Wednesday, November 28, 2007

asylums with doors open wide

New photos are up again. I went out to Mt. Airy today and ended up with some really nice pictures from an area with a pond. I was really happy with how they turned out. I also went to Mt. Echo to try taking some picture of downtown from up there, but most of the shots ended up looking like rubbish thanks to the glaring sun. I may still throw them online for the heck of it, but that remains to be seen. Most of my photos of St. William Church in Price Hill didn't end up as well as I'd like either. A few more random photos have been added to that section as well. As usual, feedback is always welcome.

edit: I've gone ahead and thrown a collection of black and white photos online as well. They're a hodge-podge of pictures that I have online already and some ones I haven't posted before. I tried to include as few repeats as possible. You can see them here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

call me the hunter

I've decided that I'll be enjoying the holiday season considerably less this year since I will be working at Circuit City. I can't even stand shopping during the holidays, and I can already tell that having to work amongst the throngs of half-crazed shoppers might drive me mad. The thought of my 4 a.m., 15-hour shift the day after Thanksgiving is almost enough to ruin Turkey Day.
I went over to St. Joseph's Cemetery today and spent some time walking around and taking pictures with my camera. I went ahead and threw the best of the bunch into a flickr album. Anyone who is interested can check them out there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

clamped on with your iron fists

I was going to try to write about something other than football this week, but that was ruined when ESPN reported that NFL Comissioner Roger Goodell has reinstated Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams. Williams retired from the Dolphins before the 2004 season rather than take a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. After returning in 2005, Williams was banned for the entire 2006 football season. It was reported that Williams failed a fifth drug test in the spring of 2007. Still, none of this stopped Goodell from reinstating the league's most notorious offender of their substance abuse policy for the rest of the 2007 season. This latest news is the ultimate example of how unfair Goodell's treatment of the Cincinnati Bengals has been, since Goodell refused to reinstate Odell Thurman, who had fewer offenses than Williams and the recently reinstated Koren Robinson. As bad as Goodell has been, I had a hard time believing that he would actually reinstate Williams. It appears I was very wrong.

The following passage is a rant I sent to Geoff Hobson of

How glaringly obvious is Roger Goodell's anti-Bengals bias after today's announcement that Ricky Williams would be reinstated to the NFL, while Odell Thurman still sits suspended? Goodell has now reinstated Williams and Koren Robinson, two players who had many more offenses than Thurman, but only Odell has been singled out for extra punishment. Goodell has done nothing but play favorites when it comes to punishing players and coaches. His punishments have been arbitrary and inconsistent. There's no logical explanation why Thurman would be denied reinstate while players with similar cases are allowed to play again.

On a similar note, there's the NFL Player Association's announcement that it would appeal Goodell's decision not to shorten Pacman Jone's suspension, but the NFLPA has left Thurman--who has had far fewer run-ins with the law than Jones--to fend for him self. Is there any other conclusion we can come to other than that Thurman is being treated this way because he is a Bengal?

I have said it before and I will say it again: the NFL's system is broken. One man cannot make these kind of decisions. There needs to be some kind of panel that doles out punishment and rules on suspensions and fines. I'm sick of Goodell waking up on the wrong side of the bed and deciding to lash out at a Bengals player--like with the completely unfounded one game suspension of Jonathan Joseph earlier in the season.

Mike Brown needs to start making some noise. As the owner, he's the only one with any real pull with the commissioner, and the only chance the Bengals have of defending their players. I want to make it perfectly clear: I think Bengals players who break the rules should be punished. But they need to be punished to the same degree as everyone else. My problem isn't that Williams was reinstated, it's that Williams was reinstated while Thurman was not. The bad news is that Goodell is only a couple years into his tenure as commissioner, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him turn the NFL into the kind of disaster that other major leagues like the NBA and MLB have become. He's done little to uphold the integrity of the game by giving cheaters mere slaps on the wrists, issuing cease-and-desist letters over petty issues like church Super Bowl parties, and trying to take away the contribution of fans at home games. I think the next few years will result with the continued alienation of fans, sending the NFL down a slippery slope of mediocrity.

Monday, November 05, 2007

raised to be lowered

I was all set yesterday to make a post outlining how disgusted I am with the Bengals before swearing off commenting on them for the rest of the season, but anger faded into concern when Chad Johnson was sandwiched between two Bills defenders and carted off the field on a backboard. Although it doesn't sound like Johnson's condition is too serious, I haven't able to regain the biting criticism I was prepared to unleash yesterday. Still, I decided to run down the laundry list of problems I see with the Bengals this year, and the small silver linings on this dark season.

