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Saturday, January 30, 2010

New line lifts Devils over Toronto


Jacques Lemaire's line changes worked for one line last night as Zach Parise,Travis Zajac and Dainius Zubrus scored four of the teams five goals including the overtime winner by Zajac (15 powerplay) to lift the Devils to a 5-4 overtime win over Toronto that gave the Devils two badly needed points in the standings.
Parise scored two (24 and 25) with Zubrus ( 3) and Patrick Davis (1) adding the others.
New Jersey hosts the Los Angeles Kings tomorrow afternoon at five.

Hell Raisers

1) The game wasn't all good news for the Devils as a late game collapse forced overtime to begin with as two defensive breakdowns,one by usually reliable Bryce Salvador and the other by usually erratic Johnny Oduya, turned a 4-2 lead into a trip to the extra session.
Giveaways in front of the net led to both goals.,

2) Zach Parise could have had as many as five goals on the evening.
The Toronto netminders weren't at their best,but they robbed Parise on two occasions and arguably a third.
Without Parise,Travis Zajac (1 goal 3 assists) and Dainius Zubrus (1 goal 2 assists) ,the Devils do not win this game.

3) Disappointment of the night?
Former Ranger Colton Orr beating Marty Brodeur on a breakaway.
Yes,a BREAKAWAY for Colton Orr.
An awful job by Johnny Oduya and Mark Fraser for allowing a Colton Orr to ever get into a position for a breakaway goal.

4) After the game,Nick Palmeiri was returned to Lowell.
I liked what I saw from Nick,but he still needs time to develop into a contributor at the NHL level.

5) Nicklas Bergfors was a healthy scratch as apparently he is in the Lemaire doghouse.
Bergfors could return to the lineup against the Kings.

6) An active Bergfors could help the teams forwards,who other than the three mentioned players and maybe Brian Rolston were far from active in the win.

7) I understand the thinking in having two of your best defensive forwards on the ice so much in overtime and maybe its just me,but it seems like Rob Niedermayer and Jay Pandolfo are on the ice in 4 on 4 more than Parise and Zajac.
The stats don't back that up,but sure seems that way to me....

Photo Credits
Line:Rich Schultz-AP Photo
Parise:Andy Marlin-Getty Images

Friday, January 29, 2010

J.D. Salinger and Howard Zinn

A few words on the passing of two literary stars from two different fields,two different styles of writing and both wrote works that I have enjoyed immensely

J.D.Salinger passed away at the age of 91 at his "hideaway" in New Hampshire.
Salinger's classic "Catcher in the Rye" has been required reading for the disaffected teenager/young adult for almost sixty years now.
The reclusive author has published nothing since 1965,yet has still been found fascinating by generations of literary followers.
Catcher in the Rye seems to move seamlessly through each generation,although some of its references have become quite dated as time has moved by.
Holden Caufield (the narrator and protagonist of the book) has become a character that lives on through the years and is looked at as a template of the middle 20th century's teenager.
Salinger retreated in the early 60's to a compound and rarely left it to deal with the general public.
The character of Frederick Forrester (played by Sean Connery) in the film Finding Forrester was based on Salinger.
Salinger was also known for his refusal to allow his works to be made into films,which likely cost him a ton of dollars,but enabled himself to avoid the heartache of watching Hollywood butcher his books as is so often done even when the final product is a strong one.
Salinger is thought to possibly have works (finished and/or unfinished) tucked away and the contents are unknown as are any possible plans for publication.
A final note on Salinger that I did not know until yesterday is that he had a 1980's relationship with Elaine Joyce,who was noted as actress Elaine Joyce.
I never saw her act in anything,but as a game show aficionado of my youth,I remember her quite well on shows such as 25,000 pyramid,password and most prominently Match Game.


Howard Zinn died yesterday from a heart attack at the age of 87.
Zinn is best known for his "People's History of the United States" that to put it kindly is strongly left wing.
I mean,left to the point of WAY left,but should be required reading for people that care about our country.
Zinn doesn't get it all right in the book,he has an agenda and that is to show that the United States all too often has been a bully in world affairs along with speaking one thing while doing another.
Some of which is dead factual and others need to be stretched and pulled in order to make a convoluted case,but Zinn discusses historical issues in a way that conventional historians often avoid.
After all,too much criticism of our country can make a book unappealing to teachers,school boards and library buyers and that hits authors and publishing companies in the pocketbook.
So why,should Zinn's book be required reading if it isn't perfect?
Well,it gives a different perspective than the commonly agreed on history,a perspective that all too often is not even considered by the side that disagrees.
In an age of polar opposites of political beliefs,cable news networks etc,why shouldn't there be an alternative history that looks at things that others do not?
Agree or disagree,Howard Zinn made you think about issues,what YOU believe and what YOU think and and anything that makes one ponder and truly think is always a good thing.

Back tomorrow with Devils vs Maple Leafs.

Photo Credits
Salinger:Little,Brown-AP
Zinn:Unknown

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Devils lose Buffalo shootout


In what was expected to be a tight,defensive game,the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils or rather Ryan Miller and Martin Brodeur lived up the expectations as the Sabres earned a 2-1 shootout win.
The Devils swoon continues,although they did pick up a point in the loss.
Brian Rolston's second period blast from the left faceoff circle (16) was the Devils only goal.
The Devils take tonight off before hosting games on Friday and Sunday against Toronto and Los Angeles.

Hell Raisers

1) Ryan Miller is a good goalie as it is,but win or lose against the Devils,Miller always seems to raise his game (39 saves last night).
I don't know if it is facing off against Martin Brodeur or not,but Miller is always so sharp against New Jersey.

2) Scoring woes continue in New Jersey with just 12 goals (including 2 empty netters) over the last eight games.
With just two wins in that span,the stat tells you a lot about what the major issue in the struggles currently are...

3) Sometimes,you can just see goals coming and the Buffalo regulation goal by Adam Mair was one of those.
Suffocating Buffalo pressure just would not allow the puck to leave the Devils zone and so many blue shirts around the net eventually gave Marty Brodeur no chance to stop the eventual goal.

4) I thought the defense was better other than on that occasion.
Bryce Salvador was very good and Johnny Oduya assisted on the Rolston goal with a sharp long bomb pass that showed what he is capable of when motivated.

5) Jacques Lemaire shook up the lines a bit and early on it looked like the Devils were energized by the move.
The newer arrivals Nick Palmieri and Patrick Davis were both quite active and played well..

6) There isn't much to criticize Martin Brodeur on most nights,but his shootout gamble on a poke check of Jochen Hecht was a huge mistake,as Hecht dodged the outstretched stick and placed the puck in the net.
Marty was far out of his element and Hecht had no problems dealing with the move.
Even the greatest ever makes mistakes..

7) Illka Pikkarainen will not be a Lowell Devil after all as he will be joining Central Red Army in the Russian league.
A good move for the Finn as he will play more there than in Lowell and re-adjust to the European game,since he will likely be back there next season.


