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Thursday, January 31, 2013

On the signing front

Just a quick catchup on some various arrivals from the signing front!

Football
Chiefs safety Eric Berry
Former Giants safety Bill Currier
Former Oklahoma guard Louis Oubre (from Oklahoma Hobby box)
Former Texas kicker Russell Erxleben (from Texas Hobby Box)
Former Texas running back Ernie Koy
Former Texas running back Ted Koy
Former Texas defensive tackle Brad Shearer
Former Texas quarterback Marty Akins
Former Colts head coach Ron Meyer
Former Oklahoma wide receiver Tinker Owens
Former Jets kicker Pat Leahy
Former Lions and Vikings running back Eddie Payton
Former Giants linebacker Carl Banks
Former Seahawks quarterback Jim Zorn
Former Oklahoma running back Billy Sims
Former Oklahoma running back Joe Washington
Former Oklahoma linebacker Jimbo Elrod
Former Browns quarterback Brian Sipe
Former Lions and Falcons quarterback Joey Harrington

Actress Jean Hale
Actress Morgan Fairchild
Actress Joanna Cassidy

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

UFO? No,Bruins win shootout over Devils

The New Jersey Devils played very well and might have deserved better all things considered,but a goal seems inevitable as the Boston Bruins continued to rain opportunities down on Johan Hedberg and finally Nathan Horton cracked the dam with four minutes to go to tie the game at one.
A scoreless overtime and a shootout later,Boston had escaped with a 2-1 win and the Devils had to settle for one point on a night that they might have deserved two.
David Clarkson scored the only New Jersey goal (4) in the second period.
The two game mini-trip now over,the Devils return home Thursday against the Islanders...

Hell Raisers

1) Let's start with this-Johan Hedberg played great in his start.
Hedberg made several great saves and was as much as you could expect from the backup goalie.
If you get that type of efforts from the reserve backstop when he hits the ice,you will win more than you lose...

2) However,the final goal in the sixth round of the shootout that dribbled through the legs of Hedberg was not a strong one.
Things do happen,so it is tough to be too hard on Hedberg for one less than excellent play,but it was a softee...

3) The shootout showed just where Zach Parise will be missed most.
The Devils were the best team in the league in the shootout when they could run a three man start of Ilya Kovalchuk,Parise and Patrik Elias.
Without Parise,the Devils are going to go through a period of figuring out just who will be the third leg of the shootout and that will mean some struggles..

4) Tyler Seguin beat Johan Hedberg on the Bruins first shootout try,but he had to do the backyard style do-over after a fan threw something on the ice in mid-play distracting Hedberg.
It looked like a hot dog to me and the replay was the right thing to do.
Unfortunately,Seguin would again as Hedberg couldn't cut the mustard.Sorry...

5) Matt Anderson was recalled from Albany to make his NHL debut at the age of 30.
No word on how long Anderson will stay with the team,but anytime a longtime minor leaguer gets to play in the bigs,it's always a nice story...

6) Another night of scratching Adam Larsson.
This looks even worse when you see the impact that Dougie Hamilton has had in Boston from the same draft.
This needs to be addressed.

7) Stefan Matteau played his fifth game,so the decision on him must be made prior to Thursday's game against the Islanders.
I lean towards sending him back....

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Battle of the Network Stars

Confession time-I watch Battle of the Network Stars as much as I can on Monday nights.
Unless something I really care about is running against the ESPN Classic program,I generally cannot pull myself away.

I just cannot help myself.
Part of it is nostalgia,where stars did not mind going out to have a good time and did not mind looking silly or nonathletic if they had to.
Imagine that show being made today?
There is no way that happens as it would cost far much to get the stars to participate and embarrassments would go straight on youtube.
Plus you also have the memories of a time with five channels when this stuff almost mattered and was at least fun to watch.
Think people today are going to be smiling thirty five years from now thinking about American Idol or Survivor? I kinda doubt it.

The reason that I love this stuff?
It is just so campy!
Guys wearing shorts about three sizes too small,ladies running in tank tops without bras,smoking on camera and loads of politically incorrect comments are just some of the tidbits that you see on this show.
And the funniest thing? No one even bothered to think anything of it!
Some religious group would be screaming about the tight clothing,the anti-smoking people would be griping about cigarettes and about twenty different groups would be wanting apologies for statements.

And you have Howard Cosell as well!
Now that was quite a big deal in this time as Cosell was the voice of Monday Night Football and most big boxing matches in a day when boxing was so much more mainstream.
And he didn't look down on it either!
At least as much as you could watching Todd Bridges take on Scott Baio in a obstacle course race or watching Lynda Carter run pass patterns and try to grab touchdown heaves from Billy Crystal anyway.
Howard schmoozing and fawning over the celebs is just much fun with the little laugh that he does and the cutesy nicknames for the female "competitors" "Look at the determination on the face of Cathy Bach as she pulls on that rope"!
It sounds so much better when you say/think of this in full Cosell.

But for all of that,the success of this show really comes down to one man-our guy Robert Conrad.
Now I wrote about what a huge Wild Wild West fan that I am,but this is about ten years past WWW and Conrad is doing Baa Baa Black Sheep,which was a show that I did not watch,so that's a change  for me at the time,but watching these shows 30+ years later,Conrad really is the star of the show.
Conrad struts around as people look at him scared to death,Conrad puts an imaginary battery on his shoulder constantly as he dares people to knock said imaginary battery off his shoulder from his Eveready battery commercials,Conrad threatening to take his team out of the competition and generally acting like this is the Romans vs the Greeks with lives on the line with most of the others looking on either bemused or wanting nothing to do with this maniac.


But as I talked about this with Ryan,he brought up one event that is especially interesting and it is not the one that most think about which was his match race with Gabe Kaplan of Welcome Back Kotter fame.
After Conrad's show had went off the air,he therefore could not captain a team or participate because of the stringent rules and regulations of the International Olympic Com,ummm Network Stars standards,but yet he showed up anyway,ranting,stomping around and in one memorable shot berating William Shatner and current shill for Gold William Devane for not taking this seriously enough!
Now that is entertainment!

All and all,it is a guilty pleasure I'm sure that some of you might enjoy whether is for the memories,the stars,the clothing,the behavior or just a sign of the times.
ESPN Classic shows Network Stars on Mondays at eight....


