Friday, February 26, 2010

Quick Picks

Wouldn't NBC have a tantrum if the Gold Medal game was between Finland and Slovakia?
I would find it amusing,but I am sure that they would not!

The betting money has the USA and Canada in a rematch,but I like the chances of both underdogs in the games today and I'll even go out on a limb and pick an upset.

Finland over USA
Canada over Slovakia.

One through the mail signature as the Lowell Devils Ben Walter signed two cards.

Not a ton of other news to write about,but I may be back later with a feature if I have time.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Steaming hot from the melting pot

Can you believe that no network will be showing Wladimir Klitschko's IBF Heavyweight title defense next month?
Granted Wladimir will be a heavy favorite against American Eddie Chambers,but Chambers has earned the shot with two solid wins over Sam Peter and Alexander Dimitrenko and this should be shown somewhere.
Instead the bout will be on Web only PPV.
Chambers is a far more live opponent than Vitali Klitschko's last title challenger,Kevin Johnson and HBO bought that bout......

Seems like Fox Sports has not been picking up all the Top Rank Saturday night shows to my dismay.
With the Direct TV sports package carrying regional sports channels from around the country,one would think that ONE of them would have carried last week's show with Giovanni Segura defending his 108 pound belt.
Too bad,but it appears that some networks will be carrying this weeks show.

Guess what?
In the interest of fairness for those of us on the right coast (directionally not,correct),we have our own Great Garbage Patch in the Atlantic Ocean!
It is not nearly as vast as the Pacific version,but we have one.
I cannot understand why municipalities are not more active in recycling plastics.
I truly believe people will recycle,if you make it as easy as possible for them.
It is the only planet that we have after all,doesn't it make sense to take care of it?

Some are bashing NBC for shuffling hockey to their cable networks,but I applaud it.
I would much rather see entire games on CNBC than chopped and taped coverage on NBC in between Ice Dancing and Curling.

A few quick notes on some recent additions to our preferred links.

My good friend,Brandon Siefken has started Japan Baseball News for those of you interested in the Japanese game.
Brandon's site is quite useful for the fan or just someone interested in possible future MLB arrivals from the island country.

Another friend has brought his insight to the blogosphere as Josh Bauerle has started Deep in the Q covering the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Josh might be occasionally be writing pieces here on the Cleveland Indians,which should help satisfy those of you that tell me that I give the Wahoos short shrift.
I also am hoping to get Josh for a interview on the Cavaliers before the playoffs start.

I finally linked up to Hockey's Future,which is the best hockey prospect site around.
The link takes you directly to the Devils page,but the site covers the entire league as well.

And a reorganization over at Buccos Forum as they are now the Pittsburgh Sports Tavern.
We are listed under the Pirates section,since we do not cover other Steeltown teams.

Saying Goodbye and more hockey...

Time to say a few goodbyes before we move on to yesterday's hockey thoughts.

I missed this last week,but former Memphis State basketball coach Dana Kirk passed away last week at the age of 74.
Kirk coached my favorite ever non-Maryland team with his run with the 82-85 Memphis State Tigers with one of my all time favorite players in Keith Lee starring along with William Bedford and Andre Turner.
Kirk led MSU to the 1985 Final Four,where they were the only non-Big East in the group that season,but would last just one more season in coaching as MSU was nailed for recruiting violations and Kirk was convicted of income tax invasion and spent four months in jail.
I loved those Tigers teams and to this day,I try to get as many of their games on VHS/DVD as I can.

Goodbye to Mosi Tatupu at the age of 54.
Tatupu was known by recent fans as the father of Seattle linebacker Lofa Tatupu,but by older fans as the Pats ace short yardage back and finished his career with an excellent 3.9 yard per carry average.
The stocky fullback was devastating on those third and short runs and I cannot help but think about him in those red jerseys with the old Pat the Patriot helmet.
Mosi will also be remembered as a star in the Tecmo Bowl video game,which was the first game to truly feature actual NFL players and he was just as tough to stop in that game as well...

Finally to those of you animal lovers out there,goodbye to " Daddy" the faithful companion of Cesar Millan "The Dog Whisperer".
Daddy seemed like such a neat dog on the show (I watch regularly)to the point of almost changing my mind on pit bulls,but I am smart enough to realize that the breed is not for me!
Daddy was 16.

On to Hockey,where I was right on three of the four picks and I even give myself a little credit for seeing that Slovakia was a live underdog in their game against Sweden,but not too much or I would have picked them outright.

Who would have thought the worst game of the day would be Canada-Russia?
Russia mailed it in and watching the disappearing act of Ovechkin,Kovalchuk and company makes me wonder about their capabilities in the big game and with Kovalchuk now a Devil-I am concerned!

Big points to Switzerland for making the USA sweat,great game from Jonas Hiller in the loss.
The Swiss lose points for the unis which looked like the dress uniform from an old Star Trek movie combined with a Swiss Army Knife.

International hockey needs to lose the helmet rule as it ruined a great game between Finland and the Czech Republic,when Finland scored late in a scoreless game because Pavel Kubina had to pick up a lost helmet,which allowed the Finns to score uncontested in front of the net.
The rule states if you lose your helmet,you need to pick it up immediately or get off the ice.
Kubina had no choice and it cost the Czechs the game.

Want to know the difference between Slovakia and Sweden in their game?
Underrated Jaroslav Halak for Slovakia and overrated Henrik Lundquist for the Swedes and no I don't want to hear about Lundquist's goals against streak in the games either as the streak was accomplished against the weakest offense of the better teams in Finland and pop gun offenses Belarus and Germany.

Photo Credits
Daddy:Mark Theissan

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Olympic Hockey

Watched all four games from yesterday (3 live,1 on tape) and came away with a few thoughts.

After watching the four winners,considering today's matchups and putting Canada aside,if I had to pick a lower seed to pull an upset today,I might lean towards Slovakia.
The Czechs against Finland really is a toss up and with Jaromir Jagr possibly missing the game for the Czechs,let's go with Slovakia as my possible upset.

I do like the Olympic knockout round better than the system used in the past.
This way,you get three fun games to establish the four teams that get byes and then every game has win or go home implications.
No roll over Dungys in Olympic Hockey!

Give some credit to two teams that I figured would lose by a substantial margin as both Latvia and Norway produced gritty efforts in games against better competition to just miss a huge upset.
Latvia fell in overtime to the Czech Republic,while Norway lost to Slovakia 4-3 on a third period goal.

If the KO shot by Ole Kristian Tollefsen on Slovakia's Lucas Bartecko not occurred,I think the Norwegians would pulled the shocker.
The penalties called (Properly so) produced a power play that saw Slovakia score two of their four goals on the evening and wake up a seemingly coasting team.
Not bad for the team that Ryan said was the worst in the tournament going into play.

