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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Devils win one!

The offense still needs more production and the power play is still terrible,but the Devils used an excellent outing from Martin Brodeur and just enough offense to break their three game losing streak in Anaheim with a 2-1 win over the Ducks.
Patrik Elias gunned a one timer (2) past Jonas Hiller to break a 1-1 tie early in the third period and the Devils hung on until the wire.
Jamie Langenbrunner tied the game in the second period with his first goal of the campaign.
The Devils are in Los Angeles tonight against the Kings before getting one day off before visiting Vancouver on Monday.

Hell Raisers

1) Nice to see that Alexander Vasyunov picked up the assist on the game winning goal.Vasyunov might be helpful in this team waking up from its slumbering start.

2) I missed the game (work) as I will tonight's game,but the Anaheim radio were effusive in the praise of Marty Brodeur on the evening,although In Lou We Trust reports that the Ducks continually tried to beat Brodeur high which likely plays into Marty's hands...

3) Matt Corrente's broken hand looks to be better than the broken one suffered by Mark Fraser earlier in the year.Corrente will not need surgery and could return in ten days.
Meanwhile,Fraser was placed on the IR and be out for four to six weeks...

4) The power play continues to struggle with another zero for four night.
Wasn't the Kovalchuk signing supposed to cure some of this?It sure has not thus far.

5) That is about all I have considering a low scoring game and I didn't see it,but a win is a win and this one was desperately needed!
Hopefully,the team can build on this tonight in LA!

Pigskin Pickin Machine

The pickin machine starts poppin with Ohio State (7-1 3-1) traveling to lowly Minnesota (1-7 0-4) in a prime time matchup that ABC/ESPN has to be less than thrilled with being stuck with/
Although one could have figured that out before the season that this was going to be a stinker for the network.
I see little need for any analysis of this one-pick your score.

Texas Tech (4-3 2-3) got their badly needed road win last week over Colorado and needs to add a road win over Texas A & M (4-3 1-2) in College Station to put the Red Raiders in good shape for a bowl bid.
The problem is that this is a rivalry game and the Aggies are in the same boat as Texas Tech-needing this one badly for bowl hopes.
If anything this might be more of a must win for A & M than Tech and that says a lot..

Our game of the day goes to the Big 12 and features 6th ranked Missouri coming off an upset over Oklahoma visiting 14th ranked Nebraska.
It is going to be tough sledding for the Tigers to stay focused after the huge win over the Sooners and win in Lincoln,especially after the Huskers laid an egg in their loss to Texas.
If you want a BCS buster,root for Nebraska to take this one.
One more team to bite the dust for the BCS final to be Boise State-TCU......

Our Picks
Ohio State over Minnesota 52-13
Texas Tech over Texas A & M 24-23
Nebraska over Missouri 28-20

The Browns are off this week,so our focus goes to Seattle (4-2) ,who I know I missed another reviewing the tape.
I can almost guarantee that this weeks will happen though with one less recap to do.
Oakland (3-4) ran up huge points on Denver last week and Seattle struggles on the road,although the win at Chicago gave me some hope.
This looks like it might be a fun game to watch.
The key looks to be for the Hawks to stop the Oakland running game and make Jason Campbell beat them.

Our game of the week will be the Packers hosting the Jets.
The Jets stop everyone and come in off a bye.
The Packers cannot run the ball and will need throwing efficiently to have a chance.
It might take 50 throws from Aaron Rodgers to win this one.

Our Picks
Seahawks over Raiders 20-17
Jets over Packers 24-21

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's not getting better

Sorry to paraphrase an old Cass Elliot song in the title,but that is how I feel after what looks to be another less than strong effort by the New Jersey Devils as the Devils lost a 5-2 game to the San Jose Sharks in California.
Devils goals to David Clarkson (1) and Andy Greene (1 Power Play).
New Jersey staggers to Southern California tomorrow night for the first of back to back games against the Ducks and Kings.

Hell Raisers

1) I missed the game and a concert that I had tickets to go in and work.I know,I know,what a model employee....
Anyway,I did listen to the game via XM and the Sharks network and their announcers were praising Marty Brodeur for several tremendous stops.
In their eyes,with one exception,this one couldn't go on the back of Brodeur.

2) Things do even out as the first Devil goal with the team down 3-0 came on a screwy dump-in that hit a corner board oddly by David Clarkson and skittered by Antero Nittimaki.
Later in the game,a Joe Thornton shot in a similar fashion got by Brodeur,so things do even out.

3) The Devils lost Matt Corrente to a broken hand after the game.Corrente fought Ryane Clowe in the second period,but did return in the third,so not sure if the fight was the cause of the injury.


4) The Devils recalled Tyler Eckford from Albany to take Corrente's place on the roster and the team recalled Alexander Vasyunov as well.Vasyunov made his NHL debut last week and was returned to the AHL Devils..

5) For an in depth review of the game,check our friends out at In Lou We Trust.
It always is helpful when you have seen the game for a true feel for things...

Photo Credits-AP Photo

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cleaning out the Inbox

More cleaning out the inbox as we approach the midway point of the week.

I had forgotten to do a reviewing the tape last week of the Seahawks win over the Bears,I hope to have time to watch the tape tomorrow of their win over the Cardinals that gave the Hawks first place in the West.If Seattle can win in Oakland this week,they look to be in pretty solid shape in a possible playoff run....

The Hagerstown Suns finally (albeit quietly) released their 2011 schedule and looking at it,I would wager that the new owners might not be thrilled with their lot for the season.
The Suns get a nine game homestand in April,which is the hardest time of the season to draw crowds and will be the only Suns games at the Muni for the month.

The other rough break for the Suns is that they get neither of the best drawing teams as one of the two teams that make three visits to the Hub City.
Lakewood (Phillies) is usually a three visit team and remain so,but the other for this year is Lexington (Astros),while Delmarva (Orioles) makes two visits and West Virginia (Pirates) make just one.
The Suns might be getting the rookie owners blues,but this schedule isn't helping very much for 2011.

Battlin Bob sends us this link to some of the improvements to the Muni.
The improvements to the field and facility look to be a good start the needed facelift of the aging stadium and here is to future improvements as well....

I normally tend to disagree with Rick Reilly,but his comments on James Harrison hit home.
"Steelers coach Mike Tomlin defended Harrison, saying he's a "model" for young players to imitate. Oh, yeah, he's a peach. Fined $5,000 for slamming Vince Young into the ground. Fined $5,000 for unnecessary brutality against a Cincinnati Bengal. Had to go to anger management and undergo psychiatric counseling after being charged with assault on his girlfriend. Owned a pit bull that bit his son, the boy's mom and his masseuse. When's he running for Congress?"

ESPN's John Buccigross offers an interesting take on the state of New York area hockey and the three teams varying pros and cons.
Well written and fair to all three teams in my opinion...

Sorry to hear of the passing of Alexander Anderson at the age of 90.Anderson was the creator of the original Rocky and Bullwinkle characters that were the stars of the animated series that was produced by Jay Ward.

Reviewing the tape-Boiling the Makers

This one was never in doubt as Ohio State roared out of the gates and crushed the visiting Purdue Boilermakers 49-0 at the Horseshoe in Columbus.The 7-1,3-1 Buckeyes were never threatened in both avenging a loss to Purdue last season and bouncing back from the deflating defeat in Madison to the Wisconsin Badgers.Ohio State visits 1-7 Minnesota this Saturday in a night game that I am sure that ABC/ESPN has to be thrilled about showing in prime time.

Buckeye Branches

1) Offensive player of the game has to go to Boom Herron.Herron has often been the whipping boy here,but he came out early and established an attitude for the game with hard nosed runs between the tackles that showed Purdue that this was not their day.

2) Terrelle Pryor threw three touchdowns to go along with two interceptions and had nice numbers,but both of his interceptions came on short passing plays.
Pryor has an odd hitch in his mechanics that he doesn't have on longer passes.I have a hard time describing it,but to me,the best way is imagine running water on your hand and then flicking excess onto something or someone.That is what it reminds me of and it costs him accuracy.
Correcting that could go a long way for Pryor's future...

