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Monday, April 30, 2007

Pirates win,Devils lose and Towelgate hits Hagerstown!


The Pittsburgh Pirates rallied (Gasp) with 3 late inning runs to slide by the Chicago Cubs 3-2.
Jason Bay smacked a 8th inning homer to break a 2-2 tie,the Pirates scored a run in the 4th on a Adam LaRoche single and a run in the seventh on Ronny Paulino double before the Bay game winner.
Matt Capps picked up the victory and Gas Can Torres earned the save by pitching the ninth.


Did not see the Pirates-Cubs game as I was watching the Hagerstown Suns get blasted into bits by the visiting West Virginia Power 14-3.
That is more than a run for each towel that the Suns organization provided for the visiting Power.
More on that below.
West Virginia scored 9 runs in the 5th inning to win going away,as three Power players had 3 RBI on the night (Chuck Caufield, Kenny Holmberg and Andrew LeFave) and every player but 1 had a hit on the night.
Suns utilityman Michael Martinez pitched a scoreless ninth for Hagerstown.

The New Jersey Devils lost game 3 in Ottawa to the Senators 2-0 to fall behind 2-1 in the series.
The game was scoreless until the 3rd period when Ottawa's Tom Priessing beat Martin Brodeur.
Jason Spezza scored the 2nd goal into the empty net for the final tally.
Missed the game due to the Suns-Power game,so have little analysis to add.

Former MLB pinch hitter extraordinaire Lenny Harris was at the game tonight,but I did not have any cards for him.
Points to (Name withheld by request) for calling out the identity of Harris.
Good work!

On the autograph front,it was a slow night.
A few Power players,Suns 2nd baseman Leonard Davis on his Bowman Chrome,but the best catch was one of the elusive Suns relievers-Aaron Jackson.
Relievers are always difficult at Hagerstown as they can evade the collectors easily,but Jackson was quite engaging as he signed.

Finally,spent the game tonight talking to a few of the West Virginia pitchers and as usual talk turned to the facilities at Municipal.
But tonight a new note came up and the fault on this one goes squarely on the Hagerstown Suns and their organization.
The players commented that the team was given "10 or 12" towels for the entire roster to share for tonight;s game!
Think about that-12 towels for a 30 man team???
That not only is cheap,but unhygienic as well.
I know I would not want to use a previously used towel,this whole thing just smells bad (Pun intended).
I find it hard to believe the Suns are that strapped that they cannot afford towels and they certainly made a poor impression on the West Virginia players for certain.
Just because this is Minor League Baseball does not mean you have to be minor league.
Sadly,the Hagerstown Suns by treating opposing players this poorly,only makes themselves to be the most minor of minor leagues......

Back tomorrow with Browns and Seahawks draft reviews,Suns vs Power(If I can stomach education day) and likely some random ramblings.

Photo Credits
Jason Bay-Gene Puskar-AP Photo
Towels-Place that sells towels.

Seahawks draft-Day 2


The Seattle Seahawks had a great day 2 in my opinion,with one exception.
I did not have a problem with trading Darrell Jackson. For all of his skills,he did drop balls and was injury-prone,but I have a MAJOR problem in sending him to San Francisco.
Now the Seahawks will have to face a motivated player twice a year and gave a division rival an excellent player at a position of need.
I will miss Jackson,but a full season of Deion Branch should more than fill his shoes.
I wish they had gotten more than a 4th rounder,but that is all Oakland got for Randy Moss,so I cannot complain too much.

So after the trade,Seattle had two fourth round picks.
The first was Miami defensive end Baraka Atkins.Atkins looks to be a player to groom for the day that Bryce Fisher goes elsewhere.
In a salary cap age,you cannot go wrong by building depth on both lines.
The other addressed my top need,offensive line in taking Georgia Tech guard Mansfield Wrotto.
The 300 pounder has huge upside in my opinion,as he played just one year at guard.
Going to take some development,but with his size and temperment,Wrotto could be a good one.

The Seahawk 5th rounder was Auburn linebacker Will Herring
Herring was a productive player at Auburn,especially vs the run,but looks to be a depth-special teamer for now.

Seattle had two picks in round 6 and listened to my call for depth by selecting wideouts with both picks and both could make the team.
Courtney Taylor,another Auburn product, is a tough possession type receiver that could play the slot and eventually fill the Bobby Engram role down the road.
While the other pick is a high risk high reward pick-I really like Oregon's Jordan Kent.
Kent has size (6'3) and deep speed,needs some work with his hands,but with some work-could be the rare receiver that is as good in the red zone as he is going deep.
Great roll of the dice here.

The Seahawks finished the draft in round 7 with another player I really like.
Wake Forest guard Steve Vallos is a former Ohio High School Wrestling champion and a main reason for Wake's miracle run to the ACC title last year.
I like former wrestlers at guard because the power and balance that one learns from amateur wrestling helps with the skills needed to play guard.
Watch for Vallos as well.

I really like what the Seahawks did considering they did not have a 1st rounder.
Tomorrow I will grade the Browns and Seahawks drafts and what they need to do before training camp.

Tonight we have Devils-Senators Game 3,Pirates continuing their home stand vs the Cubs and the first visit of the year to Hagerstown from the West Virginia Power.
The Power is an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Photo Credits-Unavailable

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Browns draft-Day 2


The Cleveland Browns had 4 picks on day 2 after giving them away in a day 1 trade to obtain CB Eric Wright of UNLV.
The Browns selected Cornerback Brandon McDonald of Memphis in the 5th round.
McDonald seems like a nickel back more than a pure corner,but did spend some time at safety at Memphis.
That is always a plus when attempting to become a factor in the nickel or dime packages.

In Round 6,the call to Cleveland went out to Defensive End Melila Purcell.
Purcell is from Hawaii,which had Jerry Glanville as the defensive coordinator the last few years and that is always a help in getting players ready for the next level.
Purcell was a End at Hawaii,but with his size (6'4 278) could be moved to defensive tackle.

The Browns must have either made a deal or had a supplemental pick in the Seventh Round,as they picked two players.
First-they added Chase Pittman,a defensive lineman from LSU.
This one,I like.Pittman appears to me to be the type of player that makes a team and with some luck becomes a productive player as his career moves on.
A rangy player that has a high motor,Pittman could be a helpful player.

Finally the last addition was Arizona wide reciever Syndric Steptoe.Steptoe is a smallish reciever that is mainly a kick/punt returner that might be able to play in 5 wideout sets.
Didn't the Browns just get rid of one of these types from Arizona?(Dennis Northcutt).
These smaller guys tend to be a boom or bust pick,so the Browns will need some luck here.

Suns sweep Shorebirds,Pirates bombed again


I will work on the Browns and Seahawks second draft day later,as the draft has not concluded yet.

The Hagerstown Suns completed a 3 game sweep of the visiting Delmarva Shorebirds with a 8-5 victory today.
The Suns broke a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the 8th by scoring 3 runs on back to back singles by Francisco Guzman and Alex Nunez off Shorebird hurler Bruce Galloway.
Galloway had a rough weekend in the Hub City,losing two of the three decisions for Delmarva.
Oriole power prospect Chris Vinyard hammered two homers for Delamarva,one to center and one to the opposite field (right).
Always impressive when guys hit opposite field homers at Municipal Stadium and Vinyard almost hit a 3rd as an early game fly out pushed Guzman to the wall.
Vinyard was the DH both games that I saw,so that may speak volumes about Baltimore's opinion of his leatherwork.
Hagersotwn did have one homer of their own off the bat of debuting Sun, Marcos Cabral.
Cabral played second today.

I missed last nights game and I am sorry I did as Cory Van Allen fanned 12 Shorebirds,but got hit by a line drive.
The hand was visibly wrapped and word from Sun Chris Lugo was that there was significant swelling,but no long term damage.
Good News-Van Allen seems like a nice guy and easy to root for him to do well.

