Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Panda Returns

It goes to show how disappointing the 2017 season has been for the San Francisco Giants after a season that most (including me) expected to see a solid championship contender and instead received a team that is so bad that they have a chance to have the first pick in next years draft (currently they would pick second) that the most exciting thing of late (other than the return of Madison Bumgarner) was the signing of a player that hit .212 this season and was basically paid to go away.

The return of Pablo Sandoval is surprising when you consider the noise that he made when he left for a five year and nearly one hundred million dollar contract with New York Lite err.Boston Red Sox.
Sandoval left on less than great terms after turning down the Giants offer after the team won the 2014 World Series and made several disparaging comments about the team and its players after arriving in Boston.
Sandoval made sure that he apologized to the Giants and their fans after he signed a minor league contract.which was smart in order to take that off the table and allow him to concentrate on a comeback that seems unlikely to end well,if his numbers in Boston indicate what Sandoval's value is at this time.

The Giants are in a position to see what a once valuable player can give since of the remaining two and a half years on the contract that Sandoval signed with Boston,only the veterans minimum would have to be paid by San Francisco,if Sandoval is ever able to make the parent club again.
The minor league contract will see Sandoval play third base for the next six weeks or so in AAA for Sacramento and gauge his progress from there.

Sandoval was clearly out of his element in Boston when his first season (2015) was the highlight of his tenure with pedestrian numbers of .245,10 homers and 47 runs batted in,followed it up with just three games in 2016 (0 for 6) and  his struggles in just 32 games this season continued at .212,4 homers with 12 RBI.
I thought that Sandoval was the type of player that could lose his skills quickly (I wrote it here) because of his size and weight issues and I've seen it happen before (George "Boomer" Scott anyone?),but I was still surprised that it began to happen almost immediately after leaving the Giants.

Sometimes players are made for certain teams,leagues and even ballparks and Pablo Sandoval might be one of these players.
It's hard to believe,but Pablo Sandoval is still just 30 years old.although he turns 31 in August.
It seems like he should be closer to 35,but in theory,if Sandoval is a "horse for a course" for San Francisco,he could have time left as a contributor at an extremely low price tag.
I'm all for giving it a try,but I'm not counting on that happening.
Still,it is something for Giants followers to keep tabs on for a while in a season that ranks among the most disappointing in franchise history....

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Kyrie Irving asks to leave

Kyrie Irving has reportedly asked the Cleveland Cavaliers to trade him as he is tired of playing with LeBron James and wants to be the "focal point of a team".

Well,as long time readers might recall,Mr.Irving was the focal point of a team-the Cleveland Cavaliers at one time and they were at no point of that tenure,even a playoff team-let alone a championship contender.
Kyrie Irving has provided a list of teams that he wants to be traded to,none of which Cleveland is under any obligation to send him to or even at all since Irving's contract does not include a no-trade clause.
The fact that San Antonio is on the list is hilarious to me as the always gruff Gregg Popovich and the team concept that he has built there seems like an awful fit for a guy that would rather be "THE guy" than contend for championships,but if the Spurs would be interested in shipping Kawhi Leonard (no chance at all) than by all means,give the guy what he wants....

For Irving to not want to play with LeBron James is mind boggling.
I don't recall players wanting to leave Michael Jordan,Magic Johnson or Larry Bird and just a cursory look at the oft-maligned Kevin Durant in Golden State to see the importance of keeping a team together.
Irving had a run as the foundation of a team and it didn't go well,although Irving was a young player at the time and players do need to ripen on a vine a bit to lead a losing team.
In addition,the stats show that even now-the Cavaliers were outscored on the season during times that Irving played and LeBron James was on the bench-a number that might not bode well for a player that wants "his own team".
I've always thought of Irving as more of a 2 guard that moves with the ball more than a true point guard and those guys tend to put up big numbers on teams that range from bad to a marginal playoff team.
LeBron is a player that makes the other players on the floor better,I'm not sure that Irving is that type of player.

I just don't understand it unless it comes down to Irving's ego and immaturity or an outside influence (Irving's father has been reported to have a LaVar Ball type of influence) pushing him to be more of a solo star,because other than that-it simply makes zero amount of sense.
LeBron James isn't blameless on the overall though.
He says he's committed to Cleveland (I think and hope he is),but it seems like every year or two,we play this LBJ hits free agency soon game and as a result,the franchise doesn't know what to expect and Cleveland is a destination for elite players only as long as they host James,so players are naturally reluctant to commit to Cleveland without the same commitment from James.

