Friday, February 28, 2014

Welcome Back,Devils-5-2 win

Now that Olympic hockey is in the book, the race is on as the NHL playoff run begins for the New Jersey Devils.
It began with a blazing start as the Devils scored three first period goals in less than three minutes at the Rock in Newark and dropped the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2.
Adam Henrique led the Devils with two goals (15 power play,16 shorthanded) with the second being especially key,
Jaromir Jagr (18 power play),Patrik Elias (12 empty net ) and Ryane Clowe (4) completed the Devils scoring.
New Jersey now prepares for a weekend full of matinees with the Islanders on Saturday at one and the San Jose Sharks on Sunday at three.

Hell Raisers

1) Huge game obviously for Adam Henrique,but what a key play on his shorthanded goal late in the second period.
Patrik Elias was able to take care of a Columbus miscue and get the puck into a spot for Henrique to get control of and the goal ensued.
That goal took control of a game that had been trimmed from 3-2 and on a Columbus power play to boot.

2) Adam Henrique was on a roll before the Olympic break and he continued it last night.
Before you know it,Henrique might be as good as Rachel thinks he is! ;)

3) The Blue Jackets enabled the Devils get off to such a dumb start with two really bad penalties.
When you can get two early power plays on the clock that early,you have a leg up,when you can capitalize-it's a huge opportunity....

4) Bryce Salvador took a shot to the chest in the final period and left the game.
No word on Salvador's status at this time...

5) Power defense.
After the Henrique goal late in the second,Uncle Mo was gone for Columbus and the Devils locked them down in the final one.
Columbus put just three shots on net against Cory Schneider.
That by definition is the lockdown defense...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Browns release D'Qwell Jackson

The Cleveland Browns made their first major move under new general manager Ray Farmer as the team decided to not pay linebacker D'Qwell Jackson a four million dollar roster bonus and as a result give him his release.
The 30 year old former Maryland Terrapin was a second round pick in the 2006 draft and led the Browns in tackles several times over his Browns tenure.

Jackson was a solid performer in both the 3-4 and 4-3 setups defensively,but performed far better as the middle linebacker in the 4-3 than as one of the two insider backers in the 3-4.
I've looked at Jackson differently than many Browns fans through the years as a player and it is shown today as I am not going to rip the Browns at all for the decision.
I've always thought Jackson was the type of player that fantasy football owner love,but that did not always bring that effectiveness to the field.
Jackson's effort was never in question as he always worked hard and gave the proverbial 100 percent,but I never saw the impact player that made big plays.
Jackson made lots of tackles five,six,seven yards down the field,which is something that fantasy players love,but doesn't change games.

When you take the issue of the Mike Pettine defense, the large roster bonus and the full court press to attempt to re-sign center Alex Mack before free agency begins,all of these things add up to making the decision to let Jackson go the right one.
I would not have been against keeping Jackson,if he had been willing to restructure his contract (and he said that he was willing to consider that),but he might not have been what Mike Pettine is looking in a linebacker and having watched the lack of big plays from Jackson,I could not blame him very much.
I think this is smart and getting even more cap space to try to sign Alex Mack (which seemed to be very unlikely before the booting of Joe Banner) makes even more sense.
Sorry to see D'Qwell Jackson go,but it is the right move for the Cleveland Browns....

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cleaning out the inbox

An edition of cleaning out the inbox that comes a lot earlier than I expected to,but if it keeps things clean....

The lead story is the death of Harold Ramis at 69.
The actor/director was involved in both roles in such classics as Animal House,Stripes Caddyshack,Vacation,Groundhog Day and of course,Ghostbusters.
Ramis was often the mind behind some of these films as he was involved in writing screenplays as well.
Ramis always seemed to be a nice guy in an industry that didn't always seem to produce nice guys.
You always got the feeling that you knew Ramis or someone like him that he could be an everyday guy,not a famous person in the entertainment industry.
Ramis will also be remembered by me as a key part of SCTV as a writer and talent with my favorite role being that of slimy station manager Moe Greene...
A huge loss to the film industry with the loss of Harold Ramis...

Fox news weatherperson Janice Dean suffers with Multiple Sclerosis and Janice writes a very interesting article on how she found out about the disease and how she deals with the ailment in day to day life.

Most of you know of my love of hot sauces ranging from my everyday use of Frank's to hotter stuff like Buffalo Wild Wings Wild sauce to even hotter stuff like Blairs death sauce and CaJohn's Frostbite.
However,there is a hot sauce that I love on meatballs and items like that-Sriracha.
This is a Vietnamese sauce that isn't cheap in the store,but is awesome on the noted stuff!
The Atlantic gives them some pub and goes into the science of just what makes it so hot too!
NPR takes their shot at Sriracha with how hot sauces can affect moods and attitudes with their heat too/.

I would also like to thanks everyone that has been reading and recommending us to others,but the blog has exploded this week in interest.
Between interviews and features,readership has risen dramatically in the last month,but especially in the last week.
Thanks.....


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Danny Rosenbaum Interview-Part Two

Our interview with Nationals prospect Danny Rosenbaum continues with part two.
Today will cover Danny's thoughts about opportunity in Colorado,returning to Washington and a word on similar numbers in AA and AAA.

 TRS: Do you think that you would have had a better chance of making
Colorado had they wanted you as a fifth starter?



 DR:, Just because
I've been a consistent starter for my whole career. But the Rockies
had a lot of talented young starters in their organization.


TRS:What were the main differences in training in Arizona compared to Florida?



DR:Travel. Everything was close. There was plenty of things to do in our
down time. The type of facilities. Most stadiums in Arizona were new.
The Rockies ST stadium was probably the best stadium that I have ever
played in.


TRS: When you returned to the Nationals.what did they expect
of you? They knew I had a good spring and wanted me to continue with
it. They didn't have many lefties at the time so they said I had a
legitimate shot.


TRS: Did they tell you that you were going to AAA
Syracuse or did you have a chance to make the majors? 


DR: They really
didn't tell me anything besides they were glad to have me back.


TRS:
Your numbers at Syracuse were very similar to those at AA
Harrisburg.Did you look at last season as a success? 


DR: Yeah it was
decent. I had to feel my way through the season. Never really felt
like I had a consistent delivery. I didn't just feel right
mechanically.


Stay tuned for the next two parts of the Danny Rosenbaum Interview in the near future.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Danny Rosenbaum Interview-Part One

We have out first interview of 2014 as we bring back lefthander Danny Rosenbaum for another chat with ThoughtsofRS.
Danny moved to within one step of the majors last season having spent the season at AAA Syracuse after being drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the Rule V draft and then returned to the Washington Nationals by Colorado after spring training.

In today's installment,Danny talks some about his experience in Colorado.


TRS: When we talked last,you were drafted by the Rockies in the Rule V
draft. What were the differences in how the Rockies do things and the
Nationals? 


DR:There wasn't really a big difference. Both organizations
want to win. And they both have the talent to do so.

 TRS:If you had to
pinpoint one thing that kept you from making the Rockies,what would
you say that was?

DR:  I'm honestly not sure. I thought I had a really good
spring and I thought I was going to make the team. Unfortunately they
felt differently about it.

TRS: What was the experience like of going to
a new organization for the first time? 

DR: It was different. I really
didn't know anyone at all. But everyone was extremely friendly and
welcoming. I really enjoyed being with that organization for the short
amount of time that I was with them.

 TRS: How were you told that you
were not going to make the Rockies and that you were going to be
offered back to the Nationals?

DR:  They sat me down with the GM and the
manager and told me that they didn't see me making the opening day
roster, but they were going to try to trade for me because they really
liked me and wanted to keep me in their system. But the Nats wanted me
back which was a good thing as well.

