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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Quick Picks


More quick picks from tonight's battle for the vacant WBA Lightweight title in Houston between Lineal 135 lb champ Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz.

I rarely give the Alphabet boys much credit but here is a hat tip to the WBA for quickly sanctioning the always signed bout as a bout for their vacant title after champion Nate Campbell lost the WBA (and IBF as well) belt in Florida last week on the scales by being unable to make weight.
Diaz lost the belts to Campbell in his only loss and Marquez is the linear champ after his win over Joel Casamayor,so considering that Manny Pacquiao and Campbell are moving to 140,these two are clearly the best Lightweights in the world.

This should be a good one as Diaz fires a high volume of punches and Marquez is one of the top technicians in the world.
As a Marquez fan,I do have worries.
Despite looking sharp in the stoppage of Casamayor,this still is above his best weight and his age becomes a question with each fight.
Diaz took quite a pounding from Campbell and the template to beat him is established.

The other HBO televised fight features WBA Featherweight king Chris John making his American debut against Houston's own Rocky Juarez.
I have never seen John,but he won his title over Marquez in a hometown decision in Indonesia in 2006 and has defended it 10 times since the win.
Juarez will come forward all night and showed late KO power in his win that earned him the shot stopping Jorge Barrios in the 11th round of a bout that he was far behind.

Our Picks-Record 3-1,2 Bonus Points (Adamek-Banks pending)
Marquez Decision Diaz
John Decision Juarez

Photo Credit-Tom Hogan-Golden Boy Promotions

Brodeur dominates in return to action


Just a few quick thoughts on Thursday's 4-0 win over Colorado since the Devils play today at 1:00 against the Florida Panthers at the Rock.
Devils goals to Zach Parise (Power play 36),Patrik Elias (24),Jamie Langenbrunner (19) and Travis Zajac (17).

Hell Raisers

1) Marty Brodeur picked up the shutout in his return with 24 saves,but this was a pretty easy game to make his comeback in.
Brodeur didn't have to make any really difficult saves and there was little pressure in the Devil controlled game.
Florida offers a stiffer test today.

2)The Devils will be looking for payback for a loss in Florida that was an awful game.
Here is hoping for a more energetic effort today.

3) Where are all the people that used to crow about how well run Colorado was and how they will always be in contention.
Sorry,Avs fans but stocking talent on bad trades doesn't come along every few years and once the salary cap came into play,Colorado lost its status as a high revenue team and wasn't able to pick big fruit off the trade deadline tree any further.

4) Jay Pandolfo played in the Colorado game and Mike Rupp was scratched.
Look for that final forward spot to be swapped back and forth between the two as play and matchups will decide which one plays on a particular night.

5) Brent Sutter was switching line pairings throughout the game and will likely do the same today.
The Devils really need to get extra scoring from someone other than (ironically) the four goal scorers against Colorado.
A Brian Rolston improvement will go a long way in helping the Devils pick their game up.

Bonus Round
Names heard in Devil trade rumors.
Scott Niedermayer (Good fit,but unless you get Rob in the deal as well,he will be a rental),Chris Pronger (You would have him for 2010,but the cost will be high),Jay Boumeester (Could be a sign and trade,but I doubt Lou has the ammo to pull it off) and Derek Morris (a cheaper alternative from Phoenix,who is looking to save $).

No Bullpen Notes today as I will be watching the Adamek-Banks fight at work and trying to avoid seeing the result.

Photo Credit-AP Photo

Friday, February 27, 2009

Kellen Winslow goes and Braylon Edwards stays?

I was going to use this space on the spectacular return of Martin Brodeur to the ice and the Devils 4-0 win over the visiting Colorado Avalanche,but the news from Cleveland on the initial day of free agency was the temporary top story.

No,the Browns didn't announce an immediate signing,but they did make a speedy splash as they shipped Kellen Winslow to Tampa Bay for two undisclosed draft picks.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that the Browns received Tampa's second round pick in the 2009 draft and the Bucs fifth rounder in the 2010 draft,although there has been no official confirmation of those terms.

Winslow missed almost as many games as a Brown as he played(44 to 36) and he was known to have been seeking a new contract having secured the services on noted shark Drew Rosenhaus to work on such,so I cannot say that this is a surprise.
The Browns also needed to add some extra draft picks after former GM Phil Savage foolishly traded picks away last off season and the extra two makes up for the absence of the third rounder that Savage shipped away in order to draft seldom used linebacker Beau Bell in last years draft.
On the flip side though,Winslow,for all of his issues and immaturity, was the one player on the team that you could count on to catch the ball and always leave his heart on the field and that will be missed.
Steve Heiden seems to be more of the Eric Mangini mold at tight end and Heiden is reliable and steady enough to at least give Cleveland a solid,albeit non-Winslow like,performer at the position and considering that the Browns used a fourth round pick last year (after another Savage trade up) to add Martin Rucker,one could argue that Winslow was the most attractive trade bait that the Browns had and yet was the player that the Browns could most afford to trade.

SO as much as I hate losing a player such as Kellen Winslow,I can understand it and even support it (as long as the reported terms are correct),but with the current issues with Shaun Rogers (Rogers wants a trade after being "snubbed" by Mangini and having issues with the weigh-in program that is being installed),the Browns are looking at having their top two players from last season both being banished from Lake Erie-that is called a major concern and PR hit.
With Winslow gone,Rogers trying to force a deal and yet the least popular Brown-Braylon Edwards still here,the Browns are on the proverbial hot seat.

As much as I despise Edwards for his dropped passes,half-ass effort,diva behavior and willingness to blame everyone and everything for his poor performances,I would not trade Edwards unless the offer was a good one.
One wins when you sell high and buy low,moving Edwards right now does the opposite.
The Browns are rebuilding (again) and could use a talent upgrade.
Short of obtaining a number one,moving Edwards now does not accomplish that goal.
Keeping Braylon Edwards (for now) makes the most sense,as much as it pains me to type that.

Bullpen Notes

Norm Van Lier,a former Chicago Bull star in the 1970's and Bull commentator for Comcast Chicago died yesterday at 61.
Van Lier did not show up for work and was found in his home.
Van Lier was a hustling,hard nosed player on the defensive end and was one of the stalwarts of the best non-Michael Jordan teams in the history of the franchise.
Van Lier brings to mind the CBS announcing of Brent Musberger from the time period in my head every time I think of him.

Title fight tonight at the Rock as new IBF Cruiser boss Tomas Adamek defends the belt that he won at the Rock from Steve Cunningham against powerpunching Jonathan Banks in a pick em bout.
This one to comes down to whether Adamek can handle the power shots of Banks and how Banks deals with the pressure from Adamek.
This is a tough call,but I will take a shot at the upset-Banks by late stoppage,likely on cuts....

Back tomorrow with the hockey recap..

Photo Credits
Winslow;Seattle Times
Van Lier:Topps
Adamek-Banks:Tom Casino-Showtime

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Marty's back !