The Cavaliers won't have a small number of suitors for the services of Irving,but I would assume they would prefer to send him to the Western Conference,although a possible deal might link Irving to the Knicks (near his hometown in New Jersey) for some combination that would involve Carmelo Anthony.
I would want some draft picks involved as the Knicks should be delivering some high picks even with Irving in that type of deal.
I'd prefer that Irving be sent to the West and would really rather him be traded to a bottom dweller out there where he can score thirty points a night,be the star and go 30-52 every season.
Phoenix or Sacramento would fit that description nicely!
Had Irving made this demand a month ago,the Cavaliers might have been able to make a much better deal.
I would think Indiana would have preferred Irving to the Paul George deal they made with the Oklahoma City Thunder and I would especially think that the Clippers would have rather had Irving than what they acquired from Houston for Chris Paul.

Even though every Cavalier fan is broiling Irving right now,I won't-Not yet.
Remember when Kobe Bryant did a similar trade demand in the media and yet he spent his entire career as a Laker?
These things don't always result in trades and I wouldn't say that we have for sure seen the last of Kyrie Irving as a Cavalier quite yet.

I don't approve of what Kyrie Irving is doing,but I'll still have some problems ripping him too much.
That championship went a long way with me and even though this is shaping up to be an ugly divorce,I'll try my best to remember one jump shot in Oakland rather than the guy that wants to jump ship...

Thursday, July 20, 2017

How to rebuild in just a few short months

The Chicago Cubs may be the more popular team in Chicago and they are the defending world champions along with being set up to be a contender for a long time to come.

All of that might be true,but if all works out,the Cubs might not wind be being the best team in Chicago,if the amazing amount of talent that has been brought to the less popular team on the South Side in the White Sox pans out.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has moved assets for a bounty of prospects that are the envy of the league and took advantage of teams from contenders that frankly surprised many observers.
These deals have revitalized a franchise that has had four losing seasons in a row (about to have their fifth) and their fan base by trading good players to desperate contenders.

Let's go back to December and the first deal with the Red Sox.
Chris Sale is a legitimate top of the rotation starter,but seemed like a luxury item on a below average team.
Combine that with occasional clubhouse issues like this one and it made sense to shop Sale as the player that could bring back the highest return (more on that later).
The Red Sox won their division last year after missing the playoff two years straight,but being swept in the first round left a rabid fan base wanting to see their team make a move to improve a good team into a serious championship contender.
Sale was sent to Boston and the prospect return was quite good as the top prospect in the game in second baseman Yoan Moncada (last night ,Moncada made his big league debut) was the headliner.
Getting Moncada was a good start,but add power armed Michael Kopech (several times clocked at over 100 MPH),who in each level of his career is averaging double digits strikeouts per nine innings with a ceiling of a 1 or 2 starter and a floor of a hard throwing reliever,an interesting arm in Victor Diaz (Diaz has struggled in high A this season with Winston-Salem) and toolsy outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe (Basabe is striking out once every four at bats with Winston-Salem) and the White Sox looked to be quite happy with their return.
This deal might come down to how Michael Kopech develops.
Moncada looks to be about as sure of a bet as you can have for a prospect and Kopech might be the difference in a good deal and a very good deal as both Diaz and Basabe were high ceiling lottery tickets that the White Sox have to be hoping that they get anything out of just one of them to make this a successful trade.