Photo Credit
Bill Wippert-Getty Images

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Steaming hot from the melting pot




Thanks to all that voted in the baseball poll.
The poll really didn't help make my decision,but I decided to sit on the sidelines a while longer after talking it over with my coaching staff,I decided that it might be better to take some more time off before a possible return.
I miss coaching games and running practices,but I love doing the autograph circuit with the good friends that I have made there and watching the stars of the future are enough to fill my addiction for now.
Besides, I am undefeated since hitting the minor leagues and I haven't been hassled by a parent of a board of director member yet.
Unless you count the night Battlin Bob went after Drew Himsworth!!!!

Looks like ESPN's own ombudsman agrees with us on the biased coverage of the Mike Leach situation.
Don Ohlmeyer looks at ESPN's coverage of the Alamo Bowl between Texas Tech and Michigan State,which occurred right in the middle of the Mike Leach firestorm.
The look is honest and unbiased,which is more than I can say for the network's coverage.

The Pirates have added another statue to their collection outside PNC Park with the addition of Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski.
The bronze artwork is expected to be unveiled for the mid-June series between the Buccos and the Indians.
Maz joins bronze works of Honus Wagner,Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell outside the stadium.

A pet peeve of mine is listening to critics of Mazeroski's induction into the Hall talk about his hitting not being up to Hall caliber.
Perhaps that's true,but shouldn't being the top fielding second baseman ever count for something?
And Mazeroski's hitting wasn't that bad considering the pitching in the league during his career.
I also wonder this-how many of the people that are anti-Maz are proponents of Ozzie Smith being in the HOF?
Try this comparison on size
Player A- .262 Batting Average,28 Homers,793 RBI,580 SB,13 Gold Gloves,.666 OPS over 19 seasons.
Player B- .260 BA,138 HR's,853 RBI,27 SB,8 Gold Gloves and a .667 OPS over 17 seasons.

Considering each player set the defensive standards at their position,those numbers look pretty close with player A (Ozzie Smith) leading solidly in steals with player B (Bill Mazeroski) having more pop.
So where is the consistent whining about Ozzie Smith?
I think they both deserve to be in the Hall as I think Omar Vizquel will deserve induction when his time comes,but so many think Mazeroski is undeserving,yet Smith is...
Food for thought....

We aren't afraid to take our shots at those that deserve it,but part of being a straight shooter is accountability,so in that light we will take a shot at ThoughtsofRS.
Why?
Well,we endorsed John Edwards for President in a move that with the benefit on hindsight makes the Pirates signing of Derek Bell years ago look like the Yankees buying Babe Ruth.
The behavior of Candidate Edwards over the last two years is slimy at best and insane at worst.
We were taken in by this person and although I doubt that we delivered one vote to John Edwards in the 2008 Democratic primaries,we still encouraged people to do so.
That decision was a huge mistake and we regret the error.

A worry that could continue to grow for Florida residents is the concern of the possible "new breed" of snake that would combine the size of the Burmese Python with the nastiness of the
African Rock Python to create a "super snake" that isn't that super.
African Rocks have begun breeding in the Everglades and if they interbreed with the Burmese-Look out!
The Los Angeles Times looks at the problem here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Devils take one and drop one


The New Jersey Devils split two games since our last posting with a 4-2 win over the Islanders and a 3-0 loss tonight in the Canadian capital of Ottawa against the white hot Senators.
Wish I could add some Devils goals,but there were none tonight against Brian Elliott.
The trip ends tomorrow after a tussle against the Sabres in Buffalo.

Hell Raisers

1) Dealing with the good news first as the Devils were solid (as far as effort goes) in the win on Long Island.
This is noteworthy only because in the Devils previous visit there just five days before,the effort was less than standard and the result was a lopsided Devil loss to an inferior team.

2) The downside in the win was in a second period that was beyond awful as the Devils had a total of one shot on net and that was only because it was a goal by Zach Parise that was actually a deflection off the Islanders Freddy Meyer.
Fortunately,the Devils first and last periods were far far better.

3) The biggest error in the win was Colin White's hit from behind on Sean Bergenheim that cut him gave the Islanders a five minute major penalty and forced the Devils to play without their usual number of defensemen for the game.
Correct call on a dumb play by a veteran that should know better.....

4) The loss to Ottawa though was pretty similar to the loss last Monday as the Devils seemed to be going through the motions.
The team did get Dainius Zubrus back from injury and that makes things a bit better,although it didn't seem to help much in this outing.

5) Worst part of the loss was the horrible game by Mike Mottau,who had a goal in off his skate another as a direct result of a Mottau pass,although that was not totally his fault.
I wish that I didn't bash Mottau so much,but his play just infuriates me!!!

6) Marty Brodeur was pulled after two with Yann Danis mopping up.
Jacques Lemaire said Brodeur sat because he planned on starting him in Buffalo tomorrow night.
I liked the move,the way the team was playing it was doubtful that a 3-0 lead would be overcome.
A 3-1 deficit might have kept Brodeur in the game.

7) Just another bad outing,but with a tough and talented team in Buffalo next,the opportunity is there for a turnaround.
Marty's battles with Ryan Miller always seem to be super games to enjoy.

Trying to be back with a melting pot later....

Photo Credit
Andre Rinquette-Getty Images

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pigskin Picks


Quick picks for today's games before I forget.

I picked the Jets to upset the apple cart in each of their first two games,but not liking their chances today.
The Colts have most advantages,but the Jets have one-they have nothing to lose.
If the running game can keep Peyton Manning off the field,this could be close,but it will still take some Colt turnovers to pull one more road win.

The Saints and Vikings should be a high scoring one.
In a nutshell,the matchup to watch is this-can the New Orleans offensive line give Drew Brees time to throw?
Watch for a few over the middle throws by Brees to become big plays with the Vikings missing E.J.Henderson and Minnesota would run Adrian Peterson more,if Brad Childress was smart-which he isn't.

Predictions
Colts 24-14
Saints 31-27

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Effort good,defense not so much


The New Jersey Devils had a rare occasion last night.
Their defensive play cost them a game as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Devils 3-1 at the Rock.
Zach Parise (21) scored the only Devil goal on a beautiful first period breakaway.
The Devils are on Long Island tonight against the Islanders in the first of three road games.

Hell Raisers

1) The Parise goal on a pretty backhand was the only shot to elude Jaroslav Halak.
This guy impresses me every time that I see him,why he isn't the main goalie for Montreal is baffling.

2) The Devils did make it somewhat easy for Halak by just not getting enough pucks to him.
The Montreal defenders were blocking a lot of shots and were able clear out the few rebounds that Halak allowed.

3) Marty Brodeur was let down by the Devil defense tonight.
Over at In Lou We Trust,they feel differently,but to me Mike Mottau and Johnny Oduya were awful and the rest (except for Andy Greene,nice night) were little improvement.
Montreal had seven fewer shots than the Devils,but the Devils breakdowns were more glaring and that cost them the game.

4) The Devils did bring up a center from Lowell,but it was Ben Walter not Tim Sestito.
Walter played a decent amount of minutes as well...

5) I thought for all the flaws,the Devils had plenty of effort.
This wasn't a listless evening,just one where the puck didn't bounce their way.
Here is hoping for a reversal of fortune against the Islanders tonight.

