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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"The best day of my life"!!

It is not often that a father gets to hear those words from a day with his 16 year old daughter.
It is even less often when those words are written by said daughter online the next day.
That is why as special as last Saturday was to Rachel,it might have been more special to me.
Rachel with Adam Larsson
It is not often that we get to give that type of enjoyment and a memory to someone and it can be just as rare to give it to someone close to us.
That is what Rachel had last Saturday night in Hershey,Pennsylvania and it had nothing to do with the Halloween spectacular at neighboring Hershey Park.

Rachel wanted the New Jersey Devils theme for birthday number sixteen.
From cake to gifts,she wanted Devils items (She is wearing one of her gifts-an Adam Henrique jersey) so I tried to accommodate her wishes.
One of her gifts was to include her in my annual trip to Hershey to scout the Albany Devils and considering the time,I ordered better seats than I usually do as I tried to get as close to the ice as I could.

She was excited,but even more when I explained that the NHL lockout had one small upside-her three favorite players were all going to be assigned to Albany for the duration of the lockout-Adam Henrique,Adam Larsson and Jacob Josefson.
That meant that as disappointed as she was in the lockout,she was rooting for it to continue until she could go to the game (She says it can end now) and with luck meet her players.

The Saturday start was good news for me.
I only autograph the Devils as many games are on work nights and I despise cold weather,so drawing a Devils visit very early or very late in the season always brings a smile to the face of the writer.
For example,the other Albany visit is December 29th-BRRRR....
If you recall,I was able to get some players last season at the hotel in my last trip to see the team,so we were hoping to do that again.
Our friend Tyler Chupak was along to help with graphing in his first hockey excursion ever,so we hoped to make him a hockey (and preferably a Devils) fan,despite his Sidney Crosby jersey,so arriving at the hotel,we saw my friend Mark Bailey.
Mark had guided me along last season in Hershey and he was kind enough to do so again.
Thanks again,Mark!
Adam Henrique with Rachel!
I didn't have a lot of cards,especially with Eric Gelinas being out of action with a broken jaw.
However,all the guys were very nice and signed what I had-All of the NHL players signed,Adam Henrique,Adam Larsson,Jacob Josefson,Mattias Tedenby along with former Senator Bobby Butler and Jay Leach,the Devils captain and husband of our favorite NHL Network anchor Kathryn Tappen.

Rachel with Jacob Josefson
Rachel was able to get all of her 8 x 10's signed and nervously ask for pictures with each,which all graciously took with her as Tyler snapped the pictures as I am ham handed with the camera a bit,so when time is of the essence-it's better to look elsewhere.
Tyler was also able to help with getting items signed as it was Tyler that tracked down Jay Leach to sign his card (Leach was so far ahead,I had no chance of catching him) and Rachel's best friend Courtney's picture of Jacob Josefson signed and personalized to her....

As the players boarded the bus to the arena,we had some time to kill,so we ate at the sports restaurant in the hotel-the Bears Den.
As we wound our way through the hotel to get there,Rachel gave me a hug and said "this is the best day of my life and and you are the best daddy in the world".
You cannot buy that,my friends.
That,as the MasterCard commercial says, is priceless....

Back later or soon with my look at the Albany Devils on the ice and their 3-0 loss to Hershey.

Photo Credits:Tyler Chupak



Wild Thing Windexes Wizards in Cavalier opener!

The Cleveland Cavaliers controlled the Washington Wizards for the most part of three quarters and then went ice cold from the floor and watched a 13 point lead become a one point deficit.
Cleveland battled back,however,and outscored Washington 20-8 down the stretch and it was Cleveland starting their season 1-0 with a 94-84 victory at the Q.
Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with 29 points with Dion Waiters contributing 17 points in his pro debut,but the most impressive stat of the night goes to the "Wild Thing" Anderson Varejao,who ripped down 23 rebounds during the night.
The Cavaliers will host Chicago Friday night.

Swashbucklings

1) If there was some reason to hope for the future,they showed tonight.
Kyrie Irving was clearly the best player on the floor and broke down every player that Washington attempted to guard him with.
Granted,the Wizards were missing John Wall and that enabled Irving to rest a bit on the defensive end of the floor,but again Irving was dominant as he shot 11 for 20 from the floor to lead Cleveland in points...

2) Dion Waiters was solid in his first game with 17 points,two third pointers and a rousing dunk late in the game.
Waiters showed that the talent is there to succeed,but I hope that he doesn't fall in love with the three pointer.
Something makes me think that Waiters is going to launch plenty of threes this season...

3) Anderson Varejao-23 boards,9 points and 9 assists on the evening,just missing a triple double.
The 23 rebounds were a career high and that came with missing some time in the first half after catching an elbow from Tristan Thompson.
Without that trip to the locker room,Varejao gets his triple double.

4) Speaking of Tristan Thompson-12 points,10 rebounds and used the dunk as a high percentage shot.
Those are the types of numbers that the Cavaliers hope to see every night and maybe the team could afford to move Anderson Varejao in the right deal.

5) Tyler Zeller looked OK in fifteen minutes of play.
I hope that Byron Scott experiments with Zeller and Tristan Thompson on the floor at the same time as the season goes on...

6) Loved the Gold uniforms!
Only thing that I would change is that I would use Cavaliers instead of the listed Cavs,but I thought they looked quite sharp.

7) Before getting too excited about this win,keep in mind that Washington was without their two best players in John Wall and Nene'. That would be the equivalent of Cleveland playing without Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao,so I'll temper some of the enthusiasm.

8) Loved the defense from the Cavaliers!
With the exception of the first portion of the fourth period,Cleveland's defense kept Washington from getting (and making) shots and generally harassed the Wizard guards to death.
Washington finished with a 35 percent shooting percentage from the floor,so that goes a long way to proving my point...

Photo Credit:Unknown

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Reviewing the tape-Buckeyes roar in Nittany Land

This review of the Ohio State 35-23 win over Penn State will not be quite as in depth as usual as I watched the game late and with all that we had to do keeping our nasty neighbor "Sandy" at bay,I did not take as many notes as usual.

Buckeye Leaves

1) Braxton Miller scored three TD's and his pull back the football and bunny hop over the Nittany Lions was spectacular to see.
Miller is the leading contender for the 2013 Heisman,IMO.

2) Ryan Shazier's interception for a touchdown put the game in hand and I cannot help but get excited watching him play.
Shazier's size is not prototypical,but I bet he makes a run at a Butkus award before he is through....

3) Still more special teams breakdowns as Penn State blocked a punt.
Urban Meyer has to be going wild with the special teams breakdowns of recent weeks.

4) The front seven needs to get some credit as well as they sacked Matt McGloin three times and harassed him all day.
Ohio State's rush might have been the difference in a dominant second half that sent the Nittanys scurrying....

5) It does stun me that you wonder about the offense being able to outscore teams,yet they have scored 29 or more points in each of the last four games.
It does not seem like they are that efficient,but the score does not lie.

Photo Credit:Kyle Robertson:Columbus Dispatch

Cleveland Cavaliers Preview

The Cleveland Cavaliers season kicks off tonight against the Washington Wizards in Washington with more questions after a surprising first round pick and very few answers after a better than expected start last season and struggle to the finish.

The Cavaliers hopes for a playoff berth start with Kyrie Irving running the point.
Irving won the rookie of the year award last season,but missed time with injury and broke his hand in the off season.
Combining Irving's issues with his injury in his one season at Duke,this is an area of concern.
Irving's defense is a area of improvement,but his offensive skills make me think of having the potential to be perhaps the best point guard in Cavalier history.
Sorry,Mark Price...

Controversial first rounder Dion Waiters will start in the backcourt with Irving.
Waiters struggled in the summer league after coming in overweight and did not dazzle anyone in the pre-season either.
Waiters strikes me as a player that will need to show his value putting the ball in the hole because he sure doesn't seem to have a ton of said value on the defensive end or in the all around game.

Last season's surprise breakout player starts at small forward as Alonzo Gee was re-signed after testing the free agent market.
Gee is explosive to the basket and is the most athletic defender that the team possesses as well.

Tristan Thompson starts at the 4 spot. Thompson is a strong shot blocker and rebounder,but needs to develop his touch around the hoop.
If Thompson develops properly,he could be a 14 point and 12 rebounding type,but he will have to work on his short game or rely a lot on dunks in order to put those numbers on the board.

Anderson Varejao is back from injury after a terrific start last season.
On a good team,I would prefer to play Varejao at power forward,but on this team,the "Wild Thing" has to play the pivot.
Varejao is undersized to play center,but he'll still get his numbers especially on the boards and his hustle is infectious for both teammates and fans.
Varejao's value would be even higher as a role player to a contender,so keep in mind that the trade rumors will start assuming he stays healthy.

