Thursday, October 30, 2008

Toronto Leaves town with 6-5 shootout win

The New Jersey Devils scored five goals.
It was not enough as the Toronto Maple Leafs saw the Devils five and raised them one in the shootout in a 6-5 win for Toronto and a third straight loss for the Devils.
Devils goals to Zach Parise (7), David Clarkson (2), Jamie Langenbrunner (2), Dainius Zubrus (2) and Colin White (1).......

Shawn's Thoughts

1) I liked what I saw from Andy Greene tonight. Three assists and plus three for the backliner in the game and Greene seems to be showing the form from the end of the 06-07 season that had me so excited going into last season and then so disappointed with his play.....

2) Mike Mottau had two assists also, but other than his possible exception-the defense was awful.
48 shots against the New Jersey Devils?!
Far too many Leafs around the net with impunity and that was the difference in this game....

3) Lou Lamoriello and Brent Sutter cannot be pleased with the lack of physical play from the defense.
Except for Bryce Salvador, it seems like no one is clearing the crease.
I know that is not really the style of play of Paul Martin, Mottau, Greene and especially Johnny Oduya, but Colin White seems somewhat gun shy since his eye injury and physical play was always his calling card.
I have wanted the Devils to add an offensive defenseman since the loss of Scott Niedermayer, but a bruiser to sweep the crease clean for Marty Brodeur could be a larger need.

4) Patrik Elias missed some of the game after being hit in the face with the puck.
Elias was x-rayed for a possible broken jaw, but the results were negative and he was allowed to return.

5) Jamie Langenbrunner returned after not being expected to play and scored a goal.
However, one could still see that he was not up to par and was not 100 %.
Kudos to the Captain for toughing it out....

Bonus Rounds

Matt Halischuk played in the game and assisted on the Colin White goal, while the other call up Nicklas Bergfors was a healthy scratch.
I am not sure why, but I get the feeling that Brent Sutter is not a Bergfors booster...

Petr Vrana was initially given the goal in the first period that was changed and credited to David Clarkson.
Speaking of Clarkson, he decisively beat up Jamal Mayers in the contest, but his bout was tame compared to the beating that Mike Rupp gave Ryan Hollweg.
Check the pic at the top of the post at the battered Hollweg...

I do like David Clarkson a lot, but no one on this team crashes the net like Zach Parise does.
Parise goes after the puck like no one else on the team and gets the results to show for it.
His teammates need to take a look at his game and learn some things!

The Devils are off until Saturday when they host the Atlanta Thrashers.....

Bullpen Notes

They are back and I know you missed them!

Battlin Bob has thrown his hat into the political ring!
A supporter of children at large (and no that does not mean he is paying a lot of child support)
Mike McKain is making himself a late entrant in the race of Board of Education.
If you live in Washington County, be sure to write in Mike McKain for Board of Education.
Think of the fun that the public access coverage would be!!!!!

The Washington Huskies canned Tyrone Willingham after an unsuccessful four year run in Seattle.
Willingham will land on his feet, he always does.
For some reason, people hire this guy.
Maybe it is his membership in the Bill Walsh Posse', but here is a guy that has failed at three major college programs and came within eyelashes of getting pro jobs without ever being a coordinator.
All of that and he will still be someone's head coach next year. Unreal.

Your Pittsburgh Pirates (because who else would want them) dropped four pitchers from the 40 man roster and assigned them to AAA Indianapolis.
Battlin Bob's favorite John Van Benschoten joins Marino Salas, Ronald Belisario, and Yoslan (Yoslan? More like Slowslan) Herrera.
Belisario was a Neal Huntington favorite with his power arm but suffered from lower velocity than expected at Altoona and his control improved only marginally.
The other three?
You guys didn't read many of last years posts, did you?????

Eric Krebs has been shut down in Hawaii with a bad elbow.
Too bad for Eric, but the good news is that he is expected to be ready to go for Spring Training.
I do hope that the doctors that examined Eric aren't the same dum dum's that have said other Pirates were ready to go and were injured or miss broken ribs entirely like they did with former Pirate farmhand Clayton Hamilton.

If you ever question the money that is spent on sports arenas/stadium, take a look at the Pyramid in Memphis.
Besides being the 6th largest pyramid in the world and soon to possibly be the world largest Bass Pro Shop, it stands as a reminder that pro sports will always want more money from your town and that new and state of the art lasts about a month.

The Bowling Green entry in the South Atlantic League has a nickname finally.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods (no, really) enter the SAL for one season before bolting for the Midwest League and the colors are (No kidding). Tailpipe Silver, Racing Yellow, Fire Red, and Tire Black.
Who in the hell comes up with this stuff and a better question is this-Where can the Battler and I get jobs like theirs?????
My Lord!!!

Special Delivery Jones passed away a few days ago at the age of 64.
To fans 35 and up that remember the WWF as the local promotion instead of the bloated behemoth that it is today, Jones had a special spot.
Jones was one of the "Tough jobbers" for the WWF in the late '70s and early '80s.
For those of you that aren't huge wrestling fans, back then television wrestling was a different beast.
Most matches were basically one-sided to enhance the winner to the viewers so that then they might pay to see the top stars face each other at their local arena.
Jones was used as a grappler that lost to the top stars of TV, but always gave them a run for their money and therefore was looked at as a level higher than the usual guy that lost on television.
Jones was most noted for his offensive moves that Vince McMahon seemed to get great joy out of calling as Jones would land a few punches or whip a Don Muraco into the turnbuckle.
It doesn't seem right that Special Delivery Jones should have been 64 and gone.
Time gets us all in the end.

Photo Credits
Hockey:Bruce Bennett-Getty Images
Pyramid:Angel Franco-New York Times

Reviewing the tape-Seahawks roll by the Bay

After finally having time to review the tape of the Seahawks 34-13 trouncing of the 49ers in San Francisco,here are a few thoughts.
Look for the Devils loss to Toronto to be covered in a later post today.........

Shawn's Thoughts

1) Leonard Weaver scored two touchdowns on short passes and took them a long way(43 and 62 yards) to the end zone.
That should quiet some rumblings that had his job at fullback in question against rookie Owen Schmitt for a while....

