Saturday, June 30, 2007

Bucs win in 9th,protest day today

First,my apologies for a late and short post.
Work was crazy yesterday and will be bad today as well.
I will make things up over the next day or so.

The Pirates used a 9th inning sac fly by Jose Bautista to rally to a 3-2 win over Washington.
Bautista had 2 RBI,the other was credited to Nate McLouth,who tripled home Jack Wilson in the 7th.
Ian Snell pitched very well,despite getting the no-decision,allowing 2 runs and 5 hits over his 7 inning outing.
I am thrilled with the quality starts that the Bucs have been getting all season from Snell and Tom Gorzelanny.
That just goes to show that won-loss record does not tell the whole story,as if you crunch the numbers,both pitchers could have at least 2 more victories on the year.

Tonight is the fan protest night at PNC Park.
These things usually do not get too much attention and they sure do not work at achieving their goal,but the Pittsburgh front office being who they are,bungled this one with their ham-handed gestapo-style tactics.
Not allowing mention by their announcers or their television partner,removing all references to it from their message board (this is why if I go to a board,I never go to an official team site board) and their attempting to have the local media downplay the protest.
In our opinion,we can understand why the Bucs are not thrilled with this,but they should take some solace in this.
People do not protest what they are ambivalent about.
The Pirates still have some passionate fans that love this team in spite of itself.
How many?
I would wager tonight is a good gauge..........

Pitching Matchups
Washington: Jason Simontacchi (5-5) at Pittsburgh:
Tom Gorzelanny (7-4) 7:00
Tampa Bay: J.P. Howell (1-1) at Cleveland:C.C.Sabathia (11-2) 7:00

I will be back tomorrow with on the signing front from the last two nights and the fan protests.

Photo Credit
Pirates- AP Photo-Gene Puskar

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Another day,Another Zach Duke beating

The Marlins scored 5 runs off Zach Duke in the 1st two innings and held off a late Pittsburgh rally to avoid a Pirates sweep with a 9-7 win.
Adam LaRoche had 3 hits including his 9th homer of the season to lead the Pirate offense.
Duke picked up the loss and fell to 3-7 on the year.
I have always thought Duke had the ability to be a solid pitcher for the Pirates for years,but with each outing,it appears more and more that Zach needs a new opportunity.
This would be best for both Zach and the Pirates,but Duke has a chance to make the best of it,Littlefield would likely just add to his collection of middle relievers at Indianapolis in such a deal.
Jim Colborn has seemingly screwed a promising young pitcher up to the point that it is just painful to watch his efforts.
Nibbling and seemingly afraid to challenge hitters,this was not the Zach Duke that Pirate fans saw as he moved through the system and during his rookie year in Pittsburgh.
Thanks for nothing,Jim

The Indians used a 3 run homer from Jason Michaels in the seventh to overcome a 3-1 deficit and defeat the A's 4-3.
The homer was Michaels 6th of the year.
Paul Byrd got the win to move to 7-3 and Joe Borowski finished up to get his 22nd save.

Pitching Matchups
Washington: Matt Chico (3-5) at Pittsburgh: Ian Snell (6-5) 7:00
Tampa Bay: Edwin Jackson (1-8) at Cleveland: Jake Westbrook (1-3) 7:00

Bullpen notes

I went to the Lake County-Hagerstown game,but left after 5 innings.
Various reasons-rain made it difficult to keep the book and the drunks from thirsty thursdays were coming down to get out of the rain.
Plus the score was 7-0 Captains.
The Final was 10-2.
A LONG homer off the bat of Indian 1st round pick Beau Mills to deep center was quite impressive.
Meanwhile the Pirates and their MUST-have reliever Daniel Moskos still have not agreed on a contract.

Spent some time talking to Met scout Larry Izzo during the game.
Interesting chat,wish I had more time to listen.
Perhaps tonight-IF this rain stops.

Three Ohio State Buckeyes went in the 1st round of the NBA draft last night.
Greg Oden to Portland,Mike Conley to Memphis and Daquan Cook to Miami.
Cook was traded to the Heat after being picked by Philadelphia.

BTW-I hate the NBA draft prohibition on moving up and down the board on draft day.

Craig Biggio gets hit 3000 and a ticket to the Hall of Fame.
Biggio was a good not great player that makes it on longevity.
On my ballot?No.

On the signing front
Got many Captains from their team set-Most notably Nick Weglarz (great guy),Matt McBride,Neil Wagner and the two younger phenoms- SS Carlos Rivero and P Hector Rondon.
The Suns team set came out yesterday.
Good and Bad.
Good news:Non-Glossy,so no prep work.
Bad News: Kinda ugly and the best players are now at Potomac.
I was able to get most of the Suns,big catch was our favorite Sun-Erik Arnesen.
Erik told me that he pitches Saturday-of course the day I have to work overtime!

Next week after the Suns homestand,We will be doing a multi-part series on what I would do IF
I was hired to replace Captain Dave Littlefield as Pirate GM.
This will cover long and short terms and cover the Bucs from State College to the MLB roster.
This will be the most comprehensive series we have ever done and if any of you wants to participate as a guest columnist or just has something that you want me to address,either comment here or send me an email.
I think this is going to be a pretty good read.

Until tomorrow.

Photo Credits
Pirates-AP Photo-J.Pat Carter
Michaels-AP Photo-Mark Duncan

Bucco Blasts win in 10,Kinston shades Keys 3-2.

Back to back homers from Xavier Nady and Ryan Doumit in the top of 10th lifted the Pirates to a 7-5 win over the Florida Marlins.
Kevin Gregg retired the 1st two Bucs in the inning before the homers to give the Pirates the victory.
The homers screwed my fantasy team (Gregg is on my team),but a Pirate win is more important.
At least for today.Nady had homered earlier in the game,the two moved him to 13 on the season.
Doumit's shot was his 4th and Jose Bautista hit his 7th in the 3rd inning.
B.P. Chacon picked up the win,improving to 4-1 and Matt Capps earned his 7th save.
The series concludes today at noon.

