A wise man once said, there are no shortcuts to success. Clearly, the man must have never crossed paths with a physical QWERTY-based BlackBerry. For if he did, he would have known, there’s a difference between working hard and working smart. BlackBerry and physical QWERTY keyboards were literally inseparable once upon a time. Every time you talked about a physical QWERTY keyboard-based phone — there were lots and lots of them, once upon a time — the discussion would invariably drift towards a BlackBerry.Ironically, both BlackBerry and physical QWERTY keyboard-based phones are literally down in the dumps today. And yet, BlackBerry is back, and it’s back with a physical QWERTY keyboard-based phone. The phone in question is called simply the KEYone and with it, BlackBerry — the company responsible for making the physical QWERTY keyboard make sense — is aspiring to make the physical QWERTY keyboard make sense, one more time, even as it aspires to make sense — as a hardware company that can still do phones, albeit a little differently — among fans, enthusiasts and critics.The BlackBerry KEYone comes with a full blown physical QWERTY keyboard, in addition to a full blown touchscreen. But more importantly, it comes with 52 custom shortcuts to get your job done.Design and build qualityThe KEYone looks (and feels) nothing like the iconic Curve or the Bold. It looks somewhat like the Passport maybe, but then again, it’s a lot more elongated and a lot more cramped both at the same time. It takes some visual cues from the forgettable chaos, called the Priv, but, other than the physical QWERTY keyboard that sits at the bottom of the screen, there’s no telling that this is a BlackBerry-made phone. A part of it is obviously because it isn’t a BlackBerry-made phone in the literal sense.advertisementFYI: It has been sometime that BlackBerry stopped manufacturing its own phones. It outsources the job to third-party manufacturers now. Optiemus Infracom, if you haven’t heard already, is the home-grown telecom enterprise, responsible for manufacturing BlackBerry phones in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. All in all, BlackBerry now relies on three licensees to make and sell its phones globally. The software that’s inside these phones is, however, in complete control of the Canadian major.The KEYone is an all-metal phone with curved 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection on the front. On the back, the KEYone sports a rugged material on top of metal. The BlackBerry logo graces the middle while a huge camera module with a dual-LED flash next to it, sits at the top. On the right, the phone comes with a convenience key that allows you to quickly access an assigned app or shortcut from anywhere on the device, provided that it is powered up. The volume rocker and a dual-SIM slot — the KEYone is notably the first BlackBerry phone in India to support dual-SIMs — also lie on the right. On the left lies the power button. The phone also comes with a USB Type-C port for charging and data-syncing and speaker cut-outs on either side.The USP of the KEYone is its full-scale physical QWERTY. Unlike the Priv (BlackBerry’s last QWERTY phone) however, the KEYone features the physical keyboard in continuation with the touch screen. The QWERTY, just like it was in the Priv, supports touch-gestures like scrolling and Flick Typing for predictive texting, as also 52 app shortcuts via short and long press. The space bar, meanwhile, gets a new fingerprint scanner up-top that is claimed to unlock the phone in just 0.5 seconds. It is fast and very accurate: indeed a highlight of BlackBerry’s new phone. The phone also comes with touch-based navigation keys directly above the keyboard. The BlackBerry KEYone comes with a full blown physical QWERTY keyboard, in addition to a full blown touchscreen. But more importantly, it comes with 52 custom shortcuts to get your job done All in all, the KEYone isn’t out to win awards for its design (and durability), simply because it isn’t eyeing the commercial market, much like any other BlackBerry phone. It isn’t paper thin. It doesn’t have an edge-to-edge screen. It isn’t water-resistant either. Because its loyalties lie elsewhere, in the corporate boardrooms to be precise.It is smart and sophisticated in a very minimalistic sort of way, the kind that business-men (and women) would likely appreciate. They would appreciate it some more, once they hold it in their hands. It’s very utilitarian, and very re-assuring. You’d have no trouble using it (on the go) with one hand most of the time and if I were a businessman that would really mean the world to me.advertisementDisplayThe BlackBerry KEYone comes with a bright and vibrant 4.5-inch 1080p screen with an unusual 3:2 aspect ratio. Straight off the bat, the KEYone’s display — and unusual aspect ratio — is designed for web-scrolling, jotting down notes, sending out emails: you know, all the typical boardroom stuff. It isn’t designed for multimedia consumption. Everything from Netflix to YouTube to regular 1080p videos you’ve saved on your phone’s storage will appear letter-boxed. Games and apps work fine though.The 4.5-inch 1080p IPS display of the KEYone may not inspire the same level of confidence, on paper, as the high-end Priv but don’t let the numbers fool you. The KEYone has a fantastic display for its price. The phone has just the right amount of brightness and adaptive brightness