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Friday, November 30, 2012

Pirate Hooks/Russell Martin


I'll take a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates moves of the last two days shortly.


But first a disclaimer-I have suffered through a lot of losing as a Pirates fan and as a fan in general.

I am growing more and more aggravated with some of this and the main target of my frustration is the Pittsburgh Pirates.
To the point of just reaching the border of ambivalence,this frustration is eating away at my fanhood and I don't know why.
I suppose 20 years does that to a person.
Just a heads up....

The Pittsburgh Pirates brought in four new bodies through trades and free agency on Wednesday and Thursday.
The team addressed a need for the lineup,took a chance on an untested power bat and added two arms as well,with the type of chances that a lower level team needs to try on for size.
Pittsburgh should be taking more low risk high reward players that for various reasons have not panned out as prospects for their previous teams and I have knocked the Pirates in the past for not taking enough of these chances,so my kudos for trying a few out.

The marquee signing by the Pirates was the addition of Russell Martin to be the everyday catcher.
The national media is looking at this as the low income Pirates outbidding the mighty Yankees for the Bombers starting catcher.
Little of that is actually the case.
Yes,Pittsburgh's terms of two years and seventeen million must have been more than the Yankees offer.
Why?
Well,It's because the Yankees made no offer to Martin,despite severe questions about their catching situation,if Martin did not return.
So the trumpeting of the Pirates "outbidding" the Yankees is a red herring (not goldfish).

Martin might not be a huge improvement over last seasons regular backstop (and free agent signing) Rod Barajas either offensively or defensively.
Now listen,I was no fan of Rod Barajas,but I see some similarities in this signing to last years of Barajas.
Barajas might be quite as strong as Martin in throwing out runners,but it is in the same range and considering the Pirate pitchers issues in holding runners on,I don't think Russell Martin is going to fare substantially better than Rod Barajas in the running game unless the Pirates make an attempt to emphasize doing a better job in holding runners on.
Russell Martin has had his best power numbers of his career in his two years in pinstripes (39) entering 2013 just as Barajas entered 2012 with the best power numbers of his career (52 over three years).
The other common thread?
Both righthanded powerhitting catchers with pull power playing everyday in a bad park for righthanded pull hitters.
Adding all of this up and the bang for the buck,In my opinion,the Pirates would have been better served to spend that money at another position and just went with Michael McKenry,who possesses a decent chance to give the team what Martin might offensively at a far cheaper cost.
Nothing against Russell Martin,but he looks to me to have more valuable to the Yankees than he will prove to be for the Pirates...

I like the deals that the Pirates made with Boston and Kansas City better than the signing of Martin.

The trade with Boston brought former top prospect Zach Stewart for the ever popular player to be named later.
Stewart has moved around in various deals since his draft year in 2008 by the Reds.
Going from the Blue Jays to both pair of Sox,Stewart has never really gotten a full chance in anyone's rotation despite throwing in the low to mid 90's.
The knock on Stewart? No change of pace pitch to go with a decent fastball and strong slider,which might make a reliever out of him in the long term.
Considering the cost.I'm all for a flyer on Stewart.....

The Pirates sent two players from the Dominican league that have yet to play in the United States to the Royals in return for two interesting players in pitcher Vin Mazzaro and first baseman Clint Robinson.
Mazzaro has had mediocre numbers in four years with the Athletics and Royals after rocketing through the Oakland system in two and a half seasons.
Mazzaro's out pitch is a hard sinker and the Pirates like sinkerballers,so Mazzaro's appeal might be due to that.
I am not as high on Mazzaro being a servicable arm as Stewart's,but again considering the cost,I'm not against taking a look.

Clint Robinson is one of those AAA sluggers that never seemed get a full shot at the big time,unless you consider four at bats last season a full shot.
Robinson turns 28 in spring training,but the power numbers that he showed in the minors make me like this opportunity for a lefty swinger that might have the upside of a Garrett Jones.
As I wrote before,chances of players with huge minor power numbers are the high upside signings that teams like the Pirates need to take more of....



That catches up for now,I'll be back tomorrow with some thoughts on Thursday Night Football and why I don't like it...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Early PPM

With the Saints playing one of those wonderful Thursday games,the PPM starts early this week.
Since the college season is almost over,but the conference title games are this weekend,so I'll expand it to include all the title games for this week....

College

MAC Title
Kent State over Northern Illinois 31-25
Pac 12 Title
Stanford over UCLA 41-30
SEC Title
Alabama over Georgia 21-15
ACC Title
Florida State over Georgia Tech 37-16
Big 10 Title
Wisconsin over Nebraska 23-21

Pro
Falcons over Saints 35-30
Raiders over Browns 24-17
Game of the Week
Ravens over Steelers 17-7

Last Week 2-5
Season 52-31

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Three more Goodbyes

Time to say goodbye to three recent passings, all of whom had various influences on me in my developmental years...

Actor Larry Hagman passed on at the age of 81 from complications of throat cancer.
To most.Hagman is more remembered as the man behind Dallas baddie J.R. Ewing,but to me,an avowed I Dream of Jeannie fan,I'll remember him more as Major Anthony Nelson and the "Master" to Barbara Eden's Jeannie.
The son of former Broadway star Mary Martin,Hagman did almost all dramatic acting after Jeannie and never again did regular comedic work.
That is quite the shame,as it was Hagman's work on the show that stands out.
Without Hagman playing that role,Barbara Eden might have been just another beautiful actress in a show lacking in talent.
For a silly (but very funny) gimmick related television show,Jeannie was always a guarantee to make me laugh and that is far from an iron clad contract from the television genre'.
As I have written before,growing up in the 70's in an extremely rural area made television stars a bigger deal to my brother and I than the biggest film stars of the day.
Between Jeannie and Dallas,Larry Hagman ranked right up there at the top.




Former Texas football coach Darrell Royal passed recently at the age of 88 after battling Alzheimer's for the last few years.
Darrell Royal was the king of the SWC with 11 SWC championships during his reign at Texas and the 1963 and 1969 National titles as the sideline boss of the Longhorns.
I have never been a fan of Texas football,but Royal and the iconic Longhorn logo on the helmet was a television staple at the Cotton Bowl on CBS in the days where every game was not televised.
Royal's teams helped me forge a love affair with the SWC that continued until the dissolution of the conference in 1995.
Now,it might have been because Texas was the bully of the block that I loved to see lowly Texas Tech (and Big 8 rival bully Oklahoma) upset,but those teams were influential on me as a fan.
Besides all the titles,Royal might be remembered best for two things.
One was the innovation of the Wishbone offense that ran roughshod over the college football world in the late 60's and early 70's with assistant and future Texas A & M head coach Emory Bellard.
The offense proved to be a double edged sword as rival Oklahoma would install the offense with superior speed and whip Texas throughout the 70's and 80's.
The other was for the gutsy pass call on fourth down in the Game of the Century against Arkansas in 1969.
Considering the less than strong passing game for the 69 Horns,the call was huge as James Street chucked the ball deep to Randy Paschall,who hauled it for a huge gain,setting the game winning touchdown in a 15-14 Texas win.




Hector "Macho" Camacho was shot in the head and died days later in Puerto Rico at the age of 50.
Camacho fought about every big name that you might think of in the 80's and 90's,winning some,losing others,but always bringing flash and controversy to the ring.
I won't remember that Camacho as that fellow was a safety first fighter,more interested in not getting hurt than winning and being fan friendly.
I'll remember the young 130 pound Camacho that was a tremendous machine that had the fastest hands in the game (think prime Floyd Mayweather type speed),terrific defense and underrated punching power as shown in the YouTube below winning his first belt over then rock-jawed Bazooka Limon.
That Camacho was well worth remembering as was Camacho's first few fights at 135 winning the Lightweight title with a shutout of Jose Luis Ramirez showing his stunning skills.
But he would leave and never be seen against as Camacho was hurt badly in two different rounds by power punching Edwin Rosario in a defense at Madison Square Garden in front of Camacho's home crowd.
Camacho escaped with a controversial decision that left the fans howling,Rosario never getting a rematch and Camacho changing his style permanently to a dance and grab fighter that would be less than visually pleasing for the remainder of his career.
Hector Camacho brought a flair to the ring that had not been there before and will be remembered for all of the above.
It is too bad that he could have been so much more...