2) Then why am I writing this?
As much as I like the skills of Weaver in the passing game,I still like the blocking of Schmitt and would love to see the West Virginia rookie see the field more often in the running game as the lead blocker for whomever is at halfback....
There is room for both of these guys to play often....

3) The game that drove the stake into the heart of the Niners came late in the first half.
Josh Wilson rolled off stepped in front of a J.T.O'Sullivan pass and scored a back breaking TD that made the score 20-3 Seattle instead of either 13-10 or 13-6.
Wilson has been erratic this year in coverage,but it sure isn't for lack of effort.....

4) The stat sheets show a nice game from Julian Peterson,but what he does isn't always about numbers.
Those of you out there that play in my fantasy league know about my fondness for JP.
Battlin Bob sure knows.
I am not sure that, if age was not a factor, I would not take Peterson as an all around linebacker over anyone in the league.....

5) Rocky Bernard owns the Niners line,2 sacks in the game and all three sacks on the year against San Francisco.

6) With the big plays from Weaver and Wilson,this wasn't a big issue,but only 39 yards rushing for the day?
With Matt Hasselbeck out again for the Eagle game,Seneca Wallace will need the Julius Jones/Mo Morris combo to step up a bit.....

7) Seneca Wallace is not loaded with a huge arm,so I see why the short passes in his case,but it seemed like he struggled in putting the ball out front for his receivers to catch in stride.
Too many times,his pass catchers had to stop to catch the ball and get tackled within no time at all.

8) I like to think that I break down tape,but with the teams that we cover here,my time is limited to how much I can do,but John Morgan at Field Gulls watches tape with the best of them.
His work over there is outstanding and sometimes makes me wonder if I missed things.
Last year,I was able to get John for a mid-season interview and I will be working on trying to get another one....

Back later with the Devils loss by shootout and finally some bullpen notes!!!

Photo Credits
Weaver-AP Photo
Wilson-Rod Mar-Seattle Times

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tidying up the Devils Den

First,I will be reviewing the tape of the Seahawks win over San Francisco sometime today and hope to have that up sometime later today or first thing Thursday.

The New Jersey Devils have been suffering through a bad time over the last few days.
The Devils lost both ends of a home and home with Philadelphia,added Jamie Langenbrunner to the increasing total of injured Devils and brought even more youngsters up from Lowell.

Shawn's Thoughts

1) The game in Philly was both a better game and better effort from the Devils in the 3-2 loss.
Devils goals to Zach Parise (7) and Brian Gionta (2).

2) Marty Brodeur was solid in net,but the game winner in overtime was likely due to a idiot in the stands delaying the game in overtime by tossing a stink bomb on the ice.
Only in Philly.....
I am not placing the loss on that,I believe that the delay caused both teams to cool down and whichever team was able to get the first few shots in were going to get the extra point.

3) If you like hockey fights,this was the game for you.
Three fights involving four battles,including two at the same time as rookie bomber Pierre Letourneau-Leblond and Mike Rupp tangling with Riley Cote and former Devil Arron Asham.
I half expected Jim Cornette to jump in and smack one of the combatants with his loaded tennis racket!

4) Since Rupp and LeBlond were removed from the ice after the battle,the Devils were under staffed and we actually saw journeyman Defenseman Sheldon Brookbank at forward for a few shifts.
I like Sheldon for his effort and toughness,but I can honestly say that I can live without never seeing him at forward again!

5) The Devils have made some moves to address the injury situation that includes a cracked orbital bone for Pierre LeBlond that the Devils say was not from the Cote fight,so I must assume it was a practice injury.
With Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik or the IR,Jamie Langenbrunner out for more time and LeBlond down for a spell,this gives us the chance to see some of our prospects for a bit....

Bonus Rounds

The call ups from Lowell are wingers Nicklas Bergfors and Matt Halischuk while defenseman Anssi Salmela was sent to the Junior Devils.
Bergfors made the Devils last season for one game before an injury sent him to Lowell and he never returned.
The 20 year old Hailschuk might be remembered for his overtime goal in the World Junior Championships that gave Canada the Gold Medal.

The Devils host Toronto tonight at 7;30 at the Rock.

Photo Credits
Goal:AP Photo

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Reviewing the tape-Buckeyes lose to Penn State

The Ohio State Buckeyes made one major mistake against the Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday night.
That one mistake was the difference in the game,as Penn State took advantage of it to score the games only touchdown in a 13-6 win for the visitors.

Shawn's Thoughts

1) Terrelle Pryor's fumble that led to the eventual game winner for Penn State was one that a talented freshman makes.
Freshman are so used to be the dominant player that "makes" plays and it takes a learning process to change the mindset to take what the opposition gives you.
Pryor learned it the hard way-now lets see what he learns FROM it...

2) I watched most of the game with Battlin Bob and we spent much of it screaming for the Buckeyes to open things up a bit.
The Nittany Lions took Chris Wells (55 yards) out of the game with eight and nine man fronts and forced Pryor to beat them.
The problem is Pryor has struggled throwing the long and intermediate passes and often had to settle for the check down receiver on screens and dump offs.
With Penn State crowding the line already,the passing game too was taken out of the game...

3) Most fans around the country likely found this game for Big Ten supremacy dull,but I thought it was what Big Ten football is all about.
Now many Big Ten haters probably agree with that for different reasons,but Ohio and Pennsylvania football is about hard nose,rock em sock em football with plenty of hand to hand combat.
This game was exactly that.

4) Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch offers his view on the low offense and it is about not keeping the formation/game plan simple enough for Pryor.
I can see his point,but I still think that the key to success is opening up the passing game more and opening the field.
Screen pass overkill is no different than a running game,it looses up nothing and Ohio State lacks a Ted Ginn type player that is capable of taking a three yard screen and turning it into a 75 yard touchdown....

5) I do agree with May's comment on Pryor though on this,maybe the idea should be spread the field and keep the opponent guessing.
Sound simple?
It is,but could be quite effective...

Bonus Round

I know that many in Buckeye Nation are disappointed with a 2 or more loss season-I am as well,but the difference between Ohio State and other Big Ten schools is this-When Ohio State is down,its a 10-2,9-3 season,when others are down they do the 6-6 thing.
Some schools are happy making a major run once or twice a decade and spending the rest of the time in Florida in the runner up bowls.
Buckeye fans and the program are not.
That sometimes makes things easier to take........

