Sunday, July 5, 2020

Changing Names?

The various protests around our country have now entered sports with the continuous effort to get the Washington Redskins and now the Cleveland Indians to change their team nicknames.

The Indians shuffled Chief Wahoo off in 2018, in what essentially was a trade to land the 2019 All-Star game, and although Wahoo merchandise is still available (MLB which hates the idea of Wahoo, yet likes the dollars that he still brings in), as the team claims if they don't sell at least some merchandise with his likeness the image will eventually move into the public domain, but they don't use the logo around the stadium, on broadcasts, etc.
Supposedly, the team was unofficially told that they didn't have to deal with the name of the team should the jettisoning of Wahoo occur.

Two years later, the team is "exploring a thorough review of the team's name", which basically means one of the following two choices.
1: The decision has been made to change the name and they need to move through the facade of compiling the facts.
2: The team doesn't want to change the name and they are hoping to see some of the current moods in the country slow down a bit and buy some time.
I suspect number one is the choice as the team announced this without being the focus of the protests.
The Washington Redskins are the main target currently, but the team has to know that should the Redskins be taken down successfully the Indians would be next in their sights.
Cleveland likely thinks that this is inevitable now and perhaps the PR would be better should they volunteer to change rather than being forced into changing.

I wrote two years ago that I would miss Wahoo, but I understood why the time had come.
I'm not as understanding this time, especially considering the Atlanta Braves haven't really been touched yet for a team that plays a war chant and sells Tomahawks to their fans, but honestly, I'm just tired of hearing it.

I know that giving in and giving protesters what they want is like giving the toddler throwing a tantrum their toy, but now inevitability has set in.
The name is going to be changed, it is now a matter of time and what name will be chosen as the new nickname.
I'm OK with Spiders, the original team name and some have offered Buckeyes for the Cleveland entry in the Negro Leagues, but I wonder if Ohio State might have something to say about that one.
Many people, usually from outside the area, keep saying Rockers, but that was the name of the failed WNBA team and I just don't think that it fits.
I haven't anything I really love yet, but I'm sure they'll be picking something awful!

I'm sure that I'll have more to say about this as the situation continues.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Boxing Challenge: Pedraza defeats LesPierre-No replay needed

Photo Credit; Mikey Williams Top Rank
The Vegas Bubble continued with the boxing challenge with two bouts with a former champion trying to maintain viability and an Olympic champion attempting to avenge a defeat to move onward and upward in his career.

Former IBF junior lightweight and WBO lightweight champion Jose Pedraza dominated Mikkel LesPierre in their junior welterweight fight that was delayed by a few weeks and won an easy unanimous decision in the main event.
Pedraza used an ambidextrous style to befuddle LesPierre throughout the bout and it seemed like his right hand couldn't' miss LesPierre as it seemed to land whenever Pedraza pleased.
Pedraza knocked down LesPierre in the fifth and tenth rounds and almost finished LesPierre off for the stoppage in the final round.
I scored Pedraza a 99-89 winner on my card, but there was a small bit of controversy before the sixth round as a LesPierre knockdown was looked at via instant replay.
The replay look is fine, in my opinion, there is plenty of room for boxing to improve from referee errors, but referee Kenny Bayliss left the ring to look at the replay and it took several minutes to see that LesPierre tripped Pedraza for the knockdown and invalidating it.
It was close and there was contact between the two, but LesPierre did land a punch so I would have counted it, but it was nothing to be enraged over.
However, leaving the ring to look at the video and slowing the fight down seems very clunky to me and the system shouldn't take that long.
Now, I do think the fighters need to be notified ASAP on the points situation in these matters, but I'd like to offer a better way.
What if there was a fourth official in charge of only replay and the only changes that they can make are knockdowns (to reverse both called and not called in the ring) and on cuts in order to determine if they were from a punch or from illegal contact?
Then you add one more stipulation- you have no more than one round to make a determinatiom.
By adding that time limit, the fighters know their situation on the cards as soon as they can and we move on.

Pedraza bounced back from his September defeat to Jose Zepeda and I can see him as a solid back half of the top ten fighter in the 140 pound division, which is a very top-heavy division.
I can see Pedraza in the mix for a 2021 title fight against a possible four belt unification winner of a Jose Ramirez-Josh Taylor fight or maybe in the scramble for any of the titles that could be vacated by the winner, but he's 0-3 against top of the division fighters and his best win is over an aging Ray Beltran, so I'm not sure that I'm buying stock long term.
However, should the chips falling in the right place against the right style, Pedraza could walk away with a title belt.

