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Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Blues

We enter Labor Day with high hopes and exhausted patience.

In a few hours,we'll (the ladies that mean the most to me and myself) will trudge to the Muni for the final regular season game against the Lakewood Blue Claws.
It's a meaningless game since the Suns have clinched a playoff berth,but we'll still go and enjoy the baseball since it is so close to ending.
We are guaranteed to see one more game on Wednesday in Game One of the SAL Northern Division Finals and maybe with some luck,a few more the following week for the championship and then it is all over.

The focus here soon switches to Buckeye and Browns football and soon after Devils hockey (for Rachel) and Cavaliers basketball (for Cherie) and the time that seems to be so short for errands and family things becomes the excess time of "what do we do today?".
I will watch the work schedule ramp up as I begin to accumulate funds for next season's summer and plans,but my plans are a bit different this year.
I'm not only going to put back enough money and personal leave time to take off from work,I'm going to put back enough that if I want to go,I'm going to go,
One of the best trips that I ever took was when I went to see the Browns alone and maybe I should be less dependent on others on some of the bigger events of the summer.
It's tough being a one car family in these situations,so I'll need to put extra money for rentals aside,but that was a mistake that I made.
I'll put myself in a better spot next year,so if others can't or don't want to go,I can still have fun.

I have planned things better for next year and have a better idea of how I want to go about the events that I want to hit next year and avoid the mistakes I made this year.
For example,I didn't know how stringent NFL security measures would be at training camps,so when I heard about these and the difficulties involved,I was not prepared,so I canceled my Saints training camp trip until next year when I can hit a "meet the team" day (They had one that I was too late finding out about).

Another missed trip was the LPGA.
That was the one that I looked most forward to and the one that I still wished I would have attended.
The planned scheduled tournament was Williamsburg Va,but I'm considering a change to the Toledo event later in the summer.
That would give me a chance to knock the Toledo ballpark off the list or maybe even the Lake County Captains for the Midwest League if the schedule fell right.
I've quite enjoyed becoming an LPGA fan and I plan on a post sometime over the off season telling you more about it.

I also missed out on two new ballparks next year,one because it didn't work out (West Virginia) and another because of rain (Jamestown),but as disappointing as the missing Jamestown was,I still was able to spend a rare day with my son and considering that with being in the park on game day,it's wasn't anything to be too upset with.
I think I'm planning two trips baseball wise and will settle for one.
A NY/Penn league run would be nice as I could knock off the two most endangered teams after Jamestown's move to Morgantown in Batavia and Auburn and try to squeeze another stop in (Erie?) as well.
Another run could take me south for some Appalachian play as the unique parks and small towns have some appeal in August when their sets are out.
I kinda doubt I'll do both alone,but my wish is to be able to hit one.
That doesn't mean I wouldn't welcome company,just that I'm preparing for it alone and be pleasantly surprised if I am joined by others.

Graphing has had its fun times and fun trips (Just had one yesterday with Kendall and Brad),but on the overall,it has been the least fun that I've had yet.
I'm going to give it another chance next year at full speed,but as I've said to several friends-If next year is like this year,I'm changing how I do this.
Not leaving,just changing things a bit.

Finally,a nod to the best weekend of the summer.
The IFL Draft and cookout with the best friends and family that I could ask for.
My mom and dad couldn't make it due to dad's surgery and they were missed,but it still was a great time by all.
It's tough with Ryan being so far away for all of us to get together,but I really hope we can do something more often than one weekend a year.

Think I better start to get ready to go,the Muni is calling for "Fan Appreciation Day" snicker.
Let's see what this one brings.
See you tomorrow or maybe later tonight,I have some things to write about me from the non-sports world....

