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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cleaning out the Inbox

Time for some more cleaning of the inbox as we discuss various notes that pile up for the periodic posts such as these.

Still no announcement of the 2011 Hagerstown Suns schedule as we are a matter of hours from October.
This never seems to miss as the most delayed announcement of the year..

The Pirates clinched the top pick in next years draft on Tuesday.
The Bucs have lost 101 games,but will be able to add another (we hope) impact player to the system.
The early leader for the pick looks like Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon,although Rendon's recent broken ankle will certainly be worth keeping an eye on.


Our friend Wooden takes a look at his trip this year to the Appalachian League at his world of baseball blog.The Appy league is an appealing one for the autograph crowd between the assortment of teams that arent in the SAL or Carolina leagues and the lack of competition for signatures.
Considering a Appy run for our trip next year for sure.

I know I am well behind on things,but I still need to post on Day two of our trip this year to Cleveland and Lake County.
It is on the list,I promise.

ESPN.com's Page two segment has two interesting items on tap.
The infamous 1971 "Gator Flop" looks at that and the game between Florida and Miami.


The other looks at the "Superteams" tug of war between the Steelers and Vikings.
Superteams was an offshoot of the Superstars series in the seventies.
Considering the wages paid today and possible injury,I bet you will never see stuff like this again!

ESPN's Jaime Diaz also writes about Jack Nicklaus at 70 and how Tiger Woods and his issues have brought greater appreciation to the Golden Bear.
Nicklaus should have been held above Woods to begin with and not just on his marital woes either as we wrote over two years ago.....

Finally,Jason Christensen sends us this note on his encounter with Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter.
"Bruce Sutter works for the Phillies now. I saw him in Syracuse last Sunday, he came over and signed. I had a 1981 Topps card when he played for the Cubs he signed I told him thank you and this is what he said to me "I don't mind signing but don't throw eight items in my face and double dip me. I will sign one for everybody." I thought that was cool because one I am surprised he signed and two he took the time to come over to sign making sure everybody got one. He was better than the Lehigh Valley players!"

Reviewing the tape-Seattle holds off San Diego

The Seattle Seahawks held off the late "charge" of the San Diego Chargers to hang onto a 27-20 win at Qwest Field last Sunday as Earl Thomas intercepted Phillip Rivers in the end zone with seconds remaining to seal the win.
The 2-1 Seahawks travel to St.Louis this Sunday against the Rams before using their bye in Week five.
Could Seattle be 3-1 going into their bye and possibly set themselves up for an NFC West title?

Puget Sounds

1) Yes,I realize talking division title is WAY premature,but hear me out for just a second.
The NFC West is pretty weak with the 49ers losing their first three games and having Alex Smith at quarterback,the Rams are going through the expected growing pains with Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson is banged up and the Cardinals lost several key players from last season (Warner,Boldin,Dansby etc) to the point of using Derek Anderson (?) as their starter.
9-7 might just get the division done.
If Seattle gets through November at 5-6 or better,things look pretty good as the schedule's final five games sees Carolina,Atlanta and St.Louis at home and San Francisco and Tampa Bay on the road.
Only Atlanta is a game that looks to be a really tough matchup and the other four are pick'ems at worst.

2) This was a boring game to watch for the first half,but the second half had about all you could ask for in a football game.
Seattle kept giving the Chargers chance after chance to stay in the game,until finally Earl Thomas ended the contest with an interception.
Joe Haden has played well for the Browns and T.J. Ward has been well worth his second round selection,but Thomas would have been nice to see in Orange.

3) Leon Washington's two kick return touchdowns accomplished two things other than the 14 points that he provided.Keeping the Seattle offense off the field was a good thing with some of the mistakes that have been shown this season,but the other was the extra confidence that is beginning to develop in the special teams.

4) The game also featured some unusual plays that didn't go Seattle's way such as Deion Branch's almost touchdown that turned into Charger ball after the ball was fumbled through the end zone.
A veteran receiver should know better than the lightweight carry of Branch.

5) The other was the sorry clock management that saw the team unable to get off a chip shot field goal attempt before the clock ran out before halftime.
Those three points would have come in quite handy in the fourth quarter that saw San Diego rally.

6) Matt Hasselbeck threw a touchdown and a pick,but boy the pick was a bad one.
A toss to the goal line to Mike Williams that would have Williams badly out of position to make the play-IF he was a corner.The type of passes that you dont expect a veteran to make or maybe it is the type of pass that a fast fading veteran makes....

7)  Seattle lost its best defensive lineman in Brandon Mebane,best corner in Marcus Trufant and linebacker Aaron Curry as well,but two veterans that really stepped up in this one were Red Bryant on the line and safety Lawyer Milloy.
I suspected Bryant might be on his way to a solid year back in the pre-season,but Milloy's play has been outstanding for a player looking to be close to the end.

8) Kudos as well to defensive end Chris Clemons,who rushed off the end and usually around Charger tackles all afternoon.
That type of rush will enable more attention to Clemons and less help from a guard on Brandon Mebane.

9) The Seahawks offensive line has been playing well enough,but is about to get better as first rounder Russell Okung returns from an ankle injury.
Huge upgrade to the line.

10) Finally,the Hawks added some depth to the receiving corps with the signing of well traveled Brandon Stokley.
Not sure how much Stokley has left,but we shall see....

Photo Credits-Otto Greule Jr.-Getty Images

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Reviewing the tape-Browns fall in Baltimore

I finally have caught up on a long term sleep problem with a 12 hour run,so hopefully this means more time to post and have things where they should be.
I have also decided in order to save time and hopefully to be able to work on other posts that I will be skipping the Ohio Sate demolition of Eastern Michigan.
Buckeye recaps will return next week.

For the third week in a row,the Browns held leads in the second half and for the third week in a row,they lost that lead.
This time the victor was the hated Baltimore Ravens,who escaped with a 24-17 win over the visiting Browns.Peyton Hillis was the star of the game with 144 yards rushing against the vaunted Raven defense.
Cleveland returns to Lake Erie for the first of a two game homestand against the Cincinnati Bengals before hosting the Atlanta Falcons the following Sunday.

Brownie Bits

 1) This game came down to one thing among many-the inability of Eric Wright to cover Anquan Boldin.Eight catches for 144 yards and all three of the Baltimore touchdowns were Boldin catches with Wright chasing Boldin in futility.

2) I don't think Wright is as bad as he looked,but the Browns are carrying just three corners with Wright,Sheldon Brown and Joe Haden,so there is no option to replace Wright.
Why this team has four tight ends on the roster and just three corners makes zero sense to me.
3) Two plays to me made the difference in this game other than anything that included Anquan Boldin.
Number one was on the first play of the game when T.J.Ward would have walked into the end zone with a pick of Joe Flacco and the Browns could have put the Ravens on their heels early.
That was a seven point loss in a game lost by seven.

4) The other goes down to offensive coordinator Brian Daboll,who on a third and two and the Browns on what proved to be their final drive,threw the ball down the field on a sideline pattern that Wallace threw far out of bounds.
One part of this is that Wallace struggles so much with throwing anything above 15 yards and is even worse throwing to the sidelines and you call that play?
The other is that Baltimore hasn't stopped Peyton Hillis all day and here is your chance to use him on third down and you call that play?
That play call is THE indictment on why Brian Daboll needs to be replaced as the offensive coordinator.

5) Peyton Hillis was the first Brown ever to rush for over 100 yards against the Ravens and generally bullied the bully on the ground.
One would think that Hillis entrenched himself as the top notch runner over the injured Jerome Harrison,who will return this week,but remember Eric Mangini likes to play these little games with which runner will get more carries and never tips his hand from week to week.
In other words,if you have Harrison on your fantasy roster,I wouldn't get rid of him quite yet.

6) One thing that is clear about Seneca Wallace-he isn't using the wide receivers enough.
I know that Mohammed Massaquoi is far from a true number one wideout,but on this team,he is just that and to throw one pass his way?
The pass catchers are weak,but to refuse to throw to them at all makes you very easy to stop.

