Thursday, January 31, 2008

Forgotten Superstars-Jimmie Foxx

This installment of Forgotten Superstars features a Hall of Famer from long ago and who's dominance has faded mainly due to being passed on the all-time records list by players that have accumulated their numbers by questionable means and by feasting on watered down expansion era pitching.
Jimmie Foxx died a year before I was even born,so it makes that his name has quietly dropped into the background,but his numbers speak for themselves.
His 534 homers have steadily dropped from the all-time leaders,but until the later 1960's when Willie Mays passed Foxx,"Double X" was second only to Babe Ruth on the career list of home runs.
Foxx debuted at the age of 17 in 1925 with a 10 game cameo appearance in Philadelphia and appeared in just 26 more games the following season,but after a another season of limited playing time,Foxx cemented himself into the Athletic lineup at the age of 20 with 13 homers and an above .300 average.
But those numbers were mild compared to the numbers that the 21 year old Foxx would start to compile starting in 1929.
From that season through 1940,Foxx would never hit less than 30 homers (peaking with 58 in 1932) or fewer than 105 RBI (peaking with 175 in 1938).
The numbers are staggering and one would think the Athletics would have kept Foxx in Philadelphia for good,but the Athletics under owner/manager Connie Mack were always a struggling franchise financially and they could not afford the cost of a star like Foxx,so before the 1936 season,Jimmie was dealt to Boston for pitcher Johnny Marcum and the old standby-Cash.
As in 250,000 dollars,which is a big total to me today,but then was massive.
Foxx kept up his dominance in Beantown with five more huge seasons,but began to slide for the BoSox in 1941,as his homers dropped to 19 and his RBI total to "only"109.
The skills of Foxx were truly eroded though,as he would only hit 25 total homers over the last few years of his career with the Red Sox,Cubs and Phillies as sinus problems that were caused by a beanball earlier in in career basically finished Foxx off.
Foxx was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1951 and the question that I have is why was Foxx not a first ballot selection?
I suppose back then,the voters must have been tough judges!
Jimmie Foxx died in 1967 after choking to death in Miami.

A few more interesting facts on Jimmie Foxx

The Tom Hanks character in "A league of their own" was based on Foxx.
Foxx did manage one season in the All-American League.

In 1997,Foxx's birth home of Sudlersville,Maryland erected a bronze life size statue of Foxx.
Perhaps a one day trip???

In Foxx's last season in the War season of 1945,he pitched 25 innings compling a 1-0 record and a tiny 1.59 ERA.

Thanks to the Baseball Biography project for the great facts on Foxx!

Bullpen Notes

Jim Zorn left the Seahawks as their QB coach for the Redskins offensive coordinator position.
Zorn was always a favorite of mine as a player and he will be missed in Seattle.

Our friends at Nationals Farm Authority named Cory Van Allen the 18th best pitcher in the Washington system in their top 30 rankings.
Cory was one of our favorites here and should be at either Potomac or Harrisburg to start the 2008 season.

Just purchased a game to mess around with at work-Fire Pro Wrestling returns is a Japanese import that features all the Japanese stars and a edit feature that enables you to add up to 300 more grapplers.
Look for a future slow day look at pro wrestling in Japan.

On the signing front-
one mail sig from former NHL Goalie Clint Malarchuk.

Please forgive any spelling errors for the next few days as Blogger is having spellcheck problems.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

John Edwards suspends candidacy,I wonder about the two survivors..

John Edwards today suspended a campaign that that had been pretty much on hold with the public since he left Iowa.
The only campaign that spoke to "real people" is now history,only thought about for the endorsement that could be the game winner for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.
John Edwards spoke for the poor,the lower middle class and the middle class and brought issues to the table that had been dumped under the table for quite a while.
First out with a universal health care plan,first to talk about the horrible NAFTA-like agreements,first to talk about the struggles of the working class of this country-none of it mattered.
Read that as-He didn't have the name recognition of Clinton or the celebrity endorsements of Obama.
The media wants celebrities,not candidates and now they have them.
Despite his best efforts,Edwards was simply the wrong man for this time.
Two people are still standing and both have flaws that stand out tremendously.
One has the hatred of the GOP that will do anything to defeat her,the other is an inexperienced Senator of two years that seems almost listless in delivering anything that is not a structured stump speech.
If this campaign on the Democratic side had anything to do with the quality of the candidates,not the fame,money and celebrity endorsers,the two candidates left would be John Edwards and Joe Biden.
Men with intelligence,ideas and experience,not like Clinton and Obama.
Sound like sour grapes?
Just tremendously frustrated with my party and have a striking feeling that an almost certain victory for the Democrats in November is starting to slip away against the prospective Republican shield wearer John McCain.
Thanks to John Edwards for battling the tide for as long as he did and that leaves me questioning why I should even bother with this.
I have never felt the way that I do about politics right now.
I am open to listening to why I should offer my support to either Clinton or Obama,but be forewarned-I will be a tough sale.
Here is a link to a Newsweek article on Edwards' legacy from the 2008 race.

Bullpen Notes

More catching up on what has accumulated in the Bullpen...................

The Devils activated enforcer Cam Janessen for the first time this season from the disabled list,but scratched him from last night's loss to Pittsburgh.