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Win or lose,Buckeyes crabby in Baltimore

Courtesy Columbus Dispatch
The Ohio State Buckeyes struggled in defending the option against the Midshipmen of Navy and it showed in Baltimore before the fourth quarter as Ohio State used some big plays to stun Navy on offense and defense in a 34-17 win.
The Buckeyes controlled the fourth quarter,but for three quarters,Navy stood toe to toe with Ohio State and battled them evenly.
J.T.Barrett threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns,including a 80 yard strike to Devin Smith while OSU used a committee ground game to rush for 194 yards on the day.
The biggest defensive play came in the third quarter when Joey Bosa wiped out Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds as he pitched the ball errantly to have Darron Lee scoop and run for a 61 yard touchdown on the fumble recovery.
Ohio State (1-0) will host Virginia Tech next week at the Big Horseshoe...

Olentangy Offerings

1) So what did I think of J.T. Barrett?
I liked much of what I saw.
Now he is not Braxton Miller,but few are.
I do think he can make plays with his feet,but he will need to be more elusive if he wants to be a huge threat running the ball...

2) Barrett will be a work in progress,but his deep ball to Devin Smith was perfectly thrown and I was more impressed by his arm than I thought I would be.

3) That didn't mean he was blameless as his first half interception was all on him.
Barrett eluded the rush and threw into coverage that he shouldn't have.
Barrett will avoid making that pass with time and experience.

4) Urban Meyer used a couple of different backs,but the one that stood out to me most was Curtis Samuel,who ran hard and played physically.
I'd like to see more of Samuel against Virginia Tech..

5) Meyer's play calling wasn't the best in this one.
Until the second half,the Buckeyes kept things close to the vest and didn't allow J.T. Barrett to make plays.
I understand that you want to make thing simple for the freshman,but too simple creates a vanilla offense and that was what Jim Tressel was often criticized for...

6) Liked what I saw from linebacker Darron Lee,who not only scored a touchdown,but seemed to be all over the football.

7) Super day for the Buckeye defensive line,especially Adolphus Washington,who played very well.
Wait until Noah Spence gets back for what might then be the best line in the nation.

8) Still the team was plagued by poor tackling,especially in the back seven.
I know Navy is a run first team,but over 300 yards to anyone is unacceptable...

9) I've always liked Verne Lundquist,but age might be catching up with him as he seemed behind the game and often puzzled.
Hope this is just first game jitters for Lundquist and he picks his game back up.

10) Loved the sportsmanship by both teams after the game as both teams went to the others end to sing their fight songs.
Great stuff and what college football should be.

11) Give Navy credit for hanging tough,they deserve it,but play this game in midseason and I bet it isn't that close.
Still the Middies are going to win their share of games and this win could look much better at seasons end....

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ohio State Football Preview

The 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes were considered to be the top candidate from the Big Ten to reach the first ever Final Four for football,but circumstances to Braxton Miller's shoulder changed that,but this still should be a fun Buckeye team to watch this season.

With Miller gone for the season,redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett will man the controls of the Buckeye offense.
While Barrett has a ton to prove,he was highly thought of entering OSU and once he gets his sea legs a bit,will be more than adequate as Miller's replacement.
Cardale Jones will see plenty of time behind Barrett,especially during the non-conference schedule and the underrated Jones might even push Barrett if the situation fell a certain way.

Running back looks to be a group of talented runners that will wait for one to break out.
Ezekiel Elliott had the edge going into the season,but Rod Smith and Curtis Samuel closed the gap and will get their chance to carry the ball.
I've always liked Brionte Dunn and hope he will find an opportunity as well.
At H-back,exciting sophomore Dontre Wilson returns and will give Barrett a top notch weapon to use.
Freshman Jalin Marshall is another star in the making behind Wilson.

The wide receivers start two seniors,but the experience drops off considerably after that.
Devin Smith and Evan Spencer are both quality pass catchers with Smith being a big play guy downfield.Junior Corey Smith adds experience behind the starters,but sophomore Michael Thomas and freshman Noah Brown will need to mature quickly to contribute.

Jeff Heuerman returns at tight end to give the Buckeyes a huge target over the middle and backup Nick Vannett is even larger than Heuerman and adds a beefy blocker to the line in short yardage spots.
Heuerman is underrated as a pass catcher,so perhaps the senior could be more involved in the passing game this season.

