Friday, November 30, 2007

Random Ramblings

Just a few Random Ramblings on a slow day.

First a picture of the lovely Rachel and me with former Pirate and Indian pitcher Jim "Mudcat" Grant from a while back.
We met the Mudcat at the Buckeye book fair in Wooster, Ohio.
The fair is held each year and feature Ohio authors along with books on Ohio topics.
Mr. Grant was selling his book "the black aces", but since he was charging to sign other items, it was more important to get his cards signed for the collection.
He was very accommodating and chatted for a while about his year in Pittsburgh as a Pirate, along with his coaching years in Durham with the Carolina League Bulls.
The Bulls visited Hagerstown often in the early years of the Suns and Grant asked if the stadium had gotten any better.
I told him the infield was being renovated for the first time soon which brought a loud laugh.
Very nice gentleman and glad to add him to the collection.

I generally don't like paying for autographs, but I never mind paying for the veterans of the game that never made a nibble of what players make today.
Grant signed two cards for 15.00, which sounds high, but compare that to the fee of the Steelers Levon Kirkland.
Kirkland was charging 25 bucks for flat items when he visited Hagerstown.
That is a bit different as Kirkland made plenty of money in his era.

The NHL changed the schedule format for 2008 as we expected yesterday.
The amount of inter-divisional games with each team will drop from 8 to 6 and now each team will play their opposite conference counterparts at least once.
The compromise was that you will play each team at least once, but not home and home.
The Western Conference teams pulled for this hard as they wanted to get one gate when Cindy Crosby and the Penguins come out west.
See how much they love when they also get the Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers, and other dreck.
Lou Lamoriello and the Devils were one of only 4 votes to keep the current schedule template.
The NHL will go back to the current format in a few years.
One cannot expect any consistency from the office as the grass is always greener on the other side with these guys.
Gary Bettman's defense of the vote only showed why it should not have been passed.
This was an attempt to be responsive to the fans," NHL commissioner Bettman said after the meeting. "And we did it notwithstanding that this is likely to be the third year in a row with record attendance and the fact that divisional games are better attended than any others we did want to be responsive to the fans."
SO the divisional game is the best attended, but we will reduce the number of them-"for the fans"
Yeah, right.

The Devils defend the Rock tonight against the visitors from Montreal tonight.
Coverage here tomorrow.

For the seamheads here:

The Giants hired Ed Creech as an "amateur talent advisor".
They have no idea how true that is.....

Looking forward to the Rule V draft for minor leaguers at the winter meetings next week.
Want a sleeper for the Pirates, if they decide to take someone?
How about power-hitting first baseman Matt Whitney?
Whitney had a huge year at Lake County and Kinston, the Pirates lack power hitters and Whitney is a known commodity to GM Neal Huntington.

Is it just me or do the "great" offers that Boston keeps sending for Johan Santana seem a bit light?
I can see a Jacody Ellsbury, Clay Bucholz OR Jon Lester, and another prospect offer being a fine haul for the Twins, but the offers that I am hearing don't measure up.
If I am picking from the offers that are rumored-I like the Yankees offer far better than the Beantowners.

Until tomorrow

Photo Credit
Grant-Cherie Heimberger

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Devils cool off Stars 4-2

The New Jersey Devils played a sluggish first period and paid the price for it in falling behind 2-0.
But a wraparound goal by David Clarkson(3) in the second period began a rally that would result in a 4-2 Devil victory and the 5th win in a row for New Jersey.
Brian Gionta's 8th goal of the season tied the game later in the period and the third saw the game winner off the stick of Dainius Zubrus.
The Zubrus goal (5) was all the Devils needed as the defense controlled the Stars from any good scoring chances in the third and slowed the game down to a crawl.
Zach Parise's empty netter late (9) concluded the scoring.
Both Zubrus and Gionta finished the game with a goal and an assist for two points on the night.
The only bad news came in the third period as Jay Pandolfo lost an edge on his skate on a shorthanded breakaway and left the game due to injury.
The shot clanked off the goalpost and Pandolfo crashed into the boards,never to return to the game.
Pandolfo has played so well this season that I would hate to see his momentum halted due to injury.
Marty Brodeur had a strong last two periods after a slow first period that saw Marty allow two soft goals that had Chico Resch calling for Kevin Weekes to enter the contest.
I have always thought that the one weakness to the Brodeur game that his weakness to the parallel angle shot and I often wonder why more teams do not attack him with the odd angle shot.
Seems like Vincent LeCavalier beats Marty once a game like that when the Lightning battle the Devs.
The Devils will host Montreal Friday night at the Rock in their next outing.

Bullpen Notes

Normally I would say that I cannot believe that a team would make a deal that could be as bad as the swap between the Twins and the "Rays" that was finalized this morning,but considering that Tampa was involved,I have no problem believing it.
Delmon Young does come with some baggage and Matt Garza is a bright pitching prospect,but Minnesota looks to have pulled off major larceny here.
Jason Bartlett is a dime a dozen player and the prospect going to Tampa (Eduardo Morlan)has great minor league numbers,but supposedly has mechanical questions and looks to be more of a bullpen prospect than a starting one.
If Young can keep his head on straight,he will be a dominant hitter and the Rays will regret this deal,but another laughable part of Tampa's reasoning here is that they are counting on Rocco Baldelli to play Young's position in right field.
Depending on Rocco Baldelli to stay healthy is flawed thinking to begin with,let alone to use it as part of your evaluation to move Delmon Young.
Please don't think that I am doubtful on Matt Garza,I am quite high on him,but not at this cost.