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On the Signing Front-More thank yous!

I try to catch up on the front with some more thank yous.
To my friends out there that have helped,if I missed thanking you or give someone else your credit-I apologize in advance.
I'll try to keep better track next year.

We start with thanks to:

Bob and Brenda Shafer,who took some stuff to West Virginia in their trip there.
The Powers early visit kept a lot of stuff from getting signed in Hagerstown,so they were very helpful.
The main hits were Robby Rowland on a Topps Debut,Rowland was not with the Power earlier and two cards for Jose Osuna and Nick Kingham on Bowman sets,,,,

Kendall Morris made a trip to Texas to see his sister and stopped by a Texas League game in Frisco.
Kendal helped with several cards,most prominently former Phillies and now Astros prospect slugger Jonathan Singleton.
Kendall also is a constant help to me in his travels...

Tom O'brien continued his help with the Eastern League and Indy ball.
Tom cleaned a few Altoona Curve cards that I missed with Tony Sanchez,Brock Holt and Brandon Cumpton leading the show.
Tom also got me a Jerry Martin signed when Erie was in town along with his usual array of Bowie BaySox players that I missed in Frederick.

Corey Cunningham was in Charlotte for a NASCAR race,stopped by the Charlotte Knights and nabbed me Phillies outfield prospect Domonic Brown for the collection.

Jason Christensen continued his help in Binghamton with two players that had eluded me for a while  in Brian Bocock and Jefry Marte as well as adding Josh Rodriguez and Greg Golson of extras that he had.

Bill Cover hit the Appy league and grabbed me several Cardinals,Royals and Rays players,the most notable being C.J. McElroy,Carson Kelly and Royals number one pick Bubba Starling.
These were all gifts from Bill as I didn't send him cards going down.

Tyler Chupak nailed me the big fish with Pirates top pick Gerrit Cole in Harrisburg among others!
More on Tyler later...

Jason Christensen returned with some more B-Mets,most notably Zach Wheeler,who was reported to not want to sign at all as the season went on.
Jason got all my Wheelers signed for me and they are appreciated,especially since most of them are in the Giants uniform...
Jason also made our annual swap of Hagerstown for Binghamton team sets as well
Other cool additions were Aaron Hicks of the Twins,Avasail Garcia of the Tigers and a great blue chrome card of Deck McGuire of the Blue Jays and another Gerrit Cole on a ball for the Pirates top pick collection!

Bill Cover was back as he did a Greensboro Grasshoppers team set for me when he was in Greensboro for his son diving meet.
Thanks again,Bill for your constant help!

Tyler Chupak did some cards for me in a trip to Lehigh Valley and got C.J.Nitkowski on a Japanese league card! Tyler says Nitkowski was friendly was asking questions about it.
Thanks to my buddy Brandon Siefken in Japan for bidding on the card and getting it to me so quickly in able for me to get it signed!

Tom O'Brien did our annual swap of Bowie for Hagerstown sets and helped me with a few Eastern League All Star stragglers most notably Jonathan Schoop of Bowie..

Craig Horvath did me a huge favor and traded me an Altoona set for a team of his choice (He selected Myrtle Beach).
Altoona was finished with Harrisburg early this season and without Craig,I would not have gotten the Curve done....

Bill Cover did the Akron Aeros team set for me while I was away taking Cherie for our 25th anniversary.
The Aeros had the usual suspects except for Ryan Rohlinger,who I had a bunch of Fresno cards for as well as his Akron card.

Jason Christensen finished up in Binghamton with a long held card in Francisco Pena,a few Richmond stragglers and Toronto top pick Marcus Stroman on his USA card....

Mike Oravec gives me doubles all year and he tossed my former Brewer infielder Tim Johnson,former Pirate outfielder Bill Virdon,former Indian outfielder Johnny Grubb among many others.
Mike also helped me with some Fresno Grizzlies and former Pirate SS Brandon Wood on a Topps Diamond card,which is Wood's only card in a Pirate uniform...

I want to thank three more people that help me throughout the year-Tyler Chupak,his dad Derreck and Brandon Diehl.
You guys help me so much on your trips to Frederick etc in picking up leftovers of mine and cool stuff as well-an example being Orioles top pick Kevin Gausman and phenom Dylan Bundy.
All three of you helped me with tons of stuff and I couldn't keep them straight on who got me what,so here is a blanket thank you for all that you did for me last season....

If I missed anyone that helped,again-my apologies.It is appreciated,I just didn't keep everything straight from everyone....

Two recent in the mail additions that were sent a long time ago came back with former Jets WR Al Toon and former Navy and Raider running Napoleon McCallum.
McCallum is the new record holder for longest return at 561 days,breaking the previous record of former pitcher Clyde Wright by eight days.

I'm not sure if I am going to do another signing front from the rest of my stuff.
Lots of things to put away,but if a story hits me as I do that,I might toss a post up.
I will be doing more minor league and autograph stuff though over the winter.
I had a few requests for more of that in our survey,so I want to do that.

One final thanks to all of my friends for all of your help in this crazy hobby.
I have things that I never would have gotten without you,so you all have my deepest thanks!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Eight is Enough! Browns top Steelers 20-14!

It might have taken eight (yes,eight) turnovers and it might have taken 96 year old Charlie Batch taking the snaps under center for the Pittsburgh Steelers,but mix in the recipe of Pat Shurmur managing not to do anything too stupid and your net result was a 20-14 upset win for the Cleveland Browns!
Trent Richardson's 15 yard touchdown run in third quarter play gave the Browns the final margin as the score was the only points in the second half for either team.
The now 3-8 Browns travel to Oakland next Sunday for a showdown against the 3-8 Raiders.
Small group at my house for this one,Interested? Want to bring food?
Drop me a line! Anytime that the Browns beat Pittsburgh-its party time!
Or as close as a boring fat man that doesn't drink gets to that point....

Brownie Bits

1) I have some negatives later,but lets have a positive!
I don't care if the QB for the opponent is Ben Rothlisberger,Charlie Batch or Charlie Brown-Eight turnovers is a lot!
I know Steeler fans have the thought that if Rothlisberger played this would not have happened and they are probably right,as we will most likely see in Pittsburgh in a month,but it was not Charlie Batch that was dropping the ball on the turf like he was carrying a landmine.

2) Four Steeler running backs and four fumbles,one from each back.
On a day that the Steelers had to not turn the ball over in order to maximize Charlie Batch,the Browns pounded the Steeler backs and forced them to give it up .
It has been a long time since Cleveland out-physicaled (New Word!) Pittsburgh,but they did on this day....

3) The Browns run defense is ranked in the lower third in the league,but this team has become difficult to run on and I attribute that to the return of Phil Taylor.
I was not thrilled with the selection of John Hughes in the third round and I still think that the Browns could have gotten him later in the draft,but when Cleveland can rotate Taylor,Ahtyba Rubin,Hughes and Billy Winn at defensive tackle,this team ranks with the best against the run with their interior line in the game.

 4) Billy Winn's interception off a tip was the first of his career.
Winn looks to me to be capable of moving to end next season and considering where he was picked (sixth round) in the draft,Winn ranks among the top steals of the 2012 draft.

5) Trent Richardson's day was not spectacular (29 carries 85 yards 2.9 yards per carry) other than his fifteen yard bolt through the Steeler line for the game winning TD,but what he did do is this-run well enough and hard enough to make the Steelers respect him,keep the clock moving and put the Browns in position for makeable first downs.
That is what is takes to win in the AFC North....

6) Sheldon Brown handed the Steelers a touchdown with his pass interference call on Plaxico Burress late in the first half that set the ball at the one,but his third quarter pick of Charlie Batch set up the game winning TD by Trent Richardson,so I'll take the wash.
Actually,I thought Brown did pretty well against Burress other than the interference call....