The new All-American football league that starts in April had its first draft last week.
The six team league looks to locate in college football areas and have players from colleges in the area assigned to those teams.
Sounds good to me,but the league has to get a TV contract and as of now they do not.

Margret Truman Daniel died yesterday at 83.
The only child of former President Harry S Truman was a singer and author and is the subject of a famous Truman story.
After her concert in Washington,the critic of the Washington Post,Paul Hume heavily criticized Truman's singing in his review for the Post.
The President ripped off a scathing letter to Hume that basically said that when the President ever met Hume,Hume would need a new nose!
I like to think that I would defend my daughter that way as well....

Until tomorrow.

Photo Credit
Edwards=Chris Carlson -AP Photo

Devils fall through the ice from 1st to 3rd in loss

The New Jersey Devils received two goals from an unlikely source,as Mike Rupp scored his first two goals of the season in the first two periods,but sadly the rest of the team was ineffective and the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Devils 4-2 and as a result sent the Devils spiraling from first place to third in the Atlantic Division.
The culprit to me was poor defensive play,most notably by Johnny Oduya.
A Oduya miscue in puck handling led to the Penguins game tying goal in the second and started the momentum for the visitors from Pittsburgh.
The timing was even more suspect when you consider that Mike Rupp had scored his second goal seconds earlier and killed any New Jersey visit from 'Uncle Mo".
The other three goals that Pittsburgh scored all were of the mucking variety-Devils defenders unable to clear either the puck or the crease of Pittsburgh invaders.
The Devils were somewhat hampered by the loss of Captain Jamie Langenbrunner for the evening to the flu (I personally can relate),but Pittsburgh was without Cindy Crosby and they managed OK.
Brent Sutter was not happy with the play of the Parise,Zajac and Gionta line and their lack of opportunities.
“Your best players need to be your best players,” and “That’s what this month has come down to. We’ve had too much inconsistency. Other teams’ top players have outplayed ours.”
That is why I like Sutter-all about accountabilty.
I like all three of those guys,but the facts are the facts.
The Devils return to action Friday at the Rock to kick off February against the Blueshirts from Manhattan.

Bullpen Notes

Sorry,it has been a while since a new post.
There was not much to write about over the weekend and I have been battling the flu the last few days,so please accept my apologies..
We have accumulated some tosses from the bullpen,so we will use them all over the next two posts.

John Edwards will announce his withdrawal from the Democratic race later this afternoon.
More on this as the main object of our next post...

The Cleveland Browns and coach Romeo Crennel have worked out a two year extension of Crennel's contract.
The 60 year old Crennel is now under contract until 2010.
I might not have done this deal yet,but it was not an unreasonable extension in my opinion..

In other Browns news,the team offered Derek Anderson and Jamal Lewis new contracts.
Both players are free agents effective on Feb 28,but Anderson is a restricted FA.
Reports are that Anderson was offered a three year contract and Lewis a two year deal.
Fully behind an Anderson offer,but we prefer a one year for more money deal for Lewis.
The sudden decline of Shaun Alexander has us a bit leery of older backs right now.

Ryan tells us about a rumored deal between the Devils and the Calgary Flames that would swap young stars Zack Parise and Dion Phaneuf.
As much as I like Parise,it seems to be more likely to find Parise's type player than Phaneuf,which would give the Devils what their fans still pine for-the next Scott Stevens.

Saturday's IBF Heavyweight eliminator was an Ok fight,but could have been better.
Alexander Povetkin earned the next shot at champ Wladimir Klitschko with his unanimous decision win over Eddie Chambers.
Chambers won the first four rounds on our card before inexplicably reducing his punch output.
We scored the battle for Povetkin 116-112 ,with the Russian sweeping the last eight rounds.

Finally,former WBA Heavyweight titlist John Ruiz is back and "ready to clean up the division".
Those are his words-not mine!
Hard to take a guy too seriously when his idea of a combination is a jab,a grab and a clinch.

Back later with John Edwards withdrawal and more Bullpen Notes.

Photo Credit
Rupp-Rich Schultz-AP Photo

Friday, January 25, 2008

Devils melt down in loss to Montreal and why I love Brent Sutter

The New Jersey Devils held a 3-1 lead after two periods against the Montreal Canadiens and appeared to be cruising into the All-Star break with their third win in a row.
But a nuclear size meltdown in the third period allowed the Canadiens to escape with a 4-3 win and allowed Brent Sutter to take charge of the under-performing squad.
Patrik Elias scored a first period powerplay goal and an even strength tally in the second(13 and 14) and when the Captain Jamie Langenbrunner added a late second period goal (8) on the powerplay to build the lead to 3-1,all looked well.
But three goals from Montreal in the final period shocked the Devils,although when you skate like the game is already over and get outshot 20-3 in a period,should you be shocked?
But the General was not shy about the horrible effort and will likely be getting a fine from the league for taking them to the practice rink BEFORE the mandated cool-down time and meeting with the press and (hopefully) skating their ass off-which they certainly did not do during the third period.
Sutter offered these quotes and thoughts and I back Sutter all the way!

"I'm disappointed in the whole team and its commitment to win. Their play was brutal. They already had their plans to head to (Las) Vegas or wherever the hell they're going before the game was half over. It's totally unacceptable. Everything it takes to win a hockey game, we didn't do. It was a total lack of effort from everyone."

