Saturday, February 28, 2015

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy died yesterday and tributes have been given all over the media.both professional and social.
Nimoy was 83 and passed away from COPD,which is a pulmonary diseases that usually is present in people that have at one time or currently smoke.
Nimoy spent much of his later life advising people not to smoke.

I'm not going to run Nimoy's total resume',many links have that available,although I was surprised to know that he directed the 80's hit Three Men and a Baby and was doing voice work even into the late stages of his life.
And of course,he was most known as Mr.Spock on Star Trek,which I'll write about later,but Nimoy took advantage of being known as Spock as Star Trek boomed in syndication,but before the films were made as the host of "In Search Of'",which as a child,I watched every week and learned about various investigations from the Lincoln assassination to Loch Ness monster and more.
Having Nimoy lent credibility to the audience that might be interested in the show and as a result exposed many young Trek fans to more learning,even if it was just from television.
In Search Of lasted six seasons and was quite groundbreaking for its time.

Nimoy also had a co-starring role in Mission Impossible after Star Trek and there was well,the singing.
Campy and not very good,but as my family could tell you-I listen to those "gems" all the time!
I just love stuff like that and Nimoy gave tons of "great" material with covers Gentle on my mind,Ruby, don't take your love to town and If I had a hammer among many.
Those songs,as bad as they were,imposed a human quality to Nimoy among his fans.
Between playing the cerebral Spock,the intelligence and the voice,I have always thought that the albums is what made Nimoy truly connect with fans as a person-flawed like the rest of us in a time when stars didn't always seem so normal.

And then there was Spock.
I would bet if you asked most fans of the original Star Trek series-Spock would overwhelmingly win a contest for most popular character.
In an era,where the main character in adventure shows were usually a swaggering yet charming womanizer that was a leader of men,Spock was different.
Spock showed that even when one tried to show indifference and be ruled by only the facts that humanity (he was half human) always will creep in somehow.
Fans loved the catch phrases that became part of pop culture to this day-"Fascinating","Highly Illogical" and of course "Live long and prosper" yet they brought a bit of wonderment and calmness that only when you think about them,one can see far more than just the detached words of the character.

Leonard Nimoy brought Spock to life and I then brought his Mego figure to life.
Star Trek was bigger in 70's syndication than it was in it's 60's NBC run and I had lots of Trek stuff,much of which either disappeared over the year from phaser games to communicator walkie talkies,but I still have my original figures and those spent lots of time playing until their eventual arrival (and better care on a shelf).
I was often a lonely little boy with limited friends and I learned quickly to play alone and be imaginative in how I played.
From a hot attic in order to play alone to a dirt pile at my parents cabin to imaginary environments in bedrooms in a house long torn down,my attachment to three shows from my childhood remain to this day-Wild Wild West,Batman and Star Trek and of all,Spock might be my favorite.
I was never going to be a James West or James Kirk,a strutting ladies man,but one could be a Spock-intellectual and insular personality.
That character spoke to me and made me a fan for life.
Thanks for the memories and to all the Star Trek fans,your memory will indeed-live long and prosper.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Devils rally falls short in 3-2 OT loss

The New Jersey Devils rallied from a two goal deficit to earn a point before a defensive breakdown resulted in a 4 on 2 rush against Cory Schneider and a Boston Bruins goal by Ryan Spooner for a 3-2 win for the visitors from snow central.
Travis Zajac (9 Power Play) and Jordin Tootoo (6) scored for New Jersey,who travels to Columbus for an unusual 5;00 start tomorrow night...

Hell Raisers

1) I've been critical of Devils fans and media deluding themselves about playoff viability and I stand by that,but the effort was there tonight.
Perhaps not the skill,but the effort especially in the third period was there.
Nice to see...

2) What wasn't so nice were the two breakdowns that cost the Devils this game.
Adam Larsson was lazy on a clear in the first that quickly found its way into the goal.
Just can't get that little on the puck when pressured in your own end.