TRS:Do you think that you had
difficulties in adjusting to a relief role in your initial spring
training? 

DR:I have never relieved before. It was definitely a different
feeling coming out of the pen. But since they were making me the long relief guy,it really wasn't 
too big of a transition.

Please let me know your opinions on the cut and paste look.
The interview font was very hard to read and I wanted to make it more legible.
My apologies for the look of the interview,but I feel its more important to give a little in ascetics to make it easier to read..... 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Forgotten Superstars-Dennis Maruk

I bet that few of you know that Dennis Maruk was the first star of two failing franchises.
I bet fewer know that Dennis Maruk finished his career with 356 goals and was the main and often only reason to watch those two bad teams play,but both statements are true.

Dennis Maruk was the only star in the two year stint of the Cleveland Barons (love those Barons jerseys!) in the NHL and he was the first true goal scoring standout of the Washington Capitals at a time before the Capitals started making playoffs and struggled to attract fans to the Capital Centre.

Maruk would score over 30 goals for three different teams (California,Cleveland and Washington) and would peak with back to back seasons in Washington in the early 80's that saw him score 50 and then 60 goals!

The 5'9 Maruk was always a fan favorite with his small stature and fast skating came to mind a few years back when Martin St.Louis began to post big numbers in Tampa and to me their games have a lot in common.
The flair of Maruk in hockey cities failing at the gate and saddled with poor records often were the only reasons for fans in Cleveland and Washington to attend games at suburban arenas (remember when they were the rage?) and still walk away feeling rewarded at the end of the night.

Maruk only scored fewer than 28 goals once in his first nine years in the NHL in an injury plagued 1979-80 when he scored just ten goals,albeit in 27 games,showing him as a dependable goal scorer that didn't waver from year to year.
Sure,the 50 and 60 goal years were anomalies,but they are for most players,but Maruk was still a consistent 30 plus goal scorer and could be counted on as such.
Maruk dropped after those two seasons to a 31 goal year and Washington must have seen him as a fading player as they shipped him to Minnesota shortly after the season.

The Capitals thoughts were on the right track as Maruk was never the same player as a North Star as in four seasons,Maruk's high water mark in goals was just 21.
Maruk still ranks 9th all time on the Washington goal scoring list,which is not too shabby for just five full seasons of play and to this day is the franchises all time leader in points per game.

I would make the argument for influence on the franchise,Dennis Maruk could certainly make a case for having his number retired in Washington,he certainly is more deserving than Yvon Labre.
Welcome,Dennis Maruk to the Forgotten Superstars universe for a underrated career.

Check tomorrow for the beginning of a new interview!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cleaning out the inbox

A quick dumping of the inbox on this Saturday morning gets us started!

First,A quick thanks to my friends,Greg and Hank for coming over and watching the USA-Canada games,which was quite a letdown.
Not only was it a pretty dull game,but we missed a few minutes as Hank got a sub and missed the Jamie Benn goal for Canada,which of course was the games only goal!
The game wasn't great,but the company was!

The host Russians didn't medal,seeming to be destroyed by a shootout loss to the Americans,but the New Yorker featured an interesting article on "rooting for Russian Hockey".
I can understand as it really isn't about the Russians in general,but more about the free flowing game as the former Soviet Union played.
It was a beautiful game to watch and the memories of those teams are so crisp,but to many they are overwhelmed by the USA's win in the 1980 Olympics.

The famous "Eisenhower" tree the was the protector of the 17th green at Augusta National golf course was damaged by the recent southern ice storm.
Damaged is quite the understatement as the tree was forced to be removed after arborists determined that the tree could not be saved,
The tree got its name from the former President,who hit the tree so often in his Augusta visits that he asked the Augusta directors if it could be removed.
The board denied the request and it then added the name thereafter.
The tree has been taken down and no word if a tree will be put into place in time for the 2014 Masters,although a tree was planted a few years ago,close to the tree's spot as a future plan for the inevitable day of the tree's demise.
The hole will look different,if they cannot get something in its place....

Really enjoyed the lightweight first round of ESPN's Boxcino tourney,but one quibble-I wish the first round was eight rounds not six.
It seems odd for ten round fighters to be fighting in six round bouts.
Otherwise,I love it!

Comcast and Time Warner cable to merge?
Well,the top two cable systems in the country coming together doesn't seem like a great idea for consumers,but Comcast has gotten away with similar moves before (buying NBC Universal),so I have little hope that this deal will be blocked...

Finally,some movement on the interview front!
One in the books,another with questions sent and a third agreed to,so we are starting to make some progress.
I just need to get some others finished to send them out.

Friday, February 21, 2014

State of the Devils-Part two

As noted in part one,the New Jersey Devils are the oldest team in hockey and as noted,the oldest team in hockey should not be struggling for the playoffs.

The main reason for this problem is the goal scoring,of course and the lack of it.

You cannot blame the goaltending as Cory Schneider has solidified himself as the starter after some initial problems in net.
Schneider has allowed less than two goals a game in net,but yet weak offensive numbers in support has left Schneider with two fewer wins than Martin Brodeur,who allows over two and a half goals a game.
Better offensive support would have this team higher in the standings and might have Schneider in the race for a Vezina.
Martin Brodeur has been decent enough as the backup,the question is this-can he accept that role without causing problems?
Thus far,it seems that he has,but can it continue?

The forwards have been helped by the newcomers to the team,but still lack production and therefore Wins!!!
Jaromir Jagr leads the team in goals (17) and points along with being a surprising plus 21.
Michael Ryder was tagged as a streaky scorer of goals and has lived up to that reputation,but still has scored 16 goals,so I would not say he has been a disappointment.
Adam Henrique rebounded from a slow start with strong play of late,but Henrique is not a high goal scorer type.
Patrik Elias missed time with injury and Dainius Zubrus is always his enigmatic self teasing with just enough to make you hope that he is turning the corner.
Elias gives what he has as far as production goes,my concern is that he has begun to get nicked up easier as he ages.
Travis Zajac has been decent enough until you consider his salary,Ryane Clowe has started to pick up his game after missing a large chunk of time with concussion problems and Damian Brunner seems to be another player that comes and goes without getting a chance to develop consistency under favorite playing Peter DeBoer.
The lower six forwards have been as expected,Steve Bernier and Ryan Carter have been Ok with Stephen Gionta has been very strong on the penalty kill.
Andrei Loktionov has been slightly disappointing and is another DeBoer doghouse resident.
Reid Boucher showed potential in his stint in the big time,but needs more AHL time
Jacob Josefson continues to be a huge disappointment,but looks like another player that DeBoer doesn't like and ergo loses playing time....

The defense is supposed to be the strength of the team and it is-to an extent.
Andy Greene has been the breakout star of the bunch with a career year thus far.
I'm very pleased with Greene's play,but the question is this-Is this a matured Greene or a career year?
As mentioned yesterday,Greene could bring a solid return,if the Devils decide to put him on the block,
The rest of the bunch makes me wonder.
Anton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador are slow footed,overpaid and simply are past their prime.
Marek Zidlicky is power play helpful and surprisingly a plus two,but seems to make the flub up whenever it is needed least.
Mark Fayne is average and Peter Harrold must be a heck of a guy because he seems to see ice time that I have a hard time figuring out any other reason for getting.
Jon Merrill shows potential in being at least a top four defensemen,Eric Gelinas seems to have fallen out of favor despite leading the group in power play points,while Adam Larsson has lost confidence between injury and Peter DeBoer's awful use of him that he might need a scenery change.

Peter DeBoer has just been atrocious behind the bench between poor decisions on players,destroying the confidence of others and generally waffling between goalies for far too long.
DeBoer honestly has been given a borderline older playoff level team and he has managed to botch this with personnel (scratches) decisions that make one wonder.
Some coaches are better with veterans,but considering the age of this team,some attention needs to be paid to the few younger standouts that the Devils have,especially when you consider how few of them there currently are in the system.
In my opinion,there needs to be a new man behind the bench by next seasons opening night.