I went to see the Frederick Keys-Kinston Indians game last night.
Interesting evening.
An excellent,well-played game which ended in a 3-2 Kinston win,but peripheral things too.
Talked to a very nice couple from Silver Spring for the evening,they chatted about Canadian sports from their time spent in Ottawa.
Former Yankee,Diamondback and Ranger manager Buck Showalter was there too in the dugout of the Indians.
I did not know he was there until after the game,when he went running by, chattering loudly.
I asked the player that was signing,if that was Showalter and he rolled his eyes and replied "yeah".
Maybe he is a pain for some reason???
Also former Lake County Captain and local product P.J.Hiser was at the game to see his old teammates from the past.
Hiser will be moving from the area soon to move to Portland,Oregon.
Best wishes to P.J.!
Talked to the radio voice of the Lake County Captains-Craig Deas.
Lake County is in town for two games vs the Suns,but were off last night,so Deas made the 25 mile trek to Frederick to see former Captains that play for Kinston.
Super nice guy and I will likely see him around the next two nights.

As far as the game goes.
Frederick took a 2-0 lead with 2 in the bottom of the 2nd and Kinston scored 3 in their 3rd for all the scoring.
The two team combined had just two extra base hits,Kinston doubles by Chris De La Cruz and Max Ramirez in the 3rd.
The Ramirez double scored the eventual winning run.
The lack of offense was due to excellent pitching by Kevin Dixon of the K-Tribe and Carlos Perez of the Keys,but the wind was definitely a help to the pitchers,as a kind breeze was blowing in.

Pitching Matchups
Pittsburgh:Zach Duke (3-6) at Florida:Scott Olsen (5-6) 12:00
Oakland:Joe Blanton (7-4) at Cleveland:Paul Byrd (6-3) 12:00

On the signing front
Did Ok for being by myself.
Was able to get all the Kinston top prospects that were there.Max Ramirez,Josh Rodriguez,John Drennan,Wes Hodges (more on him later) Frank Herrmann and Steven Wright all signed,as did other K-Tribe players.
Top pitching prospect David Huff was in Florida with an injury and Jared Goedert was in Cleveland with an injury as well.
Looks like a return trip in August,if they have returned by then.
Not bad for being without Ryan or Battling Bob for help.

Bullpen Notes
Chatted with former Captain and now Kinston pitcher Steven Wright about his poor outing in Hagerstown vs the Suns earlier this year.
"That was the worst game that I have pitched in my life!" laughed Wright.
"I had nothing that night".
That game certainly seems to be the aberration for Steven,as he got a promotion 3 months into his 1st pro season.
Good luck to Steven on his career.

Wes Hodges certainly has a system on dealing with autograph collectors.
Wes will sign one of each card,but that is it.
For the most part,I don't have a real problem with that.
Although last night,I was hoping to get him to sign 2 of his Kinston cards,so Ryan could have 1.
No dice-just 1.
But the interesting part came after he signed for me,as another collector asked him to sign a created card.
The card basically has a baseball pictured with top prospect on it.Kinda looks like a 1959 Topps card.Like the one pictured.
Hodges refused saying "my dad told me to just sign "real" cards".
The Collector tried to explain that it was a real baseball card,It was a card with a baseball on it.
Hodges was not buying-reiterating again about his dad's thoughts.
That pretty much ended it for him as Hodges walked away.
But hope was not lost for Ryan,as Bobby (a fellow collector here in Hagerstown) asked me,if Hodges signed everything for me.
I said no,that I got 1 of each.
He took them down and got Hodges to sign for him.
Bobby reports that Hodges looked at them quizzically,but then signed.
I gave him the USA national card that Wes signed for the help.
Thanks to Bobby and his wife Brenda for the other assistance during the game as well.

Bob Smizik writes about the proposed Pirate fan walkout Saturday.
The discussion of the Pirates removing all references to it off their message boards,refusing to allow their announcers to comment on it and not allowing FSN Pittsburgh to show any of it at all.
What is wrong "Nickels"?
If your guys would be doing their job,there would be no protest.

NBA Draft tonight.
Cavaliers have no picks due to the incompetence of former GM Jim Paxson.
Paxson traded the 1st rounder for the immortal Jiri Welsch.

CFL action begins tonight for real with two games.
The defending Grey Cup champs,the B.C. Lions travel to Toronto to battle the Argonauts,while the Winnipeg Blue Bombers play the Edmonton Eskimos in the other game.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats play Saturday vs Calgary.
We will have coverage.

Here is a link to a CFL prediction site for anyone interested.
I have played there for a few years now.
Sign up soon,if you dont want to give away the 1st week.

Back tomorrow with news,Captains-Suns and more on the signing front.

Photo Credit
Doumit/Nady-AP Photo-J.Pat Carter

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Chris Benoit and thoughts on Wrestling

Thanks for bearing with me today.
Tuesdays are always my hardest days to write and the Chris Benoit tragedy had me flummoxed as far as what to write.

Chris Benoit was, along with Kurt Angle, my favorite wrestler of the new age of pro wrestling.
I thought his work rate was unbelievable as far as effort goes and his moves looked like they were actually being applied, unlike some of the new generation wrestlers that you could see holes in them that one could drive an ice cream truck though.
Chris was one of the few current wrestlers (again Kurt Angle comes to mind as well) that I thought could have wrestled in any period and had the respect and honor for the business that few in the "high-spot" era had.
I have always been a fan, I even own the Benoit DVD that was released. (BTW-If you want that and you see it on the store shelves, I would grab it, Bank on stores removing it FAST).
His intensity in the ring is what made him credible and different.
Sadly, that very trait seems to have led to this horrible tragedy.
I am not going to get into the gruesome details, there are many easy to find sites that will give you all the coverage that you could want.
However, I will say the following.
I am not willing to attempt to explain Benoit's actions, whether this was caused by steroids, drugs,
an unknown physical problem etc-I simply cannot explain such heinous actions and I do not want to speculate on what drove him to this.
I will not blame this on anyone directly with the WWE business from Vincent K.McMahon on down.
However, I have very good reasons to doubt this industry and myself for continuing to follow it.
The few of you out there know that I get the Wrestling Observer from time to time, even though I rarely watch the current product from WWE or TNA.
The only stuff I see is sometimes the edited RAW on Saturday mornings at 2 AM, if I have nothing else on the tube at work.
My Observer subscription comes and goes, renewed when yet another star passes away or a history series is going on, lapsing when it is just the current product.