The Pittsburgh Pirates fell again to the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park today 9-5,as the Pirates could not hold on to an early lead.
The Pirates scored the 1st three runs of the game in the second as Jose Bautista's book rule double scored Jason Bay and Paul Malholm singled home Ryan Doumit and Bautista.
The Pirates added another run in the third as Ryan Doumit doubled home Jason Bay to counter a Reds run in the top of the third.
But Malholm was knocked out of the game in the 4th.
After loading the bases,Edwin Encarncion tripled and as a result clearing the bases and tying the game at 4.Aaron Harang singled home Encarncion and Ryan Freel scored later in the inning on a Brandon Phillips double.
Then the call came for B.P.Chacon to pitch the fifth and he allowed a 2 run shot to Adam Dunn and in the seventh,he allowed a solo bomb to Alex Gonzalez.
Ryan Doumit connected on a solo Home Run for Pittsburgh in the 9th,completing a great day for Doumit.
Ryan went 4 for 4 with a Home Run and 2 RBI.
Hopefully Jim Tracy will keep playing the hot hand in Doumit to help a not so powerful offensive lineup.
I was hoping Paul Malholm would build on his terrific outing vs the Astros,but the game was his to win and he just did not have it today.
Malholm has to be on every time out as his stuff is far from overwhelming.

Back later with Draft coverage.

Photo Credits-
Chris Vinyard-
Joe Mancino-DC Examiner
Ryan Doumit-Gene Puskar-AP Photo

Devils tie series,Browns trade up again,Seahawk rundown and Matt Belisle strikes again

The New Jersey Devils went straight to the lead early,allowed Ottawa to rally and then took advantage of a Joe Corvo miscue to sink the Senators 3-2 in two overtimes and even their series at 1-1.
Jamie Langenbrunner fought off Corvo and broke away all alone to beat Ray Emery for the Devil win.
The Devils scored both of their regulation goals in the 1st period,Brian Gionta early and Sergei Brylin with less than a second to go before the break.
The lead held until Dany Heatley,with the goalie pulled,beat Martin Brodeur to force the extra stanza.
A MUST win for the Devils,having already lost home ice by losing game 1,while Ottawa has to feel good about the 1-1 split in New Jersey and almost grabbing both games.
Game 3 Monday night at 7;00 in Ottawa.

Phil Savage and the suddenly aggressive Cleveland Browns made a bold and (in my opinion) silly trade to move into the second round last night.
Savage traded the Browns 3rd and 4th round pick in this draft and flip flopped 6th rounders with the Cowboys (Yes,again) in exchange for the Cowboys 2nd round pick.
The Browns then used this pick on UNLV Corner Eric Wright.
Now as I wrote in my Browns needs post,Corner is a huge need for this team.
However,the Browns paid a high price to move up roughly 10-15 spots for a player that has had legal problems in the past.
NFL.com compared him to the Steelers Ricardo Colclough.
Geez,not sure that is the guy I want to be compared with period, let alone for a guy that Cleveland gave all this up for.
Color me unimpressed with this move.
I have my doubts that Wright will be an impact player and it is starting to look like Savage and Crennel will need him to be exactly that.

The Seattle Seahawks added two players yesterday in rounds 2 and 3.
The Seahawks tabbed Josh Wilson,CB Maryland in round 2 and even though I think the Seahawks needed a safety more than a corner,I think Seattle fans are going to love Josh Wilson.
I have watched Wilson many times during his time at Maryland and his motor never stops.
I could see Wilson moved to safety now or down the road and maybe Seattle has that in mind.
Great pick,very pleased,as the Hawks,IMO got a better CB than the Browns did in Eric Wright and did not have to peddle picks to land him.
Seattle in the third round picked Brandon Mebane of California.
Mebane,a 300+ plus defensive tackle,appears to be slated as the Seattle run stuffer.
Not sure that this was a huge need for Seattle,but could simply be rated as their best player available at that time.
I will give this one an incomplete for now,will have to give it more thought.

The draft concludes today.
Cleveland has a 5th rounder,Dallas' 6th and their own 7th.
Seattle has their own pick in each round today plus they have a compensation pick at the end of round 6.

Matt Belisle did it again to the Pirates in a 8-1 Cincinnati win.
This guy is cannon fodder for everyone else,yet against the Bucs-He is Bob Gibson.
Tom Gorzelanny struggled and lost his first game of the year falling to 3-1.
Chris Duffy picked up the only Bucco RBI.
The series concludes today with Paul Malholm,attempting to follow up his superb outing vs Houston,against the Reds Aaron Harang.

Juan Diaz retains his WBA Lightweight title and added a lesser trinket by defeating Acelino Freitas in Mashantucket Ct when Freitas did not answer the bell for round 9.
Freitas controlled the fight early,but on my scorecard Diaz took round 5 through 8 and was dictating the flow of the fight.
Diaz seemed to hurt Freitas in both the 7th and 8th rounds and simply took the will from the Brazilan.
To me,Freitas could have continued,but simply refused.
This was Freitas' 2nd loss and his other to Diego Corrales ended in his surrender as well.
Perhaps it is time for Acelino to move on to his post-boxing career.
Diaz moved his record to 32-0,while Freitas falls to 38-2.
My scorecard showed Diaz ahead 77-75 at the time of the stoppage.

Will be back later today with Browns and Seahawks day 2 recaps and opinions,Pirates-Reds action and more on the finale between the Hagerstown Suns and Delamarva Shorebirds.

Devils Top Sens in Double OT

My guest post will be shorter than originally planned as it is late and I not particulary thrilled with outcome of tonight's NHL playoff game.
Jamie Langenbrunner scored on a breakaway in the second overtime period to give New Jersey a 3-2 victory over my beloved Senators and even the series at 1-1.
Congrats to the Cleveland Browns on picking up two of the top talents in today's NFL Draft in OT Joe Thomas and QB Brady Quinn, and also for giving me some easy (E) jokes by drafting CB Eric Wright. I'll have to check into his birthplace, but I'm pretty that he is "straight outta Compton".
Ok I'll stop now. Promise.

Thanks for reading
Ryan

Views and Opinions of Ryan Heimberger do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Shawn Heimberger. In fact said views and opinions may be the exact opposite. Shawn also does not endorse any of Ryan's attempts at humor and witty wordplay.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Browns move up for Brady Quinn and mixed emotions....


The Cleveland Browns and GM Phil Savage made a bold move in the late 1st round today by making a deal with the Dallas Cowboys to land QB Brady Quinn of Notre Dame.
The Browns received the Cowboys top selection
(22nd overall) and quickly used it to select Quinn.
Dallas received the Browns 2nd round pick (36th overall) and the Browns 1st round pick the 2008 draft.
I still am not high on Quinn and I will not back down from that,but I am more amenable to bringing Quinn on board at the 22nd pick than the rumored pick at the 3rd spot.

The deal also pretty much seals the future fate of Charlie Frye,Derek Anderson or both in Cleveland.
I cannot imagine the Browns keeping both of those two and Quinn.
Look for a veteran type to school Quinn,even it is a vet to just hold the clipboard.

This trade IMO is Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel shoving all their chips into the middle of the table and gambling.
If Cleveland puts up another 4-12,5-11 type season this year and the pick that now belongs to Dallas is in the top 5 or 6,Savage and Crennel have written their ticket out of town.
If the Browns are able to improve to say 8-8 and the pick is a middle 1st rounder,the trade is not as bad and they are in better shape.
I would have preferred the Browns kept the 2008 pick and traded their 2 and 3 this year,but Dallas likely would have balked at that.
ESPN is reporting that Baltimore was interested in trading up for Quinn and that may have been the difference in forcing the Browns to agree to moving next years top pick.

When the rumors began to dribble out about the Browns moving up,I still wasn't thrilled,but was open minded enough to be reasonably happy,but that was thinking the price would be the 2 and 3.
Once the actual deal was announced,the happiness meter went down appreciably.
Hopefully the Browns can add another productive player with their 3rd round pick-(my thoughts on that player on tomorrow's early morning post).
They will need to add that player,as the Browns have gambled on turning it around now.
Basically-the Browns office have said this-they think they will be improved enough in 2007,that the pick that they traded will be worth adding Brady Quinn for.
Count me firmly in the Doubting Thomas camp and no,I don't doubt Joe Thomas-LOL.

I give the Browns credit for being bold and if they ranked Quinn high enough to consider him at 3,then they made a gutsy and possibly great move.
However,at the price they paid,they will need to improve this season for the deal to be a total winner in Cleveland.