Photo Credit
Pryor:Chris Russell-Columbus Dispatch

Monday, October 27, 2008

That's not a trip to the Cleveland clinic......

I will be catching on up the stuff that I missed over the next day or two.
Browns and Seahawk wins (GASP),the Ohio State loss and some insight on the Devils overtime loss in what was a literal stinker in Philly.
Bear with me, quite a bit of stress at work and I just didn't feel like blogging yesterday.
Anyone want to hire me to do this full time???

The Cleveland Browns would not be the Cleveland Browns if they did things the easy way.
In a game that had one heart jumping until the final play,the Browns staggered out of Jacksonville with a 23-17 win that saved the paper thin hopes of a playoff bid alive.
The Browns have a chance to even their record at 4-4,catch the Ravens for second in the division next week with a home win over "Mumblin" Ray "I am all about God" Lewis and the rest of his Baltimore compatriots in Cleveland......

Shawn's Thoughts

1) If anyone out there actually reads this damn thing,help me get something clever named for some of these thoughts!

2) The next to last pass that bounced off Matt Jones hands twice along with a doink off Nick Sorenson's helmet almost sent me to the Cleveland Clinic!
Nothing spells out Browns football like last second losses after blowing chances to put teams away.

3) I remember Sorenson as a backup QB for Michael Vick at Virginia Tech.
Never dreamed his helmet would eventually be the difference in a Browns win.....

4) What a game of dominance for Shaun Rogers.
Rogers was the difference between the two teams-nine tackles,a sack and a blocked field goal for a defensive tackle?
Now that is dominance!
If Rogers is not the AFC Defensive player of the week,something is wrong....

5) The offensive play of the game came with the game tied in the fourth,when Syndric Steptoe grabbed a pass that should have been a 15 yard gain and turned it into a first and goal after a 53 yard effort.
Breaking tackles and running away from other defenders might have earned the Arizona product some extra passes his way.

6) The downside?
The goal line play calling.
Anderson forced a ball to Braylon Edwards twice in the course of the game instead of walking into the end zone.
On one of the drives,the Browns eventually scored a TD,but the fourth quarter misfire was a Field Goal drive.
I know Edwards is supposed to be the star and all that,but he was covered!
Anderson needs to make the smart play.

7) The offense needs to mix up the run calls as well.
Jamal Lewis is a between the tackles runner and that plays to his strength,but a off tackle run on short yardage to keep the defenders honest would help on 3rd and one.
But,hey it beats last year when the Browns kept using Lawrence Vickers in those situations and had nothing but punts to show for it.

8) Steve Heiden deserves a kudo for his 51 yard catch on a 4th and one call.
Now on that call,credit is due to a good play call,most would have expected a Lewis run up the middle and this caught the Jaguars off guard.
Anderson often botches these types of passes (short),but he was on the money on this one....

9) Finally,the Browns got a small bit of mileage from their abbreviated 2008 draft when Beau Bell forced the ball loose on the kickoff after the field goal from Phil Dawson that gave the Browns the lead.
The resulting field goal from Dawson forced Jacksonville's hand on their final drive.
We hope to see more of Bell on defense as the season ages....

10) Bell would be a welcome addition to a linebacking corps that other than D'qwell Jackson looks to be either a step slow (Andra Davis),145 years old (Willie McGinest) and someone impersonating a first round pick (Kamerion Wimbley)

Bonus Rounds

The Browns secondary looks pretty sharp when Sean Jones and Brodney Pool are healthy.
The Jones and Pool tandem adds so many things to Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker's arsenal.
Tucker can send them on safety blitzes,can mix coverages around and more.
Mike Adams is a decent nickel back,but simply is not the caliber of athlete that Jones and Pool are......

Donte' Stallworth only caught three balls for 13 yards,but one was for his first TD as a Brown.
Finally,some production for his money!!

Joshua Cribbs may not be the electrifying kick returner of last season,but the way he still flies all over the field on special teams makes him my pick for the teams high intensity player.
If you don't like Cribbs effort-you don't like football!

Until tomorrow,when we will look at the Buckeyes loss to Penn State.

Photo Credits for all photos-John Kuntz-Cleveland Plain Dealer

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Quick Picks

I really don't feel like blogging right now and I will add some thoughts on the Devils OT loss in Philly and the Buckeyes loss to Penn State in a day or two.
But wanted to get my picks for posterity in today....

Jaguars over Browns 20-10
49ers over Seahawks 24-14

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Flyers out hustle Devils

The Philadelphia Flyers entered their home and home series series with the New Jersey Devils winless.
They left game one with a chance of sweeping the pair after winning their first game of the season over New Jersey 6-3.
The other game starts in a few minutes in Philly.....

Shawn's Thoughts

1) The Devils scored all three of their goals in the first period,but even then showed signs of the lethargic night.
Other than Zach Parise (goal and two assists),not much that I can say about anyone else,except I though that Travis Zajac played reasonably well.The
other Devils goals went to Zajac (1) and Dainius Zubrus (1)

2) Jamie Langenbrunner left the game in the second period with the dreaded "lower body injury" and will miss today's game.
The injury is not expected to be a long term loss for the Devils.

3) David Clarkson will move to Langenbrunners place on the Zajac/Parise line.
That looks like a good move as far as energy and Clarkson could profit with some well timed net crashing...

4) Sheldon Brookbank will dress for the first time this season in Langenbrunners place.
The Devils dress seven blueliners for the contest.

5) Not many Devils played well last night and that could be why Brookbank was activated tonight to try and weed out the defenseman that are going through the motions.
Too many defenseman were beside Flyer players around the crease and yet didn't seem to be involved in the game.
Far too passive.......

The Ohio State Buckeyes host the only other team that is undefeated in the Big Ten in Penn State.
Last weeks offensive upturn in East Lansing gives me hope that things are turning around and I don't see the Penn State juggernaut that some do.
However,Penn State has played extremely well this season and looks at this game as the huge hurdle that they need to leap to go to the BCS....
Bad Weather is forecast in Columbus and that could slow the PSU spread down and help the OSU running game.
Very hesitant to pick this one,but.....,.
Buckeyes 20-17....

