Sunshine, swim suits and fast cars

With a bleak weather forecast for this week in Darke County, we need to remind ourselves that Reds’ pitchers and catchers report for spring training in sunny Goodyear, AZ on the 18th while position players arrive on the 22nd.

Questions abound about this year’s version of the oldest professional team in baseball. Have they improved enough from last year’s abbreviated season to contend in the NL Central this year?

At 37, can Joey Votto be counted on to have a productive season? Will the offense and starting pitching be strong enough to compete with the Cardinals and Cubs?

If they do make the playoffs, will they actually score a run, unlike last fall’s debacle against the Braves? We’re about to find out Reds’ fans!

In girls basketball tournament action, Tri-Village, Bradford, Arcanum, and Greenville secured first round wins with Versailles, F-M, and Ansonia\ receiving byes.

The boys tourney started this week with all 8 squads in action.

Tipp City’s Red Devils went an undefeated 16-0 in the Miami Division of the MVL boys basketball standings with Butler second at 10-7 and Greenville 2-16 in what was a rebuilding year for a mostly underclass team.

In the Valley Division, West Carrollton finished at 13-4 with Sidney runners-up at 9-7.

On the girls side of the ledger, Tipp City’s Lady Devils were the class of the MVL going 18-0, followed by Butler 14-4 with the Lady Wave at 4-14. In the Valley Division, Sidney set the standard at 14-3, with Xenia and West Carrollton tied at 9-9.

Evidently there’s something in the water in Tipp City this year; congrats to both Red Devil’s teams on their titles!

Michigan and THE both are having outstanding seasons in Big 10 round-ball action, each looking at possible number one seeds in the NCAA tourney. Michigan, after a 3-week layoff because of covid protocols, had a big come-from-behind road win at Wisconsin Sunday, while the Buckeyes continued to play winning ball.

The Big 10 could get as many as nine teams in March Madness brackets with Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, eyeing fairly high seeds as of this week.

In Mid-American play, Toledo and Akron set the pace with Kent State close behind. My Miami RedHawks continue to struggle at 5-6 and 8-8 overall. Where are Ron Harper and Wally Szczerbiak when you need them?

If you’re a college basketball fan, I highly recommend reading John Feinstein’s “The Back Roads to March”. It’s a highly entertaining book about the ‘18-‘19 basketball season and chronicles various mid-major schools seeking a post-season berth in “The Big Dance”. It’s available at the Greenville Public Library and is a “must read” for any hoops lover.

The Daytona 500 kicked off the start of the NASCAR campaign with its usual mix of crashes, mayhem, and a six hour rain delay. The checkered flag finally flew after midnight on Monday, nine hours after the race started.

Michael McDowell won for the first time in 358 Cup Series starts, taking the lead on the final lap by snaking through a fiery crash and avoiding the resulting chaos. Seems like the “good ol’ boys” are back, bumping and grinding their way to race track glory! Can Eldora Speedway events be far off?

Finally, with the restraints imposed by the virus and typical Ohio winter weather, staying physically active is somewhat problematic. Let’s make an effort to walk or do any type of aerobic exercise as well as get in some form of weight training. Whether at home, in a gym, or any place else, some activity is vital to not only your physical but also mental and emotional well-being during these unusual times!

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Dr. Alex Warner

Shots in the Darke

Dr. Alex Warner is a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate