Monday, December 31, 2007

Tony Dungy makes "the list" as Browns win and lose

The Cleveland Browns had little to play for against the San Francisco 49ers other than a 10 win season as their playoff hopes would be decided by the Tennessee Titans in their visit to Indianapolis, but the Browns pounded out an unexciting 20-7 win and went home to watch the televised game from Indiana.

But first to the actual game which had just a few interesting notes.
Josh Cribbs returned a punt for a TD and continued to show why he is among the elite returners in the game.
The thing that makes Cribbs stand out among the others is his relentless running style in refusing to go down quietly and carrying tacklers along.
That is something that the more explosive returners lack as they may be faster, but tend to go down at first contact.
It has been a privilege to watch Josh Cribbs all this season and his combative attitude makes him my favorite Brown!
Derek Anderson tossed a long TD to Braylon Edwards and Phil Dawson booted two field goals for the other Cleveland points, but the other note was the debut of Brady Quinn.
Quinn piloted the team after Anderson left the game with a bruised hand after smacking it on a Niner helmet.
Quinn did have a dropped TD pass but bounced a few passes too.
Not much to say about Quinn good or bad and it would not be fair to grade him anyway after sitting all season.
I am sure that there will be plenty of time to critique Brady Quinn next season.

Now to Tony Dungy.
I know everyone loves Tony Dungy and he is a nice guy-etc etc, but his performance last night left me cold, and as a result-I will root against the Colts in every playoff game this season unless they battle New England.
That is right-IF the Steelers visit the Colts, I am rooting for Pittsburgh!
I wrote last week about my opinion on playing your best team when playoff implications are involved, but last night showed that Dungy took things to the highest degree.
Jim Sorgi could not out pass my aging arm, let alone impersonate an average NFL passer and if there is any karma for Tony Dungy, he will get stuck playing this bum for a while some time during his coaching career.
I consider myself a Peyton Manning fan, but it would be fitting for Tony Dungy to miss the playoffs one season because he had to play Jim Sorgi with the playoffs on the line.....
Plus his "I cannot wait to get out of here" at the game's end when he refused to even use his final timeout and let the clock run out...

One could expect no less from a Dennis Green disciple.
I gained respect for Tom Coughlin (who I have never been a fan of ) for trying to win Saturday with nothing to gain or lose, I have lost respect for Dungy.

The Seahawks basically played their bench guys in a 44-41 loss to Atlanta.
This I can see as nothing was on the line for either team.
I missed it due to the Browns playing at the same time.
Seattle will host Washington on Saturday in the NFC playoffs.

The Devils lost to the New York Islanders on Saturday 5-2.
I have no reasonable explanation for why the Islanders seem to play so well against New Jersey and I am tired of trying to figure it out, but the game was still fun as three fights took place.
Although Michael Rupp's one-punch demolition of Andy Sutton was cool, the most enjoyable was mild-mannered Mike Mottau's slugfest with Mr.Hilary Duff (Mike Comrie).
Devils goals to Zach Parise (16) and John Madden (12).
The Devils return to action on Wednesday at the Rock vs the Florida Panthers...

Bullpen Notes

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has a great article on hockey returning to Cleveland with the AHL's Lake Erie Monsters.
I have always thought Cleveland could be a good hockey town, but the problem is that Cleveland is a major league town that (similar to Baltimore's hockey struggles) does not really support minor league sports.

Here is hoping that the Redskins decide to use the "Lombardi" uniforms and helmet for next week's playoff game vs the Seahawks.
Those are the best uniform options that Washington has and they used them earlier this season, so they are eligible for use...

As mad as I am at Tony Dungy, I am very happy for Jeff Fisher and his Titans.
Fisher is a good guy, a Buddy Ryan disciple, and an excellent coach to boot and I am rooting for his team all the way in the AFC...

I wish the Pirates would get off the couch to announce the coaching staff for Hickory and Lynchburg already.
Dave Lunquist (2007 Hickory pitching coach) has already been announced as the new pitching coach for Lakewood next season.
Wonder what that means for one of our favorites in Ed Hodge???

Happy New Year to all!

Photo Credits
Cribbs-Tony Dejak-AP Photo
Fight-Ed Betz-AP Photo

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Devils rattle Sabres in shootout

In a well played and exciting game,the New Jersey Devils used a late rebound by Mike Mottau to tie the game and then watched Zach Parise earn the game winner in the shootout to help the Devils slide by Buffalo 2-1.
Mottau's second goal of the season was put past Ryan Miller off a Colin White (!?) shot that bounced back to Mottau.
The assist was the first point for Colin White in what seems to be ten years!
I love what White brings to the team,but an offensive presence he is not.
That was enough to get the Devils to overtime and add one point to the standings total,but after five scoreless minutes -it became time to go to the skills competition.
That is also known as the shootout and after the World's Greatest Goaltender stopped Ales Kotalik,Zach Parise scored all that was needed to give the Devils the win.
Marty Brodeur still had to stop two more shots from Tim Connolly and Thomas Vanek before the win was secured,but of course was able to do so.
In the first period,Arron Asham was awarded a penalty shot that Ryan Miller was dispatched.
Asham looked noticeably uncomfortable taking the shot and I tried to recall ever seeing Arron in the position and came up empty with any past chances in either the shootout or penalty shots.
The Devils travel to the Nassau Coliseum for a game with the Islanders tonight at 7:00.
The Islanders always seem to play the Devils tough,no matter how good they are or how bad that they might be playing at the time,so the Devils need to be ready to play!

Bullpen Notes

I only watched the first period as my employers needed my presence more than normal,but did listen to the remainder of the game via the Devils network on XM.
I am not really a fan of Matt Laughlin,although Sherry Ross seems to be improving in the analyst position.
I realize that sentence came out of left field,but Laughlin's habit of screaming about a scored goal for 45 seconds without telling you who scored it annoys me greatly.
Maybe Sherry Ross is growing on me because she seems to be the rare person that hates the shootout more than I do!
Nah,she made several interesting observations during the game and her well done between periods interview with Rod Pelley brought out some stories about Pelley's outdoor experience in the Ohio State vs Wisconsin game at Lambeau Field..........