The bench features an occasional ray of hope and the various roster fillers as well.

C.J.Miles was signed from Utah to add the scoring pop off the bench and Miles seriously challenged Dion Waiters for the starting job at shooting guard.
Instead,Byron Scott decided to have Miles come off the bench and be the top option of the second unit.
Miles can play small forward as well and is just 23,despite entering his seventh year in the league.

Daniel Gibson returns as the gunner off the bench,but Gibson has issues staying healthy and seems to be on his way out.
The popular Texas product is one dimensional,but can light it up on the right night.

Donald Sloan was re-signed after a mid-season cameo as the point guard backup and he will battle with former Memphis Grizzly Jeremy Pargo for minutes as the backup to Kyrie Irving.
I don't know much about Pargo,so I am open minded on this issue.

The forwards have the disappointment of last year in Omri Casspi.
Casspi struggled with his shot and often seemed intimidated against rougher teams.
Casspi might be best used as a large jump shooter to shoot over smaller forwards on defense,although he will struggle to defend the quicker players.

Samardo Samuels might be down to his last chance as a Cavalier.
The bull-like Samuels will be competing for minutes at the power forward with second year man Jon Leuer,who spent last season with the Bucks.
Leuer is taller,Samuels wider,it will be interesting to see which becomes the preferred option.

Fan favorite Luke Harangody and possible expiring contract trade chip Luke Walton round out the bench.

The backup center is first rounder rookie Tyler Zeller of North Carolina.
I like what I have seen of Zeller thus far and I think his development this season might influence a possible decision to move Varejao.
Zeller has a soft shooting touch and he is more physical than you might expect.

I expect a season similar to last season that features growth, hopefully a surprise like Alonzo Gee was last year and an occasional win over a good team to enjoy.
I figure 30 wins is the over/under mark.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Giants win the World Series!

The San Francisco Giants won their second world championship in two years with a 4-3 10 inning win over the Detroit Tigers in game four on a single by Marco Scutaro that dropped into centerfield to score Ryan Theriot with two outs for the winning run.
Santiago Casilla was the winning pitcher for the Giants with Sergio Romo pitching the tenth to earn the save,ending the game with a strikeout of Miguel Cabrera to seal the victory.
Buster Posey hit a two run homer in the seventh to give the Giants a short-lived lead before a Delmon Young homer in the bottom of the inning tied the game back at three each.
The Giants will be back in action on April 2nd in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.

Giant Steps

1) The game was played through rain and heavy winds and the Giants might have been fortunate to wrap this series up last night.
Winds at Comerica Park tonight for what would have been game five were expected to be in the fifty mile an hour range.
If those winds were blowing out,the Tigers advantage in power might have been tough for the Giants to overcome...

2) I thought of the two homers that Matt Cain allowed that the wind blowing out was definately a factor.
The early inning shot by Miguel Cabrera was almost certainly a wind aided homers,while I thought Delmon Young's homer was one that would be a homer without any help.

3) Buster Posey's numbers in the postseason might have not been super,but they were sturdy enough and his homer last night lifted the the team emotionally back into a game that kinda felt like was going the Tigers way.
The lead at the time was only 2-1,but Max Scherzer was pitching so well that the lead seemed much larger than that.
Posey homer ignited the team and even when the Tigers tied the game,I felt that the Giants were going to pull this out and I didn't feel that way earlier in the game..

4) More kudos to the Giant pitching as Matt Cain pitched seven strong innings that could have allowed as few as one run without a favorable wind gust,Jeremy Affeldt was affective in his inning plus and Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo did their jobs in nailing down the W.

5) How fitting was it that Marco Scutaro had the game/series winning hit?
Scutaro has been the teams best hitter in the postseason and no matter the team,I (usually) like to see long time veterans get the ring late in their career...

6) Pablo Sandoval was a more than deserving MVP of the series.
Sandoval hit in the .600 range for the four games,which is more along little league numbers and his game one performance was one for the books.

7) Now,you hear the whispers of a Giants dynasty because they won two titles in three years.
I suppose that is as close as you can get anymore,but I'd still have to see another title soon to seriously consider that.

8) The Giants do have some decisions to make as far as arbitration/free agency.
Do the Giants bring back Melky Cabrera on the assumption that his career year was NOT due to PED's? Do the Giants bring back Hunter Pence on what will likely be double digit millions per year?
What about Marco Scutaro?
Tough calls for Brian Sabean,but my calls would be as follows
Cabrera:Maybe,cost depending-he might have something to prove.
Pence: No,especially if you bring back Cabrera or decide to allocate the combined funds towards a still needed bat.
Scutaro: Yes,I have age concerns,but the Giants already give away one spot in the lineup to order to play the glove of Brandon Crawford,so a Scutaro return would enable the Giants to not totally punt both sides of the middle infield.

9) As I went out for my one trip in the rain today,MLB radio was talking about a Josh Hamilton run for the Giants.
Interesting,but I just don't know.
Hamilton comes with caveats,although the team could afford him with the right maneuverings.Should the Giants go that way and it really does not seem like a Giants move,Posey/Hamilton/Sandoval would go a long way towards the Dodgers and their recent spending next season...

10) Finally,let me say this-I have enjoyed this season.
I watched more Giant games this season than either the Pirates or Indians,so I do feel more of a part of this title than 2010 and I consider myself a Giants fan and not a frontrunner.
That said,it still isn't the same as if the Pirates or especially the Indians won it all.
I am happy as a Giant fan and I'll get a world champs shirt,but it still is not what I'll feel if the Indians ever win it all.....

Photo Credit
Celebration:Unknown
Posey/Romo:Tim Fuller-USA Today




Richardson's ramble give Browns 7-6 win!

I have quite a few posts to catch up after a crazy sports weekend that saw Ohio State dump Penn State (I have to watch the tape in order for a recap),the San Francisco Giants win the World Championship and my wonderful daughter,Rachel,finally get to meet some of her favorite players as we saw the Albany Devils make one of their two trips to Hershey.
In other words,with lots to do and lots of time (power permitting) of blogging to do it,you could see as many as four posts today.

However,we start with the Cleveland Browns with another one of those boring wins that people like me will look back in a few months and say "the win over the Chargers cost us fill in the blank".
Trent Richardson's 26 yard touchdown run in the first quarter concluded not only the Browns only scoring drive,but their only serious scoring threat as well.
The Cleveland defense forced that to hold up and earn the victory.
The 7-6 win at Cleveland Browns Stadium improved the Browns to 2-6 on the season and Cleveland will host the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday before entering their bye week.

Brownie Bits

1) Trent Richardson rushed for 122 yards and was pretty much the entire Browns offense.
When you consider the painful rib injury that Richardson has been carrying with him,it was quite a performance for the rookie and showed the toughness that you hope you get with a first round runner.

2) Play of the day has to go to Shaun Lauvao.
Why does the Browns guard get the play of the day?
Lauvao kept a stumbling Richardson on his feet when it appeared that Richardson was going to hit the ground and allowed Richardson to cruise into the end zone for the only Cleveland score.
In the conditions that the game was played in and when you look at the issues throughout the day with the Browns offense,who's to say that Cleveland would have scored without Lauvao's heady play...

3) I know that things were not pleasant in the rain and cold,but that is exactly what the Browns have in their advantage playing outside in Cleveland,Ohio.
I have always been a proponent of the Browns building themselves a hard nosed,physically based,running football team and using the weather to their advantage and yesterday,they did just that.
The weather took away the superior team's(San Diego) advantage and evened the scales a bit.
Think about that when this talk of covering the stadium with a roof comes up....

4) Brandon Weeden didn't have a great game.
His passes were not always on target,but the receivers dropped their share of passes as well,so the lack of a passing game with just 129 yards was not all on Weeden.
Either way,the passing game was not a factor for this day as Weeden's passing total was just seven yards more than Trent Richardson rushed for on the ground...

5) Sometimes things even out.
Last week,we (and many others) were groaning about the Josh Gordon "blinded by the light" drop that cost the Browns the game.
This week,the Browns likely get the win because of a dropped pass by the Chargers Robert Meachem.
Meachem was wide open in the middle of the field (like Gordon,but with less coverage) and would have walked into the end zone for what would have proved to be the winning score,but dropped the football with an easier catch than Gordon's drop against the Colts.

6) James-Michael Johnson was in the starting lineup for the first time and Johnson played very well with five solo and and a handful of assists as well.
Johnson showed speed and quickness,which are traits that I do not usually see from the Browns linebackers over the last few seasons.

