Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Are the wheels flying off the bus???

I expect to have to write bad things about the Pirates and Browns,but rarely do I have to type bad posts about the New Jersey Devils such as what follows after the uninspired 3-0 loss to the Rangers in New York.
Zero energy,poor defensive play,stupid penalties and a lack of serious scoring opportunities all added up equally in the loss for the fifth game in a row.......
This is not what I expect from the Devils and some of these guys need to wake up or I would support some serious housecleaning in the off season......
I hope Brent Sutter has decided to have a serious hard ass practice going into Wednesday's game against Pittsburgh.
Six games left in the regular season is not the best time to choose to play your worst hockey of the year and this appears to be happening for the second season in a row.....

Hell Raisers

1) I hope that Brent Sutter isn't becoming the NHL answer to Gary Williams,where after yelling for so long the players start to tune him out.
I am not saying that is the case,but something to look for.

2) Paul Martin and Nicklas Havelid were downright awful last night.
Havelid has shown next to nothing since joining the team,perhaps a shakeup among the D-men is in order??

3) If you are looking forward to the off season,I would not be against moving John Madden and /or Brian Gionta.
I am loyal to our long time warriors and both players place in the Devils family is secure,but their play this season has been disappointing......

4) Will anyone let me know when Bobby Holik does anything to write about.
I hear a lot of talk from Holik,but little to back it up.....

5) Some kudos to our man David Clarkson,who did attempt to spark the team when Sean Avery pretended he wanted to fight and Clarkson tossed Avery to the ice like the pretender he is.
Note to the NHL,isn't dropping the glove or gloves considered instigating?
Avery dropped and then refused.

Bonus Round

Rumors have been flying for a bit about Brent Sutter being homesick for Canada and considering leaving at seasons end.
I like Sutter and hope he stays,but if so I hope the Devils consider Ted Nolan.The guy wins everywhere with little talent and with the Devils,Nolan could be the right guy-IF he can just get the chance....

Bullpen Notes

I know many Virginia hoop fans are nonplussed about the hiring of Tony Bennett as the new hoops coach,but trust us-in three years when Bennett has your program in the top 25 again,you will forget all about the flashy names that were passed over for Bennett.
When you can win at Washington State-you can win anywhere.
I pulled for UVA a little during the Pete Gillen years and with Bennett in charge,I will do so again.
Enjoy the ride fans,Virginia made a terrific hire!

Sorry to hear of the death of vagabond coach Lou Saban at the age of 87.
Saban led the Bills to their only titles in their history with championships in 1964 and 1965 and in a second stint in Buffalo coached the Bills to the playoffs in 1974.
Saban also coached the Patriots,Broncos and several college teams and might be most famous for his well used sound clips from NFL Films such as "You can get it done,you can get it done,but whats more you gotta get it done!" and the famous "They're killing me Whitey! They're killing me!"

Looks like the environmental effort and the historical preservation gang hooked up to save a historic mountain from losing its top for coal removal as Blair Mountain was placed on the National Register.
Blair Mountain was made famous by the labor movement against the coal companies in 1921 as the effort to unionize the miners in one of the last coal camps in West Virginia to be lacking union representation.
Top removal is causing horrific damage to the Appalachian area and any efforts to stop this within reason certainly has my support.....

Photo Credits
Clarkson-Avery-AP Photo

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Happy Second Anniversary!

Today,we celebrate our second anniversary of the blog.
We have seen a little more growth and added many autographs to the collection.
The Hagerstown Suns lost Will Smith as GM and replaced him with Robert Flannery over the past year.
I haven't met Flannery yet,but I like some of the things that I have seen over the off season.
The Pirates continue to rebuild as do the Browns and the Devils continue to be one of the top franchises in the league.
The Cleveland Cavaliers look to be primed to make a legitimate run for Cleveland's first title in any sport since 1964 and Ohio State capped a mildly disappointing season with a heartbreaking Fiesta Bowl loss to Texas.
I missed out on the big trip last year,but did manage to make initial visits to parks in Allentown and Harrisburg.
Readership continues to grow and I would like to thank those of you that read what we have to say.
Now if we can get more of you and get some more comments from you as well.
Additional thanks to the Lovely Cherie for her constant inspiration and to Rachel for occasionally interrupting her YouTubing and chatting to use my own computer.
I have been blessed to have two of the most wonderful ladies around taking care of me.
Thanks to Ryan,who contributes often without knowing it simply by having discussions.
Thanks as well to the ever present Battlin Bob,who helps me get to games that I otherwise wouldn't and is a terrific friend in general.

The posts that were hit the most over the past year were

1) Why the Suns don't shine in Hagerstown
2) Suns are fan friendly?Wild night in Hagerstown
3) Pirates grab two wins,some positives for the Suns

The most visited images were
1) Chris Wells vs Akron (Go figure)
2) Guy sweeping hats from the ice after a Zach Parise hat trick
3) Me with Adrian Cardenas.