The offensive line may take some time to jell after losing four starters,but there are still some experienced players that are now getting a chance to start at least at tackle with senior Darryl Baldwin and junior Taylor Decker manning the outside spot.
Junior Jacoby Boren has been in a tight battle with Alabama transfer Chad Lindsay at center,so either could be the winner and both could see lots of early time to determine the winner.
The guards are younger with soph Pat Efflien at one spot and surprising freshman Billy Price has bullied his way into a starting spot.

The defense was disappointing last season,especially against the pass,where Clemson shredded the Buckeyes in the Orange Bowl.
Chris Ash was brought in from Arkansas to help Luke Fickell revitalize the defensive bunch that badly needed a turnaround.

The defensive line is the clear strength of the squad with three super players in defensive tackles Michael Bennett and Adolphus Washington along with defensive Joey Bosa.
All should be All-Big Ten contenders and when Noah Spence,who might be the best of the bunch, returns from a suspension,the line should wreak all sorts of fire and brimstone in the league.
Junior Tommy Schutt will see lots of time in the the interior rotation and would start on just about any team in the country,while senior Steve Miller will start at the other end until Spence returns..

Curtis Grant returns as the only linebacker from last years group to lead that corp.
Lots of freshmen and sophomores will battle it out in the early season to sift out the winners,but Joshua Perry and Darron Lee have won the jobs for now...

Senior Doran Grant leads the secondary that has to step their game up from last year,if the Buckeyes are going to make a title run.
Two freshmen will see time at the other corner as Eli Apple and Gareon Conley are splitting time for now.
One would think eventually one will establish himself at the position.
Vonn Bell showed me some good signs last year,but he is fighting off fellow soph Cam Burrows at one safety with sophomore Tyvos Powell at the other safety.
Junior Armani Reeves will see lots of playing time in multiple DB situations.
If this group cannot step up its game,the Buckeyes will have severe defensive problems again.

Cameron Johnston is back after a very good freshman year as a punter,while freshman Sean Nuernberger will get the first shot as the placekicker.
Just as at H-back Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall will share the kickoff and punt return duties...

Now what do I think about this years Buckeyes.
With Braxton Miller,I would have said,they run the table and make the playoffs.
Without,I'm going to say they lose one game that they might not have  with Miller and add that to a loss to Michigan State in East Lansing.
Let's call it 10-2,6-2 in conference and a nice bowl bid as the Buckeyes build for the return of Braxton Miller in 2015....

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM returns and with a new official hostess as well.
I decided that each year will bring a new face,so welcome LPGA star Jessica Korda to the PPM after ESPN's Heather Cox was the face of the PPM last season.

The college picks will expand this season with the return of Boise State and adding Washington with the hiring of Chris Petersen from Boise State.
I will be skipping Bowling Green and Boise State this week as both played before this writing.
If I have time tomorrow morning,I may be doing an Ohio State football preview....

College

Ohio State over Navy 31-21
Texas Tech over Central Arkansas 62-14
Washington over Hawaii 35-23

Games of the Week-Doing two this week with the two missed games
LSU over Wisconsin 28-20
Clemson over Georgia 34-31

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Josh Gordon Suspension Holds-One year

The Cleveland Browns received a crippling blow to any hopes of improvement for the 2014 season as the NFL upheld the one year suspension of Josh Gordon leaving the Browns precariously light at the wide receiver position.

First,let me address this-I'm in favor of a little bit of nuance.
When you consider that you take two samples for a drug test,one labeled A-the other B and A tested a hair over the limit,B was even further under the limit,so had B been labeled A,the test would not have even been positive,so that screams for a little bit of discretion.
Taking that in account,there should have been some gray area for a punishment that addressed the issue,yet considered the situation,for example a four to eight game suspension would have been palatable to me.

