Saturday, October 31, 2009

Steaming hot from the melting pot

A few dips from the melting pot for today.

I just realized today that I never did a Reviewing the tape for last week's Ohio State win over Minnesota and I don't think I'm doing one for today's pasting of New Mexico State.
The 45-0 win was big and it should have been-it was New Mexico State,but I decided to get some extra sleep due to the extra long work day on the overnight due to Daylight Savings Time ending and skipped it.
If I have the time or desire,you could see one,but don't wager on it....

I have gotten three emails from readers about the planned Browns fans protest for the Monday night game against Baltimore.
Most of the time,these things are a lot of talk,remember the supposed huge Pirate fan protest against Dave Littlefield?
But this one seems to be being handled in the right way.
No one is being told to stay home,just don't go to your seats for the kickoff.
That seems innocent enough and maybe might get attention towards the teams issues.
Of course,only one person needs to be alerted and that man has caused most of the problems with his poor hires.

Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan isn't happy about things right now either.
Ryan is mad at himself,the defense and doesn't think much of the protest as well.
I know the team wants to be backed and I don't think true Browns fans are going away,but just because the team is going bad doesn't mean that fans have to smile and eat the crap that the team serves up every week either.

Final Browns notes,Our number fan of the Miami Hurricanes weighs in with a short scouting report on practice squad wideout Darnell Jenkins,who the Browns just picked up.
"Yeah he was good in college despite crappy QBs throwing to him.
He (Jenkins) caught everything thrown to him but was always 2nd fiddle to Sam Shields,
who was overhyped."
Thanks to Brandon Siefken for the time.

The Pirates claimed lefty reliever Justin Thomas off waivers from the Mariners and added him to the 40 man roster,although there is no guarantee that Thomas will remain there.
Thomas had decent numbers until he hit AAA,so the jury is out on the Youngstown State product,but considering the cost he was worth a look.
Thomas will likely start at AAA Indianapolis...

In the same note as the Thomas signing,the Pirates commented on their move from Lynchburg to Bradenton with their High A squad.
The quotes below are from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"Here in the Florida State League, it really is a baseball decision hopefully relocating the franchise to Bradenton to get our development staff and our scouting staff more eyes on the club. . . and to rehab our players [there]," FrankCoonelly said. "And to get us the stability" in a minor-league realm where every few years affiliations may change and teams may move.

Pirates director of player development Kyle Stark also noted that such a move could mean: warm-weather games from the season’s onset, which could lessen player injuries, particularly to pitchers unused to colder-climes; turning rehab assignments into relative one-stop shopping rather than the days of a player recovering at Pirate City and moving elsewhere for weeks of competition higher than the rookie Gulf Coast League or extended spring training; and consolidating both development and scouting staffs, who often use Pirate City as their headquarters.

All of those things always sound great in theory until you get into the situation and discover that theory isn't always practice.I respectfully disagree with the above.

Great article by ESPN on former Heisman winner Billy Cannon.Cannon is also remembered for being the first high profile player to sign with the American Football League.The 1958 winner has had an interesting life and this is well worth your time to click and read.

Congrats to the Ashland Arrows and their 9-1 OCC title team after a last second win over Lexington last night.The Arrows will host a first round state tournament playoff game and I will be there to cover it.Time constraints kept me from doing Arrow coverage this season,but I always enjoyed the long distance work and hope to return to it next season.

Back later with the Devils trip to Tampa!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pigskin Picks

We expand Pigskin Picks this week to include the game of the week in both college or pro football.

But first,Ohio State hosts New Mexico State in what should be a breather (Remember the last time that I said that?) before their brutal three game stretch to finish the season against Penn State,Iowa and Michigan,
The less said about this one the better.

The Browns and their all around issues travel to Chicago.
I know some people watched the Bears limp effort against the Bengals last week and think the Browns have a chance.
I don't see it,Chicago needs to sink layups like this to stay in the playoff hunt.
Look for lots of Devin Hester,Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett flying by the Browns secondary.

The Seahawks visit Dallas in a must win,Dallas is always enigmatic and if this game was in Seattle,I could see the Hawks doing something off the bye week.
Seattle must get Matt Hasselbeck going early and hope someone (anyone) can get the less than sterling run game going.

Our game of the week in college has the 5th ranked USC Trojans going to Eugene to battle the 10th ranked Ducks of Oregon.
Oregon has been running over all comers since their first game loss to Boise State and has home field advantage.
USC usually wins these types of games with major implications,but I have a good feeling about Oregon

Our pro game of the week is the Monday matchup between the 6-0 Saints and the 4-2 Falcons.
I picked this game since I would wager most people would say the Vikings-Packers game would the game of the week.
Plus,it seems like half the roster of my fantasy team plays in this game.
Drew Brees versus Matt Ryan looks to be a shootout,but the games key could be which team can run the ball more effectively.

My Picks
Ohio State 41-7
Bears 31-6
Cowboys 27-14
Oregon 42-38
Saints 35-31

A pleasant surprise

When you consider how poorly the New Jersey Devils played on Wednesday vs Buffalo and add to that the fact that Yann Danis was playing in goal in place of Martin Brodeur against the Boston Bruins at their rink,one had to be underwhelmed by the chances of winning.
But I was pleasantly surprised by Danis,the Devils play and getting a few breaks as the Devils EARNED a 2-1 win over the Bruins.
Dainus Zubrus slammed a rebound off a Jamie Langenbrunner/Zach Parise shot (2) with less than two minutes to play with the game winner.
David Clarkson scored the game first goal (3) and only other Devil goal.
The Devils will be in Tampa tomorrow for a rare 3:00 matinee'.
As they used to say in the old days of TV,Plenty of good seats available for that one!

Hell Raisers

1) One had to like what they saw from Yann Danis last night.
Danis had 31 saves and the goal that he allowed was not his fault as a Bruin shot shattered Johnny Oduya's stick and Boston eventually helped the loose puck find its way home.
Sensational evening for Danis.

2) Oduya was sent home to New Jersey with a "lower body injury" and will miss tomorrow's game in Tampa.
The Swede is expected to be ready to play for the Devils next game against Washington.

3) Both Devil goals came off rebounds,which follows my view of winning hockey,but the Clarkson goal came off yet another Nicklas Bergfors fly down the ice,fire and the goalie is then out of position for the putback.
If Bergfors can continue to mature,he is going to be a key part of this teams for years to come.

4) Doc Emrick often refers to the "Unseen hand" when looking at things that affect games and I am sure he said it last night (I watched on NESN) when with Boston having pulled Tim Thomas,someone smacked what looked like a sure goal off the top crossbar behind Danis that would tied the game.
I suppose the unseen hand wanted Danis to be rewarded for his outing.

5) The shorthanded Devils defensemen played extra with the loss of Oduya and played well all things considered.
Cory Murphy will likely see game action in Tampa in the place of Oduya.

Bonus Rounds

The Devils played Illka Pikkarainen more than usual.
I didn't see anything to get excited about,but he did have his best game of the season,even though he didn't have a point.

