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Monday, July 21, 2014

Forgotten Superstars: Buck Williams

 We return to the Forgotten Superstars universe with a glance at an all-time Maryland great and one of the most underrated players of his time-Buck Williams.

Buck Williams was an all-star level player with the then New Jersey Nets after being drafted third overall in the 1981 draft before being more of a rebounding/defensive specialist in Portland and with the New York Knicks to round out his career.
Williams entered the draft after making the 1980 Olympic team,which was the one that boycotted the games (what a waste) in Moscow due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The 6'8 Williams was the classic power forward,although he often played the pivot against larger players as he was able to use his strength and underrated quickness to adapt to the larger centers in the game.
Buck also was a better scorer than people give him credit for as he averaged 18 pts a game on three different occasions as a Net and never lower than 13 ppg,which only happened once.

As good as Buck Williams was as a pro,I'll always remember him as the workhorse center on the Maryland teams that he played for.
Buck used to give the lanky 7'4 Ralph Sampson of Virginia fits on the block as Sampson couldn't push him off,yet Buck was quick enough to keep the lighter player from taking him outside the paint.
Those Maryland teams never got outside the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament with Buck,Albert King and Ernie Graham,but they did win two ACC regular season titles and lost two ACC Tournament finals by one point each to Duke and North Carolina.

Back then,the ACC Tournament meant almost as much as the Final Four did because it was the teams in your backyard.
The league had just added Georgia Tech and was years away from adding Florida State,let alone the other schools that watered down the league to this day.
The 1981 loss to UNC was just another tough loss to Dean Smith that you learned to live with as a Terrapin fan,but the 1980 loss to Duke?
Ah,well that was one that kills me to this day even as my Terrapin fanhood burns dry as they move to the Big 10....

With Bill Foster led Duke (No Coach K yet) leading by one,but Maryland possessing the ball for the games final shot,Albert King and his sweet jumper let fly from 17 feet.
King's shot fell a little short but hung around on the rim,however,as usually,Buck Williams had inside position and was ready to tip that shot in giving Maryland and Lefty Driesell that long awaited ACC tourney title.
However,the typical officiating bias that favored the North Carolina schools came into play as Duke's Kenny Dennard undercut Williams,sending him crashing to the floor.
No tip-in. No call.No title.

In my opinion-the worst call in ACC history.
Period.How that couldn't be called is beyond me and when you hear the stories about the Carolina teams being favored in the league-they aren't just stories,they are true.
Back then,it was Carolina 1st,followed by the rest (since then Duke and Carolina get the most) of the North Carolina schools,but it was tough being a Maryland,Virginia or Clemson fan being outnumbered and watching this stuff every week.
I only wish I could find a YouTube of this play,but I bet the above picture tells you all you need to know.

Still,Buck Williams might have been the best big man in Maryland school history and that says a lot even if the Terrapins logs did not have a large amount of centers at the top of the list.
We welcome Buck Williams to the Forgotten Superstars universe and thank him for all the memories for this aging Terrapin fan...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Picking the best

Sitting around the house yesterday with the lovely Cherie on a slow sports day and little to do,I asked her what she would rank as the best local food stops,if someone was offering her a free gift card to eat at the place of her choice.
Since this is still a slow sports day,I figured that I would jump in and add some thoughts.
Keep in mind that these ratings are only for the local area and do not include chains or stops outside the area....

Fast Food: Five Guys.
Five Guys is the best fast food burger in the area bar none.
Five Guys is a little pricey for the genre',but there is zero comparison vs the McDonald's of the world....
I've yet to try the Hagerstown Sonic and Checkers in Hagerstown just once.
Those two establishments managed to put themselves in the worst possible place for me to drive to in town.
Just a hated and awkward drive from my house to that area.

Subs: Earl's Market.
In a stunning upset over the usual titans of local subs Hartles and Freddie's,I gave Earl's a try on the word of my friend,Denise and it was well worth the time.
I had always thought that the big two couldn't be touched,but I was wrong.
Give Earl's in State Line PA a shot and watch the powerhouses move over and make space..

Pizza: King's New York Pizza
Keep in mind that I consider the local pizza to be an inferior product,but I give King's the edge over the field.
I like to patronize local shops,but pizza is a tough sell in a house that features the guy paying for it liking supreme and Rachel's preference for Cheese or Pepperoni on the odd racy day.
King's has a solid enough pizza to nose out Ledo's and the lesser quality,but cheaper Papa Johns to win the category under the restrictions of this contest...

Steakhouse: Longhorn Steakhouse
There are three that are pretty close in food quality,but Longhorn gets the edge for two reasons over Outback and Texas Roadhouse.
The first is that they have the atmosphere edge over the party style Roadhouse and the date happy Outback.
I prefer a quieter restaurant and Longhorn wins there.
The other? Longhorn serves lunch,the other pair doesn't open until four,so people like me can enjoy a meal in a yes-quieter atmosphere.
I don't think you can lose for the steak in any of the three places....

