More Stuff No One Cares About But Me

Sports-geek stuff here, but allow me to gloat.

Even though I've decided not to play fantasy football this fall, I'm a fantasy baseball addict. For six years now I've been in a keeper league. I'm usually competitive [my worse year was when we planted the church], winning one championship and making back-to-back playoff appearances in that time-span. This has been a rough season as I had two high draft picks turn out to be useless. With six weeks to go, I was in fourth place out of six teams in my division and I had reached that critical point: do I have a fire-sale or hang on in an attempt to make the play-offs? I decided to hang in there.

Glad I did.

We have five head-to-head match-ups per week. So in those last thirty games, I went 29-1 to win the division. That, friends, is finishing stong. It's been fun coming home after church on Sunday nights to see how my guys finished up, giving me a little piece of happiness in the midst of losing Cincinnati sports teams.

So we'll see how I do in the play-offs, but half the fun was getting there.

*And about the picture with this article: for some reason, I've always named my fantasy baseball teams "Manchester United" for my favorite professional soccer team— an even greater testimony to my dorkiness.

Yes, Hank, I Am Ready

We are on the cusp of yet another college football season. Even though I'm not quite ready to pass on the Bengals season yet [I should wait until after the first game, right?] I am rather excited about the Buckeyes.

It's been the best of times/worst of times for Ohio State fans the past couple of years. Two consecutive years appearing in the National Championship Game resulted in embarrassing losses. Even though I question how fair it is to be able to play for the title at home [LSU] it's still no excuse for the Bucks. And even though there's a lot of animosity towards OSU for their lackluster performances, the rest of the country had their chance to make it there and failed. Jim Tressel, OSU's coach, has built a consistent program. And this brings us to the dirty little secret:

The Buckeyes could very well make it to a third consecutive championship game.

Sure, the big test is in a few weeks at Southern Cal. But the Bucks are returning 18 starters on offense and defense. They have big game experience. They'll also use freshman phenom Terelle Pryor like Florida used Tebow a couple of years ago. If they get by USC, they should be playing for all the marbles in January.

And now that Time Warner Cable finally made a deal with the Big Ten Network, I'll be able to watch all of OSU's games on TV. It could just be a year to remember.

By the way, I will admit that I'm extremely interested to see how UC's football team performs this year. Not sure Bearcats football will ever surpass my passion for the Buckeyes, but they hardly ever play each other anyway.

Understand Buffoonery

OK, so once again the Bengals will be a object of ridicule tomorrow when they announce the [re]signing of Chris Henry. Since the most recent charges on Henry were dismissed he's allowed back in the league, but will still face a four week suspension to start the season.

I'm not going to lie: I'm lit up about this right now. This is, perhaps, the worst roster move in the history of Cincinnati sports.

Before people start talking all sort of crap about Marvin Lewis, recognize what this is: this is entirely a Mike Brown decision.

Marvin Lewis categorically stated that he was done with Henry. But a couple of weeks ago, Mike Brown was quoted as saying,

"I happen to be a redeemer. I think people can be made better and right. If that's a fault, so be it. These guys misstepped, they made mistakes, they paid prices for it that have been verging on ruinous, but that doesn't mean I dislike them personally."

That is such crap. That's not redemption, that's buying loyalty with the hopes that it will eventually pay dividends. True redemption would be giving Chris Henry a job as a ballboy. You're just buying low with the hopes of selling high.

The move to resign Henry is all Mike Brown's doing and Marvin Lewis will be forced to go along with it— especially since, in any other town, Marvin would be on the hotseat for the lack of playoff appearances. So since Marvin has no leverage (with no opportunity to jump ship for another coaching job), he's going to have to eat crow and look like an idiot, struggling to explain why he changed his mind. And, of course, he didn't change his mind. Mikey wants it, so he gets it.

Understand what you've done here, Mike: you've cut your head coach off at the knees so you could be the hero. You brought in another receiver that you really didn't need, neutering your head coach in the process. And you wonder why Chad Johnson acts out the way he does. How is Marvin supposed to control a locker room that understands that his word isn't the final authority. I now wonder: was Marvin fully willing to take those first-round picks from Washington and rebuffed by you? Your micromanaging continually harms this franchise and sullies your reputation as well as that of your employees. It's beyond embarrassing.

