Sunday, May 26, 2013

Froch decisions Kessler

The fight was the same with two fighters slugging to their hearts content,but the decision was different three years later as Carl Froch kept his IBF Super Middleweight title by unanimous decision over Mikkel Kessler in London.
I scored the fight 115-113 (7-5 in rounds) for Froch which agreed with one of the official scores.
The others were 116-112 and a totally unreasonable 118-110 for the hometown fighter.

The main difference was a vast advantage in punches thrown by the rangy Froch.
Kessler landed the heavier punches,but did not throw nearly as many as the far busier Englishman.
Froch could choose a third fight with Kessler,which would make both a sizable payday in Europe or Froch might take a rematch with WBA champion Andre Ward,who decisioned Froch in their first fight in a bout that the judges saw far closer than I did.
Kessler could possibly retire or look for a third fight with Froch.
Considering each fighters popularity in Europe and each fighter taking a close decision in their home country,a third bout in a neutral site like boxing mad Germany would make a lot of sense for both fighters pocketbooks.



Saturday, May 25, 2013

Kessler vs Froch II

Pretty excited about today's Mikkel Kessler-Carl Froch rematch from Froch's native England for Froch's IBF Super Middleweight title.

Their first fight in 2010 was the best bout of the "Super Six" tournament and saw Kessler win a close decision in his home country of Denmarrk.
Some thought Froch deserved the edge,but I thought Kessler deserved a close nod in a spirited bout.

In the interim,since the first fight,Froch lost to Andre Ward,then won the IBF belt with a dazzling performance over Lucien Bute before a KO defense of Yusef Mack.
Kessler has lost his belt to Ward before the Froch fight,which saw him take Froch's title and then vacate it due to eye issues that forced Kessler from the ring for a year.
Since then,Kessler knocked out Allan Green in a highlight film of a KO and then added a stoppage of Brian Magee.
The winner of the bout will likely leap to the top of a list for a rematch with Andre Ward,who does not have a ton of possibilities for lucrative bouts.
That rematch may not have a ton of cache' in the USA,but if Ward is willing to travel to Europe to battle the winner,that could add quite a payday to his pockets...

Froch is considered a slight favorite based on the Bute performance and the fight being held in England,but I can see the bout going either way,but I lean towards Kessler,who is more technically sound.
I think this should be another good one and well worth watching.
The bout will be shown live at six on HBO and then will be replayed at ten.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Not to the blog,which I realized today that I missed ours back in March,but to my wonderful wife,the lovely Cherie for 26 years.

It is amazing that I had the foresight at such an young age to make such a prescient selection.
It was not like I dated a lot (hardly at all) and with one exception before Cherie,I was not someone that pined away with huge crushes either.
For someone at 15 to know not only the person that he wanted to spend his life with,but then have that be the correct decision and live a terrific life with that person,well,that's pretty special. And lucky.

All things considered,I've been blessed with Cherie.
She tolerates things that few do and usually (in non-allergy season) with a smile and an knowing sigh of what she decided to live her life with.
So,she may not always feel blessed with me,but I know I have been blessed.

Sometimes,when life gets rough and I get pouty about decisions that I could take back,I think about what I have and I wouldn't swap it for the things that I have thrown away.
Jobs,money,possessions all would be nice,but it just would not be the same without Cherie being with me......

And I'll even make her happy with a rare picture of me to post here with her.
I hate taking pictures,I hate looking at myself because they,well,look like me and as Jim Bouton once said Joe Torre-I tend to dissolve camera lenses.
However,she likes them,so go figure....

Thanks for indulging me,I'll be back tomorrow with a quick preview of the Carl Froch-Mikkel Kessler rematch from England.....

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cavaliers win the lottery.

The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA draft lottery for the second time in three years with another lucky appearance by Nick Gilbert,son of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.

So now what will the Cavaliers do with the pick?
They could draft Kentucky's center Nerlens Noel,who ,despite coming off a torn ACL, would at least provide the defensive presence of a grade A shot blocker similar to that shown by last season's top pick Anthony Davis.
Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore is the best player in the draft,but after selecting Dion Waiters in last years draft,Cleveland may not want to select a guard with the pick as it is unlikely that Waiters could make the switch to small forward,which is a major need.
Georgetown's Otto Porter is the best small forward available,but does not rank with McLemore as a player or with the upside of Noel,so Porter would be a reach with the first pick.

Could Cleveland decide the best move is a trade?
A forward that can score would easily be worth the pick and one rumor that I would be all in for is obtaining Minnesota's Kevin Love.
I'd trade all four of the Cavalier picks (2 1's and 2 2's) for Love and still feel happy about the deal,but Cleveland will likely have to toss a player or two in as well.

There is always the chance Orlando at two could love a player above all and something of value could be obtained from the Magic.
If the Cavaliers prefer one of the three that Orlando does not,perhaps they could land their guy and pick up a future pick or even a serviceable veteran as well.

Cleveland insists that they will be a playoff team next season and this pick will go a long way toward such as either another top young talent will be added or perhaps a player from another team that could make a huge impact.
Botching this opportunity could mean the end for general manager Chris Grant and cost the team a chance to sign a certain player that is a free agent at the end of next season.
The month ahead looks to be quite interesting in Cleveland......

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why I'm sitting at home instead of being at the Muni...

I feel guilty.
It's nine minutes away from the first pitch for a Hagerstown Suns game.
I have nothing to do and yet,I'm staying home.

