Three Things: Homer, Hoops, And The Oak Man.

Every day there are three things, none worth devoting an individual post to, but each worth at least mentioning.

1) Homer's hurt.  Homer Bailey had surgery. Again.  He's likely to start the season on the disabled list.  Again. Fans are upset. Again.

Don't be.

This sucks for Homer, a competitive guy whose prime is being ravaged by injuries.  Financially, this sucks for the Reds, who have paid - and are paying - Homer Bailey a lot of money. And if you were holding out hope that Homer could re-establish himself and generate interest on the trade market so that someone else could pick up his salary, well, the already slim chances of that happening just decreased.


A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with a couple of co-workers right after the Dan Straily trade was announced. The subject of this year's rotation came up and I started listing names of guys who had a spot locked down, as well as others who'll have a chance to compete for one in spring training. 

I forgot to mention Homer Bailey's name. 

That's a reflection of my own ignorance, but also a reflection of the fact that for the past two years, Homer has been out of sight, and thus out of mind.  He's pitched in eight games since the beginning of 2015, accumulating 34.1 innings. He hasn't gotten though a full season without spending time on the disabled list since 2013, which, since that was the last time the Reds were actually good, seems like a lifetime ago. Through no fault of his own, I've come not to expect anything from Homer, and this season, whatever contributions he does make will feel like a bonus. (Unfortunately, I feel the same way about Devin Mesoraco)

Can you get that upset when someone who can't count on won't do much?

Again, I feel awful for Homer, and it's rotten that we're probably never going to see the very, very best from a guy who's the second-longest-tenured Red and whose big league debut was one of the milestone moments in the early stages of the franchise's return to relevance.

But will his absence - no matter how drawn-out - make that much of a difference for a team that's a good bet to lose somewhere around 90 games this season?  Aside from his age and the fact that his money is guaranteed, is there that much of a difference between what the Reds can expect from Homer Bailey and what they should expect from camp invitee Bronson Arroyo?  Is this the death blow that many are making it out to be?

FWIW: I've weighed in on the Homer Bailey contract before, and despite this latest setback, I've not changed my mind.


Homer Bailey's Contract Is Purely About Timing.

Defending The Homer Bailey Deal: Past, Present, And Future

2)  Cats, Muskies both roll.  There aren't many things to take away from either UC or XU winning last night.  The Bearcats were more locked-in defensively than they were against UConn, seemed offensively a little too mindful at times of where 7'6" Tacko Fall was, and had to grind their way to a win over UCF that was never in doubt.  I still wish Jacob Evans would be more aggressive on offense, and Sunday's tilt against SMU feels eerily like the 2014 game at Moody when Cincinnati took a 15-game winning streak to Dallas and got boatraced.  But they're 22-2. You have to dig deep to come up with anything to gripe about right now if you're a UC fan.

The Muskies were reckless with the ball - which will kill them if that's the case on Saturday - and yet were never really challenged  last night by DePaul. XU goes into survival mode now - 'Nova at home, road tilts at Providence, Marquette and Seton Hall, before a home match against Butler. They've withstood the shitstorm of bad news that started to pile up a month ago. Avoid a collapse in these next five, and a team that was counted out about two weeks ago is going dancing.

3) The Oak man.  I have been a fan of the New York Knicks since I was six years-old. In fact, my love affair with UC basketball and my allegiance to the Knicks are loosely-related, which is something I documented last weekend. Being a Knicks fan is not easy. In fact, I'd say it's actually more challenging than being a Bengals fan. The woes of this franchise and the completely inept way in which it operates are well-documented, and if I started to comprehensively outline all of the ways in which they Knicks have demonstrated their ineptitude, I'd inevitably leave some things out, so I'll leave that part to you.

If there's one thing that all Knicks fans above the age of 25 have in common - aside from absolute loathing for owner James Dolan, and now team president Phil Jackson, who continues to publicly feud with his best player has he tries to trade him, thus killing his value - is that we revere the Knicks teams on the 90s. 

Those teams never won a title. They were the foil for, among others, Jordan, Miller, and Olajuwon. They played a brand of basketball that was ugly to watch and slowly spread across in the league in the mid-90s, which was - despite what revisionist MJ historians want you to think - not a good time for the NBA.  But in more than three decades as a sports fan, I've never rooted for a team that gave more of a shit than those Knicks teams did.  They were not the most talented.  They were not the most accomplished.  But man, those teams had guys who gave a shit.  

And their heart and soul was Charles Oakley.

From a New York Times article that was written the day Oakley was traded in 1998....

Maybe a friend had tickets to one game in two years, and you remembered Oakley's tenacity. Maybe you were the regular, the guy who thought it was Take a Knick Home Night as he plunged into your lap hunting down a loose ball. Perhaps television was your only link to Oak.

No matter. At some point, all who have had the honor of seeing him play have expressed a shared community of everymanness. He was the hod carrier at the construction site, the assembly-line worker at General Motors. Oakley punched in, punched out, complained under his breath and poked fun at the blue blazers hurdling each other for power and position.

He was the ultimate enforcer, a guy who had his teammates back to such a degree than when Patrick Ewing has his wrist in a cast for five months, it was Oakley who tied the future Hall of Famer's tie.  He was the ultimate banger, a worker who'd dive head first onto the floor and into any melee to protect one of his guys. In an era when the NBA valued dirty work, no one got filthier than Oak. 

He had tangible value too.  For a seven year stretch, beginning with the '89-'90 season, Oakley averaged a double-double. He was a two-time All-Defensive team member, and he ranks among Knicks all-time leaders in a number of categories.

And no Knick, past or present is, or was, more popular. This is not even debatable. 

Yet their most popular player, and the one who most represents their last great stretch of Knicks basketball, is kept beyond arm's length.  He's been shunned by the organization for years because he's had the balls to speak truthfully about the way the team is run. He's been excluded from the team's ongoing 70th anniversary celebration, and essentially barred from ever being officially recognized at Madison Square Garden.

Last night, this happened...


Charles Oakley, a player who Knicks fans like myself adore, was forcibly removed from the Garden during last night's game, arrested, and charged with three misdemeanors.  

I've read and listened to the different versions of why he was approached by security, and I cringe every time I see him abusing security personnel who were just doing their jobs.  My inclination is to believe that up until he started acting like an animal, he was doing nothing besides making his presence at the game, and his proximity to the team's owner, known.

I don't know.  

I do know that this entire thing just makes me very, very sad.

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Mo Egger

Mo Egger

Mo Egger delivers his unique take on sports on Cincinnati's ESPN 1530! Read more


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