Thursday, October 31, 2013

TV Music,not MTV

I want my MTV was a catch phrase of children of the 80's from the promos by MTV to attempt to put pressure on cable companies to carry the fledgling network,but since living in the Tilghmanton/Fairplay market better known as the "Twin Cities"kept me from seeing it.
The Twin Cities didn't get cable until the spring of 1984 at all and even then it was from a fly by night outfit that offered "cable" that consisted of ESPN (Yay),better reception of existing channels from Baltimore and Washington and the option of HBO,so it wasn't until an "upgrade" by this bunch two years later that we finally got our MTV.
However,the network that calls itself Music Television that currently rarely shows much of it, is not really what I think of when I think of Music Television or how I better remember it as TV Music.

TV Music was part of the grooviest elementary school around in my area as Fountain Rock Elementary was opened in the spring of 1972 and as a result was designed with all the modern thoughts of the time.
Open classrooms,few walls,two grades in the same class and decor straight out of Hullabaloo made Fountain Rock quite an interesting place.
I ride by it once a week to go to my parents and it has had additions to the exterior,but the same school that was there in September of 1973 (I was in the second class to start Kindergarten there) is pretty much remaining as the base of the facility.
I have not stepped inside since my brother was attending FRS in the early 80's,but my friend Krista has stated that there has been a renovation on the inside that while saddens me was likely needed considering that style of decor likely went out of style before I finished fifth grade in 1979,let alone today or whenever the renovation occurred.
I really wanted to take a tour of the old place,but these days of safety first,someone would likely (and rightfully so ) wonder who the weird old guy was wandering the halls with the odd smile on his face.
There still is one remaining piece of original playground equipment,maybe one day the author can get a pic with it.

I'll talk more about FRS on another rainy day,but for today it's TV Music.
TV Music was in its infancy in the 70's and basically went like this-the central Board of Education used two music teachers to video tape programs,send them around to the schools and as a result added a music program to schools without the cost of a music teacher.
They generally used a theme that ran throughout the school year,but since FRS mixed grades in a class (2nd and 3rd,4th and 5th),you didn't always get the "seasons' in order.
I remember a student moving to FRS for his 5th grade year and FRS was showing the 4th grade tape (we had seen the 5th the year before) and the result was the befuddling of the student and the "storyline" being completely blown because he told us what happened!

My memory here is colored through the eyes of a child,but the programs were in black and white due to limitations of the technology,the machine was roughly the size of a VW Bug and the tapes were not much smaller.
I remember one season being a music TV knockoff of the popular Starsky and Hutch and another was roughly a marooned singer doing a Lost in Space type story,but I could be off a little.
I cannot remember the male star,but I believe the female lead was named Mrs.Perry and they always sung very slowly and distinctly in order for the children to understand the words,learn the song and therefore be able to sing the song.

But the even odder things looking back are some of the songs that elementary school students were singing with TV Music!
Keep in mind this is the middle to late 1970's which means many of the teachers and people taking charge were people that were college students in the late 60's and early 70's,which was noted earlier in the design and decor of the school,but they likely had a lot of influence in the songs that were selected.
I remember singing Peter,Paul and Mary's "Puff the Magic Dragon" and Pete Seeger's "Where have all the flowers gone" in hindsight those could be seen as controversial choices considering the content and the location being firmly in "Red State" territory before the term was coined.
Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons" was another weird staple and I always got a weird kick singing a song about people that were part of "Making our Country Grow" that included Brigham Young,who I knew only through BYU football and their 1970's resurgence behind QB Gary Shiede and his successor Gifford Nielsen. 
I also remember singing songs from Marlo Thomas of "THAT GIRL" fame's "Free to Be" special that was pretty strong for the time with a pro-feminist slant that seems tame by today's standards,but somewhat controversial for the era.
Even still on occasion "Jill told Bill" pops out of nowhere with my goofy lounge act that usually sends my kids careening away in horror.

I remember those times fondly,20 kids huddled around a TV watching a scratchy black and white broadcast sitting sometimes on the floor with boys sitting "Indian style" and girls sitting "Princess style" singing songs as a unit as part of an experiment in schooling that I would say was a flawed one doomed to fail by its design.
But I still wonder whatever happened to some of my favorite teachers from that time,since I have had no contact,its hard to say.
So to Ms,Kisner,Ms,Rutherford,Ms Norris,who became Mrs,Buhrman and might be the only one still at FRS,Mr.Martin,who showed me how to figure out batting averages and ERA and stoked my love for space and especially Ms.Lucic-thanks,wherever you are and whatever you became for your small (and in one case large) part in making me what I am.
Not bad for a "counter culture" school,huh?

I may be back later with a short look at the Cavaliers win over the Brooklyn Nets in their opener.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Reviewing the tape-Browns lose in Kansas City.

Since this is such a late review,I'm going to skip the opening paragraph and jump to the bullet points of the Cleveland Browns 23-17 loss to the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
The now 3-5 Browns host the hated Baltimore Ravens this week.

Brownie Bits

1) Huge loss to the return game when Travis Benjamin tore his ACL on a punt return and will miss the rest of the season.
Benjamin,for all his issues in giving ground trying to make a big play, was one of the few Browns capable of making something out of nothing and will be missed.
The problem when a return guy suffers that type of injury,one never knows how it will affect his ability to make people miss...

2) The Browns signed two players this week and both have interest to me for different reasons.
Former Ohio State tackle Reid Fragel was signed off the Bengals practice squad to add offensive line depth.
The 6'8 former tight end is a project,but considering he can catch the ball,Fragel adds some interesting possibilities in some formations...
Armanti Edwards might have more of an impact as the former 3rd rounder of the Panthers could replace Travis Benjamin on punts.
Edwards also could see some gimmick play action as he was the man that engineered the famous upset by Appalachian State over michigan as the quarterback for App. State.

3) I thought Jason Campbell played pretty well in his first start.
Campbell overthrew some receivers,but showed nice touch on a 39 yard touchdown pass to Josh Gordon.Campbell will not be the long term answer,but showed more than Brandon Weeden has shown.

4) Campbell's pass to Gordon came off the flea flicker and even if the pass would have not been successful,I would have liked the call.
The play call showed imagination and considering the Browns at this point as far as offensive talent goes-you have to loosen things up a bit...

5) Lack of a running game is still an issue and will likely remain so.
The Chiefs entered the game better against the pass than rush and the Browns still only gained 57 yards.
Either the team needs to make more of a commitment to getting Willis McGahee started or just be a throw the ball around the yard team.

6) The defense bent a lot in this one but usually didn't,especially in the first quarter where two long drives only produced Ryan Succop field goals.
A great performance? No,but one that kept the Browns with a chance to win...

7) Davone Bess came to Cleveland with a reputation as a possession receiver with great hands and has shown none of that.
Bess leads the league in drops and fumbled a punt replacing Travis Benjamin that could have given the Browns great field position with a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
What a disappointment.

8) Josh Gordon showed once and for all that he needed to be kept (he was) with a five catch day for over 100 yards.
Gordon has tons of ability and can be a number one receiver for a long time,if he can stay clean off the field.
Much of the off fields issues with athletes comes in the off season and the Browns might be smart to invest in either trying to keep Gordon in Cleveland then or making sure he has a handler to try to avoid those issues...

9) Two big penalties on Joe Thomas stopped the Browns on two different drives and one seemed to be really bad on a holding call against Tamba Hali.
No matter,the Browns could have used a better day from the perennial Pro Bowler.

10) Loved the atmosphere at Arrowhead Stadium! What a great place with terrific fans and a fun place to watch a game from. I'm not an Andy Reid fan,but I'd love to see some cold playoff football there for the Chiefs!

11) Now,its Baltimore and a chance to sink a knife into the Ratbirds playoff hopes.
Cleveland hasn't defeated the Ravens in a while and with spitting Ray Rice hitting town,here is hoping for a nice reception for Baltimore from the fans and the Browns!

Photo Credits;Cleveland Plain Dealers


Devils win again!

The New Jersey Devils used two breakaways that resulted in two on one opportunities and two goals in the second period to build a lead and hold onto it in a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Rock.
Adam Henrique scored on a shorthanded goal (4 shorthanded) to give the Devils the lead and later in the period Jaromir Jagr drilled home the game winner (3) to counter a later Tampa goal.
The Devils are now off until Saturday and the rival Philadelphia Flyers...


Hell Raisers

1) After missing the incredible win over the Bruins,I was looking forward to seeing some Devils hockey and I was not disappointed.
Suddenly after two wins against two pretty good teams,the Devils are just a point out of second place.
Considering the less than sizzling start,I do believe that I'll take it!

2) Rachel's favorite Adam Henrique's shorthanded goal started it and got me thinking about how the Devils always were so strong on penalty killing and gambling on shorthanded goal attempts.
Henrique made the play as he blocked a pass,controlled the puck,tossed it over to Patrik Elias before putting into the net.
That is the type of play that the Devils used do often shorthanded and I hope to see more of it....