Why?
Well,it just hasn't been that much fun this season.
It's been fun on the field,the team is winning,hustling and playing well,despite having few highly touted prospects and they are all nice guys in my dealings with them.
This has been the least enjoyable season of attending games at the Muni for me in years and I think I know why.
Nope,has nothing to do with autographing either as for the most part,that has been pretty good even if we have to yell a bit louder with the blaring loudspeaker over our heads.

It's the atmosphere of doom and gloom around the facility.
It reminds me of the "Schleprock" character on the Flintstones,where every time that you saw the guy,he had a black cloud directly over his head.
I'm not calling out specific employees or specific fans,it just seems like this treadmill of indifference that has kept attendance down has now spread to the game itself.
It used to be that the team has its hard core followers that created an environment of excitement ,as small of a group as that was at times,that made the game fun to attend and it seems that finally the uncertainty that follows the team due to its future location has finally begun to wear people down.
I know it has worn me down a bit.
Even I have grown weary of talking about Bruce Quinn,City Councils,Fredericksburg or other destinations instead of the Hagerstown Suns and like the Chinese Water Torture,it simply wears you down and takes the fun away.

I still have had a blast going to Frederick and Harrisburg and I am really looking forward to later trips this summer that includes a southern trip,a game in New York and the Tri-City Valley Cats along with trips to the SAL and Atlantic League All-Star games,so this is not a "tired of baseball or tired of graphing" issue-it's an issue with my local team and that this entire "Should I stay or should I go" theme that surrounds the franchise.


I don't fault any one person,I think the Suns would love to have this resolved,the area would as well,but it seems like anything dealing with politicians,things go at such a glacial pace that nothing gets accomplished.
The citizens of Hagerstown didn't help any by voting out councilpersons that had the framework of a deal finished and replacing them with publicity hogs that are more concerned with keeping their name in the paper than with deciding this issue,but what's done is done.

Putting that aside,everything trickles down and when similar things happen in larger cities,rarely does attendance leap up in an attempt to keep the team,usually the result is a reluctance to emotionally (and financially) invest in a franchise that may not be around to return the love that you give out.
The Hagerstown Suns situation is very similar to many teams in larger markets,you get so tired of hearing about new stadiums or leaving town etc,that other than the most invested fan,you just throw up your hands and say to hell with them all.
The recent Sacramento Kings revival is the exception to this rule,but they had a dedicated mayor and council that busted their rear to save a team that they knew would never return if lost,so they had leaders that were prepared to do what it took to save the franchise,not this piecemeal,we just don't know what to do steps.

Add it all up and it is easy to see how the atmosphere is less than charged right now.
Game started and I'm here at home.
See you tomorrow.





Sunday, May 19, 2013

A guest note on Anthony Rendon

A short guest column from my friend Jason in Binghamton on Nationals prospect Anthony Rendon.
Jason's dad (hilarious by the way) specifically asked to have this in the blog and we are happy to accommodate his request.

Keep in mind that all guest columns are the opinions of the guest authors and not always the opinions of TRS....

 "Let me tell you about Anthony Rendon in Binghamton this week. Thursday he signed one of two for me and got my other card signed one of my friends got it for me. Didn't go Friday,but far as I know from graphers did not pick up a pen, Saturday was a rainout was there when they got to the bus, his words were "not today,: guys" Sunday doubleheader first game- didn't come over warming up. Second game didn't stretch. After the game my father asked him to sign, he said "have to get to the bus". my father told him,if you were that important they wait for you and he said " you must be a piece of work."

Thanks Jason for the column and thank Dad too. I hope to see you guys sometime this season....

Pittsburgh Pirates Top Prospects 11-15

We finish our series on the Pirates prospects with a glance at eleven through fifteen in the system.
I hope to work on the Indians later this week.

11) Tony Sanchez C
The former first round pick in 2009 continues to slide down the list as he seems to find his level.
Sanchez did hit better in Altoona last season with the AA Curve and is off to a good start in Indianapolis,but in each case is seeing a second stint at each level.
Sanchez was not drafted for his bat,but for his arm and defense,neither of which have disappointed.
If Sanchez can hit even to the league average,he could be the starter in 2015 or at least a decent reserve.
That is not what one expects from a fourth overall pick,but some return is better than none....

12) Kyle McPherson RHP
McPherson challenged for a spot in the Pirates rotation,but didn't seem to be recovered from a 2012 shoulder injury.
That looked to be the case as after an assignment to AAA Indianapolis,McPherson was rocked in two bad starts and then headed to the DL until this writing.
McPherson has a plus curve,but the injury issues are beginning to fade his prospect status...

13) Wyatt Mathisen C
Mathisen was the Buccos second round pick last season and was thought to have possibly been a higher pick.
The high school product played shortstop as much as he caught as a prep,so he is a project defensively,but he is strong athletically and should be able to make the transition.
Mathisen's bat is thought to have power potential and could be the Pirates backstop of the future.
Mathisen is currently at Low A West Virginia....

14) Nick Kingham RHP
Kingham has gained velocity since turning pro and finished last season at Low A West Virginia strongly.
Kingham has improved a curve and refines a changeup in his assignment this season to High A Bradenton.
Improvement could see Kingham rise in the rankings next season and be a possible threat to the rotation in 2015...