works as it should. When coupled with the phone’s excellent viewing angles and non-reflective nature, the KEYone gives you a display that doesn’t leave you asking for more in bright and sunny environment.Colours are more neutral and less eye-popping (as opposed to the Priv), but at least, they are more accurate. There’s also a settings toggle to manually control colour temperature, so that’s nice. If only, the KEYone also had an in-built reading mode, it would have been the complete package.SoftwareThe USP of a BlackBerry has always been the software. But times, they are a changing. BB OS is gone, and moving on Android will be the de facto software that you’ll find in all BlackBerry-branded phones. The KEYone, as a result, ships with Android 7.1.1 Nougat and a near stock version at that. The extra apps (and features) that BlackBerry has incorporated in the phone are all directed towards enhancing the security and productivity of the device. I don’t see why anybody would mind that. Of these, the relevance of the former will depend on how you perceive your smartphone.Just like the Priv, the DTEK50 and the DTEK60, the KEYone is also being pitched as the most secure Android smartphone in the world. BlackBerry claims that the KEYone will receive security patches the same day that Google pushes them out.The phone has “device security built in from the start,” according to the company which, in all its fairness, sounds very reassuring. But chances are, many wouldn’t know (and understand) terms like hardware root of trust or secure bootloader, unless of course you’re a geek or a security professional. Also, the fact that the phone is literally encrypted to the T is hard to tell with a naked eye.But then, there are also a few security aspects that you can monitor and control. The phone comes with an app called DTEK by BlackBerry that shows your device security status in real time. It doesn’t exactly seem like the gold standard though, as most of the time, setting up a mere screen lock entails in a ‘fair’ rating for the smartphone. Personally, I am yet to see the rating for my review unit fall below alarming levels. Perhaps, I haven’t been living on the edge. But, that doesn’t mean, the DTEK app is any less useful. The most useful aspect of the app, without a doubt, has to be in the way it allows you to manually control app permissions. It gives you even the most miniscule information about an app and also lets you to directly allow or restrict certain permissions or to uninstall the app altogether, from within the app itself.advertisementThe KEYone, because its software is so heavily inclined towards productivity, also has the potential of becoming a true workhorse, especially, for the business-oriented. The phone comes with productivity tools like the BlackBerry Hub, pop-up widgets, a productivity tab and support for up to 52 keyboard shortcuts.The BlackBerry Hub is a unified inbox that integrates notifications from apps like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, et al, as well as from calendar events and phone calls. Moreover, the Hub also allows you to interact directly with these apps without having you to open them separately. Pop-up widgets, meanwhile, let you interact with certain specific app widgets directly from the home screen and without having you to open them separately. The productivity tab, on the other hand, gives you quick access to items by swiping from the right. BlackBerry may not be looking to play the nostalgia card, but, there’s no denying the fact that the KEYone is a very nostalgic phone Most importantly, BlackBerry has been able to well optimise the software with the hardware at hand so everything runs like a breeze on-board the KEYone. And the physical keyboard, once you get used to it, could be a force to reckon with. It’s not just because typing on an actual keyboard comes as second nature to us, but, because the physical keyboard on-board the KEYone is more than just about typing text. The fact that you can use it as a track-pad while you’re brisking through a web-page is something only the KEYone can offer at this point of time. The fact that you can literally program every key on it to do stuff quickly and conveniently is something only the KEYone can offer at this point of time. And since the time I’ve used Flick Typing, well, my life hasn’t been the same again.Performance and battery lifeThe BlackBerry KEYone is powered by a 2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor clubbed with Adreno 506 GPU and 4GB of RAM. The phone comes with 64GB of internal storage which is further expandable by up to 2TB via a micro-SD card slot.A simple Google search will tell you that the Snapdragon 625 is the first 600-series chipset to be built on the power-efficient 14nm finfet process. The technology essentially allows a processor — the Snapdragon 625 in this case — with multiple cores to hit higher clock speeds without overheating and draining the battery quickly. The Snapdragon 625, for your reference, consumes up to 35 per cent lower power than its predecessor (the Snapdragon 617), in typical usage scenarios, according to Qualcomm.In layman’s terms, you’re more likely to get (much) better battery life and little (or no) overheating in phones powered by a chipset on the lines of the Snapdragon 625. In layman’s terms, a phone like the KEYone is more likely to give you a (much) better battery life and little (or no) overheating