Fans gathered near Great American Ball Park before the Reds Opening Day game Monday, April 4 in Cincinnati. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Photo: Nick Graham
Photo: Nick Graham

Sports Today: Reds season outlook, Miami hires CJ grad, high school controversy, etc.

Welcome to another Opening Day in southwest Ohio! 

I am posting this on the way down to Cincinnati to see the Reds take on the Philadelphia Phillies (hopefully the weather cooperates). 

What kind of year can we expect down on the Ohio River? 

Well, Bovada gives them (along with the Brewers) the worst odds in either league to win the World Series this year if that tells you anything. 

RELATED: What Reds fans need to know about Opening Day

Of course there is more to life than winning it all. Only one team gets to do that, and there are plenty of reasons to follow a team (like, you know, simple enjoyment) no matter its odds.

I often chuckle when I read about meaningless regular season games in just about any sport when those games still draw 10s of thousands of paying fans. I guess there’s a disconnect there somewhere, eh? 

Anyway, this Reds season is shaping up to be what last year should have been. 

What do I mean? Well, the powers that be screwed around too long trying to keep the competitive window open and pretty much wasted the last two if not three years. 

Finally, the full rebuild is upon us. 

RELATED: Bryan Price says he loves this group of players

Last year, I had more interest in actually watching than I did in ’14 or ’15 (or really even 2013, when it was obvious they were faking it all year before getting drummed out of the postseason in one game) because actual prospects were finally popping up in the majors. 

Then of course the pitching turned out to be literally historically bad, and the Reds pretty much sucked all the potential for enjoyment out of the season before kids were even out of school. 

Not only were they losing early, they did so in fairly excruciating fashion. If the starter didn’t get shelled, the bullpen was almost guaranteed to give it up. There was almost no hope any night for a month or more. 

So this year there are even more prospects ready to show what they can do. 

RELATED: Major League dream comes true for former Flyer, Beavercreek grad

The bullpen might actually be good — at least decent — if everyone remains healthy. 

I think they’ll score some runs, and they could play a fairly exciting brand of ball with speedsters Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza at the top of the order, mashers Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler (with Jesse Winker waiting in the wings) in the corners and of course Joey Votto to clean it all up. 

Perhaps they will even get something resembling the real Devin Mesoraco this year, but only time will tell. 

The trouble is there is great potential for the starting rotation to be a disaster. Potential abounds, but young starters are inevitably going to take their lumps. And of course two starters who have gone through that are sidelined to start the season. 

So best-case scenario this Reds teams gives us a throwback to the 1990s squads that could light up the scoreboard but not much else. 

They frequently at least made spring and the early part of the summer entertaining even if the balloon eventually popped. 

The ‘90s squad couldn’t match the overall quality of the “Renaissance Reds,” but there were some fun times nonetheless. 

(A key difference between this team and the ‘90s teams could be that at least now they have pitchers with a lot of arm talent rather than trying to rely on guys off the scrapheap.) 

Let’s see how long Bryan Price’s squad can keep us from wondering when the Bengals report for training camp. 

Here is Hal McCoy’s season preview… 

I was on hand for the Reds 5-1 win over the Futures Team at Fifth Third Field on Saturday, and a good time was had by all. 

Amir Garrett looked pretty sharp, and Louis Castillo showed off some great stuff. 

Nick Senzel had a couple of hits while Schebler, Patrick Kivlehan and Stuart Turner homered… 

South Carolina is your women’s basketball national champion for 2017. 

The Gamecocks are a deserving champion with some great players and a great young coach (Dawn Staley), but of course they bigger story was Connecticut being knocked off by Mississippi State on Friday night. 

Next year look for the Huskies to come back with a vengeance and reclaim the thrown at the Final Four in Columbus. 

Ohio State certainly has the potential to be there, too, but the Buckeyes need to take a big step forward with their talented roster. 

Coincidentally, they began the season losing 92-80 at home to South Carolina. 

OSU looked kind of disjointed on offense, uncommitted on defense and got outrebounded by 12 that night. 

They didn’t look much different as they were blown out by No. 1 seed Notre Dame to end the season…. 

Elsewhere in women’s college basketball: Congratulations to former Chaminade-Julienne star Megan Duffy for being named the new head coach at Miami University

She comes to Oxford three seasons as an assistant at Michigan. 

She’s also coached at George Washington and St. John’s after starring as a player at Notre Dame… 

I missed Anthony Grant’s introductory press conference as the new head coach of the Dayton Flyers, but by all accounts it went well

I am looking forward to meeting him ASAP… 

Soundbites from Saturday's news conference at the U.D. Arena

Lastly, it will be interesting to see if anything happens this week at Dunbar High School, where former Ohio State point guard and current Dayton Public Schools director of athletics Mark Baker is accused of telling Dunbar coaches to throw a game against fellow City League member Belmont so both could get into the playoffs. 

The Wolverines are loaded with Division I college talent heading into next season, so any punishment from the OHSAA could have far-reaching consequences for many people...

Tonight of course is the culmination of March Madness with the men’s national championship game.

Gonzaga-North Carolina is a great matchup with some fun storylines.

Let’s see if the Bulldogs can take that last step...