3) I've been critical of Jaromir Jagr's speed in his elderly years,but he did show some hop on his goal as he pulled away from the Tampa defender before whipping Ben Bishop.
Tampa defensemen didn't exactly bust their hump getting back either and that helped.

4) Marty Brodeur didn't have to make many saves (16) but those that he did were solid and some even dazzling.Strong game when he had to be from Brodeur.

5) Eric Gelinas missed a goal opportunity,but I still cannot get over how smoothly he pairs with Adam Larsson and how confident Larsson is as part of that tandem.
Larsson looks like a different player...

Back later maybe with a belated look at the Browns loss in Kansas City and I've working on something else that might be finished soon!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Buckeyes trash Penn State 63-14

ESPN's Mark May predicted that Penn State coming off a win over michigan and a bye week would pull an upset over Ohio State.
This is not unusual for May,who picks against the Buckeyes almost every week as part of his pro wrestling schtick and what else was usual?
Yep,Ohio State wins and delivered their best all around performance of the year in whipping the Nittany Lions 63-14.
Braxton Miller accounted for five Buckeye touchdowns and Carlos Hyde rumbled for 147 yards to go with two scores as the Lions were sent whimpering home with the worst loss in 114 years.
The now 8-0 Buckeyes (4-0 Big 10) will travel to Purdue next week...

Olentangy Observations

1) Carlos Hyde is one bad bully.
I've claimed that Jordan Hall has the most talent of any OSU Back,but Hyde is making me doubt that.
Since missing the first three games,Hyde has shown not just power,but a surprising amount of speed as well and that makes him a dangerous man for defenses.

2) Braxton Miller-five touchdowns and 300 yards plus of total offense.
Miller was at the top of his game with his arm and feet and Penn State had little chance in stopping him.
This almost looked like a man against boys...

3) Pivotal play was early when Penn State drove down the field after the first Buckeye touchdown and Christian Hackenberg underthrew Jesse James in the end zone.
Corey "pitt' Brown looked like Andrew McCutchen under a fly ball in gathering the interception and it was never close after that....

4) Noah Spence was dominant in notching two sacks,a forced fumble and more pressures than I can type.
Spence is from Harrisburg.PA and was motivated for the game as one could see.
Spence is beginning to live up to his high school hype and is maturing as a pass rusher as he just ran around the befuddled Lion tackles.

5) Loved the touchdown by Dontre Wilson where he left a Penn State defender twisting in the wind.
Considering the speed of Wilson combined with moves that make fast guys look clumsy,Wilson has the chance to be the next Reggie Bush at the college level..

6) Dominant line play sent Penn State down the road to disaster.
When you get pushed off the ball in the running game and then cannot protect your quarterback,you are not going to win many games and often that is the first ingredients in a blowout...

7) Things went so well that I am running out of things to singles out,but one more player stood out in Devin Smith.
Seems like every week,Braxton Miller has a different go to guy and Smith might be the best rounded of the pass catchers...

8) C.J. Barnett has become much more of a hitter and leader since the injury to Christian Bryant at safety and Barnett's interception was another backbreaker to Penn State
It has been Barnett,not Bradley Roby that has been the most well rounded performer in the secondary...

9) Now for a few words on Penn State.
First of all,anyone that doesn't wear blue and white should have never picked Penn State to win this game.
This was,after all, a team that has lost to Indiana,but they must have been impaired by the win over michigan,who was also undefeated,but that game was at State College,which is a great environment to play in and can carry a lesser team to upsets.
This game was in Columbus and I saw no way Penn State could win unless Ohio State beat themselves.
Anyone (Mark May) that thought otherwise was deluding themselves...

10) Penn State will be tougher next year in State College in the aforementioned environment,but fans of the Nittany should get used to these types of whippings (especially on the road) for a while and it will get worse.
They may have gotten some of those scholarships back,but the issues with talent and especially depth are only going to become progressively obvious over the next few seasons.
WE ARE mediocre... Somehow does not have the same ring to it...

11) Why have I been so hard on the Lions today and last night on Facebook?
Most that know me know that isn't generally my style,but the delusional "we are" bunch struck a nerve entering this game with their smack talk,ridiculous predictions and arrogance from a program based on a lie.
That lie has nothing to do with Jerry Sandusky,that lie goes back to the days of entering the conference.
After years of being the bully of the Mid-Atlantic against programs that were not built to compete against a team with the resources of Penn State,their fans expected to hit the Big Ten with a wave of dominance.
They found out that the league had Ohio State,michigan and Wisconsin waiting for them,not Maryland,Syracuse and Temple and the Lions settled in on the level of Iowa, every few years with a title winning squad,but usually in the upper/middle of the pack and that is not what they bargained for.
I know Penn State fans like to look at Ohio State as a rival,but really we don't think of you as such,but hang in there guys with Maryland and Rutgers on their way,it can be just like old times!
As in picking a rival that you can dominate and feel good about yourselves......

Photo Credit;Cleveland Plain Dealer

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Quick PPM

Last Week 4-1
Season 34-14

College
Ohio State over Penn State 34-20
Oklahoma over Texas Tech 27-24
Bowling Green over Toledo 23-20
Game of the Week
Oregon over UCLA 43-25

Pro
Chiefs over Browns 19-7
Saints over Bills 31-17
Game of the Week
Cowboys over Lions 36-28

Friday, October 25, 2013

Devils decrepit in shootout loss

The New Jersey Devils play improved at the Rock vs Vancouver,but their lousy performances in the shootout continued as the Canucks Mike Santorelli scored the only goal in the shootout as the Devils fell 3-2.
Patrik Elias (3) and Eric Gelinas (1 power play) each provided the New Jersey goals.
The Devils battle Boston on Saturday.
No promises on coverage as that has boxing,Ohio State-Penn State and work against it,so it could be what loses out...

Hell Raisers

1) Some positive things from a frankly less than scintillating contest.
Eric Gelinas was promoted from Albany to replace Bryce Salvador,who missed the game due to a family matter.
Gelinas was inserted into the lineup and as noted above scored on the power play.
If it were up to me,Gelinas would stay.
His offense and heavy shot instantly upgrades the offense and offers skills that no other defenseman on this team can...

2) Gelinas also did two other things that made me think that he needs to stay.
The first was,he instantly made the power play better as he quarterbacks the PP better than any blueliner other than (maybe) Marek Zidlicky.
The other? He made Adam Larsson look as comfortable as I have seen him in two years.
Larsson and Gelinas offer some similar and some contrasting skills and looked so right as a pair that I would put them together as a unit,live with their mistakes and watch them grow...

3) The Patrik Elias goal was a sweet one featuring sharp passes from Jaromir Jagr to the centering Andrei Loktionov to the cutting Elias for the open net.
The Devils strength is not wide open hockey,but it is nice to see a little breakaway play now and then...

4) Cory Schneider was not awful but neither goal could be considered beyond his fault.
The first goal was a result of a bouncing puck from a miscommunication between Schneider and Andy Greene,while the other by Daniel Sedin just plain beat him.
Not a bad night,but a little better might have won this in regulation...

5) Schneider was beaten by one Canuck in the shootout and entering the shootout,I wondered who would have the advantage due to familiarity-Schneider or the Canucks.
So of course,the winning goal was scored by a guy that wasn't with Vancouver in the Schneider years...

6) I wondered about the shootout selections and Peter DeBoer's choices didn't work.
Travis Zajac was nowhere near scoring,Adam Henrique was closer with Roberto Luongo beaten and clanged off the post,while Patrik Elias ended the game.
Considering the teams shootout talent,I can understand the temptation to try new things,but this did not look like a good idea from the start....

Photo Credit:AP Photo 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Campbell for Weeden and why no recap....

First off,why no recap for the Cleveland Browns 31-13 loss in Green Bay?
Good day with good company led to me watching a little less closely than usual as Ryan,Battlin Bob and the Jeff were over.
So since there were different teams for each person,we flipped around a lot from game to game and as a result,I didn't watch as closely and didn't have as much time to watch a replay.

Since I didn't have a chance to take care of that as I normally would and with work duties calling,I passed for this week and the same went for the Devils 4-1 loss in Columbus.
I will be caught up now and will return to coverage Thursday as the Devils host Vancouver.

The Browns and head coach Rob Chudzinski said all the usual things that one says to avoid starting a quarterback that previously had not.
Brandon Weeden was an unpopular choice after another sorry outing among fans and media,but it certainly seemed like Browns fans were going to be subjected to another Weeden week.
After that,it was somewhat surprising that the Browns then announced that Jason Campbell would get the start for the teams visit in Kansas City next Sunday.

Not that Campbell doesn't deserve a chance and it sure isn't because I want to see another start from Weeden,but this decision places the team in a position of almost no return.
If Campbell doesn't play well,the Browns cannot go back to Weeden.
Not after benching him twice in the first half of the season anyway.
This move brings questions such as this-If Campbell is bad,what can be tried from there?
Certainly not Weeden and its doubtful that emergency QB Marquis Gray would get the start from TE,so that leaves bringing someone in from the outside and that usually works so well (Sarcasm).
Who would that be? Beats me.

