Thursday, September 29, 2016

Baltimore Memorial Stadium

I have written a lot of about the stadiums and arenas in Cleveland here at the blog and despite being a diehard fan of Cleveland and Ohio teams,I still lived in Maryland.

With that in mind,I thought I would write about the stadium that I went to most as a child-Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.
We didn't have a presence in Washington,so the Orioles were all we had as a local baseball fan-even if I wasn't an Orioles fan.

I didn't mind the Orioles for most of the seventies,although I didn't root for them.
I even liked a few Orioles like junkballing Mike Cuellar,smooth fielding Paul Blair and my favorite Oriole Ken Singleton,so despite being a Rangers and then an Indians fan,I didn't have a real hatred for the Orioles at all.
They happened to be the team on TV and the team that I got to go to see once or twice a year.most notably this night in 1978.
That began to change during the 1979 World Series,but really didn't seem to kick in until 1982.
The Orioles made a late season charge that fell just short of catching the Milwaukee Brewers for the AL East title,but that season saw the arrival of a rookie named Cal Ripken Jr and the following years would see me become a passionate rooter for whoever played Baltimore and their local hero that I always felt was way overrated.

However,I always liked Memorial Stadium and my visits there,despite the less than dazzling neighborhood it was placed in.
I remember vividly on one of my first trips watching my dad give some kids some money to "watch" our car.
I asked why he'd do that and he said "I would rather not have to change tires before I drive home".
The big marquee on the stadium itself with the dedication to the men that lost their lives in war always loomed large as one walked up to the stadium.

I always liked being able to get things of my favorite teams that you could rarely get anywhere else.
I vividly remember saving money for a trip to an Orioles game and bought bobbleheads of the Indians and Pirates (I still have both-minus the original boxes),and stopped in the end of the game rush to use the rest of my money on a Texas Ranger bobble,only to be grabbed and chastised by my dad (He was right) for not staying with him as we left.
I never did get my Ranger bobble (I kind of remember him looking like the photo shown),although I still wouldn't mind having him at the right price...

I always liked the scoreboard in left center and the various Baltimore area sponsors like National Bohemian beer and Esskay hot dogs.
One of my favorite stories from my childhood came from Esskay hot dogs and I still smile thinking of it.
This guy that went hunting with my dad and grandfather stopped by our cabin (we went there a lot) and he used to ramble on and on about the only hot dog that he would eat was Esskay.
So,one day on a visit,my grandfather took some Briggs hot dogs and put them in an Esskay package and made sure he saw them come out of the wrapper.
I watched this guy continue to rave about the quality of Esskay as he happily wolfed down Briggs!!

I also liked the open centerfield area where you could see these planted "wooded areas" right in front of row houses!
It was a different look,but one that I enjoyed despite an aversion to the Orioles.
I seem to remember Brad Komminsk of the Indians jumping at the center field wall and tumbling over in a late 1980's game.(it was 1989) into the bullpens.
Listen to the Youtube below for the only good thing about Orioles games for me-a great announcing crew of Mel Proctor and John Lowenstein...

A great part of Memorial was the PA announcer,Rex Barney,who was a former Brooklyn Dodger pitcher renowned for throwing hard and just as much for his lack of control!
Barney used two catch phrases still used today by fans my age and older-"Give that fan a contract!" when a fan would make a nice snag of a foul ball or his "Thank Youuuu" when he signed off with announcements over the sound system.
To this day,when I play Strat O Matic with teams of that era,I'll think of Rex Barney announcing them over the PA....

Another thing that I always connected with Memorial Stadium,despite few games on the network was this really annoying commercial for WMAR,who showed so many Orioles away games with Home Team Sports showing the home games.
Unfortunately,I was unable to find a You Tube of this classic,but "Hey Orioles" continues to be a song used and parodied by Oriole haters of the day even now!

