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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Devils clip Columbus 2-0

In one of the most tedious games that I have watched in a long time,the New Jersey Devils used one
nice play and some solid goaltending to travel to the state capital of Ohio and clip the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-0.
Cory Schneider finished with 33 saves on the evening in net to lead New Jersey to the victory.
Andy Greene's first period goal (2) held up as the only goal of the game until Travis Zajac's empty netter (10) with thirty seconds to go in the matchup.
The Devils are now off until Tuesday when they host the Nashville Predators.

Hell Raisers

1) Before we begin with the recap of the game,please remember that the Devils next game is after the trade deadline.
It'll be interesting to see if the Devils are active players at the deadline,more likely as sellers than buyers although one never knows when it comes to Lou Lamoriello.
The main trading chip that you would think would be available in Jaromir Jagr is gone,but they might pick up a draft pick or two for Marek Zidlicky,the suddenly rejuvenated Jordin Tootoo or disgruntled veterans such as Michael Ryder or Martin Havlat.
I'm all for just about anything and that includes a major deal such something that would fetch a major return such as Andy Greene.
We'll see..

2) Cory Schneider was great in goal,maybe his best game all season.
Schneider stopped odd man rushes,one on ones,point blank shots and attempts to squeeze the puck by him.
Tremendous game by Schneider.

3) Andy Greene's shot over the shoulder of Curtis McIlhenney was a shot perfectly place,but the goal came off a nice pass from Patrik Elias that was preceded by a Greene pick and pass.
That's the type of play that would make Greene so desirable at the deadline to other teams and so difficult to deal away...

4) Other than that,this was a pretty dull game to watch.
The Devils didn't have a ton of chances,didn't have a lot of hits other than the Mark Fraser vs Jared Boll fight,this was a less than thrilling contest.

5) The Devils put just 17 shots on goal as they essentially needed just one shot to win.
Good thing that they got it....

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy died yesterday and tributes have been given all over the media.both professional and social.
Nimoy was 83 and passed away from COPD,which is a pulmonary diseases that usually is present in people that have at one time or currently smoke.
Nimoy spent much of his later life advising people not to smoke.

I'm not going to run Nimoy's total resume',many links have that available,although I was surprised to know that he directed the 80's hit Three Men and a Baby and was doing voice work even into the late stages of his life.
And of course,he was most known as Mr.Spock on Star Trek,which I'll write about later,but Nimoy took advantage of being known as Spock as Star Trek boomed in syndication,but before the films were made as the host of "In Search Of'",which as a child,I watched every week and learned about various investigations from the Lincoln assassination to Loch Ness monster and more.
Having Nimoy lent credibility to the audience that might be interested in the show and as a result exposed many young Trek fans to more learning,even if it was just from television.
In Search Of lasted six seasons and was quite groundbreaking for its time.

Nimoy also had a co-starring role in Mission Impossible after Star Trek and there was well,the singing.
Campy and not very good,but as my family could tell you-I listen to those "gems" all the time!
I just love stuff like that and Nimoy gave tons of "great" material with covers Gentle on my mind,Ruby, don't take your love to town and If I had a hammer among many.
Those songs,as bad as they were,imposed a human quality to Nimoy among his fans.
Between playing the cerebral Spock,the intelligence and the voice,I have always thought that the albums is what made Nimoy truly connect with fans as a person-flawed like the rest of us in a time when stars didn't always seem so normal.

And then there was Spock.
I would bet if you asked most fans of the original Star Trek series-Spock would overwhelmingly win a contest for most popular character.
In an era,where the main character in adventure shows were usually a swaggering yet charming womanizer that was a leader of men,Spock was different.
Spock showed that even when one tried to show indifference and be ruled by only the facts that humanity (he was half human) always will creep in somehow.
Fans loved the catch phrases that became part of pop culture to this day-"Fascinating","Highly Illogical" and of course "Live long and prosper" yet they brought a bit of wonderment and calmness that only when you think about them,one can see far more than just the detached words of the character.