Monday, January 28, 2013

Defensive breakdowns haunt Devils in OT loss

The New Jersey Devils battled back from two goal deficits and several defensive breakdowns to force overtime before the Montreal Canadiens Andrei Markov scored to hand the Devils their first loss of the season 4-3 in Montreal.
Montreal led 2-0 before a Patrik Elias goal (2) cut the lead in half.
The home squad then increased the lead to 3-1 before third period goals by David Clarkson (3,five on three power play) and Dainius Zubrus (1) tied the game and allowed the Devils to leave Canada with one point on the evening.
New Jersey is off today,will travel to Boston on Tuesday before a Thursday home game against the Islanders to finish the month of January.

Hell Raisers

1) Andy Greene set up the game winner with a penalty for holding one of my least favorite players,Erik "the flopper" Cole.
Greene didn't think he held Cole,who flopped to the ice,but Peter DeBoer had no issue with the call.
I thought it could have gone either way,but Greene needed to be smarter as the referees called the game very close all game for both teams and he should have realized that if it was close,it was going to be called.....

2) Andy Greene had a bad night as his puck miscue in the first period allowed a two on one for the first goal for Montreal.
These things happen,but it is something to keep an eye on.....

3) Martin Brodeur continues his strong play despite allowing four goals.
I would go as far to say that none of the four was his fault and his defense hung him out to dry on several occasions.
I would bet,though,that Johan Hedberg will get a start against either the Bruins or Islanders....

4) Patrik Elias scored his goal deflecting a Mark Fayne shot and kept a fast start alive.
Elias is a free agent at the end of the season and his season will decide the amount of  an investment the team will put into him...

5) David Clarkson keeps his hopes of a strong season going as he too is a free agent at the end of the year.
Clarkson keeps doing the dirty work around the net,which makes him effective.
I was concerned that he might not do what he did last season and attempt to be a flashier player,thus far I am thrilled to say my concerns were for naught...

6) Clarkson filmed a new local commercial for a hockey store after a funny one last season that was shown during the game.
I think this one is even better than last season!


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hey,It's Captain 20!

Slow news day so I decided to work on the satellite blog (SFGiantsProspects) found in the links page and toss in some thoughts on another childhood hero.

When I was in early elementary school,1st or 2nd grade,I as many of my classmates at the grooviest school in the county,Fountain Rock Elementary,(remind me to write about that place on a future slow day) watched a program that would never fly today.
My generation was the end of local television children's programming as it started with the beginning of television and slowly died out by the mid 1980's with the advent of cable networks.
Growing up in a rural area inside a somewhat rural county,television,as I've stated before,was a huge part of my life and one of the few good things was getting television from the Baltimore and Washington markets.

However,most of the time it was the smaller UHF stations that catered to children and the niche' markets.
That is not all that different than specialized networks today as I would wager that I spent tons of times watching terrific re-runs of old shows like Star Trek,ACC basketball and UHF channel WDCA 20 was the only place that you could watch the Washington Bullets or Washington Capitals.
But the main difference was the much weaker signal.
I had some problem picking up WDCA from River Road outside Washington,but we could not pick up WBFF,the Baltimore equivalent at all.
It was quite a while before my brother and I realized that in my aunt's bedroom,she could get WBFF.
That's right-we could pick up this station in one room in the house-go figure.
That fact is why I am writing about Captain 20 and not the Baltimore kids icon-Captain Chesapeake.

Channel 20 used Dick Dyszel as Captain 20 and they showed cartoons like the great Hanna Barbara stuff from 1960's etc,with my first exposure to Japanese import cartoons Speed Racer,Marine Boy and Kimba the White Lion along with things like monkey races to grab kids attention.
To this day,I often break into"who's the king of animals in Africa?" while the lovely Cherie and my kids look at me like I just fell from the sky.

I remember very well getting my Channel 20 Kids Card (sorry,have no idea what happened to it),which then made me eligible to have my name in a huge barrel which then had a name pulled out every day for a prize of some sort-sorry,kids never won one of those either.
Actually,in my entire life-I have won two prizes and only one of those was actually luck of the draw.
I answered a question correctly on the Mountain West conference website,which got me a t-shirt,which went to Ryan,so I see it here and there.

Dyszel played the role very well as Captain 20,but he might be better remembered for his run on late night horror movies on the network as Count Gore De Vol to most.
Dyszel was a hit in both spots,but it was pretty clear to even kids that Dyszel was playing both roles,although I don't remember either character mentioning the other.

As I wrote earlier,local TV kids shows were pretty much dead by the time Ryan came along in the late 80's,so his only memories about stuff like that comes from his nutty father.
They were campy and I don't know how well they would hold up on YouTube today,but I sometimes think they are going to miss some of the regional TV.
Good memories of Captain 20 and looking back at the groovy times of the middle 1970's......

Photo Credit: DCMemories.com

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Devils cut Capitals in overtime!

Ilya Kovalchuk's goal (2) with twenty seconds remaining in overtime bailed the New Jersey Devils out of third period woes and lifted the Devils to a 3-2 overtime win at the Rock.
The Devils used a first period goal by Stephen Gionta (1) and a five on three powerplay tally by Patrik Elias (1) in the second to build a lead that was lost in a sloppy third period.
The Devils add two more points to the ledger and will travel to Montreal on Sunday....

Hell Raisers

1) Both goalies were terrific tonight.
Martin Brodeur had no chance on the first Washington goal and was otherwise excellent,while Michael Neuvirth was excellent for Washington as well.

2) Not pleased with the sloppy third period.
Too many dumb penalties like too many men on the ice,which happened twice and a bench minor to boot!
Some of that can be excused with the short camp,but those dumb mistakes allowed Washington to leave town with a point and kept them in the game.

3) Very nice game from Jacob Josefson,who made a slick pass between two defenders to hit Stephen Gionta on his goal and just missed two of his own.
Perhaps the time in Albany has helped Josefson's game because he seems much more confident on the ice..

4)  Stephen Gionta's game was a strong one as well with the goal,which is an even strength because a penalty had just expired,but was really a shorthanded one and Gionta had five shots on the night.
The littlest Devil has played with energy and continues to make the best of what he has...

5) One issue that I will say needs to be addressed or will continue to rear itself is the fourth line or lack of one thus far.
Stefan Matteau will likely return to juniors next week and whichever of Krys Barch or Cam Janssen plays,there are holes that opponents will target.
I'm not sure what the answer is but some possibilities could include Bobby Butler from Albany,signing former Canadien Matthew Darche or an eventual deal.
None of those are guaranteed to solve this issue,but any of those are preferable to the status quo.

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Friday, January 25, 2013

Cleaning out the inbox!

Time to dump the inbox out a bit and get caught up on a few things.

