12 Thoughts: The Skinny on Reds slow start, Masters mistake and more

Richard Skinner has his weekly Monday 12 thoughts on area and national sports. (WKRC)

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

12. Masters never disappoints.

The Skinny: The back nine on Sunday at Augusta is must-see TV even if you aren't a hardcore golf fan. It's reality TV at its finest with star power, fan favorites, an occasional "villain" (I'm looking at you Patrick Reed) and two hours of sheer drama.

You had Jordan Spieth making the greatest final round charge of all-time through 17 holes only to have it snuffed out by a tree limb (that was the result of an errant tee shot).

You had fan favorite Rickie Fowler quietly inch his way up the leaderboard by going 5-under from holes 8-17, and then making birdie on No. 18 to force Reed to make par to win it. The 18th was a tough hole that yielded more bogeys (69) than birdies (47) during the week.

And then there was Reed, who has some well-documented past issues of simply bad behavior that turned off many in the golfing community and is estranged from his family for unknown reasons, who perhaps showed he has grown up by never wavering down the stretch in the the quest for his first Green Jacket.

Time and again he would answer the roar of a Spieth birdie with a clutch approach or a clutch a chip or a clutch putt. His tee shot on the par-3 16th was uber-aggressive in my opinion, but to his credit it never appeared he was trying to back into winning the title rather that he was gong to win it with his own performance.

11. Why the vast majority of us would never make a 13 like Garcia did.

The Skinny: The 13 that Sergio Garcia made on the par-5, 15th hole on Thursday (click here to see it, mixed with some funny reactions spliced into each of the five straight shots that rolled back into the water) had all of us double-digit handicappers nodding our head in empathy, except ...

How many of you would have proceeded to pick up after the second ball rolled into the water and declared yourself "out of the hole" or picked up and created your own "drop area" in a much friendlier area to put the ball on the green (and keep it there)?

Of course you would have, which is why very few of us will ever make (or have ever made) a 13 on a hole like a major champion did.

10. My advice cost my daughter a Master's pool.

The Skinny: When Tony Finau dislocated his ankle in Wednesday's Par-3 Tournament I called my youngest daughter, who is a freshman in college, to tell her she probably needed to change her "D" player on the sheet she submitted in a friend's Masters' pool.

The pool consists of taking one player each from "A", "B", "C", "D" and "E" lists, and because Finau remembered her from one day to the next at last year's Memorial and took a picture with her, he has become one of her favorite PGA Tour players (being nice goes a long way), hence the reason (no matter how illogical that may be) she picked him as her "D" player.

She argued to keep Finau despite not knowing if he was going to play or not, but that meant if he didn't play and one of her other players he missed the cut she would be eliminated (at least four players have to make the cut and the scoring for each sheet is calculated by taking the best four of the five final scores).

Reluctantly she agreed to replace Finau with Daniel Berger ... and it cost her winning the pool.

Her final team of Spieth, Jason Day, Reed, Berger and Cameron Smith finished at 39 under par, with the winning team at 41 under.

But ... if Finau had stayed on her sheet his 7 under would have been used in place of Day's 2 under and she would have finished 44 under.

Who says kids should listen to their parents?

9. The numbers don't lie Part I: NCAA Champions

The Skinny: Villanova became the 17th straight NCAA men's basketball champion to finish in the top 20 in adjusted defensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy's rating system as the Wildcats finished 11th.

In case you are wondering Pomeroy's ratings date back 17 years ago to the 2001-2002 season.

That doesn't mean it's just defense that wins championships, because Villanova also finished first in adjusted offensive efficency, marking the 16th time in the last 17 years that a team also finished in the top 20 in offensive efficiency (UConn in 2014 was the only outlier, finishing 39th in offensive efficiency and 10th in defensive efficiency).

It should also be noted that 14 of the last 17 champions finished in the top 10 in offensive efficiency, including 11 in the top four, while only nine finished in the top 10 in defensive efficency and just two in the top four (Kansas in 2008 and Louisville in 2013).

8. The numbers don't lie Part II: NCAA Champions.

The Skinny: Villanova head coach Jay Wright has apparently found the sweet spot in recruiting where he is landing talented players who are opting to stick around for multiple seasons, but the question is does that mean it isn't worth it recruit the "one-and-one" player?

It's something Rick Broering from, Chad Brendel of and I discussed on the Skinny Podcast last week.

I get that it's hard to by-pass "one-and-talent"but there is little doubt since the "one-and-done" era was ushered in by the NBA in 2006 that a team better have some form of veteran leadership and talent in order to win it.

Since 2006 only three champions had more than one freshman rank among their top five scorers, and one of those was 2011 UConn led by junior guard Kemba Walker, who averaged 23.4 points per game. Three Huskies freshmen (none of whom wound up leaving after one year) were complementary players who averaged 11.1, 7.8 and 6.3 points per game, respectively.

Only UK in 2012 and Duke in 2014 had three freshmen rank among their top five in scoring (and all three on both teams were indeed "one-and-done"), but UK also had two key sophomores in 2012 (second-leading scorer Doron Lamb and versatile forward Terrence Jones, who was the team's third-leading scorer) and a valuable senior (Darius Miller, who averaged 9.9 points per game), while Duke's second-leading scorer in 2014 was senior guard Quinn Cook.