7) The above said-the Browns made no moves in the downtime to upgrade the receivers and they are paying the price for the lack of attention to upgrading.

8) Looking at the game,the Browns and Rob Ryan blitzed a bit too much.
I understand that the Browns only hope to generate a pass rush is to blitz from various positions,but Ryan needed to dial that back a bit when you consider the issues with Eric Wright.

9) The final killer was Matt Roth jumping offsides on the drive that ended the game.
Baltimore had to convert on the third down or punt and give the Browns a final chance for the tie,but Roth jumped offsides and basically ended the game.

10) D'qwell Jackson was placed on the IR and will miss the season with another pectoral muscle injury.Tough break for Jackson,who will likely be elsewhere in 2011.

11) The Browns signed another receiver after Jackson going on the IR using the open roster spot on former Patriot Sam Aiken.
Which gives them another wideout to ignore.....

Photo Credits:

Ward-Doug Kapustin/MCT
Hillis-Evan Vucci-AP Photo

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sometimes the nicest thing to say

can be to say little or nothing.
So in that vein,I'll say little (for now) about the Pirates 100th loss of the season.
However,I still think things are on the upswing,despite the major league teams issues.
Slowly,players with more talent are progressing through the system and with some luck,we should see a bit of improvement in 2012.
Yes,2012,not 2011.
Most of the players that would have been helpful from this years Indianapolis team have already arrived,so don't look for a ton of help next season,although a surprise or two isn't out of the question.

Most of the really talented prospects this year were at High A Bradenton and short season State College,with a few hopefuls sprinkled in at AA Altoona and Low A West Virginia,so most of the future difference makers are a year away at minimum,although a few of the pitchers at Altoona could make the team with a fast start/excellent spring considering the state of the Pirate rotation and the likelihood of Zach Duke being non-tendered for arbitration.

Just try to be optimistic,as hard as that is to do and think of better times down the road.
Looking at the Pirates right now,that is the only thing to do.

Bullpen Notes

The complete broadcast of Game seven of the 1960 World Series is found in Bing Crosby's wine cellar.?
MLB Network has plans to broadcast the game over the winter and I am sure MLB will release it on DVD in time for Christmas.

Two more thoughts on this- One,I bet that is one interesting wine cellar to go through.all things considered.
Two-Which person did more to make Pirate fans happy in 2010-Bing Crosby or Bobby Crosby?

Baseball affiliation fever ended with Kansas City moving their Low A squad from Burlington to Kane County with Oakland being forced to take Burlington.
The Athletics also were the last team standing in short season and will be the new team with Vermont.

The other move was Baltimore leaving Bluefield in the Applachian League,which ended an affiliation between the two that started in the Eisenhower administration.
No problems for the Appy circuit though as Toronto swooped in and grabbed the Bluefield team for their system.
You may remember the Appy problems a few years back with the Blue Jays leaving Pulaski and leaving the league a team short and Pulaski without a team for one season........

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pigskin Pickin Machine

The machine starts whirring this week with Ohio State vs Eastern Michigan,
College football has its mismatches often,but this one looks pretty bad with the number two team in the land against a team that has lost fifteen games in a row.
The only questions in this one are these-Why is this an ABC game and how long will it take before ABC/ESPN switches to another game in progress?
Name your score....

The game of the week looks like number one ALABAMA (done in full Keith Jackson voice) traveling to number ten Arkansas and power armed Ryan Mallett.
Upset alert as the Bama defense is still jelling as a unit after a huge graduation hit,although the big question is just how many points the Hogs will need to pull this one out.

Our Picks
Ohio State over Eastern Michigan 56-7
Alabama over Arkansas 33-24


The NFL features three games after a week that saw me forget a game of the week last time out.


The Browns (0-2) limp into Baltimore with another week of Seneca Wallace,a limping Jerome Harrison and an anemic passing attack against "Murderin" Ray Lewis and a pissed off group of whiny Ravens (1-1),who apparently blame the refs for their loss to the Bengals,conveniently forgetting the help from the arbiters in week one against the Jets.
Slim hope for Browns fans is that Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense has struggled and the Browns D has been solid in both losses..

The (1-1) Seahawks host the (1-1) Chargers after both teams reversed their fortunes in week two from their openers.
Ryan Mathews looks to be out or at least slowed by an ankle injury against a Seahawks defense that has been solid against the run.
Seattle will need to avoid the dumb turnover (hear me,Matt Hasselbeck?) and use Justin Forsett more often to keep a explosive San Diego offense off the field.

The game of the week looks like the Monday night matchup between the undefeated Packers and Bears.Looks like a shootout between Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler,although the inconsistent Cutler could determine just much fun this game is.
This one may come down to which team is able to run the football better and that favors the Bears..

Our Picks
Ravens over Browns 24-10
Chargers over Seahawks 30-17
Packers over Bears 35-24

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reviewing the tape-Broncos buck Seahawks 31-14

This won't be the greatest review of the tape that I have ever written for the Denver Broncos 31-14 win over the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday.
Keep that in mind,please.
Seattle hosts the Chargers this Sunday...

Puget Sounds

1)  This game turned early as the Seahawks marched down the field after taking the kickoff and put the ball in the end zone on a six yard Justin Forsett dash.
A holding penalty on Sean Locklear took the score off the board and the first of Matt Hasselbeck's three misfires enabled the Broncos to escape unscathed.

2) That started things rolling,but Denver was forced to punt following a few first downs.
Rookie Walter Thurmond misplayed the punt and Denver recovered at the Seattle 13.
Denver scored a quick touchdown and things were on their way.
Rookie mistake by the Oregon corner,which one can overlook until it becomes a habit.
Thurmond should have simply allowed the ball to bounce out of bounds,which it almost certainly would have done...

3) Matt Hasselbeck's three picks made me want to see more of Charlie Whitehurst.
I am not saying that I am calling for a change at the starter,but considering the cost of acquiring Whitehurst and the lopsided game,this would have been a nice time to get a few snaps in for the former Clemson Tiger.

4) Linebacker Leroy Hill injured his Achilles tendon and according to Pete Carroll "will miss a significant amount of time".
That's unfortunate,but should help the Seahawks see just what they have in Aaron Curry and David Hawthorne,who will not only receive more snaps without Hill in the rotation,but can gauge what they have learned without Hill around as well..

5) Golden Tate made his debut in Denver and looked sharp with a long pass reception and two nice punt returns.
Tate should be installed as the full time punt returner and needs to see more than garbage time as a pass catcher.

6) Please quit wasting carries on Julius Jones and get more carries for Justin Forsett.
Thanks

Sorry,so short,but this really was a scan and stop process for this week....

Photo Credits;Doug Pensinger-Getty Images

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I never liked Tea to begin with!


As a pretty close to centrist Democrat,I was one of the many that supported some/most of the Barack Obama agenda in the 2008 campaign.
I voted for the ticket,mainly because I thought (and time has not proven me incorrect) that Sarah Palin was/is an unqualified show horse to be the Vice President of our country.
Especially when you consider the health issues that the GOP Presidential candidate has suffered through in the past,Palin paled in comparisons to other Republican candidates,let alone her general election opposition.

Anything other than a Democratic vote in Maryland is generally a waste of time,but regardless I'll be trudging to the voting booth (or open computer stand ) anyway.
The Democrats have dropped the ball in their attempts to make any changes that have turned the economy around and health care,while a nice effort was your usual "lets try to please everyone and therefore please no one" mish mosh of a bill.
Health Care didn't go far enough and yet the state of the bill in general will sting just as many of those as it will help.
So trust me,despite being a Democrat,I am far from in their corner for this one.

Tough to switch to the other side either,when you consider most of the red team helped to start this poor climate to being with and bringing them back into power would likely be more of the same.
Then again,maybe not-as the Fox News created "Tea Party Movement",which sounds more like a classical dance step than an actual political group has suddenly begun to bounce GOP veterans from nominations for offices ranging from Governor,Senator and Congressman.
Noted Republican linchpins such as Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Bob Bennett of Utah were tossed from their Senate seats and other stalwarts such as Rep.Mike Castle of Delaware were upset losers in races for the Senate or Governor against Tea Party opposition.

