Monday, October 31, 2011

Fools gold in Frisco

The Cleveland Browns were able to generate little offense other than one play and despite Pat Shurmur's "We battled" comments appeared to meekly drop a 20-10 decision to the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park.
Colt McCoy's 45 yard TD pass to Joshua Cribbs was the only effective play from the offense on the day and the game was really not as close as the score indicates,in what is quickly becoming a trend with this team.
Cleveland falls to 3-4 on the season and travels to Houston next week and a date with the first place Texans.

Brownie Bits

1) Unable to run the ball after the first quarter calf injury to Montario Hardesty (That just added the butterscotch to the sundae of an awful fantasy football week),the Browns were not exactly dazzling throwing the football either.
Take the one dab of glitter off the board in the touchdown pass to Cribbs and the Browns were almost incapable of moving the football.

2) For what seems to be the millionth game in a row,Colt McCoy picked up passing yards in garbage time to make his day look far better than it really was.
However,I cannot blame all of this on McCoy-his weapon from the backfield was a guy on the practice squad in Houston two weeks ago and a group of receivers that seem to specialize in the three yard route when you need eight.
McCoy has many of his own issues,but this mess is cannot be totally blamed on him....

3) One cannot blame the receivers for the routes that they run.
They are going with the play that is called,but this note is a pet peeve of mine since the Belichick era and it just drives me nuts.
I know that the idea behind the "West Coast Offense" is for the receivers make yardage after the catch,but it is painfully obvious to anyone watching the team that this group of skill players,with the arguable exception of Greg Little,is not capable of turning nine yards out of a three yard pass.
Yet,these same plays featuring these routes are called again and again and rarely succeed in the objective-gaining first downs!

4) Frank Gore bulled his way for 134 yards on the ground,but the Browns defense did control him in the second half for the most part and that (theoretically at least) kept Cleveland in the game.
The Browns have made some defensive strides this season,but they still lack the type of playmaker that turns games around.

5) Too bad that D'Qwell Jackson grabbed Frank Gore's facemask on a third down that would have forced a punt and gave Cleveland a chance to tie the game.
Instead,the drive continued and ended in David Akers field goal that put the game out of reach.
Jackson had ten tackles and unfortunately would have a good game overshadowed by a penalty.

6) The only touchdown of the day appears to be not a called play.
Josh Cribbs was a decoy and not part of the reads for Colt McCoy on a particular pass play,but throughout the game,Cribbs claimed to be open on this route.
McCoy changed up on his reads and the play ended in the touchdown.
I like to see a little variations on plays occasionally.
It makes defenses a little less certain and can break a big play on occasion.

7) The injury to Montario Hardesty meant that Chris Ogbonnaya played the entire game.
Considering he was not even playing two weeks ago,his 37 rushing yards and five catch day was decent enough,but my question is why are the Browns only carrying three running backs?
With Peyton Hillis nicked up and the injury history with Hardesty,this does not make sense to me.
The Browns will have to pick up a back this week as insurance against Hillis or Hardesty not being ready to play in Houston...

8) Best player on the field in this one?
Navorro Bowman of the Niners.
Bowman might not get the pub of his excellent teammate Patrick Willis,but he is every bit the player that Willis is and seemed to be in on every play-run or pass.
Bowman and Willis are the exact type of linebackers that the Browns have none of-tough linebackers that can run,play against the run or pass and play every down.....

9) Cherie and Rachel (Boy,am I thrilled that she has caught the football bug!) like Colt McCoy a lot and their complaints are constant every week that he just does not have the time to throw the football.
There is more to the struggles of the young Texan than just that,but their point is valid on this part-the right side of the line is just awful.
Tony Pashos is not quite to John St.Clair level awfulness,but he still is not blocking anyone and any team that has a pass rusher that is comfortable from rushing off either end should be lined up against Pashos.
That will equal a nice day for that defender.
Cleveland needs a right tackle badly and should be drafting one no later than round two next season.
Nine sacks allowed in two weeks tends to make these issues pretty visible.

10) Alex Smith has been decent enough as the blocking third string tight end,but his behaving like a guy that won the game with a ten yard catch has gotten very old.
Settle down a bit and act like a veteran...

11) I miss the Brown jerseys.
Most teams wear the colored jerseys at home,but Cleveland has been wearing white at home.

C'mon guys,the name of the team is the Cleveland BROWNS,right?

Photo Credit-AP

Sunday, October 30, 2011

WOW! Out Badgering the Badgers!!

Braxton Miller's 40 yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith with twenty seconds to go capped one of the most exciting five minutes of football that I have seen in quite a while to lift Ohio State to a 33-29 win over the visiting Wisconsin Badgers.
Miller completed seven of twelve passes for 89 yards,meaning that almost half his yards came on the game winner as well as rushing for 99 yards with two touchdowns on the ground.
Dan Herron was the other star with 160 yards on the ground.
Ohio State improves to 5-3 with the victory and hosts struggling Indiana next week.......

Buckeye Leaves

1) This game came down to one thing-Ohio State out Badgered the Badgers.
Through the years,Wisconsin has been the team in the Big Ten to give OSU the most problems because their massive offensive line just slammed the ball down the field with the running game and wore the defense down.
On this day,Ohio State was the physical bully and it was the Badgers paying the price.
Ohio State outrushed the kings of the ground game 268-89.
Wisconsin got away from the basis of their program and paid the price.

2) Braxton Miller's game winner was especially nice because he had a lane to run in,but showed the confidence to throw the ball when he saw Devin Smith wide open.
Despite Smith being so open,it was still a tough throw because Miller had to slam on the brakes in order to not go past the line of scrimmage.
Miller has had his share of issues in the passing game,but that throw could be the beginning of the maturation process for the freshman....

3) I have been critical of Dan "Boom" Herron through his years at Ohio State,but his play against Illinois and Wisconsin has been top notch.
How much of that is not having six previous games of wear and tear?
One cannot say for sure,but that has to be somewhat of a factor,however,I must concede that Herron has been the difference in the teams running game.
Only with the type of numbers that Herron has put up can a team win with such a one dimensional attack..

4) Ohio Stadium was rocking until the Jordan Hall fumble of a punt with game at 17-7.
Wisconsin quickly scored a TD with the great field position and the crowd quieted just as quickly.
Hall might have to be removed from punt duty as he was really struggling with fielding them last night,but his kick return for the final drive gave excellent field position when it was needed most.

5) Didn't mind the 1961 helmets,but the uniforms were not great.
Not all throwbacks are great,but I do need to get that mini helmet for the OSU collection....

6) The front four might have had a less than solid final few drives,but the previous three plus quarters were well played.
Russell Wilson was rushed constantly and was often unable to set himself in the pocket due to the excellent pass rush and the linemen did not allow Wisconsin's traditionally strong offensive line to tire them out either....\

7) Christian Bryant gambled on a pick in the first quarter and missed,which allowed Montee Ball to easily grab the ball and almost strut into the end zone.
I know the OSU secondary is young,but these mistakes seem to happen to someone each week...

8) C.J. Barnett was the best of the defensive backs as he made several big plays with key tackles.
Barnett might even be better in the box as a hybrid linebacker/DB and that is a look that makes sense for next season..

9) Ryan Shazier's punt block was a huge play in the game,but I wish that someone would have tried to scoop the ball instead of fall on it.
When you consider the lack of Badgers around the ball and the struggles of the offense scoring points at times,the need for easy scores becomes paramount....

10) The win puts Ohio State in control of their own destiny for a division (Bleh) title.
Win out and someone else beats Penn State (Bet on Wisconsin waxing them) and the Nebraska rematch is there for the taking....

11) This is the type of win that give Luke Fickel a chance to keep the head coaching position.
IF OSU wins out,I would bet Fickel stays on,Is that possible?
Yes,considering the schedule shows OSU being heavy favorites against Indiana and Purdue,getting the worst 8-1 team ever in Penn State in Columbus and michigan-this is possible.
I would not bet on it,but possible

Photo Credits
Celebration-Getty Images
Smith-Neal Lauron-Columbus Dispatch

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Top ten wrestlers-Guest Column

I'm number One! WHOO!!!!
My younger brother,Shane Shadows will be offering his opinions on the top ten wrestlers of all time today.
Shane says that I limited myself to a classic mat style instead of an overall view,but hey,it's my list and that is what I like!
In any event,Shane offered his list using my parameters.
The wrestlers capitalized are those that did not make my list.
As always,all guest columnists opinions are their own,not those of TRS,except where noted.

