Sunday, April 30, 2017

Devils win the draft lottery!

As I attempted to grab a nap after the conclusion of the NFL Draft and the thrilling Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko bout,the NHL held their draft lottery.

The NHL does their lottery a bit differently than the NBA,so it seems to be easier to climb in the draft or fall than in the basketball lottery.
Had the draft order been determined by record,the Devils would have drafted in the fifth position and when you crunch the numbers,the Devils highest chance by percentage (33 percent) was to drop one spot to sixth.

The Devils had won the lottery once before when the rules were different and the winner could not rise more than four spots at the time.
That victory moved the Devils from eighth to fourth and resulted in the selection of Adam Larsson.
In this one,it was going to take luck and the Devils had just that-as they won the lottery and will
select first in the June draft.
The Devils have never owned the first pick in the draft,although the previous incarnation as the Colorado Rockies,they did have the top selection once in 1979 and selected Rob Ramage,who had a long career with several team,but just missed being a Devil as he was traded to St.Louis in the off-season before the first season in New Jersey.

New Jersey is expected to take one of two players ranked highest by the various scouting services.
I don't claim to know nearly as much about hockey prospects as football or basketball,so on these things I tend to gather the opinions of others and then apply that to the Devils needs.
The two prospects that stand ahead of the rest is Canadian center Nolan Patrick,who's game has been compared to Jonathan Toews and Swiss center Nico Hischier,who has brought Pavel Datsyuk to mind.
Patrick is reported to be the safer and more solid choice,while Hischier is the flashier with more upside,so either player could be the choice.

It's too bad that this draft couldn't have been similar to the last two with the type of prospects that could have transformed an organization like Connor McDavid or Austen Matthews,but either Patrick or Hischier will be a foundation piece of an organization still in the middle of a remodeling stint.
These things take time,but being lucky enough to gain the top pick in the draft is an major step forward in that process and should the right player be selected,it could speed the redevelopment of a franchise that is still in need of top line talent...



Joshua Stops Klitschko-Boxing Challenge

Lots of news today and I'll try to get to it over the next day or so,as the Browns finished their draft,the Devils won the draft lottery and a cleaning of the inbox all need to be addressed,but first....

In one of the best heavyweight fights in years.Anthony Joshua rallied from behind (on my card,at least) to stop Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round at London's Wembley Stadium to retain the IBF heavyweight title and add the vacant WBA belt as well.
Joshua knocked down Klitschko twice in the 11th after starting the round with an uppercut that would have finished most fighters,but didn't drop Klitschko,however that punch sent the fight Joshua's way.
Joshua seemed to be on his way to a earlier knockout when he sent Klitschko to the floor in the fifth,but a overconfident Joshua allowed Klitschko to recover and by the end of the round,it was the Ukrainian that was landing more punches and seemed to be the fresher combatant,
That theory proved true,when it was Joshua that went crashing to the floor in the following round six from a Klitschko right,but Klitschko didn't go all out for the kill and allowed a staggering and stung Joshua to survive.
The fight was a strong action fight,which was unusual for Klitschko,who based his career on boring,yet efficient victories and had the 90,000 person crowd screaming with delight for most of the bout.
I had Klitschko ahead 95-93 (6-4 in rounds) after ten,but had Klitschko survived the eleventh,Joshua would have certainly been ahead with a 10-7 eleventh round.

The fighters are contractually committed to a rematch,but I'm not sure that is a great idea.
This gallant effort by Klitschko might turn out to be the final top effort that he has in him and even though he was ahead on my card (and one official card) after ten,the knockdowns would have certainly cost him a decision  and I'm not sure a rematch has a chance of swinging back his way.
A rematch would draw money and interest,but I have a feeling that it has little chance of approaching this fight.
Klitschko would be well suited to use this fight as his swan song.

As for Joshua,he has options in the event of the rematch not happening.
The big fight would be against the conqueror of Klitschko in the troubled Tyson Fury,which would be for the lineal title (since Fury won it from Klitschko),would draw another huge crowd and make massive money.
The problem is that Fury is unreliable and even if the fight is made,it has a decent chance of never taking place.
WBC champ Deontay Wilder would make sense as two former Olympians with punching power and questionable chins might make a great fight and unify three of the titles together.
The problem there is that Wilder prefers to talk about big fights and then fight collections of no-hopers and against the one decent opponent that Wilder faced (Bermane Stiverne),that opponent lasted the distance and Wilder seemed to be happier to box rather than punch.
WBO champion Joseph Parker would have fought Joshua already,as he was the number one contender for Joshua's IBF belt,but after the WBO stripped Tyson Fury,Parker had an easier path to that title (a close decision over Andy Ruiz for the vacant strap) and took it.
Also as bad as the opposition of Deontay Wilder's has been,Parker's has been arguably worse to date.
What might be best for all would be for Wilder and Parker to face off while Joshua fights Fury (or someone else in the very possible event of a Fury dropout).
That would make the winner very valuable with two titles and make an eventual Joshua fight even more of an event.

In the boxing challenge,I earned two points for the Joshua KO with Ramon Malpica getting one for the Joshua win.
I lead the boxing challenge at 53-43.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Boxing Challenge

One fight in the boxing challenge and it is a massive one as Anthony Joshua defends his IBF heavyweight championship and the vacant WBA title is on the line as well vs the former and long-term champion Wladimir Klitschko in London's Wembley Stadium in front of 90,000 people..

This is looked at by most as the coming out party for Joshua,who looks to enter the first top notch name on his resume' against Klitschko.
Klitschko enters the ring with huge questions-mainly those that note a 17 month layoff after a dreadful effort in his title losing effort vs Tyson Fury that saw him unable to get the right hand off and look slow and washed up.

This could be a rocket fest or it could be very dull with Klitschko doing plenty of grabbing and clinching,but no matter how exciting the fight is,it will have historical significance.
Either Anthony Joshua establishes himself as the top heavyweight and his era begins or Klitschko pulls off the comeback of a lifetime with all the things against him to regain his status as the best heavyweight in the world.

In the boxing challenge,I hold a 51-42 lead over Ramon Malpica.

R.L:Joshua unanimous decision
TRS:Joshua KO 8

2017 Draft-Cleveland Browns Day Two

Day two for the Cleveland Browns saw them shoot for the moon in round two and play it safe in the third round as the Browns added two new players in the NFL Draft on its middle day.

Early on in the draft process,there were some that drooled over the tools of Deshone Kizer of Notre Dame and some even had Kizer rated as the top quarterback prospect available and certainly a first round pick.
However as time moved on,Kizer began to fall down boards as questions about Notre Dame's losing record,lots of interceptions and a perceived lack of 4th quarter success began to cause a slide.

Cleveland had traded their pick in the second round to Green Bay in the deal that landed David Njoku,so their pick was the pick that was added from Tennessee in a 2016 draft day swap.
Deshone Kizer might be a steal as the quarterback that might have the best arm in the draft (Patrick Mahomes might differ) and he has the physical tools and skills that remind some of Steve McNair.
Here's the problem,Kizer is the youngest quarterback in the draft,has issues with accuracy and has been accused of having issues in seeing the field with the results being interceptions and throws that make you wonder.
Dane Brugler tweeted that everything that he wanted from a quarterback is on the tape of Kizer,but there just isn't consistency.
Now,I've noted that I wasn't thrilled with the quarterbacks in this draft,but at this spot this could be a steal and it is a low risk high reward pick.
In the first round,I might have wondered,in the second,I love the pick.
Plus one of the things I have been opinionated on is the Browns taking a QB in the first round,committing to that player and perhaps passing on a franchise style passer in the 2018 draft.
Picking Kizer in the second isn't high enough to look over that type of player,but talent wise,Cleveland grabbed a first round talent in round two...


In the third round,the Browns tabbed Charlotte defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi.
Ogunjobui was one of several linemen that I had rated roughly the same,but the Browns decided that they needed depth and that makes sense.
Without a fourth rounder,the Browns might have had to move on Ogunjobi faster than they may have wanted to.
Ogunjobi will likely plug into the tackle rotation with Danny Shelton,Jamie Meder,Xavier Cooper etc.
Ogunjobi is reported to be a solid tackle with the ability to provide a pass rush up the middle.
Not the sexiest pick on the board and maybe not even the flashiest at his position that was available at the time of the selection,but we'll see on this one.


