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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM is back on an evening that I hopefully will have three posts on.

Ohio State over Penn State 32-19
TCU over Texas Tech 48-31
Washington over Arizona State 43-41

Game of the week
Ole Miss over LSU 21-13

Browns over Raiders 28-23
Packers over Saints 40-34

Game of the Week
Cardinals over Eagles 30-23

Last Week: 7-2

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cleaning out the inbox-Non-Sports Version

After a night of work and following a meeting at the real road office, I have a bit of insomnia to deal with.
Considering that I have time on my hands,I thought that I would bang out the promised inbox cleaning of the non-sports variety and wipe some things out...

The rare Northern White Rhino took another step closer to extinction as 34 year old Siri passed away in Kenya.
That leaves just one breeding male in the sub-species left in the world and as you can guess,when he goes,they go.
Of course there is always artificial insemination,but still that would take some luck as well.
The Southern White Rhino is not quite so endangered with 17,000 in the wild and I suppose some cross breeding could be done with some genetic material,but the pure Northern White is on its last legs.
We really are a most greedy of species....

The rare event of literally once in a million years occurs as a comet the size of a small mountain will zoom around Mars.
Siding Spring will get as close to Mars as 87,000 miles at a speed well over 100,000 miles per hour.
87,000 miles away may seem like a large distance,but it is actually only a third of the way from Earth to our moon!
Imagine how that would look in our sky!
The Oort Cloud resident makes its home on the extreme edge of the solar system and takes just that long to make a swing around the inner planets.
It will be the first chance for humanity to have an opportunity to observe just what an Oort Cloud well,anything is comprised of and could give a wealth of information on the beginnings of the solar system.
I'm sure I'll have more on this from the various Mars orbiters,rovers etc in a future inbox cleaning...

I'm super excited about next summer's flyby Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft and now I am even more excited about NASA's decision to possibly select one or more of three Kuiper (No,not Duane) Belt targets to flyby after Pluto!
The Hubble Space Telescope found these three possibilities and now it's a matter of time before which or more gets selected for a visit.
This is the type of science that I can dig into and it only makes sense to get the most value out of New Horizons as we possibly can....

Nashville and the country music world is up in arms after the parole of John Brown.
Who's John Brown?
Brown was one of two brothers that broke into and then murdered Hee Haw and Grand Ol' Opry star David "Stringbean "Akeman  and his wife after an Opry appearance in 1973.
The article in the Nashville Tennessean by Peter Cooper was very well done, interesting and I learned a lot about the case that I never knew.
I faintly remember the incident ( I was five at the time),but remember my beloved late Aunt Edna watching the show and commenting how awful it was that Hee Haw continued to show all of these taped episodes starring a dead man.
I often feel conflicted about life sentences.
Should there be hope for rehabilitation in prison? Or should life mean life not 40 years?
I see both sides and I go back and forth on things,but I lean towards life means life.
I mean,Stringbean Akeman doesn't get to return after 40 years,so why should John Brown??

Finally a goodbye to Gerard Parkes at the age of 90.
Parkes,a well known Canadian actor,was best known in the United States for playing Doc the only non-puppet on the Jim Henson produced Fraggle Rock,which always a favorite of me with both Ryan and Rachel.
Fraggle Rock was terrific children's programming and Gerard Parkes was part of the reason that it was so loved....

I plan on something special later tonight,if I get a chance from the road office!!

Five in the sixth sinks Giants in Kansas City

The San Francisco Giants had their chances to move back to AT&T Park with a two game lead,but after one bad inning left the Giants machine leaking oil,the series will return to California tied at one after the Kansas City Royals took a 7-2 decision in Kansas City.
Gregor Blanco homered in the defeat that was given to Jake Peavy.

The series returns to San Francisco Friday night with Tim Hudson on the mound for the home team and Jeremy Guthrie for the invaders...

Giant Steps

1) The Giants did get off to a nice beginning with Gregor Blanco's homer off Yordano Ventura.
A pleasant surprise that made me think that a 2-0 lead could be likely.

2) I know Yordano Ventura throws hard,I saw him first hand in Frederick and I can understand that not everyone knows or has seen him pitch,but did Fox belabor the point of how hard he throws?
Yes,I didn't need to hear every batter about how hard the ball was thrown.
In the case of Blanco,the words of my pap came back to me "the harder it comes in,the harder it goes out".

