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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cavaliers nipped by Boston 86-83

An awful first quarter and an erratic fourth period slightly outweighed some excellent play in the middle periods and the Boston Celtics escaped Cleveland with an 86-83 win over the Cavaliers.
Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 24 points,while Tristan Thompson and Ramon Sessions each scored 13 off the bench.
The lengthy homestand is now over for Cleveland,who travel to New York tonight against the Knicks.

Swashbucklings

1) Kyrie Irving left the floor in the first half with what proved to be a funny bone smack and then returned to the floor for the second half.
Irving kept the Cavaliers in the game and despite a steal late in the game by Boston off an Irving toss,I thought the steal was more an excellent anticipation by Kevin Garnett than a bad play by Irving.
All things considered,an excellent game for the rookie.

2) Wish I could say the same for the usual set of bricklayers.
Antawn Jamison 4 of 15 (and that's a low shot total for him),Anthony Parker 0 of 4 and Daniel Gibson 1 of 7.
A bad team (and things are better than I ever dreamed thus far) tends to shoot a low percentage,unless you play defense like a Paul Westhead team,so this is to be expected.
However,when you look at the close defeats that the Cavaliers have had,even a modest increase in shooting percentage would have likely meant a few more wins and solidly in the top eight in the conference.

3) Considering the above,is it too much to expect your veterans to shoot better?
I expect a low percentage from the young players or the lower men on the bench,but these experienced players are just killing me!
You can talk all you want about veteran guidance and locker room presence,but what I usually see from Jamison and Parker on the floor is that of fading players that need to be moved along to teams that will use them less..
Sometimes less can be more...

4) I know there was little time for the final three pointer,but why on earth did Byron Scott call the play that had Anthony Parker taking the final shot?
Parker did not hit a shot all night and HE is shooting with the game on the line?

5) Tristan Thompson scored 13 points and grabbed 10 boards,but I was excited with his 3 of 4 from the foul line.
Thompson entered the game under 50 % and had been reported to be "working hard" from the line,but you hear stuff like that all the time,
If Thompson improves from the line,he'll add a handful of points to the total per night and will keep him on the  floor in crunch time,so he will not stand out as a foul target.

6) Cleveland finished the nine game run of home games with a 4-5 record.
That seems about right to me,they beat the Clippers,balanced that out with the loss to the Hornets and everything else looks about the way it should.
5-4 would have been about right as well and better.

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Forgotten Superstars:Greg Cook

We return to the Forgotten Superstars universe with a look at the loss of a player that could have tipped the balance of power away from the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970's and towards Cincinnati.
Greg Cook was that good.
What more would you expect from a player that was referred to by Bill Walsh as one that “could very well have been remembered or noted as the greatest quarterback of all time.”.
Not bad praise from someone that coached many of the best ever at the position.

Greg Cook was a hometown player having spent his college days as a Cincinnati Bearcat and was the Bengals first round pick in the 1969 draft.
Cook fired the ball downfield with abandon and won the first three games of his career before suffering the injury that would end his career-a torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder.
Cook would miss the next three Bengals games (all losses) and would return for the rest of the season.
Cook played through the pain,making the injury worse and with surgery still unable to repair the shoulder at that time-other than a 1 game,3 pass appearance in 1973-Greg Cook's career was finished.

Greg Cook averaged over 9 yards a throw and over 17 yards a completion,both of which are still rookie records for pro football!
Considering the styles of 1969 and the current day,the fact that those records still stand are a testament to the talent of Greg Cook.
Imagine the talented Bengal teams of the mid-70's,which were already good with the excellent Ken Anderson,but instead with a Cook at the controls.
Is it possible that one or two of those Steeler super bowls do not exist?
Remember that was the age of just four teams getting into the playoffs from each conference,so considering that the Steelers and Bengals were in the same division and the Bengals could never get past Pittsburgh,maybe Cook is the difference on some occasions.

Bill Walsh always lamented the loss of Greg Cook to the game,but Greg Cook gave the game one final gift (or a pain if you prefer) with the injuries that he suffered.
Walsh was the offensive coordinator for Cincinnati and had to figure out a way to best use the replacement for Cook-the smaller and the lacking in arm strength Virgil Carter.
Walsh's answer?
Shorter passes with quick releases to check down receivers to minimize Carter's less than strong arm.
In other words-the beginning of what would become the West Coast Offense.
And it was all due to the loss of Greg Cook....

Want to collect Greg Cook cards?There are not many of them-only four.
Cook's cards were all released in 1970 and Topps never printed another Cook card,,which seemed odd that Cook was not even in the 1971 set to me.

Greg Cook passed away a few months ago and for a brief instant returned to the news page for what might have been.
And for many others-what might have not been....




Photo Credits:Unknown

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Reversal of fortune in 2-0 loss to Rangers

Almost three weeks ago,the New Jersey Devils were in the same place and against the same team and won a hard hitting defensive battle 1-0.
This time,they lost in virtually the same result,2-0 with the final goal into the empty net.
The defeat was the third in a row for the Devils,who's road will get no easier with their next game on Thursday in Boston.....

Hell Raisers

1) If you like hard hitting and defensive hockey and who doesn't (I see the hockey media cringing from here),this was the game for you.
27 shots combined between the teams,but 61 combined hits?
Each teams had a few chances and the Rangers took advantage of one.
I did not see a ton of difference in this one other than the Carl Hagelin goal....

2) You should know that I am a David Clarkson fan,but his total of 19 penalty minutes in the game showed a lack of discipline on his part.
Of a special note is Clarkson's leaving his feet for charging just so he could get a piece of Brandon Dubinsky..
I usually applaud such fire,but on this night,Clarkson was so revved up that he played out of control and hurt the team...

3) On the final goal of the game,I saw three things that concerned me from the newest Devil,who Rachel has already decided she didn't like before the game.
I could forgive Zidlicky's mishandle of the puck,which led to the final goal and I could maybe overlook his tripping penalty for trying to slow Carl Hagelin up,but what I really hated was Zidlicky's not busting his hump to try to catch the puck on the play...
Something that I will be watching....

4) Hagelin's the goal came on a shot that just found the right hole at the right time.
Martin Brodeur gave up the wrong side of the net and Mark Fayne stood in the opposite spot and things happen.
I sometimes think that I am too hard on Fayne,but for a player that is supposed to be solid,his play just frustrates me so...

5) So,that's three losses in a row.
Two of them to the best two teams in the game and each were down to the wire,one goal games.
What does this tell me?
Not just falling playoff position spots,the Devils would be better off finishing sixth and tackling one of the wimpy Southeast trio than a bruising series against either Philly or Pittsburgh,but the way these games were played.
These were the type of hand to hand combat that you see in playoff hockey and the Devils came up lacking in offense and often composure.
This is something else to keep an eye on as the playoffs approach....

Photo Credit-AP Photo

Monday, February 27, 2012

Shocked by the Lightning

The New Jersey Devils never seemed to truly get untracked after a first period goal by Alexei Ponikarovsky (12) and was pretty much outplayed thereafter in a 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay at the Rock.
Tampa's Martin St.Louis scored three of the Lightning's four goals against Martin Brodeur.
Zach Parise (23 power play) and Petr Sykora (15) were the remaining Devils scorers.
The Devils cross the river today against the Rangers at 7:30.

Hell Raisers

1) Rough day for the returning Adam Larsson,who pretty much allowed two of the St.Louis goals.
It is not something that I am concerned about as the combination of the layoff and Larsson's rookie status likely caused the performance...

2) Martin Brodeur's numbers look less than stellar with four goals on sixteen shots,but I did not think that any of that were exceedingly soft.
Brodeur was not super,but not bad as the numbers indicate...

3) Tampa did get a goal from former Ranger Matt Gilroy,who was almost a Devil after entering the NHL as a free agent.
Gilroy has always been one of those players that I thought would be a good fit in New Jersey and I was surprised that the Devils were not mildly interesting in him as a free agent...

4) Ken Daneyko stated in the pre-game show that this was a "trap game" for the Devils and it made sense before and after.
Considering the strong effort in the Vancouver loss and the Rangers coming up the next day,that makes as much sense as anything else for the average game today....