This is a textbook case of poor leadership— right in my own backyard. Sure, a Super Bowl victory would help everyone forget how stupid this seems now, but Chris Henry ain't getting us there.

Stick the Landing

I know nothing about gymnastics except that wife wants to watch it during the Olympics. That said, a few observations:

1) I was thoroughly embarrassed a few nights ago when the men's gymnastics team celebrated vociferously after winning the bronze medal. Yes, the bronze. I get it: they weren't expected to win any medal at all so they were excited, but I never thought you competed to win third place. Exacerbating the situation was them shouting victoriously into the camera, "Yeah, America! Never give up! This is how we roll!" Seriously: you roll by proudly lauding finishing as second runner up? To quote the Intimidator, "second place is just the first loser."

Even more interesting was the reaction rivaled that of the gold winning Chinese squad. But when the cameras panned to show the second-place Japanese team, they were devastated; it was as if they had just been put on death row. Additionally, compared to the somber reaction of the U.S. women's squad last night (who only finished second) and I declare that those Japanese competitors and the U.S. ladies made me a proud American male.

2) Speaking of the women failing in their gold medal bid, I have to give it up to the girl that self-destructed. She fell off that big long bar thingy [you know what I mean], as well as screwing up on her floor exercise. I was sure she was going to burst into tears but she held it together, again, garnering more of my respect than the men's gymnastics team.

3) The shocking thing to me was how young those Chinese ladies looked. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised. The big controversy of the event was whether or not the Chinese government faked the birthdates of a couple of the girls on the team [and apparently the New York Times thought enough to investigate it]. It makes sense that having younger, smaller girls on these narrow apparatuses [is that right?] would be a major advantage. But I'm sure the Chinese officials have enough integrity that they would never imagine cheating in order to win Olympic gold. Right?

Alright, enough gymnastics talk. I'm going to drink a beer, smoke a cig, and watch Rambo so I can refuel my low testosterone level.

Before You Praise

The NBC networks continue to laud the Chinese for hosting a marvelous Olympics. I'll admit, I was impressed with the grand scale of the Opening Ceremony, as well as their architectural feats.

But the Games remind me of many family situations where years of secret abuse are finally uncovered to claims of, "We had no idea. He appeared to be a good, normal guy."

Except that, in China's case, the abuse is not at all secret. As a gentle reminder, I encourage you to read this article that highlights the unreported pomp and circumstance the frequently occurs in their nation.

I'm not saying that boycotting the games altogether was the perfect solution. But let's stop heaping praise on the host country for spending billions of dollars to make these two weeks go well when it's been accomplished at the expense of thousands of oppressed Chinese people; the facade is not reality.

Perhaps the Beijing Olympics will be a good thing. Perhaps the lure of western capitalism will finally end the oppression of the Communist government. But if the path that China has chosen continues unchanged throughout the next generation, then all we've done is whore ourselves out for some cheap entertainment.

HT: Challies

That Sucking Sound . . .

. . . is the sound of a superstar being wooshed away from the city. It looks like Ken Griffey Junior has approved a trade to the Chicago White Sox and the experiment is over.

We were moving into our second apartment in Bridgetown when his trade from Seattle was announced over eight years ago. This was following up an unbelievable 1999 season where the Reds [under Jack McKeon] made it to a one-game playoff to win the Wild Card. It seemed like the pieces were in place and, with a new stadium under construction, I honestly believed that a World Series was in our future.

But it wasn't.

Junior was often injured. His conspiring with Barry Larkin led to Jack Mack's ousting. The owner of the franchise went cheap, until he gave Larken a ridiculous contract extension that hand-cuffed this team.

It's been eight miseable years. I really didn't have too many problems with what Griffey did on the field. He was injured: not much you can do about that. But I would offer that in his time here in Cincinnati, he held back the franchise to the extent that his absence will be better for everyone.

While I appreciate the athletic brilliance of Griffey [mostly displayed before he arrived in Cincinnati], he was not worth the price. Griffey is an amazing ballplayer, but he is not a leader. In fact, in my opinion, he is a leadership vacuum. Barry Larken deferred in his leadership after Griffey showed-up, almost expecting the superstar to take the lead. But he didn't; that's not his style. Even though Sean Casey didn't produce enough on the field to warrant his [at the time] large salary, he should have been retained for his leadership abilities alone. Who's the leader on this team? Griffey's presence trumped everything: he can't lead and he really can't be a follower. But as a superstar, he was always the center of attention.

