Sunday, June 24, 2018

Berchelt crushes Barros, Taylor defeats Postol

In the boxing challenge, there were several impressive performances, but the day's first star goes to Miguel Berchelt, who retained his WBC junior lightweight title with a three-round smashing of former featherweight champion Jonathan Barros in Mexico.
Berchelt badly hurt Barros in the first and scored a knockdown in the second that had it happened before the waning seconds of that round, could have ended the fight then and there.
Berchelt immediately sent Barros to the mat in the third and relentlessly stalked Barros with a real beating before Barros hit the canvas again.
The game, if outgunned Barros rose, but his corner had seen enough and entered the ring to stop the bout.
Barros might have been an expired item, but Berchelt did exactly what a champion does in a situation against an opponent with little left than a name- he took him out quickly and impressively.
Berchelt has an all-Mexican mandatory defense against Mickey Roman next and hopefully, then a unification bout can be matched with the talented, if mercurial WBA champ (which he should not hold, but that's beside the point) Gervonta Davis, who is the only fighter in the division that can make an argument other than Berchelt as the best in the division.

Another impressive win was Scotland's Josh Taylor, who pulled a mild upset over former WBC junior welterweight champion Viktor Postol by a far (FAR) wider than was remotely realistic unanimous decision in Glasgow.
Taylor dropped Postol in the tenth round of a strong action fight and that knockdown gave Taylor the win on my card by a 114-113 tally.
Taylor now earns a mandatory shot at WBC champion Jose Ramirez sometime soon, but I wouldn't rule out a chance of Taylor entering the next World Boxing Super Series tournament at junior welterweight.
Postol fought well in defeat and I'd consider giving him a slot in that bracket as well.

Also in the U.K, but in England, veteran middleweight contender Martin Murray continued his later career drive towards a fifth world title attempt with a unanimous decision over Roberto Garcia of Mexico.
Murray wins a minor title from Garcia and keeps his name around in the rankings for a potential rematch with Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez, should he dethrone Golovkin in September.
I would rather see Murray get a shot at WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders, which would be a grudge match after that bout has been canceled twice, a winnable fight for Murray and should draw a nice house in England as well.
I haven't seen this fight yet, so no scoring on this one.

On ESPN, Golden Boy's Vergil Ortiz looks like their best young prospect since Canelo Alvarez as he looked very strong in against his first name opponent as he ripped through former junior lightweight champion Juan Carlos Salgado in three rounds in Los Angeles.
Ortiz's body shot folded Salgado in half and finished him off cleanly.
I'm a big believer in Ortiz and think that Golden Boy might have the real deal in Ortiz after several disappointments among their homegrown talents.

In the boxing challenge, I scored six points to Ramon Malpica's three on the weekend to push my lead to 107-83.
My six came from two points from wins from Martin Murray, Vergil Ortiz and Miguel Berchelt.
Ramon's three were added with two points from Berchelt and one from Ortiz.



Saturday, June 23, 2018

Devils draft Ty Smith.

Photo Credit; Bruce Bennett-Getty
The New Jersey Devils used the 17th pick of the first pick to select defenseman Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League.

I've said before that I'm a novice when looking at the hockey draft, at least once one gets past the first few picks of the draft, so I make no claims on being a hockey draft expert.

Ty Smith finished second among the WHL in points from a defenseman and was the first pick in the WHL draft in his junior draft season.
Smith is reported to have excellent offensive skills, although, at 5'11, he isn't as large as you would hope for a first-round defenseman.
Smith isn't afraid to shoot (194 shots last season) and was rated by some as a high-level skater.
Smith will need to get stronger and I think he will need at least one year and likely two to three years before being physically prepared for the physical NHL grind.

All about the Jersey has a far better look at Ty Smith than I have here, but the consensus going into the draft, Smith was considered as a top 15 pick with a few sites rating him as high as eighth on their player board, so depending on your ratings, the Devils either received a tremendous steal or a mild theft at 17.

Ty Smith's skating ability and skills seem to be a nice fit for the Ray Shero style and for the Devils, Smith is the type of defenseman that the system lacks and that Shero is continuing to try to build up for his vision of building the franchise and how he wants the team to play.

Finally, what really struck me was long time TRS favorite Kathryn Tappen's (a crush that goes all the way back even past Tappen's time at NESN to the old College Sports Network, which was eventually swallowed up by the CBS Sports Network) talk with Ty Smith.
Tappen told the viewers that when they ask the various players all sorts of questions that one of those questions was "who among you would be the best team player/teammate?".
Tappen then stated that the overwhelming leader in responses was Ty Smith.
That's the type of answer that can be generic but is always a good thing when evaluating a player.
You want guys that can be leaders and that other players enjoy playing with.
It makes it a better environment and can be a help down the road in being able to recruit players on occasion when a team tries to win over a free agent.

As I said, I'm far from the best guy when it comes to the NHL draft, but I have to admit that I like what I heard yesterday about Ty Smith and hopefully, Smith will be a Devil in a few years.

Back later with a boxing challenge report...





Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge continues with bouts that don't have American television (one does have U.S TV) and can only be found via the stream, but I wanted to cobble together somewhat of a fun low-key boxing weekend.

The ESPN Plus app is showing two fights of interest with one in mid-afternoon from England as four-time title challenger Martin Murray stays busy after his fifth challenge was canceled when WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders feigned injury as he prepared to jump in, if needed, for a bout against Gennady Golovkin.
Murray still can be in a position for that fifth shot with a win over Mexico's Robert Garcia, who holds a minor belt of the WBC that means nothing other than it puts you into a better position in the WBC's rankings.
Garcia, who is on a nice run of victories over B- level competition, should be a decent measuring stick for Murray. who lost a terrible decision to Felix Sturm and arguable ones to Sergio Martinez and Arthur Abraham in title tilts.

ESPN + also features Miguel Berchelt's defense of his WBC junior lightweight title from Mexico against former WBA featherweight champion Jonathan Barrios.
Barrios has fought about everyone that you can name and lost a split decision to Lee Selby in his last fight for the IBF featherweight title that Selby then held, but looks to be in trouble against the larger and bigger hitting Berchelt, who can make an excellent argument that he is the best 130 pounder in the world with Vasyl Lomachenko moving up.

ESPN2 will have a Golden Boy card with the main event being the first leap forward for the very talented Vergil Ortiz against former WBA junior lightweight champion Juan Carlos Salgado.
Ortiz has crushed all nine of his opponents, but the grizzled Salgado is a huge step up even though he looks a bit faded.
Salgado holds wins over Jorge Linares (yes that Linares), Jonathan Barrios (mentioned above) and Argenis Mendez, but is just 1-7 since his victory over Barrios.

The final fight of the challenge does not have American television as former WBC junior welterweight champion Viktor Postol takes on undefeated Scot Josh Taylor in a title eliminator.
Postol, who holds a win over Lucas Matthysse, has fought just once since losing to Terence Crawford in a unification bout almost two years ago, while Taylor, a former Olympian, holds an impressive KO win over former lightweight champion Miguel Vasquez.

In the Boxing Challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 101-80

Middleweights. 12 Rds
Martin Murray vs Roberto Garcia
R.L: Garcia Unanimous Decision
TRS: Murray Unanimous Decision

WBC Junior Lightweight Title. 12 Rds
Miguel Berchelt vs Jonathan Barrios
R.L: Berchelt KO 7
TRS: Berchelt KO 5

Junior Welterweights. 10 Rds
Vergil Ortiz vs Juan Carlos Salgado
R.L: Ortiz Unanimous Decision
TRS: Ortiz KO 5

Junior Welterweights. 12 Rds
Viktor Postol vs Josh Taylor
Both; Postol Unanimous Decision


Friday, June 22, 2018

Cavaliers draft Collin Sexton

The Cleveland Cavaliers may not know if LeBron James is returning and they may not know who will actually be on the roster come October when the season starts, but they still had to make a selection in the first round of the NBA Draft and their selection made sense from a positional need but did the selection of point guard Collin Sexton of Alabama move the needle enough to bring James back or he is desirable enough to deal with another team as part of a package to land the star that the team needs to team with James in a possible return?

The 6'3 Sexton averaged 19.2 points in his only season at Alabama under former NBA player Avery Johnson and shot 44 percent from the floor ( 33 percent from the shorter college three-point area).
Sexton is very explosive to the basket, handles the ball well, is a willing passer and has the type of game that the current point guard in fashion in the league is favoring.
In other words, he's the point guard that likes the ball in his hands but isn't afraid to score himself.
Sexton is also regarded as a player that likes to play defense and isn't afraid to get rough when he defends either, neither of which is always a box that is checked when discussing draft prospects.

