Thursday, June 30, 2016

Podcast:Cavaliers,Taylor Hall,Buddy Ryan and more!

The podcast returns with the Cleveland title experience,the fun to watch Hagerstown Suns,the passing of Buddy Ryan,more on the Devils trading for Taylor Hall and a big announcement!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Devils acquire Taylor Hall!!!

We just discussed the minor trade that the New Jersey Devils made at the draft with the Pittsburgh Penguins for Beau Bennett,but little did I know that Ray Shero had a bomb to drop and that it would be a huge one as the Devils traded Adam Larsson to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for former first overall pick Taylor Hall.

The one for one trade is very rare in all sports,but especially in hockey.
Taylor Hall is a talented 24 year old left wing that as noted was the first pick in the 2010 draft.
Hall scored 132 goals in his six NHL seasons and two of those have been shortened by injury,so this is an impact scorer and I'd go as far to rank Hall as one of the top five left wings in the game.
Hall scored 29 goals last season with 36 assists and possesses the type of offensive game that makes plays around the net.
Taylor Hall is the type of offensive talent that the Devils haven't had since the days of Zach Parise and arguably ever.
Does that sound like hyperbole?
Perhaps,but Taylor Hall is the type of talent that Devils fans have craved-as in the type of talent that make losing worth losing to add special types of players.

As you can imagine,landing a player such as Taylor Hall does not come cheap and it didn't as the cost was Adam Larsson,the Devils top young defenseman,coming off his best year as a Devil.
Larsson was just starting to put his game together after a rough start under former Devils coach Peter DeBoer and was showing signs of being a top notch defender.
Adam Larsson will certainly be missed in New Jersey.

It seems that the vast majority of commenters and columnists online are calling this trade a clear win for the NJD,with one writing that "this may be the most one sided one for one trade of all time".
Now I don't know if I'd go that far,but I do see the Devils the clear winner of this deal and that's coming from someone that is a big fan of Adam Larsson's game.
The Devils have suddenly upgraded their offense considerably with Taylor Hall and Hall is signed for the next five years at an extremely team friendly contract (6 million per year).
This does hinder the defense a bit as younger defenseman as Damon Severson,Jon Merrill Steve Santini etc are going to have to pick up their game and one might have to emerge even higher than expected to reach the level of Larsson to hope to fill the void left by the trade.

I'll miss Adam Larsson,but the New Jersey Devils and Ray Shero made themselves one great trade today.
Our Devils just became a much more fun team to watch today!!!

Road Trip-Oakmont and the U.S.Open

Now that we have caught up with various news items (and didn't it take up enough time?),I'm going to start chipping away on my four day road trip.

The start came on a Thursday before my weekend trip with Ryan as I attended my first golf tournament with my friend Bruce Begole.
I had never done golf and I wanted to give it a try.
Bruce is a great guy and over the winter had bought us tickets for the U.S.Open at Oakmont near Pittsburgh.
I reimbursed Bruce of course and brought some stuff to hopefully get signed.
I didn't bring lots of stuff because I had been warned by Bruce that the usual briefcase would not be allowed,but with all the walking involved,it wouldn't be a good idea even if it was allowed.

If you travel on the Western part of the extortion that is also known as the Pennsylvania Turnpike ,you should have passed under part of the Oakmont Country Club and if you are traveling East,you can even see the grandstands on the 18th green (more on that when I get around to day four).
Bruce and I had an enjoyable trip until reaching our "shuttle bus" located at the Pittsburgh Mills Mall.
It was only when arriving there,that the disorganization began to be clear.
I was surprised since Oakmont has the Open roughly once a decade,one would think that they would have a grip on what it takes to run a tournament.

After waiting in line for security checks,I was informed that my kindle wasn't allowed through security.
Cell phones were OK,but the kindle wasn't.
It wasn't that big of a deal,but what it did do was take away any chance of pictures of my day.
Bruce being in far better shape than I volunteered to run it back to the car,which of course was located on the other side of the mall.
After we waded through that without issue,we had a decent length school bus ride that seemed a lot longer on the way than the way back before arriving at Oakmont..

You actually cross over a walking bridge at Oakmont,so you literally are above the Pa.Turnpike!
I'll never look at that bridge in the same way again,that's for sure!
The course involved lots of walking,which wasn't great for a fat man with a bad wheel limping around,but we wound our way around before a huge rainstorm stopped play and turned the place into a mud pit.
Bruce and I did get to see some of the golfers walk by us,close enough to touch.
We didn't ask them to sign anything because they were still in playing mode due to the delay,but it was still neat to see them up close in person-most notably Jordan Speith,Rory McElroy and Bubba Watson.
We also were able to see the Stanley Cup in person,with Bruce diving forward to get a finger on the Cup.
I would have,but I didn't think of it until it was just by me,but it was still very neat to be that close to the Cup.
Bruce got his picture taken with Phil Kessel of the Penguins and we saw many members of the team walking by often to the clubhouse for beer refills!

We tried various way of access,but the tournament still hadn't moved on,but I saw huge storm clouds on their way and since by this point,I wasn't moving very quickly,I left Bruce to look for graphs as I moved towards the front of the facility to get a head start.
I reached the front and suddenly the skies opened for about an hour of one of the most torrential downpours I've ever seen.
I managed to duck inside a hospitality tent and found myself standing next to Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari.

Finally,Bruce showed in the middle of this godawful mess and as it continued to pour,we dodged into the merchandise tent for even more rain to the point of feeling like the tent was going to collapse.
The rain kept falling and we decided to traverse a small stream (literally) to try to get to the parking lot for another lovely shuttle bus.
Problem was we were walking uphill through inches of water flowing back at us!
It was quite a grind and then due to more of the poorly organized bus issues,we had a huge wait and the bus loading filled with people that didn't want to wait their turn.

Soaked,hurting and tired,we finally returned to the car,where Bruce took pity on me (I really am old and out of shape) and picked me up rather than having me wobble across another parking lot.
The ride home was great and Bruce apologized for having a bad first time experience with golf.
I laughed because despite the pain,the company was good and it was still fun creating memories.

I'll have more soon on the next three days with Ryan,but the passing of Buddy Ryan has to be written and with luck,I'll have a podcast (I've been promising) on Buddy,the Cavaliers,the Hagerstown Suns and more.
It's a planned ThoughtsofRS with more than you can take of R.S.!!


Monday, June 27, 2016

Devils acquire Beau Bennett

I forgot to add a quick look at the one veteran player that the New Jersey Devils added during the draft and thought that I would drop a few sentences now.

I won't be adding anything on the Devils second day of picks because as noted before,I don't claim to be an expert of the amateur hockey scene,but I find the trade of one of the Devils third rounders to the Pittsburgh Penguins for right winger Beau Bennett to be of interest.

Bennett,who turns 25 in November, scored six goals in 33 games in Pittsburgh and was a former first round pick by the Penguins in 2010
When you consider that draft was run by none other than Ray Shero,you can see why Bennett is being given a second chance in New Jersey.
Bennett is reported to have excellent hands and a quick release on his shot and when combined with pretty good size (6'2 195),you'd think that he'd be a keeper in Pittsburgh.