One day later,Hahn struck again with a team desperate to make postseason progress in the Washington Nationals,who have made flopping in the post-season a habit over the last few seasons.
Even considering desperation,it was more than a surprise that the ChiSox were able to turn outfielder Adam Eaton into three high level pitching prospects.
Eaton was injured after 23 games in Washington,so the jury is still out on this trade,but Washington felt the need to win now as their window might only have a few years left and Eaton was under a very friendly contract,so he would not be considered a rental.
The cost was three of the Nationals top four pitching prospects and left the Nationals dependent on the development of Erick Fedde if they are to get any help at all from the farm system for the immediate future as far as pitching wise.
Lucas Giolito was thought of as one of the best pitching prospects in the game,but had struggled in a brief cameo with the parent club in 2016,Reynaldo Lopez looked very good at AA Harrisburg last year,but was unimpressive in Washington in his short stint there and the Nationals first round draft pick Dane Dunning was included in the deal as well.
The results so far are mixed,but promising for the White Sox.
Giolito has been pounded for AAA Charlotte,but has occasionally shown signs of brilliance (a seven inning no-hitter and seven innings allowing just two hits two starts ago).
I wondered about Giolito (the link is here somewhere) and the lack of movement on his fastball as far back as his time with the Hagerstown Suns,but the talent is there.
I liked Lopez as the better of the two even back then and Lopez has begun to be mentioned as the next potential callup from the Charlotte Knights.
Lopez has allowed more than three runs only once since the end of May and more than two just twice in the same period.
Dunning has been excellent all season at two stops (Low A Kannapolis and High A Winston-Salem).
In my opinion,the White Sox had to do this trade even if none of them turn out at the big league level.
The potential to plug in three arms into a future rotation for a good,but not impact outfielder is one that a rebuilding team has to make every time....

The season moved on and the White Sox used Jose Quintana,a good not great starter that will eat innings and slot into the middle of most teams rotation anywhere from 2 to 3 depending on the team.
Combine that with another reasonable contract and Quintana was yet another valuable trade chip for Hahn .
Hahn managed to turn the dependable arm of Quintana into the huge upside of outfield powerhitter Eloy Jimenez as the main piece of another four player return.
Jimenez (Remember him?) missed the early part of the season,but his eight homers in 155 at bats was enough to make the Carolina League All-Star game and his forty doubles last season at low A South Bend is the type of stat that impresses observers.
Power bats like the 6'4 Jimenez don't come around every day and at 20,Jimenez looks like a future star.
Add another top prospect arm in Dylan Cease (thought of as a top 100 level prospect) at low A South Bend (batters in two seasons have hit below .200 against him) and two other high A minor prospects in first baseman Matt Rose (14 homers with Myrtle Beach this season) and middle infielder Bryant Flete (hitting over .300 in a breakout season for the same Pelicans) and you have the potential for a huge return.
Jimenez could be a franchise cornerstone,Cease has the upside of a solid starter and if Rose or Flete give the major league anything,this deal would rate as a huge win for the White Sox.

Hahn still wasn't finished as he used the interest of Boston in Todd Frazier to help with their failing third base situation to parlay that into a deal with the Yankees that included help for the New York bullpen in David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle.
This deal carried a little more financial wiggling as Robertson is owed 18 million for 2018 and the pro-rated version of that for the rest of this season and Frazier earns five million over the final few months of the year.
Chicago had to decide to move them and eat some money,perhaps improving the haul or make the money the problem of the buyer and as a result,the prospects might not be of the level of the players returned earlier.
This time,Hahn chose the lesser return in order to save the dollars and gained one nice prospect and others with questions.
Outfielder Blake Rutherford is the blue chip return of this bunch as he was the Yankee first round draft selection in 2016.
Rutherford was hitting .281 for Low A Charleston with only two homers,but his twenty doubles gives me hope that he'll grow into his power.
Righthanded pitcher Ian Clarkin has good numbers in two years at High A Tampa,but has been plagued by injury and has never pitched 100 innings in his nearing five year career.
Outfielder Tito Polo is hitting .307 in 2017 between High A Tampa and a recent promotion to AA Trenton after being acquired from Pittsburgh at last years trade deadline.
Polo has speed to kill (stolen base numbers of 46,37 and 27 over the last three years),but doesn't seem to have the pop in the bat to be more than a 4th outfielder.
The White Sox also took on veteran reliever Tyler Clippard for the rest of 2017 to offset some of the Yankees expenses of the new players.
This deal is the riskiest for Hahn,yet he managed to turn a player he acquired in a minor deal (Kahnle) and two high priced players into somewhat of a decent return.
There is no sure thing in this trade and only the recent fourteen games of Polo have been at the AA level,so all three players have reasons to be looked at skeptically.

The Chicago White Sox have accumulated what seems to be a strong amount of talent by moving players that didn't help them to even be average.
None of these players are guaranteed to be contributors,although the odds are that at least a few will be,but the commitment to blow it up and do it quickly is a sound one.
I like what's being done in Chicago and if even some of these players fulfill their potential,there could be two powerhouse teams by Lake Michigan....