Of the available point guards, I thought Sexton was the best available as I graded him slightly ahead
of Trae Young of Oklahoma (Atlanta through Dallas), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of Kentucky (Charlotte) and Boston College's Jerome Robinson (L.A.Clippers) as more of what the point guard challenged Cavaliers might be looking for.
I don't think Young is a playmaker, I think he may be an excellent player, but he's going to be a scoring guard that is listed as a point due to his size, Gilgeous-Alexander is more of two-guard as well and Robinson doesn't bring the quickness and speed that Sexton brings to the table, so with the Cavaliers largest need (Other than keeping LeBron James), Sexton was the safest pick and one that made the most sense on the surface, especially if you believe the various whispers that James preferred Sexton as his choice among the available draft prospects.

The biggest question that I and others have about Collin Sexton is the outside shot.
Let's face it 44 percent isn't a great percentage and that is likely inflated by the easy drives to the hoop.
The 33 percent from three-point land is a greater concern when you consider how much the game has placed more importance on the ability to consistently connect from behind the line.
If Sexton's outside game doesn't at least improve to league average. the value of this selection dips considerably.

I must admit to preferring the 6'10 wing player Michael Porter of Missouri over Sexton.
I know that he had back issues at 19 and that often leads to bigger problems down the road, so I realize that the Cavaliers would be taking a huge risk in Porter, had they decided to go that way.
However, the Cavaliers aren't exactly stacked with future number one's as they have peddled several around to acquire various players in attempts to bolster the roster around LeBron James.
Sometimes, you gamble on greatness and sometimes you take the lower ceiling player that is more of a sure thing.
Without the back injury, Michael Porter would have been nowhere near the Cleveland pick in the eighth position, so it would have been a risk to try to land him, but his talent might have made such a risk understandably taken.

The selection of Collin Sexton also closes the book on the Kyrie Irving trade with the Cavaliers holding three role players in Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and Larry Nance Jr to go with Sexton as the return for Irving.
At this particular stage and despite the injury that ended last season to the oft-brittle Irving, I would still rate the Boston side as the better half of this swap, although Sexton could swing that pendulum more toward the Cleveland side.

Is Collin Sexton enough to retain LeBron James?
Could Sexton be involved in a trade to land a veteran that might be more of an immediate help?
I don't have the answers to those, but at best, the Cavaliers have made a major step forward, they could also have drafted a major piece of a possible rebuild without LeBron or at worst, they might regret not taking Michael Porter.

This just hasn't been my year with Cleveland drafts.
For the Browns, I preferred the safer and more prototypical passer in Sam Darnold and the Browns gambled on the risky hype train that is Baker Mayfield.
For the Cavaliers, I wanted them to take the big swing at the green with Michael Porter and they laid up with the more guarded selection of Collin Sexton.
It's funny to see how these things occur sometimes.
It'll be interesting to take a look back in a few years to see who had the better ideas.





Thursday, June 21, 2018

Cleaning out the inbox-Passings, Non-Sports version

The inbox polishing continues on the eve of the NBA draft and I'll concentrate this time on the recent passings from the non-sports world.

Goodbye to Hugh Dane at the age of 75.
Dane was a long-time character actor was best known to many (and me) as Hank the Security Guard in the NBC classic The Office.
Dane never got a break in a starring role in film or television, but he'll always have a firm spot in the heart of all fans of the Office.


Goodbye to Alan Bean at the age of 88.
Bean was part of Apollo 12 and the second crew to land on the moon.
Bean had never been to space at all and had been relegated to working on the Skylab project before the death of C.J. Williams opened the spot on the Apollo 12 crew mission.
Bean would return to Skylab and eventually commanded a mission that spent 59 days in space and might have been the first commander of the space shuttle had he not decided to retire.
Bean would become a painter and his paintings dealt with his time on the moon and were realistic down to the exact colors of the moon dust and Apollo vehicles.

Goodbye to Matt "Guitar" Murphy at the age of 88.
Murphy, who played guitar with about any famous blues man that you could think if, wound up being more famous to another (mine) generation for playing himself in the "Blues Brothers" film starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.
I'm not sure if you are between 45-60, that you haven't seen that film and that role was where Murphy received his longest lasting fame.
"Let's Boogie".

Goodbye to Richard Goodwin at the age of 86.
Goodwin, who seemed to have his finger in everything political in the late 1950's and 1960's, was a speechwriter for both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, worked in the congressional investigation on the game show scandals (as shown in the film Quiz Show) and came up (with LBJ) for the name of the Johnson domestic programs as the Great Society.
Goodwin wrote the famous "We Shall Overcome" speech by Johnson in 1965 and worked on Al Gore's concession speech after his controversial 2000 Presidential election loss to George Bush.
Goodwin was married to author and news pundit Doris Kearns Goodwin for over 40 years and was also the New Hampshire campaign manager for Eugene McCarthy in 1968 in McCarthy's famous near-upset of Lyndon Johnson that sent Johnson from a re-election bid.

Goodbye to Joseph Campanella at the age of 93.
Campanella appeared in close to any hour-long television series that you could think of in the 60's and 70's as a character actor/guest star including a stint as Joe Mannix's boss in "Mannix" and Bonnie Franklin's ex-husband in "One Day at a Time" before transitioning into soaps in the late 80's until 2005.

I'll be back tonight with the Cavaliers pick with the eighth pick of the NBA Draft.
Their selection could wind up being a franchise building block for the post-LeBron age, a player to support a return of LBJ or might even be a Cavalier for a few months before bringing in some veteran help.
Who really knows at this point, but I'll offer some thoughts later...



Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Cleaning out the inbox:-Passings-Sports Version

Lots of passings from the sports world since our last cleaning to roll out and there will be another one later this week from the non-sports world to clean up a bit as well.


Dave Garcia passed away in San Diego at the age of 97.
The longtime baseball man that served as a coach on many teams, as well as a scout, is best remembered as the manager of first the California Angels and then the Cleveland Indians in the late 70's and early 80's.
Garcia (and doesn't he look thrilled in the team-issued postcard set of the Indians?) wasn't the first manager of my Indians fandom, but he had the longest tenure of his youth as he replaced Jeff Torborg in the middle of 1979 (first year rooting for Cleveland for me) in the Cleveland dugout.
Cleveland won their first ten games after Garcia's promotion, won 38 of their 66 games with him as boss and would eventually finish over .500, which for the Indians then was quite an achievement.
Garcia was fired by the Indians after the 1982 season and wouldn't manage in the bigs again, although he spent many years with various teams as a coach.

Chuck Knox passed away at the age of 86 from complications from dementia.
Knox won division titles in Los Angeles, Buffalo, and Seattle and along with Marty Schottenheimer might be listed for the dubious title of best coach to never reach a Super Bowl.
Known for his less than wide open offenses as Ground Chuck, Knox's teams always featured running backs such as Lawrence McCutcheon in Los Angeles, Joe Cribbs in Buffalo and maybe the best of all Curt Warner (the original with C) in Seattle.
Knox's Rams teams might (emphasis on might) have been the best team in the NFC in the mid-70's, but could never get by the Minnesota Vikings and in the one year that the Vikings were upset early (On the famous Roger Staubach Hail Mary), the Rams blew home field in a blowout at the hands of Dallas 37-7 after being heavily favored.
The Rams always grumbled about having to play Minnesota in the icebox that was Metropolitan Stadium and finally in 1977, the Rams got the Vikings in the playoffs in sunny Los Angeles.
The result- arguably the muddiest game ever and another Rams loss to Minnesota.
Knox would win division titles in both Buffalo and Seattle and his Seahawks team pulled one of the biggest playoff upsets ever when they went into Miami against record-breaking rookie Dan Marino as a prohibitive underdog and dumped the Dolphins in 1983.

Former 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark passed away at the age of 61 from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Clark was best known for "The Catch" of Joe Montana's high pass to win the 1981 NFC title for San Francisco over Dallas and begin the 49er dynasty.
Clark was the favorite target of the young Montana before the arrival of Jerry Rice and caught over 500 passes for his career, which included two Pro Bowls.
Fans of the Browns likely don't remember Clark's tenure as fondly in Cleveland as Clark was in charge of the "expansion" Browns and his decisions were the foundation of the awful football that we have seen in Cleveland ever since.

Former Pirates righthander Bruce Kison passed away at the age of 68 from Cancer.
Kison won 81 games for the Pirates from 1971-79 before signing with the California Angels as a free agent and was part of both world championship teams in Pittsburgh with a postseason record of 4-1 between the NLCS and World Series.
Kison spent his retirement years as a scout with the Orioles.

Former Alabama and Vanderbilt head basketball coach C.M. Newton passed away at the age of 88.
Newton also was known for his tenure at Kentucky as their athletic director, where he would hire Rick Pitino and move the Wildcats past a recruiting scandal.
Imagine that-hiring Rick Pitino to get PAST a scandal, not having him involved in one.
I'll remember Newton best as Alabama's coach in the 70's where his Crimson Tide won three SEC titles in a row, which is still the only time that an SEC team other than Kentucky has accomplished that feat and his Tide team in 1976 with future NBA player Leon Douglas came the closest to defeating the undefeated Indiana team in the NCAA tournament.