than phones like the DTEK50 (Snapdragon 617).And it does.But while the DTEK50 was a phone that cost around Rs 20,000 the KEYone has been launched for Rs 40,000. That’s enough to turn off many buyers from buying it, and instead spend their money on more powerful flagships from the likes of Google, Samsung, Apple and LG. The KEYone just can’t beat them. But then BlackBerry isn’t looking to kill anybody with the KEYone. For BlackBerry, the KEYone is a niche phone for people — corporates — who would rather prefer reliability, thermal efficiency and long-lasting battery life than sheer raw power. The Snapdragon 625 fits just right for that select group. In fact, it’s been a legend as far as thermal efficiency and long-lasting battery life is concerned. When clubbed with the reliability of BlackBerry’s well optimised software, the KEYone, is without a doubt a force to reckon with for its intended audience. Just don’t expect the moon from it, and it should do just fine.Basic tasks are handled well. So is multitasking. It is only when you have multiple Chrome tabs and hard hitting apps all opened at once and you’re trying to juggle between them, that it shows signs of distress. Which is quite understandable. If you’re looking for more fire-power well it’s better you look elsewhere.The KEYone comes with a pair of stereo speakers that work surprisingly well, although, peak volume levels could have been a little higher. Phone calls made with the phone are of excellent quality and I did not witness any odd call drops issues, beyond the usual, on my review unit.The 3,505 mAh battery inside the KEYone is another USP of BlackBerry’s new phone. Mixed usage which included an hour of video playback, half an hour of GPU-intensive gaming, 45 minutes of basic games, phone calls (to the tune of one hour), some music streaming and YouTube playback along with some web browsing gave me close to 14 hours on the device. A more generalised usage should see most users sail through one to one and a half days effortlessly.Another highlight of BlackBerry’s new phone is Boost charging which can be considered as Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 on steroids. Every time you plug in a charger — any fast charger — you get two options: regular charge and boost charge. Charging the phone over boost mode automatically switches the phone into battery saving mode cutting off unnecessary apps so it charges all the more faster. If only the KEYone also had wireless charging.CameraThe KEYone comes with a 12-megapixel camera — with a Sony IMX378 sensor — on the rear with f/2.0 “Large Pixel” similar to the one on-board the Google Pixel. The rear camera can record 4K videos as well. It may not be as good as the Pixel, but, the KEYone is definitely the best camera phone that BlackBerry has ever made.Of course, Optical Image Stabilisation (even EIS for videos) would have been welcome additions, but, overall the KEYone seems a fairly capable camera phone on paper. It is a fairly capable camera phone in real world usage as well, at least, for the most part.In good light and when shooting still objects — and also while doing macros or close-up shots — the KEYone works well with occasional bouts of overexposure, but overall it paints a pretty picture. Photos shot in tricky light come out quite decent as well. Low light photos have noise. This is the only area where rival flagship phones take the better of it, and leave you asking for more. XPreviousNextOn the front, the KEYone comes with an 8-megapixel camera with f/2.2 aperture. The front camera is capable of shooting good selfies in good light with plenty of detail and mostly accurate colours. Should you buy it?Just like the Priv, the DTEK50 and the DTEK60, the KEYone has its software in place. It comes with decent hardware as well, and the physical QWERTY is a useful addition, the usefulness of which would depend on the end-user. Then, there’s the nostalgia. “I think that the whole nostalgia thing is very interesting. I only put a small amount of importance to that. I think people remember BlackBerry and they like the memory. I think that a lot of people like the physical keyboard. But I think as new people also get to understand the value of the physical keyboard: how fast you can be on it, and how accurate, I think you will start seeing this move way past just old BlackBerry users,” a BlackBerry spokesperson said to me not long ago. BlackBerry may not be looking to play the nostalgia card, but, there’s no denying the fact that the KEYone is a very nostalgic phone. Because it was under development during the time when BlackBerry was still alive and kicking in the hardware space, chances are that it might just be the last of its kind. Chances are there might not be another old-school BlackBerry with a physical QWERTY ever. Even if there is, it’s highly unlikely that it would recreate the same magic and the same nostalgia. The KEYone barely does that after all.The KEYone is still first and foremost an enterprise-only phone and the keyboard just adds a third dimension to the whole thing. BlackBerry is even pitching it that way, and the fact that it lives up to its reputation — of offering classic BlackBerry reliability and productivity — should attract consumers at the end of the day. For everybody else, there are definitely better options at around Rs 40,000 that offer more value for money. Not to mention, more power and better cameras. As for the KEYone — that is priced at Rs 39,990 — well, it will still largely be a collector’s edition device — for a larger chunk of the audience — that you would want to buy if you have not crossed paths with yesteryear classics like the Bold and the Curve.Also Read: BlackBerry KEYone quick review: A blast from the past KEYone review7.5/10Good stuffErgonomic designPhysical QWERTYGood battery lifeBad stuff3:2 screen aspect ratioCameras could be betterNot powerful enough