5) Put the goal by Alexei Ponikarovsky aside,I have really liked his play since being acquired from Carolina.
Ponikarovsky has hustled and done all that has been asked of him,along with been surprisingly physical.
I would not be against bringing him back to the team next season and keeping him off the free agent market..

Photo Credit:Bruce Bennett-Getty Images

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cleaning out the Inbox-II

We will attempt to finish the inbox cleaning today with some more different items that have caught my eye.

A 27 pound lobster?
Rocky was caught recently in the appropriately named Rockland,Maine and he is a monster.
Supposedly,Rocky would not taste that good,if he were on a dinner plate as lobsters do not carry their flavor as well into old age.
Rocky will spend his golden years at the Maine State Aquarium rather than take his chances in returning to the ocean.

The film "Billy Jack" has always been a guilty pleasure,despite it's being more and more dated as time goes by and the sometimes hilarious (Unintentionally) acting and fight scenes.
A recent showing on one of the movie networks brought it to mind and I looked up info on the film.
Here is an interview with the main heel of the film, David Roya,who played "Bernard Posner",which was always pronounced BERN-ERD in the film for some reason.
Roya's performance was the best in the film as acting goes,which is kinda like me winning a bodybuilding contest with Abdullah the Butcher,but I digress.
Apparently Roya did not get along well with director,producer,star Tom "Billy Jack" Laughlin during the film or afterwards....

The NFL's blackout policy might be far from great currently,but it used to be worse-as in the home games were not on TV anywhere in the home team's area,sellout or not.
But Richard Nixon,of all people,offered the NFL a compromise that the league might have preferred to the current policy and the league turned the offer down.
Nixon wanted the blackouts on playoff games lifted and then Nixon would help keep all regular season blackouts intact.
Pete Rozelle refused and the next year the current policy was inacted,which I believe enabled the NFL to roll past baseball as the national sport....

Give Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post credit-she can write satire!
Her roasting of Maryland football coach Randy Edsall did not just burn Edsall a bit,she cooked him to a formless char in her column!

This is hilarious as a kindergartner refused to color the Kansas Jayhawk for school because she was a fan of the rival Kansas State Wildcats!
Read the link for the bargaining session for five year old Emma Burton to color the Jayhawk,her various refusals and insistence/apology on coloring the Wildcat!
Good for you,Emma!!
For an even more detailed story,read Emma's mom's blog Bug Bytes for more on the issue!

Yahoo is doing a series on ten reasons it is great to be a fan of each baseball team.
The Giants are finished and can be found here,while the Pirates and Indians have yet to be posted....

As a long time fan of Petula Clark and her 60's pop songs (Hard to believe she turns 80 this year),I was pleased to find the song below with PC helping out the Irish band the Saw Doctors in a cover of her classic Downtown!
Great stuff!



Photo Credits
Lobster: Maine State Aquarium
Emma's picture: Bug Bytes.net

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Devils add Marek Zidlicky

As I noted earlier in the day,the New Jersey Devils announced during their loss to the Vancouver Canucks that the team had added defenseman Marek Zidlicky from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for three players,a second round pick that the team had acquired from Washington last season and a conditional third rounder that would be added if the Devils make the Eastern Conference finals this season.

The 35 year old Zidlicky had been a healthy scratch often this season with the Wild and has not scored a goal to along with 14 assists and had been at odds with the Minnesota coaching staff.
A motivated Zidlicky was a top of the line player in his time with Nashville and his first season in Minnesota and considering his skills with the puck,Zidlicky might be an excellent choice to be paired with a defense oriented partner at full strength.
Anton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador have played very well of late as a shutdown team,but either might be a good selection as a prospective unit with Zidlicky.
Zidlicky brings power play skills to the blueline that are different that what Kurtis Foster brought,but still unique on the Devils.
While Foster was brought to Newark on the basis of his powerful shot,Zidlicky is more of a passer type that will run the power play from the point,which is a skill that is not currently a strength of the Devils defensemen at this time.

The Devils sent forwards Nick Palmieri and Stephane Vellieux along with the aforementioned Kurtis Foster from the teams defensemen to the Wild along with the mentioned draft picks.
None of these are a major loss to the organization,although Palmieri was a player that I would have liked to have seen had a little more time to develop.
That said,Palmieri had went from being part of the Kovalchuk/Parise line at the beginning of the season to Albany,so one might not have a better chance than that to impress the team.
Foster was a mild help on the power play,but awkward in any other situations and likely had to be included to make things work on the salary cap side of things.
Vellieux is just a veteran AHLer that had Minnesota connections,so his addition was likely a favor to him.

I was not "wild" about adding the second rounder,but that seems to be the going rate for a rental player.
However,Zidlicky is not a true rental as he is signed through next season,albeit at a four million dollar cost,so that has both its positive and negative-more use of the player against the high cap hit.
I am also not concerned about a Zidlicky attitude issue as both Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora are good friends and I am sure that he knows up front what will be expected from him....

I am not against the trade,although I would have liked to have kept that second rounder,but none of the departed players are likely to be missed,so for now I am tentatively Ok with the trade....

Photo Credit:Unknown

Great effort,but not enough in loss to Vancouver

The New Jersey Devils had plenty of things of note to write about on this night.
A tribute to Doc Emrick,a trade for the stretch run and a solid game against perhaps the best team in the league.
None of that was enough against Vancouver netminder Cory Schneider,who was amazing in goal and the Devils fell to Vancouver 2-1.
David Clarkson's second period goal (24) pulled the Devils to within one goal of tying the game,but they would get no closer against Schneider.
New Jersey is off today before a 1 O'clock start tomorrow at the Rock against Tampa and a Monday night game against the Rangers at MSG.

Hell Raisers

1) The Devils finally acquired defenseman Marek Zidlicky from Minnesota for Nick Palmieri, Kurtis Foster,Stephane Veilleux and a second rounder that was obtained from Washington last season.
I plan on returning later today or tomorrow with a post on the trade...

2) Cory Schneider was sensational in net for Vancouver and showed why he will be starting somewhere next season,even if not as a Canuck.
Great game for the backup to Roberto Luongo and someone is going to get themselves quite a talent.
I wish it were the Devils!!!

3) I cannot fault the effort in this loss.
The Devils crashed the net,played with intensity,put pucks on the goal.
The bounces just did not go their way-it happens....

4) The team honored the best in the business as former Devils TV voice Doc Emrick was honored with plenty of gifts,but the star might have been Doc's wife Joyce,who was quite animated throughout,but especially with her stunned look and followup throwing flowers in the air when a new Mercury was driven out for the Emricks!
Emrick was well deserving on all the tributes and I love the manner that the Devils always give honors for members of the Devils family-very classy...

5) Ryan Carter returned from the IR,but other than that,the fourth line continued to show little.
I would bet that the Devils are finished in dealings,but I would not be surprised for one more piece to arrive to try to add something to that fourth line....

Photo Credit-AP Photo

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cleaning out the Inbox

The inbox is so full that I will be doing two cleanings of it over the next day or so!

We start with the oldest from the box and an invasion!
Of the Giant African snail in Florida!
This quote from the link gives you an idea that these guys are not exactly the cuddly sort!




ht african land snails florida thg 110916 wblog Giant African Snails Invade Miami Florida“They leave excrement all over the sides of houses. They’re very nasty,”  “These things are not the cute little snails that you see.”
They also pose a health risk by carrying a parasite that can cause meningitis in humans."

Lovely,huh?

Could the "Crosstown Shootout" between Cincinnati and Xavier seriously be in jeopardy?
This article thinks so and it seems more from the Bearcat end than from the Muskie side.
This game and rivalry is such a terrific one,I hope cooler heads prevail and keep this thing rolling....

My favorite Aunt Becky sends me more on the projected second Cleveland Inner Belt Bridge.
ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) will try to move the project back to the forefront with an attempt to earn federal grants to pay for some of the deficit.
Becky says they need it and if things are to the point that you refuse to cross the current model-it appears that they do!

