Thursday, August 30, 2012

Forgotten Superstars-Chris Jackson/Mahmoud Abdur-Rauf

We return to the Forgotten Superstars universe for a trip to look at one of the best scoring machines that college basketball had ever seen, but had off the court issues that derailed a promising pro career.
Chris Jackson was the rarest of scorers-one that could penetrate the lane and yet drill a sweet jumper at will.
Jackson was a star guard at LSU, producing prodigious numbers that reminded one of the Tigers, Pete Maravich, in a time that saw the numbers rank among the best of the last thirty years.

Chris Jackson played just two years with the Tigers but would have set scoring records at just about any school other than LSU, where the stats of the Pistol were never going to be challenged even by a player with the offensive talents of Jackson.
Some of the most fun games to watch in my video collection are LSU games that feature Jackson, Stanley Roberts and freshman Shaquille O'Neal, who was the third scoring option on a team that should have been more of a tournament factor than they proved to be.
The 6'3 Jackson was a massive offensive weapon in games that I have against Loyola Marymount and Texas, both teams that tried to run with the Tigers but found themselves outgunned in games that saw both teams score over 100 points.
Jackson was more of a shooting guard than a guard that ran the point, but he was not a player that needed to have the ball in his hands at all times.
Jackson was a player that racked up a fair amount of assists for a shooting guard, so he was far from a selfish gunner that was more worried about stats than a team's numbers.
LSU scored a lot of points in the early '90s and the Tigers did not have to run everything through one player.

Jackson was the third pick in the 1990 NBA Draft as a selection of the Denver Nuggets and began to go through various off the court issues,
Jackson was diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome and began to twitch with the symptoms of the disease.
Jackson's struggles with the medication began to affect his game and his numbers began to diminish with the Nuggets.
The next issue to affect Jackson was his name change to Mahmoud Abdur-Rauf and adopting an orthodox Muslim belief that saw him do such things as refuse to acknowledge the National Anthem.
This made Abdur-Rauf a controversial figure of the time and saw him explaining his position on various shows that featured sports and non-sports.
Abdur-Rauf began to suffer from anxiety through these times that made Tourette's issues even worse and his numbers fell to the point that saw him retire briefly in an attempt to deal with the disease and its effects on his life.

Abdur-Rauf would return to the league eventually, but became more of an off the bench offensive spark than a full-time performer and would never approach the player that he had projected to be when he left LSU.
Abdur-Rauf was far better than a J.J Redick that was a good college player, who's skills did not suit the NBA game, I believe he could have been an All-Star level player at least, had the various issues not affected him and his skills.
A 51 point outburst against the Utah Jazz showed that Abdur-Rauf was more than capable of lighting up the scoreboard in the NBA.
Abdur-Rauf did win the Most Improved Player award and had a good season for Denver in 1995-96, but was traded to Sacramento in the off-season and struggled in two years there.
Other than a 41 game cameo in 2000-01 with the then-Vancouver Grizzlies, he has spent most of the seasons since then playing in various international leagues, the last few in the Japanese league even now at the age of 43.

Many would look at his career in the NBA as somewhat disappointing, I prefer to remember the comet that blazed through the sky at LSU as such a phenomenal talent and look back at those games and admire our latest member of the Forgotten Superstars Universe.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Should the Pirates explore a move by the waiver deadline?

The title of this post is somewhat misleading as we return to baseball as of course they should explore a move to bolster a suddenly fading Pittsburgh Pirates team,the better question is should they MAKE a move and if so at what cost?

The Pirates have won just three of their last ten and have lost the first two of a series against the Cardinals in a set that could have placed the Pirates in a stronger situation for the wildcard (bleech) spot(s).
The losses have moved the team to three games behind St.Louis and makes tonight's game extremely important.
Pittsburgh has tried to add through waivers,per the recent addition of Hisanori Takahashi from the Angels and released Erik Bedard in order to reintroduce Kevin Correia to the starting rotation,so the Buccos are attempting to shuffle the deck a bit in order to catch lightning in a bottle.
Bedard has been a disappointment and I can see the logic in the release,but I fail to see any improvement in moving Bedard out and the mediocre Correia in.