I understand the move and I even support it because I might lose my mind watching one more Brandon Weeden underhand cornhole toss,but be warned that this decision sends the Browns down an unsure road that might lead to even more bad football....

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Finally a Devils win!

I suppose it took a return home to finally put the New Jersey Devils in the win column as the Devils scored twice in the first period and twice in the second to put away the New York Rangers 4-0 at the Rock in Newark.
Cory Schneider finished with the shutout behind 22 saves of Ranger shots.
Devils goals to Michael Ryder (3 power play), Adam Henrique (2),Dainius Zubrus (2) and Andrei Loktionov (1).
The Devils go back on the road Tuesday night against new division opponent Columbus....

Hell Raisers

1) Cory Schneider didn't have to make many difficult saves in his 22 stops,but he made the basic ones.Sounds simple,but Martin Brodeur did not do that basic task in Ottawa and it was the difference in winning and losing.
From what I have seen-for now-Cory Schneider is a better goalie than Martin Brodeur.

2) The bigger question is this-If Schneider is the better goalie for the next few months,how will Marty Brodeur handle that.
Can Brodeur be the backup and do gracefully? Interesting to ponder...

3) Rostislav Olesz was in the lineup after Patrik Elias fell ill and Olesz hit Adam Henrique with a light touch to set up Henrique's goal from the wing that beat Henrik Lundqvist.
The Henrique goal essentially put the game away and showed that the one time first rounder Olesz still has the offensive talent that can help the Devils,even on a sporadic basis...

4) More Olesz as he got in the way with a super screen on Lunqvist on the Michael Ryder power play goal.Ryder's shot was a good one,but Olesz showed good instincts by getting his butt in front of the goalie and screening him out.

5) Strong night from the defense with Andy Greene standing out to me.
I thought Greene was on screen all night with some nice hits and strong defense and showed some offensive touches as well.

6) More on the teams new goal song as the evenings "tryout song" was "Seven Nations Army" which to me makes me think of soccer ,but whatever.
The song was take or leave,but the best part was by the Ryder goal as the fans figured out where to inject a "you suck" in the song.
Being that is the issue with management to begin with,I am sure that they were thrilled with.
Considering the issues on the ice,the timing of the team worrying about the goal song looks bad...

7) One win,three teams as those three overtime losses combined with the win over the Rangers allowed the Devils to leap over the Rangers,Blue Jackets and Flyers.
See things aren't that bad!
Yet...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Buckeyes survive Iowa

The Ohio State Buckeyes had trouble stopping the Iowa Hawkeyes in the first half and then closed them down with the exception of one pass play in the second half as the Buckeyes remained undefeated with a 34-24 win at Ohio Stadium.
Braxton Miller threw for two touchdowns and ran for over 100 yards,while Carlos Hyde ran for 149 yards and two more scores in the win.
Ohio State improves to 7-0 (3-0 Big 10) and will host Penn State next week....

Olentangy Offerings

1) First-the run.
Carlos Hyde smashing through the Iowa defense before being smacked by Tanner Miller at the seven,staggered backwards to the eleven,stayed on his feet before diving into the end zone.
The play reminded me of the famous Earl Campbell run against the Raiders or from the Nintendo classic Tecmo Bowl,where you would go to tackle Christian Okoye and he would throw you into next week and truck on down the sideline for a score.
Easily the run of the year!


2) Ohio State was just getting killed by Iowa in the first half on short passes to the tight end and screen passes out of the backfield.
I thought adjustments would be made and with one exception,they were for the second half,but at the same time,Ohio State showed a vulnerability to the short pass.

3) Part of the reason that Iowa was so successful with the short passing game early on was the awful tackling of the Buckeyes.
I wish I had counted the amount of whiffed tackles on plays that continued Iowa drives,I bet the number would be pretty high....

4) Braxton Miller was very effective with his feet in the win with over 100 yards rushing.
Miller kept several plays alive with his movement,but I do wish he would either learn to slide or use it more because I just get the feeling that he is going to injure a shoulder by his constant diving and taking shots out of the pocket....

5) The only Iowa second half score was on a long touchdown pass that saw defensive end Noah Spence caught in coverage against tight end Jake Duzey,who avoided Spence when catching the ball and then torched Armani Reeves cruising into the end zone.

6) Why was Reeves playing? Because Bradley Roby was ejected from the game early for "targeting"-the new penalty for head contact.
I'm not a fan of the rule,but by the letter of the law,it was a fair penalty for 15 yards,although the referees have the option to eject the player or not.
Penalty-yes.Ejection-no.

7) Constant theme of the announcers in this one early was "Iowa has not allowed a touchdown in the red zone this season".Three second half scores later that theme died a merciful death.

8) It was a tale of two halves as far as the ball control and physical aspect of the game.Iowa dominated the first half and shoved the Buckeyes around the line of scrimmage.
Ohio State turned that around in the second half and as a result turned things around on the scoreboard...

9) The BCS releases their first ratings this weekend.
Ohio State will likely be behind the other 3 major undefeateds in Alabama,Oregon and Florida State (winning as of this writing) and with a weak schedule to go,Ohio State may have sit and hope for a few upsets for a title shot-even if they finish undefeated...

Photo Credit;Unknown

The overhand right

A few snippets from the boxing world with some of my thoughts as well....

I'm not sure if Timothy Bradley has a horseshoe in his pocket or not,but I do know that he has been very fortunate in getting his last three decisions.
I thought Bradley clearly lost to Manny Pacquiao and lost (on my card) narrowly to Ruslan Provodnikov before last Saturday's split decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez that I scored a draw.
I admire Bradley's skills and heart (shown most prominently against Provodinkov),but if most of us had that kind of luck,We'd play the lottery every week.

Ruslan Provodnikov has parlayed his narrow loss to Bradley (He dropped Bradley twice) into an HBO bout with Mike Alvarado in Denver tonight.
Provodnikov,who is undefeated in my eyes, against Alvarado looks to be a contender on paper to be action fight of the year,but I get the feeling that it may disappoint.
Alvarado boxed more in his rematch that he won against Brandon Rios than in his first Rios fight,which was a great action fight,but a losing effort and I believe he will try that tactic against Provodnikov.
Alvarado took a bit to make weight and that is a factor to me.
I like Provodnikov in this one that will also show the Bradley-Marquez bout on HBO tonight....

Give credit to UniMas,the spanish language network that I watch their bouts on Saturday night.
Besides the fact that I now know the words unanimous,split,majority and draw in spanish,I have the benefit of seeing some pretty solid fights,but even I am excited about their pickup of the November bout of former flyweight champions Hernan Marquez and Giovanni Segura.
That bout should be filled with action and might earn some fight of the year consideration.
The winner becomes a mandatory contender for a flyweight strap....

Some times when you want a fight too much and things get in the way (rival promotional issues,money etc),you can take the luster off a fight.
We saw that when various issues took the shine off the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao dream fight and we saw again between Nonito Donaire and Abner Mares.
Everyone thought it was a cannot miss bout in action with the top two fighters at that weight and the Golden Boy-Top Rank promotional war got in the way.
Donaire lost a decision to the talented but oh so boring Guillermo Rigondeaux in what was an awful style matchup for Donaire and then Mares was starched in one round by veteran Jhonny Gonzalez,who had one shot at victory-landing a bomb,which Gonzalez did just that.
Even if both redeem themselves in time,the Donaire-Mares match will never reach the importance that it could have,if they had gotten into the ring this year..

Give tons of credit to the connections of two time Gold Medal winner Vasyl Lomachenko,who wanted a title fight for his first fight in the pros.
Top Rank said that could not be done,but if Lomachenko beat a contender in his debut,he could get a title bout in his second fight.
Lomachenko dropped Jose Ramirez in round one and finished him in the fourth on the Bradley-Marquez undercard and showed the type of talent that I think makes him the favorite against veteran Orlando Salido in his next bout for Salido's belt that he won over Orlando Cruz on the same undercard.
Word is that if Lomachenko tops Salido that he might next fight Guillermo Rigondeaux in a fight that would see two fighters and four Olympic golds....

I thought Wladimir Klitschko clearly won against Alexander Povetkin,but his grabbing and pushing tactics did not exactly make the champion shine.
The fact that he did not get penalized until late in the fight changed the ability of Povetkin to stay in the fight physically by not being worn down by the larger man.
I also didn't think the all four knockdowns by Klitschko were actually knockdowns either.
I am not saying Klitschko didn't win,he did by a large margin,but all things considered-it was not that impressive....

Finally,there may be bigger bouts than WBC 175 pound champ Adonis Stevenson and minor belt holder Sergey Kovalev,but there might not be a better action fight than between these two bombers and HBO agrees as both will fight on the same card in November.
Stevenson against mandatory contender Tony Bellew (See Denise !) and Kovalev against Ismayl Sillakh should lead to an early 2014 fight between the pair to see just who is the top light heavyweight and maybe the top puncher in the game.....


