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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Another Florida Fade

A shorter post than usual-I'm just zoned out after a day in Altoona that was sandwiched in between work shifts (I'll post on my day tomorrow).
The New Jersey Devils lost a lead with seconds remaining for the second day in a row in Florida as this time it was the Florida Panthers forcing overtime.
The pain didn't last as long on this night as the Panthers scored in overtime for a 3-2 win.
Steve Bernier banged in both Devils goals (7 and 8 Power Play).
New Jersey returns home after three games on Monday against the Islanders.

Hell Raisers

1) The final minutes looked much like the previous night in Tampa.
Panicked and playing in fear.

2) Steve Bernier stepped up with a strong game.
Banging around the net and making things happen.

3) I was tired as noted,so I watched the game but not in the usual detail.My apologies.
Back soon with some notes on the Pirates in Altoona....

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Giving points away...

The New Jersey Devils scored goals,played fun to watch hockey and looked to be on their way to two points in Tampa.
That changed with a panicked and rushed final few minutes that saw the Devils allow the game tying goal with just seconds on the clock followed by a (Grr..) shootout loss to the Lightning.
The 5-4 defeat sees the Devils gain just one point in
the standings,when they should have gained two.
Devils goals to Andrei Loktionov (7),Ryan Carter (4 Shorthanded),Andy Greene (3 Power Play) and Tom Kostopoulos (1 Penalty Shot).
New Jersey travels to Miami tonight for a game against the Panthers...

Hell Raisers

1) Except for the ending,the Devils really did pretty well for themselves.
Tom Kostopoulos scored his first Devils goal on a penalty shot and looked pretty good doing it.
Take the goal with an earlier fight for the veteran and he almost earned the Gordie Howe hat trick!

2) The special teams fared well as both the man advantage and disadvantage scored goals in the contest.
Nice to see both of those units getting revved up.

3) The Devils continue to struggle in the shootout.
I hate having games decided in this fashion,but as long as they are,the team needs to work on this-pronto!
I am tired of losing points because they cannot get this finished!

4) Two assists for Matt D'Agostini for his first Devils points.
Matt picked up a bad penalty in overtime,but showed some speed and playmaking ability,which is the first that I have seen of it since his arrival.

5) Finally,I thought the Devils played poorly in the last few minutes.
They looked panicked in their own end,icing the puck when they needed clears and they looked like they were playing the clock.
I know that's the idea in game ending situations,but not to the point of playing scared.

6) Not sure why Travis Zajac started the shootout,but his and Patrik Elias had some pretty poor ideas in the shootout as neither were able to even get a shot away.
Bad planning and the team,as I noted, needs to address this matter ASAP.

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Food Tournament

With A&W Root Beer's victory over Dairy Queen,we move onto the next matchup as the slider takes center stage with regional titans White Castle against Krystal.

Neither of these two are in the area for me to eat regularly as I tried White Castle in Ohio with Krystal in Tennessee.
Remember you can vote in the poll here,on Facebook on my page or on the TRS page as well.

I'll keep track of all votes!

Sean Nicol Interview-Part 4

We conclude our interview with Sean Nicol with the fourth installment of our chat with him.
Thanks to Sean for the time and I hope that you enjoyed this interview.
I have another interview in the hopper for a future date,so I hope you enjoy this as well..

 TRS: Most observers think the biggest jump in the game is from High A to AA do you agree?

SN: I do agree it is the biggest jump. That is where you see hitters and pitchers mature and have a plan on each pitch.
 
TRS: Have the Nationals given you any idea on where you will play next season?

SN: I have no indication on where I will be next season.

TRS: If you had a choice what position would you play regularly?

SN: I enjoy short stop because I believe it is the toughest position on the field to play. but I enjoy second as well.

TRS: What do you feel the strength of your game is?

SN: The strength of my game is definitely defense, and the mental side.

TRS:What do you do in the off season?

SN:  I coach and give lessons in the off season, and then work out and get ready to come back.

TRS: You have always been one of the more popular players at every stop,do you have any hopes to stay in the pro game after you are done playing?

SN:  I do not know what my plans are when I am done playing. Hopefully I
do not have to make that decision for awhile.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Browns sign Jason Campbell

The Cleveland Browns finally made their move to bring in competition for Brandon Weeden as Weeden will attempt to keep the starting quarterback job as Cleveland signed former Redskins and Raiders starter Jason Campbell to a two year contract.
Campbell spent last year backing up Jay Cutler in Chicago,appearing in six games and starting one as he finished the season with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
The former first rounder is now 31 years old and does not appear to be the long term answer,but certainly has some gas in the tank left.
I never thought Campbell was that awful as a starter with Washington and Oakland,although I certainly would not say he was a All-Pro candidate either.
Campbell is big (6'5) and has the power arm that I like to see in a passer and although he has taken some beatings over his career,Campbell is not broken down that he would be a liability if he wins the job or is forced to play due to an injury.
Jason Campbell is not the answer to the Browns long term issues,but I have always felt that he was a player stuck behind poor offensive lines and less than stellar skill players and might be the type of player to bridge the gap until the next young passer comes to Cleveland.
Campbell should be able give Brandon Weeden all he wants for the position and considering that,I endorse this signing-as long as all involved do not think that Campbell is going to be the franchise savior.

The Browns also made another depth addition to their secondary as former Maryland Terrapin Kevin Barnes was signed to a one year contract.
Barnes was a third round pick in the 2009 draft by the Redskins,but was never able to burst into the starting lineup before being traded to the Lions last summer,who released him a few games into the season.
Barnes has the size that the other Browns corners lack and might be hungry as he is down to his final chance in the league.
Nothing ventured,nothing gained,but Barnes is another low risk high reward gamble that will likely not work out,but has the pedigree to worth the small price of this deal....

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It's the food tournament!

Thanks to a comment by a Facebook friend ( Thanks,Krista!),I was struck by the idea of a tournament of my favorite foods/places to eat!
You can vote here,on the TRS Facebook page,on my personal FB page if you are a friend or even email them to me like my buddy Big Don does!

The ground rules.
These are all things that I like with a few exceptions needed to fill out a bracket.
If you don't see something you like,it either didn't make my cut or I've never tried it.
Samples or gift cards gratefully accepted by the management....

Yes,I know there are six brackets,my tourney,my rules.
Fast Food,Sit down/Casual,Candy/Cookies,Snack Foods,Pizza/Subs and Soda

I realize that many of my favorites will lose quickly.
Maryland staples will likely fall to national brands as will Ohio's versions,but I love them and they deserved to represented.

I will also try to add links for the items of less familiarity to help voters take a look and maybe give them a try....

I think that covers it,take a look and enjoy the tourney as we lighten things up a little here.

We start in round one of the Fast Food Bracket as A&W Root Beer battles Dairy Queen.
A&W is a national chain,but my heart remains with their stand in Ashland Ohio,that is still open,but uses the name Ashland Wooster Drive In so they can be an independent operation.
Keep in mind the A&W chain can be used  as well for those of you that have eaten there as well....



More injuries down Devils in shootout

The suddenly injury riddled New Jersey Devils lost two more players to the bench in the first period and despite being two players down,the team really outplayed the Ottawa Senators and battled back twice from deficits.
After all of that though,the games came down to another one of those damn skills competitions and Ottawa took a 3-2 win in the Canadian Capital.
Andrei Loktionov (6) and Marek Zidlicky (4) ripped the net for New Jersey,who now travels to Florida for back to back games against the Lightning and Panthers..