Story Highlights Attorney General, Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte, said the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs division played a pivotal role throughout the development stages of the Law Reform Zones of Special Operations (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act, 2017, and the Constitution (Amendment)(Established Fund)(Payment of Pensions) Act and the Pensions (Public Service) Act. The Attorney General’s Department was instrumental in facilitating several crucial domestic laws and international negotiations last year, through the provision of legal advice.Attorney General, Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte, said the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs division played a pivotal role throughout the development stages of the Law Reform Zones of Special Operations (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act, 2017, and the Constitution (Amendment)(Established Fund)(Payment of Pensions) Act and the Pensions (Public Service) Act.Additionally, she said the Division provided legal advice in the development and passage of the Building Act, “another landmark reform measure, which will modernise regulation of the building industry, taking into account… public safety and welfare”.“I want to put on record my special commendation of the division’s team, headed by Deputy Solicitor General, Marlene Aldred. They work very closely with me on Cabinet and Parliamentary matters,” she noted.The Attorney General was making her contribution to the 2018/19 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 3).She noted, further, that the International Affairs division, which advises the Government on all matters involving public and private international law, represented Jamaica in the negotiation of a new regional agreement for Latin America and the Caribbean on access to information, justice and public participation in environmental matters.She pointed out that the agreement was adopted in San José, Costa Rica, in March.Meanwhile, Mrs. Malahoo Forte said the AG’s Chambers continues to work closely with the Justice Ministry in advising on the establishment of a National Human Rights Institute, in accordance with the Paris Principles for the promotion and protection of human rights.Additionally, Mrs. Malahoo Forte informed that the division continues to support the National Task Force Against Trafficking In Persons “and assisted in preparing our report to the State Department of the United States for its annual Trafficking in Persons Report”.She said the AG’s Chambers also considered requests for assistance from Trinidad and Tobago, and Belgium under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.“In considering the request from Belgium, we made a certain recommendation to the Minister of Justice, which resulted in the Mutual Assistance (Criminal Matters)(Foreign States)(Kingdom of Belgium) Order, 2018, which was affirmed in this Honourable House on June 8, 2018,” she told the House.The Attorney General said her office continues to assist other government entities, such as Jamaica Customs Agency, to negotiate agreements with partners such as the United States, the Netherlands, and the Caribbean Customs and Law Enforcement Council.“Through the work of the International Affairs division, the Chambers were also able to approve the sharing of assets in a number of requests from the United Kingdom and the United States,” she added.Mrs. Malahoo Forte further highlighted several matters handled by the Commercial division with the assistance of two commercial-law consultants, dating back to May 2017.These include the Draft Concession Agreement for the proposed modernisation and expansion of the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston; draft Heads of Agreement between the Government of Jamaica, acting through the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, and the CCA Jamaica Development Group Limited and Urban Development Corporation; and a loan contract between Jamaica and the Inter-American Development Bank for the National Identification System’s (NIDS) implementation.Other matters are Draft Joint Venture Agreements by the Factories Corporation of Jamaica to develop the Naggo Head Technology Park in Portmore, St. Catherine, and the Morant Bay Urban Centre in St. Thomas; the Draft Natural Gas Agreement; an $86-million joint venture agreement involving the Government, Housing Agency of Jamaica, and Pavement and Structures Limited for the development of housing solutions in St. Catherine; divestment of Wallenford Coffee Company through the sale of Government shares; and Urban Development Corporation commercial development projects on the Kingston Waterfront, and involving Port Royal Development Company. The Attorney General’s Department was instrumental in facilitating several crucial domestic laws and international negotiations last year, through the provision of legal advice.