Bullpen Notes

Unless a major change occurs in the last few days of March,it looks like CNN will be passed by MSNBC for second place in the cable news ratings race.
CNN simply has become too weak and lacks powerful personalities with the bland Campbell Brown and the aging Larry King to compete with liberal MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow or conservative Fox's Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity.
I am not always a fan of slanted news from either side,but CNN isn't just middle of the road-it is downright dull and that is a guaranteed loser in the news/entertainment biz.....

Another Kentucky Derby winner passes on as 1987 champion Alysheba died at the Kentucky Horse Park at the age of 25.
Alysheba apparently fell and injured his right hind leg and was unable to stand.
Alysheba also won the 1987 Preakness and the 1988 Breeders Cup Classic in earning Eclipse Awards for top three year old in 1987 along with top older horse and Horse of the Year in 1988...

Photo Credits
Flintstones;Hanna Barbera

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Defensive lapse costs Devils in 2-1 loss

Two goals in a three minute span in the final period turned a 1-0 lead into a 2-1 deficit as the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in Newark.
The loss was the fourth in a row for the Devils and begins to make one wonder about the sudden ineffectiveness of the defensive stalwarts.
Patrik Elias scored the only Devils goal (31) in the first period.
The Devils get Sunday off before a Monday tilt against the Rangers in a contest that suddenly looks far more important than one would have thought a week ago.....

Hell Raisers

1) I hold Martin Brodeur blameless in the loss.
Marty made 46 saves and on both goals had little chance of stopping them as both Hurricanes were parked in front of the net.
I keep saying this all the time-But can we PLEASE clear the crease!!!

2) Cam Ward didn't face as many shots,but he still was excellent for Carolina.
One common thread in the losing streak has been some pretty solid netminding from the opponents....

3) Tuomo Ruutu continues to come into his own in Carolina.
I questioned the Hawks moving him last year and his play this year has shown both maturity and grit....

4) The Devils haven't played poorly in most of the four losses (the Boston loss was pretty weak),but dumb penalties and less than physical play at times has been the difference.
I wish someone of the defenders other than Bryce Salvador would smack someone around and make them pay the price for pitching a tent in front of the net.

5) And that includes Colin White,who I usually like.
Note to White-I understand why you don't fight anymore (Eye injury),but when your game is missing the physical aspect,you remind me of a bad Ulf Samuelsson.
That is not very good....

Bullpen Notes

The Pirates sent Steve Pearce,Anderson Machado and Robinzon Diaz to Indianapolis.
The Pearce demotion makes the least sense as they want him to play first base full time to see if he can play there in the future.
These ,of course. are questions that could have been answered last year had Pearce not been moved to the outfield.

It also makes little sense to start a Nyjer Morgan in the outfield instead of Pearce after giving him a bit of experience as a flychaser in 2008.
It looks like the Pirates simply don't care for Steve Pearce.

Pittsburgh also announced the addition of Ross Ohlendorf to the rotation with Paul Maholm,Ian Snell and Zach Duke.
The fifth spot is still open between Jeff Karstens and Virgil Vasquez.

Note to Tom Gorzelanny,I don't think the front office thinks much more of you than they do of Steve Pearce.

We also participated in EarthHour 2009 as we watched the Devils loss.
From our limited view around the neighborhood,we looked to be the only ones,LOL

Until tomorrow

Photo Credit-Bruce Bennett-Getty Images

Three in a row

The New Jersey Devils dropped their third road game in a row,but salvaged a point this time in losing in Chicago to the Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime.
The Devils received goals from Zach Parise (42) and Paul Martin (5) in the first period to account for all New Jersey scoring...
New Jersey returns to the Rock tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes....

Hell Raisers

1) I missed the game winning goal by Chicago's Brent Seabrook as I was at work.
I hate 8:30 starts as it isn't worth the hassle of dragging the XM boombox to work,yet you still miss the games end.
For what it is worth,reports are that Brodeur was screened and never saw the long range shot from Seabrook-that means defensemen aren't clearing the area.....

2) Seabrook finished with the Gordie Howe hat trick,but his fight was nothing to remember as he was pounded by David Clarkson...

3) The Devils were fortunate to gain a point when you consider that they committed five first period penalties and only allowed one goal.
And these aren't exactly smart penalties as well,as twice the Devils were called for the delay of game!

4) The positive was that the penalty kill team was strong in stopping the Hawks with the man deficit.The Devils just need to attempt to not use it as often!

5) Brent Sutter seemed most upset after the loss at Danius Zubrus,who set the goal up with useless puck handling at center ice instead of sending the puck to the Chicago end.
That forced the Devils to keep the same tired four on the ice instead of a line change.
I didn't see it so I cannot say for sure,but that sounds like some brain dead hockey.