The Bad
  • The Defense - You could write a book on all the problems with this defense. While some positions have been hit hard by injury, the performance by those on the field is inexcusable. Terrible pass coverage. No pass rush. Unable to stop the run. Countless missed tackles. The list could go on and on. The defense is constantly giving up big plays and allowing mediocre players to look like superstars against them. Things hit their lowest point yesterday when the Bills, who had scored only six touchdowns on offense in their first seven games, scored three yesterday as rookie running back Marshawn Linch had his first 100-yard rushing game of the season with 153, topped by a 56-yard touchdown run where Linch shrugged off his would-be tacklers two yards behind the line of scrimmage and ran free to the end zone. This horrible crew is on pace to allow the most yards and points ever for a Bengals defense, and the third most points allowed by any defense in NFL history.
  • The Offensive Line - Also hit by a few injuries, the offensive line has had a terrible year. They've been unable to open holes for the running game all season, another stat that reached rock bottom yesterday when the Bengals accumulated the fewest rushing yards even with Lewis as coach--only 28 yards against the NFL's 24th ranked rush defense. The unit also needs to do a better job protecting Carson Palmer and giving him time to throw. Although Palmer's sack total is low, I attribute most of that to Palmer getting rid of the ball under pressure.
  • Chad Johnson - Johnson has been a shell of his former self this year. After scoring three touchdowns in the first two games, he has been held scoreless ever since. He is currently still second in the NFL in total yards, although yesterday's total of 45 yards was a season low. Johnson has also dropped far too many crucial passes, including four yesterday, one of which would have gone for a 73-yard touchdown. Worst of all, his attitude still seems unstable and fragile when emotions are running high.
  • Marvin Lewis - The one thing Lewis has succeeded in doing this year is losing the support of most Bengal fans. Lewis seems to have no answer for his team's problems. His controversial call on 4th-and-1 against Pittsburgh exposed his lack of confidence in his players. His flip-flopping response to his decision after the game leaves many questions as to how competent a leader he can be anymore. Mike Brown has expressed his support for Lewis, so it's highly unlikely he'll be fired after this season, but one has to believe that next season will be his last chance.
  • Mike Brown - The question is how much things would change if Lewis was gone, as long as Mike Brown continues to own the team. I think that ultimately, Brown is at the root of most of the team's problems. He refuses to hire someone else to act as General Manager of the team, and does everything he can to avoid spending money. For example, the Bengals have one of the smallest staffs in the league when it comes scouts for new recruits, which has to inhibit the team's ability to get the best information possible on all potential draft picks. Little wonder why the team has had so few true standout players from their past few drafts (or why the team had so many high-profile draft busts in the 1990s). With all the injuries the Bengals have suffered, one also has to wonder if it isn't due in some part to Brown refusing to pay for the highest quality training and medical staff possible. The man is so stingy that in an NFL owners meeting, he voted against the use of high-definition video for referee challenge reviews, because he did not want to pay to replace the equipment at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Few Good Men:
  • T.J. Houshmanzadeh - T.J. is having a Pro Bowl year, with at least one touchdown in the first eight games of the season, he is second in the NFL with ten receiving TDs. He is also on course to break the Bengals' single season reception record of 100 catches.
  • Glenn Holt - A personal favorite ever since Jess, Rob, Jen, and I met him at training camp in 2006, Holt has blossomed in his second year as an excellent special teamer and a reliable wide receiver. Despite a crucial fumble in the Seattle game, Holt has been huge on kick returns, culminating in yesterday's 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Chris Henry's return will limit his use in the passing game (assuming Chad Johnson is healthy), but that should allow him to focus all his energy on special teams.
  • Kenny Watson - Giving some chances to start do to Rudi Johnson's lingering hamstring injury, Watson has looked impressive. Considering the poor job by the offensive line in getting the running game going, Watson has made some terrific plays. The game yesterday showed how dangerous he can also be catching passes out of the backfield, which makes you wonder why we've thrown away two high draft picks on running backs Chris Perry and Kenny Irons when we've had a weapon like Watson all along.
  • Carson Palmer - While this hasn't been his best year, Palmer is still putting up impressive numbers. He still ranks as one of the top quarterbacks in the league, and has continued to be a voice of reason during a turbulent season. His interception numbers are high, but you can attribute that to the Bengals offense constantly playing from behind, forcing Palmer to take risks when trying to make big plays. The bad news is that a quarterback as skilled as Palmer doesn't come around often, and his chance to become a Hall-of-Fame quarterback are being sabotaged. The next few years should be the pinnacle of Palmer's career; let's hope the rest of his team can bring their game up to his level.
  • Chad Johnson - Yes, he hasn't been playing at his usual high level this year, but don't let that take away from what he still brings to the team. First of all, anyone who thinks T.J.'s numbers would be nearly as impressive if he were the first wide receiver is a fool. Chad gets double-covered, opening up Houshmanzadeh. Secondly, despite all this talk of his immaturity and the criticism over his poor performance and showboating ways, Johnson is proving that he has at least matured in some respects--by keeping silent in the face of all this adversity. This "selfish" player seems to understand that the spotlight shouldn't be on him right now. Hopefully his injury from this past weekend is nothing serious, and the return of Chris Henry can get his game back on track.
At this point, it's clear the Bengals are on track for their first losing season under Marvin Lewis. The team is emotionally at rock bottom, and with the way they are playing now, it's hard to see them winning more than half of their remaining games. With the 2007 season only halfway over, it's sad that there's no reason not to start looking towards 2008. Realistically, I think the best they can do will be to end this season with a record of 6-10, with only four or five wins a real possibility. It will be interesting to see what changes are made at the end of this year.