The state of the Devils is uncertain.
Changes need to be made and a commitment made to freshen this franchise in more ways than changing the goal song is important.
Let's see what Lou Lamoriello thinks as he'll make that view clear very soon.....

Thursday, February 20, 2014

State of the Devils-Decisions,Decisions

The New Jersey Devils are in an awkward position coming out of the Olympic break as the team needs to make some key decision on both the present and the future.
Lou Lamoriello has the oldest team in the game,which can be tolerated if you have a team that is at least a playoff team and better if they are considered a title threat.
Decisions need to be made and soon on this season and those decisions will spin off into affecting the Devils and how they will deal with the next few years.
The time up to the trade deadline and the next off season will make those decisions into focus.

The decision really comes down to this-Are the Devils buyers or sellers at the trade deadline?
The Devils are currently in 12th place in the conference,which is the half empty glass.
The half full glass has the Devils just three points out of the eighth and final Eastern playoff spot.

The Devils are not filled with scoring prospects in the system to bulk up the parent teams main weakness-scoring of course.
Only Reid Boucher appears to have a chance of being a top six forward,but the Devils do have a backlog among the defensive corps and could use one or two of those for a younger forward.
The Devils (Pete DeBoer) apparently have problems with Adam Larsson,also seem to have issues with Eric Gelinas and Mark Fayne isn't exactly a grizzled veteran.
Jon Merrill also fits the bill,but seems to have favored nations status of this crew.
That appears to be the only move that the team could make that sends a younger player for a younger player without disrupting the later season run.

The Devils could decide to move some players in an attempt to make the playoffs,but I don't see where they would have the ammo to do so.
Most of their assets with the exceptions of the young defensemen would fall into the robbing Peter to pay Paul department and would likely not make a large improvement for a playoff chase.
The most likely move would be for the team to make a small move that might ship a mid round draft choice for someone that might help on one of the bottom two lines.
Other than that possibility,I fail to see a match for the Devils in gaining someone that would make a difference for this season.

If the Devils wanted to sell,the team might gain some resources in a year that they lack a first rounder.
Jaromir Jagr has played very well on his one year deal and might fetch a decent return from a contender.
Martin Brodeur has begun to rumble about being amenable to a deal,since he has clearly fallen into the number two slot behind Cory Schneider.
I'm not sure what team would be interested in dealing for Brodeur to be their number one guy,but if Marty's OK with a deal,the Devils might get something for him.
Andy Greene would bring the most in return as he is having his best year and is signed through next year at a reasonable three million per,but that would rob the team of their best defenseman and with Pete DeBoer's reluctance to use Larsson and/or Gelinas,the Devils might not be able to replace him.
Marek Zidlicky might bring a middle pick from a team that needs power play help and maybe Mark Fayne could be on the block too as he enters free agent time after the season.

The players that you'd like to move simply aren't going anywhere in trade,although there is the off season compliance buyout that can be used for one of these.
Anton Volchenkov would be my choice,but Bryce Salvador is saddled with a similarly large contract that pales with their production.
In both cases,I just cannot see anyone giving up anything for those contracts.

When you are the New Jersey Devils with a fan base not as large as some of their neighbors,you rely on being a playoff team every year.
Can you commit to a total rebuild in the Devils situation?
My answer might be yes,but a cursory look at the Devils roster shows you that Lou Lamoriello is trying to build a team for one last run before he hands the team off to his son to run.
Keep this thought in mind-does Lou want to hand a creaky,aging team to his son (or David Conte) to struggle with and then possibly cost them their jobs?
Lou may decide to take the hit of rebuilding (knowing he is somewhat bullet proof) so that the successor has a chance to succeed.

The big questions are do you play for the now or shoot for the future.
That will determine the road that the team takes-rebuilding or rigging things on the fly.

Back tomorrow with a look at the teams play and coaching over the year thus far....

The Pistol and me

 A few words on my favorite player of my youth in basketball-Pistol Pete Maravich.
I caught the Pistol's act during his last year in Atlanta and even though I think of Pistol as an Atlanta Hawk,his years in New Orleans were most of the games that I saw him play in.

The Pistol was such an exciting and talented player,but because he wasn't the biggest guy in the game,it seemed achievable to be the Pistol on the schoolyard court.
None of the local players could believably be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Julius Erving,but you could be the Pistol.
I mean living in rural Maryland where you had to be lucky to have full five on five was not exactly the Rucker League in New York City,but I usually played against older guys and held my own.

Reading the books on the Pistol just goes to show his dedication to the game and other phases too.
Phases that at one time or another included Vegetarianism,UFO's,Martial Arts and Christianity and he was almost tunnelled into all of them with a sharp focus.
As a fat man,I wish I could establish that kind of focus on getting some of this off of me!

The ball handling skills were amazing and lord knows I tried to do them,but other than the occasional being able to get the ball to spin on my finger for a while,I didn't generally do well with them.
I actually own a DVD copy of "Pistol Pete's Homework Basketball".Maybe someday I can work with my grandchildren with those drills and work with them at the game.
I missed out on that with my kids.
Too immature to do the teaching with Ryan and Rachel has never been interested in the game at all,I lost out on a lot of teaching the game.
With some luck,maybe I can get a second chance.

I always felt an affinity for the Pistol and it increased with age with me.
I own Pistol books,DVD's figures,bobbleheads and of course cards.
When your kids move on and you hit middle age,you look for things to fill your time.
Ironically for me and the love of the game that I have,I've went back to the past instead of the present.
That's what the Pistol has done for me.....

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Six Round Staredown

One of the great things about Twitter has been the people that you meet that share the same interests.
One of which has been R.L.Malpica,who shares my love of boxing and does his blog Boxing Undercard on Blogspot as well.

R.L. and I have had so much fun talking boxing that we came to an agreement to work together once a month with the "Six Round Staredown",a series of which we each ask the other three questions and put three on each of our blogs.

I'll be placing the questions,R.L's response and then my opinions on the same questions.
Later today when R.L. posts his questions to me on his blog-I'll be linking there as well.

 Round 4: How excited are you about Kovalev vs Stevenson,who wins and how?

R.L:    
Sergai Kovalev vs. Adonis Stevenson is easily the most highly anticipated bout of the year.  I’m extremely excited and can’t wait for these two monsters to step into the squared circle.  I expect Kovalev to go after Stevenson right from the opening bell to try and impede his will on the light heavyweight champ.  Adonis will most likely lose the first couple rounds but I see him gaining Kovalev’s respect with his power early in the fight.  Once that happens, Kovalev will be more deliberate in his attack and Stevenson will knock him out within seven rounds. 

TRS:
I think this might be the most action packed 175 pound bout since Archie Moore-Yvon Durelle.
Stevenson has a little bit more movement and I think he will try to move a bit,but like Hagler-Hearns,Stevenson will be forced to stand his ground and create tons of action.
The difference? Chin.We aren't sure about Kovalev's,but we know about Stevenson's-questionable.
IF you cannot take shots from Darnell Boone,you aren't likely to handle Sergey Kovalev.
Kovalev in 4

Round 5: For each promoter Top Rank & Golden Boy ,who is the one fighter you cant miss and the one that you are sick of seeing? 

R.L:

Top Rank – Can't Miss Fighter: Felix Verdejo
This young killer has superstar written all over him!  The Puerto Rican native is 10-0 (7 KO's) and displays mind-blowing power for a lightweight.  He's Top Ranks future.  The next Felix "Tito" Trinidad!

