12 Thoughts: The Skinny on change in gambling law, Bengals rookie mini-camp, Reds surge

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. Supreme Court makes logical ruling on sports gambling law.

The Skinny: The Supreme Court on Monday overturned a 1992 federal law that barred gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states (Nevada was grandfathered into being allowed to accept sports wagered) and now gives each state the ability to legalize betting on sports.

It was the logical decision to make.

The American Gaming Association estimates that Americans illegally wager about $150 billion on sports each year mostly through offshore accounts or via bookmakers so why not legalize it and tax it.

11. It's laughable that NCAA and major sports leagues "fought" law being overturned.

The Skinny: The NCAA, Major League Baseball, NFL, NBA and NHL all publicly urged the Supreme Court to uphold the 1992 law, but there is no doubt they know this is good for all of them.

For many fans the only interest they have in watching a game is due to having a wager on it (or playing fantasy sports), and legalized wagering could provide another revenue stream for each entity.

ESPN reported that the NBA and Major League Baseball have already begun talking to states that would legalize sports gambling asking to get a small percentage of each wager on their sport as a "royalty" fee.

You can bet (see what I did there) they will all find a way to make money off this.

10. In-game prop betting may spur more interest in games.

The Skinny: One of the most interesting possibilities from the law being overturned is the concept of in-game prop betting.

The props can be endless and keep fans interested in the seventh inning of a 5-0 Reds game or in the fourth quarter of a 27-10 Bengals game by offering different up-to-the-minute prop bets, such as a what each batter will do, or predicting the outcome of specific plays in a football game.

That may border on degenerate status, but it's coming, and you can bet (see what I did again there) that teams would love anything to keep fans interested in their product, especially in down years or to liven up a boring game or to even draw new fans.

9. Andy Dalton isn't a dud, but don't let facts sway you.

The Skinny: I put together a blind test last week to see where fans would rate the Bengals quarterback by comparing him to other quarterbacks looking squarely at three facts: passer rating, winning percentage and touchdown/interception ratio.

The problem is some didn't have an open mind and have already decided that Dalton, "sucks" and should be rated "35th, because there are some backup quarterbacks better than he is."

If you do the blind test I will guarantee you will be surprised how high you actually rate him.

8. Marvin Lewis not fan of NFL giving team German-born player.

The Skinny: Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis apparently isn't much of a fan of the NFL's International Player Pathway program that AFC North teams are a part of this season. Each franchise was given an international player who, if he doesn't make their team, can be added to the practice squad but not count against the 10-player limit.

The Bengals were assigned German-born Moritz Boehringer, who was drafted as a wide receiver by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round in 2016 and is now trying to convert to a tight end.

Lewis didn't sound much like he wanted Boehringer if he had his druthers.

"You don’t have a choice (of which player is assigned to you in the program)," Lewis said during a press conference on Friday to discuss the start of the Bengals three-day rookie mini-camp. "He’s now shifting positions. NFL football is not for everybody, so this is a hard transition to make."

7. Ohio State's Worley likes Bengals "CarFax".

The Skinny: The Bengals have a history under Lewis of undrafted college free agent linebackers making the team, which is one of the reasons Ohio State's Chris Worley signed with the them.

"I was aware of it," said Worley. "A lot guys promise you everything - call it the car salesman in them - like this is the best, this is what we do, but the (Bengals) actually if they were a car dealership they have the CarFax to back it up."

He admits he would have liked to have gotten drafted, but knows he wound up in a good situation.

"The end result I've got a good scenario and that's what I cared about at the end of the day," he said. "Still, every kid that plays football it's a dream that they get to see their name come across that TV screen for the NFL Draft. I think it was a bigger disappointment for my family, because they knew how much work I put in for that."

Bengals coaches are high on the 6-foot-1, 238-pound Worley, especially because he has the versatility to play all three linebacker spots and because he is still evolving at the position after spending his first season at Ohio State playing safety.

"Coming off the field (on Saturday) I was talking to Coach Haslett (linebackers coach Jim Haslett) about the things that we do and did and he said, 'The good thing about you is you can play all three positions,'" said Worley. "That's something that doesn't go unnoticed and I have going in my favor. I just have to keep learning."

6. Undrafted Flowers intriguing.

The Skinny: Quinton Flowers was a successful dual-threat quarterback at South Florida, but he went undrafted because his skills didn't translate into being an NFL quarterback. The Bengals signed him as a free agent with the idea of moving him to running back.

There's also the possibility of using Flowers as a "Wildcat" quarterback, which the Bengals did a few times over the weekend at mini-camp.

"We're giving him an opportunity to make the football team," said Lewis. "The more opportunities you have to do that, (the better). That's what he was promised when we signed him as a college free agent — that I would do everything in my power to give him the opportunity to make the football team. He was a tremendously productive player down there (at South Florida). You watch the tape, and he had some amazing plays. And it wasn't only running. He had some big-time throws."

A couple of throws on Friday left a lot to be desired, however, and if Flowers makes it it will be as a running back, and he knows that.

"I came to that point where I knew if want to be in the league I have to show people that you can make a way no matter what you're doing," said Flowers. "The Bengals said they needed a guy who could play a role and be a team player and I was that guy."

Bengals running backs coach Kyle Caskey said he was looking at tape of South Florida running backs when Flowers' ability as a runner caught his eye.