What do many of these candidates believe in?
It seems like much of their problems are that Americans are overtaxed and something about needing to take our country back.
It isn't made clear where our country went,who took it away and where it went,it needs to be returned,much like when you buy a food processor and need to return it to the store apparently.

I don't like paying taxes.
I cannot believe anyone does and I surely did not turn down any of the stimulus checks that were sent my way in the Bush years.
I also would love having more money in my pocket,but the TPM seems to believe that no taxes would be a great idea.
In that vein (this will be a simplistic idea,since that seems to appeal to the TPM),I'll offer the revolutionary (I figured since Tea Party is their term of choice from the American Revolution,they would get the pun) idea for our country and offer this plan for any and all.

You never pay another tax or wage again.
Sign a waiver and you get every penny that you work for the rest of your life.
Sound good?
In return, you have no police service,no fire service,ineligible for social security,medicare,etc.
Everything you use,you pay for privately.
Want to use the roads to get around?,Well, that's a yearly fee.
Want to enjoy a public park? Admission please.
Taxes pay for those and since you are not paying those,you pay a la carte.
Since government is so terrible,you don't have to participate if you choose not to.
The flip side is you get none of the things that are taken for granted.
Ready to make that trade?
Didn't think so......

Pretty simplistic,I know,but so is Sarah Palin,so we need to make things simple.
This country has major issues and this constant back and forth from both parties that we need "change " in Washington and in state offices seems to accomplish little.
How about a little stability?
Pick a side,it matters none=Red or Blue.
Pick one and lets allow them to see what they can do,quit obstructing and lets see what happens.
After a realistic chance is given (2 years is not enough time),then we can start hearing about change again.
Without some true courage from members of both sides of the fence,nothing can ever change.

I have doubts that anyone from the Tea Party has that kind of courage or flexibility to fairly participate in a movement of that magnitude.
As for me,I have always hated Tea anyway...

Cleaning out the Inbox



Time for some cleaning of the inbox,where random issues build up and await my thoughts here.
I will be bringing the Seahawks loss to Denver to work this evening (Yes,more overtime) and hope to have a reviewing the tape of the game here tomorrow..

Yes,I know Pirate coverage has been light here recently,especially considering a four game winning streak,but it really hasn't been my fault.
September games really drag with the expanded rosters and they just haven't been getting finished in time for me to take the tape to work with me.

The Devils opened up pre-season play in Philly last night with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Flyers.
I watched a little of it,taped all of it (the fights must be take care of after all) and saw the the last goal by Jamie Langenbrunner.
Adam Mair (trying to make the team as a free agent) and Dainius Zubrus (trying to see where he will be playing opening night) scored the other Devil tallies.
The Devs play the Rangers at MSG tomorrow night with no word on TV coverage...

The Devils are experimenting with Ilya Kovalchuk at right wing joining Zach Parise and Travis Zajac on what could be one of the top lines in the NHL.
Training camp is the time to work on these things and even if it just helps on chemistry,the Devils should at least improve the power play at worst.

Still no word on the Hagerstown Suns 2010 schedule,but a reader sends me this note of Augusta's announcement,which sees the Greenjackets coming to the Hub City twice this season.
Glad to see the Giants affiliate coming to town twice this season after last years one and done early in the year that meant no team set available for the Greenjackets.

The Suns did get a few columns of publicity in the Herald-Mail in which the team claims that they want renovate the Muni (Good idea) both on the field and in the stands and bring more outside events to the stadium.
The more the stadium is used,the revenue brought in increases and no,the Chili cookoff doesn't count.
Watch the crowd size if the Suns bring the McMahon WWE gang to the Muni once a summer like the Frederick Keys used to do.
Concerts,high school games and HCC games all are events that could be brought to the stadium.
Bruce Quinn seems like a promotional type,here is hoping that Quinn and his group brings legitimate events (and giveaways for game nights) to the Muni rather than Will Smith's plunger night!

Want one change that I would make to the Muni?
Figure out a way that fans don't have to miss two innings of the game in order to buy a food item!
Short of a long term renovation,the concession stands are always going to be a tough sell,but I do have a short term solution-more vendors walking through the stands as the game goes on with a few basic items like hot dogs,drinks etc.
Not only would some people get to see more of the game,it would also keep more employees moving instead of standing.

Jason Christensen sent me a note last night with word that the Nationals are moving their New York/Penn league squad to Auburn NY from Vermont.
Auburn had previously been affiliated with Toronto before the Jays switched to Vancouver as their short season team....

Finally,A rematch of 2009's arguable fight of the year with Paul Williams finally agreeing to meet WBC Middleweight champ Sergio Martinez in a rematch.
Williams won a narrow split decision that could have went either way ( I scored it for Martinez by a point) and proved to be much more exciting than expected.
My issue is Williams insistence that the fight be at a "catchweight" of 157 pounds.
This recent phenomenon is one that Boxing really doesn't need with there already being far too many weight classes.
Do we really need divisions within divisions???
Paul,the Middleweight division is from 154-160 lbs,if you want to fight in that division,weigh within the confines of the division.
If you feel a 160 pound opponent has too much of an advantage against you,then maybe you shouldn't be fighting there.
The bout will be on November 20th from Atlantic City on HBO.

I may be back later with a political thought or two with the return of bullpen notes....

Photo Credits
Oscar:Unknown
Battlin' Bob:Ryan Heimberger

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reviewing the tape-Buckeyes bob Cats

The game was as exciting as the score indicates as Ohio State waltzed to a 43-7 victory over Ohio U.
Terrelle Pryor threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in the win,
Next week features Eastern Michigan in a game that looks to be just as thrilling to watch.

Buckeye Leaves

1) When the most exciting thing to happen in the game was a mascot fight,it was a dull contest.


2) Terrelle Pryor hit sixteen straight passes in a row in the first half,but his late first and early second half interceptions both were downfield and into double coverage.
Just goes to show that despite his progress,Pryor still has a way to go as a passer.

3) Still more special team issues as Julian Posey (DeVier's brother) returned a kickoff for a touchdown,but a penalty called it back.
I sometimes wonder how many "called back" touchdowns on returns would have happened had the play been a "clean one" to begin with?
In any case,still things to be refined there...

4) Five turnovers for the defense showed the dominance,but Ohio made it easier with their refusal to play Boo Jackson at quarterback.
Jackson played very well for the Bobcats in their game with OSU two years ago and threw Ohio's only score late in the game.

5) Cameron Heyward is the best defensive lineman in the game and I would wager he wins the Lombardi trophy this year in Houston.
Simplistic statement,I know,but I cannot imagine a lineman better than Heyward.

6) ABC must be thrilled to be showing the OSU-Eastern Michigan game this week,
Eastern Michigan has lost its last 15 games.
This one looks to be a name your score until Jim Tressel decided to wave the white flag on the offense...

Photo Credit
Marvin Fong-Cleveland Plain Dealer

Monday, September 20, 2010

Browns fail to make adjustments,lose to Chiefs

The Cleveland Browns held a halftime lead for the second week in a row against a less than powerful opponent and allowed the game to slip away in a 16-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the home opener for Cleveland.
Cleveland visits Baltimore next Sunday in what looms to be a difficult game with the Ravens spending much of yesterday and today whining about poor officiating in their loss to the Bengals.

Brownie Bits

1) Cannot blame the defense and Rob Ryan for this defeat with Kansas City only managing three field goals against them.
I thought that some players showed improvement (more below) and right off hand I cannot think of a defender that had a bad game other than Kenyon Coleman's bad roughing the passer call in the fourth quarter.

2) Two bad calls that had an impact on the loss,but despite their importance,I wont blame the loss on them.
I thought Thomas Jones was stopped short on the final fourth and one that allowed the Chiefs to run the clock out,but those plays just had too many bodies in front of the camera for there to be a realistic chance of a replay reversal.

3) The other call?
Well,I thought that it was pretty clear that Jerome Harrison's first quarter fumble was caused by his elbow hitting the ground.
That handed Kansas City three points in a two point loss.