The question still remains-Should the team make a major move for a bat or arm,assuming a major player would fall to them on the waiver claim list?
I still say No,unless the price was minimal.
The Pirates are a team that seem to have caught some fortunate breaks,had the odd player playing above their true level and were able to have caught a blossoming superstar in Andrew McCutchen burst free at the right time.
In my opinion,that is a team that not only was made for a late season drop,but one that is more likely than not to disappoint next season due to unrealistic expectations.

I am not against a addition that costs money or a minor level prospect,but I am against a strong move that costs a future building block for a season that will prove to be fun and entertaining season that was fated fall short for one reason-it simply was yet to truly be the Pittsburgh Pirates time....

I wonder....

I enjoy going to games.
Duh,that's a given,but going to the Muni adds even more because often I run into former players of mine.
Kids that I coached are now grown men that usually have some kind words and ask me why I do not coach anymore.
Well,that is for a variety of reasons,time,loving the scouting of prospects,autographing etc,but honestly one thing that remarkably is not the case is feeling too old.

Oh,don't get me wrong-I feel old physically at times.
I'm way too large (to be generous to myself) and the wheels are too rusty to feel young,but I don't feel old mentally.
I have always related pretty well (I think ) to kids of certain ages and because I am,in many ways,a child that never grew up,I think that helps to keep you sharp.
I like being who I am and I like to believe that helps me with kids and often times teenagers.

I have players that have reached thirty years of age,so I easily could have had players that had parents play for me,had I never left,so that could make one feel old,but I don't think that would bother me much,if at all...

At 44,I do not relate to everything,especially music and dress,but I think many of the other topics,I do OK in.
I always tried to be a players coach within reason,I remember during one rebuilding program spending much of a game getting pounded in talking to one of my better players about the comparative strengths of the Klingon and Cardassian Empires from Deep Space Nine.
I think that has much to do with why young men that are now adults come up and chat with the old coach.
That then leads to the next question (s)-Why did you quit and would you consider coming back to coach my child when ready?
I quit because it felt right.
I loved my time and one of my best friends today is a former player,but I am not sure that I am up for the stress of coaching kids anymore.
Not because I'm too old,but because I ironically might have regressed.
My responsibilities and priorities have changed somewhat,but I have more freedom then I did then.
One child out of the nest helped with that and I feel younger than I have in a long time,with more flexibility with my time than in the past.

I have the time to return and the energy,so why not?
Never say never,but I learned a while ago-Do not mess with happy and I am happier than I have been in a long time.....

Sunday, August 26, 2012

More from the road

After a night with a less than strong signal from the road office, I decided to give this another shot tonight with some thoughts on my trip away that for a rare change in the summer included zero baseball!

For a three day, two-night trip, this might have been the most intensive trip that I planned, yet at the same time, I kept things loose enough to do different things.
This was originally scheduled to be the 25th anniversary trip for the lovely Cherie and me in May and was moved back to August.
Early on, it figured to be some baseball stops included mixed with some other things tossed in as well.
The trip moved from a trip to Cooperstown to a return (for me) to Tennessee and ended with Cherie saying that she would just rather go to Ohio.

We started early in the day and I had looked into the possibility of taking Cherie to the Flight 93 National Memorial.
Cherie had often commented on wanting to see the memorial when we pass by, but I had demurred due to cold weather.
That decision proved to be a smart one as the memorial was definitely a warm-weather stop with lots of walking and weather exposure.
I surprised Cherie with this stop and I was glad that I was able to do this for her as well as me.
The memorial is about 20 miles off the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the signs to find it are plentiful and well-marked, so it is not too tough to find.
It is on a two-lane road, so it can take a while to get there, but it is very poignant and well worth the trip to honor those American heroes that gave their lives to save even more on the most tragic day in the history of our country...

