Saturday, September 29, 2007

Shawnee dominates

Simply dominating.
That's what Shawnee's 35-14 victory Friday at Defiance was.
The Indians controlled the offensive line and ran at will over Defiance. Brandon Stephenson ran for 121 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns. Fullback James Dillard added 62 yards on five carries with two touchdowns.
In all, Shawnee ran for 287 yards.
The Indians' defense was equally impressive. The defense swarmed Defiance quarterback Adam Wagner all night and sacked him seven times. Defensive end Tyler Rhoades lived in the Defiance backfield and had four sacks.
The Indians led 35-0 in the final quarter before Defiance's subs added two meaningless scores against the Shawnee second team.
Shawnee has won four in a row and is 4-2, 4-1 in the Western Buckeye League.
In all, it was a totally impressive performance by the Indians.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Wedge pushed all the right buttons

It all comes down to pushing the right buttons.
Former Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo told me that years ago when we were having a discussion about the importance of a manager.
Sure, a team has to have talent. After that, exactly what is the key role of a manager?
I asked him about the importance Sparky Anderson played guiding the Big Red Machine to World Championships in 1975 and 1976.
“Anyone who knows anything about baseball knows when it’s time to bunt, steal or pinch-hit,” Santo said. “Most know when to take a pitcher out. The difference between the good managers and all the others is the good ones know how to push the buttons and motivate all 25 guys in the clubhouse. You might have to push 25 different buttons to get 25 guys going in the right direction. Certain guys respond differently to different things. That’s exactly what Sparky did and that’s why he was a great manager.”
That story comes to mind today concerning the heat Indians manager Eric Wedge has taken this year.
If you turned on Sports Time Ohio’s talk show after an Indians’ game this year, you would think Wedge was the worst manager in the history of baseball.
He never bunted at the right time.
He never pinch-hit at the right time. If he pinch-hit, he pinch-hit the wrong guy.
And he never knew when to make a pitching change. He took guys out too soon or he left them in well after they were roasting on the spit.
This all according to the talking heads and callers on STO.
Here’s a news flash for them.
The Indians are in the playoffs.
So, to me, Wedge has done plenty right.
So forget about if Wedge didn’t bunt here or there.
In the end, all those moves mean very little over 162 games. My feeling is that most of those moves even themselves out over a long season.
What matters is Wedge was able to motivate and use his intensity to push 25 guys in the right direction.
According to a former third baseman, “He pushed the right buttons.”

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Big black sack attack

Ohio Northern's defense batted around John Carroll quarterback Mark Petruziello like a pinata Saturday.
ONU registered a team-record 10 sacks in the Polar Bears' 23-13 victory over John Carroll at Dial-Roberson Stadium. That broke the mark of nine sacks set against Bluffton in 1995.
ONU, ranked No. 12 in the nation, is now 3-0, 2-0 in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
Here's a capsule look at the game:
ONU linebacker Lenny Trusnik led the defensive surge with 2.5 sacks, along with his 10 tackles.
Nine different Polar Bears had at least a half of a sack.
Defensive back Cullen Rasmussen had a career-high 12 tackles.
Quarterback Jeff Pankratz looked sharp in throwing for 168 yards and one touchdown. Elder High product Ben Wittwer had career highs for catches (eight) and yards (108) with one touchdown.
The offensive line had trouble opening holes for running back R.J. Meadows, who had gone over 100 yards rushing in the first two games. He was held to 68 yards on 20 carries. Trevis Stephens did run for 31 yards on six carries.
ONU is at Otterbein at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Reds showcase dogs, prospects

I went to all three Reds-Cardinals games last week in Cincinnati.
One of those nights was Dog Night, in which close to 400 fans brought their dogs to the park dressed in Reds' gear. The fans and dogs then paraded around the field before the game.
Here are a few impressions of the series:
First baseman-outfield prospect Joey Votto has a lively bat and appears to have the inside track on starting at first base next year.
Infielder Jeff Keppinger can hit. Period. He should start at shortstop or third base next year.
Norris Hopper will make an excellent reserve outfielder next year, as he does everything but hit with power.
I saw Josh Hamilton injure his hamstring in the outfield and is out for the remainder of the year. Let's hope that he is not prone to injuries in the future. He already missed time with a stomach ailment and a wrist injury.
Aaron Harang deserves votes for the Cy Young, going 15-4 for this team.
Brandon Phillips deserves the Gold Glove.
Reliever Jared Burton should start the year as a top set-up man until the Reds make some deals.
Never walk behind the dog section during Dog Night at the park.
The Reds need at least two more starters and three more relievers to contend.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