Rumors abound about a 2008 Winter Classic at Yankee Stadium!
Of course the Rangers would be the home team,but I have heard that both the Devils and Islanders are in the running to be the opposition.
The Devils deserve it-the record speaks for itself!

Speaking of the Winter Classic-2007 version,look at the work that it takes to make ice for the contest.
If it takes that much work in Buffalo,I can imagine the hassle for making it in NYC!

Tomorrow's games are pretty meaningless for the Browns and Seahawks.
Seattle is locked in the 3rd seed position,while Cleveland's playoff hopes are totally in the Hoosier Dome with the results of the Titans-Colts game.

A heard rumor involves Bill Parcells wanting Romeo Crennel to coach the Dolphins and Miami would then sign Derek Anderson as a restricted free agent.
That would give Cleveland the first overall pick in the draft (Darren McFadden!!!) and Miami's 3rd rounder as well.
Then Miami also would have to compensate Cleveland for signing the still-under contract Crennel!
I am not sure that I believe a drop of this,but if this is offered-Do it before they change their mind!!!!!!

Until tomorrow with Devils-Islanders

Photo Credits
Hockey-Rich Schultz-AP Photo

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Random Ramblings

Just a few thoughts from the Ramblings notebook for today.

Sorry to hear about the passing of Los Angeles sportscaster Stu Nahan at the age of 81.
There was a time in the 70's and 80's where every movie that had anything to do with sports had Stu Nahan in it.
Stu was the announcer at ringside in the Rocky movies and most notable was a cameo in the classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High with Sean Penn,as Stu interviews Jeff Spicoli in his dream of winning a surfing tournament.
His deadpan interview segment with Spicoli comparing him to surfing stars Mark "Cutback" Davis and Bob "Jungle Death" Girard is an all time classic!
Adios Stu..............

Here is a great in-depth post on the Newberg Report on the potential of the Josh Hamilton-Edinson Volquez trade.
The blog is a Rangers blog,but covers both teams willingness to gamble with high end players and the background of both prospects....

In looking through some old posts here,I stumbled upon an interesting local blog in
A bag full of health and politics.
Looks like it covers health issues (not my thing),but also Democratic politics (definitely my bag).
I have never met this fellow,but his posts that I read were pretty interesting.
Sure hope that he isn't the Suns fan that was here over the summer that sure wasn't a fan of ours!
Ha Ha........

Well travelled hoops coach Eddie Sutton has agreed to fill in at San Francisco for the remainder of the basketball season for the "leave of absence" taking Jessie Evans.
If Sutton can win two games,he moves to the elite number of coaches that have won 800 games over their career in college basketball.
Sutton would become the 9th coach to reach that number.....

Mark Prior's signing with the Padres makes sense for both teams.
Prior was smart enough to sign with a team that has maybe the best pitchers park in the majors and was able to sign a one year deal without an option clause.
The Padres were able to gamble on a high upside talent with a smart gamble and just for a one year commitment....
Now tell me why the Cubs didn't offer a similar package to keep the talented Prior???

Until next time

Photo Credits
Penn/Nahan-Fast Times at Ridgemont High-Everett Collection
Prior-Lennyu Ignelzi-AP Photo

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

DVD review-World Class Championship Wrestling

Hope that everyone had a good or at least interesting Christmas day!

Since the day is a slow one,I thought that I would pull a topic out of the "slow day" file and discuss the recent release by the WWE that covers the Triumph and tragedy of
World Class Championship Wrestling.
The WWE purchased the tapes from Kevin Adkisson (Kevin Von Erich) last year and planned on releasing this DVD back in June,but the release date was just a few days after the Chris Benoit tragedy.
The company decided that since much of the WCCW documentary must cover the various deaths of the Von Erich boys,that did not make that the best time for this release.
This is the second documentary on WCCW to be produced,as last year Heroes of World Class was released shortly before the sale of the tapes to the McMahon gang,as you know, once they get their hands on them,that no one will get permission to use them.
Honestly,if you want to get a wider range of truth/opinion-it is best to watch both DVD's,as some players of the era appear on only Heroes such as Johnny Mantell,number 2 announcer Mark Lourance and the late Chris Adams,courtesy of RF Video allowing them use of the Adams shoot interview.
The WWE version has some exclusives as well,most prominently Michael Hayes and some appear on both-top announcer Bill Mercer and manager/booker Gary Hart.

The first thing to realize before you watch either of these is this-Kevin Von Erich is full of crap.
He seems like a nice enough fellow,but generally full of crap.
Between his RF shoot appearance and interviews on the two documentaries,he often tells three different stories on any topic that is broached,so if you are a casual fan or someone that knows little about wrestling and watching one of these with no background-prepared to be bewildered.
The Fritz Von Erich would have won the Olympic gold medal in the discus,if he had not been married story was laughable to say the least.
Kevin claims that Fritz's best all time throw would have won the gold in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and that he was not allowed to participate since he was married.
Can anyone believe that during the Cold War that the USA Olympic committee would let that stand in the way of beating the Soviets in competition?
Any basic research shows that to be false on both statements.
And of course the age-old lie that Kerry Von Erich was deprived of discus gold due to the 1980 boycott of the games is a favorite.
Pretty tough to believe that someone was robbed of Olympic gold,when that same person was not even All-Southwest Conference at the University of Houston,but it sounds good- so go with it.
In summary,enjoy Kevin's segments,but don't believe much of it,unless proven to be right.
Michael Hayes patted himself on the back quite often and he deserves it.
Hayes and his work on the mic deserves much of the credit for the best run of success for the company for the Von Erichs-Freebirds feud and Michael agrees with my assessment!
Hayes was not allowed to appear on the Heroes DVD by the WWE and neither was Ric Flair.
I would have liked to seen more of Flair on the WWE product since his title matches with David,Kerry and Kevin really were the impetus to setting the territory on fire.
Jimmy Garvin looks totally different to the point of without a graphic of his name,I would never have recognized him.
We did not see WCCW here during their peak period and the exposure to Garvin mostly came during his run with the Crockett/WCW company and frankly we found his work to be uninspired,annoying and lazy.
But watching his Texas clips,his work makes us want to see more as he captured the self assured heel perfectly,as the arrogance came across to the audience without being overbearing as his later work was.
Gary Hart offered interesting perspectives on both DVD's,but seems to really dislike former booker Ken Mantell as he blasts Mantell (Who appears on neither film) constantly.
The match selection could have been better,although it is great to have the famous Flair-Kerry cage match in great quality.
Triumph and Tragedy is worth watching,as long as you keep a few things in mind,but for a bigger picture look-check out Heroes of World Class as well.
It has shortfalls and untruths as well,but adds things that having just the WWE version does not...