3) I've stated in the past my frustrations with Bruce Bochy's handling of a pitching staff and it came back tonight.
I would have pulled Jake Peavy after carefully pushing him through five innings,called for Yusemiro
Petit and took my chances.
Instead five different pitchers paraded through in the pivotal sixth as part of the endless matchup game.
I have an opinion on that and it'll be held for a slow day,but trust me,baseball won't speed up until these matchup issues are solved,

4) I get how pitchers can pump themselves up with words and vent frustrations as well,but Hunter Strickland needs to settle down and for that matter so does Jake Peavy.
I like Strickland as a power arm and future closer,but he needs to take better care of his emotions or he will never be the pitcher that he could be....

5) SO after a rough night-what are my thoughts on the 3 games by the bay?
I'm not going to anoint the Royals because of their bullpen today any more than I gave the Giants the series after an easy game one.
The Royals had the advantage of a rested bullpen and then a lopsided game one loss,they won't have that by the middle part of the series,keep that in mind.
The Giants on the other hand will need to get more out of a bullpen that seems to in worse trouble by the day,,,,,

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Giants hand Kansas City a Royal Drubbing in Game One

Hunter Pence hit a two run homer in the first inning to cap a three run start against James Shields and the San Francisco Giants never looked back as the Giants handed the Kansas City Royals their first post-season loss of the season and cruised to a 7-1 win in game one of the World Series.
The Giants would score two runs in each of the fourth and seventh innings before Salvador Perez's solo homer scored the only Kansas City run.
Madison Bumgarner allowed the sole run in seven strong innings on the mound.
The Giants will attempt to grab both games of the first set in Kansas City with Jake Peavy taking the ball for San Francisco against young fireballer Yordano Ventura for the Royals.

Giant Steps

1) Hunter Pence's first inning homer might not have ended this series,but it sure ended this game as the Royals were feeding off the energy of a screaming crowd at Kaufman Stadium and the Giants quieted the gathering before the home team even was able to pick up their bats.

2) As much as I enjoyed the win,the best part might have been Hunter Pence correcting Erin Andrews on one of her constant errors (as in most nights that she holds a microphone) as Andrews rambled on about Pence's pre-game speech and topic.
Pence corrected her that the topic she referred to was wrong and he didn't give the speech.
A flustered Andrews looking much as she did with Richard Sherman stammered and hawed a bit.
I know I'm not an Andrews fan and get tired of seeing her all over Fox broadcasts,but this was funny beyond her.
Athletes get hammered for giving canned answers and Pence actually listened to the question and then picked it apart....

3) Madison Bumgarner was beyond dominant again.
Big Game James? The title of Big Game might need to go elsewhere in this series.
Bumgarner worked his way out of a second and third,no one out in the third without giving up a run and was never threatened again other than the Salvador Perez homer.
The homer ended Bumgarner's World Series scoreless streak at 21 and a third-not bad work....

4) Gregor Blanco walked in another run and that gives Blanco two for the post season.
Blanco has become almost as valuable walking as hitting....

5) Hunter Pence was 0 for 11 career against James Shields before his homer.

6) You just have a feeling now that the younger Royals are going to have to find something that they haven't had to deal with yet-adversity.
The Royals for the first time have a must win game ahead of them and no,I don't count the wild card game,that was a game that both teams dealt with the one game aspect.
Now the Royals will have to play from behind,which isn't as easy as playing with a lead..

7) Wrapping up with this-I love Kaufman Stadium.
It is the best of the 70's parks and the additions through the years have only enhanced it,not ruined it in search of revenue,I'm looking at you Baltimore and Cleveland.
It's not PNC or AT&T,but it's pretty good and I like watching games played there.....

Devils self-destruct in OT loss to Rangers

The New Jersey Devils have lost all momentum from a speedy start as they lost their third game in a row,this one to the New York Rangers 4-3 in overtime at the Rock in Newark.
Cory Schneider allowed the game winner 2;42 into the overtime term to the Rangers Kevin Klein and the Devils had to settle for the one point evening.
New Jersey had a 3-1 lead in the third period before allowing two unanswered Ranger goals to tie the game.
All three of the Devils goals came on the power play,goals to Adam Henrique (3 PP),Jaromir Jagr (1 PP) and Jon Merrill (1 PP).
New Jersey takes two nights off before hosting Dallas Friday night....