Former Indiana football coach Bill Mallory passed away at the age of 82 following a fall.
Mallory was the head coach of the Hoosiers from 1984 to 1996 and his reign saw Indiana win 69 games, place Anthony Thompson as the runner-up for the 1989 Heisman and win two of the three all-time bowl victories in the program's history.
At most places, that resume' might be considered pretty good, but at Indiana, it's about as good as you can expect.
Mallory was also the head coach at Colorado and two MAC schools in Northern Illinois and Miami Ohio.

Wrapping up with the passing of 1959 Heisman Trophy winner LSU's Billy Cannon at the age of 80.
Cannon not only won the Heisman but was the first major player to sign with the American Football League, the subject of a pretty good rockabilly song, and the film "Everybody's All-American" starring Dennis Quaid was loosely based on Cannon.

BTW-If you haven't seen that film, give it a try, it's a good one as most Dennis Quaid films are.
Cannon turned his life around after a counterfeiting arrest in 1983 that saw him serve two and a half years in jail and became a dentist in correctional facilities.
Cannon's 1959 punt return for a touchdown that defeated Ole Miss is remembered as one of the greatest plays in college football history.
I'll be writing more about Billy Cannon in the Forgotten Superstars series.





Sunday, June 17, 2018

Spence squashes Ocampo

Errol Spence was having some trouble with unheralded challenger Carlos Ocampo, who looked stronger than expected and was landing on Spence.
That "trouble" ended with one second in round one with a body punch that sent Ocampo to the floor for the duration and sent Spence to the second successful defense of his IBF welterweight title.

Not much else can be added other than Spence has disposed of his mandatory obligations for a while and hopefully, he can go onto better things.
The fight that the fans want to see is Spence against newly anointed WBO champion Terence Crawford, but we are most likely to see Spence against the winner of the vacant WBC title bout between Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter and then PBC will likely attempt to build to a Spence vs inactive WBA champ Keith Thurman before they even consider Crawford.

Danny Roman defended his WBA junior featherweight title with a clear unanimous decision over Moises Flores.
Flores, who didn't make weight, couldn't take advantage of his huge height advantage and Roman shrugged off any offense from Flores as he walked Flores down and simply was far more aggressive along with being effective.
I scored Roman a 119-109 winner and Roman impresses me more each time that I see him.
I have a feeling that Roman would be a tough out for either WBC champion Rey Vargas or WBO titleist Issac Dogboe and both of those bouts could be quite interesting.

In the first encounter of the season, junior welterweights Adrian Granados and Javier Fortuna were just warming up in the fourth round when Fortuna went tumbling through the ropes and appeared to hit his head on the side of the camera well.
Fortuna was declared unable to continue and since Texas rules require four complete rounds to go to the scorecards (there were only seconds remaining), the bout was ruled a no contest.
It was unfortunate as the third and fourth rounds featured some pretty strong action and although it seemed to me that Granados was in the starting stages of breaking down Fortuna, I think we would have seen some strong exchanges as we reached that point.

In the Boxing Challenge, I added four points to Ramon Malpica's two to extend my lead to 101-80.
I added four points for the wins by Errol Spence and Danny Roman, while Ramon earned two points from Errol Spence, but Ramon selected Moises Flores to win.

Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers out there!
I plan on the next post to clean the inbox a bit.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

June Minor League System Update!

Here is the update for the minor league system for June.
One of these players is now in the big leagues and is hitting extremely well and I have brought him up to my big club.
I'll still be noting the numbers of Juan Soto for the next three updates, but now that he's on the big club, he's not really part of the system.

2018 # 1
Luis Robert OF Chicago White Sox .237 0 HR 4 RBI-Low A Kannapolis
Robert's season finally started after a spring training wrist injury and was surprisingly assigned to low A Kannapolis after spending time with High A Winston-Salem as he healed.
The numbers aren't great, but they are in only 38 at-bats.
Next month, I'll have a better idea.

2018 # 2
Heliot Ramos OF San Francisco .231 5 HR 20 RBI.-Low A-Augusta.
Ramos raised his average a bit this month, but his other numbers in May were similar to those in April.
Still extremely young at 18 to be in the South Atlantic League with low A Augusta.

2018 # 3
Jesus Luzardo P Oakland 2-1 in 3 starts 1.23 ERA 25 K's in 14.2 innings at Low A Stockton
3-3 in 9 starts 3.80 ERA 54 K's in 42.2 innings at AA Midland.
Aggressively moved to AA after just three starts above short season, Luzardo is holding his own, if not dazzling in the Texas League.
Have to like Luzardo's strikeout numbers in Midland.

2018 # 4
Adrian Morejon 4-4 in 11 starts 3,59 ERA 66 K's in 57.2 innings at High A Lake Elsinore
The 19-year-old Morejon is very young for the High A California League and picked up his strikeout numbers in the last month.

2018 # 5
Jhalyn Ortiz OF Philadelphia  .263 4 HR 16 RBI- Low A Lakewood
Ortiz returned from injury and has hit .322 since his return for Low A Lakewood.
Ortiz smashed a long homer in Hagerstown off 2017 Nationals number one draft pick Seth Romero that I think is still moving.
If Ortiz continues to combine a high average with his natural power, he might be at the top of prospect lists by 2020, if not before.

2018 # 5A
William Contreras.283 5 HR 14 RBI Low A Rome
Contreras continues to hit well after missing time at the beginning of the season for Low A Rome.
Really like the power being shown for a catcher and considering that many thought the bat was going to be a question for Contreras, he might be on his way to solid prospect status.

The rest of my system as follows- If a draft pick number appears to be out of order, I either released that player, traded him or lost him in the expansion draft

2017 # 1
Eloy Jimenez Chicago White Sox .320 10 HR 41 RBI AA Birmingham
The slugging Jimenez continues to crush the ball at AA Birmingham and appears to have a promotion to AAA Charlotte ready whenever the White Sox want to pull the string.
One of the top prospects in the game

2017 # 2
Juan Soto Washington
.373 5 HR 24 RBI in 59 at bats at Low A Hagerstown
.371 7 HR 18 RBI in 62 at bats at High A Potomac
.323 2 RBI 10 RBI in 31 at bats ar AA Harrisburg
.338 5 HR 12 RBI in 68 at bats at Washington
The last we heard from the 19-year-old Soto, we were wondering about the Nationals challenging him with a strong move to AA Harrisburg,
In the interim, the Nationals shocked me and others by bringing him to the bigs for what was thought to be a brief stop while the team recovered from injuries in the outfield.
Instead, Soto smashed the ball just as well in the majors as he did in the minors and might have put himself in the lineup for a while.
I'm sure he'll hit a point where he struggles and the Nationals might send him down when that happens to try to avoid his eligibility as a "Super Two" in arbitration, but there has been no indication of that slowdown happening any time soon.
Washington just may have a replacement ready for Bryce Harper and with some hyperbole, a chance to exceed him.

2017 # 4
Triston McKenzie P Cleveland 1-1 in 2 starts 2.89 ERA 9 K's in 9 innings at AA Akron.
McKenzie made his 2018 debut and hitters have hit just .094 in those two starts.
McKenzie just continues to dominate no matter his level and if he pitches to his career thus far over the final three months, might have a shot of joining the Cleveland rotation for 2019.

2016 # 3
Brady Aiken P Cleveland
Aiken is still in Arizona, but after a bad 2018 might be running out of chances.
Haven't heard anything about an assignment soon

2016 # 4
Vladimir Guerrero Jr, 3B Toronto .407 11 HR 55 RBI- AA New Hampshire
Guerrero might have been on his way to joining Juan Soto as 19-year-old big leaguers before straining a patella tendon sliding into second base,
Guerrero has struck out just 21 times in over 200 at-bats and with an OPS over 1,100, he might go straight to AAA Buffalo after his return from injury, from which he is expected to miss one month.

2016 # 5
Phil Bickford P Milwaukee 0-0 3.60 ERA 8 K's in 4 appearances/ 5 innings as a reliever for High A Carolina.
Bickford finally arrived at High A for the Brewers after a collection of suspensions and injuries.
I'm not sure if Milwaukee looks at him as a reliever now or is merely taking it slow with the right-hander after he has basically missed close to a year and a half.
It's hard to believe, but Bickford is still just 22 and a strong second half might make me decide to keep him around.

2016 # 6
Justus Sheffield P New York Yankees
1-2 in 5 starts 2.25 ERA 39 K's in 28 innings at AA Trenton
1-2 in 7 starts 3.03 ERA  33 K's in 32.2 innings at AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre
Hitters are hitting just .203 against the righthanded Sheffield since his promotion to AAA.
Sheffield seems to be progressing well against the AAA hitters and his slider might be big league ready now.
The Yankees might have to decide on bringing him up before the end of the season or Sheffield along with Clint Frazier will likely be the most attractive trade chips that the Bombers have at the trade deadline.