4) I have been a proponent of Jerome Harrison getting more touches ever since he became a Brown,but yesterday Harrison just had a poor game.
The calls for Harrison tended to be between the tackles and some off tackle runs should be mixed in,but Harrison just was ineffective in the loss.

5) Seneca Wallace was what he brought to the table with the Seahawks.
Nothing special and his poor decision making handed the Chiefs their only TD.
Those that wanted to see Wallace after Jake Delhomme's outing in Tampa pretty much got what they are going to get from the former Seahawk.

6) Wallace's long TD to Josh Cribbs was a nice throw,but otherwise the passing game was stagnant.
Three passes thrown to Mohammed Massaquoi and two to Brian Robiskie aren't enough passes to your starting wide receivers.

7) I watched every game that Brian Robiskie played at Ohio State and the Browns aren't using him properly.
Robiskie doesn't have the speed to be running straight fly routes,yet the Browns seem to run him on those routes every time.
Robiskie needs to be running slants and posts and the teams would be playing to his strengths with those play calls.

8) The offensive line was a bit below average yesterday.
John St.Clair was his usual horrible self,but Joe Thomas was tabbed with a bad holding call and Alex Mack's personal foul call was a backbreaker and poor decision on his part.
When your top linemen aren't playing well,things are not going to go smoothly.

9) T.J. Ward was terrific and looks to be a keeper.
I wasn't thrilled with Ward as the teams second round pick,but his first two games look to be proving me wrong,especially with ten solo tackles yesterday and Joe Haden looked pretty sharp on the corner as well.

10) Marcus Benard had a sack,but Ahtyba Rubin continues to impress at nose tackle.
I'll keep pounding on this horse,I still believe Rubin and Shaun Rogers on the field at the same time will prove to be very effective.

11) Simply put,this team looks befuddled in the second half offensively.
Zero points scored and other than the fumble by Peyton Hillis in Tampa,zero scoring threats.
Keeping Eric Mangini might not have been a smart move,but allowing Brian Daboll to stay as offensive coordinator looks to be the first awful decision by Mike Holmgren in his tenure as the leader of the franchise.
I can at least say that I was against that decision from day one.

12) I wrote in the preview that the Browns needed at least a split of their first two games to avoid a catastrophic start.
They didn't get that start and here comes the wave of playoff contenders-at Baltimore,Cincinnati and Atlanta at home before games in Pittsburgh and New Orleans before the bye week.
Care to tell me which of those games they win?
After the bye week brings New England and New York Jets to town,want to pick the Browns over either of those teams?
That takes us to November 21 and 28 before the Browns have games that (on paper) look to be even a possibility of winning with games in Jacksonville and home against Carolina.
0-9 is looking very doable for the Browns.
Photo Credits
Fan:John Kuntz-Cleveland Plain Dealer
Ward:Chuck Crow-Cleveland Plain Dealer

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pigskin Pickin Machine

The pickin machine returns this week with more picks for you to place your money down or totally ignore at your leisure.

Ohio State hosts Ohio U. in Columbus in the first what should be two lopsided home wins over MAC teams.
The 1-1 Bobcats do run the option,which Navy used to give the Buckeyes fits last season,but anything other than a disaster sees the Buckeyes up big and lots of action for backup quarterbacks Joe Bauserman and Ken Guiton.

This weeks game of the week features number six Texas traveling to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech.
Most of you know that short of the Buckeyes,Texas Tech has been a favorite of mine since 1974 (Long story) and Tech wins over Texas are the Double T equivalent to OSU wins over michigan.
This will be the first test for new coach Tommy Tuberville with the Red Raiders after wins over SMU and New Mexico.
Tech still throws the ball far more than the average Baylor Bear,but Baron Batch and Eric Stephens have become a larger part of the offense.
Texas is attempting to run the ball more without Colt McCoy,so this could come down to the Tech defense against the Longhorn running game.
BTW-Kudos to Tuberville for using the 1970's white helmets against New Mexico,they were awesome and whether used on an occasional basis or for good,those look super sharp!

Predictions
Ohio State over Ohio 56-10
Texas over Texas Tech 43-38

The Browns host the Kansas City Chiefs in one of the two winnable games on the early schedule before the sked toughens up.
The problem is the Chiefs looked a lot easier before their opening win over the favored Chargers last Monday night.
Add to that Kansas City's motivation after allowing about a thousand rushing yards to Jerome Harrison in last years loss to the Browns,Romeo Crennel returning to Cleveland and Seneca Wallace likely getting the start for the Brownies and one thinks that this is not going Cleveland's way.
The Chiefs looked awfully sharp against a Charger team that is far superior to Cleveland.
The Browns will have to run the ball a ton and control the clock to win a game that looked easier 10 days ago than now...

Seattle visits former division rival Denver in what suddenly looks to be a possible win.
I don't want to put too much on the win over the 49ers,but Denver did lose to Jacksonville and Kyle Orton is a erratic passer to be sure.
Considering the Seattle run game,Matt Hasselbeck will have to in form for Seattle to win this game in Denver.
Look for Denver to use Orton and the short passing game to lead Denver in this one...

Our picks
Chiefs over Browns 24-14
Broncos over Seahawks 24-21

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Baseball affiliation hopscotch


In what looks to like a surprising move until you dig below the surface,the Atlanta Braves have left their affiliation in Myrtle Beach in order to move to Lynchburg and base their Carolina League team in Virginia.
The move was surprising to me,as Myrtle Beach being the closest team in the CL to Atlanta and was considered Braves country.
It is quite a coup for Lynchburg with the amount of Braves fans in the area from their long tenure with Richmond as the Braves AAA affiliate and should help pick up attendance some for the Hillcats.

Considering the location and recent ballpark renovation in Myrtle Beach,it doesn't appear that Atlanta gained much,but the Braves apparently didn't have much choice as the Pelicans owner Chuck Greenberg initiated the move.
Greenberg recently bought the Texas Rangers and wanted the Pelicans to be affiliated with his squad,so Myrtle Beach will be with the Rangers.

Kinston and Potomac announced deals to stay with the Indians and Nationals respectively and ended the Carolina League affiliate dance with only the following changes-the Braves in Lynchburg,the Rangers entering the CL in Myrtle Beach and the Reds looking to be the odd team out and looking to be stuck in the California League.

The South Atlantic League looks to be standing pat as the only two Low A teams in all of the minors that have not renewed deals are your Hagerstown Suns and the Kane County Cougars.
That leaves just Washington and Oakland available and it would make no sense for either team to swap and it likely is just a formality keeping both teams in their current affiliations...

The Eastern League will be the same as last season,although there could be a few changes in the short season New York/Penn league as there are a few teams not locked in for 2011.....

Reviewing the tape-Seahawks pan Niners in Carroll debut

Spent the afternoon reviewing the tape (or disc in this case) of the Seahawks 31-6 thumping of the San Francisco 49ers and was surprised at the Seahawks defense.
Not that the Hawks used a "bend but don't break" style of defense,but that they didn't break early in the game when San Francisco was moving the football and generally shut them down thereafter.Matt Hasselbeck tossed two TD's and ran for another with Marcus Trufant grabbing an errant Alex Smith pass and returning it for a score.
Seattle travels to Denver Sunday against the 0-1 Broncos.

Puget Sounds

1) Watching this game for the first quarter and a half made me question who really won this game.
San Francisco moved at will and the Seahawks mustered next to zero offense.
The reason that the score was only 6-0 when Seattle woke up?
Alex Smith,who continued to over and underthrow receivers and waste time outs due to poor clock management.
If this is the guy that is leading the team that many picked to win the NFC West,maybe the Hawks do have a shot at the division title...

2) Matt Hasselbeck started slowly with a first pass interception by Nate Clements,but finished 18 of 23 for 170 yards.
Nothing long other than the 35 yarder to Mike Williams,who just missed getting into the end zone,lots of dink and dump stuff.
Hasselbeck made his career using this style,so it suits him well,but he will need to be able to open things up a bit in different situations.