Photo Credit-Andy Marlin-Getty Images

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dotel signed,Jones claimed,Bixler traded


The Pirates have made a few more changes to their roster over the last week as some players were added and a few have been (possibly) moved along.
Octavio Dotel has been signed to a one year contract with the Pirates holding an option to keep Dotel in town for 2011,if they so desire.
Terms were undisclosed,but is reported to be about three million for the 2010 portion of the agreement.
The 36 year old righty is expected to close for the Pirates after an excellent 2009 for the White Sox.
Dotel joins former teammate D.J. Carrasco and Brendan Donnelly as newcomers that the Pirates hope will shore up a bullpen that struggled in 2009....

The Buccos claimed once bright prospect Brandon Jones off waivers from the Braves,although rumors are flying that Jones was claimed to place in a deal with an unnamed team.
The 26 year outfielder was once a top five prospect in the Braves system,but had fallen behind younger prospects such as Jason Heyward in the Braves pecking order.
But assuming Jones stays with the Pirates going into camp,that leads to an interesting battle for what appears to be the final outfield spot between Jones,Brandon Moss and Rule V draftee John Raynor.
Jones looks like the odd man out there,at least on a temporary basis, as Raynor needs to stay all season or a deal needs to be worked out with Florida and Moss is out of minor league options.

The Pirates also allowed one of the final links to the Dave Littlefield age to move on as the Pirates shipped Brian Bixler to the Indians for prospect Jesus Brito.
Two surprising notes on the deal.One is that the Indians are giving Bixler a chance to be their utility infielder and that the Wahoos actually traded a prospect to get him.
Brito had nice numbers in the AZL and in a short stint with Mahoning Valley in the NY-Penn league,but keep in mind that he is 22 and old for the level.
All in all,a good move for the Pirates in gaining a prospect for a player that Pittsburgh was down on and the type of move that the team needs to continue to make.
Good luck to Brian Bixler as well,as Bixler was one of the nicer players that I have met over the last few season and it would be nice to see him have a chance at the big time...
Tony over at Indians prospect insider takes a look at the trade here.
Tony also posted this on Youtube of a Brito at bat.

The Pirates designated two of the former Yankee arms for assignment to make roster space as both Steven Jackson and Anthony Claggett got the axe.
When you consider that Eric Hacker was allowed to leave as a minor league free agent,it is apparent that the Yankee "catch lightning in a bottle" project is past.
I was surprised on Jackson though,I thought the Pirates liked him more than that,although I think that it is quite possible that the Pirates would like to resign Jackson,if the waivers clear.

Two former Pirate farmhands were signed to deals with new organizations as Jamie Romak and Pedro Powell signed contracts.
Romak signed with Kansas City which is logical with former Braves front office employee Dayton Moore running the show there.
Romak was drafted by Atlanta when Moore was in their front office,
Lynchburg's favorite son,Pedro Powell will be attempting a comeback in the Nationals system.
Powell holds the record for steals in Lynchburg and his chance at a comeback apparently is due to a Washington fetish for light hitting and speedy former Pirate outfielders (Nyjer Morgan).

Brodeur carries Devils over Florida.

Martin Brodeur carried the New Jersey Devils last night as the Devils snapped a three game losing streak with a 2-0 win at the Rock over the Florida Panthers.
Devils goals to Travis Zajac (14) and Dean McAmmond ( 5 shorthanded,empty net).
New Jersey will play back to back games on Friday and Saturday as the Devils will host Montreal before traveling to Long Island to play the Islanders....

Hell Raisers

1) Been away for a while,actually for all of the losing streak.
Quick condensed version,not good defensively in Phoenix, a decent effort in Colorado and maybe the worst game of the season against the Islanders.
The offense still hasn't really turned things on,as the McAmmond goal went in literally before the horn and made no difference at all.

2) The shot to the Devils offense came in Colorado when Ryan Wilson (who I was very impressed with) crunched a careless Patrik Elias with a check that sent Elias off the ice on a stretcher and onto the IR with a concussion.
Clean hit to me,but a hit to the Devils offense for sure.


3) I also liked two things on the aftermath of the hit.
Mark Fraser stepped up and fought Wilson soon afterwards,defending the injured teammate and Wilson knew it was coming,fought like a pro and then didn't cry about having the fight.
Solid professionalism by both parties....


4) The Devils have made a few moves after the Elias injury as Matt Corrente was dropped to Lowell as the Devils needed extra forwards.
Nick Palmieri and Patrick Davis were brought from the minor Devils with Palmieri assisting on the Travis Zajac goal that was the only even strength goal of last night's game.

5) Part of the Devils issues (against Florida at least) could be center depth as the team had to use just three centers against the Panthers.
The Devils waived Illka Pikkarainen today,in what Fire and Ice believes is a way to clear space for Tim Sestito to return from Lowell.
The Devils intend to assign Pikkarainen to Lowell,if the Finn clears the waiver wire...

6) The energy and effort was there from the Devs after the awful performance against the Islanders.
The goals werent,but the effort was and when that happens,eventually the goals will follow.

7)Finally,we call them truthfully here and this one hurts as Devils prospect and Canadian National Junior team captain Patrice Cormier has been indefinitely suspended for this blatant cheap shot of an elbow.
The elbow comes around 1;04 of the video
Watch at your own risk as the injured player convulses on the ice.
There is no place in the game for that sort of hit and Cormier deserves a solid suspension that hopefully will wake him up as the youngster has NHL type of ability.

I hope to be back later with some extra clean up work....

Photo Credits
Bill Kostroun-AP Photo


Photo Credit

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pigskin Picks


Time for a quick look at the weekends football games in the most exciting football weekend of the year.
Conference semi-final weekend is usually the most enjoyable with four games and usually all are somewhat watchable as far as teams to root for.

Lets start with the game that starts in a few hours as the Cardinals travel to New Orleans.
This should be the same type of shootout as occurred in the desert last week,but the biggest question that I have is this-Will the Saints that ripped off 13 wins in a row be available or the team that hasn't won in a month be the team that appears?
Either way,this is the fun game of the weekend to see.

The hated Ravens roll into Indianapolis off a crushing of the Patriots last week against the roll over and play dead Colts.
I like Peyton Manning a lot and I have always gotten the feeling that he doesn't care for the lay down tactics that Indy has used so unsuccessfully through the years.
Joe Flacco appears a bit beat up for Baltimore,but as much as I hate to say the Ratbirds are a live underdog in this one.

Dallas against Minnesota is the glamour game of the weekend and the game that I least want to see.
I cannot stand Dallas and always have liked Brett Favre,but the Favre routine has grown really thin.
This one comes down to this-Dallas has finished strong and Minnesota hasn't,continuing Favre's late season failings over the last three years in three cities.
Which do you want to hear all next week-The return of America's team or the Brett Favre possible Super Bowl return?

The Jets and Rex Ryan travel to San Diego in what looks like the mismatch of the weekend.
The weak offense through the air of New York against the multiple weapons of the Chargers,but keep in mind that Norv Turner still coaches San Diego and that is a factor that upset selectors shouldn't forget.

Predictions
Saints 42-35
Colts 24-16
Cowboys 20-13
Jets 20-19,Upset special!

Bullpen Notes

The Devils lost Thursday in Phoenix 4-3 and return today in Denver against the Avalanche at three,so after four missed games in a row for various reasons,I'll be back tomorrow with some actual thoughts on the game.