7) One more positive,I liked the throw to Jordan Cameron for the Browns first touchdown.
Cameron has the type of athletic ability to make him a tough cover in red zone areas and he should be a threat in those situations.
I hated the fade pass to Cameron last week in Dallas,but the out route makes better use of Cameron's just developing skills

8) Brandon Weeden started slow with his tipped pick six to Lawrence Timmons,but otherwise did what you would hope-kept the team in the game by not making the big mistake.
Weeden left the game with a head injury as Colt McCoy took the snaps for the last two possessions (all run plays),so it will be interesting to follow to see the status of Weeden for the Raiders.

9) All too often,the Browns win meaningless late season games and as a result miss out on impact players in the draft.
I normally scream about this and when I saw the schedule,I saw the typical Browns late season run of games to cost them draft position.
The slate starts next week in Oakland and then sees Kansas City and Washington hit Cleveland before expected losses in Denver and Pittsburgh wrap up the campaign.
Keep an eye on this next week...

10) That said and as much as I hate dropping in the draft and possibly making Pat Shurmur look good to Jimmy Haslem and Joe Banner-I'll take wins in the division anytime!
They will not make the playoffs or anything,but inter-divisional wins are worth the hit.

11) One play that might have decided this game?
A long pass to a wide open Mike Wallace that hit T.J. Ward in the back of the helmet.
IF Charlie Batch gets that ball to Wallace,it would likely have been a touchdown and would have swung the momentum along with the panic type of Pat Shurmur play calling as well....

12) What a great weekend!
Ohio State over michigan,Browns over Steelers!
You cannot beat that!!!!

Photo Credit:Cleveland Plain Dealer

Sunday, November 25, 2012

All is well with the world!

After a year of having the world upside down,The Ohio State Buckeyes put things in its proper order as they overcame dumb penalties,poor tackling and a sometimes sluggish offense to score the only points of the second half on two Drew Basil field goals to lift OSU to a 26-21 win over michigan at the Big Horseshoe.
Carlos Hyde gouged the Wolverines for 146 yards including two first downs that allowed Ohio State to run out the clock.
The Buckeyes finish 12-0 under Urban Meyer in his maiden season in Columbus...

Buckeye Leaves

1) Bad news for the defense.
Poor tackling handed michigan their first and last touchdowns as players attempted to make big hits instead of wrapping up the ball carrier.
This has begun to be a more common occurrence in football overall and not for the better either.
Christian Bryant and I think Bradley Roby both went for the hit on Denard Robinson,bounced off him and each other and allowed Robinson to romp for the touchdown.
Poor mechanics.

2) Good news for the defense.
I don't know if it was an adjustment by the coaching staff or just an upgrade in intensity,but the facts are that michigan failed on a fourth down early in the half and several third and reasonables as the Buckeye D simply slammed the door on the Wolverines on every occasion in the second half.

3) Carlos Hyde and his hard running wore down the opposition.
Hyde has the rep of being a inside runner,but in this one,Hyde showed an ability to turn the corner that has not always been seen this season.

4) Braxton Miller had the occasional solid run,but a wet day and resulting soft turf kept Miller from running with the usual verve.
Miller still finished with 57 yards rushing,but 42 of that came on one carry.

5) Miller made up for that with a workmanlike 14 of 18 through the air.
Miller was able to use play action to keep michigan off balance as Carlos Hyde needed to be respected.
The threat of Hyde running up the gut was enough to give Miller the extra time to throw.

6) John Simon has been dominant all season,but a knee injury suffered during his four sack outburst against Wisconsin kept the senior from finishing his career at home.
Simon was such a terrific player with a motor that never quit and it was unfortunate that he could not finish up in front of the home crowd.

7) Normally,I have disliked the gimmick uniforms that Ohio State has used against michigan,but I loved the ones used this time.
Brought back memories of the 70's Buckeyes and they can use those again anytime!

8) In many ways,michigan cut their own throat with such a predictable offense.
After a first half that saw three touchdowns scored against them,the defense woke up and realized that when Denard Robinson was in the game,it was a run because Robinson could not throw.
Why Brady Hoke never realized that it was so obvious was the error in this game.

9) Converted linebacker Zach Boren had a terrific game along with Ryan Shazier in plugging the interior in the second half.
As noted earlier,the Buckeyes stopped michigan every time in the second half as michigan only finished with sixty yards on offense in the second half.
Boren and/or Shazier was waiting each time a runner came between the tackles.

10) Drew Basil entered the game with four field goals on the season and he doubled that total in the win as Basil went four for five on the day.

11) Great job by the Buckeye fans for honoring Jim Tressel and the 2002 National Champions.
Tressel was given a deserved standing ovation by the crowd and was carried off the field on the 2002 players shoulders.
I don't begrudge Jim Tressel at all for the punishment of this season,he made a mistake.
It happens....

12) 12-0 for Urban Meyer in his debut.
I must admit that some of these wins took a little bit of luck and a break or two,but it is all about the W.
I am not sure that Ohio State is the best team in the country,but after Alabama whips Notre Dame,they will be the only undefeated team and that is a pretty sizable accomplishment.
To those that thought that this was a long term project in rebuilding-surprise.
A great season and one worth remembering....

Photo Credit:Marvin Fong-Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The game

Most are working or hitting the Black Friday craziness either in the stores or on line,but two days after Thanksgiving (after a schedule nudge) might be my favorite day of the year.

The Ohio State-michigan game is my favorite sporting event of the season.
I always look forward to it and no sporting event brings the highs of a Buckeye win or the lows of an Ohio State loss.

This one looks to be a good one as michigan has lost a few games,does not have win to boast of,but has not been blown out other than against Alabama and comes to Columbus ready to play after a win last season.
Ohio State is undefeated,but has caught some breaks in getting to that point.
To be honest,as much as I wish that Gene Smith would not have made a short sighted decision to play in the Gator Bowl last season and as a result cost this years team a BCS bid,I think it might be a good thing that OSU is not in the BCS.
I think Ohio State would beat Notre Dame,but some of the other possible opponents would not be a good match.

The atmosphere of this game is nothing like any other game that I root for and that includes the Browns against any of their AFC North rivals.
The fan bases cannot stand each other,so the hatred is year around.
What made the Woody vs Bo era so special was how close the teams and the series was (5-4-1 Bo).
Since the late 80's each team has had a long run of dominance and the rivalry was not weakened,but the games were not exactly the same.
John Cooper did not seem to grasp the rivalry and Ohio State paid for that.
Rich Rodriguez shoved a scheme in that did not fit the talent at michigan,while Lloyd Carr would be outcoached by Jim Tressel for the Wolverines..

All and all,I cannot really express just what this rivalry and Ohio State football means to me.
Just keep this in mind-a win in a few short hours and I'll be in a great mood for a while.
A loss and you might want to not call me for a while!
Go Buckeyes.


Friday, November 23, 2012

This weeks PPM

College

Ohio State over michigan 23-19
Bowling Green over Buffalo 33-20
Texas Tech over Baylor 52-49
Game of the week
Florida State over Florida 21-18

Pro
Steelers over Browns 16-13
Saints over 49ers 31-26
Game of the week
Packers over Giants 29-24

Last Week:4-3
Season:50-26


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick note to wish all of you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving.

I have much to be thankful for-a beautiful wife,two wonderful children and many terrific friends.

I also would like to say thanks for my other family members,both locally and around the country.

It has been a stressful year,but at the same time,a year of growth and a year of development for me.

Thanks to those of you for caring,for reading and just being around.

Enjoy the holidays and I'll be back tomorrow!!!

Die by the sword

When you watch the Cleveland Browns long enough,you get used to seeing the signs and the sign was that the Browns led 13-0,but could have been 21-0....
That made me wonder quickly if I had seen the future as I thought "This is the type of game that the Browns blow".
Well,the 13-0 lead was lost,but Brandon Weeden hit Ben Watson with a TD that gave the Browns a lead with under two minutes to go before a game tying field goal by Dallas.
Minutes later in overtime,the Cowboys finished off a 23-20 game and the Browns were 2-8.
The Browns return home this Sunday and the Pittsburgh Steelers...

Brownie Bits

1) I rip Pat Shurmur every week and I suppose I'll do it again here.
You could see it in Shurmur's eyes with a 13-0 lead.
"Lock it down and hope the clock keeps running".
That was apparent by the offense which went back to basics and indeed locked it down....