Bullpen Notes

The Marlins signed Jose Castillo as a free agent and may start him at third base this year.
Castillo was always more potential than production as a Pirate,but I was never as hard on Castillo as other have been.
He could just need a fresh start and he had better hope that it is the case as he likely will not get another chance to start over as the starter.

Horse racing lost its all-time trainer (victories) in a car accident in Indiana on Sunday.
Dale Baird was returning to his home base in West Virginia and perished in the accident.
Baird never had high quality stock,but rolled up his record in predominantly claiming races in West Virginia.
Baird was 72.

Tom Friedman offers a new phase to us-the Noah phase,in which he writes about the need to save species before total elimination in the New York Times.
The column will be the last from Friedman until spring as he works on a new book on the environment and energy.

Finally one addition on the signing front as former batting champion Bill Mueller signed two cards for Ryan and I.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Anderson costs Browns,Devils win

Rarely can you say that one player loses a game in sports, but yesterday in windy Cincinnati-Derek Anderson did just that and with it could cost the Cleveland Browns a playoff spot.

The Bengals' 19-14 win over Cleveland was pretty much all due to the poor play of Anderson as both Bengal touchdowns were short TD drives that were set by Anderson interceptions late in the first half.
The drives of 5 and 20 yards were to be the only touchdowns of the day for Cincinnati and proved to be the difference in the game.
But that was not all for Anderson, as twice he was picked off in the Bengal red zone to end scoring threats.
If both those drives end in field goals-Browns win.

Other things added up as well.
Dave Zastidil dropped a snap on a field goal attempt and Braylon Edwards was called for offensive pass interference on the final drive that ended with Anderson's pass falling helplessly to the turf.

However, one other issue must be addressed-the poor clock management on the last possession.
Too much time wasted calling plays at the line of scrimmage and not spiking the ball likely resulted in at least 2 and maybe as many as 4 plays lost at the game's end.
I don't know whether to blame Anderson or the coaching staff for this, but either way, that definitely needs working on.

The defense allowed a bunch of yards to Bengal backup Kenny Watson, but I didn't think that really mattered much and the Bengals did not score a TD off a sustained drive all day.

The Browns now have to rely on the Indianapolis Colts to defeat the Tennessee Titans Sunday night for a trip to the playoffs.
Even though the teams are tied, the Browns game next week at home vs San Francisco is essentially meaningless, everything rides on the Titans-Colts game.

The Browns had their chance to control their destiny and could not finish the job and even a win next week to finish at a surprising 10-6 cannot take away the loss of luster off a season that could have been so much better.
3 road losses by less than a touchdown each to teams with losing records could haunt Browns fans all off-season.
Let's go Colts!!

If you like top-notch goaltending, then you would have loved the New Jersey Devils 1-0 overtime win over the Calgary Flames.
Marty Brodeur and Mikka Kiprusoff each made amazing saves and stopped great scoring chances by each team and the game was an exciting one.
This was a game to show the "finesse" 6-5 hockey fans that 1-0 games are not always dull and boring.
Patrik Elias stripped the puck from Craig Conroy seconds into overtime, played tic tac toe with Brian Gionta before sliding the puck past Kiprusoff for the game-winner and Elias' 8th goal of the year.
The shutout for Brodeur was his 95th of all time and moved him into sole possession of second place on the all-time shutout list in breaking his tie with George Hainsworth.
The Devils return to action Friday vs the Buffalo Sabres.....

Bullpen Notes

I am sure you will read more about this as the week goes on, but the NFL needs to address this "resting players for the playoffs" issue.
The Colts have announced that Peyton Manning will play the first half at most against Tennessee Sunday night.
The NFL needs to tell these teams that the schedule is 16 games for a reason and making the last game a glorified exhibition game makes the league look like a joke.

I have had people ask me why I am a Democrat when I vote for both parties and not a straight party ticket.
Basically, it is so I can vote in Presidential primaries.
If Maryland had the same rule as New Hampshire, where Independents can vote in the primary of their choice- I would be happy to register as an Independent.

In case that I do not post tomorrow-Merry Christmas to everyone!

Photo Credits
Anderson=Tom Uhlman-AP Photo
Hill-Otto Greule-Getty images
Gionta-Larry MacDougal-Canadian Press

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Blackhawks chop down Senators in OT!