Canada pounded Germany as they should and the Canada-Russia game could be the game of the tournament,even if the winner doesn't win the tournament.
Hard to believe that the loser of this game that was a co-favorite to win the tournament will go without any medal at all.
In either case,I am sure that is going to go over very well in the home country.

My vote for best Olympic jersey goes to the Whites worn by the German squad.
They may not have been much on the ice,but they looked good doing whatever it was they were doing!

Quick Selections

USA over Switzerland
Canada over Russia
Finland over Czech Republic
Sweden over Slovakia

Monday, February 22, 2010

Arnesen and Krebs on hitting

I followed up our recent interviews with Erik Arnesen of the Nationals and Eric Krebs of the Dodgers with a few questions on pitchers hitting.
Now that both have reached AA baseball,where players from National League teams have to hit,I wanted to get their thoughts on swinging the lumber.....

TRS: Now that you are in AA baseball and playing for a team in the National League system,you now have to bat.
Do you like or dislike batting?

Erik Arnesen:Most of the time I enjoy batting; there's not too much pressure as long as I get the bunt down, and any hits are a fun bonus.

Eric Krebs: I used to love hitting back in the high school days. It has been a while since I've seen live pitching. being a reliever the chances of me actually getting a at-bat is very slim but I'm always ready to lay down a bunt or swing away.

TRS:Do you prefer the pitcher batting or do you like the DH rule?

Arnesen:I'm not sure which I enjoy more; I like getting to hit occasionally, but I also like having a DH from time to time.

Krebs:Of course the pitcher because there aren't that many pitchers that are a threat and most of the time they are laying a bunt down ,which is a free out.

TRS:Does facing the pitcher (or him facing you) make things a little less aggressive in the game or does it make little difference??

Arnesen:It doesn't make it less aggressive, especially if there are runners on base because he'll probably bunt, which definitely keeps you on your toes.

Krebs: Yea there is a little competition trying to get your counterpart out and show him what kind of stuff you have on the mound. It's a little competition if you ask me

Eric Krebs Interview-Part 5

The Eric Krebs interview concludes today with the final installment.
Thanks again to Eric for taking his time to do this.

TRS: Your strengths have always been your fastball,what has become your breaking/off speed pitch of choice?

EK: My slider. its always been a decent out pitch but it has really become a pitch I can throw in any count and its gain of velo and tighter break.

TRS: Your numbers in Arizona were very strong,what was the most important thing that you did against such strong competition?

EK: I just went out and did what I was confident doing and stick with my strengths. The talent out there was great. I watched hitters a lil more and just took some notes on what some hitters had trouble hitting.

TRS: What's the routine playing in the AFL? Is it more laid back than the regular season?

EK: It's very laid back. once games started we would show up and throw and hit BP then take it to the clubhouse. It was very relaxed and had fun,It was a great experience

TRS: You played with Manny Ramirez at Inland Empire,was he cool and did he buy the team anything like many MLBers on rehab do for the regular guys?

EK: Having Manny on out team for 4 games was a great experience. He was a cool guy and joked around with us and talked to everyone. he signed stuff for people and he did buy us dinner

TRS: Looks like you will be either at AA Chattanooga or AAA Albuquerque to start the season,have you ever been to either place and does one have a preference for you to start?

EK: I've never been to either place. of course I'd love to start in AAA but I'm just hoping to be in AA.

TRS: Are you looking forward to meeting Sandy Koufax at spring training,which has to be one benefit of being a Dodger?

EK: Yes that will be a great experience. I've met a lot of people with the Dodgers already. Tommy Lasorda was one of them and is a great guy and has some great speeches.

TRS: As an avowed Eastbound and Down fan,tell me your favorite clip from the show.

EK: Ha ha that show is great. me and my buddies know everyones words from that season. so many great clips to pick from. Kenny Powers, Stevie Janowski, and Clegg are all great.

TRS: Are you thinking about changing your nickname from Nuke LaLoosh to Kenny Powers?!

EK: Ha ha i'll stick with Nuke LaLoosh since that's been with me since like 2004

Photo Credit-Ryan Heimberger

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Things that make me laugh

Looking back at some things that make me at least smile,if not laugh.

NBA basketball in the 1970's on television meant one voice-Breathless Brent Musburger.
The Musberger intro complete with background music complete with the 60's hit "Last Night" by the Mar-Keys blaring loudly meant pro basketball was on the air.
It usually was some long winded beginning with Brent raving about some journeyman like Charles Johnson of the Warriors or Garfield Heard of the Suns as if they saved mankind or something.
But even better was the actual theme in the mid 70's,which sounded like they rounded up some studio musicians to sound similar to the Starland Vocal Band or some other one hit wonder.
CBS changed the theme in a few years,but to this day,I still think about those intros every time that I watch an NBA game....

As a Star Trek fan (No Next Generation Please).watching last nights return of Real Time with Bill Maher brought back memories as guest Seth MacFarlane did a dead on impersonation of William Shatner from the "Taste of Armageddon" episode.
The over the top acting from Shatner is always humorous and yet the love that I have for the show never stops.
Perhaps sometime,I'll post pics of the Star Trek toys of my youth,which I still have today.(Still looking for a Mego Scotty to finish the set).
I am not old enough to remember Trek from its actual run,but I am part of the generation that saw it explode on syndicated television in the 70's to the point that the toys based on the show were made five or six years after the show was cancelled.

I had all this stuff,but the Enterprise just fell apart through the heavy play session,although the transporter section,might still be at my mom's.
Now that will be a YouTube moment when the day comes that I have to get my old stuff from there!
Check Shatner's speech near the 3:30 spot and listen to the MacFarlane impersonation around the 9 minute mark.

Living in the country,with Hagerstown being the hub of the county when I grew up meant the shopping was far more limited than it is today.
Hagerstown seemingly had the market cornered on some of the oddest department stores for that time.
Hagerstown did have an indoor mall,which was the rage at the time and a Kmart,but it was the other discount stores that stand out.
Town and Country (which is memorable to me for the time my dad waited in a long checkout in the only line open,waited until he got to the front and then slammed the stuff on the counter and walked out),Kings,Zayre (later Ames),Nichols and my favorite Two Guys.
Two Guys had the same crap as the others,but they had a in store version of an arcade,which was unique for the time complete with a "bowling alley" that had the pins that folded up and into the machine.
What all of these stores had in common besides being the Big Lots of their era,was that they usually weren't very clean,stuff hung around long after their prime had left and they usually wound up in the shopping areas that were dying.
Check the prices from 1979 from Two Guys "Holiday Harvester" sale.
14.99 for a bleeping iron? On 1979 money?
My lord!

And check the dead on impersonation of Adam West and Burt Ward for this Zayre ad.
This was so close that you can almost think that they had the actual West and Ward!