Wrapping Up

A for Deshone Kizer-Well worth the chance in round two with the skills that he could possibly eventually use.
Give the Browns credit for taking a risk when the price for that was reasonable and for being patient enough to not to push their luck in round one..

B- for Larry Ogunjobi-A solid defensive lineman that has the potential to be very good with some luck..

I'll do a post later with the final day's picks and coverage of Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko

Friday, April 28, 2017

Browns take Larry Ogunjobi in Third

The Cleveland Browns led off the third round with defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi of Charlotte.

I was hoping for a defensive back and there was quite a few linemen that seemed to be all ranked about the same,but with the Browns not having a fourth round pick,if they wanted one of those guys,they had to pull the trigger then.

Ogunjobi is reported to be more of a run stuffer/high energy player with is reported to have a chance to develop into a decent pass rusher from the interior line.
The question is how Ogunjobi will project against a higher caliber of player after time in Conference USA.

This pick gives the Browns a pretty decent interior line rotation with Ogunjobi,Danny Shelton,Jamie Meder and I wouldn't be surprised to see more of Carl Nassib inside this season.

I hope to be back later with more of a look at Ogunjobi and Deshone Kizer later tonight.


Browns draft DeShone Kizer in round two

The Cleveland Browns appeared to have taken a chance in round two of the NFL Draft as they have selected quarterback DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame.

The 6'4 Kizer brings size,arm strength and looks the part of a stud passer.
Kizer was considered a potential first rounder when he entered the draft,but was passed by as Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech began to be noticed by more observers.
Kizer has all the talent that you can ask for,but has some questions as well.
Many thought he should have returned to Notre Dame,including his coach Brian Kelly,doesn't always make good decisions and has been interception prone.

All of that said-I like the gamble for a player of this talent level.
Very low risk,high reward after the first round.
I'll have a short note on the third round pick later and then a larger post on day two

Browns waive Gary Barnidge

Less than a day after trading up for Miami tight end David Njoku at the end of the first round,the Cleveland Browns didn't wait long to show that they are all in with their new tight end as veteran Gary Barnidge was quickly released well before the beginning of the second round.

Barnidge had his career year in 2015 with 79 catches,9 touchdowns and finished with over 1,000 yards receiving,but saw his numbers drop in the Hue Jackson office to just over 600 yards and with a large cap number due to a deal that Barnidge signed after the 2015 season,the decision to turn the position over to the drafted Nkoju and 2015 draftee Seth DeValve makes sense and even though you would think that the team could have shopped Barnidge as a possible throw in in a trade or even fetch a sixth or seventh rounder,but the more likely scenario is that the salary of Barnidge made a trade very unlikely and by cutting him now,the well-liked veteran will have plenty of time to hook on with another team.

Barnidge's career year came as a huge surprise as in his previous six years in the league had seen his career high in catches sit at a low 13,but the extension was seen as an olive branch to fans disgusted with the regression under Mike Pettine and a show of good faith.
When you think of tight ends under Hue Jackson,you think of large,athletic,rangy types that can get downfield such as his use of Tyler Eifert over Jermaine Gresham in the years that he spent as the Bengals offensive coordinator and despite his good hands,Barnidge isn't that type of player.
Combine that with the departure of Josh McCown,who Barnidge seemed to have chemistry with/McCown looked for Barnidge first and you can see why the Browns decided to allow Barnidge to go elsewhere.

The Browns have two picks tonight,a second rounder obtained from the Titans and their own pick which is the first in the third round.
I'll be here tonight looking at both (or more) players selected tonight by the Browns...

2017 Draft-Cleveland Browns Day One

The Cleveland Browns excited some people on day one of the NFL Draft,disappointed others and yet some more looked at the first day as a mixed bag.

I liked the Browns sticking to their plan and taking the best player on the board with their first pick with Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett.
The big,rangy Garrett is the type of pass rusher that enters the league once every few years and in my opinion,was the unchallenged choice for the top pick.
At 6'5 270 and with the speed that teams drool over off the edge,Garrett is the disruptive presence that a Von Miller brings to the pass rush that not only will see Garrett be productive,but will see an increase in the pressure brought by Emanuel Ogbah and others.
I love the Garrett pick and even though many wanted Mitch Trubisky here,I wasn't convinced that Trubisky is an elite value quarterback and it appears that despite the Browns interest in the North Carolina passer,they weren't sold on him at number one.


With the manner that the draft fell into place,I was excited at 12.
I was hoping for Pat Mahomes there,but the Chiefs traded up to 10 and drafted the Texas Tech quarterback.
Still with several picks that I would have thought to be unlikely to be top ten choices,the Browns had several top notch players (especially on defense) available at the choice acquired from Philadelphia.
I was rooting for Ohio State safety Malik Hooker,but Alabama defensive tackle Jonathan Allen would make the Browns defensive line a monster instantly with Miles Garrett.
Tight end O.J. Howard of Alabama would have given the Browns the top player there in a deep crop and Alabama linebacker Rueben Foster had appeal as the intense linebacker that the Browns have lacked for years.
I wouldn't have scoffed at DeShaun Watson,the Clemson quarterback that broiled Ohio State in the playoffs,despite some concerns about his style of play being caught up to the defenses today.
A player such as Watson falling to the Browns was far different that trading assets to move up for him.
All of those options on the board-what to do?
Exactly what you would think the Browns would do-trade down.
Blah and the Browns dropped 13 spots to 25 and got the Houston Texans 2018 first round pick in return.
Always nice to have two number one's,but the Texans pick is likely to be in the 20's next year,which means the Browns could have a less desirable pair of picks than the current draft showed.
I would wished that the Browns could gotten something else added,such as a 3 or 4 in this draft.
That pick would prove handy by the end of the night...

Finally,at 25,Cleveland was up and all of those players were gone except Reuben Foster and I was hoping Foster or Washington safety Budda Baker.
Instead,the Browns again for all of the "analytics" and all the "new wave thinking" were the same old Browns as they bit on the most polarizing players in the draft in michigan safety Jabrill Peppers.
I didn't like Peppers,not for his michigan roots,but for the lack of steak behind the sizzle.
The hype says Peppers is a playmaker,yet ignore his one career interception,his lack of instincts at safety are blamed on michigan moving him around too much,yet that decision to move him around made him "versatile" and he'll enter the league after a recent issue at the combine as a member of the Substance Abuse Program!
Not having the instincts to play safety nor the size to play linebacker,Peppers is the epitome of a "tweener'.
I can see the Browns trying to involve him on offense and he is a dazzling punt returner,but other than a few gimmick plays,they aren't going to make him a regular part of the offensive game plan.
I just don't like this pick,although he could make it work as he has terrific athletic ability,but he's going to have learn how to play a set position and improve his weaknesses in order to do that.
It's possible,but I'd rather have a safety that played safety in Budda Baker than someone learning on the job.
One thing that never changes-the Browns asking players to do something at the highest level that they've never done before-Sigh....


One would have thought the Browns were finished as I moaned about Peppers to Ryan on Facebook as he prepared for his Packers to select and he hoped for Wisconsin's T.J. Watt.
Instead,the Browns swung a trade with Green Bay and Twitter was on fire thinking that perhaps the Browns were going after quarterback Deshone Kizer of Notre Dame or even another quarterback Davis Webb of California.
I was rooting for Reuben Foster again,but mentioned a chance of Miami tight end David Njoku as a secondary possibility.
The choice was Njoku,who brings a big target (6'4 246) with unusual speed and leaping ability for a tight end.
The upside is high for Njoku,who reminds me a little of Antonio Gates and if he can be that good-this is an excellent choice.
He may never be more than an average blocker,but physically,Njoku looks the part.
He'll need some refining,but this could be a standout with some polishing work.
Here's the issue for me-to move up just four spots from 29 to 33,the Browns,the team that values picks so much,traded the 33rd pick (1st in round 2) and 108 (the first in round 4 and the third day of the draft).
You had to figure 33 was gone,if the Browns wanted back into round one,but the Browns having to move 108 meant the Browns were out of the 4th round not only with the valuable first pick of the day (teams often love to trade for that pick as they have all night to try land a player that slipped and shouldn't be there),but completely.
The Browns preach quantity of picks and then deal themselves right out of quantity.
This is where getting a middle rounder in the trade with Houston would have went a long way.
The Browns do have three 5's and two 6's,so they could move up for the right player,but it could have been much easier.
I do like Njoku and think he could be the best tight end in the draft with development,but they paid a steep price to move up so little,especially in a stacked tight end class..


