Friday, September 30, 2016

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM returns early this week with games on Thursday and Friday.
The Thursday game is over,but if you didn't pick Texas Tech over Kansas to begin with,well pick a new sport to learn...

Last Week:6-2
Overall: 23-8

College
Ohio State over Rutgers 53-16
Washington over Stanford 23-18
Texas Tech over Kansas 60-20
Middle Tennessee State over North Texas 33-20
Boise State over Utah State 26-16
Bowling Green over Eastern Michigan 33-30

Game of the Week
Michigan over Wisconsin 24-17

NFL
Redskins over Browns 28-13
Saints over Chargers 36-28

Game of the Week
Steelers over Chiefs 28-17

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Baltimore Memorial Stadium

I have written a lot of about the stadiums and arenas in Cleveland here at the blog and despite being a diehard fan of Cleveland and Ohio teams,I still lived in Maryland.

With that in mind,I thought I would write about the stadium that I went to most as a child-Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.
We didn't have a presence in Washington,so the Orioles were all we had as a local baseball fan-even if I wasn't an Orioles fan.

I didn't mind the Orioles for most of the seventies,although I didn't root for them.
I even liked a few Orioles like junkballing Mike Cuellar,smooth fielding Paul Blair and my favorite Oriole Ken Singleton,so despite being a Rangers and then an Indians fan,I didn't have a real hatred for the Orioles at all.
They happened to be the team on TV and the team that I got to go to see once or twice a year.most notably this night in 1978.
That began to change during the 1979 World Series,but really didn't seem to kick in until 1982.
The Orioles made a late season charge that fell just short of catching the Milwaukee Brewers for the AL East title,but that season saw the arrival of a rookie named Cal Ripken Jr and the following years would see me become a passionate rooter for whoever played Baltimore and their local hero that I always felt was way overrated.

However,I always liked Memorial Stadium and my visits there,despite the less than dazzling neighborhood it was placed in.
I remember vividly on one of my first trips watching my dad give some kids some money to "watch" our car.
I asked why he'd do that and he said "I would rather not have to change tires before I drive home".
The big marquee on the stadium itself with the dedication to the men that lost their lives in war always loomed large as one walked up to the stadium.

I always liked being able to get things of my favorite teams that you could rarely get anywhere else.
I vividly remember saving money for a trip to an Orioles game and bought bobbleheads of the Indians and Pirates (I still have both-minus the original boxes),and stopped in the end of the game rush to use the rest of my money on a Texas Ranger bobble,only to be grabbed and chastised by my dad (He was right) for not staying with him as we left.
I never did get my Ranger bobble (I kind of remember him looking like the photo shown),although I still wouldn't mind having him at the right price...

I always liked the scoreboard in left center and the various Baltimore area sponsors like National Bohemian beer and Esskay hot dogs.
One of my favorite stories from my childhood came from Esskay hot dogs and I still smile thinking of it.
This guy that went hunting with my dad and grandfather stopped by our cabin (we went there a lot) and he used to ramble on and on about the only hot dog that he would eat was Esskay.
So,one day on a visit,my grandfather took some Briggs hot dogs and put them in an Esskay package and made sure he saw them come out of the wrapper.
I watched this guy continue to rave about the quality of Esskay as he happily wolfed down Briggs!!

I also liked the open centerfield area where you could see these planted "wooded areas" right in front of row houses!
It was a different look,but one that I enjoyed despite an aversion to the Orioles.
I seem to remember Brad Komminsk of the Indians jumping at the center field wall and tumbling over in a late 1980's game.(it was 1989) into the bullpens.
Listen to the Youtube below for the only good thing about Orioles games for me-a great announcing crew of Mel Proctor and John Lowenstein...


A great part of Memorial was the PA announcer,Rex Barney,who was a former Brooklyn Dodger pitcher renowned for throwing hard and just as much for his lack of control!
Barney used two catch phrases still used today by fans my age and older-"Give that fan a contract!" when a fan would make a nice snag of a foul ball or his "Thank Youuuu" when he signed off with announcements over the sound system.
To this day,when I play Strat O Matic with teams of that era,I'll think of Rex Barney announcing them over the PA....

Another thing that I always connected with Memorial Stadium,despite few games on the network was this really annoying commercial for WMAR,who showed so many Orioles away games with Home Team Sports showing the home games.
Unfortunately,I was unable to find a You Tube of this classic,but "Hey Orioles" continues to be a song used and parodied by Oriole haters of the day even now!


Memorial Stadium wasn't a beautiful park and it certainly was not a park that was designed to be a 100 year field like Wrigley or Fenway.
It hosted three football teams-the Colts,the late CFL Colts,who are the only non-Canadian team to win the Grey Cup and I still wish I would have seen a CFL game there and the hated Ravens while their stadium was being built.
But despite the teams that played there usually being rooted against by me,I still have fond memories of the old gal on 33rd street and even though Oriole Park being a more beautiful facility than Memorial,I still think of the Orioles being at Memorial Stadium first...

I may not have the hatred for the Orioles that I did in the past,I once made the statement "Nothing good ever comes out of Baltimore except Mary Beth Marsden" speaking of the Baltimore anchorwoman that I was a fan of,but I look back at those teams and their stadium fondly as the first big league stadium that I ever visited along with the team I loved to hate....


Monday, September 26, 2016

For want of a toe-Browns lose in Miami in Overtime

The Cleveland Browns combined an inspired gameplan with some incredible efforts from players not known for such to almost grab their first win of the season.
Sadly,new kicker Cody Parkey missed three field goals,including one that could have won the game at the end of regulation and the Miami Dolphins earned a 30-24 win..
Cody Kessler threw for 241 yards in his first career start,but the true star was Terrelle Pryor,who caught eight passes for 144 yards.passed for 35 and rushed for 21.
The now 0-3 Browns will travel to Washington next Sunday.

Brownie Bits

1) Before we get started on this game,I wanted to address a concern.
Carson Wentz lit up his first real team (Browns and Bears previous) in a 34-3 win over the Steelers.
After the Paul DePodesta comments that Wentz wasn't a "top 20" quarterback in their evaluating of talent-I worry about the front office picking the right QB if next year comes down to DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame or Clemson's DeShone Watson.
The Batphone has officially turned red...

2) More Wentz-Three different Browns front office tenures have traded players that could have resulted in impact talents-Julio Jones,Sammy Watkins (among others) and now Carson Wentz over the last six years.
The trades featured a number one pick the following season-none of which were in the top ten and with the Eagles starting 3-0,that one does not look to be a high pick either....

3) Now to the Browns in this game.
Terrelle Pryor didn't only play great or even to use the cliche' "left it all out on the field",he seems to be maturing as a person.
Pryor seems to be well past the guy that needed to be the center of attention at Ohio State and has really bought in.
Perhaps that is Pryor's background with Hue Jackson,but its been something to see,

4) Hue Jackson wasn't perfect in this game,but his game plan was inspired and put the ball in the hands of his most explosive player as much as he possibly could.
One would think that makes sense,but you would be amazed how many times that does not happen.

5) I was surprised that Jackson chose to kick off in overtime.
I won't beat up too much for that,but will for the decision to not try to get a little closer for Cody Parkey at the end of regulation.
I would have tried a play or two to try to get a little closer for a guy that had already missed two field goals at that time.

6) I didn't even have time to write about Cody Parkey being signed to replace Patrick Murray after Murray injured himself in practice and being placed on injured reserve.
I cannot imagine Parkey not being at least challenged by someone (or more) this week and I wouldn't be surprised if we might have seen the last of Cody Parkey in those ugly uniforms.

7) The name that immediately entered my name was the former Bear Robbie Gould and wondered if he was with someone else already.
I did a quick Google search of Gould and came up with this.
Read the link and come back,but this makes me think of a scenario that I discussed with Ramon Malpica months ago.
What happens when the old school "football guy" Hue Jackson starts butting heads with new wave "analytics" guys Sashi Brown/Paul DePodesta over talent?
Could Hue Jackson build popularity in his innovative game plans keeping an overmatched team somewhat competitive and be able leverage that with Jimmy Haslem with "These non-football people aren't giving me what I need to win"?
Long way to go,but if that rumor is true-we could look back in a year or even months and say this all started with Robbie Gould vs Cody Parkey.
File that one away.

