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Friday, August 22, 2014

As the 'Burg turns

Photo Credit;
Looks like we just might have a shot at baseball in Hagerstown after all.
Of Course,when you consider the do nothing mayor and his city council,I wouldn't want to bet on Hagerstown doing anything with a potential opportunity,but suddenly Diamond Nation wants an 18 million dollar handout from our good friends in Fredericksburg to fill an "unanticipated" cost overrun.

As in the difference of the original 35 million to the now needed 53 million.
These things usually happen when you have these type of massive projects,but I've thought from day one that the Diamond Nation part of the project was built on a foundation of sand and suddenly a project that would "pay for itself"  is shortly followed by a request for funds.
I would not say that baseball in Hagerstown is looking good for the long term (vote the bums out in 2016!),but Fredericksburg is looking shakier by the day with their various delays in purchasing the land,Diamond Nation's hey buddy can you spare a dime bumming and the citizens there beginning to turn on the project.

Meanwhile for Suns owner Bruce Quinn,he has to wonder what his move would be if Fredericksburg balks at the cash request.
Owning a team that is hemorrhaging money ( my guess is that the Suns will lose at least a million dollars this season,if not two million) after attendance sunk lower by the announcement that the team was leaving,higher expenses to play at and maintain the Muni for the 2015 season and now with the possibility of the Bahamas of the Mid-Atlantic bailing out combined with the South Atlantic League not allowing him to move south of the Virginia state line,Quinn could be facing a dearth of suitors and a upcoming cash crunch that could see him reevaluating just how much he wants to stay in the baseball business.

Which brings us to the dream scenario to keep the team in Hagerstown.
First,Fredericksburg and/or Diamond Nation has to walk.
Whether Fredericksburg throws in the towel like Winchester did or Diamond Nation realizes that this won't be the revenue flood that they expected once they have to pay their own way,one of those HAS to happen in order for this scenario to occur.

Next,Bruce Quinn may have to sell the team.
Quinn's name is poison here in Hagerstown and anything done to keep baseball here (new stadium or not) will not occur as long as the people that run the city will have to deal with Bruce Quinn.
I'm not taking sides here,the town has handled this thing poorly as well and has just as much fault,but the fact is the differences are too deep and irreconcilable for anything involving Quinn and the city to get done-at least until ...

If Fredericksburg cannot get off the ground and have things at least started,Quinn will be stuck in a spot of having to continue to play in Hagerstown.
With having to deal with the limited area of which to move the team to and with so many teams controlling their 50 mile radius,the team may have no choice,but to stay for a spell.
2016 also brings elections for mayor and city council and with the right results-Goodbye to Dave Gysberts as mayor and especially Kristin (let's build a youth sports complex in a town with 50 little league baseball and soccer fields already here) Aleshire and Penny Nigh off the city council,perhaps some forward thinking candidates could sit down with Bruce Quinn or however and figure out a way to get this thing done!
Electing new council members and most importantly getting rid of those two cranks is of the utmost importance,perhaps a new vision could save the day if the opportunity arises...

It's all still a bunch of wishing and hoping,but I think the chances of hitting that half court shot are improved over what they were when this season began.,

QB Quandary in Ohio-Part II-Browns choose Hoyer over Manziel

The Cleveland Browns and new head coach Mike Pettine have made their decision,for now at least and selected Brian Hoyer as the starter for the team entering their season opener at Pittsburgh two weeks from Sunday.

Hoyer was given the starting job over first round draftee Johnny Manziel after a pre-season that saw neither candidate exactly distinguish themselves in their first two games of the exhibition season.

Watching the two games makes me wonder what the hurry was to make the selection when you consider the less than championship level that both guys played at,but usually teams play their starters for the majority of the third game of the pre-season slate,so that was likely the reason for making the call now.
There are legitimate cases to make for both Hoyer and Manziel getting the starting job.
Hoyer,because of his veteran status and play in his appearances last season/
Manziel because of his first round selection and ability to make plays on a team that could have zero playmakers at wide receivers if Josh Gordon is suspended.

Adding everything,I agree with Pettine's decision to go with Brian Hoyer for now and emphasis on the words for now.
My reasoning is this- If you start Hoyer and he plays poorly,you then have a slow start most likely and have nothing to lose by playing Manziel.
Starting Manziel first and he stumbles and you have to bench the player that has been drafted to be the star of the team in his first action.
It's better for the Browns to let Hoyer start and see what happens.
That allows Manziel to learn and in the event that he sees the field,he should be better prepared to handle the speed of the game.
The experience of Hoyer (as limited as that is) gives the Browns the best chance to win right now in a season that starts with the Steelers,Saints and Ravens before the bye and then if say the Browns are 0-3 entering the bye week,the Browns have that week to get Manziel up to speed and then 13 games to see just what "Johnny Football" has to offer.
If you start Manziel and he goes 0-3.,the fans will be groaning as you go back to Hoyer.

