Monday, February 28, 2011

Jason Arnott to Washington

Lou Lamoriello was not able to replace the pick that he swapped to Nashville for Jason Arnott,but he was able to talk Arnott into accepting a waiver of his no-trade clause as the Devils shipped the veteran center to Washington for a second rounder in 2012 along with David Steckel.
The former Ohio State Buckeye scored five goals with six assists for Washington this season,but ranks as the league's top faceoff man in winning just under 65 percent of his faceoffs this season.
Steckel also was a key part of the Capitals penalty killing unit.
Steckel is under contract for two more years at a very reasonable 1.2 million per season.

Jason Arnott started strong this season when the Devils were struggling,but has seen his play tail off as of late.
Arnott was a disappointment for the most to Devils fans after the team swapped a 2011 second round pick and minor league winger Matt Halischuk to return the veteran to New Jersey.
Arnott should be able to help Washington in their annual attempt to go over the top.

Overall,I like the deal,although some disappointment in the team not getting a second rounder in 2011,but the 2012 pick might be a bigger deal in the long term. as the Devils will eventually have to cash a first rounder for the Ilya Kovalchuk incident.
Steckel should come right in as a third or fourth line center and step right in as the teams main faceoff man,which has become a weakness lately that was very noticeable in the loss to Tampa.
The second rounder will help some in 2012 and Steckel could be the linchpin of some of the team speciality units at a reasonable price.
Plus he is a Buckeye!!!!!

Possibly back later...

Brodeur returns with a win,trade deadline looms

Martin Brodeur returned to action with a strong performance and led the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers in Miami.
Devils goals to Brian Rolston (11 power play) and David Clarkson (9).
The Devils are nine points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and the trade deadline is today at 3 PM.
The Devils return to the Rock after a 3-1 road swing on Wednesday against Tampa.

Hell Raisers

1) Martin Brodeur was sharp,especially in the first period,when the Devils seemed a bit sluggish.
Considering the rust,the outing was very nice for Brodeur.

2) Ilya Kovalchuk's point streak ended at 12 games in the win.
Kovalchuk did have one chance in the third to keep it going,but Tomas Vokoun made a tremendous save on the power play shot.

3) David Clarkson's goal broke a almost six week scoring drought with his backhanded flip into the net.Clarkson had some bad luck in the stretch,but needs to get back to what got him to the show-crashing the net and doing the little dirty work that results in "ugly" goals...

4) Now the trade deadline are the Devils buyers,sellers or whatever makes the best deal.
Well,despite the excellent play of late,I still think the playoffs are unlikely and I would like to see some draft picks added-especially a 2 to replace the second rounder shipped to Nashville for Jason Arnott.
The Devils have picked a 2 or 3  up from Dallas for Jamie Langenbrunner,so that helps,but with that pick having conditions,I would love a second rounder with no strings attached.

5) Most likely to leave?
I would say Jason Arnott is the best bet and Andy Greene is very possible as well.
Both are free agents at the end of the season,so a chance to have some sort of a return would make sense to me.
Arnott could help with playoff experience as someones second or more likely third center,while Greene would be attractive to a team needing to add defense,as most teams try to do around this time...

6) Big winners on the team if Arnott and/or Greene are on the move?
Jacob Josefson would likely gain more time in place of Arnott and Mark Fayne would be possibly the beneficary if Greene leaves.
Matt Corrente should be the player that picks up Fayne's spot once he returns from the IR.

7) A sleeper to move?
Think about Brian Rolston.
Despite his huge cap hit for next season,he still would be signed for next year for the team that acquires him and his strong play of late might make someone take a chance on the veteran,especially if that team could use some power play help.

If the Devils make any moves,I'll be back with thoughts on them.
I also might have another feature today that I thought of at work last night....

Photo Credit-AP

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ruler of the World-The NBA

This is the first of a possibly recurring feature based on the premise that I rule the world and can make changes in said world.
Keep in mind some of these are silly,some are things that would be useful if they truly happened and others are just things that I would like to see.

In our first column,I take over the NBA,which has evolved from a passion to a barely casual part of my life.The NBA needs help and I'll try to give it with both ideas to help and change things that bug me....

1) The NBA establishes a franchise player rule to help smaller cities keep their stars.
This could be known as the LeBron rule.
As I noted last week about Hank Steinbrenner's ludicrous thoughts on smaller cities-if something isn't worked on in sports,then just have eight team leagues and be done with it.
I understand if money is the issue to leave a town,but we can tinker and make the franchise player fair salary wise and if the small team doesn't want to pay that cost,that is their call.
Under this rule,Cleveland,Toronto,Denver,Utah and coming soon New Orleans would all have their star attraction and be in playoff contention instead of watching them fly for pennies on the dollar or no return at all.....

2) Kick the draft lottery to the curb.
If a team wants to tank a season that is their choice in order to add a franchise changing player in the draft.
It might not make for interesting late season games,but it sure beats losing and having the luck of the draw (or David Stern) determine your future....

3) Immediate name changes for all teams using the singular term.
Goodbye Miami Heat,Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder!
This is one of the dumbest things in sports,next to only the idiotic Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim mess in baseball.....

4) The Washington Wizards return their silly name and return as the Washington Bullets as they should be complete with the old Elvin Hayes red,white and blue unis.
Abe Pollin's well intended but ultimately useless decision to change the name to a less violent nickname needs to be changed.
Hell,this happened years ago and I STILL call them the Bullets!
Besides it can do nothing but help my game used Jimmy Black home jerseys worth!!!

5) A new salary cap goes into place without the ten thousand exceptions and provisions that currently litter the landscape.
One number and you stay under it-Period.
You might talk me into the old rule of exceeding the cap to keep your own players as a way of building your team and keeping local fans happy,but that is it.
You should not need a Economics degree from Princeton to figure a cap for a 12 man roster!

6) The following teams need to return to previous logos,uniforms or colors immediately!
Washington-Name change,old uniforms and logo
Milwaukee-Back to the Buck with the basketball spinning on its hoof (?) logo and the forest green..
Cleveland-Original logo
Atlanta-Red uniforms
Denver-Logo with the miner with the pick and basketball
Utah-Green uniforms
Dallas-Original logo and either the green or blue uniforms,their choice as I liked both....
Phoenix-Original logo and uniforms-The Suns uniforms went from super classy to maybe the worst in the league and get rid of that stupid PHX on the jersey front.
It looks like an ad for an airport!

7) Change the All-Star game to a true charity event.
Assign each team a charity and the winning side donates two million and the losers one million.
Imagine the goodwill and rooting interest with the American Cancer Society and Habitat for Humanity each getting nice checks.
The charity changes every year and you can only be selected once every five years....

8) Set small zones for bonus points-If you drill a shot from mid court to the free throw line of your defensive zone,it is worth four points and further back than that five points.
Makes the end of quarter and half a bit more exciting doesn't it?

9) Eliminate the playing of music DURING the game.
No problem with during time outs,but when the ball is in play,I don't want to hear Dr.Dre!!!

10) The ball used is the red,white and blue of the old ABA.
The ball looks better live and on TV,the rotating colors makes the ball appear slower in the air via optical illusion and we will sell the hell out of it to kids making money!!
This also accomplishes one other thing-the ABA ball is a terrific ball to teach shooting fundamentals with it and maybe it becomes used at all levels to help the game down the road.
Why a marketing guy like David Stern didn't do this 25 years ago makes me wonder what they are thinking about!