8) I haven't always been a fan of the front office,but assuming they get the blame for Parkey over Gould,it's time to give them credit for the assumption that they run the waiver wire as three recent pickups had nice days.
Tyrone Holmes pass rush forced the hurried throw by Ryan Tannehill that fellow pickup Briean Boddy-Calhoun turned into a pick six. Boddy-Calhoun had a decent enough performance with Joe Haden out (despite being beaten for a score) and Corey Lemonier sacked and forced a fumble that set up Parkey's miss at the end of regulation....

9) Cody Kessler was OK when you consider everything.
Kessler didn't get intercepted (although he did lose a fumble) and managed to keep the game within reach by avoiding the big mistake.
Kessler brought the type of short game accuracy that Hue Jackson talked about after drafting him in the third round,but also showed the lack of a big arm that had followed him from USC as well.

10) The offensive line continued to allow their passer to get pounded as Kessler was sacked three times and took numerous hits.
Combine that with a bad day for right tackle Austin Pasztor with three holding penalties and two false starts and you have a recipe for seeing Charlie Whitehurst before this year is finished.

11) Glass half full-two games that could have been won and the team played reasonably well.
With continued strong effort,this team will win a few games (1-4) before the finale...

12) Glass half empty-Two opportunities missed,three of the next four on the road,the only home game is against the Patriots in Tom Brady's return (Thanks schedule maker) and this could see the Browns at 0-7 (I can see the Browns having a chance to win in Nashville against the Titans) entering a October 30th home game vs the Jets.
Can this team continue to scrap as hard then as now?
Interesting question...

13) Final note:I wonder what Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer thought as they watched Terrelle Pryor today and wonder how Robert Turbin did in Indianaplolis (4 carries for 9 yards)...

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Podcast:Baseball trips and Pro Football Hall of Fame

I explain why the podcast was away for a while.talk about some of my favorite and least favorite baseball stops on the road and detailed thoughts on my votes for the next class of the pro football hall of fame..

Friday, September 23, 2016

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM returns for another weekend of football action..

Last Week: 5-3
Season: 17-6

College
Boise State over Oregon State 40-28
Memphis over Bowling Green 38-28
Washington over Arizona 41-27
Middle Tennessee State over Louisiana Tech 34-30

Game of the Week
Wisconsin over Michigan State 19-17

Pro
Dolphins over Browns 24-7
Saints over Falcons 36-33

Game of the Week
Panthers over Vikings 27-21

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Cleaning out the inbox

Time to clean the inbox and we'll start with Bruce Markusen's Card Corner that he does for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bruce picked the 1969 Topps to discuss former Indians outfielder Ken "the Hawk" Harrelson,but I've always preferred the 1970 (shown) or his 1971 with Hawk seemingly cracking up over the duller 1969 version.
Markusen's article explains why the 1969 cards are so dull and has a comprehensive look at Hawk's career and his announcing career.
I'm a huge fan of Hawk's,but I can certainly understand why some fans cannot stand him-he certainly is a homer and loves the White Sox definitively!


The Comeback writes of the possible end of a torrid rivalry between New Mexico and New Mexico State due to the issues of conferences.
New Mexico State looks headed to 1-AA as the Sun Belt booted them and Idaho,no other conferences appear to want the Aggies (small market) and as an independent,New Mexico State appears unlikely to be able to schedule five home games a year,which is an NCAA D-1 requirement.
The question then becomes,if NMSU goes down to 1-AA,will the Lobos continue to schedule them?
It's too bad and a sad ending to a big rivalry...

Battlin' Bob sends this note from SI.com on the many people that the Rams move from St.Louis affected on game day and otherwise.
It goes to show just how leaving a town can sour a market and this market might be poisoned for good when you consider the Cardinals left as did the Rams and the passing over of St.Louis for expansion for Carolina and Jacksonville.
People never look at the stain on Paul Tagliabue's resume for insisting on Jacksonville as an expansion club.
Picking them over Baltimore likely cost Cleveland the Browns and over St.Louis,might have meant football never left Southern California.....

Joe Plum adds a page on the demise of the Shawshank Redemption tree in Ohio.
I went and saw the tree a few years back with the lovely Cherie,but had been split after being hit by lightning.
Now the tree is down as it succumbed to high winds and is on its side.
No word on the eventual home or use for the wood from the tree...

One of my all time favorite Cavaliers talks with Sam Amico of Amico Hoops as Mark Price chats about his career in Cleveland and a little about the Cavalies NBA title.
Price is currently the head coach at Charlotte,who plays in Conference USA.....

Comstock's writes about the business of minor league baseball and their major league affiliations as the article focuses on the Sacramento RiverCats and their move from the Oakland Athletics to the San Francisco Giants in 2014.
The interesting article talks about the ins and outs of Sacramento's move and how it was done along with how it worked out.

We wrap up with a ESPN short film on Peter Norman.
Norman was the Australian sprinter that was on the medal stand with Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their famous protest in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
It's a take on the incident that I haven't seen before...



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Browns sign Charlie Whitehurst,release John Hughes

The battered and bruised Cleveland Browns needed a veteran quarterback to add to rookies Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan and they went out and signed one in well-traveled Charlie Whitehurst.
The 34 year old Whitehurst has spent time in San Diego,Seattle,Tennessee and Indianapolis and is remembered in Cleveland best for being the starter for Tennessee in the 2014 game that saw the Browns make their biggest comeback for a win in their history.

Whitehurst isn't going to make anyone forget Johnny Unitas anytime soon,but it isn't like there were plenty of wonderful options available,so I suppose he'll have to do.

Cleveland also signed center Austin Reiter off the Washington practice squad.
Reiter was a seventh round pick in 2015 from South Florida and adds needed depth after the pulmonary issues with Cameron Erving after the loss to Baltimore.
Reiter will be the backup to John Greco during the absence of Erving...

The surprise release was that of veteran defensive lineman John Hughes.
Hughes was expected to be a starter entering training camp,but missed time with personal problems and never seemed to get caught up.
The defensive line has shown some good things with Danny Shelton and Carl Nassib,but the injury to Nassib makes the timing of the release questionable.
Still,it seems like it was just a matter of time for Hughes between the missed camp and the lack of ties to this regime.

Cleveland also cut inside linebacker Scooby Wright to make space for the two new additions.
The seventh round pick from Arizona had been inactive for the first two games,but the Browns retain interest and hope to sign him to the practice squad,should Wright clear waivers.

Boxing Challenge-Canelo stops Smith

The boxing challenge saw both Ramon Malpica and I add five points over the weekend to our totals on a big fight weekend.
The total is currently 111-92.

The featured bout saw Canelo Alvarez lift the WBO junior middleweight title from Liam Smith with a body shot in round nine.
Alvarez dropped Smith in rounds seven and eight before the thunderous left hook that finished the bout.
Alvarez broke his right thumb in the win and will miss the remainder of 2016.
Ramon and I each gained two point for the Alvarez KO.

The co-feature saw each of us add two more points as Willie Monroe.Jr outboxed Gabriel Rosado and earned a dull unanimous decision.
The less said about this one,the better...

In Japan,Shinsuke Yamanaka knocked our Anselmo Moreno to retain his WBC Bantamweight belt in round seven.
Yamanaka floored Moreno in round one,but Moreno returned the favor in round four
Yamanaka dropped Moreno late in round six before the clinching two knockdowns in round seven to end the fight.
Ramon earned one point for picking Yamanaka,while I picked Moreno..

In Poland, Oleksandr Usyk won the WBO Cruiserweight title with a unanimous decision over Kryzstof Glowacki.
The former Olympic gold medalist went the distance for the first time in his career,but was a clear winner.
Usyk might be one to keep an eye as another breakout star from the former Soviet republics in the near future.
I picked Usyk for one point,while Ramon picked Glowacki.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ravens rally bounces Browns 25-20

The Cleveland Browns bolted to a early 20-0 lead by Lake Erie against the Baltimore Ravens and things were looking good.
They weren't very good thereafter as the Ravens scored the final 25 points of the game and walked off the field with a 25-20 win.

Isaiah Crowell rushed for 133 yards and a score (85 on the TD run),while Corey Coleman caught two touchdowns from Josh McCown and was over 100 yards for the day.
Cleveland is now 0-2 and travels to Miami next week against the 0-2 Dolphins...

Brownie Bits

1) A main reason for the Browns struggles was Josh McCown's shoulder injury that he gutted through at the cost of production.
Give McCown plenty of credit for toughness,but every hit took a little more out of him physically...

2) Josh McCown is going to miss time with this shoulder injury and Cody Kessler will get the start in Miami.
Kessler was the third round selection out of USC that many observers (including myself) thought was overdrafted and Hue Jackson made the statement "You'll have to trust me on this one".
Let's see how the first test of faith and trust goes...

