Three Things: Mike Brown Threatens To Keep The Bengals In Cincinnati

posted by Mo Egger, ESPN1530 - 

Every day there are three things. Here are those three things.

1) Mike Brown says the Bengals are staying. We ask if they have to.  I kid, I kid. I've put too much time in with the Bengals to ever want to see them leave. But the topic of the Bengals leaving has kinda become a thing, with the expiration of the team's current lease on the distant horizon, and with Todd Portune needlessly engaging the Bengals in a silly PR battle while the county tries to renege on contractual obligations to the team.

Mike Brown said recently that the mere suggestion that the Bengals could be looking to move elsewhere is (like the idea of his franchise finding a coach who could win a playoff game) "silly talk." 

"This is our town," Brown said. "I want to remain in this town. And for others to speculate otherwise irritates me, and it just is not that fact."

To some, that might be reassurance. To others, that might be a threat.

To me, well, as Marvin would say, I see better than I hear.

Do I believe Mike Brown when he states a desire - a commitment, even - to staying here?  I do.  But I also know that when push comes to shove with the team's current stadium lease, well, I'll try to put this gently, Mike Brown might not be as, um, you know, on top of things as he is now. At the age of 82.

I also know that there's a well-documented history of the Bengals using relocation as leverage to strongarm voters into buying them a new stadium, and an even more well-documented history of NFL teams bolting small markets for cities that the NFL has a vested interest in moving into.

I know that Paul Brown Stadium was outdated pretty much a year or two after it opened, which means that with each passing year, and each newly built NFL palace, the home of the Bengals looks more and more frumpy.

And I know that the relationship worse than the contentious one between the Bengals and public officials is the toxic one between the Bengals and the people who elect those public officials. 

Add all of that together and what do you have?

Reason to wonder, even just a little, if the Bengals will be here longer than they're required to be. 

As 2026 inches closer, I'll be more interested in what I see from the Bengals than what I hear. 

2) An NL Central team just went for it. It just wasn't the one here.  The sport of baseball was awakened from its winter slumber in a big way, thanks to the Milwaukee Brewers.  Bud Selig's old team re-shaped its outfield by trading for Christian Yelich and signing Lorenzo Cain, two players who make contact, reach base often, play solid defense, and head north at what will be a pretty bearable cost for their new team. With Ryan Braun, the Brewers have the potential to have one of the more interesting and productive outfields in baseball, with backups that other teams might prize enough as starters to send pitching to Milwaukee in return. 

I wanted the Reds to join in on the Yelich bidding, but with their reluctance to part with Nick Senzel or Hunter Greene, they weren't going to land him. We can argue back and forth whether they should've been willing to include either guy in a potential deal, but what can't be argued is that this particular development is more than a little deflating and jealousy-inducing by those of us growing a little bored here in Reds Country. That deflation and jealousy is articulated by the always-articulate Wick Terrell...

The Brewers, you see, have enriched themselves greatly in the last few minutes, which dovetails quite well with how they’ve gradually enriched themselves over the last few seasons. It’s a rebuild that’s been impressive in its delivery, gradually building momentum before dropping a 10 point cannonball into the deep end tonight off the high dive....

....There’s optimism for the Reds, of course. The only trouble is that it’s the same optimism on which we’ve had to bank for going on three offseasons in a row now. It’s still on Jesse Winker, who admittedly has ample promise. It’s still on Nick Senzel, who still is a Top 10 overall prospect in the game for the Reds and not for the Marlins in exchange for Yelich. It’s still on Eugenio Suarez continuing to improve, Jose Peraza continuing to improve, on the pitching continuing to improve, and on the collective health of about 27 different players paid to throw baseballs for a living.

The Reds are still the Reds we’ve had our hopes riding on for years, while their peers appear to be cashing in those hopes for some proven damn production.