Hell Raisers

1)  As disappointed as I am with the loss,I cannot be totally displeased with a point on the road against a good team.
The Devils played well and the defense was strong,especially considering that they played most of the game a man down with the absence of Bryce Salvador.
Two points was not in the cards,but the effort was and that will have to continue.

2) I hate the shootout.
Oh,it's exciting and fun to watch,but on nights like this one,it just feels wrong to decide a game in such a manner.
For its pluses,the NHL truly looks like a minor league deciding games like this.....

3) Big overtime swing when David Clarkson was cut early by a high stick and no call was made.
What should have been a four minute four on three never occurred and hampered the hopes of a Devils win....

4) The injuries to Bryce Salvador and Stephen Gionta put both the defensemen and forwards in for a long night as guys needed to take extra shifts.
No word on the extent of the injuries,but Salvador will likely be replaced in the lineup by either Henrik Tallinder or Mark Fayne.
Defense is the one spot of depth for the team right now,so those would be the natural choice..

5) If the Stephen Gionta injury is a longer term,the story would be different.
The already ailing team recalled Harri Pesonen from Albany,so if I had to guess,the callup might be Jacob Josefson....

6) I really like Andrei Loktionov.
I didn't know much about him when he was brought in from Los Angeles,but his game is rougher than expected,he's willing to muck around the net,yet he has skills as well.
I would endorse the team keeping the restricted free agent in the off season.

7) Marek Zidlicky has many flaws,but his slick moves in scoring his goal last night showed his good side.
With the team lacking in firepower,players like Zidlicky will need to be creative in filling some of those voids...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sean Nicol Interview-Part 3

Our interview with Sean Nicol continues on a surprisingly snowy Monday.

TRS: You spent time at four levels in 2011,what were the differences in pitching at the higher levels?

SN: The differences in pitching was that the higher each level, the more pitches a pitcher could throw for strikes and pitchers could spot up their location almost every time.
 
TRS:  Tell me a bit about your experiences with Stephen Strasburg after his injury,was that exciting or crazy?

SN: Strasburg is an awesome guy and a great team mate. I enjoyed seeing him interact with us despite all the hype. He is very humble and easy going.

TRS: What was the Bryce Harper mania like in 2011,was it similar to Strasburg or different and if so how?

SN: It was different because there were fans at every game that drove hours just to see Bryce. He is an exciting young player and has a lot of talent.

TRS: How do you think Harper handled all the fuss for a 18 year old?
Were you in Hagerstown the night he blew the kiss to the Greensboro pitcher?
What were your thoughts on that,if so?

SN:  Bryce went out and handled his business on the field every night. he is a great player. I was in Hagerstown the night he blew the kiss, and he was just standing up for the team. what the media didn't portray was that the pitcher we were facing was yelling in our dugout and taunting players. Bryce got the best of him and just was taunting back, he is a competitive players, as we all are.

TRS: What were your favorite and least favorite ballparks and town in the South Atlantic,Carolina and Eastern leagues?


SN: To be honest I don't really know about ones I dislike, so much in each of the leagues. Winston Salem was a great field, and many of the fields in the eastern league are great. New Britain (AA twins) is awful for an infielder. the dirt is terrible and it took bad hops almost every time, I disliked playing there as an infielder.

Look for the final part of our Sean Nicol interview coming up soon....

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Kovalchuk injured in Devils win

The New Jersey Devils scrapped their way to a 2-0 lead over the Florida Panthers before a miscue with seconds remaining in the second period cut the lead to one goal.
The Devils then lost a star and held on for dear life to hold on to two valuable standings points,which they were able to do in a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers,but at a high cost.
Patrik Elias (10) started the scoring with David Clarkson scoring the game winner (12) with Travis Zajac assisting on both goals.
The Devils travel to Ottawa Monday night for a meeting against the Senators.

Hell Raisers

1) The biggest news is the injury to Ilya Kovalchuk,who slid into the boards,slamming his right shoulder into them.
The Devils acknowledged that Kovalchuk will miss "at least a short period of time" with the shoulder injury,but I got the feeling that it might be worse than that.
If this is a long term injury,it will be a huge loss for the Devils of course,but it may mean the end of playoff hopes.
Despite a few points lead over Carolina and the Rangers and being in the seventh playoff position,nothing is safe.
When you consider that the Devils were having problems scoring goals with Kovalchuk,imagine what issues may await without him....

2) As we await the news on just how long Ilya Kovalchuk will be out for,the speculation begins-Does Lou Lamoriello take his chances on the intact lineup or is his hand now forced in an attempt to supplement the goal scoring in order to make the playoffs?
That question looms almost as large as the term of Kovalchuk's injury...

3) Martin Brodeur had 18 saves in the win,but a miscue allowed Peter Mueller to score the only Panthers goal.
Brodeur attempted to move the puck from behind the net with a pass,but his avenue was blocked,resulting in a less than strong pass with the net wide open for Mueller.
These things happen,but it is a lot easier to say that after a win than a loss...

4) The game winner by David Clarkson was sheer grit.
Clarkson shot the puck into Scott Clemmensen and then kept hacking and whacking on two more attempts before he finally slid the puck into the net.
Exactly the type of play that Clarkson needs to be playing in order to be effective.

5) The other goal was a pretty touch and go between Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias.
Zajac hardly had the puck on his stick at all before guiding it Elias.
Zajac finally seems to be picking his play up and it could not happen at a better time...

6) The Devils did seem to be playing not to lose late in the game and barely staggered home for the win.
To be fair,this was happening with Kovalchuk on the ice,but considering the upcoming problems and the struggles against the worst team in the East,Could you be seeing the beginning of a slide?
I hope not....

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Making moves in Cleveland and New Jersey

What looked to be a slow news day here turned into something to type about as both the Browns and Devils made moves to add to their rosters.

First,we go to the in-season team as the Devils made a trade with the St.Louis Blues to add former top prospect Matt D'Agostini to add to the slumping offense.
At one time,the now 26 year old right winger was thought to be a possible star in the league just two years ago as he scored 21 goals.
Since then,D'Agostini's game slipped offensively with a nine goal season last year and missed considerable time with concussion issues before scoring just one goal this season with the Blues.
Of course the Devils are hoping that a change of scenery will re-start D'Agostini scoring goals and they will have the remainder of the season to evaluate him as he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the campaign.

Fire and Ice reports the following as the terms of the swap:
"If the Devils qualify or re-sign him, the Blues get the Devils’ 2015 fourth-round pick and keep their seventh-round pick. If the Devils decide not to qualify or re-sign D’Agostini, they get St. Louis’ 2015 seventh-round pick and the Blues get the Devils’ 2015 fifth-round pick."

Seems like a safe enough gamble for a player that two years ago would have been nowhere near that low of a cost to obtain.
Harri Pesonen was returned to Albany in order to make room on the roster/
D'Agostini will wear 16,which means Rachel will dislike him right away.

The Browns signed two free agents to one year deals,neither of which will turn the world upside down and one of which is quite disappointing to me.
Cleveland signed tight end Kellen Davis from the Bears and corner Chris Owens from the Falcons.
Owens was the Falcons third corner last season and should fill a similar role with the Browns in the nickel and dime formations as he will likely fill the role that was held last year by Buster Skrine.
Owens should even have a chance to start opposite Joe Haden,although the Browns will likely attempt to draft someone to start and the team still has a chance to sign a former teammate of Owens in Brent Grimes.
Grimes would immediately slot in as the starter and the Browns would likely not use the first rounder on a corner,if the team signs Grimes to go with Owens.
Owens is 5'9  and small for the position and fits better as a situational corner than an every down corner.