3) The late taunting call on Terrelle Pryor was clearly a joke.
Replays show Pryor flipping the ball to the referee and the ball simply came up short.
The referee in question knew it,as he didn't throw the flag and another official threw it-Pathetic.

4) Corey Coleman showed his playmaking ability with two scores and another big gainer.
Coleman has the skills to be a star,but we'll have to see how his strengths (going long) mesh with those of Cody Kessler,who is not noted for a powerful arm..

5) Yes,it was great for the Isaiah Crowell breakaway score and that will add something for defenses to plan for,but take away that run and his carries averaged 2.8 yards.
Going to have to do better than that with a ground game to guide Cody Kessler through...

6) Carl Nassib broke his hand in the second half and will miss the Miami game along with being week to week thereafter.
Too bad as Nassib had gotten off to a nice start for a rookie...

7) Joe Haden picked off two passes and looked a little more like the Haden before 2015.
Good signs for the veteran in his attempt for a strong comeback..

8) The offensive line allowed three sacks and numerous more hits on Josh McCown and helped create the injury to McCown's shoulder.
Cameron Erving will miss time with a pulmonary issue and should be out for a few weeks.
John Greco shifts to center,where he should improve that spot,but guard will be weakened by playing backup Alvin Bailey.
Bailey has played before in Seattle,so he's experienced,but it'll be interesting to see if the line is better or worse with Greco/Bailey than Erving/Greco..

9) Trouble in the kicking game already as Patrick Murray had an extra point blocked (ran back for 2 points for Baltimore) and missed a long field goal.
Considering the problems the Browns had with Travis Coons last season,Hue Jackson could have a very short leash on Murray.

10) Two defenders with big games was rookie safety Derrick Kindred,who played so well that I wouldn't be surprised to see in the starting lineup as soon as next week) and Danny Shelton,who for the second game in a row was disruptive up the middle from his nose tackle position.
Shelton improved a lot from his sophomore to junior season at Washington,so he could be one of those players that take a bit to develop.
Kindred shows potential of being a real hitter at safety and might be a real steal for a fourth rounder...

11) This was a disappointing loss-not because I didn't expect it,but how it occurred.
20-0 lead blown,special teams gaffes,bad officiating and then the loss of Josh McCown all add to a missed opportunity for victory.
In a season that already sees a team overmatched talent wise and now hammered with injuries,those chances aren't going to come up very often...

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ohio State booms the Sooners 45-24

The Ohio State Buckeyes stormed into Norman,Oklahoma and dominated a game that most (including me) thought would be a difficult contest for a good team to win in a 45-24 thumping.
J.T,Barrett fired four touchdowns to Noah Brown and Mike Weber with Curtis Samuel gashed the Sooner defense for 221 rushing yards between them in the victory.

The now 3-0 Buckeyes have next week off before starting conference play at home vs Rutgers....

Olentangy Offerings

1) The catch of the year shown above as Noah Brown pinned a J.T. Barrett pass against the back of a Sooner defensive back and still managed to get his feet down inbounds.
Perhaps this is a bit of revisionist history,but go back to Brown's knee injury before last season,could a healthy and motivated Brown been the Devin Smith type player that last years team needed?

2) J.T.Barrett threw for less than 200 yards with his four scores,but his 20 attempts showed that the Buckeyes didn't need him to do throw often.
Ohio State was able to keep third and long situations out of the equation most of the time and as a result,Barrett was able to keep his passing totals low..

3) I felt this game swung in the first quarter and I never felt really in danger thereafter.
The first game on the first drive of the game by Oklahoma.
The Buckeye defense stiffened and stopped the Sooners after a drive that looked as an impressive beginning to the game as Oklahoma could have expected.
However,Austin Seibert's field goal clanged off the upright and you could feel the game change right there...

4) The other was Jerome Baker's grab and go of a deflected pass and resulting interception return for a touchdown.
Oklahoma never recovered from that shot and seemed to change their offense after that as they almost seemed panicked going to the pass more than one would think.

5) The interception by Baker was the fourth this season returned for a touchdown already this season and tied the Buckeye record for interception scores for a season..

6) One thing that Oklahoma didn't do more of and I'm stunned why they didn't was run Joe Mixon more.
Mixon was the one player on the Sooners that matched up well with the Buckeyes and averaged almost nine yards a carry.
Mixon would only receive nine carries though and I'm surprised that the Sooners didn't try to get the ball in his hands more..

7) Mixon showed the explosive burst that I worried about on his kickoff return for a touchdown after the Buckeyes scored on the Jerome Baker pick.
Mixon is a real player,but he clearly dropped the ball before entering the end zone.
This seems to happen far more than it ever should in football.
General rule of thumb in college or pro football-Don't drop the ball until you see the different color or grass/turf under your feet.

8) I was screaming about this play well before Fox bothered to replay it ten minutes later.
The replay crew (from the Big 10) missed this call.
I expect this stuff from the horrific Gus Johnsom,I don't expect it from officials.
BTW- get used to more screaming Gus on Buckeye games with more Buckeye games going to Fox next season...

9) Urban Meyer 19-0 on the road at Ohio State.
Not much I can add to that.

10) I really like Mike Weber as a back and I think he is only going to get better with work.
Weber still hasn't ripped off one of those backbreaking long runs yet,but it's coming and Weber is going to be the workhorse for this team in Big 10 play-Just an opinion.

11) Finally,this-Ohio State is a contender in a year that was thought to be a reloading one.
Urban Meyer seems to thrive on situations like this and the win over Oklahoma showed such.
I'm still wondering about those road games in East Lansing (especially after the Spartans dusted Notre Dame) and Madison (although Georgia State ,yes State gave Bucky all he wanted yesterday),but I'm feeling good about where things are right now...

Friday, September 16, 2016

Pigskin Pickin' Machine

The PPM returns with a huge college football weekend!!

Last Week;6-3
Season: 12-3

College
Ohio State over Oklahoma 28-25
Bowling Green over Middle Tennessee State 42-36
Washington over Portland State 56-6
Texas Tech over Louisiana Tech 60-45
Game of the Week
Florida State over Louisville 30-23

NFL
Ravens over Browns 24-10
Saints over Giants 35-32

Game of the Week
Steelers over Bengals 21-18

Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge continues with a pay per view card that is weak all around and two world title fights from overseas that might be exciting,but lack American television.
The challenge is currently 106-87.

WBC Bantamweight title.12 rds
Shinsuke Yamanaka vs Anselmo Moreno
R.L:Yamanaka Unanimous Decision
TRS:Moreno Split Decision

WBO Cruiserweight title.12 rds
Kryzstof Glowacki vs Oleksandr Usyk
R.L;Glowacki KO 6
TRS:Usyk KO 9

Middleweights.12 rds
Gabriel Rosado vs Willie Monroe Jr.
Both:Monroe Unanimous Decision

WBO Junior Middleweight title.12 rds
Liam "Beefy" Smith vs Canelo Alvarez
R.L:Alvarez KO 4
TRS:Alvarez KO 8

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Road Trip-Bristol and Bluefield

The trip concluded in Bluefield WV/VA with Fred and Michael Landucci with a stop at Bowen Field.

However as is often the case on these trips,half the fun is in getting there and that was the case on this day for sure.

We left our hotel in Johnson City and began to trip to Bluefield,but of course there was lunch to be considered and on this one,we deferred to Fred and his choice was the Mad Greek in Bristol,Tennessee.
Michael and I found this amusing because the Johnson City Mad Greek was literally a walk across our hotel parking lot as we realized when we left the hotel.

I have to be honest-I wasn't really looking forward to the Mad Greek.
I'm not really an aficionado of Greek food,but most of the trip,I had some say in food and it was Fred's turn and time for your writer to be a good sport.
Well,your writer was wrong-extremely so as Fred was correct as the Mad Greek was tremendous!
Our waitress,Kristen was terrific and shared some answers that we had to some questions about the area.
I ordered myself a small pizza and the greatest thing about the Mad Greek is that they do something that no other pizza place that I have ever seen do-They charge for the pizza and toppings are unlimited!
In other words-a ten topping pizza costs the same as a cheese pizza! I love it!!
A very good pizza and when we return to Bristol next year,I hope we stop at the Mad Greek again.