Until next time


Eric Krebs Interview-Part 4

The next to last installment of our talk with Dodger prospect Eric Krebs is below.
I have just lined up another interview for some time next week,so be looking for that.

TRS:Tell me about the state of your arm right now.
Is it back to 100 %?

EK: Yes it feels great. it always feels great. just got some tendonitis in it last year.

TRS: Do the Dodgers teach things differently than the Pirates?

EK: The philosophy to me is the same. just coaches do some things different. but that's in every organization
TRS: In what ways are the Dodgers different in their philosophy than the Pirates?
Does one put more importance on one particular pitch than the other?

EK: The Dodgers treated it more as a game thean trying to develop guys and having them throw on certain days instead of just using who is right in the situation.

TRS: You worked with Charlie Hough at Inland Empire,how was that and what did you learn from him?

EK: Charlie is a great guy and a great pitching coach. He is filled with knowledge and has a lot of information about the game. he helped me alot. we would go over video at least 3 times a week. he is more hands on and got me to realize little things I was doing.

TRS:Have the Dodgers changed your off season training from what it was as a Pirate?

EK: They are pretty much the same. Just workout and run

TRS:How often do you throw in the off season?

EK: Once the program gets going I'm throwin 5-6 days a week.

TRS: Do you take the off season off or do you work a regular job for a few months?

EK: I just take it off and relax. I worked my first 2 offseasons in 05 and 06

Friday, February 19, 2010

Forgotten Superstars-The 1975-76 Cavaliers

So,how can a team that didnt even reach their league finals be Forgotten Superstars?
Easy,when it is a team that revitalized an ailing area for a short time,was the Cleveland areas only real shot at a championship over a 20 year span and made me a fan for life.

Don't get me wrong,there was a long period of time that the Cleveland Cavaliers were more important than the Devils or any other hockey team to me.
As I have aged,the NHL and the Devils have sped by the Cavaliers and the NBA in my life,but that doesn't mean that I don't still care about the Cavaliers and come playoff time,I like to think that I am as passionate as anyone about Cavalier basketball.
Yesterday's Cavalier trade that brought Antawn Jamison to Cleveland in an attempt to not only bring the elusive world championship to town,but show LeBron James that winning is the focus of the team before he tests free agency next season,brought to mind the team of my youth-the 75-76 Cavaliers.

To most fans,the names of Bingo Smith,Campy Russell,Jim Chones,Jim Cleamons,Dick Snyder and Jim Brewer would be unknown.
If you are an NBA fan over 50,Hall of Famer Nate Thurmond should be remembered,but might not be and Austin Carr is still well known,but more because he is the color analyst of Cavalier local games than his career.
But to Cleveland fans over 40,those names are well remembered because those names brought winning hoops to Ohio.

Why is a team filled with less than all time greats that won just one playoff series such a big deal?
Some of it was the great buzzer beaters in the series over Washington,some could be the great calls by radio man Joe Tait (Still the voice of the Cavs) and more could be nostalgia for a time that saw awful Indian team,non-contending Browns teams and the first ever playoff appearance for the Cavaliers.
Check the driving Game 7 game winner by the "gritty" Dick Snyder and the reaction from the Coliseum crowd after the Bullets final shot.

I also think the team is remembered for what might have been and a few bad breaks.
First and foremost of those was the broken foot suffered by Jim Chones in practice before the Eastern finals series against Boston started.
Chones was really coming into his own and the Boston Celtics were really on their last legs as contenders and I don't believe the Celtics could have handled Chones and the aging Nate Thurmond with both playing reasonably fresh at center.
With Chones injured,Thurmond had to play more minutes,wearing the veteran down.
Had Jim Chones played in the series,I truly believe that Cleveland would beaten Boston and then moved onto Phoenix in the finals.
The Suns were making their own Cinderella run,but I dont think they matched up well with the Cavaliers at all with undersized center Alvan Adams against the larger Chones and Thurmond.

The second bad break?
The Cavaliers picked the worst possible time to get really good as at the conclusion of the season.the ABA merged with the NBA and since the Cavaliers were picking near the bottom,they watched as other teams improved themselves with ABA stars and they stayed stagnant.

The team really was a team,not a collection of individuals as seven players averaged double digits in points ranging from Jim Chones at 15.8 to Austin Carr at 10.1.
As entertaining as LeBron James is as the star,watching a team concept can be just as enjoyable to watch.

Being the only Cavalier fan in my country area,it was always easy to be one of my favorite Cavaliers at the old closed school with two battered and ratty hoops.
I was usually Campy Russell or occasionally Bingo Smith,I suppose it depended on my teammates,but usually the other guys were Bullets,Sixers or Celtics,so I didn't have to argue much!
Bingo Smith sure could drain it from the outside and his long bomb that beat Washington in Game 2 of the playoffs was huge to me even though I didn't see it!
You often remember things in the context that you first see them and Bingo's bomb hit me in the backseat of the car listening to the game on the way to Ohio and that is how I will always reference it.
Check Bingo out above dusting Doug Collins in the CBS halftime show H O R S E.

Campy Russell and Austin Carr were the players that most resembled todays game,as both could get to the rim and yet score from the outside.
I could see either of those players being 20+ scorers in the current game.
Jim Chones and Nate Thurmond both would be solid centers,but Thurmond might have to be a Tim Duncan center/power forward hybrid today.
Jim Cleamons was the classic point guard,but would leave after the following season as a free agent to the Knicks.
The replacement?Walt Frazier became a Cavalier as compensation for losing Cleamons.
Walt Frazier in Richfield?No way,Mr Gray!

The loss of Cleamons and retirement of Thurmond led to two first round exits in the following two seasons and then a playoff drought of six years before another "miracle" of sorts resulted in one playoff appearance.
But what a playoff appearance it was.

Stay tuned for another Cavalier piece coming soon from the old days,a future post on my other pro basketball love of my youth and I am also working on another Cavalier related surprise.
Until then,take a look at the demolition of the old Richfield Coliseum.

Eric Krebs Interview-Part 3

The Eric Krebs interview continues with part three today as Eric discusses some of his trade to the Dodgers.

TRS: Of the four towns that you played in as a Pirate,three are now no longer Pirate teams (Williamsport,Hickory.
Lynchburg),which of the four towns did you like playing in the most and why?

EK: I'm gonna have to say Altoona. good fans and a very nice town. plus the towns we travel to are better than the other pirate affiliates. and a lot nicer fields.

TRS:Was there one teams fans that stood above the others and if so why?

EK: Myrtle Beach had some good fans. except for all the drunks giving us hell in the bullpen.

TRS: Did you ever have any disagreements with the Pirate organization on anything about pitching?
Did they ever try to change anything that you didn't feel comfortable with?