7) Other than the Richardson run,the biggest play was a completion to Josh Gordon for an 18 yard first down from Brandon Weeden in the fourth quarter.
The Browns didn't score on the drive or even threaten,but what it did do was flip field position and force the Chargers to march further downfield to score...

8) The rain had a lot to do with the Chargers passing game problems,but the secondary played very well with the exception of the Meachem drop and kept the Chargers from the big play.
Now,if Robert Meachem holds onto an easy pass,I am writing that one breakdown cost Cleveland the game,so keep that in mind,but the safeties-T.J.Ward and Usama Young both had strong games...

9) Zero turnovers.
Cleveland did not turn the ball over,although they were fortunate to recover Montario Hardesty's fumble that would have given San Diego that ball near midfield.
I kept waiting for one team or the other to make the big mistake in their end of the field to tilt the game one way or the other other and it just did not happen.

10) Considering that these two teams were coached by two of the worst coaches in the league in Pat Shurmur and Norv Turner,I thought a boneheaded coaching move might be the difference as well.
Neither of these made that mistake,so again considering the pair-I was VERY surprised!

11) As I wrote in the preamble ramble,this could be one of those meaningless wins that we look back on and say whoopee,a boring win that cost us....
Remember this great win over the Jaguars that cost Cleveland Robert Griffin?
That's why I do not get too excited about these wins...

Photo Credit:John Kuntz;Cleveland Plain Dealer

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Quick PPM

College
Ohio State over Penn State 24-14
Kansas State over Texas Tech 44-34
Bowling Green over Eastern Michigan 29-13
Game of the week
Oklahoma over Notre Dame 35-18

Pro
Chargers over Browns 24-17
Saints over Broncos 35-32
Game of the Week
Steelers over Redskins 24-21

Last Week:4-3
Season:35-16

Friday, October 26, 2012

Giants take game two 2-0

Madison Bumgarner had struggled with his mechanics in his playoff starts and was skipped over once in order to attempt to smooth out some issues.
The plan worked as Bumgarner allowed just two hits over seven inning to give the San Francisco Giants time to solve Doug Fister.
The Giants scored a run in the seventh inning and another in the eighth to give the Giants a 2-0 win in game two and a 2-0 lead in the series over the Detroit Tigers.
Brandon Crawford hit into a double play in the seventh with the based loaded to score the first run and Hunter Pence's sac fly knocked in the other in the eighth for the other score.
Game three will be Saturday night in Detroit with Ryan Vogelsong for the Giants and Anibal Sanchez for the Tigers.

Giant Steps

1) Of course,the play of the game was the blurry fast relay from Gregor Blanco to the hustling Marco Scutaro running over from second to Buster Posey to nip Prince Fielder at the plate in the second inning.
The Tigers would not seriously threaten again and considering the situation (none out),one could argue that the Tigers third base coach (Gene LaMont) was overly aggressive,but in hindsight,maybe not.
The Giant pitching was that good.

2) The best part of the play was Marco Scutaro being in that position to make it.
Gregor Blanco overthrew the first relay man (Brandon Crawford),if Scutaro is not there,the ball harmlessly bounces into the infield...

3) The play also shows how the Giants have encouraged Buster Posey to back off the plate a bit instead of blocking it.
After the broken ankle last season ,the Giants have taught Posey to inch away a bit and do more of a Johnny Bench style "swing and swipe" mode of tagging the runner.

4) Whatever tuneup Madison Bumgarner underwent in the Dave Righetti repair shop certainly seemed to work.
Bumgarner's fastball had a little more hop and the breaking pitches were sharp,not rounded as Bumgarner had thrown against the Reds and Cardinals.
Two hits in seven innings sure looked back to speed to me...

5) Part of being a pitching coach is not only adding to a pitcher,but keeping one in sync with their technique.
A pitcher needs consistency in their delivery and the slightest change in that department can result in wildness or flat,hittable pitches.
Often times,these tweaks to the pitcher are not always easy to find and one that can make corrections on the fly are worth their weight in gold.

6) The Gregor Blanco liner off the head of Doug Fister was certainly scary,but I could tell from the first replay that it wasn't a devastating shot.
Don't get me wrong,I bet it hurt a lot,but it looked like an indirect hit,not a lazer beam off the bat.
Our hat is off to Fister for the toughness in shaking it off and staying in the game.

7) A little luck goes a long way as again Gregor Blanco appears with his bunt that hugged the grass and refused to go foul despite the Tigers urging it to do so.
The sacrifice that was not set up the Brandon Crawford double play that scored the only run that the Giants would need.
Sometimes,its things like that that make one think it is meant to be,...

I'll be in Hershey for the Albany Devils Saturday,so quick coverage of Game three and/or the Ohio State visit to Penn State is unlikely.

Photo Credits
Posey/Fielder:USA Today
Bumgarner:SI.com



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pablo! Pablo!Pablo!

Pablo Sandoval slammed three homers and Barry Zito was helpful with his arm and bat as the San Francisco Giants took game one of the World Series 8-3 over the visiting Detroit Tigers and their ace Justin Verlander at AT&T Park.
The Giants lead the series 1-0 entering game two at the Park by the Bay with Madison Bumgarner taking the ball for the Giants against Doug Fister of the Tigers.

Giant Steps

1) What more can I say about Pablo Sandoval's three shots into the seats?
Sandoval's feat was previously achieved by just three others in history-Babe Ruth,Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols.
Two Hall of Famers and one slam dunk entry-not bad company at all!

2) Barry Zito allowed just one run in five and two-thirds innings and added an RBI single to boot.
Zito's numbers with Oakland were solid against Detroit,although that had little to do with these Tigers.
Zito's soft stuff works very well against power hitters when he is "on" and it looked to me that the Tigers were overswinging.

3) Tim Linceum relieved Zito and looked like the Lincecum of old as he whiffed five in two and a third and did not allow a hit.
Bruce Bochy has said he wants to keep Lincecum from pitching back to back games from the bullpen,so I don't expect to see him tonight,although maybe one batter might be allowed,but Lincecum was extremely effective last night.

4) Two more hits (and RBI) for Marco Scutaro,who continues his scorching hitting over the postseason.

5) I wrote yesterday about the need for Sandoval,Buster Posey and Hunter Pence to step up with the lumber.
Well,Sandoval certainly did that,but so did Buster Posey with two hits and an RBI.
If Posey gets hot,this series suddenly becomes much easier for the Giants to win...

6) The media was so over the top on Justin Verlander that it seemed the Giants should not even bother to show up.
Verlander is the best pitcher in the game right now,but anyone is beatable and Verlander was all anyone wanted to talk about.

7) So,figure that most thought the Giants would lose to Verlander and would have to beat Doug Fister to leave town with a split.
Now the Giants have a chance to go up 2-0,albeit against another tough pitcher in Fister.
Another tough assignment,but if they can squeak this one out,it guarantees a return trip home no matter the results of the three games in Detriot...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Looking back and forward-Giants style!

I did not have game by game coverage of the NLCS and I should have.
I watched every game,so I could have,but I didn't.
SO.... in order to get something down here,here are some bullet points on the National League Champion San Francisco Giants before the start of the World Series.

1) Giants fans rip on GM Brian Sabean a lot for what seems to be decisions that make you wonder,but Marco Scutaro's acquisition isn't one of those.
Scutaro has done nothing but hit as a Giant and I would not mind a bit if the Giants re-signed the veteran to a two year contract.
Even if Scutaro leaves,he made the deal well worthwhile between his high level of performance and the low cost of AAA infielder Charlie Culbertson...

2) Barry Zito will never be worth the contract that he signed,but full credit to Zito for his gutsy outing in St.Louis in game five.
With the Giants down and almost out,it would have been easy to see Zito fail one more time considering the circumstances,but the veteran used guts and guile to keep his team in the game and take the series back to the bay,where the bats would wake up.
And his two out bunt single that caught the Redbirds napping and seemed to demoralize them was a nice touch too.
Nice to see Barry Zito get a break and I mean that no matter how he pitches in a few hours.

3) I still cannot believe the "three hit" broken bat grounder off the bat of Hunter Pence.
For those that have not seen it,Pence hit the pitch (breaking the bat),the ball then hit the barrel again as the barrel broke loose and then hit the bat again in mid air,giving the ball one of the most unusual spins that I have ever seen.
Pete Kozma looked like he was trying to tackle Gale Sayers in the open field rather than fielding a grounder and I don't blame Kozma a bit.
Just one of those breaks-pun intended....