One of Michael's questions was about Yee Haw beer,which he had developed a taste for and he wanted to bring some home,so we needed a supermarket and we found one in Food City.
We took some photos for the upcoming "Battle of Bristol" between Tennessee and Virginia Tech as the place was decorated for the game a month in advance.
Michael bought a six pack of bottles of the four various Yee Haw's (pilsner,ale,dunkel and eighty)
and reports that all were good,but he would rate the pilsner as his least favorite and we left,but here's the funny part.
When we parked the car,we parked right by a "Rock Star" van and Fred said when we left that I should take a picture of it-however when I looked at it,it looked deserted and nothing like a vehicle used for beverages.
After turning the Kindle on for the picture,I noticed a wi-fi from "FBI Surveillance" and a guy peeping out of the van.
Needless to say,no picture and we left to avoid answering questions about we took pictures of a van!
We passed a countdown clock for the game and the speedway itself.
When I was a NASCAR fan,Bristol was my favorite track and I loved the two races held there.
I've been by it twice and I hope to go inside sometime on a future visit....

Fred and Michael bought hats at every stop on the trip and wanted to add a Bristol Pirates hat to their collection,so we pulled up to Boyce Cox Field and as we saw locked gates,we turned and began walk back to the car when a voice asked "what do you want in there"? When I replied these gentlemen wanted to buy some hats,the response was "I believe I can help with that".
It turned out that our host was Bristol GM Mahlon Luttrell and he was happy to allow us to take a tour of the field and Fred and Michael got their hats with Fred getting a very cool green one with the Appalachian League logo on it as well.
I wish it would have fit me as I really liked it.
We talked to Mr.Luttrell for a bit and mentioned that we were going to Bluefield and Mr.Luttrell called the GM at Bluefield and mentioned that we were on our way there.

We arrived at Bluefield,which literally has the West Virginia/Virginia state line that runs through the field, and we were allowed into the facility early by the GM,who as noted had been tipped off about arrival, to watch batting practice.
There was only one problem,we were not allowed to ask for autographs,which was a bit of a pain,but not as bad as you would think.
However,before we started that,we tried to get some of the Pulaski Yankees getting off the bus and Fred's opinion of Blake Rutherford changed.
Players got off the bus and when it seemed like most were off the bus,Fred asked what looked to be Rutherford,if Blake was still on the bus or if he was Blake.
The response was that Rutherford was still on the bus.
Fred was dismayed to find out that the only few (four or five) players that walked off the bus were Hispanic and the player that told him that Rutherford was on the bus,was in fact Rutherford.
Fred's stance on Rutherford,so high just two nights earlier was now pretty low...

It was very neat being the only people in Bowen Field and watching batting practice and the autograph ban was not a issue-mainly because I have never been to a park with worse access than Bluefield.
I mean there is just nowhere to go for anyone.
If you are coming to Bluefield for autographs-be ready to use the parking lot because you just aren't going to have a chance inside the park.
This saddened me because Tim Raines was in town with Bluefield and I didn't have him on my Score sets.
Tough luck for me,despite some help by the assistant GM,who tried his best to help.

Bowen Field reminded me a lot of the Muni with another covered grandstand with backed seats.
Those seats comprise the vast majority of the seating area,so,if you don't like sitting behind the plate,you might not care for Bowen Field.
The view beyond the outfield was filled with trees and provided a beautiful and natural Batter's Eye.
Bluefield made a team set (which not all Appy teams do),but I didn't buy one as the Blue Jays don't hit our circuit until AA (Harrisburg or Altoona) and with the access being what it is,I decided to pass...

We left Bluefield for a pretty bad meal at the Princeton Applebees and we had over five hours to hit Hagerstown,which meant over six for Fred and Michael to get home.
It was a terrific trip and thanks to Michael and Fred for doing the trip with me...
We are already making plans to try to hit the other five Appy Parks
(Kingsport,Bristol,Greeneville,Danville and Burlington) for next season if the schedule bounces right...

Wrapping up the trip with my favorites with all things considered.
I liked them in this order: Pulaski,Johnson City,Princeton,Elizabethton and Bluefield...

Thanks for reading and I'll be back tonight with a planned podcast....



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Podcast-Fightheads Debut!

If you are interested in listening to the debut show of Fightheads with Ramon Malpica and I-Here it is!
The show will be on most Mondays and has a call-in aspect that we hope will pick up once word of mouth starts going!
Give us a listen!



http://www.blogtalkradio.com/fightheads/2016/09/13/fight-heads-live--ggg-vs-brook-chocolatito-vs-cuadras-recap

Road Trip:Elizabethton

The Appalachian league road trip continues on a jaunt to Elizabethton,
Tennessee,home of the Twins.

We arrived at Elizabethton early and saw the ticket prices 4.00 and 3.00 with an extra dollar off for seniors and kids.
Those might be the lowest in the game and at minimum the lowest I've ever seen.

Michael and I waited for the ticket booth to open and discovered that the booth doesn't open until just a few minutes before the gates do and the tickets are basically a fellow sitting at a table putting stubs in a bucket.

Not much at Elizabethton has changed since my previous visit other than the flag background that Ryan and Bob surfed in front of has been painted over.
The standings of the league are still on the outfield wall (I'd love to see more teams do that) and the parking lot is still close to the gate (although no players making out in cars this time).

The graphing can be tough here,but there is a small area that players can step out into and sign if they wish,so you really are dependent on the players wanting to sign.
I didn't need a lot of guys,but the Landucci's were there for the Twins number one pick Alex Kirilloff,who I had nothing for.
Kirilloff was very nice and signed baseballs for Fred and Michael,so that part was a success.

Elizabethton might have the oldest crowd that I've ever seen.
The Appalachian League generally has crowds that are older,but this seemed older even for the Appy league.
Elizabethton is reported to be on the ropes as far as keeping the Twins in town.
Joe O'Brien Field could use some upgrades and the city says it could be a million dollars or a little more to bring things up to standard.
The Twins offered to pay a third of the cost,but after the town drug their feet a bit,reneged on their offer.
I'd hate to see the town lose their team and a loss of the team hurts the league too as a nine team league means someone is off all the time.

We didn't watch much at Elizabethton as we drove 90 minutes to Sevierville so that Michael could do the Montgomery Biscuits,the AA affiliate of Tampa Bay,Michael's favorite team.
I didn't bring anything for the Biscuits,so I watched the game and watched the post-game graphing from a distance.

The postgame was going to feature a stop at Ktystal-the delightful home of those little burgers that are the southern version of White Castle,
I was so close to getting some and because some bum hit Michael up for money while he added gas to the car,he wanted to get away,which I didn't blame him for.
That meant we were going to have a hard time finding a place to eat and we settled for a mediocre meal at a Perkins in Johnson City,where I got nachos with tomatoes (bleech) after asking for no tomatoes.
This may sound like a small thing and I can handle taking tomato slices off items,but these were in small bits and impossible to remove.
There is no food that I despise more than the tomato...

Back to the hotel before one more day.
The final installment will see two towns,a great meal,lots of beer bought,a park that covers two states and missing Tim Raines....

Monday, September 12, 2016

Boxing Challenge-GGG dries up Brook

The boxing challenge moved on with a big boxing weekend.
I earned ten points to Ramon Malpica's seven to boost the overall lead to 106-87..

We each earned two points for Gennady Golovkin's fifth round stoppage of Kell Brook.
Give Brook lots of credit for taking the fight and for coming to fight,but he was overmatched and undersized and Golovkin clearly was breaking him down physically (broken eye socket) and his corner did the right thing in saving their fighter,who could still be a terrific fighter in 147 and 154 pound action.
As for Golovkin,who retained his WBA,WBC and IBF belts,the WBA is asking for Daniel Jacobs next and hopefully the political powers (HBO and PBC) can come to an agreement to get that fight in the fall.

Roman Gonzalez won the WBC Jr.Bantamweight title from Carlos Cuadras with a unanimous decision nod.
Cuadras fought well and had he set down a little more of his punches,might have prevailed.
I scored Gonzalez a narrow 115-113 winner,but we might have seen the weight where Gonzalez transitions from great to very good.
It happens to all fighters as they move up,their power lessens and their greatness dims just a bit.
I added two points for the Gonzalez victory with Ramon adding one.
The undercard fight on HBO saw Jesus Soto-Karass surrender in his corner after round eight against Yoshihiro Kamegai.
The bout was entertaining enough,but Kamegai was clearly ahead on the cards.
Might be time for Soto-Karass to consider hanging the gloves up.
Ramon picked Kamegai and added one point,while I picked Soto-Karass to win.