Shane Youman was claimed off waivers by the Phillies yesterday from the Pirates,while Josh Sharpless cleared waivers and likely will return to the Buccos AAA affiliate in Indianapolis.
The soft tossing Youman is expected to compete for the Phils 5th rotation spot,but likely will wind up as the garbage man in long relief or the rotation anchor for the Phillies new AAA affiliate in Alllentown.
Mildly surprised that Youman was claimed,but at least Youman will have a chance in Philadelphia to make the team.
I would have been surprised if he would have gotten the same chance in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates have been mentioned in a few rumors before next weeks Winter Meetings in Nashville.
One has Xavier Nady and Nate McLouth going to the Padres for prospect Chase Headley.
Headley had a strong year at AA San Antonio last year and looks to be an excellent prospect,but is still a year away from Pittsburgh and with Neil Walker now at the third sack and at the same AAA level in 2008,this makes me wonder.
I like the deal,IF these things happen.
1) The Padres get the massively overrated Nyjer Morgan instead of the underrated McLouth.
2) After Headley is acquired,Walker would then be moved back behind the plate.
This would not only give the Bucs a catching prospect that they lack right now,but would also give the 2009 Buccos three legit prospects coming to the team all at once in Headley,Walker and Andrew McCutchen.
OR perhaps this is a quiet sign that the new regime might not be as high on Neil Walker as others are....
Something to consider as we watch things progress.

The other rumor is the Cardinals are interested in Jack Wilson and Matt Morris.
Wilson is a guy I would like to see stay unless the offer was too good to pass up.
While the Cards are mentioned to have offered Anthony Reyes for Morris,if the Bucs pay some of Morris's salary for next season.
If that is accurate-We would take that deal quickly before they change their mind.

Until next time...

Photo Credits
Devils-Stars-Jim McIssac-Getty Images
Headley-Lake Elsinore Storm
Youman-Bill Gentry

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Football Edition

Seems like Monday and Tuesday are starting to be difficult to make time to post.
Work has gotten a bit more difficult,so those days are starting to take time away.
Now if anyone wants to send a laptop for me to use at the ol' grindstone,this blog would really flourish!!!LOL!!

Anyway a few words on the Browns and Seahawks wins and some thoughts on football issues,followed by a pretty exciting announcement that any of you out there can participate in,if you like.

I thought the Browns did not play at their best on offense ,but the defense came up with their best effort of the season in their 27-17 win over Houston.
The complete shutdown of Andre Johnson by rookie reserve Brandon McDonald likely was the huge difference in the game and the fact that the Browns developed a pass rush was an encouraging sign as well.
This weeks Cleveland trip to Arizona is a biggie for the blog teams.
A Browns win keeps the Browns wild card hopes healthy and the resulting Cardinal loss could help the Seahawks NFC West title hopes.

The Seahawks played a lousy first half and not much better in the second half against the St.Louis Rams,but thanks to blind luck and Gus Frerotte's butter fingers-the Hawks grabbed an ugly 24-19 win in the Arch city.
The defense stepped up and held the Rams to a 4th and goal from the one,but Frerottes botching of the snap saved the day for Seattle.
Seattle really needs to get it together or their playoff time will be very limited.
They are doing enough to get by,but the road struggles continue and they will be tested this week by a trip to the lovely city of Brotherly Love against the Eagles.

As sad as the tragic death of Redskin safety Sean Taylor question that I have wondered is this.
What was he doing in Miami in the first place?
I realize that he was injured,but shouldn't the Redskins have made sure he was rehabbing at the teams facility?
The season is going on,so wouldn't it make sense for the team to help him heal ASAP by having him there every day?
Just a thought (that I would wager) that more pro sports teams will be considering privately.

The main thing that is so sad about this is that from parties involved is the talented Taylor seemed to finally being able to get his career and personal life in order before this happened.
Sad all around......

Before anyone hands the MVP for this season to Tom Brady or Randy Moss,here is our vote.
If the Packers are the top seed in the NFC-my vote goes to Brett Favre.
Favre has been super this season and he doesn't have any offensive weapons to speak except for Donald Driver and Driver is no Moss.

Think the Packer front office have any regrets on not listening to Favre's pleadings to trade for Randy Moss now?
If that deal gets made,the Packers might be my pick to win it all.

Did not take long for Houston Nutt to pay back the boosters at Arkansas long for causing his problems at Arkansas.
Nutt beat the top team in the country,quit his job and returned at a division rival's head coacing job all in five days!
Nutt is now the boss of Ole Miss and will get a shot at the Hogs every year from here on out.
This looks like a possible disaster in the making for Arkansas.

Former Buckeye,Brown and NFL Hall of Famer Bill Willis passed away at 86.
Willis just had his number retired at Ohio State a few weeks back and that was great that the Buckeyes were able to do that for him before his death.