Wrapping up-
A-For Myles Garrett and managing to hold off the horde to force feed a quarterback that they really didn't think was proper value at 1.
D-For another trade down.With several elite defenders and possibly their quarterback of the future available,the Browns punted for a first rounder next year that might be lucky to be lower than 20th.
C Minus-For Jabrill Peppers,Unless the Browns have plans to use him as a Devin Hester type multi-tool player,I'm not a fan.
There was a reason that michigan moved him around so much-they didn't want to expose him at the same spot every play over the course of a game.
B-David Njoku-The price was high,but so is the talent of Njoku. A gamble,but one that could pay off.

Browns trade down and up-Draft Peppers and Njoku

The Cleveland Browns do what the Cleveland Browns do in the first round-pass over elite talent to make head scratching moves.

Cleveland traded the 12th overall pick to Houston,who would select DeShaun Watson of Clemson in return for the 25th pick and the Texans first rounder in 2018.
I like getting a one,but that's all?
Buffalo traded a higher pick (10 to 12) to Kansas City to drop 17 spots and got much more in return.

When 25 rolled around,the Browns had chances to select two hard hitting linebackers in Reuben Foster and T.J.Watt,pass rush Takkarist McKinley and corner Tre'Davious White and instead bought into the most overhyped and overrated player in the draft in Jabril Peppers of michigan.
I'll write about Peppers more in a few hours when I review day one in its entirety,but I'm not happy and whether you agree or not,I hope I'll make you think...

Cleveland then traded up with Green Bay to move to the 29th pick to nab the big and athletic David Njoku,a tight end from Miami.
Njoku is a great athlete and I love his tools and size,but he's a bit raw albeit with big upside.
My issue here is the price that the Browns paid (33 and 108) ,the first picks in the second and fourth rounds-picks that usually can fetch a nice return from teams that have hours to decide on players that slide further than expected.
This trade is more along being disappointed in the cost and not the player.
I'm at the road office,so I'll have a post looking back at all three players that the Browns picked as the morning goes on.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Browns select Myles Garrett

The Cleveland Browns did what I had hoped for and took the impact player rather than a project and tabbed Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett with the first pick of the 2017 draft.

Early in the day,the rumors were flying that the Browns were considering reaching for North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky,but apparently cooler heads prevailed.
The 6'5 Garrett looked the part at the combine and brings the type of pass rusher that the Browns haven't had since the move.

More on Garrett and the other Browns first rounder later tonight...

2017 Mock Draft

Since I'm home and not feeling great (I'm still likely going to work),I thought of the old days in the 80's and 90's when I would write out in longhand draft needs and mocks for my oldest buddy Greg.
I don't see Greg as much as I used to,but he's always going to be my oldest friend and I'm sure I'll be talking draft to him sometime this weekend.

So,for "Big Ern" here is a quick mock draft!
A few caveats.
1) This is a combo of what I would do and what I think will happen.
2) No trades involved,Quickest way to ruin these is guessing on trades.
3) Be nice,this literally came at the last minute!!

1) Cleveland:Myles Garrett DE Texas A&M-Don't overthink it-take the difference maker
2) San Francisco:Solomon Thomas DL Stanford-Versatile local gives 49ers a disruptive DL presence.
3) Chicago: Jamal Adams S.LSU-Bears take the safest player in the draft
4) Jacksonville:Leonard Fournette RB LSU-Bull like runner makes sense with Doug Marrone coaching,
5) Tennessee:Marshon Lattimore CB Ohio State-Only question is hamstrings.
6) N.Y.Jets: Mitch Trubisky QB North Carolina-Only question here is Jets want a QB now or 2018?
7) L.A.Chargers:Malik Hooker S Ohio State-The new Ed Reed?
8) Carolina:Mike Williams WR Clemson-No matter the pick-Panthers go offense
9) Cincinnati:Hassan Reddick LB Temple-Bengals add rush off the end.
10) Buffalo; Jonathan Allen DT Alabama-Not a huge need,Buffalo takes best player,who slid with injury questions.
11) New Orleans;Derek Barnett DE Tennessee-Saints need D and take one of my favorite players in this draft.
12) Cleveland:O.J.Howard TE Alabama-A QB here wouldn't be a stunner-especially if Mitch Trubisky falls here.
13) Arizona: DeShaun Watson QB.Clemson-Cal it a hunch
14) Philadelphia:Marlon Humphrery CB Alabama-Big physical corner.
15) Indianapolis:Ryan Ramcyzk T,Wisconsin-Andrew Luck needs to add some protection.
16) Baltimore: Takkarist McKinley LB UCLA.Looks to be a fit for the Ravens defense.
17) Washington:Reuben Foster LB Alabama-Small slide after combine issues-brings attitude.
18) Tennessee:John Ross WR Washington-Deep threat for Marcus Mariota
19) Tampa Bay:Christian McCaffrey RB Stanford-Versatile Swiss Army Knife back gives Jameis Winston a weapon.
20) Denver: Garrett Bolles T Utah-Position of need
21) Detroit: DeMarcus Walker DE Florida State-Will need to play several spots to maximize skills
22) Miami: Tre'Davious White CB LSU-Defensive need-Best D available
23) N.Y.Giants;David Njoku TE-Miami FL.Athletic rangy pass catcher.
24) Oakland: Obi Melifouwu-S Connecticut-Huge safety with lots of the physical abilities.
25) Houston:Patrick Mahomes QB Texas Tech-My favorite QB.
26) Seattle:Cam Robinson G Alabama-Can play guard or tackle
27) Kansas City:Corey Davis WR Western Michigan-Chiefs need more playmakers on offense
28) Dallas:Gareon Conley CB Ohio State-Dallas takes the risk and nabs a top 15 player.
29) Green Bay:T.J. Watt LB Wisconsin-Too good to be true,which is why it might not!
30) Pittsburgh:Kevin King CB Washington-Corner to help the continued secondary rebuild.
31) Atlanta: Charles Harris DE Missouri Situational pass rusher,but could have early impact
32) New Orleans: Zach Cunningham LB Vanderbilt Athletic backer with high ceiling,but low floor

Bonus
33) Cleveland:Budda Baker S Washington-Third best safety in this draft,Great value at this pick

Cleveland Browns-Persons of Interest-Part Two

Ready to work on part two of the Persons of Interest that I like for the Cleveland Browns,this time on the defensive side of the ball..
IF (huge IF) time permits,I might do a throwback just for fun mock draft...

I've stated that I'm fully in on Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett at number one,but in the event that the Browns do take the (Huge) risk on Mitch Trubisky at one,the Browns will still need someone to rush the passer.
I like Solomon Thomas of Stanford,but I doubt he'll be there at 12 or maybe even in the event of a tradeup.
Alabama's Jonathan Allen is an excellent player,but has bad shoulders and I wonder about the length of his career.
I also like Tennessee's Derek Barnett,a high effort player that would make lots of sense for the Browns at 12 (if he gets by the Saints at 11),if they used the top pick on Mitch Trubisky and even though he went to school at an unnamed school,I think Taco Charlton was super against Ohio State and I think he could be a great pick for someone late in round one or early in round two.
A sleeper that I like on day three is Dawyane Smoot of Illinois,who is a hustle guy that never stops.
Those types of guys find a way to make teams...

The easy pick is Alabama's Rueben Foster at linebacker,but there are two players that I don't see as a dropoff compared to Foster and can be gotten at a lesser cost in Florida's Jarrad Davis and Ohio State's Raekwon McMillan.
Both are inside players and won't translate to the outside,but make sense for a team that tackles so badly.
On the outside,I like three guys,but not sure at 12 and just as unsure that they make it at 33.
Temple's Hassan Reddick is more of a pure speed rusher and might make sense if Miles Garrett is not the pick.
Tarriarist McKinley of UCLA has all the tools and might be a every down player and there's always T.J.Watt of Wisconsin and that family tree.
I also like Tyus Bowser of Houston as a 3rd or 4th rounder..

The secondary is badly in need of help and I'd really like either Malik Hooker of Ohio State or Jamal Adams of LSU.
Hooker is the playmaker,but Adams is the more rounded player=I'd love to have either!
I like Washington's Budda Baker at 33 as a consolation,but Connecticut's Obi Melifonwu is rising on draft boards with his size (6'4) and athletic ability.
On the corner,two of the top four corners are Buckeyes in Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley.
Both come with issues,Lattimore's tendency to pull hamstrings and Conley has a just discovered off the field accusation.
Lattimore will be gone at and Conley could fall for a while,but the supposed crime happened in Cleveland,perhaps the Browns have some inside intel and maybe they could scoop a first round talent later in the draft.
I like the physical tools of Alabama's Marlon Humphrey and Tre'Davious White of LSU is the most balanced corner with the least amount of risk...
I wouldn't be against a day three flier on injured Sidney Jones of Washington,who might have been a first rounder.

