Sunday, December 31, 2017

Fishing for help

Wrapping up 2017 with a few transactions to comment on before they get caught up with the other news.

The Indians signed a few players to minor league contracts/invitations to spring training with two of them being of particular interest to me.
Righthanded-hitting outfielder Melvin (Don't call me B.J.) Upton looks to be receiving one final opportunity to revive a fading career in Cleveland.
Upton might have a chance to fill the spot vacated by Austin Jackson, who is also a free agent, with a strong spring for a team that could use a righthanded bat as a fourth outfielder.
Upton played just 14 games last season- all in AAA with the Giants affiliate in Sacramento, so who really knows what the 33 year old has left, but for the bargain price, Upton is worth a look.

The other interesting Cleveland signing that caught my eye was righthanded pitcher Alexi Ogando.
Ogando notched a 3.94 ERA in 36 games with Atlanta in 2016 and might be an interesting arm to watch as a reliever, but Ogando isn't going to try to make the team in the pen.
Ogando returns to the big time after a season in Korea as a starter and will try to make the back end of the Wahoo's rotation after not making a major league start since 2013.
Ogando posted an ERA of just under 4 in 110 innings in the Korean League.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, the Giants are collecting their annual drive of faded prospect/AAAA level utility infielders to try to catch lightning in a bottle with as they signed three different players of interest.

The most likely to turn into a player of real usefulness would be Alen Hansen, who as recently as two years ago was considered one of the top 100 prospects in the game.
Hansen split last season between the Pirates, where he hit .193 in 37 games and the White Sox, who claimed him off waivers, where he hit .231 in 69 games.
Hansen has struggled to make contact (52 SO's in 217 AB's) and has been noted to have attitude issues in the past, but can play as many as six positions (not all of them well) defensively, has a little bit of pop (4 homers in those 217 AB's) and plus speed (Nine steals with the White Sox).
Hansen just turned 25 in October, so if any one of these lottery tickets has a chance of being more than the last guy off the bench and developing into a contributor, it would likely be Alen Hansen.

Josh Rutledge joins the Giants after spending the last three seasons in Boston with the Red Sox.
The husband of ESPN's Laura Rutledge was once a reasonably touted prospect with the Rockies and posted decent numbers in platoon play in three seasons before being traded to Boston, where he struggled since.
Rutledge can play three infield positions, but in those three seasons in Beantown, Rutledge has appeared at the plate only 259 times, so what he currently has to offer is really unknown.
Rutledge turns 29 in April, doesn't have the speed of Hansen and doesn't have any more power than Hansen (although by their minor league numbers, I'd grade them about equal as power goes), so I would think anything short of a phenomenal spring is going to send Rutledge to AAA Sacramento.

The final of the three was former Pirate prospect Chase D'Arnaud, who coming up through the Pittsburgh system was looked as an equal prospect to the current Pirate shortstop Jordy Mercer (they were drafted a round apart in the same draft) and has bounced around ever since.
D'Arnaud played 35 games in the big leagues last season between three teams (Atlanta, Boston, and San Diego) with most of those coming as a Padre.
D'Arnaud spent the rest of his year with the Padres AAA affiliate in El Paso hitting .297/4/19.
D'Arnaud can play several positions in a tight spot and will turn 31 in January, so pretty much what you see is what you get.
More than likely, if the Giants want a veteran at the end of the bench, D'Arnaud could get the nod.
It shows that it's winter that I spent all this time on Alen Hansen, Josh Rutledge, and Chase D'Arnaud.

One final note from the hockey world as the Devils had to cut their roster down to 23 before the new year and in order to do trade defenseman Dalton Prout to Calgary to veteran goalie Eddie Lack.
The well-traveled Lack was obtained mainly to give a veteran presence at AHL Binghamton where he was assigned to mentor Devils goaltending prospect Mackenzie Blackwood.
The 29 year old Lack had a GAA of over five in three games with the Flames before being dropped to the Flames AHL affiliate in Stockton.
Prout leaves the Devils with three assists in eighteen games this season.







PPM

The Final PPM of 2017 (although not of the 2017 season) features the final week of the NFL season with playoff implications, the college semi-finals and the finale for the 0-15 Browns.

Last Week; 7-2
Overall: 128-59

College:

Outback Bowl
Central Florida 31 Auburn 28

Rose Bowl
Georgia 30 Oklahoma 27

Sugar Bowl
Clemson 28 Alabama 20

NFL
Browns 33 Steelers 30
Saints 29 Buccaneers 17

Games of the Week
Jaguars 20 Titans 14
Falcons 28 Panthers 24
Bills 20 Dolphins 17
Chargers 24 Raiders 23


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Buckeyes Do Dallas-Cotton Bowl Victory over USC

Damon Webb grabbed a Sam Darnold pass and returned it for a touchdown along with recovering a fumble that set up another first quarter score to lead the Ohio State Buckeyes to a 24-7 victory over the USC Trojans in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
All the points in the game were scored in the first half with J.T. Barrett rushing for the other two Buckeye touchdowns.
Ohio State finishes the season with a record of 12-2 with a Big Ten championship and a Cotton Bowl victory,
The Buckeyes return to action on September 1st in Columbus against Oregon State...

Olentangy Offerings

1) It's kind of strange, you finish 12-2, win the conference title, win a Cotton Bowl and it still feels a little disappointing to me.
I was on Facebook earlier before the game commenting with Ian McArdle as we bantered about the game, Ryan jumped in and commented that "you guys are spoiled" and maybe to a degree we are as fans of the Buckeyes, but still, we lost something on that day in Iowa City for the 2017 season and there was no getting it back.

2) It was the end of the J.T. Barrett era in Dallas after this game and that can be read with either exuberance or resignation.
I would imagine that plenty of Buckeye fans would line up on both sides of the Buckeye tree of that argument.
Barrett might look better in hindsight than he does now, but I still suspect that in the era of really great players going pro early, it's going to be the merely good players setting the career records at schools like Ohio State with more games on the schedule and bowl games now counting on the statistical sheet.

3) Ohio State's offense under Barrett really didn't click all night with only one scoring drive over sixty yards- an 83 yard drive that ended in a Sean Nuernberger field goal.
Barrett's offense was downright inept in the second half against the Trojans in gaining just three first downs in the second half- one of the three on a pass interference penalty.

4) Damon Webb's Pick Six and his fumble recovery that set up a nineteen-yard scoring drive were all the points that Ohio State needed on this night.
Perhaps Damon Webb will be the next defensive back to step up as the featured star at DB U, but there is not a "perhaps" on this- Damon Webb was the deserving MVP of the Cotton Bowl.

5) The currently featured star in the Buckeye secondary decided to pass on playing in the Cotton Bowl as the team announced before the game that Denzel Ward would be skipping the contest.
I understand why Ward wouldn't want to take a chance on an injury before the NFL draft, I really do.
However, if you aren't part of the team that is participating in the game, if I was running the program, you wouldn't be on the sidelines as part of the program.

6) Key to this win-the Buckeye defense with eight sacks and fourteen tackles for loss.
The relentless rush gave Sam Darnold zero chance to throw and gave the Trojan offense little opportunity to do much of anything through that took any more than a second to develop.
Darnold just had no time to throw.

7) Let's talk Sam Darnold.
Of the quarterbacks entering the draft, I liked Darnold and Josh Rosen the best.
I read lots of ripping Darnold after this game on Twitter and yes the pick six to Damon Webb wasn't the greatest throw in the world, but watch the replay, his receiver gave him next to no help at all and besides every quarterback makes a bad throw once in a while.
Darnold had no time to throw and even with all that was against him in this game, he still threw for 356 yards.
Want to know why tonight wasn't a huge coming out party for Darnold?
Try the best defensive line in the country against one of the worst offensive lines in the nation and see how any quarterback gets anything done.
I still like Darnold- he needs time to develop and the Browns would be best suited to find a veteran to play in 2018 to be the bridge person to teach Sam a bit, but I'm still a believer for the Browns to take Sam Darnold...

8) I've watched a lot of Pac 12 football this season, probably more than I have ever watched and I have to say this- the USC offensive line is the worst offensive line for a top ten team that I have seen in years and maybe ever.
When people criticize Sam Darnold for the season that he has had they haven't seen more than a game or two.
Harrassed constantly, forced to throw on the run and taking hit after hit, the stunning part to me is that Darnold and USC won the Pac 12 with a line that bad.