Yes,even though the Devils do have the best play by play man in hockey,I did watch on NESN.
The NESN overall team of Kathryn Tappen,Mike Milbury in studio and color man Andy Brickley more than covers for the limits of play by play voice Jack Edwards and it is fun to mix it up a little.NESN does such a good job,I think because they only have the Bruins in the winter as a competitor has the Celtics.
Besides,it gives me a chance to use this picture again from last season!

Back later or tomorrow with Pigskin Picks and my thoughts on a topic that three readers sent me the same link to!

Photo Credits
Zubrus:Charles Krupa-AP Photo
Danis:Elsa-Getty Imes

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Split Personalities

Tale of two teams wearing Devil jerseys at the Rock tonight against the Buffalo Sabres.
The team in the second period played hard nosed and aggressive hockey and looked fairly solid.
The team in the first and last periods played sloppy and stupid hockey and was generally less than par in a 4-1 loss to the visitors from Western New York.
Andy Greene's second period power play goal (1) was the only Devil goal.
New Jersey travels to Boston tomorrow night for a battle against the Bruins....

Hell Raisers

1) Poor night by the defense with the exception of Greene,especially Johnny Oduya,who allowed Clarke McArthur to get into easy position for the games first goal and then did little to stop Tim Connolly on the second goal.If the Devils are counting on Oduya to take up the slack from the absence of Paul Martin,he has a long way to go after watching tonight's outing.

2) We usually have praise for David Clarkson,as out favorite Devil,but other than one almost goal from behind the net,Clarkson seemed out of the rhythm of the game.
Here is hoping that it was just an off night.

3) Andy Greene's goal was on the power play,but that still raised the Devils PP scoring to just 2 of their last 22 chances.
That couldn't all be missing Patrik Elias,could it???

4) Don't get me wrong,other members of the Devils defensive unit werent good either.
Mike Mottau played like,well Mike Mottau,but even Bryce Salvador,who can be counted on to not make the dumb mistake was off his game.

5) Sorry to see Andrew Peters scratched from the game against his former team.
Might have been nice to see Peters scrap with Steve Montador.

Bonus Rounds:Haven't seen Pierre (3L) LeBlond drop the gloves this season and as a result he has been less than effective.
Pierre,If you want to be an enforcer/power forward you either fight,crash the net or set up scoring chances-thus far,you have done none of that.....

5) Marty Brodeur allowed four goals,but it could have easily been seven with the Sabre chances against him.
Some of those chances were that good.

Bullpen Notes

From the too funny to miss dept-Phil Savage is criticizing the Browns for getting rid of all his "great" players.
Now,we have criticized Eric Mangini's moves (we actually did so just yesterday),but for all of Mangini's bungling,it was Phil Savage that truly created this crap pile.
Tell you what,Phil-I'll stick to criticizing Mangini if you stay in Alabama and shut the hell up!

The Browns signed Darnell Jenkins to the practice squad and dropped running back Cedric Peerman to make space.
I cannot say I know much about Jenkins,but I am attempting to get a report from the biggest fan of the "u" I know and find out what I can about the former Hurricane.

The Pirates released Tyler Yates,but Neal Huntington has been quoted as saying "he would love to have him back".
I would "love" to see the Pirates back in Lynchburg and Tyler Yates somewhere else,but that's just me.

Photo Credit
Andy Marlin-Getty Images

Pirates move High A team

I usually am on board with the Pirates moves since Neal Huntington and his front office were hired,but this one makes absolutely no sense.

The Pirates today purchased the Sarasota Reds of the High A Florida State League and will be moving them to Bradenton and play their games at the Pirate City complex.
The Cincinnati Reds will assume the Pirates contract with the Lynchburg Hillcats organization for the 2010 season.

This move makes little sense on several fronts.
The first is that the Carolina League is the Lincoln Continental of the High A leagues.
Nicer ballparks, more fans,better weather and most importantly-the most balanced league to evaluate prospects by the numbers.
The Florida State League has always been a pitchers league,while the California League has been been a hitters paradise with the Carolina being the one league that was somewhat balanced.
Anytime that an entire league has questions about its statistical data,the result is that your evaluations of your prospects are always going to have questions,no matter how bright the talent is or the evaluator in question.

The Pirates will have issues getting players up and down from Charleston to Bradenton as well as Bradenton to Altoona,where from Lynchburg,players could drive themselves to their new teams and be at their destination same day.
The FSL ranks at the bottom of attendance of leagues and the weather is stifling after April.
I cannot imagine players loving to play in towns that rarely support their teams,oppressive weather and empty ballparks.
Want attendance numbers?
By sheer attendance and keep in mind that these numbers include all the short season leagues that do not have as many home dates.
of the 176 teams in Minor League baseball,the top team in the FSL was the Charlotte Stone Crabs at number 102,the last team was the team leaving Sarasota at 167.
You want average attendance?Try this one on for size.
Only three teams in the Florida State League averaged more than the Hagerstown Suns number of 2,138-Charlotte,Clearwater and Daytona and three teams averaged less than 1,000 fans a night-Lakeland,Dunedin and Sarasota with Palm Beach barely beating the four digit mark at 1,008.
Several players that I have talked to about Bradenton had less than glowing words for the nightlife in Bradenton (not that Lynchburg VA is Los Angeles by any means) and the High A player could spend their time there from Feburary to September.

The only redeeming part of this decision is the theory of keeping their players "on campus",but this often backfires as the player almost hits the going through the motions zone seeing the same concrete jungle every day.
Sure,they will eventually have these things as they move up the ladder,but these are younger and less mature players and this could affect them more.
The Bucs will regret this one,ask the Reds.
They left the CL years ago and my CL contact has told me for years that the Reds were constantly attempting to return to the league for all the reasons that I wrote above.
At least,for the signature world,this brings a new team to the area in the Reds so this could have been worse as far that goes,but still....

What is plane fare from Hagerstown to Bradenton cost anyway???

Sorry,Neal-I don't have your back on this one.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Frustration Overkill

Full disclosure-I didn't have a huge problem with the hiring of Eric Mangini.
This proves it.
Now I wasn't exactly fired up about the hiring either,but I wasn't infuriated like I would have been if the Browns would have hired Dennis Green or anything.
George Kokinis as GM was a different matter as I wrote here.
But in any event,I have watched seven games of Browns football and re-watched them.
I bet I have broken down as much video of those seven games as anyone not employed by a pro football team,although that would be hard to prove!
So,I feel pretty safe in typing this-the Cleveland Browns are headed down Pirate Avenue and that doesn't take you higher.