We start with 2012 DA14.
Just what is 2012 DA14?
It is an asteroid that will come close to earth on February 15 (Happy Birthday,Mom) that will be within the orbit of the moon and inside the orbit of  geosynchronous satellites (they are 26,000 miles in the air) on that day,
It will not hit earth,it will not even be visible to the naked eye,but these things always bring to mind how we are truly one shot in the dark away from a world altering event.
Why this (asteroid impact) is not taken as seriously as it deserves to be,is mind boggling to me.
I really need to get a nice telescope sometime!

 From a month or so,Voyager 1 is preparing to leave the solar system and is the most distant object that man has made from in earth in history.
That's reasonably common knowledge,but as Voyager hits the border,it is meeting some unusual particles from outside the solar system as it penetrates the edge.
The magnetic "pings" were different than scientists expected  and will take some time to figure out (more along the lines of a guess) just what Voyager is meeting.
Voyager runs on a computer that,believe it or not,has the total amount of memory that is just enough to run the trip meter on your car!
Freaky!

The Cavaliers, and I know,I have been lax in Cavalier coverage, made a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies that basically gave Memphis salary cap relief and Cleveland added a piece to help the current team and a nod towards the future.
Cleveland sent seldom used forward Jon Leuer to Memphis for Marreese Speights,Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby.
The kicker a number one pick that might not be used until 2019,but eventually will be an unprotected lottery pick.
Speights will help right away with the loss of Anderson Varejao for the season as an inside body while Ellington could be helpful as a three point bomber off the bench and might enable the Cavaliers to move Daniel Gibson at the trade deadline.Selby is a young player that will either sit,be sent to Canton or eventually get released.
The pick is the big addition in the deal as Memphis is playing for the moment and down the road that could be a huge addition to Cleveland basketball....

I've written before about Thunder Rumble and the work that is done by Old Friends,so I just wanted the chance to link to some recent pictures of Thunder Rumble by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography.
Simply beautiful work.
Thunder also races his neighbor and former Travers winner Will's Way often and usually beats the younger horse.....

I'd just like to thank Danny Rosenbaum again for his time in doing another interview with us.
We will have another interview in the next week or so with someone that we have never had before and we have three more on the horizon with only one of them having done one in the past!
If you enjoy the interview series,I think the next month or so is going to be a good run!

That catches us up for now back later tonight as the Devils take on Washington at the Rock!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Danny Rosenbaum Interview-Part 4

We finish up our interview with the Colorado Rockies pitcher Danny Rosenbaum today.
I have another interview ready to go early next week and three more that I am in the progress of conducting including one from the non-sports realm!

TRS: You recently got married (congrats!) have you and your wife given any thoughts about Denver and considerations about the area?

DR: Thank you. Yeah actually before all of this happened we have always wanted eventually to move out to Denver. So it's just kind of ironic that this happened.

TRS: Did you get the chance to attend the Xavier-Cincinnati game this season?If so,what was the atmosphere after the 2011 brawl? If you were at the fight game,please offer your thoughts on being there...

DR: No, I didn't get to go. But that fight changed the image of Xavier basketball. Not to many people know who and where Xavier is, but when I say they were the ones who had the big fight in 2011 they know exactly who and where it is. It's going to take a while to rebuild that program but I have faith. 
TRS:  Looking back a few years in the mirror,offer some thoughts of Hagerstown,the Muni and whether the town deserves to keep pro baseball with the team perhaps leaving town with the stadium issues..
DR: The muni has been there forever. The history behind is great. I think it deserves a team but it also deserves a renovation. So many stadiums today look like cathedrals. It's a work of art. And I think when that day comes its going to bring baseball in Hagerstown to a new level.
 
TRS: We wrapped up our last interview with asking about your faith and how it affects your career,Do you feel more of a role model now being on the cusp of the big leagues for young people of your faith and have you continued to have an easy time keeping a balance between the game and your faith?
 
DR: Yeah absolutely. I mean I had role models like Sandy Koufax, Shawn Green, Kevin Youkilis, and many others, so now it's my chance to be that for someone else. I haven't been as good as I should in balancing my faith just because its so hard to during the season. But when I'm home, I do what I can. Just being with my family on holidays is a special time for me and my wife.
 
Thanks again to Danny for his help and time in doing another interview with us.....

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Goose egg city in home debut!

The New Jersey Devils controlled the pace and temp as they held the Philadelphia Flyers without a goal in the home opener for New Jersey's team with a 3-0 win at the Rock.
The offensive stars were the same as in the road opener as Travis Zajac opened the scoring in the first period (2) and David Clarkson added another (2) before the end of the first horn.
Ilya Kovalchuk beat Ilya Brzygalov on a penalty shot after Kimmo Timonen obstructed a breakaway chance by Kovy (Shorthanded no less!) in the second for the final goal.
Martin Brodeur picked up the shutout with 24 saves.
The Devils return to action Friday against Washington,which means the worst crappiest hockey announcers-boo....

Hell Raisers

1) The key in this one? The defense.
Yes,that underrated defense that just played lockdown hockey.
The Flyers rarely got great chances against Martin Brodeur and I thought the stay at home guys (Bryce Salvador,Anton Volchenkov and Mark Fayne) were very effective tonight...

2) Martin Brodeur was excellent in shutout 120.
Brodeur had some tougher saves in the first period,but other than a later Wayne Simmonds chance that Marty skidded to a stop,the Flyers did not have a tons of chances.
However,don't underestimate the average save,too many goalies take those for granted...

3) The penalty shot goal by Ilya Kovalchuk was a pretty piece of work as Kovy flipped the puck over Brzygalov;s shoulder as he dove to the ice.
Brzygalov's book is noted to have him as one that likes to go down,so was a sharp piece of scouting on someone's part!

4) Two late fights with David Clarkson against Wayne Simmonds and Steve Bernier battling Braden Schenn.
Nothing really gained other than letting the Flyers know that the Devils will not be pushed around,but fun nonetheless...

5) I was disappointed with two failures on the power play with five on three chances on two occasions.
The team is in transition with Matt Shaw taking over from Adam Oates in charge of the power play,so some adjustments are in order,but still somewhat dismaying...

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Saying goodbye to Musial,Weaver and Klugman

The recent deaths on the same day of Hall of Famers Stan Musial and Earl Weaver made me realize that I had some sad catching up to do....

