Saturday, December 31, 2016

Outmatched in Fiesta-Clemson Claws Ohio State 31-0

Just a few comments on the Ohio State Buckeyes 31-0 loss in the Fiesta Bowl to the Clemson Tigers.
I'll have more in a few days when I look back at the season.

Olentangy Offerings

1) The score looks bad and it was bad.
But it could have been far worse.
On the overall,until a worn down unit surrendered a lot in the fourth quarter,the defense played its guts out.
I have no complaint with their effort...

2) Here is hoping that the humiliating offensive effort results in new offensive minds and the departure of Ed Warriner and Tim Beck.
Both have proven to be very valuable in recruiting,but neither have been worth a squirt of umm water in a summertime rain in developing players or calling plays.

3) J.T. Barrett was just a disaster as Clemson sat back and dared him to pass and which he did unsuccessfully.
Barrett has always been a run first QB at his best and when teams keyed on him,OSU was in trouble-because...

4) The wide receivers did not develop into playmakers.
Other than Noah Brown,who seemed to play less as the season went on,no one seemed to develop to help Barrett out.
Ohio State does have some excellent wideouts coming in as freshmen in 2017,Brown is back and I really like Ben Victor as a breakout player next year,but no matter how,if the passing game doesn't improve,the offense will not either...

5) The Buckeye play of the night was Malik Hooker's crossfield interception in the end zone for a touchback.
Hooker could declare for the draft and if he does,I hope the Browns get him-he reminds me of Ed Reed.

6) This didn't have to be a shutout.
Tyler Durbin missed two first quarter field goals and took any offensive momentum away,the Buckeyes are bringing a scholarship kicker in for 2017-they need it.

7) No running game.
Mike Weber went the entire first half without a carry and with the lack of any downfield passing game,it was the same garbage short pass play every time.
Just awful....

8) Wrapping up with this-This was still an overachieving season.
Youngest team in the country,beat Oklahoma on the road,michigan at home,made the playoff.
All things considered- A bad ending to a better than expected season...

Bonus: Click here for Eleven Warriors wish list for 2017 that is connected to this loss.
Great stuff.... 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Pigskin Picking Machine

We will be doing all of the "New Year's" Bowls along with the two playoff games as well.

Last Week:4-5
Overall;103-43

College
Fiesta Bowl-National Semi-Final
Ohio State over Clemson 27-25

Peach Bowl-National Semi-Final
Alabama over Washington 33-17

Orange Bowl
Florida State over Michigan 34-32

Cotton Bowl
Wisconsin over Western Michigan 24-13

Rose Bowl
USC over Penn State 33-20

Sugar Bowl
Oklahoma over Auburn 30-23

NFL
Steelers over Browns 22-13
Saints over Falcons 33-31

Game of the Week
Packers over Lions 28-23

Rotten Game of the Week
Cardinals over Rams 23-10


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Debbie Reynolds/Carrie Fisher

I'm sure that almost (I guess someone might have been without anything resembling electronic media) all of you have heard of the consecutive day passing of mother/daughter Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher.

Carrie Fisher was of course most noted for her roles in the Star Wars films and I was a fan of those,despite only seeing one of the post 1980's revamps.
Ask me sometime about the Star Wars figure collection that rests in the archives!!

I liked Star Wars,although I was much more of a Star Trek fan (I do believe you can like them both!),but the Carrie Fisher role that I remember most was her role as the dumped bride by John Belushi's "Jake Blues" in the "Blues Brothers".
I thought she had just the right balance between anger and caring as late in the movie,it was clear that she had feelings for Belushi's character,but earlier in the film,she had attempted to kill him with a flamethrower!

As for Debbie Reynolds,she reminded me of one of my favorite relatives both on and off screen.
She seemed like such a genuine person and you never read anyone saying anything bad about her.
My favorite performance of hers was as Albert Brooks mother in the 1996 film Mother.
I think Brooks is the most underrated comedic performer of his time and Reynolds added just the perfect touch to the role that Brooks originally offered to Doris Day.
If you haven't seen Mother-please do,I give it my highest recommendation.
The other thing that Debbie Reynolds will be most remembered by me is her role in the "Tammy and the Bachelor" movie in from 1957 (with Leslie Nielsen).
That was the first in the "Tammy" series and the only one that Reynolds did as she passed the role onto Sandra Dee.
I haven't seen those movies in 30 years,but I bet I saw them multiple times in the old "late night movie" slots of the 70's and 80's.
There wasn't much on in the late hours in the old six channel days,so I watched a lot of things that I might not have growing up today,but I have such fond memories watching stuff like those at 2 and 3 AM on a Friday or Saturday night...

2016 has been such an awful year for celebrity passings and this one is sad because of the obvious angles,but both of these women bring up memories of my youth.
That's sad too,but these things will happen more and more as I age.
I wonder how I'll look back on these types of things 20 years from now?
I suppose that's why I write my way through this crazy life....

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Three Favorites plus one!-Denver Broncos

We return to a feature from last season with three favorites plus one.
The initial post rated three favorites of mine from the pre-1985 era that are in the Hall of Fame and one that I think should be,but isn't.
I'm going to tweak the formula a bit and move it back to pre-1990 and I open it up on non-HOFers when the post decides it.

In this post,we move to the team of my youth,the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos don't really have any favorites of mine in the Hall as many were before my time as a fan (Floyd Little and Willie Brown) and some were after (Shannon Sharpe,Gary Zimmerman) or better known with another club (Tony Dorsett).
Combine that with never been a big John Elway fan (although watching him,I might select him as my 1st pick if starting a franchise with any QB) and this will be a similar,but little different setup from the original idea..

With that in mind-here are my four favorite Denver Broncos that I think have a legitimate argument to be eventually enshrined in Canton...

Steve Atwater was a huge hitter at safety and wasn't a liability as much as some would think.
Many safeties that hit like Atwater can be sometimes weaker in pass coverage and Atwater wasn't one of those types.
Atwater was most famous for his crunching hit on Monday Night Football on the "Nigerian Nightmare" Christian Okoye,but Atwater punished ball carriers in the running game and passing game.
Safety tends to be an underrated position in Canton,but Atwater and our next favorite would get votes from me.

Atwater's partner at safety upon his Denver arrival was a first round selection in 1981 and also has a case for the HOF.
A six time Pro Bowler,Dennis Smith was both a ferocious hitter and a better playmaker than you would think for a player with his body type.
Smith could cover and hit,but was an underrated blitzer and kick blocker off the edge.
Dennis Smith is a deserving player in Canton,but it's going to be tough for him to get there...

Louis Wright was arguably the best corner in the AFC of his era after being Denver's first round pick in 1975 and yes,that's a strong statement,but he belongs in the class of those like Mel Blount,Mike Haynes and Lester Hayes-Wright was that good.
Wright's stats look mundane (26 interceptions in a 12 year career),but he was so smooth that quarterbacks stayed away from challenging him.
If the Broncos were one of the leagues glamour team then as they are now,Wright might already be in Canton...

My all time favorite Bronco's omission from the Hall is a joke and I would rank him above several linebackers that currently are in the Hall.
Former Buckeye Randy Gradishar was a tacking machine that didn't just make the tackles near him,he could run down players in space as well.
I think there is somewhat of a bias against inside linebackers of the 70's,80's and early 90's because they didn't roll up huge sack numbers and get the publicity of the outside linebackers.
Gradishar was my favorite Bronco as a kid and I always had his jersey.
Back in the 70's and 80's,if you were a fan of a team,the only place to get a jersey was either from the Sears or JC Penney's catalog.
Each team was represented by one player and if you didn't care for your player on your team of choice,you were out of luck.
Denver was not exactly filled with offensive players of note,so Gradishar was the choice for the Broncos.
I think Gradishar will eventually get in as a Veterans Committee candidate,but it should not have had to come to that point...

If you would like your team to eventually be a part of this series or even if you want to appear as a guest writer.-Let me know!!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Radio Shack

Time for another cleaning of the inbox and I'll lead off with a hilarious article on a staple of my teenage and even adult years at times-Radio Shack.