I have finished up on getting an interview done with Erik Arnesen for the blog.
If any of you have any questions that you would like me to ask Erik,LMK and I will do my best to get them asked.
Until later tonight or tomorrow with the Devils vs Stars and likely some baseball talk

Photo Credits
McDonald-Gregory Shamus-Getty Images
Fumble-Kyle Ericson-AP Photo
Willis-Greg Sailor-USA Today

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Devils win again over Tampa

The New Jersey Devils grabbed their 4th win in a row and went above .500 for the first time all season with a 3-2 win over the Lightning at the Tangerine Bowl in Tampa.
Brian Gionta's two second period goals (6 and 7) gave the Devils a 2-1 lead,while David Clarkson's goal later in the period (2) was the game winner as the Lightning cut the lead to 3-2 in the 3rd period.
Zach Parise assisted on both Gionta goals,1 full strength with the other a power play goal.
Patrik Elias missed the game with flu symptoms for the second game in a row.
The Devils seem to be putting things together a bit,as it seems that Brent Sutter has made the call to merge his offensive system with the Devils past system to take better advantage of the talent on the roster.
Marty Brodeur continues his excellent play and added another win to his total on the "march to Roy".
The Devils take a few days off before returning to action on Wednesday at the Rock vs the Dallas Stars.

The 6-4 Cleveland Browns can take a huge step towards the playoffs today in Cleveland vs the Houston Texans.
A win would move the Browns two games ahead of Houston in the wild card race and give them a tiebreaker over the Texans.
This should be a shootout,especially with corner Eric Wright out of the game,which leaves the Browns short handed in the secondary against a passing team.
Looks like a wild one.........
Our Pick:Browns 38-31

The 6-4 Seattle Seahawks travel to St.Louis for a game against the Rams.
The Seahawks hold a one game lead over the Cardinals for first place in the NFC West and need to win keep the lead.
Mo Morris will play again for the injured Shaun Alexander and should continue his excellent play in Alexander's absence.
The Hawks defense should control the Rams in this one.
Our Pick:Seahawks 28-14.

Bullpen Notes

One reader wants to know why we don't give the Miami Hurricanes coverage.
Simple-We don't want to,but just this once..
Congrats to Miami for their tremendous 5-7 season.

Seriously though,We do have some thought on why Miami and Florida State seem to be on the downslide.
With the state of Florida adding 4 Division I football teams over the last decade (South Florida,Central Florida,Florida International and Florida Atlantic) looks to me that these schools are taking away from the traditional powers depth.
Think about it,if each of those schools take 3 players that would have went to Miami or FSU in the past,the depth is affected.
That doesn't explain why Florida is still solid though,but the SEC always has a tradition edge in football over the bloated ACC.

The Post Gazette says that the Pirates are interested in Battlin' Bob's favorite hurler Matt Clement and the Buccos claim they are not shopping Jason Bay or Jack Wilson.
I can see keeping Wilson after the release of Cesar Izturis last week,but no way do we believe that Bay is not involved in talks.
The P-G says Cleveland,as we wrote in the past,is an ardent suitor.
As far as Clement goes-all for it,IF the cost is a cheap,short and incentive based contract.

Photo Credits
Gionta-AP Photo
Helmets-helmet Project

Friday, November 23, 2007

Devils lock down Thrashers 3-0

The New Jersey Devils used goals from two unlikely sources to cool off the red hot Atlanta Thrashers 3-0 in Atlanta.
Second period goals by Rod Pelley (2) and Paul Martin (1) gave the Devils all the goals that they needed to support Martin Brodeur in net.
Brodeur swatted away all 22 shots that he faced and never really seemed threatened other than a 1 on1 save on Ilya Kovalchuk,who took advantage of a Johnny Oduya misplay and cruised in for the shot before being denied by Brodeur.
Martin's goal was on a 5 on 3 power play chance.
Jay Pandolfo scored the final goal late in the game into the open net for Pandolfo's 10th goal of the season.
The victory was the Devils 3 in a row and pulls them up to .500 on the season.
New Jersey returns to action Saturday in Tampa vs the Lightning.

The Ashland Arrows season ended in the Ohio state semis with a 35-20 loss to the Cincinnati Anderson Redskins.
The Redskins ran for over 300 yards against the Arrows and seemed to be the difference in the game.
Taylor Housewright threw for 348 yards and a TD,but his fumble late in the first half may have been the turning point of the game.
Anderson scored a touchdown with seconds remaining in the half to move their lead to 21-10.
The Arrows would not get closer.

Bullpen Notes

Sorry to hear about Dennis Franchione resigning at Texas A&M.
We always thought he seemed like a standup person and thought A&M would be a great fit,but things didn't work out.
But at least he went out a winner with the Aggies upset win over Texas yesterday.

Former Athletic pitcher Joe Kennedy shockingly passed away yesterday at the age of 28.
Death at such a young age always makes us ponder life and we offer our condolences to his family.