15) Dilson Herrera SS
Herrera was a high cost signing from Columbia and the only reason that he ranks this low is because I am hesitant to rank international signees with little experience outside of complex baseball.
Herrera hits for average and could develop some power as well.
Herrera may have to move to third eventually,although that is far from a guarantee.
If I had to wager a guess on the player most likely to take the biggest leap in the rankings between 2013 and 2014,Herrera is my pick and might be this season's Alen Hanson as a breakout performer...
Herrera is currently at Low A West Virginia.

Freelance work!

Check out our guest post on the 2013 Hagerstown Suns over at our friend Luke Erickson's site-NationalsProspects.com.

I take a look at the Suns over the first portion of the season and look at the prospects of the players.
Please take a look and look around over there as well.
Thanks to Luke for asking me to write a guest column!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pittsburgh Pirates Top Prospects 6-10

Our Pirates prospects series continues with a post covering six through ten in the Pittsburgh system....

6) Josh Bell-OF
Bell might be remembered whether he pans out or not for being the player that changed the draft system when he signed a huge contract after telling teams that he was going to college and not to draft him.
Bell's first season at Low A West Virginia didn't last long as he suffered a season ending knee injury after just 15 games.
Bell projects to have plus power and hits from both sides of the plate and is easily the best power prospect in the system.
Bell should spend the season back in Charleston with the Power....

7) Clay Holmes RHP
The system drops off considerably after Bell and you could shake the 7-15 prospects in a bag and come up with an order that is just as plausible as mine.
That is how the system lies right now.
Holmes had an excellent season at State College with an ERA of 2.28,but walked almost as many as he struck out.
That's a warning sign to me,but Holmes did all one could ask for at the short season level.
Holmes throws in the low 90's and uses a slider as his off pitch.
Holmes is currently with Low A West Virginia...

8) Barrett Barnes OF
Barnes was a sandwich pick in last years draft,but started slow in State College before hitting his stride for a few weeks and then suffering a season ending injury.
Barnes missed the first month of the season and then was injured again after joining Low A West Virginia.
Barnes has good power for a centerfielder and draws plenty of walks,although he strikes out a lot as well.
An unfinished product,Barnes is somewhat raw,but could make the Pirates potentially strong at center with Barnes and Gregory Polanco....

9) Tyler Glasnow RHP
The 6'7 Glasnow was downright dominant in the GCL last season with an ERA under two and opponents hit under .200 against him.
The Pirates often take pitchers that they project to grow into a prospect and hop they pan out.
Glasnow might be the first one that they hit on as he added MPH to his fastball and the Pirates responded with an aggressive move to Low A West Virginia.
Glasnow throws a slider and curve and may have to scrap one of them over the long term,but Glasgow might have the ability to make page one of next years list.....

10) Alex Dickerson 1B/OF
Dickerson was one of the better college bats in the 2011 draft and looked to be a high average hitter with average power.
That is about how it turned out for Dickerson at High A Bradenton,where he hit near .300 with 13 homers.
Dickerson's bat will have to carry him as he doesn't run especially well or field at a high level,so the bat is his one plus tool.
My concern with Dickerson is the lack of power as he might turn out to be a nice platoon player or pinch hitter without that tool.
Dickerson is currently at AA Altoona....

Friday, May 17, 2013

Cleaning out the inbox

Fell a bit behind this week,which is surprising considering that I only had one game this week.
Look for a flurry of posts over the next few days as I clean up a bit.
The Pirates prospect series will continue and maybe another portion of our interview with Nicole Mitchell along with a story from our Binghamton correspondent on Anthony Rendon and maybe a post about something else....

The man that built the Mount Union machine has decided to retire from coaching,although he is staying as Mount Union's athletic director as Larry Kehres has stepped down as the Purple Raiders head footbal coach.
Kehres,who won eleven national titles in Alliance,Ohio,leaves the game after compiling a 332-24-3 record that is staggering to say the least.
Kehres will be replaced by his son,Vince,who certainly has a lot to live up to keep the machine rolling.....

The Ohio Turnpike opened their travel plazas on the PA border after some much needed renovation.
Those stops were staples of my trips,as on the way out,we would stop for a leg stretch and on the way home,a tradition was to buy a lottery ticket to see where life takes us.
It always just took us home,as I only remember winning a two dollar ticket one time....
I am as much of a nostalgia person as the next person,(Likely more),but they were awfully grimy in their later years...

Two more hits from Grantland as pieces on MLB networks Brian Kenny and the fan "experience" with the Miami Marlins are excellent reads.
Kenny offers plenty from the "numbers" perspective on MLB and has been the only person in the boxing media to take on Floyd Mayweather in his work on Friday Night fights.
The Marlins article is especially interesting on why people would pay more than a trinket to see a Marlins game after this....


Finally, a goodbye to former Saints and Chargers running back Chuck Muncie,who passed at the age of 60.
I remember Muncie as a kid at Cal in 1976 when he almost singlehandedly let the Golden Bears to the Rose Bowl before losing a tie breaker.
Keep in mind,Cal has never been to Pasadena in my lifetime.
Muncie was a three time Pro Bowler and was the main running threat of Air Coryell in its heyday....

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pittsburgh Pirates top prospects 1-5

Better late than never for our looks at the Pirates system and their top 15 prospects.
The list was compiled before the season,but just now being posted.
Keep in mind,that the first six weeks of the 2013 season had no bearing on the ratings....