Now,what I used Radio Shack for was to find stuff for audio and video equipment that no other store carried,so for some things before the internet Radio Shack was almost a have store in town for me.
I usually hit the one in the Valley Mall,but I also remember another shopping center (Long Meadow for the locals) having one that I used more once Cherie and I were married because that one was much more convenient.

Radio Shack also was a prominent part of my childhood because they always had a strong commercial presence during sports telecasts,particularly on NBC by my recollection.
Their commercials usually advertised some toy that looked pretty cool,but usually didn't hold up once you got them,like a radio controlled car or this thing that I remember called "Robie" that was a bank that basically "ate" your change.
Robie's change holder opened from the bottom so I suppose you could say he "dropped" it out,although there was not a robotic way of doing that-although that would have been a pretty cool feature for 1980's tech!



Radio Shack also was a store that was among the first (if not the first) to push the home computer from "the Tandy Company".
Lots of laughable (looking at it today) home computers around and yet considering the time,they were wished for too-even though they were far too expensive for the time for what they actually delivered!

Radio Shack was one of those weird places that usually employed either strange old guys or strange high school students that didn't seem to have jobs anyplace else!
It always seemed like you were interrupting someone when you entered a Radio Shack,whether that was a nap,a game of Dungeons and Dragons or a reefer break,it was rare that you entered a Radio Shack and felt like a valued customer.
It was more like you were a tolerated annoyance,although to be fair,I rarely left without Radio Shack having the obscure cord,wire or piece that I needed for some type of hookup.

I remember one time being in there with Ryan and the employee asked me,if I would mind watching the place so he could go to the bathroom because he was the only employee there!
That never happened before or since to me and allows me to make this transition to the reason for this post-this hilarious look back at Radio Shack by a former employee from SB Nation.
It's two years old,but still is well worth reading the stories,I assure you!

It's funny,how one article spurred enough for a post for a store that is no longer located here (or very many places in other locations for that matter) and is just about on its deathbed.
It was a place that as things became more and more wireless/internet based that was going to be in trouble and I suppose I can understand why.
Still,there is always a little nostalgia for anything-even if when you look back the memories are better than much of the reality...

Check this Radio Shack commercials for the oh so 70's CB Radio courtesy of noted character actor Charles Napier of "Adam" of Star Trek, Murdock of Rambo II,the security guard in Silence of the Lambs and most notably to me-Tucker McElroy,lead singer and driver of the Winnebago of the Good Ol' Boys in the Blues Brothers.
Charles Napier just might appear here soon in a post of his own,so keep an eye out....





Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick note to wish all of my family,friends and readers a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays if you prefer!.
Enjoy the day as best you can and I hope to get a podcast done soon!

I planned on doing one tonight and like an idiot,I left the recorder at home!
In any case,enjoy the day and we will see you back here later with maybe a surprise post and Fightheads on Monday night!!!


Browns finally win-Shock Chargers 20-17

Brownie the Elf is stunned with a victory
The special teams stepped up and made a big play when it counted with another play being helped by a rolling clock and the Cleveland Browns finally won a football game as they defeated the San Diego Chargers 20-17 in Cleveland.
Jamie Meder blocked a Josh Lambo field goal attempt with 3;49 to play that would have tied the game and the Chargers had to try another attempt with the clock winding down and without any timeouts,Lambo's kick was rushed and drifted wide right from 45 yards to ensure the Cleveland win.
Isaiah Crowell rushed for two touchdowns with Cody Parkey adding two field goals for the Browns points on the day.
The now 1-14 Browns finish the season in Pittsburgh next week against the Steelers...

Brownie Bits

1) The most encouraging thing that I feel about today?
Effort.
I kept seeing tweets across my timeline applauding the effort and comparing the Browns effort to the rollover that the Jets under Todd Bowles did at the same time against the Patriots in a positive manner.
There is still much to do,but it's stuff like that that makes me hope that things are on the right track...

2) Robert Griffin looked both good and bad before being driven from the game with a concussion in the fourth quarter.
Griffin looked very good when he had the ball in his hands,avoiding sacks (more on that later) and running with the football (42 yards on 6 carries),but his passing was inaccurate ( two touchdown to open receivers that he just plain overthrew) and I just don't see any hope of Griffin maturing as a passer.
I'm not saying Griffin won't get another chance next season,but his performance doesn't warrant entering next season as the starter or even a challenger for the job..

3) One reason that Griffin may have thrown so poorly (and ran by need) as another weaker day for the offensive line,
The Chargers dumped Griffin seven times and his replacement Cody Kessler two more times and harassed both all day long.
The line really struggled against the Charger rush,

4) Which brings us to a gentleman named Joey Bosa,who the Browns could have had and the Chargers were smart enough to grab.
The Browns traded down and wound up with Corey Coleman,Shon Coleman (who never plays),Ricardo Louis (who did make a nice special teams tackle,but has dropped several passes this year and Spencer Drango,who has played decently on the offensive line) for now and whatever players the Browns grab with the Eagles first rounder next year and second rounder in 2018,so this deal and its results are far from itched in stone,but I can say one thing-Joey Bosa is the type of pass rusher that the Browns have not had in years (2 sacks,3 tackles for loss and 3 hits) and his hit on Robert Griffin that was called roughing the passer (although I didn't agree) was punishing to be conservative and debilitating to be honest.
Joey Bosa just might be the next advancement in pass rushing excellence in this league.

5) The offensive line was better in running the football as the Browns finished with 124 yards rushing compared to just 34 for the Chargers.
Some of that total was on unplanned scrambles by Robert Griffin,but in run blocking ,I thought the line played pretty well..

6) Former Ashland Eagle Jamie Meder came through with the play of the game with his block of Josh Lambo's kick.
Meder reminded me of former Brown Shaun Rogers,who was a similar wide body that seemed to always be a kick blocking threat by swallowing two blockers up the middle and sticking up a massive paw.

7) Don't underestimate the inbounds tackle by Jamar Taylor on Antonio Gates on the final offensive play of the game.
Without Taylor wrapping up and keeping Gates inbounds,the Chargers would have been able to take their time for Josh Lambo (an excellent kicker by the way) and allow things to set up.
Instead,they were forced to rush on the field and make the 45 yard attempt on the fly.
I would offer no blame for any kicker missing under those circumstances...

8) Jamar Taylor made another great play late in the game before the Meder field goal.
Phillip Rivers fired the ball on target to Tyrell Williams in the end zone,who appeared to have his hands on the ball,ready to secure it and with it-a San Diego lead.
Taylor wasn't having that as he stuck his hands in there and knocked the ball out to force an incomplete pass and after a 3rd down incompletion forced the field goal try that Meder would reject..

9) One player that I have noticed over the last few weeks has been Ed Reynolds at safety.
Reynolds has went from released by the Eagles to the Browns practice squad to the regular team to playing a lot all during this season.
Reynolds might have his issues in coverage,but his high energy play makes me think of the type of player that might be pretty productive when he is surrounded by better athletes in the secondary...

10) I'm well noted for not caring as much about these meaningless late season games because I feel once you get to a certain point,the Browns are better off getting a higher pick.
I'm not saying the team tanks a game or should tank a game,I'm saying it would be better for the future to lose these games,not the present.
I didn't feel that way on this day.
I rooted,cheered and hollered during this one because I didn't want my team to be labeled with the 0-16 tag.
There has been plenty of teams that won just one game in a season and those teams are quickly forgotten-the teams that go winless are quickly recalled.
I didn't want to see the Browns on that list...

11) That said,my idea of a great Christmas eve was a Browns win and then a San Francisco win in Los Angeles,so the Browns not only win,they retain the top pick in the draft (San Francisco is likely to "win" a tiebreaker,which is opponent's strength of schedule.
After a great dinner with Cherie,Rachel and my "Sister" Denise Nicarry at Hong Kong restaurant,I came home to a Rams lead of 14-7 and I went to bed disappointed as I needed a nap before a 12 hour shift at work.
I "heard" the Rams increase the lead to 21-7 in fourth quarter play as I drifted off and awoke for work to see the Niners scored two touchdowns and a game winning two point conversion to win the game and keep the Browns at first overall.
Only an unlikely win in Pittsburgh could keep the Browns away from that top pick now.!
Pretty good day!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Pigskin Picking Machine

This weeks PPM will include one Bowl Game of note every day through December 30th...