I'm going to try to do a mock draft for the first time in years soon,don't kill me too much for it-just having fun and put next to no time into it


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Cleveland Browns-Persons of Interest

The Cleveland Browns arguably have needs at every position,although some are better than others.
I'm hoping to have time to do two posts before tomorrow's nights draft,but I'm going to start with some players that I like at various positions.
If I have time,I'll be adding a look at the Browns positional needs tomorrow.

The drama is at number one,where most people believe that the way to go is Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett,although some rumors are floating about North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky as the choice.
I'm firmly in the Garrett camp,as I just have questions about Trubisky,although I like him some.
I wonder why if he's so wonderful,why couldn't he beat out the far from immortal Marquise Williams?
I wouldn't have an issue with Trubisky at 12,perhaps,but definitely not at one and maybe not even at a trade up,unless the cost was minimal.

I don't even have Trubisky as my top quarterback as that honor goes to the power armed Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech.
With his size,arm and mobility,Mahomes would be a little more of a work in progress than Trubisky or DeShaun Watson of Clemson,but at 12 or for a tradeup involving the second rounder,I'm all in on Mahomes,who Scott Dryden compares to Brett Favre.
Works for me.

The running back class is pretty deep and I doubt the Browns will go runner with either first rounder,but might in round two-especially if they don't trade up.
I'll leave the best backs on the board that are unlikely to be Browns and focus on two backs.
Joe Mixon of Oklahoma comes with lots of baggage,but might be the best back in the draft on pure talent.
Bullish D'Onta Foreman of Texas could be a nice addition on day three in the draft.
Foreman runs hard between the tackles and could be a surprise for someone...

The wide receiver spot was a major part of the 2016 draft,but none of the day three picks had an impact.
I doubt the Browns use a first rounder,but Chris Godwin of Penn State brings a big and fast reciever that could be a day two pick and I really like North Carolina's Ryan Switzer as a Wes Welker type in the slot on day three.
Could the Browns take Switzer,if they take Mitch Trubisky?

Lots of tight ends available and I really like Alabama's O.J. Howard as the best of the bunch,but to take Howard means that the Browns will likely not get their QB at 12.
Big and fast along with a blocking ability,Howard would be great for Cleveland.
Two others that I like are Adam Shaheen of Ashland,who's more of a Rob Gronkowski type physically and Evan Engram of Ole Miss,who is more of a true pass catcher than tight end....

I doubt the Browns tab an offensive lineman before day three and if so it'll be a sleeper/developmental player.
Just to toss a name out-Justin Senior,a tackle from Canada,who played at Mississippi State.

I plan on doing a defensive persons of interest tomorrow morning..

Podcast-Special Guest Daniel Parlegreco

The podcast returns with Daniel Parlegreco to talk more NFL Draft prospects before tomorrow night's draft...

Catching up with the news

There isn't too much to write about,but I did want to catch up a bit before an incredibly exciting work training that is reportedly going to change my life with wonderful nuggets like "treat people like I would want to be treated" etc!

I'll get through it,though and come home with lots to catch up as I have TONS of draft stuff to do and only so much time to get it typed up..

Anyway,I'll have lots to write about soon with my trip to West Virginia and the Power along with all the fun that occurred on the downtime.

The Cavaliers are waiting to see if their next opponent will be Toronto or Milwaukee after sweeping the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.
I was able to watch the final minute in my hotel room in a rainy Charleston after the Power game vs Lakewood with Doug Hopkins,which was more than I expected to see!
Toronto is on the road against the Bucks tomorrow night for their game six and the Raptors can clinch with a win,while a Bucks win forces a deciding game seven Saturday in Toronto.
In either case,the winner's series vs the Cavaliers will start Monday...

I really want to bang some draft stuff and I may have to settle for less coverage than usual.
If I have to make a decision on players of interest or Browns needs,I'm leaning towards players of interest...

I also wanted to wanted to answer a question that has been asked several times since the Q and A post about my status with the Hagerstown Suns as far as going to games go.
No,there isn't a boycott or anything like that,I just would rather go to other places that I enjoy more when the opportunity arises.
I'll still be going to games during the next homestand vs Rome and Hickory,but looking at the schedule,it could be a month before I return.
Why? the schedule of the team,which has roadswings and the next two teams into the Hub City are the main two opponents that seem to arrive here like the Washington Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters-Lakewood and Delmarva.
Those teams are mostly caught up unless a team set comes out....

I'm going to try to list my podcast with Dan Parlegreco shortly before I'm off to the meeting,so look for plenty of updates over the next few days...

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Boxing Challenge results

It's been a busy few days for the TRS bunch and I'll have lots of catching up to do along with covering my trip and the Browns in the draft,but I'll do my best to cover things over the next few days.

But,first the boxing challenge over the weekend before I forget to mention and total the results.
I only saw the two Showtime fights and yet to have time to watch the rest,so I'll keep this to results....

Shawn Porter KO 9 Andre Berto- TRS and Ramon Malpica-One point each

Jermall Charlo KO 6 Charles Hatley-Knockout of the year candidate.
TRS two points,RL one point.

Oscar Valdez Unanimous Decision Miguel Marriaga-
TRS two points,RL one point

Gilberto Martinez Unanimous Decision Max Bursak-Both one point

Jessie Magdaleno KO 2 Adeilson Dos Santos-Both one point

Martin Murray Majority Decision Gabriel Rosado-Both one point

Avtandil Khurtsidze KO 5 Tommy Langford-TRS two points

Total for the weekend: TRS 10 RL 6

Total for the season TRS 51 RL 42

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge continues with a multi-fight weekend from Showtime,a pay per view card and overseas...
I lead Ramon Malpica 41-36 in the challenge to date....

Showtime features two bouts with one determining a mandatory title challenger and a world title bout.
In the main event,WBA and WBC welterweight champion Keith Thurman's next mandatory challenger will be decided as Shawn Porter battles Andre Berto.
This should be a fun fight as both guys come forward and throw punches,even though neither are huge punchers.
Porter is the prohibitive favorite,but Berto should at least make a good go of it and isn't overmatched.
Porter lost a split decision to Keith Thurman in his last bout.

The co-feature has WBC junior middleweight champ Jermell Charlo defending against Charles Hatley.
This too could be interesting with both having faced less than fearsome competition and both have been inactive in waiting for this fight.
Charlo has been off for 11 months and Hatley for 18 months,so inactivity could come into play.

Top Rank is using Pay Per View after failing to get HBO interested in a three bout card that features Top Rank's three young WBO champions.
The best fight and the one that is most likely to provide an upset is WBO featherweight champ Oscar Valdez defending against veteran Miguel Marriaga.
Valdez is talented enough that in a strong featherweight division that few want to fight him and with the other champions being with PBC,Valdez needs to build his brand-Marriaga would be a good start.
The other two are basically squash matches with WBO super middleweight champ Gilberto Ramirez defending against Max Bursak and WBO junior featherweight beltholder Jesse Magdaleno taking on Adeilson Dos Santos.
Any challenge for Ramirez or Magdaleno would be a surprise to me and Top Rank..

Two middleweight fights from Europe finish the challenge for the weekend.
Veteran warhorses Martin Murray and Gabriel Rosado hook it up in what should be a bruising battle that should see both guys throwing and landing lots of punches.
One of those wonderful interim titles are up for grabs as the top contender in the WBO Avtandil Khurtsidze will try to solidify that status in England against hometown fighter Tommy Langford.
The winner not only gets the "coveted" interim title,but more importantly,the next fight for WBO champ Billy Joe Saunders.