After a stop at the Pittsburgh icon Primanti Brothers for lunch, we continued on to the home base and eventual dinner with my cousin Missy and her family at Lyn-Way in Ashland.
Lyn-Way is one of those places that every town used to have, but few still do.
Strong comfort food and an assortment of pies that rank among the best that I have ever eaten make Lyn-Way a stop that I try to make as often as I can when in town.
I usually order the liver there as I don't get the chance to order that often in other establishments and rarely do I have the room for dessert and the terrific pies.

We finished day one with a quiet evening in the hotel to rest up for day two in the Ohio capital of Columbus.
I had given thought to catching the AAA Columbus Clippers but decided against it for two reasons.
The first was that the visitors were the Durham Bulls, which as a Tampa affiliate meant that I had little for them and had even less reason to see them play.
The other? Well, I had left the ever-present briefcase at home, so that meant I would have to buy supplies and just do a Clippers team set.
In the end, I decided it just was not worth it...

Most of the day was spent with great company (the lovely Cherie), good shopping ( a few cool buys), some unique stops (a whole foods store), and great food (TRS favorite Quaker Steak and Lube).
We would return to the hotel later and would stumble upon a flyer in the travel brochure stall that would become a must-do.

The Shawshank Redemption has become one of my favorite films, despite not being a huge fan of Stephen King's writing, since Ryan recommended it to me and it was an excellent recommendation.
Much of the film was filmed around Mansfield Ohio and I found a flyer that was a tour of the spots in the film that you can drive to yourself.
Cherie and I spent the morning taking the tour that included seeing the famous oak tree from the film that is now half the size due to a 2011 wind storm, the spots included the various spots that "Red" traveled to and the Ohio State Reformatory where much of the film was made.
It killed much of the morning before another trip to Belgrade Gardens for chicken.
Rachel got a dinner for the road placed inside a cooler and I was able to talk to the owner of Belgrade Gardens a bit.
Milos Papich is the grandson of the original owners and he told me about the European origins of the recipe after I told him that Belgrade Gardens completely ruined fried chicken for the remainder of the year.
Mr.Papich added that Belgrade has begun to overnight ship chicken around the country for a rather large fee as well......

Another stop that we wanted to make was a return to Kent State when the weather was warm.
The added bonus was that with the students out of school, parking was plentiful and we were able to enjoy the site without the wind that aided the freeze of our last visit.
We learned more about the area before our visit this time, so we were able to find more markers than in our first visit and enjoyed the trip even further.
The visitors center there has come along and looks almost finished so I am sure that we will return there in the future to explore the center upon its completion.

We decided to make one more side trip and this was another one that had been a talked-about stop for years.
I have always liked the tradition of powerhouse Mount Union and have always wanted to visit it in the town of Alliance.
Alliance was unusual as it seems that most of the trip was through woods and then the town almost smacks you in the face with its arrival out of nowhere.
We made the jaunt to the Mount Union campus and bought a Purple Raiders mini-helmet and each of us a t-shirt.
Another place that I have wanted to see for years checked off the list.

Cherie and I covered many back roads of Ohio that we had never seen and I like to think that we both enjoyed it.
A great trip, many things accomplished and believe it or not-no baseball :)

Photo Credits: Cherie Heimberger

Friday, August 24, 2012

On the signing front

A quick mail version of the signing front for non-baseball stuff that has dribbled in via the mailbox,so that I can put those away.
I have filled up 2 500 count boxes of stuff signed since the last signing front with more sitting here with the season ending soon,so I'll have plenty of signing front news as the winter approaches as well as binders and plastic sheets to buy to go with it!!!

Former WLAF quarterback Mike Perez
Former Cardials linebacker E.J.Junior
Former Cowboys defensive end Ed "Too Tall" Jones
Former Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander
Former Georgia head coach Vince Dooley
Former Browns linebacker Mike Johnson
Former Steelers quarterback Terry Hanratty

Former Inter-Continental champion Honky Tonk Man-HTM added a note that has become infamous in our family since its arrival!!!
Former Masters champion Craig Stadler
Actress Jamie Lyn Sigler of Sopranos fame-Thanks to Brandon Diehl for his help with that!!!