10) Dory Funk Jr- A real chessmaster...solid and believable

9)  Rick  Steamboat- A magnificent seller, very aerial for his time

8) Shawn Michaels- A lot more flamboyant then Steamboat, bigger bump taker

7) HARLEY RACE- One of 3 major omissions from your list,IMO- tough & incredibly durable, slow but believable

6)  Kurt Angle- If he would have got into this earlier in life, he'd be number 1 without a doubt

5) NICK BOCKWINKEL-Smooth & effortless in his movements & manuevers, so good I thought he was toying with his opponents

4) Mitsuharu Misawa- A great classic worker

3) Jumbo Tsuruta- Had it all...size,speed,toughness. WAR!

2) TERRY FUNK- Not the total technician his brother was, but Terry combined all the elements- skill,excitement,believability

1) Ric Flair- still the best...I would prefer him to retire, but 1981-1991 was as good a run with a wide variety as their may ever be.

Honorable: Bret, Kobashi,Windham, Hennig, Dibiase,Bruiser Brody, Terry Gordy

Editors Note-Had I worked on a top 15 list,Harley Race and Terry Funk would have been 11 and 12 without a doubt.
Nick Bockwinkel likely would have made the 11-15,but I overlooked him,which is why I did not give him an honorable mention listing.
Had I added those 5 to the list,it would have likely been in this order-Terry Funk,Harley Race,Terry Gordy,Jack Brisco and Nick Bockwinkel or Barry Windham in the last spot....

Devils fall in Phoenix 5-3,Barry Windham

The New Jersey Devils followed their best game of the season with a game similar to their loss in Pittsburgh-a tight game that a flurry dropped them for the count.
On this night,it was two quick goals in the third period that broke a 3-2 game wide open as the Phoenix Coyotes grabbed a 5-3 win over the visiting Devils.
Nick Palmeiri (1) scored a meaningless goal with seconds left to tighten the score a bit.
Zach Parise scored in the first period (4) and Mark Fayne in the second (2) for the remaining Devils scores.

New Jersey travels to Dallas tomorrow as the road swing continues.
I listened to the game on XM on the Coyotes feed,but I didn't really get much out of them,so I'll pass on any thoughts.
For more on this one, check out In Lou We Trust's always excellent coverage of the defeat.

Before I go,best wishes for a speedy recovery for long time favorite Barry Windham.
The 51 year old Windham is in serious condition in a Florida hospital after suffering either a heart attack or a stroke.
Keep Barry in your thoughts...

Photo Credit-AP

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The top ten Wrestlers 1-5

Slow day,so I have decided to finish this series today.
Please keep in mind that the criteria is as follows and as before- I have to have seen a reasonably amount of matches involving that wrestler (Live or tape) and it comes down to match quality.
Out of the ring skills (Talking skills,match angles) do not have any influence on this list.

1) Kenta Kobashi

Perhaps the best balance of skill and charisma ever.
A different type of charisma compared to the North American wrestlers?
Kobashi did his share of famous spots (the series of chops that turned opponents chest blood red most notably),but most of his matches were different,hard hitting and he looked great against any type of opponent.
It is always tough to pick one person out as the best of the best and any of the people on the list has a case for number one,but on this day-I'll go with Kenta Kobashi

2) Ric Flair

The Nature Boy might have been number one on this list a few years back,but overstaying his welcome as tarnished his legacy somewhat.
On his best day,Flair had it all-quality matches no matter the opponent,interviews,stamina to work long matches,charisma and the ability to be the "good" or "bad" guy in the ring.
The only downside to Flair was the repeating of his standard "spots" that did tend to be tedious at times and easily seen through at his worst.
On durability-top of the list,but the same durability (staying too long) hurt him as well.

3) Mitsuharu Misawa

A case to be made for number one.No wrestler ever had the number of elite matches as Mitsuharu Misawa according to the Wrestling Observer.
Misawa's cold to Kobashi's hot and the third great that barely missed this list in Toshaki Kawada gave All Japan Pro Wrestling the greatest company ever for match quality in the 1990's.
Misawa's hard hitting yet somewhat theatrical style (he borrowed some moves from the Lucha Libre' style) could mesh well with any wrestler that was willing to try the AJPW/NOAH style of wrestling.
Your favorite of Kobashi,Misawa and Kawada really is a matter of taste and the proverbial apples and oranges....

4) Bret Hart

The best technical grappler on the list,Bret Hart's matches were believable and looked strong,although opponents would say they were safe matches.
Hart had the best submission hold of any wrestler on the list (the sharpshooter,which he imported from Japan) and might have been the best at getting the best match from an inferior opponent.
The Hitman also made matches that suspended your belief on predetermined outcomes more than most of his ear.
Like the Japanese stars,which was better between Hart and Shawn Michaels really does come down to whether you liked more realistic matches or more spectacular and choreographed looking matches...

5) Jumbo Tsuruta

When motivated,the 1972 Olympian could have made a case for number one.
His match that "made" Misawa is one that that is still part of mainstream Japanese lore today.
Jumbo also is known in Japan beyond wrestling and his matches were always top notch.
Bigger than all four wrestlers above him,Tsuruta was at his peak,when he was struck with Hepatitis C that basically ended his career and would eventually end his life...

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed doing it.....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On the signing front-Non Baseball Mail edition

I have not forgotten the rest of the minor league season nor the help from many of you out there and I'll get to them soon,but I did need to make some space for the mail signing season,which is bringing new stuff in often about now.
The best way for now is the non-baseball stuff,knock the three piles of signed stuff to go through down a bit and create some space this way.
Almost all is football,but some interesting non-gridiron stuff as well.......

Seahawks safety Earl Thomas-EBAY
Former Bears quarterback Bob Avellini
Former Lions quarterback Bob Gagliano
Former Browns corner Hanford Dixon
Former Steelers quarterback Neil O'Donnell
Former Patriots quarterback Tom Hodson
Former Bears quarterback Peter Tom Willis
Former Cardinals defensive end David Galloway (Included a nice note)
Former CFL/Hamilton Tiger-Cats wide receiver Earl Winfield-Thrilled to add one of my all time favorites!!!
Former Patriots linebacker Chris Singleton
Former Buccaneer linebacker Dewey Selmon
Former Colts and Seahawks safety Nesby Glasgow
Former Oilers and Packers quarterback Lynn Dickey
Former Cowboys,Giants and Broncos quarterback Craig Morton
Former Chiefs wide receiver Carlos Carson
Former Oilers and Rams tight end Mike Barber (Cards mildly creased in mail)
Former Saints head coach Jim Mora Sr.
Former Colts wide receiver Cotton Speyer
Former Saints quarterback Steve Walsh
Former Broncos wide receiver Haven Moses ( Nice note from an player that I loved as a kid)
Former Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan
Former Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer
Former Redskins defensive tackle Diron Talbert
Former Giants defensive end Jack Gregory
Former Broncos linebacker Karl Mecklenburg
Former Oilers running back Allen Pinkett
Former Seahawks wide receiver Paul Skansi
Former Steelers and Chiefs wide receiver Barry Pearson
Former Giants running back Gordon Bell
Former Georgia,Cowboys,Vikings and Eagles running back Herschel Walker (Great addition!)
Former Georgia and Steelers running back Tim Worley
Former Saints defensive tackle Derland Moore

Former Bucks and Hawks guard Sidney Moncrief

Former Devils winger Brian Rolston

Pro Wrestler Jerry Lawler-In person at Frederick
Olympic Gold Medal winner-Amateur Wrestling Bruce Baumgartner
Former Astronaut and Senator John Glenn (Really glad for these)
Authors David Eisenhower and Julie Nixon Eisenhower (Mrs.Eisenhower included a really nice embossed card thanking me for asking them,very pleased with that addition)
Actress Shirley Jones of Partridge Family fame.....