Time for two goodbyes

Goodbye to Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter,who succumbed to brain cancer at the age of 57.
Carter played for four teams,but is most remembered as a Montreal Expo and New York Met.
Carter always played with hustle and was an easy player to root for...

Thanks to Travis Aldous for sending me this note on the passing of former Dolphin and 49er wideout Freddie Solomon at the age of 59.
Solomon was a mainstay of the beginnings of the Bill Walsh era with the Niners as the main target along with Dwight Clark of Joe Montana.
Solomon had been battling both colon and liver cancer.
Wow,cancer sure has been taking some good ones away of recent date.

Still six more items in the inbox,so look for part two soon

Snails;Florida Dept.of Agriculture...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hornets hold off Cavaliers 89-84

The Cleveland Cavaliers once again attempted to make a fourth quarter rally enough to overcome three quarters of mediocre basketball, got to within one point of the New Orleans Hornets and had a chance to take the lead on a few occasions.
However,the wheels were not there on this night as the Hornets were able to fend off Cleveland 89-84 at the Q.
Antawn Jamison led all scorers with 22 points in the loss,which dropped Cleveland to 13-18 entering the stoppage for the All-Star game.
Cleveland will be back at the Q next Tuesday against the Boston Celtics..

Swashbucklings

1) The BIG difference in this was New Orleans center Chris Kaman,who the Cavaliers had no one that could stop him and no one to make him work on defense.
Kaman finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds and showed just how large the hole in the Cleveland middle truly is.
Kaman is on the trading block for the Hornets and will be a nice addition for some team...

2) Kaman also did one thing in the New Orleans game plan-Kaman refused to give the lane away for the Kyrie Irving drive and made Irving and others fire away from the outside.
I would wager more teams will try this strategy as Irving finished with just six points on two of thirteen shooting...

3) Kyrie Irving showed some signs of dead legs and I look for that to be an issue for not just Irving,but all rookies.
With the lockout,none of those players came into the season in true top game shape without a full training camp.
There is always a "wall" for rookies,but considering the circumstances,the wall will be higher  and hit faster than usual this season....

4) Austin Carr made an excellent point regarding the lack of the mid range shooting in today's game.
Carr's reasoning is that the skill is not developed due to driving the ball to the basket or laying back for the three pointer.
Carr believes if a player develops that game,his success rates zooms higher as few defenders will guard in that area and I believe he makes a ton of sense....

5) Take away Antawn Jamison's 22 points and the other four starters combine for just 23?
Ugh.New Orleans plays tough defense and slows the game down (A LOT),but Cleveland's 31% shooting on the night was just pitiful and I do not want to hear back to back games as an excuse,this game was the Hornets third in three nights and they played into overtime the night before...

6) I really like the game of former Maryland Terrapin Grevis Vasquez.
Vasquez turns the ball over more than I care for,but his game is different,makes him difficult to defend and I bet he sticks around for a long time in the league with his unusual skill set...

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Should have let sleeping Cavaliers lie.....

The Cleveland Cavaliers looked almost asleep for three quarters against the Detroit Pistons and entered the final period down eleven points.
Suddenly,things turned as Kyrie Irving scored 17 of his 25 points in the quarter and led the Cavaliers to a thrilling
101-100 win over Detroit at the Q.
Irving and Alonzo Gee scored 30 of the team's 35 points in the last stanza.
Antawn Jamison finished with a game high 32 points for Cleveland.
Cleveland will host the New Orleans Hornets tonight...

Swashbucklings

1) Cannot say much more about the fourth quarter of Kyrie Irving as he was the dominant player on the floor.
Irving's game was more than just scoring,it was filled with steals,assists and an all around game that made you wonder where it was in the first three quarters!!

2) Alonzo Gee also was a key factor in the win as Gee scored 13 points and grabbed six boards in the period.
Gee has developed into a strong player as his outside shot has improved vastly,but I also like his flair for the moment as he nailed all five free throws in the final period...
Gee missed time earlier in the game after taking a elbow to the nose that was quite bloody..

3) Antawn Jamison hit 11 of 22 from the floor,including one drive to the hole that brought back memories of the old two dimensional Jamison.
I still think Jamison can help a contender if used in a off the bench role and I would be surprised to see him still in Cleveland after the trade deadline...

4) Give Daniel Gibson credit for hitting both free throws with under three seconds to go and a two point lead.
After Gibson's shot to move the lead to four,Detroit hit the half courter that could have tied the game with one Gibson miss...

5) The Cavaliers released Ben Uzoh and brought former Cavalier Manny Harris up from Canton.
Harris had played 54 games in Cleveland last season before being injured in the off season with a freezer burn to a foot.
Harris was the third leading scorer in the D league and was signed to a ten day deal....
Harris did not see action against Detroit.

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Devils mash the Monster in Overtime!

The New Jersey Devils kept firing throughout the game against Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson and that was the difference as shots that seemingly were saves made their way into the back of the net three times in the contest before Mark Fayne's (4) seemingly harmless shot bounced off "the Monster" for the game winner in overtime for a 4-3 Devils win.
New Jersey goals to David Clarkson (23),Petr Sykora (14) and Alexei Ponikarovsky (11).
The Devils now have two days off before "Doc" Emrick night Friday night against the Canucks.....

Hell Raisers

1) Petr Sykora's goal to start off the scoring was set up by a beautiful pass by Adam Henrique from near the goal line.
Henrique's pass was so sharp that Sykora's initial attempt was stopped before a Sykora rebound resulted in a goal...

2) Take away that goal and each of the other goals can have assists given to Johan Gustavsson,who allowed David Clarkson a wide open spot through the five,Alexei Ponikarovsky to dribble a seemingly easy save through the same spot and then misplay the Mark Fayne shot for the bad goalie hat trick....

3) Devils fans and myself,worry about the defensive injuries that result in one is basically an Albany pairing of Matt Taormina and Peter Harrold and the second Toronto goal was against that pairing.
Harrold was against a two on one and cannot cover both,so that left Martin Brodeur against Clarke Macarthur = goal.

4) David Clarkson had a goal scored,but his most impressive thing to me was his taking on Dion Phaneuf after a borderline hit on Zach Parise.
I thought it could have been called a penalty,but it was not a dirty hit to my way of thinking.
Clarkson likely would have gotten a decision against the large Maple Leaf and taking up for the captain is always a sign of a jelling team...

5) I thought the PK band was great in the win as Ilya Kovalchuk pulled a "Bobby Orr" by skating with the puck for a large chunk of one kill and not allowing Toronto to touch the puck.
After a short stint of trouble on the kill,the Devils have recently returned to dominance when down a man and for my money have to be the best penalty killers in the league....

Back later with Cavaliers-Pistons!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

On the signing front

Time to finish up the signing front for the year,this may take me a while to do,so apologies up front...

First off to the mailbox

Baseball
Former Astros outfielder Terry Puhl
Former White Sox and Orioles pitcher Bruce Howard
Former Astros first baseman Jim Gentile
Former Indians and Rangers outfielder Jim Norris
Former Pirates pitcher Steve Blass
Former Tigers pitcher Ned Garver-added a cartoon of him autographed
Former Orioles outfielder Ken Gerhart
Former Pirates pitcher Bob Friend
Former Senators,A's and Cardinals pitcher Darold Knowles
Former Orioles catcher Dan Graham
Former Senators,Indians and A's pitcher Dick Bosman
Former Indians pitcher Scott Bailes
Former Indians and Brewers outfielder Rick Manning
Former Orioles,Phillies and Astros shortstop Kiko Garcia
Former Orioles and Indians pitcher Wayne Garland
Former Expos and Orioles outfielder Ken Singleton
Former Reds second baseman and Astros manager Grady Hatton
Former White Sox,Mariners and Rangers third baseman Bill Stein
Former Indians manager Ken Aspromonte
Former Mariners and Royals outfielder Danny Tartabull
Former Pirates and Cardinals shortstop Dick Groat
Former Dodgers and Indians outfielder Chuck Essegian
Former Reds and Astros catcher Johnny Edwards-Included a signed postcard as well
Former Pirates,Astros and Expos manager Bill Virdon
Former Phillies farmhand Tyler Mach
Former Mets and Rangers pitcher Jon Matlack
Former Astros and Mariners pitcher Floyd Bannister
Former Tigers,Yankees and Pirates outfielder Steve Kemp
Former Pirates second baseman Warren Morris
Former Red Sox,Angels,Orioles and Mets pitcher Don Aase
Former Indians outfielder George Vuckovich
Former Twins pitcher Ed Bane
Former White Sox,Mets and Cubs utilityman J.C.Martin
Former Royals.Angels and Orioles first baseman Bob Oliver
Former White Sox,A's.Pirates and Mets shortstop Bill Almon
Former Red Sox first baseman Dave Stapleton
Former Rangers outfielder Pete Incaviglia
Former Blue Jays pitcher Juan Guzman
Former Red Sox and Yankees pitcher Bill Monboquette
Former Orioles shortstop Bob Bonner-Included a nice pamphlet on his foundation....
Former Cubs outfielder George Altman