ONU shines in opener

Here's what we learned from Ohio Northern's 42-0 opening day victory over Millikin:
ONU running back R.J. Meadows is back. He made his return from knee surgery last October to run for 122 yards on 18 carries with a 2-yard touchdown run. On several runs, he showed a good burst up the middle and carried a few tacklers along the way.
First-year full-time starter quarterback Jeff Pankratz is more than capable of taking over the offense. He looked sharp in completing 14 of 23 for 230 yards. He threw three touchdowns of 44, 39 and 30 yards.
David Delk looked like a No. 1 wide receiver in making five catches for 141 yards with three touchdowns. That helped the passing game look much improved over last year.
The offensive line did its job in opening holes and not allowing Pankratz to be sacked.
The defense did its job in holding Millikin to 18 yards rushing and flying at Millikin QBs for five sacks.
Now let's see what happens in Week 2. ONU opens its Ohio Athletic Conference season at 1:30 Saturday at Muskingum.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

This Reds team isn't good enough to contend

Forget about the recent surge the Reds made in August.
It’s time to think about next season.
Here’s what we learned about the 2007 Reds:
Brandon Phillips is a Gold Glove second baseman and one of the top hitting infielders in the league.
Scott Hatteberg is valuable with his ability to get on base consistently and drive in runs.
David Ross isn’t much of a hitter, but is a defensive stopper with his ability to throw runners out.
Edwin Encarnacion is inconsistent in the field and with the bat.
Jeff Keppinger can hit line drives in his sleep. He must play every day at third base or shortstop next year.
Josh Hamilton is amazing. He takes off four years and has still proven he has that special quality the way the ball explodes off his bat. He’s also a plus outfielder with a rocket arm.
Ken Griffey Jr. still has something left. And he actually stayed healthy.
Because of Adam Dunn’s power, he will draw the most trade interest. He still strikes out too much to be considered a clutch hitter.
Outfielder Jay Bruce is on the way and should reach the majors sometime next year. I saw him with Sarasota this summer and he reminded me of a young Austin Kearns.
Rookie starters Bobby Livingston and Phil Dumatrait aren’t ready for the majors.
Rookie phenom Homer Bailey can’t be penciled in for a starting spot next year.
The Reds’ relief pitching is horrible. It’s time to bite the bullet and release Todd Coffey. Mike Stanton also needs to be sent packing.
Rookie reliever Jared Burton showed plenty of promise. Rookie John Coutlangus also seems to have a future.
David Weathers had an excellent year and could be a great set-up man if a true closer is acquired.
Eddie Guardado is still a huge question mark.
Aaron Harang is a No. 1 quality starter.
Bronson Arroyo can be a quality No. 2 starter, but needs to do a better job locating his breaking pitch and show more confidence in his fastball.
The experiment of having Matt Belisle start didn’t work out and he needs to return to the bullpen.
In the end, the Reds need two more starters and at least three more relievers.
In order to get them, Dunn, Encarnacion and Hatteberg must be dangled as trade bait.
What we really have learned is once again this team isn’t good enough to contend.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

ONU's Trusnik makes Jets' practice squad

Ohio Northern product Jason Trusnik is a New York Jet.
It didn't seem that way on Saturday, as Trusnik was let go with the team's final round of cuts. But just a few days later, Trusnik and six other players were signed to the Jets' practice squad.
The former All-American from Ohio Northern is making the move from defensive end to linebacker. He had made four tackles in the four preseason games, including two in the final preseason game against the Eagles.
This is great news for Trusnik and ONU.
Now Trusnik can learn and wait in the wings on the practice squad. If injuries hit, he could even be activated.
He has made the leap from Division III player to a member of the NFL.
But more than anything else, Trusnik has realized his dream.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Jets cut Trusnik

Ohio Northern product Jason Trusnik was among the New York Jets' final cuts on Saturday.
The former All-American defensive end at ONU was trying to make it with the Jets at outside linebacker. In his four exhibition games, he had four tackles, including two in the final preseason game against the Eagles.
Among the Jets' cuts at linebacker were former Ohio State linebacker Anthony Schlegel and Andre Wadsworth.
Trusnik has a passion for the game and hopefully this experience will help him with his next move in football. ONU's Jamal Robertson went to Europe and Stacey Hairston played in Canada before landing in the NFL.
Hopefully, Trusnik can catch on somewhere else to keep his dream alive.