Top Rank – Sick of Seeing: Guillermo Rigondeaux
There's no doubt that Guillermo is a terrific boxer, but he lacks the intensity and demeanor to be an entertaining fighter. 

Golden Boy – Can't Miss Fighter: Keith Thurman
Anyone who's watched a Keith Thurman fight knows that the kid leaves everything he has in the ring.  He continues to improve and seems to have the determination to be one of the best in the world.  On top of that, he has a really good skill set and some big time punching power.  Now that's a combination that you can't miss!

Golden Boy – Sick of Seeing: Bernard Hopkins
Bernard Hopkins is an all-time great and one of the best technical boxers in middleweight history.  He's accomplished a number of accolades and his triumph over most boxer's toughest opponent (age) makes him a marvel.  Unfortunately, his fights have become extremely tough to watch and it's time for the fighter formerly known as "The Executioner' to walk away.  

TRS:
Top Rank-Can't Miss:Vasyl Lomachenko
The two time gold medal winner looked awesome in his pro debut against top 20 contender Jose Ramirez and goes for a "world title" (I don't recognize WBO) against Orlando Salido next..
A good puncher with boxing skills,this is guy that will save us from Rigondeaux overload!

Top Rank- Sick of Seeing: Brandon Rios
I would agree with Rigondeaux,except for I do want to see Lomachenko against Rigondeaux,so I'll pick another entry.
Brandon Rios.Entertaining,but has come into fights out of shape,failed drug tests and got huge PPV fights coming off losses.
If I'm going to watch Rios,I'd like to see him show up and be ready to go.  

Golden Boy- Can't Miss; Omar Figueroa
Omar Figueroa is all offense and a fun fighter to watch.
I think he needs defensive work and might have been pushed too fast *Elevated to WBC champ",but when he fights with his power and easy to to hit style.It's a must watch!

Golden Boy: Sick of Seeing Zab Judah
Hopkins is an excellent choice,but I'll go one better-Zab Judah.
How many times have we seen Zab Judah lose a big fight,disappoint and then be back in another one with "I'm in the best shape of my life,I'm a new Zab Judah,I'm back to the old Zab Judah Etc"?
I didn't think the old one was that compelling to watch,this one needs to just go away.
Round 6: If you could make one fight in boxing and promotional ties don't apply.what fight,why and who wins?

R.L.:
Gennady Golovkin "GGG" VS. Andre Ward

Andre Ward has dominated the super middleweight division and there hasn’t been a fighter who’s come close to beating him.  Gennady Golovkin not only poses a threat to Andre Ward, if he continues on his path of destruction (26 KO’s in 29 bouts) he may walk away as boxing’s biggest superstar.  Both fighters have an amazing skill set with Ward having the defensive edge while GGG demonstrates an obvious edge in punching power.  In a matchup between these two dynamos, I'd expect GGG's early body attack and relentless style to eventually where Ward down prompting a late stoppage.

TRS:
Ruslan Provodnikov vs the Golden Boy Gang

I'd love to see GGG vs Ward or GGG vs Sergio Martinez but as much as I hate these separate promotions/ leagues.I'd love to see Ruslan Provodnikov jump to Golden Boy.
In my eyes the undefeated "Siberian Rocky" ( I scored him a slight winner over Tim Bradley and a clear winner over Mauricio Herrera on ESPN).
Imagine-Provodnikov going to war with Marcos Maidana, Lucas  Matthysse or Keith Thurman or chasing down and MAKING Danny Garcia or yes,even Floyd Mayweather HAVE to stand and fight against him.
Here is hoping Ruslan quickly fights his last Top Rank fight soon,so these fights could be made.....

Thanks to my new friend R.L and be sure to check out his page to look at my answers to his questions!



Monday, February 17, 2014

If I ran a network

I have wanted to do this for a long time.
If I ran a news network and could staff it with whomever I wished.
Imagine it as Fantasy Sports for the news business.
Current contracts have no status here! Hope you find this interesting!

Morning Crew 6 AM -10 AM
The morning show can often set the tone for your viewership that might only watch in the morning,but will be regular watchers...

Hosts
Bill Hemmer-Fox
Christi Paul-CNN
Alisyn Camerota-Fox
News Reader
Ainsley Earhardt-Fox
Weather
Nicole Mitchell-Al Jazeera

Crew for 10 AM- 5:30 PM

News Desk
Jamie Colby-Fox
Jenna Lee-Fox
Don Lemon-CNN
Kyra Phillips-CNN

Weather
Janice Dean-Fox
Jennifer Grey-CNN

Reporter
Erica Pitzi-Al Jazeera

White House
Shannon Bream-Fox
Chuck Todd-MSNBC

Sports
Lindsay Czarniak-ESPN
Bill Pidto-MSG

Legal Analyst
Jonna Spilbor-Fox

5:30 PM In the Courtroom-Looks at legal issues of the day
Host
Jonna Spilbor-Fox

From 6-10 News Breaks
News:Aaron Brown
Weather:Kristin Clark-WeatherNation

6 PM-Fiscal Finances
Hosts
Lou Dobbs-Fox
Melissa Francis-Fox

7 PM-Firing Line
Left
Rachel Maddow-MSNBC
Howard Dean

Right
S.E.Cupp-CNN
Pat Buchanan-(not sure,who Pat works for right now)

7;30-Inside Politics
Host
Norah O'Donnell-CBS
Kelly Wright-Fox

8:00
Leaning Left with
Keith Olbermann

9:00
Center Square with
Megyn Kelly

10;00
Rolling Right with
Bill O'Reilly

11:00
Current Affairs-call in show on politics and currents events
Host
Libby Casey-Al-Jazeera

12:00
Calling All Sports-call in show
Host
Vince Cellini-NBA TV

1;00
News Desk
Amy Hudak-WHAG
Weather-Mace Michaels-WeatherNation
Editor's Note 3/16-I'm adding Katie Ferrier of WeatherNation to this slot.
I hadn't been familiar with her work until this past weekend,but I was so taken,I had to edit and make space for her here!

2:00
Replay of Current Affairs

3:00
Replay of Calling All Sports

4:00-6:00
News Desk
Rotating Crew



Sunday, February 16, 2014

Missing the game

I've had a hole in my life for a while.
Don't get too excited,it's a sports gap,so nothing that is really important,yet it is there.

I miss college basketball.
Oh,I don't miss the current product with its one and done players,made up rivalries and bloated conferences.
What I miss is a game from a time that I can never get back and a game that unless there are unforeseen changes the game won't be able to get back either...

I'm always a Buckeye fan and Xavier has built up to be their equal over my marriage,but it still isn't the same.
Maryland basketball was the one team in sports that my father and I shared and few enjoyed the Terps national title more than I.
The years under Lefty Driesell nailed me as a Terps fan and even though it wasn't the same under Gary Williams and especially under Bob Wade,I was still a diehard fan.
I considered myself a Maryland football fan too,but Ohio State took center stage in that arena.
To this day,there is still a Maryland football helmet from the Bobby Ross era that works as a lamp by my favorite chair.
Maryland fans,don't bother to ask,Ryan has already staked his claim to that lamp,if I ever decide to move it on,which I don't foresee even with the Terrapins move to the Big 10.
The day I began to lose a little interest was with the expansion of the ACC to Miami,Boston College and Virginia Tech.
I could have bought Va.Tech to give Virginia an in-state rival and maybe even Miami to give the same to Florida State,but Boston College?
I tried to hang in there with the changing times,but I vividly remember the end day as I watched a game and ESPN talked about "Rivalry Week" featuring the Terps against Boston College.
It just felt so forced and from a long time fan didn't feel right.
Between that and the destruction of the traditional home and home schedule with the enlarged conference,I was almost cooked.