Hell Raisers

1) I can blame Cory Schneider on the last goal as one that he could have had.
However,I didn't think that any of the previous three stood out as goals that looked especially poor.
Schneider is an easy target for some right now,but he isn't at fault for the current streak of losses..

2) I will blame his help as Marek Zidlicky had an especially poor night.
Zidlicky was very sloppy with a errant pass up the ice that resulted in a turnover that quickly tied the game at 3-3.
Zidlicky will always be a players that will need his offense to override his defense,but that play was dumb no matter the player..

3) Two more goals allowed on the penalty kill and that makes opponents four for the last six.
For a team that prides itself and is built on defense,that stat is not going to cut the mustard.
What on earth is Andy Greene doing? Greene's side allowed both goals on the PK.
Just a thought,is Greene trying so hard to cover for Bryce Salvador that he is making his coverages vulnerable?
I hope so,because the other alternative is that Andy Greene has suddenly gone bad after signing a long term contract...

4) Goal and an assist for Adam Henrique,Nice night for the Henrique line in general..

5) Adam Larsson made his season debut and I would say that he looks tentative when handling the puck,but it's understandable.
I have sometimes been accused of being a Larsson apologist,but the guy is afraid to make a mistake because if he does-he sits down.
Eric Gelinas sat in favor of Larsson and who knows what Peter DeBoer is going to decide for Friday's scratch,but this is not how you develop a defenseman,

6) I did like some of the offense,I thought Damian Brunner drove the net well,especially on the play that resulted in Jaromir Jagr's first goal of the season,which started with Brunner and I thought some of the play late in the third period was very good in creating chances.
However,there still isn't enough of that and too much of the hockey version of standing around shooting long range bombs.

7) Finally this-the atmosphere was lacking for a Ranger game.
A qualifier-I don't go to Devils games.
I don't live near the team and I have never been to Newark,but it seemed like a sanitized bunch.
Although I did like the Empire theme for opponent penalties over the previous Big Girls Don't Cry,it seems like the Devils are more concerned with taking away what fans like (goal songs for one) than bringing in the die hard people that rock the house.
I watch on TV,but I came away last night with the impression that the crowd was lacking for some reason and for a Ranger game,that should not happen.

I'm still at work and I'm already wore out.
I hope to make time later today to hammer out a post for game one of the World Series...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cleaning out the inbox-Sports Version

I've been so busy with coverage that the inbox has become quite filled.
As a result,I'll be splitting the inbox into two sections,sports and non-sports,which I'll reserve for another slow day!
We start with a terrific read about the best local TV broadcasting team in baseball and the main reason that that I became a Giants fan,but it's more than a baseball article-its about friendship between Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper.
Krukow is quietly (for such an vocally upbeat guy) battling a muscle disease called Inclusion-Body Myositis that atrophies the muscles to the point of eventually requiring the use of a wheelchair.
It is nice to see that the two guys that make a team enjoyable to watch are good guys off the field as well...

Steve Wulf of ESPN looks
at the Cleveland Indians and their attempts to slowly step away from Chief Wahoo the beloved Indian logo.
Now,I am very sensitive to the Native American resentment of the Washington Redskins name and I can even see some problems with Wahoo,but I have to admit I'd miss the old guy.
Another issues for me is the dullness of the current Indians caps,the block C is painfully dull.
I could be fine with a return to the wishbone C (similar to the Reds) in either red or black as the team used in the 60's and early 70's,but the hat that I like the best that would not look like a ripoff of the Reds is the 74-78 hats.
I would like that best of all...

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has an article on a player that will likely be the Ohio State quarterback three or four years down the road in Massillon quarterback Danny Clark,who is committed to OSU,despite being just a high school sophomore.
Always interesting to hear about these guys before they hit the big time....

We wrap with two different articles on the recent football boom in Mississippi.
SBNation takes a look at the differences in the fan bases at Ole Miss and Mississippi State,while Wright Thompson,a tremendous ESPN writer and Mississippi native.takes another tack in looking at the Mississippi people and how the programs affect a poor southern state's psyche....

That cleans the sports side until the next slow day when we hit the non-sports side...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Horrible Hoyer leads Browns to Florida Failure

One week after your idiotic author wrote that the Cleveland Browns may have finally turned a corner,the same old Browns showed up and chunked a clunker in Jacksonville against the formerly winless Jaguars in a 24-6 loss.
I'd like to add some offensive highlights,but other than Andrew Hawkins finishing with five catches for 112 yards-I can't find any.
The now 3-3 Browns will host Oakland next Sunday...