Welterweights.12 rds
Shawn Porter vs Andre Berto
Both:Porter unanimous decision

WBC Junior Middleweight title.12 rds
Jermell Charlo vs Charles Hatley
R.L:Charlo unanimous decision
TRS:Charlo KO 9

WBO Featherweight title.12 rds
Oscar Valdez vs Miguel Marriaga
R.L:Valdez KO 6
TRS:Valdez unanimous decision

WBO Super Middleweight title.12 rds
Gilberto Ramirez vs Max Bursak
R,L: Ramirez KO 7
TRS:Ramirez KO 4

WBO Junior Featherweight title.12 rds
Jesse Magdaleno vs Adeilson Dos Santos
Both:Magdaleno unanimous decision

Middleweights.12 rds
Martin Murray vs Gabriel Rosado
Both:Murray unanimous decision

Middleweights.12 rds
Avtandil Khurtsidze vs Tommy Langford
R.L;Langford unanimous decision
TRS:Khurtsidze KO 10

Friday, April 21, 2017

Cavaliers back from the dead-Win Game Three

The Cleveland Cavaliers appeared to be throwing in a cropper in Indianapolis Thursday night,shooting well under forty percent in the first half and trailing by 25 points at the half.things appeared to headed for a 2-1 series as the fans went mad in Indiana for their Pacers.
However,something happened when the Cavaliers came out for the second half-LeBron James awoke and snatched the game by the horns in the manner that only the greatest to ever play the game can and when it was all over,it was LeBron James and Cleveland's Cavaliers standing tall with a history making 119-114 win and a 3-0 series lead.
James,of course,was the leader with a triple double with 41 points,13 rebounds and 12 assists to lead Cleveland,who helped James with five players that scored either 12 or 13 points.
Cleveland leads the series 3-0 and can eliminate the Pacers with a win Sunday.
No coverage on that as I will be doing baseball on that day...

Swashbucklings

1) That was about as powerful of a performance by LeBron James that I can remember since he singlehandedly carried the overmatched Cavaliers by the Detroit Pistons to their first NBA finals.
The look on that face when the Cavaliers hit the floor for the second half as I watched at work caused me to think to myself-they may not win this,but I would bet almost anything that they are going to make the Pacers and their crowd worry sometime during this half.

2) Russell Westbrook might win the MVP and deservedly so,but the best player in the world still resides in Cleveland.
This is very reminiscent of those years in the 90's where Charles Barkley and Karl Malone would win the award,but in the playoffs Michael Jordan would show up in a rage and remind everyone that the best player in the world was still a Chicago Bull-this was much like what we saw yesterday.

3) The comeback was the largest from a halftime deficit in NBA playoff history and the surprise in how it happened?
Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving sat on the bench during the 4th quarter in favor of Devin Williams at the point and Channing Frye at the 4.
Williams hit his only shot,but was a steadying influence and Frye hit two key three pointers.
Points to Tyronn Lue for sticking with what was working and to Love and Irving for being supportive and not sulking.
That shows that the team really buys in and isn't all about personal gain...

4) I really hate playing the Pacers.
Not because I have a soft spot for a former ABA team,which I do,but because when they wear their gold uniforms as they did in this game and the wide angle is used,it can be hard telling which team is which as the Cavaliers gold is pretty close to the Pacers version...

5) This series is over.
Not only is it beyond unlikely that Indiana wins four straight,but it would be a shock to me for Indiana to even win Sunday despite being at home.
A loss like that isn't one that you bounce back from in a season,let alone in three days.
Get this win and hope for a Atlanta Hawks comeback to stretch their series with Washington along.....

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

Q and A

I had asked for questions for a Q and A and got a few even though a few came through conversation,so they won't be named....

First question comes from Battlin' Bob.
Bob wants to know who has impressed me most in the first week of the minor league season.

Well,that is an easy one- Hagerstown's Juan Soto is going to be a prospect that everyone is going to be talking about soon and he's just 18.
The ball jumps off his bat and he's going to hit for power.
Soto isn't a fast runner and I wonder about him defensively,but the bat is going to play.
Washington knows that their window is starting to close at the big league level and might be forced to make a mid-season splash-If the Nationals have to decide which of their top two position prospects have to go between Soto and Victor Robles,it's going to be a very difficult choice to make..

Next question comes from Bill Cover from the ballpark about the Cavaliers and their chances in the playoffs.
Bill is a long time Cavalier fan and has some concerns about the playoffs.

I'm a little concerned,but not overly so.
I look at the other rosters in the Eastern Conference and I don't think that any team including the top seeded Celtics that observers could say that a series win over Cleveland would not be an upset.
The Cavaliers have the conference's most talented team and when push comes to shove,I think that they will be able to put it together to win the East.
In other words-I don't see any team that is going to beat a LeBron James led team four times out of seven.
Now in the finals,that could be a different story,but I'll at least say that a return to the finals is likely...

Next we have an easy one-What's up with the podcast?

I'm hoping to have a new free server when my deal with Podbean expires.
I want to keep it alive,but not at the current cost-If there is any of the archived material that you want to listen to or download for yourself-I'd get on that soon!
I do have some guests scheduled,so look for those soon as well...

Next up-this question from Twitter-What's my stance on Chief Wahoo?

I love Chief Wahoo and I've loved him since childhood,but I can see where he could be found offensive to Native Americans.
Terry Pluto thinks a re-design is in order and maybe so.
I do HATE the current blah Block C that the Indians currently favor,so let's float this idea out there.
I'd trade the Chief,but in return the block C is scrapped in favor of the "Crooked" C from the 70's.
The crooked C pays homage to the name Indians more than the bland current version,yet takes away what offends.
Under those circumstances,I'd make that trade.

Jason Christensen asks about autographing with this-Are there certain affiliates that seem to be easier than others to get signatures from?

Well,this does tend to ebb and flow according to prospects,but it does seem to be the middle level teams (at a particular time) that are better than others.
Teams that have been bad at the big league level can sometimes be tough because everyone wants high draft picks,but the traditionally popular teams like Yankees,Red Sox,Mets,Giants etc can be difficult too.
Currently,the Rockies (minus the Brendan Rodgers experience in 2015),Rangers,Orioles and Pirates are teams that I had good luck with.
Seems like the good teams change from year to year and the bad ones generally stay the same.
Another thing that helps is if the manager likes to sign.
If the manager (or team player that's a leader) likes to sign,the team follows and conversely,if they hate it-it's always a grind.

Finally,we have Fred Landucci with a boxing question-Fred wants to know why big fights like the unification fight between Ricky Burns and Julius Indongo aren't shown on American television and how not having it anywhere but online (unless you have AWE tv) doesn't help to grow the sport.

Fred's right that it doesn't help,but apparently no network other than AWE wants to buy the fight.
Some of these small networks would do well (in my opinion) to pay a small rights fee and use the transmission from the other country's main network feed to keep costs down.
I've always thought for the small cost that HBO and Showtime should invest in these types of bouts.
HBO has a show on HBO Latino that could have shown Burns-Indongo on tape (at little cost) to use it to build interest in the winner vs Terence Crawford since Crawford is an HBO fighter and it's the same division.
It's really a Catch 22-they aren't shown because " no one knows them and the interest isn't there",but how do you know them and want to see them,if the exposure never arrives?
It's a hard situation for boxing to be and until we as fans get lucky enough to have a boxing guy run a network,no matter how small,fights like Burns-Indongo will be unavailable on television...

I always enjoy these,so I'll try to do another one soon!!





Sunday, April 16, 2017

Cavaliers nip Pacers 109-108

The Cleveland Cavaliers put forth an uneven effort and allowed the Indiana Pacers to put together a fourth quarter that put them back into the game and with a chance for the underdog to win.
Fortunately for Cleveland,former Cavalier C.J.Miles was short with his jumper and Cleveland escaped with a 109-108 win in game one of their series..
LeBron James scored 32 points and dished 13 assists with Kyrie Irving adding 23 points.
Cleveland will host game two Monday night....

Swashbucklings

1) The Cavaliers defense had its problems again in this game,but when the game was on the line,Cleveland stepped up with the Pacers inbounding with ten seconds and kept the ball out of the hands of Paul George.
Evcn if C.J.Miles drills the jumper to win the game for Indiana,that was exactly the type of defense that you hope to see when the game is decided...

2) LeBron James played in his 200th playoff game in the victory.
James threw down the pictured dunk and set the packed house down with screams...

3) Tyronn Lue is going to stick to a tight rotation as Iman Shumpert and Derrick Williams didn't play in this one.
I'm willing to bet that that both Shumpert and Williams will play a bigger role sometime during the playoffs.
Lue played matchups in last years playoffs,he is likely to do so again...

4) Kyle Korver did play 15 minutes,but Indiana was prepared for the sharpshooter,didn't leave him alone and played him tight enough that he was only able to launch one shot-a two pointer that he made.
Korver had big games (25 points per game) against Indiana earlier this season and the Pacers figured that into their defensive plans in game one...