Derek Dooley is the choice for the desperate Tennessee Vols as the replacement for Lane Kiffin.
Dooley had a losing record (17-20) in three years at Louisiana Tech,but the son of Georgia legend Vince Dooley was the best of a shallow pool to choose from.
At least,Dooley is familiar with the program and that helps.
Tennessee could be in danger of becoming one of those has been SEC programs like Arkansas and Ole Miss,if they aren't careful...

The Pirates added two veteran bullpen arms in DJ Carrasco and Brendan Donnelly to one year deals.
Both are fine with me ,especially considering the deals are for just one year.
Older relievers tend to have wild swings in their numbers from year to year that I dont feel comfortable paying either big money or giving multiple year contracts to.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Steve "Dr.Death" Williams


Steve "Dr.Death" Williams ranks among my favorite wrestlers of all time.
Certainly in the top few and arguably my favorite of the past twenty years.
Doc ranks right up there with the favorites of youth (Don Muraco,Ken Patera and Bob Orton Jr),the favorites of my young adult years (Bret Hart,Tully Blanchard,etc) and the favorites of my adult years (errr,Ok not too many that I didn't already like),but Steve Williams for some unknown reason connected with me more than others.
I sometimes wondered why that was because of all the skills that Doc possessed in the ring,doing terrific work on the microphone was not one of them.
Perhaps it was watching his work,which depending on your opinion could range from "snug" to stiff" or perhaps the intensity of his style came across as more legitimate than most.
Maybe it was because one could tell that in a sport that had predetermined results that this is a guy that would have been the legitimate top guy or at worst,a top contender.
In any event,Steve Williams was loved in the old Mid South territory (Oklahoma,Arkansas,Louisiana,Mississippi and parts of Eastern Texas),but in other areas was not the star that he was in Mid South.
Oh,Williams was respected and rarely lost (Williams went 10 years without suffering a pinfall loss on American turf),but something was missing for the Doctor.
It could have been the lack of being less than excellent on the stick,but I tend to believe it was more along the lines of not having quite the theatrical style that the American fan tended to prefer.
Steve Williams held the Mid South tag titles with Ted DiBiase and created arguably the best team ever in the Mid South/UWF territory.
Ted DiBiase ironed out some of the wrinkles in Williams style and helped Williams mature as a pro wrestler,which led to Williams eventually being the top star of the company winning their top title with a win over Big Bubba Rogers in 1987.
In between Japanese tours,Williams wrestled off and on for the NWA/WCW and had a heel run with Mike Rotundo as the Varsity Club in which they were the first team in years to defeat the Road Warriors,albeit with quite a bit of wrestling controversy.

In Japan,there was no such issue and the punishing physical style that All Japan pro wrestling offered was right up Williams alley.
As good as the team with Ted DiBiase was,Doc's team with Terry Gordy was even better.
The Miracle Violence Connection was the brainchild of AJPW owner Giant Baba to recreate the team of Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen and often these attempts fail,but in this case the Williams and Gordy surpassed the original.
The tandem had too many terrific matches to count against the various combinations of the AJPW stars such as Mitusharu Misawa,Kenta Kobashi,Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue.

Williams and Gordy even made an "invasion" of WCW and won both their title belts in short order disposing of the Steiners brothers in what was an anticipated series of matches.
Their stay was short however as the money from All Japan was too much to turn down in favor of WCW,so their stay was not long as it could have been.


The style of All Japan led to many of their stars breaking down physically and Steve Williams was no exception and his skills eroded as the years went by,but Williams was signed to the WWF and was placed into their shoot "Brawl for all" competition with the expectation that Williams would win the tournament and then be ready for a big run with Steve Austin.
But the Brawl for all was a flawed format as full boxing gloves were placed on fighters,not MMA gloves and as soon as a wrestler was taken down,they were immediately stood back up.
These rules nullified the strengths of Williams,but he won his first round match before a second round match against Bart Gunn.
With Williams far ahead on points,Doc ripped his hamstring making himself immobile for the remainder of the fight.
Having no option other than lean against the ropes for support,Gunn landed a bomb that dropped the Doctor for the count.Williams was never seen quite the same way by American fans again,despite the logical reason for the defeat.
When I saw it,the first thing that I thought of was the 1984 boxing match between Davey Moore and Wilfred Benitez,where Benitez broke his ankle and had to lean against the corner to stand.
Sooner or later,something is going to land.

The Williams-Gunn bout is on youtube,but embedding is disabled so I cannot show it here.
The loss ended Williams shot at being an American star,although he did pound the Misfits a bit in WCW,when the group decided they wanted to be wrestlers(Don't ask),most memorably tossing Jerry Only into a steel cage like you or I would throw a ball against the wall.
Williams wrote his autobiography in 2007,which is still available on Amazon which goes into his sports career and religious conversion as well.
Williams spent most of the last ten years fighting throat cancer,beating it twice and going into what he thought would be his final checkup and discovering that the cancer had returned.
Williams spent much of these years having to use a stoma to be able to speak and showed tremendous courage in dealing with his medical issues.

Steve Williams had an WWE classic figure released late in 2009,which I am sure helped somewhat with his medical bills and was working for Southwest Airlines in Denver at the time of his passing.
For more on Steve Williams,he did a shoot interview several years ago and did a final interview a few weeks prior to his death with some other stars of Mid South wrestling,looking unrecognizable and very ill.
That will be released shortly.

Rest in Peace,Doc....

Photo Credits-Unknown

Steaming hot from the melting pot



The melting pot returns with a shot at Lane Kiffin,a long time blog non favorite.
Kiffin ,as I am sure most of you know,has left Tennessee after one glorious 7-6 season that was filled with mouthy predictions, zero noteworthy wins,a blowout loss in a bowl and a collection of secondary NCAA violations.
About the only thing that Kiffin managed to accomplish in his tenure in Knoxville (other than being an annoying jackass) was sending his wife Layla to the top of the charts of various search engines,Google among them.
Yet Kiffin has managed to turn being an average unknown college assistant to a head coaching job in the NFL, go 5-15 there before being shown the door,be handed one of the top 25 college jobs in the country,piss everyone in the SEC off and perform as noted above and then dump them after a year to get hired at one of the top five jobs in the nation.
How does this happen?
The only thing that I can think of is that Lane Kiffin must be able to sell himself in the job interview better than anyone that I have ever seen or heard about.
There can be no other reason that a coach continues to move up in his profession by losing games and ticking people off.
Take a look at him,would you like this guy?
He looks like the smarmy heel character in just about every high school/college film made over the last 30 years!
A special tip of the hat to USC for hiring the Anna Kornikova and Danica Patrick of football.
USC is going to be interesting watching over the next couple of seasons,that is one thing that is certain.
At least,I can enjoy rooting for the Vols again,as it just wasn't the same watching Tennessee being led onto the field by Lane Kiffin.
Click this link for more on how Lane Kiffin cared so little about Tennessee football tradition and attempted to make it USC Southeast chapter.
Editor's Note:The above link is now correct,sorry for the error.