Last Week:5-2
Overall: 99-38

College

Hawaii Bowl
Middle Tennessee State over Hawaii 52-37

Independence Bowl
N.C.State over Vanderbilt 30-20

Cactus Bowl
Boise State over Baylor 44-39

Pinstripe Bowl
Pittsburgh over Northwestern 34-24

Belk Bowl
Arkansas over Virginia Tech 28-23

NFL

Browns over Chargers 20-19
Saints over Buccaneers 43-38

Game of the Week
Chiefs over Broncos 23-20

Rotten Game of the Week
Rams over 49ers 13-10


Friday, December 23, 2016

Pirates re-sign Ivan Nova

The Pittsburgh Pirates decided that a small sample was enough as the Pirates kept pitcher Ivan Nova with a three year contract worth eight million a year.

The 29 year old Nova was obtained in mid-season from the Yankees,where he had started and relieved and was installed in the Pittsburgh rotation.
With the Yankees,Nova had struggled to a 7-6 (4.90 ERA) record and I was surprised when the Pirates had interest in a soon to be free agent.
Nova seemed to thrive in the Pirates program,which has turned around and revitalized a few careers over the last few seasons in throwing three complete games in eleven Pittsburgh starts with an ERA that barely nudged over three.
Nova,even with the questions surrounding them,easily slots in the third rotation position behind Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon and ahead of Ryan Vogelsong and Chad Kuhl,who are basically placeholders until at least Tyler Glasnow and eventually Nick Kingham can take spots ahead of Vogelsong and Kuhl,neither of which will be confused with Koufax or Gibson any time soon.

As well as Nova pitched in his eleven starts (and he did pitch quite well),eight million plus per year for a pitcher that has not exactly dazzled otherwise since his 2014 Tommy John surgery is one that makes me wonder.
Eight million for a middle of the rotation starter isn't overtly expensive,but the Pirates cannot afford to miss on those types of players-such as they did last season when trading Neil Walker to the Mets for Jon Niese.

I'm betting the Pirates aren't quite done tweaking the rotation yet as I anticipate another attempt to upgrade the mediocre back of the rotation,
Pittsburgh has been rumored to be interested in the White Sox Jose Quintana,who would be a huge leap forward for the staff,but would likely cost a pretty penny in prospects.
A potential Quintana deal would tip the Pirates hand as far if they feel that they can contend or not.
Paying what you would suspect would be two top prospects and a lesser one would make you believe that Neal Huntington thinks that the Pirates can contend.
If they try the bargain route,then they might be looking more towards 2018.

Thinking about a podcast soon,which is way overdue....

Indians sign Edwin Encarnacion!

The Cleveland Indians delivered the power bat that their fans had been screaming for and the one that might have swung things their way in the World Series as the Indians and Edwin Encarnacion agreed to a three year deal worth sixty million dollars.
The contract also includes a club option for a fourth season at the same twenty million per.

Encarnacion led the AL in RBI last season with 127 and has knocked in over 100 runs in four of the last five seasons with the season that he didn't being a narrow miss at 98.
Combine that with 42 homers last season with the low being 34 during the same five year run and you have what the Indians missed all last season-a power bat that plugs in place at first base and designated hitter and can be counted on every day.
Cleveland got far more than I expected from Mike Napoli,but his bad late season (and postseason) fade was more along the lines of what I expected and I was very dubious that the Indians would get that much production with a re-signing of  Napoli,so an addition was needed if the team was truly serious about filling the one major problem in the lineup.

Encarnacion turns 34 before the season,so that's a mild concern,but I've seen no signs (as in zero) of a upcoming drop in production and I don't see that the Indians could be stuck with a twenty million dollar contract with a player falling off drastically such as when the Indians signed Nick Swisher and found themselves on the hook for a declining player.
Encarnacion will split time between first base and designated hitter,so that will help with the wear and tear to hopefully give Cleveland the maximum use of his talents.

This signing makes the Indians the pre-season favorites in the American League along with the Red Sox as the healthy starting pitching along with a hopefully healthy Michael Brantley and Encarnacion boosts a team that went to extra innings in game seven of the World Series (which as far as you can push things without winning) and gives them an excellent chance of a return trip.

The Indians and the Dolan family are often criticized by followers (and me) for not spending when spending would fill a need,so when they do the right thing and spend to give the team the best chance to win-I have to make sure that the credit is due.
Unlike the spending on Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn,which was questioned at the time as being spent on declining players and done in order to send a message to the fans,this is a signing that improves the team and shows a commitment to winning that the Indians have not always shown in the past.
This is a great addition and might be what finally brings the Indians that elusive championship....

Back later with a few thoughts on the Pirates re-signing Ivan Nova...





Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wes Parker drops in.

Between the recent passing of Florence Henderson  and this article from Hardball Times about the 1970 appearance of Dodger first baseman Wes Parker on the Brady Bunch,I started thinking about how in the 60's and some in the 70's,these "everyday" families seemed to know some awfully famous people that just came randomly in and out of their lives.

Now,in the case of the Brady Bunch,I get that because they lived in Southern California,their chances were far higher than me sitting in the Twin Cities in Western Maryland,but still?

Wes Parker happens to dating your math teacher?
Don Drysdale happens to be a client of your dad?
Was Mike Brady the only architect in California?
Joe Namath happens to read your fan mail?
Within the same week,his team is town?

I suppose it is part of the era that saw television be more fantasy created than reality based.
I enjoyed both styles,but even as a kid,some of these holes in logic were big enough even for a Browns running back to drive through.
It's been a television tradition of sorts for these types of episodes even today,but they seemed so much more of a stretch in those days.

As for Wes Parker,Parker moved forward after the Brady Bunch with the best season of his career as he finished fifth in the MVP voting with 111 RBI in 1970.
Parker won six golden gloves in the final six years of his big league career (67-72) and walked away from the game at 32,although he would play one year in Japan after taking 1973 off.
Never a power hitter (13 homers was a career high),Parker's comparisons matched best with a player with a great glove (as noted above),slightly above average in batting average and slightly below average power,especially for a first baseman.
In other words,had he played for any team other than the Dodgers (I guess, maybe the Angels too,but I doubt it) Wes Parker would have been nowhere near a guest appearance on a television show.

I know most people hold their childhood shows in high regard and there still is some quality stuff being made in recent years ( I love the Office,Parks and Recreation and the Goldbergs),but even on those shows occasionally someone drops in,but not like in the Silver Age of television.
Willie Mays happens to be an old friend of Donna Reed?
Really....



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Giants sign Jimmy Rollins,Pirates ink Daniel Hudson

The San Francisco Giants signed former NL MVP Jimmy Rollins to a minor league contract worth one million for the base and of course a few incentives.
Rollins' MVP was ten years ago,he's 38 and no one picked him up after a mid season release,so I think the odds are long that Rollins wins a roster spot.
He'd have to beat out Conor Gillespie or Kelby Tomlinson for a utility spot and Rollins doesn't seem to have the juice to convincingly beat out either of the two younger players.
Rollins has struggled in his two seasons (and stops in Los Angeles and Chicago) since leaving Philadelphia-Rollins has failed to hit .225 in average or .645 in OPS,so he looks to be showcasing for another team more than having a legitimate chance to win a roster spot in San Francisco.

Meanwhile in Pittsburgh,the Pirates signed former Diamondback righthander Daniel Hudson to a two year contract worth eleven million with the potential for more with incentives.
The 29 year Hudson has developed into a long/middle reliever since an elbow injury in 2012 forced a move from the rotation for the former 16 game winner.
The Old Dominion product posted an ERA over five in sixty innings last season after an excellent 2015 and will have the chance to be the righthanded setup man in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates have questions in the bullpen behind Tony Watson with very few proven options,so I think Hudson could be a nice (and needed) addition.
Hudson throws hard (mid 90's) and moving from a hitters park in Arizona to more of a pitchers park in PNC Park could see a return to form for Hudson.