Stan Musial might be (next to Eddie Mathews) the most underrated member of the Hall of Fame and it's not because Musial does not get recognized.
It is more because as great as Musial was,he was always overshadowed a bit by his American League contemporary Ted Williams.
I would go as far to say that looking at the total career of Musial that you might be able to place him as high as the top five of all time as a hitter.
Musial's power started a little later and ended a bit earlier than he would have wished,but from 1948-57,Musial hit under 27 homers only once,so this was not exactly a slap hitter.
Musial played from 1941 -1963 and then after retiring was involved in building the Cardinal powerhouse of the mid to late 1960's.
Musial also was hurt by spending his career away from the East Coast media where the largest media resides.
Stan Musial was always known as a class act,but more importantly,swung one classy bat.
Musial was 92.

Former Orioles manager Earl Weaver passed away on an Oriole cruise at the age of 82.
Weaver won four American League pennants and the 1970 World Championship as the manager in Baltimore and was known for his adage of winning with pitching,defense and the three run homer.
Weaver was far ahead of his time using statistics of batter vs pitcher performances,platoon systems and his hatred of "little ball",all things that are taken for granted in today's game.
I loved the story in the link above about Weaver needing his index cards with the situational stats long before you and I can have them with the push of a button,but the reflection on former catcher Earl Williams brought back a personal memory.
Earl Williams was a power hitting backstop in Atlanta and Williams had smacked 61 homers in his first two years in the game and at 24 looked to have many years ahead of him after the Orioles acquired him in 1973 in a deal that sent Davey Johnson among others to the Braves.
My grandfather could not stand Williams,thought he was lazy and struck out too much.
Two disappointing years later,Williams was gone and by 29,he was gone from the game.
If you couldn't succeed under Earl Weaver,who could you succeed under?
Earl Weaver was a pioneer,putting players in a situation to succeed.
Sounds like a simple concept,but in baseball and the business world,one that is often forgotten.

I am late in this,but I did want to mention the passing of actor Jack Klugman,who passed away the day before Christmas at the age of  90.
Klugman was most noted for his portrayal of Oscar Madison on the TV classic The Odd Couple,but Klugman also had some roles in some terrific Twilight Zones as a pool hustler and starred in Quincy in the late 70's.
The Odd Couple has always been one of my favorite shows and it has one memory to me in particular.
The YouTube below was watched one night while I was living at home and after the show ended,my brother and I went to bed and then after a few minutes,I whacked him in the head with a newspaper.
I imagine in the dark without a notice,he was pretty shocked!
He screamed out and I quickly covered his mouth,so he didn't wake our parents up!
A classic show and one talented actor in Jack Klugman..

Monday, January 21, 2013

Danny Rosenbaum Interview-Part 3

The Danny Rosenbaum interview continues today with part three in which Danny discusses his selection in the Rule 5 draft and some talk about his new organization in Colorado..

I am going to try to be back later today with a goodbyes that will feature Stan Musial,Earl Weaver and a belated goodbye to Jack Klugman...


TRS:  Now that you have been drafted in the Rule 5 draft by the Rockies,tell me about the time leading up to the draft,did the Nationals feel confident that you might make it through,did you think it was likely that you would be selected by someone

DR: I believe the Nationals thought I would slide by because of the way the 2nd half of my season went and my injury. I knew I had shot to get picked by I wasn't going to get my hopes up. I thought I had a pretty good shot to get protected but it didn't happen. It was a little disappointing but now it gives me this opportunity. I couldn't be any more thrilled.

TRS: Where were you when the Rockies called and what were your thoughts on the call?
DR: I was at the gym working out with Craig Stammen. The draft started at 10 and I got called at like 10:08. And my first words were "No way!" I was shocked and filled with so much excitement that I couldn't stop shaking the whole day. 

TRS:  The Rockies appear to want to use you in long relief to burn your Rule 5 year,do you feel comfortable in that role?
 DR: I told them I'll do whatever it takes to help out the club. I just want a shot. I've never been in long relief before but I want to learn and to make myself more available. 

TRS: Denver and Coors Field is known as a hitters park and a park that has ate pitchers that had previously been able to keep the ball down alive,have you given Coors much thought?

DR: Everyone that I have talked to since the draft has said to me "you better keep the ball down". But honestly I really haven't. I can't worry about things that I can't control. So I'm just going to take my same approach out there as I always have.
TRS: Has anyone contacted you about any differences in what the Rockies philosophy for their pitchers are compared to the Nationals?
    DR:Yeah, Jim Wright the pitching coach called me and said we want guys that pitch to contact and keep the ball down. But this philosophy is the same everywhere. I'm just doing the same philosophy but in a different uniform.

TRS:  Have you given any thought to what you might have to work on in transitioning to the bullpen-IE-what pitches you may lean on more at first?

DR: No not yet. But as a long relief guy you are trying to eat up innings. So it's going to be similar to starting. I'm just glad I have people to talk to about it like Craig Stammen, who might of been the best in baseball at that role this past season. 

The Rosenbaum interview wraps up in the next segment with some off the field talk....

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hockey is back and so are the Devils in 2-1 win!

The New Jersey Devils know that points are at a premium in a shortened season,especially those earned in regulation time as the opponents will always be fellow Eastern Conference rivals battling the Devils for the playoff positions.
The Devils opened this sprint to the wire in the beautiful (snicker) Nassau Coliseum against the New York Islanders and the Devils responded with a 2-1 win over the homestanding Islanders.
Travis Zajac took a sharp pass from Ilya Kovalchuk on a three on one in the second period to score the first goal of the season.
The Islanders tied the game in the third with a power play goal,but a little over a minute later,David Clarkson beat Evgeni Nabokov for the game winner and the two points.
The Devils will host Philadelphia Tuesday....

Hell Raisers

1) The play was better than I thought it might be,but still was a little out of sync,which is to be expected.
Timing takes time,but the Devils seemed to have a pretty good corps of players that had been playing during the lockout,so perhaps they might be not too badly off...

2) The assist from Ilya Kovalchuk on the Travis Zajac goal was a mid-season goal.
Kovalchuk had been playing in the KHL and he looked very strong on that pass.
Kovalchuk played every second of the Devils power plays attempts,that there tells you that Kovalchuk is in shape...

3) Marty Brodeur was very good in the win as he made two huge saves in the third period on Matt Moulson and Travis Hamonic on point blank shots.
I thought Marty was far more than I could have expected as well...

4) The only Islander goal by Hamonic could not be hung on Brodeur as four Devils headed into the corner to chase the puck leaving Hamonic wide open.
Now that is the type of thing that is caused by a shortened training camp.