The selection of Hoyer may not be the flashy pick,but at this time,it's the right one....

Thursday, August 21, 2014

QB Quandary in Ohio- Part I- Braxton Miller out for season!

A day of quarterback issues in Ohio as Braxton Miller of the Ohio State Buckeyes re-injured his shoulder in practice and ended his 2014 senior season along with news up I-71 North in Cleveland as head coach Mike Pettine selected Brian Hoyer over Johnny Manziel as the Browns starter in Pittsburgh for opening day...

I'll be back later today or tonight with some thoughts on the Hoyer vs Manziel decision,but for now I'll start with some thoughts on the Buckeyes and the devastating injury to Braxton Miller

Braxton Miller's shoulder injury not only ended a run at the Heisman Trophy,but may have ended the hopes for Ohio State to make the first ever college football playoffs.
Miller did announce plans to attend graduate school and apply for a medical redshirt which will allow him to return for a senior season in 2015.
Now that any question of Miller's return later in the season is off the table and that everyone knows that the 2015 Buckeyes will be Miller's team,the big question is how this loss will affect the 2014 squad.

My answer?
A lot and yet a little.
J.T, Barrett enters the Buckeye corral high on the saddle a year earlier than expected,but Barrett was a highly touted recruit out of Texas,so this isn't exactly Joe Bauserman II that we will be seeing in Columbus.
Barrett runs and throws well,at least that's been reported anyway,although expecting him to be Braxton Miller's equal as an athlete is asking a lot.
Barrett will have to learn on the job and there will be some learning to do especially with an offensive line in the midst of retooling,however I have some hope.
The second game against Virginia Tech won't be an easy one,but the game is in Columbus and the Hokies are not quite what they were when the game was scheduled,so that one could be one that the team slips by with.
Cincinnati two weeks later might not be easy either,but then the schedule lightens as Barrett gains experience.
Penn State,despite their restrictions,won't be easy under the circumstances under James Franklin and the biggest game on the schedule (talent wise) is on the road in East Lansing against Michigan State.
The michigan game is at home and the Buckeyes gain from that,but by that time,Barrett will not really a freshman at all.

The loss of Braxton Miller likely means the Buckeyes will lose a game,maybe even two that they would not have with him,but the overall difference is likely between 12-0 (possible under Miller) and say 10-2 or 9-3 with Barrett,but looking for a bright side.
If Miller returns for 2015,the offensive line has had a year to mature and jell and then Braxton Miller returns and the 2015 Buckeyes might be the top team in the land.
Add to that,the year of experience for Barrett for 2016 and there are some things to be gained,although of course, one would rather see Miller going right now.
A huge loss and setback for national title hopes and maybe even Big 10 hopes,but I wouldn't count this team quite,especially for Big 10 championships.

Back later or from work with my take on the Hoyer vs Manziel battle in Cleveland.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Baseball black eye

Sitting at the road office watching the Giants and Cubs late last night or rather watched a guy with a rake playing in the mud.
The Cubs led 2-0 after four and an half innings when a downpour hit the friendly confines and the Chicago grounds crew couldn't get the tarp down for over ten minutes and flooded the field.
The teams then endured a rain delay of well over four hours before the game was canceled and since the game had lasted four and a half innings (the minimum with the home team leading),it became official.

When you consider that the Giants are in a pennant race,this becomes a bad joke on the game and the league office should allow the Giants appeal of the loss and allow the game to be a suspended game and finish the game at a later date (you could even say that it could be finished only if the game affects a playoff spot) right where the game left off.
Weather in baseball is one of those things that cannot be controlled,but last night in Chicago was an event that could have been controlled and baseball needs to do the right thing.

I don't really have much else to say other than to stay tuned at the end of the minor league season (less than two weeks away) as I have plenty to say about various things.
These include the stadium situation in Fredericksburg,who and how it affects in Hagerstown,more from the signing front and some feelings on a less than stellar year in graphing....

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cleaning out the inbox

We have to make time to clean the inbox before it gets too unwieldly,so we'll use today to take the time...

Grantland takes a different spin on Japanese baseball and their scouting process as in how they decide what Americans to sign.
It's a great take on how the Yokohama Bay Stars evaluate American talent and how they decide what "Gaijin" to bring over to Japan and how they might adjust to the Japanese game..
Highly recommended...

Another Grantland feature looks at former Wake Forest and Dallas Maverick standout Josh Howard and his attempt to get back into the league via the D league.
Howard may have had his issues off the floor,but I always liked his game and was one of my favorite players to watch of his time.
Howard is 34 and his injury history will make it unlikely to have a successful comeback,but I'll still be rooting for him...