EK: No we got along just fine. they tweeked my mechanics here and there but nothing major that affected how I felt.

TRS: What players have you become good friends with from being with the Pirates?

EK: Brad Lincoln, Justin Vaclavik, Tony Watson, Jared Hughes, Jake Cuffman, Kevin Roberts, Brian Friday and others. I got along with a lot of guys and they were all great buddies.

TRS: Did the Pirates give any hint at all that you could be traded soon?

EK: No, not at all. I was shocked.

TRS: Where did you find out,how did they tell you and what were your feelings on the matter?

EK:I was walking in the clubhouse in Altoona. had a missed call from Kyle Stark so I called him back. I thought i was in trouble for something but then he explained it all. I was shocked, happy, upset all at once.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cleaning out the inbox

Time for some inbox cleaning.

First off,a big High Five to the lovely Cherie,who pulled me an autographed refractor of Giants top draft pick Zack Wheeler (373/500) from ONE pack of Bowman from Target!
Not only an against the odds pull from a non-hobby box,but the first ever autograph pull from a team I like-Thanks to Cherie!

Scott Bowden over at KFW has a terrific article up on the late "Mr.Perfect" Curt Hennig.
KFW is my favorite of nostalgia wrestling sites,mainly because of the content,but also because Bowden's sense of humor seems to be pretty close to mine as in things that we both find humorous.

Tony Lastoria's Cleveland Indians Prospect Book for 2010 is now available.
Tony covers the Tribe system like no one else and I highly recommend the book for the Wahoo fan.
I purchased the 09 book and will be grabbing the 2010 version soon,so if you are either an Indian fan or just a minor league junkie,it is well worth the cost.....

Well,that is what they are calling the Japanese Spider Crab,which grows up to 13 feet tall.
But the specimen that is about to be shown in the UK,is only five feet tall.
Because the depths that the crab lives at makes it highly unlikely to catch a fully grown model.
But there is always hope,as the crab can live to be 100 years old,so it isnt impossible....

Tiger Woods is going to talk tomorrow.
Big Deal.
I honestly could care less about what he has to say,unless it is when he is going to return to golf.
Woods' private life is something that I could care less about,but I do hope that he uses this chance to change his boorish behavior on the course.
Cursing (I know I curse even more than the next guy!), club throwing and the whole snarling act that he and his caddie do when the slightest thing doesn't go Eldrick's way cheapens the game.
Tom Watson's comments were dead on correct,you didn't see Watson,Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer with these type of antics and Woods doesn't help himself or the game with his routine.
Here is hoping that he uses this time to straighten his professional game as well as his personal life.

Finally a nod to a friend of mine that passed on this site to me by author Laura Shumaker.
Shumaker deals with Autism on most of her site and I found it to be a fascinating read.
Highly recommended if you are interested in learning more about Autism.

Brownie Bits

We take a look at some Cleveland Browns news in one fell swoop and catch up on all things Browns related.

Thanks to Ryan for sending me this link to an interesting article on whether or not the Cleveland Browns were ever looking into adding a logo to their helmet.
The urban legend that the Browns added a intertwined CB to their helmets in 1965 has been around for as long as I can remember.
Thanks to some long detective work by a few people,it seems clear that it was in the works as shown by this advertisement,but was never acted upon.

Looks like where Mike Holmgren goes,Gil Haskell follows.
The long time Holmgren aide in both Green Bay and Seattle has followed him to Cleveland.
Haskell will be a "senior advisor",which sounds to me a nice term for "bringing a friend in to hang out with and talk football".

The Browns cut loose one more albatross from the Phil Savage era with the release of Jamal Lewis.
Lewis,who had concussion issues last season,supposedly was going to retire as he stated last season,but would consider a return to a Super Bowl contender.
What a surprise there.
Lewis was solid for one season and overpaid/underproductive for two more.
Cannot say I will miss him very much...

And speaking of surprises,is anyone else shocked that Donte' Stallworth,he of the disappointing career and off the field issues, managed to be quickly signed by the Baltimore Ravens?
Stallworth should fit right in with the Ray Lewis gang,who seem to be this generations version of the 70's Oakland Raiders with the gambling on washed out players with heavy baggage.
I should have expected Stallworth to be a Raven.
Rant all you want about the Steelers,Browns fans,but these types of guys don't tend to play in Pittsburgh unless they draft them,they may gamble on a guy in the draft,but the second chance crowd do not wind up there like they seem to in Baltimore.

Selfishly,here is hoping that the Browns make a run at long time favorite Torry Holt,who was released by Jacksonville.
Holt still can play,although not at his former level as he caught 51 passes for the Jaguars last season and this team screams for a veteran player to work with Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie.

Most of the mock drafts seem to have the Browns taking Florida corner Joe Haden thus far.
Corner is a position of major need and I would have little issue with Haden coming to Cleveland,UNLESS Tennessee safety Eric Berry is on the board.
In our opinion,Berry is the second best player in the draft behind Nebraska defensive tackle
Ndamukong Suh...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jim Bibby passes

Former Indian and Pirate pitcher Jim Bibby passed away yesterday at the age of 65 in his home area of Lynchburg Virginia.
Bibby pitched for the Cardinals and Rangers as well as Cleveland and Pittsburgh before retiring at 39 after a brief second stint with the Rangers in 1984
Bibby spent the next fifteen years as a pitching coach for three affiliates that moved through Lynchburg (Mets,Red Sox and Pirates) before leaving baseball in 2000.
Bibby was a member of the 1979 World Champion Pirates starting rotation and followed that with a 19 win season for the Bucs in 1980.
Bibby also is noted for one of the strangest pitching seasons with a 19-19 record for the 1974 Texas Rangers.
Imagine getting 19 wins AND 19 losses in a season today,but the Rangers manager that season was Billy Martin,who had no qualms at all with allowing his starters to accumulate innings and Bibby notched 264 of them in 1974 for a career high.
Jim Bibby hit the big leagues late as he didn't debut until a six start appearance with the Cardinals in 1972 at the age of 27.
His breakout season was 1973 with the Rangers when he not only tossed a no hitter against the eventual champion Oakland Athletics,but he also a one hitter along with a two hitter.
Bibby had one more interesting note to his career as his downfall came quickly after 1980 in 1981 in a start against the Braves.
Bibby allowed a single to leadoff hitter Terry Harper at Three Rivers Stadium and then mowed down the next 27 Braves to just miss a perfect game.
I met Bibby when he was a pitching coach for Lynchburg in a visit to Hagerstown,I brought two old cards and asked him to sign.
The autograph culture wasn't nearly as active as it is now and Bibby asked if he could show them to a few players and he hollered "you guys want to see what an old ballplayer looked like"?
The 1974 and 1976 cards (76 pictured) featured quite a 70's afro from the big righthander.
Bibby was very nice and very cordial and chatted as he signed both cards.
Bibby's brother Henry was a pro basketball player for nine years and coached for a period at USC,which made him the uncle of NBA player Mike Bibby,who is currently with the Atlanta Hawks.