Pre-2016 Draftees

Christian Arroyo 3B Tampa Bay
.200 1 HR 8 RBI in 68 at-bats at AAA Durham
.280 1 HR 6 RBI in 56 at-bats with Tampa Bay.
Arroyo is currently the utility man and has played second and third for the Rays.
Unless Arroyo picks up the pace in the second half, I'll be likely to release him as a final decision looms when he reaches 500 career at-bats.

Austin Meadows OF Pittsburgh
.294 1 HR 15 RBI in 136 at-bats at AAA Indianapolis
.329 5 HR 10 RBI in 87 at-bats with Pittsburgh.
Meadows joined the Pirates with questions about his power and that has not been a problem early in his Pirates career.
Meadows has cooled of late though (.231 in June) and with the return of Starling Marte to join Gregory Polanco and Corey Dickerson in the outfield, Pittsburgh may soon return Meadows to Indianapolis to avoid him becoming the fourth outfielder and get regular at-bats.
Pittsburgh might consider moving Dickerson at the deadline for both the return and to give Meadows a shot at a regular spot in the outfield.

Tyler Beede P San Francisco
3-7 in 10 starts 6.71 ERA 49 K's in 51 innings at AAA Sacramento
0-1 in 2 starts 8.22 ERA in 7.2 innings for San Francisco
Beede's numbers keep getting worse and he looks to be finished as a serious prospect at 25.
Beede isn't missing bats and he should be dominating AAA, not posting ugly stats.
He'll likely be released by me at this rate.

Grant Holmes P Oakland
Holmes suffered a rotator cuff injury in spring training and may miss the season.
Holmes will likely be released by me before the next draft.








Boxing Challenge

All of the boxing challenge is brought to you on one card from Showtime on Saturday night...

The main event features one of the most talented fighters in the sport as IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence defends his title for the first time against mandatory contender Carlos Ocampo.
Spence is regarded by many as the best welterweight in the world, but fighting for PBC has often left him inactive and out of the public eye.
Nevertheless, Spence's last two victories were excellent ones as Spence broke down two excellent opponents in Kell Brook and Lamont Peterson.
Ocampo is undefeated, but has never faced world class opponents and seems to be a step down in competition for the talented Spence, who we all want to see against fighters such as Keith Thurman (if he ever fights again), the winner of the Danny Garcia-Shawn Porter fight and what might be the best fight to be made in boxing- Spence vs Terence Crawford..

The other two fights are interesting as Daniel Roman defends his WBA junior featherweight title against former title challenger Moises Flores.
Flores did not make weight so he cannot win the title with a victory, but Roman has a chance to still break out on the world boxing scene with a victory over the solid Flores.

Veteran brawlers Adrian Granados and Javier Fortuna open the card with what should be an entertaining bout in the junior welterweight division.
Granados, who has lost several questionable decisions, is sitting on a good performance here and is the bigger fighter against Fortuna, who I thought clearly defeated Robert Easter in his last bout, but lost a split decision.
I think this winds up being the fight of the evening with Granados grinding down the smaller man.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 97-78

IBF Welterweight Title. 12 Rds
Errol Spence vs Carlos Ocampo
R.L: Spence KO 6
TRS: Spence KO 8

WBA Jr. Featherweight Title. 12 Rds
Danny Roman vs Moises Flores
R.L: Flores Unanimous Decision
TRS: Roman Unanimous Decision

Junior Welterweights.10 Rds
Adrian Granados vs Javier Fortuna
Both; Granados Unanimous Decision


Friday, June 15, 2018

Road Trip: Rochester

The final day of our weekend trip saw us shoot over to Frontier Field for the Rochester Red Wings against the Durham Bulls.

I didn't really plan on doing a lot of graphing here, I had a grand total of three cards with me, all top 100's and hoped to be lucky enough to nab one of them.

Fred and I waited for a bit in the car for the gates to open before going to the gates where we ran into some local graphers and swapped stories from our various circuits.
One grapher told us that the team had one player come out and sign before each game on the concourse, but there was not a schedule of appearances.
Fred asked about the Red Wings top prospect in infielder Nick Gordon and the response brought a snicker and a comment that Gordon hadn't done that all year, but the other Red Wing that I needed on a 100 had done a few signings (Pitcher Steven Gonsalves) and there was some hope that he might do one today.
The day's giveaway was a team logo ball, which I had decided earlier this year to start collecting but only of teams that I had been able to visit their ballpark.
It was a white ball and I prefer more unique baseballs for this project, but it was free and the team store didn't have a baseball that I liked better, so I was happy to add it to the project at no cost.

Upon entering, I discovered that I had left my number list in the car, which wasn't so bad as I knew what Gordon looked like and knew that Durham's Willy Adames was number one, which meant only Gonsalves would need to be asked about.
We walked by the small booth that hosted the signings and the name on the wall was pitcher Dietrich Enns and who knew if Enns was today's signer or left over from the last game.
I decided to try the Red Wings side since I had two of those players and as I walked halfway down the first base line, an announcement came over the PA that Nick Gordon would be signing today!
I looked up and about every grapher was on a dead run to get to the concourse!
I hustled up and saved Fred's spot, which put us in a really good position near the first handful of fans in line.
We wound up getting Gordon easily (a top 100 for me and a baseball for Fred) and it really made my day, but it could have ruined the trip and here's why.

The day before I left, I was preparing cards and discovered that I had sent Nick Gordon's top 100 to Corey White in Tennessee!
Gordon had started the season with AA Chattanooga and I just wasn't thinking that Gordon might be in AAA when we made this trip.
Suddenly, I was faced with making the trip without a Gordon card and I knew I'd be furious if Gordon was signing and I didn't have that card.
Running very short on time, I wrote Kendall Morris, who also does the top 100 sets, and asked if I could "borrow" his Nick Gordon.
If I was able to get it signed, I would replace his card (Kendall, it is on its way) and if not, I'd return it.
Thanks to Kendall for the help because if Gordon would have been that easy, I would have been the biggest baby you've seen and Fred would have been in for a miserable ride home!!!

We decided to try for Durham's Willy Adames, who in not unusual for AAA fashion wasn't interested, but still, my goal was to knock one of the three cards out and I was able to do that for a successful day.
Fred watched a few innings, while I walked around taking pictures and believe it or not, I was recognized by someone!
I won't waste your time there with that interaction, but in a different conversation, I was wearing one of my favorite shirts, my 1963 Lance Alworth jersey and an older fellow (that appeared to be a bit under some type of influence) wanted to talk about the AFL and Lance Alworth!
I usually wouldn't wear this jersey to a game as I learned this lesson years ago when a nitwit grapher sharpied a Cavaliers hoodie, that you don't wear things to graph that could get messed up, but since I was graphing so little I figured it was OK.

I was able to stop at the team shop and pick up team sets for other people (I only buy AAA team sets for three teams) and picked up a schedule holder for myself.
I really like those when they are made with a solid box floor (Most aren't) because not only do they look good, they are perfect for holding a few cards nearby when I'm working on things.
We then began to make the trip home and in a few hours, we neared Binghamton, New York, and both Fred and I began to get a bit hungry.
I hadn't eaten all day and I hadn't seen Fred eat, although he likely had breakfast when I was not around, so the time was right.
Since I was in that area, the best thing to do was contact Jason Christensen for advice on where to eat.
Jason advised us to roll past Binghamton about 20 miles and barely across the Pennsylvania line to a place named Bingham's.
Fred asked if it was right off the interstate and Jason said it was-it turned out to be so close that Fred was in the parking lot with a small tap of the brakes.

Bingham's turned out to be a family restaurant that reminded me of Lyn-Way in Ashland with a large number of pies and cakes among other desserts.
Fred really seemed to enjoy Bingham's and I would certainly go there again- I even ordered a small piece of cheesecake, which is a big deal for me considering that I almost never order dessert.

The ride back to Mechanicsburg was a wet one as rain most of the trip and fog on occasion, but one event happened that will be talked about for a long time.
We hadn't been on the road for very long and as I looked at my IPad, I glanced up to see a large black object hit my side of the windshield with a loud THWACK and I saw it tumble over the roof of the car!
I asked Fred "What the hell was that?" and his nonplussed answer was " I just hit a turkey".
I couldn't stop laughing at both the odds of hitting a wild turkey in mid-flight and then the matter of fact way that Fred said: "I just hit a turkey".
Many (many) turkey and death jokes later, the trip ended at Fred's house, but the turkey talk wasn't completed yet.

The following day, I visited my parents and after a while, my dad asked me if I wanted some lunch.
I wasn't hungry, so I declined, but he followed up with "Do you want a turkey sandwich?"
I started laughing like crazy, complete with dad looking at me like I'm nuts...

Great time with Fred for the weekend and I'd certainly do this trip again in the future!
Lots of stuff in the inbox with passings and other notes and I'll be trying to catch up on those very soon.
I'll also have the boxing challenge and next week, I'm planning on a look at the Cavaliers and Devils before they enter next week's drafts...