In the other challenge fight, two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez avenged his career opening decision loss to Adan Gonzales via unanimous decision in a six rounder.
Ramirez was far better prepared for the rematch and forced Gonzales to back up with a strong performance that only lacked a knockout to showcase the Cuban's skills in winning all six rounds.
Ramirez makes me think of the type of boxer that will need to be motivated to be successful and might be a fighter that will win some fights when he could be written off, but also could lose some fights that he'll be favored because he may not take everything seriously.
Zab Judah was often in that mode as was fellow Cuban Joel Casamayor and the enigmatic careers that each of them had might cost them potential spots in the boxing hall of fame.

Ramon Malpica added four points on the evening to my three and cut my lead to seven points at 65-58 with an extra point for Robiesy Ramirez and his decision win made the difference.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Boxing Challenge: Saucedo wins in ring return

Another rather brief recap due to time constraints on the Tuesday Top Rank card...

In the main event, junior welterweight Alex Saucedo won via a unanimous decision over Sonny Frederickson.
Saucedo had fought only one round (a blowout over Rod Salka) since his unsuccessful WBO title challenge to Maurice Hooker in November 2018.
The exciting Oklahoma slugger had his moments against Hooker (knocking Hooker down in round two), but had trouble getting inside of the longer reach of Hooker and vowed to change his style a bit.
I saw signs of some maturity and subtlety from Saucedo, who threw well over 800 punches in overwhelming a game, but limited Frederickson, but I'll reserve judgment on the final verdict when I see Saucedo against top ten competition before rendering it a success.
No knockdowns in this one, although Saucedo did hurt Frederickson in the first round with a right hand. I scored Saucedo a 99-91 winner which agreed with one judge.

The semi-main had more adventure outside the ring with the father and trainer of welterweight Josue Vargas leaving the bubble before the fight and not being allowed to re-enter for the bout.
His son won a unanimous decision over Sal Briceno (I scored 98-92) with Vargas losing two front teeth in the fourth round and a bad eye gash in the sixth.

Ramon Malpica and I each earned three points on the night in the boxing challenge on the evening.
I lead the challenge 62-54.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Goodbye MILB

The press release that we all knew was waiting finally was released yesterday as the 2020 minor league season was officially canceled.

While not unexpected, it still was a sad day to have things confirmed that there will be no baseball in most Mudville's for 2020.

And while today isn't the saddest day for me as that day is yet to come- when the Rob Manfred-led power play to eliminate 40 plus teams from the minors and depriving those teams fans even a chance to say goodbye is announced will be that day, it still has a degree of sadness to me.
You wait all winter during the worst months of the year (Jan, Feb, and March), battle through short days and cold nights, and wait out the darkness until the warmth begins to arrive with it the fun that comes with the baseball season.
And this year, I feel that fans all over the country have been cheated of that.

Not only the minors, but the majors too.
The players hearts aren't in this sham of a season and the excitement from the viewers won't be either.
I'm not paying for a MLB package for this "exhibition" (Ok, if its 20 bucks or so, maybe) and should I not do that, I may not watch much.
My teams aren't going to be televised often and I'm not watching the Orioles get beaten 10-1 every night by their rivals or listen to one of my least favorite announcers in sports (F.P. Santangelo) blither for the Nationals every night, so I may not be as involved.
MLB should do the right thing by allowing the blackout rules to be dropped and giveaway their Extra Innings and MLB.TV packages for the year.
It would be a small gesture of goodwill towards a fan base that is in desperate need of it.

There are many culprits to blame for killing what would have been the final season for Hagerstown baseball via Covid-19.
The WHO, China, countless people that are so reckless and stupid by not taking precautions around the country, and of course Donald John Trump, but most of all Rob Manfred, who has to be quite pleased with himself for being able to kill minor league baseball's leverage ( They were beginning to gain ground with Congress before Covid-19 arrived) and cannot wait to get his plan for the minors installed- a plan that was thought up by a man so disgraced that he was run out of the game, mind you.
I want to add a special tip of the cap not only to that gentleman but to his two former assistants who now run the Brewers and Orioles, who I hope will be as successful as a salesman selling snow blowers in the Caribbean in their current positions.

This is a sad day and the worst is yet to arrive.
But I'd like to add this on masking before I finish.
Please don't make this about political stances, toughness, the media, or even your belief.
It's about none of these.
It's about courtesy and teamwork.
Courtesy towards others that may not affect the person you contact, but it may affect the people that they contact.
I know you feel silly, I do too and I've joked that I feel like I'm the bad guy in an old Western film, but be safe.
I know it sucks breathing with it on after a while and I get all of that.
But we've lost so much in sports already-the Final Four and I'll believe that MLB, NBA, and NHL complete their seasons when they are on their fields of play raising their trophy, and even if they do it won't mean as much and will delay the start of the next season.
Football is next and professionals far higher on the medical chain than me have stated- You want football in the fall? Wear your mask and do what you need to do to kill the virus hygencially.