Maryland being the most northern team in a southern conference always had rivalries that ebbed and flowed.
North Carolina and Duke each had their runs as the top rivals in Maryland fans hearts,but being the top dog in the conference,every school rated those two at the top of their list.
When I first started watching ACC hoops,N.C. State and the David Thompson teams were a Maryland rival as was Virginia in the Ralph Sampson years,but the Terps never had a true natural rival.
I also had teams in the league that I rooted for when they weren't playing Maryland.
I loved the N.C.State teams under Jimmy Valvano,the Wake Forest teams with Tim Duncan and especially later under Skip Prosser and I even pulled for Clemson too.

I couldn't wait for the Jefferson Pilot game of the week that featured brands that weren't local,but eventually would be such as Holly Farms chicken and Food Lion supermarkets.
Rooting for the Terps with my dad ranks among the top memories of a often less than strong relationship,but don't take these as a cranky middle aged man saying the game was better in my day,although it was.
Take the words of Mike Krzyeewski,Bob Knight,Dick Vitale and the beat goes on.
There were great coaches then and there are great coaches now.
There were coaches that stretched the rulebook then and there still are,but the difference is the on the floor product-it was far superior.

Sure,there were players that left for the pros early,but it was usually after their junior year,rarely after their sophomore year and next to never after their freshman year.
The only player that I remember leaving after their first year was Clemson's Skip Wise,who left for the ABA and flamed out with drug addiction.
When more and more players stay longer in the college game,the level of play improves as does the stature of the game.
When you can develop a "relationship" with the players on your team and disliking players on the others,it is good for rivalries and the game.
Ryan and I always joked that it seemed like some players played for eight years,former Clemson big man Tom Wideman was a Tiger forever in our eyes.
The guy never seemed to age or leave!
Every team also seemed to have at least one or two good players,even on the worst squads.
Balance was not a bad thing,even though every league has its bottom dwellers and even the worst teams in the league would pull an upset now and then on their home floor.
When players consistently leave after one year,it not only affects the college game,but the NBA as well,which then gets players less experienced and less proficient in the fundamentals.
That is not good for the game of basketball period,let alone a specific league.

I miss those days and when Maryland leaves for the Big Ten,I'll have no rooting interest in the ACC anymore.
I've pondered selecting a new team to root for,even narrowed it down to the three teams mentioned above,but I don't know that I care enough to try.
I've become a casual fan of college basketball and I never believed that I could see that day.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

A forced break

A little bit of a forced hiatus as I was shoved into a multi-day work shift due to old man winter,who I would like kick into the retirement home for washed up weather systems!

Considering that and any posts would likely be those of a zombie,I decided to pass on a post during that time!

However,a belated Valentine's day or National Depression Day,if you are single, to the lovely Cherie.
Valentine's Day is really more of a day for non-married couples,but I do think that there is a place for it for the married pair as well.
As a not really overtly public person,We did a Valentine's lunch earlier in the week,but after a grueling time as noted at work,I decided to get some food for my two ladies that keep your troubled author functioning.
They deserve it for the problems that I bring to the table and it was the least that I can do.

I'd also like to wish a Happy Birthday to my mom.
When you think about the fact that without my mom,there would be no R.S. and as follows naturally no thoughts of R.S.
Mom has been struggling with some complications from surgery,but is just now getting a bit better and has returned to work.
Happy birthday and enjoy the day,Mom!

Finally,a few words on snow.
I don't care for it.
It's pretty enough,but the hassles of transportation,power outage worries and snow removal are all things that this mind doesn't need.
I know most people close to me and people that think they are believe that when I leave the gaping hole that is Washington County that my destination will be my beloved Ohio.
Don't bet on it-I hate snow and cold that much.

I plan on being back later today with another post,if possible.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Readers Questions

Have a few questions from you and a few from Twitter followers,so on a slow and snowy night,I'll try to answer some of them.

Where are these promised interviews?

Working on them.
I'm as disappointed as anyone that one has been so slow,but I do have some coming soon,I hope!

Now that the signing front is finished for 2013,what are the plans for 2014?

Looks like some day trips early on with the most notable one being Reading Pa for the Chase Utley bobblehead.
Other trips include Williamsburg VA for the LPGA event there,which Derreck and I are really excited about doing in May.
June looks like taking Rachel to Avon,Ohio for the Duck Tape Festival and hitting the Akron Rubber Ducks for the Joe Walsh bobblehead.
The Carolina/California All-Star game in Wilmington will also be a fun stop.
July should be the big one as Derreck and I invade the Midwest in Peoria,Illinois and Springfield,Missouri as well as an yet to be named ballpark on the way home.
Altoona's Eastern League All-Star game is another cool event that we will be doing this.
August looks like New York/Penn League stops as well as other towns to finish the season.
Money and time permitting,the two that I'd like to get in is Jamestown NY (Losing their team in 2015) and Richmond Va ( possible new park).
Looks like a good year!

What have you been working on with autographs over the off season?

I've still been doing some through the mail stuff,but I've also been working getting other people from news,weather,writers and actors on some things too.
I've gotten some neat 8 x10's and its been a lot of fun.
I may work on a similar project next off season too,but I have a month and a half to add more.
These can be found On the Signing Front.

Who are your favorite baseball writers?

Well,this was a good one.
I have always been a fan of Tim Kurkijan and meeting him last year was very cool.
I also enjoy the work of Buster Olney,Peter Gammons and Jayson Stark and I am a big fan of Tony Lastoria on the Indians Prospect site.
However,for insight on baseball from the Sabremetric or the traditional game,my favorite writer is ESPN"s Christina Kahrl.
Kahrl gives you information without being overbearing and is clearly my go to read for non-rumor columns on baseball...

Anything new interesting features on the blog soon?

I will be working on a "State of the Devils" during the Olympic break looking at the Devils good,bad and hopefully some thoughts on what the team needs to do to either contend for the playoffs or begin the rebuilding process.
I also have another post on who I would hire for particular spots,if I owned my own network.
This will likely be non-sports,but could be a sports network in a later post.
A return to the forgotten superstars universe is on its way as well as another space post.
Finally a look at the Browns before free agency in March.....

And the most asked question of all-What do you think the Browns moves and what's going on.

Tune it for more on that in March,I do have more to say than I have in finished posts!

Thanks and back tomorrow!



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bye Bye Banner and Lombardi!!

Out of the clear (?) sky Tuesday morning,I saw it flash across Twitter.
Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi relieved of duties by Cleveland Browns!

Now look,I'm not saying that former Eagle linebacker Ray Farmer will be a whiz at GM or that Alec Scheiner will be great as President (which I don't really care about bean counting),but I will say this-Knowing little about Ray Farmer as an executive beats knowing what Mike Lombardi brings to the table.
Or as I said in a discussion with another Browns fan-Farmer is unknown,so that's a risk,Lombardi is a known quantity as a poor executive,so I'll take my chances with Farmer.

None of this is to say that I'm thrilled with Farmer,who assisted with last year's less than strong draft,but did not have the final say and therefore doesn't deserve to have that hung around his neck.
Farmer also doesn't come with a huge resume' other than being the director of player personnel with the Chiefs just before Scott Pioli ran the Chiefs into the number one pick and his one year with the Browns.
I am open minded though as Farmer will have his own say for the first time and will get his chances to succeed.

The losses of Banner and Lombardi actually made me leap and do a little softshoe at the world headquarters,so no matter how poorly Ray Farmer could do,I still wouldn't miss these two.
Joe Banner may have been a tough man to bargain with at the table and good with the finances,but he wanted to be on the football end  and he just wasn't equipped for that part of the job.
Banner could have been very helpful to the organization had he been able to concentrate on what he did best.
However,it appears that his ego simply could not handle that and therefore he deserved to go.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cleaning out the inbox

Time to dump the inbox with some cloggers that I haven't written about..

