The Cincinnati Reds have endured six straight losing seasons. They haven’t won a playoff series in 25 years. They haven’t won a World Series in 30 years. Yet Cincinnati enters the shortened 60-game season as a possible sleeper to break a few of those droughts. Now is the time for 35-year-old first baseman and potential Hall of Famer Joey Votto to lead that run. TEAMGAMESPCTTwins3.623Indians4.574Cardinals10.562Brewers10.549Cubs10.519White Sox3.447Pirates10.426Royals4.364Tigers6.292The Reds have 13 cross-over games with AL Central teams that had a below .500 record in 2019, in addition to 10 games against the lowly Pirates. It still comes down to competing with the Cardinals, Brewers and Cubs in an always-crowded division, but this Reds team is best equipped to do it now. This might be the year to break those droughts. “It looks like guys are ready and motivated,” Votto told the Dayton Daily News on July 4. “It seems like a group of guys who flipped the switch and they have it.” MORE: World Series odds for 2020Votto has led the NL in on-base percentage seven times in his career, but last season was just the second time in the past 11 seasons that his OBP number dipped below .400. He’s still a formidable hitter, however, and the Reds have built perhaps their best team in years around him. Better than the teams that lost the NLDS in 2010 and 2012 and the wild card in 2013. Here are the reasons why: Offseason movesCincinnati owner Bob Castellini and GM Nick Krall spent money in the offseason, and those additions should add depth to a young-and-talented roster for second-year manager David Bell. Among those moves: — A four-year deal for Mike Moustakas, who averaged 33 homers the past four seasons with the Royals and Brewers. — A four-year deal for Nick Castellanos, who hit .289 with 27 homers and 73 RBIs between the Tigers and Cubs. — A two-year deal for Wade Miley, who should be a back-end starter in a solid rotation. — A three-year deal for Shogo Akiyama, a 32-year-old outfielder who hit .300 in Japan. Cincinnati also added bullpen depth with a one-year deal for Pedro Strop from the rival Cubs. That should add to the good pieces in place. More power Moustakas and Castellanos add to what should be a heavy-hitting lineup led by Eugenio Suarez, who hit 49 homers with 103 RBIs in 2019. Outfielder Aristides Aquino hit 19 homers in 56 games, and Nick Senzel and Jesse Winker combined for 28 homers and have break-through potential. The Reds will have added flexibility in the lineup with the addition of the designated hitter in 2020. Cincinnati was below league average in team slugging and on-base percentage last season, but that should change in 2020. Short-season rotationLook at the first-half splits last season for Luis Castillo (8-3, 2.29), Sonny Gray (8-3, 3.05) and Trevor Bauer (8-6, 3.61). Granted, Bauer was in Cleveland and struggled after being traded, but those three arms form a playoff-caliber trio that could carry a 60-game run. Miley will add to that, and Anthony DeSclafani and Tyler Mahle can contribute on the back end of the rotation. A better bullpenStrop was a minor addition, but the bullpen of Michael Lorenzen, Craig Stephenson and Amir Garrett is intact around closer Raisel Iglesias. He had a 4.16 ERA last season, but he still managed to convert 34 of 40 saves. Iglesias converted 87.5 percent of the save opportunities for his career heading into the season. These guys aren’t the “Nasty Boys” by any stretch, but the bullpen is good enough for a short season. The schedule breaks nicely. Here’s a look at Cincinati’s schedule by opponent this season.