7. Where area NBA Draft prospects rate.

The Skinny: With Kentucky freshman Kevin Knox declaring on Friday his intention to enter the NBA Draft I figured it was a good time to see where area prospects rank according to the most recent Mock Draft:

  • Knox - 11th overall.
  • UK guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - 12th overall.
  • Ohio State forward Keita Bates-Diop - 35th overall.
  • UK wing Hamidou Diallo (not yet declared) - 39th overall.
  • UC wing Jacob Evans - 53rd overall.
  • UC forward Gary Clark - not drafted.
  • UK foward P.J. Washington - not drafted.

6. Steele hits ground running in recruiting

The Skinny: Travis Steele wasted little time bolstering Xavier's roster for the 2018-19 season by landing two graduate transfer recruits in the first four days of being introduced as the Musketeers head coach: 6-foot-10 center Zach Hankins from NCAA Division II Ferris State and 6-4 wing Kyle Castlin from Columbia.

Before you scoff at Xavier landing a player from Division II and another from the Ivy League, know that Hankins was the NCAA Division II Player of the Year and helped Ferris State win the NCAA Division II national championship AND scored 12 points and pulled down eight rebounds in an exhibition game against Michigan State, while Castlin was hampered by injuries this past season and picked Xavier over Ohio State among others.

5. Will FC Cincinnati stadium deal clear the final hurdle?

The Skinny: Friday's annnouncement that FC Cincinnati struck a potential deal with the Cincinnati Public Schools and some members of city council to build a stadium in the West End still has a huge final hurdle to clear, and that is CPS agreeing to sell the Stargel Stadium land to FC Cincinnati for its stadium to be built in exchange for the soccer club paying to build a new Stargel Stadium at a site on Ezzard Charles Drive.

CPS is holding a meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the possible sale.

I will believe this whole thing is a done deal when shovel hits dirt and there will be plenty of bickering and dickering still ahead.

4. MLB in cold weather cities right now is just a bad idea

The Skinny: I appreciate all the feedback (both those who agreed and disagreed with me) from last week's column suggesting it's time for Major League Baseball to explore starting the first couple of weeks of the season in Southern and Western cities and those with a dome, which would include the Reds starting on the road.

I realize that school affects attendance early in the season, but all I know is you couldn't have played a pickup baseball game from those in attendance at Thursday's Reds-Pirates game and the players (and fans) at Sunday night's New York Mets-Washington Nationals game looked miserable.

It doesn't appear that either Los Angeles team has suffered from kids being in school and neither has San Francisco, Houston, Seattle, Milwaukee (retractable roof), Atlanta, Texas or even Arizona-- all of which are averaging 30,000 fans or more per game. Toronto (28,500 in a dome/retractable roof) and San Diego (26,800) aren't faring too poorly at the gate either. Those were 11 of my suggested 14 starting sites, and while the other three (Tampa Bay, Miami and Oakland) aren't doing well at the gate, well, they never do anyway.

Common sense needs to prevail here.

3. I know you don't want to hear it Reds fans, but be patient.

The Skinny: Look, I get your frustration as a Reds fan because it sure feels (and looks) like this team is well on its way to a fourth-straight 90-loss season, but it's way too early to make that judgement.

I will admit that the two starts from Luis Castillo have been disappointing, but I love his stuff and Homer Bailey, Sal Ramano and Tyler Mahle each had one quality start out of two. Raisel Iglesias, Amir Garrett, Wandy Peralta and Jared Hughes have each pitched well in relief.

The offense also ranks 14th in the National League in runs scored after ranking sixth last year so they will eventually score.

Of course it certainly doesn't help that Eugenio Suarez suffered a broken thumb on Sunday.

2. Should Reds retaliate for Suarez?

The Skinny: Reds players said after Sunday's game that they didn't think Pirates starter Jameson Taillon was throwing at Suarez, and I won't pretend to know what Taillon was really thinking, but Suarez was coming off a five RBI game and Taillon had pretty darn good control otherwise (two walks and a three-ball count to only four hitters other hitters).

And it's not like the Reds and Pirates don't have a history of throwing at each other.

It wouldn't be surprising in the least if Pirates manager Clint Hurdle didn't discuss throwing inside to Suarez on Sunday.

So perhaps the Reds should a message when the Pirates come to town beginning May 22 by dusting whomever the Pirates hottest hitter is at the time.

1. Reds should wait on Senzel, but not because of service time issue.

The Skinny: With Suarez out for a period of time the debate will rage on whether or not to call up top prospect Nick Senzel, but the Reds would be prudent to wait, and not just because of how it affects his service time.

If they wait until June it would help Senzel avoid gaining "Super Two" status, and thus keep him under club control a little longer. Yet the main reason is to let him show whether or not he can hit at Triple-A, which I'm sure he will, and fully prove he is ready to play in the Majors.

The Reds are not in "win now" mode so they should do everything to ensure that when Senzel comes up that will be ready to succeed for them for a long time to come.

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