That clears a little space,but signal permitting,I will be back from work with more vacation talk!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Vacation-All I ever wanted...

Ten days off from work and ten days away from here.
This might have been the longest hiatus that I have ever taken from here,but I had things to do and now I had a hunger to come back and now is that time.
I want to clean the inbox first and then talk about my downtime in the next post.

Former NBA forward Dan Roundfield drowned in Aruba in an attempt to save his drowning wife from the undertow.
Roundfield was able to aid his wife,who survived,but drowned himself in the attempt.
Roundfield played for the Pacers in both the ABA and NBA along with stints with the Bullets and Pistons,but spent his best years in Atlanta as a Hawk,where he made three All-Star teams.
Words cannot truly describe the respect that I have for Dan Roundfield,who gave his life to save his wife.
Considering that,his sacrifice was worth it.
Roundfield was 59 years old....

Former WBA Heavyweight champion Michael "Dynamite" Dokes passed away in Akron at the age of 54 from liver cancer.
Dokes was one of the most talented heavyweight in the 80's,but despite winning the WBA title,never seemed to live up to his ability.
Dokes won the title with a one round knockout of Mike Weaver and then drew with Weaver in the rematch in a great fight that most felt Weaver had the edge in.
Dokes would lose the belt in his next defense via 10th round KO to Gerrie Coetzee at the Richfield Coliseum and would never hold the title again.
Dokes would be best known for his terrific battle against Evander Holyfield in which Holyfield prevailed again with a stoppage in the 10th round.
Dokes was stopped by Riddick Bowe in the first round in his final attempt to regain the heavyweight title.
Dokes  had so much ability,but much like his counterpart Greg Page,took the game too easily and as a result must be looked at as a disappointment,despite becoming a champion.

ESPN does some digging and may have found the person that designed Mr.Met.
The fact that the Suns sold Mr.Met merchandise at the Muni might have been the one positive thing that I can say about the Mets two year run at the Muni.
What can I say,I like some mascots!

There was an 80 year old lobster that was headed for the boiling water,but was saved by Don McKenzie,who then had the big boy released in an area that does not allow lobster boats,so he looks pretty safe to live out his years.
I cannot see why someone would want to buy a lobster that big either from respect or more likely that a crustacean that old would likely not taste as good as a younger lobster...

I stumbled across this website that wants to return the NBA to Louisville.
As a huge fan of the ABA's team in Louisville,I must admit that this has appeal to me,but not at the expense of the deserving fans in Seattle.
I will keep an eye on the site and have my fingers crossed for Louisville to be second in line...

More to come tomorrow as I ramble on about the ten days away and for the beginnings of the end of the in person autographing season....

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A few thoughts from the beat

A few thoughts on some news from the various teams on the final night from the road office.

I have a funny feeling that the feel good story of the season is beginning to slide off the rails.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have lost three in a row and are not playing well in a homestand against the less than powerful Diamondbacks and Padres.

The pitching is showing signs of wearing down and the bats have been a concern from day one.
Not ready to press the panic button yet,but I am starting to show concern.

The Browns have been hit even harder since my last Browns post as first round pick Trent Richardson underwent a knee surgery and shutdown corner Joe Haden may be suspended for the first four games for testing positive for Adderall..
Adderall is a substance used to combat the effects of ADD and is legal,but the NFL frowns upon it unless prescribed by a doctor and a player needs to report being medicated with it.
One cannot use the doctor excuse after testing positive,which makes me wonder how dumb players and teams are to not report it...
The Browns did not attempt to upgrade the corner spot opposite Haden in continuing to believe that Sheldon Brown is still a quality corner and the absence of Haden will be a huge loss and a glaring hole in the secondary during any games that he would miss....
Richardson is expected to return for the opener against the Eagles,but even the minor cleanup surgery worries me as it is his second this season.