Considering the names that Browns fans were hoping to land at tight end through free agency,Kellen Davis seems like quite a downer and he is to me.
The 6'7 Davis has the physical tools to play in the league,but he is more of a pass catcher than a blocker and yet his hands have been a liability as he dropped several passes ( 8 drops of 44 targets according to Profootballfocus.com) and showed nothing to me to make him an improvement over Jordan Cameron,let alone equal some of the bigger names that were available.
I know that Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner have the reputation of working well with tight ends,but Pat Shurmur had the rep of working well with quarterbacks and that didn't turn out well.
This is a disappointment to me as Davis seems to me to be guy that works out well and looks good on the measurement template,but that does not turn into on field production.
The physical size makes Davis an intriguing addition,but the hands will have to improve greatly in order for this to be an good addition...
It is only a one year contract,so perhaps Davis will come to camp motivated and prepared,but for now,I am not overwhelmed....


Friday, March 22, 2013

Marty's back and Devils win!

The New Jersey Devils thought that the return of Martin Brodeur would give them a jolt that had been missing to their lineup.
What they did not know was that Brodeur would be an addition to their goal scoring as Brodeur scored the first goal of the game (1) and would then be stellar in goal as the Devils defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 in Mt.Pilot.
Brodeur's unusual goal was the only goal of the first period and would have been the game winner had Carolina's Jeff Skinner not scored in the third period.
The remaining Devils goals were scored by Adam Henrique (10),Andrei Loktionov ( 5 power play) and Peter Harrold (2).
New Jersey gets one day off before a home game Saturday night against Florida....

Hell Raisers

1) The Martin Brodeur goal came off a crazy play,where the Devils had committed a delayed penalty,which allowed Carolina to remove goalie Dan Ellis in order to provide an extra attacker.
Jordan Staal fired the puck at Brodeur,which the puck bounced off his pads.Staal gained possession of the puck and tried to pass to Tim Gleason into the corner.
The pass missed Gleason,bounced into the boards and skidded all the way to the other end straight into the unguarded Carolina net.
Since Brodeur had been the last Devils to touch the puck,he was credited with the goal....

2) The Devils played very well in the second period with two goals,but I was especially pleased with the defense,which allowed Carolina to put just three shots on net against Brodeur in that term.
That is the return of lockdown hockey!

3) Two assists for Travis Zajac,who after some pretty blase' performances seems to be bouncing back
into form.
Zajac needs to be the passing center that the team needs,if the scoring woes are going to dilute a bit.
I don't expect huge points from Zajac,but his stats for the season are not acceptable for the cap hit that he gives the team...

4) Martin Brodeur didn't have to make too many great saves in the final two periods,but I thought he played very well in the first,when Carolina was most active on the offensive end.
That is the difference between a Johan Hedberg and the best goalie to ever play the game-a save or two a night is the gap between a win and an loss....

5) This was a huge win for the Devils as the team shared 7th-9th place in the standings with the Hurricanes and Rangers.
Between the defeat of Carolina and the loss by the Rangers to Florida,the Devils are in seventh alone with a chance to pull away a little with a win over Florida.
Amazing how a return and a win turns an outlook around...

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cleaning out the inbox

Time for the clearing out of the inbox.

We start with a topic of a previous post and the closing of the Gibbles Chip company.
The local icon closing its doors gave the area its own version of the Twinkies trail run and was a sad day for many fans of their various products.
I did grab three bags and yet to bring myself to eat them.
I suppose I can delude myself into thinking they truly are not gone as long as I have them around.

In my other hometown in Ashland,Ohio,the Hedstrom Ball and toy company have moved into and taken over an Wal-Mart,a JC Penney and a few other stores from an strip mall.
I remember when the shopping area was built in 1990 when Wal-Mart first hit the area and was abandoned when a newer Wal-Mart superstore was built in another area of the town.
I think these types of "recycling" are great ideas and kudos to Hedstrom and the city for doing it!

Speaking of Hedstrom,I just picked up another G2 Air football made by the company.
The football made in the 1970's was the best non leather ball that I had as a child and I look forward to taking the new to my annual cookout this summer for friends and family...

ESPN takes a look at the end of the original Big East tournament,which is returning to its roots as a basketball-centric conference.
The basketball schools managed to keep the name and the status of their conference tournament at Madison Square Garden in the terms of their split with the football schools of the league.
The Big East announced yesterday the additions of Butler,Creighton and Xavier to the league to raise the number of teams to ten....

Marlins prospect Andrew Heaney did a Q and A with the official site of minor league baseball.
Heaney was the Marlins first pick in last season's draft and was the pitcher that shutdown the Hagerstown Suns in last season's playoff game at the Muni....

Two recent passing of interest

Former Oklahoma quarterback Steve Davis was killed in a plane crash,when the small plane that he was riding in smashed into three homes in Indiana.
Davis was the engineer of the powerhouse Sooner Wishbone that led Oklahoma to back to back national titles in 1974 and 1975.
Davis was sixty years of age...

Ruth Ann Steinhagen passed at the age of 83 in Chicago.
Who was Ruth Ann Steinhagen?
She was the disturbed fan that shot Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus in 1949 and the incident was the inspiration for the book and later film The Natural.
Steinhagen was declared insane,served three years at an psychiatric institution and after her release,faded into the background and never again had further problems.... 

Two more interesting articles on not quite stars of the past from Hardball Times.
Rico Carty,the "Beeg Mon" of the late 70's Indians as the epitome of the aging player that can swing the stick and do little else,gets an article looking at his sweet swing.
I always compared Carty to Julio Franco as players that could fall out of bed at 65 and swat a double off the wall.

Jim Ray Hart was a cornerstone of those late 60's Giants teams that always looked to have the best team in the league as far as talent,but always fell short.
Hart's article looks at a talented player that had issues with alcohol and saw his skills fade quickly...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sean Nicol Interview-Part 2

Our interview with Sean Nicol continues with part two.

TRS: You have been able to play several positions,was this always a strength or did it come along in college or in pro baseball?

SN: My whole life I have pretty much played shortstop, and it is pretty simple to adjust from shortstop to any other position, except catcher. so the transition was very simple.

TRS: When you began your career you started in Vermont,Any thoughts on the team and its stadium?

SN: Vermont was a great place to play. We had good fan support, and a great host family situation there. That is always the best part of the teams we play on.

TRS; In the NY/Penn league,many of the stadiums are older,do any of them stick out as the best and worst? Any good NY/Penn league road stories?

SN:  The best stadiums were Staten Island, and Brooklyn I thought. The worst were probably Vermont, and Auburn. That is just field condition.

TRS: After the season in Vermont,you were in a Topps set of baseball cards,How did they contact you,what did they pay for you to be on the cards and what was that like?

SN: Topps comes around in your first season usually, and signs most guys to a contract with them for $5.
 
TRS: Coming to full season baseball in Hagerstown,was seeing the Muni a major culture shock?

SN :Coming to Hagerstown, it wasn't too much of a culture shock, because as said before the NY Penn league had older stadiums as well.