London, UK | PL | A stoppage-time strike by Neal Maupay helped Brighton come from behind to earn a 2-1 win over Arsenal and record their first league victory since 28 December.The Gunners started brightly and almost opened the scoring on eight minutes only for Bukayo Saka’s shot to come back off the woodwork.Five minutes before half-time, Bernd Leno was carried off on a stretcher with a serious-looking leg injury after landing awkwardly when collecting the ball on the edge of the area.Mikel Arteta’s team went ahead in the 68th minute, Nicolas Pepe curling superbly beyond Mat Ryan with his left foot.But Lewis Dunk equalised seven minutes later from close range. And Brighton won the contest in the fifth minute of added time when Maupay, who also scored the winner in the reverse fixture, lifted the ball over substitute goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.The Seagulls are in 15th place with 32 points, five points clear of the bottom three.Arsenal, now winless in five away league matches against Brighton, are ninth on 40 points.****PREMIER LEAGUEShare on: WhatsApp
20 Apr 2016 The R&A boosts nine-hole golf with new championship The R&A is demonstrating its support for nine-hole golf as an ideal way to play golf in less time whilst still doing so competitively and for handicap purposes by introducing a new championship for amateurs at Royal Troon this summer. The announcement comes as England Golf prepares to roll out its Golf Express initiative, which promotes nine-hole golf to busy people and has been described by ambassador Justin Rose as “A great way to play all the game in half the time.” Golf Express is part of England Golf’s strategy to make golf more accessible and attract more club members. It encourages clubs to offer nine-hole green fees and to hold after-work roll-ups for members and non-members. It was trialled in Staffordshire and is soon to be launched nationwide, with a dedicated website which will feature green fee offers and highlight nine-hole golf clubs. The R&A’s new championship will be played on Saturday 9 July at Royal Troon, giving the players the opportunity to play nine holes at the historic Ayrshire links on the eve of The 145TH Open. In 2017, the event will be expanded to cover golf clubs in Great Britain and Ireland with players being given the opportunity to qualify at nine hole events held by The R&A’s affiliated national associations in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Padraig Harrington, two-time Champion Golfer of the Year and R&A Working for Golf Ambassador, welcomed the initiative. “People who want to play golf are increasingly struggling to find the time to play and so positioning nine-hole golf as a legitimate alternative makes a lot of sense,” he said. “I’m really pleased to see The R&A taking the lead in this area. “For regular amateur golfers to be able to play The Open venue in championship condition immediately before the best players in the world is a fantastic initiative and I’m sure this new competitive format will encourage more people to get out on the golf course and play nine-hole golf.” The R&A’s extensive survey on pace of play and the subsequent Time for Golf conference in St Andrews last November highlighted the challenges many people face in finding time to play 18 holes, with 60% of the golfers surveyed expressing the view that they would enjoy golf more if it took less time. The survey also revealed that among 25-44 year-olds who are unhappy with the pace of play, 21% would like to see the playing time reduced by as much as one-and-a-half hours, while 19% said they would welcome the opportunity to play nine holes more often as an alternative format. Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said: “One of the messages that came through clearly from the survey and the Time for Golf conference is that people would play more golf if they could do so in significantly less time. Nine hole golf is not new but we feel it is often overlooked as a perfectly valid way to play the sport either with your family and friends or competitively. “We are delighted to introduce a nine-hole championship and will be promoting this format as a way of playing golf in less time which can have wider appeal among people who lead increasingly busy lives today. We are very much looking forward to working with the national associations to promote nine-hole golf and we hope to see more events being played throughout Great Britain and Ireland to cater for this important audience.” This year’s event will see 30 golfers playing a nine-hole championship at Royal Troon. Two players will qualify from events held at each of the 13 Regional Qualifying venues for The Open throughout Great Britain and Ireland with host venues Royal Troon Golf Club and The Ladies’ Golf Club, Troon each providing two players. The handicap event will be open to men, women, boys and girls who are members of the clubs taking part. Image © Leaderboard Photography