Tonight offered a rare look at the Chicago Blackhawks as they paid a visit to the capital city of Canada for a duel with the Ottawa Senators.
Calder favorite Jonathan Towes (13) took a pass from Patrick Sharp and slid the puck past Ray Emery in overtime to give Chicago the 4-3 decision.
The winning shot was set by a Chris Phillips miscue,as Phillips misplayed a pass and basically put the puck on Sharp's stick to set the scene for the game winner.
The Towes goal was one of his three points of the evening and showed why he is the current favorite for Rookie of the year in a all around excellent outing for the Winnipeg native.
Chicago scored a goal in every period of the game with Martin LaPointe (2) doing the honors in the 1st,while the second and third goals each were scored on the power play with Brent Seabrook (3) and Patrick Sharp (17) lighting the lamp.
All and all,this was a fun game to watch and the Blackhawks seem to have things finally on the right path to developing a power in the future.................

The Cleveland Browns can clinch a playoff berth today in Cincinnati with a win over the Bengals.
On paper,the Browns look like the are in pretty good shape against the porous Bengal defense,but think back 14 weeks ago to the first encounter between these teams.
The Bengals were the favorite and the highly thought of team and the Browns win was considered an upset.
That game was the turning point for Cincinnati in a disappointing season that was expected to be a playoff year for them,so I think they could come ready to play and attempt to spoil the Browns playoff hopes.
Cleveland could clinch even with a loss,if Tennessee would lose to the Jets.
Our Pick:Browns 31-21

The Seattle Seahawks return home after a disheartening road loss to the Carolina Panthers.
The Hawks don't really have much to play for as they cannot get a first round bye,yet cannot lose their already clinched first round home game.
The visitors from Baltimore will be starting rookie QB Troy Smith,have injuries on defense and judging by their efforts the last few weeks,may have already mailed their season in.
Our Pick:Seahawks 24-10

Photo Credit
Hawks-Sean Kilpatrick-Canadian Press

Devils rally for win in Canadian oil country.

The New Jersey Devils evened their Western Canada road run record at 1-1 with a come from behind 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers.
The winning goals came just 30 seconds apart in the third period,as Patrik Elias tied the game with his seventh goal of the season and then Brian Gionta added the game winner (11) a few seconds later.
John Madden tossed in the empty netter (11) to conclude the scoring.
I missed the game due to work,but I was able to listen to the game via XM radio.
The Devils finish the road trip tomorrow at 8:00 in Calgary vs the Flames.

The game on XM was on the Oilers network,as usually the home teams broadcast team is used.
Rod Phillips was exactly what I expected as the voice of the Oilers.
The Hall of Famer botched some names (GointAY,instead of GiontA),but carried the game well and was entertaining as well.
Very enjoyable!

I didn't mind the Oilers feed instead of the Devils because as good as the Devils TV guys are with Doc Emrick (the best play by play man in the business) and the folksy Chico Resch,the Devils radio team doesn't measure up.
Matt Laughlin is not a favorite of mine dating back to his days as Devils pre-game host and color analyst Sherry Ross is an excellent writer but her commentary is kinda bland.

I had heard rumors of the Reds shopping Josh Hamilton,but was kinda surprised that he was going to the Rangers and more surprised that it was for the package that the Reds have coming their way.
Edison Volquez was a highly thought of prospect at one time,but had lost a bit of luster in 2006 before a bounce back year last year,while the other player in the deal,Danny Herrera will likely start at either AA or AAA this season.
Not a bad deal,but one would think that the Reds could have gotten a bit more.

The Pirates signed three more players to fill out rosters for Indianapolis and Altoona.
Most notable is former Padre hurler Mike Thompson,but none of these guys are threats to make the big club..

In the attention getting move of the week,Floyd Mayweather says he is thinking about a move to mixed martial arts.
This has no chance of happening.
One reason is the money he will make is not worth the risk and this is a guy that runs during fights with opponents with gloves on,what makes one think he will want to take fights with fighters wearing lighter gloves?

Until tomorrow

Photo Credit
Gionta-Jimmy Jeong-Canadian Press

Friday, December 21, 2007

Mariners right the Blue Jays wrong-Baseball returns to Pulaski!!

Give a big cheer to our favorite team of the hot stove season-the Seattle Mariners,as the Mariners front office corrected the horrible wrong that was dished out last season to the town of Pulaski,Virginia by the Toronto Blue Jays by returning Appalachian league baseball to Pulaski!
The press conference was held today in Pulaski with the ownership group and Appy President Lee Landers announcing the return of a ten team league and Calfee Field getting baseball back after a one season hiatus.
It is sad that the Blue Jays forced the issue before last season and Pulaski went without baseball,but in the long run-hopefully this can be a positive for Pulaski and the league.
When business is done,the way Toronto did,one has to wonder whether you want a long term relationship with businesses like that.
Here is hoping that the Mariners make this a long term stay and give the town what they deserve-baseball in the summer.
I think that both the Nationals and Pirates missed out on a great opportunity in both Pulaski and the Appalachian League,although I will give the Pirates more of a pass than the Nationals due to the front office overhaul.
But the Nationals were involved in talks to get involved in the league/Pulaski and decided to pass.
I will never understand how organizations can look at the GCL and AZL and think that they are better options for breaking young players into pro baseball than the Applachian or Pioneer Leagues.
The small towns of those levels can be used as a way to break players into being on their own without being in situations where there are too many things to get into trouble on their own time.
All the best to the people of Pulaski,the town itself,Appy President Lee Landers and the Seattle Mariners for righting this wrong.......

Until later or tomorrow

Thursday, December 20, 2007

John Edwards for President

After careful consideration between two candidates ,we have decided to endorse former North Carolina Senator John Edwards as our candidate for President.
Edwards was really only competing with Delaware Senator Joseph Biden for our tip of the cap and despite the impeccable credentials of Senator Biden,we just do not think that Biden has much of a chance to win the nomination.
Edwards does.
We realize that "electability" should not matter when endorsing,but this is shaping up to be an election cycle that could be the most important ever and for the Democratic party electing someone that can win is a must.
We believe that Sen.Clinton has too many voters that have a negative opinion of her to win,while Senator Obama has yet to bulk up a light resume' to show that he can lead the United States.