TRS: Looking back at the Muni,what are your true thoughts and any stories on the stadium behind the scenes?

SN: I enjoyed hagerstown. I became close with some fans and there was great fan support there! My aunt also lived 30 minutes from there in West Virginia, so it was nice to be back there and stay with her.

TRS: Your first season was split between Hagerstown and Potomac and you hit well in the Carolina League,were you surprised to return to Hagerstown the following season?

SN: I was definitely surprised to return back to hagerstown, But it is not my decision on where I am sent. I did not think it would be Hagerstown, but there are certain players that have to play despite results, and I understand that. it is a business.

Stay tuned for part three later in the week....

Rangers by a razor

The New York Rangers used a second period goal by Rick Nash to snap a two all tie and held on for a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils at the Rock.
The teams swapped goals in the first period in an interesting first period to set up the game winner.
Travis Zajac (5 power play) and Anton Volchenkov (1) scored for the Devils.
The fading Devils hit the ice on Thursday in Carolina against the Hurricanes....

Hell Raisers

1) Just another night of everything being tried and little going in.
31 shots is a nice evening,but what is the quality of some of these shots?
I seem to write this often,but still...

2) Henrik Lundquist earned a penalty against Travis Zajac by flopping to the ice and lying there for attention.
The problem was that Zajac did not touch him-the Rangers Dan Girardi did.....

3) Johan Hedberg was fine for the most part,but his misplay of the puck led to the Michael Del Zotto shorthanded goal and I thought the Nash goal was stoppable.
Good,but not good enough....

4) Martin Brodeur activated off IR and backed up Hedberg,
Brodeur should return against Carolina.
Thank you!!

5) If you think the Devils need to make a deadline deal,Mark Fayne might be the centerpiece.
Fayne is highly thought of by some and has been a scratch recently.
Could that be a sign of things to come???

6) Alexei Ponikarovsky left the game in the second period and did not return.
Ponikarovsky would be another loss to a team lacking in depth and scoring....

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Boxing to become leagues? HBO splits from Golden Boy

There might be a flurry of posts over the next 24 hours as my one off day is nearing its end and it's back to the road office tonight.
We have Devils vs Rangers,tons of stuff clogging the inbox and more from our interview with Sean Nicol as well,so might be some work to be done tonight!

This might have waited until the next edition (coming soon) of the Overhand Right,but I wanted to devote a full post to the decision by HBO to divorce itself (for the time being) from Golden Boy Promotions.
These things happen from time to time,but two things appeared to make a move of this type bound to happen.
The first was when Showtime hired Stephen Espinoza to run its boxing department after Ken Hershman jumped Showtime's ship to work for HBO.
Espinoza had worked for Golden Boy as its legal counsel for years and as soon as he took over,the word began to spread that Showtime was going to be the house organ for GBP,which is pretty much what happened as Showtime began to get the better fights from their company,while HBO settled for Adrian Broner against the guy pushing the mop at the Valley Mall and yet another dull Bernard Hopkins push and shove bout.
The second was when Floyd Mayweather decided to move to Showtime's PPV arm for a six fight deal (If Floyd actually fights six times on this contract,disbelief is a kind word for my feelings then) and leave HBO,his career long home.
When Mayweather made this decision,his "advisor" Al Haymon lost his leverage with HBO,who had showcased fighters that were not ready to be showcased ( Andre Berto and Keith Thurman to name just two) in bouts that weren't competitive or interesting in order to placate Haymon.
The flight of Floyd made it very easy for HBO cut ties with the rest of the bunch,although I am sure that they would love to keep Broner,although his leaving 135 pounds and avoiding the murderous 140 lb. division in order to hit the far weaker 147 pound class made him few admirers anywhere.

The net result for now is basically that boxing almost has two leagues with HBO having Top Rank and its stars and Showtime with Golden Boy's standouts and the handful of smaller promoters with top fighters (Gary Shaw,Lou Dibella,Main Events etc) being able to deal with either side.
In some cases,that is a good thing as promoters that hold the cards in one division are more likely to have the best fight the best as Golden Boy having the best at 140 and Top Rank the top fighters at 160,but if the best two fighters each fight for one or the other,the best fights will be difficult to make such as at Jr Featherweight where Nonito Donaire (HBO/Top Rank) and Abner Mares (Showtime/Golden Boy) talk about a fight,but seem unlikely to do so with promotional issues,although April's Donaire vs number three fighter Guillermo Rigondeaux is a nice consolation fight at the weight.

HBO and Showtime survive by subscribers,not by ratings,so their boxing programs are driven to add subscribers not by how many people actually watch programs.
Showtime is pouring money into boxing to see more stars and build their subscriber base that is a solid,albeit distant second to HBO,which is always the brand name in pay television.
Showtime may not be trying to catch HBO boxing as much as making a run for customers that they currently do not have.

This fissure might not be the best thing,but boxing will manage to get by.
Loads of money was lost when Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao never fought,but the game survived.
Don King and Bob Arum were mortal enemies like Arum's Top Rank and Golden Boy are now,but when business needed to be made,they made it work and I am sure it will happen again.
I don't count anything involving Floyd Mayweather in that statement as despite the brilliant skills of Mayweather,he has spent most of his career fighting people of lesser skills,at weight disadvantage or fights of little interest in an attempt to finish his career undefeated.
I've seen this movie before though in Roy Jones,someone unexpected will catch Floyd and then with his skills diminished,he will fight better guys and far more often.
I don't think the ordinary Robert Guerrero is that guy,but I didn't think Antonio Tarver was the guy that would stop Roy Jones either.

However,for now-Boxing fans will either have to pick one or buy both and in this climate,both might be a tough sell.....

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Downed by Dumbness

The New Jersey Devils played the best team in the Eastern Conference straight up for almost an entire game before a dumb play by Marek Zidlicky allowed Montreal to score the game winning goal in a 2-1 Canadiens win.
Zidlicky's poor clearing attempt went straight to an open Jarred Tinordi,who's shot was then deflected by Tomas Plekanec by Johan Hedberg for the win.
Peter Harrold scored the only goal for the Devils (1 powerplay).
New Jersey returns on Tuesday against the Rangers at MSG.

Hell Raisers

1) I feel terrible for Johan Hedberg,who played very well and deserved to earn the win.
I would not put either goal on the worn out Hedberg and the final one had to be all on Marek Zidlicky for a simply awful decision...

2) The Zidlicky decision was just plain dumb.
Use whatever adjective that you prefer,but Zidlicky just had to put the puck along the boards and for some reason sent it straight to the waiting and all alone Jarred Tinordi in the slot.
These things do happen,but Zidlicky seems to do them more than a long time veteran should.

3) The Devils did put more pucks on the net than usual with 33 shots against Carey Price,who was stellar in goal.
This is the first step in solving the scoring issues,but now they have to work on more muck work around the net and getting better shots from closer inside than what they are currently doing...

4) I wondered why Peter Harrold was getting power play time,but he scored the only goal,so what do I know?!
Harrold also showed the value of the visor as he took a shot to the visor that cut him,but allowed him to return to the game.
Compare that to the injury suffered by Marc Staal on a similar shot and see the amount of time that Staal will miss and the value of visors can be easily seen.

5) Jacques Caron was honored before the game for his career with the Devils family as the teams goaltending guru and his work with Martin Brodeur stands out.
Brodeur gives much of the credit for his career to Caron and we thank him for his service.