The Devils added one player quietly as New Jersey signed Bobby Butler from the Ottawa Senators as a free agent.
Butler signed a one year,two way deal that would enable him to play for the Albany Devils in case of a lockout.
Butler scored six goals and had ten assists last season for the Senators.
Devils GM Lou Lamoriello described Butler as having "Top six forward potential".
I do not know a ton about Butler,so I'll have to ask our resident Senators fan for his thoughts.

The Cavaliers signed C.J.Miles from the Utah Jazz as their only veteran free agent signing of the summer.
Miles is just 25,can shoot the three and play the small forward and shooting guard spots.
I think Miles should help coming off the bench,but is not expected to be a player that turns the team around.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

DelGrosso Park,Altoona and maybe the best hot dog ever?

Busy times over the last week and even more next week,but wanted to jot a few lines so that any of you out there know that I have not forgotten about you all.
I know I keep saying I'll be back more,but it might be after Labor Day until I get on a firm schedule.
The signal at the road office has been spotty and that has not helped matters either.

Squeezed in between work and baseball games for me was a trip to the Altoona area that found me having a few innings of baseball with a trip for Rachel to an amusement park and eating what just might have been the best hot dog that I have ever eaten.
Del Grosso's might be more well known for its spaghetti sauce (I've never tried it),but its comfy little park tucked away in an Altoona suburb of Tipton was not only fun to go for the kids,but even enjoyable for me and I did not even get on a ride.

Del Grosso's has your typical small park rides,but has a quite a few large water slides.I usually am not much of a mechanical ride person,but I do like water rides and normally would have been willing to partake in some sliding,but on this day,Rachel had a friend along and Corey was more than able to take my place.
This allowed me to spend a little alone time with the lovely Cherie to enjoy the terrific weather and play 18 holes on their "Championship "miniature golf course (2 under par,thank you) to kill a few hours while they pounded the water slides.

After a roughly two hour drive that featured a quick stop for a light lunch at a Bedford PA Burger King for a thoroughly mediocre Texas Whopper,I was starting to get a bit hungry,so Cherie and I split a order of fries and ordered each ordered a hot dog at Austin's Hot Dogs at the front of the park.
I would highly recommend the dogs there with their chili sauce,mustard and onions!
It might be the best dog that I have ever had as it ranked right up there with the "coney" at the Ashland/Wooster Drive In in Ohio and surpasses it as the dog was bigger and beefier than the A&W dog.
It had the crispness that a special dog really needs with the snap that you feel when you bite into it.
That is high praise as the Coney had always been the gold standard to me,but now there is a new king-The Austin dog!

Good food,free parking and a very reasonable cost to the park for the day all adds up to a very family friendly day that I plan to repeat next summer.
Compared to Lakemont Park,another small park in the area,Del Grosso's is a better park and a much more enjoyable experience than one from Lakemont,when I had been there in the past.

Part of the agreement to make the trip was to catch the Altoona Curve on the way back.
The stadium is about 15 minutes from the park,so it certainly was along the way.
My trips to Altoona have always been fun and since I didn't need to do any autographing,I could just watch a game and scout things out a bit.
As I waited as Rachel and Corey grabbed some ice cream,I was able to chat with one of our longtime readers,Chet Trybus,who approached me and offered some kind words about the blog.
I sometimes zone out and Cherie pointed out that Chet was speaking to me and I didn't see him.
I don't know why I do that so often,but it happens more than would care to say,I'm embarrassed to admit.
Chet has been reading us for much of our run and it is always nice to see him and hear from him as well.

Bowie scored seven runs off Brandon Cumpton in the third inning and considering the drive home that loomed,that was enough for me to get going.
We did stop for a quick bite at Long John Silvers,as Corey had said he had never tried LJS.
I am usually a fan and the food was fresh,but it was not as good as usual.
I felt bad for Corey as his first LJS impression was likely lukewarm at best....

