Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Round Three

Tomorrow night,round three of the Cleveland Cavaliers-Golden State Warriors begins and once again,most observers like the Warriors to win the series.

I'm not saying that I would make Cleveland the favorite over the Warriors,but I think that the odds are clearly far too lopsided at two and a half to one.
I like Cleveland for two reasons.
One- For all of the hype about the greatness of the Warriors players,Cleveland has the best player.
When all is equal or even close to equal-The team with the best player usually wins.

Two-Don't underestimate Mike Brown.
By that,I mean that you don't underestimate the ability of Mike Brown to lose games that they should.
We will see if Mike Brown has learned from past mistakes.

Cleveland will need to play with the type of passion that they have played with in the playoffs and not fall back into the lackadaisical play that often marked their regular season play.
Kevin Love is going to be a huge factor with his improved play and his three point shooting might well be the difference.

I'll go with my heart and say Cleveland in seven,but Golden State winning would not stun me,unless GS slashed to a four or five game victory,which would surprise me.
I'm looking forward to this one.

Back tonight with some more fun stuff that I have been planning...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Road Trip:Cincinnati

The final day of our journey was spent in Western Ohio,where I had driven through with Ryan last year and Cherie had never been.

Cherie had found a place that I had never heard in researching the trip in Jungle Jim's International Market just outside of Cincinnati.
Jungle Jim's is a kitschy type of place that I love and I had such a blast with Cherie!

With lots of displays,Jungle Jim's looks like just another extra large supermarket.
Until you get to the cool display's that feature grocery icons,such as the Campbell Soup can,the General Mills cereal characters playing as a rock band and what appears to be a tiger dressed up like Elvis and sings songs and the unique qualities of Jungle Jim's begins to shine through.
Jungle Jim's features more items from around the world that you can imagine and for me,the best part was the over 1,000 hot sauces (In alphabetical order) and loads of hot spices and seasonings.
You can be sure that I bought a few things from both of those departments,but there was so much more as every items seemed to have so many choices.
I saw the McDonald's Big Mac,Filet O Fish and McChicken sauces that were supposed to be only sold in Canada,tons of potato chips,vegetables that I had never even heard of,let alone seen from different countries,fresh fish of all types with many of them swimming live in tanks and more than I can even type!
Another super part was aisles upon aisles of different imported items.
It wasn't just a few items,it was many items from not just a few countries,but many countries and I loved seeing all these items that you cannot get elsewhere.
We spend over two hours just wandering around the store and we came nowhere near seeing the entire place!
We spent 75 dollars and could have spent far more-there is something to be said for making decisions!
Another decision was to leave as we decided to make the 90 minute trek to Wapakoneta for a return to the Neil Armstrong museum.

I had visited the museum last year with Ryan and suggested it as one of many places for the trip to Cherie,who selected it.
We had such a great time at Jungle Jim's,but needed to leave in order to make it to the museum to have plenty of time to look around.
The museum was pretty much the same as last year except for a new film to replace the one from last year,which was very dated to be honest,but Cherie seemed to like it as much as I did and thought similarly to me that it was an interesting mix of what people of our age remembered of things created in the 1970's,yet with some things being updated.
The museum isn't likely to change much as it isn't affiliated with the national system,but the far less funded Ohio Historical Society,but I really enjoyed for the space buff and the person that might not be as interested should keep their interest as well.
I wasn't going to buy anything,but I had told Cherie that last year I had bought a snow globe,which narrowly beat out an Armstrong bobblehead (helmet on,not off) and I was getting to leave and she said "you may not ever be here again,buy the bobblehead",so I listened and now I'm glad that I did!

We left for our hotel and we were hungry.
That might be because other than a light continental breakfast at our hotel, we hadn't ate,so we stopped at a midwest chain pizza place that we both liked-East of Chicago.
Now,East of Chicago isn't Donna D's in Ashland,but it's good and being a small chain,it isn't too processed.
They had a buffet,but we were the only people there and it scared me some because I didn't know how long the pizza had been sitting,so I decided to order us a medium pizza and a appetizer of fries since we hadn't ate.
This allowed me to slip to the car and get the surprise of the trip.

I had bought Cherie something a few days before,despite being "warned" that the trip would be the anniversary present to both of us.
I just wanted to get her something else that would be meaningful to add to the occasion and had smuggled it into the car.
I bought her an emerald necklace since emerald is the birthstone of the month of May,which (duh) was the month that we were married in.
I really think I surprised her and I hope she enjoys it for a long time to come!
Back to the hotel for the evening and the trip home was pretty uneventful with the exception of a good finishing dinner at Red Lobster in St.Clairsville,Ohio,which is a town that I've seen more in the last year than in the previous years of my life combined!
Thanks to Cherie's good friend,Christine Hinkle for the gift card that helped pay for it!

Thanks to Cherie for such a wonderful trip and I hope you enjoyed the look back at the trip and its stops.
I'll be back to normal for a few days,so I'm going to shoot for a signing front,a badly needed inbox cleaning and a preview of Cavaliers-Warriors.....



Monday, May 29, 2017

Road Trip:Lexington

Less than two days after returning from Norfolk,I was on the road again-this time for the 30th anniversary trip with the lovely Cherie.
It was a Quid Pro Quo of sorts as this was "our" trip more than a baseball trip,so I traded an afternoon at the Ken Ham Creation Museum for an evening with the Lexington Legends.
I wanted to do the Legends because it finished off the state of Kentucky (after last years trips to Bowling Green and Louisville) and because it checks off one more SAL team (trims the league to six and after planned trips to Kannapolis and Augusta later in the year-four) on my list of that league.

The day started at 3;30 AM with a low tire and struggling to find a place to pump it up.
The rental car turned out to have a slow leak in the rear tire and I would have to pump it up later in the trip.

I don't eat like I used as I try to drop down in weight,so there isn't quite as many food stops on this trip,but there were a few interesting places.
The first was Gold Star Chili,which is the challenger in the Cincinnati chili market to the better known Skyline Chili and I've never tried them before,although I've seen some commercials when watching Reds games.
It was good,but here's the behind the scenes scoop on Skyline vs Gold Star-There isn't any difference!
You either like the thinner style chili with a hit of cinnamon or you don't.
I do,but I'm not sure that I would eat it as much if I lived in the area.

I'll stay off the Creation Museum.
It really wasn't my type of place,but I slogged my way through it with as minimal snark and sardonic wit as I could hold back.
These things happen when part of a team and Cherie was able to do something that she wanted,so I was pleased to be able to make that happen for her.
After leaving the museum and a quick stop at the Ark Adventure (about 45 minutes away),where they are building a to scale Noah's Ark,so Cherie could take some pictures from a distance (40 dollars per person and 10 bucks to park!), we checked into our hotel,which was good enough and provided a laugh from "Mike" behind the counter.
Mike seems exasperated with the person in front of us and when he asked me how I was with my response being "Fine,how are you"?,his response was an eye roll and "I've been a LOT better" with a deadpan monotone voice...

Next stop was Whitaker Bank Ballpark,home of the Lexington Legends and the main reason that I selected this area for our trip.
Whitaker is located in an area that is tucked in between a strip mall and a residential area and wasn't difficult to find for us even using a GPS.
I brought very few cards to attempt to get signed with us to Lexington,so few that I didn't even bring the briefcase into the park.
The opposition was the Hickory Crawdads,who had been to Hagerstown two weeks before,so the main card was Leody Taveras on his top 100,since I didn't have the set when the Crawdads were in town.
The graphing there wasn't hard,but you do need to pick one side or the other as the players enter from right-center field and cross to their dugout.
With the graphing finished,we moved to the souvenir stand,where I was able to buy Rachel a Legends sweatshirt,Derreck some clearance bobbleheads and Doug Hopkins a Legend player sign that was displayed outside the stadium last season.
Not a bad team shop at all with plenty of space and items,although I didn't buy anything for me.
Lexington doesn't allow you to return to your car,but as we walked along the concourse,a very nice lady asked us if we would like to keep our packages with her in fan services and we accepted.
I suppose there is something to southern hospitality.

The Legends employees were super nice and accommodating as they helped us to our seats,talked a bit about how they do things and told us we could sit elsewhere as long as we didn't upgrade our seats too much.
As those of you that go to games with me know,I like sitting all the way at the top,I like the solitude and the sightlines,so we went further up.
As we watched the first two innings of the game,we could see storm clouds rolling in and it was just a matter of time before they arrived with the question then being how much rain would fall.
Answer: A lot and we left after an hour rain delay (the game was eventually cancelled).
Too bad as I really liked the park and employees and Cherie commented the same.
I'd return to Lexington,if I was in the area and I'd recommend it to you too.
You might want to hurry though as despite the park being just 16 years old,there are already rumors in the area of a new stadium located in wait for it-downtown Lexington.....