5) The game winner by David Clarkson was set up by a nice hustle play in the corner by Patrik Elias.
Elias dug the puck to Clarkson and then screened off Evgeni Nabokov to allow Clarkson a lane.

6) Mattias Tedenby had two nice scoring chances to score,but both went for naught.
Many people are down on Tedenby,but I'm not to that point yet.
Tedenby has never broken out as a scorer,but I still think that he has the potential to break out and maybe even this season..

7) Adam Larsson was scratched (to Rachel's dismay) and I'm not sure why.
It could be part of a defensive rotation to keep legs fresh,but if it is not that then Larsson would be better served to play at Albany....

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mike Lombardi?

One adage of the political game is that if you have a choice with a story that is going to be badly regarded,you try to release on a Friday.
The theory goes that between the end of the work week and people just wanting to relax that you can sometimes take the edge off the news by getting it out there initially when the attention is divided.
Yesterday Jimmy Haslam and his hired front man Joe Banner did just that with the hiring of highly unpopular NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi as the head of player personnel.

Lombardi was the one name almost universally panned by Cleveland media,bloggers,fans,sand people,you name it and sure enough that's exactly who was hired.
Joe Banner was the patron of Lombardi and he knew that there was going to be some upset people as Banner was quoted as saying "I put myself out on a limb here" and referring to a backlash "My eyes are open"

The issues are not with the media opinions of Lombardi,although his words on using a second round pick in the 2013 draft in the supplemental draft on Josh Gordon as "A wasted pick" are coming back to haunt Lombardi after Gordon's excellent rookie season.
The problems lie with the awful draft record that Lombardi was involved with in his previous stint with Cleveland that saw first rounders used on failures such as Tommy Vardell,Derrick Alexander and Craig Powell.
Under the Lombardi led personnel department,the Browns drafted just one Pro Bowler in five drafts (the late Eric Turner) and generally struggled in the evaluation of both college and pro personnel.
That is what scares Browns fans and nothing that Jimmy Haslam or Joe Banner can say that will dull those concerns.

Haslam was quoted as having a "respected NFL leader" offer that "If you can get Mike Lombardi then you have to do so".
Considering the same things were said about Joe Banner,did Haslam ever think that getting advice from competitors to hire guys that no one else even interviews might be a bad idea?
This move is groused about by almost all,although everyone would like to see Lombardi pull off a Lazarus like return with some good personnel decisions and this move has really put a damper on the excitement of the new regime.
Joe Banner says he has put his neck out? He has and if the young,but promising Browns take a step back-Banner might be going with his hand picked friend.....

It's too bad that the Browns made this move because I was already to give them credit for two excellent coordinator hires for rookie head coach Rob Chudzinski.
Norv Turner on the offensive side and the hiring of Ray Horton from Arizona to run the defense are both strong hires.
Turner will do what he does best-work with quarterbacks and call plays,while Horton did an excellent job last season with the Cardinals for the most part.
The only downside to the hiring of Horton is the likely transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4.
Rob Chudzinski says he wants to use elements of both defenses and have a "hybrid",but as nice as it sounds to have the best of both,it usually works out to have the defense that the coordinator prefers becomes more and more dominant.
My concern is that once again,the Browns are so busy shoving a scheme instead of using the talent available to run the system to their strengths.
Ray Horton is a quality coordinator,but I bet they run more 3-4 than anything else,but the talent has been accumulated for a 4-3.
The linebackers are already weak and I wonder if Jabaal Sheard can stand up in the 3-4,plus considering Phil Taylor,Ahtyba Rubin and John Hughes seem to be one too many to play the nose,although I might take a look at Rubin as a 3-4 end.

All of that and I haven't even touched goofy uniforms for 2014..UGH!

So with all the questions and less than enthused fan base,it makes sense to make these announcements on a Friday.
Here we go again....

Photo Credit:AP Photo

New Jersey Devils Preview

The defending Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils return with most of the team returning with one huge exception.
How the Devils deal with that exception will determine just how the shortened season will play out and whether or not the Devils have a chance to defend their title.

The loss of Zach Parise will mean that a team that has never been an offensive juggernaut will have some goals to make up for and not a lot of means to do so.
Ilya Kovalchuk will try to attempt to raise his production,but considering what he scores already,that is likely to be a small raise.
Kovalchuk will be joined by the newly extended contract of Travis Zajac on the first line and having Zajac healthy for the season might help the Devils add a few goals to the total.
The final spot on the line will likely be a work in progress with the Devils giving Dainius Zubrus the first try.
Zubrus has always been a player that inconsistency describes best,but his skills might work nicely with the passing of Zajac and the sniper abilities of Kovalchuk,if he is willing to crash the net....

The remaining lines will shuffle in and out,but I'll do my best to guess how things will work out.
Patrik Elias will be a mainstay of the second line both at center or at left wing,but the Czech veteran will likely see more time at the pivot early on.
David Clarkson would be the most likely choice to pair with Elias,but despite his 30 goals last season and my admiration for his game,Clarkson might have hit his ceiling offensively.
This is likely to be the spot for Adam Henrique upon his return from injured reserve in a few weeks and the team can almost move Henrique and Elias interchangeably between center and the wing.

Jacob Josefson will get his chance to be a mainstay after an injury plagued career.
Josefson will be the third line center,but the remainder of the line will be in flux.e
Stefan Matteau made the team after being the firsr round pick of last years draft.
Matteau can stay five games before a final decision has to be made on a return to junior hockey.
My guess is Matteau will play his five,saving some legs early on and then will be returned.
Bobby Butler was signed from Ottawa and has played well at Albany,but was placed on waivers in order to return to the AHL.
I would guess Butler will return if Matteau leaves.
Defenseman Peter Harrold can occasionally play wing in a pinch.
The fourth line will stay intact after an excellent playoff run.
Ryan Carter will center the line with Steve Bernier and Stephen Gionta on the wings.
The three had excellent chemistry and use the undersized Gionta as a pest that can change the tempo of a game...

The Devils again will carry two enforcers,which seems to be one too many.
Cam Janssen returns ,but Krys Barch replaces Eric Boulton as the other fighter.
No one loves dropping the gloves more than I,but on a team that might struggle to score goals,I do not see the sense in carrying two offensively deficient players.

New Jersey looks to be carrying eight defensemen this season in an attempt to keep the injury and energy factor down with so many games in an compressed period.
I would imagine pairings will be changed often,but if the carry number is eight,I would imagine the eight are pretty clear- four stay at home defenders-new captain Bryce Salvador,Mark Fayne,Anton Volchenkov and four puck movers-Andy Greene,Henrik Tallinder,Adam Larsson and Marek Zidlicky.