1) Jameson Taillon RHP
For the second straight season,I rank Taillon ahead of Gerrit Cole in our rankings.
Most have that ranking reversed,but to me,I see Taillon as a pitcher that has the ability to pitch and yet still throw hard.
Taillon's curve ranks with the best in minor league baseball and with his ability to hit the high 90's with the fastball shows the chance for Taillon to be an elite starter.
Taillon's quick start at AA Altoona was curtailed a bit with a liner off his leg,but as long as the injury does not cause him to miss significant time,Taillon should hit AAA Indianapolis by mid-season and maybe the odd chance of a September debut with the Pirates.
Taillon has a chance of being in next season's rotation,but may not arrive until mid season.....

2) Gerrit Cole RHP
The number one pick in the 2011 draft,Cole can hit the 100 MPH mark and can remind observers of being a number one starter when he is on.
I can see Cole having three pitches (slider and change) that are of high quality and I would not be surprised a bit to see him progress to that level.
Cole does get hit more than he should and I just can't shake the feeling that he might be more Kris Benson than Justin Verlander.
After a rough first two starts at AAA Indianapolis,Cole has been tremendous since and looks to be ready for the Pirates sometime in the next six to eight weeks...

3) Gregory Polanco OF
One of two breakout players last season at low A West Virginia,Polanco developed power last season with 16 HR's and turned from an toolsy athlete that lacked power to a five tool player with some performance to back up potential.
The line for Polanco at West Virginia is stunning .325 average,16 HR's,85 RBI,40 steals and an over .900 OPS.
For a player to compile that stat line after playing a mere three games above the rookie level makes that even more surprising.
The lefty swinger still has work to do,but if he can come anywhere near the performance at High A Bradenton this season,Polanco will likely rank among the best prospects in the game-not just the Pirates system.

4) Alen Hanson SS
Hanson's 2012 showed parallels to Polanco as he entered the season having played just three games above rookie level and his line was similar with an average above .300,16 homers,35 steals and an above .900 OPS.
The difference between the two was plate discipline as Hanson struck out over one hundred times.
Hanson also committed 40 errors,so if he is to stay at shortstop,the fielding will have to improve.
Hanson would clearly has more value if he is to stay at short,so improvement at High A Bradenton will be closely watched...

5) Luis Heredia RHP
The 18 year old was aggressively moved to short season State College last season and responded with a strong sixty plus inning stint that saw opponents hit just .224 against him.
The 6'7 Heredia still has plenty of work to do with his off speed pitches and he didn't strike out a ton last season (40 ),but considering his age against the competition,the Pirates had to be pleased.
Pittsburgh decided to keep Heredia in Florida in the colder spring weather,but will likely move Heredia to Low A West Virginia sometime in late May when the weather warms for good.....

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Forgotten Superstars- Paul Zimmerman

We return to the Forgotten Superstars universe with a look at my favorite football writer of all time-Dr.Z,Paul Zimmerman.

Zimmerman was the football writer for Sports Illustrated since 1979 and was the first football writer that followed things that others did not and then put them in print.
"Dr.Z" followed such things as interior line play that no one else ever (and still does not) noticed by charting each play of games that he watched.
As a result,Zimmerman had a concrete system for rating line play that ranked linemen far above the rankings of the normal media and gave a more accurate gauge for linemen.

Dr.Z also did an annual article on the quality of the announcers throughout the league that was often controversial,but was known to pop the balloon of some of the supposed best in the game.
This was the column that I looked most forward to as even as a kid,I loved stuff like that.
Often times Zimmerman would rank an announcer that was relegated to the lower end game far higher than the number one team in the business and that could be funny,but even despite network protests that the column had no impact on decisions,the column often did just that.

Zimmerman also was a standout in the early years of the NFL Draft coverage on ESPN.
Zimmerman's coverage was often what coverage lacks in the current era-pointed,opinionated,yet not in a loud screaming manner that speaks more about the speaker than what they are commenting on.
Unafraid to express a strong thought,Zimmerman was able to get across that opinions can be honest without crossing the line into being an attack,which was often the issue with Mel Kiper in his early years at the network.

Zimmerman's tenure at ESPN with a prescient thought at a draft when he was asked about what the NFL player of the 90's would be like,Zimmerman offered this return-"The player of the '90s will be so sophisticated that he'll be able to pass any steroid test they come up with,".
That ended Zimmerman's time with ESPN as we know that anything that looks mildly critical of the mighty NFL tends to have the hammer fall on someone.
Looking back,the comment was certainly more right than wrong and speaking the truth often can cost a job.

Dr Z always had his SI column thought and he continued his terrific work with the magazine and he was one of the first to have an occasional Q and A column from readers questions.
I really liked those,as the acerbic wit of Zimmerman often came out and was often brutal on dumb querys.
Zimmerman suffered a stroke in 2008 that left him unable to walk or communicate and he is currently 80 years old,so a return to his work is unlikely,but his past columns speak for themselves.
We welcome Dr Z,Paul Zimmerman to the Forgotten Superstars universe....

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Nicole Mitchell Interview-Part 2

We continue with our interview with Nicole Mitchell with some of her experiences with the Hurricane Hunters.
Tomorrow will begin our series on the Pirates prospects....

TRS: Part of the Hurricane Hunters is about literally flying through Hurricanes,which has an element of danger inherent to it,have you ever felt in danger of crashing and if so,what weather event was involved?

NM: No.

TRS: Anytime a hurricane comes,the first name that comes to mind is Katrina,were you involved with the Hunters or were you on camera with TWC (The Weather Channel)?
If so any memories?

NM:I wrote this article recently, and I write about Katrina pretty extensively.
http://www.mydigitalrendition.com/publication/?i=139668&p=35



TRS: With the Hunters,you actually fly inside storms and deal with anything that occurs over water,what type of data do you measure and how is it used by the NWS and other media?