Martin Brodeur will make his long awaited return to the ice tonight at the Rock against the Colorado Avalanche and hopefully he will jump start the Devils after three less than dazzling efforts in the road trip before his return.
Paul Martin is expected to return for the Colorado game as well.
The Devils returned Scott Clemmensen and Anssi Salmela to Lowell to make space for the two returning players.

Clemmensen did more than his fair share of keeping the Devils afloat in the absence of Brodeur and I am sure some of you are wondering why Clemmensen was returned to Lowell instead of Kevin Weekes.
The answer is this-Clemmensen was brought up under the emergency recall rule when Brodeur was injured,so in order for the Devils to keep Clemmensen on the roster,he would have to clear through waivers,which he clearly would not.
So,in order to possibly deal Clemmensen before the deadline,he had to be sent down to Lowell.
I believe that after the deadline,he could return to the Devils without having to pass through waivers.

So even though sending Clemmensen to the minors instead of Weekes seems unfair (and it probably is),it had to be done that way and was the best thing for the Devils and Clemmensen as well.
If the Devils attempted to send him through waivers,he would likely end up with a non playoff team and by doing this is this manner,he will probably be on a playoff roster somewhere....

Bullpen Notes

The NFL Free Agent period begins tonight at 12:01 AM.
The names that I hear for the Browns are less than inspiring unless you don't mind former Ravens coming aboard (Which I do).
Jason Brown will break the bank elsewhere,but I would like to see former Wisconsin Badger (and Ryan favorite) Jim Leonhard join the team and Bart Scott would be a huge addition to the weak linebacking corps.
Signing Scott might enable Cleveland to wait until Round two to grab a linebacker and use their top pick at another position.

The Washington Nationals fired Jose Rijo today as special assistant and closed down one of their two academies in the Dominican Republic.
Not sure that was a great long term idea,but it was a move that is needed in the short term to clear out any fraud issues...

Until tomorrow with the Brodeur return!

Photo Credit
Brodeur:MSNBC.com

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Esmailyn Gonzalez/Carlos Lugo


The woes for the bumbling management of the Washington Nationals continue as GM Jim Bowden is under investigation by the FBI,Jose Rijo looks more and more of a Dominican con man instead of a baseball management person and the most touted signing of the past few years turned out to be multiple years older than he was supposed to be.

I am not going to waste too much time on Jim Bowden.
Why in the hell Washington kept him on in the first place after the demolition job that he did in Cincinnati is questionable at best and idiotic at worst.
The sooner Jim Bowden is gone,the sooner that the National organization can begin the cleanup.
There will never be any straighting out with Jim Bowden in charge.

Esmailyn Gonzalez was expected to be the Hagerstown Suns starting shortstop this season at the age of 19.
Judging from the reports of Gonzalez,he would have likely been the most popular player on the team and just as likely the top prospect as well.
That was until the news broke that Gonzalez was,well neither Gonzalez,nor 19.
He was actually 23 year old Carlos Lugo and he had been misrepresented by himself,his advisors and possibly Jose Rijo as Gonzalez.
Lugo was signed in July 2006 for a 1.4 million bonus and was used as the Washington advertisement for going after Dominican players.
"Gonzalez" was just 16 at the time and began to go through the system through the usual paces that young Latino players go through,Dominican league,Gulf Coast League and was scheduled to start at Hagerstown this year.

One red flag that stands out on the criminal front.
The player received a bonus of 1.4 million dollars and the second place bidder (Texas) only offered 700,000.
SO Washington needed to DOUBLE their offer in order to land a young player that was far from being in a good negotiating position?
That tells me that payoffs were going on and people needed to get a piece of the pie before anything was signed.

It is still possible that Gonzalez/Lugo could play for the Suns.
After all he was still the Gulf Coast League MVP in 2008 and was the league batting champ.
However,a 23 year old player should dominate those leagues,much like they should the Sally League,so lets not get too excited.
At the same time,I would like to see him play to scout him myself.
Many of the top college draftees are around the age of G/L and they start at the Low/High A level,but even those players have been far more tested than the Dominican player.
I would not give up on G/L as a prospect yet,but his chances of success have dropped through the floor.

Another question is whether the shortstop will even be able to get a visa in order to enter the country to play.
When the last identity scandal broke,many of those players had difficulties entering the country and missed a chunk of time at minimum and those players were paid a pittance compared to the Gonzalez bonus.
This is shaping up to be quite a scandal and I would bet by the time that it is all over that at least a few people in the Washington front office is going to be touched by the incident.

In closing,do I blame Carlos Lugo?
Not really,you live in an impoverished country,you have a chance to make it in pro baseball and not matter what sliver of the contract that you actually see,it has to be better than what the average Dominican makes.
At the same time,fraud is fraud and the Washington Nationals have been tainted by this.
Either Washington was duped, making them fools or someone employed by the team was in on this scam and that makes them corrupt.
You make the call-are you stupid or are you corrupt?
Not a pretty picture in Washington either way.

Photo Credit-Topps

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pavlik great,Devils not so much

The New Jersey Devils looked like a team that either needed to have or was looking forward to their five day break in a listless 4-0 loss to the Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum.
The less said the better about this loss,so I am moving on,but suffice it to say that I was not pleased with the play during the three game road trip to come away with just two points when you consider the Devils opposition was two teams with losing records...

Martin Brodeur may be in net for the Thursday game against Colorado.
The final decision is Brent Sutter's,but it could be the jolt to snap the Devils out of their funk.

One possible reason for the poor play (and it could be an excuse) is that it seemed like half the team had the stomach flu during the swing.
Perhaps that could have been why the team looked so weak?

Kelly Pavlik retained his WBC Middleweight belt when challenger Marco Antonio Rubio was unable to answer the bell for the 10th round.
No knockdowns in the bout,but Pavlik was reported to have won every round.
Pavlik is expected to make his next defense in early summer in Cleveland.
Possible opponents include Vernon Forrest,Sergio Mora and John Duddy.

In the other fight of the day,Miguel Cotto stopped Michael Jennings in five rounds.
So,for those of you scoring at home(Other than me) my record improved to 3-1 with 2 bonus points on the year.

Battlin Bob sends us this note on wrestling legend Verne Gagne being implicated in the death of a 97 year old man at the assisted living home that the two men resided at.
Gagne (82) threw the man to the floor,breaking his hip and injured his head and the incident that resulted in his death.
Gagne suffers from Alzheimer's disease,so the incident isnt as bad as it sounds,although that is little consolation to the family of the victim.

Ryan drops us a line on the death of ELO bass player Kelly Groucutt at 63.
Groucutt was the bass man for most of the classic stuff of ELO before leaving the band in1983.
I have always thought that ELO's early stuff is where the Beatles sound would have progressed to had the band never broken up.

Either later or tomorrow,I hope to return with a post on the woes of the Washington Nationals,Esmailyn Gonzalez and more for the seamhead.

Photo Credit
Boxing:AP photo

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fight picks

Almost forgot about making my picks for tonight's fights.
Miguel Cotto returns to the ring after his brutal ( and with hindsight questionable) loss to Antonio Margarito in New York against Great Britain's Michael Jennings,while the other main event comes from Youngstown,Ohio as Kelly Pavlik attempts to rebound from his loss to Bernard Hopkins with a defense of his WBC Middleweight belt against mandatory contender Marco Antonio Rubio.
Rubio is a durable guy,but Pavlik is another class of fighter altogether.