Football
Former Eagles and Dolphins fullback Norm Bulaich
Former Rams running back Marcus Dupree
Former Cowboys linebacker Lee Roy Jordan
Former Lions running back Steve Owens -Added a signed Oklahoma card as well!!!!
Former Cowboys guard John Niland
Former Colts corner (and OSU QB) Rex Kern
Browns corner Joe Haden-Certified @ card show

Basketball
Former Nuggets guard Mark Macon
Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson-Certified @ card show

Hockey
Former Devils center Kevin Todd

Now we move to more thank yous ranging from the 2011 season to current...

Thanks to our most faithful reader Big Don,who helped us immensely on his road trip last season and knocked out about all the players that you could think of for the Pirates AAA Indianapolis and AA Altoona clubs as well as most of the work on the Indians AA Akron team.
Don also filled in four players from a few years back in sets that I thought were done for in Will Inman,Aaron Poreda (Now in the Pirates org),John Bowker and the elusive Luis Perdomo.
Don also added numerous programs,an Akron baseball and an Aeros necktie,which will be a staple of my work meetings from now on....
Thanks for the help and friendship,Don!

Thanks to Mike Oravec for his signed cards of the late Bruce Del Canton,Sixto Lezcano,Boots Day,Max Alvis,Al Rosen (YES!) and Jackie Brown,who always makes me think of the Richard Pryor movie the Toy.
Mike has also been instrumental in helping me complete the 1976 Topps set and added a huge chunk of my holy grail-the 1971 Topps set...
Thanks for all your help,Mike.

Tom O'brien has been noted in the past as a huge help and on this list,Tom added former big leaguers Steve Foulcault and Butch Hobson from Indy ball.
Thanks again,Tom.

The "Superfan"Dave Sloan has already knocked out the sets for the 2011 versions of Aberdeen and Tri-City for me as well trading a large number of cards with me as well.
Too many good cards to mention,but Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals stands out to me since I missed him in Hagerstown.
Thanks to the caped one....

This catches me up,so now to put these away and start more prep work for the upcoming season!!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Burned by the Heat and Crowning the Kings

The Cleveland Cavaliers bounced back from an embarrassing  111-87 loss on Friday to the Miami Heat,that frankly was not THAT close with a 93-92 win over the Sacramento Kings last night at the Q
Kyrie Irving nailed two free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining in the game to turn a one point deficit into a one point victory.
Irving led Cleveland in scoring in both games with 23 points in the win and 17 in the loss.
The Cavaliers will play back to back home games on Tuesday and Wednesday as they host the Detroit Pistons and New Orleans Hornets.

Swashbucklings

1) A few words on the loss to begin.
Byron Scott blasted his club for a weak effort and claimed his team was "Scared of one man".
As talented as LeBron James is,scared is not the word that I would use.
I prefer Starstruck as many of these guys have either watched him for years or played with him on teams built around him.
This will wear off with each encounter against Miami...

2) This is the first and maybe only time that I will comment on these LeBron James comments that he will return to Cleveland.
Would I take James back and forgive?Maybe,depending what that situation would be.
Could I forget?" No,things can never go back to where they were and James knows that he made a mistake.
A mistake that he can never get back,no matter what he does.

3) The win over the Kings was an entertaining one between two young and not very good teams that were filled with fun,exciting and often times sloppy play.
Racehorse basketball can be fun,but not always pleasing to the eye as was shown by the 37 and 36 % shooting by each team for the evening.

4) Ramon Sessions continues to raise his trade profile with solid games against both teams.
Sessions scored 29 points and had 10 assists in the games and continues to show that he can run an offense off the bench for 20-25 minutes a night for a contender...

5) Super night for Tristan Thompson against the Kings with 15 points and 12 rebounds with seven of those on the offensive end.
Thompson still has a long way to go offensively with limited moves with the ball,but the potential was there to be putting up similar numbers to these every night...

6) Cleveland is now 12-17 and with upcoming games against weak sisters Detroit and New Orleans,it is not out of the question to win both of those games.
The problem is when you are playing in a lot of pick em games,you can lose some of those as well.
The Hornets have won their last three games and I am looking forward to seeing them on Wednesday.

7) The Kings may have had issues earlier in the year with DeMarcus Cousins and he is still a bit raw offensively,but I love the way he hits the glass!
If the Kings want to move him,I'll trade any Cavalier other than Kyrie Irving for him this minute!

8) Speaking of Irving,one had to love drilling those pressure free throws with the win on the line,especially when you consider Antwan Jamison clunking two in a similar spot .
Irving had to hit both for win,while Jamison needed to just hit one of two.
19 or not-Irving is the leader of this team....

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Devils deflect Montreal!

The New Jersey Devils used deflected shots in the goal by Zach Parise (22) and David Clarkson (22) to give the Devils all the goals that they needed in a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Quebec.
Each goal came late in the first two periods and with Martin Brodeur continuing his hot run of late,was more than enough for the win.
Matt Taormina scored his first goal of the season in the third period to salt the game away.
The Devils passed Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and moved into fourth place in the division standings with the win.
New Jersey visits Toronto tomorrow night at 7:00..

Hell Raisers

1) Another strong game for Martin Brodeur,but besides playing well in his hometown of Montreal,Brodeur had even more incentive as his dad,the former team photographer for the Canadiens,recently underwent brain surgery.
Some players use personal issues as fuel and some let it affect their game negatively,it appears Brodeur is the former....

2) Anton Volchenkov took a puck in the mouth in the first period that removed him from the game after being prone on the ice for a few minutes.
Volchenkov returned for the final two periods,puffed up mouth and all.
Blocking shots is a huge part of Volchenkov's game and I suppose it comes with that territory,but that has to hurt!!!

3) I always like to write about crashing the net and all three goals resulted as part of that duty.
The Parise and Clarkson goals came off deflected shots and Steve Bernier did a great job of getting in Carey Price's vision so that Price could not see the Matt Taormina goal-great work in that area in the win....

4) Kurtis Foster missed the game with illness and Peter Harrold was recalled from Albany and did not play badly.
The Devils are battered on the blue line and  are still getting by,could things be better once the injured players return???

5) The game was called kinda loose with just three penalties called between the two teams.A couple of could have been called,especially a Montreal slewfoot on Ilya Kovalchuk in the second,but I would rather let them play for the entire game than loose for two periods and then tight for one.

I am very tired from working so much and still have to work tonight,so my intentions are to do a two game Cavalier recap later tonight,but if not-it will be tomorrow's lead.
If I get to it tonight,I'll do a feature story tomorrow..

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Drowning the Ducks in the shootout!

