Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Jaromir Jagr re-signs with Devils

In a move that would surprise some,the New Jersey Devils inked Jaromir Jagr to a new one year contract before the veteran winger would test the free agent market.

The deal is reported to be worth six million plus possible incentives and allows the Devils to look for the top notch goal scorer that the team needs without having to replace their leading point scorer from the 2013-14 season.

I endorse this move,despite the question of re-signing a 42 year old winger that could lose his skills at any time.
It's a one year deal,so it wouldn't be a long term drag on the salary cap and the worst case scenario would be that Jagr went to hell all at once and the team paid for less than great performance for one season.
The Devils lack offense already and need to sign/trade for a scorer for next season and allowing Jagr's numbers to walk away would not enable the team to step forward even with a sizable addition.

Lou Lamoriello is starting early this off season in an attempt to take the Devils back to the playoffs,this is a good start.
Look for a Devils post sometime before the draft that looks at the team and what I think needs to be done over the summer...

The Six Round Staredown

The Six Round Staredown returns today with my friend R.L from over at Boxing Undercard.
In case that you missed our first installment,each of us ask three questions of the other,both of us answer and three will be found on each of our sites.

R.L's questions can be found over at his site here.
Hope you enjoy and look for a Browns version of this later in the week!

1) Is Keith Thurman the future of the 147 division ?

R.L: Definitely. He shows all the signs of being a superstar in the
sport. The kid is an incredible athlete, has big-time power and quick hands. Add a captivating personality to the mix and we have the possibilities of something special. Once he’s in the ring with some better competition, we’ll learn more, but from what I’ve seen so far, he’s the future of the welterweight division.

TRS: No.I might be the only person that thinks this way,but I see more Andre Berto than anyone when I watch Keith Thurman.
An Al Haymon fighter that has been protected,matched carefully and made money with,which is why you do this after all,but that isn't always best for your development as a fighter.
Thurmans has beaten the type of foes that you would expect him to (Julio Diaz,Jesus Soto-Karass etc) and makes for exciting bouts,but the guys he is beating have been beaten before and for a guy known as "One Time"-I don't see that type of power.
Keith Thurman is a fun fighter to watch,but like Andre Berto,I look for him to be exposed sooner than later.

2) Without Adonis Stevenson around,who would you like to see against Sergei Kovalev?

R.L: Andre Ward. That’s the biggest fight HBO can make and would be a huge boost to both fighters careers. Ward’s been extremely inactive, fighting only four times in the past 3 years, so his flame has slowly fizzled out. A win over Kovalev would instantly catapult him back to the top of the pound-for-pound ranks. For Kovalev, a victory over Ward would make him an instant superstar.

TRS: I agree with the selection of Ward and there is not a fighter in the division that means anything that wants any part of Kovalev,so assuming Ward wants it (I bet he doesn't),let's think outside the box and try one of two interesting bouts.
What about one of the two top cruiserweights in the world in Yoan Pablo Hernandez or Marco Huck?
Huck in particular would make a great fight as many thought he won his heavyweight bout vs Alexander Povetkin in of the more entertaining heavyweight fights in recent memory.
The other? Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Chavez always has weight issues and could carry 175 on his build and would carry a sizable paycheck along with a big name missing from Kovalev's resume'.

3) If George Groves wins his rematch against Carl Froch,is he a viable contender to defeat Andre Ward?

R.L: I don’t believe so… they’re in two different classes. Groves has success with
Froch due to the fact that Froch is there to be hit… Ward is not. Groves doesn't possess the overall skill set needed to give Ward problems in the ring.

TRS: I don't think so either,but if he does and if Groves wants it,he deserves the chance.
After all,it's not like anyone else stands out as deserving unless you want to see Ward stink up the place with rematches against Carl Froch,Mikkel Kessler or Sakio Bika again.
I don't think Groves is anymore successful against Ward than the other three were,but a victory gives him the credibility to try...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Accepting the opinions of others

My friend Krista jotted a Facebook post down about a friend writing about Satan being behind the acceptance of homosexuals in our country today.

I'm not going to touch on that topic, but it did give me pause to think about the lack of discourse in our country.
There is such a lack of nuance in discussion and that's because of a dwindling amount of deep thinking.

Whether the discussion is homosexuals being allowed to marry, Religious matters, our country's fiscal matters (debt, budget, etc) and even to things like who should quarterback the Cleveland Browns, there is a disturbing rigidity in people as they just don't feel the need for any type of understanding of the other side.

Often times, an immovable stance is taken, poured in concrete and no movement occurs.
Doesn't anyone grow with more information?
Doesn't it make you a better person to say "I see what you are saying and even though I disagree with most of your take, I can see why you believe that way and I understand a little more now than I did before"?
Anytime that there is nuance and trust me in the large majority of opinions there should be, the ability to look beyond your own opinion enables growth.

I'll give you an example-Early on in writing this blog, I was critical of Hagerstown Suns general manager Will Smith.
Often savagely critical to the point of looking biased, I stand by the opinions that I had of his job performance and attitude, but I sometimes didn't look deep enough into why Smith acted a certain way, his reason for his decision making and the stresses he was under.
I still think he was not a good general manager and not a wonderful person, but nuance comes into play here-maybe I was at fault for not adding perspective or seeing a few of his points.

Just try to be a little more open with discussion.
You can maintain an opinion, just try to see where the other person is coming from and maybe even on occasion get a little enlightenment.
A little understanding can go a long way if you just open up and take a closer look.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Boxing Challenge Update

R.L.Malpica and I each added seven points to our total over the weekend in the Boxing Challenge,so the lead remains the same,even if the score doesn't as R.L. leads 26-25.

We both added two points as Wladimir Klitscko retained his WBA and IBF heavyweight titles with a five round demolition of Alex Leapai.
This one wasn't close and despite the advancing age of Klitschko (38),other than MAYBE the untested Deontay Wilder,I don't see anyone with the skills to threaten "Dr.Steelhammer" anytime soon...

Two points were picked up on Keith Thurman's stoppage of Julio Diaz when Diaz was unable to continue after the third round due to a rib injury.
Too bad this happened as Diaz buzzed Thurman in the third round and it might have interesting to see how Thurman reacted as the bout went on.
I have been vocal about my skepticism on Keith Thurman due to his style and his lack of prime competition and this bout didn't change my opinion that Keith Thurman is another Andre Berto in the making...

Two more point added as Lucas Matthysse stopped John Molina in the 11th round of what would be my pick for the fight of the year thus far.
Most (and us included) figured Matthysse would blow through Molina,but Molina dropped "the machine" twice,although one was a bogus one (hit on back of the head) and fought his heart out before succumbing.
Awesome fight,if you want to see knockdowns,blood,heart and action-Find this fight on YouTube!

We each added one point as Omar Figueroa retained his WBC Lightweight title by split decision over Jerry Belmontes.
I scored Belmontes a 115-113 winner,but would have had little problem with someone seeing Figueroa as the victor,but one judge posted a ridiculous 118-110 Figueroa nod......

We are all caught up on the challenge,look for Ramon and I to work on an upcoming six round staredown sometime this week....

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Minors talk

Time for a few observations on what I've seen in the first month of the season as far as players that I've seen play.

Keep in mind that sometimes I don't get to actually SEE a lot of games from beginning to end,sometimes I can see most of a game before work and others are literally a hit and run,graphing a team and then going home.
This seems to happen most in Frederick as through the years,I usually see more complete games in Harrisburg than my future "hometown"team.
This is looking at play ONLY not about their signing habits.

Frankly,I have not been overwhelmed thus far.
In Frederick,the Keys and Carolina Mudcats might have combined for the least amount of prospects in a game.
Frederick is starting long faded prospect Michael Burgess for goodness sakes and Carolina? Well,there is a reason the Cleveland farm system is top heavy in prospects.
The only Mudcat that looks interesting is one that I didn't see pitch in lefty Ryan Merritt,who has won three of four starts and has posted a MLB the Show like ERA of 0.37 in 24 innings.
Numbers like those will see Merritt in Akron shortly,if he can even approach those numbers.
I excluded the most impressive Mudcat that I did see play as Dylan Baker threw six perfect innings at the Keys and then broke his ankle in workouts,ending his season.
It would have been very interesting to see Baker progress.
Frederick's Brandon Kline pitched well against Baker in getting a tough luck loss and stands out as the only Key that strikes me as a legitimate prospect that I've seen.

I did see one game from the Lynchburg Hillcats visit to Frederick.
I missed touted pitching prospect Lucas Sims on the mound and the Hillcats top playing prospect looks to be 19 year old Jose Peraza,who looked pretty smooth defensively and might be the Braves future at second base.
Peraza turns 20 in a few days and currently is hitting well over .300

I graphed the Myrtle Beach Pelicans,but was unable to stay to see them play.
That is unfortunate as the Pelicans might be as loaded as any team in the minors.
Joey Gallo,Nick Williams,Jorge Alfaro and Hanser Alberto are all legit prospects and I did see all of them play at Hickory last year.
Gallo has light tower power,but his issue was lack of contact in the SAL,but in a month at High A,Gallo has pounded nine homers but hitting .351 for the month of April strengthens Gallo's case even more.

For the Rome Braves,Johan Camargo has struggled at the plate in hitting under 200 and six errors in twenty games.but I really liked his athleticism and potential at shortstop.
Camargo is in bad need of development time,but despite his struggles-I liked what I saw.
Chuck Buchanan looked interesting as a lefty,but as a college pitcher and soon to be 24,he should look impressive at this level.

The Delmarva Shorebirds have the Orioles first round pick in pitcher Hunter Harvey,who has posted an excellent first four starts,but Harvey didn't start in Hagerstown,so I didn't see him.
Most of the Shorebirds didn't show me much other than maybe outfielder Josh Hart,who might have a future,if he can develop some power.

The Lakewood Blue Claws didn't have any impressive pitchers as the Suns pounded the Claws around the Muni in the series that included benches clearing and managers shouting at each other,but there were a few players to keep an eye on.
Outfielder Dylan Cozens shows impressive power,but will need better contact,Carlos Tocci is your typical Phillie prospect with physical skills and first round pick J.P.Crawford struggled in the field at shortstop and could wind up as an outfielder.
I did like Crawford's ability to put the ball in play,so my concerns are more about him playing the six spot.

I'll save the Hagerstown reviews for the first half review and I'll be doing a look at the Altoona Curve soon as well since I've seen them twice in two parks.
Back later with more.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge continues with four bouts today that includes ESPN showing a world heavyweight title bout.

WBA/IBF Heavyweight title
Wladimir Klitschko vs Alex Leapai

R.L.:Klitschko KO 9
TRS: Klitschko KO 7

Welterweights.12 rds
Keith Thurman vs Julio Diaz

R.L; Thurman KO 6
TRS; Thurman KO 10

Jr.Welterwts,10 rds
Lucas Matthysse vs John Molina

R.L: Matthysse KO 4
TRS: Matthysse KO 3

WBC Lightweight title. 12 rds
Omar Figueroa vs Jerry Belmontes

R.L: Figueroa unanimous decision
TRS: Figueroa unanimous decision

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dead time

I have had some problems accessing from work over the last two nights,so this is a little shorter than I usually would type.

I wanted to take a little bit of time to look at some upcoming events here on the blog.

The big amount of work is for the Browns and the upcoming draft.
I have plans for a post on the needs,one on the targeted players that I'd like to land (the Browns have never drafted a TRS hopeful on one of these) and I have a surprise interview in the works that if it works out,will be a nice addition.