6) NHL debut for Harri Pesonen.
Pesonen wore the number of the demoted Jacob Josefson,which ticked off Rachel.
Pesonen had no say in it of course,but that mattered little to Rachel...

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Failure in Philly Shootout

The Philadelphia Flyers scored two goals in the shootout to offset Ilya Kovalchuk's goal and took a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils in Philadelphia.
David Clarkson tied the game in the second period with his eleventh goal of the season for the only New Jersey goal.
The Devils hit the ice tonight at home against the suddenly strong Montreal Canadiens.

Hell Raisers

1) Johan Hedberg was shaky in the shootout as he was beaten twice through the five hole,but he was very strong in the game as Hedberg made several strong saves.
I thought Hedberg played well and deserved the win....

2) The Devils just missed two chances to win the game on a power play to end the third period.
One shot just dribbled the post past a beaten Ilya Bryzgalov and another saw Marek Zidlicky unable to lift the puck over a prone Bryzgalov.
It truly is a game of inches...

3) David Clarkson snapped a long scoreless streak with his goal.
Clarkson has been shooting from further out than when he is at his top performance and that is not his strength....

4) 0 for 5 on the power play with one of those a 5 on 3.
Much of the time was spent with ineffective time and the concerns of the unit continues for me.
I know that Ilya Kovalchuk and Marek Zidlicky are usually the point men and are going to control the puck,but I see too much perimeter passing and not enough getting the puck to the net,either by shooting or passing...

5) Andrei Loktionov left the game in the first period and did not return.
No word on how serious the injury is at this time..

6) Braden Schenn was suspended for leaping into Anton Volchenkov earlier this season and he did the same thing in this game.
It will be interesting to see if it occurs again...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sean Nicol Interview -Part 1

We start a new interview with Sean Nicol.
Nicol is an infielder in the Washington Nationals system and spent last season at AA Harrisburg.
Thanks to Sean for taking the time

TRS: Growing up was baseball always your first love or did you prefer another sport?

SN:Baseball has always been my number one sport. I grew up playing basketball and football as well, but I was best at baseball, so that's the sport I stuck with.

TRS: When you graduated high school were you thinking about being drafted or were you committed to college?

SN:  I was committed to College. I wanted to make sure i went to school as well to get my education.

TRS: What schools recruited you and what made San Diego the place for you?

SN: Out of high school, I was mainly recruited by one Division 1 college heavily, The University of Portland. I had other interests like Arizona State, and University of Arizona, but Portland was the only one to pursue me heavily. I went to Portland, Oregon for my first year of college and played there. I loved it and enjoyed the coaching staff and baseball. There was just something missing that I felt I needed and I got my release and San Diego was very interested once my release was given.

TRS: Did you talk to any scouts during your time at San Diego and if so,did you have any teams that you thought were especially interested?

SN: I did talk with scouts, and the teams most interested were the Padres and the Indians. I do not believe I talked with any Washington Nationals scouts before the draft.

TRS: What was it like playing college baseball in a town that has pro ball and another Division I school in the same town?
Did you feel ignored and what are your thoughts towards San Diego State?

SN: University of San Diego is a small division 1 school, so I understood baseball was not going to be a huge spotlight on our program throughout the community, even though we were a Top 10 program every year.

TRS: Were you surprised to be selected by Washington?

SN: I was definitely surprised to be drafted by the Nationals. As I mentioned before, I had not talked with the nationals before the draft.

TRS: What were negotiations like in coming to a contract agreement?

SN:  I was a senior sign out of college, so I did not have many options or bargaining chips for a contract agreement. it was pretty much a take it or leave it.

Look for part two of our talk with Sean Nicol soon!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Browns add two,lose two

The Cleveland Browns did not stop on day two of free agency as the team added two players while losing two more..

The biggest addition was the signing of linebacker Quentin Groves of the Cardinals to a two year deal.
Groves had started for Arizona last season under new Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton and was a player that the Browns were expected to be interested in.
Groves had four sacks last year for a career high in his first season playing in the 3-4 defense and is expected to contend for a starting spot at outside linebacker.

The other Browns signee' will mainly be a special teamer and third string blocking type at tight end in former Panther Gary Barnidge.
Barnidge signed a three year deal after a six catch (1 TD) 2012.
Barnidge is strictly a reserve,so the Browns are still in the running for a tight end that can start.

The Browns lost two players to teams that they had raided earlier in free agency.
The biggest loss was Josh Cribbs,who had spent several years in Cleveland as their special teams ace.
The multiple time Pro Bowler is now a member of the Arizona Cardinals,who will use him as their return man and occasional wideout.
Cribbs had dropped off a bit in the last few seasons and I can understand why the Browns decided not to bring him back at the money that he would have wanted.
Still,he was the most exciting player that the team has had in his tenure,so it still is sad to see him go.

Kaluka Maiava signed with the Raiders.
The linebackers was mostly a special teams standout,although he did start at linebacker some last season.
Maiava is better in the 4-3 setup,so this is not a huge loss for the Browns.

The Browns still need secondary help among others,so the team still has work to be done.
Look for more posts on the Browns soon..


Devils dominate Flyers in 5-2 win.

The New Jersey Devils burst out of the gate with three first period goals and never looked back as the Devils took a 5-2 decision over the Philadelphia Flyers at the Rock.
Adam Henrique scored two goals (8 and 9 powerplay) to pace the victory for New Jersey.
Ilya Kovalchuk (10 shorthanded),Patrik Elias (9) and Andrei Loktionov (4) also scored for the Devils,who received a strong game from Johan Hedberg with 23 saves.
The same two teams will hook em' up Friday night in Philadelphia...

Hell Raisers

1) A solid all around game from the Devils,who appeared emboldened by the win over Winnipeg.
The Devils had more zip than the Flyers and yet was able to ignore the usual instigators that use less than clean tactics and stay out of the penalty box.
Good discipline...

2) Johan Hedberg was strong in goal,especially in the first period,where he made several saves that kept the Flyers off kilter.
That period ranks among the best that Hedberg has played all season...

3) Ilya Kovalchuk scored his league leading fourth shorthanded goal of the season.
At one time,when the NHL had a team in Atlanta,Kovalchuk's defense could not be trusted to kill penalties and it still is not ideal.
However,the explosive burst that Kovalchuk can give shorthanded makes the risk well worth the reward...

4) Adam Henrique popped in two goals and an assist and continued his solid play.
Henrique always plays with high effort and his game is a nice combination of grit and skill.

5) The Devils signed the 62 goal man to a contract as the team signed Reid Boucher to an entry level deal.
Boucher broke the Sarnia Sting (Canadian Junior) record for goals previously held by Steven Stamkos.
Boucher will stay in Sarnia for the playoffs and likely play for the AHL Albany Devils next season..

6) Of all the highlights of this game,the best might have been the Andrei Loktionov toe dragger.
If Loktionov is capable of those types of moves,the Devils just might have another Lou Lamoriello steal on their hands...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Browns bolster defense with Kruger and Bryant

The latest era of Cleveland Browns football began in free agency with two signings-one considered a strong possibility and the other a mild surprise..