5) Kyrie Irving did score 23 points,but he did it on 11 for 27 shooting and just 1 of 9 from three point range.
Combine that with a missed layup late in the game and Irving's numbers looked better than they were..

6) Yes,Cleveland was lucky to escape with a win,but despite defensive breakdowns and many missed opportunities,the fact still remains that the Cavaliers won on a day that they were far from at their best.
The main thing is the win,I'll take that everytime.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Indongo incinerates Burns

In an lopsided bout in Glasgow,Scotland, Julius Indongo added the WBA junior welterweight title to his IBF title in the same division in a lopsided unanimous decision over Ricky Burns.
I scored Indongo a 119-109 winner (11-1 in rounds) and even the round that I gave Burns could have gone to Indongo..

Indongo backed Burns up by using his reach and kept Burns off his back foot,unable to do anything remotely threatening to the native of Namibia.
I (and Ramon Malpica) picked Burns,but this was one of those fights that a minute into the bout,you could see that if Indongo didn't make a tactical error and was able to continue to fight in the same manner that he started,that this fight was decided...
I picked Burns because I had seen less than a minute of Indongo in the ring against anything remotely resembling even top 50 competition,but it's clear that he'll be a handful for anyone in the 140 pound division and that includes Terence Crawford.

Indongo is very tall for a 140 pounder (nearly 5'11) and has an awkward style that is aggressive,yet with some skills to go with the size.
Of course,you would have to favor the more tested Crawford,but Indongo brings enough to make that fight an interesting one.
Crawford has beaten fighters with similar size before (Viktor Postol),so the taller fighter is not something Crawford hasn't seen,but Indongo moves forward unlike Postol,who was more of a boxer and he throws more punches.
I'd like to see that fight get made after Crawford's May fight against Felix Diaz,who is far from a light touch and I think that fight is makeable.
The IBF signed off on this fight since it was a unification fight and would do the same for a Crawford fight,but if that fight cannot be made next, Indongo's next foe will be the IBF mandatory Sergei Lipinets,who is 12-0 and a PBC fighter.

Big fight weekend next week in the challenge coming up.
I'll be back later tonight with a look at the Cavaliers nailbiter over Indiana..

Friday, April 14, 2017

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge has a one fight weekend,but it's a significant fight that is either a on-line or YouTube bout as the WBA and IBF junior welterweight belts will be unified in Glasgow,Scotland as WBA champ Ricky Burns meets IBF titlist Julius Indongo to unify their titles.

Ricky Burns is reminds one much of WBO lightweight champ Terry Flanagan,who fought last weekend-technically sound,not a lot of pop and not quite good enough to beat the elite of the division,
Julius Indongo was literally an unknown as he had never left his home country of Namibia or fought even a top twenty contender before traveling to Russia and wiping out Eduard Troyanovsky in less than a minute.
Watching that fight,you'd think Indongo is a destroyer,but he's only knocked out eleven of his twenty one opponents.
Has Indongo suddenly found significant power or did he just catch Troyanvosky cold or unprepared?
Burns is good enough to give us a better idea on Indongo after Saturday as his history shows that he loses to really good fighters,while having enough to beat merely good ones.

Boxing fans should be rooting for Indongo to win as after the bout the four titles will be divided between the winner and Terence Crawford,who not only owns the WBC and WBO belts,he also owns a decision over Ricky Burns,in which Crawford won almost every round,making a rematch to unify all the titles unlikely to happen as I can't think of anyone. not even Burns that wants to see that fight again.
An Indongo win,especially if he can stop Burns,which has never been done,not even by Crawford would make a Crawford-Indongo fight possible and intriguing.

I lead the boxing challenge 41-36 over Ramon Malpica and both of us are picking Ricky Burns by a unanimous decision...

Cleaning out the inbox

After the recent all baseball inbox,I'm going to clean the rest of the inbox and start fresh into the weekend.
I've gotten a few questions for Q and A from different sources and I'll be doing that sometime over the holiday weekend,so if interested,you still have time.

The Cleveland Cavaliers might have wobbled down the late season stretch like a jalopy with four bald tires,but even though the Cavaliers blew the Eastern Conference's top seed-the real season begins Saturday afternoon as the second seeded Cavaliers begin the playoffs against the seventh seeded Indiana Pacers.
There is plenty to be concerned about,but few,if any,people consider anyone but Cleveland to be the favorites to win the East.
My pick in this one:Cavaliers in five...
I'm going to have as much coverage as I can have,which basically means,if I see the game,I'll write about it.

A few goodbyes:

Goodbye to Steelers owner Dan Rooney,who died yesterday at the age of 84.
Normally,I wouldn't have much to say about the owner of the Steelers,who have whipped the Browns constantly over the last almost 20 years,but I've always had a place for Dan Rooney,who was one of just two owners (along with Ralph Wilson of the Buffalo Bills) that voted against Art Modell's theft of the Browns to Baltimore.
No matter my hatred for the Steelers,I'll always think well of Dan Rooney for that...

Goodbye to former Texas Tech running back James Hadnot at the age of 59.
The thunderous runs of the hulking Hadnot led the defunct Southwest Conference in rushing in 1978 and 1979 after being converted from tight end two weeks before the 1978 season.
Hadnot was a punishing,physical rusher and preferred to run defenders over rather than running by them.
Hadnot was a third round selection by the Chiefs in 1980 and spent four years in Kansas City before finishing his career in the USFL with the San Antonio Gunslingers.

Goodbye to "Pretty Boy" Larry Sharpe at the age of 66.
Sharpe was best known as the first big pro wrestling trainer at his wrestling school "the Monster Factory" having trained many stars in the wrestling game such as King Kong Bnndy,Bam Bam Bigelow and Raven to name just a few.
I'll always remember Sharpe best for his television matches from the first year that I was a fan of wrestling.
Sharpe was given a few television wins in order to raise him above the level of the television "enhancement talent",but at the arenas would lose to anyone above that level,although he was often the victor in his preliminary matches...

In a recent inbox,I wrote about Mary Katherine Ham of CNN and the Federalist.
Ham hit home for me as she wrote about her love for the Masters,yet she never has played golf.
As a golf fan of both tours that doesn't play golf,her words were more eloquent than I would written on my memories growing up,but the feelings were similar.
Mary Katherine Ham is a coming star in print and television.

We finish with a Deadspin post that was written before Georgetown hired Patrick Ewing as their head basketball coach.
It discusses the fifty year war between John Thompson,who still wields the most power at Georgetown (if he didn't,why would Georgetown hire someone that has never been a head coach at any level or ever coached in college at all?) and DeMatha coach Morgan Wooten and his successors.
It's a great remembrance of Washington basketball and all of the heat and controversy that involves...







Thursday, April 13, 2017

First Week-On the Signing Front

Wow.Week one of the minor league season is now in the books and I figured I'd make a quick rundown....

Before I begin,I'll be doing another Q and A in the next day or two-drop me questions here,Facebook,Twitter or if we are actual friends- email.
I love the Q and A sessions and I have received some minor league baseball questions,so look for that soon!

I have three podcasts set for the baseball downtime,so the podcast will be back soon with three great guests-two returning and one new!

With all three teams that are close all opening their seasons at home in week one with one or two series,there was plenty to do and see,but the downside was that there will be eight days in between the last game and another game.

Let's start with the local bunch with the Hagerstown Suns.
I only attended one game for each series of the homestand-1 against the Asheville Tourists (Colorado Rockies) and the final game against the Lakewood Blue Claws (Philadelphia Phillies),as to be frank,I had games/teams in other locales that I wanted to do as well.

The chronically understaffed Suns didn't really change much at the Muni,but I didn't see anything to complain about as far as changes go,so things weren't that bad.
The Tourists featured two first round picks in 2015 (Compensation round) third baseman Tyler Nevin (son of former big leaguer and current Giants coach Phil Nevin) and 2016 first rounder (4th overall) fireballer Riley Pint.
I decided to go the Frederick Keys route on the Sunday,which was far more fun due to a great meal with Doug Hopkins afterwards,but in doing I missed seeing Pint,who reportedly was hitting 100 MPH on the radar gun against the Suns.
Earlier in the series,Pint signed all three cards that I had,but Nevin was missed as a grapher with a pile of cards and other items nailed Nevin and left the rest of us grasping for air.
Luckily for me,there was always Derreck Chupak,who in his visit later in the series,helped me with Nevin and was able to get him on all my stuff...
Other interesting additions was 2016 fourth rounder Colton Welker and former Ohio State Buckeye Jacob Bosiokovic,who chatted with me about the Buckeyes...