Bullpen Notes

The Toronto Blue Jays signed former Oriole top pick Adam Loewen and claimed Pirate top pick Bryan Bullington off waivers from Cleveland.
Loewen will be attempting to move from pitcher to first baseman this season and was expected to be at Delmarva had he returned to the Orioles.
Loewen was expected to re-sign with Baltimore,but the chance to sign with a Canadian team was too much for him to turn down.

Finally a quote from film director Kevin Smith from an interview on being a New Jersey Devil fan.

Part of being a Devils fan is the incessant defense of their style of play to other hockey fans. Have you experienced this?

Oh, every [expletive] and their uncle wants to tell you that, "The Devils ruined hockey with that trap [expletive] system of theirs." You can't argue with three Cups, dude. That trap system is three Cups. It may not be exciting hockey to you, but it's not about making it exciting -- it's about winning the Cup for heaven's sake.It's a system that works, and you know how I know it works? Because now the [expletive] Rangers are playing the trap style. Now everybody [expletive] plays [expletive] trap style.

Photo Credits

Parise:AP Photo

Helmets;Helmet Project

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Devils destroy Stars 5-0

The New Jersey Devils blanked the Dallas Stars and their new pest Sean Avery 5-0 last night at the Rock.
Captain Jamie Langenbrunner gave the Devils all that they would need with a first period goal (1) and John Madden fired two pucks (2 & 3) past Marty Turco in a one minute span in the second period to salt the game away without worries.
The Devils are off today before a home and home with the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday and Saturday......

Shawn's Thoughts

1) The Devils added two goals in the third to add to the blowout from Zach Parise (4) and David Clarkson (1).
The Clarkson goal beat Tobias Stephan (In for Turco) from just inside the blue line.
If the Devils can begin to get even a small increase in goals from the outside,it certainly would help with creating space around the net,as teams would have to respect the Devils from the perimeter.

2) Pierre Luc Letourneau-Leblond (I have to shorten that somehow) assisted on the Clarkson goal in his first NHL Game.
I liked the hustle of PL3 and look forward to a rematch against the Flyer bully Riley Cote in either (or both) of the games vs the Flyers.

3) Marty Brodeur made some terrific saves in posting the shutout as he marches to the records.
Most notably was a third period snare of a Sean Avery shot as they went one on one.

4) Avery was serenaded by the Devils crowd with the warm and loving chants of "Avery sucks" throughout...

5) He does.

Bonus Rounds

The prettiest goal of the night went to John Madden as he spilt two Dallas defender to go straight in on Marty Turco for the goal that sent Turco to the bench.
Devils hockey usually doesn't provide many goals like that,so when you see one-it is our night!

Colin White was once a solid brawler,but with his eye injury,the risk is too great to throw the fists anymore.
But in last nights game,he was tempted and it was nice to see Bryce Salvador (I think that is who is was) get in there and take care of the Star player involved with White.
Smart play and showing team unity as well.

Sean Avery was challenged twice by David Clarkson to fight (once Clarkson even dropped his gloves) and neither time did the agitator mix it up.
Clarkson was given a 2 min. penalty for one of these instances,showing Avery really is a smart player.
Without doing anything,he helped his team add a power play.
No matter your opinion of his antics,the guy really is a heady player....

Bullpen Notes

The Republican National Committee has spent over $150,000 on clothes for Sarah Palin and her children.
Now,I realize that clothes aren't cheap and the candidates need to look as good as possible and I also realize that women need to have more clothes than men.
A male can get away with five black or navy blue suits,where a female candidate would likely receive criticism for wearing the same five outfits all the time.
That is stupid,but sadly there are people that care about things like that.

However,You could buy my house and have money to add a garage on for the cost of Sarah Palin and her families clothes!
Seems to me to be a waste of the "hockey mom"'s time as I would guess that it is hard to Moose Hunt in a tight skirt and jacket.
I can only say guess,as I have not either moose hunted or worn a skirt.

More Palin:
The prospective Vice President told People Magazine,in what I am sure was a hard hitting interview on policy,that she considers herself "Intellectual".
I consider myself a good guy too,but good luck finding too many people to agree............

Talks are beginning to start on Cleveland State adding football to their athletic program.
I know CSU likely looks at Cincinnati's football program and thinks they can do so as well.
I think a division II program would be the best way to start,but small levels in big league towns struggle for attention......

Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer offers his thoughts on Cleveland State Viking Football and they aren't positive..

Photo Credits
Brodeur:AP Photo
CSU Helmet:Cleveland Plain Dealer

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

News Buffet..........

Lots of news to report on today,so lets get started!

Last night Battlin Bob and I attended the season ending party for the Hagerstown Suns season ticket holders at Tony's Italian Restaurant.
Neither the Battler or myself had ever been there and were surprised at the excellent food and the turnout for the event.
Many more people were there than either of us had expected and the Suns front office did an excellent job on things.

A few new notes on the Suns.
One is that they have no word on a new GM to replace Will Smith and the other business note is that season tickets will remain at the same cost for the 2009 season.
Good move to the fellows over at the Muni for that call.
I usually don't get on a soapbox for the Suns,but any of the local readers that see this should at least consider a 25 game package in General Admission.
I know the seats aren't that comfortable,but the cost is reasonable and the team needs the local support.

The Suns organization also announced the beginnings of the Hagerstown Suns Hall of Fame starting next season.
The first class will be limited to four players.
This is a great idea and I cannot put into words how much I love this.
What an terrific thought and here is hoping that perhaps some plaques to honor each inductee can be placed in an area that fans can learn and interact with the history of the franchise.

The Suns hope to have word in the next two weeks or so on the identity of the new general manager.

All and all,the Battler and I enjoyed the evening immensely and without seeming to be too much of an ass kisser,things are beginning to look up over at the Muni.....
Now if we can just get Battlin Bob and his friend Drew Himsworth to have a Martin and Lewis moment-all will be right in the world-LOL!!