Not only has this teams talent level not risen (with a few exceptions),but you can make a really legitimate argument that it has decreased.
Of the seven games,only the Bengal game and maybe the first half of the Viking loss were anything resembling quality football and even though the win in Buffalo counts as a win,it might have been the worst football game that I have seen in years.
Let's take a look at the players that have been imported from the Jets as "Mangini guys".
A few of them start,but none are exactly setting the world on fire.
Eric Barton and David Bowens start at linebacker,but neither are even NFL average players.
Barton is passable if the talent around him is solid,which it isn't,but Bowens would be nothing more than a special teamer on an average team.
Jason Trusnik is a special teams star,but guys like him are a dime a dozen and playing him at linebacker not only is a waste of time,but shows just how out of control this team is.
Kenyon Coleman and C.J Mosley were supposed to be contributors on the defensive line,but have been no such thing,especially Mosley,who seems to have one move and that is being dropped on his back and pray the runner trips over him.
The two former Jets in the secondary are no help either.
Abram Elam starts,but for a supposed hard hitter misses a ton on tackles and frankly sucks in both coverage and pursuit.
How many times can I see players run by or shove Elam aside on big plays,although he isn't the only one that has suffered that fate.
Hank Poteat has been released by five teams before Cleveland and is so bad that even this team can see he is a huge liability in just about any role.
I could not forget to mention the supposedly sure handed Chansi Stuckey,who has literally dropped every pass thrown to him and is so bad that he hardly sees action anymore or Mangini's favorite clipboard carrier Brett Ratliff,who I am convinced will get a start before this season ends,if Mangini makes it that far!
This doesn't have mention the two free agent starters that were signed from other teams in the human revolving door John St.Clair and Robert "Hard Hands' Royal at tackle and tight end respectively.

The draft shows a bit of promise,but think about this team with Mark Sanchez and Rey Maualuga?
Or even if they made the Jets trade anyway and took Clay Matthews and Maualuga,the weak linebacking corps of this team would have been remade instantly!
And the Browns still could have landed Mohammed Massaquoi with the second pick in round two and then not have forced the seemingly ridiculous pick of David Veikune,who never plays and instead took one of two exciting rookie backs that would have been available at that pick in Pitt's LeShaun McCoy (Eagles) or Iowa's Shonn Greene (Ironically,Jets).
Hindsight is always 20/20,but lets say Mangini/Kokinis had to make the Jets trade,that it was too good to pass up,but tell me which of these two drafts would you rather have?

Mangini/Kokinis-Alex Mack,Brian Robiskie,Mohammed Massaquoi and David Veikune
ThoughtsofRS-Clay Matthews,Rey Maualuga,Mohammed Massaquoi and your choice of LeShaun McCoy or Shonn Greene.

Look at the production of all those players and from watching the games and tell me which was the better plan.
I do think that Mack is improving each week and will eventually be a solid player,but for the difference in these two drafts,I think the Browns could have staggered by for another year with Hank Fraley at center.

I have heard some claim that Mangini has a plan to rebuild by accumulating draft picks and that the Browns have 11 picks in next season's draft and that is true.
However,only one of the picks the Browns have acquired is in the first three rounds with the other three being in rounds five and six,not very likely that an impact player will be added there.
And assuming the picks are increased even more through future deals,do you really trust the personnel evaluations of these fellows?
I cannot say with any confidence that I do.
As far as free agency goes,considering the 1,500 dollar fines for three dollar bottles of water and the other silliness that has occurred since Eric Mangini has arrived in Cleveland,does anyone out there believe that top free agents are going to sign with the Browns?
I just cannot believe that will happen either.

The play calling has been simply abysmal as well.
Brian Daboll calls the same Jamal Lewis run plays constantly and has little imagination at all.
Take this scene from the Packer game.
After a nine yard gain on first down,the Browns are faced with a 2nd and one.
This to me,sets up either a play action deep pass or a short pass to the tight end/wideout.
Daboll has Derek Anderson dive over the middle for the first down.
No creativity at all,try the pass and then if unsuccessful,run on third and one with the same damn run play that you call all the time.
Rob Ryan's defense is horrible at tackling,but he at least tries something different with blitzes to rush the passer.
They don't work very often,but he at least makes an effort unlike Daboll,who seems to think he running the 1970's Nebraska offense.

Effort wise,these players don't seem to be very happy and the spirit is lacking.
With the exception of the Bengals game,this team seems to be happiest when the game is over.
Many players don't seem to want to run hard at all times and most seem to be happy to go through the motions.
Could it be that Eric Mangini has lost this team in seven weeks?
I cannot say for sure,I am not among the players,but it sure looks like that is a real possibility.

Finally,one more note.
I try to catch the Browns theme shows every week on STO and I chuckle at the Browns radio voices Jim Donovan and Doug Dieken picking the Browns to win every week without any rational reason for doing so other than they like doing the games and don't want to piss the Browns off.
The Plain Dealer's Tony Grossi doesn't have those concerns,so he is able to call it as he sees things,even if he could be wrong at times.
However,on Monday's Browns Red Zone,both Donovan and Dieken were surprisingly critical of Mangini and the team to a degree that I have never heard before.
And mentioned the invisible Kokinis,who might as well not even be around for all you hear from and about him....
When the paid employees of the team begin to be critical of the coaches and front office,things are closer to the end than the beginning.

Unless things turn around in the next nine games,the Eric Mangini era could be a short one.
I would have been surprised at the start,if someone had told me that Mangini would be one year and out,I would not be surprised now.
One last thing to remember-remember the words of Bill Cowher to Randy Lerner in their meeting when Cowher turned the Browns job down-"Can't you wait just one more year"?
I would wager that Randy Lerner is remembering that statement right now.....

Photo Credit
Mangini:Tony Dejak-AP Photo

Steaming hot from the melting pot

The melting pot is over the fire today with a few bowls to be dipped out for your enjoyment.

Baseball America named Andrew McCutchen their Rookie of the Year and also placed Garrett Jones on the BA All-Rookie team.
I cannot complain about the selection,but I would be surprised if McCutchen won the official award considering the opposition that includes JA Happ of the Phillies and Tommy Hanson of the Braves.

The Cleveland Indians dropped the ball again in hiring Manny Acta as the new leader of the Tribe.
Nothing personal against Acta,who I thought did OK in Washington considering the restrictions he was under,but Bobby Valentine would have brought the charisma,knowledge and resume' that Cleveland teams never seem to get when they hire a coach.
Bet money that Acta was the choice over Valentine for one reason-Valentine would have been an eventual threat to GM Mark Shapiro as eventually Valentine would openly question the less than brilliant moves made by Shapiro.
Another Cleveland missed opportunity.

The New Jersey Devils will have do without their best defenseman and one of their top penalty killers for the next four to six weeks.
Jay Pandolfo is out with an injured shoulder while Paul Martin suffered a broken arm.
The Devils forward situation on the roster should be status quo,while Cory Murphy was recalled from Lowell to bolster the defensive corps.
I am hopeful of Johnny Oduya stepping up to do some of the things that is taken care of by Martin.
If he cannot,the Devils are in hot water.

The Rich Rodriguez era at michigan continues to have issues as the NCAA began formally investigating the program for violations.
I hope they take their time and Rodriguez hangs around.
I want him to stay there until Brian Kelly makes his move to a top notch program from Cincinnati.
Brian Kelly coaching michigan is enough to keep me from sleeping soundly for quite a while...

Here is an interesting take from a Cleveland Browns sufferer from ESPN.
I love his take on Art Modell!

I have enjoyed the ESPN 30 for 30 film series thus far.
The USFL show was the one I liked best,but I had mixed feelings on the film on the Baltimore Colt band.
I understand how the people of Baltimore felt screwed over by Bob Irsay and Paul Tagliabue (who's selection of Jacksonville over Baltimore for expansion started this mess to begin with),but the hypocrisy of so many Baltimore fans has always sickened me.
I have heard from so many fans something along the lines of this "We had our team stolen,so...".
Apparently,these people never were taught by their parents that two wrongs never equal a right.