9) The Buckeyes didn't get a lot accomplished on the ground though as J.K. Dobbins rushed for just 39 yards on 13 carries and Mike Weber carried five times for 18.
Weber's role was likely light because he wasn't needed and he'll likely declare for the draft, but USC's run defense is strong and the game really came down to those first half turnovers.

10) This was actually a pretty dull game outside of the Webb interception.
The most exciting thing might have been the pushing match after the Malik Harrison late hit on Sam Darnold out of bounds.
The hit was late and give Darnold credit for trying to be a peacemaker afterward when things started to break loose.
It just wasn't a fun game to watch, although a boring win beats an exciting loss any day.

11) Another question is after this win, how do I feel about the Buckeyes not making it into the playoff now?
Same as before- I think they would have been underdogs to all four teams and despite a great defensive effort against USC, I'm doubtful that a J.T. Barrett led offense could put enough points on the points on the board to defeat any of the four playoff teams.
Could I see a scenario where this Buckeye defense dominates any of those four enough to beat them?
Yes, it's possible, but it's more likely that Ohio State would come short.

12) Now we look towards 2018 and what to expect.
Ohio State will lose some players on defense Sam Hubbard and Denzel Ward for sure, maybe a few others with J.T. Barrett, Billy Price on offense the major losses.
Dwayne Haskins will be favored to replace Barrett at QB but will have to beat out Joe Burrow and Tate Martell and there will be another great recruiting class coming into Columbus.
The major non-conference test will be TCU back at Jerry World, in conference, the Buckeyes get Michigan at home, but will travel to East Lansing and State College in games against the Spartans and Nittany Lions and the interesting out of division tests looks to be Nebraska at home with their new coach Scott Frost and at Purdue with Jeff Brohm looms as a possible trap game.


Friday, December 29, 2017

1969 Rose Bowl

On the eve of the Cotton Bowl between the Buckeyes and the Trojans of Southern California, I decided to pop in my DVD of the two teams 1969 Rose Bowl battle for the National Championship.

Even those to most fans, the Buckeyes-Trojans game is a mere appetizer to the national semi-finals, to those of us that grew up on these two teams battling on New Years Day, the only thing that is missing from this is the San Gabriel Mountains peeking over the Rose Bowl.
Jerry's World in Texas just doesn't possess the same beauty or tradition compared to that.
Still, just seeing those classic uniforms (and I do hope the Buckeyes use those classic uniforms!) against each other again in an important game brings back lots of memories.

In that spirit, the 1969 Rose Bowl was a natural choice, especially since I didn't have any of the other games available to watch!
Watching the game, the one thing that stands out other than the production values (more on that later) of the broadcast is this- the game is slow.
That doesn't mean that it isn't fun to watch and that doesn't mean that it isn't well played, it just means that it is far slower than the game that we watch every weekend today.
Compare it to going to your local high school game and judging the speed and hitting against the top college teams or the NFL, there is no comparison and with almost fifty years in between this game and today- there isn't much in common here either.

Now let's be fair if we took the same athletes of today and subjected them to the training beliefs of the day, taking those huge steps back and conversely put these players under the advanced techniques of today-I think the athletes would be roughly the same.
The advances in athletes usually come along as we learn about better nutrition, better training habits, advances in so many different areas and that makes the difference between eras.

I wish I could say the same for the offenses because that is where you do see a huge difference and where the game has advanced a great deal.
The passing game is very primitive and the passers in this game- Rex Kern for Ohio State and Steve Sogge for USC both showed the type of passing skills that would likely be lucky to see them start at the Division II or III level.
The play calling isn't very creative and is a sign of the times in football, if not the country- bland, basic and wait for a mistake by the opponent.
I'm not sure a John McKay or especially a Woody Hayes offense could win big in today's game running such offenses.
I'd say the closest reminder of someone in today's game to these offenses would be the offense of someone like Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, who wins enough to keep Iowa competitive, but not enough to make them national title contenders year in and year out.

While watching the game, there are only two players that stand out that I see and say "yep, he could play in today's game and do well"- one of each side of the ball and one from each team.
On defense from the Buckeyes, safety Jack Tatum and representing the Trojans none other than Orenthal James Simpson at running back.
Tatum could certainly thump on an even level with the best of today's hitters, but I'm not sure you could play him at safety all the time and he might wind up being like the Browns are finding out with Jabrill Peppers- he might not have a true position in today's game and only on a good team where you could move him around for use in certain situations for his best use.
In other words, In some formations,Tatum could be in the box as an extra linebacker and in others used at safety as another defensive back, but would likely be exposed if he played in either position full time.
Still, I could see Tatum being a solid player in today's game, if not the standout that he was in his time.

As for O.J. Simpson- Simpson would have been a star in any era that he played and there are only a few players that you can truly say that about.
Big enough (6'1 210) and fast enough that his game would have easily translated on its own merits even before the previously noted advances in athletic preparation-there is no doubt in my mind that this O.J.Simpson would at least be on the level of the better NFL backs in today's game and assuming he had the benefits that today's athletes have, he'd be the best back in the game.
Through all the craziness over the last two decades of the O.J. Simpson saga, it has become very easy to forget just how good of a running back O.J. Simpson really was.

The other funny thing was the television and not just the primitive colors and graphics either.
Curt Gowdy talked about the Ohio State fans singing "Hold Out Sloopy" and told lots of stories about O.J. Simpson and his best friend, a defensive lineman that you might remember better as a driver of a White Bronco named Al Cowlings with my favorites being Cowlings wrestling with Simpson until Simpson left crying and discussing with a chuckle how Simpson stole his then-wife from Cowlings, who was with Cowlings then as his girlfriend!
Ah,the good ole' days of sports television.

Hope you enjoyed a look back at the 1969 Rose Bowl.
Back tonight with a review of the latest encounter between the Buckeyes and Trojans...





Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Buckeye Christmas

The Buckeyes might not be playing until the 29th in Dallas, but thanks to my wife and my mother in law, my Christmas was predominately Ohio State based.

The lovely Cherie bought a badly needed new cooler for work with the OSU logo of course, a Tervis tumbler to add to my many Tervis's for the house with the 70's style 'running' Brutus logo, a stainless steel Tervis Buckeye tumbler which is going to be very handy in keeping warm things warm this winter,which from how it feels outside right now might need the help and the shocking surprise-An official piece of Ohio Stadium Field Turf!
Never saw that one coming!
Cherie always knows how to catch me off guard!

Add to that, my mother in law, Beverly buying me an OSU Backpack and it really was a Buckeye year under the tree.
I'm trying to diversify for graphing season this year and even though the briefcase will not be retired anytime soon and will still be the usual workhorse, but I wanted a backpack for certain occasions that I needed something more than I can carry by myself, but in a more flexible container than the briefcase and this fits the bill perfectly!

I also added several DVD sets from Rachel, Ryan, Cherie and Beverly including the final season of Parks of Recreation to finish that set,3 more seasons of King of the Hill, the entire 1960's Filmation cartoons set of Batman (I so dearly loved those as a child) and another season of Rawhide,so I have plenty of new things to watch over the brutal winter to come (bleech).
Thanks to all of you for everything!

The holidays are about more than just what you get and even give and that's pretty cliche'.
It's easy to fall into those after all.
What is important, after all, is the people that you share it with.
The people important to you both blood and otherwise.
My nuclear family takes care of me all the time and my relationship with my son is one that I cherish, but I don't talk a lot with other relatives with one exception-my cousin Missy and I have become very close over the last few years and speak quite often.one
I'm pretty sure that name is not the one I would have picked ten years ago as my closest relative, but I'm really glad that she is!
I have gotten closer to my grandmother since my grandfather passed and that relationship has been one that I've really enjoyed rebuilding.

I mentioned people in my last post, but I really wanted to mention my friends again in this post because sometimes we get hung up on considering "family" blood relatives and often times that's bunk.
I have people related to me that I wouldn't cross the street for  (cousins, folks, not close relatives!) and I have friends that call me multiple times a week to see how I am doing and not just about how the sports world is- about how Shawn is doing.
It is very seldom that a day goes by that the phone doesn't ring and one or more of Fred Landucci,Mike Oravec or Derreck Chupak isn't calling and seeing if I'm Ok, how I am and if I need anything.
It is a refreshing change for me and for the first time in my life, I feel like I have people around me that truly have concerns about me as I do about them.
Thank you,gentlemen-It means a lot!

Before leaving the holidays behind, I'd like to say one more thing- as good as this has been and it's been a really good one, I have missed Big Ed.
The first Christmas in a while without the big guy has made things a little different and we all miss him.
It'll never be the same without the look toward the fridge for a treat and the dark trudge through the crunchy snow to take you at 5;30,Ed- I'll always miss you...