Biggest news?
The return of Gibbles Potato Chips,Baby!!!!

Later,this month,the original chips should hit shelves and sometime over the next few months,my beloved Red Hots will return as well.
This is the best news that I have heard locally in quite a while!
Awesome! Now I gotta start thinking about Jones Salt and Vinegar later this summer.

Kristin Clark of Weather Nation (more on them below) sends this note of water being found on the dwarf planet Ceres.
Ceres is the largest object in the Asteroid Belt and was moved in classification from asteroid to dwarf planet in the  reevaluation of such things in 2006 that saw Pluto dropped to the same class.
The news comes at a great time as NASA's Dawn mission is on its way to Ceres and will arrive in 2015.
2015 should be a fun year with Dawn at Ceres and the New Horizons mission showing up at Pluto.

Weather Nation continues to make me not miss the Weather Channel with their addition of local weather at a push of the button with Directv.
I have loved the back to basics approach of Weather Nation,but admittedly felt that the network needed to add some sort of local coverage.
Those thoughts were answered as I was told that Weather Nation and Directv worked almost non-stop for two weeks to get it up and running.

Finally,YOU can have your very own creepy life size wax figurine in Civil War attire!
Excited? Well,the American Civil War Wax Museum is under new ownership and is becoming the Gettysburg Heritage Center with a change of direction-so EVERYTHING must GO GO GO!
Waxy Ulysses S.Grant-MUST GO! Creepy Robert E.Lee-MUST GO!
Just about everything else in the place is for sale as well in the March 15th auction,so don't be late to add a creepy six foot Union soldier for your living room!
Sadly,the lovely Cherie has put her lovely foot down and alas there will be no Billy Yank or Johnny Reb standing guard by the Buckeye helmets at the home office!
Thanks to Denise Nicarry for posting this on Facebook and bringing it to my attention!

Monday, February 10, 2014

On the signing front

The final signing front for the baseball season that was 2013.
Now let's get this snow garbage stopped and onto the new season!

Thanks to my buddy and traveling partner Derreck Chupak for his help with his sources for some NY/Penn league help.
Mostly filling in some Indians and Marlins team set cards,but nice catches were rehabbing Indians prospect Michael Goodnight on his Carolina card,Pirates first baseman Jared Lakind on his AFLAC card and former A's infielder and Mahoning Valley manager Ted Kubiak.

Thanks to Mike Oravec for his constant help with former Indians,Pirates and Giants cards along with the 1991 Crown Orioles cards.
My favorite of this crop was the 1975/76 SSPC Gary Lavelle.
Mike knows I love that set and always helps me out when he gets some of those!

Thanks to Ed Loyd,who sent me a Chris Ray and Tracy Woodson from the Richmond banquet.
Ed is my usual connection for minor league team sets and asked me if I needed them,which I did!

Finally,the best for last-my friend in Tennessee,Corey White.
Here is the shipment from the Southern League and it was a haul.
Corey's help with the Southern League gives my collection such a leg up with teams that we never see and a few guys that got away from us in one league or another.
Right off the stick-The guy that I wanted most-Archie Bradley,the top Arizona prospect.
I didn't send a ton for Bradley as being a top prospect,I didn't want to weigh Corey down.
Corey said Archie was great in signing all of my cards including his top 100 and two cards in a terrific gold pen!
I am very selective in getting baseballs signed as space requirements preclude that,but I was hoping to get Archie on a ball and Corey came through on a Southern League ball!
Other Mobile/ Arizona additions were Keon Broxton,David Holmberg and Andrew Chafin as well as former Hagerstown Sun Nick Evans,who I finally got on a Bowman refractor that had been sent up and down the east coast as well as his 2012 Indianapolis card.

The Jackson Generals are a Seattle Mariners affiliate that featured hot prospect Tajuan Walker,Julio Morban,James Jones and John Hicks.
Corey tells me that former Tiger prospect Chance Ruffin might have been the toughest player that came through Tennessee all year and yet he still got Ruffin on the minor heritage card I sent!
I always send Corey cards for Jackson hitting coach and childhood favorite Cory Snyder,who came through again.
If Snyder returns,I might have to find my battered "Gunsmoke" Poster of Snyder to be signed this year!

I didn't have much for the Montgomery Biscuits,but I did get Todd Glaessman on his Appy League prospect card and Mikie Mahtook on his USA issue.

I didn't have a lot for the Jacksonville Suns either,but Corey got two nice catches for me on the day that outfielders Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick were called up to the big club.
Yelich on his top 100 and Marisnick on his heritage card.
Adam Conley signed his heritage card and Michael Main,who I got on his Giants stuff in Hagerstown,signed his USA Champions card,which came out in the interim.

Just two cards for the Dodgers affiliate in Chattanooga in Zach Lee on his USA Champions card and Jeremy Moor on his Bowman chrome.

The Mississippi Braves had a few players that I missed through their travels through Hagerstown and Frederick.
The biggest pickup for me was pitcher Cody Martin,who signed four cards,including his 2013 Carolina League top prospect and highly thought of catcher Christian Bethancourt,who signed three.
Tommy LaStella added his Heritage card and Christian Marrero got a old card way out of the box in signing his 2008 Kannapolis card.

The Brewers affiliate in the Huntsville Stars  (soon to be Biloxi somethings in 2015) lacked in quantity,but not in quality as Corey brought home the teams top three pitching prospects in Taylor Jungmann,Jimmy Nelson and former Pirates draftee Drew Gagnon.All cool,but my favorite was journeyman Greg Holle signing his Panini Blue (only 200) in his TCU uniform.
I love getting those college cards signed!

The Birmingham Barons are with the White Sox and usually I have them taken care of,but there were a few fill ins this time around.
Most of the additions were of players promoted from Winston-Salem and their team setters from their 2012 and 2013 editions.
First rounder Chris Beck was the biggest from 2013,while Trayce Thompson and Jake Petricka signed their 2012 Carolina League top prospect cards with their 2012 Dash cards.

The Tennessee Smokies had three super prospects in Javier Baez,Arismendy Alcantara and Christian Villaneueva.
Corey reports that none of three were great signers and generally skipped the team signing sessions,but Corey got me a few of each with the best being Baez on his Top 100 card.
Other interesting guys were Tony Zych on a USA,former Mariners prospect Johermyn Chavez on lots of older issues,Matt Szczur and former big leaguer Jeff Fassaro,who was the teams pitching coach.
Corey also did the Smokies teams set in return for a Hagerstown set for me.

Thanks so much to Corey White for all he does!

Mail

Baseball
Former Orioles outfielder Tom Shopay

Football
Former Maryland quarterback Stan Gelbaugh
Former Nebraska and Broncos defensive end Kenny Walker
Former Cowboys and Bills defensive end Pat Toomay
Former Eagles defensive tackle Andy Harmon
Former Packers cornerback Terrell Buckley
Former Saints quarterback Ken Stabler
Former Cowboys tackle Ralph Neely

Golf
LPGA golfer Jessica Korda 8 x10

Non-Sports
Chris Noel sent me two 8 x 10's including one with Elvis!
Fox News anchor Jenna Lee 8 x 10

That cleans up the 2013 signing season!
Thanks to ALL that have and will be helping me in the past and future!
Now let's get this crummy heavy stuff out of here and get to spring!!!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Capped into the break

The New Jersey Devils played over 50 minutes before surrendering a goal to the Washington Capitals.
When they did,the game was essentially over as Julian Brouillette's first NHL goal was all Washington needed to defeat the Devils as two empty net goals accounted for the 3-0 final.
Cory Schneider stopped 24 of 25 shots for the Devils in defeat.
New Jersey will now be off for the next 17 days due to the Olympics before a home return vs Columbus.

