OBSERVATIONS FROM THE WEEK IN SPORTS–VOLUME I, 4/24

  • With a lineup against Milwaukee last week that included such names as Billy, Joey, Zack, Scooter and Tucker, are the Reds trying to win baseball games or are they trying to produce a re-booted version of Saved by the Bell?
  • Speaking of Billy, has anyone in the Reds organization told their lead off hitter, Billy Hamilton, that a lead off walk makes it 15% more likely for a team to score a run?  Given Hamilton’s .265 on-base percentage and seven walks in 103 plate appearances, apparently that conversation hasn’t occurred.
  • For those of you keeping score at home, as of Monday May 1, the Reds magic number to clinch the National League Central Division is 141.
  • After learning the Bengals drafted the controversial running back from Oklahoma, Joe Mixon, rumor has it that to commemorate their 50th anniversary in professional football, the team will erect a statue of Mike Brown outside Paul Brown Stadium with the enscription, “Give me your assaulters, your felons, your troubled characters yearning to play in the NFL.”
  • What makes the Mixon selection even more baffling is that the Bengals traded their 41st pick to Minnesota who used it to draft running back Dalvin Cook from Florida State.  You can easily make the argument that if you are going to draft a running back in the second round, why not keep the selection and take Cook, who may be the better prospect than Mixon?
  • At the end of the day, the Bengals 2017 draft should not be judged by their early selections but by their choices after the third round.  In 2016, 65% of the players on NFL rosters were drafted after the third round, including those who were undrafted free agents.  With nine selections this year from the fourth through seventh rounds, the Bengals had a real opportunity to have an impactful draft.  Obviously, only time will tell if they took advantage of those nine selections, but their fourth round choices of Auburn outside linebacker Carl  Lawson and Tennessee wide receiver Josh Malone, who had 11 receiving touchdowns and 972 receiving yards in 2016, third best in the SEC, look promising.  Just to emphasize the importance of these late round selections, 10 of the 11 Patriots on the field when they scored their game-winning touchdown against the Falcons in the Super Bowl, were drafted after the third round or undrafted free agents.
  • Many of the so-called draft experts believed the Bengals needed defensive help. The numbers, however, seemed to indicate that wasn’t the case.  In the last eight games of the 2016 season, the Bengals defense allowed only 15.8 points per game, the third lowest in the NFL.  Unfortunately, they could only muster a 3-5 record in those eight games, a signal that the offense was what needed help.     Using their first two picks, then, on a wide receiver and a running back, seems appropriate .
  • But before we completely overhaul the Bengals offense, fans can take comfort in the fact that things could be worse.  The 2016 Los Angeles Rams, for instance,  had more punt yards than offensive yards.
  • Of the four major North American sports, the NHL is undoubtedly the least popular and the least viewed.  If you are one of the many who don’t regularly watch, do yourself a favor and start tuning into the Stanley Cup playoffs, the best post-season in all of sports.  In the recently completed first round, their were 18 overtime games and the average goal differential in the eight series for the winning teams was 4.125 or a little over a goal per game.  Even with no dog in the fight, the NHL playoffs is compelling and exciting television.
  • It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that Dale Earnhardt Jr announced his retirement from NASCAR following the 2017 season on the same weekend his father, the iconic Dale Earnhardt Sr would have celebrated his 66th birthday.  Junior is honoring his father’s legacy with the best possible gift and in a fashion Senior didn’t have the chance to do–leaving the sport on his own terms.  Good for you Junior.
  • A signal that tells me it’s time to sign up for AARP benefits:  On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts signed wide receiver Trey Griffey to an undrafted free agent contract.  Trey Griffey is the SON of Ken Griffey Jr.

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