It has been over a week,but I did watch the first two bouts of the Super Six tourney.
Arthur Abraham brutally KO'ed Jermain Taylor with seconds remaining in the final round,while Carl Froch kept his WBC Super Middleweight title with a split decision over Andre Dirrell.

We had Abraham far ahead before the stoppage and saw Froch winning 114-113 by the margin of a point deduction for Dirrell for holding.
Dirrell held the entire fight and hurt his own cause as he controlled the fight until he refused to work on the inside and elected to grab and hold.

Best part of the night was after Screaming Gus Johnson,who seemed to have a man crush on Dirrell made a statement that "Dirrell clearly won that round" after a Froch round and an astonished Al Bernstein responded with "really? Wow!".

Jermain Taylor has been stopped three times in his last five fights,spent two days in the hospital following the bout and should hang the gloves up.
Taylor was a fine fighter,but he lacks stamina at this point in his career,making him vulnerable to the late power bombs and the jaw doesn't hold up either.
Word is that if Taylor drops from the tourney that the replacement will be Allan Green,although the winner of next month's IBF 168 pound title rematch between Lucien Bute and Librado Andrade is not out of the question and would be a better choice.
Round one of the tourney ends next month in Oakland with Mikkel Kessler defending his WBA strap against Andre Ward,the former Olympic gold medal winner.

The Hagerstown Suns announced a new hire to their front office in Karl Micka-Foos as the team's Director of Ticket Operations.
Now,we usually don't comment on every hire for the Suns,but this one struck my eye,not that I ever have met this young man or remember him despite his working for the team last season.
However,as I read the press release I discovered that he was the fellow I have been slamming all season as the Suns PA announcer!
Congratulations to Micka-Foos for the new job and best wishes from us for two reasons.
One is we try to be positive and not nasty when we can help it and the other is that anything that puts someone else behind the PA mic is something that we are all for!

And finally,the Austin Idol shoot interview is apparently out as the clip below advertises.
What strikes me the most is how little Idol has appeared to age from his prime 20 to 30 years ago.
I can only hope I age that well!

Until later when we either review the tape of Ohio State-Minnesota or get angry with Eric Mangini or both!

Photo Credit
Froch-Dirrell-Nick Potts-AP Photo

Monday, October 26, 2009

Four years of this????

Eric Mangini received a four year contract to turn around the flagging fortunes of the Cleveland Browns,but it has taken him less than a half season for the fans of the team to wonder if he is capable of doing so.
After another pathetic effort in a 31-3 bitch slapping at the hands of the Green Bay Packers yesterday,it certainly doesn't seem like the program is headed in the right direction.
I normally start the reviews with Ohio State,but the disgust that I feel towards the game yesterday made me want to write the Browns first.
For those of you that like the angry stuff,stay tuned as I plan on an all Mangini post,if time permits over the next few days.....

Brownie Bits

1) I should rename this to Brownie Chunks after this game and that could have two different connotations.
As bad of some of these games have been,this one was the worst.

2) Derek Anderson throws the ball too hard on short passes and then wonders why his receivers drop passes.
NFL quality receivers can catch a ball that isn't on the money,if the ball has a bit of touch.
Anderson shows little of any of that.

3) As we have written in the past,Brady Quinn isn't the answer,but by not playing him at this stage of the season,the Browns look like they are strictly playing the financial game.
Quinn gets all sorts of incentives if he takes 70 % of the snaps this season.
If Quinn sits against the Bears this week,that would be almost unreachable.
The Browns look cheap by doing this,but once that situation is settled,I would hope that the Browns return to Quinn.

4) Quick prediction-you will see Brett Ratliff under center before this season is over.

5) For all of Anderson's faults and there are many,some of the mess was not his fault.
Rookie receivers Mohammed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie were grabbed,pounded and wrestled into submission by two veteran corners in Green Bay's Al Harris and Charles Woodson.
They simply weren't open often and when they were,it wasn't for long...

6) More awful tackling from the Browns secondary.
The Donald Driver catch and run was bad to be charitable.
Brodney Pool made a half hearted attempt and then watched Driver run away and Eric Wright was pie-faced for what seemed to be the 100th time this season.
I do give Wright credit for trying which is more than I usually can say to Pool,Brandon McDonald and supposed sure tackler Abram Elam.

7) The Packers led the league in sacks allowed and that includes having already served their bye week.
Green Bay also was missing two starters on the offensive line going into the game.
Sacks for the Browns on this day? Zero
Nice to see those former Jet linemen Kenyon Coleman and C.J. Mosley have been worth dealing for and helping with the pass rush.
I did see Mosley get pancaked on a Packer TD run,which was the first time in a while that I actually saw anything from him.

8) Two called plays for Josh Cribbs from the Browns version of the "Wildcat" formation-both runs for next to nothing.
The Cleveland version should be called the Mildcat.

9) The Browns were lucky to get the three points they scored as Billy Cundiff smacked the goalpost with a large clang,but the ball deflected through the post instead of back to the field.
I feel so much better about those three points.

10) Another personal favorite was someone named Spencer Havner grabbing a 45 yard pass for a touchdown and seemingly crushing every Brown on the field and ending the run by tossing Abram Elam aside like a rag.
Even better was when Ryan said "You know,Havner was All Pac 10 at UCLA,but it was at linebacker!"
That made me feel even better-the opponents are catching TD passes with former defenders,while the Browns pay sizable money to Robert Royal (missed this game) to play the position and cannot catch the damn ball!

11) Want more,stay tuned later in the week when I go after Eric Mangini and the silent George Kokinis (where the hell is HE anyway?) for taking a toxic team and turning it into a Superfund candidate!

Photo Credits
Anderson:Amy Sancetta-AP Photo
Driver/Wright:Scott Heckel-AP Photo
Havner/Elam:Mark Duncan-AP Photo

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What a Rush!!

The New Jersey Devils role as the Road Warriors (Therefore the title of the post) continued with wins over the Rangers and Penguins.
The Devils have won their first five road games of the season for the first time in franchise history.
The 4-2 win at Madison Square Garden was paced by two goals from Zach Parise (4 and 5) with Nicklas Bergfors and Danius Zubrus each scoring their first goals of the season.
The Devils 4-1 win last night in Pittsburgh was led by goals from Zach Parise (6),Travis Zajac (5),Nicklas Bergfors (2 Powerplay) and Mark Fraser (1).
The Devils return to the ice on Wednesday against Buffalo for the first of three games in four days...

Hell Raisers

1) Both wins were well played,but the Pittsburgh win was the best game that the team has played all season.
A complete domination of the high powered Penguins from beginning to end and the biggest stat to me was this one-2 shots COMBINED from Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
You do that to Pittsburgh and your chances improve greatly.

2) Bad news from the game though-cheap shots from the frustrated Penguins might have cost the Devils two key contributors.
Mike Rupp came flying into Jay Pandolfo well after the puck was gone and slammed him into the boards.
To quote Sam Wyche-that is a penalty.
Bill Guerin slashed Paul Martin and appears to have broken his arm.
Martin is the teams best defenseman and plays the most minutes of any player on the team and would be a huge loss.