Through the pouring rain back to our hotel,we decided to stop at the sponsored chain advertised on the scoreboard-Cane's Chicken Fingers for dinner.
It was OK,not great but decent enough.
The fingers weren't the biggest,but tasty enough and the sides were OK.
After that,it was back to the hotel to catch the second half of the Cavaliers and Celtics before ending the day.
Back soon with Cincinnati and the other day of our trip.







Sunday, May 28, 2017

30 years

I didn't have much time on my actual anniversary to write about the 30 year mark,but I wanted to drop a few lines now about the importance of this bar.

You see,I look at things differently than many (or most) in how they look at life.
I look at things like this-almost everything positive that I've ever done in my life is a spinoff of being Cherie's husband.
From getting myself together from a disappointing childhood/teenage years to having children to being a reasonably responsible (ha) person- all of those things came from a decision to pursue her in high school.
Honestly,there's very little positive (I'm sure there are a few) that I've managed to pull off without her being involved.

Cherie is the greatest person I've ever known.
She's my moral compass,my confidante' and the person that I can always count on to be there when I need her most.
People are drawn to her because of her quiet strength,her high morals and the ability to be caring without being someone that is taken advantage of.
She overlooks many (not all ha ha) of my flaws and takes care of me with all the baggage that I bring with me

My friends and people that know Cherie often tell me that I am the luckiest person that they know because of being fortunate to have her as my life partner.
Being my wife can't be easy with all that I bring to the table,yet she manages to deal with me with a calmness and grace that I can't imagine anyone else dealing with me in a similar manner.

I've grown up a lot since I was 15.
I waited her out for 2 years and hardly went out with anyone as a teenager.
I just knew what felt right and if I didn't land her,it was going to be because she didn't want me,not because I made colossal mistakes,
I knew there was something there with her,not that I knew what it was consciously,I just knew it was there.
I remember often telling people that the perfect person for me was out there and that it wasn't a tired cliche'.
I knew not only that she existed,but that I even knew who she was.

It's been 30 great years.
Not all perfect,but often times it was outside sources that caused the issues,only extremely rarely each other.
We're not in the greatest house and we only now are close to having a second car on the road,which many people take as a fact of life.
We don't have what many have and more than some,but many don't have what we do have-peace,serenity,our family and each other.
Pretty good 30 year run....

I'll be writing about our trip to Lexington Kentucky and the coolest supermarket that I've ever been in next time...

The Spence Era Begins-Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge returned with a bout that boxing junkies had hungered for a long time and was rewarded with a back and forth thriller that ended with Errol Spence taking the IBF welterweight belt away from Kell Brook with an eleventh round stoppage.
The bout featured plenty of action with both fighters having more than a few moments,but Spence knocked Brook down in the tenth and Brook dropped to a knee in the eleventh surrendering honorably.
Spence also broke the eye socket of Brook in the middle rounds as he re-injured the socket that Gennady Golovkin broke in Brook's last bout,along with badly puffing the left eye of Brook up with swelling.
I had Spence leading at the time of the stoppage 96-93 (6-4 with an extra point deducted from Brook for the tenth round knockdown).
It was just the type of fight that fans hoped for and with the Spence victory,Premiere Boxing Champions may have found the star that they have lacked since opening their promotion.
PBC has hyped several fighters and hoped those fighters (Keith Thurman,Adrien Broner etc) would develop into the flagbearer for their company,but for various reasons fell short.
Errol Spence has the type of skills and personality to be such a star-let's hope that PBC can avoid the inactivity pitfalls and allow fans to see him active to build his fanbase,which will allow him to develop into a star.
As for Kell Brook,it appears that he has developed a chronic problem with his facial bones and is going to have problems in tough fights as his face is going to bust up.
Issues like that don't get better over time and Brook is going to have to deal with these problems for the rest of his career.
Ramon Malpica earned two points in the boxing challenge for the Spence knockout,while I picked up one for the Spence victory.

I got that point back when George Groves won the vacant WBA super middleweight title with a sixth round stoppage over Fedor Chudinov in another great fight loaded with action.
I had Groves slightly ahead after five rounds (3-2),but wobbled Chudinov badly in the sixth before the referee stopped the bout.
Groves could have two big money unification bouts that would draw huge crowds (and dollars) in the U.K. with IBF champ James DeGale (Groves handed him his only loss) and if Callum Smith could defeat Andre Dirrell for the vacant WBC title,either could be in Groves' future.
I picked Groves for one point with Ramon picking Chudinov.

As of now,I don't have a result for the final bout for this week from Panama with Anselmo Moreno against Julio Ceja.
I'll add that to this post when I have the result.
Editor's Note Ceja stopped Moreno in three rounds,giving Ramon two points and me zero.
I lead the challenge as of now 70-66





Saturday, May 27, 2017

Road Trip:Norfolk

I've been on the road a lot over the last week and didn't have a chance to write about the Cavaliers two wins and one loss on their way to winning the Eastern Conference for the third year in a row.
I'm planning a title series preview covering the Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors later this week,but since that series doesn't start until next Thursday-I'll do that in a few days...

I added another stadium to my passport as I visited Norfolk Virginia with one of my normal travelers in Derreck Chupak along with Brandon Diehl,who has went on trips with us before and a new voyager in Patrick O'Connor.
I'm not a huge grapher of AAA baseball because it's a lot of work,but this was intriguing because of the visiting Charlotte Knights.
The new Bowman top 100 set was released and with luck,I could get five percent (five for the non-math majors out there! Ha Ha) of the set in one visit with four Knights and one member of the home Norfolk Tides.

The trip was originally scheduled to be taken to Trenton,NJ for the Trenton Thunder and I took off work to do so,but the trip was changed with the reported lack of signing of top prospect Gleyber Torres,scared us off a bit.
Being that I had never been to Norfolk and I was knocking a ball park my list anyway,I was fine with the change.

We drove straight to Harbor Park and did "arrival" so we could get a head start.
AAA graphing is difficult mainly for two reasons-the prospects are getting hammered by graphers from all over as they travel through their various systems and AAA guys are getting their first shot at them and the veterans are often older guys that think they should be in the majors and are grumpy for being in AAA.
I didn't get many players during the arrival period-Tyler Danish,who was always a good signer with the White Sox lower level teams,signed a few,veteran journeyman outfielder Ryan Raburn signed his Indians heritage card,but was grumpy doing it.(I wager he was in a better mood in a few days when he was traded to Washington to bolster their bench) and the biggest catch came with Carson Fulmer.
Fulmer was my first top 100 of the weekend with maybe my favorite card of the entire set-this year's Fulmer showed Fulmer pictured in the throwback uniforms from the early 1980's!
Fulmer signs just one card at a time,but he is so nice and easy to deal with and I'm really rooting for the Vanderbilt product to succeed in the bigs..
Those players all walked from the hotel and we weren't as fortunate with the remainder of the team,who took the bus to the park as none of those players signed.

A quick trip back to our hotel,where a computer snafu left us scrambling for our reservation,having to find Ryan and a re-send of the reservation to finally get settled in before a return to Harbor Park,which despite a mist of rain and winds which made the night long,was not melting in the dark.
We tried to do some pre-game graphing by the visitors dugout in hopes for a few cards to be finished and that's about what we had in a few cards from the Charlotte pitching coach and former Oakland Athletic Steve McCatty.
Harbor Park is a two tiered park with the lower deck having far more seating than the cheaper upper deck and we were given pretty decent seats from the Tides.
We were very fortunate to have two prospects charting for Charlotte with Carson Fulmer signing my second (and final) card for me and former Sun Reynaldo Lopez signing his top 100 for my second of the series.
The cards he signed for us were the only ones that we saw Lopez sign for anyone over our time in Norfolk.
I know that players sign less and less as they move higher and higher in baseball,but this one surprised me a bit.
Lopez was always a great signer and very gregarious in dealing with graphers when in the Washington system,it's sad to see him sour on signing,but I'll still remember him best for one night in Hagerstown.

Norfolk does have some pretty good hot dogs as Brandon recommended and at reasonable prices at 4.50 per.
I had one "Frito Dog" (Chili,Cheese and crushed Frito) and one "Oriole Dog" (real Crab and Mac and Cheese).
I loved the Frito dog and the crab on the Oriole dog was good,but the mac and cheese could have been done without.
I ate one of each and the other guys ate more than that.
If I had ordered another one,it might have been an Oriole-hold the mac!!
The pictured dogs were Derreck's second helping of dogs!!