I enter the two bouts with a 1-1 record with 1 bonus point.

Tonight's selections
Cotto KO 7 Jennings
Pavlik Unanimous Decision Rubio

Photo Credit-Unknown

Devils pick up a unlikely W in Tampa


Very little to write about other than the game from Thursday,so I figured that I would wait until today to cover the Devils 3-2 shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Devils played an absolutely miserable first period as they fell behind two goals and seemed to be on their way to a dismal trip to Florida.
But power play goals in the second and third periods by Brian Rolston (11) and Zach Parise (35) sent the game to overtime and then the shootout.
Parise and Patrik Elias scored the winners to override Vincent LeCavalier's only Tampa tally.
The Devils are in Long Island tonight for a tilt against the Islanders and then will have five days off before their next game at the Rock against Colorado.

Hell Raisers

1) Whatever Brent Sutter used after period one,I hope he saves some for the playoffs because that was a totally different team after the first intermission.

2) Ryan Malone scored both Tampa goals and the second one looked awfully bad as Kevin Weekes looks to have just missed it,but Weekes claims that he had the puck,but his glove tore its webbing on the shot.
That works for me as an excuse....

3) Zach Parise battled through a high temperature and a case of the stomach flu (which I used to get about 4 times a year when I lived at home and haven't had since I left there) to score his goal and shootout helper.
Nice case of guts (Pun intended) for Parise to battle through the illness and play at such a high level.

4) Bryce Salvador played through the same flu against Tampa,but may have miss tonight's game with the same illness.
That especially hurts with Paul Martin being expected to miss his 4th game in a row.

5) I was happy to see Anssi Salmela being given time and not just a scratch in his recall from Lowell.I thought the Finn looked pretty sharp,especially on PP action.
Salmela is going to be a major help on the advantage in the future....

Bonus Round
Former Devil boss (and current Devils scout) Pat Burns attended the game and met the team.Burns is still scouting for the Devils and works on opposing team that come into Tampa.
Sadly,it appears that Burns knows his time is short and seems quite accepting of his fate.
Best wishes to Burnsie and the Burns family.

Bullpen Notes

In an announcement that could shake up the NFL draft,Texas Tech pass catcher Michael Crabtree will miss any further workouts/preparation for the draft with a stress fracture that will leave him out for 10 weeks.
The foot injury complicates the first round where Crabtree was graded as one of the top four picks in the draft.
Does Seattle have the guts to take Crabtree anyway despite the injury?
Or does the top wideout slide to a better team that is more willing to take the risk???

The Pirates picked up John Russell's option for 2010.
Not sure that is a good idea at this time,considering that we haven't seen anything for 2009 yet.
I am not saying that it is a bad idea,just that it seems way premature..

Battlin Bob sends us this article on prospect Shelby Ford.
Ford will likely start at AAA Indianapolis and could be up sometime during the season,especially if Freddy Sanchez bounces back and raises his trade value.

Photo Credit
Parise:AP Photo

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Trying to find time...


Missing time again,this time due to work overtime and just being tired when the OT is over.
I really need to hook up with a laptop soon.

The Devils split two games with a exciting 6-5 win over the San Jose Sharks and a listless 4-0 loss to the Florida Panthers in Miami.
Since I am so far behind,I will not do a recap of the games,just add them to what should be a long post.

The loss was one that you could kinda see coming after two close and hard fought wins over the top two teams in the league.
Following those up with a road game against a team that has been playing well was going to be a tough game.

Paul Martin and Brendan Shanahan missed each of the last two games.
Shanahan is expected to return for tonight's game in Tampa,but Martin is still out and Anssi Salmela has been recalled from Lowell to take his place on the roster.

Kevin Weekes is expected to get the start tonight after two shaky Scott Clemmensen starts.
Goaltending may be the toughest and hardest position to figure out.
Clemmensen scored two shutouts in a row and then allows 9 goals in two games.

In the biggest news from the Pirates,the Pirates signed Nate McLouth to a three year extension worth 15.5 million with the standard award bonus clauses enclosed in the deal.
The contract includes a club option for a possible fourth year as well.

My take on the deal?
Well,as some of you know,I have been a Nate McLouth fan for a while.
I was boosting McLouth when many Pirate fans preferred Chris Duffy and this deal is not a bad move,but there are still a few questions.
McLouth's hitting fell through the floor after the Bay and Nady trades,is it possible that he was just getting good pitches to hit that he might be seeing as many of anymore without the backup from those bats?
Even I figured McLouth as 4th outfielder or a stopgap starter and if his first half turns out to be a fluke,the Bucs are on the hook.
On the overall,I do basically like the deal and it is not overpaying by any standard.
Plus it is such an affordable deal,the Pirates could still trade McLouth down the road and get a solid return because the arbitration time was bought out.

Another thing that I like about this contract?
It will be very nice to look at the Pirate outfield in 2010,see the starting outfield of McLouth,Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata and know that there is a good chance of seeing the same three players there in 2011 and 2012.

Our man in Japan has been very busy in his scouting of the Japanese amateur scene.
Brandon Siefken has started his own page Baseball81 (Now located in our links section) and he has become a weekly writer for JapanBall.Com.
I get their newsletter on a weekly basis and it is clearly the top source for information on the Japanese game.

If you are fan of smaller,regionally based items,try this site-Hometown Favorites.
I was tipped off to them by a reader and could be enjoying some of their items shortly.
Shipping is a little high,but unless you travel a lot,this is the best way to get your fix of items that you cannot find where you live.
I usually hit SunDrop when I am in the South and bring home Squirt from Ohio and Big Red for Ryan and none of those are available here,although I did see Squirt in Cumberland MD when I was there for the Pirate caravan.....

A few additions on the signing front
Ebay brings the legendary wrestling manager Jim Cornette,Pirate prospect Robbie Grossman and Phillies top prospect Dominic Brown,while the mail brings former CFL quarterback Tracy Ham....

Anyone out there get any of the TriStar Prospect Plus stuff???

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Clemmensen stops Bruins in 1-0 win

Scott Clemmensen was outstanding in net and when Bryce Salvador's second period wrister (3) off a faceoff win beat Tim Thomas,the scoring was finished for the evening as the New Jersey Devils stopped the Boston Bruins 1-0.
The Devils are off today before hosting the San Jose Sharks tomorrow at the Rock at 3:00.

Hell Raisers

1) The shutout was the second of the year for Clemmensen and the second in two starts.
Clemmensen made 31 saves and played (In my opinion) his best game of the season.
Clemmensen has been sharp two games in a row after a run of games that looked to be dulling his edge,so this is a good sign for both the Devils now and any possible trade value at the deadline.

2) Martin Brodeur is taking shots in practice and thinks he will be making his return in a week to ten days.