3) Nicklas Bergfors lived up to our praise from the last post by scoring a goal in each of the victories.
The Ranger goal was very pretty as he flew down the ice and deftly flicked David Clarkson's pass by Henrik Lundquist while the Penguin goal was a result of hard work as he shot the puck,went around the net and slammed the rebound behind Marc-Andre Fleury.
I really like what I have seen from Bergfors and after waiting for what seemed to be quite a while,Bergfors appears to have been worth the wait.

4) Mark Fraser played against Pittsburgh in his first game action after injuring his head in pre-season and scored the games first goal.
The goal wasn't just a surprise,but the larger shock was that Fraser wasn't sent to Lowell.
I figured he would be assigned there when he was ready to return.
No word on his sticking around with the injury to Paul Martin or whether the return of Cory Murphy will happen instead.

5) Bryce Salvador played very well in both games and adds the physical presence that the Devils need all too often.
Salvador banged around Evgeni Malkin all night in being the key in the Russian's slow night.

6) The Devils were terrific for the first period against the Rangers,not so swift in the second and played the third on even terms before Dainius Zubrus chipped a Zach Parise shot into the net for the game winner.

7) Mike Mottau was scratched against Pittsburgh and made some of many brain dead mistakes in front of the Devils net against the Rangers (He was not the only one though),but his first period stand against Sean Avery in a surprisingly good scrap showed Avery that this team isn't taking his crap this season and set the tone for the night.
Avery must have thought Mottau was an easy mark as he actually dropped the gloves and banged away.

8) Travis Zajac continues to impress with solid play and his best season start ever.
Even with line tinkering from Jacques LeMaire,Zajac continues to play well no matter his linemates...

9) Patrik Elias looks to be returning to practice sometime this coming week and that means the Devils lineup should be bolstered by his return sometime in early November.
The Devils offense could be as strong as ever if Elias can get up to speed quickly and they made need it with the loss of Paul Martin...

Back tomorrow with looks at the Ohio State win and the Browns humiliation against Green Bay.

Photo Credits
Fraser:Joe Sargent-Getty Images
Zubrus;Frank Franklin II-AP Photo

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pigskin Picks

Hectic day today at the world headquarters,so I will post the Devils win over the Rangers tomorrow,but I did want to get Pigskin Picks up,just in case the craziness continues...

Ohio State hosts Minnesota in an attempt to bounce back from the stunning loss to Purdue.
Minnesota is a superior team to Purdue,but that should be offset by the Buckeyes being at home
This one really comes down to how the loss affected the team,they could come out inspired or demoralized.
Look for Brandon Saine to carry more and perhaps more tweaks to Terrelle Pryor than the coaching staff is giving away....

The Browns host Green Bay in yet another game that I just don't see them winning.
They did play their best game of the year in their last outing at home,but since then lost D'Qwell Jackson for the season.
Look for Green Bay to throw on the Browns all day and roll up huge air numbers,while Cleveland will have to do the same.
Cleveland should also blitz A LOT as the Packer offensive line has had issues protecting Aaron Rodgers.
Forcing turnovers into easy points often might be the only scenario that Cleveland can win under.

Seattle on their bye week.

Ohio State 24-10
Packers 31-13

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Reviewing the tape-How many in a row?

Well,the number is 12 and if you want to be further sickened-try this one,18 of the last 19.
That's right,those are the numbers that Browns fans have had to endure against the Pittsburgh Steelers over the past few years and even though any thinking fan had to know that the Browns had little chance of upsetting the Steelers,the pain wasn't made any easier in a 27-14 loss in Pittsburgh.
Losing to the Steelers and Ravens anytime is bad enough,but sometimes it is tougher than others.
The schedule gets no easier this week with the Green Bay Packers rolling into Cleveland and then a road game at Chicago against the Bears before the Browns get their bye.

Brownie Bits

1) How do you look at things?
Are you a glass half empty or half full person?
Because a half full person looks at this game and sees that if the Browns had taken advantage of many Steeler mistakes that this game could have been won.
The half empty person could argue that even though Pittsburgh made so many errors,they still won going away.
You make the call.

2) D'Qwell Jackson suffered a shoulder injury in the game that forced him from the game and after x-rays,ended his season.
Jackson is the best linebacker on this team,which doesn't mean much but will be a big loss.
Hopefully this will mean more playing time for rookies David Veikune and Kaluka Maiava,so we can see what they bring to the table because other than that small strand,this is nothing but bad news.

3) Josh Cribbs finally threw the ball out of the "Wildcat"formation and threw an incompletion before being intercepted.
The Browns never tried again with the pass from Cribbs and I think that was a bad move.
You established that you can try it,keep the defense off balance!
Instead it was the same old draw up the middle when the formation was used later in the game.

4) I have seen enough of Brandon McDonald and his soft pantywaisted tackling efforts to last me a lifetime.
Corners are rarely sure tacklers,but McDonald seems to attempt to avoid contact!
That would be wonderful,if he was a running back,but a defensive player has to at least look like they are trying to take runners down!

5) Loved the 43 yard gain on the catch by Mohammad Massaquoi.
The rookie from Georgia drops the occasional pass,but that might be because Derek Anderson throws the ball like Goose Gossage.
Massaquoi has the tools to be the best receiver of the "new"Browns and yes,that includes Braylon Edwards.

6) Brian Robiskie actually got to play and caught a pass for 23 yards over the middle.
He was still targeted just three times and that number needs to get higher,but small steps,I suppose....

7) Tight End has went from a rare position of depth to a barren wasteland.
After the release of Martin Rucker(now with the Eagles),Steve Heiden and then Robert Royal have each been injured.
The Browns had waiver pickup Greg Estandia on the field by the end of the Steeler game and may have to start him against the Packers.
Vagabond Michael Gaines was signed to the roster as this weeks backup,in case neither Heiden or Royal can play this week.

8) Wasn't the main selling point on Chansi Stuckey supposed to be his sure hands?
I haven't seen it as he has dropped every pass thrown his way and I mean EVERY.
Perhaps he is having trouble adjusting to Anderson's passes after seeing Mark Sanchez's tosses,but this still raises a lot of concerns when a receiver that is noted for his hands cannot hold onto the ball,especially when he is replacing the generally sure handed Mike Furrey...

9) This was a sloppy game with each team turning the ball over four times,but the difference to me was this-when the Steelers turned it over,they were often in Browns territory,so it wasn't much more than a good punt as far as field position goes.
When the offense is as bad as the Browns was (with the exception of the 3rd quarter TD drive),that can be a huge factor that is often missed in turnovers.

10) Want a sleeper for you fantasy players out there for this weeks game?
Try Kamerion Wimbley.
Green Bay has been riddled with offensive line injuries all year,starter Chad Clifton aggravated an injury last week and all the Packer tackle replacements have made defenders look like stars.
Remember the inflated numbers of Cincinnati's Antwun Odom after his game against Green Bay?

Photo Credits
Keith Skarocic-AP Photo

Devils shutout Canes,Rangers tonight!

