Monthly Archives: September, 2013

Guess What Time It Is?

I like Marvin Lewis.  A lot.  I like the professional way in which he has represented the Bengals over the years.  I like the way he has reached out to players in personal distress and seen many of them turn their lives around.  I like the many contributions he has made to his community.  Coach Marvin Lewis has exemplified likability and loyalty which are two character qualities that go a long way with owner Mike Brown and the Cincinnati fan base.

However, there comes a time when NFL coaches need to win football games.  That time has come for Marvin Lewis and the Bengals.  We all know what a tremendous man Coach Lewis is.  He has proven himself in those areas, but its time to win.

Yesterday’s loss is clearly on Coach Lewis and his staff.  The Bengals are are a clearly superior team to the Cleveland Browns.  Many have predicted the Bengals to play in the Super Bowl, or at least go deep into the play-offs.  They have added tremendous talent on both sides of the ball.  They have drafted well and made key free agents acquisitions.  They have a quality team that is loaded with talent and ability.

So why does such a talented and superior team line-up against a struggling opponent and play as poorly as the Bengals played yesterday?  Coaching.  Preparing a team to play well and demanding that from your players is squarely on the head coach.  And it appears that Marvin Lewis, as likable as he may be, simply cannot get his team fired up enough to beat an inferior opponent with a quarterback making only is second start in the NFL.

The Bengals were not just defeated yesterday.  They were manhandled.  The high powered offense that supposedly makes defensive coordinators lose sleep was totally silenced by the Browns defense.  The Bengals ferocious defensive front allowed a rookie quarterback to play like a Hall of Famer.  No passion.  No emotion.  No determination to win, and that is on the head coach.  Perhaps losing has become acceptable to an organization so familiar with it.

If it were not for a double fumble and a crazy, fortuitous bounce at the end of the Bengals-Packers game the team with such a high ceiling would be 1-3 right now.  With the Patriots next on the schedule don’t expect winning to get any easier in the near future.

I like that I like you Coach Lewis, but the time has come to win.

Mike Buckamneer

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A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words…

The drama that unfolded last night in Yankee Stadium as Mariano Rivera pitched for the final time in “The House That Ruth Built” has been on my mind all morning.  I have been mulling over the greatest moments in sports that I have been privileged to watch in my lifetime.  In an effort to remember some of those great moments I did an internet search and found the below Youtube video.  It is six minutes of sheer joy for those who love sports.  No need for me keep writing when a picture is worth a thousand words.  Enjoy.

Mike Buckamneer

Exit Sandman

Baseball has afforded me the opportunity to watch many of it’s finest moments.  I will always remember watching Hank Aaron hit #714 and # 715 to tie and then break Babe Ruth’s home run record.  I will never forget seeing base hit #4192 land in the left-centerfield and watching as a tearful Pete Rose embraced his son at first base.  And who could forget Kirk Gibson limping around the bases after hitting the most remarkable home run of his career?

In spite of the steroids, scandals, and suspensions, this has been a wonderful generation of baseball filled with epic moments.  Last night, Major League Baseball added another chapter to it’s storybook of touching moments.  Mariano Rivera pitched for the final time in Yankee Stadium.  With 652 career saves, Number 42 came  into the game in the 8th inning and did what a Hall of Fame closer does.  He got batters out.

Rivera pitched in the 9th inning as well, but after recording two outs the Yankees made a pitching change that we never be forgotten.  Instead of manager Joe Girardi coming to the mound to pull Rivera, he sent long time teammates, Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter to the hill.  When Pettitte took the ball from Rivera the two embraced and the flood of emotion that has been building in Rivera all season finally began to pour out.  In a rare display of raw human emotion, Mariano Rivera sobbed as he clung to his teammates in front of a roaring Yankee Stadium crowd who cheered for and wept with the “Sandman.”

As I watched yet another wonderful baseball memory being made I couldn’t help but think that this is what sports are all about.  This is the kind of story that I want my kids and grandkids to see.  I’m so tired of PED’s, DUI’s, and 50 game suspensions grabbing the highlights and headlines.  I want my kids and grandkids to have the baseball that I had as a kid.  I called my wife into the room and she and I, along with our son, watched this endearing moment unfold on television.  “Thank You” Mo, and “Thank You” baseball for showing us again just what makes you great.

Numbers Don’t Lie…or do they?