This really makes the league look bad with a year for a person that was around marijuana (I believe Gordon wasn't smoking,if he was he would have failed other tests and failed by a far more substantial margin) yet just two games for Ray Rice pounding his girlfriend in a public place and who know what minor slap Jim Irsay will get for his driving under a controlled substance situation?
Most likely,Irsay will give a tear-filled apology,pay a fine and write a check to a charity and we still have the Steelers LeVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount for their Ridgemont Highesque pot possession pickup to contend with.

The Browns are culpable here as well as they knew that this could be coming and still refused to select a pass catcher in the draft.
Sammy Watkins would have made this far easier to swallow,but we now have to wait and see where the first rounder that the Browns obtained from Buffalo rates a year from now,while the 2014 Browns rely on Miles Austin (brilliant,but brittle),Andrew Hawkins,Nate Burleson and who knows what else for Brian Hoyer/Johnny Manziel to throw to.
If the Bills stink like the Browns could,Cleveland should be able to add two elite players next year,but might not help Mike Pettine any and since Pettine wasn't anyone's guy to begin with-don't be stunned if the Browns hire their 3rd coach in 3 years at the conclusion of the season.

And even though I'm sympathetic to the situation,I still blame Josh Gordon for being around pot.
He had to know that the league was gunning for him and he still (at best) put himself in a bad situation.
For that part,I hold Gordon accountable.

Roger Goodell is an awful commissioner in a sports world filled with them and in my opinion,Goodell dropped the ball again.
The problem is for Browns fans,there are few players around that can catch it....

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Forgotten Superstars-Andy Van Slyke

We return to the Forgotten Superstars universe with one of my favorite players and perhaps my favorite Pirate of the last 30 years.

Andy Van Slyke was one of the premier defensive outfielders of his time and swung an underrated bat as well.
Van Slyke was originally a Cardinal and had just middling offensive numbers with base stealing being his lone plus stat until he was traded to the Pirates in the Tony Pena trade.
Pena was one of the best offensive catchers in the game at the time and it was considered quite a coup for the Cardinals to land him considering the price of Van Slyke,who although was solid,the Cardinals had an excess of fleet outfielders that were pluses defensively,Mike LaValliere and Mike Dunne.
All of three of the players obtained in the deal by Pittsburgh would contribute to the three Pirate division champion teams in the early 90's,but none more than Van Slyke,who began to mature as an offensive player .

Van Slyke hit Pittsburgh in 1987 with a vengeance as he notched career highs in average,homers,doubles,triples,homers,RBI and steals in an attempt to show the Cardinals what they had traded away.
1988 was even better as Van Slyke would post the highest homer total of his career with 25 homers and 100 RBI as he made the All-Star team along with winning the Gold Glove and Silver Sluggers awards.
Van Slyke struggled through a poor 1989 before rebounding with excellent seasons for the three division winners from 1990-92 and was off to a great 1993 as he made the All-Star team before an injury that ended his season and never really returned as the same offensive player.
Van Slyke's stats dropped off badly in 1994 and he attempted to start a new portion of his career in 199,but in 80 games with the Orioles and Phillies,it was clear that his days were numbered and he retired at the end of the season.

Van Slyke was a tremendous defender as he flew across the artificial turf fields of the day with tons of leaping over the wall catches and skin scraping dives which not only made him a top notch defensive star,but a huge fan favorite not only in Pittsburgh,but across the country.
The hustle that Van Slyke played with made him popular,but likely shortened his career crashing around the concrete pool tables that the National League players played on back then.
Van Slyke also possessed one of the games better throwing arms as he played right field for the Cardinals before moving to his better known center with the Buccos.
Van Slyke built a reputation as a gunner with double digit assists in his final two Cardinal seasons and first two years in Pittsburgh,so runners rarely tried to take the extra base on Van Slyke.

Van Slyke was outspoken and sometimes that got him into trouble with fans and teammates and it was well known that he and Barry Bonds did not get along well with the Pirates.
There is always the famous story on the Sid Bream play that Van Slyke told Bonds to move in on Francisco Cabrera and Bonds responded with a one finger answer!
You know how that play ended!