Monday, December 19, 2016

Buffalo wins Battle of Lake Erie 33-13

The Cleveland Browns fell to 0-14 with yet another loss-this one in Buffalo to the Bills 33-13.
Robert Griffin had an 18 yard touchdown run in the third quarter with two Cody Parkey field goals to account for the Browns scoring.
The 0-14 Browns host San Diego on Saturday (Yes,Saturday).

Brownie Bits

1) Robert Griffin is cooked as an NFL quarterback.
This is not revolutionary thinking,but all the excuses by Hue Jackson and Pep Hamilton for Griffin after the Bengals game were basically for naught.
Griffin's run for a score was impressive enough,but even that came more from a push by Preston Brown across the line than Griffin's nose for the line.

2) The play that summed Griffin up was a reckless scramble,rolled out near the sidelines,stepped out of bounds and then threw the ball away.
Yes.that is the correct order in how that happened..

3) 280 yards rushing allowed.

4) Terrelle Pryor finished with just 19 yards on four catches.
Clearly there is little to no chemistry between Pryor and Robert Griffin after two games together...

5) Running back Pro-I did like the Browns getting Duke Johnson into the game plan more this week.
Johnson had 20 touches for over 90 yards,so that's good news.

6) Running back Con-One week after a strong game,Isaiah Crowell had just eight carries.
Every week,the Browns say that they are going to run the football and then don't.

7) Forgotten big play of the game-The Bills lead 10-3 late in the first half and face a third and 22.
Stop Buffalo and the Browns likely are in this thing going into the break.
Cleveland then allows Tyrod Taylor to hit Marquise Goodwin for a 23 yard gain,the drive continues and Buffalo scores for a 17-3 lead at the half...

8) Emanuel Ogbah had the team's only sack as he continues to thrive in his return to defensive end.
This team doesn't have many building blocks,but imagining Ogbah on one side with Myles Garrett of Texas A&M on the other is a pleasant thought.

9) The Browns did activate former Bengals WR Mario Alford to return kicks and Alford did the best job that the Browns have seen all season with a kick return long of 24 yds and a punt of 12.
On most teams,that would be nothing special,but on this one....

10) You know what's most dreadful about this?
All of these draft picks and other than Ogbah and maybe Corey Coleman (Handicapped by bad quarterbacking),I just don't see how the draft picks are contributing.
The Buffalo News held up the Browns as how to do a total rebuild,but looking at how their picks have performed,it makes you wonder about the people making these selections.
On an 0-14 team,you have 3rd round picks (Shon Coleman) and 4th rounders (Joe Schobert,Ricardo Louis) that cannot even get onto the field.
That says a lot.

11) The Chargers game is one of the few that I circled at the beginning of the season that was winnable.
Looking at the Chargers record (5-9),off the field turmoil (move to LA?), warm weather team coming to Cleveland and Christmas Eve for a meaningless game,this could be a winnable game,if all falls right....

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Smith knocks Hopkins Out and Down-Boxing Challenge

Joe Smith ended the career of Bernard Hopkins with a defeat as Smith knocked Hopkins through the ropes and Hopkins could not beat the 20 count (it's 20 when a fighter is knocked out of the ring) in the eighth round of their light heavyweight fight in Los Angeles.

I had Smith ahead five rounds to two before several right hands drove Hopkins through and to the floor,where he was unable to return to the ring.
It was a sad ending to Hopkins career as he offered three excuses all at once as why the fight should not have ended via TKO (Pushed through the ropes not punched,hit his head on the fall and injured his ankle on the fall).
Hopkins has not always been the best loser when things didn't go his way,so I suppose that I should have seen that one coming,but it was still sad to see him go out in that manner.
The surprise to me (and considering boxing judging,I should never be surprised) was that judge Pat Russell had Hopkins ahead in the fight!
Ramon Malpica and I scored no points for the Smith victory.

The undercard saw Olesandr Usyk make his American debut as he retained his WBO cruiserweight title with a ninth round stoppage over Thabiso Mchunu.
The bout saw a slow start,but Usyk soon established a bigger physical presence,scoring a knockdown in the sixth before two knockdowns in the ninth finished off the challenger.
Usyk looks like the next great cruiserweight and I'd love to see a title unification bout with IBF champ Murat Gassiev.
Ramon and I each earned two point for the Usyk knockout.

The other bout saw featherweight Joseph Diaz easily decision Horatio Garcia as all three judges gave Diaz every round.
I scored it 98-92 for Diaz.
Diaz seems like a solid fighter that does nothing spectacular and might come up short at the elite level.
I'd rate him as a underdog against three of the four featherweight champions (Carl Frampton,Gary Russell and Oscar Valdez should he challenge them now.
I added two points for the Diaz decision with Ramon adding just one...

I lead the challenge 152-127 as this is the end of the televised year.
There will be one more card for the challenge as several titles are on the line for New Years Eve from Japan.
New Years Eve is the biggest television night of the year there,so there are some good bouts on that evening...

Pigskin Picking Machine

For the PPM this week,I'll be adding three bowl games that are played between today and before Christmas Eve in order to keep the number of games higher.

Last Week:1-3
Overall: 94-36

College Bowl Games
Boca Raton Bowl
Western Kentucky over Memphis 48-42

Poinsettia Bowl
BYU over Wyoming 28-20

Bahamas Bowl
Eastern Michigan over Old Dominion 49-6

NFL

Bills over Browns 24-10
Cardinals over Saints 36-28

Game of the Week
Giants over Lions 26-23

Rotten Game of the Week-not really a lot of bad games to choose from,so I have to go with a mediocre one.
Ravens over Eagles 24-16



Saturday, December 17, 2016

Barrera stops Shabranskyy-Boxing Challenge

HBO Latino put on a pretty good card last night that featured light heavyweights Sullivan Barrera and Vyachaslav Shabranskyy,both coming off interesting fights.
Shabranskyy won a surprising decision over Yuneski Gonzalez,while Barrera went the distance in a loss to Andre Ward.
Shabranskyy was thought of by many (Including me) as a potential contender at 175 and Barrera would be an interesting test.

Instead,the pair hooked up in a great action fight that saw Shabranskyy dropped in round one and Barrera in round two.
Slowly,Barrera began to take command with a knockdown in the fifth before knocking Shabranskyy down and out in the seventh.
The win likely will put Barrera in contention for one of the three titles that Andre Ward is expected to vacate with his "retirement/ducking Kovalev".
It was a rough night for Golden Boy promotions with Shabranskyy's loss (Barrera is promoted by Main Events) and a stunning first round knockout loss by their touted welterweight Eddie Gomez at the hands of Rashidi Ellis.
No boxing challenge points for these fights or the Alexander Povetkin-Bermane Stiverne heavyweight eliminator,which was canceled with Povetkin's positive test for PED's.
Ramon Malpica didn't get the email in time,so nothing for those bouts..

Bernard Hopkins and his farewell bout headlines a three fight HBO card.
Hopkins faces Joe Smith,who pulled a shocker with his first round blitz of Andrezj Fonfara on a PBC card.
Touted WBO cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk makes his American debut against Thabiso Mchunu and featherweight contender Joseph Diaz faces Horatio Garcia..

Light Heavyweights.12 rds
Bernard Hopkins vs Joe Smith
Both:Hopkins Unanimous Decision

Featherweights 10 rds
Joseph Diaz vs Horatio Garcia
R.L: Diaz KO 8
TRS:Diaz Unanimous Decision

WBO Cruiserweight title 12 rds
Oleksandr Usyk vs Thabiso Mchunu
R.L:Usyk KO 5
TRS:Usyk KO 8

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Cleaning out the inbox

Four passings from this cleaning of the inbox and we start with the passing of actor Van Williams of the Green Hornet fame.
The Green Hornet lasted one year on ABC with a memorable two part crossover with Batman,but never had the huge syndication market as Batman,which made it one of those shows that you always wanted to see,but never did when I was a kid.
The Green Hornet was played far more seriously than the campy Batman and Williams wanted it to be portrayed as such before taking the role
Williams never had a starring vehicle that gained him recognition other than the Green Hornet and was pretty much out of the acting business by the mid 1980's.
Williams was 82..