The best fighter that you may not have heard kept his IBF Jr.Welterweight title as Eduard Troyanovsky blew away Keita Obara in two in Moscow.
Troyanovsky might be the next star in the making from Russia,if he gets some U.S. exposure.
I earned two points for the win and knockout with Ramon getting one for the win

On the Golovkin-Brook undercard,we each earned two points for Lee Haskins unanimous decision win over Stuart Hal for Haskins IBF Bantamweight crown,but I added one to Ramon's zero for Johnriel Casimero's 10th round stoppage of Charlie Edwards to retain his IBF Flyweight title.



Sunday, September 11, 2016

The pain begins-Eagles clip Browns 29-10

The long dreaded season is among us as one of the weaker teams on the Cleveland schedule pulled away in the second half as the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Cleveland Browns in Philadelphia 29-10.
Isaiah Crowell rushed for 62 yards (Much of it in garbage time) and the Browns only touchdown in the defeat.
The Browns (0-1) return to Cleveland for the home opener next week against Baltimore,who won their opener at home over Buffalo.

This will be a longer Brownie Bits than usual because I have so much material.

Brownie Bits

1) The elephant in the room-Carson Wentz and his debut stands as what most want to discuss.
As most of you know,the Browns had the chance to select Wentz and instead traded the pick for a package that included the Eagles first rounders in 2016 and 17 along with a second rounder in 2018.
Wentz threw for two touchdowns and 278 yards and generally looked poised in the pocket with a big and accurate arm.
I came away liking him..

2) But,here is the caveat-he did it at home against perhaps the least talented team in football.
Keep in mind the defense that he did against and with very little adversity.
I liked what I saw,but let's not anoint him as the next great passer quite yet..

3) I didn't like much from Robert Griffin's game.
I thought he was inaccurate on short and medium throws and even on one of the two big plays that he made in the long passing game (the one to Corey Coleman) was more of a lob/punt that Coleman made a play on more than Griffin made a good throw.
I'm not ready to quit on Griffin yet,but I would not grade him highly off his first start..

4) There were some drops that didn't help.
Gary Barnidge dropped both passes to him.Corey Coleman dropped one and Terrelle Pryor dropped one as well.
Cannot blame Griffin for those.

5) I wasn't even excited about Isaiah Crowell's 62 yards because I saw how he gained the majority of them-garbage time..
I did like Crowell's hustle covering punts,so he is buying in...

6) The Browns did have things going their way once in the second quarter as they drove into Eagle territory,when a Griffin pass was re-directed at the line of scrimmage and picked off by Rodney McLeod.
The score was 10-7 Eagles,but a touchdown would have given Cleveland the lead and maybe swung momentum.
Tough to blame Griffin too much for that interception as those things do happen,but they seem to happen so much to the Browns..

7)  Another play that seemed to take the air out of Cleveland came after a stop in third quarter action and the Browns trailing just 13-10.
Cameron Erving snapped the ball over Robert Griffin's head and the Browns had to get the ball out of the end zone to avoid a touchdown.
Philadelphia settled for a safety,but the Eagles controlled the game thereafter..

8) Cameron Erving is a major problem and not just because of the snap over Griffin's head.
Fletcher Cox bullied Erving around the field and even though Cox is among the best in the game,Erving appears to just not be strong enough for the NFL game.
Yet another indictment of the Ray Farmer era (error?)

9) I suspected Hue Jackson was going to be a coach that throws everything at the wall in order to give an undermanned team their best shot to win,but his first half fake punt that saw the ball in the hands of Duke Johnson for a six yard loss was ill-timed.
It reminded me of the shotgun draw play in Tecmo Bowl when the defense calls it correctly and swamps the ball carrier.

10) The defense wasn't great,but not terrible.
Not that I'd say I'm not concerned,especially with Joe Haden getting beaten again deep and looking more like 2015 Haden than Pro Bowl Haden,but it could have been worse.
It'll be interesting to see how long it takes for the effort to fade..

11) The player that I really like is defensive end Carl Nassib,the third rounder from Penn State.
Nassib is a high motor player that makes tackles at defensive end (doesn't always happen),knocks down passes (one in this one) and rushes the passer (one sack).
I grabbed Nassib for my fantasy team and he reminds me a little of J.J. Watt physically and never quit attitude.
Nassib isn't the athlete that Watt is,but that is the player that he reminds me of..

12) The defense will need to make more things happen because other than Nassib and Christian Kirksey,it looked a lot like same old Browns-making tackles downfield instead of forcing long distance third downs.
Kirksey might be the Browns next D'Qwell Jackson-rolling up big tackle numbers with few of them being of impact.

13) Robert Griffin injured his left shoulder late in the game,but I'm already thinking forward-is it possible (possible,not campaigning for change already) that Josh McCown might be a better fit for the offense?
Hear me out-McCown has the bigger arm,the strength of this offense might be the speed downfield of Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman,perhaps McCown might be able to get the ball in their hands more?
Just a theory,but one that might be tested if McCown starts against Baltimore next week.

14) Finally,it's tough to feel good off this loss.
Not that it was unexpected,but that this was one of the weaker teams on the schedule.
I still think the Browns will get 1 or 2 wins,but this is going to get darker before it gets lighter.....

Cleveland Browns Preview

The Cleveland Browns are expected by most observers to be the worst team in football and even have a few that think that they won't win a game.
I picked last years record correctly at 3-13 and it could be argued that the Browns roster might be worse than that...
,
The Browns have signed Robert Griffin to start at quarterback and I was fine with the signing,especially considering that the team was rumored to have been interested in Colin Kaepernick at the time.
Imagine the circus that the Browns would have right now had the team traded a pick for all that he brings on and off the field!
Griffin is far from a sure thing,but all things considered,why now?
The odds of Griffin finishing the season are long,so the Browns have resisted the temptation to deal Josh McCown and figure that the Browns will play McCown sooner or later.
Cody Kessler was drafted in the third round and didn't exactly inspire confidence in pre-season.
Cleveland signed Kevin Hogan to the practice squad and I think there is a good chance that he appears on the roster some time during the season.

Hue Jackson expects 1,000 yards from Isaiah Crowell and he is capable,if not spectacular.
If the Browns have any chance of exceeding expectations,he needs to hit that number.
Duke Johnson should be the pass catcher out of the backfield and will get his share of carries as well.
Georger Atkinson III was added from Oakland off waivers after a tremendous pre-season and might get some chances to carry the ball
Malcolm Johnson is on the team as the only fullback.

Cleveland kept all four rookie receivers from the draft and will start first rounder Corey Coleman with Terrelle Pryor.
Coleman is expected to be the deep threat and if Josh Gordon returns after his four game suspension,this bunch could be quite talented.
The other three rookie pass catchers will need to be productive because the odds are that the the least of the bunch will go when Gordon returns.
I like Rashad Higgins the most,but Ricardo Louis has the physical tools and Jordan Payton has great hands.
The three rookies and slot receiver Andrew Hawkins round out a group with questions,but plenty of talent..

Gary Barnidge comes off a career year at tight end after being primarily thought of as a blocker previous to 2015.
We'll see if he can approach those numbers again,but I think he is capable of doing so.
Rookie Seth DeValve was drafted as the receiving tight end and Randall Telfer is the backup blocking tight end..

Joe Thomas returns as the best tackle in football on the left side.
Entering his tenth year,Thomas might not be around to see the fruits of another rebuilding project,but on this team is the gold standard.
Joel Bitonio is solid beside Thomas at left guard as is veteran John Greco at right guard,but there are massive questions about 2015 first rounder Cameron Erving at center and former Jaguar Austin Pasztor at right tackle.
Pasztor will be pushed by draftee Shon Coleman eventually,but Erving will have to sink or swim as the snapper as the main backup for him is Greco.
Veteran Alvin Bailey and rookie Spencer Drango round out the unit as the remaining depth....

On defense,there may be even more questions than on offense,if you can believe that.
The defensive line looks to me to have potential to be the best unit.if you have to pick one.
2015 first rounder Danny Shelton starts at nose tackle and 2015 third rounder Xavier Cooper starts at defensive end.
Veteran John Hughes will start at the final starting spot at end for some veteran stability.
Cleveland will need both 2015 picks to produce to continue to start as 2016 third rounder Carl Nassib looked excellent in exhibition play.
Nassib might be the pass rusher the Browns have been looking for since the Modell years and Stephen Paea was signed as a free agent.
Paea had a great 2014 with the Bears before disappointing as a Redskin as a big money free agent last year,so he could be motivated for a bounceback season.
I liked what I saw of former Ashland Eagle Jamie Meder last season and waiver wire addition Tyrone Holmes was a player that I liked coming out of Montana in the 2016 draft.