Here is more on the CFL's official stand on the Bills in Toronto.
It is too bad that on the weekend of the leagues greatest day of the season,worries about the NFL have the spotlight.
Tomorrow's Grey Cup pits the Winnipeg Blue Bombers against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Photo Credit
Kennedy-Jed Jacobsohn-Getty Images

All baseball edition

The Pirates claimed Jimmy Barthmaier off waivers from the Astros and added the pitcher to their 40 man roster.
The power armed righty had a rough year for AA Corpus Christi,but had two excellent seasons previous to 2007 at Lexington and Salem.
Barthmaier is 24 and will likely start the 2008 season at AA Altoona.
I like this move a lot,as the Bucco system is lacking in hard throwers and have an over-abundance of soft tossers .
So Barthmaier could be a real steal for Pittsburgh.

However a few other surprises were announced from the Pirates as far as the 40 man roster goes.
Pitchers Ron Belisario and Olivo Astacio were placed on the 40,while power hitting outfielder Jamie Romak and reliever Jesse Chavez were not.
Belisario is reported to throw hard,but missed much of the season to injury.
Astacio is a hurler that I have seen a few times and while he throws hard,he lacks control and anything else to complement his power stuff.
I hope the Buccos do not lose Romak in the Rule V draft,as his power is in short supply in the system.
I cannot imagine someone holding onto Romak for a season,but stranger things have happened.
Chavez could go though after a decent season at AAA Indianapolis to someone that needs cheap middle relief help.
SS Brian Bixler was added as most expected,while the three players that were removed from the roster were first baseman Josh Phelps and pitchers Shane Youman and Josh Sharpless.
Phelps will help someone,but just did not fit this rosters need.
I kinda hate seeing Youman leave,as he always seemed to catch bad breaks,but his stuff is not really major league caliber.
Sharpless was a favorite of the old regime and could need a change of scenery.
I would not be surprised to see either of these two re-signed to AAA contracts after the Winter Meetings,if it works out.

I have to wonder if the Angels aren't planning more moves with the signing of Torii Hunter.
After all,they did sign Gary Matthews Jr to a big deal last season and unless they are moving Matthews to left,seem to have 1 fly catcher in center too many.

The Mets have to be pleased with bringing in Johnny Estrada to backstop for the low price of Guillermo Mota.
Estrada should at least be a solid stop gap catcher for 2008.

The Brewers peddled Estrada since they signed Jason Kendall to a one year deal.
Kendall was always a high-effort player,but he seems washed up to me.
When singles hitters lose their ability to get on base-the end is near.

Until next time...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Devils win in the igloo and thoughts on things that I missed

Sorry, it has been a while, just didn't have time when I had things to write or things to write when I had time.

The New Jersey Devils used two Zach Parise power-play goals (7 and 8) to nip the Penguins in Pittsburgh 2-1.
The Devils played their best all-around game of the year and with the exception of a Johnny Oduya miscue that handed Pittsburgh their only goal, looked pretty much flawless.
Marty Brodeur handled every shot except the mentioned goal by Evgeni Malkin and looked excellent in goal.
Jamie Langenbrunner assisted on both Parise goals, while Brian Gionta and Mike Mottau each picked up a secondary assist.
Colin White returned to the team for his first action of the season and provided some toughness on the blueline.
Once Paul Martin is able to return-the Devils should be back to full strength.
The Devils move to within one game of .500 on the season at 9-10-2 and will return to action Friday in Atlanta for a game vs the Thrashers.

I realize that the NFL week is over, but wanted to add a few thoughts on what I missed.
The Browns 33-30 overtime win over Baltimore was about as crazy a win that I could dream about.
Sidebar-I wish I could find a video of "Murderin' Ray" Lewis mumbling his way up the tunnel after Phil Dawson's tying field goal was ruled good.
"It's over-we won".
But still to allow a pathetic offense such as Baltimore's to score 30 points, still makes me wonder about this week's game vs Houston.
The Texans can score points and they have a wideout that can get deep in a hurry in Andre Johnson.
The Texans have playoff hopes of their own and Cleveland cannot afford to take the game Sunday lightly.

The officials made the correct call, but the NFL needs to allow field goals to be reviewed in the future IF the review is based on something tangible such as contact with the goalpost/crossbar.

Meantime, for the locals.
MASN does a simulcast of someone named Anita Marks and her talk show and it seems Ms.Marks either is ill-informed on the NFL rulebook, the actual on-field call on Dawson's kick, or both.
Marks spent 30 minutes whining Monday that "even though the kick was good, it was reviewed and the rulebook says you cannot review a field goal".
Read the rulebook and you will see that Video review is not allowed on field goals.
But on this play, the video was NOT reviewed, the officials grouped together and reviewed the kick without video.
That is allowed and the proper way to deal with the situation.
Wally Williams (former lineman for the Browns and Ravens) attempted to tell Marks this at least 3 times (and that is just the 30 minutes that I could stomach watching), but she refused to either listen or understand.

I have not watched the Seahawks 30-23 win over the Bears yet, but I will as the week goes on.

The Angels swapping SS Orlando Cabrera for White Sox hurler Jon Garland appears to help both teams.
Cabrera will be a huge upgrade for the Pale Hose over Juan Uribe and Garland should settle into the Angel 4th rotation spot nicely.

Ryan sends us a note on the passing of Dick Wilson at the age of 91.
Who was Dick Wilson and why does his death merit mention here?
Well, most of you 30 and up (and Ryan) might remember Wilson's commercials as "Mr.Whipple", who implored his grocery customers to "please don't squeeze the Charmin" bathroom tissue.