2) More "It's Pat"- Zero points on the best drive of the second half until the late TD as on third down,Trent Richardson's dive was driven back by Dallas as shown above.
Now it is tough to hammer Shurmur totally for this as that is what Richardson was drafted for,but it seems like Pat (as seen with the punt against Indy and silly go for it against Baltimore) tends to do what he was criticized for not doing in the past.
It didn't work,but I'm Ok with the run....

3) Not so much with the fourth down call.
With Dallas leading by four,the field goal was out of play,but a fade pass to Jordan Cameron in the corner of the end zone?
The Browns NEVER complete that pass since the 99 return and to throw it with an passer that is less than accurate to the backup tight end?
Pass play? OK,something easily completed,I'll buy that,but not the called play...

4) Brandon Weeden's fumble in Dallas territory did not help much in pulling out a win,but other than that Weeden's game was not too bad with two touchdowns and most importantly zero picks.
Weeden also has be to given credit for the late game drive that gave the Browns a short-lived lead.
Not great,not terrible,Weeden kept his team in the game and did not cause them to lose,I can live with that for now...

5) No Joe Haden meant that one of the Dallas pass catchers was going to have carte blanche' and it was Dez Bryant with 12 catches for 145 yards.
The Browns secondary is battered and bruised which does not help a below average group with full health...

6) T.J. Ward was fined for a late and brutal hit on Kevin Ogletree in the fourth quarter.
I can not disagree with the fine,Ward did not even try to stop....

7) Sheldon Brown's pass interference call late in the game allowed Dallas to enter chip shot field goal range.
Brown just cannot stay with young receivers.
I have written about Brown before,my opinion has not changed....

8) Great pass rush as the Browns dumped Tony Romo seven times.
Five different Browns defensive linemen finished with a sack and the Browns strongest defensive unit dominated the Dallas offensive line.
With the unit at 100%for the first time all season,I would bet this continues to be the strongest part of the team.

9) Normally,I figure the Steelers are good for a loss,but this time,I give the Browns a chance.
Charlie Batch and the game in Cleveland makes me think this is winnable.
Not saying I'll pick them,but I think maybe....

Photo Credits:Cleveland Plain Dealer.....


Live by the sword....

In the first of our two (late) overtime recaps,we look at the Ohio State overtime win over the Wisconsin Badgers 21-14 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
Carlos Hyde rushed for two touchdowns,including the game winner in overtime to lead the less than powerful Buckeye offense.
The now 11-0 Buckeyes clinch a division title (I don't keep track of which) and face off against the team up north this Saturday with an undefeated season on the line....

Buckeye Leaves

1) I know this seems hard to read,but it was the defense that won this game.
I know Montee Ball rushed for just short of 200 yards on the day,but with the exception of the game tying drive by Wisconsin,when they needed to walk tall-they did just that...

2) Ryan Shazier gets kudos every week,but he deserves it.
His play to knock the ball loose from a leaping Montee Ball near the goal line was the play of the year from the defense.
My vote just might go to Shazier as Big Ten defensive player of the season.

3) If it didn't,it would go to John Simon,who finished the game with four sacks (Count em 4) and another tackle for loss.
Simon also gets deserved mention every week here,but even though he might be undersized for the NFL,his quickness in hitting the gap makes him a tremendous college player...

4) Christian Bryant was around the ball as well with a fumble recovery of Shazier's hit and the batted down pass on the final play of the game.
Bryant is an enigma,but for pure talent,Bryant has the most of any player in the OSU secondary...

5) The main difference was the first quarter punt return TD by Corey Brown.
The punt was a low arch line drive with little coverage.
It made me think of the old Tecmo Bowl punt move where you just drill the returner dead upfield and make one quick move on the punter for the score....

6) It was not all roses as Braxton Miller was kept under control and sacked several times.
This was accomplished by the Wisconsin defense keeping a safety in and making sure Miller did not have an option to tuck the ball down in run.
Good scheme by the Badger coaching staff....

7) Less than 100 yards passing on the day as well for Miller.
That tells me that some tweaks have to made before this Saturday's game....
 Someone other than Corey Brown and Devin Smith will have to step up this weekend...

8) The offensive line will need to do a better job in protecting Miller as well.
Wisconsin was able to get a solid rush,not only with the blitz,but the four man rush was equally effective..

9) Nine punts and multiple three and outs show the offensive struggles.
The time of possession did not go the Ohio State way either with just under 23 minutes of holding the football.
That can be lived with a quick strike offense,but when the threat of the Miller scramble is taken away,the time of possession becomes more important...

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Maryland to the Big Ten.....

As I recover from all the work at the road office,I just didn't feel up to hammering out posts.
I do hope to review the tape of the Ohio State overtime win over wisconsin and the overtime loss for the Browns in Dallas sometime tomorrow or so before I return to the daily grind.

The big news has to be the University of Maryland to the Big Ten.
This would have been a huge loss to me ten years ago when the Terrapins ranked evenly with Ohio State.
Ironically,it was conference expansion that led down the road of lack of interest in Maryland sports.

I might have been the biggest Maryland fan I knew growing up.
The Terps were the only local team that I rooted for,so for the first (and only ) time in my existence as a fan I had the advantage of seeing all the games,having the games on the radio and talking Terps (Especially hoops,ACC football was weaker then than they are now,which says A LOT) with the casual fan.
I lived and died with the Lefty Driesell Terrapins and their always close losses to North Carolina (Duke didn't really become a power until the late 1980's) and even as a grown up,Ryan and I listened to every game on the Maryland radio network to the point to this day of remembering some of the constant commercials.
How about Nagano,Ryan? LOL!
 Hating Carolina and later Duke was a way of life and the 2002 National Championship seemed like an overdue check for long time fans.

However,things began to change when all of these conference changes started and the ACC was the one that hit hardest.
I was eleven when Georgia Tech came in,so that was fine and despite having an odd number,I was fine with Florida State because the league kept the home and home schedule for basketball.
It was the expansion that came next that sent me careening away with the additions of Virginia Tech,Miami and Boston College.
Virginia Tech made some sense,but the other two seemed a forced fit and I remember quite well a commercial for ESPN's rivalry week which featured the Terps against Boston College as a "rivalry"
That was the expansion that began to end my love affair as the home and home scheduling that had always made the ACC so great was gone.
Sure,Maryland was hooked up with Duke as their out of division partner,but it just was so different and not for the better.
Last years announcement of Pitt and Syracuse to the ACC sealed the deal as Maryland's partner was not going to be Duke,it was going to be Pitt in another forced fake rivalry.
Combined with the expansion issues,I had real problems with Maryland's various gimmicky uniforms and football helmets that rapidly made the program a national joke,which the hiring of Randy Edsall as the football coach exacerbated.
It took a while,but Maryland and the ACC had pulled the impossible-they had managed to make the Terrapins almost indifferent to me.

So we move to Saturday and the leaked move of Maryland to the Big Ten.
I understand both sides wanting this,although I'll never figure out why Rutgers is always so targeted in these things.
In the long run,the Big 10 will regret Rutgers admission.
I also can see Maryland wanting to leave a league run by UNC and Duke,although if that was such an issue,they really picked the wrong place to go.

Increased money and exposure?
Yes,the Big 10 will provide that and Maryland will get to revive a lopsided rivalry (on Maryland's end) with Penn State at the right time as the Nittany Lions begin to show the signs of the sanctions against their program,so it isn't all bad.
But I still cannot shake throwing fifty plus years of tradition away,although the ACC is just as liable in the situation and I think Maryland athletics would have been better off where they were.
After all,if you cannot compete in the ACC,why would you think you can in the Big 10?

There is one shining spot though-Sitting in the stands for an Ohio State visit and only driving 90 minutes to do so.....





Saturday, November 17, 2012

Quick PPM

College football
Ohio State over Wisconsin 24-21
Texas Tech over Oklahoma State 44-40
Bowling Green over Kent State 20-16
Game of the week
Oregon over Stanford 37-27

NFL
Cowboys over Browns 31-20
Saints over Raiders 42-27
Game of the Week
49ers over Bears 23-13

Last Week 3-1
Season 46-23

Friday, November 16, 2012

Answering the questions...