4) Something to look back at when the World Series is over-struggles for the Giants big hitters in the NLCS
Buster Posey,Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence,did they get a cold streak out of the way or was that the foreshadowing of a bad World Series?

5) As a Tim Lincecum fan.,I wish that he was in the rotation for the series,but this might be the right move.
Lincecum might be better suited as a dominant short man or a solid long man in the set and as much as I'd like to see him get the ball,this might be the better idea...

6) I do wonder about Madison Bumgarner and his decreased velocity during the playoffs.
Bumgarner will start game two and that might determine if he starts again during the series.
Bumgarner has struggled with velocity and location and if he has issues,it might be tough for the Giants to win without contributions from two of their top three starters in the rotation...

7) The amazing thing about the Giants to me is how they get such mileage from players that have been nothing special before hitting the orange and black.
Case in point is two thirds of their outfield.
Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco aren't exactly Mays and Bonds out there,but some way both have played over their heads with extremely productive seasons,much like Andres Torres did in 2010.

8) Bruce Bochy makes me nervous.
I cannot stand the pitching parade from the seventh inning on and the depletion of the bullpen always makes me think the worse.
I remember feeling the same way with Mike Hargrove with my beloved Indians during their 90's run and I liked Hargrove!!!

9) On paper,this should be all Tigers.Better hitting and maybe even better pitching (for now anyway),although I give the San Francisco bullpen the edge.
I normally pick with the head,but not this time-Giants in seven.
Go Giants...

Goodbye to a liberal leader-George McGovern

I planned on writing a synopsis on my thoughts of the San Francisco Giants rally to defeat the St.Louis Cardinals in the NLCS,but instead I wanted to write about someone else.

George McGovern passed away a few days ago at the age of 90 and despite not having held an elected office over the last 32 years,continued to be a large part of the liberal/progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
McGovern was best known for his 1972 crushing at the hands of Richard Nixon in an attempt to win the Presidency,but the legacy of McGovern was far more than just one defeat.
McGovern won election to the Senate from a partisan state that was not his party (South Dakota) three times before being one of many long time Democratic Senators that were taken over by the Reagan wave of the 1980 election.
I would even go as far to call that bad luck as I believe in any other year,McGovern might have been re-elected,which might have allowed him to serve as long as he had wanted.

George McGovern was more than just a politician as his passion for stopping world hunger always was a staple of his interviews and appearances.
McGovern and Republican Senator Bob Dole worked together on a program to help feed children of school age around the world to allow children that weren't getting food to get fed and as a incentive to get them to learn as well.
McGovern was also the first director of the Food For Peace program in the Kennedy administration and continued in his Senate years to build the program in both funding and in practices.
McGovern certainly was left-leaning,but he always spoke sensibly and as a result was able to work with people that might not have been in agreement with him to get things through the red tape that has clogged the political system since the beginning of time.

McGovern is remembered for more than just his food initiatives and his loss to Richard Nixon,mainly because of his vehement opposition to the Vietnam War.
McGovern ran on ending the war and was a hero to the anti-war crowd,but what I always thought highest of him for was his speech on the Senate floor in 1970 in an attempt to pass the McGovern-Hatfield bill to influence Vietnam policy.
I find his words eerily familiar even today as we continue to toss around various wars and whether or not they should be fought.
" Every Senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave. This chamber reeks of blood. Every Senator here is partly responsible for that human wreckage at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval and all across our land—young men without legs, or arms, or genitals, or faces or hopes. There are not very many of these blasted and broken boys who think this war is a glorious adventure. Do not talk to them about bugging out, or national honor or courage. It does not take any courage at all for a congressman, or a senator, or a president to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam, because it is not our blood that is being shed. But we are responsible for those young men and their lives and their hopes. And if we do not end this damnable war those young men will some day curse us for our pitiful willingness to let the Executive carry the burden that the Constitution places on us"

Strong words,but very true ones.
Old men start wars,young men fight them.
When you consider McGovern's background as a medal winning bomber pilot in the second world war,his feelings on war were not only unusual but often poignant.
McGovern never tried to take advantage of his military background,even when his patriotism was questioned in the 1972 campaign and that shows even more about what he stood for.

McGovern also put forth two "how to's" in the 1972 election.
How you can win in the primary process,even when being considered a "darkhorse" and how to throw away any chance of winning the actual election.
His grassroots manner of upsetting Ed Muskie,the heavy favorite, and later Hubert Humphrey to gain the Democratic nomination showed how a underdog with a "winged" message can manage to win in the primary process,where ideology means much more than in the general election.
McGovern's inept campaign against Nixon shows the difficulties in winning where it counts with the same limited platform.
McGovern's selection of Tom Eagleton as his running mate was the end game for McGovern.
Not because of Eagleton's issues with mental health in his past.Even in 1972 ,I think that could have been overcome,but because McGovern had always been a straight shooter even when the news was not good and his 100% support of Eagleton was followed by his removal from the ticket-that made McGovern look like just another pol.
That took away one advantage that McGovern had over Nixon,which was telling the truth even when it hurt.

After the loss to Nixon,the Democratic party ran away from McGovern as they pretended the election never existed and rarely evoked his name.
George would run a Quixotesque campaign in 1984 that was doomed for failure,but McGovern felt the effort was important to frame the debate towards more liberal issues.
A better than expected third place finish in Iowa was followed by a fifth in New Hampshire and McGovern stated that anything short of second place in the Massachusetts primary would send him from the race.
McGovern was true to his word after a third place final result.

McGovern became an author and speaker for the most part after 1984,usually for liberal or food causes,with the exception of his book "Terry" a 1996 best seller about his daughter's death from alcoholism and her lifelong issues with the disease.
McGovern had a bad fall minutes before his scheduled appearance on the C-SPAN series The Contenders in December,which kept him from appearing.
That was very unfortunate,as it kept McGovern from being the only person in the series to participate as most were deceased and Ross Perot declined the invitation.

The 1972 campaign was the first that I remember (I was four) and when I had to walk around town on occasion with after school activities as a kid,I always took one route more than others.
A homeowner had a car port and inside that car port was a framed picture of bumper stickers of Democratic candidates through the years and prominently in the middle was McGovern/Shriver 72.
I always liked walking by there and looking from the street,the guy probably thought I was casing his house!
To this day,I have a McGovern/Shriver button around here somewhere and I just missed an AVON decanter of the 72 election once at an auction.

Rest in Peace,Senator,you deserve the best for a life spent attempting to help others....

Photo Credit:Boston Globe

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lost in the Sun? Browns capped in Indy 17-13

You usually don't think of the sun being a factor in a football game,especially when said game is inside a domed stadium.
However,on an unusually warm October day in Indianapolis,the Colts decided that they would open the retractable roof and let the sunshine in,that decision would pay huge dividends for them and cost the Cleveland Browns a victory.
Late in the fourth quarter,Josh Gordon streaked past the Colts secondary down the middle of the field and was open for what would have been the game winning touchdown,but the sun appeared through the gap in the roof and Gordon looked like he lost the football in the light,not making the catch and forcing (not really,more on that below) the Browns to punt.
The 17-13 defeat sent the Browns spiraling to 1-6 on the season.
Cleveland will play their next two games by Lake Erie,as they will host San Diego and Baltimore before their bye week. 

Brownie Bits

1) At first,I had much more blame for Josh Gordon on the drop than I do currently.
Watching the replays,it is apparent to me that Gordon entered the sunlight and just lost the ball in the change of light.
Should he have still made the grab?
Absolutely,but I do have more understanding of why he did not than I did at that time...

2) Josh Gordon did grab another touchdown and just missed another when he was bumped out of bounds at the two,so Gordon continues to give Cleveland the downfield threat that the Browns have lacked for years.
I would like to see Gordon's pass routes vary a bit to develop him further as a receiver,but considering the late addition of Gordon to the roster in training camp,I think Gordon has done very well...

3) Greg Little made a great leaping grab for a score along with six catches on the day.
Little did not drop any passes either,which is a welcome change...

4) Brandon Weeden threw both TD's and did not get picked off any either,which again is a welcome change.
Weeden looked strong in the pocket and shows more signs of being comfortable against the pass rush.
I am still not certain that Weeden is the long term answer,but he certainly has not ruled himself out of being such yet either....

5) Pat Shurmur benched Trent Richardson for most of the second half after Richardson rushed for eight yards on eight carries.
Richardson says the benching was unrelated to his rib injury,but the ribs are "worse than you know".
If the ribs are that bad,then Richardson needs to heal,if they are not,then Richardson needs to play.
Sitting Richardson for Montario Hardesty, if Richardson is healthy enough to play proves nothing...