Lets hope that my earlier post and opinion will be wrong and Brady Quinn will not be an "EL Busto"!
Like it or not- Brady Quinn is now a Cleveland Brown and for the 2nd time in 3 years,Phil Savage has brought the one player in the draft that I did not want in Orange and Brown to Cleveland.
I hope Quinn is more productive than Braylon Edwards has been.

And the results of this deal will definitely determine Romeo Crennel's future employment and likely Phil Savage's as well...

Photo Credit
AP Photo-Frank Franklin II

Browns nab Joe Thomas and ignore Brady Quinn...


The Cleveland Browns selected Joe Thomas of Wisconsin with the 3rd pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.
The left tackle was clearly the most dominant offensive lineman in the draft and I must give Phil Savage some credit here.
This is an excellent pick and now the Cleveland Browns with Joe Thomas and Eric Steinbach have the potential (in a few years) to have one of the dominant offensive lines in football.
Now if Jamal Lewis has anything left in the tank (or the pipe in his case),perhaps the Browns might be able to run the ball for the first time in years.
Thomas has the athletic ability to block the speed rush and the bulk to match up with the power guys.
Mel Kiper said he was not sure on Thomas' ability to block the power rush,since he only lifted X amount of times at the combine-Blah blah blah.
I do not see that as a problem.
Finally the Cleveland Browns have made a commitment to protecting the Quarteback and to a physical offensive line that will be able to give the Browns a punishing running game.
Thomas will have his problems,most young offensive linemen do,but if all goes well-Joe Thomas will be a cornerstone for Cleveland for the next 10 years.
You cannot get an elite Offensive Tackle through free agency and the Browns realize this.

Kudos to Phil Savage and the Browns for taking the best player and ignoring the national "experts" that kept pushing them to take Brady Quinn.
If the Browns had taken Quinn,the message they would be sending to the Browns Backers is that the last 2 years of rebuilding were worthless and they were starting over.
Brady Quinn would be an "El Busto" and I am absolutely thrilled that Quinn will NOT be a Cleveland Brown!!!!!
I must admit I was watching and could make arguments on how Savage was thinking for picks of Thomas,Quinn and Adrian Peterson and just prayed for Thomas or Peterson.
I love Adrian Peterson and I think he is going to be great,but Thomas,in the end,makes more sense for the Browns.

Terry Pluto of the Akron Beacon-Journal wrote in this mornings edition that he thought the Browns were leaning towards Thomas,against the grain of the Kipers,Sheacters etc that kept trying to force Brady Quinn to Cleveland.

All in all-Very happy thus far.
Will try to offer a post on the Browns 2nd round pick before I go to work tonight.

Photo Credit-Wisconsin Athletic Communications

Friday, April 27, 2007

Bucs win 3-1,Suns and Shorebirds go extra and Greg Brown is a nitwit


The Pirates grabbed a victory tonight over the visiting Cincinnati Reds 3-1.
The Bucs move over the .500 mark to 11-10 on the season.
Looks like another dominant performance from Ian Snell firing seven shutout innings.
Snell improved to 2-1 with the victory.
Pittsburgh scored all 3 runs in the first off Eric Milton,first on a 2 run RBI double from Jason Bay and Adam LaRoche then singled home Bay.
I did not see the win as I was at the Hagerstown Suns-Delmarva Shorebirds games,but our guy Battling Bob reports that my least favorite announcer Greg Brown offered a tidbit on the Pirate fans being too hard on Salomon Torres after his blown saves and to "Lay off".
Battling Bob then reports that on Torres' first pitch to leadoff man Adam Dunn-BOOM-Home Run!.
Gee,Greg,-wonder why we are so hard on Torres?-eye roll.
I cannot believe that I have not used a post to rag on Greg Brown yet-Coming Soon.
Torres did manage to hold on to earn his seventh save of the year.

Wild shootout at Municipal tonight,with the Hagerstown Suns defeating the Delmarva Shorebirds 10-9 in 11 innings on a walkoff homer by 3rd baseman Alex Nunez.
I left after the 10th,too many things to get done before work.
Justin Maxwell homered for Hagerstown as well as knocking in 3 runs.
Delmarva right fielder Brandon Tripp had 3 RBI as well.Tripp is hitting well over .400 for the season.

On the autograph front-I was able to get most of the Shorebirds finished.
Most notably Brandon Snyder,who chatted a bit and seems like a good guy and Pedro Beato.
Ryan and Rachel got Beato for me as I was getting others,but report he was very personable as well.
Power hitting prospect Chris Vinyard signed as well and small talked about the facilities at Hagerstown.
Hope to get a few Shorebirds on Sunday's game,as well as some pics(since the lighting is good).
Also got Suns hurlers Juan De Los Santos and Cory Van Allen as well.
Cory seems like a really cool guy,as he swapped some Baylor Bear talk with Ryan.

Skipping tomorrows SAL game,due to a work engagement,so I will also miss a Devils-Senators post tomorrow,but I will try to post a Browns 1st and 2nd round draft pick oriented post and likely the Seattle 2nd rounder as well,if the pick is made before I leave for work.

Early Sunday morning,I will try to give a Devils game 2,Pirates-Reds and Diaz-Freitas coverage post.

Photo Credit-AP Photo-Gene Puskar

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tale of two games,Devils fall 5-4


In a game that was a Jekyll and Hyde game for both teams,The New Jersey Devils lost game 1 of the Eastern Semis to the Ottawa Senators 5-4.
Ottawa dominated most of the 1st scoring the first 4 goals,the Devils battled back by scoring the next 3 in the late 1st period and the second and each scored a goal in the 3rd.
Martin Brodeur struggled early against the high-powered Ottawa offense and has no excuse on any of them,although the 2nd goal was set up on the power play by a silly penalty call by the arbiters.
Marty and the Devil defense in the 1st period must bear the brunt of this loss.
Simply put-a poor effort.
I was pleased with the effort shown in battling back to at least make the Senators sweat it out a bit.
The loss of Captain Patrik Elias due to the flu was obviously a huge loss,but you need overcome these types of things in playoff hockey.
Elias is hoping to be ready for Game 2.
Devils goals to Travis Zajac (Langenbrunner and Parise Assts), Brian Gionta (Gomez and Martin), Andy Greene (Langenbrunner and Parise) and Zach Parise with the goaltender pulled (Gomez and Rafalski).
I really have liked what I have seen from Andy Greene.I think he will be a huge addition to next years squad.

I am hoping that this rally will carry over into Game 2,Saturday night at 8;00 from the Meadowlands.
I have to work,so my recap will be off the XM coverage.
My employers refuse to spring the extra few bucks a month for digital cable,so since we have no Versus coverage, I will miss this one.

Oh,well-I will cover the WBA-IBF Lightweight unification bout between Champions Juan Diaz (WBA) and Acelino Freitas(IBF) for the evening.

Photo Credit-Bill Kostroun-AP Photo

Bayliss sparkles,Pirates hold on to 5-3 win


Despite the best efforts of the Arson Squad of Salomon Torres and John Grabow-the Pittsburgh Pirates held on to win over the Houston Astros 5-3,completing a 3 game sweep of the Astros.
The Pirates have won all 6 meetings vs Houston this season.
The star of the game was Jonah Bayliss,who got the win in relief to improve his record to 2-1 on the season.
Bayliss relieved Tony Armas in the Houston 6th,with the bases loaded and no one out.
Bayliss got Brad Ausmus to pop up and Wandy Rodriguez to rap into a double play to allow the Pirates to get out of the inning without allowing a run.
In the Pirate sixth,a Jason Bay single scored Jose Castillo and Chris Duffy to turn 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the 8th,the Pirates scored 3 insurance runs on a Xavier Nady walk and a Ryan Doumit single that scored two runs to increase the score to 5-1.
Doumit was called up late last night from AAA Indianapolis to replace the injured Humberto Cota,who was placed on the DL.
But Salomon Torres came in to pitch the 9th and after retiring the 1st batter,quickly loaded the bases.
Torres then allowed a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 5-2 and was then replaced by John Grabow.
Grabow allowed a single to Mike Lamb,which cut the lead to 5-3 and put the tying run on base by walking Morgan Ensberg.
Grabow then retired Adam Everett on a fielders choice to end the game and pick his 1st save of the season.
Dave Littlefield in the off-season raved about his bullpen as a strength.
I do not see it that way.I like the youngsters Capps and Bayliss,but I have never liked Grabow at all,Chacon is awful,Wasdin is worse and Torres simply is not a closer.
A DL perceived strength is actually a weakness.