As week 4 of the 2013 NFL season begins tonight we find some interesting surprises hidden in the stat lines.  I find it a bit surprising that Drew Brees is currently ranked 15th among all NFL quarterbacks based upon  a passer rating of 91.4.  Equally surprising is that RGIII (84.1), Ben Roethlisberger (81.2),  Joe Flacco (80.0), Tom Brady (79.4), and Colin Kaepernick (72.5) are ranked 21st through 25th respectively.

Do the numbers always translate into wins or losses?  In some cases they do, however, in some cases they do not.  For example, Peyton Manning leads the league in QB passer rating at an unbelievable 134.7 and his team is undefeated at 3-0.  On the other hand, Phillip Rivers is currently ranked second in QB passer rating at 116.2 but the Chargers are 1-2.

Flacco and Brady are both ranked in the second tier of quarterbacks but the Patriots are 3-0 and the Ravens are 2-1.  Aaron Rodgers is ranked  #4 at 105.1 and Matt Ryan is ranked #6 at 100.4 but the Packers and Falcons are both 1-2.

We often hear the phrase “numbers don’t lie” but as we have seen that is not always the case.  Football is a team sport and much more than quarterback play determines the outcome of the game.  It’s true, quarterbacks have a greater impact on the outcome of NFL games than any other position player in football or any other sport for that matter.  But it is the ultimate team sport and winning teams hit on all cylinders consistently.

So what is the take away from such an analysis?  An average or slightly better than average QB can lead his team to victory if he will protect the ball and not do anything to lose the game.  You often hear the experts say that successful quarterbacks manage the game, they protect the ball, and they put their team in a position to win.  Even an average quarterback who follows that game plan can win more often than not.  That’s good news because the stats show that there is only one Peyton Manning playing in the league.

Mike Buckamneer

Most Intriguing Week 4 Match Ups

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Week 4 presents a number of intriguing match-ups as the 2013 NFL season heads into the first turn.  Among the interesting match-ups are:

1.  New York Giants (0-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)

Can Eli and the Giants really start 0-4?  I know that the G-Men are notoriously slow starters but 0 and 4?  Really?  Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium is one of the NFL’s toughest road environments and Andy Reid has his team hitting on all cylinders right now.

2.  Seattle Seahawks (3-0) at Houston Texans (2-1)

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks look really, really strong right now.  The Texans, on the other hand, is a team that many believed would make a Super Bowl push behind Defensive star J.J. Watt.  This might be the best game of the week and reminiscent of the O.K. Corral.

3.  Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-2)

Round 1 of the Battle of Ohio  will take place on the shores of Lake Erie.  The Bengals are clearly the better team but the Browns announced last week that they were going to play with reckless abandon.  A team with nothing to lose is always dangerous.

4.  Miami Dolphins (3-0) at New Orleans Saints (3-0)

A battle of unexpected unbeaten teams.  Are the Dolphins for real?  Will Drew Brees be Drew Brees? There is no bigger stage than Monday Night Football and the world will be watching to see if Miami will shrink from the moment.

Mike Buckamneer

My NFL Week 4 Power Rankings

The following are my top 15 NFL power rankings after 3 games.  There are many other websites and news organizations that publish NFL power rankings but these are MY power rankings.  If you agree or disagree, feel free to leave a comment!

1.  Seattle Seahawks   3-0

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2.  Denver Broncos   3-0

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3.  Chicago Bears   3-0

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4.  New England Patriots   3-0

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5.   New Orleans Saints   3-0

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6.  San Francisco 49er’s   1-2

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7.   Cincinnati Bengals   2-1

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8.  Baltimore Ravens   2-1

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9.  Green Bay Packers   1-2

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10.  Houston Texans   2-1

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11.  Kansas City Chiefs   3-0

12. Miami Dolphins   3-0

13.  Indianapolis Colts   2-1

14.  Atlanta Falcons   1-2

15.  Dallas Cowboys   2-1

Mike Buckamneer

Reds Clinch Playoff Spot

With a 3-2 win over the New York Mets the Reds have clinched a berth in the playoffs.  For the first time since 1975-1976 the Reds will be going to the playoffs in back to back seasons.

Johnny  Cueto looked sharp going 7 innings, striking out 5, and only giving up one earned run.  A healthy Cueto will be a huge boost to the Reds if they play deep into the playoffs.

Shin Soo Choo led the offense going 3 for 6 with 2 RBI’s and 2 stolen bases.  He drove in the game winning run with a walk-off hit in the bottom of the 10th inning.  Billy Hamilton added another stolen base tonight to ad to his total of 13 on the season.  A Major League season that started just three weeks ago for the speedster.