Well,Pittsburgh is having cap issues and the Devils like last season with Kyle Palmieri were able to take advantage of someone's issues to take a chance at a discounted rate,but there is one problem with Beau Bennett.
He simply cannot stay healthy and in the lineup to the point of never playing more than 44 games in a season.
Which is why a talented and young player such as Bennett is available for the cost of a third round pick.
New Jersey held three picks in the round and when you have multiple picks,a deal like this can arise ,be worth the gamble and not hurt you,if it doesn't pay off.
Ray Shero knows the organization better than anyone,so I'm OK with the risk and hope it pays off in anywhere near the way the Kyle Palmieri trade did for the Devils...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Boxing Challenge-Thurman rallies past Porter,Joshua stops Breazeale

The boxing challenge saw R.L.Malpica and I each score three points over the weekend and make the total for the year 76-63.

The PBC made its debut on CBS and I thought it was a pretty strong one as Keith Thurman rallied late in the fight to earn a unanimous decision over Shawn Porter to retain his WBA welterweight title.
All three judges scored Thurman a 115-113 winner,which was identical to my score,which Thurman won the final three rounds to earn the win on the TRS card.
Porter cut Thurman above the eye and then slowed in his attack and allowed Thurman to get back into the fight.
The bout was pretty action-friendly and I wouldn't be against an eventual rematch,but I'd like to see each man take another fight or two before a rematch.
I'd love to see Thurman unify vs WBC champ Danny Garcia (Both being with PBC,this should be easy enough to make) and Porter could have a mandated rematch if he could beat David Avenasayan and that to me looks like a excellent network level card.
Thurman's win was less than popular with the live crowd and I have a theory on that.
Keith Thurman gives a lot of answers that appear programmed and some fans have a negative opinion of Thurman because of that.
He comes across a bit plastic and when he wins a close fight,there is some blowback-Just a theory.

I was very impressed with junior middleweight Jarrett Hurd,who stopped Oscar Molina in the tenth to open the CBS card.
Hurd lost only one round on my card and set the tone in the first as he dropped Molina with an uppercut.
The stoppage seems a bit premature for my taste,but Molina wasn't winning this bout anyway,so I wouldn't feel too bad about the end of the bout.
Hurd looks to be a promising prospect and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him.

On Showtime-Anthony Joshua defended his IBF heavyweight title for the first time with a seventh round knockout of a gutsy Dominic Breazeale.
Joshua hurt Breazeale in the second ,but couldn't finish him off until the seventh,when he dropped the American twice before the end of the bout.
Breazeale was more competitive than I thought.but I had Joshua winning every round.
Joshua has the talented Joseph Parker of New Zealand as a mandatory contender,but it's unknown if Joshua will have an optional defense before a Parker bout.

The co-feature was not televised in the US,but was on the boxing challenge as George Groves defeated Martin Murray by unanimous decision to win the Yaqui Lopez award for most title shots without a win (just kidding),but more importantly earn another title shot against one of the WBA champs at 168 as the WBA still is trying to clean their mess of multiple champions in each division up.
Reports were that it was a fun fight to watch,but I was unable to watch as of this writing...


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Devils tab Michael McLeod

The New Jersey Devils trade down one spot from 11 to 12 (adding a third rounder) with the Ottawa Senators and wound up selecting Michael McLeod from the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League.

The 18 year old center finished last season with 21 goals and 40 assists and is considered to be a plus skater.
McLeod is 6'2,185 and the team wants him to gain 10-15 pounds to add some strength to his body and therefore his game.
McLeod is also thought to possibly have a future at right wing and drew comparisons to Ryan Kesler and the Devils own Travis Zajac.

I don't claim to know the hockey draft in nearly the same manner as the football and basketball drafts,but I really liked the burly 6'6 center Logan Brown,who was on the board from the Devils point of view,but was selected by Ottawa after the trade.
I have a feeling that for the next years,Devils fans will be keeping an eye on Brown to compare his prospect status with that of McLeod.

There's more on McLeod and how the pick affects the Devils over at All about the Jersey here....

Friday, June 24, 2016

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge continues with four fights Saturday and in a rarity,fun fights on paper to watch...

Saturday afternoon from London,Anthony Joshua makes his first defense of his IBF heavyweight title against American (and PBC) Dominic Breazeale.
Breazeale is tailor-made for the power hitting Brit as in his last two won an undeserved decision over Fred Kassi and was dropped and losing before Amir Mansour was forced to surrender due to a broken jaw.
Still,seeing Joshua fight is always fun and this should be spectacular.
The fight can be seen live on Showtime at 5:00.

No word on if the co-feature will be televised,but it should be a good one as two near-champions face off in an all-UK 168 pound title eliminator as George Groves meets Martin Murray.
Groves lost to Carl Froch in two title shots before a split decision loss to Badou Jack,while Murray drew with Felix Sturm (I had Murray a clear winner),a close loss to Sergio Martinez (dropped Martinez,I had Martinez ahead by a point),gave Gennady Golovkin his toughest bout before being stopped and lost a split nod to Arthur Abraham.
I'm hoping Showtime has it,but I have no idea if they will....

On CBS,the WBA welterweight title is on the line as Keith Thurman defends against Shawn Porter.
The undefeated Thurman,who I have been critical of in the past,against the once beaten former IBF champ is one of the better fights that can be made in the division.
Thurman,who's nickname is a deceiving "One Time" will likely box more in this one against the pressure of Porter.
The undercard features a junior middleweight battle between Jarrett Hurd and Oscar Molina as a late replacement for a better featherweight bout between Jesus Cuellar and Abner Mares,when Mares could not pass the vision part of the standard physical.
I lead R.L.Malpica 73-60.

WBA Welterweight title.12 rds
Keith Thurman vs Shawn Porter
R.L:Porter split winner
TRS:Porter unanimous winner

Jr,Middleweights,10 rds
Jarrett Hurd vs Oscar Molina
Both:Hurd unanimous winner

IBF Heavyweight title.12 rds
Anthony Joshua vs Dominic Breazeale
R.L:Joshua KO 3
TRS:Joshua KO 2

Super Middleweights.12 rds
George Groves vs Martin Murray
R.L:Murray unanimous winner
TRS;Murray split winner

Cavaliers leap into round two and late note.

I know the second part of this post is very late,but it fell between the cracks and I decided to combine
it with tonight's post...

The Cleveland Cavaliers did not have a draft pick in the NBA draft,but they saw something that they liked and they were willing to write a check for 2.4 million to the Atlanta Hawks to bring that player into the fold of the World Champions.
In the NBA,you are allowed to purchase draft picks and even though it is extremely rare to buy a first rounder (I don't even remember it happening offhand),it does happen that a second rounder will change hands for some cold hard cash.

