Thursday, June 30, 2016

Podcast:Cavaliers,Taylor Hall,Buddy Ryan and more!

The podcast returns with the Cleveland title experience,the fun to watch Hagerstown Suns,the passing of Buddy Ryan,more on the Devils trading for Taylor Hall and a big announcement!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Devils acquire Taylor Hall!!!

We just discussed the minor trade that the New Jersey Devils made at the draft with the Pittsburgh Penguins for Beau Bennett,but little did I know that Ray Shero had a bomb to drop and that it would be a huge one as the Devils traded Adam Larsson to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for former first overall pick Taylor Hall.

The one for one trade is very rare in all sports,but especially in hockey.
Taylor Hall is a talented 24 year old left wing that as noted was the first pick in the 2010 draft.
Hall scored 132 goals in his six NHL seasons and two of those have been shortened by injury,so this is an impact scorer and I'd go as far to rank Hall as one of the top five left wings in the game.
Hall scored 29 goals last season with 36 assists and possesses the type of offensive game that makes plays around the net.
Taylor Hall is the type of offensive talent that the Devils haven't had since the days of Zach Parise and arguably ever.
Does that sound like hyperbole?
Perhaps,but Taylor Hall is the type of talent that Devils fans have craved-as in the type of talent that make losing worth losing to add special types of players.

As you can imagine,landing a player such as Taylor Hall does not come cheap and it didn't as the cost was Adam Larsson,the Devils top young defenseman,coming off his best year as a Devil.
Larsson was just starting to put his game together after a rough start under former Devils coach Peter DeBoer and was showing signs of being a top notch defender.
Adam Larsson will certainly be missed in New Jersey.

It seems that the vast majority of commenters and columnists online are calling this trade a clear win for the NJD,with one writing that "this may be the most one sided one for one trade of all time".
Now I don't know if I'd go that far,but I do see the Devils the clear winner of this deal and that's coming from someone that is a big fan of Adam Larsson's game.
The Devils have suddenly upgraded their offense considerably with Taylor Hall and Hall is signed for the next five years at an extremely team friendly contract (6 million per year).
This does hinder the defense a bit as younger defenseman as Damon Severson,Jon Merrill Steve Santini etc are going to have to pick up their game and one might have to emerge even higher than expected to reach the level of Larsson to hope to fill the void left by the trade.

I'll miss Adam Larsson,but the New Jersey Devils and Ray Shero made themselves one great trade today.
Our Devils just became a much more fun team to watch today!!!

Road Trip-Oakmont and the U.S.Open

Now that we have caught up with various news items (and didn't it take up enough time?),I'm going to start chipping away on my four day road trip.

The start came on a Thursday before my weekend trip with Ryan as I attended my first golf tournament with my friend Bruce Begole.
I had never done golf and I wanted to give it a try.
Bruce is a great guy and over the winter had bought us tickets for the U.S.Open at Oakmont near Pittsburgh.
I reimbursed Bruce of course and brought some stuff to hopefully get signed.
I didn't bring lots of stuff because I had been warned by Bruce that the usual briefcase would not be allowed,but with all the walking involved,it wouldn't be a good idea even if it was allowed.

If you travel on the Western part of the extortion that is also known as the Pennsylvania Turnpike ,you should have passed under part of the Oakmont Country Club and if you are traveling East,you can even see the grandstands on the 18th green (more on that when I get around to day four).
Bruce and I had an enjoyable trip until reaching our "shuttle bus" located at the Pittsburgh Mills Mall.
It was only when arriving there,that the disorganization began to be clear.
I was surprised since Oakmont has the Open roughly once a decade,one would think that they would have a grip on what it takes to run a tournament.

After waiting in line for security checks,I was informed that my kindle wasn't allowed through security.
Cell phones were OK,but the kindle wasn't.
It wasn't that big of a deal,but what it did do was take away any chance of pictures of my day.
Bruce being in far better shape than I volunteered to run it back to the car,which of course was located on the other side of the mall.
After we waded through that without issue,we had a decent length school bus ride that seemed a lot longer on the way than the way back before arriving at Oakmont..

