Job Shadow Day with Veteran Sports Writer

August 5th, 2008

On Wednesday, July 23rd, I job-shadowed Marc Katz, a 38-year veteran sportswriter for the Dayton Daily News. Marc received his degree in Journalism from Ohio University (“Harvard on the Hocking”). He has covered many sports such as Dayton Flyers basketball, Ohio State football and basketball, high school sports, among others. For the last 6 years, Marc has been a beat-writer covering the Dayton Dragons and Wright State Raiders. 

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Marc picked me up at my house at 3:45 pm and drove us to the Dayton Dragons baseball game. We parked in the press lot and walked to Fifth Third Field box office where we picked up our press credentials. We entered the stadium, and headed to the Dragons clubhouse where Marc introduced me to the Dayton Dragon players and coaches. He was carrying on small talk with various players, while researching another article about the Dragons. At around 5:00 pm, we walked out to the Dragons dugout to watch the players taking batting practice. At roughly 6:00 pm, we headed up to the press box where Marc setup his Macintosh laptop computer to start formalizing his notes. Marc used the time before the start of the game to finish writing another article about the Dragons. At 6:30 pm, I took the press coupons and picked up food for the both of us from the concession stand.

Before the start of the 7:00 pm game with the Peoria Chiefs, Marc reviewed player statistics and other pertinent information about the game. Between innings, he took the time to write portions of his article. After the Dragons hit a game winning walkoff home run in the 9th inning of the 4 to 3 victory, we went down to the clubhouse to interview the player that hit the home run and the Dragons manager. We then went back up to the press box — after the stadium had cleared out and the field lights were turned off — where Marc finished the article about the game and edited the leads. While in the press box, he submitted the article over the Internet to beat the deadline. We left the press box at 10:30 pm and headed back to the parking lot.

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to observe a veteran sportswriter like Marc Katz in action. This was an interesting experience to really learn the process that a sportswriter uses to provide readers with first-hand insights.

Reds Disappointing After All-Star Break in 10 Game Homestand

July 30th, 2008

After the All-Star break and before the 10 game home-stand, the Reds (46-50) were only 4 games under .500 and had the opportunity to improve their record above .500.

Cincinnati began their home-stand with a four game series against the hot New York Mets – the Mets had currently the best run of any team in MLB with an 8 game winning streak before facing the Reds. In the first game of the series, the Reds had an 8-6 lead that they blew in the 9th inning, allowing the Mets to score 4 runs on their route to a 10-6 victory as well as their biggest comeback of the season. In the second game, the Reds played better using a minimal rally to score 4 runs in the 5th inning to win 5-2. In the third game, the Reds won pretty convincingly with a 7-2 victory. The last game of the series, the Reds lost 7-5 in 10 innings on Encarcion’s throwing error. In essence, they should have swept the Mets and been at .500 with a 50-50 record, but the blown save in the 9th of the first game and Encarcion’s throwing error in the last game of the series was crucial points of the Reds splitting the series with the Mets.

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In the next three games of the home-stand, the San Diego Padres had a 6 game losing streak heading into Cincinnati. The Reds had a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning and San Diego had never came back to win after being down eight innings all season, until they played the Reds and rallied to score 3 runs in the 9th inning for a 6-4 win to snap their 6 game losing streak. That was another disappointing blown save and loss for the Reds. The next two games Cincinnati won 4-3 on Keppinger’s run-scoring double in the 11th inning, and the final game of the series a 9-5 pounding, with the highlight of the game Dunn batting 2-of-4 hitting a grand slam and an RBI single. Overall, not bad winning 2 of 3 against San Diego, but again Cincinnati should have swept San Diego.

The Reds had done so-so in the homestand before wrapping up the last 3 games of the home-stand against the Colorado Rockies. The Reds just had a meltdown and were swept in 3 games to the Rockies with scores of 7-2, 5-1, and an embarrassing 11-0 shutout to close out their 10 game home-stand. I don’t understand how the Reds did decent in their first 7 games against New York and San Diego, even though they blew a few games, although they were close and stuck with both New York and San Diego in the games they lost, but I can’t believe they played so poorly against Colorado.