Brownie Bits

1) Addressing the elephant in the room,Brian Hoyer was awful.
Overthrowing receivers,unable to convert key plays,completing just 16 of 41 and generally looking overmatched.Hoyer was horrible.
Consider that and realize that it wasn't all his fault as you'll see below,but now we will see if Brian Hoyer is a building block or a blazing comet as now there is a book on how to stop him and we will see if he can make the adjustments to continue as a viable NFL starter...

2) The Browns had played well using a punishing running game,
Jacksonville put seven and eight men in the box to shut down the run and didn't bite on the Hoyer play action.
Ben Tate led the Browns with 36 yards on 16 carries,

3) More on the run.
Explain to me why in short yardage situations,why the bigger backs (Ben Tate and Isaiah Crowell) seemed to be on the bench for the more dance happy Terrence West?
West attempts in the game ,after a week of being inactive,didn't exactly keep him in the hearts of Browns fans as his tippy tap running style brought more Trent Richardson to mind than Kevin Mack..

4) How many times do you hear about the value getting turnovers and it generally is true,but this game proves that isn't an absolute.
The Browns picked off Blake Bortles three times (two by Tashaun Gipson) and I thought the defense played passably although the tackling problem still exists and needs to be addressed...

5) Two plays that swung this game and can be blamed on the coaching staff and not the offense.
Number one -2nd and two at the Jacksonville 25,Browns up 6-0 near the end of the first half.
Two handoffs to Terrence West (see number three point) gain one yard,so we move to fourth and one.
Field goal makes it a two score game,Browns go for it and end the drive with a Hoyer overthrow of Jordan Cameron.

6) The other? The Browns are early in the fourth quarter down 4,but fourth and five at the Jacksonville 43.
Mike Pettine sends the punt unit out and then sends the offense back out,Jacksonville appears confused,but the Browns were just as befuddled.
Apparently,there was not a called play.Hoyer takes the snap,pitched to Ben Tate for next to nothing.
Either the ball shouldn't have been snapped or call a play.
Outsmarting yourself....

7) More coaching staff-The game is still just 10-6 Jacksonville and the Browns force another punt.
Instead of steady veteran Jim Leonhard to catch the punt,it's Jordan Poyer,who has the ball hit his facemask,Jacksonville recovers inside the ten-TD results and game over.
Fumbles happen,but A) Poyer tried to catch the ball inside the ten,usual rule is let it go from that spot and B) Why Poyer and not Leonhard?

8) You don't lose a Pro Bowl player in Alex Mack and not feel it.
This "next man up" nonsense has always made little sense to me as yes,you hope the "next man up" will play well,but if you expected that,the player usually would not be a backup.
John Greco moving to center and Paul McQuistan to guard turned Jacksonville's Sen'Derrick Marks into the second coming of Bruce Smith.
No one could block this guy and McQuistan in particular was abused by Marks.
This cannot become a trend or this is going to haunt Brian Hoyer,who struggled with time to throw all day,all season...

9) The Browns narrowly missed another momentum turner with Jacksonville leading 7-6 in third quarter play and Josh Scobee attempting a field goal.
Cleveland puts an excellent rush on and Jabaal Sheard bursts through the line for what looms as a huge block.
However,Sheard overruns the ball a bit,it sails under his armpit and wobbles through for three Jaguar points-that is typical Browns,..

10) The receivers didn't help Brian Hoyer other than the 65 yard catch and run that inflated Andrew Hawkins numbers for the day.
Other than one nice sideline catch by Taylor Gabriel,I don't remember any special efforts by the Browns pass catchers..

11) Finally,this-The Browns fan base got pretty excited last week.This game shows why you have to try to take them as close to the same as possible.
I don't want to hear about trap games.
It likely was,but true contenders avoid these traps and fans along with yes,the coaching staff got a bit cocky this week,myself included.
Pittsburgh was a great win,but the team gave back much of the gains with this loss.
Getting caught in the possibility of being 6-2 after three games against bad teams and listening to the hype,this game was a bad effort.
Moving on,time will tell if this was a minor setback or being exposed before they reach  maturity....

So Monday looks like a slow day and maybe a long overdue inbox cleaning!!!