The Cleveland Browns suspended tight end Kellen Winslow for this weeks game vs Jacksonville for his comments toward Phil Savage and the Browns for concealing that his hospital stay was due to yet another Cleveland staph infection.
While I think that Winslow went a bit overboard in complaining that Savage never called him during his hospitalization,I do agree that the Browns are sensitive to the staph issue.
This is mainly because it has been such a problem for them through the years.
I would have fined Winslow,but not suspended him because I have seen far worse tirades for sure.
Winslow is appealing the suspension to the league.
This is just another sign that the house of cards that Savage has built is tumbling down......

The Pirates named Joe Kerrigan as their new pitching coach.
Kerrigan had been announcing for the Phillies and was a pitching coach for the Expos,Red Sox and Phillies in the past.
Kerrigan spent four years in the bigs as a pitcher with the Expos and Orioles.
I like this hire,not as much as I would a hire of Leo Mazzone,but not bad at all.

The Pirates also quietly released Flammable Franquelis Osoria.
Goodbye and good luck!

The second of the two Devil free agent signees is out of action as Bobby Holik broke his right pinkie in the Devils win over Washington and will miss 3 to 4 weeks following his surgery to correct the finger.
SO it looks like the same old attack will have to keep the ship afloat until Brian Rolston and Holik can return to action.

The Devils recalled Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond in an interesting decision to replace Holik.
Double L (for obvious reasons) spent an impressive training camp with the Devils and will play left wing on the Holik line with Mike Rupp moving to center.
The Winger likes to fight and could be the heavyweight hitter that Devils fans have wished for since the days of Troy Crowder.
In preseason,Double L fought Donald Brashear and Riley Cote and looked especially impressive in a war vs Cote in Philly.

Could it be a coincidence that LeBlond's NHL debut comes against Dallas and the return to town of a certain little fellow named Sean Avery??
Hmmm..... The Devils-Stars game is tonight at 7 at the Rock...

Battlin Bob will have to look for a new partner when he and I do WTBS Braves baseball impersonations.
As as been noted often,the Battler does a Skip Caray second to none and I usually chip in with a Pete Van Wieren to complete the team.
Van Wieren will be retiring from the Braves after 33 seasons in Atlanta,so the Braves will be looking for new voices for next year.
I have an idea for them-Greg Brown.
Anything to get him out of Pittsburgh!

Finally,a new link on the links page.
The Justice for Kirsty webpage is a page for those that want the Mexican government to do the right thing for the tragic death of English singing star Kirsty Maccoll in 2000.
Kirsty has always been a favorite of mine and I recently found a few import CDs of her work,so I thought I would take advantage of this and add the page to the links.
Kirsty's stuff can be found on Youtube,but rarely in stores as the problems getting many English performers that arent in the mainstream occur with her stuff as well.
She is most well known in the states for writing the 80's hit "they dont know" of Tracey Ullman after releasing it first a few years earlier and for being the female lead in the classic Christmas song by the Pogues,"Fairytale of New York".
Check some of this stuff out!

Photo Credits

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reviewing the tape-Tampa clips Seattle

In what was the lowest rated prime time NFL game EVER,The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sent the Seattle Seahawks careening across the country with a 20-10 loss.
Only a late touchdown pass from Seneca Wallace to John Carlson made the score semi-respectable.

Shawn's Thoughts

1) About the only exciting thing that happened in this game was the hit applied by Leroy Hill onto Ike Hilliard.
What a shot!
Hilliard was sent to the hospital,but the Hawks didn't even get that right as on the other side of Hilliard was Lofa Tatupu.
Tatupu also took the brunt of the hit by Hill and wound up with a concussion.

2) In my opinion,Matt Hasselbeck is a slightly above average quarterback,but he certainly is needed on this team.
After seeing Charlie Frye and Seneca Wallace over the last two weeks,it reminds me of the struggles that the Pirates had when Jack Wilson was injured this past season.
Neither player is an impact player,but the difficulty that each team had in replacing them makes them look that way.

3) Want to hear a sad stat?
Leading Seattle receiver in yardage-Koren Robinson 23 yards....

4) Mike Holmgren need to think about stepping down and doing what is right for the franchise.
Jim Mora Jr will be the coach next season and he could get a head start now in a season that looks lost short of the Seahawks beating the division leading Cardinals both times that they play them.
Do the right thing,coach.

5) Wish I had more to say,but this was pretty tedious watching on tape.
For a far better recap,take a look over at Field Gulls for their usual great work.

Photo Credit
The Hit:AP Photo

Support the candidate of your choice as long it is my candidate

Bear with me from the usual departure from the format.
I will return later with reviewing the tape of the Seahawk loss and bullpen notes......

Over the last few days,I have discovered that cowardice of some right wingers here in Hagerstown continues and I find it tremendously ironic that so many on the right scream about loving a country with free speech,but only if it agrees with their views.

In the 2004 Presidential election,I was a brand new home owner and felt some pride in finally being able to put a sign of my candidate of choice in the front yard as so many others around the country are able to do..
Of course,since I am not a member of the mindless party that is beholden to gun owners and radical religious nuts,so it was Kerry-Edwards.
I began to receive mail(actual paper mail,not email) telling me what a horrible person that I was for supporting a man that kills children etc and that the nut writing this trash felt awful that he had to "pass my sign going to and from work".
I was "going to hell" for supporting the candidate of my choosing.
Of course what it really was about was this.
I live on a main thoroughfare in Hagerstown and near a red light.
My house is pretty strategically placed for prime visibility and if my family was not putting a Bush-Cheney sign in their yard,then only no sign at all would be acceptable to these weasels....

I told this story to the volunteers at the Democratic headquarters that I was prepping for this years hate mail,but this years story has been different.
On Saturday,I was sitting on the couch watching the Ohio State game by myself,when a pounding noise came from the front door,the type of knock that usually comes from someone that knows you and needs you to get to the door quickly.
I was met by a fellow with two grocery bags in his hand that looked at me with a stunned look like he didn't expect to be greeted by a mean looking guy that outweighs some NFL linemen.
This fellow looked down (never looking at me directly) and offered this gem "I just wanted to thank you for giving your vote to Osama Bin Ladin".
Now it is was my turn to be stunned.
It lasted for about 4 seconds.
"Get your ass off my porch NOW"!
As this man that fancied himself a right wing tough guy slunk away without a word,I told him "The next time I see you around here,you will be bounced off the property".
This morning,I looked as I came home from work,our sign was gone.
No other vandalism fortunately,but none the less.
Our right as a citizen was disregarded by a member of the party that claims to love liberty so much.
On this street,only one other house had a Obama/Biden sign compared to about 6-8 McCain/Palin signs and that family still had their sign.