More soon...



Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas-Late

You know what the best Christmas present that I can give is?
No Browns review of what was just an awful game to watch as the Browns lost in Chicago 20-3 to fall to 0-15.
Want to read more? Go here.

Yesterday was a busy day and a hectic one,so not only didn't I have time to review another garbage Browns loss, but not even my traditional Christmas post...

Merry Christmas to all of you of course, but special shoutouts to these people of course...

The lovely Cherie, who is the person responsible for almost all the good in my life.
My terrific children Ryan and Rachel.
My great friends (in alphabetical order) Derreck Chupak, Fred Landucci,Battlin' Bob McKain and Mike Oravec.
Fred drove from Harrisburg to give me my Xmas present- the pictured pennant and keychain from the Furman "Paladins" as he knows my love for "Have Gun Will Travel"
From the Autographing World: Bill Cover, Kendall Morris,"Lefty" Koch, Mike Roseberry and Brad Adams.
My Big Sister that I've never had and always needed in Denise Nicarry
My fellow Buckeye fanatic and likely the person that I "talk" to most over the course of a day-Ian McArdle
Our longest supporter of the blog in Big Don Cain.
Julie Kendall ,who has become a good friend through a goofy chance follow on a little thing called Twitter.
And our Fightheads Ramon Malpica ,who allows me to vent on the "air' every Monday night and Vince Samano, who allows me to look back to the days of my youth and think back when things seemed so important.
If I forgot anyone,I sincerely apologize, I'm a bit punchy after the last few days!

I hope the holidays were good to you all and I plan on another Christmas post later tonight..



Sunday, December 24, 2017

Dick Enberg

Sorry to hear of the passing of Dick Enberg at the age of 82 from a heart attack.
To folks of my age, Dick Enberg was the voice of NBC Sports as he was the bridge that connected Curt Gowdy to Bob Costas as the voice and face of NBC.

Dick Enberg did all the major properties that the network held with his characteristic enthusiasm without being over the top as so many are in today's game and Enberg did it with enough flair to be different without being obnoxious.
It's funny with Enberg because to different people of different ages, he'll be remembered for calling different events.
My first memories of him are from the old TVS syndication broadcasts of events or the old "Sports Champions" game shows, but if you lived on the West Coast, you would remember him doing UCLA games or the L.A. Angels at the same time or even before.
Enberg did the famous UCLA-Houston game from the Astrodome in 1968 that truly put college hoops on the map on a TVS syndication broadcast and to those of us children of the 70's remember him as part of the terrific three man booth for NBC's NCAA coverage with Billy Packer and the late Al McGuire in what cemented March Madness as part of the sports television calendar for good before losing the contract to CBS in 1982.

Most will remember Enberg best for his great tandem with Merlin Olsen as NBC's number one pairing for the NFL and the Rose Bowl (NBC's only college football contract's were for New Year's Day Bowl games in those years).
The two were seamless together and always put the game first.
Enberg and Olsen were the types of commentating team that put the game first and added to the game with their thoughts not overwhelming the game with their background and opinions.
It was a real change in broadcasting sports when those types of broadcasters began to be phased out of the business.

Enberg also did tennis for NBC (although I've never been much of a tennis follower) and some baseball for the network and I really enjoyed his return to the booth a few years back with the Padres as their television play by play man.
I tried to watch more Padres games because of Enberg's work, with the loss of Enberg and the retirement of Vin Scully and others, the classic old-school commentators are slowly leaving us with all those great stories going away with the Screaming Gus Johnson's taking their places with bellows and catch phrases.

Which leads us to what so many fans associate with Dick Enberg "Oh MY".
Yes, it likely sounds very hypocritical on my part when you consider my oft-stated opinion on catch phrases, but bear with me.
I don't have a problem with them when they develop organically out of natural enthusiasm, but it seems like so many are pre-scripted now and the broadcaster cannot wait to make sure that they get their line whether it makes sense or not that it just takes away from the broadcast.
"Oh MY" never seemed to do that.
It seemed to always to come at just the right time and with just the right inflection.
Just like Dick Enberg..

My apologies for this feeling a bit disjointed.
I've stopped and started on this four times over the last few days and I just never felt happy with it, but I did want to finish the piece.

Back later with the Browns in Chicago against the Bears...



Saturday, December 23, 2017

PPM

The PPM returns with Bowl games leading up to next Sunday.
As last year, we will be doing all of the "New Year's Six" games with next week's Semi-Final games.
In the spirit of the holiday season,the picture to the left is from when Amy Acker did one of those awful Hallmark Christmas films with enough sugar to bounce you off the walls for a month and that's from the premiere.
I would wager my house that the picture is better than the film without seeing one second of the film...

Last Week: 3-4
Overall: 121-57

Birmingham Bowl
South Florida over Texas Tech 38-30

Hawaii Bowl
Houston over Fresno State 30-26
Cotton Bowl
Ohio State over USC 29-27

Fiesta Bowl
Penn State over Washington 24-13

Orange Bowl
Wisconsin over Miami 24-16

NFL
Bears over Browns 20-14
Saints over Falcons 27-24

Games of the Week
Rams over Titans 27-17
Cowboys over Seahawks 23-20



Thursday, December 21, 2017

Giants trade for Evan Longoria

Source: J. Meric/Getty Images North America
The San Francisco Giants claimed they weren't going to strip the team to the gears after an awful 2017 season and that they were going to take measures to attempt to return to playoff contention for 2018.

Their road to that status began with a trade with the acquisition of the greatest player in the history of the short-lived Tampa Bay Rays as third baseman Evan Longoria is on his way to San Francisco in return for four players.
Longoria fills a spot that was a gaping weak area last season at third base and adds a power bat to a lineup aching for one (and more than that still).
Even at 32 and coming off an off year (for by his standards) of .261,20 HR and 86 RBI, Longoria plays every day and plays top notch defense (Gold Glove winner last season), so even if he has lost a step, Longoria still has plenty left in the tank.

It's not all perfect, Longoria is signed through 2022 with a buyout in 2023 and with numbers starting with 13.5 million next year and ending with 18.5 in 2022 at the age of 37, so he'll be paid big money just when you would think he should be in a major decline.
Still, AT&T Park isn't the power sapper that it has the reputation for, at least for dead pull hitters (although it is for the power alleys) and I think Longoria has a good chance to provide the power he is being brought to the Bay for- at least for a while.

The Giants sent four players for Longoria in various stages of their careers.
Longtime TRS favorite Denard Span was part of the deal in order to keep the Giants under the luxury tax.
Span's inclusion will allow the Giants to make another move or two to continue to improve the team for 2018.
I've always liked Span, but at his age (Soon to be 34) and in the spacious AT&T outfield, his defensive liabilities were glaringly obvious last season.
Span can still be helpful to some team, especially if he could be a platoon starter or even a fourth outfielder, but his paycheck is way too much for that role.

Christian Arroyo was the main selling point for Tampa Bay.
Arroyo was the Giants top pick in 2013 and was brought up last season and given a chance to win the third base job when the Giants were having issues (as they would all year) at the position.
Arroyo had a good start, but slowed down and was demoted to AAA Sacramento as he finished with a line of 192/3/14 in 34 games.
Some had Arroyo rated as the Giants top prospect, but in my rankings,I have the latest Giants first rounder Heliot Ramos in that spot and for Arroyo's skill for making contact, what Arroyo does best is the easiest type of player to find.

The Giants also included two minor league pitchers in the deal that have two things in common-they both strike guys out and they have questionable command.

Stephen Woods is a 22 year old righthander that went 6-7 with a 2.95 ERA in 23 starts at Low A Augusta last season.
Woods has another intriguing stat to me-113 strikeouts in 110 innings...
Woods was a 2016 sixth round draft pick.

23 year old lefty Matt Krook was the Giants fourth round pick in the same 2016 draft out of the University of Oregon,
Krook was highly thought coming out of high school but underwent Tommy John surgery while at Oregon and last year at High A San Jose went 4-9 with a 5.12 ERA in 28 starts.
However, Krook still whiffed 105 in 91 innings and Cal League hitters hit just .217 against him in a hitters league,

Tampa Bay will also be including some cash yearly over the course of Longoria's contract to help with the cost of the deal.
It's risky for the Giants on one hand-32-year-old power hitters always have a chance of dropping off a steep cliff quickly, but Longoria is durable, isn't a defensive liability and even as he ages should still be able to deliver some power.
Evan Longoria alone is not the answer to returning the Giants to playoff prominence, but shoring up third base is the beginning of the process, so in the short term at least, the trade looks like one that is a pretty decent one...