The Reds finished their homestand winning only 4 of 10 games. Now Cincinnati is in a midst of a 6 game road stand with 3 game series against the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals. The Astros beat the Reds 5-4 and 6-2 to jump ahead of the Reds for 4th place in the NL Central, while Cincinnati has now lost five games in a row and the Pittsburgh Pirates have moved up to fifth place to be a half-game ahead of the last place Reds.

Carson Palmer’s Rant

July 29th, 2008

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Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer won the Heisman Trophy in 2002 in a USC uniform. The Bengals training camp began July 28th, but the regular season does not kick off until September 7th – six days before the highly anticipated matchup between Ohio State and USC.

Earlier last week, Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer was on an LA sports radio talk show and was asked what he thought of the matchup between OSU and USC.

“I don’t watch what I say. I cannot stand the Buckeyes, and having to live in Ohio and hear those people talk about their team, it drives me absolutely nuts . . . It’s amazing to hear what those guys think about that university and what they think about that football program and (Ohio State coach Jim) Tressel and all the crap I gotta put up with being back there. I just can’t wait for two years from now when SC comes to the ‘Shoe and I get to hopefully, hopefully we’ll have a home game that weekend and I can go up there and watch us pound on them in their own turf and kind of put all the talk to rest. Because I’m really getting sick of it and I just can’t wait for this game to get here so they can come out to the Coliseum and experience LA and get an old-fashioned Pac-10 butt-whoopin’ and go back to the Big Ten . . . I can’t wait.”

It was okay that Carson spoke his mind and rendered his opinion on how he felt about his own school where he is an alumnus and a Heisman Trophy winner. He was taking pride in his school. Not only was he taking pride in USC, but everyone could get an actual (not political) insight on how it must truly feel for a USC Heisman Trophy quarterback alum to be in Buckeye territory.

Although he is a public figure, he needed to be a little more political and watch what he says and whom he is addressing. Palmer could have said some of what he said, but added something a little more political before he went on a rant such as, “These are two great powerhouse football teams that should be exciting to watch on September 13th.  Ohio State coach Jim Tressel is a phenomenal coach, etc.”

Hypothetically, if an OSU football alumnus played for San Diego he would be a true OSU alumnus and want to blowout USC – just like how Carson wants USC to whoop on OSU.

Some fans won’t forget this and will take Carson’s rant seriously. Don’t be surprised if some fans are booing Carson back in Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium, particulary the next day on September 14th, when the Bengals kickoff their home opener against Tennessee.

Dragons Brawl Gets Ugly

July 27th, 2008

It was not your typical baseball brawl Thursday night, July, 24th at Fifth Third Field between the Dayton Dragons and Peoria Chiefs. This had to be one of the nastiest brawls in Single A baseball. In 9 seasons of baseball since the Dragons began playing in the ballpark in 2000, this was the first real serious baseball brawl at Fifth Third Field. Hence, is why the brawl made national news channels such as ESPN News and CNN. What made this on-field baseball brawl different from your typical baseball brawl was when 21 year old pitcher Juan Castillo meant to throw the ball at the Dragons dugout, but missed and hit a middle aged spectator in the crowd.

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If you are interested in reading and seeing all the details and consequences, this is 1 of the articles and videos from the Dayton Daily News.

I went to the Dragons game the day before against Peoria on Wednesday July 23rd and watched the Dragons win 4-3 on a walk-off homerun. The Dragons went onto sweep the Peoria Chiefs in 3 games.

Reds Head into All-Star Break as an Improved Team

July 14th, 2008

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The Cincinnati Reds are no longer in the cellar and they have moved-up to fourth place in the NL Central Division.

The Reds (46-50) head into the All-star break only 4 games under .500. In the last 10 games, Cincinnati went 7-3 with a 4 game sweep at home against Washington, winning 1 of 3 at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs, and 2 of 3 at Milwaukee.

After the All-Star break, the Reds will resume with a 10 game home-stand on Thursday, July 17th as they start with 4 games against the hot New York Mets. The Mets go into the All-Star break with an 8 game winning steak – currently the best run of any team in Major League Baseball. After playing the Mets, they will take on San Diego and Colorado, each in a three game series.

Hopefully the Reds can take advantage of this 10 game home-stand and get their overall record above .500.  At home, they have a 26-19 record and are 16-12 against teams in the NL East. After sweeping the Nationals in 4 games at home back in early July, the Reds will get a chance to add to their home winning streak.