Bonus Round

If the Devils want to add a late season spark to the offense,perhaps a callup of Nicklas Bergofrs could help.
Bergfors has been sizzling lately for Lowell and reached the 20 goal mark,a achievement that is more impressive than it sounds considering that Bergfors missed time early in the season..

Bullpen Notes

The joggin Ronny Paulino show moved twice in one day as the Phillies shipped him to the Giants,who then moved him to the Marlins.
Florida traded once promising righthander Hector Correa to San Francisco for the jogger.
Correa has struggled with injuries over the last two years and could be spending his third year in the SAL.

Our friend Wilbur Miller has a tremendous series at OnlyBucs that looks at his projections for the Pirate farm teams this season.
Wilbur's stuff is usually on the money or at least thought provoking.

Looking at the Projections,it isn't hard to tell where Dave Littlefield's drafts ends and Neil Huntington's begin as a quick look at Altoona and Lynchburg shows a lot of players repeating those levels.

Back tomorrow with any luck!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Random Ramblings

Missed more time,but things were kinda slow.
The Devils dropped back to back games in Boston and Philadelphia,but have been inactive since and the rest of the sports world has been kinda slow.

I know I still need to get back into Pirate coverage,but frankly there isn't much happening there either unless you consider Jose Tabata's wife (allegedly) kidnapping a baby happening news!

The biggest issue to me from the Pirates is this rumor that the Pirates could be considering moving their High A team from Lynchburg (Carolina League) to Bradenton (Florida State League) for the 2011 season.
Not only would this piss me off tremendously,this would also be a bad move for the Pirates.
Well,as we have written in the past,the Carolina League is the Cadillac of High A baseball,due to its ballparks not having a bias towards either hitters or pitchers (California League) or that the league actually has people that attend games (Florida State League).

Teams look at the FSL and think how great it would be to have their High A team on the training site etc and that sounds great until you begin to consider that the weather is oppressive after April,low attendance gives the FSL an atmosphere of sterility and the longer distance between West Virginia and Altoona for players going up and down will be a huge hindrance.

Could the Bucs go to Bradenton?
But in the end,just last years rumors of Baltimore leaving Frederick for the FSL,Pittsburgh (I hope) will realize just how good being in the Carolina League is and will stay.
Getting back into the CL is harder than getting out-ask the Reds....

Paying our respects

To former Yankee Johnny Blanchard.
Blanchard (who was just another jocko) was the ace pinch hitter for the powerhouse Yankees of the early 60's as well as Yogi Berra's caddy at catcher.
Blanchard was known for occasionally knocking a guy off a bar stool as one of the favorite running buddies of the Mantle and Ford pinstripers.
Blanchard was 76.

To former Giant Whitey Lockman,who passed away at the age of 82.
Lockman was a steady first sacker for the Giants,who is perhaps most famous for his double that preceded the "Shot heard round the world" that was smacked by Bobby Thomson in 1951.
Lockman also managed the Cubs for three years in the mid-seventies.

To former Devil Walt Poddubny,who died suddenly at his home at just 49 years of age.
Walt played for five teams over 11 seasons,but had his most success with the Rangers and scored 116 goals over the course of three seasons.
Back problems quickly sent Poddubny's career on the skids and his three year stint with the Devils saw him score just 9 goals in 55 games over the three seasons.
Poddubny was reported to have suffered from both addiction issues and financially after leaving the league...

To 1992 Kentucky Derby winner Lil E.Tee,who was euthanized due to intestinal problems.
The 20 year old stallion's Derby win was his only Grade I win,but he did have two Grade II wins in the then Jim Beam Stakes and the Razorback Handicap at age 4.

We did add a correct pick with Vitali Klitschko's 9th round knockout of challenger Juan Carlos Gomez and that moves our record to 5-2-1 with 3 bonus tokens.
We gave Gomez the first two rounds and none thereafter....

Until later or tomorrow

Photo Credits
Lockman:Topps Cards

Friday, March 20, 2009

Not Wild enough

Martin Brodeur continued his strong run with 35 saves and led the New Jersey Devils to a 4-0 win over the visiting Minnesota Wild.
Devils goals to Patrik Elias (29 and 30),Brian Gionta (18) and Johnny Oduya (7).
The Devils get to take tomorrow off before consecutive road games on Sunday and Monday in Boston and Philadelphia....

Hell Raisers

1) A win in Boston would go a long way towards catching the Bruins in the Eastern Conference battle for the number one seed,while a win over the Flyers might just knockout any chances that Philadelphia has catching the Devils for the Atlantic Division crown.

2) The win over Minnesota trimmed Boston's lead over the Devils to just three points,so that games result will have a four point swing in the standings as Boston will lead by either 1 or 5 points after the conclusion.

3) Patrik Elias reached thirty goals in the win and I must admit I was not sure that the Devils would see the Elias from before the lockout ever again.
Elias had struggled since catching Hepatitis in Russia,where he played during the lost season and that is the type of chronic illness that saps strength...
Glad to see that Patrik has proven me wrong and shows by this seasons performance that he still has gas in the tank...