The linebackers too are going young with rookies starting at both outside positions.
Second rounder Emmanuel Ogbah is yet another college end that the Browns are trying to make an standup linebacker.
Cleveland seems to try this every year and it rarely works out well.
Ogbah has the physical tools to pull it off,but we'll see.
Ryan loves Wisconsin's Joe Schobert,who was picked in round four and winning the job shows a strong motor in starting on the outside.
DeMario Davis was one of the few signed by the Browns as a free agent from the Jets and looks to be a "D'Qwell Jackson" type that is a better fantasy player than affects the game on the field.
Christian Kirksey is a strong tackler that fills the final starting role inside.
Backups include 2015 second rounder Nate Orchard,who might be turned loose as a pass rusher,veteran special teamer Tank Carder,former 49er Corey Lemonier and two more rookies in Scooby Wright and Dominque Alexander.

The secondary looks weak to me.
Joe Haden was oft injured and oft beaten in his worst season as a pro last season.
If Haden is healthy,he'll be a Pro Bowl level corner.
Former Dolphin Jamar Taylor was acquired from the Dolphins at the draft and beat out veteran Tramon Williams to start at the other corner.
Taylor was considered a disappointment in Miami,but is young enough (25) to still have lots of football remaining and is talented enough to stick around.
The aforementioned Williams is the main backup at corner and will serve as the nickel corner as well.
Former Seahawk Marcus Burley and two more rookies made the team as depth in Tracy Howard and Briean Boddy-Cahoun.
Two more new starters at safety with 2015 draftee Ibraheim Campbell at one spot and former special team star Jordan Poyer at the other.
Rookie Derrick Kindred and well-traveled Don Jones will be the backups.

Former Buccaneer Patrick Murray won the kicking spot over last season's kicker in Travis Coons and former Bronco Britton Colquitt replaces Andy Lee at punter after Lee was traded to Carolina.
Duke Johnson and George Atkinson will return kickoffs with Corey Coleman and Tramon Williams splitting punt duties.
I would rather not see Coleman returning punts-too much chance for injury...

Now the big question-The Browns record.
They are young,unproven and not deep.
I see a few winnable games,but most seem to be on the road.
Today vs the Eagles,at Miami and Tennessee and the home games vs the Jets and Chargers look like the most likely spots.
Let's go 2-14 and the number one or two pick in the 2017 draft.....



Ohio State dispatches Hurricane in thunderstorm

In a game delayed by a huge thunderstorm at halftime,Ohio State cruised to a 48-3 won over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in Columbus.
The Buckeyes intercepted four passes with Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker each returning picks for touchdowns.
The now 2-0 Buckeyes will visit Oklahoma next week.
This will be a shorter recap than normal for two reasons-one,I needed a nap before work because of the delay,so I missed the 4th quarter and second-I need the time for the Browns preview and our boxing wrapup

Olentangy Offerings

1) I just didn't understand why Tulsa head coach Phillip Montgomery didn't just run out the clock with roughly a minute to go and his team only down 13-3.
Instead,Dane Evans threw a bad pass,Marshon Lattimore grabbed and basically ended the game.
It was a bad pass by Evans,but a bad call by the head coach...

2) Malik Hooker is rapidly making fans forget Vonn Bell.
Hooker grabbed his third interception and showed the type of playmaking skills that elite safeties at the next level possess.
Granted,the opposition is Bowling Green and Tulsa to grade him on,but I really like what I have seen..

3) Another huge defensive stand came when Tulsa went on fourth and goal from the one.
Tulsa was down just 3-0 and I understand that decision,but the Buckeye defense stood tall and turned Tulsa away...

4) The offense did have first half struggles and the Buckeyes didn't throw for a touchdown,so there are concerns,but I still think there is a learning curve-it'll get better..

5) Now,we go to Oklahoma and some of the luster was lost with the Sooners loss to Houston.
However,Oklahoma knows that a loss from here on out likely ends any national title consideration
Should be a good one in Norman

Saturday, September 10, 2016

End of the season-Jacobs disposes of Mora

The Boxing Challenge returned last night in Reading,Pennsylvania with a PBC card that saw another "callout" of Gennady Golovkin that will be unlikely to happen and a lightweight title fight that filled a vacancy.

However,a slight detour.
I was unable to watch the card until this morning as I was live and in person at the Hagerstown Suns playoff game that saw them eliminated by the Lakewood Blue Claws.
That game also saw the end to the autograph season and following the game,I was stuck in a huge rainstorm,so wet clothes and all,I made a quick retreat to work.
Before I get to Boxing,just a quick nod to all my autograph buddies that make the year so great.
At this time of year,I am just as ready as the players to be finished for a while,but it's always the best time of the year.
Thanks to (no particular order) Derreck Chupak,Doug Hopkins,Bill Cover,Kendall Morris and Tim Jarman at home,Fred and Michael Landucci at Harrisburg and Brett Shaw at Altoona as well as my traders Jason Christensen,Corey White,Tom O'Brien and Craig Lindgren for all your help and fun in this crazy hobby that I so adore....

The main event saw Daniel Jacobs take on Sergio Mora for the second time in a rematch that few wanted to see the first time.
Jacobs dropped Mora in the fourth and fifth before scoring three knockdowns in the seventh to finish the fight.
Jacobs is supposed to be the mandatory for Gennady Golovkin,if Golovkin beats Kell Brook later today,but after the Sergei Kovalev/Adonis Stevenson HBO?PBC mess,I'm dubious of that bout getting made.
Ramon Malpica and I each added two points for the Jacobs win...

The vacancy for the IBF in the 135 pound division was filled with Robert Easter's split decision win over Richard Commey.
The fight was pretty entertaining and close for two fighters that had never went the 12 round distance entering the bout.
Commey scored the fights only knockdown when he knocked Easter off balance and Easter's glove touched the floor,but Easter almost stopped Commey in a huge 12th round for the Ohio native.
I scored Commey a 114-113 winner.
Ramon and I each earned 1 point for the Easter win and the total standings is now 99-83

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM returns with another weekend of football as the NFL kicks off!

Last Week:6-0

College
Ohio State over Tulsa 52-23
Bowling Green over North Dakota 44-41
Boise State over Washington State 40-37
Texas Tech over Arizona State 54-49
Washington over Idaho 45-10
Middle Tennessee State over Vanderbilt 23-19

Game of the week
Tennessee over Virginia Tech 23-17

NFL
Eagles over Browns 24-14
Raiders over Saints 35-31

Game of the Week
Cardinals over Patriots 24-20

Friday, September 9, 2016

Boxing Challenge is back!

The Boxing Challenge returns from hiatus with fights on Spike,HBO and untelevised fights.
Lots of chance for Ramon Malpica to gather some points and make a late run from the pack like Concern in the Breeders Cup Classic.
I hold a 96-80 lead at this writing.

The big bout features the best middleweight in the world defending his three titles against the best welterweight in the world in a bout that you would think is a mismatch physically,but not as much as you would think.
Gennady Golovkin struggles finding opponents and so does Kell Brook.
It's not a perfect matchup,but give Brook credit for giving it a shot.
Roman Gonzalez goes after the junior bantam title against undefeated Carlos Cuadras,Daniel Jacobs against another barely breathing foe,talented Robert Easter shooting for his first title and add in the untelevised fights of note and you have an awesome boxing weekend-even if you have to find some on YouTube.

Middleweights.12 rd
Daniel Jacobs vs Sergio Mora
R.L:Jacobs KO 3
TRS: Jacobs KO 5

Vacant IBF Lightweight title.12 rds
Robert Easter vs Richard Commey
R.L:Easter Unanimous Decision
TRS: Easter KO 8

IBF Junior Welterweight title.12 rds
Edouard Troyanovsky vs Keita Obara
R.L:Troyanovsky Unanimous Decision
TRS: Troyanovsky KO 6

WBA/WBC/IBF Middleweight titles.12 rds
Gennady Golovkin vs Kell Brook
R.L: Golovkin KO 6
TRS; Golovkin KO 8

IBF Bantamweight title.12 rds
Lee Haskins vs Stuart Hall
Both:Haskins Unanimous Decision

IBF Flyweight title.12 rds
Johnriel Casimero vs Charlie Edwards
R.L:Edwards Unanimous Decision
TRS: Casimero Split Decision

WBC Junior Bantamweight title.12 rds
Carlos Cuadras vs Roman Gonzalez
R,L: Gonzalez KO 8
TRS:Gonzalez Unanimous Decision

Junior Middleweights.10 rds
Yoshihiro Kamegai vs Jesus Soto-Karass
R.L:Kamegai Unanimous Decision
TRS;Soto-Karass Split Decision

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Goodbye to the Schoolboy

Bobby Chacon passed away yesterday after a fall at the age of 64.
Chacon won WBC titles at featherweight and junior lightweight and was known for his exciting toe to toe wars in the latter half of his career.