Later today,I will return to the Democratic headquarters and another sign will go into the yard.
I don't back down from the gutless.
Please come back tonight and attempt to take it.
Tonight,my "friend"-I will be waiting.

To any readers from the Washington County GOP,I would have welcomed a swap of thoughts with your guerrilla member,but I don't even give a second thought to those that offer such talks as their entry to a discussion.
I cannot think that this type of tactics would swing any voter to your side and if anything it just boosts their determination against the status quo.
This type of behavior whether endorsed or not reflects poorly on your party,your volunteers and your candidates.
I am a Democrat,but often times I have voted for Republicans.
I have voted in five elections for Govenor of Maryland and have cast my vote for Republicans in four of them.
I have never voted for Barbara Mikulski for Senator(far too liberal for my tastes) and until the recent election of Ben Cardin,I had never voted Democratic for Maryland's other Senate seat (Same for Paul Sarbanes) either.
When you use these tactics for someone that considers himself a moderate Democrat,you make no friends,only adversaries.
Think about that,GOP.
You hurt yourself nationally, in Maryland and even in Washington County with these types of vandalism and cost yourselves votes in elections other than Presidential.
Hope it was worth it for one sign and one person,whether you sent these clowns out or not.

Back later with lighter reading on the Seahawks loss,a new hiring for the Pirates and more on the injury to Bobby Holik.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Two boring football games

Both the Cleveland Browns and Seattle Seahawks lost boring and hard to watch football games yesterday.
I will focus on the Browns loss today and work on the Seahawk loss tomorrow,as tomorrow is shaping up to be a slow day......

The Browns struggled to a loss in Washington as they lost an easily winnable game to the Redskins 14-11.
The only Cleveland touchdown came on a fourth quarter touchdown pass from the struggling Derek Anderson to Joshua Cribbs.
Anderson then hit Braylon Edwards for the two point conversion that cut the lead to three.
Phil Dawson missed wide right from 54 yards with a few seconds remaining with a kick that would tied the game....

Shawn's Thoughts

1) Much to complain to about in this loss,but one person that I will not be criticizing will be Phil Dawson.
It is tough to bash a player that missed a kick that is two yards longer than his career long.
That is called putting a player in a tough position.

2) On the other hand ,I will add some criticism to the Browns staff on the final drive.
On a second and one with 1:18 to go on the Washington 39,Derek Anderson snuck through for three yards and a first down.
As this play happened,I was not critical as I watched.
I have seen many times in these situations that the trailing team throws two incompletions and then needs to run a 4th and one play or a out id the kickers range field goal,so I thought this made sense.
What made no sense was the fact that the Browns took 32 seconds to run another play.
No urgency,no rush to the line,no spike-nothing.
The next play comes with 46 seconds to go.
Bad clock management (again).....

3) The final two plays of the last drive were Derek Anderson passes down the field to Braylon Edwards that fell incomplete.
When you are set for a field goal of 54 yards and your booters career long in 52,one would think of something that will pick up a small gain-something to give you a legitimate shot.
Five yards would have made a huge difference....

4) 5 drops for the Braylon.Enough said.

5) Derek Anderson was awful all game,but especially in the first half with under 15 yards passing.
Can you really get worse than that???

5) Jamal Lewis ran hard for his 80 yards.
I am not a fan of Lewis as a person,but one can never question his desire and effort......

6) Clinton Portis had a big game rushing,but the defense stood up when it counted to give Anderson one last chance and stopped him when they had to.
Who would have thought that the defense would turn out to be the strength of the team after six games?
Not me.....

7) Eric Wright's strip of Portis showed not only hustle,but maturity as well.
Wright continues to mature as a player and seems to be showing signs of being a top shutdown corner....

8) The Browns wasted field position twice in the first quarter on drives that started in the Washington end of the field.
Both times,Cleveland ran three plays and punted...

9) Cleveland used far too much time off the clock on the two drives inside the Washington five and that came back to haunt them.
Romeo Crennel might be the worst game manager that I have ever seen.
Never a bit of urgency or thinking ahead,just blase'.

10) Kellen Winslow announced that he was hospitalized for yet another staph infection.
Why does this team seem so plagued with this issue for players through the years?
With the money and finances that the Browns have,this should not be an issue.
Sooner or later,free agents will use this as a factor in not coming to Cleveland.

Bonus Rounds

On the drive that Washington stopped,color commentator Solomon Wilcots (Terrible BTW) said the Browns should have kicked a Field Goal to cut the lead to 14-6.
That looks good in hindsight,but I agree with going for it.
At that time,the Browns had shown no reason to believe that they could score another TD and two point conversion to tie.....

I did take issue with a play on that drive that saw a pass to Charles Ali completed,but for a loss of two yards.
That play usually is run for the tight end and the tape shows Steve Heiden standing in the end zone on a linebacker with the backer screened off.
Throw it to him-Touchdown.

Bullpen Note

Browns guard and NFL Hall of Famer Gene Hickerson passed away today at a Cleveland nursing home at the age of 73.
Hickerson was the pulling guard that opened all those holes for Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly and was elected to the Hall after waiting far too long in 2007.
Nice to see that they got it right before Hickerson's passing.

Until tomorrow when we whine and moan about more boring football from the Seahawks.

Photo Credits
Dawson:AP Photo
Hickerson:Cleveland Browns/AP Photo

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Buckeyes hammer Spartans,Devils win in DC

The Ohio State Buckeyes came into East Lansing with a struggling offense and looking to be ripe for an upset from the surprise team in the Big Ten,the Michigan State Spartans.
They left town with a shockingly easy 45-7 win and kept their part of the Big Ten penthouse,only now sharing it with just one team-Penn State.
The Buckeyes led 28-0 at the half and cruised home from there.