6) The Browns rushed only 17 times and just six in the second half against one of the leagues worst run defenses.
Shurmur's answer was that Indianapolis was using eight men in the box and that forced the Browns to pass.
I understand that and agree for the most part,but wouldn't an occasional run mix things up a bit?

7) The decision that represents Pat Shurmur and his play it safe style best came with a bit over six minutes to go in the game.
The Browns have a fourth and one at the Colts 41 with 6:38 to play.
This to me screams go for it-you are 1-5,what do you have to lose?
Didn't Cleveland draft Trent Richardson for these types of situations?
Shurmur punts.
Boo.

8) I hated the Josh Gordon drop,but I loved the reaction of Jimmy Haslam,who was very animated in his owners box.
The excitement and passion that Haslam has will hopefully carry through the organization for the better.
Successful or not,I get the feeling that Jimmy Haslam cares more after one day than Randy Lerner did in years....

9) The offensive line did a good job in protecting Brandon Weeden as they did not allow a sack in the game.
That number is even more impressive as it comes with John Greco starting at left guard in favor of regular starter Jason Pinkston.

10) Best wishes to Jason Pinkston,who is finished for the season as Pinkston was hospitalized with blood clots in his lungs.
Hope that Pinkston gets better soon..

11) Another special teams breakdown as holder Reggie Hodges botched the hold on the second extra point attempt.
That drop caused the game to go differently as the Browns would finish the game having to play for touchdowns rather than a game tying attempt by Phil Dawson...

12) Finally,this might be the game that affects Pat Shurmur's 2013 employment more than any other.
With Jimmy Haslam in attendance against a not very good team and a winnable game,Pat Shurmur did not gamble or try to win,instead,he was dull to the end.
This game shows that the Browns have some players to build on.
The coach is not one to build on..

Photo Credit:Cleveland Plain Dealer....



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Guiton guides Ohio State to stunning comeback win!

The Ohio State Buckeyes had looked sluggish all afternoon at Ohio Stadium.
The offense had been erratic,the battered defense looked unable to keep up with the speed of the Purdue Boilermakers and a penalty in the end zone handed Purdue a safety and an eight point lead.
Braxton Miller had been taken from the game on the next to last play of the third period and with over sixty yards to go with just 47 seconds remaining and no timeouts with backup quarterback Kenny Guiton taking the snaps,things looked bleak for the Scarlet and Gray.
Fast forward a bit and see Guiton hit Chris Fields for a touchdown with three seconds to put the two point conversion in play for a tie and overtime.
With the outcome on the line,Guiton flipped a pass to Jeff Heuerman-the same Heuerman that had been called for holding in the end zone that created the eight point Purdue lead.
Heuerman hauled the pass in and forced overtime for the Buckeyes,who then scored quickly on a Carlos Hyde run to take the lead.
The defense stepped up with a stop and Ohio State escaped with a 29-22 win victory.
The now 8-0 Buckeyes will travel to State College PA and a suddenly resurgent Nittany Lion squad that will be pointing to this game as their "Bowl Game" next week....

Buckeye Leaves

1) Braxton Miller was released from the hospital with no symptoms,so his status is unknown for Penn State.
As well as Kenny Guiton played on that final drive,I wonder if he can do that for an entire game against a team that is playing well and that in their home stadium....

2) For a game that the team played not so well,the ending and play of Kenny Guiton insures that this game will be remembered for a long time.
Much longer than most wins over Purdue would be with the 2002 exception with the fourth down heave from Craig Krenzel to Michael Jenkins...

3) Perhaps the injuries has sapped the defense,but Purdue seemed just so much faster than the Buckeyes.
Urban Meyer is a speed coach and he will most certainly address this in future recruiting classes,but this could be a huge factor in next weeks game against Penn State and in the final two games against Wisconsin and the last team that the Buckeyes play....

4) An 80 yard pass play for a TD on the first offensive play?
Well,that proves the point on speed as this was not a long pass play down the field,it was more of a catch and run.
Lack of speed can make a defense vulnerable to those types of plays...

5) Special Teams can make the difference in a game and sometimes that difference comes early in a game.
Ohio State blocked an extra point on the initial touchdown seconds into the game and that block enabled Ohio State to force overtime and win this game.
Garrett Goebel blocked the extra point and I think it was Jonathan Hankins that blocked a later field goal attempt and that was part of a nice game for the defensive lineman,who went out of the game twice with injuries,but hung in for a great performance...

6) However,the special teams again made a big mistake as they allowed a second quarter kick return for a touchdown that occurred immediately after a Buckeye touchdown that gave them the lead that they held for the amount of time that it took to allow the touchdown.
Urban Meyer runs the special teams himself and it has to be driving him crazy.
Another problem that might take a year or two to fully address in recruiting...

7) Purdue was shredded by the run in their last two losses against Wisconsin and michigan,but managed to control the Buckeyes to 152 yards on the ground.
Ohio State does have a tough inside runner in Carlos Hyde,but Braxton Miller was not allowed (with one exception) to get up the field and use his moves/jukes to make people miss and break into open field.

8) I thought the tackle on Braxton Miller should have drawn a penalty,although it was not a dirty hit.
I thought it was a horsecollar tackle,which may not have resulted in the injury to Miller,and should have been 15 yards...

9) 12 tackles for Ryan Shazier,who continues to improve each week.
Shazier is the only healthy original starter in the linebacking corps and despite being targeting as the player to control on the OSU defense continues to make plays..

10) The Buckeyes might have lost a starting wideout as well as Corey Brown left with an injury.
Chris Fields replaced him and was pivotal in the game tying drive with a nice punt return and the touchdown catch on what was a low throw by Kenny Guiton.

11) Purdue continues to be the lower level team in the conference that consistently battles OSU tough.
The Boilermakers have not won in Columbus since 1988,but have split the last six games in West Lafayette.
That happens sometimes in cycles,I remember a time period when Michigan State always gave Ohio State a tough time and sometimes even won....

Photo Credit:Marvin Fong-Cleveland Plain Dealer

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cleaning out the Inbox!

Time to clean the inbox with the usual collection of random notes that find their way into the back roads by the river of my memory or inbox....


I stumbled upon this from Yahoo's "ten best" things series on each MLB team on a search engine.
The Giants article was quite interesting.
I enjoyed especially the Croix De Candlestick button segment,but the favorite was the anti-mascot-the Crazy Crab.
The Crab showed up in the mid-80's as a spoof to have Giant fans hate him.
It worked so well that he was pelted every night with garbage and eventually had to be retired.
I enjoyed this quote from the article on the crab-"one memorable appearance in 1999 when he took the house microphone and professed his undying love and support for the Los Angeles Dodgers 
and Tommy Lasorda".
Now that is great stuff!!! 


This note is a month old,but it shows once again what a hypocrite that Art Modell was.
Once again,the fallacy that poor old Art had to move his team bites him in the butt as the Cleveland Plain Dealer shows that Modell was offered his new stadium and he passed.
The picture to the right is the site that was offered for the Browns to play in.
You can see the home of the Indians in the background.
Even after his passing,Art Modell still ticks me off....

With the New Jersey Devils on ice,so to speak,the Albany Devils are the main object to follow in the ice game.
Four of the Devils that were allowed to be sent to Albany due to a lack of service time were Adam Henrique,Adam Larsson,Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby,so the AHL Devils as well as the rest of the league will be filled with young stars that will make the league far more exciting than usual.
Rachel and I along with our good friend Tyler Chupak will be graphing the Devils next Saturday in Hershey in an attempt for Rachel to see "Her Adams" and get Henrique to sign one of her birthday presents-Her Adam Henrique jersey.
In Lou We Trust has their weekly look at the A-Devils here.

After an 80 year run in print,Newsweek will be throwing in the towel as a print publication effective Dec 31st.
Newsweek was once a staple of the news magazine business,but slumping circulation numbers that are due to various reasons,caused their management to go to an all digital format.
I think it's unfortunate that the paper magazines are dying a bit and even though I have not read a Newsweek since I allowed my subscription to expire a few years back,I still think that it is a loss.
I am a believer in technology,but I still think that there is a place for books and magazines in the marketplace.
Allowing brand names that still have cache' in our culture to expire is pretty sad.
However,these things happen and time marches on.....

Time for a few goodbyes....