11) Considering the NBA is the most vulnerable to game fixing (See Tim Donaghy's corruption) and just awful arbiters (See Dick Bavetta in any playoff game involving a marquee team),the league starts a new program for officials to train them full time from day one and will be unafraid to fire bad refs.
If not for the fact,we have to start somewhere,I'd fire all of them now for creating this mess of not calling fouls on the superstars...

12) And finally,we give Michael Jordan the acknowledgments that he always has deserved.
One for being the greatest player ever.
And the other one for ruining the game.
Bear with me and check the link out to read as we go along.
Eliminate the "Bullet" comeback season and look at his Bulls stats.
With just one exception at 19.8,Michael Jordan never played a full season without shooting twenty times or more per game.
Granted,that is what it took to win,but not everyone looks at things that way...
To the less nuanced watcher,that screams look at me!
Combine that with his dominant attitude and constant needing the ball in his hands,Michael Jordan and his indisputable greatness influenced the game in the most negative manner possible.

Tons of players grew up watching Jordan and to this day attempt to play the game his way,with one small problem-THEY ARE NOT MICHAEL JORDAN!
Michael Jordan gave us Tracy McGrady,Vince Carter and the list goes on.
Mid sized swingmen that can be spectacular dunkers,but hog the ball,don't handle it well at all,shoot a low percentage,usually have tons of turnovers,have a it is not MY fault attitude and generally make fans scream at the top of their lungs for help!
Thanks Michael and No thanks as well.....

Feedback on this appreciated,if it is well received,I'll think about adding it to the feature rotation....

Photo Credits
Logos:Chris Creamer's

Faceoff consequences end Devils winning streak

Two lost faceoffs led directly to both Tampa goals in the second period as the Lightning ended the New Jersey Devils winning streak 2-1 in Tampa.
Mark Fayne (4) cut the margin to one in the third period for the only Devil goal.
New Jersey takes today off before a five o'clock start in Miami tomorrow against the Florida Panthers...

Hell Raisers

1) The two faceoff losses by Rod Pelley and Dainus Zubrus that resulted in goals that meant the game shows just how important the little things are.
Pelley just lost the draw,but Zubrus sent the puck directly to Simon Gagne for what proved to be the game winner.
You just cannot stand around after a lost faceoff,you have to be moving and the Devils weren't on either of those goals.....

2) Johan Hedberg added another strong effort in the loss.The first Tampa goal by Martin St.Louis was a shot that Hedberg never saw and the Gagne goal was not Hedberg's fault either.
Without Hedberg's play,Tampa could have easily added two or three goals to their total....

3) Big question # 1-With the Devils losing and all the teams ahead of them adding at least a point last night,will the Devils be sellers or buyers before the deadline next week?
As happy as I am with the recent play,I would not object at all to a few moves that add picks to the team.
Especially getting a second rounder from somewhere to replace the second rounder that was sent to Nashville to Jason Arnott,who might be at the top of the list to be on the move.....

4) Big question # 2-With the streak finally ending,which goalie will be in net Sunday?
Hedberg or the returning Martin Brodeur?
I'd think Marty,but I wouldn't want to bet cash on it...

5) David Clarkson caught a skate on his arm in the second period and earned 18 stitches for his trouble.
Clarkson did return for a few shifts in the final period....

6) Chico Resch says that he likes the way Mark Fayne always finds a way to put his shots on net and the more I watch Fayne,the more I like him.
Fayne is still inexperienced and has plenty to learn,but his play is growing on me as is the recent play of Anssi Salmela,who finally is showing some skills that I always thought that he had on the offensive end....

I will try to be back later with the beginning of what I hope will be a popular and recurring feature piece....

Photo Credit-AP Photo

Friday, February 25, 2011

Forgotten Superstars-Jerry Sherk

The Forgotten Superstars series continues with a look at a player who might have been on his way to Canton if not for one of the strangest injuries ever.

Many of you may have forgotten or not even recognize the name Jerry Sherk, but opposing linemen sure remembered him as Sherk was an All-Pro selection for four years in a row from 1973-76 and was the defensive player of the year by one news agency in 1976 for a 9-5 non-playoff Cleveland Browns team.

Jerry Sherk was that rarity that teams covet even today- the defensive tackle that can rush the passer and play the run with a career high of 12 sacks in 1976.

Some of the success that Sherk had might have been due to his success as a wrestler at NCAA powerhouse Oklahoma State.
I have always thought that linemen on both sides of the ball with an amateur wrestling background have a huge advantage in line play with the balance that is needed to work with strength in the mat game and that helps greatly when those players take their skills to the NFL against players of similar size and strength.
Sherk suffered a pre-season knee injury that cost him most of the 1977 season and seemed to rob him of some of his pass-rushing ability upon his return to the field.

In 1979, Sherk was hit by a devastating staph infection from the legendarily awful AstroTurf at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium that scraped a boil off of his arm and allowed staph to enter his bloodstream and travel to his knee.
Sherk's life was threatened, spent six weeks in the hospital and missed the remainder of the 1979 season and all but one game of the Kardiac Kids 1980 Central Championship season.
Sherk was used as a pass rush specialist for the 81 Browns, but was clearly not the same player and hung up his cleats after the season.
Two injuries that likely cost the Browns best defensive lineman of my lifetime a ticket to the Hall of Fame and the Browns some quality seasons as well.
Jerry Sherk is a noted sports photographer and hosted a showing of his work last fall during his time with the Browns.
Sherk also developed a mentoring program in San Diego that has been picked up by the state of California and deals with mentoring youths, adults, and former prisoners after their release.
Welcome Jerry Sherk to the Forgotten Superstars universe.....

Post Script-In looking for a photo of Jerry Sherk in action, I stumbled upon this organization that both Sherk and one of our forgotten superstars and all-time favorites of mine Kenny Easley are part of.
Dignity after Football is an organization that is "“DIGNITY AFTER FOOTBALL” is an organization committed to giving a voice to past heroes of the NFL and to finally restoring dignity to the lives of thousands of disabled and under-pensioned former players.".
I read this site and could not stop reading.
Check their site out and you may never look at the NFL the same way again.
Look for them in our links to the right and a post here on the topic shortly...

Photo Credits: Unknown

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cleaning out the Inbox

Finally,a few cleanings of the inbox to hopefully catch back up after a Fantasy Baseball/ letter writing hiatus!

We start with a rare word from someone in the Browns front office as Mike Holmgren offered this statement-"I'm also looking for a home-run hitter,".
The Browns biggest needs on the team are wide receiver and defensive line and the recent roster moves indicate the Browns taking a D-Lineman.

That is a need,but my philosophy in any draft-pro sports,fantasy,little league etc is this-Take the best player on the board.
Do not look at need if there is a clear cut top player on the board.
If you have two top players rated closely,then consider need,but otherwise as I write this one more time-TAKE THE BEST PLAYER ON THE BOARD.
Our opinion is that the top two players in the draft are A.J.Green WR Georgia and Patrick Peterson CB LSU.
If either of those players are on the board,you take them.
Green would give Colt McCoy the star weapon that the Browns lack right now,while Peterson and Joe Haden would be the best corner tandem that Cleveland has seen since Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield.
I know D-line is a huge need,but address that in round two,where the need to push for well,need is a bit less risky.....