Zubrus zings Kings in 3-0 win

I did not post on the Devils 4-1 loss in Pittsburgh to the Penguins that was decided by a bad referee call that gave the Devils a goal by a player (Patrik Elias 3 shorthanded) that should have been in the penalty box that tied the game,only to then be steamrolled thereafter by the rampaging Penguins.
Up until that point in the third period,the game had been close and well played,thereafter-not so much.

The Devils were in Los Angeles last night and bounced back with three second period goals in an excellent performance in a 3-0 shutout of the Kings.
Johan Hedberg was solid with the shutout and Dainius Zubrus provided much of the offense with two goals (1 and 2) in the victory.
Patrik Elias added the remaining Devils goal (4) for New Jersey.

The Devils road trip continues in Phoenix tomorrow (Radio coverage for me) and Dallas Saturday night (Unsure on coverage with an 8:00 start and Ohio State-Wisconsin) before moving onto Toronto a week from tonight.

Hell Raisers

1) Johan Hedberg was the star in this one as he finished with 31 saves on the evening.
None of them were especially difficult,but Hedberg took care of the easy stuff and often times that is half the battle...

2) Zach Parise centered a line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Nick Palmieri and despite the line producing zero points,I thought the line had its opportunities and deserves more time together.
Parise was a center in college but had never played the pivot as a Devil.

3) Dainius Zubrus scored goals around the net and from the outside in the win.
Zubrus comes up with these games every so often that hooks you on the talent that he possesses,but yet has never been able to quite harness.

4) David Clarkson and Adam Henrique shared a line with Mattias Tedenby and I really liked what that line did together.
The former two each just missed goals with shots that loudly clanged off the post and I counted five nice scoring chances for the linemates.
Again,I would like to see more of them as a unit....

5) After the game,the Devils announced that they had claimed Ryan Carter off waivers from Florida.
The twenty eight year old Carter played for coach Pete DeBoer in Florida last season,so there is a connection there and has spent time with three NHL teams.
Carter will provide depth through the current injury issues at center and then might add strength to the Albany squad when Travis Zajac returns...

Photo Credit-Steven Dunn-Getty Images

The less said the better-Cleveland 6-3

After watching a game that bad,you cannot blame me for taking a few days off,can you?
Two fifty plus yard field goals by Phil Dawson gave Cleveland a 6-3 win over Seattle in a game that ranks with this classic as the worst game that I have watched since starting this in 2007.
The Browns improve to 3-3,while the Seahawks drop to 2-4.
Cleveland travels to San Francisco this week,while Seattle hosts Cincinnati.
I will be back with the Devils game against the Kings later today as I will be watching it as soon as I am finished writing about this barnburner..

Puget Brownies (Clever,huh?)

1) As awful as both teams were-Seattle should have won this game.
The only mild excitement on the day was Leon Washington's punt return for a TD that was called back for a block in the back,that really was not such.
The Browns defender fell down and the ref tossed the flag.
Difference in the game-RIGHT THERE as Howard Cosell used to say on the Monday Night Football highlights...

2) Cleveland won the game,but there was zero question that on this day,Seattle's Red Bryant was the dominant force in the game.
Bryant generally threw Browns around like the old Andre the Giant tossing prelim wrestlers around like matchbox cars when he was angry.
Three tackles,half a sack,what seemed to be about twelve hits on Colt McCoy,two blocked field goals and handling what seemed to be half the Browns offense.

3) It is too bad that Bryant was tossed from the game for headbutting Alex Smith and allowing Cleveland to run out the clock,not only to see if Bryant could earn the blocked field goal hat trick,but because it put a damper on the best game of his career.
Now that these two teams wont play for another three years,I hope this is a building block for Big Red's play.

4) I know everyone thought Eric Mangini might have paid too much attention to special teams and carried too many players that offered nothing but that part of the game.
I was one of them,but the last two weeks have shown a glaring weakness there.
A fake field goal for a touchdown against you,two of your field goals blocked,a kickoff returned for a score and a punt that should have been a touchdown.
Big problems here in this faction of the team and somewhere Eric Mangini is chuckling.

5) Good news-Montario Hardesty 95 yards rushing in place of Peyton Hillis.
The bad-Hardesty accomplished that on 30 carries for an average of 2.9 yards.

6) T.J. Ward had his best game of the season.
It seems that Dick Jauron was using Ward differently than Rob Ryan did and his play was affected.
Against Seattle,Ward was moved around and used as a blitzer occasionally,earning a sack early in the game that forced a turnover.
The Browns need to continue to use Ward's hitting ability to its potential by moving him around a bit and putting him in positions to cause more fumbles and cover his sometimes defiencies in pass coverage.

7) Charlie Whitehurst slammed the door on any chance to start a controversy at quarterback.
I wanted to see Whitehurst play considering the price paid for him in Pete Carroll's first major move as coach before the 2010 season.
Just awful,if Seattle does not take a quarterback in round one next year,I would have severe issues of faith in the front office...

8) Joe Haden played the entire game despite his knee injury that caused him to miss the game against the Raiders.
Haden played well with one exception considering that he was still not at top health.
Nice to see Haden taking one for the team...

9) One more piece of luck for Cleveland-Joe Haden thinks they are in zone coverage and his incorrect assumption allows Sidney Rice to be wide open down the field.
Rice should walk to the end zone,but Charlie Whitehurst's throw forces Rice to turn awkwardly to catch the ball and the result is Rice catches the ball inbounds but the poor throw knocks Rice off balance and out of bounds instead of walking for the certain score...

10) A tip of the hat to two defenders that had nice games-David Hawthorne of Seattle and Ahytba Rubin of Cleveland.
Both played very well and Hawthorne showed signs of returning to his excellent form of last season.....

11) I got through it and tried to avoid any offensive offense talk as well!!!

Photo Credits
Pumpkin Head:Cleveland Plain Dealer

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pigskin Pickin' Machine

The PPM returns on a Ohio State bye week and the Browns and Seahawks playing each other.

Texas Tech (4-2 1-2) travels to Norman and the waiting third ranked Oklahoma Sooners (6-0 3-0)
The Red Raiders come off two close losses to ranked teams,but the Sooners are a different level than Kansas State and Texas A&M.
Look for the Sooners to hang 50 on the Tech defense...

Fifth ranked Boise State (6-0 1-0) plays its first Mountain West home against Air Force (3-3 0-2).
Believe it or not Air Force is ahead of Boise in yards gained on offense,most of those on the ground.
Air Force might stay in this for a while,but Boise will pull away....

Bowling Green (3-4 1-2) hosts Temple (5-2 2-1).
Temple beat Maryland badly,lost tight to Penn State,but was thumped by Toledo,who BG played tight last week.
The Owls are coming off back to back shutouts and seem to be a class above the Falcons...

The game of the week has the bully of the Big Ten-the Wisconsin Badgers and their number six ranking (6-0 2-0) traveling to East Lansing for Michigan State (5-1 2-0) and the waiting 16th ranked Spartans.
Many are looking for the upset-not me.
MSU showed me little against Ohio State,I like the Badgers,BIG!

The Cleveland Browns (2-3) host the Seattle Seahawks (2-3).
The Seahawks come off the bye and an excellent road win over the Giants.
Tavaris Jackson is out,(whether that is good or bad,you make the call) due to injury,so Charlie Whitehurst will start under center for the Hawks.
The Browns struggled on offense against Oakland and had special teams breakdowns,which is some concern against Leon Washington.
This looks to be a very close game and a tough one to call.
Cleveland has home field,but Seattle comes off the bye and a big win,so this one could go either way.

Game of the week features the talented,but disappointing Atlanta Falcons (3-3) against the surprising (5-1) Detroit Lions.
The Lions score lots and allow lots,so the over seems to be a real safe bet in this one.
Whichever team holds the others top receiver (Roddy White or Calvin Johnson) in check better might be the winner of the game.