Memorial Stadium wasn't a beautiful park and it certainly was not a park that was designed to be a 100 year field like Wrigley or Fenway.
It hosted three football teams-the Colts,the late CFL Colts,who are the only non-Canadian team to win the Grey Cup and I still wish I would have seen a CFL game there and the hated Ravens while their stadium was being built.
But despite the teams that played there usually being rooted against by me,I still have fond memories of the old gal on 33rd street and even though Oriole Park being a more beautiful facility than Memorial,I still think of the Orioles being at Memorial Stadium first...

I may not have the hatred for the Orioles that I did in the past,I once made the statement "Nothing good ever comes out of Baltimore except Mary Beth Marsden" speaking of the Baltimore anchorwoman that I was a fan of,but I look back at those teams and their stadium fondly as the first big league stadium that I ever visited along with the team I loved to hate....

Monday, September 26, 2016

For want of a toe-Browns lose in Miami in Overtime

The Cleveland Browns combined an inspired gameplan with some incredible efforts from players not known for such to almost grab their first win of the season.
Sadly,new kicker Cody Parkey missed three field goals,including one that could have won the game at the end of regulation and the Miami Dolphins earned a 30-24 win..
Cody Kessler threw for 241 yards in his first career start,but the true star was Terrelle Pryor,who caught eight passes for 144 yards.passed for 35 and rushed for 21.
The now 0-3 Browns will travel to Washington next Sunday.

Brownie Bits

1) Before we get started on this game,I wanted to address a concern.
Carson Wentz lit up his first real team (Browns and Bears previous) in a 34-3 win over the Steelers.
After the Paul DePodesta comments that Wentz wasn't a "top 20" quarterback in their evaluating of talent-I worry about the front office picking the right QB if next year comes down to DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame or Clemson's DeShone Watson.
The Batphone has officially turned red...

2) More Wentz-Three different Browns front office tenures have traded players that could have resulted in impact talents-Julio Jones,Sammy Watkins (among others) and now Carson Wentz over the last six years.
The trades featured a number one pick the following season-none of which were in the top ten and with the Eagles starting 3-0,that one does not look to be a high pick either....

3) Now to the Browns in this game.
Terrelle Pryor didn't only play great or even to use the cliche' "left it all out on the field",he seems to be maturing as a person.
Pryor seems to be well past the guy that needed to be the center of attention at Ohio State and has really bought in.
Perhaps that is Pryor's background with Hue Jackson,but its been something to see,

4) Hue Jackson wasn't perfect in this game,but his game plan was inspired and put the ball in the hands of his most explosive player as much as he possibly could.
One would think that makes sense,but you would be amazed how many times that does not happen.

5) I was surprised that Jackson chose to kick off in overtime.
I won't beat up too much for that,but will for the decision to not try to get a little closer for Cody Parkey at the end of regulation.
I would have tried a play or two to try to get a little closer for a guy that had already missed two field goals at that time.

6) I didn't even have time to write about Cody Parkey being signed to replace Patrick Murray after Murray injured himself in practice and being placed on injured reserve.
I cannot imagine Parkey not being at least challenged by someone (or more) this week and I wouldn't be surprised if we might have seen the last of Cody Parkey in those ugly uniforms.

7) The name that immediately entered my name was the former Bear Robbie Gould and wondered if he was with someone else already.
I did a quick Google search of Gould and came up with this.
Read the link and come back,but this makes me think of a scenario that I discussed with Ramon Malpica months ago.
What happens when the old school "football guy" Hue Jackson starts butting heads with new wave "analytics" guys Sashi Brown/Paul DePodesta over talent?
Could Hue Jackson build popularity in his innovative game plans keeping an overmatched team somewhat competitive and be able leverage that with Jimmy Haslem with "These non-football people aren't giving me what I need to win"?
Long way to go,but if that rumor is true-we could look back in a year or even months and say this all started with Robbie Gould vs Cody Parkey.
File that one away.