Either of the two front runners will enable the GOP to have a chance to retain the Presidency in a year that they should have next to no chance.
John Edwards is a candidate that will battle for the issues ( Global Warming,Iraq,the lagging amount of jobs to name a few) that need addressing and comes without the baggage carried by Clinton and Obama.
So on the Democratic side,we wholeheartedly endorse Senator John Edwards for President.

I may in a future post detail more of Senator Edwards positions,but time is limited with my working 27 of the next 32 hours and I wanted to get this up and posted.
For more information,check this weeks issue of Newsweek,which features Edwards on the cover.

Photo Credit

Cleanin' out the inbox

Time to catch up on things that I have missed over the last few days with the Christmas season upon us along with the work season getting busy as well.

The Devils went to the Canadian Left Coast to start a road swing and were crushed by the Vancouver Canucks 5-0.
Not much to say,the effort wasnt bad,but the Canucks came to play and put together an excellent performance.
The Devils battle the Oilers in Edmonton tomorrow.

On the Canucks-great uniforms.
The Colors go well together and keeping the original logo on the shoulder adds to the look.

The Hagerstown Suns announced their coaching staff for the 2008 season.
Former Pirate Darnell Coles and former Brave Tony Tarasco are moving up from Vermont to take over as Manager and Hitting Coach.
Paul Menhart remains as Hagerstown pitching coach next season.

Gabe Kapler leaves managing after one year to return as a player with a one year deal with the Brewers.
Not sure about the remaining skills.but he looks in good enough shape when he visited Hagerstown last season.

If West Virginia does not hire Terry Bowden as their head coach,they are way off base.
You have a name coach that wants to coach for you,you already have questions about living up to commitments and you want to hire an assistant from another school?????

We kinda like the minor league signing of power righty T.J. Beam by the Pirates.
Another high upside low risk gas thrower that could be a bullpen plus.....

And finally-another Bill Parcells signing in the NFL,this time in Miami.
Over/Under on how long Parcells lasts-2 years.
I never understand why teams throw money at these older coaches that really dont want to do this anymore,their hearts arent in it and they leave before the job is finished.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Smashing through the snow

As the snow fell from the sky and with visibility limited,the Cleveland Browns used two tremendous field goals from kicker Phil Dawson and one snap that went awry from the Buffalo long snapper to earn a huge 8-0 win in a blizzard over the Bills.
The victory puts the Browns in a position of controlling their own destiny for a wild card and with some luck keeps their AFC North title hopes alive.
For the Browns to clinch a wild card,they simply need to win 1 of their remaining 2 games or have Tennessee lose one of their remaining two,while with Pittsburgh's loss to Jacksonville,Cleveland can win the division with wins over the Bengals and 49ers combined with a Steeler loss .
Test follows this post-LOL
This game set up pretty much as I thought it would.
Jamal Lewis needed to have a big game to control the clock and field position and he did,as Lewis finished with 163 yards on 33 trips with the football.
I also thought that Buffalo rookie passer Trent Edwards would struggle with his first attempts to deal with bad conditions and he did so- as only the last ditch Bill drive was any concern to Browns fans.
Edwards had better use this as a learning experience,when you play in Buffalo,one needs to adjust to adverse weather quickly!
The Cleveland passing game was not a factor with the exceptions of a few excellent grabs by Braylon Edwards,but was just dangerous enough for the Bills to need to respect any Cleveland attempts.
Great game by the Browns defense,as they did not allow Marshawn Lynch to break away with a big run in a one score game.
Dawson's 48 yarder into the wind and snow might have been one of the best kicks that I have ever seen.
I was watching them line up and commented "this could be a quick kick".
I never thought they would actually attempt it and then to drill it?
A memorable effort by Phil Dawson yesterday.
Super effort,now here is hoping that the Browns do not take the trip to Cincinnati lightly,just this season,the win over the Bengals was considered a huge upset,so Cleveland needs to go into the game with the right attitude.

An example of the wrong attitude was the Seattle Seahawks cruising into Charlotte against a rookie QB and a team playing poor football.
The Seahawks left Charlotte with a 13-10 loss before massive amounts of empty seats and a loss that doesn't affect the big picture much,but none the less-a poor effort by the offense.
A game that saw nothing but field goals for all but the final 1:38 then was followed by with each team swapping late useless touchdowns was pretty dull as one can imagine.
Matt Hasselbeck had one of those games that looked good in the stat line,but it was as quiet as a game could be in results,while the running game continues to be non existent.
Plus Hasselbeck's 4th quarter fumble (a result of not tucking the ball away) ended a scoring drive that could have given the Hawks the lead,but instead resulted in the drive that enabled Carolina to put the game away.
I am a running proponent of course,but the team has flourished using the pass first ideology.
So I cannot understand the thoughts of changing things that are working,but Mike Holmgren
( all the Bill Walsh spin-offs for that matter) seems to have the "Lets fool them and show how smart I am mentality".
Nice defensive effort,I suppose,but that is about all.
Seattle comes local next week to battle the slumping Ravens next week.

The New Jersey Devils apparently either had a bad game Saturday vs Phoenix or Brent Sutter gave them the ass-kicking they needed,as the effort picked up and the result was a 4-2 win over the hated Flyers at the Rock.
A three goal explosion in the second period led to the win as John Madden scored at even strength and shorthanded for goals 9 and 10,while Brent Sutter's whipping boy Arron Asham drilled his fourth of the year in the stanza.
In addition,the second period saw the rare penalty shot from Philly's Daniel Briere against the World's Best Goaltender.
After Brodeur stopped the shot,one could feel the momentum and my feeling was "we have this game"!
The Captain,Jamie Langenbrunner ended the scoring late with an empty netter (5) and send the spirally downward Flyers back to Philly.........
I was pleased with the high energy that the team played with after the dead legs that showed on the previous day and the Devils needs to keep this type of effort up on the three game road trip through Western Canada.
Game 1 of the tour is Tuesday at Vancouver against the Canucks.