Thursday, June 14, 2018

Road Trip:Canastota

The latest road trip on the TRS 2018 tour saw Fred Landucci (pictured left with Marco Antonio Barrera) and I travel to Canastota, New York for my first ever trip to the Boxing Hall of Fame.

Now, we didn't actually step inside the museum as that looked to be quite busy and smaller than I figured that it would be, so Fred and I decided to do the peripheral things around the induction weekend and just enjoy being around the fans and history of the sport.

I drove the hour plus to meet Fred at his home for the four-hour drive to Canastota.
It was a little strange for me because all of our past trips have been to the south and Fred (or any of my traveling companions) usually picks me up, but it only makes sense for me to drive north to avoid time wasting and doubling back.

Fred and I made just one stop before Canastota as we stopped at Sonic for breakfast.
I know, I hate breakfast foods for the most part (I do like a breakfast buffet two or three times a year), but I felt starved after all night on the couch watching tv and not eating.
Sonic is a great place because it's one of the few places that you can order whatever you like whenever you like.
I never understand how fast food joints can't toss a burger patty on a grill with a sausage patty, but so many refuse to.

Arriving at Canastota and pulling off the exit, Fred inquired whether that was the location or not.
I wasn't sure at first because physically (from a short distance), it looked like a big flea market with a few stands selling fireworks with a building in front.
It turned out the small building out front is the actual Hall and the other building is a gift shop and houses other boxing memorabilia.
Once we left the toll booth, we could see a boxing ring and an area set up to host what turned out to be a Q and A session.
I kept checking the Hall's webpage and it mentioned some events, but never specifically mentioned who would be at the Q and A sessions.

Fortunately, I had an ace in the hole.
Jason Christensen (who you might remember from the old TRS podcast and occasional caller on the Fightheads show) has a friend that I had met on an occasion or two and Gary was gracious enough to talk to me the night before and gave me some tips on the event with the Q and A session with the one person that I really wanted to get something signed by.

Because I didn't know for sure who would be there, I didn't bring a lot of items to be signed.
I had a picture of Thomas "The Hitman" Hearns ready in case I saw him, but I never did, but I had been told by Gary that a 10;30 AM Q and A was scheduled with Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales discussing their trilogy of great fights.
As a huge Barrera fan, he was the main target for me and as soon as I was off the phone with Gary, I was ordering Barrera pictures from Walgreens just an hour before they were closing.

We arrived in the middle of a Christy Martin Q and A and Gary saw us and chatted for a while.
Fred's knees were hurting so I had him sit down while I spoke to Gary, who kindly gave me a picture of Martin to be signed since I didn't have anything for her.
Martin was very nice in signing my photo and used Gary's blue paint pen, which I instantly loved and Gary was nice enough to let me borrow.

Gary then told me where he and I would be standing during the Barrera/Morales session.
It wasn't a great spot for seeing them speak, but it would put us dead in front of where they would be signing afterward for a short period of time.
Gary clearly knew the landscape as he put us within the first five people (we actually were first, but people are rude, Ha Ha) which really came into play when they announced that both Barrera and Morales would only be signing for a few minutes because they needed to go to the card show across town.
I ordered a 16 x 20 photo of Barrera that I was getting signed and I had an 8 x 10 of Barrera and Morales in action that Fred was getting signed for me and we waited to begin.
I really wanted a picture with Barrera, but time was short and believe it or not-I have a conscience.
If you remember my complaints from last season's visit to Scranton and the Goose Gossage appearance about people slowing up the line with pictures and not giving nearly as many fans as they could have a chance to get their stuff signed.
I just couldn't do that to others, so I had my picture signed and moved on although I did take pictures of Barrera sitting at the table, that was harmless and took no time off the clock.

Meanwhile, Fred is getting Morales to sign that picture (which I deliberately picked with Barrera landing a punch) and Fred reported that Morales scowled a bit at the picture before he signed.
Barrera, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy signing the same picture as is shown above.

We then left for the card show at the local high school, where I was in heaven around so many boxing items.
I could have spent thousands of dollars and I was really taken with a world title belt signed by two of my all-time favorites in Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran, but at 500 dollars, it was out of my price range.
My collecting budget is just that- a budget and I don't consider it being cheap, I consider it living in my means.
I just wish my means were larger!!!

I didn't get anything signed at the show, the lines were long and if I ever return for this weekend again, I'll be ready as I could have gotten many stars including multi-division champ James Toney, current WBA/IBF junior middleweight champ Jarrett Hurd, Leon Spinks and others, although Thomas Hearns wasn't there when I was, I would have waited for him.
I only bought a few things there and two of the three weren't boxing.
I added the late junior welterweight champion Aaron Pryor as the first of three autographed photos to go with the A-Train Artis Gilmore in game action with the ABA's Kentucky Colonels and former Pirate (and many others) batting champion Al Oliver on photos as well.
I was somewhat disappointed that I could not find what I was really looking for- a program and fight poster from the one bout that I truly could not choose who to root for because I was such a fan of both fighters, the 2007 fight between Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Nothing from that fight ever appears on EBAY and I was hoping to find some items.
If you read this and have something or know where they may be, let me know!
I could have stayed longer, but I had seen anything and Fred was clearly bothered by his ailing wheels.so the time was right.

It was getting time for a late lunch and Canastota isn't exactly loaded with options, so the easy place was Graziano's Italian Inn, across the street from the Hall
It has some boxing decor and the owner Tony Graziano trained both of the area's two world champions in Carmen Basilio and Billy Backus.
The food was ok, but the highlight came when Miguel Cotto sat at the table next to us as we waited for our meal.
I didn't have anything for Cotto to sign and my general rule is that if someone is eating, I don't ask them to sign until they are ready to leave.
I'm not saying that I wouldn't ever make an exception of that rule, but it would have to be a very special situation.
Fred wanted to have Cotto sign, so I told him to get him on a baseball.
I see those all the time from celebrities and in this case, it made sense.
Cotto had signed for others and he did for Fred as well.
I was happy for Fred to add such a star for his collection.

After a short return to the HOF for Fred to grab some souvenirs for his family, we were on the road to Rochester.
I was exhausted by this time and after arriving at the hotel, I needed a nap and agreed to meet Fred in the lobby for a few hours for dinner.
I didn't have much of a nap as I watched the two bouts that Showtime was streaming from the U.K., but just being able to stretch out and relax went a long way to being revitalized.
I also watched the local news as I like to do on trips as I 'scout' for future news stars to keep an eye on.
I didn't really find anyone in my other trips earlier this year, but you might remember my notes on Hannah Bueller in Buffalo last season as an example of this.
The Buffalo TV market is next to Rochester's and I wondered if Buffalo would have a presence.
That wasn't the case, but Rochester did have a prospect working her way up the ladder in Jeannie McBride.
I heard three sentences and knew McBride had to have spent some time in Ohio.
Turns out she's a native and was an Akron Zip and I tweeted her about that and before the show was over, she had tweeted me back.
Keep an eye on Jeannie McBride, just as I wrote last year about Hannah Bueller.

As I was watching the fights, I looked at TripAdvisor and saw a Duff's Buffalo Wings fairly close.
In Buffalo, Duff's isn't the originator of wings, but they are often talked about on the travel shows that go to the area as the best wings in town.
When we arrived at Duff's, the sign read our medium is hot, the hot is very hot and the very hot is super hot.
I asked for a sample of the sauce and frankly, I didn't think they were all that hot.
They tasted more like Frank's Hot Sauce, which is my go-to sauce at home and mildly hot, but not super hot.
I asked about their two hottest sauces Suicide and Death and was told they were hot.
I decided to split my order of boneless wings between Very Hot and Death-if you are "going for it", go for the top.
I can see why Duff's is the top of the New York wing list because they were delicious as well as their buffalo cheese dip with tortilla chips that Fred and I had as our appetizer.

After Duffs. I went back to the hotel for the night, where I watched the Showtime card from Los Angeles to end the evening.
It had been long and tiring and I barely made it through the Santa Cruz-Mares fight.
What a great time I had and I was so pleased to meet Marco Antonio Barrera!.
Thanks to Gary for all of his help and most to Fred for going on the trip.
I never figured on making the trip there, because I didn't think anyone would want to attend with me-thank you very much my friend for the companionship and the great day!
I would definitely do the HOF weekend again and I have circled the eventual induction of another all-time TRS favorite in Juan Manuel Marquez for a return visit.

Still another day to cover and lots of inbox items as well.
Back next time with day two in Rochester and the home of the Rochester Red Wings-Frontier Field.






Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Crawford batters Horn, Santa Cruz decisions Mares

Lots to catch up on here at TRS as we have lots of inbox cleaning, our trip last weekend and starting to prep for the drafts for the Cavaliers and Devils.

First, though we have to move to the weekend in boxing while I was in the Canastota/Rochester area, there was plenty of boxing in the boxing challenge to catch up on.

