow has dominated college football unlike any other has, or at least in recent memory.  He won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore and was a finalist on two other occasions.  Not to mention he won 2 National Titles and should have won a 3rd this year minus one bad half.

Tebow has always possessed the skill to block out his critics.  At the same time he also has the ability to block out anything that he does not want to hear.  That includes advice from people who are trying to help him.  This is a flaw.  He has refused to fix his awkward mechanics for years now.  And really can you blame the guy?  He saw no repercussions as he continued to dominate the college stratosphere for half a decade.  The whole story of Tebow kind of reminds me of another big name quarterback.  A guy by the name of Favre.  Maybe you have heard of him.

Both guys are consummate winners and show the will and determination of a champion every time they step on that football field.  They also are two of the most stubborn people of all time.  Refusing to listen to coaches who are there to help them improve their games.  I never quite understood why Tebow was so stubborn.  He has always seemed like such a good guy.  Favre on the other hand, his stubbornness makes complete sense to me.  Favre has always been about numero uno and will continue to be that way for years to come.  Well Mr. Tebow has finally gotten over himself and listened.

With his work ethic and the phenomenal coaching that he will be receiving, maybe he can turn into a mediocre quarterback at the next level.  Work ethic is never something that anyone can question about Tebow.  Listening skills, well that is another story.

In other news, UCONN continued their Big East dominance with yet another huge win last evening over 7th ranked West Virginia.  The Huskies are 7 and 8 in the Big East.  If the season ended today, they would be in the tournament according to Mr. Bracketology himself Joe Lunardi.  Is the Big East dominant?  You better believe it.

Pretty much every team in the conference has a top 40 strength of schedule, even if they play the most powder-puff non-conference schedule of all time.  Well the Huskies are no different with the 2nd ranked strength of schedule in the country.  Even at 17 and 11 overall, their chances are looking pretty good to be dancing in March.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

“One of the Great Ones”

Sunday was a great day to a sports fan in America.  I am not sure what more a die-hard could possibly want out of a typical Sunday in mid February.  On this day, there was a little bit of everything.

First of all, 4 of the NBA’s top 5 matched up in two outstanding games.  These games hyped me up for playoff basketball already, as the Nuggets handled the Celtics in a great game, and the Magic outlasted the Cavs.  Dwight Howard won the battle of Superman on this day, though Shaquille had quite possibly his best all around performance of the year.  Though the Cavs have lost some games since the arrival of Antawn Jamison, do not sleep on them.  Remember what everyone was saying at the beginning of the season when the Cavs went through some growing pains with the arrival of the Diesel?  Give Lebron a couple of weeks to acclimate to his new supporting cast.  Lucky for them, they still have a 5 game lead over the Magic so they have time to work out the kinks before losing their home court.

In college basketball, the Big East shined as Villanova was upset by a very strong, and underrated Pittsburgh team.  UC fell in an instant classic to Marquette in a battle of bubble teams.  Though both of these teams are middle of the pack Big East squads, they looked very tough and demonstrated why the Big East is the best basketball conference in the land.  The Cats and the boys from Marquette would both be near the top in most other conferences with a much more aesthetically pleasing record.  In addition, OSU took care of business against Tom Izzo and the Spartans in a clash of Big 10 titans.

Now I will admit, I have tried really hard to get excited for the Winter Olympics.  This has been a challenge and though the skiing events and curling are fun, they do not provide me with the same fire as watching a ball game does.  But either way, whether you are into these games or not, the US beating a rival in a team sport is always exciting.  Especially a sport which is the rival country’s pastime.

In probably the most exciting sporting spectacle of the day,  the US put on its own re-enactment of Miracle on Ice 30 years later with a stunning upset defeat of the heavily favored Canadians.  Alright, so maybe this game did not carry nearly the magnitude of that game 30 years ago.  It was not quite the David vs Goliath matchup of Eruzione and the misfits taking on the invincible Soviets.  But hockey is Canada’s sport.  They have a squad that is supposed to already have the gold wrapped up.  And they are playing in front of their home crowd in Vancouver.  Barry Melrose, America’s hockey expert, has continuously said that it was a good decision  by the US to go younger this year and get rid of the Modano’s and other former American superstars.  By going younger, the Americans look hungrier and more poised to go for the gold.  The results have shown as the US is now 3 and 0 in the tourney and in great shape to capture a medal.  Also take note, that though this victory did not come during the medal round, it was the first time that the Americans have beaten the Canadians in Olympic hockey play since 1960!  Over 50 years!  I think the real question is can the US continue to play with the same fire and intensity throughout the rest of the Olympics and can US goaltender Ryan Miller continue to make 40 saves a night?  Only time will tell.

But this Sunday was one of those days that you should be proud to be an American sports fan.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze