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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cleaning out the inbox

We start with a cleaning of the inbox with the passing of one of the stars and characters of the American Basketball Association.

Marvin "Bad News" Barnes passed away after a long and often "spirited"life at the age of 62.
Barnes led Providence to the 1973 Final Four and then signed a large contract with the Spirits (get the pun) of St.Louis of the ABA,where he won Rookie of the Year,averaged 24 points a game and lifted the Spirits to one of the greatest upsets in ABA playoff history over the New York Nets and a fellow named Julius Erving.

Barnes had the postup game at 6'9 to succeed,but yet was one of the forerunners of today's power forwards with enough speed and athleticism to run the floor.
Barnes had led Providence to a double digit lead over Memphis State in the NCAA semis before a injury to Barnes ended his evening and allowed a comeback that ended the Friars season before a possible meeting against Bill Walton and UCLA in the finals.

Barnes was a high pick in the ABA dispersal draft by Detroit,but the player in the ABA never transferred to the NBA,playing with the Pistons,Celtics,Buffalo Braves and the Braves successors-the San Diego (now Los Angeles Clippers) and Barnes became better known for off court trangressions than what he did on the floor.
The Marvin Barnes stories are those of legend and for more on Barnes and the ABA,I could not recommend more Terry Pluto's oral history of the ABA-Loose Balls which is a fun read for not only basketball fans,but even the non-sports fan....

The reigning Peregrine Falcon queen of the Terminal Tower in Cleveland ended in a death last week as SW was found dead after apparently losing her "spot" to a deposed falcon that lost her home to the demolition of the Inner Belt Bridge.
SW had raised 38 chicks through her 12 year term at the top of the Tower with three different mates and had battled through various injuries.
The speedy falcon is able to do well in large cities with the abundance of spaces to nest and the small birds to feast on allow plenty of food as well.

Former Ohio congressman James Traficant passed away at the age of 73 after the tractor he was driving turned over and fell on him after some heart conditions while driving.
The eccentric Representative had been known for his crazy hairstyle (later revealed to be a toupee'),his rambling speeches on the floor of Congress and his using of the Star Trek phrase "Beam me up" at the conclusion of his speeches.
As entertaining as his speeches were and his populist rants often hit home,Traficant wasn't always warm and fuzzy as he was expelled from Congress and convicted of racketeering,bribery and fraud.
The former Pitt quarterback that was teammates with Mike Ditka would attempt a political comeback after seven years in prison,but would only receive ten percent of the vote in an try for his old seat in Washington.

Hardball Times hammers one out of the park with an article on small town baseball in the minors in Elizabethton TN, with the Elizabethton Twins and their consistent success in the Appalachian League.
The story talks about the development of players through the years,small town baseball and famous players that have been through town.
The Twins only have one rookie league (as do the Braves) and as a result those two teams are generally the bullies of the league....




Sunday, September 28, 2014

Buckeyes fight off Cincinnati 50-28

Ohio State was looked at as being a possible upset victim going into their game against Cincinnati,but instead it was like a bunch of older kids playing a team of younger ones.
Often times,such games end in a long lead,then relaxed play tightens the game and then once the team gets back into the swing of things,the game is salted away.
That was what the Buckeyes 50-28 win over the Bearcats was like.
A 30-7 lead was tightened to as close as 33-28 before a final flurry produced the final.
J..T. Barrett threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns while Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 182 yards and a score.
The now 3-1 Buckeyes being conference play next week against the Maryland Terrapins in College Park.....

Olentangy Offerings

1) Ohio State set a record for first downs in a game with 45.
That broke a record from 1935 against Drake.
When you get 45 first downs,your offense is running smoothly and that's a good sign unless the Cincinnati is made up of little kids....

2) J,T.Barrett looked as comfortable as you could have hoped for throwing  the football.
Barrett might be coming into his own as a passer and just might get the Buckeyes through this season yet...

3) As good as Barrett played,Ezekiel Elliott was the player of the game.
Elliott reminded me of Carlos Hyde as he simply moved the chains and with 182 yards and a long run of 14 yards,that's what a running back can do.
He may not have breakaway speed,but Elliott is the type of game that you can win games with...

4) The co-hit of the game?
Joey Bosa's crunching of Gunner Kiel that saw the ball fly ten yards backwards and then batted out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
Joey Bosa is a monster.

5) Anthony Schlagel's hit early in the game.
Anthony Schlagel?
Yep,the former Buckeye linebacker that played eight or nine years ago and is now the team strength coach drilled some dum dum that decided to run around the field.
Reminded me of Mike Curtis nailed a dum dum in Baltimore when I was a kid...

6) Give full credit to the offensive line that so many (including me) have had questions about.
They kept the pocket clean and opened holes for the running game,which gives me some hope for Big Ten play...

7) Downside-I still don't feel Luke Fickel as defensive coordinator.
The big plays that the Buckeyes allowed were based a lot on scheme and could be been on Fickel as much as the players.

8) I like Vonn Bell and think he has plenty of talent,but he is starting to remind me of Bradley Roby and that's not a good thing.
Roby was never a favorite of mine and Bell is beginning to show a tendency to give up the big play.

9) Three passing touchdowns against the defense of 60 yards or more.
The vulnerability is there,can any of the conference opponents take advantage of it?

10) Back to back games welcoming the newbies to the league.
Would be nice to teach them early what it is like to battle the bully of the league and set precedent for the way things are going to be....

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cavaliers trade Keith Bogans

The Cleveland Cavaliers did not hold onto swingman Keith Bogans very long as the team swung Bogans to the Philadelphia 76ers along with a 2018 second rounder in return for another protected second rounder and most importantly,a 5.3 million trade exception to be used in a trade later this season.
This could have been in the works from the start as Bogans never arrived in Cleveland to meet the media,so he could have been tipped off from the start.
I also (in hindsight) never saw a Bogans tweet on the trade,so that looks like a prepared deal with the Sixers as well..

The loss of Bogans is not a huge one,but I did find it interesting that the team acted so quickly in obtaining a trade exception rather that seeing what Bogans had left in the tank and using Bogans expiring salary with that of Brendan Haywood and obtaining a possible star level player for the 2015-16 season.
That plan is now not possible after this trade,but the option for improving the team is still there through the exception.

Cleveland also will more than likely avoid paying the salary cap penalty for exceeding the cap without the contract of Bogans so I would say that had more than a little to do with this decision,

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM returns after a strong week.
Not a great stretch of games with Texas Tech playing on Thursday and the only game with two ranked teams on the same day.

College
Ohio State over Cincinnati 27-23
Bowling Green over UMass 34-20
Stanford over Washington 31-26
Boise State over Air Force 32-19

Game of the Week
Texas A&M over Arkansas 45-19

Pro
Saints over Cowboys 35-26
Game of the Week
Eagles over 49ers 29-26

Last Week:7-1
Overall: 22-8

Friday, September 26, 2014

Television Tryouts!

As long time readers know,I usually scan the new television shows and catch a few that for one reason or another have appeal for me to try.
It can be the premise,star or even genre to get me to try shows and usually I'll give each show three or four weeks to cement my viewerships.
Some stick for the long term,some stick for the short term and then fall by the wayside when I miss a few episodes and some just don't make it at all...

This year its four (Editor's Note-now Five) and I'll get back to you in which makes the cut in a month or so.

Madam Secretary-Sundays CBS.
This is a politically based show from the White House and I am a political junkie.
However,I never bothered with the West Wing,so this makes the tryout camp for one reason-Tea' Leoni,who I would wager that I rank at the top of her most loyal fan list.
Hell,I sat through the godawful Spanglish,didn't I?
We will see if the star power of Tea' Leoni can be enough to make this a TRS winner...

Gotham-Mondays Fox
This is a Batman "prequel" based around future Commissioner Gordon as a crime show and with some Batman track record tossed in.
Seems interesting as a comics fan and with Donal Logue (loved Life and Terriers with Logue as a co-star) as detective Harvey Bullock,Gotham was worth a few shows....

Scorpion-Mondays CBS
Scorpion is a show that looks like a team filled with geniuses that will fight crimes around the world yet cannot normally function in the everyday world.
Of the four shows on the surface,this looks like the one that is most likely to not make my cut.

Forever-Tuesdays-ABC
This one revolves around a medical examiner who is immortal and deals with the curse of such.
Only one person knows his secret (Judd Hirsch? LOU?) and he has another fellow with a similar problem chasing him too..
This show is likely the show that gets cut first as ABC has programmed it against the terrific Person of Interest on CBS and I would wager that the person that might like Forever may never give a chance because of already watching POI.

Editors Note-Late addition AKA I forgot
NCIS New Orleans-Tuesdays CBS
I don't watch either of the NCIS shows,but this one has appeal as Cherie and I were both huge fans of Quantum Leap and Scott Bakula.
Being that Bakula is the center of this series,I think this will be keeping itself around along with the convenience of being on right before Person of Interest.
As long as Cherie can handle "Sam Beckett" being another character,that is...

I'll try to be back in a month and give a report on the results...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cavaliers acquire Keith Bogans

 The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to add role players to bulk up the bench around the new Big 3 as the Cavaliers sent the three players (and their team friendly contracts) that they obtained from the Utah Jazz,along with forward Dwight Powell and two second round picks to the Boston Celtics.
The return? Keith Bogans,who will step in with three point shooting ability (35 % for his career) and underrated defensive skills.
Well,the Cavaliers also added two future second round picks that were originally the Sacramento Kings property,although those are "top 55 (yes,that is NOT a typo) protected".
That made me laugh more than you can know when you consider those picks have to be in the final five picks in the draft to receive them and makes them the definition of the term throw-in.

The facts of the three players going to Boston can be found on the link above,so I won't get into those too much,although I still would have liked to have found a spot for John Lucas III as a backup point guard at a cheap price and since it is likely that the Celtics will waive Lucas,I wouldn't be against the Cavaliers re-signing him at reasonable cost.
Boston did get a nice prospect in Stanford's Dwight Powell,who is now on his third team since June's draft and he should make their team.

Keith Bogans does bring the aforementioned skills to Cleveland,but he did only play in a handful of
games last season and is 34.
Still,even if he close to healthy,he brings even more veteran leadership and professionalism to the locker room,but he brings with him one other thing-A contract that is not guaranteed for this season and next season at a little over five million per.
Cleveland isn't going to have a ton of cap space anymore,so quiet deals like this are how they are going to continue to tinker with the roster.
Take Bogans and his five and half million for next offseason with Brendan Haywood's ten and a half million and suddenly Cleveland could turn two aging role players into a possible superstar addition at 16 million per year.
And the Cavaliers will still be able to get whatever they could out of the pair for this season on the court as well!

This deal could be the most underrated move that the Cavaliers have made other than the LeBron James signing and Kevin Love trade as it sets them up for a long term run over the next few years as a team that needed cap space stunningly will have it.
Whatever Keith Bogans brings on the floor might be overshadowed by what his cap space brings next summer and that might prove to be quite interesting...



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

2014 Hagerstown Suns in Review-The Hitters

The 2014 Hagerstown Suns were much more well known for their pitching prospects than their position players,but there were a few that shows prospect potential this season..

We start behind the plate as we then work our way around the diamond.
Spencer Kieboom returned from an injury marred 2013 and hit well (over.300),but showed signs of defensive issues to the point of being a liability.
Kieboom was 23 and a little old for the level,but considering he missed 2013,that was to be expected.
I like his bat and think he is someone to keep track of next season.
Craig Manuel's numbers in Hagerstown (.270 4 HR) were better than those that he posted in Potomac and he may be on his way to battling Cole Leonida as the organizational catcher.
Austin Chubb replaced Manuel after his promotion and showed little at the plate in limited action.
Considering Chubb's age (25) I'd scratch him off any prospect list.

The infield starts at first base with Jimmy Yezzo,a solid performer that could continue to progress.
Yezzo bats lefthanded and has a chance to hit prospect status with a solid 2015.
John Wooten hit over .300 in the first half for the Suns before being promoted to High A Potomac.
Wooten's numbers there were unspectacular and next year will be pivotal for the former Oakland Athletic.
Carlos Lopez replaced Wooten as the DH/part time first baseman and delivered exactly what you would hope from a 24 year old at Low A-a little power (6 homers) and a lot of leadership ability.
Lopez is the type of Crash Davis type that might hit his ceiling at Harrisburg down the road.
The Suns shuffled their lineup in the middle infield constantly with many of the group spending time at both second base and shortstop.
Wilmer Difo was the breakout star in winning the SAL MVP award.
Difo looked overmatched in his Hagerstown stint in 2013,but his play this year put him on the prospect map.
Showing power (team leading 14 homers) and speed (49 steals),Difo might best project as a super sub type that plays every day in different positions.
The rest of the bunch do not show ability to succeed at upper levels,
Brennan Middleton hit for the highest average (.253),but with no homers and average speed (5 steals) along with turning 24,Middleton doesn't seem to be hitting many prospect lists.
David Masters started the season at shortstop and ended the season there with Willie Medina playing in between during a Masters injury.
Both players straddled the Mendoza line offensively and should return to Hagerstown next season.
Cody Dent played all four infield positions and corner outfield spots and hit the homer that rocked the Muni in the playoffs.
Otherwise,Dent's offensive numbers were nothing to rave about (.204),but his versatility should keep him around the Nats system somewhere....
Drew Ward spent the entire season as a 19 year old in Hagerstown at third base and showed promise (.269,10 homers).
Ward might not be at third long term (18 errors) and he tends to wave at outside curveballs,but with patience,I think Ward has potential.
I might think about returning Ward to Hagerstown to start next season considering his age,but his numbers will most likely land him in Potomac.

Rafael Bautista leads the outfielders as Bautista hit a solid .290 with 69 steals on the season.
It wasn't a totally punchless .290 either with 5 homers and 20 doubles,so the 21 year old could develop into a higher level prospect,if he can develop a little more power as he fills out.
I compare Bautista to Michael Taylor,who was less than impressive in Hagerstown and turned into a fine prospect with some patience.
I liked Bautista the better of the two,looking at past notes and think he is worth keeping an eye on.
Issac Ballou was decent in Hagerstown and Potomac,but not spectacular and being that the Marshall product will start next season at the age of 25,he will need to do something special to start in 2015 to have any chance of being considered a prospect...
Narciso Mesa was overmatched at Potomac before being returned to Hagerstown at the age of 22.
Mesa improved as a Sun and I'm not ready to give up on him,but the struggles at Potomac cause me some concern...
Wilman Rodriguez was ok in a year that saw him injured and never seemed to really get on track.
Rodriguez will turn 24 in the middle of next season,so I suppose the team will try to move him to Potomac if they think he has a chance of being a higher level player.
Estarlin Martinez returned to Hagerstown after spending 2013 with the Suns and after a month of hitting over .300,was moved to Potomac.
Martinez looks the part of having power,but between the two levels,Martinez hit just one home run and power questions continue to plague him.
Not ready to give up yet,but I'm very interested in following him in 2015.

The position players for the 2014 Suns are a mixed bag,but they have a few that are solid prospects,even if none of them are five star prospects.
The Nationals continue to use older players in Hagerstown (although this years team was a bit younger than 2013) to give their teams a chance to win championships.
That's great for fans here,but it can hurt the development of prospects or not have younger players at all.

I may be be back sometime soon with some thoughts on memories of the 2014 season for the Suns and the graphing circuit along with more thoughts on the status of the team as far as Fredericksburg Va goes.....