We welcome Andy Van Slyke to the Forgotten Superstars universe and remember his all out playing style with the fondest of memories!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Jared Lorenzen,the power of food and the worry of weight

On Saturday,I read an ESPN article on Jared Lorenzen,the former Kentucky star quarterback,who had a cup of coffee in the NFL and earned a Super Bowl ring with the Giants.
The struggles of Lorenzen hit home and I'd like to share with you the struggles,problems and yes-fears that I struggle with every day.

The author of the article clearly is a big man himself and his concerns also strike home although some of the things that have happened to him have never happened to me,that doesn't mean that they couldn't.
The author wears 6XL shirts to fit him and even though those size shirts are way too big for me,they are quite comfortable just as 5XL are larger than I need.
I've always wore shirts that were multiple sizes up even in the days of wearing a 2xl when I was a XL,so that part isn't because I'm fat,it is because I hate shirts that are even my size,let alone tight.

He also talks about chairs collapsing under him,(never to me) and other things that normal sized people take for granted,but for the most part that hasn't happened to me.
He also talks about devouring entire boxes of snack cakes and things like that,but with one notable exception that Cherie and I know not to buy except on a rare occasion,I've never had issues with that either,so some of these things even I just don't get.

The one thing that I do relate to his eating frozen foods and items like that.
We have stuff like that here,but we try to mix things up with other "healthier" items when we can,but finances can come into play.
This country loves to tout healthy food,but how can 2 green peppers compete with a 16 ounce bag of chips in both quantity and taste (I do love my bell peppers though)
My main issue is a love for anything fixed using a potato,but there is many "bad" foods that I don't eat often.
Not an huge ice cream eater,not a big bread person (except for sandwiches) and not really a huge baked goods fan either,although those Hostess fruit pies (Cherry or Lemon) are awesome,but at the calories shot,I bet haven't had one of them in years!
We do try to have snacks that aren't calorie killers,I like fresh veggies and will wipe a jar of Claussen pickles out pretty fast,but still once you are a big man,it takes more fuel to keep the machine running.
I still don't think I eat as much as one would think and I can generally go through a ball game without having to eat unless it's a long road trip day,but obviously there still is a problem somewhere.

I don't drink alcohol and I don't drink full calorie soda.
I stick to diet or 7up 10 (Thanks,Mike) and I do drink lots of water,so I suppose things could get far worse,if I drank caloried drinks.

I try to "do" more,but it becomes tougher as the body breaks down and ages.
I suppose that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,but before this season I never really noticed anything.
I was still able to do most of what others did for years,but I have noticed some difficulty keeping up this year.
The long graphing days have taken more of a toll on me this year than in the past and the sun takes more out of me than in previous campaigns.
That tells me that I need to do more,but it's tough.
I sleep terribly,partially because of working third shift,but even on "regular" evenings,I don't sleep well.
I've thought about adding things to make that improvement,but have not been able to do that yet.

Socially,I don't worry about.
You have be who you are and the truth is the truth,although I'm well aware of what I am,that doesn't mean I want to be reminded of it anymore than someone wants to be reminded of having an alcohol problem,problems with women, etc..
It may not hurt you to the point of getting upset all the time,but it still doesn't feel great and tends to put a damper on a mood pretty quickly.
All and all though,I don't consider that a huge problem.

I also have concerns about medications.
I see my friends dropping weight using pills and I wonder about that because it seems to help at the same time,I don't want to get used to taking medication for this issue.
I've thought about beginning to take sleeping pills to help me sleep better and the positive affects that better sleep could give me,but again I have concerns in starting something that I may not be able to stop.
Every day is the day that the "comeback" is going to start and sometimes they last more than others,but in the end-I haven't been able to get the job done.
That's on me,no matter what the reasons or excuses are (some are legitimate and others are trying to tell myself what I want to hear"-the bottom line or scale doesn't lie.

But the most poignant and scary thing was and is this-I'll quote the author.

"We see our futures and they're not long ones. I'm 50 and I might feel it more deeply than he (Lorenzen) does. Nobody who's 65 looks like we do"

I know..........