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Representatives from UNBC’s Community Development Institute gave a presentation at yesterday’s committee of the whole meeting of the Institute’s first community profile of Fort St. John, showing that while some facets of the city have stayed the same over the years, the community has experienced a number of drastic demographic changes.Researcher Dr. Michael Lait and the CDI’s co-director Marleen Morris presented a summary of the Institute’s 61-page report that chronicles the changes the Energetic City has experienced over the past 32 years. The report, which represents the CDI’s first of two phases to profile the community, took a look at census data and government statistics.Looking at the size of the community itself, Dr. Lait said that with an exception during the 1980’s energy industry recession, Fort St. John’s population grew 45 percent between 1981 and 2016, to an estimated 20,155. However, the demographics of the community have aged slightly. In 1981, people under 35 comprised 75 percent of the city’s population, but in 2016 that number fell to 57 percent. Despite this, the city’s median age two years ago was 31.5 years, which is still far below the provincial median age of 41 years. Still, the city’s population of senior citizens increased 119 percent over the last 30 years.Fort St. John’s residents have gotten more educated over the last 12 years, as data shows the percentage of city residents that did not complete high school fell from 20 percent in 2006 to 12 percent in 2016. During that time, the provincial average fell from 12 to 10 percent. The only area where Fort St. John ranked higher than the provincial average was the percentage of residents in an apprenticeship or that had a trades certificate or diploma. Fifteen percent of city residents were in the trades both in 2006 and 2016, while during that time the provincial average fell from 12 to nine percent.Interestingly, the percentage of School District 60 students graduating high school stayed fairly constant between the 2011/12 school year and 2015/16. That rate is lower both than the provincial average rate and the percentage of Peace River South students. Another statistic showed that the percentage of First Nations students graduating in Peace River North fell slightly with wild variations during those five years, while the rate south of the Peace increased steadily over the same period.In terms of housing, the average rental rate in Fort St. John in 2016 worked out to $1,275 per month, while Vancouver’s average that year was only $21/month more. This was despite the average value of a home in Fort St. John being over 2/3 lower than the same value in Vancouver. Despite this, Dr. Lait said that city residents faced less stress than both the average renter and homeowner in B.C. when it came to paying for their dwellings. The percentage of renters and homeowners in Fort St. John paying more than 30 percent of earnings on housing costs fell much more from 2011 to 2016 than in the rest of B.C. as a whole.The entire report from the CDI can be read below.
NEW DELHI: After achieving record performance in FY 2018-19, NMDC is embarking on a digital transformation journey in the new Financial Year, by adopting SAP as an ERP Solution through project titled ‘Kalpataru’. With this project NMDC aims to fully integrated solution encompassing all the business functions of the organization.The Project Kick off meeting took place at NMDC Head Office in the august presence of N Baijendra Kumar, CMD, NMDC; Dr T R K Rao, Director (Commercial); P K Satpathy, Director (Production); Sandeep Tula, Director (Personnel); Amitava Mukherjee, Director (Finance) and Shri V V S Sreenivas, Chief Vigilance Officer; Leadership teams from the partners Deloitte, CHiPS, Accenture and SAP also participated in the meeting. The ERP initiative at NMDC is expected to usher in process transformation by adoption of the global industry best practices, resulting in improved efficiency and greater transparency. This project will also provide competitive advantages to NMDC by harnessing technologies such as loT, Data Analytics, AI, which will enable NMDC to be among the leading Mining and Steel producers globally. Hailing the ERP team of NMDC for achieving this milestone, Baijendra Kumar said that this initiative will improve NMDC’s operational efficiency, and position NMDC as one of the most competitive and dynamic PSE of the country.