As the Reds continued to bring in young players who needed someone to guide them, management brought in managers that could not overcome the leadership vacuum created by Griffey. Jerry Narron benched Edwin Encarnacion for not running out a flyball last year. That's why Griffey wasn't too keen Griffey did the same thing on multiple occasions last year and nothing happened to him. McKeon demanded that out of Griffey and he was run out of town [to Florida . . . where he won a World Series]. When you have a system with two sets of rules, there can be no unity. And the ballclub has suffered.

Depending on what happens to Dunn, I think that Brandon Phillips is primed to emerge as the on-field leader of this team. No way this would've been possible with Junior here. And, perhaps, this will allow Dusty Baker to be a little more harsh with this club. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out.

I have no ill-feelings for Griffey. In Chicago he'll have a more demanding manager who is the undisputed leader of that team. It'll probably be good for him.

It's the end of a Reds era. And I'm ready to move on.


With Adam Dunn traded to the Diamondbacks, this truly is the end of an era in Reds baseball. I would just suggest that this makes it even more important that Edinson Volquez pan out to be a perennial All-Star pitcher. Otherwise, the Josh Hamilton trade is even more of a disaster with the state of the Reds' outfield.

Signing Off

I'll admit: I am not a fan of professional golfer Michelle Wie.

She was driving the ball 300 yards of the tee at age thirteen. Throughout her teen years she's entered a few men's PGA events, despite never winning on the women's tour. Some blame an over-aggressive father for pushing her into this career path which cause many people to despise her. But, all in all, she's just a kid— only 18 years-old now.

Wie was entered in an LPGA event this past weekend and, after her round on Friday, she left the scorers tent without signing her scorecard. Anyone familiar with professional golf knows that this is one of the rules (in fact, a golfer lost the Masters in 1968 because he signed an incorrect scorecard). Even though officials immediately chased her down to sign it, she left the official roped-off scoring area which should mean a disqualification. But the LPGA let her go out on Saturday and play her round, waiting until she finished, before informing Wie that she had been DQ'd. At the time, she was in 2nd place.

Again, I'm not a Wie fan, but this is ridiculous. I love the game of golf but this antiquated rule has got to go. I can understand the need for such a rule back in the day: there was no television coverage or instant scoring. But with today's extensive coverage of tournaments, and with all the demands on the professionals, from catering to local events to dealing with media interviews, why can't they final take the signing the scorecard aspect out of the equation? Basically, what they're saying is that a golfer's score isn't official until the player signs his/her card. Then why even show the score during the tournament? What other sport penalizes you for not verifying your own score. Do they do that in professional bowling?

I understand the basis behind the rule, an ideal which accompanies all of golf: honesty. You're accountable to faithfully keep your own score. But just because hackers like me take an occasional mulligan doesn't mean that professionals are doing so.

By the way, the LPGA doesn't really like Wie too much, because she has at times shunned their league. Adding insult to injury, LPGA offical Sue Witters, who informed Wie of her DQ, (perhaps unintentionally) belittled the golfer's youthfulness with the comment, "I felt like I was telling somebody that there was no Santa Claus."

Additionally, if the LPGA knew they were going to disqualify her and let her play on Saturday, they are just cruel. I would suspect that they wanted to milk Wie for a few more television viewers before sending her home.

Overall, very bad form.

[insert no golf clap here]

Brush With Greatness

Last Sunday morning, I had a great experience . . . at Speedway nonetheless.

As I was headed out to the little church in New Richmond I stopped at the gas station for my morning Diet Coke. While I'm usually a UDF guy, Speedway wins my summer loyalty with their slashed fountain drink prices. Plus, they have the Speedy Rewards Card which you can scan and get points to get free stuff. Never redeemed the points, but they're there if I need them.

So as I'm paying and putting change in my wallet, I hear someone stand in the door and ask if they can use their Speedy Rewards even if they're paying at the pump. The cashier told him that he could leave his card and she could scan it inside. I'm out the door and decide to hold open the door for the guy and then notice he's substantially taller than I am. Then I look at his face and realize that I'm in the presence of [arguably] the greatest basketball player who ever lived:

Oscar Robertson.