The player that will wind up in Cleveland is Kay Felder of Oakland (Michigan),a 5'9 point guard that was a third team All-American last season.
Think about that,a player from a small school,not even considered a mid-major was one of the top 15 players in the country.
Felder proved his skills against two of the best teams in the country as he almost singlehandedly willed Oakland to a win over top ranked Michigan State as he finished with 37 points and 9 assists in an overtime loss along with 30 points in a loss to then-fifth ranked Virginia.
Felder plays the point,led the country in assists with over nine a game and averaged over twenty four points as well.
Take those facts with a reputed mad dog defensive style and a leap that makes you think that he has springs in his legs (his 44 inch vertical was the 2nd highest EVER in NBA combine history) with the youtube highlights below and you wonder what's not to like about Felder and why wasn't he long off the board before the 54th pick in the draft?



Well,Felder is 5'9 and the league has a bias against small guards.
Other than that and a need to improve his outside shot a little,there isn't much that I can find to hold against Felder.
Felder is most often compared to the current Isaiah Thomas (not the Piston Hall of Famer),but watching those highlights,he brought another player to mind-Allen Iverson.
Now,I'm not saying Kay Felder is anywhere near what Allen Iverson was,but some things that he does with the ball makes me think of Iverson.
It's never a guarantee from a second rounder,but looking at the ability,the numbers,the skills and past the size to listen to this guy talk-I have a feeling this could be a very well spent sum by the Cleveland Cavaliers.


The San Francisco Giants had just one selection on the draft's first day.
The Giants had no compensation picks and lost their first rounder for the signing of Jeff Samardizja.

However,the Giants may have gotten lucky at the 59th pick as the team selected Vanderbilt outfielder Bryan Reynolds,who was rated by many as a top 30 player in this draft.

The 6'4 Reynolds switch hits and most scouts like his developing power along with having the athletic ability to perhaps stay in center field.

The Giants haven't exactly been successful in recent season in drafting outfielders with success,although the jury is still out on Mac Williamson and Reynolds doesn't have to do much to surpass the contributions of the Gary Brown types of fairly recent drafts.
San Francisco seems to prefer college outfielders high in the draft as compared to high schoolers,so this pick seems right up their alley,but still from the reports that I have read-Bryan Reynolds was a terrific pick at 59....

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Podcast-Special Guest Kaily Russell on the end of Person of Interest

Kaily Russell returns to talk the end of Person of Interest.

Cleaning out the inbox-Sports Version

Time to clean out the sports inbox with a few articles that caught my eye.

Bleacher Report catches up with former first rounder Adam Morrison in an article titled Life as an NBA draft bust.
The article is quite extensive as the Gonzaga star tells where he is today and some of his NBA career.
I thought it was quite good and a nice look behind the scenes of a player that didn't quite pan out.

Former Cleveland native Joe Posnanski is one of my favorite sportswriters and his article for NBC Sports on what it meant for him for the Cavaliers to have finally won a title for Cleveland.
The article features quite a few names from Cleveland past and made me think back to my past quite a few times....

The New Yorker spends a day with Jim Bouton watching the Old Timers game at Yankee Stadium on television.
Bouton,who gets plenty of notice here for the book that he penned as one of our favorites in Ball Four,has suffered a stroke in recent years.but still gets around well and converses with some ease.
Bouton discusses some of his teammates from his Yankee days and of course,tells some stories...

Boise Weekly interviews the interviewer as they wrote as they chat with Boise resident and my favorite sideline reporter Heather Cox.
Cox,who is rumored to be headed to NBC from ESPN, discusses life in Boise and talks about some of the people she interviews during games with an interesting point on San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich.

Two drafts in the next two days-the Cavaliers do not have any picks in tonight's NBA draft,while the Devils pick eleventh in Friday's NHL draft.
If the Cavaliers make any deals,we'll cover here as well as the Devils pick on Friday....

Still more to come from the non-sports inbox,my road trip with Ryan,podcasts and more!!!




Finally! Cavaliers bring it home!

I know,you know all about the Cleveland Cavaliers finally bringing that elusive title back to the long suffering residents (and former residents) of Northeast Ohio and trust me I wish that I could have done game wrapups.

However,with leaving for my trip (more on that soon) early Friday morning,game six coverage wasn't feasible and I was too much of an emotional wreck (plus tired from the trip) for game seven commentary either.

So,instead of talking about things about the games (although you should look for an upcoming post on how I watched game seven and how it affected me),I wanted to write about the parade and just how the city,state and fan base reacted to such a stunning win...
Think about 1.3 million people showing up for a parade,when the city itself (the numbers go up when you add in the surrounding area) has a little under 400,000.
Think about how many people in the Cleveland/Akron/Canton metropolitan area (3.5 million) and then figure over 1 in 3 people in that area was in the city for to celebrate this championship.
Considering all of that,can you now feel the joy of the fans of Cleveland sports?

The number was just phenomenal and watching on television showed the massive turnout to the point of things finishing hours later than expected.
It was interesting to watch the people interviewed during the event and you could sense the happiness and yet the fans reacted with almost relief when they were spoken to.
Relief that the "curse" had been ended and relief that perhaps the Cleveland jokes might finally be gone.

In the end,it was almost fitting that the end of the drought came the way that it did.
Even I was asked when the Cavaliers were down 3 games to 1,how I saw it playing out.
My response was Cleveland wins game five in Oakland with the Warriors playing without Draymond Green,takes game six at home and then loses a heartbreaker in Oakland in game seven,
Against all odds and against any logic-LeBron James and Kyrie Irving put together three sensational games in a row against the best team in NBA regular season play that was enough to do if not the impossible,at least the highly unlikely.

I'm sorry that this reads a little disjointed,but it is still all surreal to me...
I'm still in catchup mode-more to come..

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Busy,but the catch up begins!

Well,hello!
Nice to see you again.
As you can tell,I've been away-But I'll be posting like crazy over the next few days.

Been hitting the road with several trips to several cities and I'll have stories to tell from all of them.

And there was a little thing that you might have heard about from the NBA as well.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and their title run need to be addressed too and I'll have plenty to write on that as well.

Person of Interest ends tonight and I'll have a podcast or on POI and the Cavaliers coming in the next day or two.

But for now,I wanted to add what I didn't get to post on the boxing challenge from a two bout PBC card in Chicago.
R,L.Malpica and I both finished the night with zero points as we each picked Juan Carlos Payano to retain the WBA featherweight title over Rau'shee Warren by unanimous decision.
Warren won the title via majority decision.

We each picked top light heavyweight contender Andrezj Fonfara to defeat unknown Joe Smith.
Ramon picked a unanimous decision,I had Fonfara stopping Smith in six.
Instead,a candidate for upset of the year occurred as Smith took out Fonfara in just one round and cost Fonfara a likely rematch vs WBC champion Adonis Stevenson....

Plenty of things coming soon,so stay tuned!


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Catching up-Cavs survive!

This is way late,mainly because things have been crazy the last few days with trips to dinner with friends,a LONG day in Baltimore for a hospital visit with my mom and today being my early Father's Day since things will be tough to do on Sunday.