Quick PPM

Another quickie PPM,as I will try to get another post up tonight.
Going through things on Twitter a bit and found this photo which combines Heather Cox,this year's PPM picture and a lottery machine,our past picture.
Despite the NBA logo,it was just too good of a fit!

Last Week 3-3
Season 30-13

College
Ohio State over Iowa 30-14
Texas Tech over West Virginia 44-32
Game of the Week
Florida State over Clemson 28-26

Pro
Packers over Browns 24-10
Game of the Week
Broncos over Colts 46-35

Friday, October 18, 2013

O (for) Canada,Devils lose again

The New Jersey Devils run through Canada finished in Ottawa in the same way it began in Edmonton with a loss as the Devils fell 5-2 to the Senators and continued with their dubious status as the only team in the league without a win.
The Devils fell behind 3-0 before getting to within a goal with two third period goals by Travis Zajac (1 power play) and Steve Bernier (1) before Ottawa's Milan Michalek thrust the dagger through the Devils heart with Ottawa's fourth goal to clinch the win before an empty netter to conclude the scoring.
The Devils take Friday off before finally returning home Saturday night against the Rangers.

Hell Raisers

1) Not a good night for Martin Brodeur,who allowed four goals and only the third had any excuses at all.
When you are in net for a winless team,you cannot allow yourself to be beaten by shots from the outside-twice!
You want one person to blame,you could do worse than looking at Brodeur.

2) The power play showed life a bit in the loss as Travis Zajac scored a goal and a first period possession did everything but score.
I would still be stretching to say I am thrilled,but there was some good things in this one...

3) 41 shots and 2 goals is not a very good ratio and Ottawa does lead the league in shots allowed,but putting that many on net is a good sign as well.

4) Craig Anderson played very well in robbing the Devils on a few occasions,but the key one was on Jaromir Jagr in the third period in which Jagr went to slamming the puck into an open net to being unable to lift the puck over a sliding Anderson.

5) Erik Karlsson is sharp. His pass to Zach Smith was the type that makes season highlight films and Karlsson is going to be a star in this league for a long time...

6) I did like Adam Larsson and Marek Zidlicky's attempts to fire away.The six shots between them make the Devils threats from the outside more viable and could set up rebounds for the forwards....

7) Finally,Bobby Ryan in Ottawa shows the type of offensive ability that no one on the Devils possesses.
I was a huge proponent of going after Ryan when the Ducks were shopping him and he might have made the difference in a few of these losses.
The Devils are going to need to land someone like Ryan next year or maybe Ryan himself in two years.
Interesting to think about....

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pirates arrive in Bristol

The Pittsburgh Pirates did what I had been advocating for years and added a franchise to the Appalachian League as the Pirates have replaced the White Sox as the owner of the Bristol franchise.
The team will be the Bristol Pirates as all Appy League teams use the parent teams name mainly because all teams in the circuit are directly owned by the major league club.
The move enables the Pirates to double their players at the lowest level between Bristol and the Gulf Coast League.
I know that it will not produce a ton of players,but if produces just a few,the meager investment will be worthwhile.
The team will be playing their games at Bryce Cox Field,where I went on my first baseball stop,so perhaps a return might be in order......

The rumors still fly about the California League selling two franchises to the Carolina League and once again,Hagerstown is mentioned as a possible landing spot.
I wonder if anyone downtown has even mentioned this yet?

Ballpark Digest reports that Ottawa,which had been long rumored to be the newest addition to the Eastern League,will be instead taking independent baseball from the CanAm League.
Ottawa had been most prominently rumored to be the new home of the Binghamton Mets,but the move keeps the Eastern League intact,which likely makes my friend Jason very happy!

Sorry to hear of the death of James Street at 65 years of age.
Street was the first commander of the Wishbone offense for the Texas Longhorns and won the National Championship in 1969 as well as winning the "Game of the Century" over Arkansas that year 15-14 with Richard Nixon in attendance.
Street is also the father of current major league pitcher Huston Street.

 Grantland hits with one being on the old timers tour for Memphis Wrestling headed by the Memphis stars of yesteryear and how the spark stays somewhat alive for them and the aging fans of the territory.
The other is from SBNation on former number one NFL pick Ricky Bell and his tragic end with the San Diego Chargers.
I remember Bell as a kid and what a tough runner.
His death at such a young age was so surprising to a child of my age.
Another note on Bell that I didn't know was that Bell was the brother of Archie Bell-as in Archie Bell and the Drells,who could dance just as good as he'd walk.....






Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hagerstown Suns-the pitchers

We continue our look at the 2013 Hagerstown Suns with some thoughts on the pitchers and their prospects for the future..

We'll start with pitchers that took the ball to begin games with Brett Mooneyham.
Mooneyham looked very good in Hagerstown,although he missed some time with injury.
Two things concern me about Mooneyham,the first is minor-he was lit up in three starts at High A Potomac,which is a minor quibble,but the other makes me wonder.
Mooneyham struck just 79 in 93 innings,which makes me think that this could be a case of an advanced college pitcher (23) using breaking stuff against less advanced younger hitters..
Mooneyham throws strikes so I have a feeling that his best projection might be as an innings eating reliever..

Pedro Encarnacion had his best year as a pro in Hagerstown in posting his first sub-four ERA as a professional and also has reasonably strong control (just 37 walks in 128 innings).
Encarnacion too is not overwhelming with his stuff,but I was intrigued enough to keep track of him next year at Potomac as he was just effective enough to make me think there are some prospect possibilities.

Matt Purke's numbers were super as a Sun,but watching him pitch here-I saw little of the arm that once lifted TCU to college prominence.
Purke would throw pitches that would almost fall to the ground before reaching the plate with overeager SAL hitters reaching out and flailing away.
Now,one could say that I'm being overly critical and not give Purke credit for retiring the batter,but my point is in looking at the future and smarter and more experienced hitters are not going to fall for that.
To me in my seeing Purke pitch,he looks like his arm is not once it was once was.

Dixon Anderson's numbers were great in 15 starts before he was injured,but he was 24 in a league that he should have dominated and makes me think of the same questions that I noted in Brett Mooneyham.

Nick Lee's peripheral numbers were nothing to get excited and his fastball seems a bit straight to me,but I loved his 102 K's in 91 innings.
As I have noted in the past-my number one stat in the SAL for pitchers is strikeouts per innings pitched,so those catch my eye.
Lee might project best as a reliever...

Ronald Pena was a swingman that kept the ball down and was solid enough,but doesn't appear to have the type of arm that will play at the top levels...

Kylin Turnbull returned to the Suns and pitched very well in the final month of the season,but considering his age (24) and numbers that really weren't stunning (.287 against him),I don't see Turnbull as a prospect.

The pitcher I really liked was Ivan Pineyro,who was traded to the Cubs in mid-season for Scott Hairston.
Age appropriate (21),nice on strikeouts (65 in 66 IP) and solid in BA (.236),made me bullish on Pineyro's chances as a prospect.
Chicago must have thought the same way in acquiring him....

The final two of interest were 2013 draft picks Jake Johansen and Austin Voth,who each made late season cameos.
Johansen,who was the Nationals first selection in the draft,made one regular season start here and was dynamite in his first trip through the order and then then allowing five runs in the next inning and a third.
Johansen was dominant in five innings of two hit pitching in the Suns only win in the SAL finals against Savannah.
The huge (6'6 235- Isn't that what Big Bad John 's numbers were?) Texan throws hard and certainly has the potential to move through the system as either a starter or possibly a setup man/closer.

Austin Voth pitched well in the final game of the regular season against Lakewood here and won game one of the SAL Northern finals in West Virginia.
Voth showed good stuff but was injured in the second inning against Savannah in the championship series.
I have no information on the injury,but assuming he's Ok,my biggest concern is mechanical.
Watching Voth makes me think that injuries could be an issue-Just a hunch....

Ian Dickson was another pitcher used as a starter and reliever after being obtained from the Cubs.
Dickson throws fairly hard but lacks movement and I don't like his prospects moving up the ladder.

Low A relievers generally are not usually filled with prospects,but the Suns did have a few that I liked.
Robert Benincasa struck out 30 in 21 innings as the team used him as their closer in the first half.
Benincasa had similar numbers for Potomac and at 23 for next year,might have potential...

Travis Henke didn't hit low A until he was almost 25 (he is 25 now) and ordinarily I would rule him out for that reason.
However,Henke's numbers in August for High A Potomac make me think that he might be a late bloomer or at least a quality bullpen pitcher for the Atlantic league,

Gilberto Mendez is a smallish pitcher that might be high maintenance due to his high effort delivery,but one cannot deny his effectiveness. Hitters hitting under .200 against him and his 33 K's in 29 innings can be tough to deny.
I like Mendez a lot,but durability could be a eventual issue...