Goodbye to former heavyweight bomber Corrie Sanders of South Africa.
Sanders was shot and killed during a family event at a restaurant by robbers as Sanders attempted to protect his daughter.
Sanders was known as one of,if not the,hardest hitters in the heavyweight division and he is most remembered for his two bouts against Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko,stopping Wladimir in two and losing to Vitali in eight in an exciting bout for the WBC Heavyweight title that was vacated by the retiring Lennox Lewis......



Goodbye to Alex Karras at the age of 77.
Karras was a four time all pro defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions and spent a few years on Monday Night Football in between Don Meredith's two stints,but Karras was more than just the football player as he transitioned in acting with a starring role in the "Webster" TV series and acting in several films most notably in the TV film "Mad Bull" and even more as "Mongo" in the Mel Brooks classic "Blazing Saddles".



Goodbye to former Maryland basketball player Earl Badu,who leaped to his death from a freeway overpass.
The 33 year old Badu was a walk-on for the 2002 Maryland national champions and was almost Gary Williams "victory cigar" in lopsided victories.
Thanks to Ryan for sending this to me....

Goodbye to Sammi Kane Kraft,who played hard throwing Amanda Wurlitzer in the Bad News Bears remake in 2005.
Kraft was 13 when pitching for the Bears in her only film role.
Kraft was killed when the car she was riding in rear ended a semi and then was hit by another car.
The driver is being charged with drunk driving..
Geez,I try not to judge others,but the epidemic of alcohol related driving casualties never seems to wane and when it comes to getting behind the wheel,all of those deaths are preventable-because those people should not be behind the wheel......

Goodbye to Mike Graham at the age of 61.
Graham was a popular wrestler in the Florida territory in the 1970's and 80's as the son of the territory's owner Eddie Graham.
Graham committed suicide as his father did in 1985....


Please remember if you find anything of interest,send it to me.
If I use it,you will be given credit,as always...

Photo Credit
Crab:Unknown
Cleveland:Plain Dealer

Quick PPM

Another fast PPM.
I haven't had much to say over the last few days.
Been watching the Giants in the NLCS,but been a bit covered with the blues as far as the typing goes.
I might have another post in me later tonight.

College
Ohio State over Purdue 38-23
Bowling Green over Massachusetts 35-13
TCU over Texas Tech 31-30
Game of the Week
South Carolina over Florida 21-15

Pro
Browns over Colts 31-28
Saints over Buccaneers 42-30
Game of the Week
Texans over Ravens 23-14

Last Week 2-4
Season 31-13


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Jimmy Haslam in,Mike Holmgren out

The official word on Jimmy Haslam begins as the NFL approved Haslam as the new owner of the Cleveland Browns yesterday.
Haslam quickly announced that Mike Holmgren resigned as team president and former Philadelphia Eagles executive Joe Banner was in Holmgren's former position after a transition period.
Haslam announced that there would be no further changes in personnel until the season concludes,which means that Tom Heckert as general manager and Pat Shurmur as head coach are safe in their jobs for a few more months.

So,now the worrying and wondering begins on the changes in a few months for the Cleveland Browns.
Ranging from personnel on the field,to personnel in the front office,to uniforms,to domes over the stadium and who knows what other potential changes are on the mind of Jimmy Haslam?

As much as uniform changes are important (Keep the jerseys,move to orange pants),the top decision to be made has to be on the future of Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmur.
Tom Heckert worked with Joe Banner with the Eagles,which could be a plus or a minus,but a undisclosed source reports that Heckert is "not optimistic" about being retained.
That would be unfortunate for Browns fans as I think Heckert has drafted very well and I think his record would be even better had Mike Holmgren not intervened in the draft twice to insist on quarterbacks being selected (Colt McCoy in the 3rd round in 2010 and Brandon Weeden in the last draft) when better players were available.
Heckert could do a better job in free agency,although that might have something to do with the budget/saving Randy Lerner's money,so I am even open to that possibility.

Pat Shurmur's future looks a bit grimmer.
As excited as Browns fans are about last weeks win over Cincinnati and a possible win this week against the Colts,the schedule then gets tougher for a while before weakening in December.
Shurmur's dull play calling makes one wonder if he will survive even with a few more victories.
Considering the lack of on field success,the less than fan friendly Shurmur has to wonder about his chances of returning as well!
Short of winning at least six of the last ten games,I would think that it is a foregone conclusion that Pat Shurmur will be terminated or I would hope someone would not be "Manginied",which is a term I just coined for being deluded that progress is being made for a few meaningless late season wins over mostly other bad teams.

If Shurmur goes and I believe that he will,the biggest question is this-Does Haslam make a huge splash with a big name coach that is proven as a winner? Or does he select another assistant like the Browns usually do?
That selection can either inflame the fan base as the Browns Backers can realize that change is finally here by the lake,or take away the enthusiasm that is being generated right now.
I like Tom Heckert and I think that he has done a good job,but not a great one as GM,but if landing a Jon Gruden or even a (Bleech) Bill Cowher type of winner means sacrificing Heckert,then I would be in favor of that,even reluctantly so.

Mike Holmgren leaves Cleveland as a failure.
Holmgren appeared to me to be disinterested (other than a few personnel decisions that he was involved in) and will be remembered mainly for rarely being seen along with his two major decisions-the retention of Eric Mangini despite the clear philosophical differences after the 2009 season and the hiring of Pat Shurmur.
Keeping Mangini,when it was clear that the two men's ideas for football were never going to mesh,was the worst decision that Holmgren could have made.
That decision lessened the excitement of Browns fans for Holmgren (Take note Mr.Haslam) and his ability to turn things around when hopes were still sky high.
The hiring of Shurmur after a lost season under Mangini was the knockout blow as it appeared that it was more important to hire a crony at lower cost than it was to hire someone with a winning background.
Those two decisions were the major calls of the Holmgren era and both proved to be wrong ones.

Jimmy Haslam has brought hope and excitement to Cleveland as the Browns now have an owner that will not tolerate mediocrity,let alone bad football.
Changes are inevitable for both good and bad,I am afraid under the new ownership.
Lets see how long this lasts for fans of the Cleveland Browns.

Photo Credit:Chuck Crow-Cleveland Plain Dealer




Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Reviewing the tape-Buckeyes survive Indiana!

The Ohio State Buckeyes had little problems in scoring on the Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington.
That they figured on,but what they did not count on was their defense reverting to non-conference form as a furious Indiana rally made Buckeye fans sweat around the country in a 52-49 win.
The now 7-0 Buckeyes will host Purdue next Saturday.

Buckeye Leaves

1) Another great game from Braxton Miller with 360 yards of total offense.
Miller seems to mature by the week with his role in the offense and I am sure that there will be an eventual speed bump,but I will say this-this is a 4-3 team without Braxton Miller.

2) The most improved part of the game of Braxton Miller has to be his improved touch on the deep ball.
Miller tossed touchdowns of 60 and 46 yards to Devin Smith and showed the touch that last year he lacked.
Or was not allowed to show by the prehistoric game plan of previous offensive coordinator Jim Bollman.

3) Carlos Hyde rambled for 156 yards on the game and continues to show the season of the hard nosed,between the tackles runner that every team needs in the offense.
Without Hyde's ability to move the chains,Ohio State would have no semblance of an inside force with the loss of Jordan Hall.

4) Devin Smith and Corey Brown continue to alternate between dazzling and dizzying with big plays and plays that make your head shake.
Smith grabbed the two long scoring passes,but dropped two passes,one of which would have been a huge play.
Brown tends to disappear at times in the passing game,which makes the offense smart for keeping Brown in the game with the odd gimmick running play...

5) Starting fullback Zach Boren led the team in eight tackles.
Boren did it at linebacker as injuries to several Buckeyes including senior Etienne Sabino forced Boren to move until the injuries subside.
Boren should be on the defensive side of the ball for another two or three more games.

6) The defense is hobbled.
Yes,I get it,but to allow this many points to the lowly Hoosiers is not good news.
Four touchdowns allowed through the air?
Injuries do make a difference,but some young players will need to grow up and quickly....

7) Bad night for the special teams.
Despite one TD scored off a blocked punt,the Buckeyes allowed a blocked punt and of course the difficulties in recovering onside kicks make me wonder about this unit against better teams.
The special teams have been inconsistent all season,they need to raise their game...

8) The defensive injuries are concerning,especially in the back seven.
The injury report for the secondary will be very interesting to see against a Purdue team that looked tough before two recent lopsided losses...

9) The offensive line could have been stronger as well.
Indiana was able to rush Braxton Miller effectively off the edge,forcing him to step up into the pocket.
Keep in mind that was Indiana rushing not Wisconsin or the team up north..