Indians sign Yonder Alonso

I was starting to work on the post discussing the Giants trade that added Evan Longoria to their lineup from Tampa Bay when the news broke of the first domino falling in Cleveland as the Indians attempt to put their lineup together without Carlos Santana after his departure to Philadelphia and the likely soon to be departed, Jay Bruce.

The replacement for Santana at first base (at least against righthanders) will be lefty swinging Yonder Alonso, who split last season between Oakland and Seattle.
The 30 year old Alonso has played for four different teams (Reds, Padres, Athletics and Mariners) and is coming off his career year (. 266 28 HR and 67 RBI) after altering his swing in one of the latest fads in baseball in adding loft to his swing to allow more fly balls and hence more power to a players swing.
How much power did this add to Alonso's swing?
Well, glad you asked?
Alonso hit 28 home runs last season after never hitting more than nine homers in a season and that number of nine had been achieved just once.
In other words, the swing change TRIPLED Alonso's all-time high for homers in a season.
Was that number an aberration or has Alonso found something that has changed his career at the age of 30?

The Indians will be paying Alonso 16 million over the next two seasons (there is an eight million vesting option for a third year as well) to find out if they have found a breakout star at the age of 30 or will be overpaying a player who caught lightning in a bottle for one season by making an adjustment before the game makes the next adjustment.

Cleveland had picked up the option on oft-injured Michael Brantley and had been rumored to be considering moving Brantley to first base to be the lefthanded hitting option with the righthanded Edwin Encarnacion, but with the signing of Alonso, Brantley is likely to remain in left field and the Indians will still continue to shop Jason Kipnis, who might not have an abundance of takers at 28 million owed him over the next two years (with a third year option at 16.5 million), so the Indians are still in the market to make a few moves over the winter before the snow melts.

I'm a little uneasy about the Alonso signing as I usually am when players that are coming in off a season that saw them perform beyond their past performance.
It makes me wonder how likely they are to repeat those numbers and at an inflated cost.
Even still, the contract isn't awful, so I'm open minded about the signing, but I'm not sky high either.

Back later with some thoughts on the Giants trade for Evan Longoria...



Monday, December 18, 2017

O for Home-Ravens finish Browns home slate 27-10

The Cleveland Browns turned the ball over in their end zone and in the Baltimore end zone along with places in between as the Browns completed a winless home 2017 season with a 27-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Duke Johnson's 12 yard run in the second quarter gave the Browns a 7-3 lead and the only Browns touchdown of the day.
Cleveland drops to 0-14 on the season and travels to Chicago next week to face the 4-10 Bears.

Brownie Bits

1) DeShone Kizer threw two interceptions,fumbled in his own end zone and generally looked as inept as he has looked all season.
Kizer's interception to what seemed to be any one of three Ravens in the end zone in the fourth quarter was one of the worst throws that I've seen this year.

2) To make things worse, Hue Jackson sends Kizer back into the game then at the press conference talks about not starting him against the Bears.
To me, that's backward.
At this point, everything's shot to hell anyway, You start Kizer and use Kevin Hogan in a game if looking for a spark, but hey it's not like Hue Jackson is ever going to be confused with a winning head coach or anything.

3) And then we move to the pregame news that Marvin Lewis plans on leaving Cincinnati at the end of the season.
The ripples from that range from having Lewis joining Hue Jackson in Cleveland or even Jackson replacing Lewis in Cincinnati!
The Bengals would have to compensate the Browns if they want Jackson, but can you imagine having to sell that to your fan base?
Giving anything at all for a head coach that could be coming off two seasons with a combined record of 1-31?
I'd be satisfied with a Ken Anderson 7-11 Slurpee Cup and a Boomer Esiason Starting Lineup for Hue Jackson, so anything at all works for me.

4) The highlight of the day came on back to back possessions.
The Browns held the Ravens on fourth and goal from the one.
Cleveland's one thing that the team can say that has taken a huge leap forward this season has been the defense against the run.

5) Then the Browns took over and put together their one touchdown drive of the almost exclusively running game based drive.
Isaiah Crowell ripped off a 59 yard run and four runs later, Duke Johnson ended the possession with the Browns only touchdown of the day with a 12 yard run.

6) The Ravens controlled Josh Gordon in this one as Gordon was thrown to 11 times, but caught just five of those for just 47 yards and no big plays.

7) This is a shorter review than usual because yesterday was very hectic.
I do plan on a Browns piece later in the week..

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Boxing Challenge; Saunders Whitewashes Lemieux

I was very late in getting picks from Ramon Malpica for the boxing challenge for the final challenge of the year and therefore didn't have a preview of a fight for the lightly regarded title that was best known as the only title belt that Gennady Golovkin didn't own.

David Lemieux was favored by most to defeat lightly regarded WBO middleweight champ, Billy Joe Saunders.
After all, Lemieux is the much harder puncher, had the home court advantage and had been more active of late against better competition.
Everything pointed to Lemieux, but as I said on FightHeads last Monday night, something was telling me to pick Saunders, who hadn't looked impressive in his two title defenses against nondescript opponents and had just two overall wins against world class opponents (Decision wins over Chris Eubank Jr and Andy Lee).

That something proved right as not only did Saunders pull the minor upset on the road to retain his title, Saunders did it so impressively that not only did he win by a wide margin, on my card, he won every round (120-108) and might have have even moved into consideration for some pound for pound votes on the lower end of the top ten.
Billy Joe Saunders fought that well.

Saunders boxed, jabbed, moved and controlled every part of the game that you can describe and turned the dangerous Lemieux into just another frustrated fighter looking for a desperate hail mary that had little hopes of being answered.
Saunders even used the bolo punch and Ali shuffle as part of exasperating Lemieux into submission and was able to show that just because you are "boxing" doesn't mean that you have to be boring while you are doing it.

Saunders called out Gennady Golovkin after the bout and it didn't seem so ludicrous as it may have sounded an hour before.
Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez would still be favored against Saunders, but the Saunders that fought last night in Quebec would give both fighters fits and would be a live underdog to pull a massive upset.
Let's hope that we see more of Billy Joe Saunders in 2018 and that he doesn't slip back into his inactive ways against poor opposition again.

As for David Lemieux, it's pretty clear that he's a top ten level fighter that really isn't an elite level fighter.
Lemieux can be a fun fighter to watch and can be part of some really exciting fights, but he will always have problems with boxers and he does have a tendency to slide into a passive mode at a certain point in fights when adversity strikes.

Billy Joe Saunders might not be the most exciting fighter in the middleweight division or even the best, but he might have taken one of Gennady Golovkin's titles without Golovkin even knowing it- Saunders might have just become the most avoided man in the middleweight division...

I'll just trade Matt Moore!

PATRICK GORSKI-USA TODAY SPORTS
The title of this is an inside joke, but the San Francisco Giants traded Matt Moore and some international bonus pool dollars to the Texas Rangers for two minor league pitchers in a trade that was about saving money to get under the luxury tax than the prospects being returned to the Giants.

Matt Moore posted arguably the worst numbers of any starter last season 6-15 with a 5.52 ERA in 31 starts and it got worse with a WHIP of over 1.5 and hits
Wolff per nine innings ratio. of over ten.
Considering that Moore was being paid nine million next season from a club that finished with the worst record in the National League last season, needs to make some moves to come even close to being a wild card contender and is pushing being a multiple offender of the luxury tax, it wasn't a difficult choice to select Moore to be to the guy to move.
The issue became was this- Who would take him and what would they give for him?

The team willing to gamble on a Moore revitalization was the Texas Rangers and they sent two minor leaguer pitchers in Sam Wolff and Israel Cruz.
The 26 year old Wolff was a 6th rounder by the Rangers in 2013 and looked to be on his way after his first two years of pro ball as high as High A Myrtle Beach before missing 2015 with a torn Achilles.
Wolff split last year between AA Frisco and AAA Round Rock and pitched well as a reliever and his 2.34 ERA at AAA in 24 appearances might make him a dark horse to make the Giants bullpen at some time during the 2018 season.

As for the 20 year old Cruz, he's a long shot lottery ticket, who has yet to pitch for any team higher than the complex leagues with little success to show for it other than an interesting 42 strikeouts in 32 innings last season.