That's about it for the relievers that I liked,but there were others.
Cody Davis is another smallish hurler in stature that was effective in the SAL (2.76 ERA 46 K's in 42 IP),but I don't think his arm will play at higher levels.
Bryan Harper's stuff is just average and at his age (now 24),an older pitcher should have notched an ERA closer to two than four.
Derek Self was highly thought of entering the season,but pitched poorly in Potomac to the point of demotion and only improved marginally in Hagerstown.
Christian Meza and Justin Thomas appear to be headed for organizational soldiers that might get more time than they warrant due to be left handed.

I like the 2013 Suns pitchers more than hitters as prospects.
There are players in this bunch that have a real chance to mature,which is more than I can say for the hitters.......

Monday, October 14, 2013

Wasting time with Winnipeg

The New Jersey Devils frankly wasted my time last night.
Time that would have been better suited going to bed after the Browns loss,an exciting Saints-Patriots game and a long day of work,but I decided to tough it out and watch the winless Devils stay that way in a 3-0 loss in Winnipeg against the Jets.
The winless Devils conclude the Canadian road trip Thursday night in Ottawa...

Hell Raisers

1) This was one boring hockey game.
Not just because the Devils played less than well,but because Winnipeg didn't turn the world on with their smile either.
What a waste of time...

2)  I did think Cory Schneider played well in goal.
The first goal was on his defensemen (more later),the second was an empty netter and the final was under a minute to go in playing out the string time.
32 saves was a nice enough night to win most games.


3) On the second period goal by Evander Kane,both the Devils defensemen on the ice contributed to the goal.
Adam Larsson allowed Kane to get by him to get position and Andy Greene was not physical enough to push Kane off the puck,which then deflected on off Greene and by Schneider....

4) I know its still early.but Ryane Clowe looks to be a waste of money thus far.
I haven't seen one positive thus far other than one night that he stood up for Bryce Salvador.

5) I thought the Devils PP would improve,but thus far,it has not.
This game swung towards the Jets in the second when the Devils had a 5 on 3 and not only did not score-they didn't even truly threaten to score.
In fact,the Jets almost scored against Schneider and the team undermanned had more scoring chances!
Pathetic.

6) Finally,despite not having a win,The Devils are not in last place!
Their three OT losses (3 pts) keep them ahead of three teams and had they won last night,they would have been in third place.
It won't stay this way for long,but the Devils have certainly stayed in the race because others are struggling as well.

Photo Credit: AP Photo

Stuck with the Weeds,Browns lose to Lions

You know,I have the reputation among my friends (and readers) of being negative toward my teams (except for Ohio State and maybe the Devils) and unable to enjoy prosperity.
People have been telling me for ten days "Aren't you happy you have turned the corner"?
My response was that I didn't think that they have because Brandon Weeden was back and I had zero confidence in him.
That came true in Cleveland yesterday as a inept performance by Weeden in the second half allowed a ten point halftime lead to evaporate to the visiting Detroit Lions and see the Browns on the short side of a 31-17 decision.
Brandon Weeden finished the day with both Browns touchdowns through the air with two interceptions (one of which basically ended any hopes of a win),while Josh Gordon grabbed seven passes for 126 yards to pace the Cleveland receivers in the defeat.
The now 3-3 Browns travel to Green Bay next week against the Packers.

Brownie Bits

1) Now we can get back to basics.
I know Browns fans were excited about the three game winning streak and I was as well,but most of that was not achieved with Brandon Weeden under center.
The Browns can now get back to business to seeing just what they have at other positions and putting these worries about contention aside because with Weeden taking the snaps that simply is not going to occur.

2) As much as I would like to totally blame Brandon Weeden for this loss,I can blame the Browns for not being more prepared to be able to replace him.
The Akron Beacon-Journal's Marla Ridenour discusses this in her column and I tend to agree.
Now,I understand that neither Josh Freeman or Matt Flynn loomed as solutions,but both would have cost nothing but money and might have caught lightning in a bottle.
Brandon Weeden has had multiple shots to do so and had not.
Keeping him in the lineup set this in motion.

3) This was the game the Browns HAD to have against an average team with an ailing star (Calvin Johnson) at home and the upcoming schedule getting tougher and in the first half,it looked very possible.
However,Brandon Weeden and his mind numbingly dumb underhanded flip in the fourth quarter made this unlikely.
As the Browns entered Detroit territory late in the game,this pass (which has to be seen to be believed) ended any hopes of not only a comeback win,but any hopes of a reasonably decent season.
With the three of the next four games on the road with teams with winning records (Green Bay,Kansas City and Cincinnati) and Baltimore at home before the bye,the Browns could very easily be looking at 3-7 entering the bye week.
That might not be the worst thing for the Browns future,but it might mean more blighted football to watch for me...

4) The vaunted Ray Horton defense showed some flaws in this one,especially in the second half.
Reggie Bush generally did what he wanted to and the Lions apparently found a flaw in the Browns that will be exploited as the year goes on.
Matthew Stafford would quickly get the ball off and use the Browns linebackers as picks for chain moving completions.
Craig Robertson appeared to be the main target,but Stafford was not afraid to go towards Barkevious Mingo,D'Qwell Jackson etc either.
Look for this to be a major area to be attacked as the season went on.

5) The Browns also made two stars of young players that had been undistinguished before in Kris Durham and Joseph Fauria.
Durham was often the beneficiary of the Stafford short game and Fauria caught three touchdown passes by simply leaping over Browns defenders.

6) Watching Fauria made me think of how the Browns used Jordan Cameron with Brian Hoyer and how they haven't with Brandon Weeden.
Cameron's numbers ( 5 for 64) are deceiving as he was the recipient of targets in the final drive in garbage time.
Hoyer used Cameron's basketball background as the Lions did Fauria-put the ball up in the red zone and let Cameron go get it.
Weeden seems to prefer to use crossing routes and allow the receiver to score after the catch.

7) The Browns did have some bad calls in the game.
I thought both of the pass interference calls on Joe Haden on the Lions only scoring drive of the first half were very weak and the roughing the passer flag on Quentin Groves that allowed a drive that would result in a touchdown to continue was a bad one.
The Lions likely win the game anyhow,but those didn't help any....

8) The Browns ground game was paced by one endaround by Travis Benjamin of 45 yards,but the Browns were able to run the ball decently,but only did so 15 times between Willis McGahee and Chris Ogbonnaya.
If you are going to play Brandon Weeden then you must at least try to establish the running game.
Another nice idea would be not to give away your play calls as it's usually pretty evident that McGahee means run and Ogbonnaya means pass....

9) The Lions pass rush really picked up over the second half and to be fair to Weeden,he was not exactly given time to throw.
Lions may have finished with just two sacks,but the rush was quite effective in the second half.
I don't have the numbers on hurries or knockdowns,but I'd guess there were a decent amount of them...

10) The Browns tried to get to Matthew Stafford and usually fell short.Craig Robertson had the teams only sack and Barkevious Mingo was a non-factor for the first time this season.
I'm sure Ray Horton will have some ideas to mix things up,but what it looked like to me was an extreme vulnerability (see number 4) to the quick (or hot) route and then use the slower inside backers as the pass defenders while the outside rush is neutralized.

11) I have thought the Browns need a corner opposite Joe Haden to replace Buster Skrine and I still think Skrine would be better suited covering the slot,but each week Skrine improves,his tip out of nowhere to Tashaun Gipson for an interception in the end zone kept the Lions from breaking this game up early enough in the second half to take the heat off Brandon Weeden's high school harry type pass.. 

12) Finally,this on the Browns.
The Browns are a work in progress.
I know that is said so often and I am less than enthused by the prospect of Mike Lombardi working with the picks in next years draft,but its true.
If right after the Trent Richardson trade,you had said the Browns would be 3-3,I would have likely laughed,but I still see possibilities-If the team is able to make some adjustments such as making a commitment to run the football to take the pressure off a mediocre quarterback and if the defense can adapt to the likely offensive game plans of this opposition,this might not be a lost season.

I'll try to be back for thoughts on another Devils loss,this one to the Winnipeg Jets

Photo Credit:Getty Images

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Hagerstown Suns-The Hitters

We start our annual look at the Hagerstown Suns and my opinions of the players with an attempt to project their possible future development..
The start is with the hitters with the pitchers to come shortly after...

The Hagerstown Suns won the first half and advanced to the SAL title series and did so with a balanced lineup that relied on singles and doubles hitters and had little to offer in terms of home runs.
In fact,the Suns power was so anemic that just one player (Brandon Miller) hit more than seven homers on the campaign.

Starting in the outfield,Brandon Miller showed plus power before his promotion to High A Potomac with 18 homers,but hit just .241 and struck out a stunning 135 times in 395 at bats,which for the math majors out there is roughly once every three at bats.
I'd keep an eye on Miller,but between the contact issues and being 24 next season,I would say Miller is a less than safe bet...