Don't want to do it for yourself or the people you care about and care about you or even your fellow man?
Do it for your team!
Want to see sports again with the excitement of fans?
Don't be selfish-wear the mask, at least around others.
It is the best chance to bring fun activities back, keep the spread down, and keep our essentials and workplaces open until the vaccine can be developed- hopefully affordably so!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Boxing Challenge

I'm posting these late because today was a busy day and I got Ramon's picks after I went to bed, so these are late but legal.

Jr. Welterweights. 10 Rds
Alex Saucedo vs Sonny Frederickson
R.L: Saucedo KO 9
TRS: Saucedo KO 5

Jr. Welterweights. 10 Rds
Sal Briceno vs Josue Vargas
Both: Vargas Unanimous Decision

Jr. Welterweights. 10 Rds
Jose Pedraza vs Mikkel LesPierre
Both; Pedraza Unanimous Decision

Featherweights. 6 Rds
Robeisy Ramirez vs Adan Gonzales
R.L: Ramirez Unanimous Decision
TRS: Ramirez KO 4

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Boxing Challenge:Berchelt stops Valenzuela

WBC junior lightweight champion Miguel Berchelt returned to action with a probe into the lightweight division in a non-title bout against veteran journeyman Eleazar Valenzuela in Mexico City.

The fight proceeded as expected with Berchelt winning each round before battering the sturdy trialhorse along the ropes in the sixth round to force the referee to wave the fight off.
Berchelt knocked down Valenzuela in the first round with a left hook that stunned Valenzuela but didn't severely hurt him enough to endanger the stopping of the fight then and there.
Berchelt steadily stripped Valenzuela of his defense over the next few rounds, holding him off with the jab and hitting Valenzuela with his right whenever he wanted before the final barrage to end the fight in the sixth.

Berchelt is expected to return to 130 pounds for his next fight against former WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez in what looks to be an interesting and action-filled fight.
I would rate Berchelt as a solid favorite, but not a prohibitive one.
Berchelt is the naturally bigger man, the heavier puncher, and his style with a 5 and a half inch reach advantage against a fighter that is going to have to come to him, makes him the deserved favorite.
Add to those points that Valdez didn't look that great in his last fight against late replacement Adam Lopez in being knocked down, behind after six (on my scorecard), and would benefit from a premature stoppage and you can understand why I'm picking Berchelt.
However, Valdez is a good puncher and Berchelt's one loss was via first-round knockout to Luis Flores in 2013, so a Valdez win can happen, but Flores was a rare fighter that is taller than Berchelt in the division and Berchelt clearly had problems dealing with that.
Oscar Valdez lacks those physical attributes, but I'm still looking forward to this fight in the fall!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Lottery talk- Devils pick seventh

The NHL Draft Lottery Friday night was fairly straight-forward- Avoid anything other than a total FUBAR and the night is a success.
After all, the prize involved would gain some awful team the right to select winger Alexis Lafreniere and unless one of those teams entered into the swollen Covid-19 postseason would win this, the evening would go fine.

AND considering this is an NHL/Gary Bettman production, FUBAR is what happened as the "Team to be named later" won the top overall pick and a potential franchise player in Lafreniere, the worst team in hockey by far (Detroit) fell out of the top three, and now until that team is determined most of the draft movement comes to halt.
The Red Wings, who finished the season with twenty-three fewer points than the thirtieth place Ottawa Senators, will pick fourth behind the TTBNL, Los Angeles, and Ottawa's pick acquired from San Jose.
The New Jersey Devils moved from sixth to seventh in the first round after the lottery and will wait for whatever comes out of the potential finish of the season to see where and if they will own Vancouver's and/or Arizona's first-rounders in this draft.
The NHL will now hold another lottery after the first round of their playoffs with the eight teams that lost in the opening round all entered in a winner take all pull for the top pick.

Awful as Gary Bettman seemingly isn't pleased with Rob Manfred making a big move to challenge Bettman as the worst commissioner in sports title.
The one outcome that didn't work for anyone and that is exactly what the NHL received.
This easily could have avoided with one simple tweak and a small dose of common sense,
Since the league expanded the playoffs this season due to Covid-19 with eight extra teams making the postseason, the easy fix was this- Since those eight teams are being given the opportunity in the playoffs as a special bonus under the circumstances, the 2020 lottery would only consist of the seven teams not in the postseason.
That plan would have been the even-handed way to decide for the season and giving one set of teams a chance to play extra hockey and the others to battle in the lottery.
Typical Bettman.