OSU freshman defender Lauren Boyle (6) during a game against Minnesota State on Oct. 23. Credit: Courtesy of OSUThe Ohio State women’s ice hockey team recorded its third series split of the season at the University of Minnesota Duluth over the weekend, continuing the slow but positive steps the team has taken in recent weeks.The Buckeyes (9-18-1, 5-16-1) defeated the Bulldogs (10-17-1, 7-14-1) by a score of 6-4 on Friday with six players for the Scarlet and Gray registering two or more points. Minnesota Duluth snapped OSU’s three-game winning streak the following day, however, as the Bulldogs scored a goal with less than two minutes remaining to win it 4-3.On Friday, the Bulldogs used three different goalkeepers to try to stop the OSU offense. Minnesota Duluth freshman Maddie Rooney allowed three Buckeye goals in the first period, which came from sophomore defenseman Dani Sadek, sophomore forward Lauren Spring and freshman defenseman Lauren Boyle. Both Spring and Boyle’s goals came on Buckeye power plays. The Bulldogs also managed to get three goals past OSU sophomore goalie Alex LaMere during the first period.Minnesota Duluth put Karissa Grapp into goal to start the second period, but she also struggled to stop the red-hot OSU offense. Junior forward Claudia Kepler opened up the second period scoring, lighting the lamp 1:17 into the period. Senior forward Kendall Curtis found the net a little over a minute later, and a fellow senior forward, Melani Moylan, added a power-play goal to stretch the OSU lead to three goals.Minnesota Duluth changed goalkeepers after the three Buckeye goals, but the three-goal lead proved to be too much for the Bulldogs. Freshman Morgan Morse scored halfway through the third period for UMD, which ended the scoring for the game.On Saturday, Minnesota Duluth jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first five minutes of the game off goals from Morse and Katherine McGovern. The Buckeyes were able to answer with less than a minute left in the period with a goal from Kepler to cut the Bulldogs lead in half.OSU senior forward Julia McKinnon scored halfway through the second period to tie the game. About a minute later, Curtis scored for the second night in a row for a 3-2 lead.Stepping it up to avoid the sweep at home, though, the Bulldogs tied the game less than five minutes later off a goal from Ashleigh Brykaliuk. The game remained tied through most of the third period, but Morse scored her second goal of the game and third of the series with less than two minutes remaining to give the Bulldogs the 4-3 win and a series split.The Buckeyes are scheduled to return home next weekend to face the University of Wisconsin (25-1-1, 19-1-1). Wisconsin sits at the top of the Western Collegiate Hockey Standings heading into the matchup in Columbus. The puck is slated to drop at the OSU Ice Rink at 7:07 p.m. on Friday and 4:07 p.m. the day following.
For baseball enthusiasts, Opening Day means adults take off work, children are taken out of school, and college students skip class to witness the start of the MLB season.There’s nothing like it, especially in Cincinnati, where Opening Day is an unofficial holiday. There’s the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade, which mazes through the streets of the Queen City. There are the pregame meals at Skyline Chili, where you can eat the best chili around. And then there’s the actual game.It’s the only game of the year that it doesn’t bother me if the Reds lose. Okay, it doesn’t bother me as much. It’s also the only game where all the pregame shenanigans don’t bother me at all. How can you not get goose bumps watching a fly-over with four F-16s? Or be moved hearing the National Anthem sung by former Bengal tight end Ben Utecht?The excitement and pure bliss in the atmosphere is contagious. If there was this much optimism in the world every day, depression would cease to exist.That optimism also translates to the season itself. Whether you’re a Yankees fan or a Royals fan, it’s impossible to not have some