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I'm not Catholic,but...

This was such a great idea that I had to have it for myself.
What was it?
My go to Buckeye Football site is the terrific Eleven Warriors and being a member of their site,I was scanning their daily articles and stumbled upon their yearly feature "Confessionals",
where their writers "confess" to various "sins" against Ohio State athletics.
It is a funny column and it also breaks the myth of fans being a 100 % homer,so after I was finished-I was stealing that for myself and spinning it.
I plan on a sports feature and a non-sports version to come "clean" on a few things.
Let me know what you think...

1: I really don't like the Ohio State gimmick uniforms being worn even though I like how some of them have looked.
I liked the black helmets with red buckeyes and the chrome helmets were sharp,which would be OK with the current uniforms,but I like the regular uniforms and hate them being messed with.
OSU colors are scarlet and gray and I don't recall black being either scarlet or gray.

2: I like Chief Wahoo on the Indians hats,but if the team is to going to continue to shrink his size,just move on already!
I hate the Block C caps and wish that the team would compromise and go to the 70's Crooked C.

3: I know this seems bad,but the Giants have caught the Pirates.
Not because of anything that changed my mind,but I just see so many more Giants games (even though they are surprisingly just brutally bad this season) and I like both teams pretty much the same.

4: I don't buy Cleveland Browns items very often-not because they stink,but because I can't stand their uniforms and I figure they will change back as soon as they can in a few years.
Actually,if it isn't a throwback item with Brownie the Elf,I stick to buying older stuff of the Browns.

5: I'm not saying I'd never go to a Cavaliers game (Never have been to one in Cleveland),but the noise from the surrounding from the team just seems so over the top.
Watching all that on TV makes me think I'd be less than tolerant.

6: I hate the Pittsburgh Steelers,but I still root for the Ohio State players that play there.
I root for all of our players,no matter what NFL team they have moved onto.
My feeling on that is this-Players pick the college that they play for,they have no choice in what NFL team picks them...

7:I've never been a Texas Longhorn football fan,but I must confess that I'm rooting for them a little now that Tom Herman is the head coach there.
I'm a big Herman fan and I cannot help but to root for his teams...

8: I hate to admit it,but Tom Brady's resume' gives him the nod as the greatest QB of all-time.
But I still pick John Elway as my QB,if you need to win one game to save the earth.

9: I'm as unenthused for my fantasy football season as I've ever been.
I think this is because my NFL interest is dropping.
I usually watch the Browns and a 4 PM Sunday (usually Rams,Chargers or Raiders) game not on the national network and last year I rarely watched the Thursday,Sunday or Monday night games.
I still have huge interest in the NFL draft though and I think that is because A) I love draft talk and B)
I can watch college football from the noon kickoff throughout the late games from the West Coast.

10: I know that so many fans,writers etc gush over downtown stadiums,but give me a suburban one with easy highway access any day of the week.
What most call "Buzz and Excitement",I call "Noise and lack of personal space".,.

Hope you enjoy some confessions.I'll have a non-sports version soon!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Road Trip:Danville

We drove the hour plus from Winston-Salem to Danville,Virginia as quickly as possible in order to try to add the few cards that we had for the Appalachian League teams finished.
That's a lot of the problem when you graph the Appalachian and New York/Penn league teams-there just aren't that many players with cards until the team sets get released.

I had been to Danville ten years ago for a team set pickup on our way to Lynchburg then,this time Danville was the destination to move it from the "been to,but not for a game" list to the game list.
Legion (formerly known as Dan Daniel) Field is placed on a city facility that when you drive in you pass softball and soccer fields for youth and recreation leagues.
We arrived in the sixth inning for the Braves and the Burlington Royals (ironically,the same two teams that Fred Landucci and I will be seeing in Burlington next month) and after Mike bought a game used Danville Braves jersey at the team stand,we moved under the small grandstand.

We were both surprised by the energy in the crowd as they were stomping and cheering throughout the last few innings.
It was dollar dog and drink night at Danville and the drink came in a Danville Braves souvenir cup.
Quite a deal and one that I wish the Hagerstown Suns would consider,but that would mean they would have to purchase ice,lids,straws and cups (BTW,that's not me being sarcastic,I was given that as the reason that the Suns don't offer discounted sodas on Thirsty Thursday with their beer discounts)...