Hell Raisers

1) Cory Schneider was great in goal.
Want blame to be spread around?
Start elsewhere as Schneider kept his team in the game with many spectacular saves.
Schneider deserved better.

2) The Devils had chances,but in typical fashion was able to do little with them.
Travis Zajac hit a post,Marek Zidlicky went wide on a wide open power play chance and Patrik Elias took a sweet pass from Jaromir Jagr and missed the open net.
Chance after chance by the boards.

3) The Washington goal against Schneider was not really his fault.
Mark Fayne was tussling in front of the net with a Capital in front the net and picked Schneider's vision.
I saw this on replay as I was on my way to work when this was scored,so didn't catch the name,but saw enough to leave Schneider off the fault list.

4) Stuck watching on the Washington network as usual when these two teams played and got the usual poor job from Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin,but was pleasantly surprised by the work of guest Alan May.
May actually added things to the broadcast and didn't play along with the usual jackass performance of the main pairing.
I wouldn't mind hearing from him again.

5) Beninati stated a fact that the Devils have the fewest shots on goal in the league.
Laughlin then chimed in with "they allow the least too".Beninati: "Borrrring","Oops did I say that?".
Yeah Washington is just Sooooo Exciting other than Alex Ovechkin...

6) Lots of time over the next 17 days with NO coverage,unless a Cavaliers game appears on "free" TV.
I plan on a "State of the Devils" post during the break that looks at who's played well,who hasn't,should the Devils be buyers or sellers at the deadline and who needs to be here or elsewhere next season.
There should be other fun things from the inbox,personal memories and maybe a forgotten superstar or two.
If you come here just for the Devils,check us out over the break-maybe we can make you a regular!


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Merrill bullet exxons Oilers in OT!

Jon Merrill picked a great time for his first NHL goal as his bullet eluded the grasp of Edmonton's Ilya Bryzgalov in overtime to lift the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 win over the Oilers at the Rock in Newark.
Andrei Loktionov scored the first Devils goal (4) in the first period before the Oilers scored a few seconds later for the only regulation goals.
Cory Schneider made 20 saves in the victory.
The Devils travel to Washington tomorrow night for the teams final game before the Olympic break.

Hell Raisers

1) Let's make no mistake. This was not a well played game.
Other than a few hit pipes,the Devils didn't play all that well on offense and have to feel fortunate that they were playing the Oilers..

2) Way too many odd man rushes allowed and even though Cory Schneider made just 20 saves,the defense was less than strong.
Edmonton is loaded with speedy skaters and some of the rushes was to be expected,but more than a few breakdowns weren't Oiler plays,they were caused by braindead decisions...

3) Peter DeBoer likes Jon Merrill.
How do I know this?
Merrill is here while Eric Gelinas and Adam Larsson are not and that says a ton about the DeBoer style.
I didn't realize it until tonight,but I rarely hear negative notes on Merrill while I heard lots of smarmy retorts on the pair now in Albany.

4) The refs missed an obvious hook on Adam Henrique in overtime that caused Rachel and I to howl from the coach,but that missed call allowed play to continue and set the Merrill goal.
What I am sure was not anything called,but in basketball parlance-spreading the floor for Merrill.
The Oilers flowed to the opposite end of the ice,leaving Merrill all alone for the shot.

5) The Andrei Loktionov goal was quite visually pretty as Jaromir Jagr took advantage of a double team,passing the puck to Bryce Salvador and then to Loktionov for the goal.
Loktionov played little after the goal,but at least he was able to get something out of his limited time..


Friday, February 7, 2014

Cavaliers can Chris Grant

The Cleveland Cavaliers suffered a humiliating loss on Wednesday night.
On Thursday,that loss might have pushed general manager Chris Grant over the edge as Cleveland relieved Grant of his duties.

The loss to a Lakers team with seven players,missing their stars and having played an overtime game on the road the night before had to have been the final weight on the back of Grant and Dan Gilbert pulled the trigger and removed Grant.
Cleveland currently notes a 16-33 record in a season that had playoff expectations by most after some veteran additions and the top overall pick in the draft in Anthony Bennett along with a mid-season trade for Luol Deng from Chicago.

Grant most positive effect on the franchise will be taking the salary of Baron Davis and the Clippers first round pick in return for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon.
The Clippers pick would win the draft lottery and allow Cleveland to take Kyrie Irving ,which I at the time,slightly preferred Derrick Williams due to Irving's injury history.

Grant's trades worked out better than his free agent signings and with the exception of his 2012 draft,his drafting,but the final dagger may have been his role with returning his friend Mike Brown to the head coaching position after Brown was fired by first Cleveland and then the Lakers.
Brown was touted as being able to return the Cavaliers to the defensive teams of the past under Brown,but instead returned Cleveland to the time of give the ball to the star and see happens era.
Browns also has been said to have issues in the locker room in dealing with the ego of the teams top star,Kyrie Irving in much the same fashion that he did in his previous stint with LeBron James.
Since Brown's return was Grant's idea,when the team struggled,it was Grant that was going to swing for it.

I would have drafted differently than Grant as it appears his ideas for building a team are clearly not based on a team chemistry basis.
Tristan Thompson has not been a bust,but I still would have drafted Jonas Valancunias as centers are harder to find than power forwards.
Had Grant made that decision,his choice of Anthony Bennett as the top pick last year would have plugged a hole instead of overloading the 4 spot.
I would have passed on Dion Waiters too,but Waiters has done what he has been expected to do.
The problem was that Grant did not see that Waiters and Kyrie Irving both need to have the ball to be effective,making them as a backcourt pairing less than as expected.
I still would have preferred Harrison Barnes or Andre Drummond at the time,but Waiters hasn't been a bust.

Chris Grant consistently drafted players that did not fit the system or the teams needs.
Why Bennett if you have Thompson?
Why Sergei Karasev,who seems like the antithesis of the Mike Brown player?
Why Waiters with Irving when both need the ball?
So many questions that it just leads to more questions..

I understand why the move was made now.
The Cavaliers are not that far from contention and still have assets in the future (draft wise),the last thing that the team needs is for a reckless general manager to attempt to save his job with moves that smack of desperation and set the team back further with gambles.
I lived through with the Pirates and Dave Littlefield,it is not usually effective and it costs fan support as well.

In the end,Chris Grant did himself in.
Next up-can Mike Brown
save his job with an unexpected rally,barring some solid moves (permitted by Dan Gilbert) by interim GM David Griffin,I believe there will be a new coach in Cleveland for the next opener...


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Kyle Shanahan as Browns OC?

The Cleveland Browns hired Kyle Shanahan as their offensive coordinator under new coach Mike Pettine and since Shanahan was most recently with the Redskins,I've heard more than than I would usually about a offensive coordinator.

Kyle Shanahan comes with a mixed reputation from his last two seasons in Washington.
2012 saw Shanahan's offense lead the Redskins to the playoffs.
2013 was a different note as the Redskins won just three games.

Which Shanahan will arrive in Cleveland?
Depends on the talent.
The Shanahan offense has always done best with a mobile quarterback and a decent runner.
Right now,Cleveland has neither.
Brian Hoyer isn't a statue,but is coming off an injury that may slow him down and the running back crop is the worst in the NFL.

I'm also not sure that the Browns line is a great fit as the Shanahan offense requires quicker linemen that often can de-emphasize power.
With a need at guard and possibly center with Alex Mack probably leaving via free agency,the Browns will likely need at least two,if not three starters.

Kyle Shanahan was successful in Houston with Matt Schaub and had success with Washington when Robert Griffin bothered to listen,so considering the Browns lack of strong options at the late date,Shanahan really was the best of a not so strong lot.

