Friday, March 31, 2017

Boxing Challenge-YouTube Style

The boxing challenge is only one fight,you won't find it on American television and you'll have to hope to find it on YouTube,if you want to see it.

However,if you go to the effort,I have a feeling that it might be worth the time as the vacant WBC cruiserweight title is on the table as hard punching Latvian Mairis Briedis faces off against former WBO champion Marco Huck,who defended that belt 13 times before losing in a terrific fight to Krzystof Glowacki in eleven brutal rounds in August 2015.
Huck has won two fights since the loss to Glowacki,while Briedis has looked terrific against lower level competition,so this should be an exciting fight from Dortmund,Germany.
The belt was vacated when Tony Bellew moved to heavyweight for his upset win over David Haye and Bellew's injuries kept him from returning to the division.
Bellew was named "Champion Emeritus",which means if he ever wants a shot at this title,he moves straight to the front of the line.

The cruiserweight division suddenly looks very strong at the top with the winner of this fight being either a long time standard of the division or an undefeated puncher as WBC champ and two exciting undefeated champs in IBF titlist Murat Gassiev and WBO champ Olesander Usyk as well.
If the fights can be made,there are quite a few top notch bouts that can be made in the often moribund cruiserweight division.

I lead Ramon Malpica in the boxing challenge 31-29

R.L:Briedis KO 7
TRS:Briedis KO 11

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Slam that Door!

My long nightmare is over as Verizon is now history and thus far I'm very pleased!

Just wanted to let everyone know that I'm up and running and trying to bring things back to normal!

Thanks to the well wishers for the 10th anniversary yesterday and I hope to have more content now that it is easier to do from home!!

Back later tonight!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Happy Anniversary! We are 10!!

Ten years.
That's a long time to do anything,let alone something like this.

Ten years ago,I took a idea (with this great start) from the lovely Cherie to write down my travels in baseball and over the years,TRS has ebbed and flowed from different topics and different styles.

We went from daily coverage of teams to general thoughts on personnel.
Some things have come and gone.
Some teams (Seahawks) have come and gone and some teams have arrived (S.F.Giants) and yet others have stood the test of being here for every year (Indians,Pirates,Browns,Devils,Cavaliers and Buckeyes).

Outside of husband and father,this project has been a part of my life longer than anything that I have ever done.Work does not count as things that I want as part of my life-HA HA.

I like to think that reading through the years,that I don't write all about sports,but if you sift through,you could get to know me pretty well and that's part of the process too.
Leaving something behind that says I was here.

It's been a great 10 years,so I'd like to thank a few people.
Let's start with the people that take care of me most-the lovely Cherie and Rachel.
Without them,much of the stuff that I write about doesn't happen.

Ryan was a much larger part of the blog in the past,but some of the stories through the years are often associated with his adventures with me.
Battlin' Bob was around a lot more earlier in the blog's run,but I'm still in touch with Bob a lot,even if we don't see each other as much,
Bob has always given the blog "pub" and I only wish he updated his "Grumblings and Rumblings" more.
It was always a hilarious read and it's missed.

To our two best supporters-Big Don and Fred Landucci.
Don has been our longest booster and his friendship has been appreciated and for Fred,geez what can I say about the blog/podcast/Fightheads biggest booster.
Fred always makes me feel like my work makes his day better and his kindness and support is beyond what anyone can expect.

To my friends (which Fred is one) that give me so much fun on various trips that make the blog and the road trip posts so easy to go on and so easy to write about-Derreck Chupak,Bill Cover,Doug Hopkins,Mike (Miguelito Loveless) Landucci and Kendall Morris.
Those trips are why I work like a maniac in the winter to enjoy those in the summer.
Thanks to all of you for the fun and friendship-anymore with you gentlemen,it's more about the fun than any autographs that we get.

And then there is Denise Nicarry,who treats me like the little brother she never had and gives me the big sister I never had-I like to think we each filled a void like there.
I even get to be the bratty little brother for the first time in my life!
One more thank you to Ramon Malpica,who puts in so much work on FightHeads and allows me to participate in his show.
Fightheads is so much fun to do and I've so enjoyed the experience!

Thanks to all the guests that have appeared here for interviews on the blog and podcast and most of all-thanks to anyone that has read this over ten years.
If I've forgotten anyone,I am so sorry.
Thanks to Verizon,what should have taken a small amount of time has taken five times that.
If I missed you,I apologize.

It's all wrapped up in a ten year ball that is in its own little time capsule and there for me or anyone else to review.
I've enjoyed it all and thanks to all of you...

Live long and Prosper.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Cleaning out the Inbox-Non-Sports Edition

Time to clean the inbox again and this time,I've piled up enough to do a non-sports edition....

Lots of old school television and to a lesser extent films were thought to be lost,but as we've seen often in the age of YouTube,it only takes one person to uncover what was presumed lost.

A case of this happening was the release of two episodes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood not seen since their original showing in 1983.
The Cold War episodes storyline had the neighboring towns in the land of make believe going through a military buildup and was used to teach children about how to avoid conflict.
Those episodes never hit syndication because they were dated,but the Daily Beast article wonders if there was more behind the release than just rare old television tapes.
Their take offers an explanation that someone perhaps wanted to make people think about the current situation between the United States and Russia.
No matter the answer,the videos (they were on the page of the articles) have apparently been taken down....

More news as the Bay City Rollers have apparently ended their reunion with a near fistfight during a live television interview.
The group will finish their remaining tour dates and then they appear to be finished.
Long time readers might remember me writing a small post that Rollers fans moved to one of the higher hit articles that we had to that point....

13th Dimension.com writes about the end of the Batman 66 comic book series.
The series (which if I was buying new comics,I would have been all over) told stories with the art of the Batman TV series with the goofy villains,many of which were never in the comics before or after the show.
The run lasted thirty issues with some other mini-series with other shows from the 1960's.
As campy as it could have been,a Wild Wild West-Batman 66 would have been a mini-run that I would have been very interested in and I still wouldn't mind getting the issue with the first ever comic appearance of "Shame",who was played by Cliff Robertson in the TV show.

Ever try to duplicate sauces that are served in restaurants at home?
Some attempts are better than others and more and more chains are getting their sauces into stores.
Doug Hopkins helps me get Quaker Steak and Lube's Golden Garlic and Arizona Ranch as one example of these,but McDonald's had yet to try to get their sauces to the masses.
Until now as the fast food king is selling their Big Mac,McChicken and Fish sauces currently in stores-the kicker is that it is not here in the United States!
McDonald's is selling them in Canada as the Comeback writes .
No word on an eventual turnout in the States,but if they sell-bet on it...

A group called PTScientists are planning on landing on the moon in 2018.
It won't be them landing,but the plan is for the team to land two rovers on the moon and hit the surface roughly two miles away from the rover used for Apollo 17,which never left the lunar surface.
There are groups that are working towards next year as well as the race to be the first private entity to land on the moon continues.

We wrap with the Washingtonian's look at CNN"s conservative commentator,Mary Katherine Ham.
The article looks at Ham's rise through the last decade as pundit,but also discusses her life as a single mother with two children after the death of her husband in 2015 in a bicycle accident.
It's an honest and open look at Ham and was pretty non-partisan in its writing.

Most of you know that I'm pretty moderate politically and I'm not afraid to side with either party depending on the issue.
I like people of both sides that are able to accept mistakes by their party and are honest about shortcomings-we don't have enough of those types of media members right now.
CNN has a few shining stars that are able to do that in Ham,Margaret Hoover,John Avlon and John Berman,but all too often,those reasonable people are overshadowed by the agenda-driven folks such
Chris Cuomo (who's really bad because he's supposed to be a host,not an analyst) and Bakari Sellers on the left with Kayleigh McEnany (By FAR the worst offender of this) and Jeffrey Lord on the right.
Cherie and I have always wished that C-SPAN would jump into the news business with a nightly newscast-of a Joe Fridayesque "Just the Facts,Ma'am"...

The sports inbox is filling up,so I'll dump that soon-assuming Verizon allows that.
Listen to me on Fightheads,if you are interested-I have plenty to say..