BILL NEAL :10 Ya”ll keep going for the soft talk from “STAT”…aka Amar’e Stoudemire and “Mello”…aka Carmelo Anthony and you’ll soon find out where the rear steal in the Knick’s-Nuggets trade was and why they call him “Mr. Big Shot”….aka Chauncey Billups. :09 Alright. Last time I bring this up, I promise…maybe! But do you mean to tell me that Oklahoma City can have an NBA team and Pittsburgh can’t? They got nine  Black people in Ok. City and they bus in four  just for the game. And yes they sell out!!! I am just sayin. :08 Good luck and God Bless Justin Mullen—one of the best young guys I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. A great city league baller at Peabody High School. An outstanding player in the Connie Hawkins League and a member of our camps and clinics since he was 12 years old. He’s off to Kuwait, yes that Kuwait to find fame and fortune. Be safe my brother!:07 Lord knows I am no Phil Jackson and I ain’t mad at Derrick Fisher, but don’t try to tell me that Shannon Brown and “Kobe” wouldn’t be a killer back court. [Shut-up….. I know Brown’s not a natural point guard but he does so many other things well and he jumps out the freakin’ gym]:06 Coach Rick Pitino of Louisville, normally a style-setter, missed the mark in the Pitt game. He looked like a candy cane in a barbershop window in that “too soon” white suit and red and white striped tie.:05 Hey, I got a few calls on the lists. First of all, Clyde Vaughn was not a 2-guard. He was a small forward. Secondly, yes Ronnie McGrae is worthy of top ten guard consideration. And I didn’t forget to put Tyrone “Moon” Howard on the top ten dunk list. But “Moon” was a long jumper not a high flyer.:04 DID YA GET YOUR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SWIMSUIT EDITION??? ENUFF SAID!:03 If you didn’t know, the Golden Gloves started last week. Jimmy Cvetic is running a great show as usual with some great young talent. For more information, tune into your boys Luther Dupree and “Smokin Jim” Fazier on Steel City Sports PCTV Channel 21 or give Cvetic a call at 412-298-7373.:02 “Wannamaker” after I gave you props last week…Game on the line, in overtime, ball in your hands, 8 seconds on the clock, you need three to tie the game…you’re at the three…shoot the damn ball… C’mon Man!!!:01 If you’re reading this and it’s Thursday March 3rd somewhere between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m., put this paper down and get over to The Cambria suites next to Consol Arena. It’s the Champions tip-off reception party and we’re having a great time without ya!GAME OVER!!!
BILL NEAL :10 Curtis Martin will go into the NFL Hall of Fame as quiet and soft spoken as any man can and for those of us that had the pleasure of knowing him you know two things about Curtis is true. No. 1 He is a soft spoken man and No. 2 he was a tough, quick, no excuse, get it done, never say die, consistent, durable running back. Who among us, who can think back to his days at Allderdice or for that matter at Pitt, thought that he would become one of the top five running backs in Pro Football history? Congratulations Curtis, you deserve all you’ve achieved; and Congrats to you too “Mama Rochella” you played a major role in your son’s success.:09 I am rolling this in at #9 because… If it ain’t the Steelers it don’t matter…but I told ya the Giants would beat New England. Oh shut up and just check your Courier last week and you’ll see it. New York won the game not because of Eli Manning but because they have a tough hardnosed defense and you all know defense wins championships.:08 Speaking of the Super Bowl, I don’t know where you watched the game but you should have been at J.T’s Restaurant at “The Club” in Monroeville. We kicked it off with a special two hour taping of “Champions Live” sports talk show followed up by a great crowd enjoying the game with the best soul food money can buy.:07 Speaking of the club…are you starting to see the flow here? Artistree blew up the Champions First Friday old School Par-tay with their classic old school style, great stage presence and second to none vocals. Then you throw in the unbelievable voice of veteran performer “Chico,” a super talent who got the crowd heated up…not warmed up, the craziness of Pittsburgh comedian “Frog” and of course the fabulous Diamond Models. Now you mix that all together with 250 of our best First Friday supporters and MAN you got a PAR-TAY!!!:06 There’s one way and one way only to stop Lebron James but it’s not legal and you will get jail time. Another 30-point game…Lebron C’MON MAN!:05 It’s a shame that I have to keep reminding you all of this but I do what I have to do. Get out and support your local high school basketball team. The playoffs are coming and “OUR KIDS” need your support so stop with your excuses and get off your “BUTT” and go to the games. And not just one…keep going until they are done!!!:04 Eli Manning now joins a super group of elite quarterbacks that have won two or more Super Bowl MVP’S including Terry Bradshaw, Bart Star, Joe Montana and Tom Brady. What’s wrong with this picture? And for the record I could challenge if Eli was the MVP of the Super Bowl. It could have been running back Ahmad Bradshaw or punter Steve Weatherford.:03 If Coach Herman Edwards knows so much about football how come he didn’t show it when he was coaching. I don’t usually do this but here’s your second… C’MON MAN!!!:02 Pitt Basketball is back, that’s it, I told you they would be.:01 AT THE BUZZER:•Don’t’ miss “Champions Live” sports talk show on PCTV channel 21.