Leonard Nimoy brought Spock to life and I then brought his Mego figure to life.
Star Trek was bigger in 70's syndication than it was in it's 60's NBC run and I had lots of Trek stuff,much of which either disappeared over the year from phaser games to communicator walkie talkies,but I still have my original figures and those spent lots of time playing until their eventual arrival (and better care on a shelf).
I was often a lonely little boy with limited friends and I learned quickly to play alone and be imaginative in how I played.
From a hot attic in order to play alone to a dirt pile at my parents cabin to imaginary environments in bedrooms in a house long torn down,my attachment to three shows from my childhood remain to this day-Wild Wild West,Batman and Star Trek and of all,Spock might be my favorite.
I was never going to be a James West or James Kirk,a strutting ladies man,but one could be a Spock-intellectual and insular personality.
That character spoke to me and made me a fan for life.
Thanks for the memories and to all the Star Trek fans,your memory will indeed-live long and prosper.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Devils rally falls short in 3-2 OT loss

The New Jersey Devils rallied from a two goal deficit to earn a point before a defensive breakdown resulted in a 4 on 2 rush against Cory Schneider and a Boston Bruins goal by Ryan Spooner for a 3-2 win for the visitors from snow central.
Travis Zajac (9 Power Play) and Jordin Tootoo (6) scored for New Jersey,who travels to Columbus for an unusual 5;00 start tomorrow night...

Hell Raisers

1) I've been critical of Devils fans and media deluding themselves about playoff viability and I stand by that,but the effort was there tonight.
Perhaps not the skill,but the effort especially in the third period was there.
Nice to see...

2) What wasn't so nice were the two breakdowns that cost the Devils this game.
Adam Larsson was lazy on a clear in the first that quickly found its way into the goal.
Just can't get that little on the puck when pressured in your own end.

3) The other came in overtime.A 4 on 2?
Patrik Elias and Martin Havlat crossed each other up and the result looked like the flying V from the Mighty Ducks.
You don't expect veterans to make plays like that...

4) Loved Jordin Tootoo's game tonight.
Put the goal aside,look at the hits and effort.
I wouldn't be surprised to see some interest in Tootoo at the trade deadline after his play of late...

5) We had to laugh when the game started and Steve Cangelosi referred to the Rock as "sold out and not a seat to be found" when there actually appeared to be more empty seats than people in the lower bowl.
Between stuff like this and the "push for the playoffs" make the announcers seem more like salesmen for the front office than commentators....

Browns sign Josh McCown

The Cleveland Browns "won" a bidding war with the Buffalo Bills and landed vagabond quarterback Josh McCown to a three year contract.
McCown,who was last seen leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the top pick in this year's draft,has played for six different teams and at 36 certainly cannot be looked at as the long term solution and maybe not even the short term solution.
McCown threw 11 touchdowns and 14 picks on a bad Buccaneer team that still had some nice targets to throw to in Vincent Jackson and their 2014 first rounder Mike Evans.

Josh McCown is mainly know for two things in his career-the first being the excellent run in Chicago in 2013 when Jay Cutler went down for the Bears.
McCown threw 13 touchdowns with just one interception and it was that stint that earned him the chance to start in Tampa Bay with the Buccaneers.
The other? His miracle throw on the last play of the game in the game pictured above (Don't you just love the classic Cardinals uniforms?) against the Vikings that knocked Minnesota out of the playoffs in the final game of the season.


This signing combined with the apparent disinterest in retaining Brian Hoyer makes me think that the Browns are going to draft another quarterback and likely in the first two days.
Ray Farmer has been reported on many occasions over the last year plus as being very enamored with Oregon's Marcus Mariota.
Would Farmer be willing to trade the teams two first rounders and likely more for Mariota?
Is it more likely the Browns draft someone in round two?
One reason that the Browns might have preferred the older McCown to Hoyer is the possibility that McCown would be better suited and more likely to accept the backup/mentoring role whether that is to Johnny Manziel,Connor Shaw,a drafted passer or Swagger the dog than Hoyer,who is in the prime years and wants to be the starter.

All and all,I think that the other shoe will have to drop.
I refuse to believe the Browns will enter 2015 with Josh McCown,Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw as their three quarterbacks.
Something has to be in the cards.
Josh McCown can be a very good backup and play well in short term action,but isn't a guy that one can depend on as a full time starter and isn't suited for it.
The next few months look very interesting in Cleveland.....