The New Jersey Devils return to action tonight against the Rangers at MSG,but I wanted to catch up with some thoughts on the Devils 2-0 win on Saturday over visiting Carolina.
Jamie Langenbrunner (2) scored the game winner early in the third period with Zach Parise (3) adding the empty netter.
Apologies for falling behind,Sunday/Monday was a brutally long day for me as I worked my regular ten hour shift and then had to go straight to trainings and inservices for hours afterwards,so it has taken a few days to recharge the batteries.

Hell Raisers

1) Marty Brodeur moved within one shutout of Terry Sawchuk's all time record with the whitewash.
Brodeur was tremendous in victory,but don't forget Cam Ward in defeat.
Ward allowed just one goal and that was very fluky as an attempted clear bounced off Jamie Langenbrunner's shoulder and past Ward.
Ward more than matched Marty on this night.

2) Andy Greene played very well as the sixth defenseman and that played a part in one of the notes below.Greene has looked more like the solid player of 07-08 than the struggling blueliner of last season.

3) Nicklas Bergfors hasn't scored yet,but it will come sooner than later if he can continue to fire eight shots on goal like he did against Carolina.
One can see the skating ability and explosiveness that Bergfors possesses and I love what he brings to the lineup.

4) The powerplay still is bad as the Devils didn't convert all night and that included a 5 on 3.
I understand the concept of not recklessly firing at the net with little regard for the opposing penalty killers,but I still think the Devils could do a better job of passing the puck in tight rather than perimeter passes,which I think they do too much of at times.

5) The Devils continue to get hit with stupid penalties.
I think this was the fourth game in a row with too many men on the ice penalties.
That is just mental mistakes and someone needs to either address this in practice or make someone accountable for this stuff...

Bonus Rounds

The win moves the Devils to 4-3 on the year and was the Devils first win of the year at the Rock.
Unusual to enter a game 3-0 on the road and 0-3 at home.

The Devils made two moves after the game,neither move impacting the parent club.
Cory Murphy was placed on waivers (Which he cleared) and then sent to Lowell.
Murphy had to clear waivers in order to play for the Jr.Devils as his contract was not a two way deal.
Murphy didn't really show me much when he played,but he must have lit a fire under Andy Greene because Greene's play has improved greatly after being forced to battle for the sixth defenseman slot on the team.

The Devils also signed veteran Dean McAmmond to a minor league deal and signed him to Lowell.
McAmmond would need to sign a new contract in the event he would be brought up to the Devils.
The 36 year old left winger has played for eight teams 0ver his career and played for Ottawa and the Islanders last season.

Photo Credits-AP Photo

Reviewing the tape-Sick,Sick,Sick

This is why predicting games is so difficult.
Part of picking games means sticking your neck out,but yours truly picked Ohio State to beat Purdue with an "easy win".
That usually is the kiss of death.
I didn't see anyone else picking Purdue,but I did see a woeful effort as the Buckeyes were saddled with one of their biggest upset losses in quite a while as Purdue earned the 26-18 win.
Ohio State hosts Minnesota this Saturday and the loss to Purdue puts them in "win out" mode from here on out or the bowl invitation will get weaker by the loss.

Buckeye Branches

1) Allow me to weigh in on Terrelle Pryor.
2 picks,2 fumbles and lousy passing.
Pryor's touchdown pass and one of his interceptions were the same pass-drop back,throw off back foot,heave and hope your guy catches the ball.
Of all the criticisms,the bad decisions and poor mechanics are the most valid.

2) Is Pryor a bad fit for Tressel's offense?
Maybe,but that is more the fault of the coaching staff than the player.
After all,they recruited him for this offense and thought he could play in it,that would be poor evaluating.

3) Could OSU add some things to the offense to make Pryor more effective?
Yes,he could be encouraged to see things better and tuck and run more if he sees a lane.
It seems to me that so many people have been on this kid to be a true passer that he then forces throws because he doesn't want to be seen as just a running quarterback.

4) Pryor's high school coach has joined in with his opinion that Pryor is being miscast.
His points are somewhat valid,but Pryor isn't blameless either-he knew that Ohio State ran an offense that was different than his past one and if he didn't want to run what they run,he could always go elsewhere.
And don't tell me that OSU misrepresented themselves in recruiting Pryor-there isn't a school that doesn't do that in recruiting kids.....

5) This game still hinged on three plays.
I thought the officiating was rather good except for a first quarter fumble deep in Purdue territory caused by Kurt Coleman that OSU recovered that was called forward progress stopped.
The play was so bad that the announcers kept wondering why Purdue was still on the field.
Bad call and momentum stopper,but not the difference in the game.

6) But this might have been-Brandon Saine rips off a 15 yard touchdown run that is called back by holding on Bryant Browning.
Next play Pryor fumbles and Purdue takes over.

7) Finally OSU has one final chance for a miracle,but they need to stop Purdue on a third down.
They do,but Doug Worthington (who wasn't even needed to make the stop) flies in and grabs the facemask.

8) Want another difference maker?
66 yards rushing for the Buckeyes and Purdue's Kevin Smith and Aaron Valentin combining for 22 catches and 222 yards combined.
Take your pick.

9) The OSU secondary was completely befuddled by the Purdue spread,the corners were just unable to shut Smith and Valentin down.
Just a little tighter coverage could have made the difference,but someones refusal to give up zone coverage just killed Ohio State all day.

10) Sorry,this wasn't a brighter post,but we pride ourselves on honesty and independence and there can be no other way to put this devastating loss.
This will never be a Homerville blog,if I have to write like that,I am finished.

Back later with the Browns tape review and some Devils stuff as well....

Photo Credit-Darron Cummings-AP Photo

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Devils disappointing in loss to Atlanta

The New Jersey Devils looked like they were going to overwhelm the Atlanta Thrashers in the first period, a period they they dominated everywhere but on the scoreboard.
Travis Zajac scored the first goal of the game (4) and the game looked well on its way into the win column.
Funny thing,Atlanta controlled the game thereafter and the Devils played two lethargic periods in a 4-2 loss.
Zach Parise scored the other Devil goal (2) in the third period.
The Devils host Carolina tonight in what I hope will be a better effort....

Hell Raisers

1) Other than the Parise/Zajac/Langenbrunner line,just an awful night.
Little firepower and not a lot of quality chances after the first period..

2) Ondrej Pavelec made some super saves in the first period,but didn't have to do as much later as the Devils quit applying pressure and as a result,the scoring chances dropped.

3) Bryce Salvador was the only bright spot on defense.
Salvador assisted on both goals and made a terrific play breaking up a 2 on1 Atlanta rush that looked to be another Atlanta goal.

4) Atlanta dominated on the special teams with two goals on the power play and another shorthanded.
The Devils kill looked often uninspired and needs to be improved...

5) Too much Rob Niedermayer on the power play.
Neidermayer is not a good fit on the PP and his play showed it as he doesn't camp around the net enough and his shot isn't as effective from the outside...

6) Not impressed with Ilka Pikkarainen thus far.
The sample size is small,he seems a bit soft and hasn't made a smooth adjustment to the North American game as of yet..