I also have some signing front action from the first month and a return to the forgotten superstar universe planned and I also want to take a look at baseball and the players that I've liked from watching games this season.

I'm sure there are some other items that will pop up soon and I'll want to write about as well..

The connection has went out several times since I started this,so I'm going to wrap up.
Will try to return later!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

More Cleaning of the inbox

I know it seems like I've been doing nothing,but inbox cleanings of late!
However,the inbox still is not empty,so let's get started on more April cleaning.

Popular Science discusses NASA's John Houbolt,who was the "voice in the wilderness" on lunar orbit rendezvous,which was the manner that was used to use to "hook up" the lunar lander and the lunar orbiter in space.
Houbolt was the loudest proponent of the LOR system of landing the man on the moon and it was covered so well in the HBO mini-series From the Earth to the Moon episode "Spider".
BTW-If you've never seen the series-DO IT!
It would not only entertain,but educate as well.
I found the Houbolt article due to following Amy Shira Teitel on Twitter,who recently live tweeted the entire mission of Apollo 8 over the winter and has plans for the same over the summer for the Neil Armstrong landing!
Amy is my favorite writer on "vintage space" and I always enjoy her reminders of the space age gone by,
John Houbolt passed away a few days ago at the age of 95 and we thank him for the service to the space program...

Former Hagerstown Suns catcher Sam Palace has made the big time as the Nationals bullpen backstop.
Palace was always one of the most needed autographs when doing the Suns team set as he spent most of the time in the bullpen and rarely played in games.
The third string catcher in minor league baseball usually is working on getting some type of job to stay employed and a good attitude is almost a must,which Palace always had in spades.
Congratulations to Sam!

Former top prospect Adam Miller is getting another chance with the Indians as Miller was signed to a contract and is currently in extended spring training.
Miller was once thought of as a future number one starter before injuring a finger and going through multiple surgeries in an attempt to repair a ligament in the middle finger on his throwing hand.
Miller left the team as a six year free agent and spent with the Yankees organization and independent baseball before returning to the Tribe.

Huffington Post looks at former Oklahoma Sooner and Heisman winner Billy Sims and his success in the barbeque business with Billy Sims Barbeque,which seems to be growing as they are up to 40 locations nationwide.
Billy Sims always seems to be such a genuine nice guy and it's great to see him and the restaurant do well.

New Orleans does a "Where are they now" with former wide receiver John Gilliam.
Gilliam took the opening kickoff in Saints franchise history back for a touchdown and is best known to most for that,but I'll always remember him as the deep threat and star receiver for the Fran Tarkenton led Vikings that saw Gilliam make four pro bowls and two Super Bowls with Minnesota..

We wrap up with a look at college basketball before the CBS contract with the NCAA tournament was as large as it is now.
Public television station channel 56 out of Fairfax,Virginia used to be the home for basketball junkies like me in the 1980's and I used get a scratchy picture off my rabbit ears for a few yrs and watch games that I never dreamed of seeing.
I lost 56 when we finally got cable in 1984,but I never forgot 56 or the defunct "Super TV" that Shane and I listened to (because the picture was scrambled) the 1982 Thomas Hearns vs Wilfred Benitez WBC Jr,Middleweight title fight,which was a closed circuit TV bout....

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day and Eddie Albert

Today is Earth Day and that is pretty cool.
What I bet you didn't know was that it's even more special to me as I have some distant (and I mean distant) family involvement in the creation of Earth Day.

Eddie Albert, most famous for the starring role in the hilarious Green Acres was very much a part of creating Earth Day and Albert's real last name is Heimberger.
It's a remote relation, but there aren't enough of us around to not be related somehow!
Seriously though, my mom is big into genealogy and I've seen it, so there!

Anyway, Albert was actively involved in creating the day (which is more deserving of a day off than Columbus Day, in my opinion) that encourages environmental interests and conservation.
It's funny that sometimes the environment has such a divide on the political spectrum.
I can see why some might be a climate change non-believer (I just had a discussion on this with Kendall on a recent graphing trip) and I can even understand some of their beliefs, but I cannot understand some people (not Kendall) and their lack of effort in taking care of our natural resources.
It makes zero sense to me to have companies clear-cutting our land without replacing plants and trees or poisoning our waters or any of about a thousand other things that are/were done in the guise of employment or making money.
There has to be a balance between finance and conservation and carrying a balance or compromising on any issue usually results in neither side being thrilled, but I've always thought that when neither side is happy after a deal is struck that often a fair deal was made.

I'm pretty proud of Earth Day, even though I'm not as involved in things as I should be, but I'm especially proud to share a name (even it's not the name made famous) with one of the people involved as well.
There is nothing wrong with taking care of what we have and Earth Day brings the point to all of our attention once a year.

Finally, a story on Eddie Albert.
One day, early in Cherie and I's relationship (Can't remember dating or very early marriage) and I mentioned the Eddie Albert "Connection" and she scoffed with laughter and said "yeah sure" and my response was this-"If I was going to make someone up to impress you, wouldn't I use someone more current and more famous than Eddie Albert from a show that has been off the air for 15+ years ?".
She conceded that point and we've laughed about that chat ever since!

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter-Myth vs Record

Rubin "Hurricane Carter recently passed away in Toronto at the age of 76 after suffering from prostate cancer.
Carter was made famous for several things ranging from his boxing career, his time in prison for being accused of murder in 1966, which was overturned years later, being the subject of a Bob Dylan song, his autobiography, and of course, the film made about his life.

I'm going to put all that stuff aside to concentrate on Carter the boxer and the myth that Carter was an uncrowned champion robbed of his prime by bad judging and corruption out of the ring.
Carter did fight for the middleweight title against Joey Giardello in 1964 and it was a close fight that Giardello took a unanimous win in.
I scored Giardello a one-point winner, so if someone saw Carter as a close winner, I could see that, but it certainly was not the robbery that the myth created as an "Uncrowned Champion".