3) Seattle is definitely using the runner by committee for now.
Eight carries for Julius Jones,seven for Justin Forsett and six for Leon Washington.
Forsett finished with the most yards of the bunch and if anyone breaks from the pack,it is likely to be Forsett...

4) Mike Williams finished the game with the most catches (4) and the most targets (6).
What numbers Williams finishes with is hard to say,but Williams is being used as the number one receiver for now..

5) Eight different players caught passes for Seattle in the game.
Pretty nice job of spreading the ball around,although fantasy players likely aren't thrilled.

6) Starting guard Max Unger was injured in the game and placed on IR yesterday.
Unger's spot in the lineup will be taken by former Bengal starter Stacy Andrews,who Seattle traded for with the Eagles late in camp.
Former Hawk lineman Mansfield Wrotto was signed to replace Andrews as a backup.

7) Defensively,the secondary was the star of this game.
Released in camp and brought back at lower salary,Jordan Babineaux led the team in tackles on the day.
Babineaux can be burned occasionally on the big play,but makes plenty himself.

8)Marcus Trufant not only scored six points on a pick,he shut down Michael Crabtree (2 catches for 12 yds) for the game as well.
Trufant was hampered with injuries the last two years,but at his best,Trufant is the shutdown corner that so many teams attempt to draft every season.

9) Finally,one more secondary player with kudos.
I really liked the way safety Earl Thomas flew around the field.
Even when Thomas didn't make the play,he seemingly was around the ball on every running play.
Thomas is going to be fun to watch develop,that's for sure...

10) Give the 49ers credit for going back to their true uniforms.
Now let's hope some other teams start correcting mistakes-starting with this weeks opponent-the Broncos!

Photo Credits-Otto Greule,Jr-Getty Images

Looking at the Hagerstown Suns


A few thoughts on the 2010 Suns from the off the field side and the signing aspect.
If interested,some of the opinions on the field can be found at NationalsProspects here.

Not sure what it is about the Suns and their reluctance to issue their schedule in a timely fashion.
Other teams had theirs out weeks ago and no announcement from the Suns as of this writing.
If this was just due to the flux in the front office with the reorganization,I would overlook it,but this happens year after year.
Hopefully next season when things are in place this changes...

I realize that most people and I am sure the Suns are looking forward to the possibility of Bryce Harper being assigned here.
I am not,mainly because it will likely cause a major hassle in getting other players to sign.
I remember the issues in getting Matt Wieters and because of the crowds being able to get other members of the Keys.
Wieters was very nice,but you almost had to go on an evening and make your goal getting him to sign,because if not,it wasn't going to happen.
Harry Grove Stadium has far better infrastructure than the Muni ,so I cannot see how the Harper circus is going to be smooth in any way.
Especially when you consider that Harper's hype will far exceed that of Wieters in a less than modern facility,one cannot think this is not going to work unless advance planning is taken.

Here is hoping the new owners can use something from Harper in helping in either a new stadium arriving or a substantial renovation of the Muni.
The issue has often been a Catch22 between the city/county and the team and it usually goes like this-
County/City-Why should we help with a new stadium when you don't draw in the one you have?
Suns-We don't draw because the one we have is substandard,give us a new one and we will draw fans.
C/C-Draw fans and we will consider it.
Suns-Give us a reasonable facility and we can...
This merry go round continues forever.
The Suns should be starting the lobbying process now,so when the attendance increase happens with Bryce Harper,the team is in position to take advantage of perhaps its best situation ever....

Most of the Suns were pretty good signers this season.
Justin Bloxom had a period where he didn't seem thrilled about signing and J.P.Ramirez seemed like he grew tired of the regulars,although he was always nice to the out of towners.
I didn't need Eury Perez after he signed his team set card,but I had others tell me that he was down to a one only by the end of the season.

The others were pretty good for the most part.
Destin Hood seemed shy,but always signed and was nice to deal with.
Jeff Kobernus was very good as was Rick Hague and Marcus Jones was always really nice.
Danny Rosenbaum and Josh Smoker rank right with some of my favorites through the years and Paul Applebee was really cool as well.

All and all,a decent enough season at the Muni with few complaints from me for the most part as far as the players go.
I was planning on an end of the season look at the team (non-player wise),but I decided to not do that because the team is going through such changes that focusing on those isn't really fair to the new front office...

Reviewing the tape-Rockin the Hurricanes!


After finally getting things to somewhat normal,I will be getting the two missed game reviews up today.
I have not had many chances to watch the Pirates over the last few days,other than watching Zach Duke get lit up so quickly that it wasn't worth watching further in his start against the Mets.

Now onto the most important part of last weekend-Ohio State's 36-24 win over Miami that should have been a much larger victory,but for a few breakdowns.
The Buckeyes host the Ohio Bobcats this Saturday at noon.

Buckeye Leaves

1) Right off the bat-Ohio State is not invulnerable.
This game should have been 45-10 at worst.
Five field goals was about three too many and only two Miami drives should have been scores...

2) Special teams strikes again for the Buckeyes and again not in a positive fashion.
Two returns for touchdowns for Miami? One each for the kickoff and punt units kept a game far closer than it needed to be.
Coming a week after a blocked field goal gave Marshall their only score,this was disappointing to say the least.

3) The question that I had was why Jim Tressel even punted in the direction of Travis Benjamin in the second quarter.
Considering that to that point that the return game was all Miami had mustered,this was a less than smart call and I thought that before the kick...

4) Play of the game was early in the third period with Miami driving,Cameron Heyward grabbed another Jacory Harris pass at the three and ran 80 yards down the field to set up a Terrelle Pryor TD run-game over.

5) Terrelle Pryor looked like a junior QB should and not just on his numbers (200+ passing,100+ rushing),he was calm and didn't show the panicky signs of the past.
Only once did I see Pryor force a pass when he should have run,late in the first half,he could walked in the end zone,but forced a pass that fell incomplete.

6) Miami's Jacory Harris was talked about as a Heisman candidate before the game.
Kiss those goodbye with a bad outing and now going into the weak ACC schedule,his goose (or ibis) is cooked...

7) Devin Barclay's five field goals that tied a school record were nice,but the Buckeyes have to find a way to score more touchdowns in the red zone.
Whether the answer is more play action,more runs by Pryor around end or tougher running up the middle,this needs to be fixed before it haunts OSU down the road.

8) DeVier Posey had a great game with 4 catches and 105 yards,especially his 62 yard hookup.
Posey has to be the deep threat on this team because unless someone emerges from the younger players,I don't see anyone else that can do that role.

9) Safety C.J. Barnett was injured in the win and will miss the remainder of the season.
Tough break for Barnett,who had won the job over Orthian Johnson in camp.
Johnson will likely move into the vacated starting role....

10) Miami did little against the Buckeye defense and that was due to pass rush that didn't always sack Harris,but was always pressuring him.
Welcome back to Nate Williams,who I thought was terrific in his return to the lineup.

Photo Credits-Marvin Fong-Cleveland Plain Dealer

Monday, September 13, 2010

Not sure which was worse

First,tonight is my last night of twelve days in a row of work.
I will plan doing a reviewing the tape of the Ohio State win over Miami next and I didn't watch the Seahawks win over San Francisco yet,so that will be a "viewing" the tape for the first time.
Hope to have both of those finished by Wednesday evening.

I am not sure which was worse yesterday,the Browns losing to Tampa Bay 17-14 or just watching it period.
This game was the Browns for the taking and several factors combined to hand the victory away against what (on paper) looks to be the worst team on their schedule.
Both Browns TD's came in the first half with Jake Delhomme hitting Mohammmed Massaquoi on a 41 yard pass in the first quarter and Peyton Hillis rumbling 10 yards for the second.
Cleveland's home opener is next week against Kansas City in what is looking like a must win game....

Brownie Bits

1) Jake Delhomme threw two interceptions that were costly,but the first one at the end of the first half made the difference in the game.
The Delhomme pick to avoid a sack,not only ended a Browns drive that looked like a possible field goal attempt in the making,not only handed Tampa the touchdown that sent Tampa into halftime with Uncle Momentum.
The throw was simply a dumb decision considering the situation and looked like the type of decision that sent him from Carolina.