Our Picks
Oklahoma over Texas Tech 50-26
Boise State over Air Force 45-17
Temple over Bowling Green 21-10
Wisconsin over Michigan State 38-17
Seahawks over Browns 20-17
Falcons over Lions 38-35

Devils lose game and Josefson in shootout with Sharks

The New Jersey Devils lost two leads to San Jose,although one can be somewhat explained with less than a minute to go and eventually lost in the shootout to the Sharks 4-3 in the final game before a four game road swing and five of the next six away from the Rock.
The Devils do get a point and considering how things unfolded after the midway point of the second period,that is something,at least.
Devils goals to Zach Parise (3 Penalty Shot),Patrik Elias (2 Power Play) and David Clarkson (2).
The Red and Black hit Pittsburgh tonight for a divisional tilt against the Penguins.

Hell Raisers

1) The big news is the picture to your right as on this play,Jacob Josefson hit the boards and broke his clavicle and will miss a substantial amount of time.
Combine this injury with the still missing Travis Zajac,the Devils are suddenly very weak at the pivot.

2) New Jersey recalled Adam Henrique up from Albany after the game.
Henrique had made the team,but was sent to the A-Devils to get some ice time after scratches and the six day layoff.
Look for Henrique to get some playing time tonight in Pittsburgh...

3) Johan Hedberg allowed one goal under the pads,which was a softie,but I thought played well otherwise.
Hedberg is filling in for the injured Martin Brodeur.

4) The controversy to me on the game tying goal was that a Shark (cannot see who) looked to be holding Johan Hedberg's stick on the Joe Pavelski shot.
That is a penalty guys and should have been called.
San Jose had pulled their goalie,so it was already six on five and you let that type of penalty go uncalled?
Cost the Devils a point last night....

5) Bad break from the non officiating dept.
Devils lead 1-0 in the shootout,Ryan Clowe's shot hits the post and then deflects off Hedberg's back and into the net.
Sometimes,it just is not meant to be.

6) Had to love Zach Parise's penalty shot goal,but the downside was that Antti Niemi was able to see Parise's patented backhander before the shootout.
Neimi foiled Parise's shootout attempt and seeing it before then likely helped him defend.

7) I did like the third period goal by David Clarkson because it showcased two areas for Clarkson and Mattias Tedenby that they need to do to be effective.
Clarkson needs to clean up around the net and hang around more,while Tedenby used his blazing speed to get to the puck and realized that his play was to center the puck and hope a trashman is there instead of an off balance shot.
I hope to see more of that from both players...

8) Finally,Eric Boulton knocked Douglas Murray down and out with one punch.
Great KO for Boulton and Murray,well he not only looks like Jack Black,he fights like him too...

Photo Credit-AP

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Strat O Matic-the game I love....

I like video games.
Not ashamed to admit it,after all-I was part of the first generation to make home video games a huge success having had the less popular,but far superior Intellivision to the more mainstream Atari 2600.
I am sure that I can make a future post out of just Intellivision,but even as a gamer to this day-Mainly MLB the Show right now,but I have others,there is one game that ranks above the rest and it is soundless with the exception of dice clinking on a table.Strat O Matic baseball.

I have always loved sports simulation games,starting with Title Bout,a boxing game made by the Avalon Hill game company.
Title Bout tended to go almost everywhere I went for years and even though the game cards are not sold anymore,there is an online version available even today.

Ultimate College Basketball and Statis Pro Football were other passions of mine and I remember many a night filled with Statis Pro marathons,but the one constant from the day I started to this very day is Strat O Matic baseball.
Seasons replays,leagues drafted in various formats (usually either a six team with draft picks of players I wanted in the league from the unused teams or a league that combined each team with an AL and NL affiliate),you name it-I likely have either done it or at least started it.
I play the advanced or super advanced version and the game usually travels with me wherever I go with the dice,pitchers hitting cards and a few teams.
It all fits into a baggie,so space is not a factor at all.

I enjoy players that play similar to actual performance and as close as MLB the Show can get,it still comes down the skill with the thumb!
Strat O Matic does just that and is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary of being in the business.
I have seasons ranging from 1941 to 2004 (I just don't enjoy the newer seasons as much) and I have "Friended" SOM on Facebook as they have an item of the week at 50% off.
This week was the 41 season,but I am hoping that sooner or later that one of the seasons that I really want hits the half off sale,such as 1948 (Indians title),1960 and 1971 (Pirates title) or any of the great Sandy Koufax seasons are eventual musts as well.
The current replay at work is the 1978 Indians,a dull team to most,but the dull teams are the most enjoyable for me.
It is fun seeing if you could improve a bad teams record over their actual record.

The game ranges from very simple to quite detailed,but either way there are players that generally perform to their real life statistics.
Sometimes I play more than others,but SOM is usually around my life in some way and I cannot imagine it ever going by the wayside.
If you love baseball,I mean truly love it and all the numbers that the game brings with it,I could not recommend the game more.
Nothing makes one think of spring more on a snowy night than a game of SOM where 1951 comes to life with the Giants taking on the Dodgers.

Photo Credit
Game Cards;Austin Gisreil
Dice:Strat O

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Not so special teams for Browns in loss in Oakland

The offense did not produce much in their return from the bye week in Oakland,but the blame for this not as close as it looks 24-17 loss to the Raiders has to go to the special teams,which allowed a Jacoby Ford kickoff return for a touchdown and a fake field goal that ended in another Oakland touchdown via the pass.
Colt McCoy did toss two touchdowns,but much of his 215 yards passing came in garbage time.
The Browns fall to 2-3 on the season and host Seattle on Sunday before another trip to the Bay Area against the suddenly strong 49ers the following week.

Brownie Bits

1) I was critical of Eric Mangini at times,but one thing that even the most devoted Mangini dissenter could not say was that Mangini teams did not prepare on special teams.
I can even give the Jacoby Ford return somewhat of a pass.
Big returns with fast returners can happen to any team,no matter the preparation,but the fake field goal was wide open and you could see the play being open from the couch.

2) Watching the play develop,you could clearly see that Kevin Boss ( a tight end,not a tackle or linebacker that you could easily ignore) was not even covered on the end.
Now assume that the field goal attempt is tried,no rush off the end?
That was the alignment as Boss did not even have anyone to BLOCK!
Poor job by all involved.

3) The Browns hit on Jason Campbell that ended the Oakland quarterbacks season could be one that affects the Browns for seasons to come.
Because Campbell was knocked out and Kyle Boller was so bad in his place,the Raiders pulled the trigger on a deal for Carson Palmer and that sent either 2 first rounders or at worst a first and second to the Browns division rivals-the Bengals.
Time will tell what Cincinnati does with those picks,but the Browns have set the Bengals up to have an excellent chance to improve through the draft in the next two seasons...

4) The Raiders allowed the Browns to have a prayer of a comeback after passing on a short field goal try to go for it from the Cleveland five,which the Browns stopped.
Always take the chance to go up by three scores,Hue Jackson did not and kept the Browns alive.
What was it with coaches and dumb decisions this weekend?
First Ron Zook and then Hue Jackson.
At least,Jackson's team won.

5) Montario Hardesty shows promise,but he needs major work on his blocking and picking up his assignments.
Hardesty was so poor at this late in the game that Peyton Hillis,who was out of the game with hamstring issues,had to enter the game just to block the blitzers to give Colt McCoy a chance to get rid of the ball!!

6) Oakland entered the game with one of the league worst run defenses,but you could not know that from watching this game-the Raiders front seven stuffed and controlled both Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty throughout the game and held Cleveland to 65 yards on the ground.

7) Greg Little continues to develop with six catches (of 12 targets) and came within a half yard of a touchdown before losing his balance.
Little looks better every week after missing last year at North Carolina and I believe could be a elite player if the Browns could ever add a deep threat to the other side...

8) Alex Mack played less than two weeks after an appendectomy and gets full credit for that,but the line still is not protecting Colt McCoy as well as they should.
The right side of the line (Shawn Lauvao and Tony Pashos) are simply not getting the job done.
I'll give Lauvao a small pass because he is basically a rookie (Injured last year) and playing beside a below average tackle,but Pashos has been a major disappointment.