The changes in the business have not been good ones and this is just from the wrestler perspective.
World wide travel, a much larger need to be well-sculptured physically and the never-ending cycle of crazy bumps have to take their toll on the people involved in the sport.
It does not take more than a cursory look at this business to see why steroids, pain medications, and drugs run rampant.
Needing steroids to have the look needed to participate, pain medications to deal with the pounding one takes, and drugs to keep one going from the endless cycle of airport, arena, hotel.
I am understanding, but I don't approve.
I know that I sound like a cranky "It was better in my time" guy, but it was.
For the fans and the wrestlers.
Gone are the days that a guy could leave pro athletics and wrestle for 15-25 years AFTER his athletic career.
The Ernie LaddsWahoo McDaniels, Ken Pateras, etc could not take the beating that this era requires after years in the athletic arena, but they could just a generation ago.
The loss of territories meant the loss of a home base that a wrestler could return to every night or at least every other night.
Today, I would guess they are lucky to get home 4-5 days a month.
I would say someone's mental health should be at home, with their family every day than to follow the current circus-like schedule.
I certainly am not naive enough to believe that the old system of wrestling was ivory-pure, it was in many ways just as dirty, it just was not as destructive to the bodies and minds of the athletes.
Again-I am not blaming WWE directly for the actions of Chris Benoit, but the changes in the business that were brought on by the WWE since 1984, I can certainly blame them for.

Sometimes I wonder about why I still support pro wrestling in the limited fashion that I do.
I buy the occasional Legends figure and the odd legend DVD and the Observer sub, but I have not attended a wrestling show by a major organization in over 15 years.
Maybe it is the memories, the links to a past where it mattered that Magnificent Muraco was the Inter-Continental champ.
Caring enough to lug a tv into Edna's room (the hottest in the house, due to the tin roof directly over it) every Saturday at 4:00 because, in the pre-cable days, it was the only room in the house that could get WBFF out of Baltimore.
Perhaps the stories about past events involving me and my friends or the bonding between Shane and me over the business, as two kids in the country or running to a shop that sold the magazines to read about other areas 3-month-old news in the pre-internet era.
In any event, I have many good memories of wrestling, but I have regrets about getting into it, Shane and my kids became fans as a direct result of my decision 28 years ago.
That might not have been the best thing to occur for me or any of them.

My father always hated the fact that Shane and I spent so much time on wrestling and loved to rib us and make life difficult for our hobby.
He always thought it was not worth the time or energy.
I am beginning to believe that he was right after all.

The Pirates won over the Marlins tonight 3-2.
I welcome any feedback on this post.
Back to the normal format later.

Photo Credit
At Eisenhower's Putting green-Cherie Heimberger

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I will be posting later today/tonight after I get some thoughts together on this Chris Benoit occurance.
I want to get my feelings together as well as get more facts.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bucs fall again in extra innings

The Pirates forced extra innings,but once again lost in the added stanza as the Anaheim Angels completed a sweep with a 4-3 win.
The Pirates divided the 3 RBI among three players.
Matt Capps picked up the loss in falling to 3-4,but my question is this-Why was Capps pitching his 2nd inning anyway?
If this is your closer and the only guy in the bullpen that is reliable(Although Kuwata has pitched well in his last few appearances)-why overwork him?
Josh Phelps singled twice in his Pirate debut.
Tom Gorzelanny allowed 3 runs in his 6 innings of work.
Not bad,but not great either.
Before the game,Jonah Bayliss was sent down to Indianapolis.
Bayliss had not been pitching well lately,but he has talent and I would bet that sending Bayliss down means the return of Wayback Wasdin in the next few days.
Yeah,that should be just the elixer that this team needs.

The Tribe lost to the lowly Nationals 3-1,despite a solid effort from the returning Jake Westbrook.
Jake allowed all 3 National runs over 7 innings,not bad for his 1st start in a while.
Franklin Gutierrez hit his 3rd homer of the year for the only Cleveland run.

Pitching Matchups
Pittsburgh: Off
Oakland:Chad Gaudin (6-2) at Cleveland:C.C.Sabathia (10-2) 7:05

Bullpen Notes
Want to laugh for an hour?
Try this link in which Captain Dave says this years team is "better at the basics".
Guess the Captain has not been WATCHING any games lately.

Another quote from the Captain.
"Our team is basically the team we have,".
So your team sucks,half do not try and many should not be on the damn team in the 1st place.
Let's keep it together and not make any moves.
The problem is that Littlefield keeps selling that this is a young team.
It isnt!
The starting rotation is young,but the position players are not,they are mostly guys that are in their prime!
You make the call on just how good that prime is.
Of course then this quote should make perfect sense................

Prospect updates
Mike Ramlow did not get the win yesterday vs Kannapolis,but had his best outing of the year,as Mike allowed 1 run,4 hits,struck out 4 and did not walk a batter in 6 innings.
Hope Mike is finally turning the corner.

Alexandre Periard had a rough return in his last outing,as Alex gave up 4 runs in 3 innings.
It was Periard's 1st game in a month.

Jared Hughes had his worst outing of the year,last time out vs the Greenville Drive.
Hughes was knocked out after allowing 6 runs in 3 innings of duty.