Check the poll out,just interested in odd opinions on whether I should consider coaching youth baseball again.
Too many pros and cons to list,but I thought it would be fun food for thought.

Nice to see Bob Arum and Top Rank attempting a boxing series on Fox Sports Net.
The 36 card contract will be placed on Saturday nights with the series starting this Saturday with a card featuring undefeated 154 pounder Vanes Martirosyan against former champion Kassim Ouma.

Interesting note on the website for WHAG TV,which is the NBC affiliate locally and is the only network affiliate in Maryland west of Baltimore.
This is the 40th anniversary of the network and the article discusses how the station initially wanted to be an ABC affiliate,but had to settle for NBC instead.
Another note was on the "25 Alive" nickname of the station,which they claimed was used for just five years from 1982 to 1987.
It seemed a lot longer than five years,but to people 35 and up in this area,WHAG is still often referred to as 25 Alive.The name has always been taken as a joke,but for something that was used for just 5 years and still has stuck around,makes you wonder why they didn't stick with it?.

Editors note-check this youtube video out,check the date and then tell me that they used 25 Alive for just five years.


One more WHAG (or 25 Alive) chuckle,it must have been near the end of the "25 Alive"run,but I always remember this cheesy set of commercials that featured the various just out of college reporters along with the weather guy (and Battlin Bob favorite) Lou Scally just standing around the news room chatting by the water cooler with Tom Brokaw like they are all colleagues and tight friends and preparing to cover some breaking story like Battlin Bob kicking a fence at our little league game or something.
Then Brokaw looks into the camera and dead pans in the typical "Word of God from my mouth" voice-"Only on NBC,only on 25 Alive".
Great stuff,I wish that were on Youtube,but this is the most similar video that I could find.


I think Texas Tech was able to get as good of a hire as possible for their head coaching job in former Ole Miss and Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville,but I wonder if Tuberville isn't having second thoughts about grabbing the Red Raider spot with Tennessee now open.
Tuberville does seem to be an SEC guy and there wouldn't be the hassles of having to use Kiffin's offense like he will have to use Mike Leach's offense at Tech.

And wouldn't Mike Leach be a breath of fresh air in the SEC with the Vols?
I would love to see it,but Leach doesn't have a prayer.
Between Tennessee swinging and missing with Lane Kiffin and the toxicity that Leach has for now,I doubt that Tennessee has the guts to take that shot...

The Frederick Keys announced their coaching staff for 2010 with Orlando Gomez moving up from Delmarva to manage and bringing long time pitching coach Blaine Beatty with him.
Both Gomez and Beatty have been nothing but nice guys and it is good to see them in Frederick.
Former Twin Denny Hocking will complete the Keys staff in his first coaching job.
Ryan has to be pleased as another player from the "showdown set" gets signed.

If I have time,I will try to return later with some words on the late Steve Williams.
I want to devote plenty of time to that one,so that depends on my time allotment.

Photo Credit
Kiffins-Unknown

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pirate Hooks


The Pirates have made a few roster moves over the past few weeks,but nothing to write about until today with the signing of Ryan Church to a one year contract worth a million and a half dollars with the possibilities of making more from performance bonuses.
The 31 year old former Indian farmhand split last season with the Mets and Braves after having his best days in Washington with the Nationals.
The initial plan is for Church to serve as the fourth outfielder and that may affect any of three players.
Church can play any of the three outfield spots,although center would be the place that you would want to try to avoid for any length of time,so his versatility could mean the end of Brandon Moss as a Pirate.
Moss is out of options and considering that he already was going to have to fight off Rule V draftee John Raynor to stick on the 25 man roster,this signing puts Moss on the bubble to say the least and gone to say the most.
Raynor will have to stay all season to remain Pittsburgh property,but the signing of Church will likely eat into any playing time that Raynor might have received as a late inning defensive replacement or spot starter,although Raynor being a righthanded swinger might help his case in certain situations over the lefty hitting Church.
The final player that could be affected is Steve Pearce,who despite clobbering lefthanded pitching appears to ticketed for Indianapolis or out the door.
That could be a Pirate error for as good as the Garrett Jones numbers were,his struggles against lefties were alarming.
However,considering the limited data,a Jones/Pearce platoon has the potential for some excellent production.
It doesn't seem that is in the cards however as the Pirate seem to think that Jones is an everyday player-I respectfully disagree.
Considering the cost and if Church can perform well,he is the type of player that tends to be moved around the deadline with a friendly contract and being able to pinch hit well along with his ability to play all the outfield spots.

The Pirates are supposedly close to bringing in two or three arms to the bullpen,most notably Octavio Dotel,who would step into either the setup role that he was successful in last season with the White Sox or into the closer role vacated by Matt Capps.
Dotel would be a signing that I would like as long as the deal isn't too long or too expensive.
D.J. Carrasco is reportedly close to a minor league deal in another former Pale Hole hurler move.
Carrasco's numbers look passable until you see the high WHIP and batting average against,still he does strike out a decent amount of players and is worth a look.
The third pitcher would be one of several listed players,but is unknown at this time.
I would like to see Chan Ho Park brought in as Park has been very good as a reliever,but you have to dig through his stats to find that as the numbers have been inflated by some bad spot starts.

Other than that,the Pirates haven't done too much other than collecting mediocre arms to minor league deals.
Tyler Yates was brought back in as he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery as does lefty signee Neal Cotts who will be attempting return for a team outside of Chicago for the first time.
Brian Bass was signed for an attempt to add righthanded relief depth,while Jack Taschner and Brian Burres were brought into the system to attempt to pan gold from the left side.
I don't expect much from any of these signings,but if one sticks,it was worthwhile.

That about covers Bucco talk for now.
I hope to be back sometime tomorrow with a melting pot that will take on Lane Kiffin and more.

Photo Credit-Andre Pichette-AP Photo

Tom Heckert hired as Browns GM


It might have been a year too late for the Browns and Eric Mangini,but Tom Heckert has arrived as the Browns GM after a year that saw him turn down the chance to interview for the job.
Heckert has been the Eagles GM and in charge of player personnel for Philadelphia and will be in charge of the Browns draft in April.
Heckert was a favorite of our for the position last year and the Browns instead kicked the call with the selection of George Kokinis.
Whatever,what's done is done (How often do I type that?) and the Browns have just the personnel person that they need to begin the process of turning this ship around.
Heckert has drafted more pro bowl performers (10) in his eight drafts with the Eagles than the Browns have in their entire tenure since returning to the league (6).
15 of the 21 Eagle starters were drafted by Heckert and his personnel directors and the Eagles often seem like a team that signs a free agent that turns out to be better than expected.
Heckert hasn't been perfect,the Eagles signed Asante Samuel to a costly deal and watched Samuel underachieve and the Eagles have always been criticized for not giving Donovan McNabb enough playmakers,although Heckert has done better at that over the last few seasons.

Overall,Tom Heckert was the best person available for the job and the Cleveland Browns got him,how often have Browns fans been able to say that!

I cannot wait until draft day!

