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Sunday, May 24, 2015

DeGale decisions Dirrell and Boxing Challenge

On another less than fun PBC card on NBC,the main event was at least interesting as Great Britain's James DeGale invaded both America and the PBC and claimed the vacant IBF Super Middleweight title with a unanimous decision over Andre Dirrell.

DeGale dropped Dirrell twice in the second round and built a commanding early lead on the scorecards before giving several round away on the scorecards before rallying to win the final two rounds of the fight to put things away.
The two knockdowns made the difference as two of the cards would have ended in a draw without them
I scored the bout 7-5 in rounds for DeGale,but 115-111 on points with the second round a 10-7 round for the winner.

The remainder of the fights were nothing worth mentioning-two one sided beatdowns and a premature referee stoppage,but the DeGale win saw a non-PBC fighter defeat one and another super middleweight title will be on the line soon in a similar manner as WBC champion (and PBC fighter) Badou Jack will defend against mandatory challenger (and non-PBC fighter) George Groves of Great Britain.
Some of you may remember Groves from his two losses to Carl Froch and Groves is the only fighter to defeat James DeGale,so I'd make Groves the favorite to hand the PBC another defeat.

Sometimes it might seem like I'm anti-PBC and I often root against their fighters in situations like this,but I'm really not.
There are lots of things that a league-like setup like PBC could do well and would be good for boxing.
The biggest problem that I see is that nothing has changed with Al Haymon from his days working with HBO and later Showtime to the current PBC-he protects his fighters so well that you never get the best fighting the best.
PBC promoted their upcoming cards and other than an interesting Adrien Broner vs Shawn Porter bout,the rest is pure crap.
Amir Khan vs Chris Algeri? Keith Thurman vs Luis Collazo?
Khan vs Thurman would be a fun and even fight,but instead you get the PBC version of "squash matches".
Al Haymon is missing the one thing that boxing needs most even with the best exposure-good fights from the best in the sport.

I took a one point lead at 54-53 over R.L.Malpica with the DeGale win.
I earned one point as I picked DeGale via a majority decision,while R.L. chose Dirrell to be a unanimous victor

Saturday, May 23, 2015

No Kyrie? No Problem! Cavs cruise over Atlanta in Game 2!

Entering the second game of the Eastern Conference Finals,the Cleveland Cavaliers seemed set for a down outing.
Considering the loss of Kyrie Irving for the evening (if not more) with tendinitis in his knee,the Cavaliers were the underdogs in Atlanta against the Hawks.
LeBron James had other ideas as the King scored 30 points and added 11 assists to go with 9 rebounds and the result was a easier than the score looks 94-82 win.
Iman Shumpert was the second high scorer with 16 for the Cavaliers,who now lead the series 2-0 with game three Sunday night in Cleveland.


1) LeBron James showed why he is such a versatile player once again as he was the key ballhandler in the absence of Kyrie Irving.
James and the "point forward" position kept the ball moving and as a result was able to perform well without Irving...

2) Iman Shumpert was the supporting cast member that stood out on this night.
Shumpert,who is more known for his defensive prowess,hit four three pointers and was the outside threat that Cleveland needed in this game.

3) 16 rebounds for Tristan Thompson,who has been the bully in the first two games.
Thompson has been the one player that Atlanta has been unable to do anything with and it's the play of Thompson that has been most vital in cleaning up>

4) The Cavaliers have been forced to become more of a drive to the basket and throw it back to the open shooter.
LeBron James brings that respect to the table,but the capability of Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson to hit from close range has enabled the Hawks to double down inside and leave the open man.
For two games the Cavaliers have been capable enough to take advantage..

5) The win now makes me think of this possibility,if (and it's a big if) Cleveland can take this in the next two games without Kyrie Irving,the gimpy knee could have a total of 15 days of rest.
That would go a long way in getting Irving back for the winner of the Golden State-Houston series in the West....

Friday, May 22, 2015

Cleaning out the inbox

Time for another cleaning of the inbox as things begin to pile up!

We start with a really cool article from It's about the money about Clark Field,which was the home of the Texas Longhorn baseball team until 1974.
I never knew the story,but the field had a literal cliff in centerfield that the left fielder has to scramble up to flag down flyballs in the field of play!
1974 is over 40 years ago,but it seems like even then,a field like that should have been long gone.
Clark Field no longer exists having been taken over by a UT fine arts center.
There aren't many pictures of Ol' Clark,but there is a great article from Texas Monthly from the year that the Horns left the stadium with a few stories about the field!