Miller might be the best bet of all the flychasers and that raises eyebrows.
Wander Ramos has nice tools,but has problems staying healthy.
Ramos looks the part of growing into a power hitter physically,but on the field,not so much.
Estarlin Martinez finished the season with a strong August and showed surprising speed (20 steals) for a player with a stocky build.
I still think Martinez needs to hit with more power,but at just 21,Martinez is worth considering.
Will Pinwica-Worms looks to be an organizational soldier to me (sorry,Rachel),but Narciso Mesa is the latest contact slap hitter off the Nationals centerfield template and considering the Nationals fetish for the type,Mesa might move through the system,if he can fight off the injury bug....
Issac Ballou struggled in a last season cameo,but looked sharp in the playoffs.
The Marshall product turns 24 before the 2014 season,so if the Nationals think he is a prospect,he might start in Potomac.

The jewel of the infield looks like second baseman Tony Renda,who hit almost .300 and walked more than he struck out.
That is a favorite stat of mine in the low minors and bodes well for Renda.
Renda might not be a full time second baseman in the bigs,but I can see him easily fitting into a role similar to Steve Lombardozzi's in Washington.
In fact,I would say that Renda's prospects are better than I would have thought Lombardozzi's were when he was with the Suns.
Renda's glovework is average,so an improvement there would help Renda's standing as a potential everyday player in the future.
The prospects begin and end with Renda from my view point.
Shawn Pleffner hit just four homers and won't remind anyone of Vic Power with the leather.
Pleffner runs pretty well for a big man,but looks to be a non-prospect to me.
Stephen Perez doesn't hit (.234) and didn't do enough with the glove to be considered anything more than low minors material.
Khayan Norfork is the good teammate type that tends to stick around for a while because he's easy to plug into a lineup at multiple positions and is always a fan favorite,but doesn't appear to be a prospect.
Mike McQuillin has glove issues and not a real position defensively.McQuillin might use his ability to make contact to move up,if he could add some defensive versatility to his game.
Wes Schill can play infield and outfield,but simply is not going hit enough.
Matt Foat appeared here and there throughout the season and didn't distinguish himself.
Bryan Lippincott played outfield and first late in the season and showed a huge hole in his swing.
Lippincott might be Hagerstown's Adam Dunn next season-lots of walks and lots of whiffs....

The top prospect of all is Pedro Severino.
Severino didn't turn 20 until late in the season and showed off the best arm that the Suns have had in years.
Severino has the type of throwing arm that should he not turn out as a catcher that teams tend to give a shot as a pitcher.
If Severino can even hit a little bit (.241 for the year),he has major league backup potential and maybe even as a starter.
The bat needs work,but all things considered,Severino is the standout prospect in my opinion.
Craig Manuel was in a tough spot playing behind Severino,but he hit reasonably well in limited playing time and walked more than he struck out.
Manuel might have been better suited at High A Potomac to see if he had true prospect potential.

Overall,not the greatest prospect lineup ever.
I like Pedro Severino's chances as at least a backup due to his arm strength and defensive skills and Tony Renda has a good chance to at least make a team as a utility type,if not a starter on the right team.
Brandon Miller has a shot,if he can make better contact,but will need to do so quickly.
Other than that,the team was an example of older guys in a younger man's league and has little to show for true prospects.

I'll be working on the pitchers early next week after the Browns wrapup from their game with the Lions...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Quick PPM

Another quickie with Ohio State on a bye week!
Last Week: 6-1
Season: 27-10

College
Texas Tech over Iowa State 37-28
Bowling Green over Mississippi State 24-20
Game of the Week
LSU over Florida 16-13

Pros
Browns over Lions 17-13
Saints over Patriots 34-29
Game of the Week
Packers over Ravens 23-19

Friday, October 11, 2013

Hagerstown in the Carolina League???

An interesting post today in Ballpark Digest mentions something that is a long shot,but one that could put Hagerstown back in the game for professional baseball.

I started this post yesterday,but with some personal things that popped up,this was delayed.

In any event,the Bakersfield franchise in the High A Calfornia League has watched their plans for a new ballpark fall through and with recent changes in California restricting public funding for new ballparks is highly unlikely to be revived.
This then leads to the return of an idea from a few years back in which the California League would sell two of its franchises (Bakersfield and reportedly High Desert) to the Carolina League to increase the CL to ten teams.
Suddenly there would be two franchises available for two towns that had recently lost pro baseball in Kinston NC and yes,Hagerstown.
One of the reasons this idea did not work to begin with was a lack of cities to move those teams to and now,there are three cities (if you include Columbia SC,who wants back into affiliated baseball) that might have chances to grab these teams.

Imagine a scenario that sees Hagerstown go into the Carolina League,the league that returned baseball to Hagerstown and saw its greatest success along with the ability to create what locals have salivated over for years-the Hagerstown Suns and Frederick Keys in the same league.
Normally,I would say the Carolina League might not be thrilled about two teams in the same geographic footprint,but under these circumstances,they might not be so picky.
The CL could pair Hagerstown with Frederick scheduling wise as they currently do with Potomac,but with an added bonus-with the two teams being closer together than the current arrangement,visiting teams could stay in the same hotel for six/seven days,save gas and lower the expenses all around.
Plus this could start a rivalry between two neighboring cities,see fans go to both ballparks and build interest in a high school turf type war.

Personally from a scouting and graphing standpoint,I'd be happy staying in the South Atlantic League,but this would be a great move on many parts and it also allows one more thing-the thrill of beating Bruce Quinn.
The man that said Hagerstown would be better suited for short-season baseball would not only watch the town he left get a higher level of baseball,but do it beating him as well.
If there is any one reason for the casual fan to get behind this idea,it might be to save baseball and beat Bruce Quinn to boot!

Another solution could be to work a deal where Quinn gets one of these teams in the Carolina League,sets up a similar setup with Potomac and sells the Suns to gain capital to make the purchase.
I'd be fine with that as well!

This is a long shot,but I can dream,right?
Dave Gysberts needs to get word to the right people that Hagerstown will build a park for a team,provided it is given,
Gysberts doesn't strike me as the greenest bean in the pot,but perhaps someone can educate him and still keep baseball in town.
Hopefully,someone in the dimwitted city council will begin to explore this possibility and turn this into reality....


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Devils avoid victory in Vancouver

For the second night in a row,the New Jersey Devils held a multiple goal lead on their Canadian road trip and for the second night in a row,the Devils failed to hold it as the Vancouver Canucks earned a 3-2 overtime victory over the Devils.
The Devils goals went to Jaromir Jagr (2) in the first period and Patrik Elias (2) in the second to build the lead before the Canuck comeback.
Cory Schneider finished with 29 saves in his return to British Columbia.
The Devils will get two days before a Friday night return to Alberta and the Calgary Flames.
Coverage of that will be limited as I will be at the road office....

Hell Raisers

1) The pregame hype was about the return of Cory Schneider to Vancouver and his battle with Roberto Luongo.
As far as that goes,it lived up to the hype.
Schneider played excellent and none of the three goals should be on him as one came off a deflection,another off a beautiful goal by Alexander Edlin and the game winner by Jason Garrison was one that Schneider was screened on.

2) I have been critical of Jaromir Jagr's speed and that is not a criticism,it's a fact,but another note is a fact too-His hands still rank among the best in the game.
Put Jagr in a position to finish and he does and he gets his shot released as fast as anyone in the game.

3) I know Peter DeBoer is getting piled on by some Devils fans (Rachel too),but he didn't help himself when he finally placed Mark Fayne in the lineup,which has been overdue.
The problem is that DeBoer selected the wrong person to scratch in Adam Larsson.
I didn't think Larsson played badly in Edmonton and instead DeBoer scratches Larsson and keeps the player that DID play badly against the Oilers in the lineup in Peter Harrold.
I have doubts that Harrold should even be on the team and he plays over Adam Larsson?

4) Adam Larsson is the one defenseman on the Devils that has the potential to be a top star in the league.
Larsson is also the best skater and along with maybe Andy Greene is the only blueliner that could be counted on both ends of the ice.
Why this is still happened with scratches makes me question Pete DeBoer and wonder if he will be the right coach when the next wave of prospects arrives in Newark...

5) The Patrik Elias-Jaromir Jagr combo looks to be heating up a bit with some chemistry.
The goal that Jagr scored was off a slick pass from Elias that left Roberto Luongo at the pairs mercy.
For the automatic assumption that the two had played together in international competition,they claim to have played very little as a line.
From what I have seen,the Devils are going to need more of what they had last night in Vancouver...

6) Thus far,not impressed with Ryane Clowe.
Clowe seems out of sync and downright (you guessed it) slow afoot.
Clowe hasn't created one scoring opportunity yet in four games and for his salary hit-the Devils need more than that.

7) Overall,I'm not ready to jump ship yet.
I know getting one point in three games in a row is not clearly as nice as getting two-but still points are points and it doesn't affect the Devils to be giving points to Western Conference foes nearly as much as it would to do so to Eastern opponents.
That said-I just don't feel good about this team defensively and that is supposed to be the strength of the team.
It's early,but wow-I am a little concerned....