Here's some info if you're unfamiliar with him. The Big O played college ball at Cincinnati* and played in the NBA for the Cincinnati Royals [now the Sacramento Kings]. Professionally he AVERAGED a triple-double.

Back to my story: as I realized who it was, he exited the Speedway and said thanks to me for holding open the door. I replied, "Have a good morning, Mr Robertson" making sure to pronounce it properly and not "Robinson."

I took two thoughts away from my encounter:

1. I keep running into local celebrities while holding open doors at gas stations. During my ministry in Madeira, I held open the door for Marge Schott. She went in bought a pack of cigs and two lottery tickets. I remember asking the cashier if she came in much and he replied, "Everyday. And she always buys a pack of Marlboro's and a couple lotto tickets." I found it strange that a woman living in an Indian Hill mansion was still trying to strike it rich.

2. Can you imagine Michael Jordan pulling into a gas station and going inside to use his Speedy Rewards card? I wonder if Jordan has even pumped his own gas in decades. It just goes to show that guys like the Big O paved the way so that today's athletes could live large and the younger generations couldn't care less. Some have said that Oscar is bitter because he didn't make the big bucks that today's players make. Honestly, I'd be bitter too. But he is still an incredible guy. Later, on that day when I saw him, he was in Indianapolis to receive a reward for his benevolence work. It's that humanness in old pros like Robertson that makes me proud to have the opportunity to hold open a door for him.

In a somewhat related note, I'm heading over the Deveroes League tomorrow night [Tuesday] to watch the local college players if anyone's interested.

*Although the Big O was by far the most dominant college player of his time, UC didn't win their back-to-back national championships until Oscar left school.

He Speaks The Truth

Not sure if you caught Chad Johnson's interview on ESPN this weekend. As is expected, CJ spewed out his normal amount of crazy. At the very least, interest in this Bengals season will be heightened here at Beit Carr as I'm fascinated to see how fans will react to him.

Still, in trying to make up with the locals for a tumultuous of season, Chad did offer up this quote:

I love Cincinnati— the city, the fans. I love everything about it; [it's] the perfect city.

Keep working it, Chad. I just might buy back in . . . to tolerate you, at least.

Say Nothing At All

I've almost come around on Adam Dunn. Sure, he's as frustrating a baseball player as you can find: strikes out a lot, not a good fielder, doesn't do the little things to help his team. But, at the end of the day, he can change a game with one swing, and he forces a pitcher to tread lightly through the line-up. I'm at the point where I think if Bob Castellini can lock him up at reasonable rate for the next five years, he should do it. This guys is going to hit 600 home runs in his career. He'd probably be a better DH in the American League, but the Reds aren't in the American League, and they can't play him at first base, do you work with what you got.

The realization that I'm feeling better about Dunner came last night when I read that one baseball GM ripped into him. The guy was answering questions on a radio talk show and a person called in to suggest that the team acquire Adam Dunn. The GM's response:

“Do you know the guy doesn’t really like baseball that much? Do you know the guy doesn’t have a passion to play the game that much? How much do you know about the player? There’s a reason why you’re attracted to some players and there’s a reason why you’re not attracted to some players. I don’t think you’d be very happy if we brought Adam Dunn here . . . We’ve done our homework on guys like Adam Dunn and there’s a reason why we don’t want Adam Dunn. I don’t want to get into specifics.”

You'll never here a GM go out of his way to disparage another player. Adding insult to injury is the fact that he's the GM of a Canadian franchise. This is total bush league.

Look, I get frustrated about Dunn a lot, but it's just because he sometimes fails to connect his brain to his physical abilities. I don't question his desire to play at all. I think it's the opposite: he tries too hard sometimes when he should play more naturally.

These ridiculous comments probably show why this guy won't be a GM much longer. And even better, the Reds are playing at Toronto next week. Something tells me that Dunn will explode.

Me VS Tiger [How quickly things change]

Just after Tiger took the initial lead in our head-to-head challenge, news breaks thathe'll have to hang it up for the rest of the year because of his knee.