We start in Las Vegas, where Terence Crawford battered Jeff Horn for nine rounds, gave him over twenty stitches for his cuts and lifted his WBO welterweight title as well.
Crawford was reported to have won every round and pounded the overmatched Horn to the point of needing to be saved by the referee.
I didn't see this fight as I am not an ESPN+ subscriber, although I will be soon.

I didn't start the ESPN+ subscription because at the same time (as I watched from my hotel room in Rochester), Showtime offered two title bouts from Los Angeles.
In the main event, Leo Santa Cruz retained his WBA featherweight title with a unanimous decision over Abner Mares in another good, but not great encounter.
Nothing really changed from their first fight and I didn't really need to see it again this time, but it was entertaining enough.
I had Santa Cruz as a 116-112 (8-4) winner and that was roughly how the judges saw it as well.
Santa Cruz is talking about a unification fight with WBC champion Gary Russell and with both being promoted by PBC, one would think that would be easy to make.
However, with Russell's history of inactivity and Santa Cruz often taking most of a year off before a squash match to prepare his return for an exile of his own making, I'd be only mildly surprised to see this happen at all and downright shocked to see it before 2019.

Jermell Charlo retained his WBC junior middleweight title with a majority decision over veteran Austin Trout.
Charlo dropped Trout in the third and eighth rounds and those knockdowns saved him from losing on one card, but Charlo generally controlled a less than thrilling bout.
I had Charlo a 116-110 winner, but to a certain degree, I thought Charlo was exposed in this one when you consider that WBA/IBF champ Jarrett Hurd stopped Trout last year and was much more dominant, Charlo may have shown that his hype and power might be overrated because many (including me) thought so highly of Erickson Lubin before Charlo knocked him out in one round.
I still don't think Charlo has beaten anyone of top five caliber and I'd pick Hurd over him in a potential bout.

Showtime continues to build itself as the fans fight network with a free stream from England with the return of former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and a title vacancy filled in the junior welterweight division.
Fury goofed, clowned and patted his way to a TKO when Sefer Seferi surrendered in his corner after the fourth round.
In a fight that was more spectacle than contest Fury proved little other than to truly see what he has retained of his talents, we will still have to wait.

Maurice Hooker upset former WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan via a split decision to win the final of the 140 pound belts (WBO) to be filled after Terence Crawford vacated his four titles last year.
I had Hooker a close winner (115-113) in a bruising fight that was filled with more action than I've ever seen from a Flanagan bout.
Hooker's win not only gained him the WBO belt, but also an entry into the World Boxing Super Series in the fall tournament in the junior welterweight division.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica matched my weekend total of seven points.
Ramon earned three points from Terence Crawford, two from Leo Santa Cruz and one each from Jermell Charlo and Tyson Fury.
My points came from two each from Crawford, Santa Cruz and Fury with one from Jermell Charlo.

The challenge for the year stands at 97-78







Friday, June 8, 2018

Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge moves into June with five fights- all of which are important as we move into the second half of the year/

ESPN Plus has the biggest bout as the long-awaited move of Terence Crawford to the welterweight division occurs with Crawford challenging WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn in Las Vegas.
Horn, who upset Manny Pacquiao for the championship in Top Rank's debut on ESPN is a heavy underdog against Crawford but gives Crawford a test against a big, durable welterweight.
Crawford looks to be the odd man out for now in the division even with a win as the biggest names in the division are all with Al Haymon's PBC, so Crawford needs to win impressively in order to build his name for future bouts...

Showtime has a two-bout card from Los Angeles with the main event hosting a rematch from 2015 with Leo Santa Cruz defending his WBA featherweight title against Abner Mares.
I thought their first fight was good, but not great and considering the depth in the division along with many of these fighters being with Showtime/PBC, I'm really not sure why this fight had to happen.
It should be interesting at least and neither has been really active since their fight, although Santa Cruz has had two fights with Carl Frampton which is at least high-level competition.

Jermell Charlo defends his WBC junior middleweight belt against former champion Austin Trout.
Charlo is returning after his vicious first round KO of Erickson Lubin last year and might be getting the seemingly fading Trout at the right time in his career.
Trout lost a decision to Charlo's brother Jermall before being knocked out by Jarrett Hurd and might be a shot fighter at the world class level.

Showtime also has a two-fight live stream from London and give Showtime and their brain trust plenty of credit for their recent run of buying European fights of interest and streaming them for free.
It's a great gesture of goodwill to boxing fans and develops names for future broadcasts on the main network, so it's a great idea for a small investment.

In the bout of most interest, former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury returns to the ring after a multi-year layoff after his upset win over Wladimir Klitschko.
Fury, who trudged through a dull victory over Klitschko, deserves a soft touch considering his time off and got it in Sefer Seferi, who lost to the only fighter that I have heard of on his resume in Manuel Charr,
It should be a good chance for Fury to chip the rust off a bit and a good first step towards bigger bouts.

The vacant WBO junior welterweight title vacated by Terence Crawford is on the line with former WBO lightweight champ Terry Flanagan vs Maurice Hooker.
Flanagan vacated his title after five successful, if not thrilling defenses, while Hooker is undefeated although his draw against Darleys Perez ranks as one of the worst decisions of the last few years.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 90-71

WBO Welterweight Title. 12 Rds
Jeff Horn vs Terence Crawford
R.L: Crawford KO 9
TRS; Crawford KO 7

WBA Featherweight Title. 12 Rds
Leo Santa Cruz vs Abner Mares
Both: Santa Cruz Unanimous Decision

WBC Junior Middleweight Title. 12 Rds
Jermell Charlo vs Austin Trout
R.L: Charlo KO 7
TRS: Charlo KO 3

Heavyweights. 10 Rds
Tyson Fury vs Sefer Seferi
R.L; Fury Unanimous Decision
TRS: Fury KO 8

Vacant WBO Junior Welterweight Title. 12 Rds
Terry Flanagan vs Maurice Hooker
Both: Flanagan Unanimous Decision

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Cavaliers fall behind 3-0

The Cleveland Cavaliers controlled most of the first half and seemed to have things going their way for a victory that would be the tightener for the NBA championship series, but a late half spurt by the visiting Golden State Warriors allowed them to keep the game close at the half and then the defense that stopped most of the Warriors other than Kevin Durant in the first half, sprung a leak in the second half.

The leak didn't take the Cavaliers out of the game, but an inability to stop Kevin Durant did and when Durant hit a three-pointer from Akron with less than a minute to play, the chance at a series-changing win was dead.
Seconds later, it was Golden State taking the 110-102 decision and with it a 3-0 lead in the series.
In other words, it's over, it's just a matter of whether it is needed to take one more trip to Oakland to end it.

LeBron James led Cleveland with 33 points, Kevin Love added 20 points and the return of Rodney Hood score him score 15 points off the bench.
Game four is Friday night in Cleveland.

Swashbucklings

1) In this one, there aren't a lot of things that you can blame (other than not being strong enough on defense) other than the better team won.
This series might have been won two summers ago when Golden State signed Kevin Durant.
These teams were closely matched before that signing.
Now, they aren't that close at all and it takes a standout game from Cleveland and a slightly off night from the Warriors to keep it close.
Thanks, NBA.

2) Even the Cleveland defense, which usually isn't terrific managing to scrape together a nice night in holding Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to poor shooting nights.
The pair shot 7 for 27 from the floor and combined for just 21 points-nights like that should give you a chance to win.
On this night-Cleveland had a chance, but it wasn't enough.

3) That doesn't mean that the defense is still anywhere near average and when the Warriors move the ball around, the Cavaliers consistently find themselves out of position.
They just don't have the athletes to stick with the Warriors weapons and some Cavaliers just don't keep their wits about them enough to be in the right place.

4) Cleveland did use Rodney Hood for the first time since the Clinton administration and he responded with not only 15 points, but some unexpected energy too.
Hood could have made a difference in game one (If motivated) I think and it'll be interesting to see if he can play well again in game four.

5) I've always liked the shooting skills of Kyle Korver, but either the Warriors defense him well or he has issues of some type because he just doesn't shoot well against them.
Korver played just eleven minutes but was zero for four.
When you have just one elite skill, one can't afford to slump.

6) I don't want to talk LeBron James future yet, but he has to look at this team and wonder if the future to contend in Cleveland is finished.
Having turned Kyrie Irving into a collection of mismatched parts, I cannot imagine as James looks around that he feels confident with a team with salary cap issues can make enough changes to turn the tide.
Other than the number eight pick and maybe Kevin Love, Cleveland lacks the assets to otherwise make a lot of moves.
If there is one factor that could cause James to leave Lake Erie, that is more than likely at the top of the list...

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Golovkin stripped of IBF title

A stunning decision was ruled today by one of boxing's sanctioning bodies as the IBF took away its middleweight championship from Gennady Golovkin.