2) Peyton Hillis did have a touchdown,but fumbled twice and lost one and as much as I like Hillis,he needs to be the change of pace back on the team and not the main back.
The fumble at the Tampa ten ranks with the Delhomme pick with the difference make in the game.
Hillis has such potential as a punishing runner,but he better hold the ball much more securely.

3) Jerome Harrison carried just nine times and once again was chronically underused.
Bruce Dooley (a Columbus radio host) offered this on "Buckeye Blitz" Friday night and it applies to all teams for the most part- "every team has a player that fans just wonder why player X isn't playing enough considering production and yet there is always a coaches favorite that plays more and not as well.
Dooley was comparing Brandon Saine to Boom Herron,I would make the same comparison with Jerome Harrison with several backs for the Browns over the last two seasons.

4) Delhomme's pass to Massaquoi for the touchdown was well thrown,but took a little bit of luck as the Tampa safety took an odd angle to the ball and then mistimed his jump.
Give Delhomme credit for putting the ball in the right spot,but even then could have missed the play.

5) On the Delhomme pick,Ronde Barber was caught from behind by a hustling Peyton Hillis,but Barber should have scored easily.Either Barber has taken up a cigarette habit or his legs are shot.

6) T.J. Ward was excellent in his first game with ten tackles and some successful hurries of Josh Freeman on the blitz
I was very impressed with Ward and the same with Joe Haden,who despite getting beat on the game winning touchdown pass looked good otherwise.
Both these guys are keepers.

7) Nice game for Evan Moore,who made two terrific catches on a three catch 87 yard day.
Moore has excellent hands and needs to become even more of a part of the offense considering he catches the ball as if he has velcro gloves.

8) Josh Cribbs was lacking his usual impact on returns,but I thought the biggest mistake was taking a kickoff out from eight yards deep.
Cribbs almost seemed to feel the pressure to make plays that really weren't there to be made.

9) Another defensive player with a good outing was linebacker Marvin Benard.
Benard had a sack and a half and looks to be a nice fit opposite Matt Roth in passing downs.
Hopefully,Benard is rounding into form and not just taking advantage of the poor Buccaneers offensive line.

10) Brian Daboll's return as offensive coordinator was spotty at best.
Considering this team's talent and the successful end to last season,the Browns need to be run oriented and yet threw the ball all over early.
That not only didn't take advantage of your players,it also didn't help wear the Tampa defense down,which considering the elements could have happened...

11) Delhomme wasn't sacked any,but pressured on some occasions,so the offensive line did its job.
Special notice to Eric Steinbach,who flattened a Buc defender to spring Peyton Hillis for his touchdown run.

12) Kansas City is on MNF tonight,so I'll get a chance to take a look at the Chiefs.
I wrote in the preview,the importance of getting at least one of the first two games-now the heat is on to get the home opener against the Arrowheads....

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Seattle Seahawks Preview


Pete Carroll starts the Seahawks over after two disappointing seasons and one thing is for sure-this team already looks different in many spots.

Matt Hasselbeck returns as the quarterbacking starter,but considering the time that he has missed due to injury over the last few years,one has the feeling that Carroll is waiting for the inevitable injury to move Charlie Whitehurst in as the starter.
Seattle didn't trade a 3 and flip 2's with the Chargers for Whitehurst to backup Hasselbeck for the long term.
Seattle is carrying just the pair for now at quarterback,so an injury would mean an immediate sign from the free agent list.

The running back group is waiting for someone to break out.
Justin Forsett will get his chance to start,but Julius Jones will see action and Leon Washington will likely be the third down back
Special teamer Quinton Gather completes the group.
I like Forsett and think he is the best of this bunch,but time will tell...

The pass catchers took a huge hit with the loss of T.J. Houshmanzdeh,who had to be clashing with Pete Carroll,didn't like the new offensive system or both.
You cannot tell me that the veteran was not one of the top 53 players on this team.
Mike Williams looked really good in pre-season as he attempts remove himself from the draft bust list.
Often-injured Deion Branch starts on the other side for as long as he stays in the lineup.
Second rounder Golden Tate and 2009 third rounder Deon Butler are the main backups with Ben Obomanu providing the depth.
Lots of questions here between inexperience,lack of performance and injuries with this corps of receivers.

Seattle kept four tight ends with John Carlson keeping his starting job.
Carlson could have a true breakout year considering the wideouts.
Chris Baker was signed from the Jets as the main blocker with Cameron Morrah returning and sixth rounder Anthony McCoy making the team as well.

The offensive line has huge questions after a poor year last season and constant players being shipped in and out.
Russell Okung,the first rounder from Oklahoma State will miss the opener and maybe the second game at left tackle,but will start upon his return.Mike Gibson has just three games of experience but is the starter at left guard for now.
Chris Spencer,Max Unger and Sean Locklear return to make up the rest of the line,with Locklear taking a huge pay cut to stay with the team.
Veterans Tyler Polumbus and Stacy Andrews were brought over for draft picks and will see more and more action as they get familiar with the team.
Ben Hamilton and Chester Pitts are experienced players that round out the group for depth.

The defensive line has been shaken up with Chris Clemons and Red Bryant starting at each end.
Clemons replaces Darryl Tapp in a swap with the Eagles,while Bryant was moved from tackle to end.
Colin Cole and Brandon Mebane return as the tackles with Mebane being the teams best lineman.An outside pass rush from Clemons or Bryant is almost mandatory...
Veteran Raheem Brock is a nice backup signed from the Colts and former San Francisco first rounder Kentwan Balmer will be given another chance in a backup role.
Junior Siavii was claimed off waivers at the deadline and rookie E.J.Wilson along with fellow first year man Dexter Davis round out the crew.

The linebackers look strong with the return of Lofa Tatupu in the middle after an injury shortened 2009.
David Hawthorne had an excellent season in replacing Tatupu and showed so much that he was shifted to the outside linebacker to keep him in the lineup.
2009 top pick Aaron Curry starts at the other spot after an average rookie season.
Curry will need to step his game up,especially with the pass rush if the defense is to succeed.

The secondary is solid,but took a hit with the seemingly ridiculous trade of starting corner Josh Wilson to Baltimore.
Marcus Trufant returns as a top notch corner and Kelly Jennings will step in at Wilson's former position.Aging Lawyer Milloy will start at strong safety and first rounder Earl Thomas starts at the free position.
Look for rookie Walter Thurmond to push Jennings for playing time,if not take his job as the season progresses.
Big play safety Jordan Babineaux returns as a nickel back along with rookie Kam Chancellor as the possible future replacement for Milloy.

Olindo Mare and Jon Ryan are back as the kicker and punter,while Golden Tate will be returning kicks and punts.
Walter Thurmond might get a few punts and Justin Forsett will join Tate on kickoffs to start the season.

This is a rebuilding effort and I expect another down season,likely under.500.
However,the schedule isnt excessively strong,so 8-8 is possible,but I'll say 7-9.

Pickin Machine


The Pirates lost to the Reds in extra innings last night,so I didn't see the end of the game,so not much to comment on other than Homer Bailey owns the Pirates.
Bailey has so much talent,but apparently saves it for Pirate games.

If I have time look for the Seahawks preview later today,if not I'll wait until next week to post it up.

For those of you interested in my views on the Hagerstown Suns over at NationalsProspects,click here.

Time for this weekend's picks

Ohio State hosts Miami in a game that could determine the Buckeye season,as the Canes are the only legitimate non-conference threat on the schedule.
Forget the talk about 2002 and although Terrelle Pryor needs to play well for OSU,this game comes down to one simple issue-Can Ohio State pressure Jacory Harris?
If the Buckeye defensive line (and linebackers on the blitz) can pressure the less than mobile Harris and make him hurry the football and make poor decisions,Ohio State wins.
If not,this is a pickem game.
Our Pick:Ohio State 24 Miami 16

The college game of the week is a tough one as the other mainstream big games look lopsided to me.
So we go with the only game of the weekend with ranked teams against each other in a close to call game as 22nd ranked Georgia travels to 24th ranked South Carolina.
This really is a tight one,but Georgia will be without A.J.Green for the next three games.
Between Green's absence and home field for South Carolina,I give a whiskers edge to...
Our Pick: South Carolina 38 Georgia 35.