All and all-a great day and one I hope to repeat next year.
Thanks to the lovely Cherie,Rachel and my new friend Corey for having me and allowing me to have a great day with them as company.....

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chris Gogong rips Achilles,season finished....

The Cleveland Browns already leaky linebacking corps took a direct hit today as starting linebacker Chris Gogong tore an Achilles tendon defending a pass play and will be out for the 2012 season.
Considering that the Browns already will be without oft-injured Scott Fujita to start the season due to his involvement in the Saints bounty issue,this means the Browns will start the season against the Eagles without two of their starters and will have to start at least one rookie and possibly two.
Gogong had signed a three year extension to his contract after playing very well last season,especially in the final four games of the season,so this is a huge hit to the Browns defense and with the loss of Phil Taylor up front,the Browns suddenly appear to be relying on rookies at multiple spots right away with little time to break them in.

Fourth round pick John-Michael Johnson and special teams standout Kaluka Maiava will likely be the starters on the outside of D"Qwell Jackson with sixth round draftee Emmanuel Acho given a chance for extra playing time as well with the absence of Gogong.
I do think this could be a long run positive as Johnson and Acho will get large amounts of snaps quickly into their careers,which bodes well for the long term,if not the short.
However,for the short team,Johnson,Maiava and Acho are going to make mistakes that a veteran like Gogong would not and that is going to have to be accepted as a part of the process.

Injuries will happen and they do not happen to the Browns more than any other team.
It does seem like it,however,because the team has such little depth over the years that injuries to average starters seems like colossal shots to the jaw because the replacement is usually quite a step down from the starter.
This is where patience and building a team right comes in.
Good teams and their programs have depth because they make to draft the right players for what they do and then break them in slowly,so when a situation such as a season-ending injury hits,they are prepared.
This does not happen overnight and changing philosophies every two or three years consistently delay this process.
That is why I am hoping that when the broom comes out for the "Bob LaMonte mafia",I am wishing that at least Tom Heckert survives.
Heckert has begun this process and even though I disagree with some of his moves,I believe he has the right plan in place for sustained success in Northeast Ohio.
As much as I would love a smashmouth team in Cleveland,the steps are in place for a team in the Holmgren mold and changing now would mean yet another total revamp,which would be the fourth in five years.

This season looked to be a long one,but an interesting one with players worth watching to see if progress had been made.
Today's injury just allows Browns fans to see more of two younger players at the cost of a player better suited to help win now....

Photo Credit:Unknown

And this one goes to the Reds....

The most important series for the Pittsburgh Pirates in years started with a bad bounce and a lucky break as the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Pirates 3-0 in Cincinnati.
Wandy Rodriguez pitched pretty well (7-10) with a one pitch exception,but was unable to match Mat Latos,Jonathan Broxton and especially Aroldis Chapman in picking up the defeat on the mound.
The series continues Saturday at Great American Ballpark
James McDonald for the Pirates against Cincinnati's Mike Leake...

Pirate Hooks

1)  The play that essentially won the game was the inside the park homer by Chris Heisey,
Starling Marte missed misplayed the ball against the wall,but that can happen with young players in their first time in new parks.
The surprising thing was that Andrew McCutchen was nowhere to be found and allowed Heisey to get the homer in what could have been a triple at best....

2) Wandy Rodriguez gave the Pirates exactly what they hoped for when they traded for him-six innings,three runs.
If those are the expectations for the lefty,Rodriguez will be more than up to that standard.

3) Only a fastball that was grooved in the perfect spot to Mat Latos ruined the night for Rodriguez.
Homers by the pitcher are rare enough,but the especially rare are those that are just crushed.
The bat speed that Latos showed on that pitch was the type that you just do not see from a pitcher.
Latos violently whipped the bat into the pitch at that spot and the homer happened...

4) Aroldis Chapman was unreal in the ninth inning.
Chapman hit over 100 MPH several times and his three swing and misses to end the game against Garrett Jones went 100,101 and 102.
When you can throw with that type of velocity and with the movement that Chapman has,there is going to be a long line of swings and misses....