Brandon Williams made his season debut for State College yesterday.
Brandon allowed 3 runs in 4 innings,but only 1 was earned ,struck out 2 and walked 2 as well.

Photo Credits
Gorzelanny-Getty Images-Lisa Blumenfield
Peralta-AP Photo-Nick Wass
Periard and Ramlow-Ryan Heimberger
Hughes-John Setzler jr

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pirates embarassing,Hatton stops Castillo

In an effort that should be seen as embarassing to the Pirate organization,the Bucs were crushed by the Angels in Anaheim 10-1.
Ian Snell gave up 5 runs in the 3rd and the arson squad allowed a 4 run 8th,but the players seem to have given up on Jim Tracy,the season or both.
Ronny Paulino did have the only Pittsburgh RBI,but his non-effort on defense continues on a nightly basis and this is from a guy that plays because his manager loves his defense and pitch-calling.
Yet both are lacking to me and further,he simply seems to sleepwalk through games with little care or effort.
How many base running gaffes,defensive lapses,throwing to the wrong base etc do we have to watch before someone is held accountable??
Honestly,I would rather see Littlefield fired before Tracy,if I must choose,but I would like to see a total house cleaning.
Littlefield,Tracy,Jim Colborn,the @#$%&ing bunch including "Nickels" Nutting need to get out and let someone real run the team.
But that is not going to happen.
Instead the players are going to have to pick it up some,at least the few players on this team that has real talent and want to at least TRY to win.
This article in the Post-Gazette shows that some of the players do care.
But Paulino,the top offender of the who cares gang,was as expected-"Unavailable for comment".
Also known as went back to the hotel to eat 3 or 4 steaks.
Snell picked up the loss in moving his record to 6-5.
The yuccos finish the inter-league slate vs the Angels in today's finale.
At least there is one nugget of good news today.

The Indians used a three run homer in the 9th by Victor Martinez(14th) to take the lead and then an unusual 1-2-5 double play with the bases loaded in the Washington 9th to pull out a 4-3 win in the Capital city.
Felipe Lopez hit a bouncer back to Joe Borowski,who fired home to Kelly Shoppach to force the runner at home.
Shoppach then saw the Nationals Nook Logan had rounded third by a wide margin and gunned the ball to Casey Blake to tag Logan and end the game.
Note to Ronny Paulino-That is how one plays this game.
Grady Sizemore homered (12th) in the 6th inning for the other Cleveland run.
Tom Mastny earned the win to improve to 5-2 ,while Borowski took the shaky save,his 21st of the year.

Pitching Matchups
Pittsburgh:Tom Gorzelanny (7-4) at Anaheim:Bartolo Colon (6-3)-3:35
Cleveland:Jake Westbrook (1-2) at Washington:Jason Simontacchi (4-5)-1:35

Bullpen Notes

We were way off on our prediction on the Hatton-Castillo fight.
Hatton won and it was not close,as a punch to the ribs of Castillo in round 4,deflated him and ended the fight.
We had Hatton winning the 1st 3 rounds easily.

The Post-Gazette says the Pirates are interested in Atlanta's solid young backstop Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
I am sure they are,but I cannot see Captain Dave giving them what they would want and if the price was Snell or Gorzelanny,I am in agreement.
But anyone else on the staff,I am all over that one.

Rumors are flying about Bill Cowher and the Browns already talking quietly about Cowher coming to Cleveland in 2008.
Two Words-HELL NO.

Here is a good column for the two readers here that root for Pitt and Penn State.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review covers why they should play each other and why Joe Paterno is the reason that they don't.
Doesn't surprise me any- that old goat lost it years ago.
They should play each other though in my opinion.
Penn State quit playing many of their long time rivals with their joining the Big 10.
Pitt,West Virginia and Maryland all rarely,if ever appear on the schedule for the Nittany Lions anymore.
I do understand that you cannot play them all,but Pitt and Penn State are the two biggest football programs in the state and should always be on the schedule.
Maybe once senile Joe moves on,the schools can get together and do the right thing.

Photo Credits
Paulino-AP Photo-Chris Carlson
Tribe-Getty Images-Greg Fiume
Boxing-AP Photo-Eric Jamison

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pirates Arson Squad strikes again!

The Pirates looked like a team destined for victory for 3 innings in Anaheim vs the Angels,but this being the Pirates,slowly the lugnuts loosened before finally flying off the wheel in the 11th inning and giving the Angels a 5-4 win.
Freddy Sanchez doubled home Rajai Davis in the 1st to end the scoreless inning streak at 20 and the Buccos increased the lead to 4-0 in the 3rd,using Davis singled in one run and Jason Bay hit a 2 run homer (12) to score two more later in the inning.
But slowly the Halos worked their way back,first with a Orlando Cabrera home run off Zach Duke in the 6th.
In the 7th Damaso Marte allowed an double to Reggie Willets that scored a run and then the always crappy B.P. Chacon was summoned and he gave up a single to Cabrera to score Willets,that run was credited to Marte.
B.P. continued his fine work by giving the game tying run in the 8th and then you just knew the game was over.
Sadly,I was correct Jonah Bayliss allowed the game winning run in the 11th.
Bayliss is now 4-3 on the season.
Stat to make one cry-the Pirates had 1 hit after the 4th inning,an infield single by pinch-hitter Chris Duffy.
Series continues tonight in Disneyland.

The Tribe dropped their opener in Washington 3-1 in their first visit to the Capital since 1971.
Cleveland watched Fausto Carmona get the loss to fall to 8-3.
Jhonny Peralta singled home the only Cleveland run.
Game 2 tonight in beautiful(Joke here) RFK Stadium.