9) Josh Cribbs says he wants to be on special teams full time since he is a "Very Insignificant" part of the offense.
If that makes him more effective there,fine,but to me,this combined with the Peyton Hillis saga is concerning to me.
Five games into the season and already locker room issues?

10) The Browns added running back Chris Ogbonnaya off the Texans practice squad and released Armond Smith.
Smith carried the ball just three times for the Browns this season,but will be remembered most for the fourth and one pitch play in the loss to Tennessee.
Ogbonnaya is a former Texas Longhorn and draft pick of the Rams,so there are connections with Colt McCoy and Pat Shurmur.

Photo Credit-Thearon Henderson-Getty Images

Reviewing the tape-Buckeyes grind to win in Illinois

Been feeling a bit under the weather the last few days,so I have not gotten around to the Ohio State or Browns recaps on time.
I missed the final period comeback win of the Devils on Saturday in Nashville,so I'll likely skip doing that in favor of another post.

Annoying announcer Bob Davie used about every possible comparison of the Buckeye offense to the Woody Hayes offense in Columbus in the sixties and seventies that one can make.
As awful as this was to listen to,both in substance and style-Davie was correct-it was very much like the Hayes offense.
Braxton Miller only threw the ball four times and completed just one-a 17 yard touchdown pass to Jake Stoneburner in the fourth quarter to put a 17-7 win out of reach in Illinois against the 16th ranked Illini.
Boom Herron rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown in his return to action from various suspensions and was the dominant force in the game.
Ohio State earns their first Big Ten win of the season and moves to 4-3 on the season.
The Buckeyes have the next week off and hopefully can add some health to the lineup as the imposing Wisconsin Badgers are on their way to Columbus on October 29th.

Buckeye Leaves

1) As much as I hate to agree with Bob Davie,he did raise one other correct point-Boom Herron was the difference in the game and much of that was due to the "fresh legs" that Davie mentioned about 500 times during the contest.
Herron is a player that I have often lambasted in the past,but "fresh legs" or not-Herron was the best player on this day.

2) I like the running game.
My teams of choice growing up were the Buckeyes and the Barry Switzer Wishbone running Oklahoma Sooners,so I am a fan of the running game,but times have changed and this cannot go on every week.
If this is an isolated incident because Braxton Miller's ankle was too sore and Joe Bauserman replacing him would be,well Joe Bauserman,then this was a fun trip back in time.
If this is the game plan for the future-then look out because Wisconsin does that and does it better with bigger and more burly linemen.
This worked because Illinois wore down,that will not happen against quite a few others...

3) One more note on the four passes and a cloud of Pig Pen.
Why/How Illinois never figured out what the hell was going on and just put nine guys in the box is a wonder to me.It is like they were convinced that this was all a ruse to set up the passing game.
I might have bought that for a quarter and a half maybe,but all day?

4) Between that miscue,Ron Zook botched several calls that kept the Buckeyes in control and enabled them not to have to throw.
Illinois chose to run the clock out near the end of the first half,despite decent field position and Zook told Heather Cox that he was concerned about the wind.
The wind was bad (over 20 miles an hour),but not even trying?

5) Zook's bigger botch was the late game call that sealed the win for Ohio State.
Ohio State up by ten and Illinois has a fourth down deep in Buckeye ground.
Remember,you need two scores to tie/win.
A normal person kicks the field goal,moves to within seven and attempts the onside kick that you have to recover either way to stay in the game.
Zook goes for the first down,Ohio State rejects the attempt and takes over possession.

6) I was not impressed with freshman corner Bradley Roby early on this season,but Roby has picked up his play since an awful game in Miami.
Put aside Roby's interception-that pass hit him in the hands,but look at how he controlled A.J.Jenkins.
Jenkins did catch 8 passes for 80+ yards,but the longest was a 22 yard catch.
Roby refused to allow the big play and that made all the difference.

7) Every week,I seem to mention John Simon and here I go again.
The guy is simply all over the field,which could be explained if Simon was a linebacker,but he is a defensive tackle!
Simon rushes the passer,stops the run and the motor is always on max drive!
If Simon was a little bigger,I would say he would be a high draft pick,he will be a middle rounder more likely,but I bet he makes a team and starts for someone for quite a while...

8) Ben Buchanan's punting average of 39 yards a punt looks pedestrian,but he kept Illinois out of good field position and considering the wind conditions,did just what you hope your special teams can do-do not lose the game for you.
That is a lesson in our next post and Cleveland Browns did not learn from...

9) This was a must win for Ohio State.
My goal is six wins and a bowl bid somewhere.
I know a minor bowl bid is low expectations for the Buckeyes,but hear me out.
Six wins means 15 extra practices for a young team.
A bowl bid might be the chance for a new head coach to work with his new players and get a jump start for next season.
Trips to Texas,Arizona or Michigan for minor bowl games might not be the usual excitement for OSU fans,but it could go a long way towards helping this year be a small downward blip on the overall program.

10) Figuring that Indiana is a fifth win,Ohio State will have to win one of these four games to be bowl eligible.
At Purdue is not a slam dunk,but more likely than not.
Wisconsin is a likely loss and that leaves Penn State and michigan.
Penn State is 6-1,but one of the worst 6-1 teams that I have ever seen and that one is in Columbus.
michigan is in the big outhouse and they will be favored,but keep in mind-until you beat someone that always has beaten you,there is a psychological factor involved that one cannot dismiss....

11) If any games involve the announcing team of Bob and Bob (Wischusen and Davie) for the rest of the season,I swear that the mute button is in play!
Only the appearance of long time favorite Heather Cox salvaged anything from this bunch!

Photo Credit
Jonathan Daniel-Getty Images

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pigskin Pickin' Machine-

The PPM is back with a full slate of college games and the Browns to action after their bye week.

The Ohio State Buckeyes (3-3 0-2) travel to Champaign after a monumental loss in Lincoln to Nebraska.
The 16th ranked and undefeated Illinois Fighting Illini (6-0 2-0) await them and by the records,Illinois looks to be good shape in this one.
However,a closer look shows one quality team (Arizona State) on the Illinois hit list and a few near misses against lesser opponents.
No doubt that Illinois has plenty of firepower,but Braxton Miller will start at QB for Ohio State.
If Miller plays as he did against Nebraska before being injured and can play the entire game,I like the Buckeyes chances...

Texas Tech (4-1 1-1) hosts 17th ranked Kansas State (5-0 2-0) in Lubbock after suffering their first loss of the season 45-40 in a wild game against Texas A&M.
Texas Tech lost leading rusher Eric Stephens for the season to a knee injury against the Aggies and someone will have to step up and replace Stephens,if the Red Raiders are to maintain the run/pass balance that they have used this season.
K-State is a ground based team,so the Tech run defense might make the difference in this one.
Again as in most Tech games-look for lots of scoring...

Boise State ( 5-0) makes its Mountain West debut in Fort Collins against Colorado State (3-2 1-0).
CSU is weak against the pass-Look for another huge game for Kellen Moore.
Boise has been rolling against better teams than the Rams,so name your score...

Bowling Green (3-3 1-1) hosts its hated rival Toledo (3-3 2-0) in the battle for the peace pipe.
Toledo,who could be 5-1 with a break at Ohio State or least 4-2 with competent officiating at Syracuse, is along with Western Michigan-the class of the MAC.
BG lost to the Broncos last week and test the Rockets this week,

The game of the week is out west with 18th ranked Arizona State (5-1 3-0) hits Eugene and the ninth ranked Ducks (4-1 2-0).
LaMichael James is iffy for the Ducks,but ASU lost their only road test this season in Illinois....

The Cleveland Browns (2-2) are in Oakland and the 3-2 Oakland Raiders.
The Browns might not have Alex Mack,a key part of the offensive line or Joe Haden,the only player on the team that can cover someone.
Unless Jason Campbell plays like the Washington version of Jason Campbell,I look for lots of puzzled looks for Pat Shurmur on a long afternoon....