Quick picks on the beginning of Showtime's Super Six tournament tonight.

I like Carl Froch to defeat Andre Dirrell by late round stoppage.
Dirrell has the lightest resume' in the tournament and has never fought this caliber of fighter before.

I also see a late round stoppage for Arthur Abraham over Jermain Taylor.
Abraham may be behind on the cards,but Taylor always fades late in fights and that will make the difference.

Photo Credit-Rich Schultz-AP Photo

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pigskin Picks

This weeks Pigskin Picks feature two road games and a home game for our heroes.

Ohio State travels to Purdue for what should be an easy win over the 1-5 Boilermakers.
Purdue is going to throw a lot,so look for plenty of sacks from the Buckeye defensive line.
Boom Herron is missing the game,so Brandon Saine should get the lions share of the carries.
This is a mismatch on paper,but any road game can be a test.

The Browns hike over to Pittsburgh for what should be their 12th loss to the Steelers in a row.
Eric Mangini never lost to the Steelers as Jets head coach,but this is a far different team.
I suppose crazy things could happen,if the Browns are able to control the clock (not likely),Derek Anderson has a huge day (Not likely) and the Steelers manage to make a ton of mistakes,but I just don't see that happening.
One small hope is the Steeler running game being run down with Willie Parker not at 100% and Rashad Mendenhall battling the flu that perhaps a break or two could go Cleveland's way.
There is snow showers in the forecast,so maybe the Steeler passing game is hindered,but I would think Cleveland's would be hammered worse.

Seattle hosts Arizona in a battle of teams looking to set themselves up as the most likely contender to catch San Francisco for the lead in the NFC West.
San Fran is 3-2,the Cardinals 2-2 and Seattle 2-3,so this shapes up as a big one.
The matchup to watch is Matt Hasselbeck against the anemic Arizona pass defense,which has been the worst in the league.
Arizona is going to be able to throw the ball,but the Hawks cannot allow them to mix the run in as well.
This looks like the best of the three games this weekend and look for the famed Seattle 12th man to be a factor in the game.

Ohio State 35-10
Steelers 31-6
Seahawks 31-29

Captain Lou Albano

Lou Albano passed away earlier this week after a long illness at the age of 76.
Albano is known for his 1980's appearances with Cyndi Lauper in videos when Lauper was red hot (think of Lauper as one of the top handful of rock stars for a year or two),his television role as Mario on the Saturday Morning kids show Super Mario Brothers and most notably as one of the holy trinity of wrestling managers in the WWF territory along with the Grand Wizard (Ernie Roth) and Fred Blassie.

Lou Albano was known for the insanely manic interviews and for the rubberbands that he often wore on his face long before face piercing became as common as you see it today.
Lou usually was assigned the heel tag teams of the area and would occasionally manage a single wrestler,if the grappler in question had a odd gimmick.
The Grand Wizard usually had the wrestlers that were actually the top notch wrestlers and Fred Blassie usually had the monster style heel,but Albano began to have some of the better wrestling heels after the passing of the Wizard as he began to have the likes of the Magnificent Muraco and Greg Valentine wrestle in his stable.
Albano managed well before I became a wrestling fan,but his tag champions in the territory when I was a fan included the Wild Samoans,the Moondogs and Mr Fuji and Mr Saito as well as his many champions before I was a fan.
Albano also had a rock song about him released in the early 80's before the WWF went national by cult group NRBQ and yes,I did have the 45!

Albano was also in a way responsible for me knowing about " the business".
Having grown up watching "legitimate" sports until the age of 12,the ultimate expose' of the business for me was this-The WWF would come to the Capital Centre once a month and a few times a year would feature a six man tag match.
On the one side would be the babyface team that was either chasing Albano's tag champs or being chased by the latest team brought into the area by the Captain and usually their partner was Andre the Giant,who was touring world wide,but was being booked by Vince McMahon Sr and therefore the WWF had first dibs on the Giant.
On the opposing side would be Albano's team and their partner would be Albano.
Now,even to a 12 year old,this made no sense.
What kind of level playing field gave one team Andre the Giant and the other Lou Albano?
This would be the current day equivalent of the Phillies playing the Dodgers tomorrow and the Phillies get Albert Pujols and the Dodgers Biff Pocoroba (a poor player in his day and his day was 30 years ago).
These matches usually features a stomp or two from the Captain and a quick blade job (usually an extremely obvious one) and Albano either quickly losing or scurrying to the locker room after a beating from the opposition.
If those matches were able to be figured out by 12 year olds,you had to figure others had the score as well.
I suppose that was the difference between the McMahon product and the superior in ring territories in various parts of the South,the WWF was just so easy to see through.

Albano also was responsible for setting the stage of the final big drawing run of the WWF as a regional territory before the arrival of Hulk Hogan and the national expansion.
Jimmy Snuka came into the WWF under Albano doing flying moves that northern fans didnt see much of and the spectacular Snuka soon became a huge crowd favorite.
Between Snuka's moves and the growing unpopularity of champion Bob Backlund,Snuka was being cheered everywhere and included his title matches vs Backlund.
The problem was that Snuka and Albano were heels and the WWF didnt want their heels cheered,so Snuka was turned fan favorite with the hook being Albano stealing Snuka's money and ending with Ray Stevens piledriving Snuka on the concrete floor,when that actually meant something.

The Snuka-Stevens feud drew huge dollars and then led into the Snuka-Don Muraco battles which drew even more money.
Albano brought Cyndi Lauper into the territory and that was the first time that the beginning of wrestling meeting mainstream celebrities andinvolving them in the business.
Albano "saw the light" and began managing teams favored by the fans,but it never truly seemed to click as that was a very difficult role to pull off.

Albano has one final memory for me personally.
As someone that rooted for the "bad guys",I enjoyed jabbing at my brother,who liked the "good guys" and hated Albano.
So in order to tweak him,I started calling him "Captain Shane",which he hated and worked so well,I then started having other people call him that as well,driving him into a frenzy.
Nice guy,huh> :)
The ironic thing about that was and always makes me smile thinking about it was this-he hated Albano and the way he acted,yet he acted like the manic Captain when he was called that!

Rest in Peace,Captain Lou!

Photo Credit-Unknown

Reviewing the tape-Seahawks wipeout Jaguars

In a game that shaped up as a must win for the Seattle Seahawks,Seattle had returning quarterback Matt Hasselbeck toss four touchdown passes in a 41-0 demolition of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The win improves the Seahawks to 2-3 and just one game out of first in the weaker NFC West.
Seattle hosts Arizona on Sunday in an important divisional matchup.

Puget Sounds

1) Matt Hasselbeck isn't the best QB in the league,but he ranks among the most important to his team.
Hasselbeck is 2-0 in games he starts and finishes,the Seahawks are 0-3 when he does not.

2) Seattle just is a different team with Hasselbeck instead of Seneca Wallace.
All the receivers get into the game and Seattle's strength is their receiving corps.
T.J Houshmanzdeh looked comfortable in the offense for the first time all season and Nate Burleson is able to get downfield further under Hasselbeck than the lesser armed Wallace.