3) Underrated play of the day?
Jordan Hall's carefully looked at bounce of the Purdue opening kickoff that he watched the entire way,made sure no flying Boilermaker would recover and allowed the kick to slightly skitter out of bounds.
Right off,the bat the Buckeyes had good field position at the forty and the stage was set for a beating.

4) Dane Sanzenbacher and Devier Posey each grabbed four passes and a touchdown for the day,but the prettiest play was the Sanzenbacher 56 yard gain that didn't result in a score on the play.
If Sanzenbacher can open things up a little more for Posey,things will become much easier on the offense...

5) The 49 point win was the largest ever for Ohio State over Purdue.
Not that Purdue is like Indiana or anything,but I was mildly surprised at that stat.

6) For those of you that wonder what the Big Ten tiebreaking procedures are,click here.
Michigan State's comeback win over Northwestern cleaned things up a bit as had the Wildcats hung onto their upset,the conference could have had five teams with a loss,tiebreakers are still possible.
The game that looms largest is Michigan State at Iowa this weekend. A Spartan win and they look strong to win the conference outright with three games to go that are not especially tough (home vs Minnesota and Purdue and at Penn State).
An Iowa win means chaos as four teams could have one loss as Wisconsin and Purdue play this Saturday,knocking one of them out.

7) I really have liked the play of Andrew Sweat at the linebacker position.
Since the injury to Ross Homan,Sweat has filled the spot nicely and looks to me to be just as a strong a player as Homan-who is very good.

8) Purdue runs the zone-read option now with Danny Hope after years of airing it out under Joe Tiller.I would have thought that Purdue would have stuck with what worked,but in any case OSU shut the running game now entirely and made freshman QB Rob Henry have to beat them with his arm and that isn't happening.

9) Finally,Terrelle Pryor was offering comments about the Wisconsin game such as these-"Not to take anything away from Wisconsin at all - I really don't want it to come off like this - but they weren't better than us," he said. "Everybody knows that if we play nine out of 10 times, we'd beat Wisconsin."
But it only takes one and the better team on that day won.You want to discuss that game?
Win out and after a Bowl win,let's talk about it.
Until then I don't want to hear it.


Photo Credits-Marvin Fong-Cleveland Plain Dealer

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Better,but not enough

The New Jersey Devils played with more vigor and with an improved quality of play against the New York Rangers than they did the previous game against Buffalo,but it still was not enough to put the game in the victory column as Devils fans added another loss to the tally in the 3-1 Ranger win.
Ilya Kovalchuk's return gave the Devils their only goal (3) with five minutes to go in the game to cut the margin to 2-1 before the Rangers scored the empty netter for the final score.
New Jersey now starts the difficult portion of the road trip tomorrow night in San Jose.

Hell Raisers

1) Before I get into game coverage of the Ranger game,just wanted to write about the road swing.
I will see the San Jose game,but will be at work for the Anaheim and Los Angeles games,so there might be a report on either or both,but I will be following them via XM.
The final two games in Vancouver and Chicago will be seen as I will be off work unless called in.

2) The team seems to be pushing against the tide a bit and it shows in the small things.
Three times,the Devils had two on one opportunities against the Rangers and instead off shooting,they made the pass despite the Ranger defender playing the pass.
When teams get into funks like this,guys try to make the perfect play instead of the easy play and it shows with the Devils right now.

3) Ilya Kovalchuk spent most of the game at his normal left wing position after spending most of the season on the right side.Kovalchuk scored the only goal,but his interference penalty in the second period allowed the Rangers to score on the power play and that proved to be the game winner.

4) The one player that I hold pretty much blameless for the sludgey start out of the gate is Martin Brodeur.
Take away the fiasco in Washington and Brodeur has generally been his excellent self.
Marty played well again vs the Rangers and I see no reason to blame him in any way for any of this.

5) Biggest disappointment has to be the Captain.
Jamie Langenbrunner hasn't played well,committed three penalties against the Rangers and generally has shown the same disinterested play that he shuffled through late last season under Jacques Lemaire.Could a Langenbrunner move be the cap space move that Lou Lamiorello makes when Bryce Salvador and/or Brian Rolston return?

6) Toss in the inept power play and you have a pretty good idea of why this team is having such a rough go of it.
Zipless in four tries against the Blueshirts-the Devils are now a squirt gun like two for twenty-eight on the season.There are more issues than I can say,but one thing that I would like to see a little more of is some of the shots from the point come from a little closer in.
Too many of these are coming from a tad too far outside the circle and those haven't been anything close to accurate.

I hope to be back later with a review of the tape of the Ohio State steamrollering (a word?) of Purdue.

Monday, October 25, 2010

When the Browns go marchin' in!

I figured the Cleveland Browns had no chance to win in New Orleans against the Saints and no one else did either.
New Orleans looked to be back on track after a thumping of the Bucs in Tampa and this game was in the Superdome.
However,a few fluky plays and the Browns willingness to throw caution to wind on special teams allowed the Browns to grab a stunning 30-17 upset to take into the bye week with them.
The 2-5 Browns will return with back to back home games against the Patriots and Jets..

Brownie Bits

1) Right away,we have been critical of Eric Mangini,Brian Daboll and just about everyone else in that deals with offense and special teams,but yesterday,they got creative and the stunning win ensued.


I have always said that you have two ways to win when you are outmanned in talent-either play it totally safe and hope to make no mistakes (if you could do that,you likely wouldn't be outmanned) or throw it all at the opponent and take your chances.The Browns did that yesterday from the first time that they touched the ball with Josh Cribbs taking a punt and throwing the ball across field to Eric Wright,who was tackled in Saints territory and set up the Browns first score-a Phil Dawson field goal.My only quibble was why Wright instead speedy Carlton Mitchell?
Mitchell was likely to have had a better chance of a TD than the slower Wright.
In any case,Cleveland set the tone that on this day-anything could happen..

2) The other call that showed the amount of film work put in was the 60+ yard run by Reggie Hodges up the middle on a fake punt.The Saints had already turned upfield when Hodges found the gap and galloped away.Hodges run for 68 yards was one fewer than Peyton Hillis had all day.

3) Sadly,both of those plays resulted in just six points.The Browns offense still buttoned it down and showed a lack of originality until a fourth quarter  13 yard pass by Peyton Hillis to Colt McCoy.
Brian Daboll needs to try more things like that and give him some credit for giving it a try in the fourth quarter.

4) Colt McCoy threw for just 76 yards,but he didn't make a mistake and managed the offense well.
McCoy did just what a rookie quarterback should do-try to resist the temptation to win the game by himself and don't lose the game.

5) Rob Ryan's defense played about as well as I could have hoped and supposedly Scott Fujita was highly involved in the game plan for the day and if that is the case-Fujita deserves tons of credit for the win as well.
Drew Brees was bewildered all day and often forced his passes into coverage just to get rid of the ball.
Between the performance against the Saints and the success of Rex Ryan in New York,I would say the chances that Rob Ryan is a head coach somewhere in 2011 are pretty strong.

6) David Bowens and his two interception returns for touchdowns was the difference in this one obviously.The first one was a pure lucky one as the ball played Pinball Wizard from Bowens to off the back of a Saint lineman and back to Bowens,but the second pick that basically ended the game was an excellent read by Bowens.
Well scouted and the drop back in coverage was a nice call by Rob Ryan or if Bowens did it on his own.

7) Scott Fujita not only proved his worth as a future coach and/or scout,he is a pretty fair linebacker with 11 tackles and a sack on the day.
Fujita said he was inspired by his possible last visit to the Superdome,any chance he can keep some of that for each game?

8) Peyton Hillis didn't have a great game by the numbers,but his piledriving runs in the fourth quarter kept the chains moving and the clock running in a situation that certainly needed it.
Hillis has to be the most rugged Browns running back in many many years.

9) Despite the pedestrian offensive numbers,give the offensive line credit as well as they played their best game of the year.Joe Thomas and Eric Steinbach appear to be returning to form and Floyd Womack is so much better at tackle than guard that it amazes me that he only plays there with injuries warrant it.

10) The win was the Browns third in a row over a defending world champion and in each occasion,the Browns entered the game with just one win.
Odd how these stats always seem to pop up.