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Terry Gannon and Wolfpack Hoops

Tough day watching Xavier fall short of the Final Four with a 83-59 loss to Gonzaga in the Western Regional final.
It was the end of a surprising run for the battered Musketeers,but one can only think of the possibilities had Edmund Sumner not been injured....

The tournament often brings me back to those days as the hardest core basketball fan that I knew and some of the players and teams that I loved so dearly.

I was always a Maryland fan (until they left for Big 10 with my interest waning) and I've written before of those years (70's and 80's) rooting for Memphis State (Keith Lee years) and UNLV (lots of late night watching on school nights on ESPN) being the top notch team of the small conferences (think like a really flashy Gonzaga),but one team was the team that I rooted for most other than against Maryland-the North Carolina State Wolfpack.

Many forget that that there was a time that Dean Smith and his North Carolina powerhouse weren't even in the top two teams in the league and the only time window that Lefty Driesell's Terrapins could consistently defeat Carolina,the Terps could not get by Norm Sloan and the Wolfpack.
Those Pack teams were looked at as the team to beat,so I didn't really start rooting for them until a few years later when the Tar Heels had returned to assert their presence as the leagues titan.
Then it was because of one player that I liked at the end of the Sloan years-Charles "Hawkeye" Whitney (hmmm,perhaps a future Forgotten Superstar?), a 6-4 forward that reminded me size wise of Charles Barkley,who was a better college offensive player than Barkley,but not better off the glass.
Whitney had the appearance of a player that would appeal to kids and he came out of DeMatha high,which was the place for high school stars in the Washington D.C. area.

I liked Whitney and he moved State up my list,but the real appeal was the arrival of Jim Valvano from Iona.
Valvano was fun to watch,quick with the quip and I instantly was a fan.
I liked his teams and rooted hard for them (except against Maryland) and the 1983 national title team that is so fondly remembered was one that I followed from beginning to end of their stunning drive.
I have almost every game of their tournament run (I think I'm missing one or two games) on DVD and I watch them more than any college game (non-Terrapin) in my collection.
The best players on those teams were future pro (and noted singer from the Roy Firestone Sports Look show) Thurl Bailey,point guard Sidney Lowe and shooting guard Derreck Whittenburg,but my favorite was one that I could relate to.

Terry Gannon was a shooting guard that came off the bench and entered N.C.State when I was in eighth grade.
Gannon shot the ball well from long range was often used as instant offense with a sweet jumper.
Gannon instantly became my favorite Wolfpack player and I loved seeing him on the 30 for 30 featuring Valvano and the 1983 Wolfpack recalling a rare attempt at defense as he took a charge against a flying Clyde Drexler in the NCAA finals.
With Gannon's shooting range and top notch free throw shooting,he reminded you of Mark Price of Georgia Tech (later of the Cavaliers) without the playmaking ability of Price.
Gannon's game was one that you could approximate playing in games and feel like you could somewhat play like him.
I sure wasn't going to be flying high with dunks and alley-oops,but firing away from the outside-every once in a while,I could feel like a player.
Part of the fun being an ACC fan was being to imitate some of the shooting forms.
To this day,I'll shoot around with Adrian Branch's side-saddle lean-in jumper (I remember Branch's shot to beat #1 Virginia better than I remember a game I saw yesterday!).
Gannon's shot was more of a straight up and follow through jumper that I liked to use,but there was one guy on Wake Forest that was a forward that had an unusual little tic when he shot that I liked.
His name was Alvis Rogers and he would catch the ball and roll his wrists in a circle just before releasing the ball.
My Rogers-like shot was not exactly on the money very often and I was amazed that he made as many shots as he did!

When Jim Valvano left the school and a few years later when Hagerstown's Rodney Monroe was finished with his career at State,I lost interest.
The teams weren't as good,the style of play was slow,the old tartan floor was covered-it wasn't the same.
It never has been at State since then,State was always much better than Duke growing up,but Duke blew past the Pack like they were standing still.
N.C.State is still a sleeping giant waiting to be raised out of slumber with the right coach and who knows how Duke will adapt when Coach K. finally retires?
Duke is a tougher place to win than one thinks and it doesn't take long to slide as State found out.

As for Terry Gannon,I still see him during the course of the year as he is the voice of the LPGA,which I watch quite often, on the Golf Channel.
(I still need to do that promised piece on the LPGA,although there is an old archived podcast on it)
Gannon has done other sports over the years since leaving State and a brief pro career in Europe and he's really solid.
You always have a special place for the players that you root for when young,Terry Gannon is one of those players among others and I just talked to my dad today about this weekend's games and I asked him about him remembering me practicing shooting in the backyard and the abandoned schoolyard all the time.
His response was more than I expected- "Yes,I remember trying to get you to shoot like you instead of that white guy from N.C.State and the other guy that had the funny thing that he did with his hands".
That's about a thousand times more memory than I thought Dad had on a topic like this and makes me again think about what sports can do-give people with limited things in common something to connect with.

I'll be back later with a cleaning out the inbox with a non-sports edition.



Linares outclasses Crolla-Boxing Challenge

Their first fight might have been close and exciting,but the rematch in Manchester,England between Jorge Linares and Anthony Crolla was a lopsided affair that saw Linares retain the WBA lightweight title via unanimous decision.

Linares chose to use his speed and threw beautiful combinations to not allow Crolla to get any type of offense going and looked as good as one can look in a championship fight,especially in the challengers backyard.
Give Crolla lots of credit for hanging in there all evening and taking quite a pounding.
Crolla could have easily packed it in after being felled by a Linares uppercut in the seventh round,but rose and even had a few moments after that,but never threatened Linares in any fashion.
All three judges scored the bout as I did 118-109 (10-2 in rounds plus the knockdown) for the champion.

The Linares victory looks to have cemented a summer showdown with WBC champion Mikey Garcia in what should be an excellent fight between two of the best offensive fighters in the sport that have both won titles in three different divisions.
Both fighters would enter such a bout with questions.
Linares has been stopped in all three of his losses and has shown a tendency to cut while Garcia has steamrolled through his competition,but despite dominating,he was dropped by Roman Martinez and staggered badly by Juan Carlos Burgos.
I've also wondered about Garcia's desire in the sport and have questions about how he may respond when he is challenged by a fighter that can approach his skill level.

There are some promotional issues as Linares fights for Golden Boy with Garcia being represented by Golden Boy's sworn enemy in former GBP chairman Richard Schaefer and his new Ringstar Promotions,so this fight won't be easy to make,but with the WBC mandating Garcia to defend against Linares next (Linares was the WBC champ before becoming the "champion in recess" due to injuries)
that should help the fight get signed.
It's one of the best matchups in the game and the winner will clearly be the best at 135 pounds.

Ramon Malpica each picked Linares by unanimous decision,so we each added two points to move the total to 31-29 in my favor.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge features just one fight this weekend as an exciting rematch in the UK not only will provide action,but no matter the winner,the winner has some excellent prospects for their next fight or two.

The WBA lightweight title that Jorge Linares won from Anthony Crolla is on the line as the main bauble,but the winner will be the mandatory challenger for WBC champion Mikey Garcia in what would not only be a unification fight,but a victory would send the winner up the charts in both the mythical pound for pound ratings and recognition as the best lightweight in the world.

Jorge Linares was the WBC champion before injuries forced him to become the WBC's "Champion in Recess",which in basic terms,allows the WBC to crown a new champion,but gives Linares the right to fight for the WBC belt when he wishes.
Anthony Crolla would be obligated to fight Garcia with a victory over Linares,but has a bigger fight (in local stature,if not worldwide) on tap in the UK against WBO beltholder Terry Flanagan (should Flanagan retain his title in two weeks against Petr Petrov) for a sizable paycheck.
Both fighters have a come forward action style and both tend to bust up facially,so this fight should be a good one at 6;30 Saturday night on Showtime...

Ramon Malpica and I both like Linares to repeat his close,but unanimous decision win in the boxing challenge,which I lead 29-27 to date.
Linares just is a little more versatile in his skill set and that little difference will give him the edge.


Power of X and the Mid-Majors...

I planned on hitting the Forgotten Superstars circuit,but the Xavier Musketeers upset roll continues as the Muskies surprised second seed Arizona 73-71 in the West region semi-final.
Xavier will play Gonzaga (another favorite) Saturday for the right to go to the final four.