3) This was a hard hitting and hard fought battle,but to be honest,the Devils may lucked out in this one.
Boston probably held an edge in play and definitely had the edge in the frantic third period,but Clemmensen and the defense (especially Bryce Salvador and Paul Martin) were able to do just enough to hold them off.

4) The Devils win guaranteed them a split of their two games against the Conference leaders this weekend.
San Jose has the top record in the Western Conference.

5) The NHL (and NBC) drops the ball again as they decided to make the Flyers-Rangers game the national telecast instead of the rare Devils-Sharks matchup.
I mean,the top team in the West against the 2nd team in the East and both teams playing well and you pick the slumping Rangers against the Flyers???

Bonus Round

Brendan Shanahan is questionable for the San Jose game with a sore ankle.
Shanahan blocked three shots in the Boston win and took two them off the same spot.....


Bullpen Notes

A commercial satellite collided with a defunct Russian satellite in low earth orbit on Tuesday and the collision destroyed both birds.
I realize that we have many problems right now and not nearly enough cash to pay for it,but space junk is an issue that needs to be taken seriously.
With so much of our technology and needs being taken care of from above,collisions of more important satellites could be devastating.
Not to mention,that some of these have nuclear reactors on board to help maintain orbit,power etc and think about possible consequences of that type of disaster.
The picture is a computer generated impression of the over 12,000 objects that are floating around our planet.
This is amazing that this is the first time that has happened and trust me, this issue is not going away.

Our friends over at BagofHealthandPolitics (To be known hereafter as The Bag) has an very interesting and thought provoking post entitled "I think God is a Pluralist).
No matter ones stance on the topic,food for thought.

Watch for posts next week about players we follow that look back on 08 and where they could be in 09,the next installment on What If and a political post as well that looks at the beginnings of the Obama administration.

Photo Credits
Hockey:AP Photo
Our Earth:Getty Images

Friday, February 13, 2009

Medals for the 2008 Minor League Season

This is WAY overdue,but I wanted to get this finished before Spring Training,so here goes.
Again with apologies to the Olympics and Keith Olbermann, here are our awards for the 2008 Minor League season.
Some categories are restricted to the South Atlantic and Carolina Leagues,while others are open to other leagues.
To win an award,you must have played/been at a game that we attended this past year.
The 2007 awards are here.

Best Prospect-SAL/Non-Suns Position Player
Gold: Dominic Brown OF Lakewood-When this guy fills out,watch out!Think Darryl Strawberry with top notch speed.
Silver:Mike Stanton OF Greensboro-Could be a legit 35 homer player down the road.
Bronze:Matt Dominguez 3b Greensboro-Talented player that needs more seasoning.

Best Prospect-Hagerstown Suns Position Player
Gold:Michael Burgess OF- Talent is there,but questions about contact,speed and makeup still plague him.
Silver:Stephen King 3b-Needs to mature on the field more,but took a step forward.Would like to see him get one more shot at SS though.
Bronze:Bill Rhinehart 1b- Hit the ball well at two levels,but have the feeling that he was just too old for the levels.2009 tells the tale....

Best Prospect SAL Pitcher
Gold:Brad Lincoln-Hickory-Destroyed the Suns in his last SAL start and showed flashes of what he could be.Needs to move quickly this season.
Silver:Julian Sampson-Lakewood-Throws a heavy ball and could be top notch prospect with some extra weight on his frame.
Bronze: Chance Chapman-Lakewood-Pitched better than Sampson last season,but lacks the stuff of Sampson.
Honorable Mention:Rob Bryson-West Virginia-Traded to Cleveland after his appearance,suffered an injury and will miss most of 2009.
Cliff Flagello-Delmarva-I don't usually like to rate relievers,but his arm shows potential to play in MLB.

Best Prospect-Suns Pitcher
Gold;Colton Willems-Nice control,but low K numbers.
Colton just doesn't miss many bats.
Silver:Tom Milone-Dominated SAL Batters,but polished college pitchers do well here.
Bronze:Bradley Meyers-Regressed from 2007.What happened????

Best Signer/Dealing with fans-Non Suns
Gold:Tyler Henson-Delmarva-Signed as much as you needed him to and talked as well.
Silver:Dominic Brown-Lakewood-Talked to me a lot and signed everything with a smile.
Bronze:Cliff Flagello-Delmarva-Always had time for signing and a quick chat.
Honorable Mention:Brian Rike-Asheville-I had a bunch of cards for him,he signed them all and was willing to talk about his college days....

Best Signer/Dealing with fans-Suns
Gold:Darnell Coles-Have the Suns EVER had a manager that was more fan friendly?
Not that I know of!
Silver:Tim Pahuta-The exact type of veteran player that you like to have at the A ball level.
Sets a good example for the younger guys in interaction with the fans.
Bronze;Colton Willems;Kinda quiet,but signs everything.


Biggest Aggravation-Autograph Division-SAL
Gold:Matt Cusick-Lexington-Never had a player pretend to be someone else in Hagerstown before!
Silver:Michael Burgess-Hagerstown-Was fine early on until a "Paid signing session". A royal pain thereafter.
Bronze:Brent Brewer-West Virginia-One card a night? You hit .220!
Honorable Mention:Bill Rhinehart-Hagerstown/Harrisburg-Liked to avoid and evade collectors.
I never did get him,someone else helped me with him,Thanks to Bill Cover!

Biggest Aggravation-Autograph Division-Non SAL
Gold:Matt Wieters-Frederick-Wieters wins this award,not for lack of signing.He was fine.
He wins it for the LONG lines that you always had to wait in line in for him to sign.
Silver:John Van Benschoten-Indianapolis-One Word-NO!
Bronze:Eric Campbell-Myrtle Beach-It takes a special player to blow people off two years in a row and become the first two time winner in a category!

Best Fan Moments:
Gold:Battlin Bob gives Matt Wieters crap after he misses one pitch-"Hey,Wieters,way to go for the fences"!
Next pitch Wieters smacks the delivery off the Washington Monument!
Silver:Karl Bolt Night-Obnoxious Suns fan rides this guy ALL NIGHT in a way that everyone in the park hears.Bolt then ties the game in the 9th with a three run homer and gives it back to the guy as he rounds first base!
Bronze:Battlin Bob runs into the man that cost him his job and months of employment at the Muni.
Guy:Hey,how's it going?
Battlin Bob:How's it goin? I have been out of work for the last few F!@#^*g months and you want to ask me how the F$%* its goin?????
Honorable Mention:Battlin Bob takes on Drew Himsworth after yet another Suns suite area fiasco....
Darnell Coles throws 2 dozen baseballs on the field after being ejected before what seemed to be 12 people in an extra inning game against Lexington.
Red Stripe Hot Dog night-on a Feed Your Face night,the Suns kept producing these bad tasting and Cardassian lookalike dogs.
UGH!

Best Autograph Park
Gold:Frederick
Silver:Harrisburg
Bronze:Hagerstown

Worst Autograph Park
Gold:Allentown
Silver:Wilmington

Photo Credits
Ryan Heimberger

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Random Ramblings



Time for some random ramblings and finish the inbox cleanup.
The Devils are off tonight,so I am hoping that tomorrow can either be the next portion of What If-The Cleveland Browns or one of the two long overdue minor league baseball posts.