"Luckily in their offense they did a lot of designed quarterback runs so it showed his ability to read it out like a running back," said Caskey. "That's how I evaluated him as a true runner were those that were designed runs for him and not necessarily reads or drop-back scrambles."

"The talent is there, the want to is there, the intelligence is there. It's just going to take some time to get used to the flow of a different position. Even if you're a starting running back at a major college and you come to the NFL there's a lot to learn, so for him to be transitioning to a position he's never really played and never had to have eyes in certain places - the reads from under center runs when he's getting a handoff and keep his eyes on certain things - that's the things that are the hardest for him. You just have to allow time for him to go through that learning curve."

5. Woodside has taken that chip on his shoulder a long way.

The Skinny: As a senior at Franklin County High School in Frankfort, Ky., quarterback Logan Woodside was only voted honorable mention all-state, wasn't recruited by either the University of Kentucky or the University of Louisville and the state's only other FBS program - Western Kentucky University - offered him a scholarship very late in the process.

He opted to keep his commitment to play at the University of Toledo and admittedly carried a big chip on his shoulder that he carried all the way to being selected in the seventh round of the NFL Draft by the Bengals.

"I got my opportunity at Toledo and I made the most of it," Woodside said last Friday on the first day of Bengals rookie mini-camp. "Whether I was at Toledo or Tiffin it doesn't really matter, because I am where I am now and I'm excited to be here."

Woodside said simply getting drafted was a thrill, but it made it better that it was the Bengals that took him, because he grew up a fan of the team, too.

"It is hard to believe where I've come from, because no one has ever made it really where I came from," said Woodside. "I have a lot of people that are counting on me, my family and stuff, so I'm just trying to make them proud, and try make my state proud and the Bengals for sure."

He appeared to have a pretty good weekend, too, making accurate throws for the most part, including a few that hit receivers perfectly in stride in tight windows. He clapped his hands excitedly and pumped his fist after making a perfect throw deep down the left sideline to wide receiver Ka'Raun White on Friday.

"That was the first time we ran that concept, and it was good to hit it right off the bat and get rolling to start the drill and start that period," said Woodside. "I think (things) went really well (overall)."

4. Gennett proving 2017 season was no fluke.

The Skinny: The Reds can be certainly be criticized for some trades and personnel decisions over the last few seasons, but they deserve a lot of credit for grabbing second baseman Scooter Gennett off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers prior to the 2017 season.

I can understand those who believe his 2017 performance at the plate was fluke, but I wrote before the season started that he had a good chance to at least match it in 2018, and his recent hot streak has put him on pace to improve upon it.

He is on pace for 24 homers, 40 doubles and 96 RBI after belting 27 homers, 22 doubles and driving home 97 runs last season.

In his final season in Milwaukee at age 26 he had 45 extra-base hits with 30 of them being doubles and 14 of them being homers.

At that age there was every reason for the Reds to take a chance that he would match those numbers and possibly even better them as he approached his power prime.

They were right, because in almost the same number of plate appearances in 2018 (45 less to exact), he had 52 extra-base hits last season, but some of those doubles from 2016 turned into homers in more homer-friendly Great American Ball Park.

There was every reason then to look at 2017 not as a fluke, but as just a natural progression of improvement, which he should be able to continue doing for the next few years.

The question then becomes should he be flipped at this year's trade deadline or next year's trade deadline or part of the core moving forward.

3. Top Reds prospect dealing with vertigo.

The Skinny: Any decision on Gennett probably needs to wait until top prospect Nick Senzel can prove he won't continually have to deal with vertigo.

Senzel was placed on the disabled list last week by the Louisville Bats because of it, and his 2017 season came to a premature end in August due to the same thing.

Don't forget that former Reds player Nick Esasky had his career come to an end beause of this.

2. Sunday Sports Authority Poll Question.

The Skinny: The poll question on the Sports Authority involved the recent trade the Reds made to land starting pitcher Matt Harvey and it was the following: "How long will Matt Harvey be on the Reds roster?"

  • 1. Until the trade deadline.
  • 2. All of 2018.
  • 3. Next season and beyond.

I went with "until the trade deadline," which 33 percent of the voters selected, while "all of 2018" was the leading vote getter at 39 percent and next season and beyond garnered 28 percent of the vote.

The best-case scenario in my opinion is hope that Harvey pitches well over the next two months and he can be flipped for a couple of prospects.

I think the only way he is on the roster the rest of this season is if he doesn't pitch well and the Reds can't move him, and I just don't think there is any way he is on the roster beyond 2018.

He is a free agent after this season, so if he pitches well he will likely price himself out of Cincinnati, and if he doesn't then why would the Reds consider re-signing him?

1. The Reds will play winning baseball the rest of 2018.

The Skinny: Before the season started I predicted the Reds would go 82-80 this season and that was clearly laughable when they started 8-27. It's still going to be almost impossible to attain (they would have to go 68-53), but I do think if they stay healthy they will have a winning record the rest of the way.

I thought this lineup could average around 5.0 runs per game when healthy and it is proving that it can (over the last eight games the Reds averaged exactly 5.0 runs per game).

The starting pitching is improving as the young starters (Luis Castillo, Sal Romano and Tyler Mahle) are beginning to get more consistent and the bullpen is very deep and very good.

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