glimmer of hope at the onset of the season. That brings me back to the Reds, who are trying to reverse a decade of futility.There are no excuses for the Reds this year. Their young guys took their licks last season. Right fielder Jay Bruce’s batting average hovered around the Mendoza line for much of year before breaking his wrist. First baseman Joey Votto battled depression and anxiety issues following the death of his father.The young starting pitching also struggled. Homer Bailey wasn’t consistent until the end of the season. Johnny Cueto was consistently inconsistent. Edinson Volquez blew out his elbow in June.But there is palpable hope for the Reds this year. Their rotation of Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Cueto, Bailey and Mike Leake is second-best in the division behind the St. Louis Cardinals.The strength of the team is the bullpen, which ranked third in the NL last year in ERA and is anchored by All-Star closer Francisco “Coco” Cordero. Setting up Cordero is hard-throwing right-hander Nick Masset and ageless left-handed Arthur Rhodes.The lineup is stocked with both youngsters and veterans. Alarmingly quick center fielder Drew Stubbs and rock-solid shortstop Orlando Cabrera will be at the top of the batting order. Votto, second baseman Brandon Phillips and third baseman Scott Rolen will be the main run-producers. Bruce, catcher Ramon Hernandez and a platoon of speed demon Chris Dickerson and Shrek look-alike Jonny Gomes will round out the lineup in left field.Votto is on the cusp of being a perennial 30-home run, 100-plus RBI player. Bruce and Phillips both should have 25 home runs and 90 or more RBIs. Cabrera, Rolen and Hernandez are veteran hitters with long histories of being line-drive machines and clutch-run producers. Add in the speed of Stubbs and Dickerson, and the Reds should end their run-scoring struggles.But as always, there are “ifs” with the Reds. For baseball’s oldest franchise, injuries derailed the team last season. The opening day lineup only played 10 games together. It very well could happen again this year, as one of the team’s glaring weaknesses is lack of depth.However, for the first time in years, roster competition is fierce. The Reds’ farm system depth is rapidly improving under general manager Walt Jocketty, who dipped into the past to recruit former Reds greats such as Eric Davis, Barry Larkin and Joe Morgan to come to spring training as guest instructors.The team also has a handful of wild cards. Volquez should be back by August at the latest and could contribute during a potential stretch run. Youngsters Juan Francisco and Yonder Alonso look like the next David Ortiz and Pablo Sandoval. The Reds also have Travis Wood, who was the MLB.com Double-A Starting Pitcher of the Year, and Leake, who went 16-1 with a 1.17 ERA last season for Arizona State, waiting in the fold.And of course, no mention of Reds’ prospects is complete without left-handed Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman. There’s no precedent for what Chapman can mean to the Reds. Armed with a fastball topping out in triple digits, a Randy Johnson slider and a rapidly developing changeup, Chapman has the ability to be a dominant No. 1 starter. The Reds are doing the right thing by shipping him to the minors to get him some seasoning and to adjust to the American way of life.But my favorite thing about Chapman has nothing to do with his potential. It’s that he’s going to be essentially immune from pressure. Before he defected, Chapman was pitching in Cuba … for food. If he did not pitch well, he couldn’t feed his family. When he’s clinging to a one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning and staring down Albert Pujols with the bases loaded and the division lead on the line, Chapman won’t back down. He’ll accept the challenge.Which is what Chapman and the rest of the Reds need to do: embrace the pressure, revel in it and deliver a winning season to a city that’s dying for an October pennant race. Despite an Opening Day loss, there remains hope.