Look further on the record and other than the huge one-round blowout of then former welterweight champion and future middleweight titlist Emile Griffith and decisions over contenders Holly Mims and George Benton (later to be better known as a trainer), you don't see a lot of name wins.
Carter also lost seven times in the less than two years following the Giardello loss, some to name fighters (Dick Tiger) and some to less than stars (the unknown Stan Harrington) to finish his career with a good, not great record of 27-12-1.

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter had a very entertaining fighting style, was a powerful puncher and an extremely interesting back story, but a great fighter and a fighter screwed by the system?
That myth is solved by looking beyond the misconception and looking at the one thing that cannot be misconstrued by legend- the record.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Boxing Challenge Update

R.L Malpica maintained the one point lead of 19-18 after the three fight card of Showtime.
Each of us selected the three winners,but missed on how.

Both of us picked Bernard Hopkins by unanimous decision to unify the WBA and IBF Lt.Heavyweight titles and it should have been,but for one of the worst scorecards ever for Beibut Shumenov making the bout a split decision.
I scored the bout 117-111 for Hopkins and that might have been generous on my part towards Shumenov.
Hopkins dominated,but the bout was the same slow bout that fans have seen from Hopkins for years.

Shawn Porter was expected to have issues with veteran Paul Malignaggi,but Porter blew Malignaggi out like no one previously ever had in a fourth round knockout.
Porter was very impressive and a bout against Keith Thurman might be a fight of the year candidate.
Both of us selected Porter by a decision win..

Peter Quillin hammered out a unanimous decision over Lukas Konecny.
Both R.L and I guessed on a middle round KO.
I scored the bout 116-112 in favor of Quillin.

R.L maintains the one point lead with a three fight card again next week on Showtime..

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The graphing world

It's been a busy four days in the world of graphing with a little bit of work squeezed in between.
I've been in Reading,Altoona and Harrisburg this week with a dash of Hagerstown Suns tossed in as well.
It's been hectic for sure,but that's what we do in this crazy hobby.

In Harrisburg,we were able to graph the Altoona Curve,In Reading,I was able to get some scragglers of the Harrisburg Senators and the Ryne Sandberg bobblehead,while in Altoona,I knocked off some of the Richmond Flying Squirrels.
I'm not going to get into too much about the specifics as that will be part of a future signing front,but I did want to answer this question that I get from non-graphers-Why do you rarely do the home team?

Well,it's not hard to answer,the road team is easier.
Most kids and other fans that may want a signature or two on a battered ball or a program,but the vast majority are looking for the star or favorite player of the home team.
That makes sense because in most cases,the home team is who is being rooted for and who they would want.
Add to that with the fact that most of the newer stadiums (not the Muni of course) have different entrances for the home and visitors,forcing the fan to choose.
The results of that usually mean the visitors have the graphers and the home team can have the hassles of the people that think we are getting rich off the signatures of the third string catcher and the long reliever from a AA affiliate :)

Finally,I'll be trying to catch up on the signing front next week as I only have one game scheduled in Frederick as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans hit there from Wed-Friday and I am loaded with cards for the Rangers affiliate.
That is mainly because the Hickory team set was not released until the last week of the 2013 season,so therefore the entire set will need to be worked on.

There is a little bit of catching up to do later with the results of the Showtime card and updating the boxing challenge,but for now-enjoy the Easter Sunday!

Boxing Challenge

Editors note:This was written yesterday,but due to Blogger problems,it was not posted until now.
I realized these fights are over,but I haven't seen them,so I do not know the results.

The boxing challenge continues with a three fight card from Showtime.
R.L.Malpica leads the challenge by one point.

WBA vs IBF Lt.Heavyweight title unification

Beibut Shumenov vs Bernard Hopkins

Both teams:Hopkins Unanimous decision

IBF Welterweight title

Shawn Porter vs Paul Malignaggi

TRS: Porter Majority Decision
R.L: Porter Split Decision

WBO Middleweight title

Peter Qullin vs Lukas Konecny

TRS:Quillin KO 9
R.L: Quillin KO 7

Friday, April 18, 2014

I miss all the good stuff

I have a knack.
It's a knack for missing lots of things at the ballpark that I wish I didn't.
Last year, I stayed home to watch the NFL Draft and missed the argument of the year between a grapher and the then-clubhouse manager for the Suns, which has become legendary since.

This year, it looks like I missed another as I went home from a Suns game vs Lakewood after graphing pre-game, and then Rachel was ready to go after two innings of some pretty bad fielding by the Blue Claws.
Apparently, .our great friend Derreck was telling the truth about City Councilman Kristin Aleshire's position on the stadium for the Hub City and someone didn't like it.
Aleshire's position has been to try to be on every possible side of the position, so I have a special place for him in the echelon of politicians that are basically full of it.

Derreck had some extra fuel in him on this night and made clear how much he disliked Aleshire's routine- read alcohol.
Make that loudly clear.
It was pretty clear to me when he talked to me on the phone that he had gassed up plenty at the tank, but if you are going to serve cheap beer, fans that like to imbibe are going to do so.
Mr. Aleshire's brother was in attendance, from what I've been told. and didn't care for the opinion or likely how it was told.
However, (perhaps smartly, all things considered), he didn't approach Derreck but instead went to someone from the team.
Likely a good decision, if not the most courageous, but it was Big Tony (Suns concession worker) that talked to Derreck about settling down.

I don't know if this is how it went as I wasn't there, but Derreck hasn't lied to me yet, so it's likely to be generally correct.
These things happen, I suppose and had I been there, I wouldn't have been drinking, I could have stated my opposition to the political maneuverings of Kristin Aleshire and done it in a way that no one could have used alcohol as an excuse.
It's unfair to hold anyone accountable for the actions of a sibling, but considering the role that someone's sibling had in a civic institution leaving town-I might either A) stay away or at least B) keep it quiet that I'm there, if I truly didn't want trouble.