We left the game after the seventh inning in order to get into position to land the biggest fish-the number one prospect in all of baseball-Yoan Moncada.
Moncada was the largest chip that Boston had in trading for ace starter Chris Sale with the White Sox and Moncada is expected to be a star for the White Sox for years and could be in Chicago soon.
Moncada was ranked as number one in the top 100 set by Bowman and I was never able to get him to sign for me last year in games that I saw him play in the Boston system with both Salem (High A) and Portland (AA).
As we waited for players as the game wound down,more and more people began to arrive.
We were in great position and a fellow that Derreck met earlier in the day arrived and began acting strangely,pointing at us and had some less than nice things to say as reported by Patrick.
Both of us would have loved to have put this guy in his place,but we had came to get Moncada (and others),we didn't want to lose that spot for some guy that likely had too much to drink.
We move on to Brandon's favorite player,Lucas Giolito,who signed his top 100 to me (Lucas always personalizes,which bothers me much less than others,it seems) and then chatted with Brandon and Patrick for a bit.
Lucas threw a seven inning no-hitter earlier this week in his first start since our visit and might be turning things around after a awful start to the season.

As our "friend" continued his proclamations,Moncada peeked out around the corner to check the amount of graphers,he waited a bit and came out.
This is where the leaving early to gain position won the day-Moncada signed for the four of us (Top 100 for me),a kid with a baseball and Derek,who I had just met.
Derek is on the SportGraphing message board and did a Danville team set for me on consignment last season.
Glad I was able to meet him in person as he's a good guy and an excellent grapher!
Moncada was finished now and walked onto the bus and now this guy mentioned earlier went from drunken happy to drunken unhappy!
The guy began to scream at the bus and walked the length of the bus with his middle finger extended.
He then looked to be moving to the parking lot to leave,but a few minutes later,returned to do the same thing!
Finally,his girlfriend/wife showed up and told him he was embarrassing her,which ended his evening.
I don't write this just to demean this fellow,who I hope just had too much to drink,I write to show two things.
1) This type of behavior helps to contribute to why players get tired of fan interaction.
2) The actions of guys like this makes all of us in this hobby look bad and that's sad because even though graphers like this exist,they aren't around all the time.

I wasn't finished after Moncada as I was able to add a few more players in former Padre outfielder Rymer Liriano (two) and former Padre shortstop Everth Cabrera (two) to end the evening at Harbor Park before an Uber ride through what seemed to be the rougher side of Norfolk and Portsmouth,which is where our hotel was located across the river.
At the end of the day,four top 100's down,some other cards finished,a ballpark on the list and a few interesting tales to tell-good day...

After some sleep,we returned to the stadium to see what we could get on arrival before we left for Hagerstown.
I had worked on Charlotte more on day one,but with the 100's finished,I was trying to fill in cards from both teams,but most importantly,the remaining top 100-Norfolk catcher Chance Sisco,who we had been told that came in very early before almost any of the other Tides.
I did get three Knights in former Phillie Cody Asche (minor heritage),Will Lamb ( 2014 Myrtle Beach) and another Tyler Danish (Bowman) that went to Craig out in Utah.
Norfolk did provide a few in former Braves infielder Chris Johnson (Heritage),who was very nice in signing.Jimmy Yacabonis (2016 Frederick) and Mike Yastrzemski (2016 Bowie),so I was able to feel OK about the Sunday morning hour,but I was disappointed to miss Chance Sisco.
The Knights got off their bus and all walked into the stadium without signing,but as I put away my stuff,Brandon came running over and said Chance Sisco had pulled into the lot.
I've lost some weight,but now the time had come-could I run from the stadium end to stadium end before Sisco entered the clubhouse?
Derreck took my briefcase,so it wouldn't slow me down and the race was on!
I was slow before I gained all this weight,but I suppose motivation can occasionally defeat natural gifts because I made it
in time to get Sisco on his top 100 and make it a perfect five for five on the trip!
I wasn't as out of breath as I thought I'd be,but still I'm surprised I pulled that off!
Former Indian Michael Bourn arrived via Uber,but waved us off with "Not today Ya'll" and that finished our day.

We ran into a lot of traffic on the way home,so a long ride became longer,but I had a great time with Derreck,Brandon and Patrick and it was successful as well.
AAA is far tougher than what I usually do (Even AA) and I don't think I'd enjoy it every day,but it was quite fun and I'd consider doing it again-On occasion!!!!

Still plenty to catch up on and that'll include my anniversary trip and my first trip to Whitaker Bank Ballpark,the home of the Lexington Legends...

Boxing Challenge

Lots of things to catch up on here at TRS with trips to Norfolk,Lexington and my 30th anniversary tour stops,but I'll be catching up on those as the week goes on.

First,we have a bout that boxing fans have been salivating over from the time that it was announced as Kell Brook defends his IBF welterweight title against undefeated Errol Spence.
Brook's win over Shawn Porter was far more impressive than Keith Thurman's over the same Porter,has had troubles getting top welterweights to fight him-much in the same fashion as Gennady Golovkin has at middleweight,while the talented Spence has outclassed his own limited competition put in front of him by the PBC and is untested against top opponents.
Brook showed he'll fight anyone by his challenge of Golovkin,but we'll see what that bout took out of him after Golovkin broke his eye socket,but Spence has been off since August and his knockout of Leonard Bungu,who will not bring back memories of Jose Napoles by any means.
I've been back and forth on who I think wins this and this is a true fight that can go either way.
The fight is on Showtime around five in the afternoon-I'll be in Frederick for the Keys and Buies Creek Astros,so I'll be watching on a delay.

The undercard sees the WBA filling its super middleweight title vacancy with former champion Fedor Chudinov,who lost his belt via controversial decision to Felix Sturm,who then failed his post fight drug test against George Groves,who despite his talent has lost three title challenges.
If Groves wins,the UK could see a big money fight there with Groves unifying his WBA title with James DeGale and his IBF title.
Groves decisioned DeGale in 2011 for the only loss in DeGale's career.

The final bout is a non-televised fight from Panama as two former champions fight for a mandatory WBC 122 pound title fight with Rey Vargas.
Anselmo Moreno,a former bantamweight champ, faces Julio Ceja,who once held the belt owned by Vargas...

IBF Welterweight Title.12 rds
Kell Brook vs Errol Spence
R.L:Spence KO 6
TRS:Spence Unanimous Decision

Vacant WBA Super Middleweight Title,12 rds
Fedor Chudinov vs George Groves
R.L: Chudinov Unanimous Decision
TRS:Groves Unanimous Decision

Jr.Featherweights.12 rds
Anselmo Moreno vs Julio Ceja
R.L:Ceja KO 7
TRS:Moreno Unanimous Decision

Monday, May 22, 2017

Boxing Challenge-Hamburglar alert!

Hamburglar Alert!!

My time is very tight after my weekend in Norfolk and so many things to do,but I wanted to update the challenge.
I haven't watched all the weekend fights and I'm trying to do before Fightheads tonight,but I did watch three robberies as Rances Barthelemy won a unanimous decision over Kiryl Relikh that I thought Relikh clearly won (I missed that fight for the challenge though),Andre Dirrell did what a Dirrell does-flop,bitch and moan as he won a belt via DQ that he didn't deserve over Jose Uzcategui.
But both of those pale to the split decision win by Hassan N'Dam over Ryota Murata,Who knocked N'Dam down and on my card won ten of the twelve rounds yet lost a split decision.


Here are the results and points for the weekend

Terrence Crawford TKO 10 Felix Diaz
R.L and TRS 1 point

Ray Beltran KO 2 Jonathan Maicelo
R.L and TRS 1 point

Gary Russell KO 7 Oscar Escandon
R.L 3 pts (win,result and round)
TRS 2 pts (win and result)

Andre Dirrell DQ 8 Jose Uzcategui
R.L and TRS 1 pt

Gervonta Davis KO 3 Liam Walsh
R.L and TRS:2 pts

David Benividez KO 8 Porky Medina
R.L:2 pts
TRS; 1 pt

Naoya Inoue KO 3 Ricardo Rodriguez
R.L and TRS 2 pts

Hassan N'Dam Split Decision Ryota Murata
R.L: 1 pt

Weekend:R.L:13 TRS 10
Year to Date: TRS 68 R.L 62

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Cavaliers make history in Game Two rout!!

