by Chris Ball

Queen City Sports from Loveland, Ohio

The Cincinnati Reds After taking 3 of 4 from the Chicago Cubs the Reds split their series against the Cleveland Guardians. The Guardians are 20 games over .500 and in first place in the American League Central Division and the Reds played them just about as tough as they have against the Dodgers and Phillies, two other division leading clubs. Against those three the Reds are 9-7 this year and have played some solid baseball in getting those wins.

Perhaps the biggest story from the Guardians series was the continued hot bat of Jeimer Candelario. He hit 2 more home runs in the Reds 4-2 win over Cleveland on June 12 including what would be the game winner. His three run bomb in the bottom of the sixth inning gave the Reds a 4-2 lead that their bullpen would never relinquish. It also spoiled a great outing by Cleveland’s Tanner Bibee who still finished the game with 11 strikeouts in just 5.1 innings. Since May 27, Candelario is hitting .306 with 19 hits, 6 home runs, 12 RBIs and 8 runs scored.

Other Reds batters are staying hot in June. This includes a surprising run by Will Benson, hitting .333 with a .967 OPS in his last 15 games. Jake Fraley in his last 15 is batting .293 while TJ Friedl has 3 home runs and 11 RBIs.

Cincinnati next faces the Milwaukee Brewers tonight at 8:10 PM. The Brewers sit atop the NL Central with a 7 game lead over both the Reds and Cubs. If they can take this series on the road and claw back at least a game or two from Milwaukee, Reds fans will have plenty of reasons to be optimistic going forward.

The Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals finished their mandatory mini camp this week. All of the major players were in attendance, including a few that were absent for the voluntary OTAs such as Ja’Marr Chase and Trent Brown. Tee Higgins has yet to make an appearance as he continues his holdout, but this was something all sides were clearly prepared for.

The main storyline this week remained former first round pick Dax Hill and his reps with the first team defense while battling for a job at cornerback against DJ Turner. By all reports Hill, a former safety, looked very good at his new position. There remains a lot of optimism that he can be a quality starter at the position, even if his time at safety may be at an end. Hill was a versatile athlete at the University of Michigan and played both safety and cornerback there, and so that flexibility should serve him well as he tries to see the field as much as possible next year for the Bengals.

Another positive development for the Bengals this week was the extension they reached with center Ted Karras. Karras signed an extension that will keep with the team through the 2025 season. Early reports indicate that the next two years of his contract will pay him about 12 million. He’s started 36 games since joining the Bengals in 2022. Last year, according to PFF he was the 15th highest graded center and allowed 6 sacks  All numbers aside, Kerras is a team captain and has been a stalwart for the Bengals on the line for several years. Consistency and communication will be paramount for Cincinnati’s front five in 2025. Having a veteran back at the center position is absolutely essential to our success next year.

The Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers are a team with many substantial questions this offseason. The future of two of its key stars are up in the air in Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. But the decision that may be the most crucial of all is which coach will take the reigns in 2024 and beyond.

The name that seems to have the most buzz over recent weeks is James Borrego the former Charlotte Hornets head coach. Borrego, a Gregg Popovich protégé and two-time champion as an assistant, has a 148-183 mark as head coach with Charlotte and Orlando. But he has many of the qualities that Cleveland is seeking to build the team around going forward, including the ability to build a dynamic offense built around dynamic players (such as Zion Williamson in New Orleans) and he is a coach that his former players have spoken very highly of.

The Cavaliers are in no hurry to name a successor to JB Bickerstaff. But announcing a new head coach soon will likely be the catalyst that spells the decisions of both Mitchell and Garland. It’s possible that the future of Cleveland’s basketball team for the next several years to come will be defined by the decisions President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman makes in the next few weeks.


A new Loveland Magazine feature: The Queen City Sports Podcast by Chris Ball

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Christopher Ball is a longtime Loveland resident and an attorney. He graduated from Loveland High School in 2003 and was a member of the football team before going on to become a coach’s assistant at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He has been following and rooting for the Reds and Bengals since the early 1990s and has been through the many ups and downs that fandom has wrought over the years.

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