"For whatever reason, we had a lot of guys who wanted to do their own thing out there," Sutter said. "We had a 2-0 lead and had a 5-on-3 power play and had four or five quality scoring chances, but they were thinking of themselves instead of the team. We've had two-goal leads in our building and let them slip. It shows a lack of commitment to want to play. It tells you that this is not a mentally strong hockey team."

"To be honest, they should be embarrassed. It's hard for me to sit on this for four days. It sure as hell better be hard on them as well. We were brutal."

It is nice to see that someone cares and is not going to blow smoke up their rear after a gift to Montreal and Brent Sutter may have cemented himself as the Devils leader for quite a while.
New Jersey takes their break (in Vegas or wherever the hell they are going) and will play the Penguins on Tuesday....

Bullpen Notes

Ashland University unveiled plans for a 7,000 seat on campus football stadium.
That would mean that the Eagles would eventually move out of Community Stadium and leave the high school Arrows as the only tenant there.
The design looks like it fits the bill well for a Division II tenant and 14.5 Million has been raised towards the project already.
Looks like a new stop on the hometown returns down the road.

More on the Dana Jacobsen front.
The Christian Defense Coalition held a protest outside of ESPN headquarters in Bristol Connecticut today and the heat is building for ESPN to give her the boot.
As we stated yesterday,we back their efforts to fire Jacobsen,mainly because the michigan grad is annoying and has a better sub waiting in the wings in Sage Steele..

Jacobsen has to be sweating bullets as posted this picture today from the event.
Two things came to my mind...
1)They weren't kidding about swilling Vodka!
Look at the size of the bottle!
2)She actually wore a dress,I was not aware she owned one.
Usually on First Take,her wardrobe is from the Hillary Clinton pantsuit collection.

Understatement of the year goes to ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys.
"We won't be participating in another roast anytime soon."

Thanks to the readers that keep us moving up the charts as Wednesday set another record for visits and Thursday narrowly missed that total!!

Finally, interesting read in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the 20th anniversary of
Jerome ("Send it in,Jerome!) Lane's rim destruction for the Pitt Panthers against Providence.
Sounds like the former Denver Nugget still has ill will towards then-Pitt coach Paul Evans.

Photo Credits
Sutter-Bruce Bennett-Getty Images
Jacobsen-Icon SMI
Lane-Vince Musi-Pittsburgh Press

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pirates sign Jaret Wright,Suzanne Pleshette passes away and Dana Jacobsen gets drunk

The Pirates signed veteran righthander Jaret Wright to a minor league contract with incentives that could prove to be a bargain,if Wright can return to his Cleveland and Atlanta form.
Wright will earn 800,000 if he makes the team and depending on his performance and role on the team,could make as much as an extra 1.5 million.
Wright was once one of the game's most promising young pitchers after his tremendous 1997 playoff effort with the Indians,but had injury problems and began to look to be finished before a 15-8 career-rebuilding effort in Atlanta in 2004 with pitching coach Leo Mazzone.
That got Wright a big cash contract with the Yankees for 2005.
After a horrid 2005 and an 11 win 2006,Wright was shipped to the Orioles for 2007 only appeared in three games,losing all three.
This is certainly worth the risk and if Wright can do anything for the cost,the Pirates could feel better about getting something for Matt Morris later in the year...

Pittsburgh then signed two more veteran arms for the camp that aren't going to hurt anything,but do not rate with Wright's upside.
Hector Carrasco had a mediocre career before turning things around with two solid years in 2005 and 2006.
But the 39 year old reliever was hammered all over the park last season at two stops in Anaheim and AAA Columbus.
Again,worth a look at a cheap cost,but he looks to be cooked.
Casey Fossum was brought in from Tampa as a possible lefty bullpen arm.
The 30 year old southpaw has never had a winning record in seven MLB seasons and does not have any real stats to look at,but again low cost.
I dont think either of these guys make the team,but no harm in seeing what they have left.

The Bucs signed a couple other minor league free agents and onyl a few worth noting.
Pittsburgh brought back pitcher Josh Shortslef and veteran outfielder Vic Buttler to likely help AA Altoona.
Both Shortslef and Buttler are fan favorites there,but the only mildly intriguing sign was outfielder Anthony Webster from the Rangers.
Good,but not great numbers and seems to be similar to the speedy,slap hitters that are already in the system.

Sad Pirate news-The house organ for the Pirates at talked to GM Neal Huntington and he said that Steven Pearce will likely start at Indianapolis to start the season,so that Xavier Nady can start in right.
This makes little sense to me,as Nady cannot really add to his value,just decrease it.
Move Nady for whatever youngster that you can get,play Pearce and lets really get the rebuilding started!

Speaking of ever notice that every team is in great shape on their sites?
What a bunch of Pollyannas.............

Bullpen Notes

A bit late on noting this,but Suzanne Pleshette passed away at the age of 70 recently.
Pleshette played Emily Hartley on one of my all time favorite shows-the Bob Newhart Show and made an appearance or two on another personal favorite the Wild Wild West.
I was only a casual watcher of Newhart's second show,but the ending of the show was great with Bob and Emily in bed and talking about Bob's dream.....

