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12 Thoughts: The Skinny on Eifert's mullet, Jackson's visit, Votto's start, Reds woes

Local12.com Digital Sports Columnist/Editor Richard Skinner has his weekly 12 Thughts column (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Here are this week's 12 thoughts ranging from the local sports landscape to the national headlines:

12. Northern Kentuckian Flesch becomes 14th professional golfer to ever ...

The Skinny: ... win a tournament on the Web.com Tour (then called the NIKE Tour), the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions after he won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic over the weekend in Duluth, Ga., for his first ever PGA Tour Champions victory.

The 50-year-old Flesch, who resides in Union, Ky. and graduated from Covington Catholic High School, won the NIKE Tour Championship in 1997 to earn his PGA Tour card and then won four times on the PGA Tour.

Not bad for a guy who kicked around the Asian Tour for a few years after turning pro in 1990.

11. 974 in attendance for Major League Baseball game.

The Skinny: Weather has wreaked havoc on a chunk of the Major League Baseball schedule this season and it certainly played a role in only 974 fans reportedly showing up in Chicago to watch the White Sox play the Tampa Bay Rays last Monday.

Attendance was announced as 10,037, because that's how many tickets were sold, but snow and with it being 35 degrees at first pitch (plus an 11 mph wind that made it feel like 27 degrees) it led to less than 1,000 hearty souls actually in attendance.

Yep, it's just a great idea to play games this time of year in Northern cities.

10. Area man drafted by NBA team ... for virtual league.

The Skinny: While the Orlando Magic didn't make the NBA playoffs part of its organization is going through training camp, including Ross, Ohio native Brian Traynor.

See, Traynor was one of six people drafted by the Magic back on April 4 to be a part of the team's entry in the NBA2K League, which will begin play in May.

The NBA2K League is billed as a joint venture between the NBA and Take Two Interactive, publishers of NBA2K. It is a professional esports league featuring the best 2K players in the world.

There are 17 NBA teams that are sponsoring teams in the league with the Orlando entry called Magic Gaming.

The league is slated to run through August with salaries reported at $35,000 for the top pick on each team and $32,000 for the other five players, plus the teams are battling for a $1 million in prize money.

We'll have more on Traynor's story later in the week or early next week.

9. Did Eric Reid really not think he would be asked about kneeling?

The Skinny: Much was made last week about Bengals owner Mike Brown reportedly asking free agent safety Eric Reid during his visit with the team if he planned to take a knee during the national anthem, which he has in the past. Reid had said only a couple of weeks ago that he wasn't planning to kneel during the anthem this coming season, but when Brown reportedly asked Reid what he planned to do Reid was caught off guard by the question and then wouldn't give a definitive answer.

How in the world were Reid and/or his agent caught off guard by the question?

That's not doing their due diligence.

Bengals management has made it pretty clear that they don't want players to take a knee during the anthem, and none have challenged that to this point.

Brown was looking out for his business interests by asking Reid that question, because they has been plenty of fan backlash over the issue.

Reid doesn't have to answer it, and he can certainly take a knee if he wants for whatever team may sign him and is OK with it, but Brown isn't OK with it and he is under no obligation to sign Reid.

I wrote last week that the Bengals should sign Reid if the price is right, but I also assumed he meant what he said about not kneeling and that the only reason the Bengals brought him in for a visit was that both sides knew where the other stood (no pun intended) on the issue.

They apparently didn't, which is why Reid is still a free agent and not a member of the Bengals.

8. Perhaps having a mullet will keep Eifert healthy.

The Skinny: Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert met with the media on Monday at his locker as players began offseason workouts and not only deemed himself ready to go after back surgery last October, but jokingly suggested that the mullet he is growing might keep him healthy after numerous injuries limited him to only 24 games over the last four seasons.

Eifert has been showing off the mullet on his Instagram account during his rehab.

He said he wants his hair to eventually be flowing out the back of his helmet, and perhaps with good reason.

"That's what I had in college, the hair out the helmet," said Eifert. "I mean, it's swaggy. It's a good look. I never got hurt in college - I had long hair. Maybe that's ... I don't know. I'm going to let it go."

Eifert, who went to Notre Dame, played in all 26 games for the Fighting Irish as a junior and senior in 2011 and 2012 so perhaps he's on to something.

8. Lamar Jackson visit means Bengals keeping first-round options wide open or something else ...

The Skinny: University of Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson was seen in the Bengals locker room on Monday during the 45 minutes it was open to the media, which could mean several things:

  • They are keeping their options that wide open with the 21st pick in the first round.
  • They think he might fall to the second round (which is very doubtful) and want to make sure they have done their due diligence in vetting him.
  • They are using at as a smoke screen to perhaps make a draft day trade with a team behind them in the first round.

The Bengals have shown they will take the best player on the board regardless of position (within reason, i.e. they aren't going to take a running back in the first round even if that's the best player on the board), and if they feel that strongly about Jackson's potential they could take him in the first round and let him learn for a couple of seasons behind Andy Dalton, whose contract runs through the 2020 season.