The game of the week is in Detroit?
Yep,the surprise bowl is at Ford Field as the 5-0 Lions host the 4-1 49ers.
Something tells me that this one looks closer than it will be on the field and of the two,I believe that the Lions are the more talented team....

Our picks
Ohio State over Illinois 17-16
Kansas State over Texas Tech 36-33
Boise State over Colorado State 53-10
Toledo over Bowling Green 35-17
Oregon over Arizona State 42-24

Raiders over Browns 27-14
Lions over 49ers 30-16

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cleaning out the Inbox

Lots of stuff that needs dumped from the inbox,so before it overflows-let's get to the cleaning...

First,we go after our local winners for fighting a proposed site for SONIC  to come to Hagerstown.
Now the proposed site is not a great one ( on the Dual Highway),but the fact is that we can get Sonic to come here and the city is worried about traffic issues?

An aside to non-locals that decide to bring businesses/build buildings here- avoid the Dual Highway.
It looks the part,if you do not live here,but as those of us that do know that the Dual Highway is something that you drive on to get somewhere else.
There may not be a worse place to build for food and shopping than the Dual Highway,yet every out of towner selects that area to build in and then is stunned when it fails....

The first local McDonald's is about to end its run at the original location later this month in favor of a newer,glitzier store down the street.
The huge Ronald McDonald that the article here said arrived from Texas in 1973 has already been taken down,but owner Mark LeVine says he will put Ronald up at one of the other local stores that the family owns,if the zoning board permits.
The Sharpsburg Pike store looks to be the best fit as it runs along I-70 and Ronald could be easily seen from the interstate.
Part of me wishes that the new North End store would get Ronald,but LeVine says that would not be allowed.
I have already said my goodbyes to the McDonald's of my youth last month,if you are a local and want to do the same,better hurry as you look to have a little over a week to do so..

Nice to see former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen is not bitter about his firing from College Park.
The Terrapin alum claims to have "Burned his diploma" from Maryland.
I realize Maryland football is the joke of the nation right now with the ridiculous helmets and uniforms from entering the bed with Under Armour,but burning your diploma seems a bit harsh,if he actually did so....

Good for fans of the cancelled ABC soaps All my Children and One Life to Live as both shows and much of their casts have signed up to keep their shows alive on-line on the new Online network.
Word has it that the new shows will be available everyday on line and the shows will be shown on a week or two delay on a cable network to be named.
Good for the shows,the people behind the Online network and especially the fans of the programs.
I know from growing up with my late aunt how dedicated the soap fans are and good for them for not allowing the shows that they love to sink without a fight.
Sinking is what I hope to see from ABC's replacement shows-more of the same stuff that one can see 24/7 on several different cable channels...

There will be pro basketball whether the NBA plays or not as the NBADL will continue play.
The Cleveland Cavaliers announced their affiliate in Canton as the Canton Charge with a logo that looks much different from what they intended.
I love the colors,but they intended it to look like a charging Cavalier with his sword.
What it actually looks like is an version of the old cartoon character Super Chicken flying through the air.

When I saw the article on the issues with Sonic coming to town,I stumbled across this link in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
Thelma Mellott was my bus driver in middle school and I figured that she had long left the bus driving behind.
I always liked her and she was very nice to me,but she did not tolerate a lot of bad behavior on the bus.
The article refers to her as "pint-sized".but I believe it when the article says that you would never know it on the bus.
Mrs.Mellott seemed far larger behind the wheel and she still had the same bus number from when I rode the bus thirty years ago-7C.
Best wishes to her in her retirement from a job that very few could do well...

Finally to those of you that enjoyed last years vacation showdown of the Barberton Chicken houses from Food Feuds,get ready for another,if I am able to go.
Akron Ohio has a battle for the best cheeseburger and I plan on seeing which one will be my champion.
Why mine?
Rachel is our chicken hawk and does not like burgers,so maybe the lovely Cherie will be my fellow judge this time?
Either way,the battle comes down to Swenson's and their Galley Boy against Skyway and their Sky-High.
Who will get the call?
I'll be writing about it here-IF I get to go!

For more on this Food Feud,Tom Noe over at Exploring Food My Way takes his turn at the battle with his looks at Swenson's and Skyway.

Hedberg bails out Devils in shootout win

Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise each beat Jonathan Quick in the shootout for two quick tallies and substitute netminder Johan Hedberg made both saves as needed as the New Jersey Devils grabbed a win and two points in a 2-1 win over the visiting Los Angeles Kings.
Patrik Elias (1) tied the game in the first period for the Devils only regulation goal.
New Jersey hits the road for the first time this season tomorrow night in Nashville at 8:00.

I might not have as detailed coverage as I would like with work and the dreaded eight o'clock start,but I'll try my best....

Hell Raisers

1) Martin Brodeur tweaked a shoulder midway through the first period after a save.
Brodeur left the ice and returned to finish the period,but was replaced by Johan Hedberg for the second period.
No word on whether Brodeur is expected to play tomorrow against Nashville,but the injury is not expected to be a long term problem..

2) Johan Hedberg was tremendous,especially when you consider that he entered the game with little warmup.
Hedberg's sprawling overtime save kept the game moving and his overtime stops were not bad either.
Very nice effort in this under the circumstances by the veteran...

3) Ilya Kovalchuk led the team in ice time with a shade under thirty minutes as he played on both his line and the checking line with Rod Pelley and Brad Mills.
Kovalchuk has so much talent with the puck that he almost overuses it.
The issue there is that with so much puck possession,he increases the chance of losing it and creating offensive situations for the opponent.
That happened twice in this one and it needs to stop.

4) Play of the game-A Devils miscue sends the puck down the ice where just one King stands in the way of a breakaway against Johan Hedberg in the third period.
Hedberg busts his hump gets out of the net and narrowly beats the King to the puck and gets the biscuit out of the zone.
Heads up play as well as a hustling one.

5) The learning curve continues for the poised Adam Larsson.
Larsson was involved in the only Kings goal by Simon Gagne on the periphery by not getting entirely in front of Gagne even though he was not his man,Larsson was still closest to Gagne.
In the second period,a similar setup happened and where was Larsson?
Moving to the puck and helping out near the net.
Good stuff....

6) Nice game tonight by the veteran pairing of Anton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador.
The team of physical veterans will not score a ton,but I wager that they will have an excellent plus/minus rating on the season as well as dealing out some welts to the opposition.

The inbox needs cleaned BADLY and I plan on doing that later today!

Photo Credits-AP Photo

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Seahawks trade Aaron Curry to Raiders

No one is always accurate.
I had wanted three players to be available for the Cleveland Browns first rounder over the last three seasons.
A.J.Green and Eric Berry have both turned out to look like future All-Pro caliber players,although I am not displeased with Joe Haden,who the Browns wound up with after Berry was taken by Kansas City.
Three years ago in the first and thankfully only Eric Mangini draft,my wish was for Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry,who was the Browns and Mangini's pick as well.
Seattle took Curry at the fourth pick in what seemed to be a steal for what was thought to be maybe the best overall player in the draft.

Fast forward to today as the Seahawks traded Aaron Curry to the Oakland Raiders for a seventh round pick in next years draft and a fifth in the 2013 version.
The fifth could become a fourth if Curry hits an agreed upon number as far as playing time as a Raider.
Curry showed promise in 2009 under Jim Mora Jr,but struggled in the defense that Pete Carroll has used since his arrival in 2010.
Curry has had difficulties in pass coverage,although he had been pretty solid against the run.
I suppose it is not unrealistic to expect a player that is the fourth overall pick in the draft to be a three down player,but I would take issue with many reports that Curry has been a total bust.
A disappointment? Most assuredly,but not a bust.
Curry played and was seen often on special teams,again that was well under his expectations,but he did offer the team something and effort was never mentioned as a issue.
Curry had lost his starting job to rookie K.J.Wright a few weeks back and a move of some sort was seen as inevitable before the 2012 season.