Photo Credit
Karen Schiely/Akron Beacon Journal

Devils take two of three


The first in a flurry of posts over the next day focuses on the New Jersey Devils who dropped the "Blackout" game to Tampa,but won their two scheduled games with an overtime win in Montreal and 1-0 shootout win over the Rangers.
Now the bad news-I didn't see any of these three games.
The loss to Tampa and the Montreal win were missed via work and the Rangers win last night was a Versus encounter,so no dice there either.
Further bad news is this-I will miss the game tomorrow in Phoenix as well,due to work.
Trust me-I am far sorrier than you are!

Hell Raisers

1) Zach Parise and Travis Zajac both scored and assisted on a goal in the win in Montreal,but the overtime goal was a thing of beauty as Zajac lazered the puck up ice after a Hab shot to a streaking Parise,who then whipped the puck past Jaroslav Halak for the victory.


2) Martin Brodeur had to be at his best in both wins as both Halak and the Rangers Henrik Lundquist posted excellent outings against the Devils.
Brodeur had a season high 52 saves against the Rangers in a game that saw no pucks enter the net until Patrik Elias beat Lundquist in the fourth round of the shootout.

3) The win at MSG was a record setting one as the two teams combined for 96 shots without a goal which is a record for a scoreless game.
The previous record was 75,so the record wasn't just broken,it was crushed!.

4) The Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner was named as the United States Olympic captain.
Congrats to Langenbrunner.

5) Marty Brodeur was named the goaltender on the Hockey News all decade team and finished second to Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom for player of the decade.

Back with more soon as we hope to look at the Pirates signing of Ryan Church,the Browns continuing to give me hope with the hiring of Tom Heckert as their GM and a dip from the melting pot which features a look at Lane Kiffin and his move to USC from Tennessee.

Photo Credits
Brodeur-Scott Levy-Getty Images
Elias:Nick Laham-Getty Images

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lights out?


The New Jersey Devils fell behind 3-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning and then were saved by a malfunction in the lights that could not be fixed halfway through the second period causing a postponement.
The game will be resumed at the point of the stoppage although a date has yet to be decided since the two teams do not play again this season.
Considering the score and time remaining there really isn't a lot else to add to this one.
The Devils are in Montreal tonight,where hopefully they will have enough light to play the game!

Photo Credit-Bill Kostroun-AP Photo

Friday, January 8, 2010

Playoff Picks


The NFL Playoff season kicks off this week with a four game weekend.

On the AFC side,the New York Jets travel to Cincinnati against the Bengals.
This was the toughest game of the week for me to pick,but the Jets have the right style to beat the Bengals as Darrelle Revis can take Chad Whathisname out of the game and control the Bengal running game.
The Jets will need to run the ball successfully and not have to rely on Mark Sanchez to win the game.

Prediction:Jets 20-17

New England hosts Baltimore as two teams that I hate face off as well as the two players I cannot stand in Tom Brady against Ray Lewis.
Baltimore isn't a good road team,New England has no Wes Welker.
Think this is the only game I might pass on all weekend.

Prediction:Patriots 31-21

Over in the NFC,Dallas hosts Philadelphia in another big whoop battle.
However in order for me to have a fun second round in rooting-I need an Eagle win.
SO for no other reason than that.

Prediction:Eagles 24-20

The best game of the weekend with lots of points takes place in Arizona as the Cardinals host the Packers.
Green Bay might be playing the best of anyone right now and Arizona seems vulnerable with injuries.
This one should see lots of points and big plays.

Prediction:Packers 35-28

Jim Mora out,Pete Carroll in?


I thought today would finally be the day that I could look at the Browns win over Jacksonville,but instead the Seattle Seahawks released Jim Mora as head coach and the hot rumor is that the new boss of the Hawks will be USC coach Pete Carroll.

Mora led Seattle to a disappointing 5-11 record that saw the Seahawks stagger down the stretch with a four game losing skid that saw only the final game against Tennessee as remotely competitive.
I am not sure on how to feel about this firing.
On one hand,one year is not a ton of time (see Eric Mangini) to determine,but on the other,Seattle seems to be a team that needs a complete overhaul after trying to do patchwork fix its and do I really want Jim Mora as the guy that will determine if the Seahawks are on a two year aberration of disappointing football or begin a multiple year long run of being a bad football team.
I think not and whoever gets the GM should have the right to hire his coach,unlike the Browns dropping the ball last year with the coach being hired first.

The Seahawks are also looking for a new general manager and the Eagles Tom Heckert canceled his scheduled Seattle interview after interviewing in Cleveland with the Browns.
Could that mean Heckert will be the new GM in Cleveland?

The next two hires might be the most important in Seattle for years as the Seahawks need a new quarterback as Matt Hasselbeck is shot in my opinion,running back could use upgrading and a few years of hoping Walter Jones could play more has left the Seahawks vulnerable at the most important position on the offensive line.
The draft with Seattle holding their first rounder and Denver's will go a long way towards determining the future of the franchise.

I cannot say that Pete Carroll does a lot for me after two NFL failures and I have no idea why Carroll would want to leave USC,but I discussed it with Ryan and he brought up a point that I had not considered-Could Carroll be looking for a way out before USC gets nailed for some of the various things that the NCAA is investigating?
Makes sense for Carroll to strike while the iron is hot,although whether it is a good move for the Hawks is very debatable.

All and all,a quick hook for Jim Mora,but likely the best thing for the team when you consider the entire picture and while I kinda hope that it isn't Pete Carroll as the new head man,one cannot think that even that would be a totally destructive hire.

Photo Credit-Unknown

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Eric Mangini returns

In a move that few thought imaginable five weeks ago,Mike Holmgren has decided to retain Eric Mangini and (reportedly) his assistants for the 2010 season.

This is a surprise to some (me to a certain degree) as many thought that Holmgren and Mangini's football belief system would not be compatible and Mangini would not be able to handle his reduced organizational influence,but Eric Mangini has survived for the 2010 term.

I must admit that Mangini's late season rally had tempered my opinion a bit,although I would not have had too much to say had he been released,however this is a no lose situation for the Browns.
If Mangini indeed has won the players over with his program ,weeding out the malcontents and do-littles and began the process of turning the corner than Holmgren looks smart for retaining him.
BUT ( and this is a big one) if the late season win streak turns out to be a mirage,then Holmgren almost gains a year in goodwill from the fans as Mangini (if the losing begins anew) will be even more unpopular and letting him go will bring tons of positives from the supporters.
That then allows Holmgren then to have free reign to redesign the franchise in any way he sees fit without having a public backlash (as minor as it would be right now) for axing Mangini.

This also brings a possible reason that I haven't mentioned before for the retention of Mangini to the table.
Could it be possible that the person that Mike Holmgren really would like to bring to Cleveland isn't available yet?
Maybe Jon Gruden wants another year with the family to recharge the batteries or perhaps John Fox of the Panthers (2010 is his last contract year) is the guy and by waiting a year,Fox could be brought in for nothing instead having to compensate Carolina,either of those could make sense.
Or could there be a chance that Mangini is a stalking horse for Mike Holmgren to hire....Mike Holmgren?

No matter how you slice it,Eric Mangini will not be making very many personnel decisions from here on out and that looks very good for the future of the Cleveland Browns.
I am hoping that the Browns hire the Eagles Tom Heckert as the new GM,but I was hoping that was who they would hire last season and instead selected George Kokinis.
Heckert's personnel background is solid and the Eagles generally draft well along with being a free agency player as well.
However,Heckert didn't want to work with Mangini last year and may not want to again,although he could have assurances from Holmgren that the working relationship would be different than the one that the Browns would have offered last season.