I'm not going to do a recap (although I'm considering one for the Saturday game vs Gonzaga),but it did make me want to write about college basketball.
I don't watch as much as I used to,likely not half as much as I used to.
I would guess that with the exception of the conference tournaments and the NCAA ,I didn't watch more than a snippet from any teams games this season except for two-Ohio State and Xavier.

Ryan had encouraged me to watch more Big 10 basketball while we were on our trip to the Big 10 football championship and I decided to so.
Ohio State was disappointing on many fronts in this season (The Buckeyes didn't even merit an invite to the NIT),but Xavier was playing well-that was until the injury to Edmund Sumner in a late January game that I was watching against St.John's.
The loss of Sumner,who was the team second leading scorer was a huge one and it sent the Musketeers spiraling to the point that some said that a season finale win against lowly DePaul after a five game losing streak before hand was needed to have a chance at an NCAA bid.
After that win,a Big East tourney run would be helpful and Xavier beat DePaul again and then Butler before a three point loss to Creighton in the semis sealed the bid.

I've been watching their wins over Maryland and Florida State,but I figured Arizona would be the end of the line.
Xavier has notched several Sweet Sixteen seasons,but only two times in the Elite Eight,so I figured the loss of Sumner would be glaring in this one.
I watched the first half as I sat at the road office flipping between boxing on ESPN2 and then when that was over,I was able to watch the remainder of the game...

I became an Xavier fan long ago,through three conferences (MCC,Atlantic 10 and Big East) and several head coaches that fed the monster with the wins,enabled the program to dominate and be an attractive program to conferences looking to fill an opening.
Of all of them,my favorite coach was the late Skip Prosser,who I followed to Wake Forest and rooted for his Demon Deacons until his passing,but all of them were successful,even if I liked some and others not so much.
I liked Pete Gillen,who really got the program on its way, a lot and I didn't really care for Thad Matta,who of course would wind up at Ohio State,but I didn't mind Sean Miller and I'm more than pleased with current coach Chris Mack,who is in the running for the open job at Indiana right now.

The sad part for me is Xavier having to play Gonzaga,who I also pull for often.
The Zags are similar to Xavier having battled their way through the ranks,having power conference teams refuse to play them and yet built a powerhouse program of their own.
The good thing is that either team will give me someone to cheer for in the final four,though obviously I'd prefer Xavier.

I've also rooted for Wichita State through the years as a mid-major.
I remember their big run when I was a teenager when they had eventual NBA players Antoine Carr and Cliff Levingston and I always liked their quirky mascot along with their colors,but when they hired Gregg Marshall is when I added them to my mid-major follows.
I'm a big Marshall fan and if I was doing the hiring at N.C.State,I would have went all out to hire Marshall as the latest Wolfpack coach (State hired Kevin Keatts from UNC Wilmington) and counted on him to return State to prominence.
Wichita State is following the Xavier template of moving up the conference ladder to improve their schedule as they are reported to be soon to be joining the American Conference and leaving the Missouri Valley in order to upgrade.

The final mid-major that I pull for in basketball is all about the coach as I've started following the Nevada Wolfpack since Eric Musselman became their head coach.
I've always been a fan of Eric and his late father Bill with their Ashland connection from when I lived there and Eric Musselman moved the Wolfpack from nine wins in the year before he left to 18 in his first season to 28 wins,a Mountain West title and NCAA berth in his second season.
Musselman was mentioned as a candidate at Cal when Cuonzo Martin left to take the Missouri coaching job,but withdrew his name after the interview process.
Barring Musselman taking a job at a school that I really dislike,I'll be following his teams for a while.

Mid-Major basketball is more fun to me than the bigger colleges.
The players usually stay for four seasons,you get to know them and it's easier to buy in than for the one and done factories like Kentucky,Duke,etc.
I'm still a Buckeye fan and have soft spots for Maryland,N.C.State and Wake Forest,but I'll stick with the mentioned teams-it's just more fun to root for schools that put basketball first!


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Educating the Uneducated

Before I begin,I apologize for the recent absence and another one next week.
The battle for decent internet continues with Verizon and usually I lose that fight,but there is hope on the horizon (which rhymes with Verizon)-I'll have a new provider on March 30th.
That doesn't change issues until then,but that light at the end of the tunnel is now there!
I'm going to write a post on my three weeks with Verizon when all of this is over,I hope you'll laugh a little with me then!

The net was a little better on my lame duck connection with Verizon today and I read one of the most ridiculous boxing articles that I have ever read.
I'm not linking to it as giving the author (Branson Wright of the Cleveland Plain Dealer) any credence,although you can find it on Cleveland.com,but in short-I was blocked on Twitter by this guy for educating him.

I'm a fan of Gennady Golovkin.
I'm a fan of a lot of fighters,but every fighter has flaws and if you fight long enough,every fighter gets beaten.
This gentleman thinks Daniel Jacobs deserved the decision against Golovkin,I disagree,but there are a few others that I've read that agree with him,although far more feel Golovkin won a close but clear decision.
Daniel Jacobs far exceeded my expectations and deserves a rematch,although that should come down the road and not immediate-the fight wasn't THAT close.
What Jacobs should do is stay busy,notch a KO win or two and make people really want a rematch instead of sitting on his laurels for a year,which Jacobs has done in the past as far as inactivity goes.

Mr.Wright decided to denigrate Golovkin (and later Canelo Alvarez) for not fighting better fighters and in the case of Golovkin offered FIVE fighters(Andre Ward,Erislandy Lara,Jermall Charlo,Chris Eubank Jr and Andy Lee)  that he should have fought,but didn't.
I called him out on such an awful premise and noted the following facts.
Of the five fighters that GGG supposedly wanted no part of-Three have never fought at his division (Andre Ward fought at 168 and 175 during Golovkin's reign,Erislandy Lara is at 154 and Jermall Charlo recently moved to 160,but has yet to fight at that weight),one dodged a Golovkin bout (Chris Eubank Jr) and the final one (Andy Lee) had signed for the fight,but Golovkin's father passed away and the fight was postponed.
Since the postponement,Lee won and lost the WBO title and took 15 months off before returning on the GGG-Jacobs undercard.
Putting the weight issues aside and the massive promotional issues involved (Lara and Charlo are PBC fighters with Ward's Roc Nation being notoriously difficult to negotiate with) and you have a result of why none of those fighters,with the exception of Lee would be a fight that had a mild chance of happening.

Wright lamely offered that "Have you ever heard of catchweight fights".
Catchweights are awful and hurt boxing,so it doesn't stun me that the ill-informed Wright would like them and said GGG "Could have fought Ward there" or dropped to fight Lara or Charlo.
Doesn't take more than a minute to see that the dull Lara and the somewhat unproven Charlo (I was very impressed with his final win at 154 vs Julian Williams) bring little money or fan interest to make a catchweight worth pursuing and Ward was more interested in Sergei Kovalev than Golovkin,but why ruin a good fantasy?
The followup for the beaten Wright was criticizing Golovkin for fighting welterweight Kell Brook rather than his list.
I can see why people wondered about Brook,but two things to note.
One) Brook took the exact same contract for a GGG fight as was offered Chris Eubank Jr-first.
Eddie Hearn promotes both fighters and has nothing to gain from a lie and has said just that-"Brook took the same contract offered to Eubank".
Two) Brook moved to GGG's division to take his shot at him-no catchweights.

So what was Wright's response to facts?
He blocked me.
I didn't name call,didn't curse,just hit him where it hurt most-his lack of knowledge about the product.
In order to have his lack of knowledge kept under wraps to his followers-he blocked me.
Consider it a mercy stoppage,similar to a boxer beaten around the ring all night until the referee steps in and says he's had enough.

Branson Wright was educated and he needed to be-I've always said that news outlets (print and visual) have always looked at boxing and horse racing as the two sports that "anyone can cover".
The results in these cases are usually bad as said person looks totally uninformed on what they are supposed to knowledgeable in covering.
Now,that assignment may not have been their choice,but they inevitably wind up looking poorly to the fans of what they are covering.
It doesn't take long to show lack of knowledge,if I did a call-in show on Monday,but instead of sitting in on FightHeads,I sat in on a podcast that discussed soccer.
I'd be overmatched and within five minutes,my lack of knowledge would be apparent.