5) The Reds extended their lead to four and a half games with the win.
If the Pirates can win one of the two remaining games and keep it at four and a half,things are fine.
A sweep by the Reds and a six and a half game deficit that would result would put the Pirates in a very difficult situation.
Winning one of those games is almost mandatory,if the division stays in reach for the Pirates.

Photo Credit:Getty Images

Friday, August 3, 2012

Browns sold to the Pilot....

The Cleveland Browns were sold today,pending NFL approval, to Jimmy Haslam for a billion dollars.
The upfront cost was 700 million with Haslam paying the remaining 300 million paid in four years to Randy Lerner.
Haslam is the owner of the Pilot/ Flying J travel plazas/truck stop chain that is based in Tennessee and has been a minority owner of the Steelers for the last few years,including their last two championships.

I'll put the Steeler issue aside pretty easily as he only owned his small percentage for a limited period of time and the "1,000 percent Steeler fan" comment after all,of course you want to be part of what you own.
I don't understand complaining about that,I mean after all-Would you pay a billion dollars to NOT do your best to win because you owned a small percentage of another team in the past?
Haslam seems to be the type of owner that is going to be very involved in the team,which makes me think that winning will be very important,much more important than making a larger profit.
Randy Lerner never seemed to be that interested in the Browns and like with any of us,it is difficult to put ones heart and soul into what is not a passion.

The especially paranoid among Browns fans look at Haslam as the beginning of the end for the team in Cleveland.
The lease is rock solid,the Browns aren't going to Los Angeles or anywhere else.
I can understand the nervousness among the fan base,but there is nothing to these thoughts.

My biggest issue is the addition of former Eagles president Joe Banner to the Haslam group.
Banner is not going to come to Cleveland to be a Mike Holmgren underling and Holmgren is not going to be reporting to Joe Banner,so to me it is just a matter of time before Holmgren leaves the franchise.
Tom Heckert worked for Banner with the Eagles,so I suppose that it is possible that Heckert could stay with the team as could Pat Shurmur as he was an Eagles assistant as well.
If it was my choice,I'd keep Heckert and dump Shurmur,but that will be determined at the end of the season.

However,another school of thought has Haslam overhauling everything and cleaning house at the conclusion of the season.
I would not be against making things more like the Steelers at all.
I like the fact that they take advantage of the elements and install a consistency in their organization that few can match.
The problem with turning to the Steeler style of being based around a physical team on offense and defense would be that the Holmgren era has been based around finesse football and would lead to yet another building period.
Frankly,I am tired of building,I'd like to see some results!
If there would be a possible way to transition to that,using the current talent as a bridge to that (and with Trent Richardson and a strong O-Line,I can see that as possible) I certainly would be in favor of that possibility.

In any event,I think that this is a good thing.
It might not be something that changes things,but anytime you add someone that cares in place of someone that did not place the same level of importance on something-It's a good thing.
Until then,shop at your local Pilot or Flying J and Go Browns!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Stumbling onto something new....

I was visiting my dad on Monday, as I often do anymore and he was watching the Olympics.
I was quite an avid follower of the Olympics as a child, having a few memories of the 72 games in Munich, but able to remember many of the stars of the Montreal Olympics in 1976 like it was yesterday.
Anymore, the summer games do not have the same resonance for me as they once did, but dad was watching some things, so I watched with him.

After watching some women's basketball (not too exciting) and weightlifting (I always have enjoyed watching weightlifting), a game popped onto the screen that dad and I wondered just what we were watching.
We would not find out just what it was until the conclusion of the game was almost near, but I found myself enthralled by the game and had to watch more the next day.
What I discovered by the end of the next game was surprising to me, considering my usual biases...