The main job was to move Moore off the payroll no matter the return and if Wolff or Cruz give any type of return at all then that is just an added bonus.
The Giants need some more moves to make any type of improvement, hopefully this is the first of many.
Back soon with Saunders vs Lemieux.

Friday, December 15, 2017

PPM

The PPM is back with the beginning of bowl season!

Last Week:4-2
Overall: 118-53

Las Vegas Bowl
Oregon over Boise State 38-34

New Mexico Bowl
Arkansas State over Middle Tennessee State 30-23

NFL
Ravens over Browns 26-14
Saints over Jets 33-16

Games of the Week
Steelers over Patriots 40-37
Rams over Seahawks 20-17
Packers over Panthers 24-20


Rule 5 Madness!

Photo Credit: Tony Farlow, Asheville Tourists
Baseball's Winter Meetings ended as they always do with the Rule 5 draft and it was the highlight of a slow meeting for the three teams that we cover here.

None of the teams added any players and the Indians actually lost two as two members of the bullpen moved to a new beginning as Bryan Shaw signed a three year deal with the Colorado Rockies worth 27 million and Joe Smith signed a 15 million dollar two year agreement with the Houston Astros.
Those two moves, especially the loss of Shaw weakened the Wahoo's bullpen and the Indians will have to try to address the bullpen with a few signings, more than likely with a few reclamation projects and hope to catch lightning in the bottle with one or two.

The Rule 5 Draft has always been something that I likely get more excited about and give more coverage to than it probably deserves, but I'm a minor league junkie, it's what I do for fun, so I know many of these players, which makes it more enjoyable to follow.

In the Major portion of the draft, the Giants used their pick (second overall) and lost a player, the Pirates used their pick and made a trade to add another player while the Indians lost one player- to the Pirates!

San Francisco selected 22 year old fireballer Julian Fernandez from the Rockies organization,
Fernandez was hitting triple digits on the gun when I saw him in the opening series in Hagerstown and he posted an impressive season at low A Asheville with a 3.26 ERA in 51 appearances.
Projected as a reliever with a top end arm, Fernandez might be able to be hidden away for a season in the Giants bullpen in order to be kept on the team for the full season.
The Giants lost 28 year old starter Albert Suarez to the Diamondbacks later in the round.
Suarez started 18 games for the parent club last season going an unimpressive 0-3 with 5.12 ERA, but the opposition did hit just .230 against him, so I suppose Arizona did like that about Suarez.
I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Suarez offered back to the Giants.

The Pirates made a selection (8th player selected) in 6'6 lefthanded pitcher Jordan Milbrath from the Indians.
The 26 year Milbrath had a breakout season last year pitching out of the bullpen split between High A Lynchburg and AA Akron.
Milbrath was dominant in the Carolina League and just OK in the Eastern League, but he strikes guys and his groundball ratio was out of this world last season-as a LOOGY, he'll have a chance to make the Pirates.
Pittsburgh then swung a trade after the draft to obtain the player picked with the third pick as the Buccos sent some International signing bonus money to the Phillies for righthanded pitcher Nick Burdi, who Philadelphia had selected from the Twins.
The soon to be 25 year old Burdi (January) was pitching well in relief for AA Chattanooga before injuring his elbow and undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Burdi was the Twins second round pick in the 2014 draft.
This is a low-risk high reward selection as at least some of the season will see Burdi on the DL and dealing rehab assignments etc.
If this works out, the former Louisville Cardinal closer could be quite a steal.

Baseball eliminated the AA portion of the draft, but the AAA draft remains.
The AAA draft is done differently as the team pays a fee , but does not have to offer the player back to the team if they do not stay at AAA.

The Giants took two players in righthanded pitcher Eduardo Rivera (Yankees) and shortstop Wander Franco (Royals).
Rivera was the first pick of the AAA phase and his numbers were strong as the closer for the Staten Island Yankees, but at 25 and only a cameo as high as High A Tampa, Rivera has to be a slow developer hitting his stride now.
As for Franco, I've seen him play and having repeated High A, I think he's more along the lines of ab organizational soldier type.

The Pirates selected two players as well with righthanded pitcher Damien Magnifico (Angels) and Catcher Rafelin Lorenzo (Rays) joining the system.
Magnifico, who isn't a pro wrestler although his name makes you think that he is, made a few big league appearances with the Brewers in 2016 and one with the Angels last season, but will most likely be a depth arm at either AAA Indianapolis or AA Altoona.
Lorenzo is a lottery ticket at just 20 but is reported to be a strong armed defensive based catcher that will likely start at low A West Virginia.

The Indians used the AAA draft to pick one player and it's one from the past as they selected former Hagerstown Sun lefty Robert Orlan from the Nationals.
The 27 year split last season between High A Potomac where he was very effective and AA Harrisburg where he wasn't as effective.
The Indians spoke of liking Orlan's fastball/curveball mix and even with Harrisburg where his numbers were pretty average, Orlan's numbers were strong against lefties.
The Indians say Orlan may start with AAA Columbus, but I would think AA Akron is a more likely starting point...





Thursday, December 14, 2017

Boxing Challenge:Horn stops Corcoran

Photo Credit: Getty Images
The Boxing Challenge continued from Australia as Jeff Horn defended his WBO welterweight title with an eleventh round stoppage of unheralded Gary Corcoran of England.
Horn was way ahead on my card and the win not only retained his title, but likely earned him a healthy purse in his next fight and the right and the right to try to take out one of the best fighters in the world in Terence Crawford.

In other weekend fights that I hadn't seen of last writing.

The upset of the weekend saw journeyman Caleb Truax upset IBF super middleweight champion James DeGale via majority decision in London.
DeGale dominated the first two rounds and looked like he thought he would blow through Truax early and gassed himself out.
I had Truax a 115-113 winner.

Lee Selby retained his IBF featherweight title on that card via a unanimous decision over Eduardo Ramirez in a workmanlike victory.
I scored Selby a 117-111 winner.
Selby will face mandatory countryman Josh Warrington in his next defense.

On the Salido-Roman undercard, Rene Alvarado scored a minor upset with a narrow split decision over Denis Shafikov.
I scored the fight a draw at 95-95.

Boxing Challenge points to:

Ramon Malpica:2 pts, 1 each for wins for Jeff Horn and Rene Alvarado
TRS: 4 pts, 2 pts for Jeff Horn win/KO and 2 pts for Lee Selby win/decision

Current Standings192-173

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

15 College Football Games that should be Happening! 6-10

We now move to the middle point of our series of college football games that should be happening, but aren't.

6) West Virginia vs Marshall
This is one that almost made into our top five.
Marshall has only been D-I for twenty years, but being the only other D-I school in the state, they should be playing the flagship school in the Mountaineers.
The Thundering Herd has never beaten WVU in their eight modern meetings and went zero for seven in their series that ran from 2006-20012, but still, it makes sense for this series to be played.
The issue appears to be that Marshall wants the series to alternate between Huntington and Morgantown, while the Mountaineers want two home games for them for every trip to Marshall.
It's too bad that the state capital in Charleston doesn't have a suitable stadium to hold the game or that would be the perfect compromise for the third game.
Those that say there is no rivalry between the schools, well my response to that is-Wait until Marshall wins one ( and they will) and then watch it thrive.

7) Notre Dame vs Michigan
Longtime readers may be surprised since I don't like either of these teams and usually try to avoid this September game like the plague.
However, that game was usually a close affair, exciting and with two schools with deep tradition, this game needs to be played every year.
Like the Notre Dame-Purdue series, this series was one that was stopped by the Irish light affiliation with the ACC, which means that the Irish will play five ACC opponents a year.
Notre Dame being an independent meant they could have a lot of rivals with games with Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Navy, USC, Stanford etc and something had to give with their ACC agreement.
The two teams will play home and home in 2018 and 2019 and hopefully there can be a way to bring this back to every year status.

8) Texas vs Arkansas
This rivalry dating back to the days of the old SWC with Darryl Royal (Texas) and Frank Broyles (Arkansas) battling for SWC titles and occasionally even national championships.
The 1969 "Game of the Century" (Just watched this today on Longhorn Network,- BOOM, TV upgrade today) saw number one Texas nip number two Arkansas 15-14 and is still remembered to this day.
It just wasn't an SWC game in those days of one or two games a week without it involving one of these teams and their encounter usually had a national television audience
The teams have played five times since the Razorbacks left for the SEC (two of those bowl games), but not since 2008 in the regular season and have no future games scheduled.