Alan Thicke saw his life end playing hockey with his son at the age of 69.
Thicke best known as "Jason Seaver" the stay at home dad on Growing Pains-a 1980's ABC sitcom also was a well-known composer as well.
Thicke was a writer of tv themes for shows like "The Facts of Life" and "Different Strokes" (both pretty memorable themes to people my age) as well as instrumentals for several game shows and their themes of the age.
Thicke first came to my attention with a failed challenge (boy,that was a long list) to late night titan Johnny Carson "Thicke of the Night" before Growing Pains,which to be frank,wasn't a very good show and might have been better suited to challenge David Letterman (considering its content) at 12;30.

Welsh character actor Bernard Fox recently passed at the age of 89.
Fox was most famous for his role as Dr.Bombay on Bewitched and Colonel Crittenden on Hogan's Heroes,both were huge hits in first run and syndication.
A one time role that I just saw recently at my parents was his role as "Malcolm" a visiting Englishman ,who had an issue with Ernest T.Bass on the Andy Griffth Show.
The guest shot was in the final season because it is in color (Only the final season of the Griffith Show was in color) and which might have been the only color episode for Ernest T.Bass (Howard Morris),who was a much loved recurring character among fans of that show...

A late addition just as I was preparing to post this as Craig Sager,the long time NBA reporter, passed at the age of 65 from leukemia.
Sager was a long time worker for Turner Sports and was best known for his NBA work along with his garish suits,but I remember him from the days before the internet and his work with CNN and WTBS.
In the days before the net,even ESPN didn't have a bottom line running constantly,so you spent a lot of time watching Sportscenter and CNN's Sports Night and especially Headline News and their updates at 18 and 48 on the hour.
Craig Sager was a huge part of the sports empire at Turner in those years and I'll remember him best for being one of the people that kept us up to date on the scores at a time in my life where those things seemed so important....

ESPN writes of the lesser known of the Boston Celtics draft blunders with the San Antonio Spurs in the early 2000's (and late 90's).
Many Celtics fans lament not getting Tim Duncan after a brutal season,but the Celtics never passed over Duncan-the ping pong balls just didn't go their way.
This article discusses the Celtics,then coached by Jim O'Brien getting ready to draft Tony Parker and being to the point of the lady at the draft handing Parker a Celtics hat to walk onto the stage wearing,only to have Red Auerbach overrule his basketball people and insist on North Carolina point guard Joseph Forte,who would play a grand total of eight games in green.
Great decision that was!

We wrap up with Together We're Giants and their interview with San Francisco Giants reporter Amy Gutierrez or "Amy G" as she's known to Giants fans.
I often complain about the "hosts" and "reporters",but what I like about Amy G and what Comcast does with the Giants is that she doesn't interrupt the flow of the game and she does her interview work before and after the game and not during.
She contributes to the broadcast without having to detract from the game....





Browns moves-Claim Darius Jackson

The Cowboys released their sixth round pick Darius Jackson from Eastern Michigan in order to make space for activating veteran runner Darren McFadden and the Browns jumped on Jackson,claiming him off waivers.
The rookie running back has been inactive for every game,yet Cowboys followers have been upset about losing Jackson due to his preseason performance (141 yards on the ground) and are actually preferring Jackson over McFadden to most of the people I've read.
It made sense that Jackson was inactive on a team with Ezekiel Elliott,Alfred Morris and now McFadden,but a back with his size (6'1 220) with good speed and able to catch the football could turn out to be an interesting claim on the part of the Browns.
Cleveland cut linebacker Corey Lemonier to make space for Jackson.
Lemonier had two sacks earlier in the season,but had lost playing time after the trade that brought Jamie Collins to Cleveland and the increased playing time of Cam Johnson at linebacker
The Browns also promoted defensive tackle Gabe Wright to the active roster with the space made by the PED suspension of wide receiver Jordan Payton and lost linebacker Scooby Wright to the Cardinals.
Wright was a seventh round pick by the Browns,but the Cardinals took Wright off the practice squad with the opportunity for Wright to return to Arizona,where he had played college football.

Back next time with a cleaning of the inbox!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Road Trip: Indianapolis-Coming home

Leaving Indianapolis early in order to get home earlier,we didn't eat right away.
I am a noted breakfast hater (except for the odd breakfast buffet) and I was just as happy to ride it out until 11 AM for a nice lunch.

We quickly moved from Indianapolis to Columbus and as I just happened to looking to my right as we approached downtown Columbus and saw a facade that said Cooper Stadium on it.
I mentioned to Ryan that must be the remains of the former home of the AAA Columbus Clippers,who moved to a new park in Columbus in 2009.
Ryan asked if I wanted to see it and of course I said yes!
We drove around downtown Columbus as the GPS took us to Huntington Park first (we visited there in 2010),but we quickly were able to find our way back to the remains of Cooper Stadium.

The long time home of the AAA Clippers was certainly in disrepair and rundown.
To the point of being careful that you didn't run over some refuse with your tires!
We were only able to get so close from the abandoned parking lot,but we were able to take shots from left and right field and of the grandstand and team offices.
The playing field is long overgrown and I considered wading into the waist high grass for some shots from the playing field,but I heard plenty of scurrying and decided discretion was the better part of valor on this day.

It's always sad when you visit these places and it's true (or maybe you just want to hear) that you can feel the ghosts and memories around you.
Columbus really does have a great stadium in Huntington Park,but every time a new park arrives,an old park gets nudged aside in its favor.
If you are in the area,stop by and check out crumbling Cooper,supposedly the area is soon to be redeveloped into a small auto racing track..

We moved further to try to get into the lunch hour rather than breakfast and hit St.Clairsville Ohio,which is near the Ohio/West Virginia line.
There were a surprising amount of eating possibilities in the Ohio Valley Mall and surrounding area,but my choice was Garfield's inside the mall.
Garfield's was in the Hagerstown mall at one time before leaving and I thought that Garfield's had the best nachos.
Sadly,since they were located in Hagerstown,someone had the great idea to change things up (dropped black olives and changed the chips) and even though these were fine- "These were not the best nachos I ever ate-BRAD!
The best part was as we walked through a surprisingly nice mall and neared the kids play area in the middle of the mall-Ryan pointed this out,which I had to have a picture of!
Brutus Buckeye leaping out of a Buckeye tree was just too awesome,I would have taken a picture with it myself had there not been kids playing around the tree.

The rest of the trip was pretty much driving home as we listened to the Packers vs Texans game on the radio and making conversation...

What a great trip with my son and even though the wrong team won,I still had a great time and would love to go back and do it again for a Buckeye appearance-yes,Ryan I'm holding you to your promise!!

Back later with a few notes from the inbox!!




Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Road Trip:Indianapolis

I made an unexpected road trip last weekend on a weeks notice and was able to write a few firsts in my personal ledger.

When it looked like Wisconsin was going be in the Big 10 championship game and possibly against Ohio State,Ryan mentioned going out to Indianapolis and asked me to consider going along.
When Penn State was the actual opponent for the Badgers,I thought it actually might be a better time for the two of us to make the trip.
After all,seven hours in the car is a long way to drive home when one of the two people in the car is guaranteed to be on the losing side.
At least in this matchup,we would be rooting for the same team and win or lose would have the same opinion on the way home.

The drive to Indianapolis is a pretty easy one,only two minor deviations or I could almost drive it straight from Hagerstown.
We left in the afternoon and arrived around eleven.
Two stops,one in Washington PA for gas and when I went into the store on the site,the person behind the counter said "I didn't even know there was a baseball team here (Independent Washington Wild Things) when asked and then volunteered "I really hate this job,I need a new one".
That was the highlight of Washington PA.
We did stop in Columbus for some White Castle and that's always a great stop in the Midwest.
The small burgers are almost the name brand for the small "slider" type hamburgers and even though the southern franchise Krystal manages to hang close with White Castle for quality,there is always something about going to the originators.
It didn't take long for us to hit the bed,once we reached the hotel.
We did watch the end of the Pac 12 title game as Washington polished off Colorado to shine their credentials for the playoff before sleeping-there was lots to do on Saturday.