The best part of the game came with the game tied and Danville outfielder Izzy Wilson hit an inside the park home run that was the eventual winning run.
The excitement generated when the third base coach started pumping his arm and giving Wilson the chance for the rarity was almost more than I can describe!
And the pop from the crowd when Wilson slid into home and narrowly beat the tag from the Burlington catcher,well,you wouldn't have thought you would have been in Danville,Virginia hearing it!

The graphing is one that might take a few trips before getting it down.
There is a small tunnel (more like a doorway) that leads the players from dugout to clubhouse before a short walk there behind a fence.
I only had a few cards,Kyle Muller signed a few Bowman's of Mike's and mine.Leudys Baez noticed my calling him and came back out to sign his 2015 Danville card and the hero of the day,Izzy Wilson (who was promoted to Rome shortly after this game) got by me,but I figured it was him talking to a writer outside after the game and he signed his 2016 Danville card.
Mike got us the two Burlington players that we needed on the other side,so with one card being excepted,we had the small amount finished before the drive home.

Danville's field really is a well maintained high school/small college field with some nice backed seating and a small grandstand,but don't take that as a negative-it's a fun place to go with some knowledgeable and enthusiastic fans!
Check Danville out (along with the other Appy League parks),it's a throwback to the old days of minor league baseball and a part of the game that needs to remain just that.

Great trip and thanks to Mike for driving and allowing me to share everything with him and as before thanks to the Parrish family for allowing me to stay with them as well!

Well now,caught up on everything,so we have a Forgotten Superstars that has been sitting on deck for tomorrow news permitting and I have some thoughts on the recent Cubs-White Sox trade coming soon as well....

Monday, July 17, 2017

Road Trip:Winston-Salem

The final day of our trip would see Mike Oravec and I hit two more stadiums,stop by to see two more and able to graph four more teams as we worked our way home.

The start of the day came early as Mike and I sat around and spent the early morning talking with the Parrish family.
It was so enjoyable that I almost didn't want to leave,but all things must come to an end.
Thanks to the Parrishes for allowing me to come into their home and treating me so well...

Mike and I decided to start our trip with a stop in Burlington NC and a stop at Burlington Athletic Park,home of the Burlington Royals of the Appalachian League.
Mike wanted to check on jerseys for sale,while I liked adding a ballpark to the " been there,but not for a game list",but more importantly scout the place out for my visit to Burlington for a game in August.

Mike bought a game used jersey for both himself and a friend of his that lives elsewhere.
Me? I passed.I await the day that I can squeeze into a jersey like that again,but we aren't there yet.
I took some pictures in Burlington,but I'll save them for the trip review next month,but I do have a idea of just what park BAP reminds me of and I'll wager that you'll never guess in a middle years just what park came to mind!
We left BAP with a specific eatery in mind as the Parrish's highly recommended Hursey's BBQ in Wilmington.
Mike is a big BBQ fan and particularly of the Carolina style as he attended college in North Carolina.
I ordered the 4 piece white meal of their "Broasted Chicken" which brags of "95% less grease" than the standard fried chicken because it is prepared inside a pressure cooker.
It came with 2 breasts and the option to replace the two wings with two legs.
I did so and then gave them to Mike along with the breaded hush puppies instead for his cole slaw.
Swapping food like baseball cards is always fun and satisfying to both when you move items that aren't your bag for ones more to your liking.
Alas the slaw was more sweet than tart sadly for me,although it was passable.
Cole Slaw varies from place to place and it is very subjective to what's good and what's not.
Anyway,I liked Hursey's and I'll bet the "Rib Man' Fred Landucci will want to give it shot in August!

We left next to drive to Greensboro and the plan was to check out the ACC's Hall of Champions.
Sadly when we arrived,we discovered that it was only open on Thursday,Friday and the weekend.
Too bad for me,I would have really liked to have re-lived my old passion for ACC basketball.
Since they were closed.we drove a few miles to Greensboro's stadium,the home of the SAL's Grasshoppers.
Long time readers might remember that ten years ago in my previous visit,I hadn't been impressed by the Hoppers customer service and lousy autographing stadium on my trip there with Ryan and Battlin' Bob.
I hadn't known that Greensboro had a morning game and had I known,I might have pushed to give Greensboro another chance and Mike had never been there.
Mike wanted to see about some programs and the game was over,so we went to the team shop to see about his programs and the door was locked-despite it being 3;00 and the door noted that the shop was "open until four on gamedays".
We were groaned at as "Brooke" went to look reluctantly and I stepped into the concourse for a picture or two.
I was told they are "cleaning" and "it's been a long day".I did get one picture,but ten years later,Greensboro still ranks low on my list.

