Happy Friday, Mobsters, I hope you enjoy it. Doc will be back to his regularly scheduled programming next week, but I've got some hope and optimism for you today.
WITHOUT FURTHER ADO ... When the Cincinnati Reds begin the second half of the season tonight against the Milwaukee Brewers, it will kick off a stretch of several months with plenty of excitement in and around Greater Cincinnati sports.
The Reds are in the thick of a division race that could see them within one game of the Brewers after this weekend's series at Great American Ball Park, and there hasn't seemingly been this much optimism around The Club in eight years. Now, with about two weeks left until the trade deadline, the attention turns to whether they'll add pieces or stand pat and hope the returning arms in the bullpen/rotation are enough to seal the deal.
Here's what Bobby Nightengale wrote after GM Nick Krall said the Reds were "absolutely" looking to be buyers at the trade deadline:
Bullpen, shortstop and infield depth are likely at the top of the Reds’ priority list. They’re expected to receive some bullpen reinforcements at the end of this week. Michael Lorenzen should be activated before Friday’s game against the Brewers and Jeff Hoffman is available for the bullpen or rotation.
Tejay Antone and Lucas Sims, the top two arms in the bullpen for most of the season, could return by the end of the month.
There aren’t many top shortstops available on the trade market. Colorado’s Trevor Story tops the list, but he’s owed roughly $6 million over the final two months of the season and the Reds lowered their player payroll during the winter.
The Reds are hopeful Nick Senzel and Mike Moustakas will return within the next month, but they could use some infield depth to protect themselves. Kyle Farmer, who has provided solid defense at shortstop, was limited by a lower abdominal strain before the All-Star break.
So, where are you at, Reds fans? Will The Big Man's decision to spend/not spend affect your optimism, or are you loaded for bear with these Reds?
AND THE BEST OF THE REST ... Then there's FC Cincinnati – a club showing signs it might not finish in the cellar of the MLS Eastern Division and could challenge for a postseason spot if it learns how to close out games.
Here's Pat Brennan's takeaways on the progress of FCC after the baffling 2-2 tie with Columbus Crew last week:
FC Cincinnati had previously gone unbeaten over three matches four times in its MLS history. Unbeaten in four matches for the first time, even if they should have more points, is a good thing.
Stam probably said the most important thing of the night in his post-match remarks when he suggested that none of us should forget where this project started from when he took over.
You might not always like how the progress looks, but the consistent theme right now is definite, methodical progress from FCC, and you really can't argue with that in good faith if you were around for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Then there are The Men, who two weeks from now will be in training camp preparing for a season of consequence for head coach Zac Taylor. Nobody will deny the weapons the team has surrounded Joe Burrow with and we should all put the lazy "no offensive line" narrative to bed, for now.
Can the defense be good enough? Will Taylor show he's the guy for the job this season? Will Burrow break the NFL pass attempts record? There are a ton of questions heading into this season and, if nothing else, there's plenty to be optimistic about with the guys down at One Paul Brown Stadium.
I'll put my season prediction out as the season gets closer, but let's just say I hammered the over on the win total line when I got it at 6.5 in the Barstool Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino. So, what do you think? Is seven wins crazy talk or an underestimation?
Let's not forget the return of the Western & Southern Open starting Aug. 14. Although I'll never be considered a tennis guy, it's one of the best events put on in our region every year and well worth your time.
THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP ... (Yes, that's the actual name) is ongoing and it's truly underway. Tyrell Hatton made that official during today's second round while losing his mind.
As far as picking a winner, good luck. I will always root for Lee Westwood to finally win a major, but beyond that I don't really have a dog in the fight. So, I'll do the mature golf fan thing and cheer for the course/chaos. If you've ever played competitive golf and were what some considered "good" at one point, you know how ridiculously difficult they can make course setups. I always cheer for carnage because I like to see the best in the world get put through the ringer. Hey, there's a massive payday on the other side.
Do you have a favorite this weekend? Either way, we all win as long as it's not a runaway winner.
STICK TO SPORTS ... I'm not going to get too deep into it, but suffice to say I'm happy troops will be coming home from Afghanistan this year. It honestly should've happened way sooner, but didn't.
For those of you unaware, I'm a veteran of both Afghanistan and Iraq. I've seen the worst of what human beings can do to each other up close and personal and I'm glad that chapter in our story is about to come to a close.
Never forget that more than 7,000 Americans have perished in the Global War on Terror since 2001 and thousands more after returning home took their own lives.
I wish I could say my generation is special, different or somehow better, but the truth is every generation that goes to war does so in a vacuum. My great grandfathers, grandfather and five great uncles all served in a combination of World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The great uncles still living when I'd come home from deployments would think that what we were doing in Iraq was crazy because of the asymmetrical nature of urban combat, meanwhile those were guys that did the island-hopping campaign in the Pacific during WWII, nearly froze to death fighting in Korea, and survived the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, to name a few.
Point being, every generation has its battles and real recognize real.
Now, then ...
FUNMEISTER BRIEN ... This weekend is Schuetzenfest at the Kolping Society (10235 Mill Road). The oldest German festival in the United States celebrates its 155th anniversary this year. The festival itself commemorates a medieval marksman who saved the life of a child by shooting down an eagle that was set to attack. This act has become a fun competition in which skilled shooters try to successfully target a hand-carved eagle high atop a pole. The winner is crowned “Schuetzenkonig,” or “King Marksman.”
Friday through Sunday, there will be plenty of food and drink for the whole family, including (but not limited to) Jaegerschnitzel, German pastries and pies. There will be raffles, balloon and magic shows, and a 1K Bier Dash Fun Run. Live, traditional music will be played throughout the weekend and the Kinderplatz with inflatables is wonderful for the little ones.
For the beer enthusiasts, three German beers are being brought in exclusively for the festival: the Koenig Ludwig Helles and Weissbier Dunkel, as well as the Warsteiner Brewers Gold. This is a great opportunity to try these beers making their North American debut. Admission is $5 and free for ages 15 and under. For more information head over to www.kolpingcincinnati.com
TUNE O' THE DAY ... It's summer and we've got to get some positive vibes going as we prepare for the nonstop run that is late summer/fall in Cincinnati sports. So, here's some Mötley Crüe to help kick-start your heart and get the blood flowing on this beautiful Friday in the Queen City.