3) The other came in overtime.A 4 on 2?
Patrik Elias and Martin Havlat crossed each other up and the result looked like the flying V from the Mighty Ducks.
You don't expect veterans to make plays like that...

4) Loved Jordin Tootoo's game tonight.
Put the goal aside,look at the hits and effort.
I wouldn't be surprised to see some interest in Tootoo at the trade deadline after his play of late...

5) We had to laugh when the game started and Steve Cangelosi referred to the Rock as "sold out and not a seat to be found" when there actually appeared to be more empty seats than people in the lower bowl.
Between stuff like this and the "push for the playoffs" make the announcers seem more like salesmen for the front office than commentators....

Browns sign Josh McCown

The Cleveland Browns "won" a bidding war with the Buffalo Bills and landed vagabond quarterback Josh McCown to a three year contract.
McCown,who was last seen leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the top pick in this year's draft,has played for six different teams and at 36 certainly cannot be looked at as the long term solution and maybe not even the short term solution.
McCown threw 11 touchdowns and 14 picks on a bad Buccaneer team that still had some nice targets to throw to in Vincent Jackson and their 2014 first rounder Mike Evans.

Josh McCown is mainly know for two things in his career-the first being the excellent run in Chicago in 2013 when Jay Cutler went down for the Bears.
McCown threw 13 touchdowns with just one interception and it was that stint that earned him the chance to start in Tampa Bay with the Buccaneers.
The other? His miracle throw on the last play of the game in the game pictured above (Don't you just love the classic Cardinals uniforms?) against the Vikings that knocked Minnesota out of the playoffs in the final game of the season.

This signing combined with the apparent disinterest in retaining Brian Hoyer makes me think that the Browns are going to draft another quarterback and likely in the first two days.
Ray Farmer has been reported on many occasions over the last year plus as being very enamored with Oregon's Marcus Mariota.
Would Farmer be willing to trade the teams two first rounders and likely more for Mariota?
Is it more likely the Browns draft someone in round two?
One reason that the Browns might have preferred the older McCown to Hoyer is the possibility that McCown would be better suited and more likely to accept the backup/mentoring role whether that is to Johnny Manziel,Connor Shaw,a drafted passer or Swagger the dog than Hoyer,who is in the prime years and wants to be the starter.

All and all,I think that the other shoe will have to drop.
I refuse to believe the Browns will enter 2015 with Josh McCown,Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw as their three quarterbacks.
Something has to be in the cards.
Josh McCown can be a very good backup and play well in short term action,but isn't a guy that one can depend on as a full time starter and isn't suited for it.
The next few months look very interesting in Cleveland.....

Cleaning out the inbox-sports edition

Time to clean out the inbox of the sports items,so we will start with another Grantland Unheralded Rivalry that to me personally might be the biggest in the game in Xavier-Cincinnati.

I've never had a hatred for the Bearcats and I even root for them at times,but I've always been a Xavier guy dating back to the days of Pete Gillen and especially his successor-the late Skip Prosser.
I know fans on each side would say "how could you ever root for the other"?
But it's not tough,even if clearly preferring Xavier.
I'd go as far as saying the Musketeers are my favorite team in college hoops over Ohio State.
I'm a Buckeye fan to the core,but I've always been against their stance of no in-state games especially when two programs of the caliber of Xavier and UC are available to play.
Considering that the rivalries I once was so passionate about are gone in the games (Maryland in the ACC),this clearly is the biggest game of the season to me.
Xavier won and continued a recent control of the series and it may stay that way considering Xavier is now the team in the Big East and Cincinati is the team in the mid-major league (AAC).....