The Browns signed Baltimore outside linebacker Paul Kruger to a five year deal worth forty million dollars.
Cleveland was expected to be one of the front runners for Kruger and quickly landed the pass rusher.
As I wrote yesterday,I do have some questions about Kruger,who really has had just one big season,so this does have the potential to backfire.
However,if Kruger produces as he did for the Ravens,the contract is actually below average for a top quality pass rusher.
The former Utah Ute finished last season with nine sacks and seven and a half of them came in the second half.
Plugging Kruger in at one of the outside linebacker slots instantly upgrades the Cleveland pass rush and gives the Browns a bit more flexibility in how they spend the sixth overall pick in the draft.
Do they grab another pass rusher on the other side of Kruger? Or does that increase interest in Alabama corner Dee Milliner?
I'll have a better feel for that question as free agency progresses...

The other signing was a surprise to me as Desmond Bryant was added from the Raiders.
I didn't mention Bryant in yesterday's post mainly because I didn't devote a lot of time to defensive tackle as the Browns already seemed to have an abundance at the position,so I didn't get too in depth.
Bryant signed a five year deal and is a rarity in the game-a three down defensive lineman that plays the run and rushes the passer.
Bryant also might be able to play some end in the 3-4,which adds to his value.
The problem or maybe even strength for the Browns now is this-Can the team afford or have enough time for Bryant,Ahtyba Rubin,Phil Taylor,Billy Winn and John Hughes at what at most would be two spots in the lineup?
Let's toss this thought out there-New England wants a second rounder for Ryan Mallett,who the Browns seem to covet badly,perhaps the Browns could swap a lower pick and one of the excess lineman (I would think the Patriots would prefer Rubin or Taylor)  for Mallett?
New England plays a 4-3 and adding a solid lineman and a pick might counterbalance a second rounder from another team.
Just an idea.

Two nice pickups for the Browns,but there are still spots that need to be addressed,especially in the secondary,but the first day was a good start....

 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Browns Fantasy free agency....

I try to take a look at players that I would like to see the Cleveland Browns go after and usually my advice is disregarded.
Look at last year when the Browns spending was used on two defensive ends that one year later are no longer on the team for an example.

Here is a look at some additions that I would like to see the Browns consider when free agency opens today.

Quarterback

The Browns want competition for Brandon Weeden as do I,but looking at a crop that lacks a real challenger,the Browns will likely instead look for a passer that fits the Rob Chudzinski plan more than Colt McCoy.
Bet on the Browns going after a Derek Anderson type,although I am in the minority of Browns fans-I would love to see a trade with New England for Ryan Mallett.
Mallett is the one thing that Mike Lombardi and I agree as we both had Mallett as the best QB in the 2010 draft.
The Browns lack a 2013 second round pick (used for Josh Gordon) so would be unlikely to swap a third rounder (the reported asking price) ,but I would not be against a 2014 third rounder for Mallett.
A possible surprise signing might be Vince Young,who Joe Banner has liked in the past.


Running Back
The drafting of Trent Richardson means the Browns have no need at running back,but could use a fullback after the failure of Owen Marecic.
Two fullbacks I would take a close look at is San Diego's Jacob Hester,who closed last season very well and Brian Leonard from the Bengals.

Wide Reciever
The name most hear about is Mike Wallace of the Steelers.
I must admit I would not mind the speedy Wallace,but I bet he prices himself out of the Browns range.
Wallace would be a great addition,but I kinda doubt Cleveland lands him.
Greg Jennings has number one receiver ability,but will likely look for a contender.
The player that I would look for is Danario Alexander of the Chargers,who was downright dominant in the second half of last season.
Alexander is a restricted free agent,but the Chargers put an original round tender on him,which means that since Alexander was signed after his release from the Rams,if the Chargers do not match an offer,the Browns would not have to give compensation.
This is the way I would go....

Tight End
The Browns have allowed Ben Watson to leave and Jordan Cameron has shown flashes of ability,but not enough to feel comfortable to go into the season with Cameron as the starter.
Jared Cook has loads of physical talent,but struggled with Tennessee passers getting him the football.
Cook would be the ideal fit,but might be too expensive.
Fortunately,this is a solid market at tight end with three other players that would be solid starters.
Dustin Keller of the Jets would be dependable,Fred Davis of the Redskins comes off an injury and has baggage,but has big play ability and Brandon Myers of the Raiders had the best season of his career in 2012.
Any of these players would be solid signings.

Offensive line
The Browns are solid at center and at tackles,but guard could be addressed.
Shaun Lauvao has been a disappointment,Jason Pinkston suffered blood clots in his lungs last season and John Greco is more of a depth player.
The guard crop is not as deep this season with the best available being Andy Levitre of the Bills and Louis Vasquez of the Chargers.
Adding either would bolster the line..

Defensive end
The move to the 3-4 changed things already,but the Browns are reported to go after perhaps the best available player in Cliff Avril of the Lions.
Avril might have to stand up in the 3-4 and the jury might be out on that,but Avril did that at Purdue and I think he is capable of that.
Osi Umenyiora can rush the passer,but the sleeper would be former Brown Matt Roth,who was productive with the Eric Mangini 3-4 and I would not be against a return...

Defensive Tackle
The Browns might be overstocked at the position with the switch to the 3-4 with Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor,but if the Browns did add a player,two stand out at the right cost.
Ricky Jean-Francois of the 49ers was productive and I also like the Chiefs Glenn Dorsey.Dorsey was a disappointment after being a high first rounder and might be improved with the weight off his shoulders from those expectations..

Linebackers
The Browns are going to need at least one linebacker and two would be better to start in the 3-4.
Chris Gogong missed all last season and D'Qwell Jackson was much better in the Dick Jauron 4-3 than he was in the 3-4,so the Browns would be far better suited if they signed two.
I like players in the division to improve the Browns and hurt their rivals.
Paul Kruger had a huge year with Baltimore,but I have questions about him being a top level pass rusher. Not to the point of not signing him,but some concerns.
I have no such concern on Dannell Ellerbe,who was excellent in replacing Murderin' Ray Lewis,who might be a tougher sign.
Ellerbe would be a great inside backer fit.
Rey Maualuga turned his career around last year with his best season and would be a nice addition.
I know how this sounds,but I would not be against James Harrison coming on board.
I have been critical of Harrison in the past and his play moves from borderline to thug like,but Harrison might be motivated by a return to his hometown and revenge against the Steelers for letting him go.
Considering his injury issues,I would hope for an incentive based deal,but I would not scream about a Harrison signing....
Other interesting names to me include Nick Barnett of the Bills,Bradie James of the Texans,Will Witherspoon of the Titans,Keith Rivers of the Giants and I would like to see a last chance for former Raider Aaron Curry as well....

Cornerback
The Browns are desperate in need of a starter opposite Joe Haden and there are a few that fit the bill.
Brent Grimes would likely not even be on the market,had he not missed last season with injury.
If Grimes is healthy,he is the best corner available.
Aqib Talib is tremendous-when he is on his game.
Talib has had off the field issues and is somewhat of a risk.
Keenan Lewis of the Steelers and Greg Toler of the Cardinals both have worked with Ray Horton in the past and could be pursued by the Browns.
Captain Munnerlyn might be another target after his time with the Panthers,where Rob Chudzinski knew him...

Safety
Cleveland needs a safety to pair with T.J. Ward.
Deshon Goldston would be the ball hawker that Cleveland has not had for years,but he will cost them.
Ed Reed will want to play with a contender,but if the Browns want a true veteran,Adrian Wilson of the Cardinals is available as a short term plug in.
The Lions Louis Delmas is talented but injury prone.
Patrick Chung of the Patriots and Jim Leonard of the Broncos could come in and start for a year or two.