SBNation has a terrific article on the former Atlanta Braves pitching coach/savant Leo Mazzone,who had so much success in Atlanta,but failed in a brief stint in Baltimore and has been unemployed ever since.
I am back and forth on Mazzone,who was extremely successful in rehabbing careers that had faded elsewhere,but it's also a bit easier to succeed when you have three hall of famers in your rotation as well.
I like Mazzone's philosophy and would be interested to see how it would play in today's game.

Hardball Times has some thoughts on the town of New Britain CT and how a baseball town deals with their team preparing to leave as the AA New Britain Rock Cats will be moving to Hartford for the 2016 season.
I am hoping to be able to get to New Britain for a game this season to add them to the stadium list,but this makes me wonder how it would play out,if Bruce Quinn ever got his way for the Hagerstown Suns...

The Guardian writes about the last major pro sports team to go under in the Cleveland Barons.
The article discusses the bad performance on the ice by the Barons,but also looks deeper than usual into the financial aspect of not just the Barons,but the NHL in general in the 1970's...

ESPN's 30 for 30 series has an online version of "Shorts" with films of 10 to 15 minutes and Colin Hanks (son of Tom) has just released one on the Giants Crazy Crab,who was the mascot to be hated in 1984.
My favorite Crab moment came years later when they rolled him out for the last night at Candlestick Park,had him in a Dodger jersey and expressed his undying love for Tommy Lasorda!

Grantland writes about the problems that David Beaty will have at one of the toughest places to win at in college football-the university of Kansas.
Kansas is a hard place to win at,but it can be done-look at their neighbor in Kansas State,but it is more about getting the right coach as Bill Snyder has shown....

Grantland finishes this edition on the final show of David Letterman.
I've written about Dave before and might discuss him on the next podcast or even write some more,but trust me-Dave will be missed....

Back tomorrow with the Cavaliers and Hawks game two

Thursday, May 21, 2015

He's on fire! J.R. Smith leads Cavaliers to Game one win over Atlanta!

J.R.Smith nailed eight three pointers on his way to a 28 point night to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 97-89 win over the Atlanta Hawks in the first game of the Eastern Conference finals in Atlanta.
LeBron James led the Cavaliers with 31 points on the evening,but this night belonged to the mercurial Smith and his lazer-like shooting from beyond the three point arc....
Cleveland will remain in Atlanta for game two Friday night....


1) J.R.Smith looked like the second coming of one of my all-time favorites in World B.Free in this one.
Smith was raining threes and they weren't uncontested jumpers either!
Smith had defenders on him and he was still drilling them!
It reminded me of the old NBA Jam video game,where a hot shooter would literally fire up a flame filled basketball from anywhere on the floor and nail the shot with the frenetic announcer screaming HE"S ON FIRE!.
It's a lot to ask to have Smith do that again,but if the Cavaliers can get anything approaching that play...

2) Just your typical LeBron James game (31 pts 8 boards and 6 assists),but the standout to me was that the Hawks were more often than not trying to guard him with Paul Millsap not DeMarre Carroll as expected.
Carroll would get injured in the second half,but if this series comes down to Millsap trying to guard LeBron James-the Cavaliers are headed to the finals....

3) Tristan Thompson is headed for a big payday this off-season,if not from Cleveland from someone else.
Thompson put up a 14 and 10 night and continues the maturation process.
Thompson can be kept if the Cavaliers wish,but keeping him would have been much less costly under the cap had the Cavaliers not foolishly signed the hustling but perpetually injured Anderson Varejao to a long term deal.
It is that deal that will be most harmful to the Cavaliers cap future...

4) Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov rotated at center,with Thompson playing power forward when the two was on the floor.
Cleveland didn't put Kendrick Perkins on the floor at all-a problem?
No.Perkins is more of a bruiser and the Hawks strike me as much more of a finesse' team.
I look for Cleveland to play seven or eight men tops in each game and I think Atlanta will do the same...

5) Kyrie Irving aggravated his bad knee on a third quarter drive and did not return.
Irving finished with ten points and clearly isn't himself,but the often-dinged up Irving is fighting through the pain and one has to give him credit for that.

6) I intended a preview of the series that I didn't have time to do,but Cavaliers in six.
I like the Hawks being a well balanced team patterned after the Spurs,but the Hawks don't have Tony Parker,let alone a Tim Duncan and as long as the Cavaliers can avoid foul issues or  heaven forbid another injury,despite the Hawks better record,Cleveland is the more talented team...