And one of our least favorite ESPN employees had quite a time at Mike and Mike's celebrity roast recently.
Battlin Bob told us of Dana Jacobsen's drunken rampage on stage during the roast,but we could find little on it.
Well,it is out now!
Jacobsen was ranting at Notre Dame's Charlie Weis,swilling Vodka straight from the bottle and offered these kind words-"F..K Notre Dame,F..K Touchdown Jesus and F..K Jesus".
ESPN suspended Jacobsen for a week,but her job is in trouble.
You see this happened on either the 11th or 12th and just now is it hitting the proverbial fan.
The Catholics are hot because of going after Notre Dame (Catholic university) and the Evangelicals are bouncing off the walls as well.
I personally hope she does lose her job,mainly because I am all for anything that gets Dana Jacobsen off my TV!

Not sure how big of a tax rebate that I will get from today's deal and even less sure if this will be the boost to the economy that it is supposed to be,but I will take what they send!

Photo Credits
Wright-Upper Deck
Newhart Show-unknown

Anger in the Democratic Race

This will be a short political based post and there will be a regular post later in the day.

I watched the Democratic debate the other night and came away wondering where my party is headed.
Was it entertaining? Yes.
Good Television?Sure.
Did it accomplish anything? Not really.
Unless you consider that the candidate that came off the best rarely got to speak and seemed to be ignored.
Here is what I did get out of the debate.
Hillary Clinton will do and say anything to win the nomination.
Barack Obama gives a great speech and is an excellent speaker,but often comes off as a
Pernell Whitaker (Lightweight) in debates.
John Edwards can be the best candidate and still has no chance to win.
In other words-it is not the year for Edwards.

I have been a political junkie since I could walk (believe or not,I remember faintly the Nixon-McGovern race being on TV) and I have always scoffed at people that said that they don't vote,doesn't matter who wins or they are all the same.
I have always felt that looking at things that way never improved things and how could things get better,if you don't at least express an opinion?
Sadly,it appears that I am reaching the point that I can at least see their point.
I am not saying that I am at the destination yet,but I can see the viewpoint.

The Clinton-Obama race has shown this thinking to me simply by existing.
Have we gotten to the point of voting for candidates for what they are instead of who they are?
The media seems to believe that every woman in this country will vote for Clinton and every African-American will vote for Obama.
I hope that will not be the case and if it is-the Democratic party has no interest in running the best candidate.
If this primary season is all about my party "making history" with either the first woman or African-American candidate,instead of nominating the best candidate to regain the White House from a party that has given us the worst two term President in the HISTORY of our country-then sooner or later we are AGAIN doomed to fail.
Hillary Clinton gives the GOP exactly who they want to run against-a symbol of the past that will more than motivate their base to get the vote out and KO the candidate that has represented the worst to them since 1992.
Barack Obama gives them a tougher task on political issues,but gives them an easier task on personal issues.
It will take no time at all for the Republicans to pummel Obama with past drug use,insinuate that he is Muslim (Bet money that is going on as we speak) and the layup that is experience.
As in what he has really gotten accomplished with the exception of some inspirational speeches?

Which leads me back to anger in the Democratic Party.
The current race for the nomination is so anger based and could sow the seeds for the loss of the Presidency,which is laying there for the Democrats like a mint on a Holiday Inn pillow or as fat as
a Joe Welsh fastball.
Clinton seems to look at the other candidates as "how dare these peons challenge a party icon"!
Obama seems to think that he should be handed the nomination because he is "inspiring".
So,then both of them are angry at the other and it is beginning to become quite visible by their behavior and comments towards and about each other.

And what is this accomplishing?
Nothing,but damaged candidates and red meat for the fall against whatever candidate the GOP runs.
And a conceivable loss that that should be only a distant chance.

Sometimes as much as it hurts-it just doesn't matter.........

Back later with our regular sports colortini flying through the net.....

Photo Credits
Debate-AP Photo

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Devils grab wins at home and the road

The New Jersey Devils won both their games since my last post.
Last night the Devils went into Philadelphia and smacked the Flyers 7-3 in a dominant offensive performance that was led by Johnny Oduya (?) and his goal and three assists.
The Devils sent Flyer goalie Antero Niittymaki reeling from the contest after beating him five times and then added two more against Martin Biron in relief.
The Devils scored 5 times on the power play in tying the team record for power play goals in a game.
Oduya's second goal of the year led the Devils scoring night off on the power play and the first five New Jersey goal would all be on the man advantage.
Jamie Langenbrunner's 7th and Dainius Zubrus' 8th goals of the season ended the first with a 3-2 Jersey lead.
The Devils moved the lead to 5-2 at the end of 2 periods with the final PP goals from Patrik Elias (11) and Zach Parise (17) before finishing with two even strength goals in the final period from the same two players.
Parise scored his 18th and Elias ended the night with his 12th.
But,it would not be Philly without some thuggery as thug in training Steve Downie cut David Clarkson's eye in their fight that Clarkson dominated by clawing Clarkson like a girl!
Great effort by the Devils in cooling off the red hot Flyers,who had came into the contest having not lost a regulation game in their last 8 games...

On Sunday,the Devils played an excellent two periods and looked to have a safe 3-0 lead against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
However,the Devils wobbled down the stretch like a damaged Weeble and barely hung on for a 3-2 win over the Leafs.
John Madden returned from his cut ankle and scored two goals (13 and 14) to make the difference.
Travis Zajac scored the Devils first goal of the game with his 11th of the year.
I would have liked to have seen a great effort in the third to close the show,but instead got a effort that left much to be desired and as a result allowed the Leafs to get back into the game.
The Devils return on Thursday with their final game before the All-Star break against the Montreal Canadiens at the Rock.