4) The Devils activated Jay Leach from his "conditioning" assignment at Lowell before the game,but Leach was a healthy scratch along with the suddenly redundant Jay Pandolfo.
Colin White missed another game as well and still considered day to day.....

5) The Brodeur shutout was number 101 and moved Marty to within two of the career shutout mark held by Terry Sawchuk.
So Brodeur needs two shutouts in his final eleven games to tie and three to pass.
Possible,I suppose....

Bonus Round

Andy Greene took advantage of the White injury and played very well.
Long term,I still see Greene as a solid part of the Devil defensive corps even if he is the odd man out for now......

Bullpen Notes

Congrats to Maryland and Xavier on their first round wins.
Maryland takes on Memphis today while Xavier will play Sunday against Wisconsin.

Ohio State's season ended in double OT against Siena.

Vitali Klitschko defends his WBC Heavyweight title in Germany today against former Cruiserweight champ Juan Carlos Gomez.
Gomez has the boxing skills to make this VERY interesting,but I think the power of the champion will make the difference,although I give Gomez more of a chance than many.

Our Prediction
Klitschko KO 8

Photo Credit-AP Photo

The woods

Teddy is doing much better and looks to be back to his normal rascal self for the most part after a rough night.
TR has medicine to take for a while,but things are looking up for the World's Most Dangerous Pug!
Thanks to Battlin Bob for being such a good friend and helping me out last night with Teddy's care.

I hope to be back later,but no promises.
Until then,here is more Teddy with a YouTube from the wonderful Rachel.

Youtube Credit:Rachel Heimberger

Simply the best...

The Devils grabbed three wins during our downtime over Phoenix and Chicago at the Rock sandwiched around a road win in Montreal before an expected letdown in Carolina after the historic win over the Blackhawks that saw Martin Brodeur become the games winningest all time net minder.
The loss to the Hurricanes was one that you could see coming especially with the Devils using Kevin Weekes in goal.

I wont be getting in depth on any of the games,regular "Hell Raisers" will return tomorrow with the recap of tonight's game against the Minnesota Wild.
Instead I want to talk about the greatness that is Martin Brodeur.
Frankly,this is a player that has always been vastly under appreciated and one could make a case that there have been few stars of his magnitude to be almost neglected in his attention from the media at large and to a lesser extent,the hockey media.

Martin Brodeur has been the one true star that the Devils franchise has had and it is quite a measure of pride in this age of player movement that the entire record was in a Devils uniform.
Oh,I know that Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer were stars too,but Stevens spent his early career in Washington and St,Louis and Nieds left town to play with his brother in Anaheim,so Marty is the only player to be developed and then stay with the Devils throughout his career.

I know many will prefer Patrick Roy and one can make a case for Roy,but Marty never had the talent in front of him that Roy had in either Montreal or Colorado.
Especially in Roy's Avalanche years,when the unlimited pocketbook of Colorado helped supplement the Sakic,Forsberg etc teams and were clearly the most talented team in the league.
Brodeur also was against the prevailing style of the goaltenders of the era as most (Roy included) by not using the butterfly as his way of stopping the puck.
Marty always used the lighter pads and got up and down to defend instead of so many others that use the butterfly and has slowly brought the mattress sized size pads in the game.
The game would improve so much if more goalies defended with their skills and quickness instead of relying so much on equipment (not that I would accuse Roy of that).
Brodeur even occasionally (See above photo) stacks the pads to defend and that is a past art that the huge pad gang never use..

By the time that Brodeur retires,he will own every record that a goalie can own with the exception of Glenn Hall's consecutive start record,which will never due to the changes in the game since Hall's day and that is the true test of greatness.
As great as Patrick Roy was,Marty's better and in this case the record book shows it so....

I will try to return later,but due to some medical issues with Teddy,I may not be able to.
Not sure on how that will work out,they were severe enough that I had to call into work and get the night off....
If I can,I will finally talk some Pirates for the Bucco boosters out there and consider myself finally caught up!!!!

Photo Credit-Unknown

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pigskin Ponderings-Seahawks version

The Seattle Seahawks made fewer moves than the Browns,but unlike the Browns-Seattle made a major move in the wheeling and dealing time.

The Seahawks traded star linebacker Julian Peterson to the Detroit Lions in exchange for defensive tackle Cory Redding and a fifth round draft pick.
Peterson was a standout in his three years in Seattle and helped make the Seattle linebacking corps one of the leagues best along with Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill.
Ironically,Hill was the likely reason that Seattle had to move Peterson as Hill was franchised by Seattle and it became cost prohibitive for the Hawks to keep all three backers together.
Peterson collected Pro Bowl honors in each of his three seasons with the Seahawks and his outside rush will certainly be missed.
I loved watching Peterson blitz from the outside and swallow quarterbacks whole.
Julian Peterson was the rare player that was productive,but with flash and that made him very fun to watch.
Peterson is from Michigan,so at least he will be returning to his home state.