We spent the day around the Indianapolis convention center for the Big 10 Fan Fest and spent lots of time walking around the city and seeing the various sights.
The fan fest was pretty interactive with different things that you could do,but I didn't really see anyone signing anything,so I was glad that I didn't lug a lot of stuff along.
The fan fest was sponsored by the despised Dr.Pepper and there was samples of the stuff everywhere.
Ryan loves Dr.Pepper as much as I hate it and he drank quite a few samples.
Ryan told me that now he understands how much I hate Dr.Pepper when it was the only free drink available and lots of it and I still wasn't touching it!!
Lots of Penn State people doing their chant and since the Nittany Lions had never made the game before,they traveled far better than the Badgers,who had been in the title matchup on several previous occasions.
Mildly annoying,but on the overall-the Penn State supporters (with a few exceptions) weren't as bad as I thought they could be.

We walked around the town,which touts itself as having "the most walkable downtown in the Midwest".
I cannot speak for every Midwest city,but it is pretty easy to get around by foot and I was reminded a bit of Ryan and I's trip to Louisville.
I remember when Ryan and I walked through Louisville and he talked about how Louisville reminded him of Indianapolis.
Now that I have been to both cities,I would agree with those thoughts.
I told Ryan that I only wish one could go back in time and see one of those classic ABA games between Indianapolis and their Pacers against Louisville and the sadly departed Colonels..

On the far side on the convention center and literally one crossing of the street is the home of the AAA Indians,a affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates-Victory Field.
I didn't get a lot of great pictures because the park wasn't open (their team shop hours weren't open on Fall Saturday's-You would have thought someone would have opened it for one day with all the sports fans next door in the Christmas shopping season),but it looked very nice and I marked Victory Field down as a future stop-because it's just so easy to get to!

We ate at a downtown Steak N Shake,which was a treat.
The mostly midwestern chain is always a favorite and it's reasonable price always comes in handy when you are trying to keep costs down.
I didn't get one of their awesome milk shakes,because I still had plenty of walking to do,but I still regret not getting one!

Entering Lucas Oil Stadium,home of the Colts was an interesting experience.
I've been in the Cleveland Browns stadium before and I've been in plenty of arenas,but this was a new experience-I've never been inside a domed stadium before.
I have trouble really getting the point across of just how large these things are with the feeling of sitting in your living room.
I loved it and Ryan did too-he even told me during the game- "I'm really changing my mind on dome football!!"
We sat by one of the twenty yard lines and in the highest section,yet saw everything in the game.
It sometimes was hard to get an exact feeling for running plays on how many yards you would gain on a play,but you were in the ballpark at least and on passing plays,you almost felt like a quarterback because you could see every receiver,who was open etc.
I really liked the stadium along with the experience and would certainly return for a future game.

We drove back to the hotel after a stop at a different Steak N Shake before going to bed.
The next day and the ride down was likely going to be uneventful,but one lucky break made a terrific stop.
I'll be back on a slow day in a few days with some pictures of that stop!

Thanks again to Ryan for having me and I thoroughly enjoyed myself....


Monday, December 12, 2016

Bengals bop Browns 23-10

The Cleveland Browns got Robert Griffin back into the lineup for the first time since the opening loss,but it did little good as the Browns fell to 0-13 with a 23-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Cleveland.
Isaiah Crowell rushed for 113 yards as just about the only offensive bright spot.
Cleveland travels to Buffalo next Sunday against the Bills...

Brownie Bits

1) Lets start with the positives.
Trailing 20-0 at the half,the Browns could have very easily packed it in,but they didn't and made somewhat of a game of it.
It is cliche' to be sure,but these are the moral victories that rebuilding teams look for.

2) Improved play on both lines.
The Browns sacked Andy Dalton four times and allowed three on Robert Griffin,but other than a great game by the Bengals Geno Atkins,I thought the offensive line played reasonably well in protecting Griffin and...

3) They even blew open a few holes for Isaiah Crowell,who ripped off a 42 yard run and finished with over 100 yards on ten carries.
I was pleased to see that it was Jonathan Cooper opening the hole for Crowell on the long run in his first start.
Nice to see there is still some sort of a running game in town..

4) Emmanuel Ogbah finished with six tackles and a sack and half and seems to be finishing the season strong since being used at defensive end after starting the season as a standup linebacker.
It's so Browns to constantly move guys out of their comfort zone and another thing that gives me hope with guys like Ogbah is learning to play to a players strengths,not shove the round peg into the square hole.

5) What scares me most?
The 49ers still have just one win and if the Browns get lucky and win a game and San Francisco continues to lose-I could have went through all the misery for nothing..

6) The Browns did sign cornerback Jamar Taylor to a three year contract extension this week,so that locks down one of the three major free agents for the offseason.

7) That leads us to the others-Terrelle Pryor was a total non-factor with one catch for three yards on just three targets.
There were a few factors-good coverage,bad quarterbacking and not looking his way enough,but you gotta get the ball to your best playmaker.

8) Jamie Collins was tremendous with 13 solo tackles and a sack.
I wondered how Collins would perform coming here after the Patriots and I've loved his effort.
Hopefully,there will be a way to keep Collins around because I think he is a potentially (definite if he stays) a cornerstone for this team.

9) Robert Griffin was terrible.
I wrote it and stand by it.
He did score the only Browns touchdown,so that's something,but....

10) He was inaccurate,heaving balls into the sidelines and other than one drive,failed to move the team and looked to be rusty at least and nowhere near an NFL quarterback at most.
I'll give him this one,but I have a feeling that after these next three games,Robert Griffin will be moving on as yet another failed attempt to solidify the Browns QB dilemma...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Charlo wastes Williams,Mares edges Cuellar and Heavyweight fight of the year

The boxing challenge continued with lots of fights,I haven't seen them all,so I'll stick to the ones that I have seen.
The total for the weekend (not including the two title fights that I wrote about earlier) was ten points for me and nine for Ramon Malpica.
The total is 149-125.

Of all the fights on the two American networks and the huge British card,the fight of the day was the co-feature in England as heavyweights Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora hooked up for the heavyweight fight of the year.
I watched this on Youtube,since Showtime literally refused to show it and waited live on the air with talking heads and a ladies bout for the Anthony Joshua fight to start.
Showtime really dropped the ball as this fight was a winner from start to finish.
You want action-this one had it!
This fight was all that people say that they want from heavyweight boxing with Whyte earning a razor thin split decision in a WBC title eliminator that could see him challenge WBC champ Deontay Wilder.
I scored it 114-114 and would love to see a rematch.
Whyte knocked IBF champ Anthony Joshua down in their fight,which was Whyte's only loss,so a Wilder-Whyte fight might be lots of fun...
I added two points to Ramon's one for this win.

The HBO card saw Terence Crawford stop a outgunned John Molina in the eighth round in Omaha.
Molina came in well overweight,so this was not for Crawford's junior welterweight titles.
I give Molina credit-he never stopped coming,but he was just outclassed and lost every round...
Ramon and I each earned two points for the Crawford stoppage.
I'm not sure what's next for Crawford,who may have to move to welterweight to find a meaningful challenge.
The other HBO fight saw veteran lightweight contender Ray Beltran stop Mason Menard in the seventh round.
Ramon earned one point,while I selected Menard...

The Showtime card from Los Angeles was much better as veteran featherweights Abner Mares and Jesus Cuellar battled in a good action fight,that would have been the fight of the weekend if not for Whyte-Chisora.
Mares knocked Cuellar down in the eleventh round and that made the difference on my card,which was 114-113 in favor of the Mexican veteran.
Mares won a secondary title that will likely set up for the winner of the Carl Frampton-Leo Santa Cruz rematch for the WBA featherweight title,although Mares promoter Richard Schafer was talking about a fight versus the perpetually inactive WBC champion Gary Russell as well.
Ramon and I each picked Cuellar,so no points on that one.

