Bob Hunter commentary: Rumblings ... Ohio State football, Blue Jackets, Reds and more
One of the stranger chapters in Ohio State football recruiting — the abrupt decommitment of linebacker Alex Anzalone of Wyomissing, Pa., a week ago — is probably far from over. Coach Urban Meyer and his staff haven’t written him off, and Anzalone’s dad, Sal, has said Ohio State is still under consideration. Sal became upset after seeing a photo online of Alex posing with a registered sex offender. The photo was taken in Columbus during Alex’s unofficial visit for the spring game.
Recruiting analyst Bill Kurelic said the decommitment came while Anzalone and his father were making an unofficial visit to Florida. Sal is a Florida graduate, so it seemed to add up. Kurelic said that in his 30 years of covering recruiting, this episode was in the top 5 percent of odd occurrences.
Anzalone “seemed so very gung-ho about Ohio State in the weeks leading up to his commitment right after the spring game,” Kurelic said, “and add in the factor his father seemed to not be totally on board with Ohio State, and then that his father is a graduate of Florida; it was different, that’s for sure.”
Florida appears to be filled at linebacker for 2013. The Gators seem to want Anzalone as an H back or fullback, but he wants to play linebacker.
“He could very well still end up at Ohio State,” Kurelic said.
St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is coming back to town this weekend to pick up the stuff he left in an Arena District condo he occupied even after he was fired as coach of the Blue Jackets in 2010. But while he is packing up, Todd Richards, who coached the Blue Jackets last season after Scott Arniel was fired, still doesn’t know what to do.
Richards is a candidate to be retained, but team officials have given him no clue about his future, even though the season ended on April 7. General manager Scott Howson said this week that “we’re evaluating.”
There are rumors that Cincinnati is going to get baseball’s All-Star Game in the near future, but Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini told the Cincinnati Enquirer this week that they aren’t true.
“I wish I had something to announce,” he said. “The National League gets it every other year. We’ve applied for ’15, ’17, ’19. It’s one of those hurry-up-and-wait things.”
Bob Castellini, the team’s chief executive officer and Phil’s father, had said on opening day that he is “very confident” of landing the game in “the near future.” Cincinnati last played host to the game in 1988.
The change in motion that may have helped Cleveland Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez in his start on Sunday against the Texas Rangers involves keeping the ball hidden longer before he releases it. The new, sneaky Jimenez threw seven shutout innings and allowed two hits.
While comparing video of Jimenez when he was sizzling during the first half of the 2010 season and video of him now, Indians pitching coach Scott Radinsky noticed that he kept his lead (left) arm up a little more and not tucked to his side. In the process, batters didn’t get a look at the ball until he was almost ready to release it.
Can that really make that much of a difference? We’ll know more when Jimenez makes his first start since then tonight against the Boston Red Sox.
The injury jinx that has hit the Crew is apparently so strong that it has not only claimed rookie Kirk Urso with a groin injury that will keep him out a month, but seems to have reached overseas and nailed former Crew midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo. Ekpo, whom the Crew was interested in re-signing in the offseason, suffered a broken leg this week in Norway.
On a 30-man roster, Urso’s injury means that the Crew has only 19 healthy players. Eighteen will be in uniform on Saturday for a game against FC Dallas.
That means that the team will have on the sideline young players such as Korey Veeder, who has yet to make an appearance in two seasons, or Cole Grossman, who has yet to play this season and played 12 minutes in two games last season.
Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor said in an interview with SI.com’s Jim Trotter that he sold memorabilia to get money to pay his mother’s bills and that he felt like he “was doing God’s work.”
“The reason why I did it was to pay my mother’s gas bill and some of her rent,” Pryor said. “She was four months behind in rent, and the (landlord) was so nice because he was an Ohio State fan. … She ended up losing her job, and she and my sister lived there.“Let me remind you it was freezing cold in November, December, and she’s using the oven as heat. That’s what I did as a kid. I was telling the NCAA, ‘Please, anything that you can do. I gave my mother this so my sister wouldn’t be cold, so my mother wouldn’t be cold.’ They didn’t have any sympathy for me.”
He was suspended for the first five games of last season, which is why he left school and entered the NFL supplemental draft. He was taken by the Oakland Raiders.
“It’s not like I went there and bought new Jordans,” he said. “It’s documented. Whenever I write my book, the proof will be in there, the receipt that the money I gave my mother was to pay the electric and heat bill. The truth is going to come out one day when the time is right.”
Greg Oden told his former Ohio State teammate Mark Titus that he plans to take off the 2012-13 NBA season, move back to Columbus and take all the time he needs to get his knee back to full strength. Oden wants to continue working toward a degree that he abandoned after one year at Ohio State, and if he thinks he is ready, sign with an NBA team in 2013. The odds would seem to be against him. While only 24, the former No. 1 overall NBA draft pick has had three microfracture surgeries on his knees.
“I don’t care about what all of these injuries mean for any legacy I might have,” he told Titus for a story on Grantland.com. “I just want to play basketball. I could’ve signed with a team after Portland cut me and just sat on the bench and collected paychecks, but that’s not my style. … All I want is to get 100 percent healthy and get back on the court.”
Oden doesn’t give many interviews, but he trusts Titus. The two have known each other since they were on the same AAU team in 2001. It’s almost ancient history now, but Titus also offered the real reason Oden hurt his wrist before he got to OSU.It was during a fight with Oden’s younger brother, Anthony. It was reported as a basketball-related injury, as it happened when he was leading his high school to a third straight Indiana state title.
Barry Larkin went to Michigan to play football and ended up as a baseball player. In an interview on ESPN this week, the 19-year Cincinnati Reds shortstop explained what happened when he went to coach Bo Schembechler’s office and told him he was going to play baseball.
“He said, ‘Larkin this is the Universityof Michigan!’ and pounded his desk,” Larkin said. “He came up over the desk — almost climbed over the desk — and he pointed at me and said, ‘No one comes to the University of Michigan and plays stinkin’ baseball!’ I’m like, ‘OK, Coach.’ He told me, ‘You get out of this office, and you come back tomorrow when you have come to your senses.’ So I go back and tell him (again) the next day, and I thought that was the end of it.
“Well, maybe three or four times a month (when) we’re out there practicing baseball, this guy in a hoodie comes out and he heckles me from the third-base line. It was Bo. ‘ Larkin! Come hit a man who can hit you back instead of that sissy baseball!’ ”
Larkin was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in January.
Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.