Well,I'll at least attempt to.

First off ,I'd like to take the time to thank the people that took the time to write and offer their thoughts on what we do here.
Those were very much appreciated.

I have often said that because of the four sports that we cover and the odd array of teams in those sports,that many of you are not going care about every team or even every sport.
That was certainly borne out by the results of our little survey,but one thing seemed stand out above others-baseball.
Very few of you didn't seem interested in minor league baseball and a good chunk of that wanted more stories from the road,more autograph talk and more baseball card talk as well.

I have heard from many that enjoy Forgotten Superstars,Cleaning out the Inbox (one writer especially enjoyed the goodbyes to recently deceased notables) and the various misc. personal posts.
One writer really liked the political posts,another mentioned that "it didn't seem to fit what I do".

As far as game coverage that was pretty mixed,which makes sense according to what teams you are interested in.
One likes Cavaliers,another liked Devils and a third got on me a bit (tongue in cheek of course) for my summer of laziness on the Pirates.
So as far as that goes,I am pretty much doing that for myself and in each category there is a smattering people that enjoy those respective coverages.

I do want to pursue more interviews and I also want to add this to some of you-I am open to taking submissions.
Some of you take trips,another suggested asking for help for the Hagerstown/Frederick autograph circuit and a third suggested that I move full time to my other project that they might help with.
I'll be refining things somewhat according to some of your suggestions and much of this will remain the same,but I want to clean this up a bit.

I'm still thinking things over,but I really do appreciate all of the time that you took to help me gather this valuable information.
I truly do thank you for reading and even if you don't read everything,taking a scan and seeing what catches your eye is meaningful as well.

Keep an eye out as early as tomorrow or in the next few days for an article (I am in the middle of it now) that I have talked about writing for years.
I hope you enjoy it.

I would like to take the time to thank a few people before I go,you all are important to me,but these people have helped here in one way or another.
To the lovely Cherie for the idea and for tolerating my nuttiness that makes me follow everything and therefore want to write it all down.
To Ryan,who contributes with him even knowing it with ideas and when I need an opinion on something sports or collectible related,he is generally the opinion that I want to hear most.
To Bill Cover for all the help on the autograph circuit and the time we spend together.
In many ways from April-August,I spend enough time with Bill that he almost is a member of my family.
To Big Don,who might be the blog's biggest fan and several times when I am down a bit,it almost never fails that I get a note from Don telling me how much he liked my work
To my dad-Who thinks I should be writing more important things than this and probably has never read a word that I have written,thanks for instilling this craziness in me.
The fan that I am is due to that man-send your nasty letters to.......
There are a few that I have forgotten,I'm sure,but I am at the road office


In the end,I don't know what would refine after all this,but one thing that I did find out is this-
Courtesy of Mark Haymond- "You can't define success by the number of readers.".
If there is one lesson that I learned,it may be just that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cavaliers end road trip in Brooklyn

The Cleveland Cavaliers finally ended their brutal road trip,but it ended with yet another loss as the Cavaliers lost in their first trip to the new arena in Brooklyn 114-101.
The Cavaliers received huge games from Anderson Varejao (35 points) and Kyrie Irving (34 points),but little help elsewhere as the Cavaliers finished the trip with four losses after a opening win in Los Angeles over the Clippers.

Swashbucklings

1) Anderson Varejao finished with a career high in points and generally dominated on the offensive end against the Nets Brook Lopez..
Varejao was hitting a ton of high percentage shots from inside the paint with layups and layins,which kept Brooklyn from disrespecting the inside game.

2) Kyrie Irving was on his game as well with one particular behind the back pass to Varejao for a layup.
Irving was especially strong in a fourteen point fourth period and had even the visiting crowd cheering after the aforementioned pass.

3) I don't think that the Irving-Varejao is the best combination in the league,actually they would not rank in the top ten,but they might be the best doing one thing-the pick and roll.
Varejao converts gimme baskets better than anyone I know and that's is quite an accomplishment.
If the pair mesh this well now,as time goes on they might get even better...

4) That is about all the nice things that I can say about this one other than a nice Dion Waiters tomahawk slam.
Anytime that you score 101 points and 69 come from two players there is some cause for concern.
Some of that is due to maybe the worst bench in the league..

5) Well,this team might have the worst bench in the league.
Six points? Yuck.
Only Daniel Gibson has produced off the bench this season on occasion with the injured Tyler Zeller being an exception.
C.J.Miles has been a disappointment and Omri Casspi has been non-existent..

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Wild Wild West

Still not a lot from the sports world to write about,so lets move to something else.
Before I start though,I would like to thank those of you that have written thus far on the post asking for your thoughts.
I have read all of them and enjoyed the one common thread that you seem to like my work.
It is quite humbling to read the notes and I am listening to your responses.
The funny thing is so many of them feature different things that you like,so there is some soul searching to do,but I plan a post later in the week that will deal with your notes.
If you have not sent me anything,there is still time to do so and I ask you to drop me a line.....

I am a passionate fan of many shows throughout my life,but there are a select few that rank above all.
There is one that ranks very highly from the first time that I watched it and it never deviated from its position.

The Wild Wild West was an unusual mix of science fiction and western action that never saw a drop in the ratings,but became a casualty of the tightened regulations on television violence in the late 1960's.
The show basically was James Bond hits the 1800's with a pair of secret service agents traveling the country (usually the Western half) battling threats to then-President Ulysses Grant and the nation itself.
"James West" used gadgets to get himself out of trouble,usually gadgets that would have been way ahead of the time that the show was based in and "Artemes Gordon" was the jack of all trades that used various disguises as his M.O.

Robert Conrad and Ross Martin were the stars and played off each other very well as a team that needed each of their individual skills to survive.
The show used various nefarious villains each week to combat the duo,but the main bad guy was a dwarf "Dr.Miguelito Loveless" played by the brilliant Michael Dunn.
Loveless appeared in ten episodes as a megalomaniac that wanted to install himself as ruler of the world through plots that often involve things well before their time,only to have them foiled by West and Gordon,although Loveless was never grabbed before getting away.

The show aired its first season in black and white and that might been the best season of the show.
The first season was a bit darker than the color shows that started in the second season.
The episodes that air in color are a bit funnier and more campy than season one,but despite the differences,the show is still terrific.

The show is quite violent as the stunt work is among the best that you can see of its time as the timing and choreography are almost perfect.
Conrad did most of his own stunts until a fall from a 12 foot chandelier that ended a season early and that forced some changes in the stunt formats in the show,although you would need to watch the entire run of the series to really see the difference.
Fights are a part of the Western genre' anyway and WWW fought-a lot.
The number of fights was mentioned twice in congressional hearings and CBS canceled the show despite the ratings not having dipped as an olive branch towards the new legislation.

I always watched the show as a child when it was aired in afternoon syndication after school in the days before VCR's and simply loved it.
I could not get enough of it (and Star Trek,but that's another post) and was such a huge fan that I did not want to miss an episode

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thunder Rumble and Old Friends

First,Thanks to those of you that I have heard from thus far on your thoughts on the blog.
I appreciate all your kind words and ideas and I am listening!
Thanks again...

Today was another day with my shoulder to the wheel at work (In the middle of day 5 of 11 straight) and as I watched the end of the Texans-Bears game in a rainstorm,a name from the past jumped to my mind.

Thunder Rumble was a humble New York bred that loved historic Saratoga race course and was a Grade 1 winner with his win in the 1992 Travers.
Gosh,can it be 20 years already,it seems like about five,but Thunder Rumble was one of the horses I was a huge fan of when I was a passionate fan of horse racing that when I think of them now,I usually smile.

Thunder Rumble also was my biggest ever winner of a simulcasted big race with a bet as his wins in the aforementioned Travers and its prep race,the Jim Dandy stakes,so that gave him a special place with my memory.
So thinking of big Thunder and the days of my love affair with racing that lasted quite a long time made me want to think about how "my" Thunder turned out since he is currently 23.
To my surprise,Thunder Rumble is still around and lives with Old Friends satellite station in New York.