Kicker
I'd just keep Phil Dawson,but the Browns might be going another way.
Assuming Dawson will not return,I'd be looking at Ryan Longwell,who has cold weather kicking experience or the accurate Nate Kaeding as replacements...

Punter
The Browns have parted ways with Reggie Hodges,so they will be looking for a new booter.
I would be interested in the Raiders Shane Lechler to slot in,but they might be looking at a cheap free agent from the college ranks....

Depending on the source,the Browns are either first or second in cap space,so the money to spend is available-lets see how the Browns spend it.....


Monday, March 11, 2013

Elias shootout goal gives Devils a win

Patrik Elias was the only player on either side to score during the shootout as the New Jersey Devils grabbed a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
The Devils scored two goals in the first period as Ryan Carter (3) and Stephen Gionta (3) put the Devils up 2-0.
New Jersey is off until Wednesday when they play Philadelphia in a home and home series.

Hell Raisers

1) Speedy start for the Devils,not that I saw any of it!
Both goals occurred when I was returning home from Ryan's from a four game series of Strat O Matic baseball.
Sherry Ross was quite excited by the Gionta goal on the radio and replays show the goal came off a stellar Ilya Kovalchuk and a dazzling move by Gionta.
The type of goal that has been short in amount of late...

2) Johan Hedberg stepped up his game just when the Devils needed it the most.
After being pulled in Saturday's loss,Hedberg was superb as neither goal could be truly on him.
Evander Kane's goal wasn't going to be stopped by many and Andy Greene's stick could have been given the primary assist on the goal by Mark Stuart.
Excellent night by Hedberg.

3) Good night,bad night by Adam Larsson,who assisted on the Ryan Carter goal,but his fumble allowed the two on one that resulted in the Evander Kane goal.
Young players will make mistakes and I think that you have to live with them in order to get the player that you hope to see down the road...

4) Other than the one Larsson error,I thought the defense was as strong as it has been of late.
Anton Volchenkov was very good and even had a scoring chance and Andy Greene was strong as well,despite the unlucky deflection off his stick.
It seems so simple,but it's a simple adage-want your goalie to play better? Get some better play from the defensemen in front of him...

5) All wins are big wins,but this one was especially so.
Had the Devils lost this game in regulation,the Devils would have fallen out of the top eight for the playoffs.
No matter the time of season,one never wants to be on the outside looking in....


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Devils continue slide in Carolina

The New Jersey Devils slide from playoff contention continued in Raleigh as the Devils fell behind early and never really threatened in a 6-3 defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The loss was the Devils seventh in their last eight games as the teams playoff hopes continued to wobble as teams continue to gain on them in the standings.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice for New Jersey (8 shorthanded and 9) with Patrik Elias adding the other goal (8).
The Devils will have a chance to bounce back today at the Rock against Winnipeg.

Hell Raisers

1) About the only positive out of this one was the two goals by Ilya Kovalchuk.
Kovalchuk's shorthanded breakaway was about all that one could ask for and his even strength goal played to the strengths of Kovalchuk-firing from the outside....

2) Johan Hedberg was bad in this one.
Bad. Five goals on eighteen shots.
One goal barely trickled across the line and only one could be considered not on Hedberg.
This situation is bad and getting worse by the start....

3) Jeff Frazee played the third period and made all the saves in garbage time,but once again it will Johan Hedberg in net against the Winnipeg Jets.
I am not saying Frazee is the answer in any case,but continuing to run a 40 year old backup that is in the middle of a huge slump is not the answer either.

4) I've tried not to be critical of Travis Zajac since his contract extension,but his play has been very disappointing.
I wrote that Zajac was not a true number one center,but was a solid two.
Right now,the Devils are paying a lot money for less production then they are getting from Ryan Carter.

5) One thing that I have noticed is that other teams are getting a ton of shots out of the slot.
That tells me that defensemen are either not clearing the area or not getting to their designated defensive slot.
When offensively challenged teams play such bad defense,losing streaks like the Devils are currently on tend to occur.

6)Peter Harrold was especially bad last night.
I know that Henrik Tallinder and Bryce Salvador were out,so he was forced into the lineup against the Hurricanes,but Pete DeBoer played him over Adam Larsson against Buffalo.
I've seen more than enough of that already...

Friday, March 8, 2013

Gibbles Potato Chips-Goodbye to another icon

Icon might be stretching it,but when something is part of your life for as long as you can remember,it's kinda of iconic.

The Gibble's potato chip company threw in the towel just a few months after being sold to Gibble foods on December 1st of last year.
The local company was formed in 1959 and had been a local standout ever since along with the Utz brand out of Hanover PA.
A spokesperson for the former owners,Martins Pastry Shoppes,appeared to be stunned by the sale,although I am not sure how much of that was crocodile tears as more often than not,one has an idea of why another side wants to buy something in a business deal.

Reading between the lines in the article,this could be the case of someone wanting to buy the assets and then "put their own stamp" on a new brand.
Mind you,this is incredibly stupid as said plan could have been implemented with more success had the Gibble's line been used to draw people to the new line.
Imaginze someone buying Pepsi and then shutting it down in order to manufacture a new soda for an example.
If this is the case,this is stupider than I can imagine..

However,this is more than an ode' to things that have been around for years and disappear,never to be seen again.
This has happened for years and as long as there are businesses to make items,they will be there to take them away.
It is more of a goodbye to the Gibble's chip from their locally famous Nibble with Gibble's slogan or their various colored bags for their products.

When I go back to Ohio,often I get requests to bring back Gibble's chips,much like I have my parents grab me some Jones chips from there when they go out.
The chips were that good.
The regular were my favorite of the local chips and the red hot was one certain to be loved.,
Their barbeque could have been a little better,but was not terrible.
My favorite thing to do with Gibble's chips was right after an Ohio trip and taking a bag of Gibble's Red Hot and mixing them with a Jones Salt and Vinegar package of chips into one bucket,shaking them up and letting the seasonings mix for a day or two before some,as Alton Brown would say, Good Eats.

Gibble's always bragged about using lard to fry their chips and although this likely made it among the least healthy on the supermarket rack,it sure allowed the taste of the chip to stand out with the elite of any chip around as well.
The saltiness of the chip cut through with every bite and the crunch was always firm and crisp.
As a weirdo,I also always liked the occasional "green" potato chip that slipped through into the bag from time to time.
They had an odd taste that for some strange reason appealed to me.....

Gibble's chips bring back another memory for me that I always associated with their brand.
I was never especially close with my grandfather here,but Pap always had Gibble's chips in the cupboard and Royal Crown cola stocked in their fridge.
For some reason,he refused to go into the local country store near my house (the still standing McNamee's),so when he needed something from there,he would call my house and as the oldest grandchild,I would go with him to the store to get his stuff,while he waited in the truck.
Always,he would add extra for me to get a pack of Topps cards and a bag of Gibble's.
It is my fondest memory that I have of a man that I loved,but didn't really know as a person.

It's funny what memories that products bring to us.
A chip company makes one think of a deceased relative and I would wager anyone somewhat close to us has a similar association if we think about it enough.
These are the connections that the things that we enjoy bring to our lives.
More than just taste or preference,it is what brings us together as family and friends and most of them come and go through our lives.
Thirty years from now,with some luck,I'll talking to my grandkids and maybe great grandkids by then,talking about defunct products from days gone by.
Bet on Gibble's being near the top of that list..