Not a bad outing today from Tony Armas.
Armas worked his way out of a rough 1st inning by only allowing 1 run in a bad situation and was helped by Bayliss in the 6th,but otherwise not too bad at all.
This type of performance is about what you hope to get out of your 5th starter.

Nice to see Ryan Doumit back in the lineup.I am hoping Jim Tracy can be creative and find him time to play in different spots,since he is so high on Paulino..

Today's win evens the Pirates record at .500 for the season at 10-10.
Pittsburgh is 6-0 vs Houston and 4-10 vs the other teams thus far.

The Pirates continue the homestand over the weekend vs the Reds tomorrow at 7;00
Ian Snell for the Pirates against Eric "Longball" Milton.

Photo Credit-Bill Gentry-MiLB.Com

Seattle Seahawks Draft needs


The Seattle Seahawks do not own a 1st round selection having traded it to New England for Deion Branch last season,but they still need to address some needs for the defending NFC West Champions.
Seattle is a team that is at or near its peak,they need to make a another run now.

1)Offensive Line
The Seahawks line is good,but last years loss of Steve Hutchinson to Minnesota was a huge one.
Rob Sims,a 4th round pick last year,showed promise,but could not be expected to play to Hutchinson's level as a rookie.
Walter Jones is as good as it gets at left tackle and Chris Spencer is not bad at center.
The right side could use the upgrade with Sean Locklear and Ray Willis not being exceptional.
The Seahawks could go after the best offensive lineman available with their pick in Round 2.
I would love to see nasty Justin Blalock of Texas,fall to Seattle.
Not sure,if that happens,but he would be a perfect fit-IMO

2)Tight End
Now that the Seahawks have given up on the enigmatic Jerremy Stevens,this needs to be upgraded.
The signing of veteran Marcus Pollard will be Ok for a 1 year stop-gap,but Pollard has never been a blocker at any of his stops and this line could use the help.
Look for Seattle to get a Tight end sometime on draft day.

3)Safety
I know to most devoted Fantasy players,.the Hawk safeties look pretty good.
But the fantasy rule on this is "some guys are better Fantasy guys than NFL and some are better real players than Fantasy".
Well the former is true here.
Letting Ken "the Hammer" Hamlin is a move that the Seahawks will regret for a while.
Seattle no longer has an enforcer type hitter at safety to intimidate wideouts and tight ends going over the middle.
Michael Boulware is a big play type safety that is better suited for nickel duty and none of the veteran free agent pickups (Mike Green,Brian Russell and Deon Grant) are hitters.
I watched Russell all last year with the Browns,Struggles in coverage,yet is not a punishing tackler.
He is not a long term answer.
I would like to see the Seahawks get a safety in the middle of this draft.

4)Wide receiver
The Seahawks have talent here as always,but many of these guys have been easily nicked and injured types.
Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram have been productive players,but both tend to go down to the injury bug.
As does the less productive Nate Burleson as well.
Pick a WR or two up just for depth purposes.

5)Kick Returner
The Hawks in the late rounds need an explosive guy to return kickoffs and punts.
Nate Burleson is not that guy and even if he was,he is needed at wideout.

Honorable Mention
Quarterback
Seneca Wallace and David Greene have done little to impress me and with Matt Hasselbeck becoming a bit more fragile,I would not argue with a late round flyer on someone to hold the clipboard.

Shaun Alexander,Mo Morris and Mack Strong make the running backs as good as they get other than in San Diego.

The Seahawks on the Defensive Line are strong with Rocky Bernard,Bryce Fisher and newcomer Patrick Kerney.

The Linebackers are great led by my favorite Lofa Tatupu and the spectacular Julian Peterson.
I would not argue against a depth pick though.

The Corners are solid with Marcus Trufant,Kelly Herndon,Jordan Babineaux and last year's top pick Kelly Jennings..

Josh Brown is one of the elite kickers in the league,but I would like to see a challenger to punter Ryan Plackemeier though.

The Seahawks will likely defend their NFC West title this year.
Whether they go further than just that depends on their ability to close some gaps on their club.

Photo Credits
Blalock-Steve Moakley-University of Texas
Jones-Otto Greule Jr-Getty Images

Pirates outlast Astros in 16!>?


The Piitsburgh Pirates blew a 3-1 lead in the 9th,struggled through some extra innings and then took a 4-3 victory on Adam LaRoche's single through the left side of the infield.
LaRoche took advantage of an Astros defensive alignment that played him to pull,had Houston played him conventionally,it likely would have been an out.
Happy as I am for LaRoche,who seems like a good guy that is genuinely bothered by his troubles in April,the bigger stories are these-Salomon Torres blows yet another save and the Pirates continue to have an anemic offensive lineup.
Torres does not seem to be up to the task of finishing games,but the Pirates do not seem to have a real option to replace him with.
Matt Capps is the closer of the future,but is not prepared yet,I am not a John Grabow fan,so I do not think he would be an improvement and there is no way that I want B.P. Chacon to give it a try.
SO I guess the Bucco fans are just going to have to ride this out all season and never assume a 9th inning lead is in the bag.
Pirates RBI went to Jason Bay (4th inning groundout), 2 to Adam Laroche (4th inning Sac fly and 16th Single) and Brad Eldred ,who crushed his 2nd homer of the year in the 5th.
Eldred needs to take advantage of every chance he gets to play,as it is pretty clear that the Messers Littlefield and Tracy are not his biggest supporters.
John "wayback" Wasdin picked up the win,improving his record to 1-1.
Why this guy is even on this team is just beyond comprehension,but he did the job last night.
Will be back later as this is a big day.
Devils-Senators Game 1,Pirates and Astros finish their series at 12;35(Tony Armas vs Wandy Rodriguez) and I have the Seahawks needs to get finished with the draft just 2 days away.

Photo Credir-AP Photo-Gene Puskar

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cleveland Browns Draft Needs



Here is my brief look at the Cleveland Browns Draft Needs for this weekends draft.
The Browns are so weak at so many spots even if a position is not as high as other needs,odds are they will still need help there...

1)Offensive line
The Browns have tried in free agency to upgrade the O-Line,but hardly in the draft.
I give Phil Savage credit for trying with LeCharles Bentley last year (No one can be blamed for the freak accident) and this year with Eric Steinbach,but they need to grab a solid offensive lineman in either the 1st or 2nd round.
A Joe Thomas/Eric Steinbach left side of the line could be a dominant one and could help protect average QB's and help average runners as well.
Plus it enables Kevin Shaffer to move to the right side.
Shaffer is an above average right tackle,yet a below average left one.

2)Defensive Line
The Browns never seem to be able to rush the passer either.
Kamerion Wimbley impressed somewhat last year,but he was about the only rusher they had.
Orpheus Roye has 5 sacks over the last 3 years and I do not think free agent signee Robiare Smith is the answer either.
Too many journeymen and has beens on this team's front 7.

3)Running Back
Cleveland has not had an above average back since the Mack-Byner days and have been without a Superstar back since Leroy Kelly.That is 1972!!! 35 years ago!!!!!
I am tired of seeing the William Greens,Jason Wrights and Reuben Droughns putter through the line for 2 yards!
Lets get a game breaker to Cleveland.
I know all about the signing of Jamal Lewis (yuck).Just be glad I wasn't doing the blog on the day of that signing!
But Lewis is a 1 year deal.If he is great-he leaves to a contender,if he isn't(more likely),he is gone and we are back to square 1.
I know some argue a great back is worthless without a line,but I have to admit I really want Adrian Peterson in Brown and Orange in the worst way.
As much as I know we need Joe Thomas and like him as a player,I hope the Browns go after Peterson and give the fans something exciting to watch in these great 5 win seasons.