However,I still wanted to get a few things down for posterity since the Cavaliers could lose tomorrow night in game six-so I wanted to write about the possible last stand in Oakland in case that happens..
I am not sure that I'll have time to write on game six either way with my return from the U.S.Open being at an unknown time and leaving early Friday on another trip,but I'll try my best-although I'm sure I'll try harder with a Cavalier win!!

Swashbucklings

1) Kyrie Irving and LeBron James each popped for 41 points.
It was the first time in NBA history that two teammates had hit for 41 points in the league championship series.

2) The key for James? He made some outside shots early and finished 16 of 30 from the floor.
It's pretty common sensical,but making a few shots from the outside sure makes it so much tougher to defend against the bull rushes to the basket that define the game of LeBron James..

3) Kyrie Irving and his 41 addressed my concern for one night at least.
I've worried throughout the series about Irving falling into the trap of trying to outscore Stephen Curry and the issues that come with that.
On this night,Irving showed that occasionally-that is possible...

4) Kevin Love's two points and three rebounds aren't going to cut on most nights,but on this one-it did.
I might be in the minority at this stage,but despite his play thus far-I think Love is sitting on a good game....

5) The Warriors ability to stop the drives to the hoop without the injured Andrew Bogut might be more limited than previously.
Draymond Green's return to action will help the GSW defense,but is it enough?

6) Was asked before game five,how I saw this series playing out.
Picked Cleveland in game five with Draymond Green missing,Cleveland in Cleveland in game six and then Golden State taking game seven at home.
Hope I'm right on game six and wrong on game seven....

Monday, June 13, 2016

Podcast:Special Guest Jennifer Armstrong

We talk about the TV classic-The Mary Tyler Moore show with Jennifer Armstrong-author of Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Lomachenko wipes out Martinez-Boxing Challenge

In a five fight boxing challenge Saturday over both HBO and Showtime,my lead over R.L.Malpica expanded to 73-60 with a six point weekend to Ramon's four.

The most important fight saw Vasyl Lomachenko score the knockout of the year to date (Yes,I'm picking it over Alvarez-Khan) to win the WBO Jr.Lightweight title with a fifth round destruction of champion Roman "Rocky" Martinez.
Lomachenko landed an uppercut and then wiped out Martinez with a power right hook to end the champion's reign with one punch,
It was the type of performance that the technically skilled Lomachenko had been looking for in recent months and might be the first step in making Lomachenko an eventual pound for pound elite fighter...
I added two points for the win and KO with Ramon notching one for the win.

Also on HBO,Felix Verdejo stopped Juan Jose Martinez in five rounds to earn both of us two points.
Verdejo had struggled to two decision wins of late ,so an impressive win was an imperative for the Puerto Rican lightweight....

Over on Showtime,the Avis network had to be disappointed on two levels as their recent signee Ruslan Provodnikov lost a close,but unanimous decision to John Molina and just as importantly-wasn't nearly as exciting as some people had thought the fight would be.
I'm not saying it was a bad fight,but wasn't the war Showtime had thought it would be.
I scored Molina a 115-113 winner and no points for Ramon or I as we picked Provodnikov...

Ramon and I each earned a point as Demetrious Andrade stopped Willie Nelson in the 12th round to become a future mandatory contender.
Andrade,who was once a 154 pound champion before being stripped of the title for inactivity due to promotional issues had won every round on my card before the stoppage,..

I added two points to Ramon's one as exciting Dejan Zlatcanin knocked out Franklin Mamani in the third round to win the vacant WBC lightweight title.
In a lightweight division that is looking for a breakout star, Zlatcanin could be that person over the next year-IF he gets the right fights..

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Boxing Challenge

Quick boxing challenge before I run to the stadium.
I lead 67-56.

WBO Jr.Lightweight 12 rds
Roman "Rocky" Martinez vs Vasyl Lomachenko.

R.L: Lomachenko Unanimous Decision
TRS:Lomachenko KO 10

Lightweights.10 rds
Felix Verdejo vs Juan Jose Martinez
R.L:Verdejo KO 3
TRS: Verdejo KO 3

Jr,Welterweights.12 rds
Ruslan Provodnikov vs John Molina
R.L: Provodnikov KO 9
TRS:Provodnikov KO 6

Jr.Middleweights.12 rds
Demetrious Andrade vs Willie Nelson
Both:Andrade Unanimous Decision

Vacant WBC Lightweight title 12 rds
Dejan Zlatcanin vs Franklin Mamani
RL:Zlatcanin Unanimous Decision
TRS: Zlatcanin KO 8

Warriors sink Cavaliers in game four

When crunch time came,the Cleveland Cavaliers were found wanting as the Golden State Warriors dominated much of the second half,as the Warriors outscored Cleveland by 16 points and won a 108-97 decision in Cleveland.
Kyrie Irving finished with 34 points and LeBron James added 25 more,but in the fourth quarter,both would come up wanting.
Cleveland now trails three games to one and must sweep the final three games to win the series...

Swashbucklings

1) Just painful to write these notes and I'm trying to not be too negative.
However,this was just a game that saw the Cavaliers get outhustled.
Every loose ball and hustle play went to the Warriors,they paid the price to win and on the hustle side of the game,it was Golden State taking command..

2) Kyrie Irving made half his shots and scored his 34,but I thought he was still caught in a scoring duel with Stephen Curry and was playing out of control.
However,for whatever those criticisms were,at least Irving,as misguided as it often was,was aggressive on the floor-that's more than I can say for...

3) LeBron James stat line looks good (25,13 and 9),but stats can say whatever you want them to say.
I thought LeBron was far too passive,wasn't nearly as effective as usual when driving the lane and didn't show a lot of passion until his little spat with Draymond Green.

4) Tristan Thompson played well,but once again,the lousy free throwing shooting (0 for 5) makes him such a liability in close games.
Thompson did play tough down low and he brings so much inside energy to the team,but it's tough to keep a guy in the lineup that is that bad in shooting free throws..

5) The heralded return of Kevin Love brought 11 points in 25 minutes.
In other words,not a large impact...

6) Interesting stat from Sam Amico-in the second half,LeBron James and Kyrie Irving 33 shots from the floor.
The rest of the Cavaliers?Five...

7) I think that this ends the season,I still have slim hope,but in reality,the team with the most wins ever are not likely to lose three in a row and two of those at home.
I'll have a post in the off season on potential changes,but for tonight-this one hurts.
Bad.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Devils add second round pick.

With the NHL draft just a few weeks away,the New Jersey Devils did something that they rarely were able to do in the past-use the salary cap to their advantage as the Devils today picked up the Florida Panthers second round pick in order for the Devils to assume the dead contract of the retired Marc Savard.

Savard,who has not played since 2010-11 due to concussion issues,is basically use to loosen up cap space for the Panthers and the Devils had the room to accommodate the contract that several teams could not.
The Devils now lead the league in dead money contracts to players that essentially are retired with Savard joining Ryane Clowe on the payroll,if not the live roster.
New Jersey sent minor leaguers Graham Black and Paul Thompson to Florida to complete the deal.Both players sent last season with the AHL Albany Devils with Thompson scoring 13 goals with 22 assists,while Black's numbers were a bit more pedestrian at seven goals and two assists.