There were graphers by the bus as the Lakewood Blue Claws were making their only visit to Greensboro all year and their graphers were out and about.
If you remember reading about my trip to Norfolk in May,you might remember my story about a particular grapher and his boorish behavior toward me and Derreck as well as toward White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada.
Well,as we walked by,this "gentleman" was graphing Lakewood,I gritted my teeth and walked by,all the while grumbling to Mike that if he showed up in Winston-Salem,he was going to hear about it.
Fortunately for him,he didn't go to the game in Winston-Salem.

We drove to Winston-Salem to continue to run out the clock and we stopped by a bakery there named Dewey's to get some treats for Mike's mom (I'm far from a huge sweets eater),a McDonald's to keep hydrated (it was really hot) and we were across the street from the original Krispy Kreme (they are coming to Hagerstown soon,I hear) as part of a few stops,but the stop I really wanted to make was at Ernie Shore Field.
On the trip ten years ago,we stopped by Ernie Shore and the Wake Forest football stadium next door,Groves Stadium to take a look around and snap some pictures.
Back then,the Dash played there and were named the Warthogs,but the time was running out there as the new stadium was being built.
Today.Wake Forest owns Ernie Shore Field for their men's baseball team and the field is named after David Couch,who was the top donor for a renovation.
The outside looked pretty similar,but looking through the gates (we didn't get in unlike ten years ago),it's clear that the school has put major money into the stadium with new turf (My guess is artificial),a new scoreboard and upgraded seating.
It's amazing how colleges get money to improve places with the drop of the hat,yet pro teams (minor league) often have to fight for every nickel.
Next door at Groves,that name is history too as it's now BB&T (along with everything in Winston-Salem) Field.

My picture there last time was of the top of the entry way with the Deacon logo,which also is replaced-this time by the generic WF.
It's too bad that you have to sell history to get things finished,but it is the way of the world.
I've always been a passionate Big 10 football fan,but I have great memories of ACC football from the days when the ACC was more along the lines of the Group of Five in football.
I would love to make an September or October trip some year to Groves (nee BB&T) or Raleigh's Carter-Finley Stadium (or whatever NC State has sold its name to) and see a live game.

After that,it was off to BB&T Ballpark,the home of the Winston-Salem Dash.
We entered the park through the outfield entrance and while you wait,you look up at the imposing scoreboard-I'm not saying that the scoreboard is the largest I've ever seen,but from the angle,it sure seems that way!
When you walk into BB&T Ballpark,you are immediately hit by the design of the place-Very wide concourses,plenty of concessions and room to breathe makes BB&T Ballpark very user friendly and a park that would make the most claustrophobic person happy.

Mike went to graph the home Dash,while I went down to a small tucked away corner to do the visiting Carolina Mudcats.
I got a few for myself from the Carolina League All-Star set and was happy to get some top 100's signed for Kendall Morris,but it came with maybe the worst interaction that I have all year with a player.
I'm not going to name the player because it's possible that he just had a bad day,but he was downright rude and I was the only person that needed him.
These things happen.

Walking down the steps to the field,I saw a familiar face that to my surprise recognized me with a smile and a handshake in CJ Johnson.
CJ was a Suns employee back in the early years of the blog during the Will Smith era,so I must say I was mildly surprised when he welcomed me to Winston-Salem because I wasn't shy about criticizing the team in those years.
I learned something from that-Be careful what you wish for or in this case write.
I was often critical of Will Smith at that time and most of that was fair on reflection (in my opinion anyway),but I learned that the grass isn't always greener elsewhere as we've seen since Mandalay sold the team.
CJ was always one of the good guys back then and didn't beat up on me too badly when I was critical.
It was nice seeing him and I wish I had more time to catch up with him...