The fight I was looking forward to most saw a surprise to me as I thought Julian Williams would defeat Jermall Charlo for Charlo's IBF junior middleweight title.
Instead Charlo dropped Williams in the second and fifth and finished him in the fifth round.
Charlo dominated with his jab,which knocked Williams down in the second and a right uppercut in the fifth brought the end after Williams won the fourth round on my card and seemed to be working his way back into the fight.
I've been critical of the Charlo brothers (Jermell Charlo is the WBC champion),but there was nothing to quibble about in this one as Charlo notched the best win of his career and did it in spectacular fashion.
Credit due to Charlo for this one,although he loses some for his callout of Canelo Alvarez after the fight.
I really hate it when fighters (PBC fighters do this the most) call out guys from the opposite end of the promotional/network battle when they know there is no way that such a fight is going to be made.
It is such a waste of time with such bravado when the boxing politics indicate there is no way a fight with Canelo Alvarez,who can draw with the dog can be made with Jermall Charlo for the risk and hassle of the other promotions.
Look at the hassle of Gennady Golovkin's negotiations with Daniel Jacobs for a fight that is mandated and tell me an optional fight can be made.
Enjoy your win and keep it real....







Saturday, December 10, 2016

Heavyweight Saturday

Two of the four heavyweight titles were on the line from overseas on Saturday and with more action on tap Saturday night,it was a big day in the boxing world..

Early Saturday morning,the WBO title (Vacated by Tyson Fury) was filled in Auckland,New Zealand as hometown fighter Joseph Parker won a narrow majority decision over Andy Ruiz to win that organization's championship.
I thought the scores were fair (114-114 and two cards for Parker 115-113) and could have went either way.
I scored the fight 114-114,but being honest,it felt like Ruiz won the fight.
Sometimes,you can score a fight even and still feel that one fighter "won" the fight-this was one of those nights for me.
I've been critical of Andy Ruiz,his reluctance to get into shape and his less than competitive opponents,but I liked some of what I saw in this fight from him in his first real test against Parker.
Ruiz showed pretty fast hands (although not fast feet) and if he can stay in the gym,he could still make some noise in this division and that is not something that I would have written yesterday before this fight.
As for,the new WBO champion,Joseph Parker showed some talent and patience,but Parker needs work a little more.
I really like the Parker jab,if he can build off that,he can be a interesting fighter to follow.
Parker will be forced to make his first defense in  four months by the WBO against England's Hughie Fury.
Assuming Parker gets by Fury and I think he should-I'm all for a Ruiz rematch,

In the boxing challenge,Ramon Malpica and I each added one point for the Parker victory,

In Manchester England,Anthony Joshua mowed down overmatched Eric Molina in three rounds to retain his IBF heavyweight title.
Molina gave WBC champ Deontay Wilder some anxious moments when he challenged Wilder,but he was no match for Joshua.
Joshua's next fight will be against former champion Wladimir Klitschko in a defense of his title and the winner will receive the other title (WBA) vacated by Tyson Fury..
Ramon added three points for the win,getting the bonus point for calling the round with me adding two...

The boxing challenge stands at 139-116 with more to come.....

Friday, December 9, 2016

Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge for 2016 nears its end,but there is a huge boxing weekend on tap between England,Showtime and even HBO.


The biggest bouts are on Showtime with Anthony Joshua defending his IBF heavyweight title in England vs Eric Molina in his final prep for Wladimir Klitschko and a long awaited for junior middleweight title bout with IBF champ Jermall Charlo defending against Julian Williams paired with a pretty nice action fight at featherweight between Jesus Cuellar and Abner Mares.
HBO responds with a Terence Crawford bout against John Molina that looked questionable when signed,but even worse when Molina came in four POUNDS overweight.
Ray Beltran-Mason Menard might save the day and the vacant WBO heavyweight title is shown on tape delay from New Zealand with Joseph Parker battling Andy Ruiz.
Combine those with a loaded undercard in England that includes Luis Ortiz and the return of Scott Quigg with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr continuing his comeback in Mexico and you have a super boxing weekend.
The challenge is at 136-112.

Of all of these fights,I prefer the Showtime card with two good matchups (Especially Charlo-Williams),but getting a heavyweight title vacancy filled with a title defense isn't too shabby either for a boxing fan!
Get those digital devices ready!!

IBF Heavyweight title.12 rds
Anthony Joshua vs Eric Molina
R.L:Joshua KO 3
TRS:Joshua KO 5

Vacant WBO Heavyweight title.12 rds
Joseph Parker vs Andy Ruiz
R.L:Parker KO 9
TRS:Parker Unanimous Decision

Welterweights (No title on the line with Molina unable to make weight) 12 rds
Terence Crawford vs John Molina
R.L: Crawford KO 7
TRS:Crawford KO 5

Lightweights.10 rds
Ray Beltran vs Mason Menard
R.L:Beltran Unanimous Decision
TRS:Menard Split Decision

Featherweights. 12 rds
Jesus Cuellar vs Abner Mares
Both:Cuellar Unanimous Decision

IBF Junior Middleweight title.12 rds
Jermall Charlo vs Julian Williams
Both:Williams Unanimous Decision

Heavyweights.12 rds
Dillon Whyte vs Dereck Chisora
R.L:Whyte Unanimous Decision
TRS:Whyte Split Decision

Super Middleweights. 10 rds
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, vs Dominik Britsch
R.L:Chavez KO 7
TRS:Chavez KO 8

Heavyweights.10 rds
Luis Ortiz vs Dave Allen
R.L:Ortiz KO 6
TRS:Ortiz KO 3

Featherweights.10 rds
Scott Quigg vs Jose Cayetano
Both:Quigg Unanimous Decision

Jr.Welterweights.12 rds
Lenny Zappavigna vs Sergey Lipinets
R.L:Lipinets Unanimous Decision
TRS:Lipinets KO 8


Pigskin Picking Machine

No college games as the bowl season prepares to start soon.
I'll add an extra pro game of the week,but adding a new "crappy" game to add a little fun!

Last Week: 8-3
Overall: 93-33

Bengals over Browns 34-20
Saints over Buccaneers 35-31

Game of the Week
Cowboys over Giants 27-21

Rotten Game of the Week
49ers over Jets 20-17

John Glenn

I've written about John Glenn in the past,although I cannot seem to find it anywhere on here,but his passing at the age of 95 is notable for more than just being the final of the original Mercury astronauts to pass.

John Glenn was more than just an astronaut that was the first American to orbit the earth or even a four term Senator,he was a good man and I've always been an admirer of his for more than just his achievements.

Glenn seemed to be a man from another age,where your word meant something and where you tried to do the right thing because it was right,not because you gained an advantage from it.
I always thought the failed 1984 Presidential campaign of Glenn was mainly because of bad timing.
Glenn's immaculate reputation and strong morals would have ran very well in the 1976 election right after Watergate.
As I look back,that might have been Glenn's time and goes to show that much of politics is timing.
Would a Donald Trump ran as well in a different time?
The time was right for Barack Obama in 2008,there would have been many times that it would not have been and Glenn might have missed the window that would have been right for his presidential run.

I've never heard or read anyone complain about John Glenn other than being too much of a good person.
I'm not going to get too much into his resume,you can read the various obits for that,but it was an interesting point that it was John Glenn that trained Ted Williams to fly fighter jets in the Korean War.
It's a cliche' to be sure,but they don't make Americans like those two anymore!

Glenn only made one space flight,unless you count his space shuttle flight,which to be honest was more of a gimmick,because John F.Kennedy didn't want to risk losing a national hero on another mission.
That sounds a bit restrained until you consider the time and risk as the first man to enter space-Russia's Yuri Gagarin would perish in a plane crash just a few years after his flight,so one can understand Kennedy's thinking.

95 years is quite a life,so John Glenn filled those years quite well,but he did it with an honor and grace that seems to be disappearing from our age.
In an age that rewards bombastic egotism,Glenn's humble attitude might allow him to blend into the background unjustly.
To an American hero that we may not see his likes again for a while,that should not be..


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Rule 5 Action,Giants trade Chris Heston!

The Rule 5 draft isn't as important as it used to be,but I always like to see who moves around in it and I've always written about it,so why stop now?!