While this all circles around to Canelo Alvarez's PED or "tainted beef" suspension (depending on whom you believe), I still think that even though the IBF made a mistake in stripping Golovkin, Team GGG made the bigger errors.
GGG promoter Tom Loeffler didn't pursue a May fight vs IBF mandatory challenger Sergey Dereyvanchenko after the questionable decision to force a Cinco De Mayo bout for Golovkin, even if it meant a soft touch in inactive career junior middleweight Vanes Martirosyan, who Golovkin easily trashed in two rounds.
Fighting Derevyanchenko then would have lifted a mandatory obligation, would have been a likely win (although a tougher fight) and they would have continued with all three titles to move onto the next hurdle.
Loeffler did pay the IBF $20,000 to not strip Golovkin for fighting Martirosyan but did not agree to the IBF's stipulation that Golovkin faces Dereyvanchenko next.
That's understandable considering the possibility of a Canelo rematch, but with Golovkin's recent demand for purse parity (another mistake in my opinion), that bout seems to have fallen through and now with one of the four belts being vacant, a prospective bout against WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders seems a bit anticlimactic.

The IBF seems a bit haughty here and will lose some dollars for their ham-handed handling of the matter as either a Derevyanchenko or his opponent for the vacant title as champion. will mean a far lighter sanctioning fee than Golovkin's defenses, so they'll take a hit as well.
They also look bad as Derevyanchenko's representatives didn't ask to have Golvokin stripped-they asked to force Golovkin's next fight against their fighter and only strip if that fight didn't happen.
The IBF could save some face here with a ruling that the title is vacant, but Golovkin could fight for the title against Dereyvanchenko, should he agree by a reasonable date, say 30 days.
I still have my doubts that happens considering the body would likely dictate the terms for the fighters purses, but it still would be a good P.R. move.

This does give Golovkin options for his next fight without a standout contender for the bout as now it seems that we are back to the beginning of few (except Dereyvanchenko) really wanting to face GGG, but what about the IBF's prospects?
Their rules state that they will offer the fight to each contender below Dereyvanchenko in order until someone accepts the fight.
The possibilities start strong but quickly roll downhill with Daniel Jacobs getting the first crack.
Jacobs has been offered the B-side for the Canelo Alvarez return, so that would trump the IBF unless Oscar De La Hoya is simply strongarming Golovkin with Jacobs as a backup plan.
Editor's Note: Both Dereyvanchenko and Jacobs are both trained by Andre Rozier making a bout between them even more unlikely.
Jermall Charlo is Golovkin's number one contender in the WBC, but I can see Charlo trying to grab a belt and try to build his name for a future big fight, so that could happen.
Demetrius Andrade would be next and he's a talented guy but isn't always exciting and I can't see many being thrilled about that one, although I'd find it interesting.
If all those pass-look out as the rest of the top ten are Euro's Tommy Langford (untested) and Martin Murray (0 for 4 in title bouts), unknowns Rafael Berajan and Kamil Szeremeta and recent loser to Daniel Jacobs in Luis Arias.
Considering that Billy Joe Saunders' title claim was often ridiculed, I cannot imagine the winner of Derevyanchenko against anyone south of Andrade getting anything more than an "also holds a belt"
mention by boxing media.

In the end, everyone here loses- Golovkin loses a title and becomes less likely to gain his long announced goal of all four titles. Derevyanchenko loses a larger payday, although he's more likely to win a title now, the IBF loses as now they will likely have the least recognized champion and the followers of boxing lose as well because it will take a while for this mess to clear itself up.
Only in boxing...

Back later with the Cavaliers loss to the Golden State Warriors in game three...





Monday, June 4, 2018

Indians select Noah Naylor

The Cleveland Indians have four picks in the first evening
of the draft, but none of them higher than 29 and they selected a player with a strong pedigree when they tabbed Noah Naylor, a catcher from Canada, who is the brother of former first rounder of the Marlins (now with the Padres) Josh Naylor.

The high schooler hits left-handed and is said to be a good athlete that some think could eventually be a third baseman with others believing that he could become a catcher over the long term.
Naylor needs to grow into his body a bit to develop power but is thought to have a plus hit tool and I like his arm, although he will have to work on his defense.

Entering this draft, some thought Naylor could be the first high school catcher selected (he turned out to be the second)
and the Indians likely had a player fall to them that you would not have had them getting in most mock drafts.
Naylor does have a commitment to Texas A&M and the Indians will have to deal with that in order to
sign him, but most observers think that Naylor is more likely to sign than not.

Noah Naylor would be more valuable as a catcher than a third baseman and I'm sure that Cleveland will give him a chance to stick behind the plate, but if he hits very well, he might be headed for third base to save the beating that catchers always receive.
At this stage of the draft, I think that the Indians did reasonably well even with the risk of high school backstops.



Pirates select Travis Swaggerty

The Pittsburgh Pirates surprised me a little bit with the selection of South Alabama outfielder Travis Swaggerty with their first rounder in the tenth overall pick.
Swaggerty hit .296 with 13 homers for the Jaguars of the Sun Belt Conference with nine steals.

I have to be honest and I haven't followed the draft prospects as much this season as I have in the past. but this pick seems like a cash savings that might see Pittsburgh roll that money into a tougher sign in a later round.
The lefthanded-hitting Swaggerty was compared to Darin Erstad by the MLB Network commentators, but I wonder about that- Erstad was much more of a contact hitter than Swaggerty seems to be and Swaggerty's steal totals dropped from 20 to 18 to 9 at South Alabama along with his other numbers.

I asked Joe Werner for his thoughts on Travis Swaggerty and here they are as follows: " Swaggerty is a very SABR-friendly hitter with a fantastic eye and good bat to ball skills.
I'm not sure that he projects anything more than 12 to 15 homers though-He's a very safe pick though"

Swaggerty does project to be able to stay in center though and that's a plus, but from my limited (and I'll admit very limited) looks at Swaggerty, I have a comparison and it's not as good of a comparison as Darin Erstad.
That is one of a past Indians first-rounder Tyler Naquin.
Naquin didn't hit for a great average or produce nearly enough power to start for the Tribe and has been constantly on the Columbus shuttle between AAA and the majors.
Naquin was also considered to be a safe pick and in my opinion, small market teams need to gamble on superstar potential not on safe college outfielders without a high ceiling.

I'm not completely disappointed with the pick, but I'm not especially thrilled either as to me, the Pirates reached a bit with Travis Swaggerty, but I'm open-minded enough to see if Pittsburgh is planning to spend more later in the draft or if they truly think Travis Swaggerty was the tenth best player in the draft before I make a final decision...




Giants select Joey Bart

The San Francisco Giants haven't picked in the top five since 2008 when they drafted Buster Posey out of Florida State and they haven't picked second since 1985 with Will Clark from Mississippi State.
I'd say those worked out pretty well and the Giants hope to have hit another homer with the second pick of this draft with the selection of Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart.

Bart hit .359 with 16 homers for the Yellow Jackets along with receiving raves for his defensive work.
Now keep in mind that while .359 is a good average, it is not quite the same as a similar number in the big leagues and the 16 homers does show legitimate power, I still always wonder about power when it comes to college players with the lack of experience with the wooden bat.

Bart was considered the best catcher in the draft and doesn't appear to be one of those catchers that wind up playing elsewhere.
Bart's considered a sure thing by many, but I remember guys like Mike Zunino coming out of college as sure things only to disappoint at the major league level.

I asked Joe Werner of the Prospect Digest for his thoughts on Bart: "I'm worried about his swing and miss tendencies. There's more Matt Wieters and Zack Collins in him than people realize.
Now, that's still very valuable, but I don't think he lives up to the hype-at least offensively".

I understand why the Giants swung high for Bart as, by the time that Bart could be ready for AT&T Park, Buster Posey should be ready to move to first base and the Giants always will need to develop their own power bats as AT&T Park is not an appealing park for free agent power hitters.
I'm fine with the pick and it has the potential to plug in the catcher position for a long time when Bart arrives.
I'm a little more concerned than some because often times, college hitters are as good as they are going to be and there isn't always a ton of upside.
However, even if the floor for Bart is Matt Wieters (Who also attended Georgia Tech), the Giants would be very happy adding Joey Bart.

Thanks to Joe Werner for his thoughts...


Cavaliers down, but are they done?

I thought the Cleveland Cavaliers might come out flat after their controversial overtime loss in game one to the Golden State Warriors and at times, they did.
However, for the most part, they did not, but it still was not enough to overcome the powerful offense of Golden State as the Warriors won game two 122-103 in Oakland.

LeBron James led Cleveland with 29 points and Kevin Love added 22 more to lead the Cavaliers, who stayed reasonably close until the middle of the fourth quarter.

Games three and four are must-wins for Cleveland as they return home with a chance to even the series.

Swashbucklings

1) Big dog in the room- the officiating again was abysmal.
It's been so bad that the fans of other teams and PLAYERS on other teams are complaining.
I'm generally not a person that blames losses on the referees and if you have read a lot of my work here, I think that you'll find that to be the case, but last night was awful as well.