We watched a few innings and reluctantly left since if we were going to make it to Danville,there was a time deadline.
Let me say this about BB&T Ballpark-I loved it!
It wasn't an overtly urban park like Akron for example,but it seemed to have enough of a taste of their community that it wasn't more than a cookie cutter park either.
I've been to every park in the Carolina League (Myrtle Beach,I have been inside and looked around,but not for a game) and I would rank Winston-Salem at the top.
Beautiful place and I definitely have Winston-Salem listed as a place that I would love to return to often through the years.

Back tomorrow with the final leg of the trip-the last few hours with the Danville Braves unless something important breaks...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Boxing Challenge Weekend

Photo Credit:Rich Schultz Getty Images
The Boxing Challenge returned with three fights on HBO,two from PBC and two more from the United Kingdom.

Let's begin with the PBC show on Fox,which rated as a disappointment on several levels.
In the main event,former lightweight champion Omar Figueroa returned after a year and a half hiatus and blasted out former multi-division champion Robert Guerrero in three rounds with Guerrero hitting the floor three times in the second round and twice in the third before the bout was stopped.
For the winner,Figueroa couldn't ask for a better opponent than the faded Guerrero,but I wonder about Figueroa's size at 147.
It seems as Figueroa and his camp wonder as well,as Figueroa announced after the win that he planned to drop to junior welterweight for future bouts.
That seems smart to me as Figueroa looks to be a pretty strong challenge for anyone in that division that isn't named Terence Crawford.
As for Guerrero,who dropped to 1-4 in his last five bouts and could have been 0-5 if not for kind judging-he needs to give it up.
Guerrero clearly is not at the world class level anymore and continuing to try to do so will only result in lopsided losses and potential injury.
I earned one point for the Figueroa win with Ramon Malpica not earning any by picking Guerrero...

The other challenge bout on the PBC side saw former Olympian Marcus Browne blow out Seanie Monaghan in two rounds.
Browne dropped Monaghan in round one and pummeled him in the second before the bout was stopped.
Browne called out WBC champion Adonis Stevenson after the fight,although if there was justice,he would offer a rematch from two fights ago with Radivoje Kaladzic,who I thought clearly defeated Browne,but Browne was given the split decision.
Monaghan,who had been mentioned several times as an opponent for a champion or contender was exposed as a clubfighter that had never beaten anyone remotely resembling a top twenty fighter.
I added one point for Browne's win with Ramon picking Monaghan...

We move to HBO and a three fight card that looked great on paper,but didn't really produce in the ring.
Miguel Berchelt retained his WBC junior lightweight belt with a unanimous decision win over mandatory challenger and former champion Takashi Miura.
Berchelt couldn't miss Miura with the jab and on my card,I had Berchelt an 119-109 winner (11-1 in rounds).
Berchelt solidified his claim as the second best fighter at 130 pounds behind Vasyl Lomachenko and said he has no problem fighting Lomachenko,although he would be a huge underdog in that potential bout.
Ramon and I each picked up one point for the Berchelt win..

Berchelt might be better suited to unify with WBA champion Jezreel Corrales,who squeaked by rugged journeyman Robinson Castellanos by majority decision after ten rounds after a Corrales head butt busted open Castellanos and forced a stoppage.
I had the fight even at 94-94 after being mandated to score the tenth round after just 30 seconds of action in one of the dumber rules in boxing.
I scored the 10th round even,but Corrales was ahead in rounds (6-3-1),but Castellanos dropped Corrales twice in the fourth round to pick up points before losing one of those back when Corrales knocked Castellanos off balance and to the floor in the seventh.
Berchelt vs Corrales would be an interesting fight,unification is always a good idea and the winner would clearly stake his right as the second best 130 pounder and might earn himself a Lomachenko bout...
One point to both Ramon and I for the Corrales win.

The miracle run of Joe Smith hit a lull as Smith lost a unanimous decision to the talented Sullivan Barrera.
I only saw the final two rounds as of this writing with Ramon and I each getting no points for selecting Smith.

In the U.K.Chris Eubank Jr punched his ticket to the World Boxing Super Series with a unanimous decision over Arthur Abraham and Lee Selby retained his IBF featherweight title with a unanimous win over Jonathan Barros.
I've yet to watch either fight,so no scoring yet.
Ramon and I each picked two points for each of these wins.

On the day,I added eight points in the boxing challenge to Ramon's six and extended my lead in the boxing challenge to 87-80....