The unusual part of Chacon's career was the change in styles as he aged.
Chacon was a smooth boxer/puncher as a featherweight,but lots of hard living cost Chacon many of those skills,so after his move to 130 pounds,Chacon became a fan friendly swapper of punches and became a staple of network broadcasts in the final heyday of boxing on the airwaves.

Chacon lost to the great champion Ruben Olivares after winning his first 19 bouts as he was stopped in the ninth round by Olivares,but the loss didn't derail Chacon,who faced future featherweight champ Danny "Little Red" Lopez in a crosstown rivalry bout that was demanded by the local fans.
Promoter Don Chargin said had they been able to wait another six months-Chacon-Lopez could have drawn 45,000 at the LA Coliseum.
Instead,the fight sold out the Los Angeles Sports Arena with its 16,000 capacity,the fight being too big for the normal home for big time boxing in Los Angeles,the Olympic Auditorium with Chacon scoring a ninth round KO.
It was at the Olympic,where Chacon won the vacant WBC featherweight title as he knocked out Alfredo Marcano in nine,but even as the future looked brightest for Chacon,the outside the ring activities would slow the in ring as Chacon was blasted out by old rival Olivares dropping the title in just two rounds.

Chacon would never return to the quality of boxer that he once was,but would enter the stage of his career where his national fan base would remember him best for next.
Chacon would fight what most would consider his greatest rival ( if not the best boxer) in Rafael "Bazooka" Limon for the first time as he lost a surprising decision on the road in Mexico.
Limon took a tremendous punch and his free swinging style meshes perfectly with that of Chacon's to make great fights...
Chacon then ripped off wins in 14 of his next 16 fights (only a controversial split decision loss to Arturo Leon and a draw with Limon in the second fight between the two marred the record) to become the number one contender to the great Alexis Arguello for his WBC junior lightweight title.
In the 1979 title fight,Chacon fought on even terms with Arguello for six rounds before a severe cut forced a stoppage of the bout.
Chacon would finally defeat Limon in his only fight of 1980 and the victory would give him another shot at the WBC 130 pound belt,this time vs Cornelius Boza-Edwards,who had won the title vacated by Arguello.
Chacon was stopped in another gutsy performance that saw his face chopped up by the punches of the Ugandan Boza-Edwards and looked to be a higher level of the present day Gabriel Rosado,which translates to his face just wouldn't hold up against top level opposition.
Chacon succumbed in 14 (yes,still the days of the 15 round title fight) and looked to be finished as a championship level fighter.
However,this is boxing and there is always a promoter willing to use a name and after Chacon won five bouts against lesser opposition (including avenging the loss to Arturo Leon),Chacon was set to fight one more time for the WBC title against old rival Limon,who had won the title in a tremendous bout against Rolando Navarette.
This bout would decide the series since the set stood at one win apiece and a draw and in what was the most memorable bout of the rivalry,Chacon got off the floor in the 3rd and 10th rounds to drop Limon with seconds remaining in the 15th to win the championship in front of a raucous crowd in Sacramento.
Had Chacon not dropped Limon,the bout would have ended in a majority draw.
Chacon would make one defense winning another gritty action fight with a decision over Boza-Edwards to avenge another previous loss.

Chacon would vacate the title in order to avoid the challenge of Hector Camacho and instead moved up to lightweight,where the smaller Chacon was overpowered in three rounds vs Ray Mancini in an attempt to win a world title in a third weight class.
Chacon wasn't through yet as he won a series of decisions against former champion Arturo Frias,former title challenger Rafael Solis,faded prospect Carlton "two gun' Sparrow and journeyman (and now trainer) Freddie Roach before a two year retirement.
Chacon would beat two overmatched foes (including one making his pro debut) before his neurological issues caught up with him and he was unable to be licensed to continue his career.

Chacon made a nice story with his comeback in the early 80's as he won the title 9 months after his wife committed suicide,but the story wasn't always so nice as he was married four times,battled alcohol and drug addiction and in the end suffered from pugilistic dementia.
The end might not have been great and showed the type of damage the sport can do,but Bobby Chacon created a lot of great memories in the ring.
It's too bad with the talent that he possessed that there wasn't more of them made....





Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Cleaning Out the inbox

Time to clean out the inbox before we hit a big football and boxing weekend!

We start with an interview with Mike Grell on his 1980's run with the DC Comics character Green Arrow.
Grell revamped GA with a gritty,urban feel that took away super-powered villains and the trick arrows that were such a huge part of the character previously.
The Longbow Hunters mini-series that Grell wrote and re-introduced the "new" Arrow was received well and I quite enjoyed it,despite missing the Arrow that I grew up with...

The first computer in space on the unmanned Apollo-Saturn mission in 1966 has not only been found in a scrap auction in Houston,but a self-described "perpetual hacker" from South Africa has verified and restored the computer.
Atlas Obscura has more here with the computer now being displayed on USS Hornet and its museum ship....

Now that Ohio State's game with Bowling Green is over and the Buckeyes will have no further games against MAC opponents on the schedule,Urban Meyer can go back to rooting for the Falcons,which was his first head coaching position in 2001.
Meyer turned the Falcons from 2-9 to 8-3 as he "changed the culture" (don't we hear that phrase a lot anymore?) and not only began his road to the top,but began the run that moved Bowling Green as a consistent MAC powerhouse.
Scout.com writes of Meyer's first season at Bowling Green and his attachment to the first team that he coached...

I stumbled upon a neat site at NFLUniforms that discusses the flamboyant uniforms of the World Football League.
It's a really interesting post on the league that must have taken a lot of work to have such detail...

We wrap with two local notes-the first of which is a thanks for the nice comments on the Danny Taylor post.
I wonder sometimes how much of "me" people really want to read and when I get words on those types of posts,I feel quite gratified...

The other is this SABR article on former big leaguer and Williamsport MD native Dave Cole,who pitched parts of six seasons in the 1950's.
Dave Cole was always a name that you heard locally when baseball came up and even though I never met him,playing (and announcing) in Williamsport,it was pretty tough to avoid the name of Dave Cole.
The article by Austin Gisriel is incredibly detailed and I highly recommend giving it a read...






Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Road Trip:Johnson City

The Appalachian league tour continues with a trip to Johnson City for an eleven AM morning game featuring the Burlington Royals vs the homestanding Cardinals in a battle between the two division leaders in the league.

I was pulled out of bed early in the morning (6 AM) with a paper for checkout-This was annoying because we weren't checking out until the following morning.
Not a great start to the day and it really was just a dumb mistake on the part of the hotel.

I had been to Johnson City before on the trip with Ryan and Battlin' Bob and the first thing that you noticed from the previous visit was the absence of the hill in right field.
The hill was so large (much larger than the left field incline at the Muni) that it was the main feature of the playing field-Now,unless you knew ahead of time,one would never know that hill ever existed...

This was one of those wonderful kids days,but school had already returned in Johnson City and the kids were pretty well behaved as they were entertained by a police officers show that featured attack dogs.
Those are usually fun to watch with the dog attacking the poor guy in the padded suit!

I liked the grandstand at Johnson City,but that's where most of the kids were,so we avoided that area,although we did stop long enough to get a picture and stop at their small walkup team shop to get the lovely Cherie a shirt from the Cardinals.
I try to get the ladies shirts from my various travels and Cherie had Johnson City on the top of her list.
As we walked around the stadium,we stumbled upon a local favorite drink-Dr.Enuf.
I had never heard of Dr.Enuf and Fred treated all of us to a bottle of this concoction.
It was OK,nothing that I would buy cases to bring home,but something that I wouldn't be against trying on a area return.
I'd say it tasted like a Sprite and Mountain Dew mix...