The Pirate family lost another one of its own from the terrific 1970's squad when reliever
Ramon' Hernandez passed away on Feb 4th.
The lefthander was often used by Danny Murtaugh in the late innings against lefthanded batters and had the "Luis Tiant" motion with the twisting,turning delivery.
Hernandez joined the Buccos in 1970 at the age of 30 and was a bullpen stalwart until midway through the 1976 season when he was sold to the Cubs.
Thanks to Vlad over at Bucs Dugout for the knowledge.

Bruce Markusen has a very nice article on Hernandez on his blog here.

The Washington Nationals signed Adam Dunn at a bargain price-two years twenty million.
Will Dunn make the Nats winners?No way,but what he will do is instantly become the most popular National as soon the season arrives and will give Washington the power hitter that they have craved since Frank Howard.

The Cleveland Browns dropped a few players a few days back.
Most notably were linebacker Antwun Peek,who missed the 2008 season due to injury,cornerback/special teamer Terry Cousin and backup quarterbacks Ken Dorsey and Bruce Gradkowski.
Peek was expected to make a impact when he arrived in Cleveland in 2007,but only finished four sacks on the year.
Cousin was a journeyman depth player and the less I can say about Ken Dorsey the better.
Gradkowski did not clear waivers as he was claimed by the Raiders,so Bruce can continue to draw a paycheck.

Yahoo writes about the downward spiral of the Maryland basketball program under Gary Williams.
I think that Williams is still an excellent game coach,but the fact is that he cannot recruit well at this stage of his career.
Like it or not,kids today are different than the players that Williams recruited at American in the 70's,Boston College and Ohio State in the 80's and even the early Maryland recruits.
Kids today just don't want to put up with the Williams treatment when they can put up with less elsewhere.
It only takes watching one Maryland game to see what is happening there....
This is similar to what happened to Bob Knight.
Times change,we don't always have to like that,but accepting it goes a long way....

Finally,check this out on the fans that are still steamed about the Seattle Sonics move to Oklahoma City and their visit to Portland for the teams first return to the Pacific Northwest.
Good stuff on the dedication and pain that loyal fans go through....

Photo Credits
Hernandez:Topps
Dunn:AP Photo

Idiots in Sports edition......

I may be back again with more stuff later,but I wanted to devote a special Idiots in sports edition to three very special someones out there that have made a royal ass (and other body parts) of themselves and give them the attention that they deserve.

Anyone else find it ironic that (arguably) the two best players of the last 15 years have both been tainted by use of performance enhancers?
Alex Rodriguez was looked at by many as the games best hope to rid the record books of Barry Bonds and gaining of the record through modern chemistry.
Now,Rodriguez admits that he too used enhancers to boost his performance when he was a Texas Ranger.
The excuse that Rodriguez used was that he felt pressure to live up to the huge contract that he signed with the Rangers and needed to add this to his regimen is a bogus one.
After all,wasn't his performance with the Mariners the reason that Texas signed him to such a big contract?
When you read between the lines here,there is one question that no one has asked of Rodriguez.
Alex,So if you needed to take these substances to maintain your status as the top player in the game in Texas,were you using them in Seattle as well?
And if you weren't using in Seattle,why did you start in Texas?
If you were using in Seattle,you were doing this for far longer than you claim.

No matter the reason,I can never understand why players such as Rodriguez,Bonds and Roger Clemens crossed this line.
They were Hall of Fame players already and money should never be an issue when you make the amount of money that each of them have made in their career.
I can see why the player that needs to hang on might give them a try,but guys with their talent and career?
I'm sorry,but I don't consider Rodriguez's admission to be either honest or courageous.
Stepping forward to accept blame without the leak of information,now that is courage.
I understand why he would not do that,but telling the truth only when forced is far from being honest.....


Our next winner is a former All-Star that is being sued for knowing that he has AIDS and refused to have protected sex and is now being sued for 15 million dollars.
Roberto Alomar goes on the HOF ballot next year and had an excellent chance of getting in,but this certainly cannot help his candidacy.
I am not really interested in either Alomar's sex life or whether he wins or loses the suit against him,but some things are starting to add up in one of the greatest sports mysteries of the last ten years.
I bet that I have had 10 "hardball talks" on the game with people on Roberto Alomar and how I could not remember a player losing his abilities so quickly.
Take a look at his numbers in 2001-.336,20 homers and 100 RBI and then the three years thereafter,average not above .266,20 homers in the final three years combined and basically finishing as a backup infielder.
The way that Alomar's career ended always was a red flag for me anyway,but assuming that Alomar does have AIDS (and that is a huge assumption) that would go a long way to figuring out how arguably the best second baseman of the last 40 years lost his skills so quickly.

So since I want to put Alomar's sex life off the table,why is Alomar an idiot?
Well,in the times that we live in and considering the travel and lifestyle of pro athletes,if you arent smart enough to protect yourself from the diseases that are so easy to catch-you are an idiot.
Robbie Alomar is just 40 years old,he could still be playing and to (possibly) have thrown it all away because you don't like wearing condoms is both stupid and ignorant.
Alomar robbed himself and baseball fans with his stupid and reckless behavior......

Our final contestant is yet another special case.
Hall of Famer hoopster Elgin Baylor is suing the Los Angeles Clippers for-firing him for Age and Race employment discrimination....
That is right,the WORST GM in basketball kept his job for 22 years,made the playoffs just 3 times,made it out of Round one once is suing because he was fired.
I could do a entire post on the baffling moves that Elgin Baylor made and try to figure out just how in the hell he kept his job for 22 years and he says he was canned due to discrimination?
I screamed about Dave Littlefield for his reign of rot and he was not running the Pirates for a third of the time that Baylor manned the Clippers ship.
My lord,when you want to talk about having a lot of nerve,think about this one!
A record of 619-1153 does not deserve termination?
What does then????
Elgin Baylor certainly cannot take all blame for the Clippers failures.
Owner Donald Sterling is reknowned for his cheapness and Baylor never had the budget that even an average NBA team has to run a team properly.
Baylor knows the game and could be helpful to a team in an advisory role even today,but this suit smacks of sour grapes against Sterling,not an actual case that Baylor has...

Here is a pic of Elgin Baylor in his regular seat at the NBA offices in Seacaucus New Jersey for the NBA Draft Lottery.

Devils love New York-All Hockey Edition


Or at least their teams as the Devils clicked up back to back wins over the Gotham squads and lengthened their lead in the Atlantic Division.
Scott Clemmensen defeated the Rangers with his first shutout of the season on Monday 3-0,while Kevin Weekes KOed the Islanders last night 4-2.

Bobby Holik's second period goal(4) was all the Devils needed against the Rangers,but Zach Parise would score a minute and a half later on the power play to salt the game away and would add an empty netter to end any Ranger hopes and finish with a two goal night (31 and 32).