Flyers 2008/2009 Basketball Schedule Appears to be Soft

July 10th, 2008

The Dayton Flyers released their non-conference schedule as well as the home and away matchups with their A-10 conference opponents.  The dates and times will be released at a later date.  The list below shows the schedule and the opponents’ final RPI from 2007/2008 season (hat tip to Figgie 123 for putting the rating info together) .

11-16-2008 vs Wofford (191)
11-19-2008 vs Delaware State (207)
11-23-2008 vs Bethune-Cookman (319)
11-25-2008 vs Mercer (315)
11-28-2008 vs Auburn (Chicago Invitational) (154)
11-29-2008 vs Marquette (Chicago Invitational) (20)
12-02-2008 vs Troy (242)
12-06-2008 at Akron (69)
12-10-2008 at Creighton (48)
12-13-2008 vs Coppin State (232)
12-20-2008 vs UNC Greensboro (119)
12-23-2008 vs Marshall (139)
12-30-2008 vs George Mason (59)
01-02-2009 at Toledo (186)
01-06-2009 vs Miami (Ohio) (81)

Conference:
A10 Home and Home: Xavier (9), Saint Louis (139), Duquesne (129)
Home: Fordham (168), Richmond (120), St. Bonaventure (264), Saint Joseph’s (45), Temple (47)
Road: Charlotte (70), George Washington (185), La Salle (164), Massachusetts (42), Rhode Island (77)

The only real highlights of their non-conference home schedule are the Mid-Major matchups with George Mason in late December and with Miami of Ohio in January. These two opponents are the only top 100 RPI non-conference teams that UD plays at home. The only other top 100 RPI teams at home for the Flyers are conference foes Xavier, Temple, and St Joes (all three went to the NCAA tournament last season). The top road teams on the non-conference schedule are Mid-Majors Akron and Creighton.

Overall the nonconference schedule is weaker than last year and a little bit disappointing. For the Flyers’ program to garner national recognition, they need to play at least one more solid BCS team (not a 154 RPI team such as Auburn).

In addition, since Wright State is a quality top 100 RPI team, it would have been nice to see the Gem City Jam back on the schedule. I know some (not all) fans would have been just as happy seeing the Gem City Jam at UD Arena if we couldn’t get a BCS team at home. Instead, UD schedules weak, second-rate teams. Will the 2008/2009 season be another case where the Raiders finish with a better record than the Flyers?

The Dayton Daily News Article entitled Flyers Can’t Get Big Boys to Come to UD Arena may be true. Unlike last season when Dayton got to host and blowout 6th ranked Pittsburgh, the Flyers will not get to play any big BCS powerhouse basketball teams at home. The most exciting matchup appears to be the game against Marquette (Rivals pre-season #20) at the Chicago Invitational.

Okay, so what? Naturally, the Flyers schedule is disappointing for fans that travel to UD arena to support the team. More importantly, to make the NCAA Tournament in 2009, the bar for the quantity of wins is set much higher than last season. While 22 regular season wins would have got the flyers a certain NCAA bid last year, in the up-coming season — with the poor quality of the opponents – the Flyers will probably need to win more than 25 games during the regular season.

Raiders Release League Schedule

July 6th, 2008

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The Wright State Raiders released their conference schedule at the end of June for the 2008-2009 season.  In February, the Raiders will get to play every Saturday at home, including the Bracket Buster Tournament and Butler on February 7th – who they have upset the last 3 meetings at home. 

Hopefully Wright State can get a bigger turnout of fans this year. It will help with attendance by having more of their conference home games on Saturday this season. With 20 win seasons the last two years, the Raiders have demonstrated that they are a decent quality team. The highlights of the Raiders’ 06-07 season were the Horizon League Regular Season Championship, Horizon League Tournament Champions, and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The non-conference portion of the schedule will be released later this summer. To help their strength of schedule and RPI, hopefully Wright State can get a few powerhouse basketball teams on their non-conference schedule.