Pitching Matchups
Pittsburgh: Ian Snell (6-4) at Anaheim: Kelvim Escobar (8-3) 9:05
Cleveland: Paul Byrd (6-3) at Washington: Matt Chico (3-5) 7:05

Bullpen Notes

The Chicago BlackHawks selected Right Winger Patrick Kane of Buffalo with the 1st overall pick in the NHL draft.
Kane played his junior hockey for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
Kane scored 62 goals last season for London.
Ryan says the Hawks should taken Center Kyle Turris instead.
Turris went to Phoenix with the 3rd pick and has committed to play college hockey at Wisconsin.
Wonder if Ryan has a bias????

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats slid by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the 2nd week in a row 24-20.
Jason Maas threw for the only Hamilton touchdown,a 4 yarder to Talman Gardner,but Timmy Chang directed the team down the field late in the game to set up the winning field goal by Mark Myers from 17 yards away.
Looks like new Tabbie coach Charlie Taffe has a tough choice ahead.
Taffe was formerly the offensive coordinator for Ralph Friedgen at Maryland.
The Cats open the season for real ,one week from today as they travel to Calgary for a battle vs the Stampeders.

Listened to the Bucs game last night on XM and got the Angel announcers.
I have listened to better crews.
Former Ohio State radio voice Terry Smith was the better of the two(Rory Markas is the other),but all and all,nothing to write home about.
I would give the Mariners guys the edge of the two.

Big fight tonight as the "unofficial" world champ at 140 lbs, Ricky Hatton of England takes on Jose Luis Castillo of Mexico in Las Vegas.
The bout is for a lightly regarded belt,but Hatton is recognized by Ring Magazine as the true champ at Jr.Welterweight.
Castillo was the WBC and Ring Magazine champ at 135 lbs and has the distinction of being the only man to really give Floyd Mayweather a run for his money,having lost two close decisions to Mayweather.
Many observers (including me) thought Castillo won the 1st fight with Floyd.
Style wise this looks to have the makings of a wild one.
It is a pick-em fight,but I have always pulled for Castillo,so I will take him in a close decision.
We will be covering the bout and scoring it here tomorrow.

Photo Credits
Bay-AP Photo-Chris Carlson
Kane-AP Photo-Jay LaPrete

Friday, June 22, 2007

The King crowns the Pirates

Felix "the King" Hernandez threw 8 shutout innings to lead the Mariners to a 3-0 win over the Pirates in last night's rubber match in Seattle.
The Pirates only threatened once,loading the bases in the 5th,but Nate McLouth struck out to end the inning.
John Van Benschoten gave up 3 runs in 5 innings to get the loss and fell to 0-2.
JVB pitched reasonably well.but the rocky 5th was his downfall,as he gave up all 3 runs and raised his pitch count to the point of his removal at innings end.
Not much else that I can say,other than the Pirates scoreless inning streak is now at 20.
The Pirates play the weekend series in Anaheim vs the Angels.

Pitching Matchups
Pittsburgh:Zach Duke (3-6) at Anaheim:Joe Saunders (3-0) 10;05
Cleveland:Fausto Carmona (8-2) at Washington:Micah Bowie (4-2) 7:05

Bullpen Notes

Listened to last night's game on XM and got the Mariners feed.
Dave Niehaus is the main Mariner voice.
Kinda of a dying breed.
A folksy,borderline homer type.
Was not bad at all.
I will be listening the next two nights,so I will get to listen to the Angels announcers.

The Pirates made an intriguing move in claiming Josh Phelps off waivers from the Yankees.
Phelps has always had a nice bat and never had a long term chance,but I was intrigued by the announcement of the claiming of CATCHER Josh Phelps.
Phelps has not caught in years,but Jim Tracy is in love with having 3 catchers on the roster.
Tracy lives in fear of having to use a non-catcher in an emergency situation,even though that sort of thing happens once every few years.
Phelps joins the team in Anaheim for Saturday's game.

Dan "Matches" Kolb was designated for assignment.
As I once said about Conway Twitty-no big loss.

NHL Draft tonight,have no idea on the BlackHawks plans for the 1st pick.
The Devils do not have a 1st rounder.

I do like the Hawks deal of Adrian Aucoin to the Flames for Andrei Zyuzin.
Chicago gets a comparable player at a cheaper cost.

Great article on proposed NHL expansion by Dan Wetzel .
My thoughts EXACTLY!!

Photo Credit
Hernandez-AP Photo-Elaine Thompson

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My off-season advice to the Devils

I know this was promised a while back,but I decided to wait until just before the draft to put this up.
Here is some moves that I would make to hopefully improve the Atlantic Division Champions and give them a shot at going further next year.
The Devils have used a successful system,combined with some over-achievers to perform better than the talent in New Jersey indicates they should.
However,in the playoffs when the talent gets better,it becomes much harder to defeat higher level teams that you give away the talent edge to.
Despite the Devils having a better record than the Ottawa Senators,the Senators were the more talented team and in the playoffs ,the talent gap was evident.
So here we go

1)Sign Chris Drury and allow Scott Gomez to leave.

Allow me to preface this-I like Scott Gomez.He always played hard and I have no complaints for the most part.
But he wants 6-7 Million per year,is not the greatest defensive center in the league and does not score that many goals.
Gomez is a fine playmaker,but considering the cost of Gomez-I allow him to leave and thank him for his contributions on his way out.
Drury could be the best team leader in the NHL,scores more goals on a team that needs it desperately and is a good assist man,although not to the level of Gomez.
It would not surprise me that Drury could be made Captain almost as soon as he signs.
If there has ever been a type of player that screams New Jersey Devils,it is Chris Drury.

2)Re-sign Brian Rafalski.

Rafalski had his best offensive season ever and is the glue that keeps the Devil defense corps together.
I think Brian could give us a home town discount and finish his career as a Devil.

3)Sign Roman Hamrlik.

The Devils need a offensive puck moving defenseman badly.
I think this actually could be their top need.
Paul Martin continues to improve and I was impressed by Andy Greene in his late season stint in Red,but this team needs a guy like Hamrlik to give the Devils more offense and especially on the power play.
The Devils simply are not getting the production that they need from the defensemen on the power play.
I know there are rumors about Ottawa's Tom Priessing because he played so well in the playoffs.
I think that is an anomaly and Hamrlik will come at a cheaper cost,which is a bonus in the salary cap age.
Hamrlik knows the NYC area as he spent time with the Islanders and I think he is a good fit.

