Heard it From Hoard: Column 48
In the minor league baseball season there aren't many days off. This year my source of summer employment, the mighty Pawtucket Red Sox, will play 144 games in 152 days (including a 3-day All-Star break). That's eight days off in five months.
In my case, make it seven.
Our last scheduled off day is Thursday, August 28th which happens to be opening night at Nippert Stadium for the UC football team, and I expect to be behind the mic on 700 WLW.
Talk about perfect timing!
It's no secret that my professional goal is to broadcast major league baseball, but at this point, it's hard to imagine that I would enjoy that more than calling UC football and basketball games, and I can't wait for the 2008 season opener against Eastern Kentucky.
Frankly, I'm bummed that I wasn't able to broadcast and/or attend Bearcat Bowl II - although I was thrilled to see that more than 10,000 of you did attend. I spoke with my radio partner Jim Kelly Jr. who said it was a great atmosphere and a fun game to watch. I've been promised a DVD of the TV coverage so I'll be able to see for myself (perfect viewing for a minor league bus ride).
Now some random thoughts while sitting in a hotel room on day three of a 9-day road trip:
Is there a better ticket value out there than UC football? There are few things I love more than attending a baseball game at Fenway Park. In fact, Pawtucket will play a game at Fenway for the 2nd time in the last 3 years on August 9th. But I don't know how Red Sox fans do it. According to something called the Fan Cost Index, the average cost for a family of four to attend a game at Fenway is $320.71! Compare that to UC football where the most expensive SEASON ticket is $232 (and that includes a $50 credit toward bowl tickets). With a great product and price, it's no surprise that Bearcat season ticket sales are nearly 1,000 ahead of last year's pace.
Last week in Pawtucket, four members of the PawSox who played for Boston last year received their World Series rings (see photo). Can you say bling? The rings contain 42 diamonds, including 28 that spell "World Champions." On the face, there is a pair of red socks made out of custom-fitted rubies. Although they obviously won't be as expensive, I'm looking forward to seeing the Papajohns.com Bowl rings the UC football players will receive. It's a prize they'll cherish for the rest of their lives.
Speaking of prizes, congrats to Mick Cronin and his staff on this year's recruiting class of Yancy Gates, Cashmere Wright, Dion Dixon, and Steven Toyloy. I don't know if you've seen it, but rivals.com now ranks Gates as the #22 player in this year's class after his dominant performance at the Derby Classic in Louisville. Wright is ranked #82.
I think Mick has done a great job of addressing the biggest weaknesses on last year's team:
1. The inability to score inside. Missed layups by Adam H. are now dunks by Gates and a healthy Mike Williams.
2. The total absence of easy fast break buckets. God bless point guard Jamual Warren who played his heart out and gave the team needed toughness, but I can't wait to see Wright show off his highly-touted speed. Plus, the guards won't have to worry about rebounding as much with Williams, Gates, and Toyloy.
3. Only having one reliable scoring option in Deonta Vaughn. To compete in the Big East, you need at least three or four players who are a threat to score double digits in any game and the 'Cats should finally have that next year.
How 'bout the new Adidas football uniforms? Don't underestimate the impact of having great gear. I spoke with WR Marcus Barnett recently and he said that growing up near Washington DC before UC joined the Big East, the only thing he know about Bearcat football was that the jerseys were nice. I think the new "cat scratch" logo is a great touch and the relationship with Adidas is going to be tremendous for the athletic department.
Congrats to Haruki Nakamura (Baltimore) and Angelo Craig (Cincinnati) on being selected in the NFL draft. Although I've been living in Boston for two years now, I remain a Bengals fan at heart and was happy to see them pick Angelo. I would have been even happier if they would have traded up two spots in the first round to pick DT Sedrick Ellis out of USC since their defensive line play has been so abysmal. Is it a coincidence that they've gone from being a division champ and playoff team to huge disappointment since I moved east?
Finally, the handsome lad turns two on May 3rd. Enjoy the recent photo.
I'd love to hear from you. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.