The goalies continue to be the veterans as forty plus Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg both return between the pipes.
Look for Hedberg to play more often early with the compressed slate than the usual for Brodeur backups as this shortened season with fewer days off will not play into the strengths of Brodeur.

This is a transition year for the Devils,I can see them making the playoffs,I can see them missing them,It really could be that close.
A fast start is a must and regulation wins are at a premium.
I'll be an optimist and count them in,but I would not bet anything on it.....


Friday, January 18, 2013

Danny Rosenbaum Interview-Part 2

The Danny Rosenbaum interview continues with part two.
I was going to post the Devils preview but I am waiting until the deadline for the final roster passes this afternoon,so look for that on Saturday....

Danny today talks about the injury that he suffered against the Bowie BaySox and talks about pitching.

TRS: Tell me about any differences in your toolbox in the last year.
Have you been working on a particular pitch or refining something that you already throw?

DR: I tried throwing a cutter towards the end of the year, but I'm not sure if I'm going to stick with it or not. But I'm going to continue to refine everything else.
TRS;  What was the experience like at the Eastern League All-Star game in Reading?

DR: Even though I didn't pitch it was awesome.  Just so honored to be apart of it. I got to meet some great players.
TRS: You have always been a fast worker,do you think that your speed keeps you in rhythm or it keeps batters off balance more?
DR: It keeps me in rhythm. Also it's not only for me, I do it to try to keep our team in the field behind me on their toes.
TRS: Which pitch do you consider your true out pitch and why?
DR:My true out pitch is whatever is working best that day.
TRS: As painful as it is,tell me about the injury on the Ron Welty(against Bowie) comebacker,did it change your delivery or was it just another injury to get through???
DR: Well it was extremely painful, something I never want to go through again. I saw it come back at me but it was hit so hard i didn't have enough time to react to it. For any kids reading this please wear a cup!
Part three will feature Danny discussing his move to Colorado,how he heard about being selected in the Rule 5 Draft,Coors Field and the Rockies philosophy among others.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Danny Rosenbaum Interview-Part One

Danny Rosenbaum,formerly of the Washington Nationals and currently with the Colorado Rockies was kind enough to do another interview with us after his 2011 appearance.
Thanks again to Danny for coming back for another one with us...
Today Danny discusses AA and Eastern League Baseball on and off the field.

Danny,
            Thanks for taking the time!
TRS:  Last time we talked,you had finished with Potomac,Now you have spent time with Harrisburg.Tell me a bit about the jump to AA...

DR: AA is a tough level. All those guys can play. They not only have the physical tools and talent to be there, but they know the game as well. Our coaches told us that you are only one step away. A lot of guys make that jump from AA straight to the bigs. It really becomes more of a mental game at this point. If you can stay confident and focused you will be where you want. 
 
TRS: Many baseball people think that the jump from High A to AA is the biggest in the game.Do you agree with that and why or why not.

DR: Yes completely. First off the age level average is much greater. The guys in AA have been around the game long enough to know how to play it right. Players here have a much more consistent approach and are major league ready. 
TRS: You got off to a terrific start last season in Harrisburg and then tailed off before rebounding a bit,did you get away from something that was working or was it just one of those baseball cycles that comes and goes? 
DR:Yeah I got away from my approach. I was worried about all of the wrong things, instead of just going out having fun and competing like I always have. 
TRS: Tell me a bit about the Eastern League.the EL has some cities that are larger than the lower minors of course-what were some of your favorite places to play in and the least favorite stops in the league?
DR: Eastern league wasn't that bad of travel since Harrisburg was kind of in the middle of everyone. Even though Portland was the furthest drive, I really enjoyed the atmosphere there. We had a chance to spend an off day there, so we went into downtown and got to try some good seafood. Bowie was cool because the Naval base is there. Reading also had a great atmosphere, and it had the pool in right field. I also liked Altoona's and New Hampshire's stadium. 
Least favorite was Binghamton, there isn't much there and the stadium is old, maybe that why they are going to move.
 
TRS: What EL city was the most fun to hang out in off the field,which was the least favorite?

DR: Most favorite city to hang out was probably Akron because every time I went there I or to see my family. Least favorite was Trenton.

Tune in for part two where Danny's discusses his pitches,his pitching style and his injury from last season that makes me wince thinking about it!!!!

Devils extend Travis Zajac and other news!

I've been busy and have not had a ton to write about over the last week.
It's been slow,but with the hockey lockout over,I'll try to have a Devils preview finished before the Saturday night opener at the NHL Muni on Long Island.

I have two terrific interviews finished and in the inbox,so I hope to get them posted over the next week or two.
They are both excellent and one might be our best yet!
Stay tuned for those!

The New Jersey Devils decided not risk another homegrown star bolting via free agency and signed their top center in Travis Zajac to an eight year extension worth 46 million over the term.
The deal is pretty cap friendly as Zajac will make less money in the first two years of the deal when Ilya Kovalchuk is making the most and increases as the Kovalchuk contract decreases.
Zajac would have been an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and locking him up now enables Lou Lamoriello to either work on existing player renewals or to land a player from outside the organization.
The Devils look to be under the floor by a fair amount under the new CBA,so the money to sign or extend players (Patrik Elias and/or David Clarkson) looks to be there next summer.

Travis Zajac is a solid number one center,on other teams,he might be one of the best second liners in the game,but his passing ranks with the better centers and the Devils will need a feeder for Ilya Kovalchuk.
This signing ensures that the Devils have that and the pairing will have many years to get chemistry down.
Zajac also is the Devils best faceoff man,which will come in quite handy in the shortened season.
I like the deal as it keeps Devils players in the family,which I am usually in favor and Zajac gave the Devils a small discount in the contract as well.
Usually,Lou Lamoriello returns that loyalty when the players career is over,so Zajac will likely benefit from that when playing days are past for him.

Nice start to the new CBA era for the Devils and should keep some contract locker room conversations away for the winter!

Photo Credit:Newark Star-Ledger

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Liriano in doubt,Pirates add Jeanmar Gomez

The Pittsburgh Pirates added two players and might be losing a high profile signee over the last few days while I was down with the flu.

The worst news was the possibility of the contract of Francisco Liriano being revoked due to an injury to Liriano's non-throwing arm.
The contract had not been finalized before an injury that has been disclosed as being to his right arm,although just how the injury occurred has not been released to the public.
If the injury is severe enough that the Pirates would decide not to sign Liriano,the Pirates would have two spots open in the rotation and with very few experienced options available on the roster,Pittsburgh would have some major questions at the end of their rotation....