The Cleveland Cavaliers ran over the Boston Celtics in a way that hasn't been seen since,well ever in game two of the Eastern Conference finals in a history making 130-86 destruction in Boston.
LeBron James led Cleveland with 30 points with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love each adding 23 and 21 respectively in support.

The Cavaliers now lead 2-0 and will attempt to end the series with the next two games in Cleveland...

Swashbucklings

1) Wow! Not sure what I can add to a win like that,so here are some numbers.
Cleveland led Boston by 14 after one quarter,41 at the half (playoff record) and 46 after three..

2) 56 percent shooting and 19 three pointers

3) Loved the off balance shot by JR Smith to end the half and set the record for halftime lead.
When stuff like that goes in-it's your night.

4) Cleveland's top lead was 50 in the second half for a number hard to comprehend..

5) LeBron James was not invited to New York for the league's MVP ceremony,which means he wasn't in the top three of the voting.
Wow...

6) Not much I can add about this other than it seems the rubber match between the Cavaliers and Warriors appears to be a done deal.
I'd wager the series will bring ABC/ESPN record ratings for any NBA Finals ever...

Friday, May 19, 2017

Boxing Challenge

Big and I mean that in the manner of many, boxing weekend coming up with the boxing challenge with bouts on HBO,Showtime,FS1 and overseas as well..

HBO has the biggest bout with the biggest star as Terence Crawford defends his WBC/WBO junior welterweight titles against the slick and talented Felix Diaz.
Diaz has just one loss and I thought he deserved the decision in that split decision loss to Lamont Peterson and has the style to trouble Crawford.
I'd even go this far and say this-Felix Diaz will be the toughest challenge that Terence Crawford has ever faced and this could be a fight that isn't decided until deep into the stretch.
Veteran contender Ray Beltran takes on Jonathan Maicelo in a IBF lightweight eliminator for the mandatory position in the IBF as the co-feature.
Beltran's a tough guy and nice fighter,but I do wonder how he ends up getting HBO slots when other arguably better fighters cannot get those spots.

Showtime fires back with a three bout.two continent card.
From the UK,talented Floyd Mayweather protege' Gervonta Davis travels to make the first defense of his IBF 140 pound title against Liam Walsh.
It'll be interesting to see how Davis reacts to the always boisterous UK crowd against Walsh.
Later from the new boxing hotbed of Oxen Hill,Maryland,the very talented,but just as protected and inactive WBC featherweight champ Gary Russell defends against another contender that appears to be overmatched in Oscar Escandon.
I've said several times on FightHeads that I wish that Russell,his team and Al Haymon believed in his talent as much as I do,but the facts are that Russell is 1-1 vs fighters with a decent resume' (win over a faded Jhonny Gonzalez and lost to Vasyl Lomachenko) and rarely fights,so I fear that he may be on the verge of wasting what could be a profitable career.
I'm usually not a fan of "interim" titles,but here is the only occasion that I can live with them.
James DeGale took a large beating that included a broken jaw in the draw with Badou Jack that attempted to unify the WBC (then held by Jack,now vacated) and DeGale's IBF belts and will be out of action for most of the rest of the year.
The IBF is therefore holding a interim title bout (essentially the top contender for DeGale's return or have the title filled in case he decided to move to 175 pounds) between former champion Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui.
We will see if this bout is entertaining as most Dirrell bouts are not.

Fox Sports One has a card that goes up against Showtime's (which makes little sense since both cards are with the PBC) that has a WBC eliminator at Super Middleweight,which will decide the mandatory contender for the winner of the Anthony Dirrell-Callum Smith fight that will fill the vacancy created when Badou Jack moved to light heavyweight after his draw with James DeGale,
Whew!
Anyhow,the main event here sees talented prospect David Benavidez against veteran "Porky" Medina,who surprisingly gave James DeGale all he wanted in a close decision loss in 2015.
Medina is exactly the type of fighter that young contenders need to test their mettle against and we'll discover a lot about Benavidez in this one.

We wrap up in Japan with a title fight with the best fighter in his division and a silly decision to bring a title back from the always silly WBA.
Naoya Inoue defends his WBO junior bantamweight title against mandatory contender Ricardo Rodriguez.
After the surprising loss by Roman Gonzalez in March,Inoue has risen to number one in the TRS rankings.
The other sees the WBA fill their vacant "regular" middleweight title with former Olympian Ryota Murata against perennial middleweight bridesmaid Hassan N'Dam.
I'm not against the fight,which gives Murata a tough test against a middleweight gatekeeper.
What I am against is the WBA,who claims to be getting rid of their three belts per division policy by shrinking them,reviving a belt that could have been retired after former "regular" title holder Daniel Jacobs was decisioned by Gennady Golovkin.
Bringing it back is counter to that policy...

WBC/WBO Junior Welterweight Titles.12 rds
Terence Crawford vs Felix Diaz
Both:Crawford Unanimous Decision

Lightweights.12 rds
Ray Beltran vs Jonathan Maicelo
Both:Beltran Unanimous Decision

WBC Featherweight Title.12 rds
Gary Russell vs Oscar Escandon
R,L:Russell KO 7
TRS:Russell KO 4

Vacant Interim IBF Super Middleweight Title 12 rds
Andre Dirrell vs Jose Uzcategui
Both:Dirrell Unanimous Decision

IBF Junior Lightweight Title.12 rds
Gervonta Davis vs Liam Walsh
R.L:Davis KO 8
TRS: Davis KO 10

Super Middleweights.12 rds
David Benavidez vs "Porky" Medina
R.L:Benavidez KO 4
TRS:Benavidez Unanimous Decision

WBO Junior Bantamweight Title.12 rds
Naoya Inoue vs  Ricardo Rodriguez
R,L:Inoue KO 6
TRS:Inoue KO 8

Middleweights.12 rds
Hassan N'Dam vs Ryota Murata
R.L:N'Dam Unanimous Decision
TRS:Murata Unanimous Decision



Random Thoughts

Just a few random thoughts before the busy week that is coming up from various things that happened or just plain popped into my mind...

Yes,that was your author lying on the decrepit walkway that is Hagerstown Municipal Stadium yesterday.
I fell down as one of the many boards that are warped and stick upwards with its gremlins finally grabbed me after all these years of walking.
I ripped my right knee and turned my chronically bad left ankle,so of course it hurts,but not to the point of non-functioning.
It was not the fault of the Suns as the fault of these conditions are the fault of the city,who is responsible for maintenance.
It's a miracle more people don't get hurt there and I wonder with packed crowds possible for Tim Tebow and the Columbia Fireflies in less than two weeks,if more people could get hurt and worse than me..

I watch a decent amount of television series,but right now,the best show that I watch has to be FX's The Americans.
I like some other,but on the heels of FX's past "best show I watch" Justified,The Americans ranks as must see.
The story of 1980's Russian spies as American residents stars actors that I have never heard of (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) before the show began,but both are standouts as is Holly Taylor as their teenage daughter.
Taylor is going to be a star in the business as she progresses to eventual vehicles of her own.
The Americans can be a bit racy and pretty violent,so might want to keep the kids away (too bad,could have been a great teaching tool),but it's very well done and you should be giving it a try.

Spicy food and spices are a usual staple of my dining,but one that has become huge favorite is the sadly named Kick Your Ass Hot Salt with Ghost Pepper.
The lovely Cherie bought me a container as a Christmas gift and it's been a must have ever since.
I used to be a massive salt (over) user and over the last year or so,I have greatly reduced it down almost nil.
Peppers and the various seasonings go a long way towards making the loss of salt not so bad...

The first two of many new ballparks this year starts soon with the first visits being Norfolk,Virginia (AAA Norfolk Tides) and Lexington,Kentucky (Low A Lexington Legends).
Of course,I'll have road trip recaps and looks at the stadiums themselves.

I have my opinions on the scandals surrounding the President and I'll keep them to myself.
Resisting the urge to say "I told you so" on Donald Trump is difficult,but needed to be withheld because we have seen nothing yet but speculation,but here's where I'll take the side of Trump mildly for a bit.
I do think that CNN (and I guess MSNBC too,although I rarely watch them) is beating the horse perhaps too much and give the 35 percent of the people that would believe Donald Trump if he said that the Atlantic Ocean is filled with cherry Kool-Aid,an out that the media is out to get him.
Fox does the same thing,but in a different way as they defend everything that Trump does etc.
The media should be a valuable tool,but the cable networks are just crazy with the need to play "gotcha".
Reverse the name of Barack Obama for Donald Trump and reverse the networks names and you aren't far off in treatment.
As a middle of the road moderate that has things that I agree with from both parties,it's very tough to find a network that reflects my place on the spectrum..