Redding had a huge season in 2006 with eight sacks and looked to be one of the top free agent defensive linemen in 2007,but the Lions franchised Redding and kept him off the market.
Redding's performance dipped in 07 and 08,but has the potential to step up and replace Rocky Bernard's pass rush up the gut after Bernard left for the Giants......
The fifth rounder helps as well after Seattle foolishly shipped their fifth to the Broncos for mediocre wideout Keary Colbert when the Seahawks were decimated by the injury bug early last season.

Seattle retained guard Ray Willis with a new contract and (as noted in the Browns post) lost guard Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack to Cleveland.
Seattle added blocking tight end John Owens from the Lions as their other free agent signee.

Seattle lost long time running back Mo Morris to the Lions in what seems to be a constant shuttle between Detroit and Seattle.
Morris may finally get his long awaited chance to run the football full time with the Lions.

The Seahawks also watched long time slot reciever Bobby Engram sign with Kansas City.
Engram was pretty much gone after the signing of T.J Houshmanzdeh,but we wish him well after several productive seasons in Seattle.
Seattle's starting fullback Leonard Weaver is still in the free agent market,but no word on whether the Hawks are interested in Weaver returning or handing his job to second year man Owen Schmitt....

Could be back later with more catching up or for sure tomorrow as we continue to chip away at things with Devils and Pirates posts....

Photo Credits
Peterson:Dan DeLong-Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Pigskin Ponderings-Browns version

As we catch up on issues from the gridiron,both the Browns and Seahawks made a few moves over the down time and one even involved both teams.

The Browns continued to add former Jets to the roster as defensive lineman C.J.Mosley,linebackers David Bowens and Eric Barton signed to the team along with corner Hank Poteat.
Only Barton looks to have a chance to start as the other seem to be situational players at best and special teamers at worst.
I don't like Poteat at all,as I remember him as a Steeler and when I saw him there,he looked essentially worthless and unless experience helped him.......

Cleveland attempted to sign Jets safety Abram Elam,but the Jets matched the 1.5 million dollar offer sheet from the Browns and kept Elam.

The Browns also signed players that DIDN'T play for the New York Jets as the offensive line added some help as John St.Clair signed from Chicago,Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack from the Seahawks in addition to signing well traveled running back Noah Herron from Tampa Bay.
The Browns lost backup runner Jason Wright to the Cardinals,so that could mean (Finally!) an increased role in the offense for Jerome Harrison and Herron would slide into the third back/special team slot.
I always liked Herron when he was at Northwestern,so I have a soft spot for the former Wildcat..

Cleveland also has reportedly signed Baltimore corner Corey Ivy,although this has not been confirmed yet.
Ivy will likely compete with Hank Poteat for time in the nickel and dime rotations...

Cleveland released Joe Jurevicus and Kevin Shaffer to help with cap space.
Jurevicus will be missed by Browns fans,but he missed the entire 2008 season and there is no guarantee that he will even be able to play again despite his protests to the contrary,so even though I liked him,the move made sense.
Kevin Shaffer has been awful at right tackle since he was signed from the Falcons,so I am happy to see him go.
St.Clair should become the starter there and should be a major upgrade over Shaffer.
Womack will be in the hunt for the starting right guard position against incumbent Rex Hadnot.

Cleveland is also a team mentioned in the Jay Cutler rumors.
The Browns have been rumored to move either Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn to Denver for Cutler.
As much as I would like to move either of them for Cutler,it depends on the other parts of the deal,but Cutler for either of those two straight up???
Where do I sign?!

The Donte Stallworth signing continues to get worse by the day.
Stallworth was a bust from Day one (we called this one!) from his injuring Braylon Edwards in a race in training camp,to injuring himself on opening day stretching in warmups(!) , his general poor play and now hours after the Browns gave him a five million dollar bonus instead of releasing him (Like I would have!),he hits a fellow returning from work and kills him???
My sweet Lord!!!

This type of stuff is difficult to handle from the best of players (Terrell Owens,anyone?),but from a Donte Stallworth????
Looking at the Browns depth chart,I can maybe see the argument in keeping Stallworth for another year,but after this????
If there is anything other than poor driving involved in this sad incident,Stallworth needs to go.

One small positive for the Browns is this-Now with the wide receiving positions that looked like such a strength at this time last year,could the Browns take the best player in this draft-Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree?
A few months ago,this looked in improbable,now very possible....

Not many players left on the free agent line,but one that I would like to see the Browns pursue is Detroit's Shaun McDonald.
McDonald is most effective in the slot and looks to be a good fit for the suddenly needy Browns.
No word on any interest in McDonald from Cleveland...

Back later with a post on the Seahawks,as I will have time during the NCAA tourney games...

The Comeback starts today,but don't call it a comeback!