Photo Credits
Pirates:Walter Iooss Jr-Sports Illustrated

Eric Krebs Interview-Part 2

Our interview with former Pirate farmhand and current Dodger prospect Eric Krebs moves on to part two of five today.
I am hoping to be back later with another post.

TRS: Some thoughts on Hagerstown and its lovely stadium?

EK: Well I remember the locker room was very tiny and very cold. haha and the showers werent very clean.

TRS: Any remembrances of the Arctic like four game ice bowl series that Hickory played here?

EK: The game I pitched there was a good one. charting in the stands though I lost feeling in my legs. I remember our bullpen tried to start a fire out there that series.

TRS: Pitching in such awful weather,were you worried about injuring your arm?

EK: Nope not at all. just told myself to make sure I'm warm and stretch a lot

TRS: Do you think that your arm issues that occurred shortly thereafter could have been caused by pitching in that game?

EK: No. my arm injuries have been just tendinitis and no used to throwin ' that much and my mechanics put extra strain on it.

TRS: After you returned to the mound in 2007,you moved to the bullpen,did you like that move?
Or did you prefer starting?

EK: I loved the move. I prefer relieving. I like the adrenaline rush of getting warm quick and going in the game without knowing.

TRS: How did the Pirates talk with you about becoming a reliever?

EK: Just said I'm going back as a reliever. that was the quickest way to get me back there without staying in Florida longer to get built back up for starting again.

TRS: Were there any pitching coaches as you moved through the Pirate system that stood out as influential to your career in a good or bad way?

EK: Most all my pitching coaches have helped me some way or another. I really like Bruce Tanner, Bob Milacki, Dave Lundquist, Dean Treanor and Wally Whitehurst.

Photo Credit-Ryan Heimberger

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Eric Krebs Interview-Part 1

Today,we start our five part interview with Dodger prospect Eric Krebs.
Eric was traded from the Pirates to the Los Angeles Dodgers last spring for Delwyn Young.
Eric is looked at as an up and coming arm in the Dodger system after a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League.
Thanks to Eric for taking time out to do this with us....

Thought of RS: When the Pirates drafted you,how did they present themselves?
Considering how terrible that they had been,did they come off in a good or bad way?

Eric Krebs:They presented themselves well and explained everything and said they were gonna be turning it around in years to come.

TRS: Who was the scout that signed you?Any interaction with him before the draft?

EK: Mike Leauzinger..hmm I think we might have talked a little

TRS: Did the Pirates show interest in you before the draft?

EK: Not really

TRS: Was being selected by them a surprise ?

EK: Yea, because I didn't hear much from them

TRS: Did you think that another team was most likely to take you and if so what team??

EK: Yes and i cant really remember. i thought the royals would sign me as a draft and follow from 2004

TRS: Right after you signed in 2005,they assigned you straight to Williamsport,did they offer that as an incentive to sign early?

EK: No. i was told when i signed i would prolly go to rookie ball for a bit but never did

TRS: A few thoughts on your time in Williamsport?

EK: I actually liked the place and the town and fans.

TRS: Just for personal reference and I doubt you remember too much,tell me about any memories/how you liked to pitch about facing Indian prospect Matt McBride,who hit the foul ball that you threw and I caught in Williamsport..(Note to Battlin' Bob,you remember that?!!)

EK:Yes I've faced Matt a few times throughout the last few years and I recently faced him in the AFL. he is a good hitter. he has got some hits and I've got him out also.

Photo Credit
Ryan Heimberger

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lowell Devils visit Hershey

My annual trip to see the Lowell Devils visit the Hershey Bears was another fun outing,despite another loss in the Chocolate city.
In the four years since the Devils bought the Lowell team and renamed them,they have never won in Hershey.
Last night was no different as a late second period burst by the Bears was then followed by a fast start to the final period in a 5-2 Hershey win.
The Devils scored goals by Patrick Davis (13) and Matt Cohen (1) for their tallies for the evening.

Most of the Devils that I wanted to see played with the exception of Matt Halischuk,who was a scratch.Matt Corrente,Tyler Eckford,Alexander Vasyunov,Nick Palmieri, and after missing last years game in Hershey,Jeff Frazee in net.
The evening was a mixed bag for those players as Frazee left the game after allowing his fifth goal,but I didn't think that his night was as bad as his goals allowed show.
Frazee made some excellent stops,but his defense didn't help him much during the flurry of Hershey goals as an inability to keep the active Bears out of the Lowell zone overwhelmed the Devil defense and as a result Frazee.
Eckford made a few mistakes,one major one that cost Frazee a goal when his whiff of a clear left the puck laying in front of net with two Bears camped out in front of it.
That was a goal that you knew was coming as soon as you saw that scenario!
Palmieri was physical and had four shots on the evening,but only one was anything more than an average save by Hershey goalie Braden Holtby,while Vasyunov was quiet all game to the point of wondering where he was.
It wasn't until I saw the scoresheet that I saw he had five shots on net!
But the Devils that I was most impressed with was Matt Corrente,despite a -2 on the evening.
Last season's game in Hershey saw Corrente pound Steve Pinizzotto in a fight that helped salvage the evening,but tonight was the rematch and I didn't even realize that Corrente kicked the same ass again until the youtube below.
Pinizzotto was being a pest up and down the ice and wiped out Tim Sestito out on the same shift with two hard hits.
Clean hits,but hard and the Devils needed to stop that very quickly.
Corrente did that with ease in the rematch seconds after the second slam into the boards of Sestito.
You make the call...

I would like to see Corrente continue to mature his defensive game in Lowell for at least some of next season,but when he is ready-look out New Jersey!

The game was a sellout,despite some empty seats,but there really is no such thing as a bad seat in the 10,000 seat Giant Center.
We waited until a few days before to get tickets,so we sat on the last row of the upper section,but saw everything going on and very well to boot.
It was dollar dog night,so the Bears try to offer the occasional bargain.
The dogs weren't anything to brag about,but they didn't have red stripes on them,so that was a good start!
The Hershey fans are good hockey fans that know the game,although I do wonder if attendance would fall slightly if the Capitals changed their type of team from over aged non-prospects such as Keith Aucoin, Alexander Giroux,Chris Bourque,Bryan Helmer etc that are able to excel at the AHL level,but have little to zero chance of ever being a contributor to an NHL team.
Lowell will always have a difficult time competing with Hershey when you look at the differing philosophy of the parent clubs.Hershey's winning ways are more important to Washington than developing players,while the Devils prefer to concentrate on preparing younger players to become contributors in Newark for the lead club.
That is what led the Devils to purchasing the Lowell franchise to begin with after dealing with complaints for years from Albany about a losing team.
When you own the team as the Devils own Lowell (and ECHL affiliate Trenton),you can do things how you please.
The Devils worry about Stanley Cups,Washington appears to worry about the Calder Cup as being just as important.

