Every day there are three things, here are those three things.
Hi. I'm the guy that used to populate this blog every day, back before whatever 16th-Century plague that infected my upper body banished me to my bedroom for most of the last five days.
For the first 19 and a half years that I worked for this company, I took three sick days.
I've taken four in the last two weeks.
To be quite honest, I haven't felt great since the beginning of the year. I had little energy and I've been very, very tired. The ironic thing is that once the calendar flipped, I started eating a little healthier and began to commit myself to some regular exercise. The problem is that what felt like a little cold in early January ended up being a devastating sinus infection, which then somehow turned into an upper respiratory infection that had me worried last week that something really serious might be wrong.
Fortunately, the worst part seems to be behind me, and while I don't feel 100 percent, I feel more like my old self than I have in a while. I still have a lingering cough, which I'll manage, but I otherwise feel pretty good, and I'm hopeful to feeling up to doing to kinds of shows and blogs that - to be quite honest - I don't feel like I've done since 2017.
I kinda feel like my new year starts now.
Before we get to today's three things....The Athletic Cincinnati has launched today, and I'm honored to be one of its contributors. Unlike their full-time writers whose work is worth the monthly subscription price, I'll be writing a few times per month, about whatever is on my mind.
And yes, I'll still be writing a lot for the site you're reading right now.
I'm pretty excited and grateful that the people I work for at iHeartMedia have signed off on me being able to write for The Athletic.
I hope you give it a look.
1) College basketball's capital city. It's Cincinnati, yo.
Sometime during your lunch our, a new AP Top 25 poll is going to come out. Among the top five teams listed with be two that call Cincinnati home. (Please, 9th grade UC fan, spare me the "Xavier's in Norwood" deal and let's let the adults do our thing here, ok?)
Yesterday, the NCAA had its big bracket-that's-not-the-real-bracket reveal yesterday. Xavier is a one seed. The Bearcats are seeded second.
This coming weekend, both teams will host nationally-ranked squads in their buildings.
We are indeed College Basketball Town, USA. And if the two fan bases could ever stop belittling each other for five minutes, maybe a city that hasn't had much to cheer about when it comes to our sports could stick its chest out of a few minutes.
Although who am I kidding?
Let's work backwards....
The Bearcats easily clubbed a severely-undermanned SMU team that played the kind of zone defense you see when you stop off to watch a bad over-40 league game at the local Y. You could've driven an actual Mustang to the high post against SMU's 2-3, against which UC missed a bunch of open looks early which limited the carnage in a game that was more lopsided than the final score (76-51) indicated.
The Bearcats are on a roll. If you're a UC fan, you're reading that and nodding along.
If you're not, you're running to your favorite method of online communication to remind me that the American Athletic Conference is garbage.
Sometimes, two things can be right at the same time.
Xavier won at Creighton on Saturday, which is no easy task.
Making the task less easy was the fact that Trevon Bluiett played like a mere mortal against the Blue Jays.
XU caught a break at the end of the game, getting the benefit of a shaky call that sent Quentin Goodin to the line, where he hit the eventual game-winning free throws.
The Musketeers are lucky, is what you might want to say.
The Musketeers are good, is how I'll respond.
We're both right.
Being lucky is nothing to apologize for. To win big in March a team must be good, but it also must catch some good fortune.
I say that teams (and people) create their own luck.
By hanging in there in that environment on Saturday, finding enough offense on a day when Bluiett wasn't as superhuman as he was on Tuesday they put themselves in position to benefit from some good fortune, with Goodin's makes being the proverbial bust through of Creighton's left-open door.
You don't get to 22-3 by being snakebitten.
You don't get to 22-3 by not being pretty damn good.
Staying in the Greater Cincinnati area, the NKU Norse are alone in first place in the Horizon League. There's a huge tilt in Dayton this Friday between John Brannen's club and second place Wright State.
Two years ago, the Norse went just 9-21 in both Brannen's first season and the program's first in the Horizon. With four regular season games remaining, the Norse are locked into one of the better conference regular season title races in the sport, and they have one of the league's best programs.
A really nice college basketball success story is taking place in Highland Heights. Our wealth of college basketball riches continues to flourish.
These are the good times.
2) Spring training begins this week. The Reds begin their quest this week to try to win enough games to advance the rebuild in 2018. Few things stir the masses like a season designed to confirm that the plan is indeed working.
Meanwhile, dozens of quality players are still hoping for the kind of contracts that were commonplace in free agency not that many years ago.
I don't feel sorry for these players, most of whom don't seem to understand one basic principle...
If it ain't sellin', then lower the price.
For whatever reasons - and there are many - free agents aren't commanding the kind of coin they were hoping it. I understand their disappointment.
What I don't understand is their apparent inflexibility and lack of understanding of how markets like this work.
Namely, if there isn't one, you adjust.
Bring down the asking price. Come back on the amount of years you're looking for. Understand that a shift in your thinking has to coincide with a shift in how baseball works in 2018.
Many of these guys have offers on the table. Some of them are quite lucrative. Most probably won't get offers that are any better than the ones they're turning down. All of them need to understand that it's not 2013 anymore.
3) Gary Clark (again). This piece from Jeremy Rauch of Fox 19 is worth your time.
Regardless of who you pull for, you've gotta like Gary Clark, no?
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Radio Show: The good news for both UC and XU, the bad news for UK, and the really, really bad news for the Reds. We get to it all today, starting at 3:05 on ESPN1530.