Ryan also sends us another sad note of the passing of former Packer center Jim Ringo at the age of 75.
Ringo also is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

A Jim Ringo story for you goes like this.
At the end of the 1963 season, Ringo brought an agent to his contract talks with Packers Coach/GM Vince Lombardi.
This was at the time when agents were far from welcome in contract discussions and Lombardi was far from being open to the agent.
Lombardi excused himself from the room for a few minutes and returned and said to the agent that he was not allowed to talk about Ringo's contract.
When the confused agent asked why not, Lombardi replied "Mr.Ringo now plays in Philadelphia for the Eagles".
Shows how times change!

The Ashland Arrows appearance in the state semi-final is Friday in Dublin,Ohio.
The Arrows will battle the Cincinnati Anderson Redskins for the right to play for the State championship.

Finally, the Indians signed Masahide Kobayashi to a 2 year deal with a club option for a third.
Kobayashi last pitched for the Chiba Lotte Marines and I will be asking about him from our man in Japan Brandon Siefken.

Photo Credits
Parise-Gene Puskar-AP Photo
Dawson-Jamie Squire-Getty Images
"Mr.Whipple"-TV Land
Ringo-Topps cards

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Buckeyes make Lloyd Blue in 14-3 win

In a game that basically brought back memories of the old days of ground game oriented football,The Ohio State Buckeyes won THE GAME and the Big Ten title with a 14-3 win over michigan in what was likely the final game for Lloyd Carr as the wolverine field boss.
Chris Wells smashed through the michigan defense for 220 yards and both touchdowns to lead the Buckeyes to victory for the fourth time in a row and sixth in seven years over the hated rivals.
The 220 yards for Wells was the most for a Buckeye in the long history of the series and likely would have had more,if not coming down with what appeared to be a hamstring problem in the second half.
Wells returned and continued to carry the ball,but lacked the breakaway speed that he showed during the game previously.
Verno Gholston sacked Chad Henne three times including one that looked like it was right out of the old Tecmo Bowl video game by just running right over him.
For those lovers of the game,remember when the offense called the QB Waggle and all you had to do was call the play and watch the QB run into you crushed?LOL
Enough on my game geekiness.
The downside on the game?
Another poor performance by Todd Boeckman,who was only 7 for 13 on the day passing.
In the second half,Jim Tressel was running offensive possessions of nothing but Wells runs.
It appeared that after the first half performance of Boeckman,Tressel was afraid to have his passer put the ball into the air.
Of course,I cannot blame after watching poor throws,slips on the turf and fumbles without contact,the strategy seemed to be a winning one.
If Boeckman's play doesn't improve from his final two games,it will be difficult for the Buckeyes to win their bowl game,which appears to be the Rose Bowl for now.
Can OSU get to the title game?
Yes,.but things have to happen tonight that are not finals at the time of this writing.
In any event-let us enjoy another year of bragging right over michigan.
It really hasn't been that long since Ohio State was losing this game every year and I don't want to forget just how good it feels to win this game,just because it is happening more often.

The New Jersey Devils were finally able to give Marty Brodeur his 500th win in a 6-2 smashing of the Flyers in Philly.
Zach Parise led the offense with a goal and two assists,while Karel Rachunek scored his first goal of the season on shot from the blueline to beat Martin Biron.
The Devils return to action Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

The Cleveland Browns play in the biggest game of the year thus far as they travel to Baltimore against the Ravens.
A win here is a must as a 6-4 record sets up a possible playoff run far better than a 5-5 record.
Baltimore is struggling on offense and has to start Kyle "Jesus in cleats" Boller.
This is always a physical game,but .....
Our pick;Browns 24-13

The Seattle Seahawks stay home for a game against the erratic Bears.
This is a winnable game,but the Seahawks have struggled against decent teams and the offense is still not totally healthy.
Have a bad feeling about this one,but the home field is worth three points and that might be the difference.
Our pick:Seahawks 20-17

Bullpen Notes

Ohio State needed to pass 5 teams to make it to the BCS title game and with yesterdays results in,they will pass at least two in the next poll and are guaranteed to pass the Kansas-Missouri loser next week .
So then,you hope Oklahoma beats the Kansas-Missouri winner in the Big 12 title game and hope for either LSU or West Virginia to lose and OSU is in.
No,but they passed two this week that I would not have thought they would,so one can never tell.

And finally,wonder when this years excuse/rant is coming from Mike Hart?
After all,he came back to beat Ohio State blah blah..........
One could not ask for more than a loss for Hart to ponder and and perhaps finally show some class.
Stay tuned for Hart's comments from the Outback or Alamo Bowl on these topics....

