Fay: Keep the conflict out of the Crosstown Shootout -- lest we forget 2011

CINCINNATI -- Nothing like a little a controversy to spice the Crosstown Shootout. 

Saturday’s dustup between the University of Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin and Xavier University’s Chris Mack was a made-for-media event. We love that kind of stuff. As soon was Mack said 'Don’t make this the narrative of the game,' everyone made it the narrative of the game.

While it made for a good story, it could have been handled better. Cronin would have been better served to go to Mack directly and tell him he had a problem with J.P. Macura.

But Cronin takes losses very hard. He’s obviously frustrated with the way his team has played at Cintas and he went off — first on the court, then to the press.

While the rift itself wasn’t a huge deal (Mack had calmed down by the time his press conference was over), there could be lingering effects.

The rivalry is always heated. But when you get true animosity, it can be dangerous. Fans on both sides typically go overboard. When the guys on the benches start to develop those feelings, it another thing.

We saw that in the 2011. 

That’s why I think the presidents of both university would be wise to tell their coach to diffuse this thing, come out and say it’s over. Apologize and all that. 

Will that happen? I have no idea. Cronin and Mack and both strong personalities and a bit stubborn. 

But you’d hope things have cooled by the time the teams play next season. Because as good as rivalry is, it can’t survive another incident like 2011. 

Addendum to Saturday: Mack said that former UC guard Lance Stephenson used a racial slur during a game in the 2009. Stephenson, now with the Indiana Pacers, denies that.

"You know, heat of the moment, having fun, I probably said a couple things,” he told the Indianapolis Star. “I’m the type of player who tries to get under guys’ (skin), tries to get everyone frustrated, so I might have said (something), I don’t know. But I don’t think I called him that. I probably said something else negative, but I definitely didn’t call him that."

Why not Wednesday?

A perfect solution to the Opening Day Parade problem was to play the game on Wednesday. Findlay  Market nixed having it on Thursday, March 29, because it’s the Thursday before Easter, a huge day for the market.

Wednesday would have worked. Parade, then game, just like it’s always been.

“We talked about (Wednesday) early on," Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini said, but Major League Baseball would not do it. 

“The league is very adamant about how it’s going,” Castellini said. “They want one big, gigantic Opening Day with the exception of exhibitions and international stuff. That was a very fixed date. They’re very set on their schedule.”

Moving one game up a day seems like a pretty simple thing, but the only concession MLB makes to Reds as far as Opening Day is the Reds get to open at home. Being the first game ended long ago. That’s too bad.

Playoff changes?

I think we’ll see the College Football Playoff expanded to eight games down the road.

When the Big 10 and PAC 12 both get shut out in the same year, it gets some attention. Those are, arguably, the two most powerful conferences as far as NCAA sway in the country.

An eight-team bracket guarantees all five power conferences get a team in. It also guarantees a lot move TV revenue.

Hello, Harang

Every year at Redsfest a new, previously-estranged former play shows up. This year, it was Aaron Harang. 

It was great to see the big guy; he was very important to the turnaround of the pitching staff. Harang had two outstanding years for the Reds. He went 32-17 with a 3.75 ERA in 2006-07 and threw 466 innings. 

He played five more seasons after leaving via free agency after the 2010 season -- but he condors himself a former Red. 

“Oh yeah, this is where I established myself,” he said.

Harang retired after 2015.

“I watched nine innings of baseball that first year,” he said. 

Last year, he got back into the game a bit. He even came to Cincinnati with his kids for the a Reds-Padres series. He’s now the pitching coordinator for Anthony Gwynn Jr. youth baseball.

His first order of business? 

“They had 8 year olds throwing curveballs,” he said. “Not anymore.” 

Harang said he would like to be a guest instructor at Reds spring training. He’d be good for the young pitchers. Harang understood the importance of a well-located fastball.

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