In a game that saw great goaltending,scoring chances,a disallowed game ending goal and a goal for each team that dribbled through the goalie in the shootout-Patrik Elias finally ended the game in the shootout for a 3-2 New Jersey Devils win over the Anaheim Ducks.
Ilya Kovalchuk had scored earlier in the shootout to give the Devils a lead that Anaheim matched.
Anaheim tied the game with a bit over two minutes to play on a goal by former Devil Sheldon Brookbank and the Ducks appeared to have won the game on a overtime goal by Ryan Getlaff,which sent Marty Brodeur and every other player dressed in red and black to their feet in protest.
Our friends in Toronto agreed with the Devils and the game played on.
Adam Henrique (15) and Alexei Ponikarovsky (10) scored the Devils regulation goals.
The Devils travel to Montreal tomorrow night for the first of two games in Canada this week...

Hell Raisers

1) The best player on the ice was Martin Brodeur and he was deservedly the first star.
Brodeur made several sprawling saves,including one on Corey Perry on a 2 on 1 shorthanded rush.
Brodeur was razor sharp in the win and continues his recent stellar play...

2) Give Jonas Hiller of Anaheim some credit as well.
The Devils made Hiller work for his money in the quality chance department and Hiller was more than up to the task.
I was quite impressed with Hiller in this one...

3) The Devils are slowly pulling away in the playoff race.
New Jersey is solidly in 6th in the Eastern Conference and only one point out of fourth/fifth,which is currently a tie between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Due to the NHL playoff rules,the sixth place team would play the third place team which would be the Southeast Division champions,who would currently be in 8th via points.
The Devils could play a weaker opponent in the playoffs by finishing sixth instead of higher and that simply is not right....

4) Eric Boulton fought George Parros in the first period and was destroyed with a huge cut above the right eye.Parros ranks with the league's biggest bangers and Boulton was out of his league.


5) Adam Henrique has returned to form after being returned to the Parise/Kovachuk line.
Travis Zajac and his playmaking skills may be a super fit when the day comes that he returns,but I would keep Henrique on this line as long as I possibly could...

6) Former Devils Sheldon Brookbank scored for the first time in over two years for the Ducks.
I was not thrilled at the time,but Brookbank was always a high effort player for the Devils,so considering that the Devils earned the two points anyway,I felt good for the veteran....

Photo Credits:AP Photo

Pirates nab A.J.Burnett

The trade is not official yet,but it seems that the Pittsburgh Pirates have finally gotten a deal finished with the Yankees for veteran righthander A.J. Burnett.
Pittsburgh will be shipping two minor leaguers to the Yanks,neither of which are high on my prospect radar in pitcher Diego Moreno and outfielder Exicardo Cayones.
Pittsburgh will be paying 13 million of the remaining 33 million of the Burnett contract,which has two seasons to run,so the prospects that were going to be given up were never going to be elite or even of the high/middle level.
Moreno is a righthander with interesting numbers,but will turn 26 as the season progresses and has had little success above High A.
Cayones is a 20 year old outfielder that has hit one homer in three years as a pro and looked overmatched in a cameo appearance at short season State College,so I will not lose much sleep over the lost talent or the 13 million paid Burnett,who at 6.5 million per year could prove a bargain or least not a money pit as long he takes the ball every fifth day.

Let's take a look at Burnett and see just what the Pirates can count on.
Burnett strikes batters out with a career ratio over over eight whiffs per nine innings,has been healthy since 2004 Tommy John Surgery and if you take the last two seasons away is pretty dependable for an ERA in the threes to low fours.
The gamble with Burnett is that if you think the issue is the new Yankee Stadium,which is proving to inflate pitching numbers,then the Pirates could have themselves a solid anchor of their rotation at PNC Park,a much more forgiving park for the hurler.
However,it could be that the 35 year old Burnett is almost cooked as a pitcher and the Pirates will be paying 13 million to find out.

I lean towards the former,but if Burnett was a sure thing,the cash flush Bronxers would have certainly kept him in their rotation.
The trade does suddenly bring the dreaded "P" word as in potential to the table as suddenly the Pirates could
(emphasis on COULD) have themselves a fairly decent rotation in a resurgent Burnett,a healthy Eric Bedard (another huge IF),Charlie Morton ( health and inconsistency),James McDonald and either Jeff Karstens or Brad Lincoln.
Karstens had a terrific year last season,but I still think he is better suited to be the long/middle reliever and fill in starter in case of injury,which looking at this rotation looks more likely than not....
However,they could also have a pretty crappy one too as we imagine Burnett continuing his decline,Bedard getting injured,Morton either comes back slow from injury and/or reverts to 2010 from and Karstens becomes well,Jeff Karstens other than in 2011.
I think the difference will be somewhere in between.
I would guess that Burnett improves just by getting out of NYC and Bedard just can never be counted on safely to be healthy..

All and all,the trade is a low risk high reward other than spending some dollars for a guy that could anchor your rotation this season and with some luck and some work,could be a valuable trade chip in 2013.
The Pirates gave up nothing of true value for Burnett and worse case scenario is Burnett is not very good and they spent some money trying to win,which all we can ask and have been asking for.

Back later with the Devils thrilling win over Anaheim,which got pushed back with the trade and the Cavaliers crushed by Miami.
I will try to get at least one of these up today,guess which one????

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cleveland Browns 2011 in review-Special Teams

Better late than never,we finish our season in review of the Cleveland Browns with a quick look at the special teams...

Kicking

Phil Dawson was excellent yet again for a bad team nailing 24 of 29 on the season and a sensational 7 of 8 from 50 yards and longer.
Dawson was perfect on extra points and as usual,a rare bright spot on the team.
Dawson will likely be kicking for a contender next season and I wish him well..

Grade: A

Punting

Brad Maynard was signed from the waiver wire after a disastrous opener from Richmond McGee.
The veteran averaged 40 yards a boot,which is nothing special,but nothing that will kill the team either.
Maynard did keep over a third of his kicks inside the twenty,which is a good stat that can keep the overall average number down...

Grade: C

Kick Returns

Josh Cribbs did the lions share of the work on kicks and punts and was solid enough in improving his numbers from 2010.
Cribbs did seem to lack the burst that he was always known for and that could be due to age.
Cribbs might be better suited for returning either kicks or punts next year and allowing Buster Skrine to do the other.
That could help Cribbs numbers next year..

Grade B-

Double Duty tonight with the Devils-Ducks and the Cavaliers vs the Heat...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pounding the Pacers!

Kyrie Irving's return to the lineup sparked some sharp shooting in the first half for the Cleveland Cavaliers,who ran off to as much as a 21 point lead and held on from there in a 98-87 victory over the Indiana Pacers at the Q.
Irving led Cleveland with 22 points with Semih Erden (Yes,really!) added 18 in a career high effort.
The Cavaliers host Miami Friday night.

Swashbucklings

1) Kyrie Irving established his health quickly as the rookie drove the basket at his opportunity for a layin.
Irving shot the ball very well and looks to be in solid form..

2) Semih Erden 18 points? Yep with 7 of 8 shooting and just as important-energy and hustle on defense!
Perhaps this is a by-product of the Anderson Varejao injury,but Erden showed some of the Varejao game in this one....

3) Ramon Sessions scored 13 on a 5 for 5 shooting night,but most interesting was that Byron Scott played Sessions with Kyrie Irving for a while.
A look that the team had not shown before and the pair played well together.
Could it be that Sessions was being showcased and putting something on tape with Sessions playing well with another point guard on the floor?

4) Daniel Gibson left the game with a sprained ankle in the third period with eight points.
No word on his availability for the Miami games..

5) Five players in double figures and shooting that did not fall under 50 % until late in the game.
Usually that means that this is your night!

Photo Credit-AP

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bruce Quinn speaks and so do Winchester citizens

The Hagerstown Herald Mail was finally able to talk to Hagerstown Suns majority owner Bruce Quinn for more than a brief comment in today's version and although nothing earthshaking came out of the article,one interesting note did.
Quinn claims (and I have no reason not to believe him) that the Washington Nationals and professional baseball sent the team a letter that discussed the poor conditions of Municipal Stadium that would need to be addressed in order for the team to stay in Hagerstown.
I have no problem in believing that statement as after all,I attend games there,so I think Quinn is pretty straight forward there.
Quinn also discusses the money that the team invested in attempting to fix the playing surface at the Muni that did not take and the fact that the city did help in renovating the clubhouse last year that was then ruined by a water leak this past fall.