The Browns also managed to find a way to keep long time kicker Phil Dawson on the team when it looked like he was gone to free agency.
By tabbing Dawson as the franchise player,the Browns were able to keep the steady veteran at a reasonable price.
That move also shows just how poor the team is when it uses its franchise tag for the season on a kicker....

The start of the rebuilding for the Cleveland Cavaliers started today as Cleveland swapped Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Clippers for Baron Davis and the Clippers top pick in the 2011 draft.
The only downside is the higher cap for Davis,who has not always been the happiest of campers in his career and might not be thrilled about Cleveland.
Otherwise,the Clippers pick is likely to be a lottery selection and that will give the Cavaliers two high picks to join J.J. Hickson to build around.
One thing that one can never say about the Cavaliers since Dan Gilbert bought the club,making money is not the top priority-winning games is....

Cleveland likely is not done dealing if they can help it as I am sure they would not mind moving Davis,Antawn Jamison or anyone else for draft/young player assets.
Anthony Parker and Leon Powe are role players that could be moved to a contender for whatever the Cavaliers could get in return..

Tom Noe takes his blog to Akron for the other Northern Ohio Food Feud for best drive-in cheeseburger between Swenson's and Skyway.
I have heard about both drive-ins,but never ate at either and will likely do this Food Feud for myself this year,although I am likely to do this alone as neither of my ladies are huge fans of the cheeseburger.
Of course,the largest impediment of all is the soaring gas prices that might leave any trip in jeopardy this year!!!

And finally happy birthday to one of the advertising icons that I have known forever-enjoy number fifty Charlie the Tuna!
The face of StarKist tuna has always been a favorite of mine and it is nice to see such characters stick around for such a long time....

Erik Arnesen Interview-Part 3

Part three of our interview with Erik Arnesen continues today with a look at Erik's winter ball experience...

TRS: Some pitchers are pretty superstitious,do you have any particular routines on the mound or on game day that you do not deviate from?

EA: I don't think I am superstitious, but I do have routines that I follow. I do the same pregame warm up, stretch and throw routines before each game. I also say a quick prayer before I get on the mound before each inning.

TRS:You pitched winter ball for the first time this off season-Was this your decision or the Nationals offered you the option of doing so?

EA: I was encouraged to play winter ball by the Nationals, but in the end it was my decision to go play.

TRS: Did you have the option of what Winter league to play in between the four leagues (Dominican Republic,Mexico,Puerto Rico,Venezuela) and if so,why did you select Puerto Rico?

EA: I had an option to play in either Mexico or Puerto Rico. The money they were offering was the same, so I decided on Puerto Rico because I knew some of the players going down there.

TRS:The fans in the Caribbean are reported to be quite wild,Is this the case and if so any crazy nights with the Puerto Rican fans?

EA: It was interesting playing in Puerto Rico. The different stadiums had bands and cheerleaders. It was definitely an experience.

TRS:Your numbers were very strong after your first game in the league,which look to be inflated by a home run off you.
Any thoughts on the first game in the league?

EA: I threw well while I was in Puerto Rico. I gave up a few home runs that accounted for most of the runs I allowed, but it is not something I am concerned with.

Coming up soon will be the fourth and final part of our chat with Erik Arnesen....

The idealism of the young....

I took a few days off and seems like the only things that I missed were the Devils wins in Carolina and Dallas to keep the streak running!
I think I'll skip on recaps on those two and return to the team with Friday's game in Tampa against the Lightning until some news comes out..

I also hope to add two more posts today with a cleaning of the inbox and another installment of the Erik Arnesen interview,but I wanted to do this post first because it has made me think a bit and since I try to use this as more than just a sports blog,I wanted to write a bit about this.

I stumbled upon this person's comments on Ryan's Facebook page,which appeared on mine since Ryan commented on them.
I refrained from a thought regarding his for two reasons-one is that this person has no idea who I am and could care less and the other is that sometimes giving people attention is exactly what they want with their conduct,so when I feel that is the case-I don't give them what they are seeking.

This person "loathes" protectionists,nationalists and any advocates of  "buying American" ideas and goes with the cheaper and best product for its value.
Fair enough-to an extent.
As a person that doesn't make as much money as I would like,I understand buying the best product that you can at the most reasonable price is important to the wallet and when push comes to shove,that is the bottom line.
For example,I dislike shopping and giving my money to Wal-Mart,but one doesn't have to like the fact in order to realize the decision to spend there is the best one for my families purchasing power.
If all were equal,I would like to think the location of the manufacturing base might be a tie breaker,but often times it is not and as important as my country doing well is,my families needs are important as well.

The writer then moves onto the fact that the United States is moving beyond manufacturing and into a service and information based economy and sadly the facts support that belief as well.
One might be able to argue that the businesses in the USA as a whole have sent the economy in that direction,but it is tough to deny that is the way that things are going.
So far,the post is pretty true,although not pleasant to hear.
Then the quote and what made me think-"These stupid old people don't understand that their kids are not going to have jobs at the factory" 

Stupid? Old? Don't understand?
I don't believe so.
They understand,they just feel sadness.
Sadness that their children and grandchildren are going to be the first generation of Americans since the Industrial Revolution to not improve on their parents quality of life.
Take this from a person that isn't/wasn't suited for a factory job-those jobs were the great equalizer for the less educated and gave them a fighting chance for a decent quality life.
Can one imagine anyone being able to buy a home with a 40 hour a week job at Seven-Eleven?

My father once told me that people start out on the left of the political spectrum and drift right and although I don't think that is always the case,it is more often than not.
Why is that?
I think it is easy to be Utopian and idealistic when you are young,have no one to worry about other than yourself and have few consequences for your mistakes.

It is easy to think of things as you would like them to be instead what they are when your responsibilities are few and one can pontificate without having to deal with the system.

The young have a sense of entitlement.
I did and most others as well-when other people do the dirty work for your wants and needs,one can afford to be idealistic and until you move out onto your own or graduate college,one can offer these thoughtful posts on nostalgic thinking by the old and moving onto the future,since after all you aren't changing anything either,just adding your opinions like everyone else.

Change is a young man's game.
I must admit that as you age,it is simpler to acknowledge the status quo,but change also means truly doing something about what needs to be changed.
Youth is a ticket that has an expiration-you gain responsibilities,realize that there is more than life than just what affects you and a concern that your life is not going to last forever with a need to take care of those that you leave behind.
As the time on the ticket gets closer to running out,you realize that the "stupid old people" are suddenly the same as you and you become nostalgic for the youth you left behind.
Thinking about the person that you were and will not be again with the few cares and few concerns with the ability to have an opinion on everything and one that is often wrong,that person lives on forever,even if in the past.
Think about that one just a bit-everyone's time comes.
Take that from an "old nostalgic man".

Back with more later....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

On the signing front

A brief trip to the signing front to clear things out a bit.
This hopefully will be the beginning of a good run as I have sent out more mail over the last three weeks or so than I ever have over a similar period,so I am hoping for some good additions....

I made a large trade with the "Superfan" to gain about 50 autographs.
Nice catches include Royals prospect Mike Moustakas,who I never was able to obtain when he was in Wilmington,Oakland Athletics Aaron Cunningham and Gio Gonzalez,Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates on cards that I didn't have,Lastings Milledge,Jason Castro of Houston and Christian Colon,last years top pick for the Royals were nice pickups as well....