This deal won't show any impact for a while,but these deals that accumulate picks at little to no cost are the types of trades that help to revitalize a system that still is in the process of rebuilding with the type of talent that has been so sorely missing over the last decade..

In other Devils news,Toronto deferred on their compensation for signing Lou Lamiorello away from the front office and as a result will be sending a third round selection in the 2018 draft...

Pirates draft Will Craig

The Pirates decided to try something different this season with the college bat in the draft and I like the thinking.
After taking light hitting Kevin Newman in the 2015 draft in round one,the Pirates took a potential big bat in Wake Forest third baseman Will Craig.
Craig,who smacked 16 homers for the Demon Deacons,was drafted at third base,but his body size (235 pounds) and lack of speed and athleticism makes a move to first base more likely sooner than later.
Craig might have been better suited as an American League DH and might wind up there eventually,but it appears that Pittsburgh decided to gamble on making a position for a potential power hitter....

Pittsburgh then selected the proverbial "projectable" high school pitchers with picks 41 and 68.
Lefthander Nick Lodolo is a high schooler from California that throws in the low 90's and is able to throw for strikes,while righthander Travis McGregor is a righthanded thrower from Florida.
McGregor doesn't seem to be as highly regarded by scouts and might be a bit of an overdraft at that point in the draft.
Lodolo being a 6'6 lefty makes him worth the gamble and when it comes to those high school hurlers,Pittsburgh subscribes to the belief of throwing several snowballs in the hope of hitting one target such as when they hit on Tyler Glasnow.

Indians select Will Benson

The Cleveland Indians had three picks on the first day of the baseball draft and picked a very interesting player-IF they can sign him....

In round one,the Indians selected Georgia high school outfielder Will Benson.
The 6'6 outfielder is reported to have the tools that remind some of Jason Heyward (also a Georgia high schooler).
Baseball America offers a good news bad news scouting report that touts him as having "the best bat speed in the class",yet questions his hit tool.
The lefthanded swinger has a commitment to Duke and will take a sizable bonus to land,but would add a large outfield talent to a system with Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer.

The Indians drafted a first round talent that fell to them in round two on signability issues as Pennsylvania third baseman Nolan Jones was taken as a wedge against Benson going to Duke.
Jones is committed to Virginia and his commitment to UVA is regarded as even stronger than that of Benson's.
Jones is looked as a power hitting third baseman that has the arm and size (6'5) to stay there,although he could move to first base.
Jones will be a very tough sign as he is likely to command more than his slot figure at a little over one million.
Cleveland could be forced into a position of either Benson or Jones....

The final pick was in the competitive balance portion and the Indians took a safe pick and a likely easy sign in Oregon State catcher Logan Ice.
Ice is reported to be a strong defensive catcher,who improved his bat over the term in Corvallis.
Ice likely was chosen there in order to save a little bit of pool money in order to make some sort of run at signing both Will Benson and Nolan Jones.

I will return when I can with the Pirates and Giants picks,but I have to do research for tomorrow's interview for the podcast...

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Staying Alive-Cavaliers rebound over Warriors

The Cleveland Cavaliers needed to hold serve,if they were to have any chance of winning the NBA championship and they did just that as they rolled over the Golden State Warriors in game three 120-90 in Cleveland.
LeBron James scored 32 points with Kyrie Irving adding 30 with J.R.Smith tossing in 20 more.
Golden State leads the series two games to one with game four Friday night in Cleveland.

Swashbucklings

1) Cleveland had to have this game and they played like the team that needed it rather than wanted it.
The Cavaliers took the game to the Warriors and outhustled them.
Cleveland needs to play like this,they don't shoot as well as the Warriors and can't afford to come out flat...

2) The scene was set early when the Cavaliers scored the first nine points of the game and outscored the Warriors by 17 for the quartet.
Did Golden State make a run? Sure and trimmed the lead to eight at the half,but I never felt like the Warriors were ever really in this game.

3) Tristan Thompson was very valuable in the win with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
One cannot expect Thompson to post similar numbers every game,but in this one,he was explosive on the inside and he did one thing that he doesn't always do.
Often,Thompson will grab an offensive board and kick the ball out,in this one,Thompson was much more offensively aggressive and put the ball right back up...

4) Big elephant in the arena-How does Kevin Love fit back in,if he can return for game four?
Considering the way Richard Jefferson has played in this series,could Love benefit by coming off the bench and being the top option among the second unit?
I'm not positive that would work out,but it might and if so,the Cavaliers might see a huge payoff...

5) Nice to see some production from J.R.Smith,who had struggled in the Oakland games,but drilled five three pointers in this win.
Smith is usually only helpful on the offensive end,so when the shots aren't falling,Smith can be a drag on the team..

6) Klay Thompson said he thought the collision with Timofey Mozgov that sent him from the game was a dirty play.
I didn't see it that way.I certainly thought Mozgov committed a foul,but it looked like a pick to me-not a dirty play.

7) Stephen Curry had a big third quarter,but was otherwise quiet in scoring 19 points.
Combine that with Klay Thompson's ten in smaller minutes and Cleveland continues to control the Splash Brothers.
Curry finished the first half with just two points...

8) So,can Cleveland win game four and tie the series up to swing the pressure back to the Warriors?
Yes,Home court has meant and will continue to mean so much,but they are going to have to come up with another superlative effort.
It'll be interesting to see how Kevin Love is brought back into the offense and can the defense keep up its strong play?
See you Friday...

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Podcast:Special Guest Louise Palanker

We welcome Louise Palanker to the podcast.
Louise was the director of Family Band-the story of the 1960's band the Cowsills.
Louise also discusses her work with young people and her on-line column for teenagers..

Hitting the Road-Erie

The weekend's final day and stadium saw Doug Hopkins and I travel to Erie Pa.for the AA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers-the Erie Seawolves as they hosted the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

Doug and I got to Erie a bit earlier than expected and as a result had to find a place to eat and kill a little bit of time.
Erie wasn't quite what I expected and we had a rough time finding a place open to eat,but were excited to find the Plymouth Tavern nearby (within a few blocks walk of the park).
The Plymouth Tavern was rated as one of two places that we considered to eat before leaving Erie,so we were quite pleased to have the chance to eat at both places.
We walked through the Erie downtown and passed all of these closed places (Sunday) before hitting the Plymouth,which opened at 11:00 (11:30) only to be told that they weren't opening because "they needed to clean",
One would think that could have been finished before opening,but hey,it's not my business!

Finally,with few choices,we returned to Dominick's,which was a less than inviting place when we rode by earlier and was a reluctant choice this time.
A 24 hour place that brought to mind an old time small neighborhood watering hole,I was pleasantly surprised with the meal (Reuben on wheat and small fries) and the service was good too.
Dominick's had recently been closed (I found out why later) for smoke damage as the building next door had burned down and been bulldozed,which answered the questions we had when walking by,

Parking around Jerry Uht (pronounced Girry Uhhtt by the locals) park was less than plentiful and we pulled in across the street and showed the minor league pass to the fellow running the lot.
The pass has always been accepted by parking lots,so Doug didn't anticipate any issues and when he said "we're from minor league baseball" the attendant said "that's great,but the parking is still four dollars".
He was quite impressed....