I'm not crazy about lotteries and that's not sour grapes either.
The Cavaliers have won four NBA lotteries with Cleveland selecting LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett, and Andrew Wiggins, and only in the LeBron James draft would Cleveland have picked first by the record.
The Devils have "Won" three times tabbing Adam Larsson when the lottery rules stated that the winner could jump no more than four spaces, so the Devils moved from eighth to fourth in that "win",
Nico Hischier, and Jack Hughes, so this isn't a "poor my team" complaint.
New Jersey would never have picked first in a draft order decided by lottery to this date.

It's hard to keep fans interested in rotten teams.
It's next to impossible to do so when the type of talent that can be franchise foundations are lost because of a process.
I will use both the Cavaliers and the Devils as examples.
Both teams have struggles signing elite free agents, Cleveland as a cold location and with lesser nightlife and New Jersey does have the nearby "Big Apple", but if that's important to a player, he's more likely to sign with the Rangers anyway.

If your team is bad, they will need to rebuild in the draft and for fans, the one thread to look forward when they are getting drilled every night is that the team will have a chance to draft players that can turn the tide.
Your reward for that is lottery placement with both leagues giving the worst teams lesser odds than they would deserve strictly by their record and having better odds of dropping spots than retaining your spot.
The Detroit Red Wings had a better chance of dropping three spots then they did than to stay in the top three and they had the worst record!

The usual retort is- "this keeps teams from tanking, they'll try to be competitive, and it won't hurt attendance/fan interest as much as tanking will".
A: I'm not sure this prevents tanking as much as the league would like to think.
B: General Rule: Bad teams are bad teams and the way they stay bad is trading assets for players to move a 25 win team to a 30 win team.
C: Few things deflate a fan base more than sitting through a 22-60 (NBA) season, thinking you are going to at least land a top two or three pick at worst, and then slide to "Browns Land" where you spend more money on a player than most of the leagues, yet has a high likelihood of not being an impact player.

How so? Look at the Cavaliers.
By record alone- Cleveland would have had the second pick in the draft, which clearly would have been Ja Morant, the explosive point guard from Murray State.
By record, Memphis and New Orleans, who won the top pick and Zion Williamson, would have picked either sixth, seventh, or eighth as the two teams and Dallas all finished with the same record.
Morant is a foundational player and in his rookie season, averaged 17.6 points and 6.9 assists per game for a Memphis team that won 33 games in the season before his arrival and at the time of the COVID freeze, had won 32 games with 17 games to play with Morant as the only key player that the Grizzlies added from the previous season.

Cleveland fell to fifth and drafted Darius Garland, also a point guard, from Vanderbilt.
Garland is averaging 12.3 points and 3.9 assists a night and the Cavaliers are wondering if Garland is part of their long-term program already.
To be fair, some of those questions are because the Cavaliers foolishly picked Garland one year after taking Collin Sexton in the first round, giving the Cavaliers two players that need the ball to be effective, are below-average defensively to be kind and are smaller guards, which is why I preferred Jarrett Culver (taken sixth) to Garland as a positional fit.
Either way, Cleveland lost a player that you build franchises around and gained what could be a nice player, but is unlikely to be a franchise standout.
Tell me how excited Cleveland's fans were to suffer through a nineteen win season that deserved a franchise player and instead you were drafting at five?
Not going to make you run out and buy tickets, huh?
Garland, by the three various analytical standards (WinShares, VORP, and Real Plus-Minus), was named as the worst player in the league by their measurements.
I'm not saying Garland's a bust, but he will have to raise his game a bit and I think that's more likely than not to occur, even if Garland doesn't turn out as a top-five selection level player.
The NBA lottery will take place on August 25th with the Cavaliers owning for the second consecutive year an equal chance at the top pick with two other teams at 14 percent and a 40 percent chance of winding up in the top three.
By record, Cleveland would pick either second or third as a tiebreaker would have to take place to decide the order as they tied with Minnesota for that slot.

The Devils finished with the league's third-worst record when they won the Jack Hughes lottery, so I don't feel that bad about the one, but they jumped from fifth to one in the 2017 draft that resulted in Nico Hischier, which is a little worse.
Hockey is a little different than basketball as one player can make a difference, but rarely does a draftee take a team to the playoffs even with the elite players such as Connor McDavid.
McDavid's as good as they come, but the Edmonton Oilers made the playoffs only once in his first four seasons.

In the end, the lottery is very similar to hockey's shootout- it's an exciting, but flawed and unfair way to decide who wins a game or how talent is allocated.
I think the lotteries should be weighted more towards the top three or four teams, but it could take a few years of craziness every year with lower teams odds gaining the top picks before any changes will be made.
Change only comes over time in these cases.

The NBA lottery will take place on August 25th and the draft has been moved to October 16th.