After another week of thinking things over on the future of this blog,I have decided to keep things as they are for now,try to make the extra time to keep up and put this back where it should be.

I am giving thought to two separate blogs,but I want to get past the Devils season first before that becomes a consideration.
If that becomes the case,there will be a Pirates/baseball blog and the other blog will be devoted to the Devils,football and the other issues that I occasionally mull over.
No final decision on that yet though.

I am going to slowly try to catch up on things over the next two days.
Those will include the Seahawks trading Julian Peterson,the Browns additions from New York,the Donte' Stallworth affair and of course Marty Brodeur's breaking of the all time win record,along with looking back at the week for the Devils.

So hang in there,progress is beginning to be made.
Until then,here is the only rap song that I have ever liked,maybe it's because of the boxing theme!?

Don't call it a comeback!

Photo Credit
Hearns:Ring Magazine

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Revitalized ?!

I have not missed very much in the last week,
The Devils grabbed a win over Calgary 3-2 after being shelled 7-3 by the lowly (but always tough against New Jersey) Islanders.
The Browns signed a few more New York Jets retreads.
The Pirates continue to slog their way through spring training.
That about covers it and kinda tells you why I didn't post much this week,other than trying to get the kinks out from my first practice in my attempt to return to the ranks of competitive football.
I know some of you out there are thinking this-"This guy is out of shape and 40 years old,what in the hell is he trying this for"!!!!
Well,I will be adding some of my thoughts to the blog as the pre-season practices and (if I make it that far) the season as it progresses.
It could be some interesting reading or just be boring as hell!

I also did some soul searching on the future of this blog.
With the second anniversary coming up in a few weeks,I wanted to see if I still had the passion for this.
Frankly,despite the small,hard core following that we seem to have in the Frederick/Hagerstown area,things aren't as far along as I would have liked.
We get our share of hits,but getting into search engines and links pages have been more of a struggle than I expected.

We also lose our share of readers because we cover different teams.
People come here looking for Pirates stuff in the winter and get treated to Devils coverage before browsing around and seeing what we do here.
I have been advised by other bloggers that I would have a better chance of succeeding if I stuck to one team and that is sound advice.
However,I do not want to abandon passions for say the Devils,Buckeyes and Browns just to get some extra readers for Pirate coverage.
That would be taking away from the fun of doing this and as I once told Battlin Bob "Do it until it isn't fun anymore",so I do not see that happening.

But my time has become a bit shorter to spend on the blog lately.
Between the beginning of planning for our new football venture,the dealing with a less than bright dog and a new regime at work,my time to come home and snap out a column sometimes has a small window of being open.
I know that I have been talking about a laptop for a year and when that day hits,this blog will really hit its stride,but until that day comes things may be occasionally erratic.
I will be continuing things and I feel stronger about things than ever,I just need to think format issues through and see how I want things to develop.

I will have a new poll up.
If anyone is out there reading,please take a second to vote.
I could use the input on what the regulars think and it could influence the decision making here..

I will be covering the Devils game against Phoenix in regular format and look for casual coverage of Maryland and Wake Forest in the ACC tournament,Ohio State in the Big Ten brackets and Xavier in the Atlantic Ten scramble later or tomorrow.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Wow,Robert Royal!

The Cleveland Browns finally dipped into the free agency ranks and came away with Buffalo tight end Robert Royal on a four year contract with no announced terms.
Royal is more of a blocking/short yardage pass receiver type and more of a complimentary type to Steve Heiden and Martin Rucker than a replacement for the departed Kellen Winslow.
Royal caught 33 passes last season for 351 yards and one touchdown.
Royal is an eight year veteran of the league spending four seasons in Washington before moving to Buffalo.

The Browns also re-signed safety Mike Adams to a three year deal worth 4.1 million dollars.
Adams was the primary backup at safety,was a special teams standout and played in six defensive back formations.
Adams has promised the opportunity to challenge Brodney Pool at one of the starting safety positions.

Now these signings don't overwhelm me (or anyone else),but Royal is solid enough and Adams is at least helpful on special teams.
However,I cannot blame the Browns for their late entry in the FA derby.
The class was weak and why spend large amounts of money on players that simply aren't worth the dough or as my wife says "Spending just to spend".
Look for a few more Robert Royal types as the signing period goes on,but if one is waiting for an impact addition-wait until the draft.

That is about all I have on a SLOOOOOOOOOOW day.

Photo Credit

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Seahawks add Houshmandzadeh

The Seattle Seahawks added one top notch player and lost another during free agency as standout defensive tackle Rocky Bernard signed with the Giants,but the Hawks plucked the top available pass catcher from the Cincinnati Bengals in T.J Houshmandzadeh (Boy, am I going to enjoy spelling that often) and added Green Bay defensive tackle Colin Cole in an attempt to help fill the vacancy left by Bernard.