The Devils had to battle back from deficits twice against the Islanders,but two goals in the 3rd period put the game away.
Zach Parise scored two more goals (33 and 34) to pair with two assists and Jamie Langenbrunner popped in the remaining two goals as well (16 and 17) to pace the New Jersey offense.

Hell Raisers-Combined Edition

1) The Ranger win was one of total defensive control of the game.
Scott Clemmensen was outstanding,but the Rangers seem to be a team spiralling out of the playoff picture.
At the same time,that should take nothing away from the performance of Clemmensen....

2) Zach Parise continues to be on a roll and has a chance to score 50 goals for the season.
The Devils have never had a 50 goal scorer,which tells you one of two things.
The commitment to team play is commendable and one player doesn't overshadow this team or
The Devils have just rarely had a player with the offensive talent of Zach Parise.

3) Jamie Langenbrunner just keeps on his crazy run of goal scoring.
Hard to believe that this is the same guy that had 6 goals just a few weeks ago.

4) About the only thing that the Rangers had going for them was Colton Orr's one punch demolition of Mike Rupp.
The fight was pretty even until the one punch and brought two memories to mind.
One was the 1980 WBA Heavyweight title miracle with 45 seconds to go in the 15th (yes 15th) and final round,when Mike Weaver ruined the career of Big John Tate.
The other?
I will keep it to myself,but a few readers remember that night about 22 years ago!


5) Nice to see the Rangers getting so much use out of Wade Redden.
That signing is looking like an albatross already,as Redden was either lacking in effort or his ability was decreased significantly over the last few years.
Hard to believe that Ottawa once kept Redden over Zdeno Chara.
Think the Canadian Capital would want a re-do of that one???

6) The Islanders are not very good,but they always show up to play against the Devils and despite their talent issues,Scott Gordon looks to be a keeper on the Island as coach and injuries havent helped them either.

7) The goal by Kyle Okposo in the second period was about as dazzling an effort as you'll see.
The youngster has arguably been rushed this season,but this kid is a real player and could turn out to make quite the impact in Long Island,Kansas City,Winnipeg or wherever the Islanders turn up.


8) Kevin Weekes was good enough to win against the Islanders,but not outstanding.
Weeks had no chance on the Okposo goal and was hung out to dry by the defense on the first goal,but I got the feeling that against a better team,Weekes would been beaten by his occasional poor positioning....

9) Jay Pandolfo returned to the ice after a stretch of scratches.
Pando replaced Mike Rupp in the lineup.
Could Brent Sutter have a "Cowboy Bill Watts" rule in his mind?
Watts was famous for firing wrestlers in the old Mid-South promotion,if they lost a fight outside of the ring,perhaps Rupp's loss to Orr cost him a lineup spot for a while.

10) FIFTY shots against Joey McDonald?
That many shots should have sent him from the ice in a daze,but a nice effort from a fellow that has been pretty decent in his first real shot in the league....

I had to work yesterday,so that kept me from blogging,so I will return later today with thoughts on issues that I missed....

Photo Credits
Clemmensen:Al Bello-Getty Images
Parise:AP Photo

Monday, February 9, 2009

Darchinyan pounds Arce,Devils flat in defeat

The New Jersey Devils appeared to be off on the right foot in Saturday's game against the Los Angeles Kings as Dainius Zubrus looked to have given the Devils the early lead.
However,video review overturned it as it was ruled to have entered the net due to an unintentional kick and the game went downhill from there as the Kings beat Scott Clemmensen three times in the second period in a 3-1 Los Angeles win.Dainius Zubrus (13) scored the Devils only goal in the third period to avoid the shutout.
The Devils host the hated Rangers tonight at 7 in a crucial divisional matchup.

Hell Raisers

1) I dont know if it was dead legs from playing the night before,looking forward to the Rangers or taking the Kings lightly,but I do know this-Everything after the called back goal was downhill.
They just seemed flat.

2) Scott Clemmensen allowed three goals for the second start in a row,but other than the penalty shot from Patrick O'Sullivan,was not really to blame.

3) The defense was pretty sloppy in front of Clemmensen.
The loss of Colin White likely didn't help,but it could not be the entire reason for such a poor performance.

4) Not much else that I can say,but even though Clemmensen has been beyond expectations all season,maybe not is the time for Kevin Weekes to take his turn.
Weekes has been the better goaltender over the last two weeks.

5) The Rangers are sputtering themselves and appear to be ready to turn to Sean Avery as the savior?
As if the retiring of Adam Graves number wasn't dumb enough??

Bullpen Notes

Vic Darchinyan hammered Jorge Arce from pillar to post and retained his World Jr.Bantamweight title when the doctor refused to allow Arce to leave his corner for the 12th and final round.
The battered and bloodied Arce won only one round on two judges cards and two on the other.
We had Darchinyan ahead 108-101 at the time of the stoppage.

Darchinyan holds all three major belts and has beaten two of the divisions top four fighters in his last two bouts.
So why doesn't the supposedly fair and impartial Ring Magazine regard him as champ?
Maybe it could be because new Ring owner Golden Boy Promotions doesn't have a stake in Darchinyan???

Sorry to Showtime jettison longtime blow by blow announcer Steve Albert in favor of one of our least favorite in "Screamin" Gus Johnson.
We have written in the past about Johnson's over the top calls/Vince McMahonesque pro wrestling style commentary in football and basketball for CBS and he pretty much lived up to our low expectations.

Boxing and Horse Racing seems to attract every announcer that thinks that they can just show up and slide by without really knowing the sport.
It usually is apparent by the end of the show just how ill prepared and how little they actually know about the sport.

Enjoyed watching C-SPAN's Q and A with Brian Lamb last night as it featured one of my favorite left wing pundits in Stephanie Miller for the hour.
I have always been a mark for Miller since her mid 90's TV show that lasted about 12 days!
I only wish her show started a little earlier or later as I am usually in bed when her radio show is on.
The picture of the lefty talker is (of course) with blog favorite and (should already be) Senator Al Franken.

Photo Credits
Penalty Shot:Jim McIssac-Getty Images
Boxing:AP Photo
Miller/Franken:StephanieMiller.com

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Thrashed!

The New Jersey Devils showed few effects from their loss to Washington as they traveled to Atlanta in front of a gathering that seemed to be about 45, jumped on the Thrashers early and cruised to an easy 5-1 win.
Three goals in the first 12 minutes tend to put you in good shape to win and when your special teams produce three goals (two shorthanded),it usually is a pretty good night.
Devils goals to Zach Parise (power play 30),Travis Zajac (16),Brian Gionta (shorthanded 12),David Clarkson (11) and John Madden (shorthanded 6).
Kevin Weekes picked up the win in net.
The Devils are back at the Rock tonight against the visiting Los Angeles Kings at 7:00.

Hell Raisers

1) The Devils win combined with the Ranger loss moved them six points ahead of the Rangers in the Atlantic Division race.
Bet it is about time that the Rangers go out and obtain some overpriced/big name/washed up player for their playoff run...