Bullpen Notes

Great article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the new Pirate management's ideas on scouting and the minors.
Seems like they are saying the right things or they read our Pirates GM series from last year!

Super Middleweight champ Joe Calzaghe will be moving up to 175 pounds to battle kingpin Bernard Hopkins on April 19th in Las Vegas.
Calzaghe seems to have the style for Hopkins as he has a high workrate that will make it difficult for Hopkins to get off any counterpunches..

Art Silber claims that he has a deal to have his Potomac Nationals a new stadium ready to open for 2009.
This seems a bit optimistic,but just in case,maybe a day trip to the current stadium might be in order for this season...

On the signing front-
Just one mail sig,but it is a big one-Hall of Famer Gilbert Perrault! Now we just need to add Rick Martin and Rene Robert to complete the French Connection line.

Photo Credits
Parise-Rusty Kennedy-AP
Madden-Chris Trotman-Getty Images

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Don Wittman passes away

I planned to do a different topic today,but as I worked last night,a note came over the ESPN bottom line that Don Wittman passed away yesterday at the age of 71.
Who is Don Wittman?
Well,if you are Canadian,a hockey fan or a CFL fan,you would not need to ask that question.
The Winnipeg native was the voice of the CFL for years as well as Hockey Night in Canada and ranks right up with the more known American announcers in my opinion as the best in the profession.
As good as Wittman was at hockey,I think he was even better doing the 3 down game of Canadian Football.
Wittman was taken off the broadcasts of the Grey Cup in 1996 for Mark Lee and even though I like Lee's work,it always seemed to miss the voice of Wittman.
For myself and many Canadian Football fans,Don Wittman was "the voice of the CFL"as when you heard his voice of a CFL on CBC broadcast-the right mood was set and instantly put you ready to enjoy the game.
Wittman had suffered with lymphoma for most of the last year and the illness had taken him away from hockey broadcasting.
A fond farewell to Don Wittman,who will always be remembered as the ultimate professional....

Bullpen Notes

Roy Jones pounded out a unanimous win over Felix Trinidad in New York.
Jones scored knockdowns in the 7th and 10th rounds and called out various opponents after the bout and claimed to "fight anyone".
Where was this attitude years ago when his skills could have been tested?
I hope now that Jones needs some of these guys more now than they need him that they tell him to take a flying leap....

The Pirates look to be making a move to get more past Pirates involved with the team and will be making bobbleheads for giveaway nights of players from the 1970's Lumber Company teams.
Al Oliver is a must have for me!

Battlin Bob sends word of the death of Allan Melvin at the age of 84.
Melvin is most noted for his roles as "Sam the butcher" in the Brady Bunch and as "Barney Hefner" in All in the Family.
Melvin also is known to several generations of kids as the voice of Magilla Gorilla in the old Hanna Barbers cartoons.
Condolences to his family.

Picks for today's chilly conference title games are the home teams of Green Bay and New England,although we are rooting for the Packers and Chargers..

Thanks again to any new readers as yesterday we tied the hit record for a day that we set last week!

On the signing front
Former WHA star Michel Goulet,Kings winger Dave Taylor and journeyman of several teams Peter Zezel all signed by mail....

Photo Credits
Boxing-Don Emmert-Getty Images

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Devils fall again,Bill O'Reilly's football picks

Two quick goals early in the third period erased a New Jersey Devil lead and left the Florida Panthers with an unlikely 2-1 win at the Rock.
The Panthers rested all star goalie Tomas Vokoun and played journeyman Craig Anderson and Anderson played maybe the game of his life.
If he played like this more often,he would be starting somewhere!
I hate losing,but it is cool to see guys that aren't that good or don't play much do well.
The Devil goal came in the second period as Travis Zajac slammed home a bouncing rebound that was shot by Jamie Langenbrunner for his 10th goal of the year.
Marty Brodeur and Anderson both made some great,acrobatic saves that could have easily added multiple goals to both teams.
John Madden missed the game due to his slashed ankle and no word on a possible return to the lineup for the Devils game vs Toronto on Sunday....

Bullpen Notes

Noted sports fan Bill O'Reilly (who doesn't talk much about sports) likes the Patriots and Giants to win their games this weekend.

Battlin Bob sends us this link on the death of former Steeler Ernie Holmes.
Holmes perished in a car accident at the age of 59.
Holmes was a defensive tackle on the great Steeler teams of the 70's and briefly wrestled for Georgia Championship Wrestling before quitting.
Holmes also was one of the football players that was recruited to participate in the battle royal at Wrestlemania II and almost turned a verbal confrontation into a physical one in the locker room with Andre the Giant.

Thinking about that Wrestlemania,wonder why former Falcon Bill Fralic,who also participated,never entered wrestling?
He certainly seemed to have the promo part down and seemed to be a natural..

Former Wake Forest basketball coach Dave Odom will be retiring from his current employer South Carolina at the season's end.
Odom never seemed to fully turn the Gamecocks around,but the quiet Odom did an excellent job at Wake Forest.