4)Cornerback
Leigh Bodden is serviceable,but do you really want your top cover man to be rated serviceable?
and no,I do not believe that free agent signing Kenny Wright is a starter in this league.
Gary Baxter seems to have trouble staying healthy since arriving to Cleveland and IMO he has not played that well when he has been on the field.
How do you expect to stop teams when you cannot rush their passer or cover their receivers?

5)Quarterback
I am not sold on Charlie Frye or Derek Anderson,but do we really gain that much by starting over with JaMarcus Russell or Brady Quinn?
I don't think so and the Browns should not either.
Can you make the playoffs with either? I doubt it,but who knows?
Lets give them one more year to find out,Quarterbacks are available every year and I would not mind taking one on the drafts second day to take a flyer on someone.

Honorable Mention
Wide Receiver
For a team that seems like they use first day picks on wideouts every year,the Browns sure do not look like a team loaded with talent on the outside.
Joe Jurievious plays hard and is solid,but on a good team is a 3rd WR at best.
Braylon Edwards plays a cowardly game,drops passes and has a rotten attitude.
I would move him tomorrow if the return was right,but I will give him one more year to straighten up. Do not count on him using it to improve though.
Travis Wilson was the Browns 3rd rounder last year and to quote Wilson "I am the best Wide Receiver in this draft".
Best WR in the draft and his season stats?
Glad you asked-2 catches 32 yds.Yea....

The Browns safety tandem of Brodney Pool and Sean Jones are good and getting better.
Kellen Winslow could soon be the games dominant tight end.
Love his game,hate his mouth,but at least he cares.
More than I can say for some.
Linebackers look good as well-Andre Davis,D'Qwell Jackson,Leon Williams and Blitz/Rush type Kamerion Wimbley are all young,tough and improving.
Phil Dawson and Dave Zastidil are acceptable as the kicking specialists.

This is a pivotal draft for the Browns,Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel.
A bad 2007 could mean the jobs of one,if not both of the above men.
This draft could give us a better idea of which to expect.

Later tonight or tomorrow-
Pirates-Astros recap and the needs of my NFC favorite team.The Seattle Seahawks.

Photo Credit-
Adrian Peterson-Dallas Morning News
Kellen Winslow-AP Photo

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Malholm Shuts out Astros.........


Paul Malholm was dominant tonight at PNC Park,as he and the Pirates shut out the Houston Astros 3-0.
Malholm fired a 3 hitter and gave Bucco fans some hope for him after a slow start.
Malholm now 1-2 on the season,never allowed an extra base hit to Houston and just as important was able to keep the ball on the ground.
A pitcher with his style needs to keep the ball down to be effective,especially when you are not a overwhelmingly hard thrower and not a high strikeout pitcher.
Ronny Paulino hit a solo homer for Pittsburgh.
Perhaps Paulino has heard about the torrid hitting of Ryan Doumit down at Indianapolis and needed to get things moving.
I do not have a firm opinion either way on which catcher to play,but I do know this-the Pirates have a history of disliking the type of player that Ryan Doumit is.
Power potential,multi-positional,some defensive questions etc.
While Paulino and his "intangibles" seems to fit the Pittsburgh mold the better of the two.
In the end,I think Doumit will be the one that is moved out of town.
And likely for little return,if Dave Littlefield's history shows anything.
The other 2 RBI goes to Jack Wilson and Jason Bay.

Back to Malholm,this is the type of outing that gives hope to Pirate fans.
If he can pitch reasonably close to this consistently,maybe Littlefield's plan has a small window of opportunity.
More likely-I am just overly happy with a guy that I like having a great performance.
The two teams play again tomorrow at 7;00 with the Astros pitching Matt Albers vs the Buccos and the struggling Zach Duke.

Photo Credit-AP Photo-Keith Srakacic

David Halberstam killed and Random Ramblings


We start Random Ramblings on a sad note.
Noted Author David Halberstam was killed yesterday in a auto accident outside San Francisco.
The 74 year old author had written many excellent books including Summer of 49.October 1964 and his best work (IMO) The Best and the Brightest,which was a scathing indictment of the U.S. and its policy/involvement in Southeast Asia.
Halberstam was likely the literary world's most noted expert on the Vietnam War and won a Pulitzer for his field coverage in 1964.
Our condolences on his passing to his family.

Now to Random Ramblings.

Watching the Bucs-Dodgers game on Sunday and Vin Scully offered a interesting note.
A game bat costs between 65 and 100 dollars per bat.
Not cheap at all.
Maybe that is why they don't give many away!!


Anyone else get the feeling that Scully could make any event interesting to just kick back and listen?
What a loss that will be when he is no longer commentating.
Los Angeles has been very fortunate indeed.

Is there any doubt that Strat O Matic is the greatest baseball game ever?
I am far from a video game hater and I enjoy them too,but the real seamhead that looks for a game goes to Strat.
Silver medal to the Baseball Mogul game for the PC.
A different type of game than Strat,but enjoyable as well.

Lots of shows on "Global warming" lately.
The Tom Friedman show from last week,Sundance is showing 2 Eco-based shows a week and some programming on PBS tonight.
I support this movement,but I feel the movement makes one huge error.
I would prefer the brand name to be Climate Change.
Every time,a cold front moves through,it gives the opportunity for someone to say "So much for that Global Warming".
It makes light of the problem and hurts the credibility of people taking it seriously.

As much as I love Countdown with Keith Olbermann,it really loses its luster when he is not there.
Who the substitute is matters none,the writing that fits Keith brilliantly,fits no one else.
That said-When Alison Stewart is hosting the show, I watch something else.

I am officially worried about Michael Felix down in Hickory.
3 starts and blasted in all 3.
Here is hoping for a turnaround.

And finally here are the 2006 numbers for Pirate killer Olmedo Saenz.
Vs Pittsburgh, Saenz hit .524 (11 for 21) with 3 HR,9 RBI and a OPS of 1,583.
Crazy...............

Photo Credit- AP Photo-Mark Lennihan

Monday, April 23, 2007

Forgotten Superstars....


Since today is a slow news day,I decided to start a recurring feature called Forgotten Superstars.
Let me know what you think about this series.
If it is well liked,it is perfect for slow days and might spark discussion among the 4 people that read this thing!

I will start with one of my all time favorites-Dick Allen.
Allen was the power hitting multi-positional star for many teams,but most notably the Phillies and White Sox.
In many ways-Dick Allen was a product of his time,being perhaps the 1st player to want to be left alone to play without the structure that the game was known for at that time.
Allen was a player that preferred to put the numbers up and then deal with the press,managers etc.
Looking at Allen's career numbers ,you could make an argument that he might be,along with Jim Rice and
Ron Santo,the best non-hall of fame eligible player not in the Hall.
Allen would likely bristle at being mentioned with Santo,as the two feuded during their one season together as teammates with the Pale Hose in 1975.
Dick Allen's OPS from his rookie year of 1964 to his last full season of 1974 ranged from .1.027 to a low of .863.
This is while playing in the best era of pitching talent ever in the 1960's.
Even Allen's last two seasons (a return to Philadelphia) were certainly serviceable ones for its time,when you consider the era he was playing in.
What is the case against Dick Allen?
IMO-because he retired early,he did not roll the automatic entry numbers needed to help him into the HOF.
Dick finished at 351 homers,had he played another 2 or 3 years as a DH (easily attainable),he makes it 400 homers.
At that time,he likely gets in,as 400 HRS was a benchmark at that time.
Similar to Al Oliver (Forgotten Superstar coming soon),retiring 200 hits short of 3000 hits,if he gets it,he was likely in.
I find it amazing that the most votes that Allen ever recieved for the Hall was just 89 (19 %) in 1996.
Allen won the NL Rookie of the year in 1964 by carrying the Phillies to the near-pennant (along with Johnny Callison) in the "year of the Blue Snow" and grabbed the AL MVP in 1972 for tossing the sad sack Chi-Sox on his back and giving the powerhouse (Eventual World Champion)Oakland A's all they could handle.
Check this roster out and tell me how they finished just a few games back of the A's?
Here is a link to Allen's official HOF page as a candidate on the Veterans Committee.