I have to be honest and fair.
I want baseball in town,so however this happens,I am going to be pretty pleased with,but as a citizen,of course the fairest deal would be preferable.
I have never met Bruce Quinn,would not know him,if he walked up and introduced himself to me,but I have not seen one thing that he has done thus far that any reasonable businessman would not do when dealing with the rundown facilities that his team is forced to play in.
I also have not seen any ridiculous statements from Quinn that makes one feel that this is a financial stickup or a Art Modell run out of town issue.

It is nice to hear where Quinn stands and thus far,I cannot blame him or his staff one bit for any of the ways that this has been handled with the mild exception of the letter of intent with Winchester without publicizing it sooner and even then,Quinn has to be given credit for inserting the loophole that still gives Hagerstown a chance to keep the Suns....

Meanwhile,Winchester citizens are not sure they want the Suns,at least that is how it looks after a meeting last night.
I would want a team under most circumstances,but the lease that would take the team to Apple Blossom Land is a great one for the team,but a questionable one for a city without a track record for professional baseball.
Not that I am arguing any.....

Kovalchuk hat trick slices Sabres 4-1!

First,allow me to apologize for missing a few days.
Working a ton and will being doing so for the next two weeks,so just a heads up there.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored his first hat trick as a Devil (23 power play,24 and 25 empty net) as the New Jersey Devils snapped a two game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo.
Petr Sykora scored (13 power play) the other goal for New Jersey,who get two days off before hosting Anaheim Friday night at the Rock

Hell Raisers

1) Hard to believe that the hat trick for Kovalchuk was his first in three years,since he was still with the Atlanta Thrashers.
Kovalchuk also added an assist on the Sykora goal and was obvious to any viewer to be the dominant player on the ice.
Kovalchuk continues to see time on both penalty teams and I would go as far to say that this is the best run of complete hockey of his career...

2) Martin Brodeur could have added another shutout as the only puck that eluded him was off a Dainius Zubrus turnover that beat Marty on the far post.
Perhaps there is something to that fine line that sees Brodeur play enough to be sharp,yet not tired out?

3) Zach Parise was strong as well in the win.
Parise just missed a goal with seven shots on Ryan Miller and gave up a sure goal with the empty net to pass to Kovalchuk to allow him to grab the hat trick.
A very unselfish play that one loves to see from the team captain..

4) I really liked the strong play from our shutdown defenders in Anton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador in the win.
Sometimes the quiet and solid (read non-offensive) defenseman does not get a ton of kudos,but both have been playing very well of late,especially Volchenkov....

5) Stephane Veilleux and Nick Palmieri were brought up from Albany before the game.
The former played a little on the fourth line,while the latter was a healthy scratch...

6) Rumors are flying that disgruntled Minnesota defenseman Marek Zidlicky could soon become a Devil.
The 35 year old is rarely playing with the Wild these days as he is having issues with Minnesota coach Mike Yeo.
Zidlicky has agreed to waive his no trade clause if a deal can be arranged with New Jersey.
More on this as things develop....

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Flat Devils flattened by Florida 3-1

The New Jersey Devils started strong,scored the first goal and played with energy.
That lasted for the first ten minutes of the game against the Florida Panthers and the team was dull thereafter and lost a 3-1 decision.
Steve Bernier scored his first goal as a Devil for the only New Jersey goal.
The Devils are off until Tuesday for a shuffle off to Buffalo and the waiting Sabres.

Hell Raisers

1) The heel in this one had to be former Devil and Martin Brodeur backup Scott Clemmensen,who has never lost to New Jersey in five starts since leaving the team.
Clemmensen did not have to be great,but he was solid in getting the win.

2) Mark Fayne frustrates me.
Fayne screened Martin Brodeur on the first Panther goal and did not even try to move around the crease and create visuals for Brodeur.
Either lead,follow or get out of the way-Fayne did none.

3) Florida's final goal was an empty netter on a Ilya Kovalchuk pass that went askew and wound up in the Panthers possession.
All things considered,this was one of those plays where Kovalchuk tries to make the perfect pass instead of the solid and safe one..

4) Glad to see Steve Bernier get his first goal as a Devil.
Bernier has been working hard since his callup from Albany and he deserved some good fortune,especially when the goal came after a hit by Bernier in the corner and followup move to the net....

5) Peter DeBoer tried to shuffle lines and create a spark,but the team just did not have it today.
Too many close games and five in eight days tend to wear on the wheels and on occasion,the tank will be empty.
That looked to be the case today to me....

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Good,the Bad and the Ugly in OT loss to Bucks

Not only do I love the Good,the Bad and the Ugly and its iconic instrumental,but it described last night's 113-112 OT loss by the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Milwaukee Bucks at the Q.
The Good? Antawn Jamison's season high of 34 points.
The Bad? Jamison clanking two free throws with three seconds to go,when hitting either would have won the game.
The Ugly?Losing Anderson Varejao to a broken wrist in the third quarter.
The 10-15 Cavaliers host Philadelphia this evening.

Swashbuckings

1) The big news for the undermanned Cavaliers?
The loss of the teams heart in Anderson Varejao.This is a huge loss considering the teams lack of a suitable backup big man with mediocrities Ryan Hollins and Semih Erden looking at receiving a huge jump in playing time.
Take away Varejao's rebounding alone and he will be difficult to replace,but the hustle and energy will be even more difficult to slot into the lineup.

2) I felt bad for Antawn Jamison in missing the free throws because he had a great game in keeping a team without Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao in the game with his  34 points and 11 rebound game.
Blame Jamison for the bricks,if you like and I will,but without his play,Cleveland does not have the chance of winning.

3) Daniel Gibson scored 17 points and was one of three Cavaliers to log more than 40 minutes in the loss.
My knock is not that the injury riddled Cavaliers had three guys play this long,but that the team did not even put four players in the game at all in a game like this.
I usually praise Byron Scott,but some of those guys could have at least given someone on the court a quick breather and without Varejao tonight,he might have little choice in the matter.

4) Ramon Sessions finished with 12 points on 4 of 16 shooting,but dished out 16 assists.
Sessions would be a nice fit on say,Oklahoma City with a team filled with shooters with his pass first mentality...

5) Alonzo Gee with another nice night off the bench with 18 points.
Gee may not be the starter,but in crunch time-it is Gee on the floor and not starter Omri Casspi.

6) Tristan Thompson struggled with his shot in his return to the team (2-8),but his 13 boards going with a sweet steal and resulting breakaway slam were solid points....

7) Cavalier fans that wondered if this team was going to be too good to avoid a lottery pick can relax now.
With the gaping hole in the middle that now exists,I do not believe that will be a problem as the season progresses.


See you tomorrow with more Cavaliers and the Devils loss today to Florida.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Guess why they call it the Blues

The New Jersey Devils were able to benefit from a close call to win against the Rangers on Tuesday,they were drilled by one last night as Patrik Bergland might have hit the puck with a high stick to tie the game late in the third period for the St.Louis Blues,who then won a 4-3 decision with a win in the shootout.
New Jersey goals scored by Zach Parise (21 power play),Patrik Elias (19) and Adam Henrique (14).
The Devils host Florida tomorrow in an afternoon edition...

Hell Raisers

1) I thought the high stick call could go either way. Actually,more along the lines of it was going to be the call on the ice as the TV angle showed a too close to overrule play.
I understood the call..

2) The Devils were destroying Jarolsav Halak,but once Halak left the game,Brian Elliott wiped out the Devils.
Elliott is in the middle of a career season and he was the difference in this game...

3) Not a great game from Ilya Kovalchuk,who missed two wide open nets among other opportunities.
Kovalchuk was getting plenty of chances,just some bad breaks on drilling them home.
These nights will happen with snipers,so cannot be too upset,but definitely an off night here.

4) Adam Henrique scored and played well for the most part.
Henrique also had an excellent chance to win the game in OT and looked his sharpest since his return from injury.

5) The shootout was one of those odd things that happen.
The stats entering the shootout had the Devils losing just two of eleven and the Blues had won just one all season.
Sometimes the odds even out.