You actually cross over a walking bridge at Oakmont,so you literally are above the Pa.Turnpike!
I'll never look at that bridge in the same way again,that's for sure!
The course involved lots of walking,which wasn't great for a fat man with a bad wheel limping around,but we wound our way around before a huge rainstorm stopped play and turned the place into a mud pit.
Bruce and I did get to see some of the golfers walk by us,close enough to touch.
We didn't ask them to sign anything because they were still in playing mode due to the delay,but it was still neat to see them up close in person-most notably Jordan Speith,Rory McElroy and Bubba Watson.
We also were able to see the Stanley Cup in person,with Bruce diving forward to get a finger on the Cup.
I would have,but I didn't think of it until it was just by me,but it was still very neat to be that close to the Cup.
Bruce got his picture taken with Phil Kessel of the Penguins and we saw many members of the team walking by often to the clubhouse for beer refills!

We tried various way of access,but the tournament still hadn't moved on,but I saw huge storm clouds on their way and since by this point,I wasn't moving very quickly,I left Bruce to look for graphs as I moved towards the front of the facility to get a head start.
I reached the front and suddenly the skies opened for about an hour of one of the most torrential downpours I've ever seen.
I managed to duck inside a hospitality tent and found myself standing next to Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari.

Finally,Bruce showed in the middle of this godawful mess and as it continued to pour,we dodged into the merchandise tent for even more rain to the point of feeling like the tent was going to collapse.
The rain kept falling and we decided to traverse a small stream (literally) to try to get to the parking lot for another lovely shuttle bus.
Problem was we were walking uphill through inches of water flowing back at us!
It was quite a grind and then due to more of the poorly organized bus issues,we had a huge wait and the bus loading filled with people that didn't want to wait their turn.

Soaked,hurting and tired,we finally returned to the car,where Bruce took pity on me (I really am old and out of shape) and picked me up rather than having me wobble across another parking lot.
The ride home was great and Bruce apologized for having a bad first time experience with golf.
I laughed because despite the pain,the company was good and it was still fun creating memories.

I'll have more soon on the next three days with Ryan,but the passing of Buddy Ryan has to be written and with luck,I'll have a podcast (I've been promising) on Buddy,the Cavaliers,the Hagerstown Suns and more.
It's a planned ThoughtsofRS with more than you can take of R.S.!!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Devils acquire Beau Bennett

I forgot to add a quick look at the one veteran player that the New Jersey Devils added during the draft and thought that I would drop a few sentences now.

I won't be adding anything on the Devils second day of picks because as noted before,I don't claim to be an expert of the amateur hockey scene,but I find the trade of one of the Devils third rounders to the Pittsburgh Penguins for right winger Beau Bennett to be of interest.

Bennett,who turns 25 in November, scored six goals in 33 games in Pittsburgh and was a former first round pick by the Penguins in 2010
When you consider that draft was run by none other than Ray Shero,you can see why Bennett is being given a second chance in New Jersey.
Bennett is reported to have excellent hands and a quick release on his shot and when combined with pretty good size (6'2 195),you'd think that he'd be a keeper in Pittsburgh.

Well,Pittsburgh is having cap issues and the Devils like last season with Kyle Palmieri were able to take advantage of someone's issues to take a chance at a discounted rate,but there is one problem with Beau Bennett.
He simply cannot stay healthy and in the lineup to the point of never playing more than 44 games in a season.
Which is why a talented and young player such as Bennett is available for the cost of a third round pick.
New Jersey held three picks in the round and when you have multiple picks,a deal like this can arise ,be worth the gamble and not hurt you,if it doesn't pay off.
Ray Shero knows the organization better than anyone,so I'm OK with the risk and hope it pays off in anywhere near the way the Kyle Palmieri trade did for the Devils...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Boxing Challenge-Thurman rallies past Porter,Joshua stops Breazeale

The boxing challenge saw R.L.Malpica and I each score three points over the weekend and make the total for the year 76-63.

The PBC made its debut on CBS and I thought it was a pretty strong one as Keith Thurman rallied late in the fight to earn a unanimous decision over Shawn Porter to retain his WBA welterweight title.
All three judges scored Thurman a 115-113 winner,which was identical to my score,which Thurman won the final three rounds to earn the win on the TRS card.
Porter cut Thurman above the eye and then slowed in his attack and allowed Thurman to get back into the fight.
The bout was pretty action-friendly and I wouldn't be against an eventual rematch,but I'd like to see each man take another fight or two before a rematch.
I'd love to see Thurman unify vs WBC champ Danny Garcia (Both being with PBC,this should be easy enough to make) and Porter could have a mandated rematch if he could beat David Avenasayan and that to me looks like a excellent network level card.
Thurman's win was less than popular with the live crowd and I have a theory on that.
Keith Thurman gives a lot of answers that appear programmed and some fans have a negative opinion of Thurman because of that.
He comes across a bit plastic and when he wins a close fight,there is some blowback-Just a theory.