All in all,even if you do not find Allen worthy of the Hall.He certainly does qualify as a Forgotten Superstar.

You can try a copy of Allen's biography Crash.
It can be found on Ebay or Amazon,Cherie bought me my copy years ago.

Photo Credit-Sports Illustrated

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Goodbye Tampa,Hello Ottawa.


The New Jersey Devils eliminated the Tampa Bay Lightning in 6 games by winning Game 6 in the Citrus Bowl 3-2.
The Devils now move on to play the Ottawa Senators in what should be a great and highly competitive series.
However listening to the NBC Studio team of Bill Clement,Brett Hull and Ray Ferraro,the Devils should not even bother to show up as the Senators are far more talented and should be the clear favorite.
Not sure I agree with that-to me,the series is a pick em series.

The Devils never trailed in Game 6,leading 1-0 at the end of one period on a power play goal by Brian Gionta with assists going to Brian Rafalski and Patrik Elias.
In the 2nd-The Devils increased their lead to 2-0 on a Brian Rafaski power play goal.Rafalski was assisted by Elias and Scott Gomez.
Brad Richards scored the 1st of his two power play goals for Tampa to trim the lead to 2-1,but just 39 seconds later Gionta moved the lead back to a two goal one by taking advantage of Tim Taylor's giveaway in front of the Tampa net.
Richards scored another power play goal for Tampa to cut the lead to 3-2 at the end of two periods,but the margin would go no further and no scoring took place in period 3.

The Pirates avoided a sweep in Los Angeles by beating the Dodgers 7-5.
Adam LaRoche homered in a rare base hit for him in the game.
Tom Gorzelanny pitched well again for the 3rd game in a row,so i am encouraged by Tom thus far,as he improved to 3-0 on the season.
Salomon Torres pitched the 9th to earn his 6th save.
I saw the 1st 4 innings and last inning of this one,so did not see the middle,but the numbers for Chris Duffy looked good today.
Duffy had 3 hits and stole 2 bases in the kind of outing that Tracy and Littlefield think will happen on a consistent basis.
I ,on the other hand,differ with their analysis.
Xavier Nady pulled something in last nights loss and was held out of today's game as a precaution until returning to Pittsburgh.
Olmedo Saenz homered for LA.
Saenz seems to hit like crap against most,but just kills the Pirates.
I will have look up his numbers vs the Buccos.
Maybe it is just me,but it seems he hits .700 vs Pittsburgh.

Pirates are off tomorrow and take on Houston Tuesday night at PNC Park.
Paul Malholm vs Woody Williams in that one.
So with no Devils or Pirates tomorrow,might be some random rumblings or a look back at someone or something from the past.

Photo Credits
Devils- Getty Images-Doug Benc
Pirates-Getty Images-Jeff Gross

Snell great,Paulino not so much,,,


Ian Snell had another terrific outing last night in Los Angeles,unfortunately his battery mate Ronny Paulino did not.
Paulino's 9th inning defensive antics cost the Bucs the lead (and Snell a well deserved win) and Russell Martin smacked a walk-off grand slam in the Dodger 10th to give L.A a 7-3 win.

I did not see the game,but did listen on Dodger radio (Via XM),but clearly Paulino wears the goat horns for this one.
With the Bucs leading 3-2 and Salomon Torres in the close to close,with one out ,Wilson Valdez moved from 1st to 2nd on a wild pitch.Paulino grabbed the ball and attempted to gun Valdez down at 2nd.Instead the ball flew into center and Valdez took 3rd as well.
Later in the inning,Paulino failed to block a Torres pitch and Valdez scored,tying the game.
As a result,the Los Angeles scored the run that they needed to keep the game going without recording a hit in the inning.

So Jim Tracy loves Paulino over Doumit because of his better arm,defense and the way he handles pitchers?
Everyone has a bad night,but with the way Paulino has started with the bat,more attention is paid to things like last night.

Another tough luck outing for Snell,who once again pitched 7 excellent innings and deserved the win that he SHOULD have gotten.
Pirate RBI to Jack Wilson on a 1st Inning groundout (Scoring Duffy) and Adam LaRoche on a 3rd Inning walk.
The other Pirate run scored on a third inning Brad Penny Wild Pitch.

Martin's Homer in the tenth came off B.P (Batting Practice) Chacon.
Credit the nickname to Charlie over at Bucs Dugout.

The Pirates attempt to avoid the sweep today at 4;00 with Tom Gorzelanny against Brett Tomko.

Sunday's Random Ramblings

The New Jersey Devils attempt to close out the Tampa Bay Lightning today in Game 6.
A win means they would battle the Ottawa Senators next in what will likely be a great matchup,as well as making life miserable in the Heimberger house for that time period.

Tough break for Eric Musselman at Sacramento.
Eric likely made a mistake taking the Kings job,at a franchise ready to rebuild and it could really hurt an excellent coach looking for a head job for a while.
Eric is the son of the late coach Bill Musselman.

As I mentioned earlier,listened to the Dodger-Pirate game on radio last night.
Very few things better than Vin Scully on a late night game from the coast,Unfortunately Scully only did the 1st three innings on radio.

If you love baseball,you have to get XM radio.

Above note applies to Hockey as well.

It is funny how technology goes full circle in life.
I spent much of my childhood listening to transistor radios,screeching out games from WWWE in Cleveland,KDKA in Pittsburgh,WLW in Cincinnati etc because the only games on TV were local and the NBC game of the week.
Now it is back to listening to games on the radio.
Brings back memories.

Speaking of fond radio memories,spent many a night listening to Pete Franklin on WWWE.
Back in the days of no ESPN or Sports talk radio-Franklin was the place to go to opine on Cleveland sports.
I even made it on the air twice.
I must have been a great date,huh? LOL

Tired of the whole Roger Clemens saga yet?
I know I am.
Always considered myself a Clemens fan,but this routine,now its 3rd year of this crap) has soured me on him a bit.

On the topic of Clemens,his son Koby comes to Hagerstown as a member of the Lexington Legends in June..

Finally... I have enjoyed rooting against the Blue Jays this year.
Why?
GM J.P. Riccardi is the reason.
What he and the Jays did to the city of Pulaski VA. is just short of criminal.

Back later with Devils-Lightning and Pirates-Dodgers notes.

Photo Credits
Snell-Getty Images-Jeff Gross
Musselman-AP Photo-Paul Sakuma

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Bullpen notes and Buccos blasted in Scullyland


Tony Armas was hammered and even the pitcher (Randy Wolf) joined in to pound Armas,as the Los Angeles Dodgers slammed the Buccos down 10-2 last night in (Insert your Vin Scully impersonation here) beautiful Dodger Stadium.
I missed the game due to the West Coast start,but does not appear that I missed much.
It was the 1st effort by Armas in 15 days,so maybe a mild excuse,but he needs to show more next out.
Maybe Jim Tracy should have tried to get a long relief effort in for Armas over that period,but whats done is done.
The lone Pirate RBI went to Xavier Nady on a single in the 1st and Nady grounded into a double play in the 8th. Jack Wilson scored on the play, but no RBI given.

Pirates will try again tonight in L.A sending Ian Snell vs Brad Penny.
Snell has been tremendous thus far,here is hoping for continued good work!

Notes from the Bullpen

Hagerstown Suns top prospect Chris Marrero could have a muscle pull of some type.
Marrero came off the field mildly gimpy after the game Thursday and not only did not play Friday,he did not even warm up or stretch..
Smart move by the Nationals to play it safe with him.
Something to watch for.

Two Captains that I was impressed by were Pitcher Paulo Espino and Left Fielder Nick Weglarz.
Weglarz ,a 19 year old Canadian,was the Tribe's 2nd rounder in 2005 as a catcher, but due to the Cleveland farm systems wealth at catcher,the Indians are trying him in Left.
He handled the Hagerstown outfield well in a park known for being difficult to play in Left and I like his swing a lot.
He has a long way to go,but with seasoning and patience,could turn out quite well.
Espino is a 20 year old from Panama ,who pitched 2 innings last night,struck out 5 Suns in 2 innings.
I did not get a gun reading,but appeared to be throwing in the low 90's.
Espino has struck out 13 in his 9 innings of work thus far.
Knew nothing about him before last night,but I was impressed enough to make a note of this guy!