Speaking of Wake,Hope Ryan and Battlin Bob are ready to find the Wake campus bookstore or least a Deacon shop on this years trip!

Nevada holds their Democratic caucus today.
Looks like a tight race,but we think Barack Obama will squeeze out a tight win..

In tonight's battle of the faded boxing stars,we like Roy Jones with a middle round knockout of Felix Trinidad.....

Our friends over at Bag of Health and Politics have done some good work this week,plus he has written a book that you can download an excerpt,so check them out..

Until tomorrow

Photo Credits
Hockey-Norman Lono-Getty Images
Fralic and Holmes -Topps

Friday, January 18, 2008

Boxing vs MMA

The hot topic among some sports fans is whether Boxing is dying and can the sport of MMA (mixed martial arts) take its place among sports fans.
First of all,boxing has been dying for as long as I can remember and it is still here,so I don't buy into that much.
But boxing has made some errors through the years,mainly in not keeping a network television presence.
Stars are made on networks,then can progress to HBO or Showtime after creating a following and then for the super fights go the pay per view route.
People will not pay 50 bucks to see fighters they are not familiar with even if they are terrific fighters.
Another error is just too many "champions".There needs to be more uniformity in the champions.
I have no problems with 2 or 3 champions in some weight classes,after all with one champion,the title would hardly be defended.
But when the time is right for unification fights,they need to be held just to see who the best is and for the fight fan-creating the best fights.
MMA has their top brand in the UFC,but with several other organizations muddling the waters,MMA may be in worse shape than Boxing on that topic.
For example the IBF Welterweight titlist can fight for the WBA title,there are no exclusive contracts with championship organizations,but in MMA there are and that could be a long term problem in making the best fights.
In closing,you don't have to choose between them(as many seem to do),although I prefer Boxing.
They are different sports,related only by the fact that they are combat sports.
I heard a terrific analogy and I would credit them,if I could remember who came up with it.
Boxing is like playing Basketball-fouls,officiating and the structure of the game,while MMA is basketball in the schoolyard,almost with no rules.
They both use the same ball and hoop,but otherwise different.
Enjoy them both(or the one that you enjoy) for what they are.

Bullpen Notes

Atlanta and Tampa traded yesterday as the Braves sent headcase infielder Willy Aybar to Tampa for journeyman pitcher Jeff Ridgeway.
Ridgway pitched a third of an inning for Tampa last year and allowed 7 runs during it,as he posted a 189.00 ERA!
Tampa also picked up Chase Fontaine in the deal.
We saw Fontaine at Myrtle Beach last year and he signed some stuff for us.
Looks like Tampa got the better end of this deal.

The Devils return to action tonight with a game against the Panthers at the Rock.

Chess genius Bobby Fischer has died in his adopted home of Iceland.
The eccentric Fischer won the world chess title from the Soviet Union's Boris Spassky in 1972,but lost the title without defending it in 1975.
Fischer was forced to move to Iceland after ignoring an international sanction against dealing with Yugoslavia and playing Spassky ( and defeating ) Spassky in a 1992 rematch.
Fischer's behavior had gotten bizarre over the years,as he often ranted with anti-Semitic statements through the years,but to my generation-Bobby Fischer was American chess and the game has never recovered from the loss of Fischer.
Fischer was 64.

Photo Credits
Fischer-AP File

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Islanders dunk Devils again-2008 trip schedule decided

The New Jersey Devils just cannot seem to get past their neighbors from Long Island,the New York Islanders.
Last night in a close game,the Islanders still did enough to get by with a 3-1 win.
Just as it seems that Marty Brodeur always finds a way to nip Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres,Rick DiPietro finds a way to beat the Devils.
Brodeur only allowed 2 goals (the third Islander goal was an empty netter),but only Travis Zajac in the 3rd period was able to beat DiPietro.
Zajac's goal (9) was a tip in of a Brian Gionta shot that gave New Jersey hope,but was the only offense of the evening.
John Madden missed the contest in order to avoid an infection of his slashed ankle that was suffered the Devils win over Buffalo last time out.
Madden is expected to return for Friday's game vs the Florida Panthers.

Bullpen Notes

The work is done and the decisions have been made for the 2008 minor league tour.
One possible game and date could be added at a later date,but for now,they are as follows..
August 10th
Greensboro NC-2:00
Augusta Greenjackets (Giants) at Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins)
Kannapolis NC-7:00
Greenville Drive (Red Sox) at Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox)
August 11th
Hickory NC-7:00
Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins) at Hickory Crawdads (Pirates)
August 12th
Winston-Salem NC-7:00
Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals) at Winston Salem Warthogs (White Sox)
August 13th
Pulaski VA-7:00
Bluefield Orioles (Orioles) at Pulaski Mariners (Mariners)

Possiblity depending on later events
August 9th
Lynchburg VA-6:00
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Braves) at Lynchburg Hillcats (Pirates)

On the Signing Front
Mail signatures from Hockey Hall of Famers Clark Gilles and Joe Mullen,former Bruin All-Star Rick Middleton,former well traveled defenseman Mike Lalor and former Flame Rejean Lemelin.

Photo Credit
Zajac-Rich Schultz-AP Photo

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Random Ramblings

The Oakland Athletics got an additional bonus from the Atlanta Braves in completing the Mark Kotsay for Joey Devine trade,as Oakland also acquired righthanded pitcher Jamie Richmond.
Richmond pitched for the Rome Braves last season and started the game that we saw Rome against Greensboro last year.
The native of Canada was 7-6 with a 3.05 ERA in Rome and will likely be assigned to High A ball this year.