I was very impressed with junior middleweight Jarrett Hurd,who stopped Oscar Molina in the tenth to open the CBS card.
Hurd lost only one round on my card and set the tone in the first as he dropped Molina with an uppercut.
The stoppage seems a bit premature for my taste,but Molina wasn't winning this bout anyway,so I wouldn't feel too bad about the end of the bout.
Hurd looks to be a promising prospect and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him.

On Showtime-Anthony Joshua defended his IBF heavyweight title for the first time with a seventh round knockout of a gutsy Dominic Breazeale.
Joshua hurt Breazeale in the second ,but couldn't finish him off until the seventh,when he dropped the American twice before the end of the bout.
Breazeale was more competitive than I thought.but I had Joshua winning every round.
Joshua has the talented Joseph Parker of New Zealand as a mandatory contender,but it's unknown if Joshua will have an optional defense before a Parker bout.

The co-feature was not televised in the US,but was on the boxing challenge as George Groves defeated Martin Murray by unanimous decision to win the Yaqui Lopez award for most title shots without a win (just kidding),but more importantly earn another title shot against one of the WBA champs at 168 as the WBA still is trying to clean their mess of multiple champions in each division up.
Reports were that it was a fun fight to watch,but I was unable to watch as of this writing...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Devils tab Michael McLeod

The New Jersey Devils trade down one spot from 11 to 12 (adding a third rounder) with the Ottawa Senators and wound up selecting Michael McLeod from the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League.

The 18 year old center finished last season with 21 goals and 40 assists and is considered to be a plus skater.
McLeod is 6'2,185 and the team wants him to gain 10-15 pounds to add some strength to his body and therefore his game.
McLeod is also thought to possibly have a future at right wing and drew comparisons to Ryan Kesler and the Devils own Travis Zajac.

I don't claim to know the hockey draft in nearly the same manner as the football and basketball drafts,but I really liked the burly 6'6 center Logan Brown,who was on the board from the Devils point of view,but was selected by Ottawa after the trade.
I have a feeling that for the next years,Devils fans will be keeping an eye on Brown to compare his prospect status with that of McLeod.

There's more on McLeod and how the pick affects the Devils over at All about the Jersey here....

Friday, June 24, 2016

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge continues with four fights Saturday and in a rarity,fun fights on paper to watch...

Saturday afternoon from London,Anthony Joshua makes his first defense of his IBF heavyweight title against American (and PBC) Dominic Breazeale.
Breazeale is tailor-made for the power hitting Brit as in his last two won an undeserved decision over Fred Kassi and was dropped and losing before Amir Mansour was forced to surrender due to a broken jaw.
Still,seeing Joshua fight is always fun and this should be spectacular.
The fight can be seen live on Showtime at 5:00.

No word on if the co-feature will be televised,but it should be a good one as two near-champions face off in an all-UK 168 pound title eliminator as George Groves meets Martin Murray.
Groves lost to Carl Froch in two title shots before a split decision loss to Badou Jack,while Murray drew with Felix Sturm (I had Murray a clear winner),a close loss to Sergio Martinez (dropped Martinez,I had Martinez ahead by a point),gave Gennady Golovkin his toughest bout before being stopped and lost a split nod to Arthur Abraham.
I'm hoping Showtime has it,but I have no idea if they will....

On CBS,the WBA welterweight title is on the line as Keith Thurman defends against Shawn Porter.
The undefeated Thurman,who I have been critical of in the past,against the once beaten former IBF champ is one of the better fights that can be made in the division.
Thurman,who's nickname is a deceiving "One Time" will likely box more in this one against the pressure of Porter.
The undercard features a junior middleweight battle between Jarrett Hurd and Oscar Molina as a late replacement for a better featherweight bout between Jesus Cuellar and Abner Mares,when Mares could not pass the vision part of the standard physical.
I lead R.L.Malpica 73-60.

WBA Welterweight title.12 rds
Keith Thurman vs Shawn Porter
R.L:Porter split winner
TRS:Porter unanimous winner

Jr,Middleweights,10 rds
Jarrett Hurd vs Oscar Molina
Both:Hurd unanimous winner

IBF Heavyweight title.12 rds
Anthony Joshua vs Dominic Breazeale
R.L:Joshua KO 3
TRS:Joshua KO 2

Super Middleweights.12 rds
George Groves vs Martin Murray
R.L:Murray unanimous winner
TRS;Murray split winner