I also added some non-baseball cards from the "SF".
Wrestlers TAZ and Samoa Joe along with famous manager Jimmy Hart along with some stars of the hockey world,led by former Washington goalie Olaf Kolzig,former Devil Viktor Kozlov and Colorado's Tomas Fleischmann on his AHL top prospects card.....

Two from EBAY with certified cards from former NBA stars Spencer Haywood of various teams and Phoenix's Alvan Adams....

Mail signings
Mike Smithson-Twins and Red Sox pitcher
Charlie Spikes-Indians outfielder
Roy Thomas-Cardinals pitcher and his Senior league card
Al Hrabosky-Cardinals,Braves and Royals pitcher and current Cardinal color commentator
Paul Dade-Indians and Padres outfielder
Craig Robinson-Phillies and Braves shortstop
Chris Knapp-White Sox and Angels pitcher
Jerry Don Gleaton-Royals,White Sox and Mariners pitcher
Ryan Bowen-Astros pitcher-Holds my new record for longest wait 11 months.....
Paul Mitchell-Orioles,Brewers and Mariners pitcher
Steve Comer-Rangers and Indians pitcher
Tom Veryzer-Tigers,Indians and Cubs shortstop
Phil Huffman-Blue Jays pitcher
Frank Tanana-Angels,Rangers,Red Sox and Tigers pitcher
Tanana also includes a very nice signed religious tract...
Rance Mulliniks-Angels,Royals and Blue Jays third baseman

Roosevelt Leaks-Colts and Bills fullback
Bucky Dilts-Broncos and Colts punter

Paul Pressey-Bucks and Spurs forward,sent in care of the Cleveland Cavaliers,where he is one of the Cavalier assistant coaches.....

Kovalchuk shoots down Rangers!

In a game that had a playoff type atmosphere,Ilya Kovalchuk's breakaway goal (21) off a Marc Staal error in the second period was the only one of the contest as the New Jersey Devils won their sixth game in a row with a 1-0 win over the visiting New York Rangers.
Johan Hedberg stopped all sixteen Ranger shots to earn the shutout.
The Devils start a four game road swing that will truly decide whether the team has any real hopes of a miracle playoff spot or will be active sellers by the trade deadline tonight in Raleigh against the Hurricanes.

Hell Raisers

1) It was great to see the Rock,well Rockin with a sellout crowd and the fans really into the game.
The Ranger games usually do sell out as Ranger fans come and often times are louder than the home fans.
Not on this night and give lots of credit to OUR fans for not allowing the visitors to take over as they often do.....

2) Ilya Kovalchuk continues to amaze me with his play of late.
Every game,it seems like Kovalchuk does something incredible as he did last night as his romp up ice off a simple clear that bounced off Marc Staal's skate and what basically was a penalty shot for the game winner.
Kovalchuk is finally in form and assuming the Devils can find a way to keep Zach Parise,the league had better be ready next season for sure....

3) The Devils defense deserved a lot of credit in this one as the defense simply clamped down on the Rangers and didn't allow them many scoring chances.
The only exception was the third period shot by Ryan Callahan that almost went in but hit the crossbar.
Other than that,no problems...

4) Andy Greene played an excellent game and looked very confident in moving the puck.
Greene's play has been a major reason for the Devils much improved defense along with major improvements on the Devils backchecking....

5) Tim Sestito cleared waivers,but no word as of yet whether he will stay with the Devils or be shipped to Albany....

6) I hate giving credit to Rangers,but Henrik Lundquist was great in this one.
This game could have been a 3 or 4 goal win for the Devils without strong netminding by Lundquist....

Photo Credit-Getty Images

Friday, February 18, 2011

Erik Arnesen Interview-Part 2

Part two of our interview with Erik Arnesen starts today off.
I hope to be back with another post later...

TRS: Which is more difficult travel wise-the multiple airport stops in AAA or the log bus rides from the Eastern League?
EA: I've been on enough long bus rides now that I've gotten used to them. The early morning plane rides are tough, but it's nice to get to where you're going a lot faster than the bus.

TRS: Your walk ratio went up a good deal from AA to AAA?
Is this the difference in hitter IE-taking more pitches or are the umpires more rigid in their strike zones?

EA: It's probably a combination thereof. A large number of the walks I had in Triple A this year were with first base open and a guy in scoring position. I worked around hitters more than I had before in situations that called for it.

TRS: Have you been using the same pitches as before or have you been working on an addition to the arsenal?

EA: I'm still throwing a fastball, slider, and splitter; but I started throwing a split change this year. I started throwing it because Greg Booker ( the AAA pitching coach) recommended that I throw it along with my splitter because my splitter doesn't spin.

TRS: How did you get the news of your promotion,where did you meet up with the Chiefs and was it difficult getting there?

EA: I was called into the office with Randy Knorr and Randy Tomlin after a game in Harrisburg and told I was being sent up. I met the team in Scranton, so it was a pretty easy drive.

TRS: Any interesting road stories from the 2010 season?

EA: A lot of the teams in AAA play in bigger cities than at some of the lower levels. It's been fun traveling around the east coast heading from city to city.

Photo Credit:Ryan Heimberger

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sending in the Hounds...

I spent a long Sunday with the Loudon Hounds for their inaugural Fan Fest and it was well worth the time for both getting signatures and getting to meet someone that I had always wanted as well.

The Loudon Hounds will not start play until their new stadium is built in 2012,but this was a great idea to begin to establish their brand in the community.
The event which featured autograph sessions,player discussions in the auditorium,sponsor booths and of course the ever present merchandise tables were pretty well done for their first effort.
I love the logo of the Basset Hound and I think the logo/merchandise is going to be a real winner and might be the best in their league...

I was able to get most of the players that attended with a few exceptions.
My friends Corey and Krista Cunningham were with me and helped me get some extra stuff signed after their things were finished and that was a huge help....
Former Oriole Mike Young and former Washington Senator Fred Valentine were last minute additions and so I didnt know they were going to be there.
Too bad for me especially with Valentine,who I do not have in my collection..
The main stars that I didnt get were Tommy John ( I was way back in line when he was signing) and Boog Powell,who is pretty easy to get with his "Boog's Barbeque" at Oriole games.....

I was able to land former Oriole catcher Chris Hoiles,well traveled 1970's catcher Ellie Rodriguez (Especially pleased with his 1973 Kelloggs card),former Oriole bullpenner Tippy Martinez,former Indians (among others) outfielder Otis Nixon,former Yankee second sacker Bobby Richardson and the toughest catch in former Tiger slugger Cecil Fielder.
Fielder seemed a bit overwhelmed with the attention,although not in a bad way at all and wore a horizontally pinstriped black fedora in an interesting look.
Nixon and Rodriguez were pretty quiet,while Hoiles and especially Martinez were very nice and chatted a bit.
Bobby Richardson was a true gentleman and seemed to be a super guy.
Bobby signed a "Ted Williams" set card for me as well as his 1961 Topps that I have had since a small child.
All four card corners were snipped off by the cousin of my mom's that gave them to me and I told Richardson "In that condition,it isnt worth much,but between the signature and the back story,it is worth tons to me"

However,the biggest of all for me was waiting in the wings.
It took us almost two hours to work our way back up the line after getting the Fielder group early and when we finally got there,all the players signing were players we already had gotten and I asked the Hounds employee if I could stay at the front of the line and wait for the next shift and allow people behind me to go ahead and go to keep the line moving.
The person had no problem with that and about ten minutes later former slugger and Rookie of the Year Frank Howard came in and seemed to have difficulty getting around.
Howard had pre signed a ton of cards and had them on the table and allowed everyone to have one,but his signatures were limited to two.
I had Frank sign a 1971 Topps and a baseball (Beautiful signature as well) and added a reprint of his 1973 Topps that was the item I was going to have signed,if the limit was three,so all worked out.
Frank asked if I was having a good time and I responded with "always a good time to get a Buckeye,Frank".
His eyes lit up and asked about Ohio,when I said I used to live in Ashland,Howard then talked about former Eagle and MLB lefty Ken Kravec and complimented Kravec's ablilty.
All and all-a big thrill for me in meeting Frank Howard....