First, though, let's talk about the game which is team handball.
When I hear handball, I think of the close relative racquetball, which I always think of as an indoor game of 2 to 4 players on a small court inside gyms and clubs.
The game that we saw had no resemblance to that game and instead was a hybrid between the best of basketball and hockey that was physical, but not in an over-the-top manner.
Each side has six players and a goalie and the rules can be found in the link above, but as dad and I watched we were trying to learn the rules on the fly.
One rule which was pretty easy to learn was the arc (which looked like a three-point line in basketball) in which the players could not penetrate and had to throw the ball past the goalie from beyond the arc.
Basically, the goalie does not have to worry about being interfered with by a screen from the opposing team.
Another was the player with the ball needed to be mobile after three seconds and can only take three steps.
There was far more than to the game, but I figured those few details out as the game went.
Many of the things that I had wondered about were rules that I would figure out later online, but I really enjoyed the women's game between Denmark and Korea, which would see Korea eek out a win despite the best efforts of Pernille Larsen (shown above against Spain), who seemed to score every time that Denmark had possessions late in the game.
My only wonder was why Denmark did not get the ball to Larsen even more than they did.

I looked forward to a men's game the next day to watch and surprisingly, I did not enjoy it as much.
The men almost seemed out of control, like a car wanting to drive faster than the driver wants it to.
The women's game for me was far more enjoyable and they might have made a fan out of me if I can see more games, which would be most likely online from the top-level European teams.

Sometimes, giving something new a chance can turn out to be quite enlightening and I will be attempting to see more of women's handball as the tournament progresses.... 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pirates add Gaby Sanchez and Chad Qualls in deals

Neal Huntington was not finished near the trade deadline after trading for Travis Snider as the Pittsburgh Pirates made two separate trades that landed Gaby Sanchez from the Marlins to play first base and Chad Qualls from the Yankees to add to the bullpen.

The Sanchez deal adds a righthanded bat to the lineup that produced 19 homers in each of the previous two season before a rough 2012 that saw him hit barely above the .200 mark,a stint at AAA New Orleans and seeming to fall out of favor with the Marlins organization.
If Sanchez just needed a scenery change and turns things around,the Pirates have a durable bat (600+ AB's in 2010 and 11) that would be under team control for the next three seasons.
That is the one thread through most of the Pirates trades that has been consistent-gaining players that will be Pirates for a while,not just rentals.
The Pirates also received a minor league righthander in the deal in Kyle Kaminska.
The 23 year old reliever had split time between AA Jacksonville and AAA New Orleans this season with numbers that were disappointing after an excellent 2011.
Pittsburgh sent the brilliant glove and rubber bat of Gorkys Hernandez to the Marlins along with one of those competitive balance picks between the first and second rounds in the draft as their part of the deal.

The Pirates would make another deal before the gun in sending Casey McGehee to the Yankees for reliever Chad Qualls.
The Yankess were in desperate need of a player that could play first and third with their injury issues of late and the Pirates could rid themselves of a contract for next year along with a player that had not lived up to expectations,so both teams filled a need.
I would rather have had a prospect than Qualls,who looks to me to be cooked as a pitcher.
Qualls had an awful 2010,rebounded a little in spacious Petco Park in 2011 before being pretty bad with two teams this season.
Relievers are funny beasts though and you never know what you could get from another teams rejects.

I like the Sanchez trade a lot as the team added a player that could be a valuable member of the lineup for multiple years at the cost of a player that was going to be a defensive replacement at best at the major league level and a draft pick that was a freebie,costing the Pirates nothing.
That is an easy trade to make.

The McGehee trade was one made for salary flexibility and to help McGehee,who was going to lose even more playing time with the arrival of Gaby Sanchez.
I would not have expected the moon for McGehee,who has struggled for two seasons now,but I would not have taken Chad Qualls,a player that was on waivers earlier this season.

A quick note on the A.J,Burnett one hitter last night.
The only hit was by blog favorite Adrian Cardenas against Burnett and of all the neat things in this season for the Pirates,the comeback of A.J. Burnett might be first.
That just goes to show you,the big cities might be where all the money is,but some players need to see those Green Acres (Smaller cities) to truly play their best...

Photo Credit:Unknown