I hope to be back later with another post.

Photo Credits_Joshua Gunter-Cleveland Plain Dealer

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What the hell is going on?

The New Jersey Devils turned what should have been an ordinary home game into a soap opera like saga complete with star issues and a poor performance by the understudy in goal as the Devils played absolutely pathetic hockey in a 6-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
Zach Parise (3) scored the only Devils goal in third period garbage time.
The Devils visit the Rangers tonight in what will be the first of a six game road swing that sends the Devils to all three California teams,Vancouver and Chicago before a November 5th return to the Rock against the Rangers.

Hell Raisers

1) John MacLean scratched Ilya Kovalchuk for the game and Kovalchuk was classified as a "Healthy Scratch" without any given reason for the decision other than MacLean's statement that "He knows what he did".
MacLean and Kovalchuk must know,but no one else does as none of the players questioned had any idea what the issue was.
I have no idea either,but one thing is for sure-John MacLean had better hope this team plays some better hockey soon as the Devils aren't paying Kovalchuk's contract for him to sit and watch.
In a battle with star and coach,the star usually wins,although this is new territory for the Devils.

2) Rod Pelley suffered a broken nose and an ugly gash as well from taking a shot off the honker from a deflected Jason Arnott shot.
It looked pretty nasty,but Pelley returned in the third period with a full face visor.Why more players don't wear those is a wonder to me....

3) Johan Hedberg got his start and was chased without finishing the second period.Drew Stafford beat Hedberg on Buffalo's first shot and Hedberg let in three more with none of those being especially tough shots.Marty Brodeur mopped up.
Hedberg had been off for a while,so I'll give him a break on this one,but this type of play could have been spent on a cheaper goalie and saved the cap space...

4) Alexander Vasyunov made his NHL debut in the game as he was called up from Albany.Vasyunov took Kovalchuk's space in the lineup.
No word on Kovalchuk's return against the Rangers tonight or whether Vasyunov will remain with the team.

5) What might be the worst of all of this mess is that the veteran defensemen are worse than the young kids.
Matt Corrente and Oliver Magnon made some mistakes last night as each stood around on a goal that Buffalo slammed in off the rebounds,but that is expected with young players.
Henrik Tallinder fell down and virtually handed Buffalo one goal,Colin White was his usual concrete skated self and Andy Greene even was standing around on occasion.
Anton Volchenkov-you are missed!

6) It is early to push the panic button,but the way that Devils hockey is being played and an imposing road trip beginning tonight,could John MacLean be in hot water already?
I cannot imagine Lou Lamoriello being happy with the team's play and he is not the type to tolerate this for long....

7_ Just an odd note-the Devils are winless in games that the opponent has scored a goal....

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pigskin Pickin Machine

The machine starts poppin with the Ohio State Buckeyes (6-1, 2-1) trying to accomplish three things today against Purdue (4-2. 2-0)-Keep their Big Ten title hopes (They will already need some help,a loss ends the show),bounce back from their defeat to Wisconsin last week and avenge their loss last season to the Boilermakers.
The Boilers are 2-0 in conference,so they are one of the teams that OSU will have to hurdle in the conference race,but they have a loss to Toledo and that hurts the Boilers overall.
Danny Hope has turned the Purdue offensive philosophy around from a pass first team to a run first team and we saw how Wisconsin ran the ball last week.
However,Purdue doesn't have near the offensive line that the Badgers do and I just don't think they will push the Buckeyes off the ball....

Texas Tech (3-3, 1-3) travels to Boulder and the Buffalos of Colorado (3-3,0-2) in what looms to be a huge game for the post season hopes for the Red Raiders.
Looking at the Tech schedule,they have two likely home wins to end the season with Weber State and Houston,which would have a been a tossup until the Cougars lost Case Keenum for the season.
That puts the Raiders at five wins with two likely losses in November to ranked teams in Missouri and Oklahoma and makes the next two weeks the make or break games for post season eligibility.It starts this week at Colorado and continues next week against Texas A & M.
A split likely gives the Raiders a 6-6 record and a maybe for a lower bowl berth,but a sweep would make 7-5 likely,put them somewhere for sure and move up a bit on the bowl scale.
Two losses make a bowl bid unlikely,unless they can make it up against the better teams with an upset or two.
The big problem has been that Tech has never won at Folsom Field,even since the Buffs have been a less than strong team and the Tech defense is bitten to hell with injuries.
Colorado has trouble against the pass and that should be what Tech does best...

Our game of the week stays out the SEC for a change as Wisconsin visits Iowa in a game that means a lot in the Big Ten race.The Badgers have a loss in conference,so a loss here ends their hopes,while the Hawkeyes haven't lost yet and host all of the three biggest threats to the title at Kinnick Stadium in Wisconsin,Michigan State and Ohio State.
Iowa can throw and run,although they prefer to run,Wisconsin just runs for the most part.This could be the rare fast moving college football game.
Can Wisconsin avoid the Ohio State letdown? Can Iowa run the ball on Wisconsin?
This one could come down to home field.

Our Picks
Ohio State over Purdue 24-14
Texas Tech over Colorado 31-27
Iowa over Wisconsin 21-18

The pro games start with the Browns going to the Big Easy in a game that will be anything but against the Saints.
Simply put-This looks pretty bad and even worse than last week looked going into Pittsburgh with the injuries at receiver......

Seattle grabbed a huge road win last over Chicago and goes back to Qwest Field against the Cardinals and rookie Max Hall.
This game is for first place in the division with both teams at 3-2 and a win goes a long way for either team.
Seattle is a different team at home and I think that makes the difference.

The game of the week in the NFL is kinda slim this week,but lets go with another Brett Favre return to Green Bay with the Packers and Vikings slugging it out.
Green Bay has had the worst injury luck this season and they cannot run the ball and struggle with protecting Aaron Rodgers.
Not a great recipe for a win against the Vikes,.

Our Picks
Saints over Browns 35-10
Seahawks over Cardinals 23-20
Vikings over Packers 27-21

Friday, October 22, 2010

Devils whitewash Habs 3-0

The New Jersey Devils had plenty of time off to think about their awful effort against the Boston Bruins and how to avoid it.
The Devils did just that with strong goaltending from Martin Brodeur,some breaks and some good efforts from the young defensemen to take a 3-0 win away from a visit to Montreal and the Canadiens.
Devils goals to Jason Arnott (3),Zach Parise (2) and Matt Taormina (2).
The Devs take tonight off before a weekend that will see visits from the Sabres and Rangers.

Hell Raisers

1) The Devils had lost a game or two when the puck just didn't bounce their way,most notably the loss to Colorado,but on this evening things evened out a bit.
On the teams first two goals by Zach Parise and Jason Arnott,both shots eluded Carey Price after the shot bounced off Montreal players.Sometimes it takes a while,but the breaks even out.

2) Martin Brodeur was sharp tonight and his third period save of Mike Cammaleri's shot was vintage Brodeur.
Both Devil wins this season have resulted in Brodeur shutouts.

3) That said,this weekend would be a good time to see Johan Hedberg start in at least one of the back to back games.If Martin Brodeur is going play seventy plus games again,then the Devils are paying Hedberg far too much when you look at the teams cap space issues...

4) Nice game by Oliver Magnon in his NHL debut.
The rookie plays a rough and physical game and although he lacks some in the speed category,looks to be a smart player that will try to avoid situations where that would be a factor.

5) Matt Taormina continues to impress with a goal and reminds me of a young Paul Martin with perhaps a better shot.That is a player that I'll take any time.

6) Rod Pelley didn't wind up with points on the scoresheet,but he was all over the ice and looks to be a nice fit on the third line.Pelley's grit and hustle just might make some of the Devil veterans a bit better such as Jamie Langenbrunner.

7) Andy Greene blocked eight shots on the evening.Shotblocking is the forte of the injured Anton Volchenkov,but Greene continues to add versatility to his game and his leadership of the young defensive corps has been admirable as well.

Photo Credits-AP Photo

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Skip Away passes away and more cleaning

The inbox is building up and time for a cleaning with the Devils about to play three games in four days to go with weekend football,I figured this was a good time.