The Pirates announced the coaching staffs for this season (finally) and it is pretty much the status quo with one exception.
Brad Fischer takes over at State College replacing Turner Ward as the Spikes boss,but the systems other managers stayed in place with Trent Jewett at Indianapolis,Tim Leiper at Altoona,Jeff Branson in Lynchburg and Gary Green in Hickory.
No word on the Hillcats or Crawdads coaches,but Sid Bream (all of people) will be State College's hitting coach.

The Braves have decided to move the Richmond Braves to Gwinnett County GA in 2009.
Gwinnett is building a new field and the Atlanta suburb will give the Braves flexibility in calling players up.
The Braves owns their AAA franchise,so they can do the move with ease.
The bigger question is what team and what league will wind up in Richmond?
The Richmond spot will have to be filled by a franchise moved from another city,so stay tuned!

The GOP looks to be in total disarray after the win in Michigan by Willard "Mitt" Romney.
3 winners in 3 states and imagine the race if Fred Thompson wins in South Carolina (shooting for the moon) or Mr.9/11 wins in his debut in Florida!
I know most politicos like to talk about the fabled brokered conventions that never seem to occur,but this is a possibility for the GOP this time.

Last night's love fest debate in Nevada for the Democrats was kinda dull....

Watched Fox's debut of the Terminator series and loved it.
Great job by being reasonably loyal to the films history and was loaded with action.
I recommend it highly for fans of the film series or action/Sci-Fi.

New Jersey Devils return to action tonight against their troublemaking neighbors from Long Island at 7.
Battling Bob here to watch and coverage here tomorrow.

Photo Credit
Richmond-David Cross

Monday, January 14, 2008

Laurinatis stays a Buckeye! Nationals release almost entire 2007 Suns bullpen!!!

James Laurinaitis announced today that he would be staying for his senior year at Ohio State and instantly makes the Buckeyes contenders again.
The "little animal" was thought to be leaving for the NFL draft after his BCS record setting game vs LSU,but apparently decided that the NFL can wait and we applaud his decision.
The Buckeyes were able to retain corner Malcolm Jenkins,linebacker Marcus Freeman,receiver Brian Robiskie and tackle Alex Boone along with Laurinaitis from leaving early as Juniors.
Only junior defensive end Vernon Golston will be leaving Columbus early.
So you Buckeye and Big Ten haters out there should get ready (like it or not) for another Buckeye run at the national title.

The Washington Nationals cut a large number of minor leaguers yesterday and it seems like they pretty much cleaned out the entire 2007 Hagerstown bullpen.
Seven pitchers that saw action in Hagerstown were released along with catcher Erick San Pedro and outfielder Lindon Bond.
Lefty pitchers Zach Baldwin,Coby Mavroulis,Joe Welsh and Gene Yost were released along with righthanders Greg Bunn,Devon Drag and Buzz Vargas.
The one surprise on this list was Baldwin as he seemed to be improving late in the season and seemed like he was certain to be either in Potomac or back in Hagerstown.
Mavroulis was a nice guy.but the sidearmer never seemed to recover from being hit with a line drive in the face early in the season.
Welsh never really showed me much,Yost spent most of the season in Potomac,Bunn was effective in Hagerstown,but was pounded at Potomac,while Drag and Vargas were late season signings to just have arms available in August for the Suns.
Linden Bond seemed like a nice guy that was just overmatched here.
Too much too soon for the Nats last pick in the 2007 draft,although it would have been nice to see him given another try.
San Pedro has been a disappointment to the Expos/Nationals since he was a second round pick a few years back and I suppose that his injury history was finally too much for Washington.
This really throws a wrench into what to expect for the Potomac pitching staff this season and likely improves the chances of Erik Arnesen to start the season at Potomac.

Bullpen Notes

Thanks to Ryan for reminding me of the passing of Don Cardwell.
The well traveled righty pitched for the Cubs and Pirates among others and is (as Ryan noted) best remembered for his 1960 no hitter in Chicago.

Looks like Rex Ryan could be the new head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
As a huge Buddy Ryan fan,the Falcons move up on my list with a possible hiring of Ryan.

The Cleveland Indians announced a deal with Progressive Insurance for naming rights to the former Jacobs Field.
Not a big fan of these deals,but Progressive Field is better than most of the parks that sell naming rights.

Finally in good news,Cate Edwards,the daughter of John Edwards was uninjured after her car was rear-ended by a drunk driver in North Carolina.
The Edwards family has had enough tragedy and happy to see that this time they caught a break.

Photo Credits
Laurinatis-Doral Chenoweth-Columbus Dispatch
Baldwin-Hagerstown Suns

"Roll Over" Dungy gets some payback..........

"Roll Over" Tony Dungy got a little bit of payback for his benching of Peyton Manning among other in the Colts season finale' as the Colts were upset by the San Diego Chargers at home yesterday.
This is the second time in three seasons that Dungy has benched players late in the season to "rest" and then were eliminated at home by a lower seeded team that had played the previous week.
Perhaps the Colts loss to an inferior Steeler team two years ago had not sunk in or "Roll Over" enjoys making the same mistake time and time again.
One thing that I noticed in the post-game press conference is Dungy's smiles and almost indifference to the loss.
Perhaps Dungy,who plays the "I don't know if I will coach next year" game seemingly every season,should just pull the trigger and leave the game.
He has a championship and maybe the fire has left the coach...
In any event,congratulations to the Chargers and what goes around comes around to Dungy.....