10) A win is a win and I'll take it,but this game showed that there is still plenty of work to do.
Injuries have and will continue to test the Buckeye depth,which was a question entering the season.
How those backup performers play could tell the tale of the last five games....

Photo Credit;Chris Russell-Columbus Dispatch

Reviewing the tape-Browns earn first win!

The Cleveland Browns became the final team to earn their first win of the season as they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 34-24 in Cleveland.
The Browns were paced by two touchdown passes by Brandon Weeden that included a 71 yard heave to Josh Gordon in the first half.
Cleveland put the game away with a Sheldon Brown interception that he took 19 yards for the final blow against the Bengals for a touchdown.
The now 1-5 Browns travel to Indianapolis next Sunday for the waiting Colts.

Brownie Bits

1) I picked the Bengals in the PPM,but I have told/written all during the football season that I saw two windows of opportunity for wins,this one with the Bengals at home and the Colts on the road,along with one in December with a three game run of the Chiefs,Raiders and Redskins.

2) I wish that the Browns would throw the occasional crossing pattern to Josh Gordon to get him more involved in the offense,but there can be no denying that the Browns have found themselves a deep threat.
Gordon still has work to do as a fledgling NFL pass catcher,but the speed is there and if he can stay away from his college issues,the Browns might have themselves with their number one receiver in Josh Gordon.

3) The Browns did not have all good news as Trent Richardson injured his ribs and finished with a very pedestrian 37 yards on 14 carries.
Richardson is iffy for next week's game in Indy and it might not be a bad thing.
Ribs are the type of injury that are easily aggravated and if he misses a game to get things right,I would not complain.

4) The surprising note from the win?
The reappearance of Montario Hardesty,who led the team with 56 yards rushing and his first rushing touchdown as a pro.
Hardesty might be down to his last chance,so if Richardson does miss a game,it would behoove him to play well for his future endeavors.

5) The true play of the game might have been the Emmanuel Stephens hit/strip of Andy Dalton deep in Cleveland territory with the Browns up ten,but the Bengals looking to make it a one score game.
Billy Winn scooped and ran the ball out of the danger zone,but that essentially ended any comeback worries.

6) Brandon Weeden's long bomb to Josh Gordon into a tough (I repeat TOUGH) wind showed the arm strength that the Browns hoped for,but his interception off a deflection by Geno Atkins still showed the work that needs to be finished.
Weeden still needs to get rid of the ball quicker as I think he holds it a hair too long and that results in more deflections.

7) Joe Haden's return to the lineup certainly lifted the Browns emotionally,but A.J. Green once again had his way with Haden.
It happens sometimes,every corner has players that he covers the blanket and players that they struggle with and it appears that Green is Haden's blind spot.
I wish that was not with someone inside the division,but....

8) Jordan Norwood had been very productive in the slot over the last two games,but Norwood was out and Josh Cooper was activated from the practice squad.
Cooper caught two passes for 39 yards,but showed the potential to continue the production from that position.

9) Hustle award goes to tight end Jordan Cameron,who fell down on a route and yet scrambled up and down the field to catch a Weeden toss before being tackled at the one yard line.
Cameron shows the ability to be a large part of the offense with his physical skills,but when you see the hustle as well,I have reason to think that Jordan Cameron just might be a big time tight end in a year or so....

10) One disappointing part of the game was a strong performance by the Bengals Vontaze Burfict.
Burfict went tumbling down draft boards after a poor combine effort and a reported awful attitude.
I wanted the Browns to take a shot at Burfict in the late rounds (He went in the final round) and they passed.
Five games into the season,Burfict is starting,playing very well and is exactly the type of linebacker that Cleveland is badly in need of.
Another missed opportunity for the Browns.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Overhand Right!

Time for our monthly look at the fight game with the overhand right.

This month's featured bomber is former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Michael Spinks.
Spinks ranks among the greatest 175 pounders of all time and it is unfortunate that he is remembered more for his only loss-a one round demolition at the hands of Mike Tyson in a heavyweight unification bout.
Do not be fooled by Spinks as a heavyweight,where he used an awkward style to combat much bigger men,check out the 175 pounder,who might have been (along with Bob Foster) the biggest hitter in the division's history.


I was very pleased with Sergio Martinez's victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and even with his being knocked down in the 12th round,I was still pleased.
Martinez went for the knockout win and almost lost because of it,but Martinez attempted to be entertaining for the people that paid to see him even to his own detriment.
I had Martinez winning every round until the final round and won handily as only maybe one round might have been stretched to go Chavez's way.
There might have been a rematch early next year,but a post fight positive for marijuana for the loser might shove that further down the road.
I'd love to see Martinez against any one of Daniel Geale,Gennady Golovkin or Dmitri Pirog and word is that HBO is interested in a mini-tournament involving the four to unify the middleweight belts.
Good idea and one that I would like to see happen in 2013!

HBO brings two excellent fights tonight to the video dish with 122 pound Nonito Donaire against Japan's Toshiaki Nishoka.
Nishoka,a former champion that gave his belt up in order to fight Donaire brings a style to the ring that I think is going to give the touted Donaire fits.
Donaire gave up his IBF title before the weigh in as his next fight against the winner of a mandatory contender bout looks to have little promotional or television interest.
I like Nishoka to pull a huge upset tonight....

The other bout looks to be an all action war between junior welterweights Mike Alvarado and former lightweight champion Brandon Rios.
This one looks like a possible Arturo Gatti-Mickey Ward fight and if it is half that good-it is a must watch!

Showtime has a three world title fight card next week with Danny Garcia defending his WBA and WBC Jr,Welterweight titles against Erik Morales,who he won the WBC belt from before adding the WBA title with a KO win over Amir Khan.
Their first fight was a good one and I think this one should be as well.
As tired as I am of hearing about the "new" Paul Malignaggi (Zab Judah fits this category as well), I have to give credit to the New Yorker for traveling to Russia to win the WBA Welterweight strap.
Malignaggi defends against Pablo Cesar Cano while the IBF champion hard punching Randall Bailey defends against Devon Alexander in what should be an interesting bout.
Bailey can knock out anyone he hits,but can he hit the slick Alexander?

I referred to Malignaggi as the "new" version because yet again,he gets attention for being revitalized,renewed and energized in order to put him in a big fight that he will fall short in.
Point is this-Malignaggi is world class but not elite and will fall short every time that he is put in with elite fighters.
Zab Judah pops up every year or so with this stuff and the same thing occurs-and I think higher of Judah than I ever will of Malignaggi.....

Some interesting stuff in November coming up too,so stay tuned next time for more Overhand right action!


Quick PPM

Another quick PPM due to time constraints
College
Ohio State over Indiana 42-20
Bowling Green over Miami Ohio 24-20
West Virginia over Texas Tech 60-32
Game of the Week
South Carolina over LSU 16-12

NFL
Bengals over Browns 27-17
Game of the Week
49ers over Giants 31-27

Last Week 6-1
Season 29-9

Friday, October 12, 2012

Talkin' VP Debate

Last night's Vice Presidential debate might have been the best debate in years as far as entertainment and straight speaking.

First,allow me to preface this column with this statement.
I like Joe Biden.Always have.
As someone that has been known to say something awkward (albeit the way I see) on several occasions,I know how Biden can slip up.
When you have passions in life,it can be tough to restrain your passion at times when you speak about things and Biden has been known to not always be able to ride that horse.
However,Joe Biden comes across as the most authentic politician of our times and whether you like what he says or not,he says what he feels,which may not always be what is best for him or his political positions.
When a politician plays the "I'm one of you" card,few actually come across as,well,one of us.
Joe Biden does.
For all the weaknesses and foibles,Joe Biden relates to the,excuse the pun,average Joe.

Paul Ryan comes across as an intelligent person that knows his stuff.
Nothing wrong with that nor is there anything wrong with Ryan's being a policy wonk.
It's always good to have knowledgeable people in charge,something the GOP lacked from from January 2001-January 2009,so no knock on Ryan there.
However,Ryan seems to believe that he is the smartest guy in the room,which I suppose is often the case,but he comes across as plastic as a water bottle and articulately unauthentic.
I suppose I have just coined the catch phrase for future opponents to whack Ryan over the head with in future campaigns!

That was the difference in what I saw in the debate as I saw two talented politicians coming from two different directions that did not have anything to do with their policies or ideas.
I saw one person that came across as a person that understood the average person,even if some of his policies that he represented are flawed that will not work and another that has the look of some of the people that I saw in high school/college of privilege with some ideas that might work,but with an air of superiority that comes off as quite condescending.