4)Get a veteran goalie to backup Brodeur.

I know Marty loves to play as much as he can and he might have had his best season ever last year.
However,there can be little doubt that he wore down in the playoffs and at the age of 35,if the Devils want to continue to get the best out of Brodeur,they need to rest him more than in the past.
It is obvious that the Devils have little confidence in current backup Scott Clemmensen and I tend to agree with them,so go out and get someone that you feel comfortable with and play him 20 to 30 games a year.
It is best for Marty and best for the organization.
There are many serviceable,available and reasonably priced guys that can fill this role.
Go get one.

5)Acquire a solid defensive forward.

John Madden and Jay Pandolfo are great at their jobs,but in the playoffs,they too were wore out.
The Devils had no defensive forwards that were good enough to shadow LeCavalier and his line or the Ottawa gang.
You cannot depend on the same two guys every night.
The Devils have always seemed to get mileage in this role out of guys that other teams could not.
Grant Marshall is an example of one.
I liked what I saw of David Clarkson last year,but I would like to add a veteran to be able to slowly add responsibility to Clarkson.

6) The Draft.

The Devils do not have a number 1 pick,they do have their 2nd rounder (57) and two third rounders-Calgary's (79 for David Hale) and their own (87).
In the second-take the best offensive player on the board.
Even if it is a European that might not come right away,this team always needs scorers and since most free agents will not come to New Jersey because of the style of play,the Devils must develop them.
With the thirds-make sure that you draft a defenseman with one of the two and take the best available player with the other regardless of position.

7) Make a commitment to play Devils Hockey.

I realize that some of you out there are laughing right now,but I watched every game this team played and all too often,I watched a team that tried to play too wide open and not play to their strengths to satisfy the critics of their style of play.
I would much rather have a 2-1 Devil win than a 7-6 Devil loss.
This team is built around a defensive ideal,not an offensive one.
If you want to change that-fine,but the talent here now does not fit that.

That is my off-season steps to improve the New Jersey Devils for the upcoming season.
Let's hope the Devils agree or if they don't,that they are right and I am wrong.!

Photo Credits
Drury-Getty Images-Rick Stewart
Rafalski-CP Photo

It isn't Whitesnake saying "Here we go AGAIN"!

So,you say that you are facing a pitcher that is 0-6,has an ERA above TEN and opposing teams are batting over .400 against.......
Would you say that this is a game that your team should win?
Even if your pitcher is not exactly Sandy Koufax and is actually Paul Maholm?
One would think so,but not the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Jeff Weaver continued the run of absolutely awful hurlers dominating the Buccos and actually upped the ante on the past "Greats" of Ortiz,Wells,Loe etc, by firing a complete game shutout in a 7-0 loss to the Mariners in Seattle.
The Pirates managed just 4 hits( 2 for extra bases) off arguably the majors worst starter this season in another "effort"that just makes me want to scream!
However Captain Dave still thinks this team is on the right track and believes in players such as clueless,non-hustler Ronny Paulino.
Paulino commits base-running gaffes at least once a series,and I am being generous in the amount there.
The amount of dumb base-running,fielding errors ,throwing to the wrong base etc is incredible,at least for a team led by the "Committed to strong fundamental baseball" of Jim Tracy.
Those of you that do not have to watch this team on a nightly basis are lucky people,trust me on that!
Maholm allowed 6 runs in 7 innings,although only 4 were earned thanks to the 1st 2 runs being scored as a by-product of Jose Bautista's throwing error that came closer to landing in
Puget Sound than in Adam LaRoche's glove at 1st base.
Dan "Matches" Kolb allowed the final run in his stint from the pen.
Series concludes tonight at 10.
As now I must return to the grindstone known as work,I will be listening via the XM for tonight's game and the 1st two games of the Anaheim series.

The Tribe pounded the Liberty Bell gang 10-6 by scoring 8 runs in the bottom of the 6th.
5 players earned two RBI in the game for the Indians.
C.C.Sabathia improved to 10-2 despite not being as sharp as usual,as he allowed 4 runs in his 6 inning stint.
The Wahoos are off today,before concluding their inter-league slate with 3 games in Washington vs the Nationals.

Pitching Matchups
Pittsburgh: John Van Benschoten (0-1) at Seattle: Felix Hernandez (3-4) 10:05

Dont forget to vote in the new poll to the right.
Some decisions for football coverage this year are written in stone and some are up in the air and could be decided in future polls,but High School was the 1st decision to be made.
Williamsport is the school that I actually attended and Ashland is where I wanted to attend,so I used those two as our test cases.

Photo Credits
Weaver-AP Photo-Andrei Pungovschi
Barfield-AP Photo-Mark Duncan

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bucs win in the Emerald City,Sad day in Steeltown.

Sorry,I missed yesterday.
I get so run down on Tuesdays,it makes it hard to find time,especially since the Bucs were off traveling to beautiful Seattle.
The Pacific Northwest is the only part of the USA that I have a huge desire to visit that I have never been to and might be the first thing that I liked about inter-league play.
Seattle and Portland seem like such beautiful cities from what I have seen and some of their progressive policies on environmental issues,to mention just one thing,make it a terrific place to visit,if not live.