6) That said,the game winner by T.J. Oshie was weak as it dribbled through the legs of Johan Hedberg.
Hedberg allowed some less than stellar goals in this one and will need to step his game up if he plays tomorrow for the tweaked Martin Brodeur....

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Door closing on Hagerstown Baseball

Looks like the door is almost closed for the future of the Hagerstown Suns as what the newspaper in Winchester reported on Sunday,the Herald Mail finally got around to today-The Suns have signed a letter of intent to move to Winchester VA for the 2013 season and a new stadium.

The game is not over yet,but it looks very close as Winchester only needs to pass the funding on their end.
The Winchester paper did add one thing that the Herald Mail did not-Should Hagerstown actually come through on their stadium talk,the Suns could accept if they were to repay Winchester for their costs on studies for a stadium,which would be in the ballpark (no pun intended) of 25,000 dollars.

Editors Note:Here is the actual loophole from the Herald Mail: The letter states that if the Suns fail to execute the lease agreement or relocate to Winchester, the Suns “will reimburse all expenses incurred by the city of Winchester and the (Winchester Economic Development Authority) in furtherance of this project, including but not limited to the Brailsford & Dunlavy feasibility study and the HKS initial architect contracts to a maximum of $75,000.”

The hopes are not over,but the light is very dim.
The city/county has bungled this for years and sooner or later,someone was going to call their bluff.
Bruce Quinn is a serious businessman and he was going to take the best deal,considering the history here,I cannot blame him for leaving,although I might have waited a little longer,if it was me.
Why? Well,I cannot imagine anyone but the hardest of hard core fans giving their money to a team leaving town.Winchester needs time to build the stadium,but the longer Hagerstown had,the better things might have been for Quinn's final deal.

Look for the Muni to be a ghost town this season,I am sure I will be there,but even I not as much.
It just does not seem like fun to be going to the baseball equivalent of a wake for 70 times this summer.
I'll be there for graphing and definitely for the first four games against West Virginia in the Pirates affiliates only visit here all season,but things just will not seem right.

I blame both the City Council and County Commissioners-Past and Present.
The County had to have a motel tax to go towards a stadium and then used it for everything but the intended use.
The current bunch basically said they are not worth keeping,so why bother?
The City came through late in the game with a too little too late proposal and now wants to a stadium that will do everything but host baseball.
The multi-purpose facility that they talk about sounds more along the lines of an arena rather than a stadium,but I do not see Hagerstown bringing minor league hockey here and it is too small for an NBDL team.
If baseball is gone,I hope the idea dies a merciful death as if it was not worth building for baseball,what makes it worth building now?

I do not blame Bruce Quinn and I give credit to Winchester for going out and getting what they wanted and I am sure that I will be there for a few games next season-no hard feelings there.

On the other hand -If you are one of these names:County Commissioners:Terry Baker,John Barr,Ruth Callaham,Jeff Cline,William McKinley.
City Council:William Breichner,Martin Brubaker,Forrest Easton,Ashley Haywood,Lewis Metzner.

Look for the re-election campaign-because I am going to be very active in attempting to defeat EVERY ONE of you.
You took away my hobby,I am going to do my absolute best to take away yours......

However,I'll offer you this-Pull off the team staying here and I'll vote for EVERY ONE of you next time out.
Give the Suns a deal that makes it worth their while to stay.
Do the right thing-for once.

Will try to be back later with the intended post on the Devils shootout loss to St.Louis.

-

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cavaliers trim Clippers 99-92

Watching the pre-game show and hearing that prized rookie Kyrie Irving would not be playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers against the visiting Los Angeles Clippers,I figured the chances of winning were nil.
To my surprise and led by a terrific game by Irving's replacement Ramon Sessions, the Cavaliers put on an inspired effort and pulled a minor upset over Chris Paul,Blake Griffin and company by a 99-92 margin.
Antawn Jamison led Cleveland with 27 points,but Sessions was the star of this win with 24 points and 13 assists.
The longest homestand in franchise history continues against the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow at 7:30.

Swashbucklings

1) Kyrie Irving is suffering from concussion symptoms after a fall that saw Irving hit the back of his head off the knee of a Miami Heat player in Tuesday's loss in Miami.
The big loss for the short term was not getting to see Irving against Chris Paul,but no word on a return for the Bucks and 76ers games this weekend.
Cleveland can get by with Ramon Sessions for a game or two,but Sessions cannot bring to the floor what Kyrie Irving does every night.

2) The game was a very physical one for a game between two teams that see each other twice a season.
Lots of pushing and shoving with trash talk often combined with bounces off the floor.
Surprising to see this type of game when you consider the big picture.

3)Anderson Varejao left the game for a time in the third quarter after one of his two hard falls.
Varejao has to be sore this morning after the bumps and bruises in this one.
Despite the lost playing time,Varejao still finished with 15 points and 11 boards...

4) Ramon Sessions is never going to be the type of player that starts at point guard on a contender,but he can be very useful as the second team PG and able to step in on a moments notice and occasionally start and not kill the team.
Sessions brings a similar abandon as Kyrie Irving for driving the hoop,but the difference is the consistency from the outside.
Last night Sessions was 9 of 16 with 2 from three point range-I'll take that anytime from my starting point guard..

5) The win also brought the Cavaliers one more thing-the ability to showcase Ramon Sessions to any interested parties for a possible upcoming trade.
Sessions had to have raised both his game and his value in this performance as scouts for contending teams watched the win.

6) Daniel Gibson returned to the team and started at shooting guard.
Gibson finished with a strong 17 point game and hit some crucial free throws late in the game.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Late fade melts Cavaliers in Miami

A fourth quarter run by the Miami Heat allowed them to pull away from the Cleveland Cavaliers and earn a 107-91 win over Cleveland.
Antawn Jamison paced Cleveland with 25 points,20 of those in the first half.
The Cavaliers host the Los Angeles Clippers in the first of a nine day homestand.

This will be a shorter wrapup than usual as the game against the Clippers will start shortly.

Swashbucklings

1) Alonzo Gee finally received his chance to start,but not ahead of Omri Casspi at small forward.
Instead,Gee was the starter at shooting guard with the release of Mychel Thompson along with the injury problems at the two guard,Gee was the obvious choice.
Gee finished with a slam or two per usual and finished with a solid 17 points...

2) Kyrie Irving finished with 16 points,but most were on the driving lane as the jumper was not falling on a 5 for 15 evening...

3) 16 points from the six bench players,9 from Ramon Sessions.
I realize things are slim from the pine right now,but that is pretty light.

4) Christian Eyenga played twenty minutes in his first action since returning from Canton.
Eyenga did not score,but had a very impressive block and looked solid on the defensive end,which is where he needed plenty of work.

5) Miami wore the ABA tribute unis from the Miami Floridians of the defunct league.
Usually I love these,but these particular ones?Not so much.

Photo Credit:Getty Images

Brodeur blanks Rangers amid controversy 1-0

David Clarkson's first period power play goal (21) held up throughout as Martin Brodeur kept the New York Rangers off the scoreboard as the New Jersey Devils won their fifth game in a row 1-0 at Madison Square Garden.
The win had some controversy as the Rangers appeared to have scored the game tying goal with less than five seconds remaining,but the goal was waved off as Marian Gaborik crashed into Martin Brodeur and was called for interference.
The Devils host the St.Louis Blues tomorrow at seven.

Hell Raisers

1) The controversial non-goal was argued by the Rangers as Anton Volchenkov "pushed" Marian Gaborik into Brodeur which would not be interference.
To my eyes,I thought it would be what the NFL calls incidental contact between Gaborik and Volchenkov,while there was clearly a play changing touch of contact between Gaborik and Brodeur.

2) Martin Brodeur was brilliant in the final period with a 15 save period.
Brodeur was clearly the star of the game...

3) Rachel loves fighting.
So much so that she has been complaining lately about the lack of battles.
Fire and Ice wrote earlier in the day that Cam Janssen was going to play in this one,so I suspected that she would get her wish.
But,I knew we would have a good one when both Janssen and Eric Boulton got the start in the game and two seconds in,Janssen and Boulton dropped the gloves and went to war with former Devil Mike Rupp and Brandon Prust.
Gotta love this rivalry!