2) I was glad to see Kevin Weekes get the start in goal.
Weekes had played well in his two road starts (both wins) and Scott Clemmensen played awfully soft against Washington.
Perhaps this outing by Weekes can get Clemmensen moving again.

3) Brian Gionta's goal came off the faceoff where he won the draw against Rich Peverley,pushed the puck through Peverley's legs and then shot the puck by Kari Lehtonen.
Not sure which was more shocked by the move-Peverley or Lehtonen.

4) Colin White was hit in the hand by a Matthew Schneider shot in the first period and skipped the final two periods of play.
The Devils did not comment on how serious the injury was....

5) Atlanta's defense is a joke.
I have never seen so many guys playing such poor and dumb hockey.
Either they are poorly coached,giving half speed efforts or this team is really awful.
It is no wonder that no one comes to see them play....

Bonus Rounds

Doc Emrick came up with an interesting point on the Thrashers less than stellar play.
Emrick commented that perhaps the Thrashers can get away with that more in the tepid market of Atlanta and their fans aren't quite as discerning as fans in the more rabid towns.
Could be,Doc......

Brendan Shanahan might have just turned 40,but that doesn't mean that he turned into a Washington Capital as he took on Atlanta brawler Eric Boulton and acquitted himself quite well in the battle.


Bullpen Notes

The little guys take center stage tonight as the World Jr Bantamweight title (115 lb limit and all three world belts) is on the line as champion Vic Darchinyan defends against Jorge Arce in a long awaited fight.
This one should be an explosive war for as long as it lasts.
You can catch it on Showtime.

We enter this fight with a 0-1 record for 2009.
The record will be simply right or wrong selections.
When I get a few wins,I will be adding bonus points for winning picks,if I am correct in picking the type of win (decision or KO) correctly will be one point and if I am dead on correct( Exact round of KO or type of decision) will be worth two points.

Tonight's pick:Darchinyan KO 6.

The Frederick Keys announced that they will have a new state of the art (aren't they all?) scoreboard in place for the 2009 season.
This was about time,the main problem that I had at Harry Grove Stadium (besides the bad theme song,LOL) was the scoreboard with so many permanent problems that it made hard to follow the game.
Kudos to both the Keys and whoever else paid for this.

And if the state of Maryland kicked in,how about something for the aging Muni?????

Photo Credits
Zajac:Bruce Bennett-Getty Images
Darchinyan:Unknown

Friday, February 6, 2009

Naming heir apparents years in advance???


Maryland Football today announced that James Franklin will be the successor to Ralph Friedgen whenever the "Fridge" decides that it is time to leave coaching and it got me thinking a bit.

Is the current trend of naming your next coach years in advance a good one?
Or is having an idea of the succession order,but still going through the hiring process a better idea?
The argument behind selecting your successor in advance is that it promotes continuity in the program,keeps players in the same system that they were recruited for and helps recruiting as players that were more interested in playing for a particular coach than attending a certain school would not be as likely to change their commitments after the change in head coaches.
It also enables you to keep your hot,young assistant before they go to a smaller Division I school and establish themselves further as a desirable coach for other larger (BCS) school openings.

The argument against naming new coaches in advance are these-you usually wind up with a head coach without head coaching experience and sometimes the advance appointment looks like a better idea than it turns out to be.
For example,Florida State had Jeff Bowden as the successor to Bobby Bowden years in advance and wound up with egg on its face when the Seminole offense began to sputter and the decision was made to have someone else to pick up the Bowden mantle.

What also happens often is this scenario-the new coach seems to fit in without a bump for the first two seasons when he is able to basically use the talent in place,then the slide (if there is one) begins in season three when most of the upperclassmen begin to be "your" recruits and by the end of year four or five,the hot seat is getting awfully warm.
Ask Ryan as Bret Bielema is beginning to show exactly that time line at Wisconsin.

I have always thought that head coaching experience was the most important thing to have when you are taking a major conference job in football or basketball as I think that having gone through the grind of running things at your program can be such a help when you take over at a big school,even if it is on a smaller level.
Moving your way up the ladder makes such a difference in your outlook.
Does anyone think that Brian Kelly is less ready to be a major school head coach because he moved up through Grand Valley State,Central Michigan and Cincinnati than Franklin or Bielema because they were the hot young assistant at the time?
To me,it is such a benefit to go through the small schools for two reasons.
One is that you learn where to find players that larger schools miss and therefore create more connections to help your future recruiting endeavors.
The other is that you learn to "game coach" in front of smaller crowds instead of the larger eye of television every week and the pressure that entails.
The pressure to win is everywhere,but it seems to be accelerated on a coach when they have never had the background to deal the adversities of being the head man.

I suppose I am more in favor of waiting to hire the new coach until there is an actual vacancy,with the caveat of telling the coach that you may want to hire that he might want to stick around as being the leading candidate for whenever that opening may arise.
I have seen too many assistants flame out under the pressure that head coaching provides.
Both young assistants and veteran one waiting for the job of their dreams have cracked under such pressure without the background to withstand it.
The problem with hiring the assistant is that you just never know who can handle it and the cost is usually years of your program backsliding......

Bullpen Notes

I know very little about James Franklin,so my wondering about this hire is mainly because of his lack of coaching experience,but I do wonder what the rush was to lock him up long term.
Was there teams already interested in taking him away and this was a preventive measure??
I don't follow Maryland football like I used to,so I don't want to comment on his term as offensive coordinator,but I will be paying more attention in 2009.
The Terps now have me intrigued.

Franklin will be the second African-American coach in ACC history.
The First?
Jim Caldwell at Wake Forest from 1993-2000 was the first and that is the same Caldwell that will be the new head coach with the Indianapolis Colts.
Caldwell went 26-63 in his tenure in Winston-Salem.

The Pirates die roll of releasing T.J. Beam failed when Beam was claimed by Toronto.
Beam is nothing to cry about losing,but there are others on the Pirate roster that I might have tried to get through the wire instead...

One new arrival on the signing front as former Sabre (and Colorado Rockie) Rene Robert signed through the mail.
This completes the French Connection line for the collection..

Photo Credits
Franklin;Kansas State University
Robert:Unknown

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What If:The Cleveland Browns-1999


Imagine that the Cleveland Browns had been run correctly since their return to the NFL in 1999.
Imagine a world without Carmen Policy bringing every washed up and overpaid former Forty Niner to town,Butch Davis drafting players that played outside the state of Florida and Phil Savage spending money and picks on players that rarely seemed to make sense.

Hindsight is almost 20/20 and some of the players that are discussed were players that I both did and didn't discuss at the time of the draft.
Some of these cases,I take personally-I would have gotten it right,but others were not guys that I particularly wanted at the time.
Full Disclosure.

Let's start in 1999.
Most expansion teams always want a QB first and the reasoning is usually along these lines.
"Pick a passer that can grow as the team grows".
The flaw to that thinking is this-by the time that your team gets reasonably good (all things considered),the years behind bad offensive lines have often broken both the players physical ability and his confidence.
Take a look at the last team to follow this philosophy-the Houston Texans and David Carr and see how that turned out.