What is Old Friends?
Well,Old Friends is an organization that takes care of equine stars of the past to give them the pension time that they deserve after a racing and then breeding career.
Old Friends was created after the horrible death of 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand to give  stars of the past a place to live out their years.
What surprised me most (and it shouldn't) was the amount of horses that I recognized from the time that I watched the game.
I knew almost every horse involved with Old Friends and I spent a few hours looking at all of these stars that I remembered on their web site.
It brought back such terrific memories that I smiled all the while,which is a pretty tough thing considering that I was at the road office.

Old Friends does such terrific work and it is not cheap work either.
When you consider the cost of feeding and bedding a horse and the numbers of horses in the program,the cost can be prohibitive.
Compassion towards animals that can often give their lives for our entertainment is very well placed and a great charity to be involved with.

Good memories of a time that a younger me enjoyed very much and it speaks well of people that has given a lot to give animals a good life after an often brutal career.
I wouldn't mind making a trip to see Thunder sometime,but even if I don't-I know his after racing life was a pretty good one...

Not a bad way to pass a work night,huh?



Photo Credits
Thunder with handler:Connie Bush
Winning the Travers:Joel Silva

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Questioning where I stand...

Back after a few days away.
The Cavaliers are on the road and so am I as I spent the last three days and the next eight days at the road office with the everyday grind.

The Cavaliers lost in both Golden State and Phoenix and will be in Oklahoma City for the Thunder Sunday night,so I should have coverage of that one.

I haven't had much to say of late and didn't feel like going through the motions.
I still really don't have much to add.
The Cavaliers are on the West Coast.the Devils are still locked out and the Browns and Buckeyes are off this weekend.

Honestly,I am in the middle of a frustrating time here.
Readership has dropped and I'm just not sure what else to try.
In the past year,we have had months that were the best ever and now things have dropped off.
Am I doing this to record my thoughts for posterity?
Or am I doing this to have people enjoy my work?
Sometimes,this seems like work,but I must admit that having these in place to look back at has been fun and I have enjoyed this for the most part.
But,at the same time,I am frustrated at not being able to move to the next level.
We were close to turning the corner and then dropped off.
Is this frustration warranted?
Or is my own doing from slacking off over the summer?
Do I need more interviews? Do I need to work harder?
What is it going to take and am I willing to get it there?

So what do I do?
What do you think?
What do you like?
I have periodically asked these questions and I really want input this time.
Do you like the sports stuff?
Is it the political posts that you really like or is it the reminiscing that I occasionally do that you prefer?
Do you think I need to get more interviews and work harder on those?
Is it the cleaning of the inbox with all various thing that you like?

I want to know,no-I need to know if I am going to try to turn this ship around.
Feel free to comment here or send me email.
I just have a need to evaluate things and that time has come...

Thanks for reading....





Saturday, November 10, 2012

PPM

A very quick one with Ohio State and the Browns off...

College
Texas Tech over Kansas 44-20
Game of the Week
Alabama over Texas A & M 33-23

Pro
Saints over Falcons 34-30
Game of the week
Texans over Bears 20-17

Last Week:4-3
Season:43-22

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Feels like starting over...

We start with my personal Facebook post from this morning and I'll go on from there.
All permission for this material given from myself.

"Just destroyed with the results of last night.
Not for Obama v Romney,not for Roscoe Bartlett losing (he needed to go years ago and Delaney will be a one termer anyway) and not for any of the questions.
I cannot believe this town voted in two baseball hating persons to the City Council as well as a new mayor. This means that new stadium negotiations go back to square one and allows another city to potentially step into the created gap to take the Suns away.
In the end,Bob Bruchey was beaten by his inflexibility and his downtown site that was almost universally hated.
I appreciate the work that he did,but that is what beat him-not building a stadium,but where they HAD to have it.

I don't want to say goodbye Suns,but the chances increased incrementally."
 
Kristin Aleshire and Penny Nigh are the two most outspoken anti-Suns/new stadium candidates to run for city council and they received the most votes.
Many people here dislike Nigh the most,I'll take Aleshire as the guy that struts around at Suns games to throw the first pitch and then writes snarky notes to voters about being against a new stadium.
Either way,those two joined with Don Munson to give the anti-stadium group the majority on the council and with two returning members taking the remaining seats,the hopes for a new stadium have been reduced.
I do have some hope of convincing Don Munson the positives of a new stadium and saving the project.
I have zero hopes of anything moving Kristin Aleshire and Penny Nigh,so that would be a waste of time and breath.

Taking the above paragraph and combining it with the loss of Mayor Bob Bruchey to another anti-Suns candidate and I must say the future of Hagerstown baseball took a hit last night.
I would not say that it is over,but the foundation of a deal has been torn down and will likely have to start from scratch.
This leads into Hagerstown being in a similar situation to Winchester from the beginning of the year-having things in order and then dropping the ball.
I would be shocked to see things progress on the same track as the new mayor and councilpersons all were elected in on disliking the planned stadium and they certainly are not going to go into that with their support,although they might work with other ideas.

Bruce Quinn likely cannot be happy with these developments and it will not take more than a meeting or two with the new electees to realize that he might be back to shopping his team around to interested cities.
Quinn may have handled this a bit late in an effort to maximize profits as if he had moved earlier,this could have been finished before the election,but the city dragged their feet a bit as well.
 
I know next to nothing about the new mayor of Hagerstown in David Gysberts,but considering he basically ran on an "Anti-Bruchey" platform,I have low expectations for his stadium support.
In the end,the door has been opened for Winchester,Kinston,Lynchburg or anyone else to put their foot in,thanks to the voters of the city.
As John Lennon once sang-it feels like starting over.
 

Photo Credit:Joe Crocetta Hagerstown Herald Mail


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Waiters rockets Cavaliers by Clippers!

Dion Waiters coming out party happened in Hollywood as the Syracuse rookie drilled seven three pointers and finished with a game high 28 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers improved to 2-2 on the season with a 108-101 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Kyrie Irving added 23 with the frontline high scorers of Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller each finishing with 15.
Cleveland is off tonight before traveling to Oakland Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors.

Swashbucklings

1) Dion Waiters drilled seven three pointers?
Yep,Sure did.
Waiters has played just four games,but nights like last night certainly shows his upside.

2) Kyrie Irving shot only 8 of 23 but still finished with 23 points.
Irving did knock some three pointers down,but the percentage needs to improve a bit,although that's a nit pick.

3) Anderson Varejao spent more time on the floor with Tyler Zeller in this one with the pair combining for 22 boards.
I think Zeller in the post is going open up Varejao for the garbage work that he does so well.

4) Tyler Zeller runs the floor so much better than one expects looking at him.
Visually,Zeller looks like a gangly player with little coordination,but he actually is far better athletically than I thought he was entering the league.

5) Bad night for Tristan Thompson-0 for 6 from the floor and just one point on the night.
That could be the reason that Zeller and Varejao played so much together as Thompson was having an off night and that led to more time for Zeller...

Photo Credit:Getty Images

Monday, November 5, 2012

Browns commit "Shurmurcide" in Ravens loss

The Cleveland Browns fell behind 14-0 early against the Baltimore Ravens and then battled back with strong defense and five Phil Dawson field goals to take a one point lead in the fourth quarter before allowing a touchdown and a field goal after a series of baffling Pat Shurmur decisions in a 22-15 loss at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Trent Richardson rushed for 105 yards in the defeat for the now 2-7 Browns.
Cleveland has their bye week this coming Sunday before traveling to Dallas and the Cowboys for their next game...

Brownie Bits

1) This will be quite a whinefest for the most part.
I saw very few positives,but there were two,the rest? Look out.
Let's start positively with the defense.
Yes,they put the team in a 14-0 hole and they couldn't make one stop in the fourth quarter when they really needed to (The field goal is excused considering the field position),but the remainder of the game,the team really stepped up and kept the Browns in the game with a chance.

2) Trent Richardson did gain over 100 yards and ran very hard against a defense that was set to stop him.
Considering how Pat Shurmur hangs Richardson out to dry with such predictable play calling (Run on first down always),the number is even more impressive.

3) Wasn't Trent Richardson drafted to get the tough yards ?
Then can anyone tell me why on just about every short yardage third down play,Pat Shurmur passes?
Anyone?