It may seem like I'm wasting my time with Branson Wright,but I educated him.whether he admits it or not.
Be fair to the topic you are writing about-learn the topic or stick to the results,those cannot be argued-Ridiculous and uneducated opinions only make the writer look foolish....

Monday, March 20, 2017

Cleaning out the inbox

Time to clean the inbox and we start with the new logo and colors for the Frontier League (Independent) Lake Erie Crushers.
The Crushers have decided to honor the "Grape and Wine industry" in Ohio with the color and logo change.
It's very similar to the old Jamestown Jammers logo before the New York/Penn league team moved to Morgantown West Virginia with the grape being so prominent,although the Crushers logo is a much "friendlier" grape than the snarling Jammers version.
I kinda like it and even though I don't count independent stadiums on my "passport",I wouldn't be against a trip to Avon for the Crushers and of course,a hat....

I've written before about my fandom of the NBC late night legend-Late Night with David Letterman,but I stumbled upon a 2015 (around the time that Dave was wrapping up his CBS show) interview with Merrill Markoe from Dangerous Minds.
Markoe was involved in the original show as head writer,producer and other jobs involving the show during her run there and her involvement was a large part of the success of the show,
It's a really interesting look at the history and behind the scenes of a groundbreaking program with someone that had a vital role in what the program became.

An old (almost a week) Browns note saw the Browns use a waiver claim on James Wright,a wide receiver from the Bengals.
Wright spent three years in Cincinnati as mostly a special teams player,but Hue Jackson has to be familiar with him and might be the same special teams player in Cleveland.
The former LSU Tiger caught 13 passes for 106 yards last season in Cincinnati and made eleven tackles on special teams.

The Comeback writes of the return from almost oblivion of New Orleans basketball,who made the NCAA tourney as the Southland champions,but lost a close game in the play-in round to Mount St.Mary's.
The charter member of the Sun Belt conference was ready to drop to Division III (yes,the non-scholarship level) as a result of the financial damage done to the state of Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and there was a drastic decrease in dollars for the school.
The Privateers managed to stay afloat and stay in division one (they don't play football at UNO) for basketball and joined the Southland conference.
It's a nice story,even with the loss to the Mount...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Golovkin decisions Jacobs-Boxing Challenge

Three fights from Madison Square Garden for the boxing challenge saw Ramon Malpica and I each score three points on the evening and I maintained my two point lead at 29-27.

The main event saw Gennady Golovkin score a unanimous decision over Daniel Jacobs to retain his WBA,WBC and IBF middleweight titles.
Golovkin knocked Jacobs down in the fourth round,but seemed to have Jacobs in far more trouble in the ninth round before time ran out in the stanza.
I had Golovkin winning 116-112 (7-4-1 in rounds with Jacobs losing a point for the knockdown),which seems to be a little wider margin than most and even a few thinking Jacobs had won.
Give Jacobs lots of credit for a determined effort and fought far better than I had expected,but his unprofessional behavior in skipping the IBF mandatory weigh-in on the day (had Jacobs won,the IBF belt would be vacant) in order to blow up to the light heavyweight,if not cruiserweight division by the start of the fight shows that weigh-in formulas still need to be tweaked in order not to be taken advantage of.
Golovkin looked vulnerable in the eyes of some and people are looking at his age (35) as a likely factor,but I see another factor-activity.
Golovkin has been a fighter that has thrived on fighting four times a year,fought only twice last year and had been off six months since his last fight against Kell Brook.
Wrap up inactivity,a little bit of age and a larger and better opponent than expected and you have a recipe for a good fight and why some people could see Golovkin as being ripe for a defeat.
Perhaps now Canelo Alvarez and more likely Oscar De La Hoya might be ready to sign that contract vs Golovkin should they get by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr....

In what will be a contender for fight of the year,Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez lost his first fight in his career and his WBC junior bantamweight title in an absolute war to former champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai via a majority decision.
Gonzalez was knocked down in the first round and suffered a large and ugly cut over his right eye from a Rungvisai head butt in the third.
Rungvisai would be penalized a point in the sixth for head butts and the pair spent most of the second half of the fight sending each other careening around the ring in a violent dance that had the crowd screaming.
Roman Gonzalez was a great fighter at his previous weight classes,but seems to have reached "the wall".
The wall is the point for great fighters where their greatness is caught up with by their rising weight and counter balances their skills with the larger fighters they are facing.
In other words-the weight eventually makes a great fighter a very good one.
I scored Gonzalez a 114-112 winner (7-5 in rounds,with Gonzalez losing a point for the knockdown and Rungvisai a point for the head butt).
Most had Gonzalez winning with a few for Rungvisai,but I wouldn't put this into the robbery section.
It was a close fight that demands a rematch,but that won't be next as Carlos Cuadras,who beat Rungvisai for the title before being the first to show some smudges on the previously shiny finish of Gonzalez before losing that title in their bout last year,will be the mandatory challenger next for Rungvisai.
Cuadras won a unanimous decision over David Carmona before the two main events.
I didn't have a chance to see that fight,but it was reported to be less than thrilling.

Ramon and I each scored one point for the Golovkin win and two for the unanimous decision by Cuadras.
Both Ramon and I each picked Roman Gonzalez for no points.

For more on this news filled weekend-listen to Fight Heads tomorrow night for more opinions and talk...



Friday, March 17, 2017

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge hits New York City with the return of the man that holds three of the four middleweight titles in the main event of the weekend.
I lead the boxing challenge 26-24 over Ramon Malpica.

Gennady Golovkin defends his WBA,WBC and IBF titles against Daniel Jacobs,who holds the junior varsity title of the WBA and as often is said before a Golovkin fight-is the latest "best guy GGG has ever faced".
We previewed the fight on fightheads (go listen!) and I've said many times that Jacobs is just 1-1 against top 20 competition,so take that for what you will...

The undercard features two junior bantamweights fights in a prep for a rematch later this year of one of the better fights of
2016.
WBC champion Roman Gonzalez defends for the first time since being taken to the limit by Carlos Cuadras against the man that Cuadras dethroned in Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
I've wondered if Gonzalez has finally hit the wall between great and very good with his rise in weight and he'll have a good test in Rungvisai.
Carlos Cuadras stays active for the rematch against Gonzalez against tough David Carmona,who went the distance with WBO champ Naoya Inoye in his last fight.

WBA/WBC/IBF Middleweight titles.12 rds
Gennady Golovkin vs Daniel Jacobs
R.L:Golovkin KO 5
TRS:Golovkin KO 7

WBC Junior Bantamweight title.12 rds
Roman Gonzalez vs Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
Both;Gonzalez unanimous decision

Junior Bantamweights,10 rds
Carlos Cuadras vs David Carmona
Both:Cuadras unanimous decision

Podcast:Scott Dryden



Scott Dryden returns to the podcast with 90 minutes on the Browns and the NFL Draft!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Rodrigo Valdez

Another champion of my youth passed away in Colombia as former middleweight champion Rodrigo Valdez died of a heart attack at the age of 70.

The former world middleweight champion (Unified once,WBC twice) was rated as one of the most devastating punchers in the 160 pound division's history,but had the misfortune to have his prime run into arguably the best middleweight of all time in Carlos Monzon.

Valdez owns three wins over Bennie Briscoe,who many including myself rate as the best middleweight to never win the championship and made three defenses of his WBC title in the first reign.
Valdez was a dangerous fighter and Monzon decided that the cash wasn't there for a Valdez fight and was stripped of his title by the WBC with the WBA keeping Monzon as their titleholder.

Editor's Note:Doing some later research,Monzon's decision to not fight Valdez then was about money,but his reasoning was that Valdez didn't bring the payday that a "Battle of the Champions' against welterweight champion Jose Napoles did and the WBC stripped Monzon for fighting Napoles rather than Valdez.

Valdez,who had decisioned Bennie Briscoe earlier in his career,would stop him in seven rounds in their rematch to fill the vacant WBC title and make three title defenses against lower level challengers before the inevitable match with Carlos Monzon.