I will speculate this-Kyle Shanahan's hiring and his offense looks to have a certain player to fit in the draft on the QB end.
I would even say this,A certain player in College Station,Texas just might be the apple of the Browns eye as the ideal fit...

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dominance and then Dud

The New Jersey Devils dominated the speedy Colorado Avalanche for over 58 minutes at the Rock in Newark last night.
That was not enough as the Devils allowed a 6 on 5 goal to tie the game and then a game winner less than a minute into overtime as Colorado pulled an escape worthy of Steve McQueen and left with a 2-1 overtime win.
Ryan Carter (5) scored the only New Jersey
goal in the first period.
The Devils are off until Friday when they host Edmonton before traveling to Washington Saturday to precede the Olympic break....

Hell Raisers

1) Third game in three that the Devils have lost a late lead with the goalie pulled.
Simply that comes down to one of two things-preparation or personnel.
Considering that the strength or this team is supposed to be on defense,I'm going with coaching.
Something has to be wrong in order for this to continue to happen.
I'll discuss more on Peter DeBoer in my State of the Devils post over the Olympic break (Thanks to those of you that said they'd like to see it),but this comes to down to someone on the coaching staff.
These types of breakdowns are going to be fatal to the Devils playoff hopes...

2) Look at the tying goal.The exhausted Devils down 6 on 5 were simply unable to clear or get a freeze from Cory Schneider.
Yes,it was a deflection and all that,but IMO,it still comes down to not getting the clear when needed...

3) And just how did Colorado get a power play to start overtime?
A defensive breakdown that saw Matt Duchene clear on a breakaway.
Andy Greene slashed Duchene and he was forced to,but Duchene STILL broke away and had a shot on goal that he pulled wide.
I don't blame Greene for the penalty,although someone allowed the breakaway,but when you commit a penalty in such a situation-make sure you don't allow the shot.

4) Funny note-Rachel talk about Steve Bernier. "You know he doesn't take a lot of penalties" "That's true".
Minutes later,Bernier commits two penalties in six minutes.
It's a funny game.

5) I thought Cory Schneider played well and deserved better.
I know some of you love Martin Brodeur for what he has done for the franchise and I do as well,but Schneider is the superior goalie at this time.
Schneider smashed his stick at the end of the loss and the lovely Cherie wondered about sportsmanship.
One could take it that way,but I prefer to look at it this way-this is a player that has played well enough to earn six points from three wins and came away with two undeserved losses.
He's frustrated and I don't blame him.

6) Jaromir Jagr just missed making the late goal a moot point as his shot just skidded to a halt ON the goal line after it was past J.S.Giguere.
One more revolution of the puck and that's a goal that likely ends the game.

7) More funny business.
I forgot to turn of the closed captioning off before the game and with coverage on NBC Sports Net,the CC people often make mistakes.
As in Marek Zidlicky becoming "Zit Milicky".
I have a feeling that nickname might stick.

8) Finally,nice game from the fourth line.
Not only did they score the Devils only goal,but they had other misses and showed plenty of energy.
That is more than what you hope to receive from the fourth line.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Snowed in

Snow.
It used to mean fun and I don't mean just as a kid either.
Even after I got married,snow used to mean snow football on the covered mean streets of Hagerstown or depending on the company,long campaigns of board games like Statis Pro football or Strat O Matic baseball or Nintendo season on Super Tecmo Bowl.

Names like Bruce Harper in Statis Pro,Brant Alyea in Strat O Matic and Heath Sherman in Super Tecmo Bowl are long forgotten by many sports fans,but each has their niche in my memory for their performances on so many late and often snowy nights.

Some evenings even featured long cards of Wrestling Superstars,which was a dice game that treated pro wrestling as if it was legitimate.
After my brother and I bought the game,I discovered that as much as I liked the code,I could do a better job creating the wrestlers and for years I made new wrestling cards for the game.
I remember one night that Shane,Greg and I spent playing that game and every time that a wrestler put on the abdominal stretch,we had to jump up and slap the move on the person using the affected grappler.
Good times!

I also remember plopping a young Ryan down outside in snows that he could dive on the street and fly for thrown footballs and never touch the ground and therefore never get hurt.
I don't take a lot of pictures and even fewer in those days because we never seemed to get around to developing film,but I think there are pictures somewhere of Ryan "standing" in a snow that his feet never touched the ground in!

Those times are passed now,mainly because my son has moved out, my friends have gotten married,have families of their own and in some cases moved on.
Friends transition in our lives,but through good,bad and indifferent times,I always think of certain things.
I've seen my friend Joe one time in the last 5 or 6 years,but watching the Super Bowl halftime show (bleech) and the appearance of the Red Hot Chili Peppers,Joe was the first person that came to mind because when he was younger and first hanging around,it was the time of the Peppers hitting it big and they were a part of the music of his teenage years.

As the snow cascades down at the work office (I'm hoping to get out with some luck),it's funny what comes to mind.
Sitting around a long gone table flipping cards for an obscure running back for a long TD run,an 8 bit back shaking tacklers off on a console or even catching a pass yourself with a nerf ball in the snow and of course the guys that you did those things with.
Some are still great friends in my life,others are doing their own thing and I only see them occasionally others are living elsewhere and still others are only memories,but in the overall when you put things in their time and place-what you recall are usually good thoughts.

If I get home,maybe I'll get some dice rolling or fire up some video golf.
After all,even at 45,you gotta keep the faith.
Here's to you guys for the great times!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl Prediction

Last Week: 2-0
Season: 78-43

This one was a tough one and I've went back and forth,but....;
Denver 31-20

Saturday, February 1, 2014

How many points can you give away?

When I got out of my car last night,the Devils led 2-1 and seemed to be in control as I went into work at the road office.
By the time that I got the PC up and running-Rachel had posted a furious message about a crushing loss in overtime to the Nashville Predators 3-2.
Had the game stayed at 2-1,I would have done the recap at work,but since the ending happened so quickly,I decided to catch the end when I got home and do this then.
Devils goals to Jaromir Jagr (17) and Patrik Elias (11).
New Jersey will host Colorado on Monday....

Hell Raisers

1) The most frustrating thing is the second night in a row allowing a goal in 6 on 5 situations.
It is a power play,but still two nights in a row.

2) Keep in mind,those of you frustrated by this meltdown that the Devils got really lucky to even have their goals.
Patrik Elias scored his goal with a shot that would have been scored an error on a first baseman as Carter Hutton allowed the puck to slip right through his glove,while the Jaromir Jagr goal was fired off Shea Weber and into the net.
Luck plays for both sides.

3) Cory Schneider was hurt on bad luck plays as well,but boy,he doesn't handle the puck well.
Maybe I'm spoiled by vintage (not always present) Martin Brodeur's stickwork ,but I almost wince when I see Schneider wandering out of the crease.

4) Anton Volchenkov left the game with an injury,which was later reported as a generic body injury.
No word on his availability for Colorado on Monday.

5) It didn't truly hit home about how I missed the Devils "goal song" and accompanying chant until I heard the Nashville Bleeping Predators fans using "our" song.
I'm not saying the Devils didn't take it from someone else,but hearing that from a visiting crowd made me realize what had been missing from home games.
I supposes the new Devil owners who thought that was so classless had to be fuming watching (if then did so) the Predator fans using it.
They likely missed it due to their business with the "classy" Party Poker.com.

6) A few words on the Devils sending Eric Gelinas to Albany.
I can see the point this way,Gelinas is struggling on the defensive end and makes some mind boggling decisions with the puck,throwing it into lanes that should never be.
However,the Gelinas shot from the outside is more than any other weapon from the other blueliners on a team that needs offense badly already,do you take that away?
I don't.
I see the point in sending him down,but looking at the whole-I keep him...

I'm considering a State of the Devils post at the Olympic break.
Are any of the Devils people interested??