Houshmandzadeh signed a five year deal for 40 million ,although NFL money never seems to equal what you sign for with the limited guaranteed money,but this signing gives the Seahawks three weapons at wide receiver and four if you believe in Koren Robinson's comeback.
The positional versatility that Houshmandzadeh brings (being equally solid at either wideout spot or in the slot position) adds to Deion Branch and Nate Burleson in giving the Seahawks quality and balance with their receivers.
Add to that the continued improvement from second year tight end John Carlson,Seattle's passing game will quickly return to past speed,unless Matt Hasselbeck is not as healthy as he presumes to be.

Cole has been a career backup with Green Bay,but will be a mainstay of the Seattle run defense.
Don't expect the pass rush excellence that Rocky Bernard brought to the table,but he should be a more than adequate run stuffer and add a bit of inside rush as well.
I asked the most knowledgeable Packer follower that I know about Cole and he said " Maybe a little better than Corey Williams".
That doesn't tell me much as I was underwhelmed with Williams with the Browns last season,but Williams cost Cleveland a second round pick,while Cole just cost money,which most NFL teams have more than plenty of.
He looks more like a lighter version of Gilbert Brown to me,but I didn't see him play every game either.

Rocky Bernard will be missed and unless it was a case of off the field issues(which he has had a few) or Bernard just wanted out,I find it hard to believe that Bernard at 4 years 16 million isn't more valuable than Cole at 5 yrs 21 million.
It could be as simple as time to part ways,but considering the price tag of each,I would have kept Bernard.

Bullpen Notes

A bit late in condolences on the loss of the late radio commentator Paul Harvey.
The 90 year old Harvey was one of the few remaining legends of the radio business and whether you were a fan or skeptic of Harvey's "stories"or disliked his politics(distinctly right wing),one must admit his like will be difficult to replace.
Harvey had been a part of ABC radio since 1951 and had seamlessly continued until his death,with the exceptions of hiatus for health reasons.

Mickey Goodwin,one of the first stars of the fabled Kronk gym in Detroit passed away from complications from a stroke.
The former middleweight contender never fought for the title,but was scheduled to face Marvin Hagler before a hand injury forced him out of the bout.
Stablemate William "Caveman" Lee replaced Goodwin and was starched in the first round.

The 51 year old Goodwin had spent much of the last few years training amateur boxers in his native Michigan.

The trade deadline came and went for the New Jersey Devils without a move,but their two most hated rivals made deals.
The Flyers sent Scottie Upshall and a second round pick to Phoenix for Daniel Carcillo,which seems like a lateral move to me,while the Rangers shipped Petr Prucha,the Devil Killer Nigel Dawes and Dmitri Kalinin to the Coyotes for Derek Morris along with adding Nik Antropov from Toronto for a second rounder and a possible conditional pick.
I like the Rangers deals,nothing beats sending two decent young forwards away for a soft blueliner!

You already know my thoughts on former Washington National GM Jim Bowden,but get this,Hall of Fame announcer Marty Brennaman thinks even less of ol' Jimbo than we do.
The DC Examiner provides the highlights!

As a final salute to Paul Harvey-Good Day!

Photo Credits
T.J Housh-Courtney Bleuther-Seattle Times

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Puckhead day! Havelid to New Jersey

The New Jersey Devils earned 4 big points in the standings with 2 wins in three days and passed Washington in the Eastern Conference standings to move into second place in the Eastern playoff seedings.

The Sunday 3-0 win over Philadelphia in afternoon action was a win that moved their lead over the second place Flyers further and was a game that was controlled and dominated by the Devils.
One never had the feeling that Philadelphia was in the contest,despite only allowing a goal in each period.
The shutout was number 100 for Martin Brodeur on his career as the road to the win and shutout records continues to relentlessly chase down Patrick Roy (wins ) and Terry Sawchuk (shutouts).
Devils goals to Jamie Langenbrunner (20),Brian Gionta (14) and Johnny Oduya (5).

Last night in Toronto,the Devils played a fired up Maple Leaf team that put forth a hard nosed effort and gave the Devils all that they wanted,but Johnny Oduya followed up a Brian Gionta shot that was trickling to the goalmouth (6) with 12 seconds remaining in overtime for a 3-2 New Jersey win.
The Devils also received goals from Patrik Elias (power play 25) and David Clarkson (15).
The Devils now take time after three games in four days to prepare for an afternoon game in the beautiful (Yeah right) Nassau Coliseum against the Islanders.

The Trade deadline is today and the Devils must at least be in on things.
Lou Lamoriello swings the unexpected deal and I have a suspicion that something could be in the works.
First the trade that brought Nicklas Havelid to New Jersey for Anssi Salmela and that the Devils didn't bring Havelid to Toronto to at least watch the game against the Leafs,meet the team etc.
That seems strange to me,could Havelid been brought in to make a larger deal work with the salary cap?

That said,if Havelid is staying with the Devils,he fits the type.
Solid enough,doesn't make mistakes with the puck and plays the steady game that the Devils believe that their defensemen need to play.
Look at Havelid's plus 4 rating on a team with the awful numbers that Atlanta has.....