In the end, one thing cannot be denied- Once again, I miss the good stuff.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cleaning of the inbox-Non Sports edition

More of the inbox cleaning as the pile just keeps piling higher,so we'll try to get to work on it today!

David Letterman announced his retirement from the late night CBS slot effective sometime next year.
Letterman was always my choice in the late night wars,although I must admit that I rarely watch the talk shows anymore.
Letterman was an icon to my generation and look for a post before his retirement on his impact on my teenage years with his groundbreaking NBC program.
Plus it gives me an excuse to use a Kenny the Gardener video :)

Ryan sends me me this article from NPR on the former Andy Warhol star "Baby" Jane Holzer and what became of her after Warhol.
To be honest,Ryan is much more of a Warhol enthusiast than I,but I remember Holzer better from her almost comatose singing appearance on Hullabaloo.

Looks like another dwarf planet found outside of Pluto.
As New Horizon gains ground on its 2015 arrival at Pluto,it's going to be fun to see just what we'll see in the Kuiper Belt.

Goodbye to comedian David Brenner,who died last month at the age of 78.
Brenner was once a popular comedian,who held the record for the most guest hosting appearances on the Tonight Show and was considered a future candidate to host the show when Carson retired.
Brenner attempted his own late night show,which failed and his star began to dim thereafter...

Goodbye to Jim Lange at the age of 81.
Lange was best known as host of the Dating Game,which as a young child,I liked on half school days on ABC.
Between the banter and innuendo,which was beyond me,the catchy theme music and the Lange goodbye kiss at the conclusion of the show,the Dating Game was a kitschy watch in the 70's and ran through the 80's,although without the same success.
There were a few hosts of the show after Lange,but the show is best remembered with Lange at the helm with the wide polyester lapeled suits that one could land a plane on!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Annual Polls

Time for our annual polls on what you like,so I can do a better job as your humble blogger.

One poll can be answered with as many things as you like to see here,while the other is what you like to see here most.

Thanks for the help!

Brownie Bits

A few words on the Browns as we get closer to the draft.

The huge elephant in the room is the Browns matching the offer sheet of the Jacksonville Jaguars to center Alex Mack.
The gamble by Ray Farmer in transitioning Mack rather than franchising him paid off as Mack came at a cheaper 18 million for the first two years of the contract than the transitional tag.
Mack has a no trade clause until 2017 and the team can't use either tag on Mack if he opts out after two years.

Still,the gamble paid off and one of the better centers in the league remains as a mainstay on the offensive line in Cleveland.
The most fortunate thing about that is that the Browns will not have address center in the draft and can use picks better needed elsewhere.
I think Alex Mack is worth the value of the contract,but the Browns need to show signs of turning the corner as Mack can elect to leave after two years.
By that time,Mack will be 29 and will likely to be looking to play for a winner rather than cash in.

The Browns also signed a blocking fullback today as former Bengal Chris (Heartbreak Hotel ) Pressley to a deal.
The former Wisconsin Badger is a six year veteran,but missed most of last season after injuring his knee,but brings the type of blocker that Cleveland has missed from the backfield since the long ago Lawrence Vickers left for Houston.
Pressley's presence should be a huge help for Ben Tate on short yardage plays and considering that Pressley weighs in at near 250 pounds,he might get an occasional carry himself.
Love this signing as the Browns haven't invested in a physical blocking fullback in years and it's long been my opinion that you need to run the football in the AFC North.

Wrapping up with my hopes in order for the Browns first pick in the draft.

1) Sammy Watkins WR Clemson
2) Khalil Mack LB Buffalo
3) Jadeveon Clowney DE South Carolina
4) Blake Bortles QB Central Florida
5) Jake Matthews T Texas A&M

Peter DeBoer to stay as Devils coach

I didn't watch the finale' of the New Jersey Devils against the Boston Bruins as I was graphing the Lynchburg Hillcats and Frederick Keys (I also missed the final round of the Masters,which didn't especially please me either),but I plan to watch what could be the last game of Martin Brodeur as a Devil with Rachel today.
If I can do that,I'll have some notes on the game later today.

The bigger news is this-Lou Lamoriello called a hasty press conference between periods to announce that Peter DeBoer would be returning as head coach for the 2014-15 season to fulfill his contract which expires after that season.
Rumors were abound that had the Devils firing DeBoer or having the Maple Leafs interested in hiring him for next season.
DeBoer himself had stated to the media that he was unsure of his status and of course the media played off of that report.
The Devils rarely (as in almost never) discuss management decisions or maneuvers and this says just how the team took the chaos.

I'll be doing a look back on the season in a few days,but I will say this-I think this is a mistake.
For all the players "we like Pete" talk,this team needs a new voice.
DeBoer plays favorites,which all coaches on all levels do,but he does it in a way that hinders the objective-winning games.
It seems more important to have his favorites play than to develop the bigger picture.
The botched handling of Adam Larsson,the way that Jon Merrill can screw up and play forever and Eric Gelinas can make a mistake and sit for two games (I think all three need to be playing) and the general lack of improvement in the younger players make me believe that Peter DeBoer is not the right coach for a team that needs to get younger.

As I'll detail more and yet another future post,the New Jersey Devils were the oldest team in hockey this season.
When you have the oldest team in hockey,you expect to be a serious title contender or at minimum a playoff team and to miss the postseason two years in a row,that says something to me.
This will need to get younger and with a coach that seems to struggle with younger players,this is very likely a mistake.
Some retooling is needed in the off-season and I would hate to see players brought in have problems adapting to what DeBoer runs for a system.
One would have to believe that a slow start would doom DeBoer,but that would leave another season of playoffs in jeopardy and the franchise cannot afford that result.