Chicken: Kentucky Fried Chicken
Since the market is limited to KFC and Popeye's-I give a huge edge to the Colonel.
It's stiff and if I am really in the mood,I'll drive to Chambersburg PA or Martinsburg WV for a KFC buffet,since the Hagerstown version does not offer that option.
Been a fan since I've been a kid and locally,I doubt I'll lose that anytime soon....

Sit down/Casual
I'm going to set a different dynamic for this as I will have a category that's a little more formal and a less formal winner as well...

More formal
Chicago UNO's;
It's not really that UNO's is a ton more formal than the other category,but I'll explain why when I get there.
UNO's noses out TGI Friday's by a hair as the last few times that I've been to Friday's have seen them gaining on the leader...

Less Formal
Buffalo Wild Wings
The category is more for the places that have TV's all over the place and a little more hectic paced.
I'm not totally against these places and BWW is my usual favorite.
Try the Wild Sauce for a wet mop wing (boneless for me) or Salt and Vinegar for a dry rub....

Ice Cream/Frozen treat:The Meadows
For years,this was owned by Rita's,but a late opening by their North End store and a closing of their South End shop cleared an opening for a new champ.
The Meadows has a great frozen custard and their italian ice was a surprisingly thicker version for someone used to Rita's with a very robust flavor.
Many have recommended Nutter's ice cream in Sharpsburg,but I've never tried it.
Perhaps in the future....

Chinese:Hong Kong Restaurant
Located literally down the street from me in a former Red Barn.
Hong Kong has the best takeout in town and when we eat in,a waitress that seemingly remembers every patron dating back to the Truman administration offers tips on what's good according to your past orders.
What a memory and great food as well.

Seafood;
What's that?
No local places offer a buffet and other places are just too expensive for what they offer this author.

Non-Chain restaurant: Red Byrd
Thanks to my friend Krista for reminding me of Red Byrd and their terrific chicken.
I've also enjoyed their liver and onions through the years.
The Keedysville location is a bit out of the way,but I've always loved the Red Byrd,which noses out two contenders in the Colonial,which is near the Hagerstown airport and Windy Hill in Clear Spring.
I've had great meals at all three of those places,so give any or all a chance!

I'm sure that your views might differ and they wouldn't be wrong!
I'll listen to all feedback!





Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cleaning out the inbox

The inbox isn't overflowing,but on a slow day (unless I want to comment on the 1,000 different rumored variations on Kevin Love coming to Cleveland),I figured I could keep things cleaned up.
These things tend to ebb and flow,so a clearing things out works for me....


The biggest news for me is that ESPN and the Canadian Football League have reached a multi-year agreement to televise games in the United States.
ESPN first exposed me to the CFL in the early 80's and the game has been important to me ever since.
Different networks have televised the league through the years and usually it covers lots of the early season games before the college year begins and then dwindles off.
ESPN will do things a bit differently with having ESPN3 online and although my Fred Flintstone speed internet likely won't be able to handle it,it's still a good move.
I was able to watch the Tiger-Cats and Stampeders last night from Calgary and despite a surprisingly dull game (a 10-7 Calgary win),I always enjoy the games.
The Grey Cup along with the Eastern and Western Finals will be televised and although I hope to see the Eastern and Western semis get a U.S. TV home-that is a really good start for a fun game to expose the northern style...

I've written often about my fondness for Strat O Matic baseball and here is a article from an author that credits Ryne Sandberg for winning a bet with his dad for the cash to pay for the most recent SOM season!
Sandberg's Saturday game of the week heroics is remembered by most fans of the Cubs that were alive then and that game is occasionally shown on MLB network.
I'm always a sucker for SOM stories especially from the time that I was living at home because I can really relate to the time and importance of the game.

A very poignant story on the struggles of the aging Y.A. Tittle as he struggles with dementia later in life.
The Hall of Famer is 87 now and the problems with anyone of the age is quite apparent as the author Seth Wickersham follows Tittle and his daughter through a trip home to Texas.
As someone that has recently had to deal with such a diagnosis,the article hit home with how these things not only affect the person but their surroundings as well.
I highly recommend the read.

We wrap up with an article by my favorite ESPN baseball author Christina Kahrl on Julio Teheran and his blossoming as the ace of the Atlanta rotation.
I've been a Teheran fan since seeing his low A debut against the Suns and quickly added him to my minor system in the next fantasy draft.
My best Teheran story though came off the field as I was still learning the ropes of graphing and watched in the parking lot as Julio signed what seemed to be 100 cards one day in Hagerstown.
Teheran had just one card and slowly signed Julio Teheran with every letter being clear (That changed as now Teheran is reported to sign JT) on every card and without a reply.
I assume that was due to a language issue,but I remember that quite vividly.
That's one reason that I give latin players somewhat of a pass on signing at the lower levels because often times,they simply struggle to communicate well due to being new to the English language.
I might be in the same boat in other countries....