I do hate losing Anssi Salmela though (and not because he signed cards for me!).
The Finn has a laser shot that just needs to be harnessed a bit and he could develop into quite a power play threat.
But,I cannot say that it surprises me that Salmela was moved for two reasons.
The first is that he had only an option year left on the deal that he signed to come over the pond .
The other?
It was very apparent that Brent Sutter didn't like him.
I don't know that it was something about his game or a personal thing,but sometimes you can just get a feeling on these types of things.

The Devils should be plenty rested and motivated for the game on Saturday against the Islanders as the Islanders handed (rather pounded) the Devils their most recent loss in a lopsided thumping.

The Devils certainly picked up the shot rate last night in Toronto as the Red and Black peppered Vesa Toskala 52 times,but the total can be deceiving as the Leafs blocked and deflected many of those...

The David Clarkson goal in the first period was a tough,but correct call for the officials.
The puck was clearly going into the net past Toskala,when a Leaf defender knocked the net off the pegs.
Why tough,if it was that clear?
ANY video replay that involves the Maple Leafs cannot be placed into the bank until the call is made.
Strange things happen to replay officials in that building.

More credit to Johnny Oduya.
I have never been a huge fan,but one must give credit when due and Oduya has picked up his game this season and is beginning to change my mind a bit...

The big loser in playing time should the Devs stand pat today?
My bet would be on Andy Greene,although my choice would be Mike Mottau.

Finally,Lou Lamoriello is trying to do the right thing today in attempting to move Scott Clemmensen.
Clemmensen's efforts in the absence of Marty Brodeur was yeoman and helping keep a team that most people had written off in contention and sending Clemmensen to somewhere that he can play shows a degree of gratitude.
However,if he cannot send him to a team in the West,he may have to stay.
Gratitude is one thing,stupidity another.

I will return later with other stuff from the football world and of course ASAP if the Devils make another deal.

Photo Credits-AP Photo

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Different day,Different team

The rematch was just as lopsided,but the winner had changed as the New Jersey scored the first five goals in rolling over the Florida Panthers 7-2 in the first of back to back matinee' games at the Rock.
Zach Parise scored the first two goals in the first period (37 & 38) with the remainder of Devils goal going to the following-Travis Zajac (Power play 18),David Clarkson (14),Dainius Zubrus (13),Brian Rolston (12) and Brendan Shanahan (4).
Marty Brodeur had an easy night facing just 17 shots from Panther sticks.
The Devils take on the rival Flyers today at one (The game is actually at first intermission as I write this).

Hell Raisers

1) David Clarkson finished the game with the most honored award that one can get for a game.
And yes,that includes a hat trick as Clarkson grabbed the "Gordie Howe" hat trick with a goal,an assist and a fight that he convincingly won over Florida's Nick Tarnasky.

2) Zach Parise continues to mature as a scorer as both of the goals that he scored were excellent.
The first came of a rebound of his own shot and slid the puck through Craig Anderson,while the second showed his speed as he took the puck from Nathan Horton and then sped past Keith Ballard to beat Anderson....

3) Have to like the Devil defense as they just locked the Panthers down and made them look quite timid and the lack of shots showed it.
This is the type of defensive play that will need to continue against teams such as Boston,Washington and Philadelphia in the playoffs.
Physical,yet not extremely so.

4) Johnny Oduya was quietly solid as he finished the game at +4.
I didn't remember anything special from Oduya,but looking at the box score,his +4 stood out.
Plus 4 cannot be ignored!

5) The SB Nation family of blogs have started a NHL trade deadline blog for all of you rumor mongers out there for those of you interested in teams other than the Devils (why on earth that would be I don't know!LOL).....

We added a win and a loss to the boxing record as well as a draw in three excellent action championship fights over the weekend.
The record currently stands at 4-2 (1 draw) with 2 bonus points.

Juan Manuel Marquez gave away the early round before wearing down Juan Diaz and knocking him cold with a devastating uppercut in Round nine in earning the vacant WBA Lightweight title and keeping the linear 135 pound title as well.
The HBO televised fight was a tremendous action fight and catch a replay if you can.
Well worth the time.
We had the fight even at 76 at the time of the stoppage.

The co-feature on the card saw WBA Featherweight champ Chris John keep his title with a draw against Rocky Juarez.
John controlled early,Juarez late and the judges got it right as all three judges saw it at 114-114.
Out scorecard shared that view.

On Friday night at the Rock,we attempted to call the upset in the IBF Cruiser title bout and for five rounds,it looked pretty good.
However,Tomas Adamek began to make inroads and slowly made his way into the fight before stopping Johnathan Banks in the eighth round.
We had Banks ahead 77-76 at the time of the stoppage,but Adamek had won the three preceding rounds before the KO.

Photo Credits:AP Photo