Sunday, September 28, 2008

When does the NFL game begin?

That was the running joke among reporters in the press box Sunday afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium.

For 60 agonizingly long minutes the winless Browns and Bengals bumbled and stumbled their way through four quarters.

More than 45 minutes had been played before the first touchdown was scored. The score was 6-3, at that point.

Bengals quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who attended Harvard, which means he's smart enough to choose an alternative profession, threw three interceptions in relief of the injured Carson Palmer.

Eric Wright had one of those interceptions. He returned it 23 yards, then fumbled.

Cue the calliope.

The two teams combined for 15 penalites, and seven turnovers.

Oh, by the way, Cleveland won the game 20-12. The Bengals are 0-4 for the first time since 2002.

What a difference six seasons makes? Well, very little, apparently.

How I spent my "off-day" Saturday ...

Small, but not in stature

Cincinnati Country Day and Summit Country Day are among the smallest schools I'll cover on my high school sports beat for the Cincinnati Enquirer.

CCD has 34 players on varsity, Summit 41. Add them up, and it's still nearly 50 fewer than Division I power St. Xavier.

With tuition costs ranging from $15,000 to $18,000, the kids at CCD and SCDS are the best of the best academically.

But, booksmarts and checkbooks don't mean a thing when these two schools hook up on the gridiron. Annually one of the area's most heated small-school rivalries, CCD/Summit is as good as it gets.

Friday night, CCD clearly was the better team, routing the Silver Knights 21-0.

Although I didn't intend to be, I was included in the post-game celebration when the Indians players decided to dump the celebratory ice bucket over head coach Tim Dunn ... while I was interviewing him.

Thanks for the cold shower. I needed that pick-me-up on deadline.

My Enquirer game story:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ballpark battered, shattered

Shattered windows in the press box at Great American Ball Park serve as a lingering reminder of Sunday's hurricane-force winds. Still unsure whether the tattered glass could withstand an impact from a foul ball, some reporters, including your's truly, relocated to the second row.

It's an ill wind ...

Well, we could tell it was windy Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

Debris was flying, footballs were doing dances in mid-air, and coaches, players and fans were doing their best to secure anything not nailed down.

But, it wasn't until phone calls from harried family members began pinging the press box did reporters at the Bengals/Titans game realize the extent of the situation's seriousness.

The remnants of Hurricane Ike, combined with a strong cold front, whipped up hurricane-force winds, causing more than 900,000 power outages and numerous reports of damage.

After watching the Bengals bungle their way to a 24-7 defeat, and their first 0-2 start since 2003, I fought my way through the gale and arrived at my car which was parked in a downtown surface lot.

My rear window was shattered, sirens blared as emergency vehicles raced past on streets littered with debris ranging from tree limbs to more substantial chunks of roofing. Then, the horrifying news that four people had lost their lives that day.

It's a Sunday afternoon few Cincinnati residents will soon forget.

Upset front and center

Space in the sports page is often pre-determined, but more often events dictate where a story is slotted.

With Sycamore High expected to roll to an easy victory over Hamilton, no photographer was assigned to the game, and I was planning to spin my lede toward the following week, and the Aviator's much-anticipated clash with Colerain.

But, the Big Blue had other ideas.

Hamilton's 21-14 upset caused a change of plans, with me scrambling for a new angle, and the copy desk promoting the story to C1.

St. Excellent

Few high school football venues provide the media with amenities on par with Cincinnati St. Xavier.

Printed rosters, running stats on our laptops, a live internet connection, press passes, assigned press box seat, and a pretty solid spread of food at halftime.

If reporters can survive the breathless excursion from the field to the press box, the lofty perch is well worth the trip.

First class.

Monday, September 15, 2008