The unification of the two world titles was set for June 1976,but a week before the fight,Valdez's brother was murdered and Valdez wasn't allowed to cancel the fight.
A listless Valdez (and understandably so) was easily decisioned by Monzon,who once again was undisputed middleweight champion-even if only the WBC had such a dispute before.
One year later,both organizations in a rare show of cooperation ordered a rematch between the pair due to the distractions suffered by Valdez before their first bout.
This match was much closer and better contested and round two saw Valdez drop Monzon with a booming right hand for the second time in the Argentine's career.
Valdez built a lead that he could not hold as Monzon took over and won a close,but unanimous decision.


Ordinarily,that might have meant a third fight,but Monzon decided to retire (and never return) and vacated both of his titles.
In another unusual form of working together (even back then,the organizations rarely dealt with each other for best interests of boxing),the vacant titles were to be filled from the same fight.
Usually then as now,the sanctioning bodies fill their titles with various contenders that scatters championships among many,not one,so this was pretty rare and the two top contenders to fight for the two belts were Valdez and yet again Bennie Briscoe.
Valdez notched a 15 round decision and was once again middleweight champion and this time-everyone recognized him as such.

In his first title defense in April 1978,Valdez dropped the title to undistinguished challenger Hugo Corro and seven months later,most were even more shocked when Corro decisioned him again in the rematch.
Valdez notched two knockouts in 1980 and retired at the age of 33,never to fight again.

Of all sports,boxing might be the one sport this happens fairly frequently-that a possibly great athlete
can fall short of being considered great because someone else a little better that happens to be the same size comes along at the same time frame as the possibly great.
Rodrigo Valdez might have been considered a great middleweight,had Carlos Monzon not come along and Monzon was just a little bit better....

Monday, March 13, 2017

Cavaliers sign Larry Sanders,release Andrew Bogut

The Cleveland Cavaliers were forced to make a move after the broken leg suffered by Andrew Bogut and did so with the addition of former Bucks center Larry Sanders.

The 6'11 Sanders has never averaged ten points a game in any season,but on this team,that's not what they are looking for-If Sanders is motivated to play and past his previous issues,he brings a rebounder and shot blocker to Cleveland that the team hadn't had all season with the exception of the 58 seconds that Bogut played before his leg fracture.

For all that Larry Sanders could bring to the team,he could be quite a risk.
Sanders has missed the last season and a half after walking away from the Milwaukee Bucks in February of 2015 and has dealt with "Depression,Anxiety and Mood Disorders" along with the occasional suspension for Marijuana usage.
That could be a non-factor for Sanders,who wouldn't be the first player to have a background with problems to turn things around on a winning team with strong veteran leadership,so despite a few red flags,I like the signing.
It's not like there were a plethora of shot blocking big men to choose from on a menu and Sanders won't come at a high cost (200,000 for the rest of the year) and the Cavaliers did insist on and received a team option for 2017-18 in case Sanders is able to perform at a high level.

As for Andrew Bogut,I feel bad that he was injured and released,although he still received his pro-rated salary (400,000 isn't bad for 58 seconds of work,even if you did break your leg),so its not all bad for Bogut.
I'm sure the Cavaliers didn't want to release him,but in order to replace him,he had to go.
I was going to write that Bogut should have rented,not bought,but it turns out that he shouldn't have rented-just splurged on a hotel!

Sorry to see Bogut go,but the Cavaliers did the best they could under the circumstances....

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Lemieux crunches Stevens-Boxing Challenge

Ramon Malpica and I each earned four points over the weekend in the boxing challenge on a three fight weekend.
I lead the challenge 26-24..

On the HBO stage,fight fans were thrilled and bored on the two fight card.
The thrills came from the expected slugfest between middleweight bombers David Lemieux and Curtis Stevens.
For two and a half rounds,it was all you could want from a fight until Lemieux shook off a Stevens right hand and replied with a left hook that nearly sent Stevens out of the ring and did send him down and out cold in the third round.
Stevens was carried out of the ring on a stretcher and taken to the hospital,where his test results were fine.
What a fight and Lemieux's hook has given his stoppage the lead for knockout of the year.
This KO was so vicious that it is going to be very difficult for Stevens to retain contending status and he may never be the same fighter again.
As far Lemieux,he might have made himself the likely opponent for Canelo Alvarez,assuming Alvarez defeats Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and would wish for another fight before (Or instead of) Gennady Golovkin.
Ramon and I each scored two points for the Lemieux knockout.

Ramon and I each scored a point for the tedious comeback win of Yuriorkis Gamboa,who was reluctant to engage against journeyman Rene Alvarado on his way to a unanimous decision win.
Alvarado scored a flash knockdown on Gamboa in the 10th in the only remotely interesting portion of the fight.
I scored Gamboa a 97-92 winner.

In a non-televised junior middleweight fight from Germany,Demetrius Andrade started quickly,slowed in the middle before hitting the gas late and winning a split decision over Jack Culcay for a lesser title.
The judge that scored the bout for Culcay must have been asleep or scored the fight before it started.
Simply an atrocious scorecard.
Andrade might be the best talent in the division,if he would just fight more often.
The win sets Andrade up for as the mandatory contender for WBA champion Erislandy Lara.
I had Andrade a 117-111 winner and Ramon and I each added one point in the challenge.

I'll be talking about these three fights and a preview of Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs next weekend on Monday night in the latest edition of Fightheads....


Browns release Robert Griffin

The Robert Griffin era ended in Cleveland not with the earth moving as it did to Hue Jackson in his tryout,but with a whimper as the Browns released the former Baylor Bear in order to avoid paying a $750,000 roster bonus on the 15th of March.
The release saves the team just under seven million dollars in paying Griffin in 2017,although they will have to count his signing bonus of 1.75 million against the 2017 cap.

Griffin was the quarterback in the Browns only win of the season in December over the then San Diego Chargers,but that was about the only bright spot in his run as a Brown as he was injured late in the opening game loss to the Eagles and finished the season with just two touchdown passes to go with three interceptions along with finishing with less than 900 passing yards in the five games that Griffin would play.

Griffin looks to be done as a serious player in the league.
Griffin cannot stay healthy,the league's defenses have caught up to the read option that Griffin and similar quarterbacks had their Hailey's Comet like rise and fall and his accuracy has gotten worse with each injury.
I cannot imagine with all of those issues that any team is going to sign Griffin as any more than a challenger for an unproven starter and that's at best.

Don't ask me what the Browns are thinking at quarterback because I couldn't tell you.
I could see several scenarios developing that include trading with New England for Jimmy Garroppolo,moving up in the draft for their highest rated player,hoping a QB is there at 12 and even waiting until the second or third round to be ready in case they could land USC's Sam Darnold in 2018.
Each of those options have their pro and con.
Garroppolo-Looks to be a talented QB,but small sample size is concerning and if he is such a slam dunk,why did he last until round two in his draft year?
Moving up-Makes sure you land your guy,but trading assets to do so.
Waiting until 12-Gets a guy without paying more,but might lose your guy.
Waiting until later-If you don't love the higher rated players (I'm lukewarm),why not wait,but a guy at that stage isn't going to solve the problem,at least right away.
Waiting until 2018-I love Darnold,but there is no guarantee that A) he will come out early and B) As bad as the Browns will be (I expect them to be bad again),there are other teams that will be awful too that might nose them out of the spot in San Francisco,Chicago and my dark horse favorite-the Jets.

The Browns may not have to have their franchise quarterback this season,but they will need at least one from somewhere in the draft and they should have a veteran of some sort around,either keep Brock Osweiler or sign someone else to battle for the job.
I have my questions about each of the top three quarterbacks in the draft and I'd hate to see the Browns lose out on a generational talent just because a bad team was in a rush to say they had their quarterback...

I'm going to try (internet permitting) to post the boxing challenge later today...


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Browns lose Terrelle Pryor

One day after Cleveland Browns fans felt reasonably decent about their team for a change,those good vibrations changed a little as Terrelle Pryor signed a one year contract with the Washington Redskins.