Wrapping up with thoughts on President Trump.
I'm not going to say my opinions on the particulars,but I will step out a bit with a guess-Donald Trump is already looking for a way out.
It's a matter of time and it might come down to when does Donald Trump think that he can spin a loss into a "win" and walk away...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Cavaliers cruise by Celtics in Game One 117-104

So much for rust and so much for the home court advantage of the Boston Celtics as the Cleveland Cavaliers ran up and down and through Boston on their way to a deceivingly small thirteen point win
in a game one that spent much of the game in the twenty point margin.
LeBron James led Cleveland with 38 points,but he had plenty of help with Kevin Love scoring 32 points and 12 rebounds along with Tristan Thompson's 20 points and 9 rebounds.
The 117-104 win gave Cleveland a 1-0 series lead and gave home court advantage to the Cavaliers.
Game two is Friday night in Boston.

Swashbucklings

1) I'm not sure what Boston coach Brad Stevens can do in any hope to stop LeBron James.
Stevens (who I'm a big fan of as a coach) tried big,small and in between defenders and none created even the slightest concern for James,who drove by everyone,but Red Auerbach to the basket for easy scores.

2) Boston's best two players were not their best players on this night as Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford combined to shoot 11 for 30 on the evening.
In my opinion,Thomas and Horford are nice players and well suited to win games in the regular season.
However,there always comes a time somewhere in the postseason that teams need to have an Alpha Dog-neither Thomas or Horford are that type of player.

3) Was nice to see Kevin Love setting a playoff career high for points with his 32 points.
Love hit six of nine from three point range and many of them were wide open shots.
The Cavaliers moved the ball around with ease,often leaving the Celtics scrambling and more often than not,unable to reach the open man.
I drove to work late in the third quarter and Sirius radio uses the home team feed,so the Celtics announcers were on and they were bemoaning the lack of defense on Love from beyond the arc.
When the home team's network is griping about their teams lack of defense,you know they have been dominated.

4) Credit to Tristan Thompson for not only his 20 points around the glass,but for establishing that the Cavaliers will be the more physical team inside.
Boston is one of the worst rebounding teams in the league and Cleveland figured to have an advantage inside,but Thompson's offense was unexpected,I'll take it.

5) Kelly Olynyk,the Celtic hero in their game seven win over Washington and before that best known for his MMA submission move on Kevin Love in the 2015 playoffs that knocked Love out for the duration of that playoff run,was completely ineffective.
Ineffective to the tune of two points in sixteen minutes.

6) Game two might be the Celtics stand.
At home and with most counting them out,Boston will need their best effort and I think Cleveland is going to get it.
Boston is in "all in" mode-if the Cavaliers can grab game two,I think this series ends in a sweep...




Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Browns sign Jason McCourty

The already unproven secondary of the Cleveland Browns took a huge hit with the loss of fourth round draft pick Howard Wilson to a broken kneecap in rookie mini-camp,but the Browns quickly attempted to minimize the damage with the signing of free agent Jason McCourty to a two year deal.
No terms are available at this time.

McCourty played eight years for Tennessee after being a 2009 sixth rounder for the Titans and will likely either compete for the cornerback slot against Jamar Taylor opposite Joe Haden,but could move to safety with Jabril Peppers as the safety pairing.
McCourty turns 30 in October and is noted by fantasy football fans as being an excellent tackler for a cornerback.
McCourty has intercepted 13 passes in his career and with the exception of 2015,has been a durable player that keeps himself in the lineup.
McCourty is better known as a corner,but he has the type of speed and athletic ability to make a conversion to safety go pretty smoothly and the Browns might have a larger need at safety with the current setup than at corner,although they are far from deep there as well.

Give the Browns credit,after the loss of a player that I projected as being at least the third corner as a rookie in Howard Wilson,Sashi Brown and company struck with speed in signing the best free agent defensive back available.
Good work by the Browns in not waiting around,now about another wide receiver....

Back later with something more.


Monday, May 15, 2017

TRS Boxing Ratings-Part Two

Part two of the TRS ratings follows.
Thanks to Ramon Malpica and Vince Samano for their help in the ratings...

Lightweights
1) Jorge Linares WBA Champ 15 pts
2) Mikey Garcia WBC Champ 12 pts ( Up Two)
3) Robert Easter IBF Champ 8 pts (Up Two)
4) Terry Flanagan WBO Champ 7 pts (Down One)
5) Anthony Crolla 2 pts
Also Received Votes;Rances Barthelemy

Junior Lightweights
1) Vasyl Lomachenko WBO Champ 15 pts
2) Miguel Berchelt WBC Champ 12 pts (Unranked)
3) Jezreel Corrales WBA Champ 6 pts (Up One)
4) Orlando Salido 5 pts (Unranked)
5) Takashi Miura 4 pts (Down One)
Also Received Votes: Gervonta Davis IBF Champ

Featherweights
1) Leo Santa Cruz WBA Champ 14 pts (Up One)
2) Carl Frampton 13 pts (Down One)
3) Oscar Valdez WBO Champ 9 pts
4) Gary Russell WBC Champ 6 pts (Down One)
5) Abner Mares 3 pts

Junior Featherweights
1) Guillermo Rigondeaux WBA Champ 15 pts
2) Jessie Magdaleno WBO Champ 12 pts
3) Nonito Donaire 9 pts
4) Moises Flores 6 pts
5) Rey Vargas WBC Champ 2 pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Julio Ceja,Hugo Ruiz

Bantamweights
1) Shinsuke Yamanaka WBC Champ 15 pts
2) Zhanat Zhakiyanov WBA Champ 12 pts (Up Three)
3) Rau'Shee Warren 8 pts (Down One)
4) Jamie McDonnell 4 pts (Unranked)
    Juan Carlos Payano (Down One)
Also Received Votes:Librado Solis

Junior Bantamweights
1) Naoya Inoue WBO Champ 15 pts (Up One)
2) Srisaket Rungvisai WBC Champ 12 pts (Up Three)
3) Roman Gonzalez 9 pts (Down Two)
4) Carlos Cuadras 6 pts (Down One)
5) Khalid Yafai WBA Champ 2 pts (Down One)
Also Received Votes:Juan Francisco Estrada

Flyweights
1) Kazuto Ioka WBA Champ 15 pts
2) Donnie Nietes IBF Champ 11 pts
3) Amrat Ruenroung 8 pts (Up One)
4) Johnriel Casimero 5 pts (Down One)
5) Zou Shiming WBO Champ 4 pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes; Juan Carlos Reveco

Pound for Pound
1) Vasyl Lomachenko 28 pts
2) Gennady Golovkin 26 pts
3) Andre Ward 24 pts
4) Sergey Kovalev 20 pts
5) Terence Crawford 17 pts
6) Canelo Alvarez 16 pts
7) Guillermo Rigonedeaux 14 pts
8) Roman Gonzalez 7 pts
9) Kell Brook 5 pts
10) Keith Thurman 3 pts
Also Received Votes: Anthony Joshua,Manny Pacquiao,Jorge Linares


TRS Boxing Rankings-Part One

A little late on this installment of the TRS boxing ratings,but better late than never.
Thanks to Ramon Malpica and Vince Samano of the Fightheads family for their work with the ratings..

Lots of changes,but a few notes:
Canelo Alvarez has not vacated his WBO junior middleweight title,but has fought at middle,so he can be ranked at both weights.
Jermall Charlo and Badou Jack have vacated belts at their old weights,but have not fought at their new weights,so until they have at least announced fights at their new weights,they are still ranked at their past weights.
These may range wildly because Ramon,Vince and I may look at those divisions diversely,so please keep that in mind...