My friend Luke Erickson sent me an article from a website that I have never heard (Jacobin) and an author in Dan O'Sullivan who's work I was unfamiliar with as well.
I am so glad that Luke sent it to me as "the story of Pro Wrestling is the story of American Capitalism" was one of the best reads that I have seen in quite a while.
The article deals with the parallels of greed and money in the wrestling business through the last century and might be the best researched article on the business that I have read in years.
Usually the press makes tons of factual errors in dealing with wrestling and this one didn't.
I highly suggest both wrestling and non-wrestling fans read this for a better understanding of the business.....

Steven Goldman writes about the late Robin Williams and his long time wish to have Williams star as Casey Stengel in a film based on Goldman's book on Stengel.
Williams was a long time Giants fan and was a great lover of the game,yet never did a baseball movie,but did do Best of Times,an underrated football movie...

We wrap up with the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) and their release of long time sportscasters Steve Armitage and Mark Lee.
Both are well known in Canada for their hockey coverage,but I always like both men's coverage of CFL football and I bet both catch on with Rogers Sportnet or TSN shortly or maybe even coverage of a local hockey contract with a team...

Editor's Note: A late squeeze-in of a National Geographic history of the Voyager progam.
If you have any interest in NASA,space,etc and have a few minutes,take a look!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Shawn Marion signed by Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers continued their retooling for the 2014-15 season as the team managed to sign defensive specialist Shawn Marion to a contract for the veteran's minimum contract of 1.4 million on a one year deal.
The team had already used all the various exceptions and Marion accepted the contract offer over that of the Indiana Pacers,who could go as high as over five million as the Pacers had an injury exception for the season after the horrific injury suffered by Paul George in the USA basketball scrimmage.

The 36 year old Marion spent the last five years in Dallas with the Mavericks and was forced out by the Mavericks signing of Chandler Parsons in this off-season.
Marion averaged 10 points and over six rebounds a game and still is one of the best defenders in the league despite his advanced age.
Marion is an excellent addition mainly to his ability to defend power forwards,but especially small forwards on a team that will want to reduce LeBron James minutes wherever possible,.
James looked to be the only player on the team (assuming that Andrew Wiggins is headed to Minnesota in the Kevin Love trade) that could play significant minutes at small forward,so the signing of Marion is an immediate upgrade at that position.
Marion will also be able to play the four position with James on the floor adding to the team options at forward.
Shawn Marion is not the run and jump force that he once was,but can still help in transition and even though his jumper is one of the uglier in the game,Marion is still decent enough offensively that he is not a hindrance on the offensive end of the floor.

A very nice signing at a position of need and Shawn Marion should prove to be an excellent addition for the upcoming season.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Brook upsets Porter,Boxing Challenge

England's Kell Brook upset Shawn Porter to take Porter's IBF Welterweight title via majority decision in Carson,California.
Brook used a superior jab and a surprisingly strong inside game to clearly outpoint Porter (at least on my card,which was 117-111) over the 12 round distance.
It is easy to say this now that Porter has lost and especially since I picked him to win by KO,but watching the fight,one thing became clear-Porter's power is overrated against fighters that can punch hard enough to earn his respect.
Porter's recent wins over Devon Alexander and Paulie Malignaggi both followed the blueprint,fighters that couldn't hurt Porter or match his punch output.
Brook didn't follow the script and kept Porter off balance and outside the pocket,which resulted in a puzzled Porter...
Brook will likely look for a lucrative title defense against Amir Khan,likely in the UK,which would be a huge draw there.

R.L.and I each earned zero points for the Brook win,but we would both earn a point from Omar Figueroa's knockout win over Daniel Estrada in round nine to keep his WBC 135 pound belt,just when things were looking bleak.
A busted up and cut Figueroa came out for round nine with his corner wanting to stop the bout,figuring that their fighter was ahead on the cards.
It turned out that he was,even though the fight was even on my card,and Figueroa dropped and then finished Estrada to end an exciting scrap.
Both R.L. and I picked Figueroa by decision,so we each earned a point.
Figueroa is expected to vacate his title and move to the talent rich Jr.Welterweight division after his big win....

R.L earned two points to my one as Anthony Dirrell lifted Sakio Bika's WBC Super Middleweight title via unanimous decision.
R.L picked Dirrell by a unanimous nod,while I preferred Dirrell via split nod.
I had Dirrell winning 117-110,but if not for a point deduction,the fight would be a majority win as one card had Dirrell winning by a point.
It was a rematch of a draw between the two and followed a similar style of sloppy and dirty action from the first bout.
Dirrell clearly won,but his antics and acting over various fouls brought to mind his older brother Andre's routine in his bouts....

The Boxing Challenge now shows R.L. with a 59-56 lead over yours truly....