All that said,I agreed at the time with the Browns taking Tim Couch.
Quarterback was a high depth spot in the 1999 draft and no one was chomping at the bit to move up,so the Browns were kinda stuck.
I didn't like Donovan McNabb then,but considering how the career of the two went,McNabb would have been the better choice,although I am convinced that has Couch went elsewhere,he would have had a better career as he would not have taken the shots that he did in Cleveland.
The best players is this draft loomed in the 4-7 spots as Edgerrin James,Ricky Williams,Torry Holt and Champ Bailey came off the board.
A corner has never been the top overall pick in the draft and the Browns likely never even considered him,but with 10 years behind him,Bailey is still a Pro Bowl level player and although James and Williams would have been solid picks,it is possible both would have been far less successful with the Browns.
Since hindsight is perfect,we will go with Bailey.
I wont fault Cleveland for missing though,this was not a great draft.
I mean Pittsburgh took Troy Edwards over Jevon Kearse in this draft.
Can you imagine Kearse in his first few years as a Steeler????

The Browns used their second round pick(32) on Syracuse wideout Kevin Johnson and in a weak second round probably got their moneys worth,but in hindsight,Michigan tackle Jon Jansen (37) would have been the way to go.
Although Jansen has played just two games in the last two seasons,he was generally durable before that and was one of the better tackles in the league and would have been a big addition to what proved to be a weak line for years.

In Round 3,Cleveland took Daylon McCutcheon(62),who proved to be a journeyman corner and ended up being the player that lasted the longest in Cleveland from this draft.
But two players stand out as glaring examples of misses with this pick,both are still in the league and both are still top players.
Mike McKenzie went to Green Bay at 87 at McCutcheon's Position!
Nothing kills you more when you pick the wrong player at the position that are drafting at.
McKenzie is now a Saint and still starts for them,but since we took Champ Bailey first and are an expansion team,we will pass on him,but the other guy......
Pittsburgh takes a player at 73 that they have listed as a defensive end and will turn him into a linebacker that terrorizes passers for ten years,a fellow by the name of Porter.
Joey Porter!
We put Porter as a Brown with this pick.
Sidenote-I hate the Steelers,but there is not a team in the league that I have more respect for personnel evaluations wise than the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Browns traded their next pick (96) and moved down to 124 and took Wali Rainer.
Staying at 96 could have produced another decent lineman in John Welbourn,two linebackers that lasted longer than Rainer in Rosevelt Colvin and Warrick Holdman,a decent possession receiver in Brandon Stokely or a nice safety in Dexter Jackson.
Holdman would spend a year with the Browns after his prime years were finished.
All of these players would have been fine,so we take Colvin at the same position as Rainier.

The Browns trade down again in Round 5 moving from 134 to 148 and take Darrin Chiaverini,who was a reliable receiver for the first few crummy years and was a tough little bugger to boot.
Considering the rest of this round,Cleveland sticks with the actual selection for the first time.

The various trade downs leave the Browns with three picks in Round Six and true to form,they hit with none of them.Marcus Spriggs DT Troy State(174),Kendall Ogle,LB Maryland(187) and James Dearth TE Tarleton State(191) all swing and miss.
Again not a massive amount of talent available,but Desmond Clark is still in the league as a tight end and he was available at 174.
Martay Jenkins was an average wideout for a few years with the Cardinals and he was available at all of these picks.
The whole idea of trading down and accumulating picks is to give you more chances of doing well with shots in the dark,but when you miss on them all.......

Cleveland's final pick was at 207 and the first of the final round.
The Browns took Madre Hill,who was a talented runner from Arkansas that suffered a severe knee injury in his senior year.
I liked the gamble at the time and I still won't complain too much.The risk was lower than the possible reward,but at 213,Green Bay jumps on a little known pass catcher from Alcorn State,Donald Driver and he becomes the favorite target for Brett Favre for years....

Champ Bailey,Jon Jansen,Joey Porter,Rosevelt Colvin,Darrin Chiverini,Desmond Clark,Martay Jenkins,(Keep one of the Browns picks) and Donald Driver

OR

Tim Couch,Kevin Johnson,Daylon McCutcheon,Wali Rainer,Chiverini,Marcus Spriggs,Kendall Ogle,James Dearth and Madre Hill.

Coming soon What If-2000

Streak ends at eight,Trade following the game..


The New Jersey Devils winning streak ended at eight,as the Devils came out flat against the Washington Capitals and dropped a 5-2 decision.
Washington roared out to a 3-0 lead before the Devils trimmed the lead to 3-2 behind goals by Brian Rolston (Powerplay 9) and Jamie Langenbrunner (Shorthanded 15).
The Devils are off until Friday when they visit Atlanta to kick off a 3 games in 4 days swing.

Hell Raisers

1) The key play in this game was made by the striped shirts.
With the game at 3-2 and Washington on their heels,Mike Rupp charged the net with the puck for a one on one with Jose Theodore,who made the save.
Rupp was clearly tripped on the play,but instead of Washington being called for tripping,Rupp was called for interference.
Washington then scores on their undeserved powerplay-game over.

2) This game was important as the Devils battle for second place in the Eastern Conference and yet the Devils came up so listless and what is with Scott Clemmensen being so lazy with his puckhandling?
For the second time in three games,a Clemmensen miscue turned into an opponent goal....

3) Jamie Langenbrunner's shorthanded flip over Jose Theodore's shoulder was a pretty play,but other than that,there was little to like from the Devils first two periods of play.

4) Stat of the night?
Washington 4 power play opportunities,3 goals....

5) Sorry,if I still am not a Washington believer despite a great performance last night.
They still strike me as a soft team come playoff time.
Think the Ottawa Senators without the defensive depth-(Thanks Ryan)

Bullpen Notes

After the game,the Devils shipped seldom used defenseman Sheldon Brookbank to the Anaheim Ducks for the rights to Colgate center David McIntyre.
The Devils wanted to give Brookbank a shot at more playing time,which he wasn't getting as the 8th defenseman and the Devils would have likely lost him on the waiver wire,if they would have attempted to send him to Lowell.
McIntyre is leading Colgate in points with 30 and has scored 13 goals for the Red Raiders.
Best wishes to the always hustling Brookbank!

Two of my favorite college basketball teams have joined forces to honor one of my favorite coaches as Wake Forest and Xavier have agreed to a 10 year contract to meet in a home and home series to honor the late Skip Prosser.
The Skip Prosser Classic will begin next season at Lawrence Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem.
Hopefully someone from the two areas will get together and create a unique trophy to passed between the schools..

On the signing front.
Just two additions,but one is huge to me.
Ebay adds "The Horse" Dan Issel to the collection in his Kentucky Colonels uniform!
The Colonels were my favorite team in the defunct ABA and Issel was my favorite player,so this is a big deal to me.
Issel only signed 70 Colonels cards for Upper Deck as the majority of the cards he signed was in his Denver Nugget togs.
Also Devils prospect Anssi Salmela signed through the mail.

I am hoping to be back later with the first installment of "What If".

Photo Credits
Hockey:AP Photo
Issel:Previous Owner,but its mine now!