The Indians made a selection and lost a player in the MLB portion of the draft,while the Pirates made a selection.
Cleveland selected a pitcher that I've seen several times over the years in 25 year old former Texas Longhorn Hoby Milner from the Phillies.
The lefthanded sidearmer could make the team as a situational LOOGY and his numbers at AA Reading last year were excellent.
Milner keeps the ball down and I could see him having a role in the Indians bullpen or possibly being good enough for the Indians to work out a deal with the Phillies to send him to AAA Columbus for more seasoning.

The Indians lost outfielder Anthony Santander to the Orioles in the MLB portion.
Santander hit .290 with 20 homers for High A Lynchburg last season,but outfielders from that level are usually very hard to for a full year on the big roster.
Santander does have an injury and that might make it easier to keep him around..
Santander is a decent prospect,but not a standout for the Indians,who have lots of similar outfielders in their system..

The Pirates tabbed Tyler Webb,a 6'6 lefty from the Yankees in the MLB portion.
Webb spent the last three years with AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre and could stick in the bullpen.
Webb was primarily a reliever before last season,when he got a few spot starts.
At 25,my guess is that the Pirates look at Webb as the Indians look at Hoby Milner-a guy that they could carry and use as a LOOGY...

The AAA phase of the draft saw the Indians lose a few pitchers,but few that would be a loss to the system.
In the AAA portion,teams pay an amount of money and the player selected becomes the permanent property of the system,unlike the major league portion.
The most interesting player picked was Trevor Frank,who was the second player picked to the Padres.
Frank pitched well as the closer for the High A Lynchburg Hillcats,but has never pitched above that level and turns 26 in June.
The remaining three were journeyman Grant Sides,who pitched well at AA Akron last year (Picked by Diamondbacks),faded former prospect Nick Maronde (Marlins) and former independent pitcher Jon Fitzsimmons (Diamondbacks),who was a surprise being picked after just 16 innings at Low A Lake County...

Pittsburgh lost three pitchers without a selection in the AAA phase.
Cecilio Pimentel (Braves) had a nice season at Low A West Virginia,but turns 24 in January.
Colten Brewer (Yankees) was a fourth rounder in 2011 that has struggled with injuries and never rose above High A and Josh Smith (Red Sox) is an organizational soldier that has been hit hard in two years at AA Altoona...

The San Francisco Giants didn't take a player or lose a player in any of the Rule 5 festivities,but they did make a trade as they traded Chris Heston to the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named later.
Heston won 12 games in 2015 and including a no-hitter,but pitched just five innings over four games in 2016 and looked to be the odd man out in San Francisco's rotation.
I wouldn't bet on anything more than a fringe prospect in return from the Mariners,but I'm sure Heston should at least challenge for a back of the rotation slot in Seattle...

I've been working on my trip to Indianapolis with Ryan,but I'm more likely to write about the death of John Glenn tonight.
Stay tuned....

Nationals send former Suns to Chicago

I usually don't write about teams trades that I don't cover,but today's swap between the Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals badly needed to be a topic for discussion.

Not just because there were two former Hagerstown Suns players involved in the deal either,but to discuss the apparent all in attitude by the Washington Nationals,a team that you always have to give credit for at least trying to improve a franchise that to this point has failed to win in the postseason.

The Nationals sent arguably their three pitching prospects and at minimum three of their top four (Depends on where you rank Erick Fedde) to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Adam Eaton.
Former Hagerstown Suns Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are headed to Chicago along with the Nationals top draft pick from last season in Dane Dunning as the White Sox add those three players to the haul led by Yoan Moncada in the Chris Sale trade earlier in the winter meetings in an attempt to bolster one of the weaker farm systems in the game.

For the White Sox,it makes a ton of sense to move some valuable players from a team that went just 78-84 with those assets.
Chicago may not be done if they desire,as they still have players of value that they could receive even more prospects for in pitcher Jose Quintana and especially infield power bats Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier,should they desire to do so.
Giolito is the big name of the three,but I've always preferred Reynaldo Lopez of the two.
On the radar gun,the two are pretty similar,but Giolito's fastball has always been straight with little movement even in his Hagerstown days and no matter the speed,when you fire straight fastballs against major league hitting,they tend to disappear as seven of them flew over the fence in just 21 big league innings last season.
I like Lopez's stuff and movement,my main worry about him is his slight frame.
Pitchers with similar size as Lopez tend to flash brightly and flame out quickly,so there is somewhat of a risk over the long term.
I didn't get to see Dane Dunning,who was Washington's first round pick out of the University of Florida last season.
Dunning was expected to start the season in Hagerstown before the trade and perhaps with a fortunate assignment (the White Sox have teams in the SAL and Carolina leagues) I could still see him pitch.

For Washington,who had been rumored to be talking to Pittsburgh for Andrew McCutchen to patrol center field,this comes as a surprise.
Adam Eaton hit .284/14/59 and those numbers have been consistently in that range over the last three years with the power picking up over the last two seasons.
Eaton brings some speed and intangibles to Washington as he is a high intensity player that Nationals fans should quickly love.
At 28,Eaton should be in his prime years and is under contract for five years (three years and two club options),so that could play into the exorbitant price paid for him.
Eaton is also a good defensive right fielder,but is not as solid in center,which is where he will play as a National.
Bryce Harper isn't moving from right,so plugging Eaton into center means that Trea Turner can be moved to shortstop,where his bat will play even more than center.

In my opinion,this smacks of a panic move.
The Nationals see the window closing with several of their bats possibly moving on over the next two or three seasons and having dealt many of their top prospects (they have held onto Victor Robles and Juan Soto) in trades,the Nationals are in win now mode.
I understand that and give them credit for continuing to tinker with the lineup in an attempt to put them over the top,but this is such an oppressive cost for a player that is good but not great.
Desperation can make teams do things that they normally would not and I feel some desperation on the Nationals part.
Had the Pirates received those three players for Andrew McCutchen,I would have rated it an excellent deal for the Pirates,but to add those three pitchers for Adam Eaton,I would score that as a win for the White Sox.
Prospects are far from a guarantee and they arrive with plenty of risk,but the more you get-the better your chances of success.
Adam Eaton may be a productive player in Washington,but the White Sox made the better deal-even with risk....

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cleaning out the inbox-Passings

We start with another passing as former Jets and Chiefs running back Joe McKnight was shot and killed in his hometown of New Orleans.
The 28 year old McKnight was killed in a road rage incident that saw him unarmed against a gun-toting assailant.
McKnight was a premiere running back at USC and I really thought he was underrated in being selected in the fourth round by the Jets in 2010.
McKnight spent three years as a Jet before being released and picked up by Kansas City,where he scored two touchdowns in two games before tearing his Achilles tendon.
McKnight played this season in Canada in an attempt for a comeback and split the year between Saskatchewan and Edmonton.

Two more athletic passings-both in Colorado and far too young.
Former Colorado Avalanche winger Marek Svatos died of a drug overdose at the age of 34.
Svatos  scored 32 goals as a rookie with the Avalanche and 87 over his first four years before a steep decline that saw him score just ten goals over the remainder of his career.
Svatos dealt with several injuries in the NHL and in Europe and perhaps that the entryway to drug abuse started with these injuries?

1994 Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam was found in a park in Boulder,having committed suicide at the age of 42.
Salaam won the trophy in Boulder as a member of the Colorado Buffaloes with a season that saw him rush for over two thousand yards and 24 touchdowns before being the first round pick in 1995 by the Chicago Bears.
Salaam became the youngest player to rush for over 1,000 yards in the NFL in his rookie season in Chicago,but various issues (Injury,Marijuana and Fumbling) kept Salaam from rushing for even half of his previous total over the next two seasons.
Salaam would play two games for the expansion Browns and spent time attempting to come back in the XFL with the Memphis Maniax and the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts before ending his career in 2004 in the Argonaut training camp.

We wrap up with the passing of Margaret Whitton from cancer at the age of 67.
Whitton was best remembered for her classic portrayal of "Rachel Phelps" in the Major League films.
I don't how many times with various people that fans of the movie have done "This guy's dead" followed by the Whitton deadpan reply "Cross him off then!".
Whitton also had roles in "Secret of my Success" a Michael J.Fox vehicle and the underrated Robin Williams/Kurt Russell film "Best of Times"...