The one thing that I wish that Holmgren had insisted on was the removal of Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator.
Daboll seems overmatched in the job and might need more seasoning before trying again as a coordinator down the road.
I would not be against Daboll staying on staff as a position coach,but a new coordinator needs to brought on board,especially if Holmgren wants to tweak the offense more to his liking.

On the whole,I can see both sides and cannot say this is a pro or con,but this would have been so much easier without the four game winning streak to make a decision.
At least,it was not Marty Mornhinweg!
And no,the picture was not Eric Mangini and his people sitting around the draft room in 2009!
Let the talk begin-Eric Berry to Cleveland!!!

Photo Credit-New York Times

Reviewing the Tape-Rose Bowl

A later than expected tape review of the Rose Bowl features today's post of the Ohio State 26-17 win over the Pac 10 champion Oregon Ducks.
Ohio State football is on hiatus until the 2010 season begins on September 4th against Marshall at the Big Horseshoe.

Buckeye Branches

1) Terrelle Pryor was a deserving MVP,but give some credit to Jim Tressel for loosing up the offense a bit and giving his prize player a chance to open up a bit.
Tressel's play calling was a welcome change from the usual "Tressel Ball" and was a major factor in the victory.

2) Pryor looked as good as he has all season and his determined running on a few key third downs were a key as well.
Pryor still needs plenty of work on his passing,but with continued progression,he could be a Heisman contender next season.

3) Underrated stat of the day-time of possession.
41:37 to just 18;23 in favor of Ohio State and it wasn't a deceiving stat either.
Sometimes it just means that you are giving up quick scores or touchdowns off turnovers.
Not on this day as Ohio State was able to keep the ball and use their offense as part of the defense.

4) Nice games for recievers DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher as they combined for 17 of Pryor's 23 completions and Posey caught one of Pryor's two touchdown passes.

5) What great catch by tight end Jake Ballard in the fourth quarter drive that put the game away!
Ballard leaped into the air and hauled in a high Pryor toss on third and 13 to keep the drive alive.
I have always thought Ballard was underused in the OSU offense and I wouldn't be surprised to see him as a NFL starter down the road.

6) I thought the biggest play of the game though was LeGarrette Blount's fumble out of the end zone in the third quarter when it appeared that Oregon was beginning to take command of the game.
Instead,the fumble gave the Buckeyes the ball and pretty much ended Oregon's day as far threatening.

7) Of all the deciding factors in the win,one that most might have missed was the play of linebacker Ross Homan.
Homan was the player keying on Duck quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and made Masoli hand the ball off more than Oregon likely would have preferred and eliminating the options that make their offense so dangerous.
Homan has announced that he will be back in Columbus next season.

8) Ohio State lost one of their star underclassman defensive linemen,but it wasn't the best one in my opinion.
Thaddeus Gibson announced his intent to apply for the NFL draft,but Cameron Heyward is staying in what could only be described as great news.
It appears that Gibson will be the only Buckeye underclassman to go pro as of now.

9) Wideout Lamar Thomas,who was the main kick returner in the Rose Bowl has announced plans to transfer to a school that he hopes will play him at running back and wide receiver.
Good luck in that.

10) Seldom used safety Rocco Pentello is moving on as well.
Pentello will be transferring to Ashland,where he will have two years and immediate eligibility.
Pentello will return to his high school position of quarterback and duel with former Ashland Arrow Taylor Housewright for the starting passing job with the Eagles....

11) The Big Ten should hear less from the critics this off season after a 4-3 bowl record that saw the conferences top four finishers (OSU,Iowa,Penn State and Wisconsin) all nab wins with others coming close with near misses.
Northwestern took heavily favored Auburn to overtime,Minnesota lost by a point to Iowa State and Michigan State acquitted itself much better than expected against high powered Texas Tech.

Photo Credit-Marvin Fong -Cleveland Plain Dealer

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Devils dim Stars 4-0

After a week that saw the New Jersey Devils split a pair of road games (losing in Chicago,defeating Minnesota) the Devils returned to action with a 4-0 whipping of the visiting Dallas Stars.
Martin Brodeur had 28 saves in the shutout win,while the Devils received goals from Patrik Elias (9 & 10),Zach Parise (18) and Travis Zajac ( 10 power play).
The Devils return to action Friday against Tampa at the Rock before traveling to Montreal on Saturday.

Hell Raisers

1) Patrik Elias was the player of the night with two goals,but Elias showed unusual fire when he dropped the Stars Steve Ott (A Sean Avery playalike) with a crosscheck that earned Elias two minutes in the box.
Jacques Lemaire wasn't thrilled with the penalty,but since the Devils killed the two minutes,it was a good thing in my opinion.
Elias standing up for himself and earning respect can do nothing but help.

2) Elias also made the penalty look better by charging from the box and joining a rush that instantly became a 3 on 2,ending in an Elias goal.
Good hustle and that two minute segment was the backbreaker of the evening for Dallas.

3) Martin Brodeur's shutout was his third in his last seven games and he was sharp all evening.
Brodeur robbed Mike Ribiero and Loui Eriksson each on shots that normally have an excellent chance of going in.

4) The goal for Travis Zajac snapped a 12 game run without a goal for the Devils first line center.
While that is entirely too long,it does show just how well the Devils have been playing to continue to win without Zajac and Zach Parise scoring many goals.

5) Bryce Salvador and Pierre Luc LeBlond each returned to the ice after layoffs.
While Salvador's was just two games,LeBlond hadn't been in action since November.
LeBlond hit a few Stars and tried to get Steve Ott to throw hands,but Ott wisely demurred.

6) David Clarkson will miss another two to three weeks after aggravating his right leg injury.
Here is hoping Clarkson gets all in order this time and this nagging injury goes away.

7) I missed the road swing due to late starts and work,but wanted to give a late tip to Jamie Langenbrunner,who scored the only goal in the Chicago loss and added his first ever hat trick in defeating the Wild.
Add that to two assists last night and the Captain is having quite a run.

Photo Credits-Rich Schultz-AP Photo

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pigskin Ponderings

A chance to catch up on some different football topics all at once today.

Best bowl game that I saw?
Has to be the Humanitarian Bowl between Bowling Green and Idaho.
I didn't see the Outback bowl between Northwestern and Auburn,which looked like a good one and the Alamo between Texas Tech and Michigan State was a close but not quite winner,so the Humanitarian it is.
Both teams had comebacks from 14 points during the course of the game,big plays and each team scoring in the last minute of the game were just a few of the highlights.
Idaho then marches down the field with just 28 seconds to go to score what looked to be the tying TD,but Idaho coach Robb Akey goes for two and gets it for the 43-42 Idaho win.
Great game between two schools that likely would not have gotten chances to play in the past.

Games like the Humanitarian are the reason that I like the smaller bowl games that others seem to delight pissing on.
So many complain about the insignificance of small bowls,but they are a big deal to the kids on the field and fans of programs that have no shot at larger bowls,let alone the BCS.
You don't like them,don't watch.