Last night the Dodgers almost got rained out vs the Pirates.
The Dodgers rarely have even delays,so even pictures of the Dodger Stadium tarp are rare,so I thought I would use the pic above.

Quick shout to Nationals Farm Authority.
I have been trying to comment here and there on the Hagerstown Suns for their readers and I know Ryan (Who claims he never gets any pub) does as well.
Good site if you are a Nationals fan or Suns follower.

Went to take some Captains photos last night and batteries were dead.
Will work on pics vs Delmarva and of our favorite Suns employee Cindy as well.
Without her,give up on any service from the box seat area.

A long overdue note-If you ever need to order cards.souvenirs etc from the Rome Braves,I cannot recommend them enough. The lady that took care of our order went far and above the call of duty.
Great job down in Rome.

Rome hosts this year SAL all-star game and the Jeff asked me "when Hagerstown would get it".
IMO- there is a better chance that "The backyard Forbes Field" gets the SAL all-star event before Hagerstown Municipal Stadium does.

I would wager that the Suns have never even made an attempt to bring that event here.
This is not the Suns fault-but most cities in the league show the game on television,but in Hagerstown?Have to watch it on line.

Another Hagerstown Suns idea that I missed in my Ideas post from earlier this month.
THREE dollars for a program and the right to score a game???
During my trip to Frederick,, As we entered,the Keys hand you a 32 page booklet that has player rosters,a small scorecard, a few fun things for the kids, Oriole farm system info,etc.
The cost?Nothing-Totally free.
Hagerstown? 3 bucks for a glossy,mostly ad based program,with rosters and scorecard.
Ridiculous,considering the Suns do not have an electronic scoreboard to post player names.
So if you choose not to buy this overpriced paper trail,good luck figuring out who is who as the game goes on with player changes.
My solution?
How about 50 cents or a dollar for a small scorecard that comes with a roster sheet?
Or better yet,do it the Frederick way-give it for free.
The goodwill you generate always comes back in some fashion.
I will add this to the Suns post now to make it more complete.

The Tom Friedman documentary "Green is the Red,White and Blue" debuts on the Discovery Channel tonight.
Here is a link to his original article.
I posted on this a while back,so I am looking forward to seeing it.

Guess that is all until tomorrow,when we get news on........
Pittsburgh vs Los Angeles game 2
Devils vs Lightning game 6 and more random ramblings.

Photo credit-AP Photo-Gus Ruelas

Friday, April 20, 2007

Mr.Brodeur's demise was a bit premature.......



Martin Brodeur bounced back to form by shutting out the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight 3-0 in New Jersey to give the Devils a 3-2 series lead.
The Devils can clinch the series with a win Sunday at the Gator Bowl.
Marty Stopped all 31 shots he faced in a dominant performance.
Devils goals to Andy Greene,Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez.
The Gomez goal was into the empty net.
Two big fights tonight,Michael Rupp vs Andre Roy and Jamie Langenbrunner vs Nolan Pratt.
Roy lost his jersey and was ejected from the game for his actions during the scrap.
After the game,Devil asst. John MacLean and Tampa head man John Tortorella screamed at each other from behind the bench.
Have to like MacLean BIG in that one.

I missed the game because I was watching the Lake County Captains take two of three from the Hagerstown Suns with a victory of 10-4.
Matt Whitney homered and doubled twice in addition to his 5 RBI on the evening.
Whitney is in the middle of converting to 1st base from 3rd and dropped to Lake County to learn the position.
Hitting wise,he certainly is well above this level of play.
Leonard Davis homered for Hagerstown in the loss.

Tim Foli was again at the Captains-Suns game and once again I was able to get a card signed.
And again thanks to Michael Rice for the help.
Only other card signed tonight was Hagerstown reserve outfielder Francisco Guzman.

Jeff Heimberger once again proved his fear of the baseball by turning his back to a foul hit RIGHT TO him.
By turning away in cowardice,he eliminated any chance of getting hit by the ball.
He also eliminated any chance of catching it as well.
Way to go,Jeff!
Oh well,he will get it next time.Insert your eyeroll here.

More on the Devils game,as well as the Pirates game in LA and more on the Captains visit as well tomorrow.

Photo credits
Brodeur-AP Photo-Bill Kostroun
Fight-Getty Images-Bruce Bennett

Random Ramblings......


A few notes for today.

Dejan at the Post-Gazette had a great article yesterday comparing the Pirates spending to the Brewers.
I do not need to analyze it,because it is ALL dead on.
Check it out here!

Lake County finishes their series against the Hagerstown Suns tonight at 6;35.
Just a game night tonight,except for a few Suns bullpenners that I have not gotten yet.

Liberal Favorite Al Franken is running for Senate in Minnesota.
I think it is going to be a tough run for Al,but I am rooting for him big-time.
I bet that race ,vs incumbent GOP Senator Norm Coleman, will be fun to cover!
Here is a link for more on Al's run.

New Jersey Devils battle Tampa at home tonight at 7;00,The winner will lead the series 3 games to 2.

Quick note on the moronic SAL schedule.
After tonight's game vs Lake County,the Suns will host no one here except for Delmarva and West Virginia for the next 45 DAYS!!!!!!

Nice note on the Suns-
Found out our favorite Suns Employee's name is Cindy.
Will try to get a pic sometime,so if you need something at a game,you can ask Cindy.
Might be the only way you get any assistance.

Bad note on the Suns-
This did not affect me in the the slightest,but after putting "McDreamy day" on the front marquee and advertising it on the Hagerstown Suns Website,"McDreamy day" was without a word,apparently cancelled.
I didnt even think about it until just now,when I saw the picture still up on their site.
Only this management bunch would advertise a contest and not hold it.
Dont think anyone even noticed it though,which shows what a great promotional idea it was.

Update- McDreamy day was held as the winner was posted two days later.
But I still stand by that earlier post,as no announcements were made or contest on the field for it.
Likely it was worked and just given to whatever guy walked along.

Photo Credit-Getty Images-Lawrence Lucier

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pirates slip in BrewTown,Suns KO Captains and .....

Quick Post tonight.

The Pirates lost on getaway day in Milwaukee to the Brewers 7-5.
Another bad outing for Zach Duke,who fell to 1-2 on the season.
Duke allowed 7 runs and 11 hits in just 4 innings of work.
Xavier Nady homered (his 3rd) and finished with 3 RBI,the other 2 went to Humberto Cota and Jose Bautista.
Sorry,No TV for the game,so I can only go from the reports.

The Hagerstown Suns defeated the Lake County Captains 9-5 in a game that wasnt as close as the score indicates.
The Suns Jhonny Nunez threw 5 scoreless innings and despite 3 walks,looked very strong.
Mike Daniel slammed his 5th Homer and Justin Maxwell hit his 3rd of the year.
I would wager Daniel will move to Potomac at the first opportunity.
Cleveland 2nd rounder Steven Wright started for Lake County and was routed for 8 runs and 8 hits in just 2 and two-third innings.

The game was also notable for the appearance of former Major Leaguers Bob Boone and
Tim Foli. Both are currently working in the Nationals front office.
Boone was best known for his catching for the Phillies and Angels among others.
Foli played for many teams,most notably for the 1979 World Champion Pirates.
I managed to get cards signed by both men.
Thanks to Jeff Heimberger for his help with Tim Foli and to Michael Rice for his help with Bob Boone.

Devils Win,Baseball all day and Battling Bob shakes Keys!!


Sorry I missed yesterday.
Attended two games and was just too tired when I got home.

First the top story-
The New Jersey Devils tied their series with Tampa at two apiece by winning a 4-3 overtime decision in the Citrus Bowl.
Scott Gomez scored on a 2 on 1 breakaway into OT over Johan Holmquist to give New Jersey the win.This game was a desperately needed one for the Devils,as a 2-2 series tie not only is preferable to a 3-1 deficit,but it also gives home ice back to the Devils.
Tampa had a power play early in overtime,due to a penalty on Paul Martin.
The particular penalty(putting the puck in the stands from your own zone) is one I would change in the rules,but by the letter of the law,it was one.
Tampa battled back from a 3-1 N.J. lead to force the overtime.
Devils goals went to Brian Gionta,Gomez and 2 goals from (Who Else?) Zach Parise.
Colin White missed his 2nd straight game with a bad back.
IMO-this is the main reason Vincent LeCavalier has gone so wild in the series.
Game 5 returns to the Meadowlands on Friday at 7;00.