One thing is for sure-Lou Lamoriello is gambling that Peter DeBoer is the man that can return the team to the postseason.
He just may be rolling the dice on more than just one season with this decision...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cleaning out the inbox

The inbox is stuffed.
Stuffed to the point of not covering it all in one post,so here is the most recent notes of well,note with more to come later this week...

I love Sriracha Hot Sauce.
I'm a Frank's guy in general,but the Sriracha is awesome on meatballs and breaded chicken,so I'm a big fan.
Apparently,Sriracha is having problems with the city of Irwindale,California and it could (emphasis on could) wind up being an issue with making the sauce!
The Irwindale factory is the only American factory that makes it,so an already not cheap sauce (3.50 a bottle) could be even more expensive and harder to find.
This link will tell you plenty that you need to know about Sriracha.

We blogged recently about the retirement of Chico Resch from the New Jersey Devils television broadcasts.
Randy Miller did this interview with Chico that is pretty wide ranging and a good read.

Diane Firstman raps out an article on good ol' Strat O Matic baseball.
I always love these types of articles as they remind me of a lonely little boy that fell in love with a game that always gave back.

ESPN gets another mention with this article on the long list of failed Chicago Cubs managers.
That is a tough job that has chewed up both good and bad managers,so a history of these fellows can be both interesting and funny at the same time.

I haven't been much of a NASCAR follower for quite a while now,but what made NASCAR fun was the old fashioned good ol' boys that beat on each others cars and often each other.
This post on one of them in Donnie Allison caught my eye and it proved to be quite a throwback to the days when the sport was far from corporate...

The work on Cleveland's League Park continues as the original home of the Indians is being fixed up.
I still want to see this when it's all finished and thanks to my favorite Aunt Becky for the note.

There was one particular link in the inbox that I was going to add,but I think I want to make that a feature post.
There are still plenty to clean from the inbox,so look for another inbox dumping of goodies later this week...

Boxing Challenge:Pacquiao defeats Bradley

In Las Vegas, Nevada, Manny Pacquiao took a unanimous decision over Timothy Bradley to avenge his controversial loss to Bradley and regain a welterweight title belt.
I was at work, so I haven't seen it yet, so no scoring from me.
Pacquiao is expected to make his next appearance against the winner of the May fight between Juan Manuel Marquez-Mike Alvarado.
If Marquez wins as expected, there should be a fifth Marquez vs Pacquiao bout.

In the boxing challenge, I earned two points for selecting Pacquiao by unanimous decision, while R.L. earned one for selecting Manny to win.

That tightens the boxing challenge standings to 16-15 in favor of R.L with a tripleheader from Washington D.C. on Showtime next Saturday.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pacquiao vs Bradley

Manny Pacquiao is facing a defining fight tonight in Las Vegas against Timothy Bradley.
I thought Pacquiao clearly defeated Bradley in their first fight by a wide margin only to be denied on the scorecards by myopic judging.
Since then Pacquiao has been knocked cold by Juan Manuel Marquez and then won a lopsided decision over Brandon Rios that he dominated yet didn't thrill anyone like the Manny of old.
Since Bradley's "win", he fought perhaps the only exciting fight of his career against Ruslan Provodnikov, being dropped three times and losing on my card and then defeating Marquez in a close fight that I scored a draw.

I've never been a Pacquiao fan  (I'm a Marquez guy), although I respect him immensely.
I've also never been a Timothy Bradley fan either.
Through boring fights (Provodnikov excepted), getting every close decision (and one that wasn't even close), I've never bought into Bradley other than giving him credit for battling back after being hurt in several fights.

A Pacquaio win that is impressive and the drums start sounding again for Floyd Mayweather.
A Bradley win that is impressive could see the sounds for Bradley vs Mayweather.
Top Rank might prefer the winner against the Juan Manuel Marquez-Mike Alvarado winner, but we'll see.

I think a motivated Manny whips Bradley solidly again, his style seems to be the anti-Bradley-power punches thrown in combinations that overwhelm the more basic Bradley.
The question is this-Is Pacquiao motivated by more than money?
If so, he has the tools to win this by a mile (again), but if not?
Bradley could take advantage and win, but I doubt it...

Our pick-Pacquiao Unanimous decision
R.L's pick-Pacquiao KO 10

Goodbye Chico and 0-13

On a night that confirmed news that had been hinted at,the New Jersey Devils lost yet another shootout-this one to the New York Islanders at the Rock 3-2.
The loss was the 13th in the shootout this season and stretched the shootout loss streak to 17.
Both Devils goals came in the first period to Patrik Elias (18) and Ryan Carter (7),while Martin Brodeur finished with 28 saves in the defeat.
New Jersey finishes the season on Sunday against the Boston Bruins.

I'm going to skip Hell Raisers today being that the game was of little consequence in the standings and add a few scribblings on Glenn "Chico" Resch.
Chico has been the Devils color analyst for the last 18 seasons first with Doc Emrick and then Steve Cangelosi,which doesn't quite hold the entire term of Devils fandom of mine,but easily holds the time that I have been able to watch all of the Devils games.
So for me,Chico has been the consistent voice that I've heard when watching Devils hockey and that's going to change as Chico announced his retirement from the booth following Sunday's game against the Bruins during the first intermission.

There were a few hints that this was coming,if you knew what to look for,so I was not even mildly surprised.
I have a contact (don't be too impressed,it's very low level) in the organization that had told me that this was in the works and during the last few weeks of the season,Ken Daneyko had been making guest appearances in the booth doing the second period.
That was the hint that Chico was wrapping up with the Devils-Daneyko was getting experience doing color work when he never had before to prepare for next season.