Friday, July 18, 2014

46 arrives!

A few days late on this,but 46 arrived right on schedule on July 15 as expected.

Time defeats all things,but I have to be honest-it doesn't bother me all that much.
Being way overweight bugs me far more than getting older mainly because usually I don't feel old.

Don't get me wrong-I have had my days over the last year and I'm sure more of them are coming as I,well,age.
I don't feel old,but pulling a calf muscle running through a nasty thunderstorm in the Muni parking lot made me reconsider that stance and on a steamy Wilmington day for the Carolina League All-Star game made me feel like the picture in the attic of Dorian Gray as I wilted on concrete.
However,at the same time,I haven't had to invest in Just For Men quite yet!
That coach is arriving at the mound shortly for that soon,but that doesn't bother me much either.
I'm not a cosmetic person and that's a good thing at my size!
I would certainly like to weigh less,but more for long term health than anything visual.
After all,I have a lovely wife that says she wants me to live a long long life with her.
I even had a lady at work that was just hired tell me she thought I was close to her age (27) and no older than early 30's.
I think she was being nice because I don't see that.but sometimes being silly and immature must help you look younger!

I'm now officially closer to 50 than 40 and I feel pretty good about it.
I do need to try changing some physical things for long term maintenance and I've said that a lot through the years,but part of aging means more preventive care.
I suppose its like taking care of a car in that way,take care of it before hand and you just might get more use of the vehicle.
I need to do a better job of that,but mentally I feel great.
I'm not hung up on any of that age stuff and it's kinda cool in a way.
Recently,I was sitting around somewhere and heard a young lady say "wow,I love 80's music,it must have been so great living in those times".
It might be fun telling another two generations of people,my memories and thoughts of the past.
That's kinda what I do here,but it also means that I stuck around for a while and had even more experiences.
Not bad.
Not bad at all.

Time for me to take a quick walk.
After all as the cliche' goes-the longest journey starts with the first step.
Even if the finish line is just as far away as the starting block.....

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cavaliers sign Mike Miller and James Jones

Before I get started,I'd like thank everyone for the birthday wishes and thoughts.
I plan on a 46th birthday post soon as I catch up on things.
Of late,it seems like when I am off work at this time of year that I struggle to find time in keeping this up and for that I apologize.

Well traveled sharpshooter and friend of LeBron Mike Miller will bring his outside shooting abilities to Cleveland after spending last season with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Miller's departure from Miami before last season was reported to be one of the reasons that LeBron James was upset with the Heat as the Heat allowed Miller to leave in order to not pay the luxury tax for exceeding the salary limit.
The two year contract will pay Miller five and a half million and brings one of the best pure shooters in the game to Cleveland.
Miller is 34 years old,but if you spot his minutes correctly,Miller's shooting and underrated defense
is going to be a valuable role player in the Cleveland rotation...

The less publicized signed for the Cavaliers is a one year contract signed by James Jones for the minimum salary allowed by the league.
The 33 year old swingman brings another skilled outside shooter to the team,but has not completed a full season in the past three seasons as he played no more than 51 games in any of the three campaigns.
A healthy Jones gives Cleveland another three point capable weapon off the bench at a bargain rate,but I'm not getting too excited because I'm not convinced that he will stay healthy enough.
However.at the minimum rate,I'm fine with taking the risk..

Back later with more....

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Alvarez squeaks by Lara,Boxing Challenge

Canelo Alvarez grabbed a controversial split decision over Erislandy Lara in Las Vegas in a middleweight battle of the best two junior middleweights in the world.
I was at the road office,so I have no opinions on the matter,but the scores were divergent from the official scorecards to people watching the fight.
R.L. Malpica had Lara a wide winner,while Dan Rafael of ESPN saw Alvarez a clear victor.

In the boxing challenge,I gained one point on R.L. on the night and trimmed his lead to two at 53-51 as I earned six points on the evening to R.L's five.

I was able to get two points for calling the Alvarez win as a split decision with R.L. getting just one for the win.
R.L got two to my one for the Abner Mares unanimous decision over Jonathan Qquendo.

We both added two points for the Mauricio Herrera unanimous win over Johan Perez,while I added one for the Francisco Vargas knockout of Juan Manuel Lopez.
I picked Vargas to win a decision,while R.L. picked Lopez to win.....


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Boxing Challenge

Tonight's picks from the boxing challenge from Las Vegas.

Canelo Alvarez vs Erislandy Lara Middleweights 12 rds

R.L. Alvarez KO 8
TRS: Alvarez split decision

Abner Mares vs Jonathan Oquendo Featherweights 10 rds

R.L. Mares unanimous decision
TRS:Mares KO 7

Juan Manuel Lopez vs Francisco Vargas
Jr.Lightweights 10 rds
R.L.:Lopez KO 6
TRS:Vargas unanimous decision

Johan Perez vs Mauricio Herrera
Jr.Welterweights 12 rds
Both:Herrera unanimous decision