The Pittsburgh Pirates fell to the Milwaukee Brewers last night 7-2 in Milwaukee.
Claudio Vargas struck out 11 Pirates in a winning effort for Bernie's gang.
I liked Vargas for years and always wondered why his numbers did not match his stuff,perhaps he has found the answer in Milwaukee.
Paul Malholm picked up the loss (0-2) and seems to be the weakest link of the Bucco "Big 4".
Not surprisingly-his stuff is least of the 4.
Paul gave up 5 runs and 10 hits in his 6 innings and gave up a bomb to Bill Hall.
I would like to see Malholm nibble less and be more aggressive early in the count,but this is the 2nd year that I have been hoping to see that.
Pirates runs came on a 2nd inning Jason bay Homer (His 3rd) and Chris Duffy scored on a Bill Hall fielding error in the 5th.
I hope Hall repeats his offensive numbers of 2006,because he seems to be just brutal in CF.
The Pirates finish their mini stop in Milwaukee today at 1;05 with Zach Duke vs the overpriced Jeff Suppan.

On a long day that included two games,the 1st involved a road trip to Frederick MD to see the Pirates High A Affiliate Lynchburg Hillcats take on the Keys.
Lynchburg won 5-2 as the Hillcats scored 4 runs in the 5th inning on back to back homers by Brad Corley (3 run shot) and former Baltimore prospect Tripper Johnson's solo version.
Corley has very little plate discipline,but I like his power a lot.
If he would just be a bit more patient at the plate,his prospect status would go even higher.
On an off the field note on Corley-If this guy makes it to Pittsburgh,Pirate fans will love him.
A great,personable,yet not arrogant guy.I have seen Brad twice now and both times took time to talk,sign stuff and seemed to genuinely enjoy fan interaction.
Here is hoping for Corley to make it eventually to Pittsburgh.
Derek Hankins grabbed the win in pitching 5 innings, allowing 1 run,but I was not totally sold.
I liked his change up,but his curve seemed a bit flat to me and he did not seem to be throwing that hard as well.
I did not have the access to the gun,as I usually do in Hagerstown,but I was in the 2nd row behind the plate,so good visual access for me.
Did like the late stint by 6'7 Matt Swanson.He seems to be progressing since last year and I thought (without verification) that he seemed to throw harder yesterday than last year at Hickory.
With his size,worth keeping tabs on.
Einar Diaz ,on the other hand, seems shot.
Diaz swung a slow bat,struggled to get around on High A fastballs and worst of all- Not good defensively.
Diaz being assigned to Lynchburg to begin with tossed up a red flag,but the last thing a veteran backup catcher usually loses is his defensive abilities.
To me,this looks like a audition for Diaz to finish up as a player-coach type.give some wisdom to some young pitchers and see if he wants to coach.
In other words,look for Diaz at State College or as a roving instructor in 2008.

In the nightcap,the Lake County Captains shot to lead early and held on to the win 7-6 over the Hagerstown Suns.
The Captains prospects that I was anxious to see most were heralded young SS Carlos Rivero and Nick Weglarz,along with catching prospect Matt McBride.
I like McBride a lot and I think he may be the Tribe long term catcher.
Matt's defensive ablilities are superior to Max Ramirez and the bat is close,although I give the edge to Ramirez for now.
With the way,McBride is hitting,I would say a Kinston promotion could be in his future later in the season,especially if the rumored position change for Ramirez takes place.
Weglarz played Left after being drafted as a catcher.This is the 1st time I saw Nick,but I like his lefty swing and think he will hit for power at the higher levels,need to see more though to form a solid opinion.
Rivero had two hits,but what stood out to me was his body type. For a 18 year old player (turns 19 in May),he looks huge for a SS.
When he fills out,might not be able to have the range for SS and might be moved to 3B.
The pitcher I really wanted to see pitched in the 9th-Neil Wagner pitched the 9th to earn the save.
Wagner hit 96 on the gun,as he struck one Hagerstown Sun and the other two weakly tapped back to Wagner.
The Second time that I have seen Wagner and both times,he has been super impressive.
Lake County plays the 2nd game here against the Hagerstown Suns tonight at 6;35.

Notes;

At the Frederick game-Battling Bob stood up and shook his Keys as directed by the Keys PR guy.
Guess you had to be there-But I laughed for 5 minutes!

I asked a couple of players on the Hillcats,their opinions looking back at their Hagerstown visit last year.

Derek Antelo did not remember Hagerstown,until I mentioned the shower problems,then he rolled his eyes and said "Oh yeah,NOW I remember that place".....................

Dustin Craig chatted for a few minutes and when I asked the question,he smiled and broke in with "But it's HISTORIC"!
After Ryan,Battling Bob and I's laughter died down,Dustin then added "Historic basically means crappy and old,doesn't it".
I sat behind Dustin all 4 Hickory-Hagerstown games last year,Great guy and as you can see-Funny as well.

Funny thing was that Antelo said Hagerstown was only the Second worst facility he had been to.
I asked what was worse?
The answer? Oneonta NY in the New York-Penn League and "It is not close".
I thought what a dump that place must be,but then later in the evening-Michael Eisenberg of Lake County was asked a similar question and his answer again was Oneonta.
I have got to find some pics of this place!!!

Update on Oneonta-Here is a link to the place rated as worse than Hagerstown and the Suns!

Did well on the signing game-
I got every Hillcat that I needed (Although Diaz was not unfriendly,but a long wait) except for utility infielder Greg Picart.
Picart should be still there on Lynchburg's 2nd visit in May.

Lake County-I did not have as much for,but got what I needed,just some Bowmans from Matt McBride,Michael Eisenberg ,Nick Weglarz and Adam Davis.
Still need to add McBride's sig to Eric Krebs on last years foul ball from Williamsport.

Cory Van Allen,Nationals prospect,made his Hagerstown Suns Home debut last night.
Van Allen pitched 3 and 2/3rds allowing 3 runs (2 earned),4 hits,struck out 2 and did not walk a Captain.
Nice control,but far from a hard thrower.Hard to say from one viewing,but not sure if his stuff is enough to project as a MLB starter.
Cory threw a lot of pitches and must have reached his limit,as Tommy Herr removed him with 1 runner on and two out.
I would have liked to have seen him pitch to one more batter,but the Nationals are apparently enforcing the pitch count strongly.

Chris Marrero smashed a long home run to Left field that hit the pavilion beyond the fence.
It was the first of Chris' pro career,as he did not hit any last year in GCL play.
Congrats to Chris,who seems to be a super guy.

Another great guy that had a bad night is Justin Maxwell.
Justin fanned all 4 at bats last night and I hope he turns it around soon.
Maxwell is another nice guy that is really easy to root for and hope he does well.

SS Stephen King was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the 6th inning.
I hope this is just a frustrated,struggling young player,not a sign of temper problems.

Supposed to have 2 old Memphis State basketball games coming in.
I am not the hoops fan that I used to be,but I can never resist getting Maryland games,N.C.State games from the Jim Valvano era or Memphis State/Keith Lee games.
Never understood how Keith never became an NBA star.

The penalty given for knocking the puck out of play in your own zone might be the dumbest one in Hockey and needs to be changed.
If a referee cannot tell the difference between intentionally putting the biscuit in the seats and having it happen naturally during play-Maybe Bettman needs to get some new arbiters.

Also have some Japanese baseball coming in from our guy in Japan-Brandon Siefken.
With various young pitchers to scout.I love this stuff,as it allows me to check players out before others even know who they are.
I was watching Matsuzaka 3 years before anyone knew his name here.
Thanks Brandon!

Photo Credits
Devils-AP Photo-Chris O'Meara
Pirates-AP Photo-Morry Gash
Memphis-Unknown