We start with a sad note from May as my favorite all time racehorse passed away at the age of 17.
I was just checking on Skip Away as I do a few times a year on Google to see how he is and discovered his passing from a heart attack.
Some of you may remember Skippy as his days as a dominant horse of the mid-late nineties with his classic Jockey Club Gold Cup win over Cigar and perhaps others may remember him as the only thoroughbred member of our Forgotten Superstars series and this article.
The YouTube clip is not of his three most famous wins as I posted all three of those on the previous post,but the fan visit video is a super addition to this post.
I picked the Iselin win as an example of Skippy's heart as he carried far more weight than Stormin Fever,but gutted out the win.
I wont get in depth on his career as that can be found by clicking the link,but I will always have the memories of Skippy as I made a two disc set of the career of Skip Away on DVD of his races a few years back.
Perhaps tonight is a good night to revisit an old friend.
Rest well,Skippy.





I haven't had a chance to watch ESPN's film on the late Tim Richmond yet,but I am really looking forward to it.
I wasn't a huge NASCAR fan in the day,but Richmond was my favorite driver mainly because after his debut,my grandfather gave me an autographed photo of Richmond.
Grandpa worked for the manufacturing company that the Richmond family owned and got it for me.
Look for a Forgotten Superstar feature on Tim Richmond in the future.

The New Jersey Devils have a new addition to their broadcasting team as Chris Simpson joins the MSG unit.Simpson will be a host when Doc Emrick is unavailable and Steve Cangelosi moves to play by play.I liked Simpson's appearances with Versus and Rogers Sportsnet,so I look forward to her work on the broadcasts.
Now can she do anything about the poor play recently???

Thanks to Battlin' Bob,who sent our recent blog on the Hagerstown Suns stadium issues to each of the members of the Hagerstown City Council and the Mayor.
Only Mayor Bob Bruchey and Council member Forrest Easton replied to the Battle and I was quite impressed with the reply of Easton,who is running for Register of Wills of Washington County,but appears to be running an uphill battle (Pun intended) against a better funded candidate.
If you live in the county,toss Easton a vote in a few weeks,seems like a decent guy.

Looks like more controversy in the 1970 Kent State shootings as more professional work on an existing audiotape appears to show that an fire order was given.
I would not go as far to say that the case is solved or closed,but it gives even more credibility to to requests for a new investigation into one of the most remembered moments of the past century.

Photo Credits
Skippy:Tod Marks
Richmond:Unknown
Simpson:Unknown

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On the signing front

The signing front is far behind and the cards are stacking up,so I will start catching up here and there and hopefully sometime at the end of the run,I'll be able to do a best and worst of 2010.
To my friends that are always tossing me free stuff and help with players that I cannot get,my thanks and I'll be mentioning your help as the cleanup continues...

We start with two visits to the Hagerstown Suns with the Lexington Legends and Greensboro Grasshoppers coming to the Hub City.

The Legends are a Houston Astros team and the Astros have not been one of the more prospect laden systems over the last few seasons with the exception of 2009 when the Legends did not visit Hagerstown with the likes of Ross Seaton and Jordan Lyles.
The Astros did have their first three picks from the 09 draft with the Legends in Jiovanni Mier,Tanner Bushue and Jonathan Meyer and all three signed with Mier signing the most since I had seven different cards for him before I even touched the cards sent from others.Looking at the numbers,Bushue could try high A next season,but I look for the other two to at least start back at Lexington.
Another pickup was Jimmy Paredes signing his Charleston card.Paredes had been traded from the Yankees to the Astros in the Lance Berkman trade since the Charleston visit earlier in the year.
The most fun though was with Legends hitting coach Stubby Clapp.
The minor league and Canadian baseball legend never got more than a cameo in the big leagues,but his popularity has been known for years.
The personable Clapp talked about the game,Canada and especially about the Canadian Football League and might have been the best coach that I met this season.
During this series,I was also able to get Rick Hague to sign his USA cards and Rick Schu,who is a roving coordinator for Washington last season.Both were very nice,especially Schu,who always chats a bit as he signs...

The Greensboro Grasshoppers had two first round picks with 2008 top pick Kyle Skipworth and 2009 first rounder Chad James.
Both players signed with James being very nice and Skipworth signing most of his cards,but being selective about which ones.
Kyle was nice enough,but the second time around of the deciding what cards to sign made me wonder why he does that.
Promising young catcher Carlos Paulino struggles with the Hoppers,but signed his Topps Debut card as did promising former Red Sox lefthander Jose Alvarez.

The biggest addition of the Greensboro series was that of former second baseman and manager Davey Johnson,who signed all three cards that I had of him (Braves and Phillies) and thanked me for coming to the park and asking him!
Johnson was accommodating to everyone and I hope he returns to Hagerstown next season and hopefully I'll have a 1971 (Orioles) and 1979 (Cubs) card ready to go for him.

The teams in Frederick around this time were Winston-Salem and Wilmington.
I had most of those teams finished in a previous visit,but there were still some fill ins and I went for those and to help my good friend Bill Cover,who had missed the teams in their first stop with team sets released.
On this evening,Bill gave me two Chris Marreros that he had gotten Marrero to sign at Harrisburg to go with the evening's work.
The biggest catch from the Dash was 2009 first rounder Josh Phegley,who had been injured on the other Winston-Salem trips to Frederick.Phegley signed everything for me and Bill,but commented with a laugh about a "man in a suit" that was waiting at the team hotel with a "Book of cards".Phegley said "I never mind signing at the park,but the hotel stuff is an invasion of privacy".
I would agree about being inside the hotel (Unless you are staying there),but if you are waiting outside then "no harm no foul".
Other nice additions were the long elusive Jose Martinez,who had injury issues for the past few season,Jon Gilmore and Brandon Short,who signed his Carolina League prospect card.

The main two pickups from Wilmington were 2009 top pick Aaron Crow and the Royals excellent young catcher Wil Myers.
Myers only signs one of each,which is fine and worked for me as I had three different cards,while Crow had been demoted from AA signed his Tri-Star and Missouri Tiger card.

Thanks to Tom O'brien for added a few from the Akron Aeros with first rounder Alex White signing his Bowman Top 100 card,Bryan Price signing his Bowman and Greenville cards and Lonnie Chisenhall,who has never signed for me,but signed two of mine for Tom.

The next signing front (whenever that is) looks like the final two teams into Hagerstown for 2010 and the Potomac Nationals arrival in Frederick..

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lethargic Devils tick me off!

Completing my crappy sports weekend was the Devils lethargic 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins at the Rock.Dainius Zubrus scored the only New Jersey goal (1).
The Devils are off until Thursday when they visit Montreal...

Hell Raisers

1) The Devils defense has certainly suffered with the loss of Anton Volchenkov.Volchenkov would be  clearing teams out of the zone and away from Marty Brodeur,at least more often than is happening now.

2) The Devils continue to juggle lines in an attempt to come up with something that works.Not sure what the answer is other than try different things and see what clicks.
That sounds pretty simple and easier said than done,but John Maclean might have no other choice until the expected cap deals are made.

3) The Devils sent rookie defenseman Alexander Urbom to Albany and added Oliver Magnan-Greiner from the A-Devils.Urbom showed loads of potential,but mostly struggled and looked to me to need some AHL minutes.

4) I know the numbers crunchers look at Marty Brodeur's numbers and wince,but against the Bruins,the score should have been far worse as the defense gave Brodeur little help against an aggressive Bruin team.

5) It is early and no panic button pushing yet here,so the Devils have time to get things together as the talent is there.
However,what I am more concerned about is the seeming lack of chemistry on the team thus far.Chemistry can be an overrated factor sometimes,but the top two scoring lines have suffered from cohesion thus far and worse is an less than overwhelming effort at times.

6) John Maclean is reportedly riding herd in practice and trying to shake things up in both play and attitude.
Good for him as this team needs to hear the whip crack and soon before the team starts making decisions on roster moves when Bryce Salvador and Brian Rolston return.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reviewing the tape-Badgered in Madison

Ohio State didn't look like the number one team in the country in their visit to Madison,Wisconsin for their meeting against the Badgers and that was fitting because at the end of the evening they would no longer be the top team as the Badgers stripped all of that away in a 31-18 win for Wisconsin.
The win virtually ended any OSU national title hopes and threw the Big Ten in flux at the top as well.
Ohio State returns to action on Saturday against Purdue.