Shawn's Thoughts

1) The Buckeyes only threw 11 passes,but they added the occasional deep ball to the toolbox and that made some difference as the Spartans could not get away with 8 and 9 men on the line of scrimmage.
The Terrelle Pryor to Brian Hartline strike of 56 yards forced Michigan State to respect the long ball and that relieves pressure on the ground attack.

2) The defense forced two fumbles that were returned for TD's and controlled Javon Ringer throughout with James Laurinaitis shadowing Ringer on every play.
The nations leading rusher finished with 67 yards and generally was a non factor making MSU a very ordinary offensive team.

3) Pryor's 32 yard run early set the tone for the game and took the crowd out of the game early.
The Buckeyes didn't score on the drive,but established the way the game was going to go.

4) Chris Wells finished with 140 yards on 31 carries.
A great game,but once the game was no longer in doubt,I would like to have seen him set down for the day.
With the bad foot,he is one bad step away from lost for the year,I would hate to see that happen in a 35-7 game....

5) James Laurinatis was the dominant player of the game with 11 tackles.
Ohio State has had many great backers,but the senior might get my vote as the best of them all.

6) Penn State comes to Columbus next week with the top spot in the conference on the line.
Should be a good one.

The New Jersey Devils were struggling on offense until a third period flurry turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead.
Washington managed to tie the game before the end of regulation,but Zach Parise beat Brent Johnson for the only goal in the shootout to lift the Devils to a 4-3 win.

Shawn's Thoughts

1) Zach Parise was the star of the game and the difference between these teams.
Parise scored the tying goal on the power play (3) and then assisted on the goal that gave New Jersey a brief lead before scoring the only goal of the shootout.
It is exciting to see Parise develop and perhaps be the top notch scorer that Devils fans have hungered for such a long time.

2)Petr Vrana scored the first goal of his NHL career in the first period as he re-directed a Patrik Elias shot past Brent Johnson.
The Czech rookie showed a lot of speed and hustle along with a willingness to hang out in the crease.

3) Andy Greene scored his first goal of the season in the third period and looked steady enough on the blueline.
Greene needs to show more of the player that was so promising late in 06-07 and less of the erratic and less than stern player of last season.

4) The Devils grabbed 3 of 4 games on the road trip and that is a stat that any team will take on the road.

5) Bobby Holik broke his right pinkie in the win and may miss some time.
Nothing concrete as of this writing.....

Bonus Round:
That means in two games,both of the Devils major off season additions have been injured.
Back to the same old....

Bernard Hopkins defeated Kelly Pavlik by a unanimous decision in Atlantic City in a non-title Lt Heavyweight fight.
Hopkins was gracious in his victory,which I didn't see.
Look for a replay next week on HBO.
Pavlik retains his Middleweight title,which was not on the line in the over the weight bout....

The Cleveland Browns travel to Washington and a game against the Redskins.
This could tell the tale about the Browns having the goods to make a real run at the playoffs.
3-3 certainly beats 2-4.
The Browns will need to throw the ball effectively and protect Derek Anderson against a solid Washington pass rush.

The Seattle Seahawks will visit Tampa in the Sunday night.
Seneca Wallace will get the start for the hawks after a week of Charlie Frye taking the snaps.

Predictions: (record 6-4)

Browns over Redskins 28-21
Buccaneers over Seahawks 24-13

Photo Credits
OSU-MSU:Eric Seals-Detroit Free Press
Parise:Luis Alvarez-AP Photo
Boxing:Tim Larsen-AP Photo
Helmets:Helmet Project

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Late prediction

Forgot about tonight's Lt.Heavyweight fight between Middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik and former Middle and Lt.Heavy champ Bernard Hopkins in Atlantic City.
Pavlik would love to be the first person to stop Hopkins and it would be quite a feather in his cap,but more likely takes a decision.
Pavlik will likely throw more punches than Hopkins,as Hopkins has reduced his output with age.
Pavlik by decision with Hopkins sure to throw a fit at the press conference following.

Rolston wins game and leaves for a while

Brian Rolston scored his first goal in his second tour with the Devils by rapping a rebound off his power play shot past Kari Lehtonen to lead the Devils past Atlanta Thursday night 1-0.
The news was not all good for Rolston and the Devils as later in the second period,Rolston crashed into the boards and suffered a high ankle sprain.
The sprain was not considered as serious as originally thought,but a similar injury kept Sidney Crosby out for more than 30 games last season.
Granted,Crosby is kinda a wuss,but the injury tends to hang around without proper time to heal.
Bet Rolston being out for at least two weeks.
Marty Brodeur gets the win and shutout on the march to those two all time records.

The Devils guaranteed at least a. 500 record on the four game road swing and can earn three out of four with a win in Washington tonight.

Shawn's Thoughts

1) If Rolston had not been injured,the headline would been "One boring hockey game".

2) It was one boring hockey game and as Ryan offered up " and this coming from a guy that watches every Devils game".

3) I finally found a positive thing to say about Southern hockey,it was just like being there live.
You could hear the stick clanging,the players hollering for passes etc.
I don't know what the sold or announced crowd was,but I bet there was between 3 to 5 thousand in the stands.....

4) Petr Vrana should be the player that picks up playing time with the Rolston injury.
Vrana was a healthy scratch in the first four games and looks to be seeing time at right wing.
The speedy Vrana hopefully will be a jolt of energy to the Devils.

5) And of course with tonight's game being against Washington,that means Beninati and Laughlin on the stick for the contest.
Allow the thoughts on those two to be provided by guest writers-the Griffin Family!

Bullpen Notes

The Ohio State Buckeyes travel to East Lansing for a matchup with one of the three teams that are unbeaten in the conference in the Michigan State Spartans.
Early in the season,we thought that this game looked like a trap game for OSU,but the Spartans are unbeaten and no longer seem to be a trap game.
The Spartans are a quality football team and overlooking them doesn't seem likely.
Ohio State can put themselves in the best possible position to win the Big Ten with wins today and next week against Penn State.
Michigan State will attempt to run the ball with Javon Ringer,their star back.
This will be close for a while,but I think the Spartans match up well with Ohio State.
Prediction-Buckeyes 23-13.

The Seattle Seahawks activated linebacker Will Herring and released wide receiver Billy McMullen yesterday.
Herring had been on the physically unable to perform list.
McMullen was one of the 300 pass catchers signed earlier in the season and caught seven passes for 124 yards.