Heavyweights
1) Anthony Joshua WBA/IBF Champ 15 pts
2) Wladimir Klitschko 10 pts (Up Two)
3) Luis Ortiz 7 pts (Down One)
    Deontay Wilder WBC Champ
5) Tyson Fury 4 pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes:Joseph Parker WBO Champ

Cruiserweights
1) Oleksandr Usyk WBO Champ 15 pts
2) Murat Gassiev IBF Champ 12 pts
3) Marias Breidis WBC Champ 7 pts (Up Two)
    Denis Lebedev WBA Champ
5) Tony Bellew 2 pts (Unranked)
    Krystof Glowacki (Down One)

Light Heavyweights
1) Andre Ward WBA/IBF/WBO Champ 14 pts (Up One)
2) Sergey Kovalev 13 pts (Down One)
3) Adonis Stevenson WBC Champ 9 pts
4) Oleksander Gvozdyk 5 pts (Unranked)
5) Artur Beterbiev 3 pts (Down Two)
Also Received Votes: Joe Smith

Super Middleweights
1) Gilberto Ramirez WBO Champ 13 pts (Up One)
2) James DeGale IBF Champ 12 pts (Up One)
3) Badou Jack 8 pts (Down Two)
4) Arthur Abraham 5 pts (Unranked)
5) Callum Smith 4 pts (Down One)
Also Received Votes:Anthony Dirrell,George Groves

Middleweights
1) Gennady Golovkin WBA/WBC/IBF Champ 15 pts
2) Canelo Alvarez 12 pts (Unranked)
3) Daniel Jacobs 9 pts (Down One)
4) David Lemieux 6 pts (Down One)
5) Billy Joe Saunders WBO Champ 2 pts (Down One)
Also Received Votes:Sergei Derevyanchenko

Junior Middleweights
1) Erislandy Lara WBA Champ 12 pts (Up One)
2) Jermall Charlo 10 pts (Up One)
3) Demetrius Andrade 8 pts (Up One)
4) Jermell Charlo 6 pts WBC Champ (Up One)
5) Canelo Alvarez 5 pts WBO Champ (Down Four)
Also Received Votes:Jarrett Hurd IBF Champ

Welterweights
1) Kell Brook IBF Champ 14 pts
2) Keith Thurman WBA/WBC Champ 13 pts (Up Two)
3) Errol Spence 8 pts
4) Manny Pacquiao WBO Champ 7 pts (Down Two)
5) Shawn Porter 2 pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes:Danny Garcia

Junior Welterweights
1) Terence Crawford 15 Pts WBC/WBO Champ
2) Julius Indongo 10 Pts WBA/IBF Champ (Up Two)
    Viktor Postol
4) Antonio Orozco 4 pts (Up One)
5) Adrian Broner 3 pts (Down Three)
Also Received Votes: Lucas Matthysse


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Cleaning out the inbox

Time for a cleaning of the inbox as things built up even faster than usual this time!

We start with a passing of former Brown wide receiver Michael Jackson,who died in a motorcycle accident early Friday morning.
Jackson,who spent five years as a Brown before finishing his career with three years in Baltimore after the move, was traveling at a "high rate of speed" and hit a car that was backing out of a driveway.
Jackson and the driver of the car were both killed.
Jackson was a big play receiver for both teams with his career season being the first season in Baltimore with his only 1,000 yards receiving season to go with 14 touchdown catches....

Last year,Dan Parlegreco put out a draft review that was available on Amazon,but this year he didn't have the time to do that,so instead he's wrote this detailed review that grades each team and gives an undrafted free agent that has a chance to make the team.
Very well written and for those of you (like myself) that likes draft reviews as much as previews,it is a great read....

Marty Mulcahey writes on boxing for UCN and he wrote a great article as part of that site's pre-fight buildup for the Canelo Alvarez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr fight that ranked the top ten all-Mexican fights ever.
Great matchups such as Barrera-Morales,Barrera-Marquez,Zarate-Pintor,Zarate-Zamora and more are all discussed.
Such an article for a Spanish language network would have such potential for a "Legendary Nights" type series.
Now if I could only speak and understand Spanish...

The SABR baseball card page is taking votes and ranking the Topps baseball card set of the 1960's.
I voted in the 1970's voting and that was much harder to vote on.
For the record,my top three votes went to in order-1965,1968 and 1963.

My friend,Dr.Lisa Alexander sent me this very interesting article on Ernest Hemingway's intrigue with boxing.
Hemingway has always been noted as a boxing fan,but I never knew just how much he enjoyed it or that he actually sparred with pros and thought he was a high quality fighter!
There is a note in the article with former heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey talking about why he avoided sparring with the famous author....

I've written and talked before about one of my favorite TV shows in Person of Interest and now with the show in the past,its stars are beginning to move to new roles.
Both Amy Acker (Root) and Sarah Shahi will be starring in new series in the fall.
Acker will be starring in "The Gifted" on Fox,which is a show with two parents taking their two children on the run from the government to protect their children,who possess super powers...
Shahi will star in a NBC vehicle entitled "Reverie" that will feature Shahi as a former hostage negotiator and expert of human behavior that now helps people trapped in a virtual reality program.
That series will also co-star Kathryn Morris,the former star of "Cold Case" which was another favorite of mine...

We wrap up this cleaning with a tip of the cap to NBC,who cancelled time travel series "Timeless" after one season and decided three days later to change their mind with a renewal for a second season.
Timeless had a little below average ratings,but not awful and with a solid fan base that went all out for a renewal,deserved the nod,although they aren't doing the show too many favors in not returning it to the lineup until the summer of 2018.
I also liked another time travel series that I wish would have been renewed in "Time After Time",but ABC cut that show off after just five episodes.
I'll never understand why network buy pilots for science fiction shows that will always need time to build up a "canon" along with growing an audience,only to cancel them after a season or two.
Time After Time had just an eight episode run,like it would have killed ABC to show the final three episodes at least?
Shows in this genre' always need time to nurture and if the networks are hesitant to sign at least a two year deal to start (three would be better),I'd be hesitant to ship my show there..

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Forgotten Superstars:The 1984 Arizona Wranglers

We return to the Forgotten Superstars universe with a look at one of my favorite teams ever that I rooted for in just one season,became my team under bizarre circumstances and after that season were around,yet gone.

Confused?
Well,that's the story I'm about to tell of the 1984 Arizona Wranglers of the late and lamented United States Football League and it's one of those stories that only tends to happen in rebel leagues that attract rebel fans-like yours truly.

The USFL was the only league that started up when I could pick the team I wanted to root for from day one.
The ABA,WFL and WHA were in existence in my childhood,but they started before I could understand,so I was picking my team to root from existing franchises.
Shane and I were the only people that we knew that were USFL fans and I remember watching as many games as possible on ESPN and the Sunday afternoon game of the week on ABC.
I bought/was sent several media guides from the different teams (including the pictured one above) and Shane and I each had USFL team hats from a store at the mall-American Outfitters,which was a clothing store that wouldn't have ranked high on any list of a retailer that would sell USFL hats!
To this day,I still have my battered Wranglers hat,it's not wearable anymore,but I still have it.

In the USFL,I could pick my team from any number of reasons-team colors,team names,city the team was located in,coach,roster-whatever motivated you to be a fan of a team could be used because there was no restrictions!
In 1983,I looked at all of those factors and took the Chicago Blitz.
The Blitz had several former NFLers,signed some college stars (Running Back Tim Spencer of Ohio State of note for me) and they had hired George Allen as head coach,who I had liked as the Redskins coach and that made them my choice.
The Blitz were one of the early favorites to win the league and made the playoffs ( Four teams did in the initial season) with a memorable playoff loss in which the Blitz built a big lead (21 points) and then blew it in an overtime loss in Philadelphia to the favored Stars,who were the league's best team even though they would lose to Michigan next week in the championship game.

Here is where things go off the rails.
The Blitz were owned by a surgeon,Ted Dietrich,who had taken a massive money loss in season one in Chicago,who lived in Arizona and wanted to have a team closer to his home there.
This desire led to one of the craziest things in sports history.
Dietrich sold the Blitz to another surgeon in James Hoffman and then Dietrich bought the Arizona Wranglers (who went 4-14 in the 1983 season).
Dietrich now owned a team in the location that he wished to own it,but now had moved from one of the most talented in the league to one of the worst.
Considering the resources invested in the Blitz with some big contracts for top notch players,this was a huge step backwards,so something had to be done.
Whether it was friends helping friends or someone pulling a huge scam,Dietrich managed to trade almost the entire Wrangler talent roster (except quarterback Alan Risher,who had a contract clause that required his permission to leave Arizona) and coaching staff to Chicago for the same personnel from the playoff level Blitz and their staff,which included George Allen.
This was the rough equivalent of trading most of the Pittsburgh Steelers roster and coaches to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the same return-How happy do you think the Pittsburgh fans would be with such a swap?
Chicago fans didn't flock to see the playoff Blitz and with the "new" Blitz being a bottom feeder,the USFL was effectively finished in Chicago after this trade,but the Arizona fans welcomed a championship contender.
I had a choice to make-Should I stay with the uniforms and logo of the Blitz and continue my fandom with Chicago? Or should I follow "my"coach and players to Arizona?
I decided to pull for the Wranglers,in this case of just one year of existence,deciding to stick to the team in the uniforms rather than the uniforms themselves.