Buckeye Leaves

1) The poor Buckeye special teams had been a sore spot all season and the kickoff return for a Wisconsin touchdown to begin the game started set the trend for the entire game.Men not in their zones and being pushed around physically-that one play is an synopsis of the game...

2) If you really want to simplify things though,it can come down to one thing-Wisconsin's offensive line pushing the OSU defensive line off the ball.
Wisconsin has always been a run first team with a road grader type offensive line that you had to stand up to in order to defeat.Ohio State couldn't do it Saturday night at all as the Badger line physically beat down the Buckeyes.

3) I liked the fact that the Buckeyes didn't roll over and made the Badgers work for the win,but I never truly had the feeling that OSU was going to pull the victory out of the hat.Even when they were able to get as close as three points,I still had the feeling that Wisconsin was controlling the tempo with their ground game and it was a matter of time before they got rolling under full steam again.

4) Terrelle Pryor is certainly a running quarterback,but he sure isn't an option quarterback and there is a distinction there.
Pryor's pitches sure don't bring back memories of Thomas Lott or Jamelle Holieway,so putting him in that situation on your teams first possession following a kick return TD in that nuthouse was a poor play call by Jim Tressel and I thought was a contributor to keeping the Wisconsin fans going.

5) Normally,not a Boom Herron booster either,but he ran the ball strong between the tackles and kept the Buckeyes in the game by taking advantage of what Wisconsin gave him.I still would have rather seen a game breaker though that has the chance of taking the ball for six points quickly...

6) Dane Sanzenbacher made some great catches that made Terrelle Pryor look better than he was.
Sanzenbacher might not have NFL speed,but he sure has NFL hands....

7) Ross Homan's injury gave Andrew Sweat a featured role and Sweat looked excellent after Homan left the game.Sweat's interception was good,but his tackle of James White in the third quarter on third and short kept the Badgers off the field and allowed OSU to get back into the game.

8) Sweat's pick didn't lead to any points as Devin Barclay missed a field goal attempt from 45 yards away.On the replay,the kick sure looked good to me.

9) Wisconsin fans might not be the best in the Big Ten,but there can be no doubt that Camp Randall Stadium is the wildest place in the conference to play.From the "Jump Around" and the high decibel fans,Wisconsin sure creates an atmosphere that the sometimes lethargic Horseshoe could learn from.

10) Want to know what Wisconsin football reminds me of most though?
How about Ohio State football in the Woody Hayes era?Run first,pound the ball at you and see if you can stop us football.
Not sure what Woody thought of UW as a whole,but I get the feeling that he sure would have approved of their philosophy....

Photo Credits
Jump Around-Unknown

Pryor:Chris Russell-Columbus Dispatch

Shocker! Browns fall in Pittsburgh

Busy day yesterday and have been called into work tonight,so hoping to make time for one of the two other games (Buckeyes and Devils losses)that made this past weekend such a lousy one,at least in the sports domain.
I did have a few good things happen,so not all bad.


I didn't think that the Browns had much of a chance to win going into Pittsburgh and they didn't in a 28-10 loss that looks far worse than it actually was.
The Browns continue a rough four week stretch of games next week as they visit New Orleans and the Saints before using their bye week.


Brownie Bits

1) I am sure most of you would ask right off how I thought Colt McCoy played and my answer would be pretty well.
He did throw two interceptions,but one was on the money and the receiver dropped it,while the other was a tipped pass,so one could argue that neither was on McCoy.
McCoy grew more poised as the game went on and it was nice to see a Browns QB throw a long sideline pass without it going 10 yards out of bounds.

2) I am not willing to go as far to say McCoy is the answer yet,but he played well enough that I would like to see more of him and maybe even when Jake Delhomme and/or Seneca Wallace return to health.
This season is shot,now that McCoy has been forced to play,let's see what the Browns have.

3) Most of you know that I generally am not a whiner about the opponents winning or even their play,but James Harrison of the Steelers,while an excellent player is showing himself to be either a cheap shot artist or a dirty player,or both if you prefer.
Harrison's head shot that sent Joshua Cribbs from the game was a dirty hit because he could have avoided helmet to helmet contact,but because Cribbs was considered a running back on the play,I understood why no penalty was called.
Harrison's hit was unneeded but not illegal.

4) I wish I could say the same for the Harrison hit that knocked Mohammed Massaquoi from the game.This hit was illegal by the rulebook because the rules classify helmet to helmet hits on a helpless (rulebook wording,not mine) receiver as personal foul territory.
Despite a referee standing near the play,no flag on the play.
Simply put, James Harrison might be one of the best linebackers in the game,but he ranks among the dirtiest as well.
I expect no less from a man that doesn't complete his obligations.

5) Before anyone clicks the above link and says the guy was sick,the answer is he refused to ever show up again and that is the alleged reason that the Valley Mall will not bring athletes in for future shows for autograph sessions.
I could care less about Steeler autographs but ruining it for Steeler fans and any other player isn't very cool,although the Mall policy seems pretty stupid to me.

6) Super game from Reggie Hodges,who dropped four punts insides the Steeler ten.Hodges and his strong performance in keeping the Steelers backed up ranks among the biggest reasons that the Browns kept this as close as it was.

7) I know that Cleveland had just two healthy wideouts by the end of the game in Brian Robiskie and Chansi Stuckey and that forced the move,but Ben Watson and Evan Moore on the field at the same time just gives the Browns the best chance at moving the ball through the air right now.
I liked that idea before and the performance showed the thought has some merit.

8) Eric Wright struggled again in allowing Mike Wallace to beat him deep for one touchdown and his arm tackle allowed Hines Ward to score another on a play that should have seen him tackled before the goal line.It looks to me that after the bye week that the time has come for Joe Haden to be the starter and for Wright to transition to the third corner spot in passing situations.

9) Speaking of Joe Haden,Haden's interception and long return continues his run of solid play.Haden will still have a steep learning curve at the hardest position in football for a rookie,but Haden looks like the real thing for the long term.

10) Finally,Alex Mack might have been justified in thinking that there was a fumble and get the ball out of bounds on his delay of game penalty,but it seems like this season Mack has taken a step back in his play.Several times the center has taken dumb penalties ranging from yesterday's penalty to personal fouls.
Those need to stop.

Photo Credits
McCoy and cheap shot-Cleveland Plain Dealer staff

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Devils drop decision to Avalanche

The early season bad luck continues for the New Jersey Devils as pucks slid through the crease and clanged off posts all night and the Devils paid the price in a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at the Rock.Ilya Kovalchuk (2) and Matt Taormina (1 Powerplay) scored for the Devils.New Jersey hosts Boston tonight in Newark before having a few days off before a Thursday visit to Montreal..

Hell Raisers

1) The Devils just didn't get the breaks in the game and that happens sometimes.
There was several pucks that slid past Craig Anderson (who was excellent,by the way) that just slithered through the crease and at least four shots if not more that smacked off the post.
This is one of those streaks and if the Devils can continue to keep firing (41 shots last night),I think things will turn around.

2) All of that considered,the Devils need to do a better job of positioning players for rebounds and camp some guys in front of the net as well.Seems like way too many are beside the net and not in front,which gives the goalie a better view of the shot.

3) Matt Taormina continues his fast start with his first NHL goal and an assist on the Ilya Kovalchuk goal.It is early,but I like what I have seen thus far from Taormina's game on the offensive end.

4) Bad game for Colin White,who committed a careless high stick the first period,which allowed Colorado's only first period goal,didn't screen out T.J. Galiardi on the second Avalanche goal and then committed another high sticking penalty later in the game.

5) All three of the Albany callups played,although Tim Sestito saw the least amount of action.Jacob Josefson and Matt Corrente each saw plenty of ice time and didn't make many mistakes,although Corrente was in a tough spot on the Cody McLeod goal having to make a quick decision on the play.

6) John MacLean was switching lines late in the game to shake things up a bit,but it seems like the Arnott,Elias,Langenbrunner line was the least active of the bunch.That line needs to get with the program before they get broken up in an effort for more offense.



Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett-Getty Images

Pigskin Pickin Machine

The pickin machine moves to the biggest game of the season here and bragging rights for the season here are on the line as Ohio State defends their new number one ranking going into vicious Camp Randall Stadium against the Wisconsin Badgers.

Now the michigan game is still the top rivalry,but considering the family interests here,the Wisconsin game is just as large here as michigan.
Wisconsin has been the one team that has played the Buckeyes straight up since Jim Tressel has become the head man in Columbus.The Badgers play a physical,hard nosed game based on the ground attack and that has helped them against Ohio State through the years against both Tressel and his predecessor John Cooper.
This was one of the two games that I had concerns about entering the season with the other being at Iowa later in the season,but the Badgers have had struggles against some less than powerhouse teams and the loss to Michigan State was a surprise,although it looks a bit better now than it did then.
Look for lots of John Clay and the other Bucky backs because if OSU gets up early,that will not be the Badger forte with the comeback.Going to be a close and helmet crackin' battle at the "Jump Around".

Texas Tech comes off an exciting win over Baylor in the Cotton Bowl last week and while we are at it-kudos to the Dallas area for caring about tradition in times that sell it for the slightest buck.With Texas and Oklahoma always playing at the end of the fair and Arkansas and Texas A&M renewing their old SWC rivalry yearly now at the Cowboys stadium at the beginning of fair week,Baylor and Texas Tech should continue to play at the Cotton Bowl every year to kick the fair off right.
That would give the Dallas area three meaningful games to count on every year around the State Fair and give both Tech and Baylor more Metroplex exposure.
The 3-2 Red Raiders host the 5-0 and ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys and their coach Mike "I'm a MAN" Gundy in Lubbock.The Cowboy offense averages over 500 yards a game and Tech didn't exactly look like powerhouse despite the win over Baylor.Look for lots of throwing and scoring here.

The game of the week goes back to the SEC as the only battle of ranked teams other than Ohio State-Wisconsin takes place in Alabama as number seven Auburn hosts 12th ranked Arkansas.Ryan Mallett has a chance to redeem himself in a return match against a ranked team from Alabama.Auburn has squeaked by in four games this season.Mallett ends the streak this time.

Our Picks
Ohio State over Wisconsin 20-17
Oklahoma State over Texas Tech 48-35
Arkansas over Auburn 38-28

The Browns travel to Pittsburgh in what looks to be the first start for Colt McCoy as a pro.This might be the worst possible scenario for McCoy as the Steelers are coming off a loss and their bye to go with the return of Ben Rothlisberger plus a home game.
This one might take a miracle.

The Seahawks are in Chicago after their bye week and the 4-1 Bears get Jay Cutler back.Chicago hasn't impressed me much for a 4-1 team and if this game was in Seattle,I might be tempted to pick the upset-But it isn't.Seattle has been totally different away from Qwest Field and they have been putrid in their two road games.

Our game of the week features the Ravens heading into New England.The Ravens look like the better team and New England moving Randy Moss for essentially Deion Branch doesn't do it for me either.
That said Joe Flacco is turnover prone and Bill Belichick might have some surprises for Murderin' Ray and his birds.

Our Picks
Steelers over Browns 27-6
Bears over Seahawks 19-13
Patriots over Ravens 24-20

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Big Ball universe

Now,I would bet that most of you are wondering what the title means and what this will be about.
Well, it will cover the game that I spent the most time playing as a kid and yes,I likely played this more than baseball,although I played tons of that including the occasional pickup game against future major leaguer Mike Draper,more than football and even basketball,where you had to travel to face decent competition,most of which was WAY out of my league including a few games against future NBAer and N.C State Wolfpack great Rodney Monroe.
The Big Ball

Nope,it was Big Ball,so named because of the ball used-those .99 cent colored "Play Balls" that you still find for roughly the same price in any department store,grocery or just about anywhere else in the country.The game was pretty simple,just like baseball (including real bats!,none of the plastic junk in the league),except that you can throw the ball at the opponent that is off base and if the ball hits them,it is an out.
The ball is easy to hit so most anyone can play,yet it is difficult to hit far and sometimes tough to catch as the ball flutters like a knuckleball to the fielders.It really is a game that almost anyone can have fun with and even limited skill players can do passably.

This comes to mind after a return to the game just the other night at 42 years old and what a blast!
Different from the old days at mom and dads though where leagues were played in two different "stadiums",the game the other night was on a actual diamond although the bases were shortened of course.
The second stadium as a kid was kinda like old Three Rivers Stadium-plenty of space and super antiseptic.We had to move deeper into the yard because my dad wanted to start planting trees.
I wonder if he regrets that 25+ years later as the place looks like a commercial for Arbor Day now!
Between the open spaces and uphill outfield,it just wasn't the same as we laid picnic benches out for the outfield "wall" and home runs became a rarity.
I wish we still had the stats that we kept (believe it or not) as I would bet that I went from close to a hundred homers a year to maybe ten just with the stadium move.

But the first field is the one that most remember that played BB,a Frisbee for first base,an embedded rock for second and a tree stump for third and a park that we called little Fenway.
Little Fenway was most noted for the odd dimensions and the "Red Monster" for the house next door and its red shingles that loomed for the big ball power hitter in right center to right field.
Oh,you could smack them out to left,which sent the ball flying into the neighbors yard,but it was tougher having to battle lower hanging branches and you needed more of a Dick Allen rising line drive shot to take it out to left.
But the Red Monster had none of that and a ball smacked off the Monster was an automatic homer and a shot off the roof was looked at as the moonshots that used to be bounced off the roof at Tiger Stadium.
As silly as it sounds,it was kinda majestic seeing this big colored orb soar high through the air for a homer,despite every intention by my parents to keep the ball away from the neighbors area by calling balls hit into the yard or the Monster an out,that one never seemed to stick around much.One other interesting point was the constant changing of MLB batting helmets for players.We had most of the leagues helmets from getting them at Oriole games and used them all the time-I still have the Yellow Pirate one that I wore most often.

I had great fun the other night and I still have pretty control with the BB and even struck out a few batters as the strikeout is a prized possession in Big Ball!
Big Ball was a summer staple for years for me and I could post several more of these,if I wanted to (Cant you tell this is a slow day?)
Every once in a while,you really can still be young again,even if just for a few hours.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Devils four pack

The Devils have played four games thus far and I'll use this post to catch up a bit on news and notes before returning to game by game coverage after Friday's game against Colorado.
The Devils have been pretty inconsistent thus far in winning one,losing three,but gaining one point in an overtime loss to the Dallas Stars.
I thought the Devs looked great in the first period against Dallas and just average thereafter,I missed the demolition in Washington,rushed down the PA Turnpike in order to catch the Columbus Day game against Pittsburgh that saw the Devils look lethargic for the first two periods before a strong,but not strong enough third.

That brings us to last night's trip to Buffalo where Martin Brodeur and Ryan Miller staged their usual classic battle against each other,where both were perfect for sixty minutes.
The desperately needed win came to the Devils as Ilya Kovalchuk fired the only goal of the game past Miller in the extra session for the 1-0 win...
The Devils play back to back games on Friday and Saturday against Colorado and Boston before taking five games off.

Hell Raisers

1) The Kovalchuk one timer was set by rookie defenseman Matt Taormina's play into the Sabres zone.Exactly the type of play that Taormina was kept on the roster for as an offensively aggressive blueliner as the rookie followed the puck into the Buffalo end and found Kovalchuk for the winner.
The easy play would have been to dump the puck in and change players,Taormina showed initiative and the Devils benefited by it.


2) Catching up with injuries as the Devils lost Anton Volchenkov to a broken nose against Washington after a slap shot smashed him in the honker.Blood was everywhere and it looked pretty gruesome.Volchenkov will likely miss the next two games and be able to return next week.

3) The Devils have been playing shorthanded thus far with the salary cap situation,but played last night two men down from the average roster.Brian Rolston was out (more on note 4) with Volchenkov,while Pierre-Luc LeBlond was passing through waivers in an attempt to get him to Albany (LeBlond did pass through).
Considering the extra minutes that most skaters played and have been playing,the effort against Buffalo looks even better.