We finally sat under an umbrella down the left field line in their version of a beer garden.
Normally,I would avoid those areas like the plague,but on a morning game,it was basically abandoned,so it was a good fit on this day.
Johnson City has zero access for the visiting teams for autographs,but you can get some players down the line for the home Cardinals.
Johnson City did not make a team set this season,so I only had cards for one player-Bryce Denton,the Cardinals second rounder in 2015.
Denton was very nice in signing and chatted a bit about the Appy league and how the travel usually worked.
Wish I could say the same for pitching coach Cale Johnson,who blew Fred off with one card and no other graphers around.
I guess in the Appy league,one way to look at it is that you are seldom asked,so people just are caught off guard.
I wouldn't agree,but that could be one way of looking at it.

Fred and I watched the game,while Michael took advantage of the beer proximity to sample the local beers.
I know how Michael feels as I like to do that with local drinks (like Dr,Enuf) and sometimes potato chips,so when Michael sampled Cardinal red ale (a beer sold only at the park) and Yee Haw-I knew where he was coming from.
Michael would then disappear to meet Miss Johnson City,but I'll keep that story and the involvement of Doug Hopkins private.

After Michael (and Doug) got their pictures signed,we decided to leave the game since the heat was in full force and the game was 7-0 Burlington and went to lunch before returning to our hotel for some regeneration time before our evening.
We selected the top place on TripAdvisor in the Firehouse. 
The Firehouse is supposedly inside a former Firehouse (hence the name) and specializes in barbecue.
When you travel south,the barbecue places should be at least stopped at once and with all of us in the mood for it,it was an easy call.

I ordered the three of us some nachos to snack on  and they were quite good.
I don't recall what Fred and Michael ordered,but I had the pulled chicken with fries and I found them to be very good.
I liked the atmosphere,which was homey enough without the cramped feel that so many of these places tend to have.
The facility was quite large,so that was a considerable help.
If you are in the Johnson City area,you could do far worse than the Firehouse,if you are a barbecue fan,,

We then went back to the hotel for a few hours before our next trip to Elizabethton-home of the Twins and what would prove to be an added bonus for Michael.
That will be the next installment of the series....



Monday, September 5, 2016

Browns In,Browns Out-

I wrote yesterday that the Cleveland Browns weren't finished tinkering with a rundown roster (and they still might not be) as they claimed five players off waivers and added quarterback Kevin Hogan to the practice squad.

The cuts were mostly journeymen except for fifth round cornerback Trey Caldwell,who missed much of pre-season to injury and the Browns hope that he clears waivers to add him to the practice squad.

The additions are interesting with George Atkinson Jr leading the pack.
The son of the former Raider led the Raiders in rushing in the preseason and his release surprised some observers.
The rap on Atkinson is a fumbling problem.
Not sure how quickly that he will play at running back,but he has real shot at being the kick returner for Sunday's opener...

Two cornerbacks were signed as former Seahawk veteran Marcus Burley and rookie Briean Boddy-Calhoun join the team.
Burley was the Seahawks nickel and dime back last season,so on this team might have a chance to help.
Calhoun was an undrafted free agent from Minnesota that I remember watching with the Gophers.
Dan Shonka (one of my three draft gurus) liked his ball skills,but thought he was more of a slot corner...

The player that I really like is Tyrone Holmes of Montana.
Holmes was the 1-AA defensive player of the year last season and was the sixth round pick of the Jaguars.
Holmes interests me as a edge rusher and did have a sack with Jacksonville in the preseason.
At 6'4 247,Holmes could at least be a situational pass rusher..

Corey Lemonier was the 3rd rounder of the 49ers in 2013,but was a disappointment in his three years there.
Lemonier had just one sack in the three years and might be a special teamer in Cleveland.

Two of the veterans that the Browns released quickly found jobs as wide receiver Taylor Gabriel was claimed by Atlanta and cornerback Pierre Desir was added by San Diego.
It'll be interesting to follow those two players and compare their play to the young players that beat them out in Cleveland.
It could be our first small sample on the Sashi Brown led front office's talent evaluating.

As for Kevin Hogan,many draft followers rated Hogan above the Browns third rounder Cody Kessler.
Kansas City picked Hogan in the fifth round and he didn't see a lot of preseason action.
Hogan doesn't possess a great arm,but his tools are better than those of Kessler and he was a heady player at Stanford.
The addition of Hogan makes me think that the Browns are already beginning to have questions about not only about taking Kessler in the third round,but taking him at all.
Adding Kevin Hogan certainly shows some doubt about Cody Kessler's long term viability in Cleveland.....

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Browns cut to 53-All draft picks make team-for now

The Cleveland Browns made their required cuts to reach the limit of 53 on Saturday and all of their draft picks (that's right-ALL) made the final roster.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a few additions to the roster after the cuts made by other teams,but for now-every pick made this team!

The Browns did cut a few familiar names,most notably veteran wide receivers Taylor Gabriel and Marlon Moore,but none of the names stand out as huge losses.
I would not have minded seeing Gabriel stay,but with all four draft picks making the team and veterans Terrelle Pryor and Andrew Hawkins having a Hue Jackson background,it was going to be tough for anyone else to make the squad.
Gabriel caught 64 passes in his two years in Cleveland,mostly out of the slot after being signed as a free agent.
Moore was more of a special teams player than a pass catcher as he caught just seven balls (all in 2015) in his two year tenure as a Brown.

The other names of note came from the secondary as the awful draft of 2014 got worse with the release of a fourth rounder from that draft in Pierre Desir.
Desir did play some in 2015.but had been moved from corner to safety this training camp,which led me to think that his time could be numbered.
2015 sixth round cornerback Charles Gaines was also released after one season and the final name was free agent offensive lineman Mike Matthews,who might be signed to the practice squad.

Cleveland did add free agent defensive tackle Stephen Paea,who should be able to enter the defensive line rotation.
Paea was a highly touted free agent signee by the Redskins last season after a career year with the Bears in 2014,but struggled with the Washington scheme and was cut in training camp.
Paea is a pretty strong addition,particularly when you consider that he cost the team nothing to add.

With the Browns holding the second spot in claiming players off waivers,I would think that they should be active and claim at least a few players,so the roster is far from final..

Buckeyes bully BG 77-10

The day started slow for J.T.Barrett,who was victimized by a pick six by visiting Bowling Green,but the Falcons were controlled from there as Ohio State would score ten touchdowns from there on their way to a 77-10 victory.

J.T.Barrett threw for 349 yards and six touchdowns along with running for another.
Curtis Samuel ran for two scores and caught a TD from Barrett through the air.
Mike Weber led the ground game with 136 yards for Ohio State (1-0).
Ohio State will host Tulsa (1-0) next week in Columbus.

Olentangy Offerings

1) 776 yards of total offense,which broke the all-time Buckeye record.
Now even at that number,one would think the record was reasonably recent,but the old record of 718 came against Mount Union in 1930!!

2) J.T.Barrett looked poised in the pocket and what I liked best was that he didn't run a lot-just six times.
Barrett is going to have stay healthy and he won't be doing that running excessively-especially in blowouts...

3) Mike Weber looked good on the ground and his numbers could have looked better had he not gotten tripped up a few times by the last man.
I liked Urban Meyer's press conference joke about "the guy that played here last year didn't have that happen often" was hilarious...

4) The one bad thing saw starting defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle leave the game with a leg injury.
Urban Meyer addressed this as a tendon injury and is likely to cost him his season.
A young defensive line has just been forced to step up....

5) The Buckeyes were expected to try to get the ball in the hands of Curtis Samuel and they did just that with 13 carries and 9 catches.
Samuel is the most dynamic player on the offense-getting him the ball often will open the offense and give more options in the passing game..

6) Nine different receivers with receptions will also allow young players to perform without the pressure of having just one or two that will have to break out...

7) If I had to pick one to be the breakout star of the wideouts,I'd take Noah Brown.
Brown has the best overall skills,although K.J.Hill might wind up being the deep threat/big play artist..

8) For that was good about the offense,let's talk defense with the two interception game by safety Malik Hooker.
Hooker was all over the place and showed fabulous range with a terrific one handed interception that he tipped to himself.
Hooker might be more than a replacement for Vonn Bell as a playmaker...

9) Almost forgotten in all this-J.T.Barrett's seven touchdowns set a new OSU record...

10) Debut for Nick Bosa,who grabbed his first among what I hope will be many sacks.

11) Ohio State finished their run of MAC scheduling without a loss.
The new policy is to not schedule MAC schools which basically I disagree with as I would like to see the money from playing in Columbus stay in Ohio.
I understand the importance of building schedule strength,but I fail to see how games against UNLV, Florida Atlantic and Tulane (all future opponents) will be any stronger than MAC opponents and the dollars go out of state rather than staying in state.