CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 13: A general view during the Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders at the Great American Ball Park on July 13, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Random Thoughts: MLB Draft, the value of college, NBA Finals and in-state recruiting

The official start of summer is in sight, and some of our favorite burning topics have been in the news. Here’s a look at what’s been on my mind: 

  • The MLB Draft began Monday night, and the Cincinnati Reds chose a left-handed pitcher. That is not something they have done very often over the past 50-plus years. Nick Lodolo will join the franchise after earning All-Big 12 honors at TCU, three years he seems to have found very beneficial. Originally the No. 41 pick out of high school, Lodolo explained in detail why he chose to be a Horned Frog instead of a Pittsburgh Pirate and seems to be happy with his decision. 
  • Baseball is the best example the NCAA has for the value intercollegiate athletics offer players with pro potential. If the system were as bad as critics of the deal football and basketball players get make it out to be, no one drafted in the first round (or probably the first few) would ever play college baseball, where many players don’t even get full rides and virtually none enjoy the star treatment and idolization that goes to basketball and football players. That is not to say of course the current system can’t or shouldn’t be improved (starting with allowing players to profit off their name, image and likeness), but I find the rhetoric around it damaging to the cause of rallying support for change in favor of more money going directly to college athletes. Players aren’t dumb. They choose the situation that’s best for them, and that the majority of baseball and basketball players go to college when none of them have to says a lot. READ MORE: Reds No. 1 pick Nick Lodolo on himself, why he went to college, more 
  • As far as the history of southpaws taken in the first round by the Reds, it would appear Lodolo’s best case is to turn out to be a multi-time World Series champion and one of the team’s best pitchers ever. Then again his arm might fall off or he might have to go to Detroit or Cleveland: Nick Lodolo is the 6th LHP the Reds have taken in the June MLB Draft
  • I have to admit the Raptors have already won one more game than I expected in the NBA Finals. I was also among those thinking in the first half of Game 2 the Warriors were in trouble. They responded with a vintage Golden State third quarter to tie the series before it heads west, and it appears Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the StephKlayDraymondaires are in good position to win title No. 4 (unless Thompson’s hamstring injury turns out to be severe)… but that’s why they play the games! 
  • The Warriors seemed to lack a certain pop in the first three halves of these Finals but got the mojo going after halftime Sunday night, and Toronto just didn’t have the firepower to keep up. That is what I expected out of this series with Kevin Durant sidelined. The Raptors obviously are a nice story having retooled after LeBron tore their heart out again last season, but I didn’t think watching the Eastern Conference Finals either team could score enough points to keep up with even a weakened Warriors team that plays better team basketball but is not as dangerous overall without Kevin Durant. In game one, the Warriors weren’t great and the Raptors were, which is how you got a Toronto win. But is that type of offensive performance sustainable? I doubt it. 
  • And one last NBA-related note: Have you seen the clips of fans who gather outside together to watch games in downtown Toronto? They call it “Jurassic Park” (get it?) and it seems to be a pretty big deal. In light of that and the growing trend of fans going to their home arenas to watch away games, I’m less and less interested in hearing about the effect advances in home entertainment have on attendance. I’m sure more than zero percent of it is a result of people having better TVs than they did 20 years ago, but I bet that is pretty low on the list. The game experience isn’t what it used to be with the added timeouts and corporatization, but millions of people still fork down large amounts of cash to get to be part of it, so obviously it is still incredibly valuable. And since anyone who can afford to go to a game these days can certainly afford a nice TV, it’s hard for me to come off the conclusion the exorbitant price is the No. 1 factor when it comes to attendance and the TV experience thing is a lazy narrative pushed by lazy people who are too far removed from actual fans. Ya know, just my two cents…. 
  • Lastly, the biggest news from the Ohio State beat over the past week was the verbal commitment of Julian Fleming. The nation’s No. 1 receiver chose the Buckeyes over numerous major programs, including home-state Penn State. And the reasons he gave for forsaking the Nittany Lions don’t put coach James Franklin’s program in the greatest of lights. Essentially Fleming eliminated the Nittany Lions from consideration after watching their offense, which was great for two years after being revitalized by a new offensive coordinator who left to be Mississippi State’s head coach prior to last season, take a step back in 2018. The lack of utilization of last year’s top receiver recruit (who may not have been fully healthy) also bothered Fleming, as did the ever-changing PSU staff. Hmmm… More from The Athletic here. 
  • OK, one last last thing since the Fleming commitment brings up in-state recruiting. That was the focus of a story I posted Monday about how Urban Meyer’s efforts in Ohio might have been losing effectiveness and what Ryan Day is doing to reverse that trend.

“Random Thoughts” is a semi-regular feature here at the blog. While most of our other coverage is concentrated on news and analysis, this is a place to share opinions and have some fun. Have your own thoughts? Send them along to marcus.hartman@coxin.com or find us on Twitter or Facebook. 

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