Although I've tweaked my ankle a time or two, and bought a knee brace for the half-marathon because of some soreness, my knees are in good, functioning condition. Therefore, I win in the category of functioning knees. So the revised scoreboard is now:

ME = 1


I would predict that, with Tiger on the mend, he's not going to want to answer my challenge this year. That's fine. It'll give me plenty of time to bust out a big lead on him.

Me VS Tiger [It Begins]

While I was kinda pulling for Rocco Mediate to keep pushing the US Open to even more play-off holes, I must admit that I was pulling for Tiger Woods to win yet another Major Championship today. As I've mentioned before, Tiger and I share the same birthdate [December 30, 1975]. So whenever people rave about how amazing he is, I'm forced to compare my accomplishments with his because we've had exactly the same amount of time to get things done. For the longest time I've felt unworthy, but then I realized that it's all because the scoreboard has gone only one way.

So today I decided that I am going to enter the fray and take on Tiger Woods in the official "Me VS Tiger" competition.

We will go mano-a-mano, comparing each of our life's accomplishments to see who ends up on top. This will account for 50% of the scoring. The remainder will be based on an actual head-to-head match-up in a competition decided by Tiger himself [he'd better pick golf, otherwise I'm kicking his ***]. The competition will carry on until the in-person competition takes place. The scores will then be combined and a winner will be declared.

Tiger, be advised that this is your public challenge. I know you'll have downtime to troll the internet now that you're resting the knee until the British Open. Once you come across my blog you can drop me an email and we'll set up the match-up. Otherwise I'm going to have to take you down in a long, drawn out, merciless way.

As we begin the competition, the first comparison will be Golf Major Championships. Tiger now has fourteen in his professional career. Although I have watched many majors on television, I have yet to win one. I did, at one time, own a green windbreaker jacket, but I'm not sure that it counts. So since I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to be able to string together fourteen Majors in the next few decades, I will concede and give Tiger this category. So the official scoreboard now stands at . . .

ME= 0


Well played. Well played.

Looking for Redlegs

I'm not quite sure when it started. Perhaps it was empathy stemmed over from the year of my birth.

I was born in the midst of the Big Red Machine, in December 1975, between back-to-back World Championships. Just two months before I was born, the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Boston Red Sox in seven games.

But it probably started with those Saturday baseball games on television when I was a kid. It was the only time I had the opportunity to see this bizarre phenomenon known as the American League— teams like the Yankees, Tigers, White Sox, and Royals. But the one I enjoyed the most played in a stadium with a big green wall in left field. That was the team I liked the best. So in the mid-eighties, I chose my American league team: the Boston Red Sox.

The recent futility of my hometown club led me to live and die with the Sox. I remember Buckner losing the ball in the five-hole. I remember Clemens getting ejected from the ALCS in 1990. I remember when Mo Vaughn was mashing and Pedro Martinez was menacing. I remember staying up to watch the 11th inning of game 7 of the ALCS when former-Red Aaron Boone took Tim Wakefield yard.

But watching the Red Sox win to championships in four years has been enjoyable. True, not as enjoyable as it would be if the Reds would win another, but fun nevertheless. But the recent run of championships has taken a little bit off of my relationship with the team. They used to be underdogs. Now they're poised to become a dynasty. It's just different.

So as the Red Sox come to town for the first time since the year of my birth, you'd think I'd be lined up to get tickets [ironically, even though the Reds sold these tickets like it was the greatest sporting event in Cincinnati history, you can walk up and purchase them for any game this weekend]. But, as of now, I'm not going to any of the three games. Sure, it's the match-up of my two favorite teams, but it's not worth the premium price to me. The Reds are reeling and the Red Sox are cruising. Plus, the games will be on television, so I won't have to miss a play

Here's to hoping that a little love will come the Reds way so that the next time these teams face-off it'll be in a World Series [which the Reds will win].


Two more things:

1) I forgot to mention that the first manager of the Red Sox came from the RedLegs. I believe that they weren't the Red Sox until that manager renamed the team the American League Red Stockings, later the Red Sox. Additionally, I thing the Reds later dropped the "Stockings" because it had German connotations,

2) Of course, wouldn't you know it that I received a call an hour after originally posting this offering me a ticket to tonight's game. I ended up going and was proud that the crowd, while filled with Sox fans, was mostly for the Reds. And they ending up winning to boot. Thanks, Tye and Andrea.

Not This Time

The third leg of the Triple Crown is Saturday, with Big Brown aiming to be the first horse to accomplish the trifecta in thirty years. Even though some people view this race as a job to the coronation, since 1948 there have been eighteen horses that won the Derby and the Preakness and consequently lost the Belmont. The reason? The Belmont is 1.5 miles, a long haul for many of these horses. With that in mind, I'm predicting that Big Brown will come up empty handed.

Casino Drive is a horse bred specifically for this long distance. He's the spawn of a Derby winner. And he hadn't competed in either of the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Commentators admit that this has been a weak year for the three year-olds, and Casino Drive is the real deal.

Although it would be great to see the horse accomplish this epic task, the trainer is as arrogant as anyone I've ever seen in horse racing. He's been talking smack since Derby week. I'm thinking this is the week he's wrong.

Casino Drive to win.

The Bruce Is Loose!

Couldn't make it out to the ballpark tonight, but I was excited tonight as Reds phenom Jay Bruce was called up and played in his first major league game. He went 3-3, 2 walks and 2 RBIs, and received a face full of shaving cream during the post-game interview. Here's hoping that we were able to watch the premier of the next great Cincinnati Red. FYI, I believed in this guy so much I picked him up in my fantasy baseball league LAST YEAR. I spent a keeper spot on a guy who didn't play a game until tonight. Thanks, Jay, for making me look smart.

Love The Horse

We like horse racing around here. While watching the Kentucky Oaks race last Friday afternoon, a horse pulled up and bucked his jockey, leading me to tell Kelly, "a jockey fell off." Kaelyn picked up on it immediately, and has been telling is since then, "jockey fall off horse." This has gone on for five days now. I wonder how long she'll keep telling us about that poor jockey . . . Considering that the horse I picked in the Kentucky Derby finished last, I guess I'm no longer able to speak authoratatively about horse racing. But a lot has been going around since the race and I did want to share some opinions about what went down.

Before I hit the controversial topic, you have to give it up to Big Brown. He started from an almost impossible position and, from the get go, ran an absolutely brilliant race. I really don't like the horse's trainer, which is why I refused to cheer for him, but his win was amazing. He could very well win the Triple Crown.

But even if he does, this year will be remembered for the death of Eight Belles. The filly gave it all she had and, considering Big Brown's dominating performance, could have won the Derby in another year. But when both her front ankles broke galloping out after the race, thoughts immediately turned to what caused the trajedy. Unfortunately, everything is now up for being blamed, which has created a witch hunt. Let's look at these scapegoats really quickly:

Blame the jockey. That's nonsense. Don't think the horse's death hasn't taken its toll on him. If there was any prior warning that the horse's ankles were giving out, the horse would've pulled up. This was a freakish accident if there ever was one. PETA has called for the jockey, Gabriel Saez, to be suspended and it's plain ignorance. He didn't break the horse's ankles.

Blame the whip. There has also been some criticism of the way the jockey whipped the horse, but this has absolutely nothing to do with Eight Belles death either. It's just a long standing criticism against the sport that people are choosing to bring up while the spotlight is shinning. These jockeys aren't senseless; they love these animals and are doing all they can to get the most speed out of it. Regardless of whether or not whipping is acceptible, the appearance of brutality towards the horse doesn't help horse racing during a time like this. Even though whipping has been more stringently regulated during the last ten years than it ever has before, I imagine it will eventually go the way of the albatross. Still, don't blame it here.

Blame the trainer. Many have attacked trainer Larry Jones for entering a filly into a boys race. They claim she was overmatched and ran beyond her capacity, which caused her ankles to give way. This doesn't fly either. Practically every year a filly enters the Derby. Eight Belles was a large filly who had run with the boys before. And, as I noted earlier, if not for Big Brown's epic performance, she very well could've won. I do wonder what would have happened if she had actually won the race. Would the outrage be worse, or would she be painted his heroic for winning her last race.