Entered Jerry Uht and was quite impressed with the quirky twenty year old park.
The park resembles the stadiums of the early 20th century as it clearly was shoved into the city lot and not a more symmetrical field.
A homer to left smacks off the Erie arena where a arena league,junior hockey and minor league basketball team plays and right field has a huge net to knock down homers from hitting the street.
Upon entering the stadium,a very helpful Usher named Bob,welcomed me to the park,asked what I was there for and sat me right beside the dugout for autographs.
Later,Bob came back with a program and roster for me and thanked me for coming to Jerry Uht.
Contrast that with the Hagerstown Suns,who could care if I was there or not and it was clear that Seawolves fans are well taken care of by their employees...

The teams enter the field from a center field gate and can be difficult to graph as they come in on an angle.
Even in the prime position that I was in,I still didn't do that great,although I did get Christian Arroyo on his top 100 for my set.
Jerry Utt also has these incredible half upper deck seats on the first base side that are really a throwback to places like Tiger Stadium as they hang almost into the field of play-just terrific.

It's not perfect though,it reminds me of a nice New York/Penn league park,which it was originally built for and the remainder of the other seating was nothing special.
It didn't have a lot of food booths and the team shop was very small,although I did score a very neat Eastern League media guide that is small and compact enough to travel with me to games in the briefcase for the rest of the season.

We knew where we were going to eat,but we did take a while to find it,but once finding Sara's,it was well worth it!
Doug and I each ordered a delicious Chicago Beef sandwich and I skipped fries because the desserts looked so good.
Instead,I was so filled after the sandwich that I reluctantly did not order any dessert.
The place was packed and yet the service was blazing fast.
With Sara's,a water park a little up the road and Lake Erie right across a stone road, This might be a future stop for a weekend sometime!

Doug and I still had a five hour ride ahead of us and it went reasonably quickly.
I really had a great time on this road trip and thanks to Doug Hopkins for having me.
I have had two great trips this season and hopefully another one is on tap shortly!



Monday, June 6, 2016

Destroyed-Cavaliers lose game two

Face it-sports has a way of humbling you.
It sure humbled me as I thought the Cleveland Cavaliers were sitting on a win in game two of the NBA Finals and instead came up with one of the most pathetic performances that you could find as the Golden State Warriors crushed the Cavaliers 110-77 to take a two games to none lead.
LeBron James led Cleveland with 19 points with Richard Jefferson adding 12 off the bench to "Lead" Cleveland.
Game three is in Cleveland Wednesday night and the season might be on the line as no team maybe in the history of the game is beating the Golden State Warriors four games in a row....

Swashbucklings

1) I am so mad right now.
Not because the Cavaliers lost and not because I was wrong,but because the effort was so bad..
I hate to use the word quit very often in sports because it's an easy word to use and a hard word to prove.
However,that's how I see it.
Roll over,Beethoven and....Never mind...

2) In no way,shape or form am I blaming the referees for this loss.
However,the Warriors were getting away with a lot of physical play that just wasn't getting called.
I would guess that changes in Cleveland.

3) Five of twenty three from three point range?
That isn't going to win in November against Brooklyn,let alone Golden State in June.

4) Kevin Love elbowed in the back of the head like Dusty Rhodes used to hit Ric Flair with and no call?
Love might not be available for game three,but he wasn't playing that well before the injury with a two for seven for the floor for 5 points.

5) Kyrie Irving finished with just ten points,clanking jumpers and recklessly pumping up shots.
I stand by with nights like this-Irving is a shooting guard playing point guard.

6) Richard Jefferson played well off the bench and showed some energy to deserve more PT in game three,but where was Channing Frye?
Frye played just four minutes.

7) Sam Amico in the Amico Report is starting to question this version of the big three remaining together at this rate.
Would you trade 10 years of Kyrie Irving for 4 of Chris Paul,if it meant a title?
Think about it...

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Podcast;Ramon Malpica and I on Muhammad Ali

Ramon Malpica of PrizeFighter podcast joins me for a collaborative effort to discuss the career of Muhammad Ali....

Fight of the year-Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge continued with the clubhouse leader for fight of the year and the dreck that you would expect from PBC.
I added five points to R.L.Malpica's four and extended my lead to 67-56.

Let's start with the good as Francisco Vargas defended his WBC Jr.Lightweight title against Orlando Salido with a majority decision draw.
The action was strong and consistent and is certainly the leader for fight of the year.
Anything will have to go a long way to beat this as despite no knockdowns being scored,the action was quite dramatic as both fighters ere stung several times.
I had Salido a narrow 115-113 winner,but had no quibble with the two scores of draws at 114 or even the Vargas card of 115-113.
I'd love to see these two hook it up again as neither are ever in dull fights.
Check it out,if you have HBO and for their tremendous ten minute tribute to Muhammad Ali....
Since the fight was a draw,neither Ramon nor I added points.

Earlier in the day,Liam Smith retained his WBO Jr.Middleweight crown with a second round blowout of Pedrag Radosevic in the UK.
Smith,who is rumored to be the next opponent of Canelo Alvarez,didn't seem to prove anything other than being able to pick up a paycheck for mopping up an overmatched opponent.
Smith's knockout gave me two points and Ramon for one for picking Smith...

The PBC gave us two "main events" over the weekend that were that in name only.
Saturday night was ESPN show the Montreal wrecking ball Artur Beterbiev steamroller Ezequiel Maderna over four rounds in Beterbiev's return to the ring after injury.
Beterbiev was returning from shoulder surgery,so an easy touch could be acceptable this time,but the time is here for PBC to put him in the ring with their 175 pound stars Adonis Stevenson or Andrezj Fonfara.
Both Ramon and I added two points for this win....

Friday saw about was expected as Rances Barthelemy retained his IBF 135 pound belt with a snoozer of a split decision Mickey Bey in Las Vegas.
The less said about this dullsville bout the better as Ramon and I each earned one point for the Barthelemy win....

Saturday, June 4, 2016

One more time-Who's the Champ of the World?

Sad news as Muhammad Ali passed away at the age of 74.
Such a man and career deserves more than just a recap of his many victories,you can read those anywhere and I wanted to make this more than that.
I wanted to make this about how Ali was a part of my life and the memories that I had.

I'm too young to remember the supreme fighting machine that Ali was in his early incarnation.
That fighter was before I was born and that fighter was the purest and arguably greatest heavyweight of all time.
I missed out on the man that stopped the unbeatable Sonny Liston,tortured Floyd Patterson and Ernie Terrell for not acknowledging his conversion to the Islamic faith and dominated Cleveland Williams and Zora Folley in a manner that no one had ever done to the two veteran contenders.
That was Ali's peak as a boxer,but it was far from his peak as an icon.