4) Now to the Pat Shurmur legacy or the top thing that ticks me off during Browns games-The baffling pass plays that never get to the yard marker that are usually thrown to players that cannot make plays in space.
Yesterday that was Alex Smith,but on other days,it has been other players.
Nothing drives me crazier than needing eight yards and throwing a two yard pass play to a player that usually is incapable of making someone miss in order to gain the first down.
This stuff happens too many times to count every week!

5) The story of the game was Pat Shurmur going for it on fourth and two and with two timeouts remaining with just under four minutes to go.
Considering Shurmur punted in Indianapolis with better field position,one would think he might punt here.Instead he went for it.
OK,this team is headed nowhere,I'll give him the benefit of the doubt,but let's set things up first.
On third down,the playcall is another one of those we need five yards,throw a three yard pass,this one to Greg Little,creating the fourth down.
Now,as we noted in the third bullet,Trent Richardson was drafted for these situations and Baltimore has struggled against both Richardson and the run.
The call-a pass that Brandon Weeden overthrew.
Ball game.

6) Brandon Weeden was bad.
Not as bad as his first game against the Eagles,but worse than any game that he has had since.
Receivers overthrown too often to count and a fear of Ed Reed made Weeden tentative and just not very good.
It's just one game,but Weeden looked to regress during this game...

7) Perhaps the biggest play of the game was the play that did not happen as Weeden threw his best pass of the day on a touchdown pass to Josh Gordon that was called back due to an illegal formation call on Chris Ogbonnaya.
I hate it when running backs are positioned in a wideout area as they are doing something that they are not accustomed to and these penalties often comeas a result....

8) Jabaal Sheard had his best game of the season and it could have come with the return of Phil Taylor to the lineup.
Sheard had eight tackles and a half sack and showed the speed that he flashed last season.

9) Once Ahtyba Rubin returns,the Browns should have a good defensive line with Rubin,Sheard,Taylor and rookie Billy Winn.I would feel pretty safe in saying the line is the best part of the current defense....

10) The unsportsmanlike conduct call on T.J. Ward that allowed the game winning drive for Baltimore to continue was kinda weak,but I can see where the refs thought Ward hit Flacco in the helmet.
Replays showed shoulder contact,but in real time-I can see it..

11) Finally,the worse indictment of Pat Shurmur comes with the constant poor communication throughout the games.
12 men on the field penalities, players out of position and timeouts foolishly being burned makes the staff appear chaotic and disorganized.

12) Pat Shurmur's die has been cast.
He's gone.
Maybe not now,but I would be stunned to him return.A Shurmur return would mean using up much of the goodwill that Jimmy Haslam currently has with the fan base and considering the likely return on that investment from Pat Shurmur,it just is not viable...

Photo Credit;AP Photo

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Buckeyes thrash Illini 52-22

Ohio State kept the only trophy that they play for each season as the IlliBuck stayed with the Buckeyes as Ohio State put 31 points on the board in the first half and cruised to a 52-22 win over Illinois at Ohio Stadium.
Carlos Hyde scored three touchdowns on the ground while Braxton Miller accounted for three scores as well,throwing for two and running for another.
The 10-0 Buckeyes have next Saturday off before finishing the season against Wisconsin and michigan...

Buckeye Leaves

1) This looked to be a mismatch and it was.Illinois lost their best defensive player in Jonathan Brown early in the game and the OSU running game confounded the Illini both on inside and outside runs...

2) Braxton Miller might not be the best player in the land,but he is the most exciting.
Watching Miller cut and maneuver with the ball in his hand reminds me of Barry Sanders more than any quarterback that I can think of...

3) Both touchdown passes featured exciting plays.
Corey Brown made about six guys miss on his play and Rod Smith was so wide open on his catch that I might have scored on the play!

4) Good game for the defense of the 22 Illinois points,the defense allowed only a red zone TD after a turnover and two field goals.
Illinois does not make you quake thinking about their offense,but a solid performance anyway,...

5) Ohio State did have a few personal fouls called against them and I hope to see that stuff stop.
Illinois was a chippy team,but don't sink to the level of the bottom dwellers...

6) Carlos Hyde is progressing well as a threat between the tackles.
Hyde has begun to keep the legs moving instead of just falling forward and that helps loosen the outside for the Braxton Miller runs...

7) I like trophy games,but no one gets excited about the IlliBuck.
It's a neat trophy and all,but losing to a lesser program is worse than losing the turtle.

Photo Credit;Marvin Fong Cleveland Plain Dealer


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Time for a statement?

I have always thought that voting third party was a wasted vote.
I have also always thought that our country needed a viable third party to awaken the two major parties from their somnambulist ways of business in order to put country before party instead of their current actions of the reverse order.

So I have never pulled the lever or scratched the computer screen for anyone outside of the two main parties.
Which makes me feel like a hypocrite.
I,being a political junkie,watch tons of this stuff,so I consider myself pretty informed on the candidates and more than just the main candidates.
If C-SPAN shows a minor party,odds are that I have seen their candidate at one time or the other doing a stump speech,but I never seriously consider voting their way,no matter how impressed that I would be with that person.

I have been pretty unhappy with both candidates for similar reasons.
Barack Obama had a chance to do something special for the country and dropped the ball with health care.
I'm not an anti-health care person ( I actually think Obama's plan doesn't go far enough),but I think this bill is a sellout to the insurance industry and I am not a fan of deception.
I am not in favor of the mandate and in the 2008 Democratic primary,Hillary Clinton told the truth and said she is for the mandate,while Obama said he was against it,which means,of course, when it was closing time,he did just that.
That alone makes me not a fan of the President.

Willard Mitt Romney seems to be the slimy car salesman type that will tell you everything you want to hear and then reverse everything he said to you to the next guy to order to sell himself.
I hate those types of candidates as you just don't know what you are electing.
I would not say that Mitt Romney flip flops,that would be too kind to Mitt Romney to say he just has two sides,as there are many Romney positions and Romney's out there.
I am simply not comfortable voting for a guy that would say anything to get elected.
I would go as far to say that Mitt Romney makes me wonder more than any other Presidential candidate,not to say he's worse than some,just that he is so sleazy....

Considering that,where does that leave me?
I have always been passionate about politics since early childhood (check my recent post on George McGovern for more on that) and I could never understand how someone could be so ambivalent to not care enough to vote.
This year,I understand and despite all of that-I'll be there on Tuesday.

I was sitting at the PC and with an uninteresting Monday Night Football game on,I was bored and checking Facebook and saw a post by Steve Harris,who plays in several of my fantasy sports leagues about a third party debate.
Normally,I'm all over these things,but I missed this one,so I sat down and watched to pass the time.
In about 45 minutes,the Libertarian candidate had put himself in the running.
Gary Johnson seemed reasonable to me and made me think.
Oh,I think some of his platform is out in space a bit and I really think that if he had even the proverbial snowball's chance,some of his ideas would be modified insanely quickly.
An example would be his ideas for competing currency,which would be a huge mess),but some of his thoughts are very reasonable.

My main reasons for considering a Gary Johnson vote?
Well,mainly to be part of the five percent.
A five percent vote for any third party erases so many of the problems that third party candidates have-ballot access and will receive partial public funding for their campaign for both this election and the next one as well.
That would be the best way to hear more views and make things easier for a third party (Libertarian in this case) to get their candidate to seen and heard from.

Is Gary Johnson my ideal candidate? No,but he makes enough sense to make me think about him in a year that I have major issues with both mainstream candidates and I do believe that a shakeup is needed with the two party system,

The question now becomes do I actually show some courage and vote for Gary Johnson?
Tune in Tuesday to find out.

Bulled and Bullied

The Cleveland Cavaliers quickly realized the difference between the Washington Wizards and the Chicago Bulls as the Bulls took charge from the start and cruised to a 115-86 win at the Q.
Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with 15 points for the 1-1 Cavaliers.
Cleveland hits the road for the first time tomorrow night in Milwaukee against the Bucks.
I will not have coverage as the tip is at 8:30 and I have to be at the road office....

Swashbucklings

1) The loss was not as close as the final edge of 29 points.
Chicago dominated the young Cavaliers all night with physical play and defense.
The Bulls played tight defense (40 % shooting) and basically squeezed the Cavaliers out of the point,made them take contested jumpers and bullied them physically.