A few suggestions for refining a great event and helping things run smoother.
The players and sponsors were in a small "exercise" gym,perhaps the larger main gym would be a better bet for next year.
Our line twisted around twice before getting to Howard and often confusion reigned .
More space and a more defined area would keep things easier for the lines.saving hassle and keeping people like one "wonderful" woman a bit happier in line.....

All and all,a great day and event and here is wishing the Loudon Hounds well for their Atlantic League debut in2012 and a repeat of the fan fest next season....

Thanks again to Corey and Krista Cunningham for their help...

Closer than it was...

Judging the score in last night's 3-2 win by the New Jersey Devils,the game looked closer than it was.

It wasn't as the Devils generally controlled the action and only a last second goal made the score look better than it was.
Devils goals to Ilya Kovalchuk (20),Patrik Elias (14) and Brian Rolston (9).
The Devils will play back to back games starting tomorrow against the Rangers and then Saturday against Carolina again...

Update time;
Before we move onto Hell Raisers,despite not having posted over the last few days,I still hope to talk about my trip to Loudon tonight or tomorrow,off line work on the Pirates and Indians top 15 prospect series,more from Erik Arnesen and a signing front since I have been on a flurry of mail sending for the collection.

Hell Raisers

1) Great game by "The Moose" Johan Hedberg.
Hedberg finished with 25 saves and continued his run of fine play.
If the player waiting in the wings was not Martin Brodeur,I would say continue to ride the Moose for as long as you can....

2) The Devils slammed any Hurricane warning window shut early in the third with two backhanded goals past Cam Ward.
Few goals from the goalmouth area look much prettier than a good backhand and both Patrik Elias and Brian Rolston beat Ward with that move...

3) Not be out done,Ilya Kovalchuk scored the first Devils goal with another highlight reel goal.
His skating (and stopping) with the puck corkscrewed Joe Corvo into the ice and then the shot froze Ward.
These are the plays that work out for the confident player and maybe a lack of such might have hampered Kovalchuk earlier in the year.
As Elvis Presley once sang "All you need is Confidence" and great skating and shooting skills as well....

4) Nice scrap minutes into the game between Mark Fraser and Troy Bodie.
Fraser held his own and I thought helped set the tone for a physical game without Anton Volchenkov...

5) Speaking of the Russian Hammer,Volchenkov returns from suspension against the Rangers.The Devils dodged a bullet with the team winning all three games that the teams best hitter missed...

6) Roster moves were made this morning as Jay Leach was sent down to Albany with Volchenkov returning,Tim Sestito was placed on waivers with the intent to send him to the AHL and Jacob Josefson recalled.
Bringing the former first round pick could help the Devils offense even more with Sestito being far from a offensive force.....

Photo Credits-Bruce Bennett-Getty Images

Monday, February 14, 2011

Erik Arnesen Interview-Part 1

Washington Nationals pitching prospect Erik Arnesen was kind enough to spend some time to do another four part interview with us.
This is the third time that Erik has done so and we appreciate it very much.
I will try to be later with some thoughts on yesterday's Loudon Hounds Fan Fest,where I got the chance to meet many cool people and meet someone that I always have to wanted to...

TRS: After a season that saw you get your first taste of Triple A baseball,what was the highlight of the 2010 season for you?

EA: I really enjoyed this season. The highlight of my season was probably a game against Scranton where I struck out 9.

TRS:Did you notice any difference in the caliber of hitter that you faced at the higher level,If so what was the difference?

EA: The biggest difference between Double and Triple A was the experience level of the players. There were a lot of seasoned hitters in Triple A, which leads to a lot of tough at bats.

TRS: As you move up the ladder.have you noticed a difference in the off the field camaraderie among the players?
Has it become more individual or more group related off the field than the low minors?

EA: There has always been a lot of camaraderie in the clubhouse and on the field. Even though everyone wants to get to the same place, everyone pulls for everyone else. 

TRS: Did you consider the Syracuse stadium to be more or a pitchers park,hitters or pretty fair?

EA:  Syracuse played relatively fair. It's big to left and center, but the ball flies well to right.

TRS: Which was more suited to your style of pitching,the Syracuse park or Harrisburg?

EA: Harrisburg plays as more of a pitchers park than Syracuse, but I enjoyed pitching in both ballparks.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Burning the Leafs and Biting the Sharks

Lots of parallels in the two victories for the New Jersey Devils.
Both wins by a 2-1 score,both wins were of the come from behind nature and both game winners were scored by the suddenly red hot Ilya Kovalchuk.
The only difference was the win in Toronto came in overtime,while last night's win over San Jose,Kovalchuk's game winner was with under four minutes to go in the third period.
Johan Hedberg picked up the win in both games in the absence of Martin Brodeur.
Devils goals against Toronto to Kovalchuk (18) and Dainius Zubrus (11),while the goals versus the Sharks to Kovalchuk (19) and Brian Rolston (8 power play).
The Devils return to action on Wednesday for the first of two game in four days against the Carolina Hurricanes with a game against the Rangers sandwiched in between....

Hell Raisers

1) The win over Toronto was the 600th for Jacques Lemaire as a head coach.

It doesn't seem like Lemaire had been around that long until I really started thinking about it and yep,I guess he has.

2) Ilya Kovalchuk is finally starting to put things together and not just because he is scoring goals either.
His pass to Brian Rolston in a 4 on 3 situation in the third period was a thing of beauty.
Kovalchuk's all round game is shaping up quite nicely,my only worry is that if Jacques Lemaire does not return as coach for next season,as he has claimed-will Kovalchuk regress???

3) As pretty as that was,the game winner against Toronto was even better!
Watch this one!

4) I also liked Anssi Salmela's play (He assists on the above goal) in the two wins.
Salmela is maligned by many Devil fans,but to me,he has the potential to be a solid puck moving defenseman.
Sometimes,it just takes more time than others....

5) As I suspected Anton Volchenkov was suspended for his dumb elbowing penalty against Carolina.
Volchenkov sat out both wins and will miss the Carolina game on Wednesday before being eligible to return....

6) Because of the suspension,the Devils had veteran Jay Leach in the arena in case of a need.
Leach was scratched shortly after being obtained from San Jose along with center Steve Zalewski for Patrick Davis and Mike Swift in a trade that was made to help the Albany defensive corps that has been hit so hard as part of the trickle down on the big club.

7) Fire and Ice had a post on Leach,who is married to blog favorite Kathryn Tappen of NESN.
I didnt know that and I'll have to find a card of Leach for his visit to Hershey when I go up later this season for my yearly trip to see the AHL Devils...