8) I haven't always been a fan of the front office,but assuming they get the blame for Parkey over Gould,it's time to give them credit for the assumption that they run the waiver wire as three recent pickups had nice days.
Tyrone Holmes pass rush forced the hurried throw by Ryan Tannehill that fellow pickup Briean Boddy-Calhoun turned into a pick six. Boddy-Calhoun had a decent enough performance with Joe Haden out (despite being beaten for a score) and Corey Lemonier sacked and forced a fumble that set up Parkey's miss at the end of regulation....

9) Cody Kessler was OK when you consider everything.
Kessler didn't get intercepted (although he did lose a fumble) and managed to keep the game within reach by avoiding the big mistake.
Kessler brought the type of short game accuracy that Hue Jackson talked about after drafting him in the third round,but also showed the lack of a big arm that had followed him from USC as well.

10) The offensive line continued to allow their passer to get pounded as Kessler was sacked three times and took numerous hits.
Combine that with a bad day for right tackle Austin Pasztor with three holding penalties and two false starts and you have a recipe for seeing Charlie Whitehurst before this year is finished.

11) Glass half full-two games that could have been won and the team played reasonably well.
With continued strong effort,this team will win a few games (1-4) before the finale...

12) Glass half empty-Two opportunities missed,three of the next four on the road,the only home game is against the Patriots in Tom Brady's return (Thanks schedule maker) and this could see the Browns at 0-7 (I can see the Browns having a chance to win in Nashville against the Titans) entering a October 30th home game vs the Jets.
Can this team continue to scrap as hard then as now?
Interesting question...

13) Final note:I wonder what Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer thought as they watched Terrelle Pryor today and wonder how Robert Turbin did in Indianaplolis (4 carries for 9 yards)...

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Podcast:Baseball trips and Pro Football Hall of Fame

I explain why the podcast was away for a about some of my favorite and least favorite baseball stops on the road and detailed thoughts on my votes for the next class of the pro football hall of fame..

Friday, September 23, 2016

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM returns for another weekend of football action..

Last Week: 5-3
Season: 17-6

Boise State over Oregon State 40-28
Memphis over Bowling Green 38-28
Washington over Arizona 41-27
Middle Tennessee State over Louisiana Tech 34-30

Game of the Week
Wisconsin over Michigan State 19-17

Dolphins over Browns 24-7
Saints over Falcons 36-33

Game of the Week
Panthers over Vikings 27-21

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Cleaning out the inbox

Time to clean the inbox and we'll start with Bruce Markusen's Card Corner that he does for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bruce picked the 1969 Topps to discuss former Indians outfielder Ken "the Hawk" Harrelson,but I've always preferred the 1970 (shown) or his 1971 with Hawk seemingly cracking up over the duller 1969 version.
Markusen's article explains why the 1969 cards are so dull and has a comprehensive look at Hawk's career and his announcing career.
I'm a huge fan of Hawk's,but I can certainly understand why some fans cannot stand him-he certainly is a homer and loves the White Sox definitively!

The Comeback writes of the possible end of a torrid rivalry between New Mexico and New Mexico State due to the issues of conferences.
New Mexico State looks headed to 1-AA as the Sun Belt booted them and Idaho,no other conferences appear to want the Aggies (small market) and as an independent,New Mexico State appears unlikely to be able to schedule five home games a year,which is an NCAA D-1 requirement.
The question then becomes,if NMSU goes down to 1-AA,will the Lobos continue to schedule them?
It's too bad and a sad ending to a big rivalry...

Battlin' Bob sends this note from on the many people that the Rams move from St.Louis affected on game day and otherwise.
It goes to show just how leaving a town can sour a market and this market might be poisoned for good when you consider the Cardinals left as did the Rams and the passing over of St.Louis for expansion for Carolina and Jacksonville.
People never look at the stain on Paul Tagliabue's resume for insisting on Jacksonville as an expansion club.
Picking them over Baltimore likely cost Cleveland the Browns and over St.Louis,might have meant football never left Southern California.....