Blame the surface. This is what I thought would capture the most attention. Before the race, every was talking about the differences in tracks around the country not that synthetic tracks have become the rage. Churchill Downs has stuck to the dirt track citing tradition [even though, as my neighbor noted, the historic site now looks more like Vegas] and has refused to switch over. While I feel that the synthetic track is the way to go, it most likely would not have prevented this injury. So you can call for a change, but don't blame the dirt for this.

Blame the breeding. Horse breeding is now total science. Horses are now selected to engineer the perfect runner. But some in-the-know believe that the breeding is causing these races horses to lose bone strength at the expense of speed. I'm not educated enough to comment on whether or not this is true, but it's hard to decifer even if it is. Obviously the breeders care about their animals, witnessed in the lucrative veterinary industry, but the point of the horse is to perform. And if they do produce winners, then the horse's life gets even better in its breeding years. As long as we have the science to create the perfect animal, there will always be give in take. But if the issue is this great for horses, then why aren't we as adamant when it comes to people?

In the end, there's no one thing that you can legitimately blame; it's a freakish tragedy. But since people find it difficult to accept that, I'm sure the inquisition will probably continue. Following so close to the death of Barbaro, horse racing [which is constantly struggling to stay relevant] has a black cloud hovering over it. Perhaps it will take Big Brown winning the Triple Crown to fix the current mess.

Fun Run [Part Two]

The nice thing about running the Flying Pig was my home-field advantage. I'm fortunate to live so close to downtown because I was totally familiar with the marathon course. Plus, I was able to see my family twice without too much work for them. Nothing necessarily surprised me during the run, except the totally different sensation of running with thousands of people in the road as opposed to solitary runs on the sidewalk. As I left the fam and proceeded up the second half of the killer hill, I began to have some conversations with other runners. I continually heard people mention how beautiful park and the area was. I'd respond by bragging that I live here and see it everyday. The irony of the conversations was that these same people lusting after our park could probably live her themselves if they really wanted. So in those brief conversations burning up the hill, I felt it was my duty to work public relations for Walnut Hills.

At the top of the hill, I was about 7 miles in so I decided I would get my first drink at the water station. I had absolutely no desire for Gatorade so I tried to avoid it all-together. Of course, unbeknownst to me, I ended up getting some Gatorade and drank it without realizing it. This killed me because, although usually enjoying the beverage, I wasn't used to drinking that stuff while running.

Then came the split were the half-marathoners departed from the full-marathoners at DeSales Corner. That's where the race began to open up and I felt I could actually breathe. Unfortunately, as there were fewer runners, I never found a good pace person to track down. I think I actually ended up slowing down a little on this stretch. I probably lost some time there.

But then I started the descent down Gilbert Avenue. It was here that my knee started acting up a little, but at least I knew that I'd be passing in front of our condo soon. I saw Kaelyn at the distance. She was having fun running up and down the sidewalk [something we don't let her do regularly because of the traffic flying by on the street]. I picked her up, got a kiss, said a few words and went down the hill for the last couple miles.

As I hit Central Parkway I finally started to feel a little tired. There's a section of Central were you basically have to backtrack, meaning that you run past the turn you'll eventually have to take. And, my knee started to throb, but I knew I only had about a mile to go so I sucked it up.

Running down Eggleston I decided I would push it as hard as I could. I started passing people pretty well. The last turn onto Pete Rose Way [I was doing it all for him] I knew the end was near so I was chugging it pretty hard. As I approached the finish line I could've passed this father and his college-age daughter, but they were having a touching moment so I figured it was well enough and finished a tad slower than I wanted.

As I walked through the masses of finishers I got my free junk and felt pretty good about what I had done. I finished in 2 hours, 6 minutes. I would've like to finish under 2 hours, but I really hadn't set it as a goal or anything. I just wanted to finish and not suck. There were about 350 men in my age group [age 30-34] that ran the half-marathon. I finished at around 200 among them. All-in-all, pretty average. And that was cool.

As I started to walk back to my car, I realized that my day didn't quite work out like I had planned. When I parked the car in the early morning, I had locked my keys and wallet in the car so I wouldn't have to worry about keeping them with me. At that stop in front of our condo, Kelly was going to hand me the key on a rubberband and I would keep it on my wrist to the finish. Of course, the exchange never took place, so I was stuck down by the river with no car key. I happened to see an old college buddy down there who lent me his cellphone. I called Kelly and told her I would just walk the 2.5 miles home.

