Saturday, July 30, 2016

Stevenson pounds Williams-Boxing Challenge

Adonis Stevenson retained his WBC light heavyweight title in a pretty entertaining scrap as he disposed of Thomas Williams in the fourth round in Quebec City.

The defense was the latest in several lopsided title retentions against overmatched competition for Stevenson,who has seen his reign be more notable for who he hasn't fought (Sergey Kovalev most prominently) than who he has.

Stevenson may have been well above the talent level of Wiliams,who lacked a notable win other than a two round shootout against another fringe contender in Edwin Rodriguez,but give Williams credit-he tried to win.
Williams threw punches (many of them wild) and even appeared to sting Stevenson a time or two,which brings to mind the criticisms of some observers (including me) of Stevenson's chin being questionable.
However,in the end,the superior power of Stevenson shone through and after some rehabilitating body shots Stevenson ended the bout with one power left.
The strong moments of Williams almost never happened as Stevenson dropped Williams late in the first round and Williams was almost finished then and there.
Stevenson's next opponent will be his WBC mandated contender in undefeated Elieder Alvarez,who fought on the undercard and delivered a drizzlingly boring decision win over late replacement Robert Berridge.
Looks like defense number eight might be little better than what we have seen already from Stevenson and his title defenses.

I don't dislike Adonis Stevenson,he's a fun fighter to watch and his power combined with a chin issue makes most of his fights somewhat entertaining,
My issue is with Stevenson's blatant ducking of Sergey Kovalev and to a lesser extent Artur Beterbiev,which would be a fight easy to make as both are under the same promotional umbrella.
Every champion has the right for occasional optional defenses as long as they are mixed in with quality opponents as well-Stevenson has not faced a top ten caliber opponent since Andrzej Fonfara over two years ago and even then Fonfara built his name more from the decision loss to Stevenson and thereafter then anything done before signing for the bout.
Stevenson-Kovalev or Stevenson-Beterbiev would be fun and exciting fights-must see fights for the fight fan.
Unfortunately,either (or both) Stevenson or the PBC has little interest in those fights and prefer these pro wrestling like squash matches.
Stevenson uses the nickname Superman,but as a comic fan,I know this-Superman didn't make his rep by beating the Clock King and the Rainbow Raider-he built it by beating top notch opponents.

In the boxing challenge I earned four points for the Stevenson and Alvarez wins,with Ramon Malpica picking Williams and getting two points for the Alvarez win.
The boxing challenge now stands at 92-75...

Friday, July 29, 2016

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge continues with a multiple network and fight nights that covers many divisions...
The challenge is currently at 88-73 in my favor...

The biggest fights include the lineal and WBC light heavyweight champ (Adonis Stevenson) defending against another flawed opponent,a great bout between the best featherweight in the world (Leo Santa Cruz since Vasyl Lomachenko moved up) and the second best junior featherweight (Carl Frampton) moving up in weight and a former multiple division champ (Mikey Garcia) fighting for the first time in two and a half years.

WBC Lt.Heavyweight title.12 rds
Adonis Stevenson vs Thomas Williams
R.L:Williams unanimous decision
TRS: Stevenson KO 7

Lt.Heavyweights.10 rds
Elieder Alvarez vs Robert Berridge
Both:Alvarez unanimous decision

WBA Featherweight title.12 rds
Leo Santa Cruz vs Carl Frampton
Both: Santa Cruz unanimous decision

Jr.Welterweights. 10 rds
Mikey Garcia vs Eloy Rojas
R.L:Garcia KO 4
TRS:Garcia KO 6

Jr,Welterweights.10 rds
Antonio Orozco vs Abner Lopez
R.L:Orozco unanimous decision
TRS:Orozco KO 9

Featherweights.10 rds
Joseph Diaz vs Victor Proa
Both:Diaz unanimous decision

Podcast:Back from Hiatus

Back from Podcast hiatus with thanks,some political talk,IFL and fantasy football talk with why teams are always looking for bullpen help at the trade deadline....

Giants trade for Eduardo Nunez

The struggling offense of the San Francisco Giants needed an infusion and along with waiting for the return of Joe Panik and Hunter Pence,decided to add a little more as the Giants traded minor league pitcher Adalberto Mejia to the Minnesota Twins in return for Eduardo Nunez.

The 29 year old Nunez is in the midst of a career year as he made his first all-star team and has already set career highs in several offensive categories.
Nunez played shortstop for the Twins,but can play second or third also and looks to see plenty of time at third with the injury to an Achilles tendon for the regular at third in Matt Duffy.

The Giants always like to have a supersub around and in the best of times (which right now,these aren't) Nunez will have plenty of playing time available at various positions.
Bruce Bochy handles his position players well and is able to use a player like Nunez almost as a starter without having a steady position to play.

The cost of Mejia is one that some are wondering about as some prospect ratings have him as high as third in the Giants system.
I don't rate the 23 year old that highly,but he does possess potential,even if he may project better down the road as a reliever more than a starter.
Mejia has pitched better at AA Richmond over most of the last three (red flag) seasons there than he has in sporadic appearances at AAA Sacramento,so I wonder about that,but he certainly is still of prospect status at 23..

I like the addition of Eduardo Nunez for the Giants.
Nunez had been rumored to be of interest to the Indians of late,so I thought I might be typing a post for him,but of his arrival in Cleveland,not San Francisco.
Nunez will hopefully plug in at third base for at least a while and then find plenty of at-bats elsewhere.
Mejia is an interesting arm,but one of a cluster of interesting/not elite arms that the Giants have at Richmond and Sacramento,so I'm not too concerned about losing Mejia....

Still working on a podcast,so look for that,but wanted to hammer out this breaking news.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Road Trip-Batavia

The year of the road trip continued as Doug Hopkins and I traveled to Batavia New York to visit Dwyer Stadium-home of the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn league.

Batavia has been a stop that I have targeted for quite a while and I was thrilled to have the chance to get there.
Why was Batavia such a big deal?
Well,Batavia is likely the next small town to lose their NY-Penn team and in such a small town (population 6,000),it is most likely to be the next on the extinction list.
Much like Jamestown New York,once professional baseball leaves this market-it won't be coming back.
Batavia almost lost its team already as the club was sold to a group that wanted to move it to Waldorf,Maryland for the 2017 season.
The Washington Nationals were going to make a deal to become their major league provider and it was all set-Until the Baltimore Orioles decided to get some payback.
The Orioles and the Nationals have been feuding over the MASN network,how the money is allocated and how much each team receives from the network and the case is going to court.
Since Waldorf is inside the Orioles territory,Baltimore had to sign off on the deal and since the two teams aren't in the mood to help each other,the Orioles blocked the move and for now-Batavia still has a team.

Doug and I drove the little over five hour trip through the early morning fog,so we didn't get to see some breathtaking views until the ride home and I slept often through both the ride up and back.
The rest was needed,but I feel bad that I wasn't better company.
We didn't eat much on the way,Doug stopped for a breakfast sandwich at a McDonald's,while I passed.
Breakfast sandwiches,just don't do much for me.
I would wait until later to eat and we had a short wait at Dwyer Stadium.
Located in a small residential area of Batavia,Dwyer Stadium is either 20 years old or 79 depending on your opinion.
This version of Dwyer opened in 1996 on the same site of the older stadium and did what I saw in Lynchburg Va and what they could do in Hagerstown-keep the field and renovate everything around it.
The seating is metal and the grandstands are partially covered.
I love the covered grandstands and really liked the look of this one.

Batavia and the State College Spikes had been rained out the day before and the game was delayed,which enabled Doug and I to get all of the few cards that we had for the two teams signed and all were friendly.
When you do the short season teams,there are very few players that have cards until the team sets come out,so I was limited to some USA cards and two or three players had Bowmans.
Batavia's clubhouse is on the third base side and the visitors are on the first and each clubhouse has lettering on the top of them to identify them.
A State College pitcher was tossing a ball aimlessly and hit the letter the second letter I with the ball,sending the metal letter tumbling down upon him.
It was funny to see,although I'm sure the team and the person that will have to install the letter again might not find the humor in it.

I got hungry during the delay and ordered what the stand called "Muck Dog Chow" in which for 6.50,you get two meats (minus the bread) of your choice,macaroni salad and home fries.
At a good price,I added a 7up (Dwyer gets high grades just for that) and for ten bucks,a decent platter.
The home fries weren't great,but the "White Hot" sausages were quite good.
Not bad at all,but I wish I could say the same for the souvenirs which were located in a stand that had paint peeling and few items.
I try to buy the ladies a shirt from various stops,but these items had hard to see prices and the stand wasn't manned so I passed.

After we left,we ate at a place named Bourbon and Burgers.
We had a choice of over thirty burgers.and I selected the Hollapoppa,a burger with bacon,jalapeno poppers and cheddar cheese.
The burger was tremendous,even if the side of fries were just average,but at 10.99 for such a sizable burger-I thought it was a bargain.
The real star of the dinner was our waitress Tara,who was tremendous,
If you are ever in Batavia and I doubt that I will ever be again,try Bourbon and Burgers and hope you get Tara to wait on you...

The drive home saw us drive right past Bowman Field,home of the Williamsport Crosscutters of the same league and had we had cards,we could have stopped by.
Instead,Doug and I with Bill Cover and Derreck Chupak will wait a few weeks and see the Cutters host the Auburn Doubledays,which will hopefully see a whole bunch of cards signed!

I slept much of the way home and after a long day,we arrived home.
Doug and I always have a great time on these trips and I will hopefully get another one in before the season ends.
If you have a chance to see Batavia,you won't be overwhelmed,but you'll enjoy baseball from a past time and you just might smile a little....