4) Brian Rolston will miss at least 4 to 6 weeks with surgery to repair a sports hernia.
Rolston's 5.5 million dollar salary will go off the cap while he is on the IR and the Devils will be able to finally dress the maximum amount of skaters for a game.
Rolston's loss will hurt the team for a bit on the ice,but the good thing is that the Devils might finally have the time to make the required moves that could make the cap juggling a thing of the past...

5) The Devils were able to sign Adam Mair to a one year deal before the Buffalo game and Mair played against his former team in the win.Mair had been in camp and was waiting until the cap issues could be resolved to sign a contract.

6) With the space created by the Rolston injury,New Jersey added three players from the Albany Devils as Jacob Josefson,Tim Sestito and Matt Corrente from the A-Devils.
Josefson was the teams top pick in the 2009 draft and I am really looking forward to seeing him play for the first time,while Corrente is a personal favorite and I hope to see him get a chance at regular minutes on defense.

7) Now that I think most is caught up,look for the return of next day recaps with the Friday game against the Avalanche.

Photo Credit-AP Photo

Jerome Harrison for Mike Bell

Cleveland Browns fans can stop wondering what possible issue Eric Mangini and the Browns could have against Jerome Harrison as the issue is finally over as the Browns traded Harrison to the Philadelphia Eagles for fellow running back Mike Bell....

Harrison hasn't really done much this season,but his running in the Browns late season winning streak last year led him to believe that he would be the teams lead ball carrier,but the drafting of Montario Hardesty and bringing in Peyton Hillis via trade said otherwise.
Between a lack of carries and a lack of production when he did see the ball, I can see why his playing time was reduced as the season went on,but you can make a good argument that he should have been playing more in the first few games off last season performance.

I think it comes down to Harrison's running style not being a fit with Eric Mangini,unless there is a personality issue that we don't know about.
Harrison can be a bit of a tap dancer and Mangini seems to be a run between the tackles fan,which is what Peyton Hillis is and what I think that you will see in newcomer Mike Bell.
Bell was a solid back for Denver and was a decent contributor in New Orleans last season with the Saints,but has struggles as an Eagle,although the Eagle offensive line is noted to have issues this season.
Speaking of Denver,what is the Browns obsession with former Bronco running backs that had a short time in the sun with Mike Shanahan?
Rueben Droughns has been a Brown,Hillis and Bell are here now and who knows who is next.
If Quentin Griffin is available,he should give the Browns a call.


All and all,this might be best for all parties.
The Browns didn't have confidence in Harrison and Harrison wasn't happy,so why not move him along?
His value must not have been worth even a seventh rounder,so they took what they could and Bell should be a decent fit if Peyton Hillis misses any time this week.

Back later with some Devils talk...

Photo Credits
Bell:Al Messerschmidt-Getty Images
Harrison:Unknown

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Browns flop against Falcons 20-10


Now that we have the trip post finished,we can move onto the actual game post,which will not as fun to write or as pleasant to read.

The Browns didn't play well on offense although decent enough on defense in a 20-10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
No real offense standouts for the Browns,who scored just one touchdown on a Seneca Wallace to Peyton Hillis 19 yard toss and run.
The Browns travel to Pittsburgh on Sunday in what appears to be Colt McCoy's NFL debut.
Look out this one looks to be an ugly one.

Brownie Bits

1) Give all the credit in the world to Atlanta defensive lineman Kroy Biermann for both an acrobatic interception after tipping a Jake Delhomme pass and the hustle to get up and run down the field for the backbreaking score,but I didn't like the fact that so few Browns chased after him.Jake Delhomme had a bad ankle and shouldn't have even been playing,so I'll give him a pass,but the rest?No way.

2) Atlanta should have won this game easy and without any difficulty.
Before I even watched the tape of the game with me in the stands,I saw Roddy White beat both Eric Wright and Sheldon Brown downfield at least twice each and yet the ball never got to him.
Considering the talents of White and the struggles of both corners,had Atlanta made a point of getting White the football,this game would never have came down to the final minutes.
Once Matt Ryan finally looked for White,the result was White pulling away from Sheldon Brown for a 45 yard touchdown catch that gave Atlanta the lead for good.

3) Normally,we love Joe Thomas at left tackle,but Thomas struggled immensely against John Abraham off the end.Abraham beat Thomas twice for sacks and bullied his way by Thomas,which forced Jake Delhomme to rush a pass that was intercepted.
We hope that Abraham was just a bad matchup for Thomas and better days are yet to come.

4) Seneca Wallace was playing pretty well before the ankle injury that will force him to miss time occurred,but why was Jake Delhomme inserted at all? Delhomme was shot up with cortisone before the game in case he had to play,but he had no strength in his ankle to push off of when throwing the football and was as mobile as a heavy bag against a strong Atlanta pass rush.Considering that Delhomme's ankle is bad enough to keep him out this week against Pittsburgh,why run an incapable player into the lineup?
Yes,I know the Browns don't want to play Colt McCoy unless they have to,but they had to and they didn't.
No matter your opinion on McCoy,I'll take McCoy at 100% over a 50% Jake Delhomme anytime.

5) Peyton Hillis wasn't at top health either and it showed on the ground,but his guts showed in doing what he could and scoring the only TD.
I like Hillis,but the fumbles are beginning to concern me a bit about his being the full time back.

6) Eric Mangini rants about fundamental football,but isnt tackling part of that?
The 55 yard run by Michael Turner saw Turner break the tackle of not just T.J Ward but that of Mangini favorite and supposed hitter Abram Elam to break into the open field.
I give Elam credit for getting up and hustling down for the tackle,but it never should have gotten that far,if the tackles would have been wrapped up to begin with.

7) Other than one time that Josh Cribbs threw out of the Wildcat formation,it was the same old predictable calls by Brian Daboll both in and out of the Wildcat.If this is the best Daboll has,then he has about two weeks before the bye to show why he should stay in the play calling position.

8) It was nice to see Mohammed Massaquoi get some passes thrown his way as he caught five of the six thrown to him,but lets use him to stretch the field a bit,he is the only passable deep threat that the Browns have!

9) Tell tale sign in this one?Try this in the second half when Atlanta stuck a corner on Josh Cribbs one on one and allowed Cribbs to run deep fly patterns snap after snap because they knew the ball wasn't coming his way either because Daboll wasn't going to him or because Delhomme couldn't get the ball to him.That said a lot to me about the disrespect towards the Cleveland offense.

10) Two passes thrown to Evan Moore? And the same amount to Robert Royal? Royal at least held onto both of them,which is more than I expected,but Moore could be a difference maker on a bad offense and just two chances to make plays??

11) Finally,give the Falcons some credit.Cleveland is supposed to be a tough,physical team with a smash mouth mentality and the Falcons simply kicked the crap out of a team that wants to be known as a physical team.If that is the goal then there is a long way to go.

Photo Credits-Cleveland Plain Dealer Staff

Back again in Browns Town!

I hope to catch up soon with recaps and more,but for now I want to concentrate on my trip to Cleveland for the Browns loss to the visiting Atlanta Falcons.


This isn't the game recap, just some thoughts and tales from the Browns experience.
I hope to do the recap sometime tomorrow and add some thoughts on the Devils and the Buckeyes as well in the next day or two.

Cleveland Browns Stadium is pretty much your average NFL stadium.
Nice enough with loads of the fashionable amenities,but lacks the tradition and history of the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium,which only comes with time and great moments that take place there.I attended my first Browns game ever this weekend,although not my first game in the stadium as Ryan and I were there for a Wisconsin-Bowling Green game a few years back.
My Aunt Becky (one of our loyal readers),Uncle Terry and Becky's friend Gayle were my cohorts on this afternoon and the company was excellent.

We drove to the outside of the city and rode the RTA into the city.A pretty neat ride and for just five bucks a person for all day riding,one cannot argue about the value.The RTA takes you literally into the basement of the Cleveland landmark-the Terminal Tower.
It was the first time for me visiting the Tower and was surprised to see the many tiers of shopping inside the skyscraper.I enjoyed it enough that I think that I will be seeing more of the Tower City on my next visit to the city.
I am considering a visit to Cleveland for a Cavaliers game and the Tower has an entrance/exit right to the inside of the Quicken Arena.
One train,no switching and you are there sounds really easy to me...