It was weird to pass people still running the course. I was going the other way, having already finished, and they had a few more miles to go. And for the second time that morning, I was climbing up the hill at Gilbert. I made it to the front door about forty minutes later, went in, and sat down, knowing that I had traversed around almost 17 miles this morning. Another 9 miles, and I would've gone a full marathon.

Oh, and we had church tonight, but I wussed out and decided to sit while I was preaching. My knee is really hurting, but it'll be fine by tomorrow.

Ending thoughts here:

First, I love my city. Cincinnati is awesome. The crowds of people who came out and shout encouragement to people for hours just speaks to the kind of people in our town. That, plus the beauty it possesses, [both natural and man-made structures] are among many things that make me proud to call this place home.

And finally, sitting here typing up these thoughts, I can't help but think if I'll do this again. I'm just not sure. As I admitted before, I really don't like running too much. The accompishment will be fun to reflect on, but I'm still not convinced it's worth the boredom of training.

I mean, if I run the half-marathon again, it would just be to shave off minutes. And, for me, running the full-marathon is still a major time commitment, one I'm not sure I can do while pastoring a church, finishing grad school, and still trying to have some kind of family time. I imagine that I'll wait about ten years, hit a point in my 40's where I'm looking for a new challenge, and give it a go then.

But at the end of the day, I had a blast. And even if I don't run, I'm already looking forward to the Flying Pig next year.

Fun Run [Part One]

OK, so I thought I'd let you know about my day running the Flying Pig Half Marathon. It's a little lengthy [so much so that I made it a two-parter], but I want to get it all down so I can remember how it went. So if you wade through all of this, you must really like me. I went to bed early last night. Fearing that I might sleep through my alarm, I set the alarm on my cellphone. Good thing, since the volume on my clock radio was muted. If I didn't have my back-up, I'd probably would have slept right through. Fortunately, I had all my stuff laid out and was out the door in five minutes.

I parked on the eastern side of downtown, since the race ended over there by the Reds stadium. I found a nice space right in front of P&G and proceeded to walk almost three-quarters of a mile over towards Paul Brown Stadium. I had planned on meeting my friend John who was running the full marathon, but just couldn't find him. I practically walked all around the stadium looking for him. I finally gave up, which was probably a good thing since Kelly said he was smoking me. So I ended up navigating the course solo.

The scene at the starting line was hilarious. Some people were loose, some people were incredibly serious. The lines at the port-o-lets were insane. You were supposed to stand near the area where you projected you would finish. I figured it would take me 2 hours, 15 minutes, but didn't bother pushing to get that close, so I hung out at the 2 hour, 30 minute starting group. The closer it got to the actual start time, the more people surged forward. As it started getting past 6:30 and we were still standing around, an anxious tension worked through the crowd. Then the word came through about a fire down on Eastern Avenue. It not only delayed the beginning of the race but proceeded to add some extra length to the full-marathon course [lucky them].

Almost fifteen minutes later, the race finally started. It took me 7 minutes just to get to the starting line. Once I hit it, I started a slow, somewhat annoying jog. I was just trying to find space to work through the crowd. What really ticked me off was the large number of walkers who were consuming space. Don't get me wrong: I don't mind that people wanted to walk the course, but they shouldn't be ahead of people trying to run. It was all I could do not to run into people.

Before I knew it, I was in Northern Kentucky. In my training runs, I never drank water before six miles in so I avoided the early water stations all together, which helped save me some time. I spent the first four miles weaving in and out of people, using other people to keep a good pace, and making decent time. As I headed down Seventh Street, I found a guy I used to play soccer with; I hung with him for about a mile. Unfortunately, the late start gave the sun more time to come up so the straightaway through downtown, while very awesome, was blinding. The end of seventh began Gilbert Avenue [my home turf] and I was more than ready for the big hill. Plus, I knew that Kelly and Kaelyn would be waiting for me halfway up at the entrance to Eden Park.

As I reached the intersection there were my girls with our friends Paul and Carol. They had made some signs for me. This is what greeted me:

Yeah, that #11018 was my marathon number. I stopped and chatted for a little more than a minute with them and began my trek through the park.

I'll come back with part two to let you know how the race ended up.