Anyway onto the game,as the Pirates won their 1st visit to Safeco Field 5-3 behind another great outing by Tom Gorzelanny.
Gorzo twirled 7 excellent innings,allowing two runs, to earn his first victory in over a month.
It shows you just how poor this team is when one looks at Gorzelanny's numbers and he had not won a game in that long.
Gorzelanny was pitching on short rest,as this was the scheduled start for Ian Snell.
Snell,of course,had the noted battle with his finger taking on a hot stove.
The key to the game could have came in the eighth,as Masumi Kuwata retired Ben Broussard on a weak grounder,with both the tying run on base and Ichiro on deck.
Good work for the import and even B.P Chacon pitched in as he got the final two outs to earn his 1st save of the season.
The Bullpen is short handed as closer Matt Capps is serving his suspension for plunking Prince Fielder a while back.
4 different Pirates had 1 RBI during the game.
The series continues tonight at 10.
If the Pirates can get a split of these next two games in Seattle,it would be their first win of a series this season over a team with a winning record.

The Indians fell to the visitors from Philadelphia 9-6.
Ryan Howard had 4 runs batted in for the Phils,including a homer that was measured at 451 feet off Jason Stanford.
Stanford allowed 6 runs in his 6+ innings off work.
Ryan Garko hit his 9th homer of the year to pace the Tribe.
Garko could be getting more playing time,as David DeLucci appeared to injure a hamstring in the game.
Manager Eric Wedge was quoted as saying that it looked like a DL type injury.
Kyle Kendrick was the winning pitcher and got his 1st win for the Phillies.
Why mention that?
Kendrick is a favorite here,as we met and talked to Kyle a bit last year in his visit to Hagerstown as a member of the Lakewood Blue Claws.
Way to go,Kyle!

Pitching Matchups
Pittsburgh-Paul Maholm 3-9 at Seattle-Jeff Weaver-0-6-10;00.
Philadelphia-Jon Lieber 3-5 at Cleveland-C.C.Sabathia-9-2.- 7;00

Bullpen Notes

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are moving on.
The Cats released veterans Rob Hitchcock and Mike Morreale yesterday.
Both were offered jobs in the organization,but both chose to be released in case they decided to play with another team.
Both players release bothers me,but Hitchcock bothers me more than Morreale.
The hard-hitting defensive back from Weber State was a career long Tabbie and my favorite Cats player.
Hitchcock holds the Hamilton record for career tackles on both defense and special teams.
I think Rob can still be a productive player in the CFL,but I hope he calls it a career.
I would hate to see Rob in other colors,especially the Double blue of the Argos.
Hitchcock has the makings of a good coach,even maybe way down the road,he could even have the Hamilton head job.
Sorry to see Rob go and here is hoping to see him teaching his style of aggressive football in Steeltown for years to come.
Here is a link to the emotional press conference.

Sorry to hear about the passing of Terry Hoeppner,the head football coach at Indiana.
I always have a soft spot for coaches that move up from the MAC,especially those that try to do the almost impossible and try to win at Indiana.
Indiana may be the worst football job in the Big 10,Hoeppner tried to win there,but simply ran out of time health wise.
Terry was most noted for having this huge rock brought into the Indiana stadium to try to build some tradition there.
Hoeppner arrived at Indiana from Miami,Ohio,where he was the college coach of Ben Rothlisberger.
He was 59.

Does anyone have any ideas why Joe Girardi might want the Oriole job?
A poor farm system that rushes and ruins most prospects that do have promise,a bunch of fading DH types on the team and a meddling owner that will not allow baseball people to make the baseball decisions do not add up to a desirable job to me.

Reggie Theus is the new head coach of the Sacramento Kings.
Theus was an excellent player at UNLV and during many years in the NBA as a player.
Theus most recently spent two years as head coach at New Mexico State and took them to the NCAA Tournament last year.
Plus he was a actor playing a coach on NBC's Saturday morning kids show "Hang Time".
Considering the guys he will be coaching with the Kings,he might want to sign up for " Saved by the Bell-Detention".

Photo Credits
Gorzelanny and Kuwata-AP Photo-John Froschauer
Kendrick-AP Photo-Mark Duncan
Press Conference-Gary Yokoyama-Hamilton Spectator
Hitchcock-CP Photo

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pirates and Tribe win

The Pirates defeated the White Sox 8-7 yesterday to take two of three from the Pale Hose.
Jose Bautista homered (6th) and knocked in 2 runs,while the seldom-used Nate McClouth led the squad with 4 RBI on the game.
Xavier Nady's 2 run single in the 5th turned out to be the game winners.
B.P.Chacon got the win to move to 3-1 and Matt Capps earned his 5th save.

The Indians avoided a sweep at home by the Atlanta Braves by beating the noc-a-homas 5-2.
Fausto Carmona improved to 8-2 with seven strong innings.
Joe Borowski pitched the 9th to grab his 20th save.
No outstanding hitting performances,although Casey Blake continued his hitting streak to 26 games.

Pitching Matchups

Philadelphia-Cole Hamels 9-2 at Cleveland-Cliff Lee-3-4 7;00

Bullpen Notes

I hate the Indians script I hats.
Either stay with Wahoo or go to the C for Cleveland,but scrap the I.
Throw them on the same brush fire as the Pirates red jerseys.

The Orioles fired Sam Perlozzo today.
Just another prediction that I was right on.
The Orioles will never be a good team again until Peter Angelos sells the team.
This move will likely cost them Leo Mazzone at the seasons end.
Mazzone is not only the best pitching coach in the game,he is also Perlozzo's best friend.

Lavar Arrington was badly injured today in a motorcycle accident.
Sorry to see anyone get hurt,but I have problems understanding why anyone rides them on the road,let alone someone,who makes a living by their athletic ability.
The former Redskin and Giant linebacker is currently unsigned.

Pirates ace Ian Snell will miss his next scheduled start in Seattle,due to a blister on his throwing hand.
He,supposedly,burnt it on the stove while cooking.
It is not serious,as he will start Saturday vs the Angels in Anaheim.

Yes,I did not call the Angels by their stupid marketing name.
They will always be the Anaheim or California Angels here.

Until tomorrow!

Photo Credits
Carmona-AP Photo-Tony Dejak
McClouth-AP Photo-Keith Srakocic

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Koby Clemens is my hero!