Aaron Curry apparently did not fit the mold of a Pete Carroll linebacker.
No big deal,these things happen all the time when a new coach brings in a new system,but it does bring questions to me about coaches that shoehorn their system in right away instead of adapting it to the talent that they have.
Teams can always add players that are more system friendly as time goes by,but shoving a style in that that does not fit your personnel often loses quality players and therefore games.

In any event,Aaron Curry gets a fresh start,the Raiders get a chance to turn around a still young and talented player and Seattle gets two draft picks,which is likely more than they would have gotten had they waited until the off season.
All things considered,seems like all parties are a winner for now.....

I have work meetings all day today,but I will be back later tonight or early tomorrow with Devils coverage and maybe a cleaning of the inbox....

Photo Credit-Getty Images

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The top ten Wrestlers 6-10

A slow news day and time to work on a promised post.
This is certainly not the consensus top ten of all time,but just a conversation starter.
The parameters are pretty simple-I have to have seen a reasonably amount of matches involving that wrestler (Live or tape) and it comes down to match quality.
Out of the ring skills (Talking skills,match angles) do not make any influence on this list.

The list of qualified professionals is quite long and I could have done a top 25 and come up with guys that arguably made the list.
For now,here is the first installment of numbers six through ten.

6) Kurt Angle.
The Olympic Gold Medalist could have been a star in any era with his all around skills in the wrestling business,but his matches are always interesting to watch even when the talent in the ring with him is not up his level.
Angle's style is hard edged enough to be believable,yet not filled with the craziness that fills so many matches today.
Angle's versatility wears well against any opponent for solid matches. 

7) Shawn Michaels.
Most observers would have Michaels higher on this list and maybe so,but this is my list and despite Michaels talent and ability, his style often is not my cup of tea.
Steve Williams used to say that "Wrestling ain't ballet" meaning that contact is inevitable.
Michaels often seemed to shy away from that and his matches seemed more choreographed than others that I would rank highly.
Michaels did have great matches with lesser talents and helped him on the list..

8) Dory Funk Jr.
Again,I am the minority,but I prefer the classic grappling style of Dory Jr. to that of the crazed antics of younger brother Terry,who I also like a lot.
Watching Funk from his salad days makes you almost think that the result had not already been decided.
Dory Funk Jr was the practitioner of two moves that are rarely used anymore,but in the hands of Funk were a work of art-The double arm suplex and the European style uppercut.
I loved watching those...

9) Ted DiBiase
Known by the casual fan for the WWF run as the "Million Dollar Man",DiBiase's best work came in St.Louis and the Mid-South territory.
DiBiase always managed to make his opponent look good,but not at the expense of lessening himself.
DiBiase could wrestle and brawl in a well rounded style and was successful in Japan as well as the USA.

10) Rick Steamboat.
The classic good guy,Steamboat added both style and substance to his matches.
Steamboat always was at the top of his game when he was looking like he was going to pounded within an inch of his life and managing to fight back against the odds.
Steamboat also was unique for his time as he used moves off the top rope when those moves were not used every match by every ham and egger to lace up boots...

Honorable Mention-Long version and in no particular order
Barry Windham,Curt Hennig,Terry Gordy,Steve Williams,Genichiro Tenryu,Kenji Mutoh,Rick Rude,Tully Blanchard,Don Muraco,Terry Funk.Harley Race,Jack Brisco,Toshiaki Kawada,Paul Orndorff.

Back in the future on another slow day with the top five....

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Devils divide first two games

The New Jersey Devils bounced back from a opening night 3-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers with a 4-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes yesterday afternoon on a Columbus Day matinee' special at the Rock.
Ilya Kovalchuk's third period goal (1) snapped a two-two tie to lift the Devils to their first two points of the season.
Zach Parise scored twice for New Jersey (1 and 2 Power Play/Empty Net) and Mark Fayne rounded out the scoring (1) in the second period.
Johan Hedberg was the starter in winner in goal for the Devils with 24 saves.
The Devils host Los Angeles Thursday night before their first road game of the season in Nashville on Saturday night.
Expect limited coverage of that one due to an eight o'clock start and work will call before the end of the game...

Hell Raisers

1) Starting with the painful loss in the season opener.
The team was just flat-no other way to say it.
Martin Brodeur played reasonably well in keeping the game as close as it was,but even he was not razor sharp as the second goal scored by the Flyers was sorta of a softie....

2) I have never seen Wayne Simmonds of the Flyers fight before,but he took care of David Clarkson quite easily,dropping him with the first punch and landing a few more after Clarkson quickly arose.
Perhaps Clarkson took him lightly,so I'd be interested in seeing another go....

3) The Zach Parise/Patrik Elias/Petr Sykora looked very strong against Carolina,producing two goals and being the dominant force in the first period.
Elias and Sykora have a comfortable level from playing together for years and Parise seems to be a good fit with them.
Lines come and go through out a season,but I think this one could have a bit of staying power....

4) Key point in the game might have been in the third period with Nick Palmieri already in the box,Patrik Elias joined him after crashing into Cam Ward and being called for interference.
The deserved call gave Carolina 44 seconds of five on three power play time and continued a five on four for over another minute.
The Devils fought it off without allowing the go-ahead goal for Carolina and the Kovalchuk goal came about five minutes later.
Great job by the penalty killers...

5) I really like what I see from Adam Larsson.
I would be stunned if he is returned to Sweden after the nine game period expires.
The Swede had the most ice time of any Devil in the game and played with quite a bit of poise after being hit with a cheap shot to the groin by Carolina's Eric Staal.
Larsson is getting power play and penalty killing time,showing the confidence that the team has in him and looks to me to be likely to stay for a long time to come.

6) The goal by Zach Parise in the first period was a work of art as Petr Sykora made a nice pass to Patrik Elias,who fired on net with Parise deflecting it by Cam Ward.
One underrated part of Parise's game that he could use getting back to using more often is mucking around the net.
One could say that Parise's lack of size is a hindrance there,but I wouldn't.
Parise manages to slide into spaces that a bigger man cannot and his game is so much more effective when he does some of the dirty work....

7) Ilya Kovalchuk did score the game winner,but he almost handed the lead to Carolina,when he lost control of the puck after a Carolina clear on a Devils power play.
Kovalchuk had no pressure,he just was too complacent and too close to Johan Hedberg.
Sloppy play...

8) Kovy also might want to look into a new stick manufacturer or at least a new batch after breaking two on the power play on this afternoon.
I know the old wooden sticks broke too,but it seems to me that the composite sticks break even easier.

Photo Credit-AP Photo

Monday, October 10, 2011

Seahawks fly East for win over Giants

The Seattle Seahawks hung around all game against the favored New York Giants and then used two big plays late in the fourth quarter to win their first game in the Eastern Time Zone since 2007 with a 36-25 victory over the Giants.
Charlie Whitehurst,who had entered the game after an injury to Tavaris Jackson,drilled a 27 yard pass to Doug Baldwin for the touchdown that gave Seattle the lead with 2:37 left and a long interception return for the clincher by Brandon Browner as the Giants were in the Seattle red zone paced the victory.
Seattle will enter their bye week with a record of 2-3 and will return in two weeks in Cleveland for another Eastern visit...

Puget Sounds

1) Tavaris Jackson suffered a pectoral injury in the third quarter and was ably replaced by Charlie Whitehurst.
The timing was even worse than usual for an injury as Jackson was looking very sharp and played very well for the second week in a row in the no huddle offense...

2) Give Charlie Whitehurst plenty of credit as well for being able to step right in after Jackson's injury and being able to continue to run the no huddle effectively.
Often times when the backup is forced to enter the game,the offense can become simplified by need.
Seattle did not have to do that yesterday and the credit goes to Whitehurst....

3) Often times,the defensive line play only comes up when the sacks pile up.
Yes,the Hawks dumped Eli Manning three times and was very effective rushing the passer,but the defensive tackles Alan Branch,Brando Mebane and Anthony Hargrove bullied and dominated the Giants interior line all day.
When you can get that type of play from the tackles and the offensive line needs to provide help in that spot,the defensive ends can become oh so effective rushing off the corner one on one with a tackle.
Good work there...

