Hope you all had a nice Earth Day. I celebrated by watering some new grass seed and shivering at a high school softball game. That was better than having to sit through the Reds-Cubs game. After a hot start, Cincinnati and its pitchers are cooling off. Kind of like our recent weather pattern.
You don't see many grand slams in baseball, and even fewer triple plays (only 19 in the big leagues since 2010, according to baseballreference.com). Fairmont High School checked both of those rare boxes during a home victory last Tuesday against Springfield.
First, Firebirds junior Kenny Sherick hit a grand slam in the bottom of the fourth inning. Not to be outdone, the Fairmont defense stepped up with a 5-4-3 triple play in the top of the fifth. My scout at the game reported that third baseman Chaney Morgan started it by fielding a ground ball and stepping on third base. He fired to Trevor Cukovecki, who made the turn to Alex Stefanidis. That is some extremely impressive baseball — at any level.
Some UD fans are wringing their hands over the loss of point guard John Crosby, who was granted a release from his scholarship. The angst shows how low the bar has dropped for some of the faithful. I'm guessing new coach Anthony Grant did not hesitate to grant Crosby's request. In fact, this might have been a case of Crosby seeing the writing on the wall.
This is addition by subtraction, folks. Somebody will be dribbling the basketball upcourt for the Flyers next season. There is quality playing time available, a great recruiting pitch as Grant tries to sell Dayton to a competent grad transfer, a JUCO standout, or a certain prep standout from Minnesota.
It's great the First Four will stay at UD Arena through 2022. That's a win-win for UD and the city. But one question that needs to be asked after the NCAA's announcement of upcoming tourney sites: Will Dayton ever again be a host for first- and second-round games? Those basketball-packed days are the jewels of the tournament, and UD has not hosted those rounds since 2013.
Heck, U.S. Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati, a real dump, was named as a 2022 site – contingent on a pricey renovation. If that doesn’t materialize, perhaps UD Arena will be Plan B. I think the arena’s low seating capacity works against it.
Luke Fickell got his first big win at the University of Cincinnati last week. UC's new football coach got a commitment from Malik Vann, a 4-star defensive end from nearby Fairfield. Vann had offers from a bunch of powerhouse schools including Alabama, Florida State and Notre Dame. That is some big-time recruiting.
Trending up: Eric Thames, Mike Leake, Anthony Rizzo. The Brewers' 30-year-old slugger had played fewer than 200 MLB games before this season. He spent the last three seasons in Korea but is making up for lost time with eight home runs and a .379 batting average heading into Saturday's action. Better yet, Thames says he loves beer, which makes him a perfect match for Milwaukee.
Trending down: Celtics, Mark Baker, Cyrus Kouandjio. These aren't your grandpa's Boston Celtics. True, the boys from Beantown are the top seeds in the NBA Eastern Conference, but they find themselves in a must-win situation tonight in Chicago. The Bulls hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-a lot of games series. Maybe the Cavaliers knew what they were doing when they conceded the No. 1 seed to Boston.
Knucklehead of the Week
Pittsburgh Pirates star outfielder Starling Marte is serving an unpaid 80-game suspension after he tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug Nandrolone. That is an anabolic steroid that is popular with bodybuilders, not some obscure supplement available at GNC. Marte offered up some weak excuse while asking for forgiveness. He probably is still processing the fact that the suspension will cost him a cool $2.5 million. Ouch. Marte, who is from the Dominican Republic, batted .311 last year. He has won two Gold Gloves and was an all-star in 2016.