As noted,I attended just one game against Lakewood and the top overall pick in 2016 Mickey Moniak.
I suspected the Moniak show would attract graphers from the circuit for a crazy environment and I go to games for fun and relaxation-that didn't seem like fun to me.
I passed on Monday in order to do Fightheads and I thought Harrisburg with Bill Cover on Tuesday would be more fun even with a lesser team (Hartford) than battling graphers.
I hit the final game of the series with a grand total of just five cards-1 for the aforementioned Moniak and 4 for a reliever named Harold Arauz,
I had gotten quite a bit of the Blue Claws last year at Williamsport,the short season affiliate of the Phillies and with a few more additions from Doug Hopkins ( I did stuff for him in Harrisburg),I was left with just five cards.
I told Arauz that he was the main player that I needed tonight and he quizzically looked at me and said "Moniak?".
I said I had more for him (Arauz) than anyone and when he signed,my night was just about finished,
I wondered whether it was worth trying to join the crowd for Moniak (the graphing crowd was there for him,the actual crowd-not so much) and decided why not and he was quiet,but efficient and knocked my Bowman's Best card out.
I watched the game and enjoyed the quiet as noted earlier,the undermanned Suns staff wasn't able to do as many of the on-field skits as normal.
I decided to skip the bus crowd and went home as I had to leave for work within the hour.
The Suns early season six o'clock starts allow me to stay a lot more than later in the season when the games start at seven.
I'm planning on a different plan of attack for the hometown team this season.I'm going to try keeping things to just one or maybe two games a series,
I'm hoping that a small reduction in games will allow me to have more fun in Hagerstown...

I spent Sunday with the Frederick Keys and the visiting Carolina Mudcats.
The Mudcats are in their first year with the Milwaukee Brewers,who are new to the local circuit.
As a result,almost all of us have tons of cards for the Mudcats.
Mike Landucci had earlier added Trent Clark on his 2016 top 100 (Clark would be the only top 100 pickup of the opening week) for me,so I was able to add Clark on his Midwest League top prospect card.
I always love doing the league top prospect sets and except for the top 100 sets,those are always my top of the list to have signed.
2014 first rounder Kodi Mederios was very nice in signing a few different cards with the best additions being his 2015 Midwest and 2016 Florida State prospect cards and also nice was former sandwich pick Jacob Gatewood,who signed all 4 cards that I had.
The best get might have been promising hurler Marcos Diplan,who is fast moving up the top prospect charts.
Diplan signed his Midwest prospect card and his Pioneer league All-Star card and stopped to do it-very nice.
After a dinner with Doug Hopkins,I went home to watch the end of the Masters and skipped the Suns.
I always enjoy the Frederick Keys,the graphing access is usually great,the employees almost always friendly (there was one usher a few years ago as the exception) and I usually have a good time there,although I don't get to watch games there as much as I wish that I could.

Tuesday was spent with Bill Cover for the Hartford Yard Goats and we were met there by Fred and Mike Landucci.
I've never had a bad experience in Harrisburg and of the three stops,it's likely my favorite to watch a game in.
The AA game is a better quality game and moves faster as a result.
Harrisburg also has one other factor-my man Nate DeFazio.
Nate is my favorite employee among my minor league stops,always thanks me for coming to Harrisburg,talks for a bit and is pleased to see me (and Derreck when he is able to come),which is a welcome change from another spot-Ha Ha!!!
The Yard Goats weren't loaded with prospects,but a few interesting cards were inserted into the finished collection for mine (and Doug's)
Outfielder Omar Carrizales was extremely nice in signing three cards,starter Ryan Castellani pitched well in his start and signed two cards,before joining what appeared to be his family and former Texas Longhorn Parker French signed five cards (combined between Doug and mine).
I always like my Harrisburg trips and look forward to more as the year goes by.

I now have eight days off and after looking forward to the return of the game for the fall and winter,this break is a little longer than preferred.
Upcoming teams
Delmarva visits Hagerstown (Unsure on this,a very light prospect team,they make several trips to Hagerstown and not a lot of cards combined with other stops)
Salem visits Frederick-Will definitely be doing the Red Sox after missing many of those players at Greenville last year.
Lakewood and Charleston in West Virginia-First long trip of the year sees the Blue Claws again,a early chance to do the West Virginia Power and Blake Rutherford with the Yankee affiliated RiverDogs.
Reading visits Harrisburg-More cards than expected for the Fighting Phils with young outfielder Carlos Tocci and second baseman Scott Kingery.
Kannapolis visits Hagerstown-This one will be a missed series as I'll be in Charleston and Harrisburg before missing a 10;30 am game due to a work meeting.
Doug Hopkins is swapping his Reading cards for me to do as I give him my Kannapolis cards to work on...

Those games will take care of April and set the stage for May....

Monday, April 10, 2017

Cleaning out the inbox-Baseball Version

On a beautiful day for baseball (and the Giants home opener),it's time for an all baseball cleaning out the inbox!

ESPN discusses an opinion that Buster Posey is now the best defensive catcher in the game.
For years,the Cardinal backstop Yadier Molina had gotten that nod,but with the advent of the numbers crowd and their interest in catchers pitch framing abilities,I can see where Posey has risen to the top of the heap.
Between his offensive numbers and defensive capabilities,Posey is the best catcher in the game.

Two articles from the SABR Baseball Card Blog grabbed some attention.
The first dealt with former Pirate fireballing southpaw Bob Veale.
Veale was one of more overlooked pitchers of the 1960's with the Reds Jim Maloney and was one that few wanted to face due to his power arm and sometimes less than accurate control.
Veale also wore glasses and the article shows his various Topps cards and the different looks in the them....

The other article deals with the 1968 Topps baseball game insert set.
The game was built with Topps packs as one card was found in each 1968 pack.
I never played it as a game,but I did always like the cards and tried to collect them as much as I could.
In this years Topps Heritage set,there is a similar set available as short print inserts with the current players.
It's a nice touch and I'm going to try to get that set sometime...

The baseball hall of fame brings a pair of links to the party with one writing about well-traveled outfielder and designated hitter Rico Carty.
Carty had two interesting facts in 1970 as he won the batting title hitting .366 as an Atlanta Brave and as the first player to be voted as an All-Star game starter as a write-in candidate and only one of two ever (Steve Garvey 1974 was the other).
Carty was also a DH for the Indians and put together three strong years in Cleveland.
Carty's knees was the main reason that he became a DH and that wasn't uncommon for the first era of the hitting specialist that saw so many aging stars that could still hit,but not field or run keep a place in the game.

The second was really interesting as it took an in-depth look at the move that Bud Selig managed to buy the Seattle Pilots after just one season (1969) in Seattle and move the team to Milwaukee.
It discusses the Pilots problems,how Milwaukee filled their interim time after the loss of the Braves and all the maneuvering that landed the Pilots in Wisconsin.
One thought to ponder when you play the what if game is what would have happened had Selig never brought baseball back to Milwaukee.
How many of all of these changes to the game would have been different with someone other than Bud Selig as the commissioner?

Hardball Times writes about the career of the recently deceased Bill Hands and does so through his baseball cards.
Hands was an excellent number two starter for the Leo Durocher led Cubs of the late 60's and early 70's and it shows one of those awful Topps airbrushing jobs with Hands shown in a painted over Twins uniform,yet clearly pitching at Wrigley Field long before interleague play was in place.
Hands passed at the age of 76.

We wrap up with the Petaluma Press Democrat writing about their hometown resident and San Francisco Giant home game host Amy Gutierrez.
Gutierrez enters her tenth year doing Giants games and even though I'm not always a fan of sideline reporters,Gutierrez rarely enters the field during the game,stays on the outside for the most part for her new segments and then does the postgame interview.
She does an excellent game of blending into the AT&T Park experience and meshes well with Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper as part of the best local broadcast crew in the game.
Gutierrez talked about her time with the Giants,her children's book series and the issues that come with the job with raising two children.





Sunday, April 9, 2017

Lomachenko dominates Sosa-Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge rolled into Maryland of all place for three fights and two more in England for a big fight weekend.
I outscored Ramon Malpica nine to six on the weekend to move my lead to 41-36 on the year....