•Five Starr Corporation/Champion Enterprises “Tip-Off” Reception at the Cambria Suites Hotel Feb. 17, 6-10 p.m. Meet and greet Pittsburgh’s African-American authors, Artistree and The Fabulous Diamond Models. Cash bar, cash kitchen, free parking, photos with your favorite star. $20 donation celebrating Black History Month.•“Volley With The Stars” volleyball tournament coming soon. Get your team ready for more fun than you can stand. More info coming next week.~Game Over~
By Eileen MoonSEA BRIGHT – Waiting for the bus in Sea Bright is a lot more fun than it used to be thanks to the talents of Monmouth Beach artist Megan Health Gilhool.Like most people who live close to the ocean, she’s driven up and down Ocean Ave more times than she can count.And as she traveled, she couldn’t help but see her surroundings with an artist’s eye.In the right hands, a little paint and TLC could work wonders, Megan knew.Take the bus stop, for instance.Every time she passed it, she thought about how the workaday building that provided bus riders a place to get out of the weather as they waited could use a facelift.Or, as Megan put it, “Every time I walked by it, I just thought it needed a big hug – a big, paint hug!”Several years ago, she approached the borough about the possibility of painting the bus shelter, but at that time, no one was interested.She tried again this year however, and with the support of the Sea Bright Business Alliance, she got the green light.A fine artist whose abstracts have been featured in numerous art shows and galleries, Gilhool also does commissioned work that includes everything from family and pet portraits to tromp l’oeil murals in business and private homes.And as the bus stop illustrates, she spends a lot of time planning and conceiving her designs.She spent more than three weeks on the bus shelter project, setting up her paints and supplies and taking them down each day when she was finished. I don’t travel light,” she said.As she worked, she encountered a number of people who asked questions and commented on what she was doing. One business owner across the street often sat on a chair on the sidewalk watching her work.Some found her color choices too bright, Gilhool said. “They wanted it to look Nantuckety. But this is Sea Bright. What about New Jersey? New Jersey has its own life, its own spirit.”Like most folks blessed to call the two river area home, Gilhool has a deep love for and appreciation of the ocean, and that’s reflected in the whimsical interior of the bus stop, which is painted to resemble a comfy summer cottage by the sea.A trompe l’oeil Monmouth Beach artist Megan Heath Gilhool at work in Red Bank, where she recently painted a party room at the Red Bank ArmoryMonmouth Beach artist Megan Heath Gilhool waved her magic paintbrush over this bus stop on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright recently, replacing the drab interior with a brightly painted evocation of a summer cottage at the shore.Waiting for the bus in Sea Bright is much more fun than it used to be thanks to the talents of Monmouth Beach artist Megan Heath Gilhool.sign inside the shelter reads, “May your joys be as deep as the ocean and your sorrows as light as its foam.”Gilhool researched a lot of beach-related sayings before settling on that one, she said.Painted “Magazines” with a beachy theme are also displayed in a basket with the name of one reading, “N.J. Shore Life,” as well as a painted copy of Sea Bright’s newsletter, “The Seabreeze,” with appropriate headlines.Such little whimsies are abundant, like the painting of Megan’s real-life cat Buster, sleeping on one wall – not far from his faux food dish.Inches from the bus shelter’s floor, there’s a painted “snapshot” of Ralph Kramden, the bombastic bus driver played by Jackie Gleason on the 1950s TV series, ***ITALSThe Honeymooners***ENDTALS.Thanks to Gilhool, commuters caught in the winter chill may enjoy a little bit of summer as they settle inside on the brightly painted bench to wait for the next bus.And now that the business community has added a little evergreen at the side of the shelter, the scene has taken on a Christmas-y feel as well.Since she finished painting the shelter, Gilhool has seen parents stopping in with their kids to take photos inside the stop, which always makes her smile.“It really was a fun project,” said Gilhool.