Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mick Cronin, Jef Keppinger, Carson Palmer, Etc.

1. John Calipari just left perennial powerhouse Memphis for Kentucky. A few years prior Roy Williams left one of the Big Seven (Kansas) for another (North Carolina). So look around, Bearcat fans, and come to grips with the fact that your favorite college basketball program is a stepping-stone job, like every other school -- with the possible exceptions of Duke, Carolina, UCLA and Kentucky.

I didn't write those words to smack you in the face with harsh realities, but more so to shine light on the fact that we need Mick Cronin to be great. Cincinnati isn't a stepping stone to him, it's most certainly a destination. He grew up in the city and graduated from the school; nothing could drag him away from the head job at UC. Except, of course, consistent inability to make the NCAA tournament. But that's a whole other story.

If Mick Cronin can't make this program great again, I'm not sure we'll ever see the words "elite" and "UC basketball" ever written in the same sentence again. Keep your fingers crossed, because I'm getting sick of March Madness without the Bearcats.

(Explanation of the Big Seven: I consider UNC, Duke, Kentucky University, UCLA, Kansas, Indiana and Arizona the best programs in the country when factoring in tradition, success, arena, players in the NBA, etc.)

2. Why did the Reds trade Jeff Keppinger for what will likely amount to nothing? I don't care if he hit .043 (or whatever) this spring, we know he can smack around left-handed pitchers and play multiple positions. Think about it, they traded a proven right-handed bat in order to keep a defensive replacement, Paul Janish, who'll never hit enough to be a regular, and Adam Rosales, who's never been confused with a hot prospect.

Plus, both Rosales and Janish still have options! Why not stash them for a month and see if Keppinger finds his MoJo? It's not like Adam and Paul (I'm on a first-name basis with them, just like every other blogger is with local professional athletes) are going to make the difference in winning or losing a game in the first month, so why have them up here so soon?

Plus plus, keeping defensive replacements around will always be stupid. Don't believe me? Well, answer me this, hot shot: Would you rather have had Jorge Cantu's 29 HRs and 95 RBI last year, or the ten at-bats given to us by Juan Freaking Castro before the Reds' brass came to their senses and dropped the worthless hump?

3. Fact: Carson Palmer will turn 30 before the end of the 2009 football season. Fact: Carson Palmer makes $80 billion (give or take) per season. Fact: Carson Palmer is the face of the Bengals. Fact: He'll never lead the Bengals to the Super Bowl.

And why?

For starters, quotes like this (from Monday's Enquirer): "I have no problem being the leader of this team if that's what I am called to do."

"I feel like I've got enough experience under my belt to be that guy and we've got a great locker room of guys with different types of leaders. I'll grab the bull by the horns and run with it."

Wait, what?

"If that's what I'm called to do."

"I feel like I've got enough experience under my belt..."

You're the $100 million Pro Bowl quarterback! The Heisman winner! The No. 1 overall pick! Possibly the most talented player in the history of the organization!

We've been reading quotes like this from Palmer for years and I've always hated them. But they really hit home when I was reading the paper Monday morning. Plain and simple: Carson Palmer just isn't the guy.

A few more playoff runs? Maybe. The promised land? Forget about it.

...and not all of it can be blamed on Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis.

-Brad Spieser (