Teams are only allowed 30 such visits from draft prospects so there is a purpose behind Jackson's visit. What that purpose is, though, is very much in question.

7. Bengals preseason game No. 3 should be interesting.

The Skinny: The NFL released preseason schedules last Thursday, and while that's usually met with little more than a shoulder shrug from the majority of the players (and fans) you can bet that preseason game No. 3 between the Bengals and Buffalo Bills made a few players take notice.

Former Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron signed as a free agent with the Bills this offseason to compete for the starting spot and the game could go a long way to determining his fate in that regard, because it's the "dress rehearsal" game in which the starters usually play the most.

Back in March the Bengals acquired left tackle Cordy Glenn in a trade with the Bills and also signed fomer Bills middle linebacker Preston Brown, so they too will be going against former teammates.

It should make a mundane preseason game - even if it's the "dress rehearsal" - a little more interesting.

5. Votto's power outage.

The Skinny: Reds first baseman Joey Votto doesn't have a an extra-base hit through the first 15 games of the season. While that shouldn't necessarily be overly alarming (he had a 15-game stretch last season without one, too), maybe it should be based on the way he finished the 2017 season.

Votto hit just two homers last September in 95 at bats (one per 47.5 at bats) after belting 34 in 464 at bats in the first five months (one per 13.6 at bats).

What's more, he hit just 10 homers after the All-Star break in 245 at bats (one per 24.5 at bats) after hitting 26 in 314 at bats (one per 12.1 at bats) prior to the All-Star break.

He will turn 35 in Septemember so it's fair to wonder if age is catching up with him a little (or a lot).

4. Sports Authority poll question.

The Skinny: Our question on the Sports Authority on Sunday Night on Local12 was: "When do you think the Reds will next post a winning record? 1. 2019, 2. 2020, 3. 2021 or 4. After 2021" (I suggested the final choice be 'Not in my lifetime,' but that was perhaps a little too macabre).

I answered, "2019," when asked by host Jed DeMuesy during my segment on the show, because I truly don't think they are that far away. I predicted an 82-80 record this season, and while that prediction isn't looking very good at all, let's see what happens when this team gets fully healthy (or at least significantly healthier) and a couple of proven bats finally starts clicking (Votto and Adam Duvall).

3. Why are Reds prospects not panning out?

The Skinny: It's s very small sample size, but watching 2014 Reds first-round pick Alex Blandino look completely overmatched at the plate (1 for 15 with five strikeouts) and watching 2015 second-round pick Tanner Rainey get bombed in his first two Major League outings makes me continue to question what the Reds are doing in the evaluation and development processes.

The Reds have very few successful "homegrown" players on the 25-man roster, especially those who were drafted since 2010.

It makes me hold my optimism a little when it comes to Nick Senzel and even Hunter Greene, although his debut in Dayton last week was electric.

2. Reds fans apathy.

The Skinny: It's one thing when fans are angry at a team for losing or at the direction they are going, but it's another when they stop caring, and I really think that's where a lot of Reds fans are.

Other than Opening Day, attendance for Reds home games has been abysmal (and I will concede the weather has played some role in that) and there is simply an air of apathy.

A couple of anecdotal items to share on that front:

  • I was in a Northern Kentucky bar a couple of Fridays ago that featured numerous television sets all tuned to sports, and not a single one had the Reds-Pirates game on it until a buddy and I asked if they would put it on .. and it was the third inning. The place was packed and not a single person cared to watch the Reds.
  • I was in a pizza place in Clifton last Wednesday that was filled with a wide range of age groups, and while the Reds-Phillies game was on a couple of the televisions not one person outside of the group I was with was watching it.

When fans stop caring and find something else to do it's hard to get them back unless you win on a grand scale, and that hasn't happend around here for a long time.

Since Bob Castellini bought the team in 2006 and promised to bring championship baseball back to Cincinnati the Reds have had nine losing seasons and are well on the way to their 10th.

No amount of bobblehead giveaways or fireworks nights or any other promotions will make fans come to the park like winning, so unless he wants to have an even emptier Great American Ball Park moving forward and lose a complete generation of potential fans he'd better figure something out.

1. How long does Price last?

The Skinny: I feel for Reds manager Bryan Price, I really do, because the teams he has been given in his five seasons have been horrible. But he hasn't helped himself with some of his decision-making this season.

Having Tanner Rainey make his Major League debut in a one-run game with more experienced and qualified arms available was dumb, and it looked even dumber when Rainey allowed a grand slam.

He has completely under-utilzed Raisel Iglesias, who should have been used in some games the Reds were close rather than saving him to hopefully close. When you are scuffling the way the Reds are you almost need to do anything it takes to get a win.

Much of the Reds issues can be placed at the door of upper management and not with Price, but at what point does he become the sacrifical lamb?

I'm guessing it will be soon if the team continues losing like it is whether that's fair or not.

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