 NM:Winds, pressures and temperatures are some of the main elements. The data tells you both what the storm is currently doing, but can also go into computer models to improve forecasts.

When we post the next installment of our talk with Nicole,we will discuss some of her career at the Weather Channel...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

On the Signing Front

We return to the signing front to conclude the month of April and a stop in early May.

First,allow me a personal comment,if you will.
Graphing has not been as much fun for me this year thus far,at least in Hagerstown.
I have enjoyed my trips to Frederick and Harrisburg with both my usual partner Bill Cover and my new teammate Derreck Chupak,but my home park has become the least fun.
Too much drama between the various problems with the team for others,which seem to be solved now and the worst part has been the environment among the graphers,which seems to be the worst that I have seen.
I suppose some of that is to be expected,but I have always thought that the graphing community was pretty close knit.
Fortunately,the people that I am closest with still are,so even though I see and know some things,my friends are the type of people that make this fun.
Call it nerdy or geeky,if you must,but I got into this for fun,to relax after the stress of coaching and to do something with Ryan to stay involved with the game we love.
Ryan may have moved on now,but I have made some great friends and I enjoy this for the most part,but for the first time,I can see me reducing the amount of stops that I make.
I've always said that when this wasn't fun,I would get out.
I'm not saying that yet,but for the first time,I can say its crossed my mind.....

The signing front starts in Harrisburg with the Altoona Curve with Derreck Chupak for first a doubleheader that froze us out and a more productive afternoon game.
The weather was downright frigid and when the second game went to extra innings we decided to leave.
The game wound up going to eleven innings and when it did,it led to a Jameson Taillon tweet about his disbelief about graphers being outside at one AM on such a night.
I talked to Jameson the next day and he seemed to be more puzzled by the mentality than upset.
Look for a future post that will try to clear up the mistaken thoughts by players towards graphers and how they get riled up by people that have little idea what they are talking about.
The Curve featured two fellows from the parent club in Francisco Liriano and Jose Contreras and both were terrific in signing all that anyone had.
I had just one Liriano and Dan Hartman (Thanks,Dan) gave me a Contreras since I did not have any,but they were very nice...
Other Curve notables were Jameson Taillon,Alex Dickerson,Mel Rojas and the injured Adelberto Santos.

The Augusta Greenjackets hit Hagerstown for the only time this season and the Giants affiliate was super,although few had cards.
Giants top pick Chris Stratton was very nice in signing his cards and I had him sign a baseball as well.
Their second rounder Martin Acosta was very nice as well and the other pickup that I was pleased with was Joe Biagini.
Why? Biagini was the only player from last years Augusta set that I did not have signed,so his addition completed a set,which does not happen often.

Thanks to Brandon Diehl for adding Matt Lipka,Luis Salazar and John MOses when he went to Frederick for the Lynchburg Hillcats.
I did not need enough for Lynchburg to warrant a trip,so Brandon's help was appreciated...

Thanks to Tracy Mackereth,who was able to add Jamie Lyn Sigler of Sopranos fame at Potomac.
I had found her only card late last season and Tracy was able to get her to sign it for me....

The Hickory Crawdads arrived in Hagerstown as the Texas Rangers hit the area hard as their High A team,Myrtle Beach would be in Frederick in a few days.
The notable Crawdads were first rounders Joey Gallo and Lewis Brinson,Sam Stafford and David Lyon on a USA card,Thanks to Derreck Chupak for the Lyon jersey card and thanks as well for Derreck's help with Nomar Mazara,an 18 year old prospect with only one card....

The Carolina Mudcats arrived in Frederick with touted first rounder from 2011 Francisco Lindor.
Lindor's signing was reported to be erratic,but the day I was there,it was raining all day,so he signed little.
I didn't get Lindor,but there is always two more stops in town.
I did get 2012 first rounder Tyler Naquin,who was super nice and chatted a bit with graphers.
The rain kept the Mudcats from being a great day (at least I hope),but I also added Bryson Miles and Joe Wendle as other nice pickups....

The aforementioned Myrtle Beach Pelicans were the best team all season for Derreck and I as we cleared out an entire team in one morning game.
Notable Pelicans were Rougned Odor,Luis Sardenas,Will Lamb,Luke Jackson and Royce Bollinger.
What a nice bunch of players.....

We wrap up with the Binghamton Mets.
I usually send my Mets stuff to my good friend Jason Christensen,but since Derreck wanted to do the Mets,I decided to do what I could and then send the leftovers to Jason,since the Mets did not return.
Notable Mets were Cesar Puello,Tyler Pill,Logan Verrett,Danny Muno and Cory Vaughn.
Vaughn was particularly nice as was Blake Forsythe and Darrell Ceciliani,who joked and talked with us when signing before the game....

Before I finish I want to acknowledge all my friends in the hobby.
If I forget someone,accept my apologies in advance.
Thanks to my good friends and usual partners Bill Cover and Derreck Chupak as well as my occasional partner Kendall Morris.
You all are good graphers and even better friends.
Thanks to my younger helpers in Tyler Chupak and Brandon Diehl as well as Brad Adams,who has become a friend through the years.
A special thanks to Mike Oravec,who has become not just a grapher,but a great friend in my personal life as well and Tracy Mackereth,who never fails to make me laugh.
Thanks to my friends on the road-Jason Christensen,Tom O'brien and Corey White.
I could not have the things that you help me with without you.
And a final thanks to Shaun O'Neal. Shaun helped me learn the graphing game the right way when I started out and I appreciate it.
The fraternity that we have among graphers could not have a greater friend than Shaun O'Neal,who often times is the glue that holds all this together.
Thanks again to all of you....