The Wranglers featured an NFL veteran at quarterback in Greg Landry,who was solid if not great in his NFL years with the Lions and Colts,perhaps the best running game in the league with Tim Spencer,who likely could have been a first round pick had he not signed with the USFL before the NFL draft and former Jet Kevin Long-both would rush for over 1,000 yards and a talented wide receiver in Trumaine Johnson ( 90 catches and well over 1,000 yards),another would be NFL 1st rounder that signed early with the USFL,the Wranglers could be a fun offensive team and the defense possessed several NFL veterans and Frank Minnifield,yet another would be high NFL pick and would later become a borderline hall of fame candidate as a Cleveland Brown.

The Wranglers generally played like the Blitz-as in beating the really good teams and losing games to teams that were awful such as losses to the terrible San Antonio Gunslingers at home and scoring just three points in a loss to the Oakland Invaders,another team with a losing record.
Arizona won just five of their first twelve games (5-7) before ripping off wins in five of their final six games to tie the Los Angeles Express at 10-8 for the Pacific Division title,but lost the tiebreaker and instead earned Arizona a wild card spot in the now eight team playoff field.

The Wranglers were overlooked entering the Western Conference playoffs and would travel to a division champion to start the playoffs in Houston against Jim Kelly and the Gamblers.
The Wrangler offense did next to nothing for most of the game and the defense would struggle to contain Kelly,but did manage to stiffen in the red zone as the Gamblers would kick three field goals by former Cowboy and Oiler Toni Fritsch with Kelly's offense only finding the end zone once.
Still,Arizona trailed 16-3 with only the final eight minutes to play and looked to be finished.
The offense began to turn the tide as Tim Spencer roared downfield on a twenty yard run for a score,the Wrangler defense stopped Kelly,forced a punt and then marched down the field for the winning score as Greg Landry flipped a scoring pass to former Dallas running back Doug Dennison with under two minutes to play to notch a shocking 17-16 win over the Gamblers.
I missed this game as ABC showed a few playoff games at the same time and we received the Birmingham-Tampa Bay game,but I was quite pleased to see the comeback through "updates from New York" from now HBO boxing voice Jim Lampley.


The upset win in Houston moved the Wranglers into the Western finals against another division champion in the Los Angeles Express and another hall of fame passer in Steve Young for a game scheduled in Los Angeles.
However,the Los Angeles Coliseum was preparing for the upcoming Olympics in a few weeks and the Express was not allowed to play there.
That meant the wild card Wranglers would host the playoff game against the division winner on a Sunday afternoon game on ABC,but there was yet another wrench to come.
The normal heat in Arizona in July is not exactly conducive to football,but this weekend was especially oppressive and the league pushed the kickoff back to 8 PM,which put the game at 11 pm in the East,which guaranteed a tiny audience.
It also meant that Shane and I would be watching the game on a small black and white TV in a hotel room in Chincoteague VA late into the night.
I remember having to watch the game and be as quiet as possible as dad tried to sleep,which was pretty hard with rooting for the Wranglers.
This was also the weekend that my parents would roll their eyes about for years as they told people that we were the only kids in the world to be happy with pouring rain on vacation,so we could stay inside and watch Mid-Atlantic wrestling and the USFL!
They didn't remember the particulars,but they often referred to this weekend as "they would have rather watched television".

The game itself was somewhat similar to the game in Houston,although it was a little closer throughout than the win over the Gamblers.
The Wranglers offense wasn't running smoothly,but kept the game close enough to have the game within reach,trailing 17-14 as the fourth quarter began behind two rushing touchdowns from Tim Spencer.
Arizona stepped up and dominated the fourth quarter as Kevin Long dove into the end zone on the period's first drive to gain a lead that they would not lose at 21-17.
The Wranglers forced a punt and scored again as Greg Landry hit Tim Spencer for a touchdown (Spencer's third of the game) before an Arizona interception of Steve Young set up a Mack Boatner score that ended a three touchdowns in eleven minutes success story that gave the Wranglers a 35-23 win.
The defense did their share in the victory as Arizona intercepted Steve Young twice and allowed him to complete just seven passes for the evening.


The Wranglers headed to Tampa for the championship against the Philadelphia Stars on my 16th birthday,which was spent watching the Wranglers play for the title.
Alas,the pattern was broken as the Wranglers continued their dull play in the first three quarters,but against the excellent defense of the Stars,the fourth quarter comebacks ended as the Stars won the championship in a dominant 23-3 victory.



The title loss would be the last professional game that George Allen would ever coach as after the season,Ted Dietrich would sell the Wranglers to the owner of the Oklahoma Outlaws,Ted Tatham.
Tatham would hire his own coach (Frank Kush) and merge his Outlaws with the Wranglers to create the Arizona Outlaws,who would finish 8-10 in the 1985 season,the third and final year of the USFL.
For some dumb reason,the Tathams (the Outlaws used Tatham's son as the GM) allowed most of the better Wranglers to leave in favor of Outlaws that had went 6-12 in the 84 season.
Tim Spencer was drafted by Memphis in an allocation draft,Frank Minnifield and Trumaine Johnson jumped to the NFL and Greg Landry retired rather than backup Doug Williams in Arizona to name just a few.

As for me?
I would move onto a new team to root for in the final season-the Memphis Showboats,but I enjoyed my days as a Blitz and Wranglers fan more as it was pretty clear as the 1985 season played out that the USFL was in trouble,thanks to Donald Trump (sound familiar?) and his skill at convincing people that he knew what he was doing and pushed the league into a fall showdown with the NFL.
Over 30 years later,I still have so many fond memories of those teams and that league and thanks to the wonder that is YouTube,I can watch so many games now that either bring back memories or watch games that I've never seen before.
I hope you enjoyed this look back at the Wranglers and the USFL.
I have plans for eventual posts on the 1983 Blitz and 1985 Showboats,so if you liked this or want more of it,let me know./

Back next time with a cleaning of the inbox and soon the return of the TRS boxing rankings...







Friday, May 12, 2017

Missed a few...

I've missed a few days,haven't had much to say,but I'm starting to get motivated again.

I have a few things planned for the next few days to a week such as the return of the TRS boxing rankings,a forgotten superstar and some other things in the pipeline.

For now,a few things of note..

The Browns didn't receive the return of Josh Gordon as the NFL turned down his request for reinstatement.
I'm not sure if Gordon had failed to live up to the terms of reinstatement or not,but one thing is clear-the NFL hits potheads far harder than they do than they do other miscreants that have done far worse during the years...

The bidding and battling has begun for the Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez middleweight championship fight in September.
The leaders are thought to be Las Vegas and Dallas with New York not out of the running.
If it's Dallas,it's an intriguing thought to consider a possible Dallas trip for the fight.
Don't bet on it,but you never know!!

I also want to use some downtime from live baseball to not only stay ahead of the upcoming schedule,but to get some of the results of the first six weeks or so of the graphing season noted,so look for a signing front soon!

Finally,a note to those that wanted an "outsider" to "clean up Washington".
Donald Trump's behavior is an embarrassment to our country and has lived up to my fears in electing him- a egomaniac that that goes awry at the mildest criticism.
It's much more than that of course and I certainly am not pining away for Hillary Clinton,but he has proven to me what he is-a corrupt businessman with overrated deal making skills that has discovered that running the government is not like running a business-In a business,the guy at the top has the final say,that's not the case in government-you have to be able to work with others and Trump simply cannot.
I have both good friends and people that I respect that voted for Trump and/or believed in the "outsider" mantra,so I'm not throwing stones at his voters,but I cannot imagine anyone thinking that he is anything but an abject embarrassment to our country.
The big winner in all of this? George Bush-who incredibly looks not nearly as awful as the current President.
I would have never imagined typing those words this soon or ever!!

Back later tonight with what I think will be a Forgotten Superstar.
.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Canelo dominates Chavez-Boxing Challenge

A quick wrapup of the boxing weekend for the challenge with Fightheads to discuss the biggest news in the game-Gennady Golovkin vs Canelo Alvarez.

But first,Canelo Alvarez did his part for this fight as he twirled a shutout on all three judges cards and mine (120-108) over an emaciated and ineffective Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in Las Vegas.
Less said about this card the better,so let's do the recap and the points.
Ramon Malpica and I each earned two points for the Alvarez unanimous decision win,that really only proved two things-
One:When ESPN is leading off Sportscenter with boxing-you have a PPV hit in the making!
Two:For all the shortcomings that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has-a bad chin isn't one of them.