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Forgotten Superstars-NOT that Victor Cruz

A long overdue trip to the Forgotten Superstars universe with a long forgotten player that shows that this feature isn't always for superstars,or even just stars-it can be regular players that for one reason or another connected with me....

Victor Cruz was a pitcher that showed promise until he couldn't control his weight and was quickly out of baseball.
I've written in the past that certain teams make connections with you even if they aren't very good.
The 1979 Cleveland Indians were that team because it was the first year that I was an Indians fan and Victor Cruz was a player that I connected with as it was his first season with the Indians-just it was my first as a fan.

Victor had been obtained in the off-season from Toronto in exchange for promising shortstop Alfredo Griffin,who would be the starter there for the Blue Jays for the following six seasons and would win Rookie of the year in the 1979 season,but Cruz had high value after a 7-3 season in 1978 with a tiny 1.71 ERA in Canada..
Considering the cost (Griffin and Phil Lansford,who was a former first rounder of the Wahoos) and his 1978 performance,Cruz was expected to anchor the Cleveland bullpen for seasons to come.
Instead of a solid shortstop with the talents of Griffin,Cleveland was forced to continue to run the likes of Tom Veryzer and Jerry Dybzinski out to the position until the arrival of Julio Franco in 1983,so hopes were high for Victor Cruz.

Victor responded by not winning the closer job outright (he would split it with lefty Sid Monge) and finishing 3-9 with an ERA over four with ten saves.
Cruz would rebound a little in the 1980 season with 12 saves and cut a run off of his ERA of the previous year in improving his record to 6-7.
Little did Victor know it,his career was almost finished in the big leagues as he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates before the 1981 campaign as part of the trade for Bert Blyleven.
Despite notching decent numbers (2.65 ERA) in 23 games,Cruz was sent to the minors and other than a 17 appearance stint in 1983 with Texas (1.44 ERA and 5 saves),Cruz was finished in the big leagues-career finished at 25,although he would pitch in the Mexican league for a while.

Why is Victor Cruz so memorable to me?
Well,it was his distinctive pitching motion,which brought to mind Luis Tiant and his weight (well over 200 pounds on a 5'8 frame) giving him the look of a stubby milk bottle from the days of milk being in the quart glass jars.
Cruz had different deliveries,but most famous for a back turning sidearm sling that was fun to watch and could be very effective.

The other memory was from Big Ball.
Those of you long time readers might remember this post about the Big Ball Universe and all those wonderful games against my brother and kids from the neighborhood.
Well,I spent many of those games as the Indians and would often "use" Victor Cruz as my "closer" and go fully into the Cruz impersonation,which drove my brother crazy.
Mainly because he couldn't hit the ball off the motion,but it caused him to lose his mind-to the point of refusing to swing no matter where the pitch was,if I used that motion!
Of all of those things,my little brother screaming and refusing to swing against that motion is the most memorable of all.

I met Sid Monge when he was the pitching coach of the State College Spikes and playing in Niles,Ohio vs the Mahoning Valley Scrappers and I asked about his former bullpen partner.
Monge told me Cruz had passed away and said "Victor ate himself out of baseball first and then he ate himself to death".
A sad ending for not a superstar and often forgotten player that nonetheless steps into our little universe...

I have a podcast planned for tonight and I will be doing a recap of my trip to Batavia with Doug Hopkins either later tonight or tomorrow,

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Crawford unifies over Postol

Terence Crawford unified his WBO junior welterweight title with the WBC version of the title with a easy unanimous decision win over Viktor Postol in Las Vegas.

Since as with all pay per views fights,I am unable to watch those due to work,I am relying on the words of others for the bout.
The fight was even for four rounds,before Crawford(TRS rated 1st at 140) dropped Postol (rated 2nd by TRS) twice in the fifth round and didn't lose another round as he cruised to victory,

Crawford called for Manny Pacquiao after the win,if Pacquiao would drop the weight to fight at Crawford's division,but reading the reports,some have been critical of Crawford for not stepping the pace forward in an attempt to finish Postol off.
Crawford would certainly be a preferable foe for Pacquiao than the other proposed opponent-the also Top Rank controlled WBO welterweight champ Jessie Vargas.but I'm not sure that Top Rank wants to take that fight so quickly.
Crawford might be the right fighter to tame Pacquiao,but another cash-in against Vargas first enables the money train to keep rolling...

Oscar Valdez was impressive in winning the vacant WBO featherweight title in blowing out Matias Rueda in just two rounds.
Valdez looks to be a coming star in the 126 pound division,but the issue is that all of the fighters rated ahead of him in the TRS rankings (Valdez is currently 5th) are all promoted by Al Haymon's PBC,so those fighters could be tough fights to make for Valdez.

Ramon Malpica and I each notched four points in the boxing challenge,which currently stands at 88-73