Photo Credits
OSU-Neal Lauton-Columbus Dispatch
Helmets-Helmet Project

Friday, November 16, 2007

The day

It is 32 degrees as I arrive home,but it is perfect weather for this day.
This is the day that only comes once a year-Ohio State vs michigan.
Everyone has their teams that they "hate" in every sport,I have quite a few-Yankees,Phillies,Ravens,Steelers,Flyers,Rangers and so on.
But none shares the singular hatred that is reserved for the michigan wolverines.
If any of you saw the new HBO special on the rivalry,I am kinda to the right of the guy cursing michigan that was dressed like Woody Hayes on this topic.
Win or lose,this is my favorite sports day of the year.
You can have the Super Bowl,I will take this game every time.
For the actual game itself-I hate picking this game because I feel it jinxes the Buckeyes.
But doing this means putting your opinions on the line,so I like Ohio State 24-14.
The big difference between these two teams is team speed.
Every game that I have seen michigan play this season against good teams,they seem painfully slow.
Here is hoping that my favorite day is a good one.

In a true goaltenders duel,the Islanders and Rick DiPietro bested
Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils at the Rock 1-0.
Only a shorthanded goal by Josef Vasicek in the second period separated the two goalies.
One cannot blame Brodeur however as Vasicek was allowed to go straight to the net with little no help after a clear miscue by the Devils Mike Mottau.
Mottau tripped over himself and Vasicek grabbed the puck and deked out Brodeur for the games only marker.
A tough loss for Marty in looking for win 500 and certainly far from accountable for this one.
The Devils have never been a high flying offensive team and with the mass overturn of the blue-line corps,they simply are not as talented as past teams.
Look at tonight's defensemen for proof.
With the injuries to Paul Martin and Colin White,tonight gave us Andy Greene as the teams top defensemen and he has not even played 30 games in the league yet.
These are not excuses,they are simple facts.
The Devils go for Marty's 500th win AGAIN tonight vs the Flyers.

The Ashland Arrows advanced to the Final Four of Ohio High School with a 21-14 regional final win over Sylvania Southview.
All of the points scored in the game occured in the first half,as Taylor Housewright ran for two touchdowns and threw a scoring strike to Anthony Fairhurst for what proved to be the game winner.
Not sure who the Arrows will play next week or where as of this time.

Bullpen Notes

Ryan told me about a ridiculously dumb statement by Stan Fischler between periods.
Fischler claimed that both Denis Potvin and Brian Leetch were both superior defensemen to Bobby Orr.
Both Potvin and Leetch were fine players and Hall of Fame caliber,but comparing them to Bobby Orr is like comparing backs in the Football Hall of Fame to Jim Brown.
Big difference between great and THE greatest.
That is called the New York bias,my friends!

Hang in there for posts next week on Mudcat Grant and my talk with Craig Deas, the voice of the Lake County Captains.

Photo Credits
Hockey-Rich Schultz-AP Photo
Arrows-Daniel Melograna-Mansfield News-Journal

John Russell

Finally a few words on the recent hires for the Pirates,since we were on hiatus during the official announcements.

I just don't know what to think about the new field boss John Russell.
He was not someone that attracted a lot of attention when he was the Bucco third base coach,so he doesn't gain or lose points there.
And I don't pay much attention to win/loss records in the minors,so that doesn't do much to recommend or denigrate in any way.
Minor league wins and losses have very little to do with managing skills and ones record can vary from month to month let alone year to year.
Lloyd McClendon's no comment on Russell was kind of odd.
Most times when a new hire is announced,the platitudes are rolled out,but rarely a no comment.
Considering Russell coached for McClendon,that tells me that there was some kind of disagreement.
In short-I just don't know and it will be a while before we do.
I realize blogs are for opinions,but there just is not enough data to have one yet..

On the other hand-I am not thrilled with the new scouting director,Greg Smith.
I know on the surface the Detroit improvement looks good,but few of those guys were drafted by Smith.
Other than Justin Verlander (with the second overall pick,you should succeed there),Curtis Granderson and Joel "guitar hero" Zumaya,the guys he brought in were not the players that made the Tigers a contender.
That screams warning to me.
I cannot imagine being worse than Ed Creech in this job,so that is a plus in his favor,but that does not make him a great hire either.

New farm director Kyle Stark is in the position for the first time,but he comes from the Indians organization and they have done an excellent job with their system.
So even though Stark is also an untested commodity,I am a bit more optimistic on his hiring.

So we basically have a bunch of unknowns with little track record to go by except for Greg Smith.
So,I guess we will see how it goes,be open minded and hope for the best.

Bullpen Notes

Sorry to hear about the passing of Joe Nuxhall at the age of 79 due to cancer.
Nuxhall will likely forever hold the record of being the youngest player in the big leagues for his cameo appearance in 1944 at the age of 15.
Nuxhall is fondly remembered for his years in the Reds radio booth and for his years teaming with Marty Brennaman in forming IMO the majors best radio team.
Here is a fond goodbye to "the ol' lefthander"....

Battlin Bob sends us a link to a scale model of Forbes Field at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh.
Very detailed and tons of work for Patty Rogers and kudos to her for the excellent reproduction!

The Ashland Arrows battle the Sylvania Southview Cougars tonight in Fremont Ohio for the Region 6 title.
This is the second year in a row for the Arrows to reach the regional finals.
Coverage here tomorrow.

Finally,Watched the Democratic debate last night at work.
We will have an "political" day within the next month with our endorsement and other thoughts.
Until tomorrow.