Photo Credti:AP Photo

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Dried up in Edmonton,Devils fall 5-4

For two periods,the New Jersey Devils looked good and played better in building a 3-0 lead and appeared to be on their way to their first victory of the season.
However, in a eight minute span,not only had the Devils been caught on the scoreboard,the team had been surpassed and looked to be in danger of not even gaining a point!
Patrik Elias' score with the team shorthanded (1 Shorthanded) allowed the Devils to tie the game and at least salvage a point before the Edmonton Oilers would win the shootout,the game and the extra point in a 5-4 Devils loss in Edmonton.
The Devils received other goals from Damien Brunner (3 Powerplay),Michael Ryder (2) and Jaromir Jagr (1).
New Jersey will not have time to sulk over the stunning defeat as they will return in Vancouver tonight...

Hell Raisers

1) Let's deal with the top story first-Unacceptable.
When you have the amount of veteran defensemen that this team carries and just blows a game like this something needs to be at least looked at and I don't care that its only the third game of the season.
When your youngest defenseman (Adam Larsson) has the best game on the night,then the vets need to shape up!
Bryce Salvador handed the Oilers a powerplay with a dumb penalty (puck over the glass) and generally played an awful final period.
Anton Volchenkov was generally bad and don't get me started on Peter Harrold!

2) Ok,you got me started on Peter Harrold.
Harrold must have something that this writer misses.
It's been a progression for ol' Pete.I went from wondering why he made the roster to why Harrold is playing and Mark Fayne is scratched to why so much ice time to why is Harrold on the specialty units to oh never mind...
Peter Harrold should be the 7th defenseman AT BEST and instead is a constant handicap to this team.

3) Martin Brodeur was brilliant for two periods,not so good in the third.
Not all the goals were on him,but not a good period for Brodeur-no matter how hard you try to excuse him....

4) The Patrik Elias goal to tie the game was the first of the year for a returning Devil.

5) I really like Damian Brunner.
He shoots the puck and might be the most creative player offensively on a team crying out for some!
I also like the lunchpail attitude as well...

6) And ditto for Michael Ryder.
I have always thought Ryder's game would make him a good Devil and he has been thus far.
His goal was a very pretty one and he goes to the net too,another plus on a team that can reluctant to hit the net....

7) Finally,I know some are already hitting the Peter DeBoer must go button.
I'm not-for now.
I am frustrated with the constant shaking up of lines at a time of year that consistency builds chemistry and I am sick of his devotion to some players-Peter Harrold,that are lucky to even be employed yet given key ice time,but let's look at it this way,If the Devils had split games in regulation,they would have the same two points that they have now.
I will admit that I don't like the way things are headed,but let's not move too quickly.
DeBoer didn't allow four goals and DeBoer isn't the guy that gets stoned on every shootout attempt (Devils 0 for 9 in the shootout) that the Devils take,so don't be hasty-there is plenty of time for that...

Photo Credit-AP Photo

Monday, October 7, 2013

Better late than never-Browns thoughts!

This will not really be a recap of the Browns win over the Bills last Thursday,it will be some thoughts on the Browns from recent days.


I know the Brian Hoyer injury is disheartening for Browns fans,but it does work for pro and con sides.
The Pro? Well,it does mean one final look at Brandon
Weeden,which means that the team could improve that first rounder but also makes sure that the team knows that Weeden is not "the guy".
I like to think anyone watching the games knew that last year,but I'm grasping for straws here.

The bad part is the loss of Hoyer,who had given Browns fans some hope in his starts,but it is also bad for Hoyer,who just saw any chance of grabbing the job and not letting go leave the wayside.
Hoyer will likely be just the backup to whatever young QB that the Browns draft next season.

Willis McGahee doesn't have the burst of old,but from what I saw against the Bills,he has enough left to get the team through the season.
Cleveland will still look for a back next season,but McGahee will get the team by for the year.

Greg Little added more frustration by bringing two kicks out from deep in the end zone and barely getting the ball to the ten.
Common sense says down the ball,but Little tried to make a big play and failed both times.

Trent Richardson continues to make Joe Banner look smart ( and the few of us that liked the deal) as he spent another game as a Colt averaging three yds a carry and doing the same thing he did as a Brown showing the plowhorse mentality.
The Colts are 4-1,so that pick looks to be in the 20's,but still I wager that Richardson would have brought nowhere near that if you project his final 2013 numbers.....

Travis Benjamin finished with 179 yards returning,which set a Browns record.
Benjamin broke the record of Eric Metcalf,who scored two TD's in a upset win over the Steelers in 1993.
Benjamin has the type of quickness that lends itself to more of a punt returner then the stronger build of a successful kickoff returner.....

This Sunday's game against the Lions will go a long to seeing if the Browns are contenders or pretenders.
After the Lions at home,the Browns then play three of the next four on the road against the Packers,the surprising 5-0 Chiefs and the Bengals with the Ravens being the only home game.
Looking at the schedule there,the Lions game looms as almost a must!


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Escape in Evanston-Buckeyes win 40-30

The Ohio State Buckeyes made multiple mistakes against a strong opponent and as I chatted with my friend Ian during the game, more than once did each of us think that this may not be the Buckeyes night.
However,it was one man's night wearing white as Carlos Hyde pounded the Northwestern defense for 168 yards and three touchdowns and Ohio State escaped with a 40-30 victory at Ryan Field.
The escape enabled the Buckeyes to move to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten,which kept those pesky National Championship hopes alive.
Ohio State gets its in conference bye next week before the Iowa Hawkeyes on the following Saturday.

Olentangy Offerings

1) I know I've said that Jordan Hall is the best back on the team and I've also said that Hall gets injured far too easy.
Hall missed the game and Carlos Hyde stepped into the breach.
For a game plan such as this-Hyde would be the superior choice anyway as his bruising running style would be more likely to wear down the Wildcats

2) Hyde did just that and Ohio State needed him badly as this was not Braxton Miller's night.
Two fumbles and an interception (his arm was hit while throwing) may have ended any Heisman hopes.
Sometimes,you just have a bad game,but I do wonder if Urban Meyer was even mildly tempted to see what Kenny Guiton could do.

3) The Ohio State offense did not score an offensive touchdown until the second half and much of that has to be on red zone issues.
The problems in the first half was moving the ball and then using Carlos Hyde too much.
The time for a bruising back is late,not early and maybe Urban Meyer was a bit too conservative early on...

4) The hopes for a BCS run took a hit these last two weeks.
Both Wisconsin and Northwestern are good clubs and played tough,which may be the best thing in the long run,but will hurt the chances of getting to the big game.
The schedule shows no ranked teams until michigan and it looks like the hope is this -run the table and hope for some Pac 10 help with Oregon and Stanford beating each other up and the same in the ACC for Clemson and Florida State.
If you ask me,its unlikely...

5) I did like the blocked punt and following recovery for a touchdown by Bradley Roby.
Although if Roby did not get the block,about one of three other guys would have.
Hell,I think Brutus Buckeye was within a few inches away from the block!
Just too many players for the Wildcats to block on the play...

6) Speaking of Bradley Roby though,for the second week in a row,the All American had issues in coverage and allowed some big plays for his man.
Not the type of games that one expects from a player expected to be a first round NFL pick...

7) The stand that gave OSU the football on a 4th and 1 stand with two and a half minutes to play was the game ender,but I thought Kane Colter's knee was down before the line was even close.
I bet replays would have shown that as well....

8) Funny point of the night-the lateral plays on the final play that the Buckeyes fell on in the end zone for the touchdown and a ten point win,not a three point victory.
Brent Musberger brought it up without specifics about much money in the big monster known as sports gambling shifted hands from one column to another.
I laughed from the road office...

9) Another big play was an interception by Doran Grant that set the Carlos Hyde touchdown that gave Ohio State the lead.Grant gambled and unlike Bradley Roby-won...

10) Urban Meyer's fake punt inside their own territory failed,but it still was worth the risk in my opinion.
Ohio State shows that they will do anything at any time and keeps opponents on their toes for any possibility.
For one game,it backfired,but will be worth its weight down the road....

11) Northwestern has always been the lone wolf being a private school in a conference filled with state universities,but Northwestern did have a terrific atmosphere at Ryan Field and I love Pat Fitzgerald as a coach,
Ryan has problems rooting for other Big Ten teams other than his Badgers,but I have always had a soft spot for Wisconsin, Iowa,Purdue and now Northwestern under Pat Fitzgerald.

12) I referred to Buckeye title hopes above and what would be helpful would be for the Wildcats to run the table,finish with one loss and hope that michigan enters their big game with only that loss.
The Buckeyes are going need all the schedule strength that they can get....

I haven't forgotten the Browns recap from Thursday,so I hope to be back soon with some thoughts on that...

Photo Credit: Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Pirates even NLCS at one!