The Pirates added a candidate for one or both rotations spots as Pittsburgh obtained Jeanmar Gomez from the Indians.
Gomez is a paradox as a pitcher that likes to keep the ball down,yet allowed 15 homers in 90 innings with Cleveland.
Gomez hits the low 90's,but strikes few out,so I would not get your hopes up for Gomez.
The Pirates shipped Quincy Lattimore to the Indians in return.
Latimore had been a toolsy pick in the last draft in the Dave Littlefield era and had shown power as he worked his way through the system eventually reaching AA Altoona last season.
Latimore's issue was lack of contact as in each of the last five seasons,he struck out over 100 times.
I liked Quincy a lot in meeting him through the years and I hope he can turn things around in a different setting....

The Pirates signed Lucas May,who will likely be assigned to AAA Indianapolis.
May was at one time a top prospect,but his star has faded over the past three years,playing with four different organizations.





Rob Chudzinski is the Big Bang?

The Cleveland Browns ended their search for a head coach with the somewhat surprising hiring of Carolina offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski for the position.

Chudzinski was the offensive coordinator for the last winning season for the Browns in 2007 and was extended with a long term contract for the 10-6 Browns.
Chudzinski was relieved of his job after the following season that saw the sweep (sound familiar) that Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage removed in favor of the Eric Mangini regime.
Since leaving Cleveland,Chudzinski worked for the Chargers before moving to Carolina as the offensive coordinator the last two seasons.

I do not have a real problem with the hire,considering the available applicants,there really was no standout candidate.
I liked Ken Whisenhunt,but not enough to stamp my feet and pout about missing him and none of the others stood out either.
Chudzinski was a good coordinator in Cleveland and the work that he did with power armed Derek Anderson makes me think that perhaps he can bring something out of the similar tools of Brandon Weeden.
Chudzinski was a reasonable talented caller of plays,which means after Pat Shurmur anyone was going to look good in hindsight.

It looks like the Browns are going to bring Norv Turner in as the Browns offensive coordinator and likely play caller to aid in the learning curve for the first time head coach.
This makes lots of sense to me as that is what Pat Shurmur never seemed to grasp-calling the plays and running a team is a tough task for anyone,let alone an inexperienced coach.
For all the flaws of Norv Turner as a head coach and I have brayed loudly about his shortcomings in that role in the past,but allow me to say this-Norv Turner is one of the best coordinators of my generation and bringing him to Cleveland is a huge grab for the organization.
Add that to Turner's rapport with QB's and the Browns should know if they can win with Brandon Weeden,Colt McCoy or if they need to obtain a new passer from another venue.
I would have liked to have seen Dick Jauron retained as defensive coordinator,but it appears that will not happen.
I would prefer the 4-3 defense continue to be run,as the teams defensive strength is along the defensive line,although I would love to see another pass rushing end opposite Jabaal Sheard (the draft strength appears to be at DE,so there is a chance a trade down could happen to get back a second round pick).
The linebackers are a position of need in the 4-3 alignment,let alone for the 3-4,so I believe that hiring someone with a 4-3 preference would shorten the curve to contention.

The bigger issue with me is not the gamble on Chudzinski,it is more about the embarrassment of promising the moon and producing a rock.
The press conference of Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner that was filled with so much braggadocio has made the franchise look bad again.
This was supposed to be a fresh start,but yet it appears to be the same old Browns from the outside looking in.
The first major hire from Haslam/Banner is a risk,the result will go a long way in seeing how the front office is looked at for a long time..... 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Not a Chip shot (yet)

For a time yesterday,it appeared that the Cleveland Browns were on their way to locking up Oregon head coach Chip Kelly as their new coach ,but Kelly has decided to keep the process going for a little longer by going through an interview process with the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles.
Kelly's interview with the Bills took place yesterday and the Eagles will talk with Kelly today.
After that discussion is concluded,the Kelly watch will resume with Kelly deciding which team he will sign with or perhaps he might return to Eugene,Oregon with the Ducks.
After all,Kelly did just that last year in turning down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and that has something to do with why the Browns could not keep Kelly in the fold before the Bills and Eagles could take their swing at Kelly.
Kelly has stated that he wished he had talked to other teams last season besides Tampa to "go through the process" and that is why this lasted a bit longer than perhaps it could have.
I cannot blame him for this-check the situation out and make a good decision for you and your family.

I'll have more on my thoughts on why or why not Chip Kelly might be a risk/reward  hire for the Browns (or anyone else),if he actually gets hired,but for now,everything is still on hold..

Thanks to those of you that joined our page on Facebook (Thoughts Of RS) and as some of you have quietly found out about our sister site,thanks for the positive feedback thus far.
I'll be unveiling more on that here after the Browns coaching search is concluded!

Friday, January 4, 2013

O Joy!!!

Confused?
Well,the O Joy was a huge part of my teenage years and I would wager only a few dedicated people even remember it.

The Valley Mall opened in 1974 and although I cannot be sure of this stat,I believe it to be the case,a tenant from the beginning was the Orange Bowl chain.
The Orange Bowl was mainly known as a pizza eatery,usually by the slice,but I don't remember eating the pizza often.
My memories of the pizza think of it as a thin,greasy pizza that might not rank well against a strong pizza today from the home pizza market like a Tombstone,DiGiorno or Red Baron,let alone a pizza worth going out for.
But the Orange Bowl had one thing going for it for this person-something called the O-Joy.

The O-Joy was not easily slipped into any category.
It was not ice cream,it was had similarities to an italian ice,but it was much thicker and better held together than an italian ice,it was not really a slushie or what is often confused with the O-Joy,an Orange Julius from the better known Orange Julius chain.
If I had to say what it was closest to,I would say it's closest relative would be an orange juice flavored Slurpee.
The O-Joy definitely tasted like orange juice and I would say that that there was some orange juice in it.
Often,when you buy "fruit juice" it will say something like "contains 20% juice!" or is called "a fruit drink product",but the O-Joy tasted like orange juice not like orange soda,so I do believe at least some orange juice was in it.

The Orange Bowl was on the corner of the mall as it existed then and was located at the end that I used most with two of the three book stores nearby with Books and Things Jr and Waldenbooks and the sporting goods store,Shipley's,none of which is in the mall today.
Since my brother and I usually went to the mall once a week (mom got groceries while we were there) and time was usually of the essence,we had maybe an hour to hang out and get our allowance spent for the week,which usually was spent on boxing and wrestling magazines and an O-Joy before we were out the door to meet our mom for the ride to nowhere home.