I was very impressed with Hershey goalie Braden Holtby in the game though.
The twenty year old was excellent in the net for the Bears and looked to be the rare exception of not being 34 years old as a Bears standout (Sarcasm,Bears fans).
I suppose that Holtby will play until Jim Hrivnak returns from injury to take command of the net.
Ok,I'll stop now for the Hershey fans....

No autographs this time as the cards that I ordered didn't arrive in time,we were with our friends and the wind was pretty brutal.
I wasn't standing in that or subjecting anyone to the elements,I'll drop them in the mail and see the response.

Another great evening,despite the expected result.
Thanks to my ladies in red- the lovely Cherie and wonderful Rachel for putting up with my passion and thanks to our friends Corey and Krista Cunningham for coming up along.
Hopefully,we gained two Devils fans despite the loss!

Back later with Part one of our latest interview!

Photo Credits-Cherie and Rachel Heimberger

Erik Arnesen Interview-Part 4

This is the final installment of our interview with Nationals prospect Erik Arnesen.
I hope to be back later with a look at the Lowell Devils from Hershey last night and start our newest interview tomorrow or Wednesday.....

TRS: Thoughts on Drew Storen,who was very popular in his brief stint in Hagerstown

EA: Drew’s a great player and a great guy. He was fun to play with, and definitely an asset to the team.

TRS: When did you begin throwing in the off season and how often do you throw and for how long?

EA: Spin Williams sends us a throwing program during the off season. I started playing catch around the middle of December, and I’ve been throwing off a mound for a few weeks.

TRS: Do you pay much attention to the prospect sites (like ours etc) that discuss you and others?
Or doesn't it interest you?

EA: I'll check out the prospect sites from time to time. It's a great way to know what the fans are thinking, to sort of be able to “touch base” with them.

TRS: Last time,you talked about your faith and its importance to you.
Does baseball make it easy for people with strong faith or is it more of a testing environment?

EA: My faith is an integral part of my life both on and off the field. Baseball is a challenging environment no matter what you believe, but I know that my abilities and where I am now are gifts that I have a responsibility to use to the utmost. When you look at baseball that way – not merely as a game or a career, but as a gift and a calling, as part of your life’s purpose – it helps keep you grounded.

TRS: Do you follow any other sports as a fan and if so,are there any teams that you are passionate about?

EA: Baseball has always been the only sport I truly love; I watch SportsCenter regularly, but don’t follow any specific teams.

TRS: Has your off season regimen changed?
Do you devote more time to preparing for the season or are you still working and then training around that?

EA: My economic reality is that I have to work in the off season, but my workout regimen is always my top priority. Working has just required that I be more creative and flexible in my workouts. My employer is used to me using my lunch break to run for a few miles around the town. I go to the gym once on the days I work, and then twice on my off days. I give pitching lessons at a local clinic, and do my throwing workouts at the same facility. I’ve become more efficient in designing my workouts to fit my needs, and that has helped make the off-season an effective time for me as a player.

Thanks again to Erik Arnesen for his time and best wishes to him in the upcoming season

Photo Credit-Ryan Heimberger

Sunday, February 14, 2010

5-2 5-2

Sounds like the end of a phone number,but it actually is the results of the New Jersey Devils final games before the Olympic break with a win over Nashville and a loss in Carolina.
The Devils stagger into the break with a two point lead over Pittsburgh for the Atlantic Division lead...

Hell Raisers

1) Ilya Kovalchuk scored his first Devils goal in the win over Nashville,but still seems to be looking for the right fit,especially on the power play.

2) Rob Davison and Cory Murphy were returned to Lowell with Matt Corrente being called up and Anssi Salmela being healthy enough to play against Carolina.
Mildly surprised about Corrente sticking around during the Olympic break though,I figured that the Devils would rather have him playing at Lowell.

3) I really miss Doc Emrick,who is prepping for Olympic play by play.
Steve Cangalosi fills in and he just doesn't measure up.
He isn't annoying on say Greg Brown level,but isn't a good play by play man either.
I must say his pronouncing of Anssi Salmela's name with an extra A "Salamela" bugged me after a while though.

4) I hate Carolina's alternate jerseys.
Mainly because the numbers are so difficult to read when watching the game

5) I don't have much more to say,although look for a Devs post later in the week,when more things pop into the keyboard.
I will have a post on the Lowell Devils sometime early in the week...

Photo Credits
Kovalchuk:Bill Kostroun-AP Photo
High Stick:Gregg Forwerck-Getty Images

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Quick update

Will be back late tomorrow or early Monday after an extra work night.
We will be covering both the Devils win last night over Nashville and whatever the result is of tonight's game in Carolina.
Tomorrow,I will be in Hershey for the annual visit from the Lowell Devils,so hopefully I will have some pictures and some thoughts on the minor Devils as well.
No autographs however,as the cards I had ordered didn't arrive.
I'll just do some mail signings with them as that worked well for me last season with Lowell players...
I will also be putting up the final part of the Erik Arnesen interview and will be beginning part one of our latest interview early next week.
I think that you will enjoy this one.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Erik Arnesen Interview-Part 3

Here is part three of our four part interview with Erik Arnesen..

TRS: The Eastern League's travel looks easier on paper than the Carolina League,Is this true and is the CL travel as bad as it looks?

EA: The travel was pretty comparable. The distances are a bit further in the Carolina League, but the trips are all bearable. I spend a lot of time reading, sleeping, playing cards with the guys, or watching movies, all of which help pass the time. My wife makes fun of me when we’re traveling because she’ll call and ask where we are and I never have any idea, I just say, “Um, on the road”; we once drove past where I got married and that was the first I’d noticed we were in NJ.

TRS:Any good (or bad) stories from the road in getting from city to city?

EA:Thus far, the trips have been fairly uneventful. I’d say the worst event was when the A/C wasn’t working; it started as merely uncomfortable, but after a couple hours became unbearable. Luckily, our bus driver was something of a renaissance man and was able to pull over and fix it.

TRS: In your past interview,you said that coaches/trainers pick your roommates,is this the case in AA or do you have choices?

EA: You can request roommates, but there are no assurances. That said, all the guys are cool with each other so it doesn’t really matter who you room with on the road. Unless your roommate snores.

TRS:Who did you spend the most time with over the last two seasons?