The funniest thing happened yesterday and if things were as normal,I would have missed it.
Saturday's Hagerstown-Lexington game was "Citicorp Day",unbeknownest to me,which is always one of the largest crowds of the year.
Combined with it being a weekend game and a Little League day to boot,it added up to a not so good signing day or good day to watch the game.
So after the little leaguers were squeezed into the best signing spot to do their on field gig,(Not their fault,I do not want to seem like I am whining about them),we moved to the left field line to attempt to get some Legends guys to sign.
This is the 1st time all year,we moved there and we got a treat beyond belief.
Backstory-Apprently on the night Ryan and I were in Frederick,some of the loudmouth drunken dum dums that the Suns seem to tolerate spent the entire game riding and cursing Koby Clemens.
I cannot verify this because I was not there and even if I was,our seats are far from the lushhead spots.
This guy wearing a Yankee hat (A usual sign of a real schmuck) was standing there and Koby Clemens walked up to him and verbally ripped into this guy beyond belief.
More curse words than I can remember or type here,but my favorite lines were-"I Signed 3 or 4 cards for you before the game and you called me (MANY words deleted)??
You are a (>>>>>>>>>>>>) and people like you are the reason that I do not like to sign".
Followed by more cursing this putz out and ending with "you and those guys with you are what ruins the game!".
If my hands weren't full,I would have clapped like crazy.
I am not in favor of players acting out on fans,but some of these guys deserve it.
I have no problem razzing a guy a bit or booing in any fashion,but there is a line and it seems like more and more fans feel that it is OK to cross the line.
Players are pros,but they are people as well and as much as they can say that they pay no attention to it,it is only human to let it bother you at times.
I would not like a player to speak to me that way,but I would not give a player a reason to talk to me like that.
People like that make fans and collectors look bad and give players reason not to interact with them.
Good for you,Koby-you have a fan here.

Anyway between Citicorp and weather,Ryan,Battling Bob and I said to hell with this and following our signing,went to home and watched John Van Benschoten's return to Pittsburgh.
JVB pitched well,despite getting saddled with the loss to the Chicago White Sox 6-1.
He allowed 2 runs in 5 and two thirds and it should have been just 1.
Alex Cintron was dead to rights at home,but a poor throw by Adam LaRoche allowed him to score the second run,which turned out to be the difference between JVB getting the loss and a no Decision.
When he left the game,it was just 2-1,but the stellar bullpen could not allow the game to stay that close.
John "Lighter Fluid" Grabow gave a two run homer up to Josh Fields,crappy newcomer Dan Kolb allowed a run in his inning as did mop-up man Tony Armas .
Adam LaRoche had 3 hits for the Bucs and Ryan Doumit added two and knocked in the only Pirate run.

The Indians lost their 2nd in a row to the Atlanta Braves 6-2 .
Paul Byrd had his 2nd bad outing in a row,allowing 5 runs in 5 innings to fall to 6-3.
Grady Sizemore had the only Indian RBI.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats won their pre-season opener in Winnipeg 35-23 over the Blue Bombers.
Timmy Chang out-played Shaun King in the battle for the starting QB slot.
Chang was 10 of 17 for 239 yds and 2 TD's,while King was a paltry 4 for 12 ,29 yds and 1 interception.
The other candidate for the job- Jason Maas did not play.
The Cats used a 21 pt 2nd quarter to pace the win.
The two teams will finish the pre-season vs each other in Hamilton next week.

Pitching Matchups
Chicago White Sox-Javier Vasquez 3-5 at Pittsburgh-Zach Duke 3-6-1;35
Atlanta-Kyle Davies 3-5 at Cleveland-Fausto Carmona 7-2-1;05

Bullpen Notes

Is it me or is Vince McMahon starting to look like Norman Fell (Mr.Roper)??

Hated to be harsh on the Frederick Keys yesterday,IMO,they were just under-staffed.
The workers were trying hard,just simply undermanned.
Unlike the Hagerstown Suns,who struggle on nights no matter what.

Justin Maxwell was placed on Potomac's injured list.
Tough break for Maxwell.
When we saw Potomac neither Justin or Chris Marrero were playing.
Which raises the question-Why move them up to sit them on the bench??

Vermont set their initial roster and Stephen King was not on it.
I thought his starting at Hagerstown was rushed and agreed with the call to move him down,but keeping him in GCL is a mistake by the Nationals.
Vermont is the right spot for him right now.

Spent a few minutes talking to Cory Van Allen and Marco Estrada in Frederick.
Marco is working his way back from a DL stint,but he told me that he was going to pitch 2 games in Florida before his return to the Potomac rotation.

The Chicago BlackHawks gambled on left winger Sergei Samsonov as they acquired him from Montreal for Jassen Cullimore and Tony Salmelainen.
I am not sure on what Sergei has left in the tank,but for the price that the Hawks paid,it was well worth the spin of the wheel.

Still hearing the Chris Drury to the Devils rumors.
I am all for it!
Go get him,Lou!!

And finally in another indictment of Captain Dave...
The Bucs pay 1.9 million TOTAL for their rotation of Ian Snell,Tom Gorzelanny,Zach Duke,Paul Maholm and John Van Benschoten.
While for the Arson Squad (Matt Capps excepted and maybe Damaso Marte) makes
15.4 Million to be HORRIBLE!!!
3.8 million to B.P Chacon and 3 million to Tony Armas to suck royally,Gas Can Torres makes another 2.7 million and 1.3 million to Dan Kolb!!
Look at what the Pirates pay to guys that are bad beyond belief.
For the record- Lighter Fluid Grabow only gets 832,000 for his underwhelming work.
Talk about money flushed down the septic tank!!!
Let me know where I can get a job paying that much money and be that terrible doing it.

And finally only 1 more week of Inter-league Baseball!
It cannot go fast enough for me!

Photo Credits
JVB-AP Photo-Keith Srakocic
Koby Clemens-Hawaii Winter Baseball-Jay Metzger