As I said in the look at the last debate,these debates really prove little as most people on either end of the political rope tend to have decided that their candidate blew the other person away before they even take the stage,but this one was way more interesting as both Biden and Ryan made reasonable statements,yet it had a tinge of legitimate interaction.
Biden's grins brought to mind something thinking "This is such a load of B.S" and Ryan's smirks reminded me of someone pondering "this guy's day has passed".
Actually,Ryan made me think of a high schooler or college grad,if you prefer,that walks into the world after the graduation day and believes that they have all the answers because they went through school.
I suppose all of us think that way in the idealism of the young,but in the political game,being in your 40's on the national scene is much like being 18/22 in the real world.

Another political touch that I love is the constant "my friend" that Biden uses constantly when it soaks through that they do not really consider the other a friend at all.
A little bit of animosity can be a good thing,especially when it's real and considering that it is definitely real between the two party bases.
I would much rather have a little nastiness during a debate far more than these gutless commercials that accuse each other of everything and anything and then shake hands,play patty cake and smile on the debate stage.....

Who won? Well,I believe the reader/watcher can make that decision for themselves,but I will say this-for one night,it was fun viewing.....

Buster's bomb completes comeback! Giants NLCS Bound!

The San Francisco Giants completed a feat never done in National League as they completed a three game comeback with a 6-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds to win the NLDS and move onto the league championship series against the winner of the Cardinals-Nationals series.
Buster Posey crushed a grand slam to pace a six run fifth inning and the Giants were able to hold off several Reds chances (and they had a few good ones) to give the margin back in piecemeal manner for the victory.
Matt Cain was the winner as he pitched five and two thirds,allowing three runs with Sergio Romo grabbing the save as the final of five Giants relievers to throw on the day.
Game 1 of the NLCS will either be in Washington Sunday against the Nationals or in San Francisco against the Cardinals...


Giant Steps

1) The talk going into this series was that the Giants starting staff would be strong,but there were concerns about the bullpen.
Things reversed is other than maybe Ryan Vogelsong,the starters did not pitch nearly as well as they are capable of.
Hopefully,that will bode well for the Giants going forward and will not foreshadow problems in the next round...

2) The bullpen stepped up and pitched beyond expectations in the three wins over the Reds.
Take the final line of note one and place it here for the bullpen.

3) Buster Posey's grand slam off the face of the second deck gave the Giants a 6-0 lead and obviously was the key blow,but to me,it made me think about the stat heads of the game that believe clutch hitting is a myth,
I can understand that the numbers crunch makes it appear that clutch hitting is non-existent and looking at those numbers,one could agree.
However,there are players that just appear to "rise to the moment" far more often than the norm-Buster Posey is one of those players....

4) Brandon Crawford may be less than average with the stick,but wow,he is a future gold glove winner,if I ever saw one.
Crawford makes plays that are not only flashy,but he makes the routine play as well.
Bank on Crawford winning a fielding award in the year or so....

5) Biggest play other than the Posey pop?
Cincinnati running into a double play with no outs in the fifth.
Ryan Hanigan took strike three from Matt Cain as he looked to have missed a sign and Jay Bruce was then thrown out at third by Buster Posey.
A quick two outs and that enabled Matt Cain to leave the game with two down instead of just one.
George Kontos retired the next batter and the threat was finished...

6) The Reds had not lost three games in a row at home all season.
It is funny how things like that seem to happen in the post season after not happening at all in the long term,but it happens more than you think.
One that strikes my mind was the Cubs-Marlins series where the Cubs had not lost back to back starts of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior all season and then did just that to lose the set.

7) Now the future.
Cardinals or Nationals?
Cardinals gives you home field,Nationals gives you a greater stage.
Washington would be more enjoyable to root against,but a loss would be more painful to take.
Anyone out there have tickets for Nats-Giants????

Photo Credit:Andrew Weber

Thursday, October 11, 2012

On the signing front-Southern League

I begin the long process of catching up on the massive amount of cards from the second half of last season,but I'm going to do things differently this time.

I'm going to start with the things in the box that I was able to add from my friend in Tennessee in Corey White and the Southern League.
Next time out,I'll devote the post to the Eastern League and my friends there in Jason Christensen along with Tom O'brien.
After that,I'll add my stuff as we went along with the 2012 campaign with my regular travel pals consisting of (at various times) Kendall Morris,Derreck and Tyler Chupak with of course my long term traveling buddy Bill Cover's help as well.

Corey and I traded All Star sets from the AA leagues this season,since the Southern League tilt was in his home park this season.
The biggest pickups from that set from the Southern Division were Arizona righthander Tyler Skaggs,Diamondback outfielder Alfredo Marte and yet another Arizona prospect in powerhitting third baseman Matt Davidson.
The Reds added two from that set with flashy fielding shortstop Didi Gregorious with hard throwing Daniel Carcillo.
Ethan Martin was with the Dodgers then for the set,but I was able to get him later at Reading as well after he was traded to the Phillies and the best of all was the 2011 second overall pick with Seattle's Danny Hultzen signing his all star card and his bowman chrome.
Corey told me that Hultzen was promoted to AAA immediately following the All-Star game.


Corey helped with some players as they came through as well.
Huntsville is a Brewers affiliate and he helped me with several players,most notably a decent amount  for Hunter Morris,Kentrail Davis and Scooter Gennett,all of whom have lots of cards.
Corey also got former Suns manager Darnell Coles to sign some stuff that we didn't get during his tenure here,but I told Corey of the night Coles threw a bucket of balls on the field here.
Corey said Coles smiled and remembered it,but that same night was thrown from the game and did the same thing.
Could it have been that I planted a seed????

Chattanooga is the home for the AA Dodgers and Corey came through again with former Texas Longhorn slugger Kyle Russell,the top two Dodger pitching prospects Zach Lee and now Red Sox Allen Webster.Matt Magill signed his bowman chrome and Chris Withrow signed all three that I sent for him.
Chattanooga had two former big leaguers on their coaching staff and I was able to add both in Franklin Stubbs and Chuck Crim.
Corey reports that Stubbs was somewhat unhappy about signing,but was able to get him for me.

I didn't need as many for the AA Birmingham Barons as I get two shots as them as a White Sox farm club,but I did get Jared Mitchell on his All-Star card along with a older (for the minors) card of Jon Gaston,who was released shortly after his stop in Tennessee.
Same went for the AA Mississippi Braves and I was able to have a few that I missed in Lynchburg finished with Joe Leonard,Zeke Spruill and Sean Gilmartin as notable additions.

The best part of a team that I had few for in the Jacksonville Suns was knocking out a six year old Jamestown card in pitcher Graham Taylor.
Taylor joined another former Hagerstown Sun in Jake Smolinski for that series.

Corey swapped me a Tennesse Smokies set for a Suns and those cards were nice!
The Smokies of note were Jae-Hoon Ha,Matt Cerda,Trey McNutt.Matthew Szczur and former Hagerstown Sun Michael Burgess along with former Colorado top pick Casey Weathers,who continues his comeback from arm woes.
Weathers being there enabled me to get a lot of old cards out of the box and into the signed binder!
I also added two old Jake Brigham cards finished after Brigham was acquired in the Ryan Dempster trade with Texas by the Cubs.

The newest team in baseball hit Tennessee late in the season as the Reds AA squad,the Pensacola Blue Wahoos arrived and Corey said the signing front with Seiverville was like never before with the arrival of shortstop Billy Hamilton,who would set the record for steals in a season.
Corey's report was that the scene was nuts,but he did get Billy on a Midwest league prospect card,so thanks for braving the riot!
Long time Indian farmhand Beau Mills added two straggler cards as well.
Juan Carlos Sulbaran was a pitcher that I had tons for and Corey came through with Sulbaran,who was traded in the middle of a game against the Smokies.
Corey asked for something from him,since the equipment would not be re-used and J.C.returned with a game used Pensacola hat,which he then signed!
Cool stuff!

Mobile finished things up and the Diamondback team had former Pirate Jay Bell as their manager,who Corey got everything of as and in a really cool card of Smokies coach Mariano Duncan that features Bell sliding in on Duncan finishing a double play,Corey was able to get both players to sign the card!
It looks super sharp!
Some other Bay Bears of note that weren't in the All-Star set were Chris Owings,former White Sox farmhand David Holmberg,Eric Smith,former James Madison pitcher Kevin Munson (love those college cards) and former Pirate Brett Lorin on his 2011 Bradenton card.
Lorin was always very nice when I got him in the past.

That wraps up the SL tour and I would like to thank Corey for all his help.
I hope I was able to help you as well and keep an eye out for something that I mailed out today to you.
Hope you like it and thanks again for everything!!!!