The first ever card at the new MGM casino in Oxon Hill Maryland featured what some consider the best fighter in the world as Vasyl Lomachenko won every round from Jason Sosa and forced his corner to throw in the towel after the ninth round to retain his WBO junior lightweight title.
Lomachenko did not score a knockdown on the game Sosa,but steadily pounded the challenger and rarely took a punch,let alone one of value.
The knockout win gave me three points (win,result and round called) to Ramon's one.

As for Lomachenko,who might be boxing's most avoided man,who knows what's next.
None of the other three champions (WBA Jezreel Corrales,WBC Miguel Berchelt or IBF Gervonta Davis) seem to have any interest in fighting him,which is why Jason Sosa took his shot.
Orlando Salido,who defeated Lomachenko in a fight that saw Salido miss weight and fire low blows consistently over their fight that should have seen Salido lose points,but weren't before Salido won a narrow split decision.
That rematch would be interesting as Salido has been the only opponent not only defeat Lomachenko,but even give him a challenge.
However,Top Rank (Lomachenko's promoter) thinks Salido has overpriced himself to avoid the rematch.
A move to 135 pounds could see two challengers to make Lomachenko work in WBA champ Jorge Linares or WBC champ Mikey Garcia,but if the WBC has their way,those two will fight each other next.
Other than those two,I don't see anyone capable of giving Lomachenko a mild challenge under 140 pounds and that could mean more squash matches like last night....

The undercard saw Oleksandr Usyk win a unanimous decision over former U.S.Olympian Michael Hunter to retain his WBO cruiserweight title.
Usyk badly hurt Hunter in the 12th and scored a knockdown when the ropes held a badly hurt Hunter up on his feet.
This fight should have been stopped in that round,but it wasn't-if Maryland is going to become a fight staple in Oxon Hill-they had better start training some quality referees.
I scored Usyk a 117-110 winner (9-3 with the knockdown),but Hunter showed some good things.
He needs more seasoning,but he could be back down the road.
I'd love to see Usyk against IBF champ Murat Gassiev or WBC titleist Mairis Breidis in unification fights,which would be close and entertaining contests.
Ramon and I each scored one point for the win,as we did for the other fight on the HBO broadcast as
there is a looming star in the light heavyweight division in Oleksandr Gvozdyk,who steamrolled Yunieski Gonzalez in three rounds.
Gvozdyk dropped Gonzalez twice in the round,sending him staggering around the ring before finishing him off in leaving him face down on the canvas.
The light heavyweight division is suddenly filled with promising big punching contenders in Gvozdyk,Artur Beterbiev,Joe Smith among other solid contenders in Elieder Alvarez,Sullivan Barrera and the rising in weight Badou Jack,so lots of good fights could be made-lets see what happens....

In Manchester,England,Terry Flanagan retained his WBO lightweight title with a unanimous decision over Petr Petrov.
I scored Flanagan a 116-112 winner,but from what I saw against the solid,but unspectacular Petrov.
Flanagan might want to stay away from the top two lightweights in the above mentioned Linares and Garcia.
Ramon and I each earned two points for the Flanagan win.

In a travesty on many levels,Liam Smith defeated Liam Williams when a severe (and rare) double cut on Williams eyelid forced his corner to resign after the ninth round.
The bout was scheduled to be for the "interim" WBO junior middleweight title that will be more than likely upgraded to the full title when Canelo Alvarez vacates the division,but Smith missed weight and left only Williams to win the title.
And then the worst part,I had Williams ahead six rounds to three at the end of nine,but near the end of the round,I thought Smith clearly charged in with malice head first and headbutted Williams causing the cut that would end the fight.
It was ruled a clash of heads and had Williams continued and had the fight been stopped due to that cut,the scorecards would have been consulted.
Instead the corner looked after their fighter over the chance of victory,gave Smith an undeserved win and kept the title vacant.
Smith's stoppage win gave me two points and Ramon one...

More on these and other boxing issues Monday on Fightheads..


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge returns with a five fight weekend-a tripleheader on HBO and a world lightweight title bout on Twitter of all places...

HBO features one of the best fighters in the world as WBO junior lightweight champ Vasyl Lomachenko defends against Jason Sosa,who gave up a secondary title to face Lomachenko.
Sosa's far from a soft touch,but I don't see anyone at 130 that has anything more than a very remote Hail Mary of a chance.

Oleksander Usyk defends his WBO cruiserweight title against undefeated former Olympian Michael Hunter.
Usyk is part of the three fighters that are revitalizing the cruisers with Mairis Breidis and Murat Gassiev and could use an exciting win in his second appearance on American TV.
Hunter has faced no one even remotely considered a top twenty fighter,but his amateur experience along being the son of one of the most awkwardly effective fighters of the 80's and 90's-Mike "the Bounty" Hunter has the potential to make this an interesting fight.

The other HBO fight pits light heavyweights as Oleksander Gvozdyk faces Yuniesky Gonzalez.
Gvozdyk has defeated former title contenders in his previous three fights (Tommy Karpency and Nadjib Mohammedi were squash match contenders though) and his win over Issac Chilemba in his last outing was more impressive than Sergei Kovalev's win over Chilemba four months before.
Gonzalez looked like a division comer after a loss to Jean Pascal that most thought Gonzalez deserved to win,but a subsequent loss to Vyachaslav Shabranskky dulled that reputation.
This could be an interesting clash of styles...

Terry Flanagan defends his WBO lightweight title against mandatory contender Petr Petrov in the UK and that bout can be found at 5 pm on Twitter.
Not sure why Twitter picked up this bout,but I'm glad it did as the winner could land unification fights against any of Jorge Linares,Mikey Garcia or Robert Easter or make some fun fights in defenses against recent title fight losers Anthony Crolla or Dejan Zlatcanin.
Petrov is an aggressive fighter and could make a exciting fight....

The other fight was going to be for the WBO "interim" junior middleweight title before a mishap.
I'm normally not in favor of interim title,but Canelo Alvarez holds the WBO title and is unlikely to defend it,yet hasn't vacated it.
The winner of this bout would have been the full champion when Alvarez vacated,but Liam Smith missed weight and is ineligible to win the title.
Smith was knocked out by Alvarez in his last bout,but was favored to defeat Liam Williams in this one (How many Liam's are around,let alone two fighting for the same title?)
If Williams wins,he wins the interim title,if Smith wins,the title remains vacant.

I lead Ramon Malpica in the boxing challenge 32-30.

WBO Junior Lightweight title.12 rds
Vasyl Lomachenko vs Jason Sosa
R,L:Lomachenko unanimous decision
TRS:Lomachenko KO 9

WBO Cruiserweight title.12 rds
Oleksander Usyk vs Michael Hunter
R.L:Usyk KO 4
TRS;Usyk KO 8

Light Heavyweights.10 rds
Oleksander Gvozdyk vs Yunieski Gonzalez
Both:Gvozdyk unanimous decision

WBO Lightweight title.12 rds
Terry Flanagan vs Petr Petrov
Both:Flanagan unanimous decision

Junior Middleweights.12 rds
Liam Smith vs Liam Williams
R,L:Smith unanimous decision
TRS:Smith KO 10

Friday, April 7, 2017

Time isn't on my side...

Time isn't on my side at this time.
The autographing season is starting,but there is always stress as teams wait to release rosters and you just cannot get ahead of things to be prepared.

Combine that with work and it's tough to be as prepared as you'd like.
Add a rainout for the Suns opener and it only gets worse as teams dragged out a roster release,so I cannot get cards out as quickly to my traders.

Anyway,because all the extra work needed to get that finished-I've decided to skip team previews and just note them here for posterity.
I also won't predict anything past the regular season,the playoffs are just too unpredictable in short series action.

Cleveland Indians 97-65 1st place American League Central
Pittsburgh Pirates  81-81 3rd place National League Central
San Francisco Giants 92-70 2nd place National West-Wild Card....

This might be the year Indians fans have waited for.
The addition of Edwin Encarncion's power bat might be what puts the Tribe over the top.

The Pirates appear to be about average.
If Andrew McCutchen bounces back,they could threaten for a wild card,but a slow start that would make that difficult,look for McCutchen and others to be moved at the deadline...

San Francisco should fight a neck and neck battle with the Dodgers that could go either way at the wire.
The Giants starting pitching ranks with the best,but even with the addition of Mark Melancon,the bullpen still remains a question mark.
If the Giants get to the postseason,they are the team no one wants to face due to that starting rotation.