2) I did like Byron Scott's move in the game (before it got too out of control) to play Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller together on the floor for a bit.
That might be a look at the future for Zeller at center having the powerhouse rebounder Varejao at the four spot to add some rebounding to the lineup.
As the season goes on,I'd like to see Zeller and Tristan Thompson play together some as well...

3) Zeller quickly found himself in foul trouble,but I was impressed as he was one of the few that did not back down from the Bulls as he gave as good as he got in the push and shove game...

4) Kyrie Irving did lead Cleveland with 15 points,but it was still an off night as Irving took 15 shots to earn his points.
Considering the matchup that Irving had defensively against Kirk Hinrich,I would consider that a disappointing number....

5) I am reaching to find a fifth item in such a lousy performance,so let's go with Samardo Samuels,who shot  3 of 5 from the field and grabbed 5 rebounds in garbage time.Samuels might be in his final chance to be an off the bench contributor.

Photo Credit:Joshua Gunter:Cleveland Plain Dealer

Friday, November 2, 2012

Quick PPM

Another quickie because I have several things to post and I hope to tap them out tonight/tomorrow.

College
Ohio State over Illinois 36-13
Texas Tech over Texas 45-42
Ohio over Bowling Green 21-15
Game of the week
Alabama over LSU 16-7

Pro
Ravens over Browns 21-16
Saints over Eagles 36-31
Game of the Week
Giants over Steelers 24-20

Last Week:4-3
Season:39-19


Cleaning out the inbox

The inbox is filled quicker than usual,so it needs to be emptied sooner than usual..

We start with a goodbye to famed boxing trainer Emanuel Steward,who trained numerous world champions,but was usually connected with Thomas Hearns and his many champions from Detroit's Kronk Gym.
Milton McCrory,Mike McCallum,Jimmy Paul and many more were world champions in the heyday of the 80's on network television under the tutelage of Steward and made his boxers big names in the sport.
Manny Steward also was the trainer that fighters that needed a change would come to as Lennox Lewis,Julio Cesar Chavez,Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto,to name a few,came to Detroit and Steward to revitalize careers.
Most recently,Steward had been training both of the Klitschko brothers to heavyweight titles and had been one of the regular announcers for HBO's boxing telecasts.
Emanuel Steward seemed to be one of the few people in boxing that no one had a bad word about and in that game-that says more than I can write.
Rest well,Manny-those of us that were Kronk boxing fans will never forget your contributions to the sport.
Manny Steward was 68 and passed from colon cancer.

Former Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling champion Jeff Blatnick passed from heart failure at the age of 55.
Blatnick won his medal in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles after battling back from the affects of Hodgkin's Disease.
Jeff Blatnick was also an early influence of MMA as he served as a commentator and worked on establishing a unified set of rules for MMA across the country.
Blatnick might have been along with Kurt Angle and Rulon Gardner the most recognized American amateur wrestler of the last 30 years....

Well traveled outfielder in the 1970's,Dave May passed at the age of 68 in Delaware from complications from cancer and diabetes.
May spent time with five big league teams and six organizations,but his best seasons came in the early 70's with the Brewers after being unable to crack the powerhouse Oriole lineups in the late 1960's.
May's career year came with Milwaukee in 1973 as he hit over .300 and smacked 25 homers in making his only All-Star team.
Dave May's son Derrick spent some time as a big leaguer in the 1990's,most notably with the Chicago Cubs.
May is also notable to me for two reasons.
The first is one that many remember him for as May was the player traded to the Braves so that an aging Hank Aaron could return to Milwaukee and spend the final two seasons of his career as a DH with the Brewers.
The other is from my late grandfather.
Pap loved the Orioles and often raved about the terrific player development system of the pre-free agency Orioles.
Dave May was Pap's poster boy for players that the Orioles developed that never got a true chance in Baltimore because of the stars in the lineup that he just couldn't get by.
Hardball Times has a nice tribute to Dave May here.

Former Braves pitcher Pascual Perez was killed at the age of 55 in a home invasion in Perez's native Dominican Republic.
Perez had his biggest success in Atlanta before having drug issues that sent him to Montreal,who he had two strong seasons before more drug issues that effectively ended his career.

My favorite Aunt Becky sends me word that the restoration of Cleveland's League Park will finally begin after the funding was finally obtained.
The city will restore the grandstand and ticket office,which stands as the only remaining portion of the stadium,but is crumbling,as well as making the playing field usable and adding a visitors center.
League Park (the original home of the Indians) is a must visit when this project is completed!!!

More history found in an attic as the widow of the late pro wrestler "Johnny Barend" was cleaning out their attic and found the first ever WWWF title belt that the first champion Buddy Rogers dropped to Bruno Sammartino.
It is in the shape of the United States,yet has a plate that says World Champion on it.
This makes sense as Rogers was the U.S champion before the beginnings of the WWWF and it was easier to just have Rogers keep his belt and add a plate,I suppose,to make the belt a world title.
It is amazing to think just how much history is awaiting to be found in attics,basements and closets around the country.....





Thursday, November 1, 2012

On the Signing Front

A quick signing front from the mail box mostly,in order to put some of this stuff away!
The next signing front will cover more from my friends help in the 2012 season.

Baseball

Former Giants catcher Dave Rader
Former Giants first baseman Will Clark
Former Indians,White Sox and Phillies pitcher Ed Farmer
Former White Sox and Yankees first baseman Pete Ward
Former Indians pitcher Scott Bailes (Thanks to Mike Oravec)
Former Pirates outfielder Bill Virdon (Thanks to Mike Oravec)
USA pitcher Mark Appel-Certified auto,Maugansville Card Show

Football
Former Packers linebacker Tim Harris

Hockey
Former Devils enforcer Troy Crowder

Devils from our Hershey Visit
Adam Henrique
Adam Larsson
Jacob Josefson
Mattias Tedenby
Bobby Butler
Jay Leach

Golf
Former Majors winner Arnold Palmer

Wrestling/Politics
Jesse "The Body" Ventura....

Albany Devils on the ice

The Albany Devils did not score a goal in Hershey,although I thought they had several good chances to score in a 3-0 loss.

The main problem was that Braden Holtby was on fire and when the talented Holtby is on his game,NHL teams have problems,let alone AHL ones.
Jacob Josefson missed a wide open net in what I thought was the only blown opportunity as the rest of the misses were on all on Holtby making strong saves.
Josefson played well and took the puck towards the net with the type of abandon that he has often lacked in the big time.

Adam Henrique played well,but didn't have a ton of scoring chances.
I did like the hustle that Henrique showed as it would be easy for him to skate through his AHL time.

Adam Larsson did not play poorly,but something makes me think that he might have been better served playing last season in Albany and then trying to make the move up.
Larsson just seems a bit tentative,which might be an example of a player that has been rushed a bit.
I still like Larsson's potential a great deal,but he may be in need of development time that the lockout could help give.

Mattias Tedenby continues to tease with his skills and potential that never seem to end in points.
Tedenby has the talent to be a sparkplug in the lineup,but it appears that his lack of size is working against him.

Keith Kinkaid was solid enough in goal and made one spectacular save.
Kinkaid is one of four young goalies battling to be the heir apparent to Martin Brodeur and is the only one at Albany of thegroup,although he is the oldest as well...

Harri Pesonen was imported from Finland over the off season and I was impressed with the grit of Pesonen.
Often,the imports that are assigned to the AHL prove to be disappointments,but I liked Pesonen's play.

I also liked David Wohlberg,who showed some fire in the open ice as well.
Wohlberg might be someone to take notice of.

Brandon Burlon didn't throw his weight around as much as I had hoped.
Burlon will need to be a physical player to succeed and I did not see as much of that as I would have liked in his game.

Bobby Butler,Mike Hoeffel and Mike Sislo were non-descript and I have little to add about their evening.

Jay Leach is expected to provide veteran leadership,but he committed a dumb interference penalty that led to a Hershey goal and often seemed slow and out of position....

Back later tonight from the road office with a non-coverage post...

Photo Credit:Rachel Heimberger