Sunday, May 5, 2013

Zanz can't dance,but he'll steal your money

John Fogerty once sang "Zanz can't dance,but he'll steal your money" about Saul Zaentz,the former owner of Fantasy Records,who owned the rights to Creedence Clearwater Revival's music and once sused Fogerty for "Plagarizing himself" because a riff from a Fogerty single resembled one he wrote for CCR.

Well,Floyd Mayweather can dance and he will steal your money,at least on pay per view as he delivered another lopsided decision that was less than visually thrilling over Robert Guerrero in his defense of the WBC Welterweight crown in Las Vegas,
Mayweather,the WBC Champ,defeated the WBC Interim titlist ( I'll address that ridiculousness shortly) by 117-111 scores by all three judges.
I had the same score,which translates to 9-3 in rounds.

I never bought Guerrero as a legitimate threat to Floyd.
Golden Boy promotions had pushed Guerrero for a Mayweather bout for years and I never took it seriously as either a challenge for Floyd or one that would stoke public interest.
I was correct on both parts,but Guerrero's entertaining win over Andre Berto in a battle of overhyped fighters without a standout victory was enough for GBP to make this one,whether I liked it or not.
Mayweather is too skilled and too willing to fight in a safety first manner to make anyone but an elite fighter have an interesting fight with him.
Styles make fights,which is why for all the flaws of Manny Pacquiao,he would have made Floyd fight and maybe have the chance of beating him,which for all the talent of Juan Manuel Marquez,his discomfort of forcing the action made him an ideal foil for Mayweather.

I'll stay from too much of a recap.
Just imagine a lopsided Mayweather fight without a knockdown and you get the picture.
Fans are beginning to push for WBC Jr.Middleweight champ Saul Alvarez to be the next contender for Mayweather,but I fear the bigger but plodding Alvarez would follow Floyd around the ring for a dull fight,although Alvarez is capable of landing the blow to end the fight that Guerrero was not capable of,no matter how many thought he could.

I try not to disregard the contempt for sanctioning bodies that so many have,but some of this borders on silly.
Mayweather,who holds the WBC title,but Guerrero held the WBC "Interim" title.
Interim titles exist because "fighters don't deserve to lose titles by inactivity,yet titles need to be defended".
That is silly,right there.If a fighter cannot defend a title in a year (and ideally less),than vacate the title with a mandate that when he is ready to return to action,he gets a title shot as soon as he wants it.

The WBA is even worse as they have a "Super " champion for champions that have unified belts,a "regular" champ when they have a Super champion and the always popular interim title even when a champ is defending on a regular basis.
And that,my friends is why the belts mean so little anymore....

Also,a note from my friend Kendall Morris on a fund raiser for his sons Boy Scouts troop. 
Funkstown Boy Scout Troop 23 spaghetti dinner on Saturday May 18th from 5-8 pm at the Funkstown Fire Hall. We are using the proceeds to buy a trailer for our many outdoor events. Tickets are $5.50 ($.50 each goes to the Fire Hall and Toys for Tots) and can be purchased at Funkstown Town Hall, or directly from me. They can also be bought at the dinner, but the price goes to $8. There will be a silent auction (I’m running it) that will include autographed sports memorabilia, NFL jerseys, tickets to a Ravens home game, 4 tickets to Menopause the Musical at the MD Theatre (don’t ask), Whitetail ski resort package, Longaberger basket, Arbonne, Pampered Chef, Thirty-one bags, plus many other items. 

If interested,let me know and I'll toss Kendall's cell phone number to you...

Back with more,which looks to be from the signing front....




Saturday, May 4, 2013

Devils off-season thoughts

The New Jersey Devils started fast and finished slow as injuries to their two top players caused an historic collapse and watched the team fail to make the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

Yes,I could blame the injuries to Martin Brodeur and Ilya Kovalchuk as the main reason for the slide and that's pretty true,but there still are plenty of things that need to be addressed in order for the team to return to contention.

The top need for the team is add an scorer.
Sounds simple,but since Zach Parise taking his time to decide that Minnesota's green acres was the place for him and the lockout after crippled the Devils chances to replace him,the Devils now have the opportunity to try to do so.

But,the team also will have to make decisions on their own free agents as well as deciding what scorer that the Devils want to pursue as we look at the forwards.
The two toughest decisions are on unrestricted free agents Patrik Elias and David Clarkson.
The problem is this-Re-sign one or both and the team still needs scorers and have less money to spend on one.
But allow one or both to go and the team will need to replace offense on a team that needs it already.
Elias is 37 and this will likely be his last contract,so does Lou Lamoriello pay him for past production or can a compromise be worked out to sign Elias to a reasonable deal to save cap space?
Clarkson is a tough call as there will be suitors for the gritty game that he brings to the table,but his game brings long funks of lack of scoring and the question is which Clarkson are you paying for?
Both players bring difficult decisions to be made.

Dainius Zubrus was overpaid for his production over this contract and unless he wants to stay at a drastically reduced deal,his 3.4 million cap number will likely go to a new player.
Of the patchwork additions that the Devils acquired through the year,all of them are either restricted or unrestricted free agents. Steve Sullivan will likely not return at anywhere near his past salary,Alexei Ponikarovsky was not as effective in his second Devils stint and Tom Kostopolos would be his decision because he would not cost much,all of these three are unrestricted free agents.