The departure was somewhat expected,but the surprise was the length and terms of the deal-one year and eight million,which was far lower than Pryor had been asking for from the Browns and one that the Browns could have easily matched and exceeded,had they desired.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that the Browns were not given a chance to match the Washington offer and that the team didn't make an effort to be involved once Pryor made his decision to surf the market for potential new hopes.
Tony Grossi had been writing since yesterday that the Browns had "given the deal budgeted to Pryor to new signee Kenny Britt" and were out on the former Buckeye as soon as Britt agreed to his contract of four years and thirty two million.

Here's my problem with this-for the second year in a row,the Sashi Brown led front office have won the negotiations and lost the player.
Let me explain what I mean.
Just as in the case in 2016 with tackle Mitchell Schwartz,the Browns were able to accurately gauge the market for the player and avoid overpaying them to stay with the team.
That's a good thing and shows that the front office has a good grasp on the financial aspect of dealing with talent on contracts.
However,the Browns show an inflexibility to make deals beyond their ideas for it should be and seem to be working from a scaffold of arrogance once things have moved beyond what they are willing to pay.
In other words,once a player has decided to take a look around and see what offers might be available,the Browns act like petulant children and are no longer interested in discussing.

I can understand that the team will need to explore other avenues,just as the player is,but in both cases (Schwartz and Pryor) the team pulled their offers that might have landed them the player after they had scanned available offers.
Schwartz came back to the Browns looking to accept and Pryor may have as well and the Browns weren't interested even at the cost that they were willing to pay.
In other words,the Browns were happy to pat themselves on the back for reading the tea leaves correctly,but then arrogantly let the player leave.
Imagine the offensive line with yesterday's tweaks and having Mitchell Schwartz manning what is the one weak spot on the line at right tackle.
Imagine the wideouts with Kenny Pritt,Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman instead of Britt,Coleman and who knows.
In both cases,the Browns could have had the players at their evaluated rate,improved their team,but were more concerned with "winning" the talks.

The Pryor case is even more glaring because had they not burned the field to the ground (Blame Pryor's agent Drew Rosenhaus a large amount here as well),they had plenty of money to sign Pryor and Britt.
The Browns collected plenty of kudos for getting Houston's 2018 second round pick for Brock Osweiler and being willing to pay Osweiler's 16 million contract,even if they release him.
I'm in agreement for liking that move,but they could have kept Pryor for half (or perhaps a little over half) of the amount that they are willing to pay Osweiler-whether he plays for the Browns or not.
The money was there,the budget could have been held (or a small upturn to get the deal done) and instead the Browns allowed the one playmaker that they had to walk away.

I agree that Pryor and Rosenhaus overreached in their original demands and the Browns earn points for not overpaying,but the rigidity that the team has shown over the last two free agent periods with players that not only wanted to stay,but would have been foundation blocks of this rebuild,makes me wonder this-If the fight to keep players and hold the line on budgets are this bad with oodles of cap space,what will it be if the team ever reaches contention?

I think Terrelle Pryor and Kenny Britt are pretty comparable,although I prefer Pryor by a hair,but unless the Browns have a plan to add another receiver from somewhere that is of solid starting level (
either in the draft or another "Waiting for Josh Gordon" event),they could have them both and instead found it more important to win the battle and take another hit in winning the war....

Editor's Note: I'll be back tonight with a note on the Browns release of Robert Griffin and just what will they might do from here at quarterback.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge continues with three fights this weekend.
I lead the challenge over Ramon Malpica 22-20...

HBO has the weekend headliner with a boxing after dark doubleheader featuring former victims of Gennady Golovkin as former IBF middleweight champ David Lemieux battles Curtis Stevens in what should be an exciting slugfest.
Both guys can bang and both have been stopped in the past by people other than Golovkin,so this could be an explosive battle that ends early.
Yuriorkis Gamboa returns to the ring in a 10 rounder against Rene Alvarado in the curtain raiser on the evening.
Gamboa is being matched well against Alvarado and is expected to shine...

In an untelevised junior middleweight bout from Germany,Jack Culcay defends his minor title against maybe the division's best fighter,but one that is perpetually inactive in Demetrious Andrade.
It really is too bad that Andrade fights so rarely as he is quite talented...

Middleweights.12 rds
David Lemieux vs Curtis Stevens
R.L:Lemieux KO 5
TRS:Lemieux KO 8

Junior Lightweights. 10 rds
Yuriorkis Gamboa vs Rene Alvarado
R.L:Gamboa KO 4
TRS:Gamboa KO 7

Junior Middleweights.12 rds
Demetrius Andrade vs Jack Culcay
R.L:Andrade KO 9
TRS:Andrade unanimous decision

Browns sign Kenny Britt,Trade with Texans.

I wrote earlier on the Browns efforts to improve the offensive line and how I believe that the additions have moved those efforts forward.

The first signing of the day saw the Browns perhaps move on from Terrelle Pryor,although they still say that they would like to return Pryor to the team,Pryor has begun to take the tours and talk the talk with other teams.
The player that will slot into the place of Pryor as the presumed number one receiver will be Kenny Britt,formerly of the Rams (and Titans previously),who signed a four year contract for 32 million.

Britt and Pryor's age (28 to 27) and their 2016 statistics (68 catches,1,002 yds,5 TD's for Britt compared to 77 catches,1,007 yards and 4 scores for Pryor) are remarkably similar,but Britt comes with some baggage to consider.
Britt has suffered a torn ACL and MCL(2011),has had some legal issues and has carried a rap of not always being a top effort player.
Let's look at it this way,the Rams offense was terrible last season and they allowed Britt to leave.
I suppose one could say the same about the Browns with Terrelle Pryor,but all things considered,if I can only have one or the other and if the price is similar (and it may or may not be before all is concrete) ,I lean toward the bigger player without an injury history with the higher upside.

I'm not against signing Kenny Britt,not at all,but I don't think he is a number one receiver and planning on him to be such might prove to be faulty thinking.
A top three WR corps of Pryor,Britt and Corey Coleman is pretty solid.
One of Britt,Coleman and question marks makes one think that the Browns have ran in place at the wideout position and it still might need to be further addressed without Pryor.

The final transaction of the day saw a deal that has not been seen in the NFL as the Browns took the hefty contract (16 million) of quarterback Brock Osweiler off the Houston Texans cap along with a 2018 second round pick and a sixth rounder in the 2017 draft in return for the 2017 4th round compensation pick.
I've heard different plans for Osweiler that include reworking his contract to make it easier to swap him and pick up more draft picks,releasing him to take the one year cap hit (Osweiler's deal while large is only on the cap for one season) and being done with him or even keeping him around to compete for the job with whomever is still around.

I don't think the Browns will keep Osweiler around,but honestly I'm not against it,if the offers for Osweiler aren't up to par.
I mean if you are going to eat the 16 million,you might as well take a look at him,right?
I know he was terrible in Houston,but his size and arm are a good fit for the AFC North in theory,so I'm fine with bringing him to camp,although I'd prefer moving him along for more capital.

I know 16 million is a lot of money to pay for a second round pick, (give Jimmy Haslem some credit for writing the check too),but this has no downside other than money.
You get a pick for nothing in football assets and if you get anything out of Osweiler at all (either on field or in the event that you get something for him),you get even more.

I don't grade this post quite as high as the previous post.
Britt for Pryor is a wash at best,but the Osweiler deal is not just low risk,it's no risk and I applaud the radical (for NFL anyway) thinking by the Browns.
I've been quite critical of the qualifications of Sashi Brown for running this team.
This was a excellent day and Brown looks good for now,but a caveat-All of these picks mean nothing,if you fail to take the right people.
The jury is still out for the 2016 draft,although the results early on can be questioned-the 2017 draft has to be a different story,if things are to continue to improve.

Browns beef up offensive line

The Cleveland Browns made a major leap forward in arguably making their offensive line one of the better O-line units in the league in free agency with a few signings,an extension for a current Brown and what might be an underrated waiver claim that flew under the radar on day one of free agency.

I'm going to write about the flashier news in a second post on offense and concentrate on the beef up front.
The effort is clearly being made to protect the quarterback (whomever that may be) and being able to open holes for the running game (Isaiah Crowell or any challenger that may come to town).