9) Kentucky vs Indiana
The former battle for the Bourbon Barrel (both schools eliminated the trophy after an alcohol-related death in 1999, although they could have changed the name to Bronze Barrel, I guess) saw the Wildcats and Hoosiers play almost every year (a few gaps in the early 80's) from 1979 to 2005, but haven't played since.
Neighboring states with a big rivalry in basketball along with both usually being among the weaker football programs in their respective conferences make this a series that would be worth renewing.

10) Maryland vs Virginia
The Terrapins and Cavaliers were longtime conference rivals as the two most northern teams in the ACC (until expansion), they were the closest to each other and battled often for the same recruits.
A trophy was never involved between these schools and despite teams having other rivals (Maryland had various rivalries with other ACC schools, depending on who was strong during in a particular era while Virginia played Virginia Tech every year before VT joined the ACC), their conference rival was consistently each other.
The conference changes saw each add a "rival" in conference (Maryland with Penn State, who doesn't look at them as such and Virginia with Virginia Tech) and could use a non-conference rival currently.
The two will play home and home in 2023 and 2024, so maybe there is hope for reviving this rivalry.

Look for the top five sometime soon!






Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Browns blow lead,lose to Packers in OT

The Cleveland Browns entered the fourth quarter leading by fourteen points over the Green Bay Packers and seemed to be on their way to win number one of the 2017 season.
Seemed to be were the operative words as the wheels came flying with Green Bay tying the game with seconds remaining and taking advantage of Cleveland mistakes in overtime for 27-21 Green Bay victory.
DeShone Kizer threw for three touchdowns along with two interceptions and Isaiah Crowell ran for 121 yards on the ground to lead the Browns.
The now 0-13 Browns will finish their home season Sunday against Baltimore before two road games to complete the season.

Brownie Bits

1) This loss might be on Hue Jackson.
Late in the game, why on earth are the Browns with a rookie quarterback with accuracy issues throwing the football when Isaiah Crowell is running so well?
At worst, you take time off the clock and at best,you win the game!
Green Bay scored with just 26 seconds to go.
That time shouldn't have been left on the clock.

2) The play that essentially ended the game can have blame spread around.
DeShone Kizer tried to make a play to what he said was to a wide open Rashard Higgins downfield (watching the replay,he had a man on him), Hue Jackson for putting a heavy formation to put Josh Gordon in one on one coverage and putting the pressure on him, Gordon for not getting open (He might have been held) and on Shon Coleman for being unable to block Clay Matthews.
All deserve some blame.

3) Josh Gordon started the game hot with three catches for over sixty yards and a score,but was shut down thereafter.
He was likely interfered with near the goal line late in the game, but the Packers made adjustments and took him out of the game.

4) Corey Coleman did show up with a few catches and a score and still might work out as a number two receiver whenever Josh Gordon plays well,but...

5) What was with the sunglasses thing after the Gordon and Coleman touchdowns?
I know this is strange coming from a person that lives in sunglasses, but I don't play in the NFL and I don't on a then 0-12 team either.
I get that you are happy to score, but let's not get too arrogant about it...

6) More special teams issues as the punt return team allowed a 65 yard return to Austin Davis to give the Packers great field position on the drive that Green Bay needed to tie the game and send the game to overtime.
Have to be better than that.

7) DeShone Kizer did show some good points in this game and I do think he has a future in this league.
Is it as a starter? That I'm not sure of, but I will say this, the Browns didn't do him any favors at all throwing him in to this situation and hoping for the best.
If the Browns draft a quarterback high and I think they will, I hope John Dorsey will bring in a stopgap veteran to allow that player to avoid the problems that Kizer had to deal with.

8) If Isaiah Crowell was auditioning for John Dorsey and a new contract, it was a good one as his first over 100 yard game of the year saw him put his shoulder down,run hard and cut back strong.
Really liked his game vs the Pack.

9) I really liked Brett Hundley, the Green Bay emergency backup for Aaron Rodgers.
I'm not saying Hundley is a guy you can build around, but I wouldn't mind having him around as a bridge QB or even a player to continue to groom since he is still young.

10) As of today, the Browns would have two of the first five picks in the draft.
Their pick would be first and the Texans pick would be the fifth.
I'd love to see the Texans lose out!

Road to 0-16?
Baltimore 7-6
at Chicago 4-9
at Pittsburgh 11-2

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Boxing Challenge-Lomachenko Dominates Rigondeaux

Huge weekend in the boxing challenge and since I was in Pittsburgh for the Steel City Comic Con, I have yet to catch on everything as of this writing, but I did see the biggest card of the weekend from Top Rank on ESPN with the anticipated first ever meeting of two double Olympic gold medal winners as Vasyl Lomachenko defended his WBO junior lightweight title against Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Sadly, the bout didn't live up to its hype as Lomachenko dominated every round against Rigondeaux and left the reluctant Cuban to retire on his stool at the end of the sixth round with an injured hand.
Now, it is tremendously difficult to fight through a hand injury and I'm not attempting to diminish the injury at all, but it's the difference between the warrior and just a fighter and when it was time to determine what was in the tank for Rigondeaux when the rubber hit the road, he chose to quit.
No knockdowns scored and what wasn't expected to be a war, but it was even more disappointing than expected.
I'm not sure what Rigondeaux has in his future, but Lomachenko doesn't appear to have any challenges at 130 unless he wants to collect belts and even then I don't think those are true challenges,simply exercises in collecting.
Lomachenko may have to move to 135 for potential fights against Jorge Linares or Mikey Garcia to face any sort of competitive opponent.

The co-feature promising junior lightweight prospect Christopher Diaz blow out Bryant Cruz in three impressive rounds as he scored knockdowns in every round.
Diaz may not be ready for Lomachenko soon, but he might be the fighter that takes over the division when Lomachenko moves to 135.

On FS1 from the PBC on Friday, former light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal had not looked good of late and entered what he claimed to be his final fight against Ahmed Elbali, who had looked very impressive as he had worked his way through his early tests.
I thought Pascal was ripe for being the first name on Elbali's resume and early on it looked to be the case.
However, Pascal drained the gas from Elbali's tank and stopped an exhausted Elbali in the sixth round.
Let's see after such a big win if Pascal truly is able to walk away.

On HBO, a three bout card from Las Vegas saw the junior lightweights featured.
The main event saw the end of the exciting career of the only fighter to defeat Vasyl Lomachenko as Orlando Salido was stopped by Miguel Roman in the 9th round of an excellent fight.
I had Roman slightly ahead entering round nine, mainly on the basis of knockdowns scored in the fourth and eighth round before closing the show in the ninth.
Glad to see Salido go out before he gets seriously hurt and going out in a good fight instead of one in which he was badly overmatched.

We saw a Hamburglar arrival as Kenichi Ogawa won the vacant IBF title by a split decision over Tevin Farmer.
This was a robbery as I had Farmer a 117-111 winner and I fail to see how anyone could see Ogawa a winner in any way.
I would not be surprised to see the IBF mandate an immediate rematch due to the decision.

Francisco Vargas won the opener by a unanimous technical decision in the tenth round when a head butt split the ear IN HALF (YES!) of Stephen Smith in round ten..
I've been around boxing a long time-I've never seen an injury like that!
If you didn't see this and have a weak stomach, don't look this up!
I had Vargas a 97-93 winner.

Boxing challenge points
R.L: One point for Lomachenko and Roman wins
TRS:Two points for Lomachenko win/KO, One point Cruz win

Total Standings TRS leads:188-171

I'll have to watch the other three bouts on youtube later this week and I'll add them to Wednesday morning's Jeff Horn bout for that Challenge recap!
 


Friday, December 8, 2017

New Sheriff Dorsey Cuts Kenny Britt!

The Cleveland Browns announced the hiring of former Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey to the same position today and it didn't take long for Dorsey to make his presence felt in his new role as he sliced Sashi Brown's biggest failure in free agency off the roster as the Browns released Kenny Britt after just twelve unproductive games.

I plan on a larger piece on the Dorsey hire later this week, but the move to quickly dispose of the divisive Britt showed that Dorsey has been watching this team and has some thoughts on just what he has in mind in how to improve the franchise under his guidance.
Britt was a surprising sign by the Browns coming off his career year in 2016 with the Rams where he barely topped 1,000 yards and the team was rumored to have been warned about him by Gregg Williams that Britt was difficult to deal with.

Signed to a four-year deal for over thirty-two million dollars, Britt struggled with drops. knee injuries and a general lack of effort that brought to mind another Browns receiving bust of the past to mind in Dwayne Bowe.
The 29 year old finished his Cleveland career with just 18 catches for 233 yards and two touchdowns and might be best remembered for the towel that he kept over his head constantly as he sat on the bench or one might say that he threw in as far as effort goes as soon as he signed his fat contract.