Chico Resch was not the best announcer that I've ever heard.
He tended to be a homer and was usually soft on criticizing the Devils,both of which I understand.
I've never been critical of announcers that pulls for the home team on regional broadcasts,but I have major issues when a biased commentator does national games.
But much like a goofy uncle that screws things up,but is lovable to the end,Chico was entertaining behind the microphone.
Chico would stumble over words,mispronounce names and often lose his train of thought on a topic as he moved onto something else,but you often asked "what did he just say?" with a smile or a laugh.
The lovely Cherie,who is just becoming more of a Devils fan,finds Chico hilarious and Rachel still laughs at the day that Chico suddenly remarked "Parise just needs to lift his leg and let er' rip!".
Nothing like some presumed potty humor to make a kid (or me) to get started laughing!

I remember when the Prudential Center opened and during the intermission of a Devil home game,Chico would visit a different food stand for the segment "Chico Eats".
These were usually an oddball collection of pratfalls and face stuffing that ranged from corny to wacky!
I miss those segments.

Things will be different watching game next season,just as they were different when Steve Cangelosi stepped in for Doc Emrick.
I'm sure Ken Daneyko will do fine as he transitions to the booth and I'm also sure that Chico will do fine in retirement,although I hope that MSG (the Devils network) will find a part time place for him,if he wants it,but I do have one hope-that next season the team honors Chico Resch with his own night to say goodbye complete with gifts and speeches.
I think he deserves it.

Perhaps I'll be back later with more from a overflowing inbox....

Friday, April 11, 2014

Rambling into Reading with the Wrecking Crew

The graphing season started for me last week as Derreck,Kendall and I headed to Reading Pa for their opener,the Portland Sea Dogs and a Chase Utley bobblehead.
Add all three of those things up and you have the wrecking crew hitting the Reading metropolitan area and their stadium.

Reading is about two hours and change away from the booming Hagerstown colossus and its truly not a bad drive,albeit less than stunning as far scenery goes.
Actually with the exception of riding by Roadside America,which is an miniature village attraction that I first heard about on one of those Rick Sebak PBS specials ( I wouldn't mind seeing this sometime) and the massive Cabelas store that Kendall informs me was originally slated for Hagerstown until (hold your breath now) the city council/county commissioners dropped the ball,there really isn't much to see.

Reading did a recent renovation of their stadium (built in 1951) and the field/seating area makes you think of a 1970's stadium,but the best part to me is the concourse,which has a newer boardwalk type feel to it and the original part under the grandstand.
The original concourse seems almost untouched and has a very likable 50's baseball feel.
The food offered looked interesting,but being that my last name is not Rockefeller,way too stiff for me.
I did get two hot dogs at a reasonably affordable two per and "crabby fries" which basically was fries with Old Bay sprinkled on it.
Derreck reports that his fries (non-crabby) were terrible as did Kendall,but each of them bought the burger basket and reported disappointment with their dinner.

We got to the stadium a little early and managed to be in an area outside the stadium that could access Portland players inside.
I was able to get a few guys including Deven Marrero,who Derreck missed due to his battle with the restroom.
Being that I'm a good big brother,I tossed Derreck my Marrero Blue Wave refractor so he wouldn't feel too bad :)
We would be lucky to get Portland starter Henry Owens as he entered the stadium via a bus on which he was the only rider.
Owens was a great signer in Frederick last year and he continued that in Reading.
Owens would then throw six no hit innings in a rain shortened game and continued his rise up the prospect charts.
I finally landed second base prospect Mookie Betts after missing him last year and got Sean Coyle on four cards after missing him due to injury last season at Salem.
Blake Swihart signed the card that I had for him,but I get the feeling that he seems to be getting tired of the routine.
Red Sox and Yankee guys always have it tough and that might be the beginning for Blake.
Other nice additions were former Bosox catcher Rich Gedman and the always nice Derrik Gibson.
I wish I could report that I did better on Reading,but their clubhouse has begun to be guarded by a lumpy fellow named Jeff that kept hollering from the first Reading player to "let them get to the field" despite a short walk to the barricade.
I was able to get Tommy Joseph,a long time favorite,over Jeff's protests,but Jeff would win in the end as he then slapped himself in the middle of the walkway like a traffic cop and made players that would have signed unable to reach us.
I didn't think much of Jeff.
The only Reading players that I was able to get besides Joseph were Carlos Alonso and Brock Stassi.
Thanks again,Jeff.

Lots of graphers around that we knew as Harrisburg was on the road,one in particular that I could have done without was the return of "Picture Guy",who showed up last year for Augusta at the Muni and proceeded to ask everyone from the manager to the guy carrying the water bucket for a picture "with me and my son".
Said son looks about 30 by the way.
Derreck laughs at my memory of that night as those two made me as mad as I was during all last season.
All and all,I had a great time and got the season off to the right start.

Before the trip to Reading,I did the "Meet the Suns" at a local establishment that I'm not even going to bother mentioning their name because less than impressed would be too enthusiastic of a term for my opinion.
In any event,the main score was Lucas Giolito,who signed all five cards for me and gave me the lowdown on his mom,actress Lindsay Frost,who I want to get something signed.
Other nice additions were John Simms on a USA card,John Wooten and James Yezzo on their New York/Penn league top prospect cards and Drew Ward on his Bowman.
I like the fact that the Suns have a meet the team,but I wish that they would pick someplace else to hold it....

Thanks to Mike Oravec for another Crown Orioles addition in Sam Mele,a few 90 Scores for the set and former Seattle Pilot John Kennedy.

Thanks to Derreck Chupak for getting Twins prospect Alex Meyer to sign his top 100 card for me as well..

Thanks to Jason Christensen for getting Indians prospect Francisco Lindor on a card for me during Akron's opening visit to Binghamton.

That gets things started,I'll be back later in the week with the first trips to Hagerstown and Frederick for the season and depending on when I write-possibly my first trip to Harrisburg.


The New Jersey Devils lost their final road game of the season with their 12th loss of the season in the shootout by a score of 2-1 in Ottawa vs the Senators.
Michael Ryder scored the only Devils goal (18) in the second period to force a tie that was not broken until the shootout.
The Devils return home tomorrow for meaningless games against the Islanders tomorrow and the Bruins on Sunday afternoon to conclude a disappointing season.