A sad story that should be a caution on this rushing the court nonsense.
I'm not against fun and I'm not going to say this should never be done,but it should be reserved for rivalry wins,conference clinchers or maybe a win over the top team in the country,not for a run of the mill win over a ranked team.
The recent two showed the difference to me.
Kansas State rushed the floor for a win over Kansas,but the Jayhawks were second in the country and the top rival.Maryland rushed it for a win over number four Wisconsin,but the Terrapins were ranked as well and Wisconsin has no rivalry at all with the Terrapins.
I realize Maryland is trying to build something in the Big 10 and at least they aren't being ridiculous like Penn State was when they joined with six "rivalry trophy game" with everyone down to Minnesota (Governor's Victory Bell,anyone?),but this seemed excessive in excitement for a basketball school.
Personally,if I was Maryland,I'd be working on Penn State as a rival-closest school and a school that you'll consistently whip in the sport you care about most,but that's just me.....
Check out the above link for the story of Joe Kay and I think you'll think a bit differently on the whole rush the floor concept....

Here's a link to an article on Pirates reliever Jared Hughes,who has been a long time favorite of ours dating back to when we really started to dig deep into the world of autographing and minor league baseball.
Remember this? I'm still frozen from this day...
The article focuses on Hughes and his four stints with AA Altoona along with his shift from the starting rotation to the bullpen and resulting rise in effectiveness.
I came very close to landing Jared for an interview back then,but when it was time to do it,Jared had to back out as he told me then-Pirate GM Dave Littlefield had enacted a policy on bloggers-as in don't talk to them.
Considering the heat Littlefield was under,that was likely because of his issues with non-credentialed writers!!
Hard to believe that was almost eight years ago!
I've never stuck this long with anything in my life like this other than the lovely Cherie!

Two fights from Europe this weekend in the boxing challenge.

IBF Jr,Featherweight title.12 rds
Carl Frampton vs Chris Avalos

R.L:Frampton KO 5
TRS:Frampton KO 8

Middleweights.12 rds
Dmitri Chudinov vs Chris Eubank Jr.
RL:Eubank unanimous decision
TRS:Eubank split decision

We wrap up with two boxing notes.
First we go to UCN,a new boxing site that took the best from MaxBoxing and made it better and a article on former bantamweight champ Alfonso Zamora turning 61.
We did a small mention of Zamora and his non-title bout with fellow champion Carlos Zarate in a recent Overhand Right and this is a comprehensive look at his career....

And we wrap up with a goodbye to former light heavyweight champion Harold Johnson at the age of 86,
The smooth boxing Johnson owned wins over Archie Moore,Ezzard Charles and Jimmy Bivens,all hall of famers over the course of his career....

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Devils trade Jaromir Jagr to Florida

The New Jersey Devils claim to still be in playoff contention,but the Devils made a trade with one of the teams that they will have to leap in the improbable case that happens as the Devils sent veteran winger Jaromir Jagr to the Florida Panthers.

The Devils did pretty well in this deal as they added the Panthers second round pick in 2015 and their choice of either the Panthers or Minnesota's third round pick in 2016.
That's more than I figured that the Devils would get for the 43 year old Jagr and since that offer was on the table,the Devils decided to leap at the chance to add two draft picks for the future and ignore the fact that New Jersey would need to pass Florida (among others) for the Quixotesque quest for the playoffs.

Jagr was unhappy that his minutes had declined of late and his ability on the power play makes him a far better fit on a playoff contending team than on a non-contender that needs to add many things to the organization.
Jagr had eleven goals,but only two of them over the last month with the reduced ice time,so he will not leave a gaping hole in the Devils lineup.
Jagr could be a nice addition to a very young Panthers team for the playoff run and since Jagr is a free agent at the end of this season,the Devils were able to add two very nice pieces for a player that they were likely to lose in a short period of time anyway.

Very pleased with the return and I think the Devils did very well.
Of course,you would always want more,but Jagr's recent lack of scoring likely took the Devils out of asking for a first rounder from a team in the late part of the round.
I liked what Jaromir Jagr brought to the team in his New Jersey tenure and he played with effort,so I'm somewhat sorry to see him leave,but this is the type of deal that the Devils need to be making and I'm hoping to see a few more of these types of trades (with a little less in return of course) before the upcoming trade deadline....

Cleaning out the inbox-Non Sports Edition

Time for another inbox cleaning from the non-sports world,but first I wanted to thank those of you that listened to the first 3 minute introductory podcast and ask a favor of you...