Sorry,I missed yesterday.
Super tired after going to get my radio repaired..

Until tomorrow

Photo Credits
Rolston:John Amis-Ap Photo
Helmets;Helmet Project

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Devils lose to Rangers,travel to Atlanta tonight

Monday night,the New Jersey Devils dropped a lackluster 4-1 decision to the cross-river rival New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Only John Madden's second period goal (1) prevented the game from being a whitewash.....

Shawn's Thoughts

1) Former Devil draftee Aaron Voros scored two NYR goals and seemed to be anchoring himself in front of the net.
Voros isn't Sean Avery,but he was annoying in this one.
Maybe Avery without some of the clownish antics....

2) The Devils were not quite listless as they had an occasional flash of energy,but were missing something.
This needs to change and fast.

3) Rookie defenseman Anssi Salmela is expected to be the first casualty of the Sutter discipline as he will likely be scratched from the lineup in Atlanta in favor of Andy Greene.
Greene,who knows what it is like to be in the Sutter doghouse,will make his first appearance in uniform this season....

4) Brian Rolston will be taking some time away from the point on power plays for a while.
This is a good move IMO as it will take away some of the pressure off Rolston and allow him to do more without the puck.
Hopefully,that will create some more scoring chances...

5) You all know I love the southern hockey trips (sarcasm) and therefore the excitement of 10,000 bored fans in Atlanta just oozes with atmosphere.....

Bullpen Notes

The Chicago BlackHawks fired coach Denis Savard after just four games in a stunning move.
Savard was replaced by former Blues and Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville.
For all of the positive things that Rocky Wirtz has done since his fathers death,this one is befuddling and makes no sense this soon into the season.
Talk about hitting the panic button!

Lawrence Wilson suffered a torn ACL in the Buckeye win over Purdue and is done for the campaign.
Tough loss for Wilson and Ohio State.
Rob Rose will replace Wilson at Defensive end.

Former Yankee and Tiger Tom Tresh passed away at the age of 71.
Tresh was one of many immortalized in the Jim Bouton book Ball Four and was a three time All-Star.
Condolences to the former 1962 Rookie of the Years family....

Photo Credits
Hockey:Kathy Willens-AP Photo

Reviewing the tape-Browns shock Giants

Back after a few days.
Tuesdays are the toughest day for me to find time (It is an off day,go figure) and after a wonderful two days spent in garages prepping for the Maryland state emissions test,taking said test and then having my car radio lock up (really),I just didn't feel like writing yesterday.
Not mention having to deal with a near crisis in my fantasy football league in dealing with owners.
Add it all up and you get two days without posts.
When I start getting paid for this,then I will make time in those types of situations! LOL!

The Cleveland Browns stunned just about everyone in their win over the undefeated New York Giants on Monday Night Football.
I know I was shocked for sure,as the team that all Browns fans thought would show up this season finally did in the 35-14 win.
The win kept the Browns season alive at 2-3,but the schedule gets no easier this as Cleveland travels to Washington to play an angry bunch of Redskins that are coming off a loss to the lowly Rams last week.

Shawn's Thoughts

1) Don't we really need to come up with a clever name for these?
At least for the Pirates,Browns and Devils????

2) Braylon Edwards had a great game with 5 catches for 154 yards,but on his long pass in the first half-he quit running hard.
It looked to me that he was already planning an end zone celebration and didn't realize that the Giant DB was gaining on him as fast as he was.
The Browns scored a TD on the drive anyway,but one cannot ever bank on that happening every time.
Hustle and then Dance!!

3) Still far too many penalties (11) for teams to generally overcome.
The Browns will not be able to get by like that every week.

4) One more final negative note before we get to accentuate the positive.
I am not quite sold on being "back" yet.
This was a return to MNF for the first time in years,a pumped up crowd and a must win game.
A win at Washington and maybe I can start to believe again....

5) My uncle Russ attended the game-How come I never get invites to this stuff????
And I write this nationally read blog and everything??!!!!

6) The above is intended in ALL sarcasm,although we do have readers across the country,which means its nationally read,just read by between 50-150 people each day!

7) The game clinching interception/touchdown return by Eric Wright was impressive,but not for the obvious reasons.
Wright moved off the receiver and showed an impressive closing burst to get to a ball that could been a Giant touchdown.
Getting to the ball was more telling to me about his instincts,the pick was just icing on the cake.
Wright finished with just two tackles,but that shows his play was top notch.
When a corner is not getting tackles that means he is shutting his man down!
Wright is very talented,if he can get consistency-Wright will be a top corner.
Wright was named the AFC Defensive player of the week yesterday for his efforts.

8) Derek Anderson looked sharp for the first time all season.
Could it be that the concussion that kept him out for most of the pre-season kept him from getting the needed work in???
I hope it is that simple.

9) Steve Heiden played very well in the place of the ill Kellen Winslow and even when Winslow returns,I still see a spot for Heiden if the offense-IF the Browns choose to use it.
Imagine a two tight end formation in which the defense MUST cover Winslow,leaving Heiden on a linebacker.
A good throw gets you 8 to 15 yards every time!

10)More big plays from Jerome Harrison.
The Browns are playing him more,but at the rate that he makes plays,he needs to be on the field in most third down situations.

Bonus Round

Give the Browns offensive line tons of credit in the win.
The Giants were on pace to set a league record for sacks and they didn't get to Derek Anderson ONCE!
Keep up that kind of effort and the Browns will dig out of this hole yet!

This also keeps Brady "I love John McCain" Quinn on the pine for a while longer.
Longer the better.

Check the poll out for your opinions on the Browns 50's style helmets and whether you like them better than the current model.

And a final note to Darnell Dinkins on a rare TD catch.
Nice job,you could be the latest in a long line of tight ends in Fantasy Football that catch short yardage TDs out of the goal line formations with a few more of those!

Back later with some thoughts on the New Jersey Devils loss to the Rangers on Monday and their trip to Atlanta tonight for a game against the Thrashers and I'll toss some bullpen notes in as well......

Photo Credits
Fans-AP Photo
Wright:John Kuntz-Cleveland Plain Dealer