I questioned the signing of Britt from the start as I wondered about giving a large contract to a player that had a track record of knee injuries, laziness,off the field problems and Britt managed to stay out of legal problems off the field, although he did miss curfew when the Browns visited Houston.
Britt's tenure proved to be a complete waste of time, which is much like the Sashi Brown tenure in a nutshell in itself.

As for John Dorsey, who I'll write more about next week, he immediately establishes that he isn't going tolerate mistakes and will be willing to cut losses no matter who they are as he attempts to use the current "in" phrase "Culture Change".
There are few places that need more change than the Cleveland Browns.
Kenny Britt was a good place to begin.




Boxing Challenge

Time is very short for me and I want to use it to write about John Dorsey being hired by the Browns at GM, so for this boxing challenge, I'm just going to go with the fights and predictions for this weekend.
I selected one fight from a PBC Friday card and a next Wednesday Fight from Australia on ESPN as well.
I lead Ramon Malpica 185-169.

Light Heavyweights. 10 Rds.
Jean Pascal vs Ahmed Elbali
Both:Elbali Unanimous Decision

WBO Junior Lightweight Title.12 Rds
Vasyl Lomachenko vs Guillermo Rigondeaux
R.L; Lomachenko Unanimous Decision
TRS: Lomachenko KO 10

Jr.Lightweights.10 Rds
Christopher Diaz vs Bryant Cruz
R.L.: Cruz Unanimous Decision
TRS: Diaz Unanimous Decision

Jr.Lightweights. 10 Rds
Orlando Salido vs Mickey Roman
R.L.: Roman Unanimous Decision
TRS: Salido Unanimous Decision

Vacant IBF Jr.Lightweight Title. 12 Rds
Tevin Farmer vs Kenichi Ogawa
R.L: Farmer KO 8
TRS: Farmer Unanimous Decision

Jr.Lightweights. 10 Rds
Francisco Vargas vs Stephen Smith
Both: Smith Unanimous Decision

Lightweights.10 Rds
Denis Shafikov vs Rene Alvarado
R.L; Alvarado Unanimous Decision
TRS: Shafikov Unanimous Decision

IBF Super Middleweight Title. 12 Rds
James DeGale vs Caleb Truax
R.L: DeGale KO 8
TRS: DeGale KO 6

IBF Featherweight Title 12 Rds
Lee Selby vs Eduardo Ramirez
R.L: Ramirez Unanimous Decision
TRS: Selby Unanimous Decision

WBO Welterweight Title. 12 Rds
Jeff Horn vs Gary Corcoran
R.L: Horn Unanimous Decision
TRS: Horn KO 8

Browns fire Sashi Brown, Keep Hue Jackson

Photo Credit: John Kuntz: Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Cleveland Browns made my Thursday but raised a few questions on a day where they could have made at least a little public relations, if not personnel advancement.
Sashi Brown was fired from his role as head of football operations, but Hue Jackson will return as head coach for the 2018 season.

Hue Jackson's hiring was applauded by me, but he has been a disappointment in Cleveland.
Odd play calls,strange personnel decisions, and awful clock management have marked Jackson's two years.
I can understand giving Jackson another year since his roster has been so weak, but his performance has been so bad, I could see firing him as well.
Jackson will likely have a short leash in 2018.

The firing of Sashi Brown was one that I strongly agree with.
Brown was never qualified to run a football personnel department and the various maneuvering that has resulted in just one win in two years can mostly be laid at his feet.
Brown's rigid decision to stick to a plan even when given opportunities to keep players outside his box (notably Mitchell Schwartz and Terrelle Pryor) in free agency, signings of players such as Kenny Britt to large guaranteed contracts and his questionable use of numbers to evaluate college talent sent the Browns careening deeper down a hole that was deep to start with.

I was not in favor of Sashi Brown being hired from day one and not because I was against his plan.
Teams in all sports have executed plans that saw teams tear franchises down to the floorboards and attempt to build them back up and Brown shouldn't be ridiculed for that.
What he should be was for the lack of talent that he selected to make his plan work.
Other Browns regimes have mastered the trade down method as they attempted to emulate the building plans of the New England Patriots among so many, but Brown took it to an extreme, passing on elite level talent in order to select quantities of mid-level talent.
Many Browns slaughter Brown for the trades that saw the team bypass Carson Wentz in 2016 and DeShaun Watson in 2017 and rightfully so, but there are other mistakes that show the limitations of Brown's evaluation of talent.
The Browns had tons of cap space and yes, Joe Haden and Demario Davis were overpaid for their production, but both would have helped this team and to give them away (Haden released, Davis traded for Calvin Pryor, who eventually was released) for nothing when the team could have afforded them was nonsensical.

I generally don't destroy teams for passing one guy for another, mainly because positional need does come into play and if you need a cornerback, it's hard to criticize years later for not taking a tackle, but the exception to that rule is when you miss on a player that turns out to be a star at a position that you chose another player over that player.
An example of this was when Brown's front office selected in the first round, wide receiver Baylor's Corey Coleman, who has struggled with drops and staying healthy over Ohio State's Michael Thomas, who has become a star in his two years in New Orleans after the Saints being a second-round selection.
That isn't excusable because that comes down to talent evaluation and that is where the vaunted 'analytics' came up short.
It wasn't the battle plan, it was the generals executing that battle plan.
Brown's defenders claim that his drafts were so strong because so many players are on the team, but keep in mind they are a one win in a two-year team.
Only Emanuel Ogbah and Joe Schobert have shown anything more than average production from the 2016 draft and the 2017 draft has been better with Myles Garrett and the rare trade up for David Njoku, but even then the overdrafting of the tweener Jabrill Peppers has been a miss thus far and missing on Desmond King in favor of Howard Wilson (Injured in camp, to be fair) loomed large in the 2017 draft.

In the end, Sashi Brown seemed to be a nice guy that was simply miscast in a job that he was unsuited for and never should have been hired for to begin with.
I'm not sure who I blame more- Brown for wanting the job or Jimmy Haslam for thinking Brown was the right man for the job.

Back later with the boxing challenge and some words on the man that will be replacing Sashi Brown in charge of football operations for the Browns.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

PPM

Editor's Note: I will have a detailed post tonight on the Browns firing of Sashi Brown from his personnel role.
This was prepared early, so look for that tonight or early tomorrow morning!.

The PPM comes out early this week with the Saints playing on Thursday night and with just one college game this weekend.

Since the schedule is light, I'll be adding a third NFL game until the bowls start.

Last Week: 10-3
Overall: 114-51

College
Army over Navy 23-20

NFL
Packers over Browns 16-13
Saints over Falcons 30-27

Games of the week
Rams over Eagles 27-20
Jaguars over Seahawks 23-20
Steelers over Ravens 20-17

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

David Cassidy

I have been meaning to work on this post since the news broke, but better late than never, I suppose as I write about David Cassidy's recent passing.

David Cassidy's most torrid portion of teen idol worship was a little before my time.
I was in pre-school in the years of 1970-73, but I do remember watching the Partridge Family in the years as part of ABC's Friday night block with the Brady Bunch until both shows were canceled in 1974.
In my elementary school childhood, David's younger half-brother Shaun was a much bigger teen star than David was, due to the Hardy Boys tv show and the singing (I use that word loosely) of "Da Doo Ron Ron" while David was the much better singer.

The Partridge Family's music was a bit "bubblegummy", but it was solid music that stands up well today and despite Cassidy's less than enthusiastic feelings towards the music during the show and for a while after.Cassidy came to terms with what was pretty solid music, if not socially meaningful or music with a hard edge, but yet made fans of his and the show pretty happy (get the pun there?)
Some of their songs still are recognized by people that were either not around or fans of the show.
I think a lot of Cassidy's problems with the show/audience/fame etc came from the fact that he was really just too old to play the role of a teenager.
When The Partridge Family hit the airwaves in 1970, Cassidy was 20 years old playing the role of someone 15/16.
When the show ended, Cassidy was 24 playing the role of a high school senior/college freshman and I'm sure that's not always easy on the psyche'.
Hollywood does this all the time and I'm not sure why that it is because if the show becomes a success and it becomes a multiple year program, the actor's age always catches up to them.
That alone might have been a huge problem being 23 and having 13 yr old girls screaming "Keith" at you everywhere you went!