Winning the offseason hangs zero banners, of course. The Marlins themselves could teach a 300 level course on that. But what today’s action from the Brewers cements for Reds fans is a fixed date, a circle on a calendar that will clearly be remembered as the day Milwaukee pushed in their chips and went for it, and did so in an incredibly strategic, intriguing way. They got immediately better. They’ll sell a pile of tickets off today’s action. They won’t ever have to turn to their fans and preach “patience” or “trusting the process,” since they now have pudding pops of actual proof.

The Reds might well pip the Brewers to the top of the division in 2018, or 2019, or 2020, but they’ll be doing so in a way far more stoic than many of us would hope. And, if they get there, they’ll have done so in the most patient approach I may have ever seen. Prudent? Perhaps, but certainly boring as all hell, something the Brewers have eschewed completely as of today.

The Brewers just got boatloads better today, and the incremental steps in which the Reds have been hoping to climb to improve just got a lot, lot taller.

Yep. 

3) #TopTenProblems. Because we can't just be happy with the UC Bearcats having an outstanding season....

A minor Twitter theme during Wednesday's blowout win over Temple was how Mick just didn't look happy enough for some viewers as his team was pouring it on the Owls.  Bot he looks angry, even when he's winning, remarked one observer One tweeter asked if I ever see Mick show his players approval during games.

The answer to that was yes, I do. Often.

It feels like Mick has his foot on the gas with this year's team, and I like it.  With plenty of regular season and the tougher conference games still in front of them, I can sense that Mick is ratcheting things up a little bit, trying to avoid collective complacency while trying to squeeze every single ounce out of his team.

Which, I think he knows, has a chance to be a special one.

I had a buddy who a few years ago lost about 80 pounds, working with a personal trainer that also helped him plan meals.  After about five weeks into his proram, my buddy had lost 12 pounds and was damn proud of himself.  That's when his trainer really started kicking his ass, sensing that he was working with someone who could really achieve some serious goals while keeping him from slipping back into old, fat-building habit. 

I think the same thing applies here.  Mick has always been demonstrative during games, demanding of his players, and more interested in what's ahead than celebrating what was just done. It feels though that with this team, he's turned up the heat just a little bit more while stopping often along the way to publicly praise his team's collective and individual efforts.  With a team filled with guys that he's coached for a while now, I trust him to be able to take his team's temperature and step of the gas and tap the brakes accordingly. I like how he's coached this team. More important, his players seem to like how he's coaching them.

There's also some small discontent with the point guard situation. Justin Jenifer is starting, but not scoring (no points in his last three). Cane Broome is coming off the bench, and while he's not lighting it up, he's doing more statistically. To be fair, Justin's job isn't to score and he's been very good at his primary function, which is to not turn the ball over. Broome, meanwhile, has gotten much better at not turning it over.

Some want to see their roles reversed. I saw leave it alone.

With the added caveat that the more often the ball is in Jacob Evans' hands, the better, I say don't dick with what's working. On a team as good as this one, Jenifer has a role to fill, which is take care of the ball and pass it to open men, even they in turn pass it to even more open men. And given the lack of consistent scoring options off the bench, I like Broome in the role of offensive energy guy that Jarron Cumberland played as a sub last season.  And honestly, minute distribution between Justin Jenifer and Cane Broome isn't going to be the thing this team's big-picture success hinges on anyway.

And finally, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports made mention during Wednesday's broadcast of the quiet crowds for UC games at BB&T Arena.  I don't know what to do with this. If it bothers you that he mentioned this, go to games and scream your face off. If it bothers you that people don't go to games and scream their faces off, then go to games and scream your and their faces off. If this doesn't bother you, then you must be like me, and the team itself, which seems far from unfazed at the calmness of the crowd.

And I'm betting if UC is locked in a tie game with Wichita State with three minutes to go, the place will be rockin'.

Radio Show: Vacation day for this guy, and a life-changing three-day weekend that I'm not allowed to tell you about until next week is ahead. James Rapien is in for me today. I'm back at it Monday. ESPN1530.  

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Mo Egger

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