However,to reach Cleveland Browns Stadium,you do need to switch,so after that switch we arrived at the stadium an hour before game time.
Two odd things that I noticed about entering CBS,one is that you get into lines by male/female.
That was a new one for me and the other was a patdown/shakedown of the males,but not the females.
Not a big deal and the lines were kept moving,but I found that unusual.
What a beautiful day for a game as the unseasonably warm weather was in the low 80's which was about 25 degrees warmer than I figured that the mercury would reach.Becky and Gayle wore shorts,but I wasn't quite that certain that shorts were in order,but it could have went either way.In any event,one could not ask for a better day weather wise.

We sat in the upper deck 500 level and trust me on this day,I didn't need my normal bicycle workout,I got plenty on the concrete hike to our seats!Quite a hike that left me more than tired upon arrival.
I stayed in place for the most part and the hyped less than family environment that is supposedly common place wasn't that bad.
There was profanity and it seemed like 4 out 5 people had a beer around,but I didn't see anything out of control and not nearly as bad as I expected.
Still,not quite sure that I would recommend anyone younger than say 16 or so if you are bothered by any of those issues.

One highlight of the day was when team mascot Chomps was near our area and Becky ran after Chomps in order to get a picture of her sitting on his (?) lap and then the people that she had to pass in order to return to her seat asked her to do the same in which she graciously agreed to do.
Another came when a fellow seemed pretty excited about Jake Delhomme entering the game and then was reminded by another fan for the rest of the afternoon about how crummy Jake Delhomme was thereafter.It was kinda of rough on the fellow,but he did have it coming,I suppose.

The exodus of fans from the stadium was large,but reasonably orderly and the worst part was the 30 minute wait to catch the "red line" train back to the Terminal Tower,but once you reached there things went much smoother and faster.
Upon returning to Ashland,I was treated to my favorite pizza at Donna D's before kicking back for the night and watching more sports.
I was alone for some of the evening as my cousin Missy had her third child that night making it a long and hectic day for both Terry and Becky.

I would like to thank Terry and Becky for their hospitality and picking up almost everything for the weekend for me.
It was very nice of them and I had a blast.
Hopefully,I can do it again next season.
Also a quick thanks to Gayle for being so cool and nice to me in meeting for the first time.

I hope to be back later with more of the catching up posts!!

Photo Credits-
Becky Heimberger
Some other guy

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pigskin Pickin Machine-Joe Friday version

Super short Pigskin Pickin Machine this week in order to perhaps have time for a brief post tomorrow morning.

Ohio State over Indiana 28-18
Texas Tech over Baylor 34-33

Game of the week
Michigan State over michigan 35-28

Falcons over Browns 28-16


Game of the week
Jets over Vikings 21-13

Lincecum whiffs 14,Giants grab game one

A few thoughts on last nights game from the lefty side of our country that saw Tim Lincecum strike out 14 and allow just two hits to allow the San Francisco Giants to win Game one of the National League Division Series 1-0 over the Atlanta Braves.
Game two is tonight in Frisco with the Giants sending Matt Cain (13-11) to the hill against Atlanta's Tommy Hanson (10-11).

Giant Steps

1) Right off the bat-Buster Posey was out on his attempted steal in the fourth inning.
The umpire clearly missed the call and the calls for replay in the playoffs started right after.
Sorry,not from here.
I can live with the fair/foul replays and the did the ball leave the park on the home run reviews,but no further.

2) I understand Atlanta fans being upset about Posey scoring the only run shortly thereafter on a Cody Ross single,but some of the vitriol needs to go to the Braves Omar Infante,who clearly should have made what looked to me to be a routine play.

3) I didn't see Roy Halladay's no hitter against the Reds,but I find it difficult to believe that he was anymore dominating than Tim Lincecum last night.
Lincecum gave up a double to start the game to Omar Infante and would only give up one hit thereafter.
Put the 14 K's aside,the Braves weren't even coming close to hitting the baseball with any kind of pop and even at 1-0,you never had the feeling that they were going to tie the game as long as Lincecum stayed in the game....

4) Want another Lincecum stat? Atlanta hitters swung and missed 31 times during the game and ESPN claims that was a league high this season.

5) I know I wrote about West Coast baseball a week or so back,but there is no doubt that if any West Coast city has the type of East Coast fanaticism,it is the city by the Bay-Those fans were into the game all night and if Giants fans aren't the best west of St.Louis,you will have to prove it to me!

Time will be short tomorrow,but I hope to get a quick picking machine up and maybe a Devils and/or Giants recap of tonight's games.
If not,I'll add longer recaps covering a few games of both teams early next week.

Photo Credit-AP Photo

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Jersey Devils season preview

After an off season filled with arbitrators,NHL sanctions and miscellaneous issues,the New Jersey Devils drop the puck against Dallas in the first of a three game four day run to start the 2010-11 season.
The Devils made a few moves,but none more important than the long term signing of Ilya Kovalchuk as the franchise's first true superstar forward (Zach Parise could join him soon).

The Devils look to be setting themselves up for a super scoring line with Parise and Kovalchuk being centered by Travis Zajac.Kovalchuk would move to the right wing for the first time in his career on that line.
I am not sure on how long that line will stay together in order to keep the lines balanced,but it should be at least an option as the season goes on.
That line might be the highest scoring line in the league,assuming that Kovalchuk can make a smooth transition to the right wing.

The second line features the return of former Devils hero Jason Arnott,who was obtained from Nashville.Arnott plugs right in with former linemate Patrik Elias and captain Jamie Langenbrunner on a line that might be the top one for most teams.
All three are in their mid-thirties now though and none had a great season last year,so there are some questions,but the line has the potential to be a high scoring one as well...

The third line has the ability to be interesting as well.
Two of the players on this line have been rumored to possibly be the salary cap casualties from the Kovalchuk signing in Dainius Zubrus and Brian Rolston.
The pair will be working with David Clarkson,who looks to be ready to bust open as a twenty goal scorer.Zubrus and Rolston both are high salary players that might eventually have to be moved,but should be productive while in red and black.

Rod Pelley will be the checking line center and Pierre-Luc LeBlond joins him as the enforcer.
Adam Henrique will start the season with the team,although he shouldn't remain there long as it appears the Devils are biding time to find a way to sign Adam Mair to the roster.

The defensive corps has changed a bit with Paul Martin moving to Pittsburgh as a free agent and the Devils signing two free agents as well.
Anton Volchenkov brings his hard hitting style from Ottawa and gives the Devils the type of punishing hitter that Devils fans haven't seen since Scott Stevens.
Volchenov will be paired with Mark Fraser for now.
Henrik Tallinder was signed from Buffalo as a mentor of sorts to younger defensemen after his reported excellent job in breaking in Tyler Myers of the Sabres.Tallinder was expected to be paired with 19 year old Swede Alexander Urbom,but will start the season with Andy Greene.
Greene had his breakout season last year in which he moved from the 7th d-man to arguably the team top blueliner.Greene will be expected to duplicate those numbers and hopefully increase them on the power play to help replace Martin.
Veteran Colin White is assigned to the final grouping with the rookie Urbom in what looks to be a balanced pair,but could be an erratic one depending on Urbom's adjustments to the NHL game.

Martin Brodeur returns in net as the starter,but may finally get a drop in games played.I know that we hear that every year,but the Devils did make a larger than usual investment in a backup for Brodeur in Johan Hedberg.
Hedberg finally gives the team a goalie that could play 20 or so games and not feel like they are throwing the two points away in playing him.

Bryce Salvador is on the long term injury list with concussion issues and when he is ready to return,the team will need to make those long awaited roster moves to reach the salary cap line.
I am excited about this team and barring a move that would cost the team a huge contributor,I see this team as a Cup contender this season.
I think they finish no worse than second in the Atlantic Division and no worse than fifth in the Eastern Conference.
Exceeding both of those are extremely possible as well.
Let's Go Devils!!!!