Hell Raisers

1) I figured I'd see a less than scintillating game considering the Devils were eliminated from the playoffs last night and Ottawa went out before that and I was accurate.
Honestly,this game was pretty darn dull and I don't have a ton to write about.
Especially when you consider I'd rather have been playing MLB The Show instead of watching a game between one team that has a defense like a colander and the other that would struggle putting the puck into the ocean..

2) It was nice seeing Adam Larsson give the shootout a try and he almost scored after a strong deke that Robin Lehrer barely stuck a leg out against the post.
Considering how bad these things have gone for the Devils,I'm all for trying anything and I thought with one exception (a giveaway that created a point blank shot on goal) Larsson played well...

3) Look for a post in the next week or two that will cover this disappointing season and I am planning a article over the summer before free agency starts that will look at some changes that I would consider for the franchise...

4) The Devils aren't only 0-12 in the shootout this season,they lost their last four in the previous season,so their winless streak in the shootout is actually a NHL record 16 games.
Considering an eventual move to extend overtime and therefore lessen shootouts in the future is in the offing,this is a record that will be unlikely to be broken.

5) Chico Resch was talking about the players "believing in the Pete DeBoer system".
I like Chico,he's a homer and despite his flub ups and sometimes head shaking comments,he's our guy,but he really missed the boat here.
I don't hold all of the Devils woes on DeBoer,but this is two missed playoffs in a row now.
For the Devils franchise,this is unacceptable-I'd let him go,but he may stick around to start the season,where a slow start could see even more howling for his head...

Will try to be back later with an inbox cleaning.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Back to work here and elsewhere

Just a short note to say I'll be back here tonight and I have plenty to write about.
My vacation is over and I've got stories from the road,along with a bustling inbox as well as some Devils wrap ups after being
eliminated from the playoffs with Columbus's victory.

I have things planned for here and I'll be hitting the ground-running.. :)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

At least they scored

The New Jersey Devils actually scored during a shootout and did twice!
It wasn't enough though as the Buffalo Sabres took the two points with a 3-2 win in the skills competition.
The Devils received their goals from Dainius Zubrus (11) and Tuomo Ruutu (7 Power Play).
The disappointing loss did pull the Devils even with Washington and did not allow them to lose ground to Columbus,who also lost in overtime.
The Devils will host Washington on Friday in what could be an old fashioned "wrasslin" Loser Leaves Town or in this case loser watches any chance for the postseason go bye-bye...

Hell Raisers

1) The Devils did use some unusual shooters in the shootout that went nine rounds long and got goals from Jacob Josefson and Jaromir Jagr in it.
I liked the fact that Peter DeBoer mixed it up with some shooters that you usually wouldn't see and got some unexpected results...

2) Hindsight is 20/20,but boy had Cory Schneider held onto the puck on the first Sabres attempt of the shootout,there never would have been nine rounds and the Devils would have earned that extra point.
Tough to blame on one play,but should have been made.

Sorry so short,but time has been short as well..

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Zajac hat trick lifts Devils!

After a big sports day that saw me see the Pirates opening win and the Giants over the late shift,in between saw the New Jersey Devils suddenly erupt with some goal scoring as Travis Zajac scored his first career hat trick (14,15,16) to pace the Devils to a 6-3 win over the visiting Florida Panthers.
The Devils scored the first three goals of the game before twice allowing the Panthers to come within one goal of tying the game.
The other three goals for New Jersey to Jaromir Jagr (24),Ryane Clowe (7) and Jacob Josefson (1 shorthanded).
Martin Brodeur got the win despite being pulled in the second period in favor of Cory Schneider after allowing all three Florida goals.
The Devils are in Buffalo tonight with another badly needed two points on the line.

Hell Raisers

1) What a night for Travis Zajac with his first career hat trick! Zajac has played well of late,but this did come as a surprise as Zajac has always been the setup man,not the finisher.
Happy for Zajac as he all too often has missed on chances this season,so take it when you can!

2) Jaromir Jagr's goal against Dan Ellis was sharp (the trajectory reminded me of the type scored on table hockey),but three assists as well?
Jagr is still a nice passer,but that's quite a night for the veteran as well.

3) Ryane Clowe scored a goal in the good news,but hit his head against the board in the bad.
Clowe has always had head injury issues and this is concerning at this point.
Anytime you see Clowe in this spot,one worries about missed time.

4) Adam Larsson was brought up from Albany before the game due to the injuries to Jon Merrill and Anton Volchenkov to add to the already missing Bryce Salvador.
No word on Larsson for the Buffalo game as the missing defensemen may still be out,but there may be a forward need depending on the condition of Ryane Clowe.

5) Martin Brodeur was pulled after allowing three goals on nine shots in favor or Cory Schneider,who held Florida scoreless for the rest of the night.
Rachel was howling that Brodeur was disrespected,but I disagree.
Brodeur was not on his best game and the Devils have any chance at all at the playoffs-Peter DeBoer has to coach each game like it's a game seven,
No problem with that call.

6) Very happy for Jacob Josefson and his shorthanded goal for the Swede's first of the season.
Josefson gets a lot of heat from Devils fans (this writer included) for being a disappointment,but he always hustles and it isn't lack of effort.
Nice assist by Ryan Carter,who set the play up with his hustle to the puck and then the pass to Josefson.

7) Playoff update-Three points behind Columbus for the spot,two behind Washington and one behind Toronto with seven games to play.
Columbus still looks to be in nice shape as they have a game in hand over the Devils and Washington and two games in hand over Toronto.
Tonight's game in Buffalo is HUGE as in must have.
Two points could jump Washington and Toronto depending on their games tonight.
Washington hosts Dallas,Toronto is at home against Calgary and the most important of all-Columbus takes on visiting Colorado.
Big night tonight for the Devils playoff hopes.