Some fans may have mistaken the Ohio State women’s basketball team for a track squad Thursday night. The No. 12-ranked Buckeyes (18-1, 5-1 Big Ten) capitalized on several miscues by No. 20 Nebraska (15-3, 4-2 Big Ten), which resulted in 20 fast-break points and, eventually, an 82-68 victory. “It’s like we’re all fast in all different ways,” senior guard Samantha Prahalis said after the game. “We all add something to defense that gives us offense, so I think that’s kind of scary.” The Cornhuskers took the opening score against the Buckeyes, but it was the first and last time Nebraska would have the lead. “There were 20 points in the game where we didn’t guard them because they either stole it from us or they leaked out and got an easy basket, so transition offense was really critical” said Nebraska coach Connie Yori. “I’m not sure our kids knew the quickness level that was going to be on the floor today.” Although the Buckeyes were ahead for a majority of the game, the team understood the Cornhuskers were undefeated in the Big Ten when trailing. “When I watched film on Penn State, it seemed like Penn State was in control but they kept coming back so I kind of knew that all of the momentum might be on someone’s side, but I knew they could still comeback,” Prahalis said. Junior guard Tayler Hill led all Buckeye scorers with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Prahalis followed with 19 points and nine assists, while sophomore center Ashley Adams and redshirt junior Amber Stokes added 13 and 12 points respectively. The Buckeyes were 32-of-61 from the field, while going 3-of-4 from 3-point range. Nebraska was lead by freshman forward Emily Cady who contributed 24 points, while sophomore Jordan Hooper added 19 points. The Buckeyes have won three straight games since suffering their first loss against Michigan on Jan. 7. “I don’t think I’m coaching any sopranos, concert pianists, I haven’t seen a violin in the locker room. Basketball is their thing and if losing a basketball game sends you crazy then I got serious issues,” coach Jim Foster said. “It happened to my team last year, but they figured it out. Again it’s about today, and now it’s about Illinois.” The win improves the Buckeyes to 3-0 this season against ranked opponents. Before the game OSU and Nebraska were tied for second place in the Big Ten. The win puts the Buckeyes one game behind No. 13 Purdue (15-3, 5-0 Big Ten) for first place in the conference. The Buckeyes will meet the Boilermakers on Feb. 12 at the Schottenstein center. While the Buckeyes can celebrate this victory, they will travel to Lincoln, Neb., on Feb. 26 to play the Cornhuskers again in the final game of the regular season. The Buckeyes will next host Illinois on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Schottenstein center.
Brutus Buckeye gives a high-five to a student during OSU football’s Student Appreciation Day April 5 at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Approximately 2,500 students showed up to the practice.Credit: Desiaire Rickman / Lantern photographerWhen 2,500 students are on the playing field, it usually means something big has happened for the Ohio State football team.While the Buckeyes did not pull an upset win or beat a highly ranked team, the intrasquad practice drew a large crowd for the team’s third annual Student Appreciation Day at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.The event, started by OSU football coach Urban Meyer in spring 2012, is aimed at getting students involved in the program — as with some of the approximately 2,500 who attended were invited to join the players in their stretching lines prior to practice.Students not only stretched with the team — some even attempted field goals as their peers surrounded the play. Adam Watson, a first-year in biomedical science and Block “O” football director, said plenty of planning went into the event from the student side.“We worked a lot with the football operations director for athletics Fernando Lovo,” Watson said. “We got to come into a practice and talk to a few guys to see what they wanted.”The Block “O” student section tossed T-shirts to the crowd and featured some students with body paint, much like one would see at a game in Ohio Stadium.“Ultimately, we just want to get overall involvement,” Watson said.The finalists in the fastest student competition took their places following practice to compete and see who will race sophomore running back Dontre Wilson and senior wide receiver Devin Smith during halftime of the Spring Game scheduled for April 12. Among the winning finalists were fourth-year in sports industry Mesiah Smith, who was a member of Ohio State’s club football team in 2013.Redshirt-junior tight end Nick Vannett said he appreciated the students coming out to support the football program.“I can honestly say there are very few programs out there that do something like this,” Vannett said. “I think it is good that we have such a good fanbase. I think it is good for the students and for the players. Getting to meet all of the students that support us and I just think all around it is a good event.”One OSU player in particular made his presence felt during his team’s practice, as redshirt-sophomore cornerback Eli Apple intercepted redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett twice. His performance merited the black stripe on his helmet to be removed, fully initiating him as a Buckeye.“He played good,” Vannett said of Apple. “I saw that one hit he had on Jeff Greene and after that, pretty much sealed the deal for his black stripe coming off.”Apple was not the only player who had a big day, as redshirt-freshman tight end Marcus Baugh caught a pair of touchdown passes from Barrett. Baugh said after the practice he is feeling much more comfortable with the offense.“I just try to go out there and go hard … That is what I did on those plays, and J.T. put the ball on the spot,” Baugh said.With senior tight end Jeff Heuerman out for the remainder of spring practice after having surgery on his foot, Baugh said he has the opportunity to work on his game a little more.“It is definitely helping me work on my blocking,” Baugh said of getting more playing time. “With him being out, coach is really giving me a lot of reps on the harder blocks that last year I wasn’t too good at.”After the spring game, the Buckeyes are slated to begin their 2014 campaign Aug. 30 against Navy at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Kickoff is set for noon.