Photo Credit:Rachel Heimberger


Roaring finish ends Devils losing streak

Two goals in the final six minutes forced an overtime for the New Jersey Devils against the Buffalo Sabres and allowed the Devils to advance to the shootout after a scoreless overtime.
Shootout goals by David Clarkson and Patrik Elias against Ryan Miller won the game 3-2,broke a six game losing streak and handed the Devils two points in the standings.
Adam Henrique (7 power play) and Patrik Elias (7) tallied the Devils goals in the victory.
The Devils will be back to back this weekend with a road game against Carolina and a home game against Winnipeg...

Hell Raisers

1) First off,the Devils sent Keith Kinkaid back to Albany after making his NHL debut in mop up time Tuesday night.
Jeff Frazee was called up to be the backup for Johan Hedberg and I didn't have a problem with the move.
I had been a proponent of this very move from the beginning as my thoughts were these-If the Devils plan was to play Hedberg all the time and the backup is essentially an emergency man,then Frazee is the pick so Kinkaid can play every game at Albany.
The problem is that Kinkaid played so well that if Hedberg played poorly,the chants would start for Kinkaid.
The issue isn't the move,it was the timing....

2) All things considered,Johan Hedberg played well against Buffalo.
Neither goal that he allowed could be considered his fault and made a few great saves to boot.
Hedberg needs to step up and be the Devils bridge to getting Marty Brodeur back into the lineup.
Against Buffalo and with the heat on-Hedberg was able to do just that.

3) Some of Peter DeBoer's decisions have made me wonder of late,but his decision to use David Clarkson in the shootout paid off.
Clarkson uses some different moves in the shootout than many players and he can be quite effective when spotted properly.
Good call.

4) Clarkson also had a huge part in the game tying goal as he blasted a shot off Jhonas Enroth,who made a nice save on Clarkson's shot,but left a fat rebound for a diving Patrik Elias.
Enroth made a vain attempt to block Elias,but stretched so far to make the save that he injured himself in the effort.

5) Funny that I didn't see Ryan Miller mouthing off after the loss like he did when the Sabres won in Buffalo in the shootout.
It's called class,Ryan....

6) Tom Kostopoulos made his Devils debut and did not do much to impress or disappoint.
But he did make an impression in one area-During one of those wonderful between period interviews with Deb Placey that make you want fall asleep,Rachel turns to me and says "boy,he's loaded with charsima,isn't he"?

7) Adam Larsson and Mark Fayne were scheduled to be the defensive scratches for Henrik Tallinder and Peter Harrold.
Tallinder sat for Fayne though as Tallinder suffered a lower body injury in warm ups....

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A little busy

Been a little busy and without a ton to write about,I have not updated things.
Due to work reasons,I missed much of the Devils losses on both Monday and Tuesday,so I did not write about them.

I do have some recent Devils thoughts,but I'll add them to tonight's recap from their game against visiting Buffalo.
Other than that,the only news is the Devils claim of Tom Kostopoulos off waivers from the Penguins to try to add something to the slumping squad.

With some luck,I'll get part one of our next interview up tonight from the road office...

Meanwhile,enjoy the picture of my favorite member of the Devils family!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Jim Bouton baseball league

Slow news day,but a fun day nonetheless as my favorite fantasy baseball day has arrived as the Jim Bouton baseball league begins its minor league draft phase.
The Bouton league is named after former 20 game winner and author of Ball Four-Jim Bouton and is a pretty standard league with one exception-every team has a 20 player farm system.
In affect,franchises are drafting tomorrow's stars today and holding their rights.

The league is great fun,except I haven't won it yet and we have ten solid teams.

Considering the rules,the minor league draft is far far more important than the major league draft,which is generally filled with role players and backups and rarely lasts more than two or three rounds.

I released six players,so I have six picks in the draft and just made my first selection in the draft with the second overall pick in 2012's draft-Byron Buxton an outfielder in the Twins organization.

I may be filling some slow days with some looks at the six new players that I have drafted and maybe even a glance at the remaining players that I protected.
The draft is always fun and I enjoy it more than any draft that I do with the possible exception of the IFL draft in our football league.

Very excited to add Byron Buxton and hopefully five more future stars.....

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Shot down in Buffalo

The New Jersey Devils rallied back from two deficits,but did not have enough left in the tank to win a shootout in Buffalo as the Sabres took a 4-3 shootout win. The Devils do earn one point in the standings for their first point in three games.
Devils goals to Steve Bernier (6),Adam Henrique (5 shorthanded) and Andrei Loktionov (3).
New Jersey takes today off before traveling to Toronto tomorrow and the waiting Leafs....

Hell Raisers

1) Ryan Carter returned and assisted on the Steve Bernier goal.
For the things that could be tweaked,the Carter/Bernier/Stephen Gionta line will not be one of them....

2) Don't want to hit the panic button,but this recent string of play has sent the Devils from first in the conference to seventh.
Just a note...

3) The Devils shootout squad really misses Zach Parise,perhaps more than any other part of the team.
Basically,it has come down to this-Ilya Kovalchuk needs to score on his chance or the team loses.
The Devils do not have enough players skilled in the shootout to overcome a Kovalchuk miss...

4) More great playing on the penalty kill as the Devils killed all six of Buffalo's power plays with one huge overtime kill.
Combined with the Adam Henrique goal shorthanded and the PK is performing well.

5) Wish I could say the same of the power play which put up a goose egg in five attempts and allowed Jason Pomenville to score shorthanded.
If the Devils make a move soon,it could be to add some one to strengthen this unit....

6) I thought Ryan Miller's taunting of Adam Henrique after the game ending save was pretty bush league.
Considering Miller has played for the gold medal in Olympic play to get that hyped up over a regular season game was pretty weak.

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Friday, March 1, 2013

Jets jab Devils 3-1

The game started badly for the New Jersey Devils as Andrew Ladd scored just eight seconds into the game for the Winnipeg Jets,but the team settled down and played well thereafter (from what I saw) as they tied the game on an Andrei Loktionov second period goal (2).
However,as I drove into work,Ladd scored again on a 4 on 4 goal and the Jets added an empty net goal for a 3-1 win in Winnipeg.
New Jersey travels to Buffalo Saturday afternoon...

Hell Raisers

1) The Andrew Ladd goal to start the game was the fastest the Devils had ever allowed to start a game.
Not a record that you want to have...

2) I missed the second Ladd goal,so I don't know whether that was a bad goal or not,but Johan Hedberg played well.
Hedberg was hung out to dry on the first one and was the main reason that the Devils hung around and had a chance to win.

3) I liked the drive to the net on the Andrei Loktionov goal.
Loktionov just put his shoulder down and bull rushed his defenseman,keeping his body away from the puck and then aggressively took the puck to the goal.
Very impressive as he has scored points (2 goals,2 assists) in each of the last four games.

4) Adam Henrique may be struggling with scoring,but his penalty killing is still strong as he made two different plays on the PK that were phenomenal,one coming without his stick and super play on a five on three kill.
Henrique has been seeing more time at left wing of late and that could mean a winger is sent down to Albany when Ryan Carter returns,which could be Saturday.

5) More power play problems as three more chances went by the wayside.
The Devils rely too much on Ilya Kovalchuk and Marek Zidlicky to get things started and teams are beginning to push the outer edge of the umbrella and as a result make those two shoot from further out,if at all.

Photo Credit:AP Photo