4) David Clarkson not only scored the games only goal,he set the power play up by drawing a holding penalty on Stu Bickel.
Picking up the power play and then scoring the only goal makes someone stand out.

5) The Devils did not exactly exert pressure on Henrik Lundqvist in the third and kinda laid back and defended.
That worked on this night because Brodeur was so sharp,but I much prefer the attacking Devils to the prevent D Devils.

6) Brad Mills was sent to Albany to make room for Cam Janssen on the roster.
No word on whether this was a temporary move to add Janssen for the physical (AKA Fighting) aspect for this particular game...

7) Travis Zajac will be evaluated by doctors today for the status of his Achilles.
Hopefully,Zajac can return soon and for good this time..

8) Zach Parise screwed up late in the game and gave the Rangers their final chance.
With seconds remaining,Parise went for the empty net instead of just dumping the puck in the corner.
Michael Del Zotto picked the puck off and then created the final chance.
Had Parise been a bit smarter,the game would have likely ended and no controversy.

9) Terrific game and a great way to spend an evening with Rachel,who is adopting my hatred for the Rangers.
I love that kid!

Photo Credit-AP Photo

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cleaning out the Inbox

Time to dump the inbox a bit with several interesting items.

We start with a link to long time favorite Glen Campbell,who is on a farewell tour that actually will be one as Campbell fights the onset of Alzheimer's Disease.
Campbell recently played Kent Ohio as a stop on the tour and no,I was not in attendance.

Sorry to hear of the death of Greg Cook,the former phenom passer for the Cincinnati Bengals before suffering a shoulder injury that ended Cook's career,but would be easily fixed today.
Bill Walsh called Cook "The most talented QB that he ever saw".
High praise indeed.
Take a look at the amazing numbers for Cook in 1969 and one can see the point.
Look for a future feature on Greg Cook,who was 65.

Also sorry to hear of the death of boxing training legend Angelo Dundee,who trained Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard and 13 other champions, at the age of 90.
Dundee was a fixture in the corner of both of the noted greats and trained the pair to too many great wins to type.
If you were a boxing fan in the 60's,70's or 80's,you knew all about Angelo Dundee.

I recently wrote about my favorite Aunt Becky and her fear of the Cleveland Inner Belt Bridge.
Well,Becky sends me this link on the new Inner Belt Bridge,which was supposed to be followed by another bridge.
However,the funding for that has been delayed for as many as ten more years.
Infrastructure projects such as this are not only a great investment to communities,but they put people to work at a time that many could use it.

The new number one Browns beat writer with the transferring of Tony Grossi is Mary Kay Cabot,who pens an interesting article on her five years covering Bill Belichick in Cleveland.
Very good stuff as it appears that Cabot was able to get closer to Belichick than anyone else....

The Washington Post looks back at the 1972 NFC Championship game as the Redskins iced the Cowboys 27-3.The article mainly deals with the NFL's arcane blackout rule of the time,which meant that few local fans actually saw that game...

Huge fan of FX's Justified and this article looks at this years two new villains for Raylan Givens to battle or if you are a heel fan like me,for Boyd Crowder to fight for his share of the Harlan turf...

Finally,a quick Cavaliers note as Mychel Thompson was waived by the team.
From thirty minutes of floor time to released in two games-quite a swing there.

Back tomorrow with the Devils at MSG against the Rangers and the Cavaliers from Miami against the Heat and whathisname...


Monday, February 6, 2012

Irving drive dumps Dallas

Kyrie Irving continues to impress with the game on the line as his drive to the hole was the finisher in the Cleveland Cavaliers 91-88 win over the Dallas Mavericks at the Q Saturday night.
Irving's layup with 15 seconds to go forced the Mavericks into three point mode in their attempts to tie the game,which proved unsuccessful.
Irving led Cleveland in scoring with 20 points with Antawn Jamison adding 19 more.
The 9-13 Cavaliers visit Miami and you know who tomorrow night at 7:30.

Swashbucklings

1) Kyrie Irving has won me over.
I preferred Derrick Williams to Irving by a hair before the draft,although Irving was my second choice.However,there is no doubt that the Cavaliers have made the correct decision.
Irving may not the type of player that can be the only star on a contending team,but he looks to be the type that can lead a team to a title with some surrounding talent...

2) Antawn Jamison's night based on points looks strong,but he was 6 of 18 from the floor.
The main problem I have with the current state of the aging Jamison's game is that his quickness to the hoop is fading and he has become a jump shooter,which is not the strength of his game...

3) 17 points,17 rebounds for Anderson Varejao,who deserves consideration for the All-Star game,although it is unlikely that he will get the nod.
Averaging a hair under 11 points and a nick under 12 boards,Varejao would garner even more consideration,if all around games were part of making the team rather than just scoring averages...

4) Alonzo Gee is being pushed as a candidate for most improved player.
That is seems a bit much for me,but Gee should be considered for the Slam Dunk contest.
Gee has been "throwing the hammer down" with consistency and creativity and deserves some thought.

5) In the Boston games,the Cavaliers shined in the fourth quarter,while in this one,it was the third as Cleveland took a eight point deficit from the half and turned it into a six point lead after three periods.
The talent indicates that hoping for consistency might be a bit much,but the possibilities do make one smile..

6) Byron Scott continues to basically play with eight players with Daniel Gibson,Tristan Thompson and Anthony Parker missing time.
Semih Erden and Ryan Hollins play a little when forced to,but the basic rotation is currently at eight.
It will be interesting to see how that plays out starting tomorrow with a four game in five day stretch.

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Devils finish Pennsylvania twin pack!

The New Jersey Devils polished off a Pennsylvania twin killing with a 5-2 win at home over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins at the Rock.
The win was the Devils fourth in a row since the All Star break and has helped New Jersey climb up the Eastern Conference standings into sixth place and only one point behind fifth place Pittsburgh with a game in hand.
New Jersey goals to Ilya Kovalchuk (22),David Clarkson (20 empty net),Zach Parise (20), Dainius Zubrus (15 shorthanded) and Anton Volchenkov (1).
The Devils are off tonight before a trip to MSG and the waiting first place Rangers.....

Hell Raisers

1) A goal and two assists for Ilya Kovalchuk as he continued his sizzling recent scoring,but the play that I enjoyed most was his dish to Anton Volchenkov for the first goal in a season and a half for Volchenkov.
I realize the Pittsburgh defenders were drawn to Kovalchuk because of the lack of pop from Volchenkov,but Kovalchuk had the confidence in his teammate to wait and make the pass instead of the shot.
Kovalchuk has been a player that has tried to do things on his own,perhaps the realization that those player do not win in the playoffs has matured both himself and his game...

2) The Anton Volchenkov goal was his first as a Devil,but a funny note on a former Devil on a similar drought.
Scott Gomez,who is still getting paid for his outlandish contract from the Rangers to leave New Jersey, has not scored a goal in over a year for Montreal.
Sometimes,there is more to things than money....

3) The Devils did catch a break on the shorthanded goal by Dainius Zubrus,who was fed the puck by Ilya Kovalchuk,who obtained the puck through what could have been a penalty from former Devil Paul Martin.
The penalty probably should have been called,but was not...

4) David Clarkson's twentieth goal of the season came on a long flip up the ice from Martin Brodeur,who picked up the assist.
Marty used to do these things far more often before the trapezoid was installed to slow Brodeur's game among with a few others of the better puck moving netminders.
Rumor has it that the trapezoid could be gone for next season,but that will be too late for Brodeur after wasting years of his skill being taken away from the zone. 

5) Steve Bernier assisted on the Parise goal and has looked strong since being called up.
The skills are there Bernier to be a productive third liner and if he can put things together (just 26),the Devils could find themselves with a solid player for a reasonable price..

Back later with the promised Cavaliers win over Dallas from Saturday...

Photo Credit:Mike Stobe-Getty Images