Cassidy tried to do other things after Partridge Family to varying degrees of success, but to a certain degree was going to be thought of by his fan base that had grown older and moved on as "Keith Partridge."
I imagine that has to be hard for someone that is remembered as someone else, a someone that becomes even more distant as days go by.
I was a fan of the sitcom and I was amazed when I picked the first season of the show out at a Ohio Wal-Mart to give us something to watch at our hotel (I know it wasn't THAT long ago but was still before the streaming option) and Rachel hooked onto the Partridge Family so quickly-to the point of being crazy about it and ranking it as her favorite show of all time!
I liked it, but I didn't like it THAT much!
Still, I've always thought it was really cool that she cared about it that much and made it that much meaningful when I was able to take her to meet Shirley Jones earlier this year.

David Cassidy might have felt that his teen idol/Partridge Family run was a time wasted to a certain degree, but there are a whole bunch of people in their early to mid 50's now (children of the 70's) that think far differently about his time in the spotlight.
Not a bad way to be thought of.

Monday, December 4, 2017

I'm OK with the decision vs not OK with it

A few words on the decision by the college football committee.

I understood both sides of the decision and wouldn't have been furious either way.
Ohio State didn't want to lean on the importance of conference titles last year when Penn State won the Big 10 and now they do.
Cannot have it both ways Buckeye fans.

On the other hand, Alabama hasn't exactly solidified their case either when Nick Saban said last season "You should have to win your conference".
Cannot have it both ways Tide fans.

Here's my take: the committee changes the unofficial requirements to enter the tourney every year to fit their own narrative.
Last year, that worked for Ohio State, this year it worked against them, but neither case featured a consistent and cogent manner of deciding who should have gotten the spot by a defined set of guidelines.
This isn't from an OSU perspective, maybe if they hadn't given up 55 points to a team that lost in the same stadium two weeks later to Purdue, none of this would have mattered, but still one year conference titles matter, the next they don't, one year a tough non-conference game or two matters, the next wins over Mercer matters more.
It's just not consistent.,

Speaking of consistency, when is someone going to stand up against the SEC and their playing eight conference games rather than nine so they can play the Mercer's of the world later in the season.
The other four conferences are playing nine and are being penalized for improved scheduling rather than cash grabs.
Yesterday's decision will not be an immediate change, but it could change how teams schedule non-conference matchups.
The Big 10 has almost mandated that their teams not play 1-AA teams (which was why Youngstown State disappeared off the OSU schedule in 2015 after being scheduled to be the Buckeye opener) in order to boost the strength of schedule.
I'm actually not against 1-AA teams, but they need to be played in the first three weeks of the season and only once.
SEC teams since they play four non-con's can play one good team and then two or three teams from group of five or I-AA,so if it comes down to wins and losses-the SEC has a significant advantage.

I think that there are far too many persons of influence on the committee (Full Disclosure Ohio State's AD Gene Smith is on the committee) and too many people involved even with the standard recusal when your school comes up.
My solution? No one on the committee that draws a check from a school, conference or television network.
We can come up with a strong committee of former players, coaches, athletic directors and yes media members that have no dog in this fight to come up with a fair decision to avoid all conflicts.
To me, this makes sense and eliminates any questions of conflict of interest.

Do I think the committee made a mistake here?
No, and I would have said the same had Ohio State gotten in.
Both sides had very credible arguments and I'm sure not going complain now, although Nick Saban was far from gracious in taking shots at Ohio State before the decision (I get that, part of campaigning) and after (Was less than sportsmanlike after his team won the final berth) were less than needed.
I'm more than fine with Alabama.
Honestly, I think they are a little better than Ohio State (especially with J.T. Barrett at quarterback) and should make a better show vs Clemson, but there is plenty wrong with this process and there needs to be some repair.

I don't think this is a totally bad thing for one reason-the road to eight teams, which is the correct number, began yesterday with the inclusion of the second SEC team.
The road starts now...

Lightning doesn't strike twice-Chargers beat Browns 19-10

Photo Credit:Cleveland Plain Dealer
Lightning didn't strike twice as the only team that the 2016 Cleveland Browns defeated made sure that they weren't the 2017 victim as the Los Angeles (Nee' San Diego) Chargers struggled to a 19-10 win over the Cleveland Browns in Carson, California.
DeShone Kizer hit David Njoku with a 28 yard pass two minutes before the end of the first half for the only Browns touchdown that gave the Browns the lead for most of those two minutes before former Brown Travis Coons gave the Chargers a 9-7 halftime lead with a 22 yard field goal on the final play of the first half.
The now 0-12 Browns host Green Bay next Sunday in the Packers final game with Brett Hundley at quarterback before the return of Aaron Rodgers.

Brownie Bits

1) The return of Josh Gordon was somewhat of a mixed success.
Gordon did not miss a beat with his speed and athleticism and he looked really good with four catches for eighty yards with one sure to be touchdown overthrown by DeShone Kizer.
All and all, a excellent first game back.

2) Considering all of that, I thought either the play calling or DeShone Kizer locked in too much on Gordon (eleven targets) much like Brian Hoyer did during the last Gordon return.
I get that he is a number one receiver, but the Browns still need to move the ball around and not lock on Gordon.

3) There may be one more question to wonder about is it possible that the Browns could try to feature Gordon as much as possible in order to build his possible trade value?
That may be reading far too much into this, but I would not be surprised that should Sashi Brown be retained that Gordon might be moved for draft picks considering his past and ability.

4) I thought the Browns would be able to run the football against the worst run defense in the league and they did-by average four yards a carry.
The bad news is they only ran the ball 22 times and every time the Browns had some rhythm, they started throwing again.
Photo Credit:Cleveland Plain Dealer
It would be interesting to see what would happen if the Browns would try to run the ball and now with an elite pass catcher like Josh Gordon to open up the field what would happen with four games to go.

5) The play of the game as the Browns were driving down 19-10 on the Charger 15 with a third down,
DeShone Kizer gets stripped by Joey Bosa, fumbles-ball game.
I know I've drummed the Browns don't take Ohio State players in the draft, but this is yet another one that bites them.
I'm a big Joey Bosa fan and love the pass rush and high motor that he brings to the field and I understand the Browns not taking him after the trade down in the 2016 draft, but he's the type of disruptive presence that the Browns hope to get from Myles Garrett.

6) David Njoku finished with the Browns only touchdown and caught five passes for 74 yards.
Njoku down the seam might be the biggest beneficiary of Josh Gordon.
Njoku was drafted as a raw talent and has been erratic in his rookie season, but on occasion, you can see the athletic ability that might make him an impact tight end in this league.

7) Corey Coleman was supposed to thrive as the number two receiver with the arrival of Josh Gordon.
Instead, he disappeared as he didn't catch a pass of his four targets and disappeared from the offense with nary a whimper.

8) The defense bent but seldom broke as they only allowed one touchdown out of six Charger drives inside the Cleveland 20.
Keep in mind that this was a Charger team that scored 54 two weeks ago against Buffalo and 28 on Thanksgiving against Dallas, so this wasn't playing the 49ers.
Good all-around game for the defense.

9) The star was Joe Schobert, who finished with seven solo tackles, a forced fumble, a sack and two tackles for loss.
Schobert is rolling up big numbers for you fantasy IDP players out there and reminds me a lot of Zach Thomas, an old school tackling middle linebacker that can play in passing situations as well.

10) DeShone Kizer is running out of excuses for his problems hitting his receivers.
The accuracy problems continued with even more weapons than he has had all season.
It is the problems with accuracy that has haunted Browns quarterbacks for years and it doesn't look like Kizer is going to be the player that solves that issue.

11) The other player on the Charger defense that played well?
Desmond King, a rookie corner from Iowa that made six tackles, had a sack of Kizer among three hits of him, two tackles for loss and made plays on special teams as a kick returner with a 44 yard returner.
Longtime readers may remember how high I was on King coming out of Iowa and King was a Charger pick in round five!
The player the Browns picked ahead of King hasn't played all season due to injury (Howard Wilson of Houston, whom I also liked), so the jury is still out on that player, but King looks like another missed Brown draft pick.

12) The Chargers wore the royal blue uniforms from the Dan Fouts era, which looked OK, but they wore blue pants with them rather than the gold pants used back then.
The gold would have added a better look, I think, but no matter what they used, they wouldn't have been as good looking as the classic 60's powder blue, which is almost universally loved and the hard-headed Chargers refuse to use full time.

Remaining games in the chase to a win
Green Bay 6-6
Baltimore 7-5
at Chicago 3-9
at Pittsburgh 9-2 (plays tonight)