A mall trip that my brother and I still recall to this day involved us getting a bawling out from mom going from our house to the mall.
Please keep in mind that it was a good twenty minutes to get there,so this was a good ear chewing!
As we were listening to this,a balding fiftyish jogger was passed on the road complete with eighties headband and running gear.
Think of any eighties stereotype and you'll get the picture clearly.
The lecture continues and said jogger appears and I blurted out "check this guy out in heavy training for the Gavin MacLeod look alike contest".
Brought the car down and mom had a hard time continuing the lecture after that!

The Orange Bowl went out of business as a chain in the late 1980's never to be heard from again and I don't hear a lot of internet talk missing it as you do on other lost chains like Burger Chef for an example of one,but I sure do.
The O-Joy was good and I kinda think I'd still be a fan,but you never know on these things.
Tastes change and maybe it would not be as delicious today,but you cannot touch the memories.
Sometimes the important thing might not be the item,but the company you keep and the memories that you make.

Stay tuned for more mall memories eventually and stay tuned soon for the first interview of the new year!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Browns head coach?

The Cleveland Browns needed a change.
Despite some improvement in talent,Pat Shurmur was overmatched in the role and likely should not have been hired to begin with as without the connection of his uncle to Mike Holmgren,he would not have been.

The Browns apparently are looking very hard at three college head coaches at their splashy hire.
I have issues with all three and for three very different reasons,but as I told my friend and reader Hank earlier about this topic,I really do not have a strong opinion on who TO hire...

Oregon's Chip Kelly has the highest upside,but his read-option offense seems awfully gimmicky for the NFL and something makes me think that Kelly is just as likely to be the next version of Bobby Petrino than he is anything else.
Penn State's Bill O'Brien did very well there in his first year,but the first year was always going to be the best there with their sanctions and he might be looking to leap while the going is good.
O'Brien also comes with the Belichick stain of none of the Billy B. gang ever succeeding as a head man in the league.
Syracuse's Doug Marrone has league experience with New Orleans as their offensive coordinator with Drew Brees and the Super Bowl winning Saints,but he has been just .500 with Syracuse,although the program does seem to be for the better since his arrival.

The NFL candidates are uninspiring as well.
Andy Reid is out because of his issues with Joe Banner,not that I would want him anyway.
Lovie Smith is dull,although there would be worse choices.
Bruce Arians would not be a candidate,but his work in Indianapolis as an interim has put him in a mix for some teams.
An assistant that I do like is Greg Roman at San Francisco,Roman is committed to the running game and is from the Cleveland area,so the job might appeal to him.

The big names are interesting to a degree.
Jon Gruden is intense and young enough to make a run,but Gruden might stay with the status quo with the offense and that has been disappointing.
Bill Cowher is way overrated and does not seem to have the fire anymore anyway.
After suffering through the Mike Holmgren show up and cash a check era,I am not in favor of another less than inspired big name.
Nick Saban has the Belichick stain and a less than strong Miami tenure,but I think he would work hard in what might be his last chance in the NFL.

If I had to choose,I think I'd go Saban,Gruden,Roman in that order.

Back tomorrow.....

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Browns fall in Pittsburgh-Shurmur,Heckert axed...

The Cleveland Browns were not expected to do much entering the Steel City for the season ending game against Pittsburgh,considering that they were starting a third string quarterback in Thaddeus Lewis and were without the main cog of the running game in Trent Richardson.
Cleveland surprised me by hanging in for the entire game before falling to the Steelers 24-10 on a day filled with snow showers.
Thaddeus Lewis tossed a seven yard touchdown pass to Greg Little early in the third quarter to tie the game at ten and the game was still in doubt into the late fourth quarter when a Steeler score put the game away.
The Browns finished the season at 5-11 and fired head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert earlier this morning.
I'll be back later today or tomorrow with a more comprehensive look at the firings and either in that post or a following one,I'll take a look at some of the rumored candidates....

Brownie Bits

1) Thaddeus Lewis was better than expected,although those expectations were not very high.
Lewis finished with over 200 yards passing and threw just one pick.
The interception was a bad one as Troy Polamalu baited Lewis into throwing the ball and stepped in front for the easy grab.
That ended a drive that might have ended in a score,but all things considered,Lewis was more than adequate....

2) Lewis used Ben Watson as his safety valve as he caught seven passes,but Lewis had issues throwing the ball deep or even medium length as only one pass was completed for more than twenty yards on the afternoon....

3) Brandon Jackson made a rare appearance from the Pat Shurmur doghouse (Being demolished as I type) and rushed for over fifty yards on eight carries.
Jackson collected a lot of money for a lot of time spent on the injured list and being deactivated,so this was about what the Browns got for two years of salary.

4) Jabaal Sheard finished up a disappointing second season with a nice game against the Steelers O-line.
Sheard finished with two sacks in his return to his college home.
I hope Sheard is able to return to his rookie form and I believe that he will as this often happens to rookies as players learn and "get a book" on players.
How that player bounces back is how one looks at that player's career.

5) The Lewis interception was big,but just as big was the Travis Benjamin catch and rise,which then resulted in a strip of the football.
Benjamin has become a larger part of the offense and I hope to see improvement next season...

6) Pat Shurmur showed more fire in this games than he has in two seasons.
We are all human and perhaps the knowledge of his coming release had him on edge?

7) Nice to see James Harrison show up with another helmet to helmet cheap shot.
Harrison is rumored to not be returning to Pittsburgh next season.
Baltimore would be a nice fit for this thug....

8) Nice day for the defense as they held the Steelers to just 212 yards on offense.
They were handicapped by field position,but it was a good effort on the whole...

9) Rumors have three college coaches at the top of the Browns list-Oregon's Chip Kelly,Syracuse's Doug Marrone and Penn State's Bill O'Brien.
None do much for me.
O'Brien might be jumping the Penn State ship after getting the best mileage from a suffering program and has the Belichick stain (no Belichick assistant has succeeded as a head man).Kelly will be bringing a gimmick offense and makes me think of the failed Atlanta tenure of Bobby Petrino and Marrone is interesting with his success in New Orleans as their offensive coordinator,but Syracuse was exactly a power.
Color me uneasy...

10) This started yesterday and never was finished,so sorry if this reads a bit disjointed!
My Apologies....

Photo Credit: Cleveland Plain Dealer