On Sunday,I did the pregame in Frederick for the Keys against the Potomac Nationals with my good friend Mike Oravec and agreed to grab a bite for lunch before the game.
I'll add the results of the graphing in a future on the signing front,but someone (I don't remember who) had mentioned before that day that Frederick had recently opened a Smashburger franchise.
Mike and I quickly agreed that Smashburger would be the home for lunch to give them a try,

I had never heard of Smashburger
before hockey season when suddenly their commercials began to show up on Devils telecasts with one of the most obnoxious commercials in quite a while.

Smashburger keeps it pretty simple-burger,chicken,a few sides and a few desserts.
I chose the build your own burger,which has multiple options even down to the bun,which is pretty unusual.
I chose a multi-grain bun (See,I do try a little) with swiss cheese,pickle,light mayo,red onion and jalapeno and some Frank's red hot buffalo fries.
As an unabashed Frank's fan,usually anything that has their name on it gets a chance with me,so that was a layup!

The Smashburger gimmick is to take a meaty burger and smash/flatten it out making a thinner,longer burger instead of the more often fatter and rounder burger of most places with the more gourmet burger.
It was quite good and surprisingly juicy and I loved the fresh cut jalapenos similar to those at Five Guys!
The fries were thinner than I usually prefer,but the excellent cheese and seasoning carried the day with a solid basket of potatoes.

All and all,I highly recommend Smashburger and plan on taking the lovely Cherie on our next trip to Frederick.
In the end,think of the quality upscale burger of Five Guys meeting the thinner more angled burger of Steak and Shake and you have a pretty good burger at Smashburger.
Thanks to Mike Oravec for the company and the drive!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Just Missing History

I've had a hard time finding time to write over my three off days,but the good news is that I'll have some ideas that hopefully will make some interesting reading and I'll have a podcast that I hope to do from the road office this evening.

The most fun came Monday night at the Muni for what seemed to be another mundane night at the world's weariest baseball stadium with the Greensboro Grasshoppers in town.

One (or I) figured that this would be a very light crowd from a few reasons-the first is that the Sunday game featured free tickets if you brought your Antietam Cable bill,so the "We'll do anything cheap" crowd had just been to a Suns game and were unlikely to pay to return the next night.
The other is that one of the two best visiting team draws in the Pirate affiliated West Virginia Power had just left town and in return was the Greensboro Grasshoppers with a sparsely popular major league team in the Miami Marlins,not a recipe for large crowd especially on a Monday with school still in session.
Considering that,it was not surprise that the peak number for this gathering was a head count of around 150 according to my friend Denise and by the end of the game,I'd wager that the number had decreased to maybe 65.
I thought that I would have lots of fans to watch the game with-Fred and Michael Landucci were coming down for Tyler Kolek,the second overall pick in last years draft and a Greensboro righthander,but the ease of them getting Kolek to sign their items allowed to beat the rush (?) and head north and my usual teammate in Bill Cover said that he planned on just watching a few innings and motoring,so with the lovely Cherie and Rachel skipping this one,I looked to surprisingly be alone for most of this game.

On the mound for Hagerstown was a usually unremarkable righthander in Phillips Valdez,who had pitched well in his starts this season,but at 23,seemed to be a little old for the SAL level and not really looked at as a major prospect.
The game didn't seem unusual at first other than the Suns scored five runs off Michael Mader in the first inning and Mader is looked at as a prospect,so a mild surprise,but nothing eye-popping.
It wasn't until we were through four innings that I looked at the scorebook and realized that Valdez had retired all twelve batters that he had faced and Bill commented after three more Grasshopper outs in the fifth that he was going to leave,but didn't want to leave in the middle of a perfect game.
I groaned because usually that's the kiss of death as I teased Bill and sure enough Valdez walked Brian Schales and then plunked John Norwood to start the sixth.
As Bill winced with my reminder,Valdez struck out Ryan Aper and then retired the next two batters on flyballs,so the perfect game was gone,but the no-hitter was alive!

Valdez would then walk Arturo Rodriguez (remember that name) to start the seventh,but with a strikeout of K.J.Woods and two follow up grounders,the no-hitter was intact through seven innings of play.
Entering the eighth,Valdez was pulled for reaching the Washington organizational pitch limit,which I talked about at length recently on one of my podcasts,so I won't get into my opinion on that other than special circumstances should be a consideration on nights like this.
Really,how many times are the Phillips Valdezes of the world going to have opportunities to toss no-hitters after all?

