Often times, when you've come to this place, you've read my open, apologetic laments for not populating this page as often as I'd like.
Before we get to my pithy sports thoughts, this will be one of those times.
Between doing four hours of live radio per day, writing a regular column for The Athletic, working on UC broadcasts, doing some work on ESPN Radio, being a husband and a parent, and trying to have a life, there are at times not enough hours to do everything I want. Chances are, you can relate. I'm not complaining, it's just life. For me. For most of us.
Add in the fact that for most of the past few days, I've felt like garbage and that my wife and I are planning on moving a few miles west of where we are now, the blog has gotten squeezed out a little more so than usual.
I've been here before, kind of wondering what this space should be, and how much time I should spend on it. I'm back here again, sorta doing the same thing. Between Twitter, radio shows, and other platforms I use on a regular basis, I'm not sure I'm ever adding anything here to what I say and write on those other forums. I've had people suggest I replace the text part of this blog with video, but that likely requires time and another set of hands. Others have told me they'd listen to a web-specific podcast, but I really don't want another outlet where it's just me talking to myself, and again, I could use someone's help.
I'm also a little burned out on the whole "Something happened, and I have to make sure I have something about that on my blog" that's been the main motivation behind blogging since I started doing it 11 years ago.
So I'm heading into 2019 trying to fine more time to devote to this space, while hopefully doing things a little differently than I have. I've thought about doing a series of loose, unconnected throughts, in something like 400 words or less everyday, but I'm at the point where I'm not sure what will go over, what will flop, and what will reignite my enthusiasm for a blog that I think has gotten stale, and that doesn't provide me with as much fulfillment as it used to.
This was more honest, and deeper than I'd planned, but it's felt good to write. Now, onto some lukewarm sports opinions.
*The Bengals. Part of my diminishing fervor for blogging has been my utter boredom with the Bengals, which is not good for someone in my line of work. Yes, I still watch. I still hope for their success. And I still care whether or not they win. But my interest in the minute details of every single Bengals happening has waned. I can't do the Marvin Lewis thing anymore, and I'll be utterly bored with the franchise's comings and goings until they have a new coach.
But they did have a game yesterday, and it was frustrating. There was effort. There was an offensive game plan that made sense. But there was a continuing startling lack of discipline, with key penalties at totally inopportune times, and a bewildering celebration after their fourth quarter TD pulled them within 23-21 that made them seem ill-prepared for the ensuing two-point try.
I can appreciate Marvin Lewis' aggressiveness - I have no major issue with going for it on fourth and one at his own 35, and as much as I didn't like him chasing points in the first half, I can't scream too loudly about going for two down 14-12, if that move is an example of a less passive mindset. (Jay Morrison has a good piece of Marvin's aggressiveness here) But I don't get why he didn't call timeout as his team looked out of sorts for their late-game two-point try, instead standing and watching as the game's most important play blew up.
And there's something so on-brand about things like the false start on fourth and inches and and the offsides on what should've been the final play of the half that I feel like yesterday's loss encapsulated what life as a Bengals is like.
*Give me the Joe Mixon I watched yesterday. Actually, give the ball to the Joe Mixon I watched yesterday. 25 carries should be the minimum, regardless of who's playing quarterback.
*Speaking of, if you took the numbers off the jerseys and watched Andy Dalton and Jeff Driskel throw side by side, would you know who was who?
*The Shootout. The better team, that had the game's best player, won. If the Bearcats were going to protect the ball, create second chances, and get a big scoring night from Jarron Cumberland, the Bearcats were going to win.
They key to Saturday, and the key for UC's continued progression as a team, is Keith Williams. He gives them someone capable of attacking the rim, and he's a willing offensive rebounder who can sky to go get boards. To use phrasing my friends James Rapien loves, I'm buying the Keith Williams stock.
From a Xavier standpoint, the Muskies just lack an identity. They are nowhere near as bad as they were offensively against the Bearcats, but there's still way too many threes being taken by a team that's not a very good outside-shooting squad. They need more aggressiveness on the wing, and better passing into the post. XU doesn't look like a tournament team right now.
*Randoms.....Been watching the NFL for a long time. Don't think I've ever been more shocked by an ending than Dolphins/Pats. The Bears are a B+ QB away from being really, really good. The Browns winning three games since Hue's departure should tell you something about Hue Jackson. The Paul Goldschmidt acquisiton by the Cardinals highlights the nearly impossible task the Reds have of closing the gap in the division. The Reds should absolutely be willing to listen to offers for Scooter Gennett. I'll be surprised if they're overwhelmed by any. The Knicks should let Frank Ntilikini start, and the way he played last night illustrated why, and I was honored to be given a Heisman Trophy vote this year. I went Kyler Murray, Tua Tagovailoa, and Dwayne Haskins, in that order.
Thanks for reading.