It’s that time of the year again. Most males can likely relate to me saying that my mind is quite random these days as the mix of work and holiday leaves one struggling to figure out whether one is coming or going. The struggle intensified as I tried to narrow down thoughts for this column, so I just went to Plan B, a bunch of random topics that are dominating the local sports scene.
Everything sports related around here has to begin and end with the discussion of Pete Rose. As you all know, Rose’s reinstatement bid was denied earlier this week, hopefully bringing an end to that sordid personal saga for the Hit King. But you and I both know that won’t be the case. Pete won’t go away and as numerous writers have prosed since the announcement, he just “doesn’t get it.” If you watched his news conference on Tuesday that he laughed through, you will see the point.
Poor Pete. There is no doubt that he deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame for his on-field accomplishments but the inability to distinguish between that and his off-field transgressions have pretty much assured that his plaque will never appear in Cooperstown. Arrogance is not a virtue that fits Rose well and he has succeeded in turning the “important” people in baseball against him. Oh, the fans still adore him and chant “Let him in”, but that ain’t happening. Of course, we will see plenty of Pete because hypocritical major league baseball will still use him when they can make a dime off of him.
In reality, Rose is 74 years old so what would a reinstatement have done for him? Not too many teams in this age of young and bold executives would have had any kind of job for him so he’s probably better off keeping his status quo. Sit in Las Vegas four days a week and sign bats for $299 a pop, making more in a month than I will see in a career. Hard to pull off much sympathy there.
Cincinnati sports took another blow on Sunday afternoon when Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton suffered a freak broken thumb trying to make a tackle on a lineman who probably weighed twice as much. Predictions of doom rained down from Bengals fans everywhere, considering it now a lost season. I say, hold your horses! I happen to have faith in A.J. McCarron as a fill-in until Dalton returns and with San Francisco and Baltimore still on the schedule, the chances that Cincinnati is in the playoffs for a fifth straight season are still pretty good. Seriously, the Browns beat the 49ers with Johnny Goofball in charge, so you don’t think the Bengals could do the same? Maybe not, but I like their chances.
Sunday’s game with the Steelers looked more like a scene from “Slap Shot” with the “chippiness” as it was called dominating play. I won’t say what I really think about those “bums’ from the Steel City for fear the Gallowitz family might cut off my privileges at McDonald’s but if those Steeler fans might take a look at the playoff standings as of today, I don’t see their name in the top six, so zip it until you are there. We all know that Pittsburgh will be back in town for a playoff game, so we will see it settled there. Enough about that, it gives me a headache to keep typing about that other team whom by the way my dislike for began in the 70s. Don’t tell us about Super Bowls, we live in a “what have you done for me lately” world.
I have to mention the college basketball scene and yes, I am still part of Big Blue Nation, but I’m not naive enough to think that this year’s team will be anywhere near what last year’s was. As I see it now, there is not one player on the UK roster ready for any part of the NBA, but that might change. The SEC is a lot stronger this season and the loss to UCLA will not be the only one the Cats suffer, but fear not, I will still be sporting my UK colors, win or lose.
I will say this, though, keep an eye on the Xavier Musketeers. This may be the best team that Chris Mack has ever put on the floor, now an unbeaten Top 10 squad. As the UC Bearcats will attest, no one wants to play the Muskies at the moment, so if the Cats can’t get there, I will be rooting for the boys on Victory Parkway.
On the local high school basketball scene, I am still trying to see all the local teams and I think I just have two left on my list at the varsity level. The editor duties make it a bit tougher for me to get away from the office on certain nights, so I have to take a moment and thank all the coaches who keep sending me the info from their games that makes it possible for me to fill the sports pages for our loyal readers. So if your favorite team isn’t in the paper as much as others, you might not want to blame me. Now, there’s a very Pete Rose like statement-total denial and lack of accountability.
I hope you are all enjoying the Christmas season and I hope that your bank accounts are handling it as well. I have been a bit lacking in the spirit this year and I thought it was because I was just too busy to think about it, but then I realized that’s not it. I have yet to watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” I will remedy that very soon so in the meantime, I wish you all a very happy week before Christmas!