EA: I spent a lot of time the last two seasons with Jeff Mandel , Andrew Kown, and Kyle Gunderson (until he got traded). We've played together a lot and we all like to golf. Adrian Alaniz and I were roommates in AA and we played a lot of video games together. I also hang out with Sean Rooney a lot.

TRS: Have the Nats given you any idea about you having a chance to move up to Syracuse for the 2010 season?

EA: I haven't heard anything about where I might start the season this year.

TRS:Did you have any concerns/thoughts on perhaps being selected in the Rule 5 draft in December?

EA: I wasn't too concerned with the Rule 5 draft. I thought there might be a possibility of getting selected, but I wasn’t expecting it.

Back tomorrow with Devils-Predators and maybe the final part of our interview with Erik Arnesen.

Photo Credit:Ryan Heimberger

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Erik Arnesen Interview-Part 2

Our interview with Erik Arnesen continues today with part two of the four part interview

TRS: The cities in the Eastern League are a little larger than the SAL or Carolina League,did you enjoy that or was it a non factor?

EA:I enjoyed seeing new places, but we don’t exactly go site-seeing while we’re there. As long as there’s food within walking distance from the hotel, it’s a good city.

TRS: What were your favorite ballparks/towns in both the Carolina and Eastern leagues?

EA: In the Carolina League I really enjoyed playing in Myrtle Beach; it was a nice ballpark within walking distance from where we stayed, and a really fun town. In the Eastern League, it was nice to play in Trenton because of how close to home it was.

TRS: Was there a ballpark in either league that you really didn't care for and why?

EA: I can't think of any one place I really didn't like to play; each ballpark had its own unique features that added to the game. The older ones have a great old-school feel that make you think of the great players that came before you, and the newer ones are a picture of where it’s going, a reminder that it’s still the greatest game.

TRS: Was there a pitch that you have worked on that has turned things around for your development?

EA: Developing my slider really affected my game, as it’s been my primary out pitch. More recently, Randy helped fine-tune my splitter and it’s now better than my change-up; I’m comfortable throwing it in various situations and it’s been pretty effective.

TRS: Tell me about the importance of you dropping weight to your career,it seems as things improved as you lost weight.

EA: I feel better and stronger as I get in better shape and I think both of those things have helped me become a better pitcher.

TRS: Do you think that has been the most important factor in your rise?
If not,what is.

EA: I don't think weight loss has been the biggest factor, though I'm sure it's played a part. I think learning how to pitch, having a good approach and a solid game plan have really helped me the most.

Photo Credit-

Devil woes continue in 3-2 loss

For the second time in three nights,the New Jersey Devils raced to a two goal lead over the rival Philadelphia Flyers.
And for the second time in three nights,the New Jersey Devils lost to the rival Philadelphia Flyers 3-2,although this loss was an overtime loss to earn one point in the standings,holding onto first place over Pittsburgh by a perilous one point.
Devils goals to Travis Zajac (18) and Rob Niedermayer (7).
The Devils host Nashville Friday and then travel to Carolina Saturday as they stagger into the Olympic break.

Hell Raisers

1) Zach Parise missed the game with an "upper body injury".
The Devils rarely give exact injury information,but Chico Resch mentioned a stiff back.
Fire and Ice reports that Parise expects to return for the Predators game.
The night off was the first for Parise this season
They need him.

2) Extended duty for the Devil defenders tonight as Bryce Salvador caught a high stick in the first period (I think it was Simon Gagne,but not positive) in the face and missed the remainder of the game.
Again,the Devils report it as an "upper body injury" and again Salvador is expected to play against Nashville...

3) 5,000+ fans in attendance in Newark during a blizzard.
Credit to those fans for getting there and considering the small crowd,the noise level wasn't all that low.
The Devils also invited all fans to move down to the lower bowl (also known as expensive) seats for free for the evening.
Class move as hockey is expensive enough to see live and those seats are beyond even regular fans reach....

4) Ilya Kovalchuk has yet to score a goal in four games as a Devil.
Having only seen two of those games,my limited opinion is this-it is just a matter of time.
Time to smooth out rough edges with new potential linemates and mesh with two players that fit his style best.
Things are a bit out of sync with him right now,but I have no worries (OK,maybe a little) that the sniper will be at his top game shortly...

5) The power play continues to bungle opportunities as again the Devils were unable to capitalize on chances.
Most notably was a third period span that saw two Flyer penalties and a short period of 5 on 3 for the Devils and brought not only a lack of scoring,but a lack of chances as well.

6) Rob Davison was brought up from Lowell to replace the injured Anssi Salmela.
Davison played under four minutes,so he saw little action.
Why Davison instead of Matt Corrente or Tyler Eckford?
After Saturday,the rosters freeze for the Olympics,bringing either of the highly regarded prospects would have made them unable to play for Lowell during the break.

7) Some of the things happening are bad breaks,such as former Devil Arron Asham's goal that deflected off Andy Greene's skate,but others are just poor play as the Devils gave the Flyers chance after chance in overtime and finally allowed them to win it.
An inability to clear the puck,clear the crease to help Martin Brodeur see the puck (a screened Brodeur never saw the game winner) or anything else to get off the ice and slow the Flyer rush cost the Devils this one.

8) I didn't think either team covered itself in glory tonight.
Maybe the lack of an All-Star break is wearing teams down and the games will sharpen up after the Olympics,unless you are playing in them.
Watch for that in the playoffs among players playing Olympic hockey...

9) Martin Brodeur was whistled for a penalty for playing the puck outside the trapezoid.
It was a penalty,but my point is that I hate the whole trapezoid to begin with.
How dominant must your skills be when the league puts in a rule to basically deal with you-as this rule was entered for Brodeur.
At least,he wont have to worry about that in the Olympics!

Photo Credits
Fans Outside-Rich Schultz-AP Photo
Fans Inside-Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Erik Arnesen Interview-Part 1

Here is the first installment of the latest interview that we have been able do with Nationals prospect Erik Arnesen.
Thanks to Erik for taking the time out to do this for us.

Thoughts of RS: Last that we talked to you,you were coming off a season that saw you return to Hagerstown for a second year.
Now two years later,you have spent time at AA Harrisburg and have begun to to arrive on the "prospect" radar.
Tell me a bit about the perseverance that you showed in moving from a long man in low A baseball to a prospect level hurler...

Erik Arnesen: I learned a lot in my time in Hagerstown, both from the staff and my teammates. Paul Menhart taught me a lot; he worked with me on my mechanics in my first stint in Hagerstown. My second year in Hagerstown we worked more on pitches and learning hitters. Overall, my time in Hagerstown really shaped the pitcher I am now.

TRS: Most observers believe that the largest leap in baseball is from High A to AA,do you believe that this is true and why.

EA: It's hard to say if the biggest leap is from High A to AA because AA is where I am now. The quality of players definitely improves with every level, but I thought the moves from low A to high A and then high A to AA were significant.