3) Since the game was so lopsided,Edgerrin James had the most carries for Seattle.
This could be a good thing to round James into further game shape as I am sure he is motivated for this weeks game against the Cardinals..

4) Five sacks for the defense and the rush just was all over David Garrard from the games start.
If you want to give a specific area credit for the shutout,try the linebackers as Aaron Curry,Lofa Tatupu and Will Herring were all over the field....

5) I wish I could give you more,but the Seahawks dominated so completely as a team,there is little left to say other than this weeks game against Arizona suddenly looks like a fun game to watch!

Will try to be back later with another post.

Photo Credit-Ted Warren-AP Photo

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The worst football game I have ever seen

The Cleveland Browns were able to notch the first win of the Eric Mangini era with an incredibly bad and boring 6-3 win over the Buffalo Bills, who seem to be the only team that the Browns can defeat anymore having their last two wins over Buffalo in addition to a 2007 win over the Bills. The 1-4 Browns travel to Pittsburgh Sunday to take on the Steelers in what will most likely be the 12th loss in a row to Pittsburgh.

 Brownie Bits

 1) Not sure whether to give the game ball to Billy Cundiff or Roscoe Parrish for the win. Cundiff drilled both of his field goal attempts to give the Browns the points they needed despite a howling Buffalo win, but Parrish misjudged the punt that allowed Cleveland to have the field position they needed for Cundiff's game-winner. 

 2) Considering the Browns offense and the Bills too for that matter, this looked like the game was going to be decided as to who made the biggest mistake or it was going to be a 3-3 tie. The win was bad enough, but is an extra quarter of football this bad???

 3) Derek Anderson's 2-for-17 performance and resulting passer rating were the worst for a winning quarterback since the 1970 merger. Anderson was not as bad as he looked as I counted seven dropped passes, but some of his heaves gave me just that.

 4) Browns fans, I'll take the win just so I don't have to worry about pulling a Detroit, but didn't you feel a bit better about the losing effort against the Bengals than this win?

 5) Jamal Lewis rushed for 117 yards and did so on 31 carries. There are two ways to look at tho se numbers -Lewis had 117 yards or it took him 31 carries to do so. Take your pick, Lewis did play pretty well and could have been the main factor in the Browns win as he enabled them to move the ball and avoid the catastrophic error.

 6) I would have liked to seen more of Jerome Harrison though, especially after the game he had against the Bengals. Harrison finished with 21 yards on only eight carries. Wouldn't the Browns' ground attack perhaps have been even more effective with Lewis carrying 22 times and Harrison 15 or 16 times? 
 I think the different styles would have worked and could have helped either one of the pair crack open a big run...

7) Perhaps the weather conditions helped a lot, but I thought Eric Wright and especially Mike Adams played very well. Adams had some excellent plays covering punts as well, once placing the ball down at the Buffalo one-yard line.

 8) Give Dave Zastadil credit for the win as well. The punter constantly battled the wind and was able to consistently keep the Bills backed up and in poor field position. Between Zastadil and Billy Cundiff, one could argue the Browns kicking game was the biggest factor in the win.

 9) Kamerion Wimbley took advantage of a depleted Bills o-line for one of his biggest games with a sack, five solo tackles, and five assists. I don't think that Wimbley will ever be an elite rusher, but he could be a pretty good one if his play continues at this level.

 10) The Bills kept Josh Cribbs under control on special teams, but one has to love the leadership that Cribbs always shows on the sidelines. The camera constantly showed Cribbs encouraging teammates and keeping the team as up as it can be. Cribbs has to be the team's spiritual leader, there can be no doubt about that. 

 11) All that said, I see no way that the Browns go into Pittsburgh and defeat the Steelers this week. Enjoy the win! Back later or tomorrow with the death of Lou Albano and the Seahawks reviewing the tape. Photo Credit-Mike Croll-AP Photo

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Not a bad few days...

For someone chronically either depressed or ticked off like me, the last few days have been rather good.
Between a sweep this weekend of wins by the Buckeyes and Browns, life has been good for a change and I was even able to survive a family outing with a reasonably good time, all things considered, but the best part was yet to come.

Ryan casually mentioned that Mike Farrell, formerly of MASH and currently a liberal activist, was coming to Frederick on Tuesday during the party on Sunday.
This piqued my interest in both the autograph collection and listening to both Farrell's MASH recollection (I am a big fan) and his political thoughts.
Farrell is well to the left of me, but I find things like that interesting, and 
how often do these types of celebrities come to the Western Maryland area?

So, I promptly forgot about it until late Monday night after everyone was in bed, and then it hit me like a shot-Not only is someone like this in the area, but it is a rare off night for me, I could go!

Then the bigger bomb smacked me in the head-Would Shelley Fabares (Mike Farrell's wife) be traveling with them?
Now I was really interested as I am a huge fan of hers from Elvis movies, the original Brian's Song film, One Day at a Time, and of course her role as Christine Armstrong on Coach, another of my favorite shows.

The interesting part was the turnout, roughly 100 people at the Frederick Arts Council jammed into an old McCrory's department store that has been converted into an art gallery of sorts.

The McCrory's chain was quite prevalent in the area and considering what I know about them,I would guess that the part of the store that we were in was likely the store's pet area where tropical fish and pet supplies were sold.
Farrell spoke for roughly 90 minutes and the talk was entertaining. He didn't give a speech, he seemed to grasp that celebrities didn't appear here often and of course, people wanted to hear about MASH.

He opened up to questions for the vast majority of his evening and most of the questions were about MASH with a few exceptions and he answered them all with grace and wit and entertained all the attended.
I was hoping to hear a little bit more about his activist roles, his causes, and why he thought they were just, but you cannot blame locals for wanting to hear about MASH and I was fine with that as well.
After the talk, Farrell signed books and was quite gracious in signing, snapping pictures with all who asked.

After my book was signed, I maneuvered my way to the back of the room where Shelley Fabares sat quietly with one person talking to the only other people that seemed to recognize her.
I waited my turn and told her what a big fan I was etc. and Ryan helpfully chimed in supporting my position.

I told her "As much as I wanted to see Mike, the chance to meet you was the main reason that I came".

She signed a few of the Blank "Rusty" cards for me and Ryan, talked for a few minutes, and answered questions that I asked her about Jan Berry of Jan and Dean in which she shared an emotional tale about the late Mr. Berry.

Jeff was in the background taking pics the entire time and I asked if they looked OK, Shelley volunteered to stand up and take two with me.
Ryan then jumped in and did the same for himself and she graciously gave me her home address so that after the pictures are turned into 8 x 10's., we could send them to her home and she would sign them.
As we left, she thanked us for coming, speaking to her, and for asking for her autograph.

What a thrill for me and what a fun evening.

Sometimes meeting the people that you are a fan of can be a disappointment, after all, they are just people as well and people aren't always nice.

Last night was the farthest thing from that, being one of those rare occasions where expectations are exceeded and creating memories that won't be forgotten.

Thanks to Ryan for inviting me and allowing me to attend and thanks to Jeff for manning the camera and allowing the memories to be placed online.

Back later or tomorrow with more Reviewing the tape for either Browns.Seahawks or time permitting both...

Photo Credits
All event photos; Jeff Heimberger