The biggest addition was guard Kevin Zeitler from the division rival Bengals to be installed at right guard.
The right side of the line was the weaker side last season and most observers had Zeitler as the top offensive lineman available in free agency,
At five years and sixty million dollars,which makes Zeitler the highest paid guard in the game,Zeitler didn't come cheap,but at 27 is in the middle of his prime,so that is a plus as so often in free agency,teams are paying for past production.
Zeitler should be spending his best seasons in Cleveland and the former first rounder from Wisconsin immediately improves the line.

The Browns also decided to scrap any thoughts of returning Cameron Erving to center as they signed J.C. Tretter from Green Bay to man that position.
The sites that grade offensive line play give Tretter high grades,but the concern with Tretter is staying healthy as he has missed 33 games due to injury in his four years with the Packers.
The former Cornell standout (wonder if he knows Andy Bernard?) will solidify the middle of the line,if he can just stay on the field and at 26,he has his best years in front of him.

Cleveland hedged their bets on Tretter as they took advantage of being first on the waiver claim list by claiming former third rounder (2014) Marcus Martin from the 49ers.
Martin started 22 games at center for the Niners in his three seasons and can play guard and even tackle in a pinch,so he not only adds insurance for the health of Tretter,he could be a versatile reserve.
A young player with starting experience on the waiver wire?
There has to be more than this for a crummy team like San Francisco to release Martin,so maybe Martin was their Cameron Erving,but for the waiver cost,I'm willing to take a look.

The final move on the offensive line was an extension to left guard Joel Bitonio for five years and 47 million.
Bitonio is coming off a foot injury,which adds some trepidation,but when he is on the field-Bitonio is a top level player and signing him now keeps him off next years free agent market,where he would have been the best guard available.

I love all these moves and you could make an argument that if any of the contenders at right tackle
(Shon Coleman,Spencer Drango and maybe Cameron Erving) can be even league average,this could be an offensive line that ranks in the top five to ten in the league and that would go a long way in a return to any type of respectability.
Combine those guys with the eventual return of John Greco from injury,the Browns line will be deep as well as good-Been a long time since I've said that!

I'll be back with the signing of Kenny Britt and yes,the trade with the Texans might come up as well...


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Cleaning out the inbox-Mostly Non-Sports Edition

I wanted to get this finished before the Browns start of free agency later today and then boxing over the weekend,so here is a quick and mostly non-sports cleaning of the inbox.

Vulture.com (which I had never heard of) landed a great interview with David Letterman.
The wide ranging feature does discuss a lot about Donald Trump,but more than you would think about Letterman's home life along with his thoughts on television,late night,his life after retirement and more.
If you even are a mild Letterman fan,this is a fascinating read.

The New York Times as part of their series "Vietnam 1967" writes about Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam and how the former President and master politician wound up immersing himself in what the Times describes as an "Unwinnable War'.
The article discusses Johnson's fear of appearing weak,the domino theory and the various reasons that Johnson got into Vietnam and how he couldn't get out...

The Comeback writes of the finding of the "Chase Car" of one of the famous chase scenes in film history from the 1968 film "Bullitt" starring Steve McQueen.
Apparently,car customizers often make replicas from the 1967/68 Mustangs to make replicas from a car used in the film "Gone in Sixty Seconds".
I've never seen that movie,so I wouldn't know much about it,but people in that industry seem to be looking for those models for the above reason.
The car was found in a Mexican junkyard and upon some research and the handy VIN number managed to trace it back to being one of the two"Bullitt' cars.
Instead of being processing for its original intention,the car will be fixed up in true Bullitt style.
An estimate in the Los Angeles Times has the car perhaps reaching one million dollars if the owner chose to sell it after renovation.
The article says Steve McQueen,who died in 1980,reportedly tried in vain to find the car before his death.
Wonder if his son,Chad McQueen (as in Dutch from Karate Kid) might be interested in obtaining the car?

Sorry to hear of the death of Robert Osborne at the age of 84.
Osborne was the host of Turner Classic Movies,who appeared at the beginning and end of each TCM offering,giving some interesting facts and anecdotes on the film.
I remember first seeing Osborne in a similar position for the Movie Channel when Cherie and I were first married and we had that channel.
Osborne was so knowledgeable about film history and seemed like a pretty nice person in the years that he was in that position.

I wrote recently in an edition of the inbox about Ball Four and saw another piece to mention today.
Mark Armour of SABR brought this article of his about the book back on a tweet honoring Jim Bouton's birthday.
Bouton turned 78 yesterday and I hope it was a good one.
The article is a comprehensive one that mainly looks at Bouton,co-author Leonard Shector,the book and its aftermath.
It's a very deep look at the topic and very well written.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Blame it on- And a possible Goodbye

Photo Credit:Jason Christensen
Sorry,I've been away.
I'm going to try to catch up over the next few days,the Jackasses at Verizon have made my online life miserable and it could be as many as five days before I get this fixed.

Actually,if they don't do things then to my satisfaction,I may be changing servers and then that will drag the time out further before they could come and fix things.
So,I suppose unless I can get very lucky (on occasion,I do get some "good" time when things are running smoothly),I'll be doing much of my blog work from the road office.

I do have some podcasts planned,but I have to be honest-If I change IP providers,the cost will go up.
We all know how the economy works,but since things continue to rise and my paycheck does not,I may have to cut a thing or two and the 100+ dollars to Podbean will likely be a start.
I enjoy doing the show and I wish it wasn't so,but life is about choices.

I do plan going out with a bang though with two visits from Daniel Parlegreco and Scott Dryden on the NFL Draft and if he recovers from his broken jaw (get well soon,Joe),Joe Werner on baseball prospects.
I gave the TRS podcast an extra year after losing the sponsorship and with a few tweaks,some things were going to need decisions.
Sad to say,unless I get the proverbial Sack of Money falling from the sky to save the show,Sometime in May or June (I think that's the date) will be the last podcast.
Unless someone has a "Podbean" like base that they are willing to host my data on anyway,that is.

Blame it on Verizon.....
I'm still catching up and I'll get there soon-Thanks for reading...

Editors Note;This will have no effect on Fightheads,You can still catch me there every Monday night...

Monday, March 6, 2017

Cleaning out the inbox

Time to clean out the inbox with a few things that have piled up!

The 1968 Topps set is a real love or hate it with its "Burlap" background.
I like it,but my favorite set of the 1960's is 1965 with 1963 and 1968 battling for the place spot.
With the set being my birth year,you would figure that would be a set that I would work on,but the oppressive cost of the Nolan Ryan and Johnny Bench rookie cards have scared me off through the years.
1968 Topps also has my favorite insert set of all time with the Baseball Game set that came one card per pack in that years set.

The 1968 Topps design is back in the headlines this season as it is the chosen design for the Topps Heritage line.
Heritage is pretty much the only major league cards that I buy to have a set of for personal collection and for the occasional major leaguer that I would see on the trail.
Topps takes a gander at their own product here.

I'm working on a future post on one of my all time favorites-"Mr.Perfect" Curt Hennig and found this terrific article from SI in 2016 that looks back at the "Perfect Athlete",but does it with his son,current WWE wrestler "Curtis Axel" Joe Hennig.
That adds a special spin on the article as it talks just as much about Hennig the man as the wrestler and it allows his son to be more than just the current performer.
I found it quite absorbing...

Rolling Stone writes about the 40th anniversary of Slap Shot and why it is the quintessential sports movie of the 70's.
One of the best parts of the movie (besides the Hansons!) is just looking around an average small city in the 1970's and what it looked in an era when I was a child.
Slap Shot is truly a funny movie and ranks with some of the best sports movies made for fun and laughter..
Toe Blake! Eddie Shore! Old Time Hockey!

Wired has an oral history of the O.J.-Made in America documentary,which not only I recommend,but won an Oscar for best documentary.
It focuses on the making of the film and the people being interviewed more than Simpson,so if you've seen the film,it is a nice companion piece and if not,a good starting point for knowing a few of the interviewees before you start....

Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes of the rise from almost nowhere for Ashland tight end Adam Shaheen,who could be drafted as high as the third round in the NFL Draft,depending on what draft meister that you choose to read.
The 6'6 tight end is a former basketball player,which seems to attract players to the tight end position...