 2008-09 Wright State Men’s Basketball Nonleague Schedule

Thu., Dec. 4 @ Green Bay

Sat., Dec. 6 @ Milwaukee

Tue., Dec. 30 Cleveland State

Sat., Jan. 3 Youngstown State

Thu., Jan. 8 @ Butler

Sat., Jan. 10 @ Valparaiso

Sat., Jan. 17 @ Detroit

Thu., Jan. 22 Loyola

Sat., Jan. 24 UIC

Thu., Jan. 29 @ Youngstown State

Sat., Jan. 31 @ Cleveland State

Thu., Feb. 5 Valparaiso

Sat., Feb. 7 Butler

Tue., Feb. 10 @ Loyola

Sat., Feb. 14 Detroit

Wed., Feb. 18 @ UIC

Sat., Feb. 21 Bracket Buster

Thu., Feb. 26 Milwaukee

Sat., Feb. 28 Green Bay

Mar. 2, 6-7, 9 Horizon League Championship @ TBA

Roberts Not Drafted

June 28th, 2008

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Brian Roberts was not one of the 60 players selected in the NBA draft last Thursday night. He played well in the NBA pre-draft camp in Orlando, and some experts predicted that he could be selected in the second round. However, it appears that he will have to continue his basketball career in Europe.

Roberts had a superb season in his senior year with UD.  He had phenomenal games with 28 points when Dayton upset #11 Louisville and scored 31 points when Dayton blew out #6 Pittsburgh 80-55.  Due to his performance, he received the ESPN’s Weekly Watch Player of the Week twice.  Roberts was a finalist for the Naismith Award and John R Wooden Award.  He led UD in more than several categories: scoring with 18.4 ppg,  free throw ppercentage (86%), 3-pt percentage (45.5%), assists (117), and minutes played (1179).   He finished in the top 10 as one of Dayton’s best in history in career scoring. 

Although Roberts had great stats, I knew that there was only a slim chance that he would be selected in the NBA draft. Unfortunately, he only played in one post-season tournament during his four years at UD (the NIT during his senior year). For a player to get recognized by the NBA, it appears that he has to lead his team into the later rounds of the NCAA tournament. 

He still has a chance this summer to try to sign as a free-agent with a team.  I doubt it will happen and he will end up like Wright State guard DaShaun Wood and end up playing oversea in Europe.  He probably can still make a good living with six figure salary overseas. 

Koufos Drafted by the Utah Jazz

June 28th, 2008

Ohio State center Kosta Koufos was selected with the 23rd pick in the first round by the Utah Jazz in the NBA Draft Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

Madison Square Garden was where Koufos played his last collegiate game as a freshman for Ohio State. He helped lead Ohio State to an NIT Championship over UMass and was named MVP of the NIT tournament.  Ohio State also played in the pre-season NIT at Madison Square Garden where Koufos had one of his best games of the season, when he led the team with a season high 24 points and a 79-65 win over then #21 Syracuse. 

In his one-and-done season with Ohio State, Koufos averaged 14.7 points a game and 6.7 rebounds per game.

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Koufos was drafted a little later than most basketball experts predicted. Some NBA pundits expected the Cleveland Cavaliers to draft the Canton, Ohio native earlier in the first round.

Koufos was the only Ohio State basketball player drafted in the 2008 draft.  Graduated seniors Jamar Butler and Othello Hunter were projected in some draft sites to be drafted in the second round, but were not selected in the 2008 draft. 

It should be interesting to see how Koufos does in the NBA with the Utah Jazz.

Destroyers Close Out Season; Head Coach Will Not Return Next Season

June 26th, 2008

The Columbus Destroyers finished out their season last Saturday night in Cleveland on a bad note – losing to the Cleveland Gladiators 35-47.

Ownership and Columbus Destroyers Head Coach Doug Kay have reached a mutual agreement that his contract will not extend beyond the 2008 season.

Coach Kay took over as head coach on July 14, 2005 and inherited a squad that finished 2-14 in 2005.  In 2006, he led the team to an 8-8 record and were one game shy of making the playoffs.

Last season, the Destroyers made the playoffs with a 7-9 regular season record. They went to its first ever National Conference Championship and won three straight playoff games on the road before losing to San Jose in the Arena Bowl.

The results this season were the opposite from last season for the Destroyers.  This season the Columbus Destroyers had a 3-13 record and tied for the worst record in the AFL.

It’s interesting that the Destroyers improved greatly under Coach Kay’s leadership during the first two years, but reverted to very poor performance in his third season. Evidently, the two good years were not enough for him to keep his job as head coach.