Photo Credits
Forbes Field-John Heller-Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Nuxhall-Topps Cards
Helmets-Ohio Helmet Project

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Random Ramblings and trying to get back caught up

First off,I have been feeling a bit under the weather and still am,but wanted to get something up and posted.
The Seahawks looked as good as I could say,but considering the absolutely awful opposition that was put up by the 49ers in the 24-0 Seattle win,I will not get too excited.
Mo Morris looked at least as capable of the current edition of Shaun Alexander,Matt Hasselbeck threw more often and the defense seems to rounding back into form.
With the win,Seattle improved to 5-4 and moved their lead in the NFC West back to a full game.
Seattle plays the night game this week at Chicago and the erratic Bears.

The Devils split two games as they defeated the Penguins in Pittsburgh Monday 3-2 and lost to the Rangers tonight at the Rock 4-2.
The Devils jumped out to a 2-0 start in Pittsburgh,lost the lead with poor defense and won the game on a late goal by Patrik Elias.
Kevin Weekes played in goal and picked up the W.
Tonight's game started fast as the returning Jamie Langenbrunner and the new Devil nemesis Nigel Dawes swapped goals in the first minute and a half of the contest.
But the Rangers beat Marty Brodeur twice in the second and an early third period goal by Marc Staal of the Blueshirts finished it off.
Langenbrunner added his second goal of the night later in the period for the final score.
I just don't know what to say about this team,every time that I think things are coming together,a wheel falls off.
And in worse news-the one steady blueliner that the Devils have in Paul Martin left the game after the first period.
Let's hope that it is not a serious injury.
The Devils return to action Friday night at the Rock against the visitors from Long Island.

So Alex Rodriguez wants to stay a Yankee??
Could not have been that no one wanted him at the price that he requested???

Anyone else catch the tremendous documentary on the 1982 Ray Mancini-Deukoo Kim fight on ESPN Classic?
Excellent program-it had to be for my wife (avowed boxing hater) to watch and enjoy it!

For those of you back in the old days Baseball buffs-here is a great article on the "Pennant Porch" of the Kansas City Athletics in 1964 by Steve Treder over at Hardball Times.
What is the Pennant Porch?
Click the link and find out!

Still no recipes!
I really could use some help here!!!

On the signing front
Sam Fuld of the Cubs organization signed his Bowman from the fall leagues.

And finally,A hello to reader Jason Christensen,who is currently in Arizona watching the fall league.
Wish I was there.

Until tomorrow.If I am up to it!

Photo Credits
Seahawks-John Froschauer-AP Photo
Elias-Gene Puskar-AP Photo
Colavito-Topps Cards

Monday, November 12, 2007

Falling a bit short.

For a half,the Cleveland Browns dominated the Pittsburgh Steelers.
For a half,the Pittsburgh Steelers dominated the Cleveland Browns.
But Pittsburgh managed just a little more in their half and when Phil Dawson's long field goal fell just short,the Steelers escaped with a 31-28 win in the Steel City.
The differences that these teams have right now are these.
The Steelers have the experience to close out good teams,the Browns don't.
The Steelers are able to run the football,the Browns cannot.
The Steelers defense is so much better that a comparison is ridiculous and what could be the main reason?
Derek Anderson is the streakiest passer that I have seen in quite a while.
That does not mean that I think that Anderson is bad,just streaky.
He can look like John Elway one game and John Denver the next and then in a third game (like yesterday) look like both in the same game!
If the Cleveland offense could have mustered even a little offense in the second half,this win returns to Cleveland.
But with Jamal Lewis continuing his wonderful fumbling habits and therefore putting all the pressure on "bad Derek",the game was a race against time.
Hoping the clock runs,trying not to lose instead of win and that usually is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Kudos to Josh Cribbs for keeping the Browns in the game by himself,as Cribbs had more yardage returning than the Browns entire offense.
Cribbs scored one touchdown and another return set up another Cleveland TD.
Now for the good news-The Browns slugged it out for an entire game with a top level team and made them work for the win and that is a welcome change from most of the Steeler win in this series lately.
Now a win over a seemingly imploding Baltimore team next week could set the Browns up nicely for a shot at the playoffs.
When you look at those final 6 games,it is possible.
This one hurts,but in its own painful way is very encouraging...........

The Seattle Seahawks defend the Emerald City tonight against the visiting San Francisco 49ers.
The 4-4 Seahawks need a win tonight to keep sole possession of first place in the NFC West over the Cardinals,who are a half game back at 4-5.
Shaun Alexander will sit this one out and Mo Morris will get his chance to show that he could revitalize the running game that has been such a disappointment all season.
The defense will attempt to return to form after the 33 points allowed in Cleveland.
The Niner offense has struggled this season,so I think the Hawks will control this one.
Our pick:Seahawks 35-14

The New Jersey Devils return to action tonight in Pittsburgh against the Penguins at 7:30.
Coverage here tomorrow.

Bullpen Notes

Talkin trades as the Cubs today moved one of Ryan's favorites Jacque Jones to the Tigers for Omar Infante.
Jones is not a bad player,just badly overpaid and moving his hefty dole off the payroll could help the Cubs be a free agent player in the market.
Infante is just an afterthought really.