Photo Credits-AP

Friday, February 11, 2011

Time to act is now for Frederick Baseball

I was going to discuss the Devils 2-1 win over Toronto in overtime,but this subject takes precedence.

Take the Frederick Keys rumors of losing the market to the Independent Atlantic League VERY seriously.
I didn't when I saw the Ballpark Digest note on the unprecedented bidding process for the lease to Harry Grove Stadium,I still didn't when I read the Frederick councils words on the affiliated team having an advantage in the bidding and even when I read the open letter to the fans from the Keys management,I still saw it as posturing and that a deal would be worked out.
Battlin' Bob wrote about this last night in his blog and I was hesitant to write about it because I was not sure this was a viable threat.
I have spent this morning digging around in various capacities both on and off line and trust me-this is not only possible,but from what I have deduced,the city of Frederick may very well shift from Affiliated baseball to Independent league play.

I have nothing against Indy ball and you will see some famous players come through as managers and coaches and some players playing that were former big leaguers as well.
However,you will not be seeing Matt Wieters,Bryce Harper and Eric Hosmer type prospects  in Independent baseball.
Would you rather see a developing Jason Heyward or a washed up Carl Everett?
Because that is the choice that the city of Frederick is about to make for YOU!

The Frederick Keys are not totally blameless in this for reasons that I cannot write about right now,but Atlantic League kingpin Peter Kirk is more than experienced in selling his product to cities,sponsors and whoever else that it takes to achieve his goals.
Keep in mind that I still hold Peter Kirk accountable for his moves that started with a thriving Hagerstown market that was good enough for AA baseball and then threw it in the dirt in order to make more money in Bowie,so please keep in mind that I am far from trusting in Peter Kirk's word.
The Keys are for sale and likely will not have the funds to match a possible large bid for the lease that may not only take affiliated baseball from Frederick,but also lead into a lame duck few months for the Carolina League as the bidding will take place in May.

The Atlantic League would gain an excellent market in Frederick,but one that already has teams in their radius in Waldorf MD,York and Lancaster PA and coming in 2012 Loudon VA,which to me smacks of overkill,but it isn't my money or business.
To many people,that enjoy baseball,a switch would not be a large deal.
After all,they still watch a game,take the kids,allow them to ride the carousel and grab a 8 dollar brew and to some,the league wouldn't matter much.
For the game,it would make a huge deal down the road.
I am a firm believer that fans in the minors become bigger Major League fans down the road when players they have seen,met and grabbed an autograph from become the stars that they see every night on television,particularly with Frederick being an Oriole affiliate.
You will get none of that with Independent baseball,which is fine in its niche',but is not a replacement for what Frederick fans have had since the arrival of the Keys.

So in that vein,I will do something for the first time on the blog-post emails and phone numbers for people to contact in Frederick to help the Carolina League and the Orioles stay in Frederick.
Contact these people and tell them that you need them to make the right decision and back the franchise that put the town on the map in the sport.

Take this seriously and not an unnecessary worry,this isn't just a ploy.
I recall the words of the Kinston Indians GM recently when their team left town which were roughly these-once word of a deal hits the media,it is usually a done deal.
I hope this isn't the case for Frederick and affiliated baseball......

I would have lost a lot of money taking the bet that Frederick would not have minor league baseball and Hagerstown would-Lets hope it doesn't come to that...

Randy McClement 301-600-1380

Board of Aldermen
Shelley Aloi       301-600-1632
Carol Krimm      301-600-1863
Michael O’Connor 301-600-1386
Kelly Russell      301-600-2966
Karen Young     301-600-1382

If I have time,I'll be back later with Devils hockey...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Browns cut six including Shaun Rogers

With the labor agreement in everyone's mind,the Cleveland Browns released six players with some of them being players that were liabilities in their stints in a Browns uniform.

The biggest (literally) and best player to be released was Shaun Rogers.
The mammoth lineman from Texas spent three years in Cleveland with the best being his first under Romeo Crennel.
Rogers was a force during that season,which is noted for the "Phil Savage Panic" in which Savage traded his first three picks for players that did not produce (Brady Quinn),players that were ill suited for the Browns defense (Corey Williams) and Rogers.
However,his time under Eric Mangini was not as productive and last season with Rogers hobbled by injuries saw him play less than forty percent of the time.
Rogers was noted for being an excellent teacher of the game to Ahtyba Rubin,who had a huge season and will be the core of the Browns defensive line.
The loss of Rogers could have been a huge one if not for the presence of Rubin,who is more or less a younger,slimmer version of Rogers.

Two of Mangini's Jets linebackers were handed their walking papers as David Bowens and Eric Barton were released.
Both players were over 30 and neither seem to fit in the 4-3 defense that new defensive coordinator Dick Jauron will be running.
Neither player will be a huge loss,but Bowens will always be remembered by Browns fans for a sensational game in New Orleans this season in the Browns upset win over the Saints.
These moves show that the Browns will have to sign a linebacker or draft one reasonably high as only two linebackers of note (Scott Fujita and Matt Roth) are under contract,although I think Marcus Bernard would be a restricted free agent,but I cannot say that for sure.

Kenyon Coleman,another player that was suited for the 3-4 defense,was also released.
Coleman was one of the various non descript players that Eric Mangini traded for in the Mark Sanchez trade that looks to be one of the worst trades in Cleveland history.
Coleman did start much of last season and finished with two and a half sacks and three forced fumbles but being 31,a Mangini guy and a poor 4-3 end,he was figured to be on the way out.

The other two players were Eric Mangini signings in 2009 and some of the poorest that I can remember recently.
I wish that the Browns would have cut these two before the 2010 season,but better late than never as tackle John St.Clair and tight end Robert Royal.
St,Clair ,as I have noted in the past, was so bad that I thought bringing in large men off the street could have been able to perform at a similar level and was sieve like at tackle.
The rock handed Royal caught five passes last year and seemed to drop ten to me.
One of the puzzling offensive calls that Brian Daboll consistently seemed to call in big situations was passes to Robert Royal,which he would usually drop despite being wide open.
This part of the link covers the importance of Robert Royal as this is what the Cleveland Plain Dealer mentioned as Royal's importance-"One of the team's funniest players, he kept things light in the locker room and on the field."
That is the best thing that you can say about a player?
That says it all right there.

All and all,the Cleveland Browns needed to get younger and all of these players are over 30.
Combined with the Jet defenders being 3-4 guys and St.Clair and Royal being,well terrible these were moves to improve the team,open cap space and get younger-a cannot lose situation.

Photo Credit-John Kuntz-Cleveland Plain Dealer

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Forgotten Superstars-Carlos Monzon

We return to the Forgotten Superstars universe with the man, who in my opinion, is the greatest Middleweight of all time.
Sugar Ray Robinson? Nope, not at Middleweight anyway.
The Welterweight Robinson might have been the greatest fighting machine ever, but the 160-pound version lost to Gene Fullmer, Randy Turpin, and Carmen Basilio.
A great fighter, most definitely, but not the best.

Marvin Hagler? Nope.
Hagler was great, but he seemed to be intimidated against fighters that exuded greatness like Roberto Duran and Ray Leonard and I think against this man, he would be no different.