I think Andrei Loktionov would be a likely return as the Devils would match any offer after a surprising good run as a Devil.
I would not be against a Matt D'Agostini return as long as a suitor does not go over the top in making him a offer.
The Devils have three other restricted free agents that are likely to be back.
Adam Henrique is the biggest name and unless someone makes an offer that is ridiculous,the future captain will be back.
The enigmatic Jacob Josefson is unlikely to draw an offer and I'm not sure Harri Pesonen will either after a season spent mostly at Albany.

When you consider the lack of prospect scorers at Albany,unless the team decides to force feed either or both of Stefan Matteau/Reid Boucher or whomever the team takes with the ninth pick of the first round,any help will have to come from elsewhere.....

The blueline is a different kettle of fish altogether when you look at the moves to be made there.
Right off the bat,the defensive prospects are far stronger with Alexander Urbom and Eric Gelinas both being ready to contribute to the parent club.
The Devils have Marek Zidlicky's four million off the books and Peter Harrold also is a UFA,so two spots are easily available for the two youngsters to plug into.
That allows top prospect Jon Merril to spend a year at Albany and the large amount of veterans could be tapped for a forward.
Mark Fayne might be the most likely as his low contract and seeming long term residence in Pete DeBoer's doghouse makes him the most desirable of the group for a potential trade partner.
I know the team has lots of money tied up in this group,but if you are bringing up Urbom and Gelinas after the mishandling of Adam Larsson,who finished the season strong,they need to play,so moving someone else might be mandatory after after allowing Zidlicky and Harrold to leave.
If not,either Urbom or Gelinas will have to return to the AHL.

Martin Brodeur returns as the anchor in goal,but the bigger question is with Johan Hedberg as the backup.
The moose is under contract,but he did not play well when Brodeur was injured,which was the selling point for the veteran backup.
Hedberg might retire or the Devils might even release him.
If that happens,will the Devils seek another veteran backup or will Keith Kincaid be given the backup role?
Another possibility is that the team carries Jeff Frazee as the emergency goalie in case Brodeur gets hurt in a game and then Kincaid would get the time during Brodeur's recovery.

The Devils have the ninth pick in the first round,which gives the team two top ten players in the draft over the last three years,which gives a team help that has drafted in the bottom half of the first round for years.
This pick is very important as the 2014 first rounder will finally go for the Ilya Kovalchuk mess.
I would have taken that hit last season,but what's done is done.
I think the team will take the best forward available when you look at the dearth of forward prospects in the minors,but you can always make a point to pick the best player available.

New Jersey is a playoff capable team that needs to plug a hole or two to be right back in the thick of things.
No rebuilding project this,the team does have to add some help and the draft pick is huge for the future,but this is not a bleak picture.
Lou Lamoriello does need to need to think carefully as this summers moves will be the largest amount of cap room that the Devils have to play with for a while,so being prudent with the money is important.
This will be a fun off season too observe.
I'll be back come draft time with a look at the Devils top pick.....

Photo Credit:Rachel Heimberger



Friday, May 3, 2013

Nicole Mitchell Interview-Part 1

We start our recent interview with former Weather Channel meteorologist Nicole Mitchell.
Ms.Mitchell was a standout at TWC and is currently involved with the Air Force Reserves as a member of the elite group known as the "Hurricane Hunters".
Major Mitchell is also involved with a suit against TWC that alleges that her contract not being renewed was due to her involvement with the military that currently is still in the courts.
There are a few questions that she was unable to comment on due to the impending case and I have asked her to return in the future when she can talk more freely after the case reaches its conclusion.
Thanks to her to taking the time to talk with us.

Nicole decided to answer our first few questions with a paragraph that answered all four at once.
In order to have the interview exactly as it was done,I have entered it in that manner.

ThoughtsofRS; Tell me what made you want to get into the field of studying weather,was it an instant love as a child and if so,when did you know?
TRS: You grew up in in the upper Midwest was the importance of weather there to farmers and the everyday routine a help in making you decide to get into the weather field?
TRS: At what age did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in the weather field and if there was a change in direction,what did you originally want to do?
TRS: When you joined the Air National Guard to help with college at the Minnesota,did you then think your future was in the weather field or television/radio since you majored in speech communications?

Nicole Mitchell: It was actually the military that got me into weather. I scored well on the military entrance test (ASVAB), which qualified me for weather which required higher test scores. Of the jobs the recruiter offered me, weather sounded the most interesting. I loved science and the outdoors, so it seemed like it would be a good fit.
After college I started at my first TV station as an Assignment Editor and fill-in producer and reporter and got to be friends with the Chief Meteorologist where I worked. I hadn’t planned to do weather in TV, but he trained me as a fill-in meteorologist and I enjoyed it.
TRS:  Do you consider yourself a proud alum of the University of Minnesota or was it more or less a place to get your degree?

NM: I’m very proud to be from MN, and I think the state has a great public education system, including the University of MN.

TRS: Being a member of the reserves and the Hurricane Hunters currently,was this a goal of yours to reach this level with the Hunters or was there another part of the military that you were interested in?

NM: I thought it was an incredible job, but I had never really thought about it as I was in the Guard system and lived nowhere near Mississippi. As I moved with my TV jobs and ended up farther South, I was going to have to commute to stay in the military. Once I knew I would have to commute anyway, the Hurricane Hunters because my first choice.