Freddie Barnes of Bowling Green was the games star with 17 catches for 219 yards and three touchdowns.
Barnes isn't as fast as NFL scouts might like,but with hands such as he possesses,he will find a roster spot somewhere,even if he isn't drafted as high as he would like.

Idaho coach Robb Akey was quite a character in his talks with Heather Cox.
Between the voice that sounded like the linebacker in the Waterboy and his playing to the camera telling fans that they were going to see some wild stuff in the second half,Akey looked like a fellow having fun with his first bowl appearance.

Last year going into the draft,the Seahawks and Browns were back to back at the 4 and 5 slots.
Little changes this season as again they are back to back in the 6 and 7 positions.
Seattle needs a quarterback badly and I am rooting for the Browns to get Tennessee safety Eric Berry,who I see as the Browns finally being able to answer Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed with a hitter and playmaker at safety.

No word yet on the future of Eric Mangini in Cleveland,but I would lean more towards a dismissal today.
I just don't think a Holmgren/Mangini combo is going to work and Mangini's hopes for a future top spot might be better served by walking away classily from a conflict of football philosophy and a four game win streak than keeping the job,stumbling to a bad start and being released in mid-season.

One thing that does scare me about a Mangini firing is one of the top two names mentioned as a replacement.
Marty Mornhinweg (Eagles offensive coordinator) is a known Holmgren favorite and could be one of the top choices.
This scares me as Mornhinweg was the first coach hired by noted franchise destroyer Matt Millen in Detroit and won just five of 32 games there.
Mornhinweg also is notorious for his decision to kickoff after winning an overtime coin flip.
I am not a Eric Mangini fan and I don't think he is compatible with Mike Holmgren,but given the choice between Mangini and Mornhinweg-I'll take Mangini.

Time to answer a few questions from the handful of readers here on football.

First is-why did the Seahawk coverage disappear?

Well,time became short with the increased time away at work,something had to give and sadly that was Seattle coverage.
We will have a Seattle year in review later this month and of course the draft preview.
Hopefully,this will be a temporary hiccup.

Next,How many college teams do I really like?

Well,there are a few that I root for unless they play my top teams,but overall,I would say four or five.
Ohio State rules the roost with Texas Tech and Bowling Green rounding out the top three.
I used to like Maryland and Tennessee more than I do now,but I have lost interest in ACC Football (excepting Wake Forest,who runs some option football and I like Jim Grobe,the coach there) and the hiring of Lane Kiffin at Tennessee hurt my interest in the Vols.

What conferences do I watch the most other than the Big Ten?

Big Ten football is the conference that I watch the most of,but I also watch the occasional MAC game when I can and I love the Mountain West conference as well.
The Big 12 South division games are usually high on the list as I was a big fan of the late Southwest Conference and the divisional games there brings back such good memories.

Finally,Not counting the Browns and Seahawks,what NFL teams can you root for?

This is easy,but convoluted.
Lets break down the tiers like this with the Browns and Seahawks at the top.

2) Teams that I usually hope to see win unless they play the top two
Saints,Packers,Chiefs,Titans (until Jeff Fisher leaves) and Jets (until Rex Ryan leaves)

3) Teams that I can root for,but are kinda blah for me
Colts,Cardinals,Falcons,Texans,Bills,Raiders,Lions,Rams

4) Teams that I don't hate,but rank under tier three
Chargers,Vikings,Bengals,Panthers,Jaguars,Buccaneers,Bears

5) Teams I dislike
Eagles,49ers,Broncos,Giants,

6) Teams I hate
Cowboys,Dolphins,Redskins,Patriots,,Steelers.

7) Worst of the worst
Ravens

Back later with a look at either the Rose Bowl or the Browns-Jaguars unless news on the status of Eric Mangini comes in.

Photo Credits
Barnes:BGSUFalcons.com
Berry:Harry How-Getty Images

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mike Leach


I begin the long process of using the next three days to catch back up from being down sick.
I hated being away with all of the things around that I wanted to write about,but I had to use my energy to be able to go to work,as much as I would have rather been writing....

I have been unsure on what to think of this Mike Leach firing at Texas Tech.
I have seen and heard so much information that seems to contradict both sides that one could see their head spinning,but I do know this-Texas Tech has proven one thing-they truly are not committed to being a Big 12 power.
Oh,I believe that Tech wants to win and make bowl games as that makes the school money,but the price of dealing with a Mike Leach isn't worth the difference in going to a larger bowl when they can save and go to the smaller bowl games.
After all,the Raider fan is a loyal one and they will travel to whatever game that Tech plays in,no matter how minor.

I am a CNA,but make no claims on how to properly deal with concussions from a medical standpoint and other than suffering two,I would not say that I know anything more than how it affected me.
I do know that I was tired,wanted a quiet,dark place and felt generally out of sorts,so there it seems that Leach could have been on the right track.
But he still was either making an amateur diagnosis or punishing Adam James and in either case seems to have been making a mistake.
Now whether the error was a mistake or a deliberate punishment seems to be the biggest question.

I suppose it depends on whom you believe Mike Leach or Craig James,but I also feel that James used his position at ESPN to tip the scales of public opinion in favor of his son.
Please also excuse me for scoffing as a man that was paid (one of many to be fair) during his college career to the point of his school being the only school ever to receive the "death penalty" being put up as a bastion of credibility.
Put ESPN's behavior in the matter aside for another column because they showed all the journalistic credentials of the National Midnight Star in this entire affair.

The truth likely is in there somewhere in the middle.
Did Mike Leach get tired of a lazy,soft player that had a father bugging him all the time?Yep.
Would Mike Leach have minded a bit if Adam James left his program? Likely not.
Is it possible that Leach was trying to hassle James more than he would another player to get him to move on?
Possibly.
Did he take things to an extreme beyond what is reasonable to expect?
Maybe,but the facts are ambiguous and we will likely never know the complete and entire truth.

In case,fans of Red Raider football as I have been for over 30 years now are realizing that the days of Texas Tech as a legitimate Big 12 contender are likely finished.
Considering the location of Tech and the issues that the Red Raiders have to face in recruiting the state against both in and out of state powerhouses,Texas Tech appears to be on the long term slide,although it may take a year or two to see those results.
As far as the new coach goes,I usually am against the hiring of an assistant that has never been a head coach for a BCS job like Texas Tech,but after seeing defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill in the Alamo Bowl win over Michigan State,I would have fewer concerns than usual with a McNeill hiring.
Not because of anything that he did in the game,because he took gambles that he would have likely never taken in a game that wasn't an audition,but because he seemed like a genuinely nice and caring human being in his pre and post game interviews with Heather Cox (Points to ESPN for using our favorite sideline reporter more during bowl week this year).
McNeill looks to me to be the type of coach that cares about his players as people and I came away impressed with him in my first time seeing him speak.
Does that mean that I think he will be successful?The odds are against him,but I would not be against giving him his shot.


For more insight on the whole Raider situation,click here to visit Double T Nation for all the information that you could want on the new coach at TT.

Photo Credits
Leach:Sam Greenwood-Getty Images
McNeill:RedRaiders.com