Bernard Hopkins? Not quite.
Hopkins has kept his skills far longer than most, but despite his long reign, name me one great fighter that he beat at 160?
Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya were natural welters and his record shows good, not great fighters and not one true great win over a natural middleweight...

So, who does that leave?
I bet that one person (if he is reading this) knows the answer and vehemently disagrees and the rest of you are wondering who Carlos Monzon is.
Carlos Monzon is my pick for the greatest middleweight of all time.
"Escopeta" (Spanish for Shotgun) Monzon cleaned out an entire division during a seven-year reign that saw him defeat Hall of Famers Nino Benvenuti (twice) and Emile Griffith (twice), Hall of Famer, and the reigning Welterweight champion Jose Napoles, Bennie Briscoe, who we mentioned as maybe the best fighter never to win a title and the excellent Rodrigo Valdes to unify the part of the title that had been stripped from Monzon for taking a bigger money bout against Napoles and then beat Valdes again in a rematch.
Seven other contenders fell at the hands of the cocky Argentine.
Check this YouTube complete with a really cool Johnny Cash song over the Monzon pics...

Monzon looks ordinary upon first glance in his youtube appearances until you look closer.
Using the long left to set up his crunching right, Monzon is never out of balance and rarely fights the other fighter's fight, yet evolves to counter the strategy of the opponent.
Box him and stay on the outside and the long left pops you until the right is set up for the kill.
Charge him and try to bully him on the inside and fight yourself hammered with the harder shots until inevitably you are the bullied and backed away for one's own safety.
The 6-2 Monzon was able to use his height and power to lean away from punches and avoid heavy shots and never took the beatings that so many boxers took.

Why was this man, who along with Roberto Duran were the fighters of the '70s not as well known in America?
Well, only one of his title defenses was in the USA, a tenth round KO of Tony Licata at Madison Square Garden in 1975, and as the Klitschko brothers are showing now, it is tough for Americans to care about fighters that don't fight on these shores very often, despite most of Monzon's bouts being shown on American television.

Carlos Monzon also earns credit for leaving on top of his game after his rematch win over Rodrigo Valdes that saw Monzon dropped in round two in what was the only knockdown of his reign.
Monzon got up and won a clear decision, but retired after that win saying that he saw his skills beginning to slip.
Monzon would never fight again and the result was just missing by a year or so a potential bout against Marvin Hagler.

Monzon was a character out of the ring as well and often not an amusing one.
Monzon was known for his chain-smoking, which made his amazing stamina even more amazing, his dating of famous actresses in his home country, his abuse of women, working as a pimp before becoming a contender and his murder of his second wife by throwing her over the balcony at their condo.
Monzon was sentenced in 1988 to eleven years in prison, but after a weekend furlough in 1995, Monzon overturned his car on the way back to prison and was killed.

No matter the outside issues and keeping things in the ring-Carlos Monzon was truly a Forgotten Champion and the best Middleweight ever.....

Bullpen Notes

A quick nod to Tom Noe over at Exploring Food My Way as Tom finally hits White House chicken to finish his Barberton Chicken experience.
A great article and Tom makes his final call on his best Barberton Chicken restaurant.

So what game at Wrigley Field did Ferris Bueller actually see on his day off?
Baseball Prospectus does the digging and figures out the answers.
That's right-answerS.
Check the link to find out more about the filming of this 80's classic...

Tedenby terrorizes Canes!

Mattias Tedenby scored first and last for the New Jersey Devils last night and the last one ended the contest as the Devils defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime at the Rock.
Tedenby's goals (6 and 7) were sandwiched around a late third period goal by Nick Palmeiri (5) that tied the contest and forced the overtime.
The Devils are today before back to back games against Toronto and San Jose....

Hell Raisers

1) The overtime was exciting with both teams flying up and down the ice,but the rest of the game was pretty slow paced.Not one of the most fun games that I have covered until later in the game.

2) Mattias Tedenby scored his two goals,but did that in under nine minutes of playing time.
Tedenby still doesn't play the defensive game to Jacques Lemaire's liking,but many scorers don't.

3) Nick Palmeiri is playing super hockey offensively as the compliment on the Ilya Kovalchuk line.
Palmieri's rugged style plays well with Kovalchuk and his play thus far since moving on that line shows signs of a Devil mainstay for the future...

4) Johan Hedberg earned the win with twenty saves replacing Martin Brodeur.
Both Carolina goals were scored on the power play by rookie Jeff Skinner,who is VERY impressive.

5) Anton Volchenkov handed Carolina one of the man advantages with a dumb elbowing penalty that will get him a fine for sure and possibly a suspension.
Jacques Lemaire would give Volchenkov only two more shifts for the remainder of the game and rightfully so.
One doesn't expect that type of ridiculous play from a veteran....

6) Both Tedenby goals were set by strong passes.The first with a beautiful behind the back dish from 
Jason Arnott and the game winner was a excellent pass from Travis Zajac.
Both were the type that good teams make and bad teams miss...

Photo Credit-Paul Bereswhill-Getty Images

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Danny Rosenbaum Interview-Part 5

We conclude our interview with Danny Rosenbaum with part five below.
Thanks to Danny for taking the time to do this and best wishes for him this season.
As always,if you see someone that took the time to do an interview with us,tell them how much you enjoyed it and thank them for taking the time to help us.
A new interview will start next week....

TRS:Who were your roommates/buddies off the field with the Suns/Nats?
DR: I enjoyed being around everyone.
When I was with the Suns I roomed with Trevor Holder, Dean Weaver, Kyle Morrison, and Brett Newsome. Including these guys,I have become close with Steven Souza, Shane McCatty, Mitch Clegg, Rob Wort and others.
In Potomac I roomed with Pat Lehman, Derek Norris, and Evan Bronson. Like my roommates while I was up there I became close with a lot of guys like Nick Moresi, Tyler Moore, Chris Curran, Pat McCoy, and others as well.
It seemed like being apart of both of these teams it was so easy to get along with everyone. I want to name a lot more because there are some guys at other levels that you become good buddies with. I really enjoyed being a part of these teams.

TRS: Tell us a bit about your faith with so few Jewish players in the game?
Is this an important part of your life?
DR: Yeah its nice being apart of a select group of guys that are viewed like this. It is important to me, my family is very reform. Every once in awhile I'll get some kid or someone send me a letter saying they I am a role model for them being a Jewish baseball player just like they have always wanted to be. And same for me, I want to be the next Sandy Koufax, Jason Marquis, Kevin Youkilis or Shawn Green. All of those guys that are already up there serve as role models for our religion. I just need to make sure next year I don't pitch on Rosh Hashanah again like I did this past year, because that 1st playoff game didn't go to well.
TRS: Does the baseball lifestyle offer any difficulties with persons of any faith?
DR: I don't think so, all of these guys that are playing this game use faith in their game. You see many guys praying or doing something before, during and after games.
TRS: Have you had a special project that you worked on to add to your game for 2011 during the off season?
If so,what?
DR:Not really, I just want to try and improve every year whether its mental, being in better shape than the previous year or refining all my pitches. There is always something that you can do to get better. had just one baseball card released before the 2010 season.
Did the Donruss company approach you,did you sign cards for them,how much did you make off the cards and what was it like the first time someone asked you to sign that card?
DR:I have a Topps card now, it came out this off season. I signed 1000 of them and got $1000. The first time some one asked me to sign their card was an awesome feeling. I didn't find many people that had one with my Xavier uniform on but there were a few.