4) Marshawn Lynch ran well as he churned out 98 yards on just 12 carries.
Lynch is a frustration for me as he pops out the occasional nice game,but just as often is quite a disappointment.
Yesterday,he looked very strong and considering that,I was surprised that he did not have a few more touches as the game went on...

5) I had to laugh when the ball bounced off Victor Cruz's hands and into Brandon Browner's for the clinching touchdown.Cruz had played well and his TD catch took massive concentration,but flukes even out over the course of a season.
I did not expect it to even out over the course of the game...

6) Doug Baldwin-Wow.
The fact that no one drafted this guy is one thing,but that Jim Harbaugh and the surprising 49ers did not sign him as an undrafted free agent is even more amazing to me.
Of all people,Harbaugh should have known about Baldwin at Stanford since he coached him there.
Baldwin caught eight passes for 136 yards and a touchdown that gave Seattle the lead for good.

7) The secondary played well,especially when you consider that Marcus Trufant missed the game with an injury,
Brandon Browner is improving from the first two games of the season and Earl Thomas teamed with the returning Kam Chancellor to patrol the middle.

8) Awful cheap shot to the head early in the game by the Giants (I cannot recall the name) on Zach Miller on the first drive of the game.
Clearly an shot to the head that was not needed and ended the day for Miller.
Bet on the league office dropping a fine on that player..

9) The offensive line continues to be a work in progress as they allowed six sacks.
The Giants are one of the league's best pass rushing teams,but the line has still not truly jelled as of yet...

10) Play that I liked the most-the Anthony Hargrove safety,where he tossed the guard aside and slammed T.J.Ware to the turf.
Tough and physical-exactly what I love from line play.

11) Finally, I am in support of breast cancer funding as most are,but all this pink just looks awful on these uniforms and around the fields.
The NFL uniform police is on patrol for sock length,but this is allowed?

Photo credits-AP Photo

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Nebraska rally stuns Ohio State

For two and a half quarters,Ohio State appeared to playing the perfect game with a three touchdown lead and on the verge of turning things around with a stunning road upset of heavily favored Nebraska.
Sadly,games last four quarters and with a turnover followed up by an injury to Braxton Miller,who had played very well,well the wheels were not only off,it reminded one of those old 1980's NASCAR wrecks where only the cyclone fences kept the car from leaving the facility.
In any event-Nebraska 34 Ohio State 27.
Ohio State drops to 3-3 and will host undefeated Illinois next Saturday.

Buckeye Leaves

1) This game never felt like it was over to me.
I suppose years of rooting for bad teams does that to a person,but it seemed like (yes another sports comparison) a horse that sprints to a huge lead and knows the horse from off the pace is going to make his run.
The question becomes how close is the wire???

2) I did not see either the Braxton Miller fumble that handed the Huskers great field position for the score that started the rally or the play that put Miller on the sidelines for the evening.
I was in the car on the way to work and was listening to the Nebraska radio network,which gives one hundred dollars to the FFA for each Husker TD,for those of you that care.

3) Those two plays clearly turned the tide against the Buckeyes,but I was encouraged by Miller's play until that point.
Miller ran with confidence and his throws looked crisper,although he still needs refinement as a passer.
I might have even gone as far to say this- Miller stays in the game,OSU holds on....

4) Well,Joe Bauserman just exhausted my last branch of excuse last night.
Bauserman throws half of his passes into the bench and not with style either.
Bauserman's deep throws remind me of the type that Seneca Wallace threw for the Browns last season.
That equals UGH,my friends...

5) I also thought Carlos Hyde ran well and gained the tough yards that a back of his size needs to get.
Hyde scored two touchdowns on the day with a total of 104.

6) The defense was just beaten up in the second half.Rex Burkhead just ran all over the Buckeyes and they had simply no answer for the Huskers running game.
Simply put the larger and more physical team pounded them down and that bodes poorly for Wisconsin in two weeks...

7) I did not understand the early fourth quarter play calling on this key drive.
Still with a seven point lead,Ohio State threw two passes on second and third down and then passed on a 49 yard field goal attempt for Drew Basil in favor of a punt.
The weather was not great,but the explanation was they wanted to be a few yards closer.
Well, perhaps a running play on one of those two poor Bauserman tosses might have gotten you those few yards to feel more comfortable trying the field goal.

8) Jim Bollman was just awful in this collapse as well.
Bollman kept calling the same play-pass plays that feature routes that Joe Bauserman cannot hit his receivers on.
It has become crystal clear that Jim Tressel spent considerable time protecting Jim Bollman.
I look forward to next season without him in the press box.

9) I called for more time for Kenny Guiton after the loss to Michigan State,but Braxton Miller played well in the start.
However,if Miller is missing the Illinois game with his ankle sprain,I propose Guiton get the start.
It is clear that Joe Bauserman is not the answer and Guiton has more similarities to Miller than Bauserman does,so the theory is perhaps Guiton could be more effective in the OSU offense...

10) Finally,a non-game note.
The Ohio State University needs to clean house now.
Starting with President Gordon Gee,moving on to Athletic Director Gene Smith and taking the hit by announcing Luke Fickel will not be returning next season.
The NCAA is dragging their feet on the punishment headed Columbus way and there is a chance to make this look better-by taking a step forward and cleaning out some of the enablers.
This is selfish on my part as my reasoning is to get as light as possible in a bad year and hope to save 2012 recruiting as much as can be and get things rolling again for 2013.
A step or two back is inevitable,that is occurring now-the key is to keep it at that distance...

The Devils play Carolina Monday at one,I will be doing a dual recap on that game with the loss in the opener last night then....

Photo Credit:Dave Weaver-AP Photo

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pigskin Pickin' Machine

The PPM is one fewer today after Boise State's 57-7 demolition of Fresno State last night....

Ohio State (3-2 0-1) travels to Nebraska (4-1 0-1) and still loses Boom Herron for one game and now DeVier Posey for five more.
If I were Posey,I would not even bother to risk injury to play two lousy games and drop in the next year's draft.
In any event,this one comes down to the Ohio State defense,if they can force some turnovers ,especially on the Husker side of the field,maybe they can hang in this one.
When I consider the Buckeye offense,I feel this is highly unlikely....

Texas Tech (4-0 1-0)  hosts rival Texas A&M (2-2 0-1) in the last game between the two for quite a while,I would bet.
The Red Raiders have won the games that they needed to going into Big 12 play,but they have to prove to me that they are for real.
Tech struggled to a one point win over Nevada,who was then overmatched against Boise State in their next game.
A&M has blown sizable leads in both of their losses over the last two weeks and goes into the place that they hate to play most in Lubbock's Jones Stadium.
Ask an Aggie fan,they would rather to Austin and play the Horns than Lubbock and the Red Raiders.
The Aggies snapped a seven game losing streak in Lubbock with a win in their last visit in 2009.
Winner here is who is wins the run battle.A&M shuts down the run and runs the ball well.

Bowling Green (3-2 1-0) visits Western Michigan (3-2 1-0) after their expected waxing against West Virginia last week.
The Broncos are coming off a three point loss to ranked Illinois and a win over Connecticut.
Western throws the ball far more than BG,so after the WVA game the Falcons will see a different look...

Game of the week goes to the Red River Shootout as third ranked Oklahoma hits neutral turf against eleventh ranked Texas.
Both teams are undefeated,but Texas seems to me to be the weaker team.
I see lots of hook ups from Landry Jones to Ryan Broyles....

The Browns are on their bye week,so only two games from the NFL this week.

Seattle travels across the country after a gritty comeback against Atlanta to play the Giants.
Mike Williams will miss the game and I just do not see the Hawks,who are a bad road team anyway, being able to do much against the Giant pass rush...

Game of the week is the Sunday night war between the Packers and Falcons.
This one should feature about every possible thing that a football fan could want from both offenses.
This looks to see tons of footballs flying through the air and lots of scoring...

Our picks
Nebraska over Ohio State 24-7
Texas A&M over Texas Tech 34-24
Western Michigan over Bowling Green 31-20
Oklahoma over Texas 27-14

Giants over Seahawks 31-13
Packers over Falcons 38-30