I missed out on his stance on the Vietnam War,which cost him three and a half years of his peak and likely the first fight against Joe Frazier,which few can deny was the greatest athletic event of the 20th century,and that was more heroic than anything in the ring.
His decision to not join the armed forces and gave up the title and his career to not fight in the war,even though that assignment would not have resulted in combat duty.was courageous in a different way-doing what you felt was the right thing despite losing everything that had been worked for and gained.

I missed that Ali,but I was able to see even more.
My first memories were his win and loss against Ken Norton,the first fight and loss resulting in a broken jaw.
Ali in a hospital bed with Norton visiting him was a picture revisited often in the boxing magazines of the age.
I also remember,of course,his revenge win over Joe Frazier (in a non-title) fight,his title win over George Foreman and the Thrilla in Manila-the final chapter in the Ali-Frazier book and the bout that took so much out of Ali's tank...

However,Ali was the champion as I moved through elementary school and we were able to see many of his defenses live on network television!
Some against top contenders such as powerhitting Earnie Shavers on NBC and others against overmatched Europeans like Belgium's Jean-Pierre Coopman on CBS and England's Richard Dunn on NBC grew great ratings the like which no boxer today or then could touch.
Ali was also a icon to kids as well as not only the heavyweight champion,he was a comic book star in DC Comics 1978 Superman vs Muhammad Ali (in one of those oversized DC's specials of the time) and a toy star with Mego's 1976 release of an action figure (in a time when those things didn't exist of real people for boys) complete with a ring and an opponent called "the contender" that looked suspiciously like Ken Norton!
The set that included a ring was the centerpiece of a young Shawn's 1976 Christmas and to this day,Ali (minus a hand covered with a boxing glove) resides in my attic and on occasion,I bump into the champ on archive excursions.
Perhaps the champ is headed for a more prominent home on the next occasion that we meet.



As Ali stayed busy in the ring with defenses against lesser contenders as a way to make money and stay sharp for his defenses against the better contenders,he accepted a bout against Olympic gold medalist Leon Spinks on CBS.
Back then,the network would put a full card of top fights on air in prime time and as a nine year old Shawn watched with my grandfather,got tired and woke the next morning to be stunned with the news of Leon Spinks had won the decision and taken the belt away.

It would be seven months of Leon Spinks as kids of the generation that lost their two front teeth would be dubbed "Leon" for years after for the missing bridge of Spinks,who would never make a defense of the WBC title as it was stripped for Spinks accepting a lucrative rematch vs Ali rather than a lighter check against Larry Holmes (who would be the next great heavyweight) and would be more noted for his bizarre outside the ring behavior than anything else before the rematch.
Seven months to the day,ABC televised the Ali-Spinks rematch for the WBA title (Only two sanctioning bodies back then) and with his memorable antagonist Howard Cosell behind the mike,quoting the lyrics of Bob Dylan's Forever Young,Ali won the title back to become the first three time heavyweight champion and entered retirement.

We also got socially acceptable Ali as he became more mainstream and how much more mainstream can you be than on Saturday morning cartoons?
"I am the greatest" featured Ali on NBC Saturday mornings and despite not being a hit,is still remembered by my age fans to this day.


I always remember this story from my dad,who was an Ali fan (although in hindsight,I find that very surprising).telling me the story of telling his father before the first Sonny Liston fight when few were picking Ali that Ali was going to win.
Ali always seemed to be the fighter for the young as I was a big fan and 25 years after his last fight,Ryan had a huge Ali poster on the wall in his room.
Ali was a prominent part of my sports Mount Rushmore with Sandy KoufaxJack Nicklaus,Bobby Orr and Pete Maravich (Yes,I know there is only four on Mount Rushmore) and his autograph is still a coveted one by me.

It didn't end well for Ali in the ring-Attempting to best Larry Holmes after two years off saw Ali take a pounding and even though he was never knocked down,he lost every round before the fight was stopped in the corner after round ten.
One final loss to Trevor Berbick and the end had come,although I'm not sure the damage wasn't already there,those beatings didn't help the eventual issues that would befell Ali.

Just a few memories of my favorite all time heavyweight and how he was important to me-hope you enjoyed it....








Hitting the Road-Lake County

 After we left Akron,we drove roughly 45 minutes to Eastlake-home of the Lake County Captains.

The Captains were hosting the Fort Wayne Tincaps,who are an affiliate of the San Diego Padres,so that was a big deal for Doug Hopkins and myself because the Padres are one of just three teams (Also the Angels and Dodgers) that I have no access to between my travels and traders.
We arrived in the fourth inning because the game was high scoring (Lake County would eventually win 14-6) and were able to watch a bit.
After a quick stop in the Cargo Hold (gift shop) for a team set,we moved to the left field bleachers,where there were few people sitting,but there was a decent amount of children in a play area with bounce houses,inflatable slides,etc,so the noise was louder than one would expect for such a small amount of people in the area.


Classic Park is a park that I've seen games and visited before,but this time made me think of a park that might need a little TLC for a park that is just 13 years old.
It's hard to think sometimes that these parks that seem new are reaching their teenage years and need to be kept up.
Classic Park looked a little drearier than in past visits and I'd hate to see it fall into the trap of not being kept up.

Classic Park does earn points for selling Minute Maid frozen lemonades for three bucks,which for a ballpark is reasonable enough and Doug grabbed me one.
These are pretty sizable and are the same ones that you can buy at Dollar Tree.
I wish the Suns would buy a bunch of these for a dollar there and then sell them for three at their games!
After the end of a long game,the Captains put on a fireworks night and allow me a few lines on fireworks.
I have nothing against fireworks and they can be quite entertaining,but anymore for teams,it has become overkill.
Way too many fireworks nights doesn't make it special and as a result,fireworks aren't the draw that they once were.
If fireworks nights were fewer in number,the number of people showing up for them would improve.

We went to the back and graphed a bit,
Had the lighting been better (lights turned off for fireworks) and there been other graphers around (it was just us) we could have done both teams,but instead we concentrated on the Tin Caps and got a few prospects.
I was happiest to get Austin Smith to sign a Stars and Stripes insert card that were only made 25 of,but also got Michael Gettys and a few others..

After driving to our hotel and waiting behind an obnoxious woman,we finally were able to relax in the room when David Sloan called to talk to his friend Doug.
Always nice to see two guys chat that rarely are able to do so...
Finally,at one o'clcok,I was able to hit the bed with a long and fun day at its end...

Back later with some words on Muhammad Ali,so part three of this trip will be in a few days...

Friday, June 3, 2016

Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge rolls on with three world title fights in which one could be one of the most exciting fights of the year and another could cure any sleep issues that you may have....