Bullpen Notes

Words cannot explain how thrilled I am with "West Virginia North" and their hiring of Rich Rodriguez.
Rodriguez will quickly learn that the spread offense and his "trickiness" do not go far in the Big Ten.
Plus the competition is tougher here than the laughably lousy Big East.
And here is more-only Michigan would hire a guy that needs to beat a 4 win and 28 point underdog at HOME to qualify for the national title and LOST!!!!!
Thank you WVN!!!!!

And on the topic of thrilled.
The Miami Dolphins win their first game and it is over Baltimore and resident "genius" Brian Billick!
Plus noted "all about love" Ray Lewis breaks his hand in the loss!
Let the excuse from Baltimore begin!

The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Hiroshima righthander Hideki Kuroda over the weekend.
The veteran from the Carp was 12-8 with a 3.58 ERA last year.

Congrats to former Hagerstown Suns coach Jerry Browne for his promotion to Potomac for 2008.
Harrisburg's coaching announcement was Friday,Potomac today,so it might follow that the Suns coaches could be announced tomorrow.

Note to CBS on NFL game caller Gus Johnson.
Will someone there please explain to Mr.Johnson two things.
1) Screaming loudly on every play does not create drama-it makes you sound like the loud drunk at a party.
2) Please leave the catch phrases to the Rock and Steve Austin.
I counted 5 times that Johnson uttered this beauty "Cleveland is now Believeland".

Until tomorrow,which shapes up to be a slow day,which means random ramblings or something else.

Photo Credits
Dawson-John Kuntz-Cleveland Plain Dealer
Hasselbeck-Mike McCarn-AP
Brodeur-Rich Schultz-AP

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bad and Ugly

The less I say about the New Jersey Devils 4-1 loss to the visiting Phoenix Coyotes the better.
But to be fair,Marty Brodeur played well even though he allowed four goals.
Without his effort,Phoenix could have easily had twice that many and Zach Parise did score a shorthanded goal (15) to avoid a shutout.
Otherwise,nothing nice to say.
Poor skating,Far too many dumb penalties (10!) and a general theme of being pushed around.
Was this a bad night or a lack of effort?
I couldn't tell you,ask me after today's game against the Flyers.
I should have a better idea then.

Mount Union shockingly lost to Wisconsin Whitewater in the Division III title 31-21 in a rainstorm.
Many good reasons for the loss between a bad call that gave UWW 7 points,an astonishing lack of ball carrying fundamentals (3 fumbles) considering the conditions and as much as I hate to say it,some poor play calls by Larry Kehres.
Early with UWW up 7-0 and after a review of a Mount Union TD resulted in the ball being placed at the one foot line on 4th down,the scene seems perfect for a QB lean.
Instead a running play was called and stuffed.
Big swing there.
It seems to me that for a while,the Purple Raiders had video game syndrome.
As any of you out there that play video football know,sometimes you feel so confident of winning,you make dumb decisions and play call and before you know it-you are in deep trouble.
In any case,a nice game by Whitewater and a good season for Mount Union despite the loss.

The Cleveland Browns are at home today in an expected blizzard vs the Buffalo Bills.
A Cleveland win would wipe out another contender for the wild card spot.
The conditions seem to be made for Jamal Lewis and despite the Bills being a cold weather team,they are using a rookie QB in Trent Edwards and Edwards is a Stanford guy-watch for this to be a factor.
Our Pick-Browns 21-10

The Seattle Seahawks travel to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers.
Short and sweet here.
Our Pick:Seahawks 35-13.

Bullpen Notes

Looks like the Batavia Muckdogs of the NY-Penn league could be looking for a new home soon.
The team is losing money and without a new owner could be leaving town.
Two unnamed cities are reportedly interested in moving the team.

Rumors are abound that this year will be the last year for the South Atlantic League in Columbus Georgia.
Word is that a money man has an option to buy the team and move it to Bowling Green,Kentucky for the 2009 season.
If true,that would likely force one of the Carolina teams to move to the Southern Division for good.

Until tomorrow

Photo Credits
Hockey-Bruce Bennett-Getty Images
Helmets-Helmet Project

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Mount Union Machine

The powerhouse that is Mount Union football competes for yet ANOTHER Division III championship today in Salem Virginia against Wisconsin-Whitewater for the third season in a row.
How would you like to be the Warhawks where you beat everyone you play, but the monster is always waiting for you in the end.
I made the trip to Salem five years ago for a Mount Union title game and it was well worth the trip.
Larry Kehres has built a dynasty in Alliance that is unmatched in sports with the possible exception of the John Wooden UCLA basketball teams of the '60s and '70s.
Kehres has an interesting program and he does things that few other coaches do.
One is his policy of never cutting a player.
Any player that can put the effort forth to be part of the team makes the team and Kehres seems to make a special effort to get as many of those kids into the game as possible in blowouts, which is quite often in Purple Raider games.
Another thing that he does to save money and therefore allow more kids to be part of the program is when the Raiders go on the road, they bring prepared bag lunches for the ride home instead of stopping somewhere to eat.
The savings enables the team to travel extra players that would not be on the travel team otherwise.
On-field, Mount Union adjusts their offensive system to what personnel that they have.
I have seen Kehres coach running teams, passing teams, and balanced teams and that shows confidence in his ability and his players.
Most coaches have a set system and get the players for their system and that makes sense, but Kehres has a knack for finding players and then he makes adjustments to them.
The D-III title game is on one of the ESPN networks today at 4:00

Bullpen Notes

The New Jersey Devils take on the visiting Phoenix Coyotes at the Rock in a 1:00 matinee, coverage here tomorrow.