The NFL calls with the Browns traveling to Tampa.
As I wrote in the Browns preview,Cleveland needs at least one of their first two games and this one looks good with Josh Freeman having a broken thumb on his non-throwing hand.
To me,this one comes down to the running game.
The team that stops the run better wins this one and to fantasy owners that have Jerome Harrison or Cadillac Williams-Get them in your lineup!

Seattle hosts San Francisco in the Pete Carroll kickoff classic.
The Niners will look to take advantage of a Seahawk offensive line that has been overhauled,but will be missing top pick Russell Okung.
Seattle will have to key on Frank Gore,yet be wary of the short passing game as well.
Seattle's season will look at lot like this game I think and the team will need to have passing success as the Niners were excellent against the run last season.

The game of the week would have been the Saints-Vikings game,but since that is over,let's take a Monday night game with the Jets hosting the Ravens.
This has become quite the war of words between "Murderin Ray" Lewis and first Rex Ryan and then Bart Scott of the Jets.
Baltimore has become a offensive standout and suddenly has receivers to catch the ball with newcomers Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmazdeh.
The Jets haven't made upgrades on offense other than role players until Santonio Holmes arrives in week five and that is troubling.
A strong offense against a strong defense and both teams with young passers.
Should be a good one.

Our Picks
Browns over Buccaneers 20-13
49ers over Seahawks 24-20
Jets over Ravens 17-14

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cleveland Browns Preview


The Cleveland Browns look to be slightly improved going into the season,but far from a threat to contend for the playoffs.
The Browns have two winnable games to start the season with (Tampa on the road,Kansas City at home) and they had better get one of those in the win column because after those two,the schedule gets tougher as not until their game in Jacksonville on Nov 21st does a game appear that is a pickem matchup.
That is a span of seven games in between,so an 0-2 start could mean an 0-9 start would not be out of the realm of possibility.
That might mean the end of Eric Mangini as coach,I think the Browns could win the first two games,but with the caveat that they could drop both as well.


The Browns have completely revamped the quarterback position with three new passers replacing the three on the roster from 2009.
Jake Delhomme,Seneca Wallace and Colt McCoy are in with Derek Anderson,Brady Quinn and Brett Ratliff elsewhere.
Delhomme was downright awful last season as a Panther and has tons of questions,but if he is even close to past performance (other than 09),he should be an upgrade over Anderson and Quinn.
Not saying that will be the case,but it could be.
Seneca Wallace was a source of frustration of me in Seattle appearances,but Mike Holmgren loves him and a poor first five or six games for Delhomme could see Wallace as the placeholder for the remainder of the season.
I am looking forward to Wallace and Josh Cribbs running some formations together that could prove to be interested as long as the Browns allow some creativity instead of the run up the middle that so often was the call from the single wing last season.
Colt McCoy will be the third stringer and with luck will see little to no action...

Montario Hardesty's season ending injury could mean that Jerome Harrison could finally have his long deserved chance to see if he can be the full time ball carrier.
Harrison had better take advantage of it early though,but if he does not,Peyton Hillis looks to be a Mangini and (eventual) fan favorite and could get his chances.
James Davis rounds up the trio at running back with vicious blocking Lawrence Vickers the full timers at fullback with Hillis seeing time there as well....

The wide receivers look pretty similar to last season as only sixth round pick Carlton Mitchell is new to the group that ended last season.
Mohammed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie will start after inconsistent rookie seasons.
Massaquoi was the better of the two last season,but Robiskie has been reported to be sharp all summer.
Robiskie will need that improvement as a similar year to last season will likely land him on the bust list.Josh Cribbs returns as the all around threat and possession receiver (and Mangini favorite) Chansi Stuckey joins Mitchell to round out the corps.
Improvement from the second year players are mandatory or this group will definitely rank near the leagues bottom.

The Browns kept four tight ends,which seems to me to be one too many.
Ben Watson was brought in from New England to be the leader of the group.
Watson could be headed for a career season considering the wideouts in Cleveland.
Evan Moore returns as a pass catcher after a strong finish to the 2009 season,but Alex Smith was kept and both players have a similar skill set.
Look for one to go eventually once the injuries start to set in unless it is at tight end.
Rock handed Robert Royal was kept as the blocking tight end for goal line/short yardage situations,as it sure wasn't for his pass catching.

The offensive line looks similar to last season as the depth chart shows all five starters from last season starting again.Joe Thomas and Eric Steinbach rank among the games top left side of the line and Alex Mack showed All-Pro level potential at center.
The right side still has questions with Floyd "pork chop" Womack at guard and the sieve like John St.Clair at tackle.
St.Clair on the team is mildly surprising,but starting over free agent signee Tony Pashos is stunning.
Pashos and/or third rounder Shaun Lauvao could be starting on the right side before the season hits the midway point.
Steve Vallos was claimed from Seattle for depth and could see lots of action by seasons end.
Vallos can play guard and center and even tackle in a pinch and is the type of versatile lineman that all teams can use.
Billy Yates provides more depth at the interior line spots.

The defense does look improved to a degree especially in the secondary,but pass rush questions continue to plague the team.
The defensive line looks pretty similar with starters Robaire Smith,Shaun Rogers and Kenyon Coleman.
Smith was decent enough last season,but only finished with 1 and a half sacks with Coleman providing the same number from the other end.
A motivated Rogers can change things with his up the middle rush,but Rogers missed much of camp and we will see just what kind of shape he is truly in.
I liked what I saw from Ahtyba Rubin late last season and I thought Rubin on the nose and Rogers at end provided more zip to the pass rush.
You could see more of that as Rogers rounds into top shape.
Derreck Robinson and Brian Schafering provide the remaining depth.

The Browns kept eight linebackers and the group does look improved,although no real impact players were added.
Cleveland looks to be depending on a full season of Matt Roth providing a solid rush from the outside backers slot.
Roth was a difference makes in his six games as a Brown and the team needs that type of play to continue.
Scott Fujita arrives from New Orleans to man the other outside position.
Fujita is an excellent tackler and brings the "intangibles" that Mangini loves so much to the field.
D'qwell Jackson will miss some time early on,but will eventually bring his skills to the field on the inside.Veteran Eric Barton returns from injury to man Jackson's spot for now.
Former Eagle Chris Gogong will be the other starter at inside backer with another Mangini favorite David Bowens back again to see action.
Special teamers Blake Costanzo and Jason Trusnik return as special teams ace and down the roster backer depth.

The secondary looks to be much improved with three strong additions to the lineup.
Veteran Sheldon Brown was obtained from the Eagles to start at one corner with returnee Eric Wright manning the other.
Top pick Joe Haden will be the third corner for now,but with development could move Brown to safety next season.
T.J. Ward was a second round selection that will start at the free safety position with Abram Elam starting at the strong spot.
Elam was a bit of a disappointment to me last season and needs to pick his game up with Mike Adams breathing down his neck as a nickel back.Adams played safety and corner last season,but with the additions of Brown and Haden can play his more natural position of safety.
Special team stars Nick Sorensen and Ray Ventrone round the crew out....

Phil Dawson returns at kicker and Reggie Hodges replaces the injured Dave Zastadil as the punter with Josh Cribbs starring as the full time returner.

I get razzed about picking the Browns for roughly the same record every year,but this year could see another similar record.
However,I do see the team as improved,but playing a tough schedule hurts their chances.
I'll go 6-10 or 7-9 if you want to give them every close game and figure they will get one game that they shouldn't on paper...

Will try to be back tomorrow with the Seahawks preview....

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A few things...


Just a few things to catch up before taking time for (hopefully) team previews over the next two days.

The Pirates were crushed by the Atlanta Braves 9-3 as Zach Duke's string of decent starts ended at two as he fell to 7-13 on the year.
Duke lasted just an inning and Daniel McCutchen a hair more than that as Atlanta led 8-0 midway thorough the third of an unremarkable game.
The Pirates travel to Cincinnati tomorrow for the first of three games against the pennant contending Reds....