Cleaning out the inbox-sports edition

Time to clean out the inbox of the sports items,so we will start with another Grantland Unheralded Rivalry that to me personally might be the biggest in the game in Xavier-Cincinnati.

I've never had a hatred for the Bearcats and I even root for them at times,but I've always been a Xavier guy dating back to the days of Pete Gillen and especially his successor-the late Skip Prosser.
I know fans on each side would say "how could you ever root for the other"?
But it's not tough,even if clearly preferring Xavier.
I'd go as far as saying the Musketeers are my favorite team in college hoops over Ohio State.
I'm a Buckeye fan to the core,but I've always been against their stance of no in-state games especially when two programs of the caliber of Xavier and UC are available to play.
Considering that the rivalries I once was so passionate about are gone in the games (Maryland in the ACC),this clearly is the biggest game of the season to me.
Xavier won and continued a recent control of the series and it may stay that way considering Xavier is now the team in the Big East and Cincinati is the team in the mid-major league (AAC).....

A sad story that should be a caution on this rushing the court nonsense.
I'm not against fun and I'm not going to say this should never be done,but it should be reserved for rivalry wins,conference clinchers or maybe a win over the top team in the country,not for a run of the mill win over a ranked team.
The recent two showed the difference to me.
Kansas State rushed the floor for a win over Kansas,but the Jayhawks were second in the country and the top rival.Maryland rushed it for a win over number four Wisconsin,but the Terrapins were ranked as well and Wisconsin has no rivalry at all with the Terrapins.
I realize Maryland is trying to build something in the Big 10 and at least they aren't being ridiculous like Penn State was when they joined with six "rivalry trophy game" with everyone down to Minnesota (Governor's Victory Bell,anyone?),but this seemed excessive in excitement for a basketball school.
Personally,if I was Maryland,I'd be working on Penn State as a rival-closest school and a school that you'll consistently whip in the sport you care about most,but that's just me.....
Check out the above link for the story of Joe Kay and I think you'll think a bit differently on the whole rush the floor concept....

Here's a link to an article on Pirates reliever Jared Hughes,who has been a long time favorite of ours dating back to when we really started to dig deep into the world of autographing and minor league baseball.
Remember this? I'm still frozen from this day...
The article focuses on Hughes and his four stints with AA Altoona along with his shift from the starting rotation to the bullpen and resulting rise in effectiveness.
I came very close to landing Jared for an interview back then,but when it was time to do it,Jared had to back out as he told me then-Pirate GM Dave Littlefield had enacted a policy on bloggers-as in don't talk to them.
Considering the heat Littlefield was under,that was likely because of his issues with non-credentialed writers!!
Hard to believe that was almost eight years ago!
I've never stuck this long with anything in my life like this other than the lovely Cherie!

Two fights from Europe this weekend in the boxing challenge.

IBF Jr,Featherweight title.12 rds
Carl Frampton vs Chris Avalos

R.L:Frampton KO 5
TRS:Frampton KO 8

Middleweights.12 rds
Dmitri Chudinov vs Chris Eubank Jr.
RL:Eubank unanimous decision
TRS:Eubank split decision

We wrap up with two boxing notes.
First we go to UCN,a new boxing site that took the best from MaxBoxing and made it better and a article on former bantamweight champ Alfonso Zamora turning 61.
We did a small mention of Zamora and his non-title bout with fellow champion Carlos Zarate in a recent Overhand Right and this is a comprehensive look at his career....

And we wrap up with a goodbye to former light heavyweight champion Harold Johnson at the age of 86,
The smooth boxing Johnson owned wins over Archie Moore,Ezzard Charles and Jimmy Bivens,all hall of famers over the course of his career....


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Devils trade Jaromir Jagr to Florida

The New Jersey Devils claim to still be in playoff contention,but the Devils made a trade with one of the teams that they will have to leap in the improbable case that happens as the Devils sent veteran winger Jaromir Jagr to the Florida Panthers.