TRS:Tell me a bit about the differences in your approach in dealing with the advanced hitters in Harrisburg compared to Hagerstown and Potomac.

EA:My approach toward the hitters in AA was pretty similar to the approach I had with hitters in A ball. There are a few more hitters that can really hurt you if you give them the chance in AA, but overall I was able to throw my game and have success.

TRS:Were you surprised that the organization began to transition you to a starter from the bullpen?

EA: I've bounced back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen throughout my career, so it didn't really come as a surprise when I was put in the rotation.

TRS: Do you relish being in the rotation or does it really not matter to you whether you are starting or relieving?

EA: I enjoy the routine of starting, but I am not at all opposed to pitching out of the bullpen. I want to win, and however I can help the team do that is where I want to play.

TRS: What role did Randy Tomlin Pitching Coach) have in your development?

EA:I first worked with Randy in Potomac and he helped me a lot with my splitter grip. It was a relatively new pitch for me at the time, and his work with me really made it a consistent and effective part of my repertoire. He was just as helpful in AA, working with me to make sure I kept doing the things that were allowing me to throw my game and be effective for the team. I greatly appreciate Randy’s work with me both on and off the field, and I am looking forward to working with him in spring training.

Part 2 of 4 coming soon.

Photo Credit-

Sandy Koufax

I have many pitchers that I am a fan of and they include some of the greatest ever,but if I had to pick just one of them to pitch for me-I'll take the 1963-66 era Sandy Koufax over any of them,although the 1968 Bob Gibson comes awfully close to that.

Sandy Koufax went from a wild disappointment as a "bonus baby" signing in 1955 to a solid pitcher for two years in 1961 and 62 to the most dominant pitcher the game has ever seen in a four year run and being gone from the game at age 30.
The Koufax numbers over the final four years aren't just dominant,they are almost robotic level.
87-27 with an ERA over two just once at 2.04, 89 complete games,31 shutouts and 1228 strikeouts over four years with four no hitters tossed in over the same span.
Three Cy Young awards at a time that only one Cy Young was awarded for all of baseball and WHIP numbers that never rose above 1.00 in any of those seasons.
All of this with an elbow that needed cortisone shots and an arm that he was told that he would eventually lose the use of,if he continued to pitch and ended his career.

Koufax's mechanics were unusual for a southpaw as you watch the video as he drove over the top and not three quarters or sidearm as other lefties do.
That is likely why he didn't use a lot of breaking pitches other than a occasional curveball,preferring to rely on his fastball used in four seam style.
It can be very difficult to get a lot of movement on pitches when you throw from the Koufax style and most pitchers that use the motion tend to be fastball first pitchers.
The thing that I find most interesting with the Koufax motion is the torque that he brings his arm forward with as he drove forward and whipped his arm towards the plate dead on.
That could explain the arm/elbow issues,but it was quite effective and beautiful to watch.
Also watch the span that the front leg covers on delivery,seems like Koufax was far more comfortable landing farther out than the average pitcher.

Koufax was a big game pitcher as well,with an ERA in the World Series of 0.95 despite a 4-3 record and 2 MVP's as well.
Koufax is most noted for his Game 7 winning effort off two days rest in the 1965 Fall Classic in which he tossed a three hit shutout in which he threw almost exclusively fastballs after struggling with the control of the curve in the first two innings.

Was Sandy Koufax the greatest lefty pitcher ever?
Tough to give a player that accolade off six seasons.
Was Sandy even the best of his time when you consider the durability of contemporaries such as Gibson,Marichal,Jenkins,Bunning etc?
Over a career,one could make a case that they were able to pitch at Hall of Fame level for far longer and therefore were "better",but for that period of time-I'll take that Koufax over anyone.

The Koufax autograph ranks with Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Orr as the three most wanted for my collection that I will likely never be able to meet them or afford to purchase.
Pretty high company there.....

Photo Credit
Mark Kaufman-Sports Illustrated.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Steaming hot from the melting pot

The New Jersey Devils lost a two goal lead in falling in Philadelphia to the Flyers 3-2.
Due to the Versus issues,I missed the game,so no pithy comments here.
ILWT's coverage of the loss is here.
Devils goals to Zach Parise (26 power play) and Anssi Salmela (2 shorthanded).
The Devils host Philadelphia Wednesday night in the first of their final three games before the Olympic break.
Hopefully I'll be able to watch that one after missing the Ranger game due to work and then missing last nights game.
Until I have better news,enjoy a bright spot from the game in Bryce Salvador's hammering of Daniel Carcillo.

Anssi Salmela was knocked cold on his goal by the Flyers Jeff Carter.
Salmela suffered a likely concussion,a broken nose and loss of some bridgework,the Devils are expected to recall someone from Lowell for tomorrow night's rematch in Philly.
Dirty hit or not?You make the call.

Donte' Stallworth was reinstated by the NFL yesterday and then immediately released by the Browns..
Good for them.
I hate losing more than anyone,but I don't want criminals and thugs on my team.
If I didn't mind that then I would start rooting for the Miami Hurricanes and Baltimore Ravens.

Another 10 to 20 inches of snow its way.
Whoo hoo...
John Laumer at Treehugger takes a look at how snowbound Eastern cities have changed over the last 50 to 60 years.
Sad thing is for me is that growing up in the country in the 70's is that I can relate to some of his article!

Former Sun Marco Estrada was waived by the Nationals in an attempt to get him through waivers to be able to return to Washington,but was claimed by the Milwaukee Brewers.
The 26 year appeared in four games last year with the Nationals.
Best wishes to Marco,who was a super guy here in Hagerstown and here's hoping that he makes the parent Brewers...

Congrats again to the New Orleans Saints for winning the Super Bowl.
I have always pulled for the Saints when not playing the Browns or Seahawks and I know just how much that this means to the people of Louisiana!

Another Saints note-did you know that the "Who Dat"? chant was actually started by wrestling fans in the Mid-South territory by fans of the Junkyard Dog?
It then moved from the Municipal Auditorium to the Superdome and modified for the Saints.
"Who Dat,Who Dat think they gonna beat Dat Dog?"
It's true.

Kudos to ESPN's Friday Night Fights for some quick thinking.
When the Welterweight unification bout between Shane Mosley and Andre Berto was canceled after the Haitian earthquake,the entire card was scrapped including the co feature between two of the world's top six light heavyweights in Glen Johnson and Yusef Mack.
ESPN quickly hammered a deal out to delay the fight a week and bring them to FNF.
Fight fans didn't lose the fight,both guys got paid and ESPN improved their show-everybody wins.
Except Mack as Johnson won by stoppage.

Back with more later as the snow falls with a feature and part one of our interview with Erik Arnesen.

Photo Credit
Estrada-Dave Pape