John Clay's notes: Reds' Joey Votto seems distracted

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistAugust 27, 2013 

Random notes:

■ I'm a huge fan of Joseph Daniel Votto.

But considering his large number of errors this year — 12 as compared to six last season — and some of his base-running mistakes, and the Cincinnati Reds' first baseman's zone-out Monday when he thought the seventh inning was over (it wasn't) and he fielded a ball and stepped on first base, you wonder if there's something else on his mind this year.

■ If I'm the Reds, I'm worried about Mike Leake, who has allowed 13 earned runs in 17 1⁄3 innings over his last three starts.

■ I agree with Keith Olbermann. (Glad to have him back, by the way.) The New York media are roasting Rex Ryan for playing a quarterback in the fourth quarter whom the New York media don't think should start anyway?

■ Did you see where Urban Meyer allegedly had two NFL scouts attending an Ohio State practice change out of their blue shirts? Meyer thought the clothing was too close to Michigan blue. And the coaches are supposed to be the adults.

■ Unless Kentucky doesn't win a game or something, I think it holds on to its football recruits come February.

■ Louisville does have to improve one part of its game this year. The Cards' sack total dropped from 39 in 2010 to 22 in 2012. Can't imagine Charlie Strong, a defensive guy, will stand for that.

■ I'll admit, even with all the football talk, I can't wait to see how Julius Randle is going to mesh with the Harrison twins.

■ So D. Wayne Lukas won the Preakness with Oxbow and the Travers with Will Take Charge. Might Lukas win the Eclipse for Trainer of the Year? Probably not. But he should be in the discussion.

■ Loved Lukas' instructions to 21-year-old jockey Luis Saez on Saturday, "This is the not the third race on Wednesday."

■ Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown will be down on the field and wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord will be his eyes up in the coaches' box on Saturday. The two worked together three years at Texas Tech. That is a huge advantage.

■ In my mind, the UK position with the most concern: Outside linebackers.

■ The Wall Street Journal reports that Alabama has been favored for 43 straight games. That's a smart money fact.

■ Bengals fans screaming for Marvin Lewis to sit Andy Dalton and start Josh Johnson have lost their minds.

■ I know it was TV and I know it was probably a mismatch, but the clips of Matt Elam engulfing ball carriers and slinging them to the ground last Friday looked as if he was playing with a rag doll.

■ It was a bit of a surprise that heralded point guard Emmanuel Mudiay picked SMU over Kentucky. Then again, Larry Brown has accomplished a thing or two in his coaching career.

■ Mudiay committed to SMU. Josh Perkins, another star Class of 2014 recruit, committed to Gonzaga over the weekend. And yet if Jay Bilas had his way, only the power conferences would get NCAA Tournament bids.

■ Did you see Jennifer Smith's note that Kentucky was the only SEC team not to return a punt or a kickoff for a touchdown in the last two years? And this is the school of Randall Cobb and Derek Abney, just to name two.

■ Heralded Florida basketball recruit Chris Walker may not be eligible until December. No biggie, there. That's when things start to get interesting anyway.

■ So the New York Times reports that the NFL put pressure on ESPN to stop collaborating with PBS on a Frontline special examining the effects of concussions. And we're supposed to be surprised by this?

■ Peyton Siva told ESPN's Jeff Goodman that Louisville will be better in 2013-14. He might actually be right.

■ Former Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel, who played for Mike Leach last year, has been announced as the starter for the Buffalo Bills' first game. If you don't count Tim Couch, it's the first time a quarterback coached by Leach has started an NFL game.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: jclay@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com.

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