Thanks again for the time and effort,Danny-it was appreciated.....

Super Bowl Thoughts and the return of Bullpen Notes

Last Sunday's Super Bowl was the most enjoyable title game that I have watched in years and not just because the team that I wanted to win did so,which gave me an all time high of two in a row of winning teams doing so.
More because it was well played,but had enough mistakes by both teams to keep it close and never reach decided status until it truly was decided,the game was fun to watch.
Here are some of my thoughts on the games...

Case for Green Bay to have won going away?
A drop for both James Jones and Jordy Nelson on patterns that saw them have a clear path to the end zone kept the Steelers close as the Packers would score on neither drive that could have seen 14 points to the Green Bay side.
Click those two up and this game isn't as close (or as fun to watch).

Case for Pittsburgh to have won?
Their case to have overwhelmed Green Bay comes down to the Rasheed Mendenhall fumble to start the fourth quarter.
Pittsburgh was slamming the ball right at the Pack down just four points and moving the ball down the field inside the Packers forty.
With all the momentum and the Green Bay offense having little offense in the second half to that point,the Mendenhall fumble swung things back to the Green Bay side and just eight plays later,Aaron Rodgers hit Greg Jennings with what proved to be the game winner.
Pittsburgh scores on that drive,I wager we would have seen a different winner...

I had told Ryan earlier in the week that I thought this was a pickem game and didn't feel strongly about a winner,but that I did think of all the NFC teams,Green Bay was the one that the Steelers didn't want any part of for two reasons.
Both played key parts in the win in my opinion.
The first is the Packer passing game,which is not built around one receiver and by having several threats that play allowed the one Pittsburgh weakness to be preyed upon-the secondary and their coverage skills.
The Steelers corners and safeties were exposed by their lack of man to man coverage and that played a huge role in the Packer win.

The other difference?
Aaron Rodgers wasn't going to be intimidated by Dick LeBeau's vaunted zone blitz scheme out of the 3-4 because he sees in every day in practice from Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers,who runs a VERY similar defense to that of the Steelers.
The Steelers often run over teams that aren't used to seeing the elaborate blitz schemes and formations by the brilliant LeBeau,but on this day they could not do their usual harm because the Packers were the one team that looked at the Pittsburgh defense as an routine defense.
Do not underrate that fact.
Look at it this way-How often do you see teams score on Pittsburgh as much as they did and could have been more with some better handed pass catchers...

Give both teams credit for deserving to be there and both got a little luck,which everyone needs.
Both teams managed to dodge the one team in their conference that matched up best with them.Green Bay dodged New Orleans when Atlanta won their final game to make the Falcons the top seed and not the Saints.
I don't think Green Bay beats the Saints in the Superdome.
Pittsburgh got around New England when the Jets upset the Pats.
New England would have done to the Steeler defense what Green Bay did and the game would have been on the road.
There are always teams that match up with you better than others and part of getting to the big game sometimes is avoiding the one team that has your Kryptonite.....

Both teams have solid chances to return next season.
Green Bay should be even better with all of their players out with injuries returning most notably star in the making Jermichael Finley at tight end and running back Ryan Grant.
Pittsburgh will always have a shot as long as Dick LeBeau is running their defense and Ben Rothlisberger is under center.

I am not a fan of either of these players,but the game showed why of the two eventual Hall of Fame safeties from the same division,if I was playing a pickup game,I would draft Baltimore's Ed Reed over Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu.
Polamalu is a great hitter and tackler,but he has coverage issues at times as was shown on two Packers touchdowns with Polamalu unable to get to the ball...
Reed isnt quite the hitter of Polamalu,but he is a big play maker and needs to be accounted for on every play.
All too often,the biggest mistake opponents make against Baltimore is figuring that "Murderin" Ray Lewis is the player that needs to be accounted for,when the truth is that they have picked the wrong player.
Both are great and headed for the Hall of Fame,but if pressed to choose,I'll take Reed.

Underrated loss for the Steelers was losing Emmanuel Sanders in the first half.
Most of the attention was given to the Packers losing Charles Woodson and deservedly so.
Sanders had a huge playoff run and losing him meant the pressure went solely on Mike Wallace for any pass longer than ten yards.
The aging Hines Ward just isn't that type of player anymore and the Sanders loss changed the game plan for Pittsburgh.
If Sanders isn't lost,the loss of Charles Woodson would have been more glaring for the Packers....

Bullpen Notes

Two quick notes from the bullpen.
Looks like Keith Olbermann's future will be announced today as he is rumored to be headed to Current TV which is run and partially owned by Al Gore.
The struggling network could use a big name and they have one in Olbermann.
The problem for KO is Current isn't exactly available everywhere and it will take time to get their status improved with cable companies.
I have it on DirectTV,but I don't even have it on my channel chart because when I tried Current,it didn't impress me.
With the signing of Olbermann,I suppose it gets upgraded with me...

Finally,a link to Battlin' Bob,who in typical hilarious form goes after the Steeler haters on Facebook.
No,none of his quotes are from me, folks,but the Battler' goes after them with both hams flying without abandon.
Note for language,but funny stuff.....

Monday, February 7, 2011

Devils handle Habs 4-1.Brodeur injured

In a game that saw Martin Brodeur earn the win despite leaving the game due to injury after one period,the New Jersey Devils easily handled the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 in Quebec on Super Bowl Sunday.
Ilya Kovalchuk led the Devils with two goals (16 and 17 empty net) with Dainius Zubrus (10) and Travis Zajac (9) scoring the other goals.
The Devils host Carolina tomorrow night in the first of three matchups against the Hurricanes over the next eleven days....

Hell Raisers

1) Martin Brodeur injured his right knee in the first period and will not start tomorrow against Carolina.
Johan Hedberg finished the game yesterday and will get the start tomorrow.
Brodeur finished the period and left the game during intermission and watched the remainder of the game from the skyboxes....

2) Brodeur has played so well of late and the Devils have to be hoping that he misses just a short period of time.
Ever since Jacques Lemaire sat Brodeur for a stretch to work on some issues,Brodeur has been back to his dominant self.

3) The likely roster addition for Brodeur tomorrow night will be Mike McKenna from Albany as the emergency need replacement.
This would be the third time this season for McKenna,who played in one game in his earlier stints..

4) Ilya Kovalchuk was the best player on the ice for both teams and if not for two terrific saves by Carey Price,Kovalchuk could have had four goals on the day.
I know most would say that Kovalchuk turns it on when it is meaningless and they might have a point,but I am hoping that he is finally adjusting to what the Devils do....

5) Loved the Devils forecheck yesterday,especially in the first period.
Often times the forecheck is what establishes the tone of the game and New Jersey forced Montreal into defensive mode early by dominating on the forecheck...

6) One more word on a player that didn't start well,but has picked his game up strongly of late in Henrik Tallinder.
Tallinder struggled early in the season,but over the last month has played well and seems to teaching Mark Fayne and Anssi Salmela a bit about being a NHL D-Man.
Tallinder was credited for helping Tyler Myers considerably last year in Buffalo and it was hoped that he would be the same type of tutor for the Devils,which right now he is...

Hope to be back later with some Super Bowl thoughts or maybe Part five of the Danny Rosenbaum interview....

Photo Credit:AP Photo