Alex Presley and Pedro Ciriaco each collected their first big league hit in the loss,which always a nice thing.
I never saw Alex Presley as a big leaguer,but give him credit for an excellent 2010 and whatever the future brings,he will always have the ball for his first big league hit....

Make sure you check out our friends over at NationalsProspects as our review of the 2010 Hagerstown Suns second half goes up tomorrow.

More on the Browns coming up,but the team waived 2009 second rounder David Veikune as Eric Mangini draft picks continue to pile up as disappointments past the first few picks.
We weren't enthused about the pick then,even less so now...

Scott Bowden does what might be his best work with his latest post over at Kentucky Fried Rasslin.
Bowden takes a look at his term in Memphis wrestling behind the scenes and captures the scene perfectly.
I highly recommend it to all old time fans and to younger readers as well for a look at the business as it used to be...


One of my favorite writers takes a shot at the rampant greed in college sports,as John Feinstein writes in the Washington Post.
Feinstein is accurate on this topic and well worth the read...

Will try to be working on Browns and Seahawks previews as well as this weeks picks and game of the week selections as well tomorrow and Saturday...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back to back


The struggling Pittsburgh Pirates managed to deliver a hit to the Atlanta Braves pennant hopes to grabbing the first two games of their three game series in Pittsburgh.
Brian Burres (3-3) allowed just one run and Neil Walker smacked a game winning homer (10) in leading a 3-1 win on Monday.
Joel Hanrahan earned his 4th save in the win.
Last night,James McDonald (3-5) dominated the Braves for seven innings and Pittsburgh cruised to a 5-0 win that sent the Braves tumbling from the top of the Eastern Division.
Delwyn Young's homer (7) and Ronny Cedeno's two run triple capped off the five run Pirate seventh to break up a scoreless game.

Zach Duke (7-12) will attempt to complete the sweep against Derek Lowe (11-12) tonight at 7:05

Pirate Hooks

1) Neil Walker's homer was a shot to deep center that landed in the landscaped area beyond center field.
Walker's hammer not only won the game,but seemed to break the Brave spirits as they came in town struggling.

2) Pittsburgh brought up some players for the roster,most notably Brandon Moss and Alex Presley.
Shortstop Pedro Ciriaco is a player that I am looking forward to seeing as well after bringing him in from Arizona.

3) Pittsburgh released Akinori Iwamura and Erik Kratz from Indianapolis.
The Iwamura experiment ended badly,but I wish Kratz could have been retained for AAA next season as he is a nice player to fall back on in case of injury.

4) James McDonald was almost untouchable in the win last night.
McDonald's 12 to 6 curveball might be the single best pitch of the Pirate starters.

5) Brad Lincoln will be pitching from the bullpen in an effort to limit his innings for the rest of the season.
Good idea on the Pirates,who will be relying on Lincoln in the rotation next season.

Hope to be working on Browns and Seahawks previews over the next few days and get them finished before Sunday.

Photo Credit-Gene Puskar-AP Photo

Monday, September 6, 2010

Morton of the same


Only Charlie Morton could allow six runs in less than four innings and have his ERA go down,but thanks to four of those runs being unearned,Morton did just that in the Pirates latest loss to Washington 8-1 on Sunday.
Pedro Alvarez hit his 11th homer for the only Pittsburgh run.
Atlanta hits PNC Park next for a series that is beginning as we speak.

Pirate Hooks

1) Very few of these because I have little to talk about,but not everything was Charlie Morton's fault for a change.
Three errors and the killer error by Garrett Jones sent the game out of control.
If Jones grabs that ball and turns into the double play that it seemed to be,things might have been far different for the Buccos..

2) Jeff Karstens looks to be finished for the season.
Karstens spot will likely go to Brad Lincoln in the rotation,which no matter the result,is needed for Lincoln's development....

3) Joe Martinez was recalled from Indianapolis.
Martinez was the other player with John Bowker that the Pirates obtained from Javier Lopez.

4) Finally,in the only good news of the day,Bill Mazeroski had his statue outside of PNC Park dedicated before the game.
Mazeroski certainly deserves the honor as the only long term Pirate still living to be in the Hall of Fame.
I had to make the distinction of long term as Goose Gossage and Jim Bunning each spent some time as a Pirate over the course of their careers.
Now,that Maz has his statue,the next step should be to honor more Pirate great with statues.
Next could be Pie Traynor or a dual statue of Paul and Lloyd Waner.
Pittsburgh baseball has such a great heritage and adding those players to the PNC area can do nothing but improve a great thing...

Photo Credit-AP Photo

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cuts,losses and more

The Pirates 9-2 loss to Washington was a rarity-I gave up on the game and watched something else (ESPN3's coverage of the WBA Middleweight title fight between Felix Sturm and Giovanni Lorenzo from Germany).
Sue me.
7-0 by the middle of the fifth does that to a person,although I didn't stop until the end of the sixth.
I did see Andrew McCutchen's homer (13),but that was about the only highlight.
Paul Maholm dropped to 7-14 after allowing all seven of the early runs.
The series concludes today with a battle of struggling pitchers as Charlie Morton (1-10) takes on Jason Marquis (1-7).
Considering Marquis has an ERA over eight and Morton's is over ten,look for lots of runs this afternoon....

Cleveland Browns fans looking for rookie Montario Hardesty to be a huge part of the running game can forget that after tearing his ACL and will miss the season.
Big loss for the Browns after moving a third and two fives for a player that will miss the season.
Hardesty was a risk going into the draft after an injury-plagued career at Tennessee.
The Browns gambled and lost.

Cleveland trimmed their roster to the limit of 53,but look for plenty of changes before the opener in Tampa.
Why? Well,they have three corners and twelve linebackers on the roster.
Some new players are coming in and some of the players currently on the team are going to leave.
The interesting names on the cut list included 5th round safety Larry Asante,corner Brandon McDonald,veteran pass catcher Bobby Engram and running back Chris Jennings,the star of last years upset win over Pittsburgh.
I am not sorry to see McDonald and his soft tackling go,although I wish Asante would have stuck,considering he was a 5th rounder and the trade of 2 other fifth rounders to move up for Montario Hardesty makes it look even worse....

The big news in Seattle is the release of T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
The release of the former Bengal means the Seahawks paid him roughly fifteen million for one season by the time all is said and done.
Mike Williams has looked super in the pre-season,but he will need to continue to do in order for this to look decent.
The remainder of the releases were pretty non-descript other than releasing J.P.Losman.
Losman isnt a huge loss,but for now that means that Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst are the only QB's on the squad.
Look for Seattle to possibly add Patrick Ramsey (cut by Saints) or maybe even Matt Leinart (released by Cardinals) to fill the final slot....

Seattle also shipped a seventh rounder (seems they are always dealing 7's) to Philadelphia for
tackle Stacy Andrews.
Andrews started for the Bengals for three years before joining the Eagles in the off-season.
The Seahawks acquired another tackle in Tyler Polumbus a few days back for a undisclosed future pick from the Lions.
Polumbus was waived by Denver,but was claimed by the Lions after the release.
Detroit was preparing to waive him and the Hawks wanted to make sure that they added their man this time....

I have been critical of female football announcer Pam Ward in the past,mainly because she is terrible,but that's beside the point.
Last nights Cincinnati-Fresno State game featured Beth Mowins,a staple of low revenue women's sports (and basketball for men and women) for ESPN for years teaming with Trent Dilfer and I thought both were very good.
Mowins called the game and deferred to Dilfer on things that she didn't know or was unsure of.
Ward often is trying so hard to show you that she knows football that she comes off screechy and overbearing.
Mowins blended into the game and told you what happened,not her thoughts-that is what the color analyst is for.
Hope to see more of the Mowins-Dilfer pair on ESPN this season.

Wish I could say the same for the halftime bunch of Wendi Nix,Todd McShay and former Buckeye Robert Smith,who come off as unprepared (Nix),self important (McShay) and downright somnambulant (Smith).
The worst studio bunch for college football that I have seen in quite a while.