Justin Amlung ambled into the game for the 8th.
Amlung,a recent Washington signee after being released from the Cubs.retired all three batters in the eighth,two of them via the K in continuing the no-no.
By now,the anticipation among the double digit crowd was high and Bill and I moved down to the right field line as we always do in order to get players coming off the field (I would get Amlung on his 2013 Kane County card after the game).

Amlung would retire the first batter,Mason Davis on a grounder to second and popped up the second batter in 19 year old Rony Cabrera to first base before facing Arturo Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was hitting well over .300,but as a 23 year old seemed a little old for the league.
I looked him up before the game (he has no cards) and he spent last year in the Mexican League,which is of AAA caliber and hit .373 and 15 homers in only 87 games!
What in the name of Andres Mora is this guy doing in the Sally league?
Amlung got off to a 1-2 count on Rodriguez and then made the fatal error.
Instead using the count to get Rodriguez to swing on a waste pitch,he threw a strike that Rodriguez smacked out of the reach of a running Jeff Gardner for a double and the only Greensboro hit of the game.
Amlung then struck out K.J. Woods to end the game as a one hitter.

What might have been for those of us there,but still plenty of memories and stories to tell for those of us in attendance!

I plan on being from the road office tonight with another post and perhaps this weeks podcast,so stay tuned!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Boxing Challenge-Golovkin and Gonzalez crush opposition

The boxing challenge rolled on with HBO showing two stars of the sport in spectacular wins.
I didn't have time to post the predictions,but R.L.Malpica and I each earned four points on the evening to keep the challenge tied-this time at 53.
We each picked the winners to win by KO,but neither of us nailed the correct round for any bonus points

In the main event,Gennady Golovkin retained his WBA middleweight title with a sixth round knockout of Willie Monroe Jr.
Golovkin floored Monroe twice in the second round and looked to be ready to finish off Monroe in the third.
However,a surprising Monroe battled back and even landed a few nice punches over the next few rounds as the inevitable GGG breakdown occurred.
Golovkin finished Monroe in the sixth with a knockdown that Monroe barely beat the count on and Monroe then mumbled an honorable surrender to the battle.
Another knockout for Golovkin in increasing his knockout streak to twenty in a row and give full credit for the outgunned Monroe,who fared better than expected and showed lots of grit by surviving the second round,when he could have easily packed it and collected his paycheck then without dishonor.
Golovkin of course is still looking for a big name opponent,which he is unlikely to find.
WBC champion Miguel Cotto has made a career of ducking Golovkin,Canelo Alvarez would fight GGG,but as the last huge cash cow of Golden Boy Promotions,his promoters are in no hurry to sacrifice him,Andre Ward talks a big game at 168,but is tediously dull and rarely fights and Floyd Mayweather would rather appear on a Hee Haw remake square dancing with Bob Arum than fight this man
Golovkin will likely fight another top 20 level fighter in August or September as he continues to clean out the division before maybe a bout against the winner of the vacant IBF title fight between David Lemieux and Hassan N'Dam.
Lemieux would bring an exciting fight and Golden Boy might sacrifice Lemieux to test Golovkin before a Canelo Alvarez fight,assuming that Alvarez would get by Miguel Cotto.

As impressive as was Gennady Golovkin,the big winner of the night might have been WBC flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez,who made his mainstream American debut with a two round destruction of Edgar Sosa in just two rounds.
We wrote about Gonzalez last year being the best fighter that you've never heard of  and hopefully after this win,he'll begin to be known with HBO investing some coin in the flyweights to boot.
Sosa was not a scrub brought in to put a shine on Gonzalez (a light flyweight champion of 10 defenses at one time),but it was clear early that Sosa had zero chance of holding off Gonzalez,who smoothly closed the show in the second round with three knockdowns.
Gonzalez has several exciting fights that could be made-foremost a rematch with WBA/WBO 112 pound champion Juan Francisco Estrada,who gave Gonzalez the closest fight of his career in a light flyweight defense in an exciting 12 round decision.
I think HBO would buy that and looks like both fighters would be willing.Another option would another unification against IBF champ Amnat Ruenroung or maybe the biggest bout of all-a move up to 115 pounds against the Japanese dynamo Naoya Inoue.
Roman Gonzalez might have started the road to being what HBO thought they were getting in Nonito Donaire-an exciting lower weight fighter with lots of fun fights to be made.

The fights may have been showcase bouts to a degree,but both fighters being showcased came to fight and took their opponents out,looking good in doing so.
That is a rare quality in boxing and makes both Gennady Golovkin and Roman Gonzalez must watch fighters....