Joe Plum adds a page on the demise of the Shawshank Redemption tree in Ohio.
I went and saw the tree a few years back with the lovely Cherie,but had been split after being hit by lightning.
Now the tree is down as it succumbed to high winds and is on its side.
No word on the eventual home or use for the wood from the tree...

One of my all time favorite Cavaliers talks with Sam Amico of Amico Hoops as Mark Price chats about his career in Cleveland and a little about the Cavalies NBA title.
Price is currently the head coach at Charlotte,who plays in Conference USA.....

Comstock's writes about the business of minor league baseball and their major league affiliations as the article focuses on the Sacramento RiverCats and their move from the Oakland Athletics to the San Francisco Giants in 2014.
The interesting article talks about the ins and outs of Sacramento's move and how it was done along with how it worked out.

We wrap up with a ESPN short film on Peter Norman.
Norman was the Australian sprinter that was on the medal stand with Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their famous protest in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
It's a take on the incident that I haven't seen before...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Browns sign Charlie Whitehurst,release John Hughes

The battered and bruised Cleveland Browns needed a veteran quarterback to add to rookies Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan and they went out and signed one in well-traveled Charlie Whitehurst.
The 34 year old Whitehurst has spent time in San Diego,Seattle,Tennessee and Indianapolis and is remembered in Cleveland best for being the starter for Tennessee in the 2014 game that saw the Browns make their biggest comeback for a win in their history.

Whitehurst isn't going to make anyone forget Johnny Unitas anytime soon,but it isn't like there were plenty of wonderful options available,so I suppose he'll have to do.

Cleveland also signed center Austin Reiter off the Washington practice squad.
Reiter was a seventh round pick in 2015 from South Florida and adds needed depth after the pulmonary issues with Cameron Erving after the loss to Baltimore.
Reiter will be the backup to John Greco during the absence of Erving...

The surprise release was that of veteran defensive lineman John Hughes.
Hughes was expected to be a starter entering training camp,but missed time with personal problems and never seemed to get caught up.
The defensive line has shown some good things with Danny Shelton and Carl Nassib,but the injury to Nassib makes the timing of the release questionable.
Still,it seems like it was just a matter of time for Hughes between the missed camp and the lack of ties to this regime.

Cleveland also cut inside linebacker Scooby Wright to make space for the two new additions.
The seventh round pick from Arizona had been inactive for the first two games,but the Browns retain interest and hope to sign him to the practice squad,should Wright clear waivers.

Boxing Challenge-Canelo stops Smith

The boxing challenge saw both Ramon Malpica and I add five points over the weekend to our totals on a big fight weekend.
The total is currently 111-92.

The featured bout saw Canelo Alvarez lift the WBO junior middleweight title from Liam Smith with a body shot in round nine.
Alvarez dropped Smith in rounds seven and eight before the thunderous left hook that finished the bout.
Alvarez broke his right thumb in the win and will miss the remainder of 2016.
Ramon and I each gained two point for the Alvarez KO.

The co-feature saw each of us add two more points as Willie Monroe.Jr outboxed Gabriel Rosado and earned a dull unanimous decision.
The less said about this one,the better...

In Japan,Shinsuke Yamanaka knocked our Anselmo Moreno to retain his WBC Bantamweight belt in round seven.
Yamanaka floored Moreno in round one,but Moreno returned the favor in round four
Yamanaka dropped Moreno late in round six before the clinching two knockdowns in round seven to end the fight.
Ramon earned one point for picking Yamanaka,while I picked Moreno..

In Poland, Oleksandr Usyk won the WBO Cruiserweight title with a unanimous decision over Kryzstof Glowacki.
The former Olympic gold medalist went the distance for the first time in his career,but was a clear winner.
Usyk might be one to keep an eye as another breakout star from the former Soviet republics in the near future.
I picked Usyk for one point,while Ramon picked Glowacki.