The Cardinals and Pirates have also clinched playoff spots along with the Reds.  All three teams will continue to battle to determine who wins the division and who gets the wild card spots.  It looks to be an interesting week ahead in the NL Central.

Mike Buckamneer

Goat Cheese

The Bengals and Packers combined for one of the most bizarre finishes in NFL history yesterday. The Bengals took an early lead by scoring 14 quick points with the help of a special teams turnover. The fumble and resulting quick touchdown did nothing, however, to demoralize the Packers. Aaron Rodgers, in his typical cool-headed manner, marched his team up and down the field on the Bengals defense. In the process, the Cheeseheads scored 30 unanswered points to take a 30-14 lead late into the fourth quarter.

That’s when things really got crazy! Nearing the 4 minute mark, the Packers appeared to gain a first down on a rushing play in Bengals territory. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis challenged the spot claiming that the runner was down before reaching first down yardage. After review, the call was reversed and the ball spotted behind the first down marker, leaving the Packers at 4th and inches.

The routine call would have been for the Packers to kick a field goal and add to their point lead. However, in a decision that Green Bay fans will second guess for a long time, the Packers went for it on 4th down. Aaron Rodgers handed the ball off to rookie running back, Jonathon Franklin who went off tackle right. A stout Bengals D-line stuffed Franklin and in the course of play, he fumbled the ball which was picked up by Bengal safety Reggie Nelson. After taking just a few steps toward the end zone, Nelson was tackled, and he too fumbled the ball. This time it took a few fortuitous bounces and landed in the lap of Bengals cornerback Terrance Newman who ran it back 58 yards for a Bengals touchdown. The score gave the Bengals a 34-30 lead with just 3:47 left in the game.

Bengal fans cringed as they watched Aaron Rodgers engineer a last minute drive that was ultimately thwarted by a incomplete pass on 4th down. The Bengals athletic defensive end, Michael Johnson, went airborne to swat down what may have been a game winning touchdown pass. Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense then sealed the win by taking a knee on two subsequent offensive snaps.

For a franchise that knows the sting of defeat all to well its nice that the Bengals had the ball bounce their way for a change. Literally.

Mike Buckamneer

Ted Talks Tastebuds!

Occasionally life allows a man to stumble over something wonderful.  Simple, almost mindless decisions, that lead to a brilliant outcome.  Such is my story recently and all thanks to Matt Cutts and our friends at Ted Talks.

A few weeks ago I watched Matt Cutts on Ted Talks encouraging the audience to take his 30 day challenge.  I enjoyed the talk so much that I asked my wife to watch it.  Not only did she enjoy it, she accepted the challenge!  More specifically, she determined to cook a new food every day, or nearly every day, for 30 days.  It was like hitting the culinary jackpot!

We are about two weeks into her 30 day challenge and I have enjoyed several mouthwatering new dishes.   Home made cinnamon rolls from scratch has been the clear cut winner to this point, but every new item has been fantastic.  Wow!  Who would have thought a three minute video could reap 30 days of sheer culinary joy?  “Thank you” to Matt and Ted, and most of all, “Thank you” to Jane for making me such a happy man.

Do yourself a favor and take a look at Matt’s talk.  Better yet, encourage your spouse to have a look!

Mike Buckamneer

Why?

Really?  Why?  Why would a team like Ohio State schedule a team like Florida A&M?  Why would a top 10 team like Louisville schedule a team like Florida International only to humiliate them before a home crowd?  Earlier today OSU beat FAM 76-0 and Louisville defeated FIU 72-0.  I have a hard time understanding the purpose of games like this.  I understand that smaller schools stand to make a nice chunk of change for letting the bully push him around on national TV but this does nothing for college football or the teams involved.

With big money on the line there is little that can be done to curb such ridiculous behavior.  What can be done though is to penalize teams by reducing their place in the BCS standings.  If top tier teams schedule a clearly inferior opponent and demonstrate their superiority by 70 plus points then count the game equal to a loss as far as BCS rankings go.  Perhaps a few losses will change the culture enough to keep such lopsided losses from occuring.  If a good team earns such a big number win then so be it – I applaud them.  But when they run up the score because they knowingly scheduled a “cupcake” then downgrade them in the rankings.

“Football builds character,” I was told over and over when younger.  Not this kind of football.

Mike Buckamneer