Gerrit Cole was dominant in six innings and Pedro Alvarez connected for another homer in the NLDS as the Pittsburgh Pirates cruised to a 7-1 win over the Cardinals in St.Louis.
Cole allowed just two hits over six innings and added an RBI single as well in the victory.
The series moves to Pittsburgh on Sunday with Joe Kelly for the Cardinals and Francisco Liriano for Pittsburgh.

Pirate Hooks

1) Gerrit Cole hit 100 MPH five times in the win and showed the type of effort that made him the first pick in the draft.
Cole was almost unhittable other than the Yadier Molina homer in the fifth and with that type of arm,Cole might be the difference in this series for a few innings if needed.

2) Pedro Alvarez might have hit a homer in garbage time in game one,but his bomb in game two set the stage for the Pirates win.
Alvarez might strike out a ton,but this season he has broken out with the type of power that again was expected when he was drafted....

3) The Pirates did what they needed a split in St.Louis,now the series is back to Pittsburgh and a key game three.
Win game three,I think you win the series...

Photo Credit:Peter Diana-PGH Post-Gazette

Quick PPM

With tons to write about,this is another quick PPM
Last Week 3-3
Season 21-9

College
Ohio State over Northwestern 32-21
Texas Tech over Kansas 42-21
Bowling Green over Massachusetts 27-19
Game of the Week
Stanford over Washington 27-21

Pros
Browns over Bills 17-13 (Picked before)
Saints over Bears 34-27
Game of the Week
Seahawks over Colts 31-19

Devils drop home opener

The New Jersey Devils did find the scoreboard in their home opener against the New York Islanders and earned a point on the evening.
However,their flaws are quite evident and this game showed some of them in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Islanders,which went scoreless until Matt Moulson's goal in the sixth round beat Martin Brodeur for the win. Damien Brunner scored twice (1 and 2) and Michael Ryder provided the other goal (1) for New Jersey,who will be off until Monday when they start a five city Canadian tour in Edmonton.

Hell Raisers

1) Martin Brodeur got the loss,but considering how little he played in the pre-season,I can see why he was not sharp.
Brodeur got better as the game went on and that lends credence to the above idea...

2) Damien Brunner scored two goals and showed a game that this team will need more of-going to the net.
Brunner is going to be a bargain at his contract rate..

3) Michael Ryder will fit as well,but in a different way-He shoots the puck when he gets it!
All too often,the Devils fill their team with guys that overpass the puck
That is not Michael Ryder!

4) I thought the defense was OK except for Anton Volchenkov,who was badly beaten on one goal and Adam Larsson was badly out of position on another.
Ok will not cut it with this team.

5) Chico Resch tried to make excuses for Jaromir Jagr being rusty,but boy has he been bad in these two games.
His skating is way off and he looked bad with the puck.
I hope it is just rust!

6) Rachel and I hoped that a shootout would not be needed and we got our first look at the Devils SO unit.
It is not going to be good,at least for a while.
Little creativity with the puck and not loaded with offensive talent,New Jersey will be at a disadvantage this season.

7) Michael Grabner is fast on the skates and he overmatched the Devils twice in this game.
I have severe doubts about the ability to keep up over 82 games...

Photo Credit;AP Photo

Friday, October 4, 2013

Devils,Pirates and Browns-Oh my!

All three teams on one day?
Yup,as the Pirates played in game one of the NLDS,the Browns hosted Buffalo and the Devils opening their season in Pittsburgh against the Penguins.

The Pirates were blown out so quickly with seven Cardinal runs in the third inning in St.Louis that after six innings,I was through.
I ordinarily don't quit on games in that manner,but the end of the Pirates had a chance to cross over with the Browns start and since the game was so lopsided,it made the decision easy for me.

The Browns won a wild one over the Bills and for three days put the Browns in sole possession of first place,which will last a week since they now have to play Brandon Weeden again.
However,my thoughts on that will have to wait a day or two because I was only able to watch the first half in order to go to the road office.
I listened to the second half,but I'll get to that after I can watch the second half on tape....

That leaves the Devils and their loss in Pittsburgh to the Penguins 3-0
Wish I could give some scoring credits,but that isn't happening.
The Devils will play tonight against the Islanders in their home opener...

Hell Raisers

1) I wrote in the team preview that this team was slow and this game brought that to the table.
They are very slow and are going to have major problems with teams that are quick on the skates.
This tells me that the Devils are going to have to begin the process of bringing in faster skaters to their system...

2) Cory Schneider did not look bad in getting the start,but he wasn't on top of his game either.
None of three shots that got by him were awful goals,but all might have been stopped as well....

3) Like the aggressiveness by Ryane Clowe in getting into a fight at the end of the first period with Tanner Glass.
Clowe took exception to Glass hitting Bryce Salvador a hair late and jumped in.
I like that from a new player,but one caveat-Clowe has a concussion history and this might be a train that isn't worth following.

4) Jaromir Jagr did not play a pre-season game,so he was understandably rusty,but he looked almost glacial on the ice.
I hope this is a rust issue and not a I'm shot issue because if that's it,look out.

5) Marek Zidlicky is being paid to be an offensive defenseman and passing up the open net to pass the puck shows a lack of smarts.
That play was the best chance of the evening and Zidlicky passed it up and that is not what he is being paid for..

6) Opening night and Peter Harrold is playing over Mark Fayne?
I'm not a fan of either,but I question that decision.

7) Finally,the Devils lost Alexander Urbom when the team attempted to slide him through waivers as the Devils reached the 23 man roster limit.
Urbom was claimed by Washington and although I wished the Devils would have gotten something for a talented player,Urbom was third at best in the system's stockpile of blueline prospects.

Photo Credit:Gene Puskar-AP Photo

Thursday, October 3, 2013

New Jersey Devils Season Preview

On paper,the New Jersey Devils look to be in a rebuilding year.
Most pre-season prognosticators have the Devils in either last or next to last in the new Metropolitan Division and after a missed playoff season along with the jumping to the KHL of Ilya Kovalchuk,I can see why some could look at that way.

I like to have to faith in a team that rarely rebuilds,just reloads on the fly and the Devils made some changes that could keep them competitive until the next off season when New Jersey would have cap space to attempt to sign the replacement for the scoring of Kovalchuk....
I generally hesitate to discuss lines in previews because its so unlikely to keep them together,but I'll give it a try here.
My guess is that the first line to start the season will return Patrik Elias and with two newcomers Ryane Clowe and Damien Brunner.
Both could be nice additions to the lineup,but Clowe has battled injuries,so I have concerns there.
If all works,this could be a stud line..

The second line looks to be Adam Henrique,looking to rebound from an average sophomore season teaming with hired gun Jaromir Jagr and Travis Zajac centering the pair.
This is the line that I'm just not sure what to expect as the potential is strong and so is the failure rate.
Jagr is a defensive liability and with Zajac and Henrique being paid nice money under the cap,both will need to step up their games.
If they cannot,the Devils will be paying the pair for a long time...

Line number three will be intriguing as Andrei Loktionov centering a line with Dainius Zubrus and Michael Ryder.
Ryder always finds the net and should be a huge addition to a weak power play last year.
Zubrus is a perennial question mark and Loktionov looks to be a possible star,if he can take the leap to the next level.

The Ryan Carter/Stephen Gionta/Steve Bernier line has great chemistry and should remain productive at a low cost.
This line is the teams energy line and should continue to be so.

Newcomer Rostislav Olesz and Jacob Josefson will find playing time and will need to produce in what could be the final chance for each.

The defense looks well-slow.
The team has overpaid for too many years for both Anton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador and while both are physical players,both have lost more than a step and worry me in any kind of firewagon game.
Both players contracts make them difficult to be moved,so they'll be around.
Adam Larsson will be the player to watch as I believe that this is the year that he jumps up and shows number one defenseman ability.
Larsson's season might be the key to the unit's success.
Andy Greene and Marek Zidlicky return as offensive defensemen and will man the point on the power play.
Mark Fayne is back,but could be the eventual odd man for one of the many defensive prospects currently at Albany.
Peter Harrold will be the seventh d-man and likely healthy scratch.

Martin Brodeur is back in what will likely be his swan song for the Devils.
Brodeur will have more time off than usual after the team traded its first rounder to Vancouver for Cory Schneider,who clearly will be the replacement that fans and media had wondered about for years.
Between Brodeur and Schneider,the Devils might have the best goalie pairing in the league.

I don't think the Devils are as bad as most people do and I think the playoffs are possible,but not a lock.
Considering this is the season that the Devils have to give up their first rounder for the Kovalchuk fiasco,I really am in win as many games as possible mode,so they don't lose as badly in the draft.
I would have taken this hit long ago,but what's done is done.
The main two worries for me are veterans with injury issues being counting on some heavily and what seems to be a huge lack of team speed.
I think the power play is going to improve,but those two issues concern me.
This looks to be perhaps the softest Devils team I've seen and players will need to return to pre-lockout form in order to contend.
I'll be optimistic and hope for playoffs,but it is going to take a return to Devils hockey-goaltending and defense will have to rule the day....