I never got a chance to comment on the Brad Lidge to the Phillies deal,while I was on hiatus.
Think the Phils got off lightly,as the speedy Michael Bourn would have been far more valuable to the Astros back in the Astrodome days.
I kinda like Mike Constanzo,but I have heard that his swing has some holes and may not play in the big time.

Congrats to former Devil Captain Scott Stevens on his induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame today in Toronto.
It was a richly deserved honor and we will have an upcoming post after total cleanup on the Captain!!

From the please I hope I have time to participate in this file...........
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will host a once a week talk show on XM's Home Ice network.
I could talk to him for hours about his mistakes.

And finally,still no word on the Mariners coming to Pulaski for 2008.
Word is that Independent leagues are beginning to gauge Pulaski interest in case of the big time teams giving Pulaski the shaft again.
C'mon Seattle,right this wrong and pick up some fans while you do it!

Photo Credit
Browns Fan-John Kuntz-Cleveland Plain Dealer
Cribbs-Keith Srakocic-AP Photo
Stevens-CP Photo
Helmets-Helmet Project

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Well,you had a bad day.........

To use the song that Battlin Bob uses on his cell phone,the Ohio State Buckeyes had a real bad day and lost their top ranking along with any chance of the national championship with a shocking 28-21 loss to the Illini of Illinois today in Columbus.
This loss can be blamed on many things and just about all of them were the fault of the Buckeyes.
Illinois' first touchdown was set up on an 80 yard run by Daniel Dufrene.
Replays showed that Dufrene clearly fumbled and the ball was recovered by the Buckeyes,but neither the referees nor Ohio State asked for a replay.
Illinois scored on the next play.
Other than that,there was nothing controversial about this game.
Ron Zook had his team well prepared and they played about as well as they could hope for.
Anytime you need to play the perfect game and then don't turn the ball over and only commit one penalty,you give yourself a chance to win.
Full credit to Illinois.
I wish I could give the Buckeye coaching staff similar kudos.
I normally think highly of Jim Tressel,but today he and his staff were not at their best.
Tressel's main gaffe came on the final drive of the game with Illinois having a 4th and inches.
Ron Zook ordered the punting unit on the field,but Tressel called a timeout.
Zook was then talked into going for it by QB Juice Williams and Illinois converted.
Ohio State would never see the football again.
The defensive coordinator didn't cover himself in glory on the final drive either as on three occasions,Juice Williams converted on third down with the quarteback draw.
To me,the speedy Williams was clearly going to run the ball to keep the clock running,but on all three plays,the Bucks were playing pass.
Poor Strategy.
Tressel is the offensive coordinator and calls the plays,but other than a first play bomb to Brian Robiskie,the offense stopped throwing the ball downfield.
One of Illinois starting corners was injured during the game,yet the replacement was never challenged deep as the OSU passing game was almost exclusively short passes.
But the main goat was Todd Boeckman,who's three interceptions pretty much killed any chances of winning this game.
Overthrowing and generally looking panicked,Boeckman struggled throughout the game and brought back memories of bad Buckeyes past.
Words cannot express how bad he looked today.
In any event-no excuses,the better team won and showed why you cannot take any team lightly.
This is far from a ruined season,a win over michigan next week wins the Big Ten outright with a 11-1 record and before this season I would have taken that and ran with it.
Let's hope we can get that one!

The New Jersey Devils then added to the "bad day"with a 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders in Long Island.
Not much scoring other than Danius Zubrus scoring his 3rd goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1,before Miroslav Satan won it for the Islanders on a 5 on 3 power play.
Martin Brodeur played well and neither goal he allowed was really his fault as Marty stayed stuck at 499 career wins.
Brodeur goes for # 500 again Monday in Pittsburgh.

The Cleveland Browns travel to Pittsburgh to battle the Steelers.
This is a bad matchup for the Lake Erie visitors and boy,could we use something to take our mind off of the events of Saturday.
For the Browns to win,they need for Jamal Lewis to be able to run enough to keep the Steeler defense honest and not lay back and play pass defense on every down and the defense needs to keep Willie Parker from running crazy as Steeler backs have in the past.
But as much I would like to see this happen.............
Our Pick:Steelers 35-20.

Bullpen Notes

Miguel Cotto banged out a unanimous decision win last night in New York to retain his WBA Welterweight title over Shane Mosley in what has been reported as a great action fight.
The replay will be shown on HBO next Saturday night.

As we endorsed back after the Mike Coolbaugh incident,it appears that MLB will be mandating that base coaches wear a helmet starting next season.
Smart move.

Tommy Herr has interviewed for a return to his beloved Lancaster Barnstormers,but he might not even get the job.
The Lancaster New Era reports that Butch Hobson,Von Hayes and Gary Carter have all interviewed for the position.
Hobson signed cards for me long ago,but a Hayes or Carter hiring might be enough to get me to Lancaster for a game.....

The Tigers are interested in dealing for Pirate relievers Matt Capps and/or Damaso Marte.
We would listen to Marte offers,but would not deal Capps unless a crazy offer was made.
Proven,young and affordable closers are rare commodities.

Photo Credits
Fans-Neal Lauron-Columbus Dispatch
Brodeur-Jim McIssac-Getty Images
Cotto-Mosley-Mary Altatter-AP Photo