Bullpen Notes

A final note on the Colts and "Roll Over".
IF they had played it straight against Tennessee,it is possible that they would not have played San Diego in the second round.
Cleveland would have been a much stronger offensive foe for San Diego than Tennessee and may have beaten the Chargers on a day that the Chargers offense was not clicking.

Former Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Johnny Podres died yesterday at the age of 75.
Podres won the 1st World Series MVP in 1955 in winning Game 7 over the Yankees to bring Brooklyn their only World Championship.
Podres was a pitching coach for several teams,most notably the Phillies.
Curt Schilling gives the credit to Podres for turning him into the pitcher that he eventually became.....

Ohio State lost backup QB Rob Schoenhoft,as Schoenhoft announced plans to transfer to 1-AA Delaware.
A good move for him,as Ohio State would have likely moved Antonio Henton ahead of him on the depth chart and the Buckeyes are still in the running for highly touted Terrelle Pryor.

Photo Credits
Dungy-Andy Lyon-Getty Images

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Packers end Seattle's season,Devils knife the Sabres

For a short while,it appeared that the Seattle Seahawks were going to have a great day.
Two Ryan Grant fumbles on his first two touches of the football led to a 14-0 Seattle lead and things were looking up.
That was as good as it got as the Seahawks would never reach the end zone again,the Packers offense and the aforementioned Grant got rolling and there was no stopping them in a 42-20 Green Bay win.
The normally dependable Seahawk defense was helpless against the Packer onslaught in the snowcase that was Lambeau Field.
A funny aside on that-I watched ESPN 2's Boxing last night at work on tape from Friday and on the bottom line was the weather forecast for the game-30% chance of snow FLURRIES!
Glad ESPN isn't buying the Weather Channel anytime soon.
Anyway,yesterday I wrote that the team that ran the ball better would win.
Green Bay 235 rushing yards,Seattle 35.
Game,set and match.
The Seahawks continued their anemic road playoff record as they have not won a road playoff game since their AFC days in 1983 against the Dolphins and a ROOKIE Dan Marino!
A somewhat disappointing year in what could be Mike Holmgren's last year as coach.
The team needs some offensive retooling and could use some new safeties,but what they do will depend on a possible new coach and the system that he would install.
Congratulations to Green Bay and here is hoping you go all the way.....

The New Jersey Devils had to be feeling that their game in Buffalo vs the Sabres was payback night.
Daniel Paille scored two goals in the first period,one being on the patented "Brodeur beater" from the parallel net shot and it seemed like Ryan Miller was going to finally get his win over the Devils.
But the Devils never quit and dominated play for the remainder of the contest,despite Miller's stellar play.
Paul Martin finally cut the lead to 2-1 in the second with his goal that deflected off Miller's glove and into the net for Martin's 3rd goal of the year.
But still despite the Devils energetic play,the tying goal had not came until Martin Brodeur left the net with 90 seconds remaining for the extra attacker and through the Devils aggressive forechecking set up David Clarkson stuffing the puck between the pipe and Miller's right leg for the tying goal and Clarkson's 5th goal of the year.
So on to another scoreless Devils-Sabres overtime and then to the shootout.
Zach Parise quickly beat Miller to give the Devils the edge,Brodeur then turned away Ales Kotalik,who is excellent in shootouts and Thomas Vanek,who is not.
That then set up Patrik Elias beating Miller for the clincher leaving a discontented Miller on his stomach pounding his hand on the ice as the Devils pull 2 points from the fire with the 3-2 win.
The only downside was John Madden leaving the game after being cut by the skate of Buffalo's
Henrik Tallinder.
No word on the seriousness of Madden's injury.
The Devils are off until Wednesday against (uh oh) the Islanders at the Rock....

Bullpen Notes

The Eastern Conference All-Stars were announced.
Marty Brodeur was voted in as the starting goalie by the fans.
Good thing because no other Devils were selected as backups.
So the second best team in the conference got 1 all-star and the second worst (Washington) got two?
And Ryan wonders why I believe there is a anti-Devil bias.......................

The Cleveland Browns wasted no time in replacing Todd Grantham as defensive coordinator with defensive backs coach Mel Tucker.
Tucker was the Browns secondary coach for the last three years and was a coach on the defensive side of the ball for Ohio State before that.
My only question is this,nothing against Tucker,but you fire a coach because your defense was not up to snuff and replace him with a coach that was helping him?
Just asking.........

Looks like another good Billy Beane deal for the Oakland Athletics in swapping aging,injury riddled outfielder Mark Kotsay for power armed reliever Joey Devine with the Atlanta Braves.
This tells me that Huston Street will not be in Oakland past July 31st at the latest...

What a right hand by Super Middleweight contender Edison Miranda in knocking David Banks cold in 3 rounds.
The hard punching Miranda is always an entertaining fighter to watch.

Photo Credits
Favre-Mike Roemer-AP Photo
Devils-Don Heupel-AP Photo