I lead the challenge 62-52 over Ramon Malpica

IBF Lightweight title.12 rds
Rances Barthelemy vs Mickey Bey
Both:Barthelemy unanimous decision

WBO Jr.Middleweight title.12 rds
Liam Smith vs Pedrag Radosevic
R.L:  Smith Unanimous Decision
TRS: Smith KO 8

WBC Junior Lightweight title 12rds
Francisco Vargas vs Orlando Salido
R.L:  Vargas Split Decision
TRS: Salido Split Decision

Light Heavyweights. 12 rds
Artur Beterbiev vs Ezequiel Maderna
Both:Beterbiev KO 3

Warriors pull away in game one

The Golden State Warriors used a huge kick from their bench early in the fourth quarter to blow by the Cleveland Cavaliers and win game one of the NBA Finals 104-89 in Oakland.
Kyrie Irving led Cleveland in scoring with 26 points,while LeBron James (23 and 12) and Kevin Love (17 and 13) each notched triple doubles in defeat.
Game two is back in Oakland Sunday night...

Swashbucklings

1) The Cavaliers made a big run in the third quarter to come back from nine down to take the lead for a few minutes,but it always felt to me that it was temporary.
Sometimes teams use up their gas to get back into the game and that is exactly how I felt when that run was going on...

2) The Warriors bench carried the day on a night that the Cavaliers shut down Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson,as the Golden State bench outscored Cleveland's 45-10.
Shaun Livingston was the star with 20 points.
Cleveland doesn't have to win that battle,but the margin has to be closer.

3) I remember when Shaun Livingston came out of college as a super talented player and began suffering knee injuries that turned him from a franchise level player to a role player.
Livingston showed last night how injuries had robbed him as he was the best player on the floor.
Every generation has a few players like Livingston,but even fewer make the transition to not being the focus of the team..

4) Kyrie Irving did score 26 points ,but did so on 7 of  22 shooting.
All too often,Irving would take the defender to the hoop on borderline out of control rushes and then be forced into a awkward position against the Warrior big men.
Irving is going to have to mix his offensive tactics or this could be a long series.

5) You have to look at this as a mixed opportunity.
Yes,you would like to think the Cavaliers could win when Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 20 points,but is it possible that the Cavaliers have seen a flaw and the defense could have discovered a way to slow them down?
If so,perhaps the Cavaliers can win this after all...

6) J.R.Smith disappeared three points and three shots in 36 minutes of play.
Going to have to get more than that from the mercurial Smith...

7) I was disappointed in the lack of ball movement by Cleveland.
Cleveland has to keep the ball moving or the Cavaliers are going to be caught in the trap of James and Irving in isolation,which results in a very one dimensional team...

8) Finally,the Cavaliers win game two.
If they don't they are in big trouble,but I think they will.
The media scrutiny of game one will certainly be pro-Warriors and I think LeBron James will feed off that and lift Cleveland to a win.
At least I hope....

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Hitting the Road-Akron

My weekend trip with my good friend Doug Hopkins started with a trip to Akron and the Rubber Ducks.

I had worked all night and I thought I might be tired,but managed to do get through the entire day without sleep and had a great time doing it.
Doug and I drove through most of the time before hitting Ohio for a quick bite at Arby's and then a stop at a tremendous antique market in Ravenna,Ohio.

This market always has great stuff and this time didn't fail either,although I didn't buy anything.
Doug found some older Indians programs and I took a picture of a classic vending machine from the 70's of a "Bozo the Clown" Balloon machine.
If only I were richer....

We then stopped at a Akron institution named Strickland's,which is the local standard for frozen custard and had a personal connection for Doug,who used to have family members in the area that raved about it.
Sometimes places like Strickland's can be just as important for the memories that they make as they can for the food and I certainly have had places like that in my life too.
I ordered a small custard of the flavor of the day which was grape on this day.
As a usual mark for grape offerings and never having seen grape ice cream/frozen custard before,I eagerly tried it.
It was good,but reminded me of the flavor that so many kids like-Party Cake,which is essentially vanilla with food coloring,so basically vanilla with purple coloring.
But it was pretty darn good vanilla!

As we stood in the parking lot of Strickland's waiting in line,you could see from a distance,the Rubber Bowl,the crumbling former stadium of the Akron Zips.
The WPA project built during the Roosevelt administration has become an eyesore and since the Zips built an on campus stadium has been essentially left to rot,crumble and be at the mercy of vandals.
After our custard,Doug drove us to an access road that we actually walked out into the upper deck and looked around.
It was both neat and sad at the same time as I had never been to the Rubber Bowl before despite all of those years spent driving through Akron and seeing the signs for the exit for the Rubber Bowl.
I have more pictures than just this,but I'm saving them for a future post on abandoned history.

We then headed to Canal Park,the urban home of the Rubber Ducks for a trip to meet Christopher McDonald,who played "Shooter McGavin" in the film "Happy Gilmore" on a night dedicated to the film.
We had bought the VIP package to insure meeting McDonald.getting the "Shooter" bobblehead and my stuff signed.
In addition,a great food spread that featured some awesome burgers was included with the VIP price.
The Rubber Ducks sure do know their customer service,wish they could give some lessons to some of the Hagerstown Suns front office on that front.
After a wait,McDonald came out and was super gracious in signing our items.
The only issue was just as Doug and I walked up to his table,the Ducks announced that due to time constraints he would reduce from 2 items to one,
Doug was going to get a golf ball for me since he didn't have anything to get signed,but he changed his mind and added his bobblehead.
The announcement came just as McDonald grabbed the bobble,so he missed the golf ball.
I didn't feel right about adding a picture with McDonald to slow the line further,so I didn't take one.
It didn't stop others from taking one and I get that,but I've been in the other slot of waiting for someone and not getting items signed because of pictures,so I passed,but I'd be back later.

We sat down and ate our meal and the food was terrific-exactly what you would hope for in these situations from the Duck Club.
When you pay extra and the team goes the extra mile to make that worthwhile,you have to be thrilled and Doug and I both were.
Anyway,as we ate,looked over to the field from the inside (with windows that opened up to enjoy good weather) or step out on a private deck and chatted along ,the line continued to move.
Doug grabbed the ball and got into line to finish what he started.
McDonald stayed a little over time and signed for the entire line before leaving.
There have been many times (as noted) that a guest,that has been paid for,dropped the pen at the desired time and left no matter how many people remained in line.
Classy move.
There was still one more inside joke-When Doug and I talked about the trip,one person said "I'd much rather see "the shooter" with a nice looking woman than "you two guys".
With the line gone and as McDonald was talking to the staff,I remembered that statement and was able to have the beautiful Linda Borelli,who manages the restaurant and adds sales to her workload to snap a picture for us and our friend to complete an inside joke.
I'll keep the person's name between us,but so there!
Thanks to Linda for the help and great food!

We watched a little (so,it would count as a ballpark on Doug's list) and were off to Lake County for another game,some graphing of the Fort Wayne Tin Caps (Padres) and to finish the evening.
I was thrilled with my trip to Akron and in another VIP situation,I wouldn't hesitate to pay the extra and go to the Duck Club..

Back soon with the next stop!




Podcast:Guest Ramon Malpica on the NBA Finals

My friend and fellow Cleveland Sports sufferer Ramon Malpica talks NBA Finals and Cleveland Sports.
Also a thank you at the start and finish to our Person of Interest followers...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016