2) The NBA has a major credibility problem and I don't think they are seeing it.
Either their officials are corrupt or just terrible and either way, there is an issue to be dealt with.
I think they are just crummy referees, but the NBA is the one league that once employed a corrupt referee and they should take even the fact that people are considering this possibility to be a huge problem in perception.

3) Kevin Loce did score 22 points and George Hill played well, but Cleveland received next to nothing from J.R. Smith and the highest scoring bench player was Jeff Green with just six points.
Going to need far more than that from the supporting cast to win the two games in Cleveland.

4) The Cleveland defense was terrible.
I expect the stars for Golden State to play well, what I don't expect is Javale McGee to score 12 points on 6 for 6 shooting with it seeming to have all six shots combine to be six feet away!
Not to mention allowing 15 three-pointers.

5) Cleveland has to shake things up.
J.R. Smith needs to sit and just toss some players out there and see if they can catch some lightning.
Jordan Clarkson hasn't shot well, Rodney Hood seldom moves after his faux pas' earlier in the playoffs, but he knows Golden State well or even Cedi Osman, but try something other than J.R.Smith!!!

6) I think Cleveland wins game three.
Not sure about game four, but I think the home crowd, an inspired LBJ, and referees that will have heard for almost a week (since game one) how badly they have performed/favored the Warriors and will subconsciously attempt to "even the score" will result in a big effort Wednesday night.
If they cannot win under those conditions, they are likely headed toward a sweep.

Browns sign Mychal Kendricks

The Cleveland Browns looked to be a surprising name listed as an entry in the Mychal Kendricks derby after the former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker was released as a casualty of the salary cap that most successful franchises have to deal with.

Yes, the Browns likely would come up with the best financial offer as most unsuccessful franchises have the largest amount of salary cap space to deal with, but the other teams scheduled to visit with Kendricks (Oakland and Minnesota) had the edge with personal issues (Kendricks played his college football at Cal and brother Eric plays for the Vikings) and winning (Vikings in NFC title game last season, Raiders were a playoff team two years ago and added Jon Gruden as their new coach), so the Browns could have (and were) looked at as a dark horse candidate only.

No matter the reasons, Kendricks made his mind up and to my surprise is headed to Cleveland to become a Brown as he agreed to a one year contract valued at three and a half million dollars.
Kendricks bolsters what on paper appears to be a solid linebacking group with Jamie Collins returning from injury, Joe Schobert, and Christian Kirksey in the Browns 4-3 alignment.
Kendricks rebounded last season after two seasons (2015 and 16) that saw coordinator changes and lessened playing time, to notch 51 solo tackles and two sacks last season with the Eagles.

I think there may a return to Kendricks early form in Philadelphia in the offering when he was a second-year player with 86 solo tackles, four sacks and three interceptions in his stat line
His range and ability to run down runners seems to be an excellent fit in the Gregg Williams defensive schemes and he can play inside or outside, although he is better outside in the 4-3 preferred by Williams.

Something else to keep an eye on is perhaps another move could be coming with Jamie Collins.
Collins, after all, is highly paid, coming off an injury, hasn't been a playmaker in Cleveland and was a Sashi Brown import not one of John Dorsey's acquisitions.
Kendricks along with the three linebackers would make an imposing quartet at the position, but playing the 4-3, they will have to be rotated and could the Browns decide that Collins isn't worth the cost with the arrival of Kendricks?
Worth wondering about at least.

Considering that the cost was reasonable and for only a one year contract, this could be an excellent addition for the Browns


Sunday, June 3, 2018

CFL Memories

I've been listening to a CFL podcast of late and was able to reconnect with an old friend, Joe Pritchard, who is one of the hosts of the podcast.
Joe and his fellow hosts have reignited my CFL interest and I'm having to re-learn the league's rosters again, but I'm having fun doing just that.

I was a pretty big CFL fan in the early 80's when we first had cable available and ESPN showed a lot of CFL games.
Somewhere in the archives, I still have a booklet that ESPN sent out upon request that explained the rules and a little history on each team.
During that period, I mainly rooted for the Ottawa Rough Riders, even though they were terrible because they had J.C. Watts as their quarterback (remember my Oklahoma fandom in the Barry Switzer days?) ,but I also rooted for a team in the same division as well- the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and when Watts retired, I rooted more for the Ti-Cats.
I've always spoken well of the league to others and tried to make a few fans by recommending its high-octane and fast-paced game.

ESPN gave up the CFL rights in the US and the rights through the years shuffled between several networks and currently is back with ESPN, who streams a lot of the games and shows a fair amount on the "over the air" stations until the fall and the college season begins,but my peak CFL interest was the middle 90's and early 2000's with this thing called the internet and a device long forgotten-WebTV.

WebTV was our first entry on the WWW and one of the neat things was discovering Usenet, which was a message board on about every topic you could dream of including the CFL and hosted chat rooms on tons of topics as well.
Those chat rooms most notably here are remembered by the lovely Cherie meeting what turned out to be her best friend, Christine in a homeschooling chat room in what Cherie says was the ONLY time she ever entered a chat room!
I didn't use the chat often, but I did spend lots of time on Usenet discussing the CFL and actually listening to the audio of live CFL games.
This was after the Baltimore franchise had moved to Montreal to become the "new" Alouettes after the CFL's American expansion, I had watched a lot of those games and was very knowledgeable about the league and wanted to "talk" with other fans.
I was arguably more of a CFL fan than an NFL fan then as Baltimore had stolen the Browns and then had no further use for their CFL Stallions and passionately rooted for the Tiger-Cats.

I was a Doug Flutie fan as almost everyone was, but I liked other passers as well such as Damon Allen, Tracy Ham and my favorite of all- Matt Dunigan.
I was happy when Dunigan joined Hamilton following his season with the defunct Birmingham Barracudas, but alas Dunigan would play just a few games with the Ti-Cats with his career ending due to concussion issues and just one football card in a Hamilton uniform,
Dunigan was a quarterback before his time with a strong arm, but at 5'11, Dunigan didn't even have an NFL opportunity.
Had he played today, he would have at least been drafted and given a chance and he might have been an NFL starter in today's game.

Hamilton became even more fun to follow in 1998 and 1999 under new head coach Ron Lancaster as they split a pair of Grey Cups with Calgary.
CFL veteran Danny McManus manned the quarterback position with hard running back Ronald Williams combining with receivers Darren Flutie and Mike Morreale to pace a strong offense, but the defense was the best part for me with rush end (basically the CFL's version of a 3-4 outside linebacker that rushes the passer) Joe Montford along with CFL veteran linebackers Calvin Tiggle and Lamar McGriggs with a punishing hitter in Canadian safety Rob Hitchcock to lead the defense to two Eastern titles.
Somewhere in the archives, I have an official 2000 Grey Cup Football from those teams and I should dig it out sometime.
The CFL football is a little different than the NFL ball, a little thicker around the middle makes it a stubbier looking ball that you really cannot tell unless it is side by side with another football.

Another Ti-Cat that I liked was electric wideout Earl Winfield, who I remembered at first from his college days at North Carolina and even though Winfield wasn't part of the Grey Cup title teams (Winfield retired a few years before), he still was my favorite player from the era of the 80's.
Winfield was one of those players that you didn't want to take your eyes off because when he touched the football, he had the potential to take it to the (larger) end zone.
I was able to meet Earl (Now a CFL Hall of Famer) a few years back when Winfield and I appeared on a local radio show and what a class gentleman he is!
I took a picture with Earl, had him sign some cards and a Hamilton mini helmet and it ranked right up at the top with the famous people that I've been able to meet.

The Tiger-Cats have a new stadium now and I still haven't kicked the habit of calling their home Ivor Wynne (the name of the old park), so it'll be a little different as I start to watch more CFL, but there will be quite a few players that I'll be familiar with and it won't take me long to get back to speed.

There is one more thing that I love about the CFL and that is the better than average chance of getting some snow football during the postseason.
And with only one of the league nine facilities being indoors after Toronto's recent return to the great outdoors, even the championship game has a reasonable chance of inclement weather.
I remember quite a few snow classics during my years watching the CFL.
1993's Western Final with Edmonton upsetting Doug Flutie and Calgary, 1994 with BC on a miracle run to the championship (BC won two road games and then the Grey Cup over the top three teams in the league by a total of five points) in pulling a massive upset again over Calgary and Flutie with a touchdown on the last play of the game that ranks as the best CFL game I've ever watched and 1996's Grey Cup at Ivor Wynne with Flutie and Toronto holding off Edmonton in the snow daddy of them all for me, to just name a few.
Snow football is just so much fun to watch and the CFL allows you to see many battles in the white stuff!





Hope you enjoyed some of my CFL memories, I have a CFL Forgotten Superstars entry planned in the future and maybe even something else perhaps as well, if time permits.
Back later with game two of the Cavaliers and the Warriors-hopefully some real referees show up for this one!