The Devils did pretty well in this deal as they added the Panthers second round pick in 2015 and their choice of either the Panthers or Minnesota's third round pick in 2016.
That's more than I figured that the Devils would get for the 43 year old Jagr and since that offer was on the table,the Devils decided to leap at the chance to add two draft picks for the future and ignore the fact that New Jersey would need to pass Florida (among others) for the Quixotesque quest for the playoffs.

Jagr was unhappy that his minutes had declined of late and his ability on the power play makes him a far better fit on a playoff contending team than on a non-contender that needs to add many things to the organization.
Jagr had eleven goals,but only two of them over the last month with the reduced ice time,so he will not leave a gaping hole in the Devils lineup.
Jagr could be a nice addition to a very young Panthers team for the playoff run and since Jagr is a free agent at the end of this season,the Devils were able to add two very nice pieces for a player that they were likely to lose in a short period of time anyway.

Very pleased with the return and I think the Devils did very well.
Of course,you would always want more,but Jagr's recent lack of scoring likely took the Devils out of asking for a first rounder from a team in the late part of the round.
I liked what Jaromir Jagr brought to the team in his New Jersey tenure and he played with effort,so I'm somewhat sorry to see him leave,but this is the type of deal that the Devils need to be making and I'm hoping to see a few more of these types of trades (with a little less in return of course) before the upcoming trade deadline....

Cleaning out the inbox-Non Sports Edition

Time for another inbox cleaning from the non-sports world,but first I wanted to thank those of you that listened to the first 3 minute introductory podcast and ask a favor of you...

If you would take the time to drop me an email,IM on Facebook,Tweet or DM on Twitter etc about what you would like to hear on the podcast.,
Would you like personal stories,I have the occasional interview planned,but would you like special guests that aren't as much interview subjects as knowledgeable friends or guests to just riff on specific subjects?
Of course my boxing friend would be Ramon Malpica,but I could have just in-house sessions on autographing,minor league baseball,the Browns etc.
Do you like me talking about myself or would you be more interested in me talking about subject matter?
Let me know as we start the podcast because I don't know unless you tell me...

Grantland has a retrospective on Parks and Recreation,which just ended a seven year run on NBC.
Parks and Rec. ranks with the Office and the Canadian comedy Corner Gas as my favorite comedies of the last 15-20 years or so.
I know many really like Seinfeld,but other than a scattering of episodes,it really didn't do much for me.
Parks and Rec. struggled with ratings and I'm starting to wonder if the traditional sitcom is starting to die off.
Sometimes these things run in cycles and even by networks,so it could be a short term issues,but I really enjoyed the people of Pawnee,Indiana.
The ironic thing is that Amy Poehler is the star,yet I have never really "gotten" the whole Amy Poehler/Tina Fey thing,but the surrounding cast is tremendous with the various characters on the male side and I'm a huge Rashida Jones fan,so that sort of makes up for it.
I'll save the rest for perhaps a slow day article on Parks and Rec and the Office,but if you haven't seen the show-give it a try....

Andrew Chaikin,who wrote an all time classic on the Apollo program writes this article on the New Horizons mission to Pluto.
This is as close to a comprehensive article as one can get in a magazine article and if you just read this article,you would know plenty for the arrival of New Horizons in July.....

Scientific American hits on a discovery of a native plant in Hawaii that looks to be endangered with just 50 plants found in the wild.
The purple foliage is quite striking and it seems as if some local scientists are having some success propagating in the greenhouse,so there is some hope,but keep in mind as the article states,one natural act such as a landslide could wipe out whatever population remains....

Epicurious crows about our favorite cookware as the cast iron skillet takes center stage.
As the article states and we've written,it truly is the one pan you can use for everything!

Looks like we might have our first interview locked up for the podcast.Might be a little bit until I get the recording issues down pat,but I think this will be a good one...

We wrap with a kinda sports note as Joe Posnanski writes about Things he's learned from Strat O Matic baseball.
Posnanski discusses the mathematical side of SOM and discusses the probabilities along with a fun of building a draft team.
I know I said no sports,but it's kind of off topic....

I still have plenty of inbox items from sports world,so perhaps tomorrow.....