That assumes that we have power as a big winter storm is supposed to be heading through tonight and tomorrow.
I have become quite interested in the weather and watch the Weather Channel often at work, but I can never understand how the on-air hosts are always so chipper about bad weather!
Maybe they don't have to drive in it!

Going to miss Dan Haren in Oakland,but the prospects that are going to the Athletics are quite impressive.
Carlos Gonzalez and Brett Anderson are highly thought and so is former Kannapolis Intimidator Chris Carter,but one of our favorites is in the deal as well.
Former Intimidator and Winston-Salem Warthog Aaron Cunningham was involved in the transaction.
Aaron is a guy that has to be met to be believed and let me tell you-if he makes it to the show,his personality will make him an instant media favorite.
This looks like a great deal for both Arizona and Oakland...

On the way to work last night listening to Home Plate on XM radio, C.J Nitkowski was a guest on a show talking about Japanese baseball.
The well-traveled journeyman is currently pitching there for the Fukuoka Hawks and had two interesting notes on the actual baseball used in games.
One is that the Japanese baseball is slightly smaller than the MLB version and the other is that they do not "rub" the baseball down before using as is done here.
Nitkowski said this makes the ball slicker and harder to grip......

Until next time........

Photo Credit
Kehres-Mount Union College

Friday, December 14, 2007

Devils stop Bruins in the snow

No,the game was not played in the Boston snow,but it was dumping huge amounts of snow outside.
Heavy enough to allow only 1,500 fans to get to the arena to watch the New Jersey Devils defeat the Bruins 3-1.
Brian Gionta's breakaway second period goal gave New Jersey a lead that would never be equaled and the captain Jamie Langenbrunner scored a 5 on 3 power play goal in the second before finishing the scoring in the waning moments with the clinching goal into the empty Boston net.
A great defensive performance by the Devils as they allowed Boston to have just 19 shots on net and few of those were legitimate scoring chances.
Not the most exciting of games,but considering the lack of fans and the general domination on defense-I enjoyed it.
Plus the game featured a pretty good fight between middleweights David Clarkson and Milan Lucic.
The Devils return to the Rock for two weekend games against the Phoenix Coyotes and the Flyers before a three game Canadian swing that will see New Jersey visit Vancouver,Edmonton and Calgary before returning home.

Bullpen Notes

Good move by the Blue Jays in signing David Eckstein to a one year deal.
Eckstein is coming off his career year,but smart decision to pay Eckstein based on his career in total not one season.
It works well for Eckstein too,as if he can repeat his 2007 season,he will be back on the free agent market with fewer questions.

Glad to not say the same about the latest move by the Philadelphia Flyers.
A 12 year contract to Mike Richards???
Richards is certainly playing well,but this is really odd.
If this is a guaranteed deal,the Flyers are even stupider than I gave them credit for

My thoughts on the Mitchell Report?
Few surprises to me,so not really worth mentioning much about until sometime when the Hall of Fame topic comes up.
The one surprise to me is that Sammy Sosa's name was not mentioned though.

Until tomorrow

Photo Credit
Boston-Charles Krupp-AP Photo

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Xavier wins Shootout over Bearcats

Missed a few days when things were slow,so lets clean up a bit today.

The New Jersey Devils lost in Washington to the Capitals 3-2 on Monday.
It was a Kevin Weekes start in goal,so to a certain degree,one doesn't expect to win the backup starts anyway.
However,the Devils scored early on a John Madden (8) goal.
Cannot tell you much about it as a video miscue caused the tape to start 10 minutes (game time) into the game,but the Capitals pretty much controlled all but a few minutes of the game that I watched.
The only Devil flurry came in the middle of the third after David Clarkson trimmed the margin to the eventual final of 3-2 with his 4th goal of the season.
After that,the Devils played better,but were unable to tie the game.
New Jersey travels to Boston for a battle with the Bruins tonight at 7.

I don't watch nearly as much basketball as used to,so the coverage here will be sporadic.
Actually outside of Maryland,Xavier,Ohio State and Wake Forest,I hardly watch any until the conference tournaments.
So last night,I settled in to watch probably my favorite regular season rivalry between Xavier and Cincinnati.
As a big Musketeer fan (my dining room is painted in Muskie Blue),my loyalty is clear,even though I do not dislike UC at all.
Actually I have no problems with the Bearcats,which is likely blasphemy to the average Muskie fan!
Anyway,in a closer game than expected,Xavier took home the win 64-59.
The first half was very sloppy by both teams,but the second half was as good as it gets.
Between lead changes,Up tempo basketball,technical fouls and both teams losing a starter to injury-there was not much missing from the second half.
But in the end,the 17th ranked Musketeers had one thing the Bearcats did not in Derrick Brown.
Brown was the difference in the end with 11 of his career high 17 points coming down the stretch to enable Xavier to pull away in the waning minutes and improve to 8-1 on the season.
Fun game to watch and be looking for more Musketeer coverage as the season permits.

The Crosstown Shootout is always sponsored by Skyline Chili and if Skyline wants to get into the ad business on the blogosphere,they can feel free to start here!
We would be more than willing to deal in product for the sponsorship!
We can see it now=Thoughts of RS brought to you by Skyline Chili............

The Orioles had the right idea in dealing the faded and high priced Miguel Tejada.
And it always is an added bonus when you deal him to the other league,but only 1 player seems to have huge potential of the 5 players that they acquired from Houston yesterday.
So basically,the Orioles may have botched yet another personnel move.
Of course,less than two years ago,they could received Roy Oswalt for Tejada.
One can see that this package was worth the wait (eye roll here).
Luke Scott could be a helpful fly-chaser next season and I do like lefty Troy Patton a lot.
Third sacker Mike Costanzo (who the Astros just picked up in the last month) needs more minor time,but could be a 25 homer man,while pitchers Matt Albers and Dennis Sarfate have question marks.
Albers does not strike me as special,but Sarfate has a great arm,but little control of it.
Nice try by the Orioles,but the jury is still out on this one.