TRS: What would you recommend most about the activities that you do in the Air Force to anyone interested in the field?

NM: My favorite part is being right inside the weather, and knowing that what we do saves lives along the coast.

TRS: You have risen through the ranks to become a Captain (Editors Note: Since this interview was conducted,a promotion to Major has occurred),have you found the military to what you had hoped it to be and would you recommend it to other young women?

NM: The military is definitely still male dominated, so I would love to see more qualified women! With that said, the military isn’t for everyone, so you have to know what you’re getting into.

Watch for more on the Hurricane Hunters and her career at TWC in future editions of our interview with Nicole Mitchell....

I may be back today with either a signing front or one of our planned features....

Thursday, May 2, 2013

An open letter to Cal Ripken Jr

Dear Mr.Ripken,
                          I'm having a hard time with writing this.
I spent years rooting against you as the only time that I watched my beloved Cleveland Indians on television was against the Orioles on local stations with you as the face of the opposition.
Heck,I even wrote an article on this very page that argued that you were overrated as a player.
So,I certainly do not write this out of hero worship and certainly not because of loyalty to the Orioles,

However,it has become apparent to me that you might be the only person capable of saving the Hagerstown Suns for this town and likely this state.
Our region is surely rural compared to the more urban areas of the state ,we rank among the smallest cities to host a full season baseball team and the Suns attendance ranks around the bottom of the South Atlantic League
So considering those issues,I can see why Hagerstown baseball does not seem like a good investment and why so many are giving up on our town and our team.

I'm here to convince you differently.
Hagerstown had the same dumpy facility in the 80's and attendance was through the roof to the point of reaching AA level baseball.
I realize some of that was due to neighboring Frederick not having a team at that time,but it was the success of smaller Hagerstown that led to the establishment of the Frederick Keys.
Ask your brother,Billy,a Suns alumnus about the rabid fans when he was a member of our infield and about the support that team received back then.
I realize times changed,more teams are around now than at that time and Municipal Stadium has only gotten older,but I still believe in Hagerstown baseball and with a little rehabilitation,this can be a baseball hotbed again.

The problem is the proverbial Catch 22 on a badly needed new facility.
Politicians say "Why should we build a new stadium when you are struggling to draw fans?".
The various ownership groups that have owned the team offer this "We struggle to draw fans because no one wants to come to a dilapidated facility,so we need a new stadium".
I can see both sides,but let's face it-fans want the modern amenities that Municipal Stadium cannot have,even with the will and few older stadiums have the lack of charm of the Muni.
It is the park that I grew up with,but even I realize the need for a new facility (Preferably with the covered grandstand as a nod to tradition) and without it-there can be no future...

That said,politicians here are short sighted and lack the vision to see that the loss of pro baseball means a loss of prestige and a commodity that they can never get back.
The Frederick Keys would instantly control the Hagerstown territory and would gain immensely in attendance without baseball here,much as the Suns gained from there being no team in Frederick,so their financial bottom line would have no reason to approve a new team in the Hub City.
Independent baseball has been floated as a possibility,but the Atlantic League is building new stadiums,so if the will is not there for a new field now,why would it change later?
Besides,if you have to build a facility,why not just keep the tradition alive now?

The Suns are not without blame either.
There have been various ownership groups through the years and things have deteriorated though the years without continuity or local ownership.
There is plenty that could be changed,although I would keep certain members of the front office as some of the current staff ranks among the best the team has employed since I have attended games.
Still,one cannot make chicken salad from chicken feathers and many good ideas simply cannot be done due to the constraints of doing business at Municipal Stadium.

Back to you,I could offer you several ideas and two even would incorporate Municipal Stadium.
1 issue constantly comes up with Municipal-the hill in left field that cannot be removed.
One idea that I thought of was this-If Municipal was to be renovated,move home plate and the bleachers back a bit and put the hump out of the field of play.
Another idea that was given to me was bring a left field wall inside the fence and make it 20 feet high and that eliminates the hill as well.
That then allows a renovation similar to Lynchburg's stadium that builds a new stadium around the existing field.
Greenville and Asheville have similar features on their fields,so it is not that huge of a deal.

The Suns aren't interested in that and I cannot blame them plus the city drags its feet over everything,so I would ask you this-Why can't you come and educate them?
Who better than the biggest name in Maryland baseball and it is your company that has done the research on the stadium possibilities,so why not you?
A man of your stature would go so far in helping to get this ball rolling and selfishly,I cannot imagine a politician willing to stick out their neck by rebuffing Cal Ripken,so just you taking one day would go so far to save our team.

I'll even go further-why not purchase the team?
Ripken Baseball is selling the Augusta Greenjackets,so you could own the Suns,where you could not before.
Bruce Quinn might be tired of dealing with such a stale group of politicians that is unable to get past personal wishes,perhaps a deal could be made there.
I've never met Mr.Quinn and do not presume to speak for him,but I know if I dealt with these people for as long as this has taken,I'd consider tossing in the towel too.
Adding another Maryland franchise to your group would add local ownership and prestige for Washington County to be associated with the greatest name in Maryland baseball.

In closing,Mr Ripken,Hagerstown baseball is a sleeping giant,one that is down for now,but not for the count.
You can help save baseball in this area,whether by investing one day to talk to the uninformed or more time if you wish.
Time is running short,you may be our last hope....

Sincerely
Shawn.....

Photo Credit:CrossCOuntryRoads.com