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Thurman decisions Garcia-Boxing Challenge

The run of getting decisions in borderline fights ran out for Danny Garcia as he lost his WBC welterweight title to WBA champion Keith Thurman via split decision in Brooklyn.

The bout was nothing visually impressive and nothing to get excited about as Thurman controlled the bout winning 116-112 on my card despite giving away the final two rounds by "boxing" AKA running away to avoid contact.
I tweeted during the late rounds of the fight that some judge was going to have this close and sure enough there was one .
The fight wasn't a classic by any means and I doubt that even with two title belts now that Thurman will be gaining a lot of points in the TRS rankings.
I earned two points in the boxing challenge by picking Thurman,while Ramon Malpica picked Garcia.

The undercard saw talented junior middleweight Erickson Lubin crunch overmatched Jorge Cota with a powerful left hand in the 4th and qualify for a WBC title shot vs the winner of Jermell Charlo-Charles Hatley.
Lubin is a strong prospect and it'll be interesting to see how he steps up in his title challenge.
Lubin's KO gave me two points to Ramon Malpica's one.

Andrezj Fonfara stopped former world champion Chad Dawson in an untelevised bout on the card in the tenth and final round.
Fonfara's KO allowed me two points to Ramon Malpica's one.

The fight of the day was in London,where WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew move up to heavyweight and pull a massive upset over former cruiser and heavyweight champion David Haye in the 11th round of a bombs away slugfest.
Haye had his moments in the 4th and 5th rounds hurting Bellew before slipping on some water in the 6th and injuring his Achilles Tendon.
Bellew took over against the battered Haye,scoring a knockdown in the 6th round before ending the fight by sending Haye through the ropes in the 11th and his corner threw into the towel.
I had Bellew ahead 95-94 entering the final round with Haye winning the first five rounds prior to the injury and Bellew winning the rounds thereafter.
Haye's loss cost the UK a huge fight there with Haye challenging Anthony Joshua (assuming Joshua wins against Wladimir Klitschko).
I doubt Bellew wants that fight with the size difference,so the best payday for Bellew might be waiting for Haye to heal for a rematch.
Both Ramon and I picked Haye to win for no points..

The boxing challenge saw me outscore Ramon six to two on the weekend and move ahead in the overall challenge 22-20.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge continues with a huge fight to set the winner forward to an argument for being the best welterweight in the world.
Ramon Malpica currently leads me in the challenge 18-16.

On CBS on Saturday night,WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman will unify his title with the WBC title held by Danny Garcia to create an arguable claim to the top 147 pounder in the world (In the TRS rankings,it is a battle of the 4th and 5th rated in the division).

I have been critical of both Thurman (for overrated power and less than strong opponents) and Garcia (weak opposition over the last three years and getting close decisions that he hasn't always deserved),but I am excited about this bout.
I am always in favor of titles being unified and it's nice to see these two fighting good fighters,but this hype of this being like this generation's Leonard-Hearns seems far too excessive.
This might be a good fight,but I have my doubts about it being an all time classic.
Garcia is more proven against better competition,Thurman has looked better at the weight,so this is a pickem fight,but one thing that cannot be questioned-the winner of this fight will have other bigger fights ahead such as the winner of Kell Brook-Errol Spence.
The winner of this fight against the winner of that fight is a great fight-that winner will be truly the top welterweight in the world...

The undercard is nothing special with promising Erickson Lubin in what is expected to be a squash match against Jorge Cota in a junior middleweight fight and former champion Chad Dawson fighting Andrezj Fonfara in a light heavyweight bout that could mean the end of the line for the loser.
The main challenge of interest other than Thurman-Garcia is the heavyweight bout from England with former heavyweight champion David Haye against current WBC cruiserweight belt holder Tony Bellew.
This bout seems pretty heated and might be fun for a while before Haye overpowers the smaller man.
If you cannot take the shots of Adonis Stevenson at 175,I'm doubtful you can handle David Haye...

WBA-WBC Welterweight title unification .12 rds
Keith Thurman vs Danny Garcia
R.L:Garcia split decision
TRS;Thurman split decision

Junior Middleweight.12 rds
Erickson Lubin vs Jorge Cota
R.L;Lubin unanimous decision
TRS:Lubin KO 5

Light Heavyweights,10 rds
Andrzej Fonfara vs Chad Dawson
R.L;Fonfara unanimous decision
TRS;Fonfara KO 6

Heavyweights.12 rds
David Haye vs Tony Bellew
R.L; Haye KO 4
TRS: Haye KO 6





Thursday, March 2, 2017

1978: The Final Two

It was 1978 and a ten year old Shawn was enjoying the summer of playing baseball and hanging around the neighborhood.
Fifth grade was looming at Fountain Rock Elementary,which might be the best year that a person can have at school-which is being the oldest kids at school,yet young enough to still be able to relax,have fun and enjoy still being a kid,

However,I had a problem.
And to me,it was a huge one-I was close to finishing my first ever Topps baseball card set.
Now,one wouldn't think that would be an issue,but it was one for one reason,but first some background.
From the beginning of Topps starting to make baseball cards in 1952,Topps would release their set in a few different series,which enabled them to add players that were traded,late rookie arrivals and stars to make them still worth buying.
This helped stretch Topps's product to last the entire summer and kids always needed more cards.
The problem with that was that by the last series,kids were going back to school,the baseball season was winding down and football season was starting,which meant demand was less and fewer stores ordered them,which resulted in all those sets having the now dreaded high numbers,where even common players aren't inexpensive in those sets.

In 1974,Topps changed policy and released their entire set all at once,figuring that with a huge set all at once,kids would need more time to complete the set and it wouldn't hurt sales.
That part was true,but in my case,something unforeseen occurred-My dad knew I was down to two cards and decided to quit buying cards for me!
The logic was sound as the set had 726 cards in it,so my chances of gaining one of the two cards that I needed were a cool 363 to 1 per pack.
In 1978 dollars,the packs were either 20 cents (or 25,I cannot remember) and dad felt he was tossing money away along with accumulating extra cards against those odds.

It wasn't like I needed big money stars out of the set-I had all the stars of the day,but needed two outfielders-Sixto Lezcano of the Milwaukee Brewers and Jerry Turner of the San Diego Padres.
Lezcano was thought as a coming star and he was coming off his best year to date with 21 homers in 1977.
Still,it was a common card because Lezcano's rookie card was the year before.
Turner ,on the other hand, was the epitome of journeyman outfielder having hit .246 with a career high of 10 homers in 1977.
Those cards being commons meant little because this was the day before card shops and card shows,so I was limited to the one or two people that I could trade with and if they didn't have them,it wasn't looking good for the finished set.
There was still hope though,the one person in the neighborhood that had more cards than me (By a huge margin) likely had Lezcano and Turner,so I cut my way through my grandmother's yard to reach his house.
I mentioned the numerous games of basketball that I played against Chris Mullin in my post a few years ago on the Kentucky Colonels and when it came to cards,everything in the neighborhood ran through him.

I had one thing going for me-a decent stash of 1960's stars that had been given to me by my grandmother's nephew and those helped me get some good stuff in return at times.
The object of Chris Mullin's desire on this day? My 1962 Brooks Robinson and Chris was willing to part with Lezcano and Turner for Brooksie!
Even at 10,I knew that was a bad deal,but I felt cornered in,so I did what most kids did-ran home and asked Dad for his advice.
His advice? "Do it,in the long run,the set will be worth more".
SO I did and was then laughed at by Chris,who did pull a fast one for himself,but I still was thrilled to have finished the set.

Let's look back 39 years later at Beckett and see if Dad was right.
Keep in mind the set was not mint and neither was the 1962 Robinson,but for the purpose of this,we'll assume that they are.

Doug Hopkins sent these with the warning they are rough averages from different sources.
1978 Set:100.00
1978 Jerry Turner and Sixto Lezcano combined .70
1962 Brooks Robinson ranging from 12.50-20.00

All things considered,Dad was right,but the story has a sad ending.
Dad got into baseball cards and my collection was communed with his and when he sold his stuff years later,my 1978 set went along with it.
The funny part is that I never forgot Sixto Lezcano or Jerry Turner along with the story and when I bought Strat O Matic for the PC and those two players appeared,I made sure to use the pictured cards from 1978....