I didn't see the other undercard fights,so no scoring there.
David Lemieux pounded overmatched Marcos Reyes for ten rounds,but couldn't stop the journeyman,which he really should have been able to do.
Ramon and I each scored one point for the Lemieux win.

Ramon earned two points to my one as Lucas Matthysse returned after a long hiatus to stop the usually durable Emmanuel Taylor in five rounds in his move to the welterweight division..

Joseph Parker didn't look great in his first defense of his WBO heavyweight title with a unanimous decision over Razvan Cojanu,who was a past sparring partner of Parker's.
I scored Parker a 119-109 winner,but he didn't show me much that made me think that he would be a threat to Anthony Joshua.
Ramon and I each added one point for the Parker win.

Ramon scored six points to my five on the weekend and closed my lead to nine points at 58-49.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge returns with a weekend pay per view bout that features more real bad blood than a major fight in years as Canelo Alvarez takes on countryman Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in a catchweight bout at 164 pounds.
I've noted in the past about not liking catchweights,but I don't have an issue this time because there is not a championship on the line.
If a title isn't on the line,they can do whatever the promoters/fighters wish and I won't complain...

I've said even before this fight was announced and when it was just rumored that Julio Jr would give Canelo all he wanted,if he was able to come into the fight in shape.
It appears that he has done that and I have a feeling that we could see a good toe to toe battle in Las Vegas-don't rule out the possibility of a huge upset.
The challenge features two undercard fights with the return of Lucas Matthysse and a squash match for David Lemieux for a possible fight for Canelo Alvarez,should Canelo win over JCC.Jr and avoid Gennady Golovkin.
Joseph Parker will be defending his WBO heavyweight title against late replacement Razvan Conanu in New Zealand after Hughie Fury dropped out two weeks ago from his mandatory title shot.

Super Middleweights.12 rds
Canelo Alvarez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Both:Alvarez Unanimous Decision

Middleweights.10 rds
David Lemieux vs Marcos Reyes
R.L:Lemieux KO 4
TRS:Lemieux KO 3

Welterweights.10 rds
Lucas Matthysse vs Emmanuel Taylor
R.L:Matthysse KO 9
TRS:Matthysse Unanimous Decision

WBO Heavyweight Title. 12 rds
Joseph Parker vs Razvan Cojanu
R.L:Parker KO 5
TRS:Parker KO 3

Friday, May 5, 2017

Grouchy Observations

Time for a few grouchy observations,although they might not all be grouchy,I'd bet most will be!

Let's start with today's House of Representatives new health care bill that would make changes to the ACA.
I've never been a fan of the ACA,not because it was federal health care (we do have a thing called Medicare after all),but because it didn't go far enough (I prefer some sort of single payer system that either pays for or mostly pays for services) and I hated the individual mandate that forced you to buy health insurance.
However,other than those two caveats,I'm not thrilled with yesterday's revamp-not because it wasn't needed (it had lots of things that needed tweaked),but because it seemed to fix very few (the mandate was eliminated along with the fine that was levied for not having insurance) of the things wrong with the ACA and the ridiculous high five session on the White House lawn for a bill only halfway passed looked very much like a bunch of guys patting themselves on the back for leading a game at halftime.
All of that said,the Democrats were far from heroic looking with their singing the 1969 Steam hit "Na Na Na Hey,Goodbye" to the Republicans in the Congressional chamber.
Considering the situation for so many losing (or reducing) their health care,that struck me as very immature and not thinking of the big picture at that moment.
No one walked away from that situation looking clean and to me everyone lost...

ESPN "laid off" several of their on-air and writing employees and it seems like they are shrinking coverage (on air) of baseball especially,but a little on college sports and football,while increasing their programming on the NBA.
I'm not sure how that plan is going to work out,but there are a few of the employees that got the axe that I'll miss especially.
Jayson Stark has always been one of my favorite baseball writers,Dana O'Neill and Andy Katz did a great job covering college basketball,I liked Jaymee Sire when she was doing Giants pregame before ESPN,maybe she'll be able to return there,Dr.Jerry Punch,Ed Werder and Len Elmore seemed like they had been with ESPN since they installed the first satellite in their respective roles.Dottie Pepper was a great golf analyst and I'll miss Danny Kanell too as the major anti-SEC voice on the network.
My issue is losing Sire (and Sara Walsh some as well) and yet keeping Jonathan Coachman and Neil Everett (personal preference not a fan of either of those two) around.
There were a few names cut that I won't miss-particularly Ohio State troll Mark May,PBC host MarySol Castro,Britt McHenry (she of the "Don't you know who I am" rant in a garage a year or two ago and failed multiple time MLB general manager Jim Bowden,but for the most part I wonder about paying people not to produce content when you could pay them to actually work...

One final observation on Star Wars/Kent State on May 4th.
I find it hard to believe that far more people spent time on social media talking about Star Wars than an anniversary of an incident such as Kent State in 1970.
This is especially questionable considering the times that we live in,the President that we have and the amount of protests that are occurring all around the country about so many various issues.
I'm certainly not making a claim against fun,look at the vast majority of things that we write about here,but I did find a little of the Star Wars hype tiresome and I would think that some time could have been spent looking back at a pivotal event that showed just how important the right to protest is and how easily one can lose that right..

Back later tonight with the boxing challenge and if I have time perhaps the promised new entry for the Forgotten Superstars series...




Thursday, May 4, 2017

Cleaning out the inbox

Time for a cleaning of the inbox,which is more than overdue.
Mostly a non-sports cleaning this time,so lets get started.

The picture on the right is actress Alicia Witt,who has guest starred on several series (I first saw her on Justified-a great and missed show) and does a lot of those Hallmark/Lifetime style movies.
Witt is also a singer and I found her interview with Forbes to be fascinating as she discusses just how Hollywood works (and shortchanges) its guest stars on television shows,an upcoming album that she funded through Kickstarter and why even recognizable actors aren't nearly as rich as one would think.
Witt is honest enough to say that she makes more than enough to support herself,but she is far from wealthy.
I thought it was an very enlightening interview and learned a few things about the entertainment world...

I've written before about my Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom and I saw an link on my Facebook timeline about a recent interview with Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar on her new food venture-
Foodstirs.
Gellar discusses her most recent series (The Crazy Ones with the late Robin Williams,Foodstirs and the various difficulties of a startup business,no matter how famous you may be..

I've written before about FS1's Katie Nolan and her willingness to take anyone on,but this one is gutsy as she takes on a titan of her own media company in Sean Hannity.
Nolan fired off some tweets against Hannity that showed not only no fear of Hannity,but of her own company.
I'll let you read just what she said (Language),but it will be interesting to see if Nolan gets any payback-publicly or privately...

CSN Washington is moving former Bullets (yes,I said Bullets) guard and longtime color commentator Phil Chenier out of the game analyst role after being the only analyst in the history of the network.
No word on a replacement for the veteran,who was always a favorite of mine.
My all-time favorite Phil Chenier story: The Bullets used to have a half hour pregame show from the old Capital Centre- the Bullet Report,which consisted mainly of Chenier sitting in a chair answering viewers phone calls on the team.
Ryan and I were watching the Bullet report and this guy calls in for this.
Chenier:Let's go to Insert Name Here,you're on the Bullet Report.
Caller: Yo,Phil-tell me why the Bullets Succcckk.
Chenier looked like he had no idea what to say and sheepishly moved to the next caller...
Ryan and I laugh about that to this day!

When I was on my trip to Charleston,I saw this link on CNN for a recall for hash browns and other potato products for one of the crazier recalls that I have seen in quite a while.
The recall of products from McCain (no,not as in Battlin' Bob) products for "possible extraneous Golf Ball materials" makes me really think.
Is McCain growing golf balls in their patches? Are they near a golf course and if so imagine the amount of wayward drives that had to have been hit to have that many "materials" in their bags of potatoes?
That's one crazy recall and I'm just having real problems stifling laughter from just how on earth all of this "golf ball material" found their way there!!

MPT finishes us for this cleaning session with a discovery of something that might go a long way toward an eventual cure for the flu.
A recently discovered frog has a slime that has a molecule that can eliminate viruses and yet leave the basic cell intact.
Many tests to be done in the future and researchers are unsure how this works,but it certainly is a positive development to be part of the future process of creating cures...

Been looking at the stats and readership is rising,hope some of the new readers stick around for a while.
I'm caught up for now and I didn't even mention the Cavaliers two dominant wins over Toronto.
Thinking about either a Forgotten Superstar for tonight or a thought or two on the health care bill/debate of today,so hope to see you there...