Texas added former Cleveland first baseman Ben Broussard for minor leaguer Tug Hulett.
Seems like a nice pickup for the Rangers for a reasonable cost.

Cannot say the same for the San Francisco Giants in their signing of Aaron Rowand.
I like Rowand a lot as a player,but 5 years and 60 million?
And his power numbers by the Bay will not be near what they were in the hitter friendly Philadelphia park.
I see the desperation by the Giants to add a bat to their weak lineup,but long term-they might regret this one.

But on the topic of 12 million a year outfielders,at least Rowand has a track record.
The Chicago Cubs gave Kosuke Fukudome the same 12 million per year as Rowand,but over 4 years to patrol right field for them.
The lefty swinger could be cheap or over priced.
When it comes to Japanese players,one always gambles.
We will try to find out more on Fukudome.

The Angels (no long name for us) declined to tender once hot prospect Dallas McPherson a contract and made him a free agent.
McPherson missed all of 2007 with a bad back,but is the type of player that at low risk and cost that Neal Huntington and the Pirates should be taking a look at.

Purchased the DVD on World Class Championship Wrestling and I will post a review on it here on an upcoming slow day.

On the signing front-2 EBAY purchases for reasonable prices in
former Cleveland Cavalier World B.Free and current WWE Champ Randy Orton.

Back tomorrow with Devils-Bruins.

Photo Credits
Hockey-Nick Wass-AP Photo
Brown-Bruce Crippen-Cincinnati Post

Monday, December 10, 2007

Browns struggle by Jets,Seahawks clinch West.

The Cleveland Browns might have shown yesterday that they are a playoff team despite a less than glamorous effort in a 24-18 win over the New York Jets.
Playoff teams win when they are not at their best and are able to win "ugly" games and the Browns showed that in the victory.
Jamal Lewis was able to rush for over 100 yards in the mush that passed for turf in New Jersey and with the exception of the always deficient "prevent defense",the defense kept the Jets under control.
I never understand why teams go to the prevent so early and it always results in teams getting back into a game that they have no business being in.
Something works successfully for the entire game and when you near the finish line,you start changing things?
I am not just hammering the Browns for doing this,just about every team does the same style of tactic.
A few more Browns notes that struck me as odd.
Have you ever seen a team kick three on-side kicks in the final few minutes and recover two as the Jets did yesterday??
I might have,but don't recall any off hand.
You can never get too mad about touchdowns,especially when you figure in the boom of fantasy football,but the irony of Jamal Lewis and his late romp for a TD is that the Browns would have had a better chance of winning if he grabbed the first down and fell to the ground.
The Jets had just 1 timeout and then it would have been kneeldown time.
Instead after the touchdown run,the Jets were able to get a quick field goal from Mike Nugent and had they recovered the resulting on-side kick could have won with a touchdown.
I understand that players don't and can't think that way,but in this case it was true.
Cleveland returns home for a battle against fellow Lake Erie border town Buffalo in a game that could either almost clinch a playoff berth or make things very difficult.
The Browns lead the Bills by one game for the final playoff spot in the AFC.

The Seattle Seahawks clinched their 4th NFC West title in a row with a 42-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals in the emerald city that was not a close as the lopsided score indicates.
I have'nt watched the tape yet,but the box score shows a game that was never in doubt.
Matt Hasselbeck tossed four touchdown passes to four different pass catchers and Patrick Kerney dumped Kurt Warner three times for sacks in the game that proved the Cardinals are still not ready to challenge the Seahawks for division supremacy.
Seattle improves to 9-4 on the season and looks to be locked in on the 3rd seed in the NFC unless Green Bay would have a total collapse in the last three weeks.
Seattle visits the lowly Carolina Panthers in Charlotte next week.

The New Jersey Devils traveled to the big cesspool for a battle vs the Rangers and fans of great goaltending were not disappointed as the Rangers Henrik Lunquist and the Devils Marty Brodeur matched zeros for regulation.
Then the winning streak ended as Brendan Shanahan ripped a one timer laser by Brodeur that ended the game in overtime to give the Rangers the 1-0 win.
Still not bad for the Devils as they at least were able to pick up one point for the visit.
Not much offensively to talk about as the Devils really didn't force Lundquist to make the amount of saves or the amount of quality saves as Marty had to all evening.
Not a great effort but still a point and Brodeur was awesome.
New Jersey battles Washington tonight in DC.Yuck

Bullpen notes

Why is it always bad when the Devils play Washington?
Because I move from having the best play by play man in the business with the Devils Doc Emrick to a poor one in Washington's Joe Beninati and THE worst color analyst in the game in Craig Laughlin.
These two make me just reach for the mute button.
I feel for the Washington fans that are forced to listen to them every night.

Finally have time to note a few players that signed for us in the past that were moved in the Triple A phase of the Rule 5 draft.
Most notable was former Hagerstown second baseman/shortstop Marcos Cabral,who was selected from the Nationals organization by the Blue Jays.
Pitcher Ryan Rodriguez (Winston Salem) moved from the White Sox to the Orioles,while his Winston-Salem teammate Garry Bakker was selected by the Mets and yet another Warthog was involved as outfielder Daron Roberts joined the Marlins organization.
Lefty hurler Victor Garate (Lexington) was a Dodger pick and Scott Mitchinson (Lakewood) travels to the left coast as a member of the Oakland system.

If any of you out there have read Moneyball (and what seamhead hasn't) two notable names were taken from the Athletics.
Pitcher Ben Fritz was a Tiger draft pick while first sacker Brant Colamarino moved to the Blue Jays.
If you have read the book,you are likely getting a chuckle out of these.

Until tomorrow

Photo Credits
McDonald-Bill Koustroun-AP
Hasselbeck-Otto Greule Jr-Getty Images
Brodeur-Bruce Bennett-Getty Images