If you would take the time to drop me an email,IM on Facebook,Tweet or DM on Twitter etc about what you would like to hear on the podcast.,
Would you like personal stories,I have the occasional interview planned,but would you like special guests that aren't as much interview subjects as knowledgeable friends or guests to just riff on specific subjects?
Of course my boxing friend would be Ramon Malpica,but I could have just in-house sessions on autographing,minor league baseball,the Browns etc.
Do you like me talking about myself or would you be more interested in me talking about subject matter?
Let me know as we start the podcast because I don't know unless you tell me...

Grantland has a retrospective on Parks and Recreation,which just ended a seven year run on NBC.
Parks and Rec. ranks with the Office and the Canadian comedy Corner Gas as my favorite comedies of the last 15-20 years or so.
I know many really like Seinfeld,but other than a scattering of episodes,it really didn't do much for me.
Parks and Rec. struggled with ratings and I'm starting to wonder if the traditional sitcom is starting to die off.
Sometimes these things run in cycles and even by networks,so it could be a short term issues,but I really enjoyed the people of Pawnee,Indiana.
The ironic thing is that Amy Poehler is the star,yet I have never really "gotten" the whole Amy Poehler/Tina Fey thing,but the surrounding cast is tremendous with the various characters on the male side and I'm a huge Rashida Jones fan,so that sort of makes up for it.
I'll save the rest for perhaps a slow day article on Parks and Rec and the Office,but if you haven't seen the show-give it a try....

Andrew Chaikin,who wrote an all time classic on the Apollo program writes this article on the New Horizons mission to Pluto.
This is as close to a comprehensive article as one can get in a magazine article and if you just read this article,you would know plenty for the arrival of New Horizons in July.....

Scientific American hits on a discovery of a native plant in Hawaii that looks to be endangered with just 50 plants found in the wild.
The purple foliage is quite striking and it seems as if some local scientists are having some success propagating in the greenhouse,so there is some hope,but keep in mind as the article states,one natural act such as a landslide could wipe out whatever population remains....

Epicurious crows about our favorite cookware as the cast iron skillet takes center stage.
As the article states and we've written,it truly is the one pan you can use for everything!

Looks like we might have our first interview locked up for the podcast.Might be a little bit until I get the recording issues down pat,but I think this will be a good one...

We wrap with a kinda sports note as Joe Posnanski writes about Things he's learned from Strat O Matic baseball.
Posnanski discusses the mathematical side of SOM and discusses the probabilities along with a fun of building a draft team.
I know I said no sports,but it's kind of off topic....

I still have plenty of inbox items from sports world,so perhaps tomorrow.....

Flames dust Devils 3-1

The New Jersey Devils caught a few bad breaks and allowed two third period goals in losing to the Calgary Flames 3-1.
Mike Cammalleri scored the only New Jersey goal (23) in the first period.
The Devils finish their homestand Friday against Boston...

Hell Raisers

1) Difference in the game-part one.Jon Merrill gets called at the end of the second period for slashing,when he didn't really slash.
The Calgary player's stick just broke and when the ref saw it,he had to assume it was Merrill.
On the resulting power play to start the third,Calgary took the lead...

2) Part two-With the goalie pulled and the Devils attempting to tie the game,Steve Bernier and Jaromir Jagr each reach for the puck,neither get a decent stick on it,the puck kinda flutters around and T.J. Brodie sends the puck the length of the ice and into the open net.
It was similar to the distance that if Calgary's goalie Karri Ramo would have had to send the puck had he shot it.
One of those things...

3) Mike Cammalleri continued his run of goal scoring as he took a nice pass from Jordin Tootoo to score into the wide open net.
Cammalleri also hit a post and just missed another goal later in the game...

4) Scott Clemmensen was recalled from Albany to replace the nicked up Keith Kinkaid before the Coyotes game.
Kinkaid has not been placed on the DL,so no word on how long Kinkaid will be out and Clemmensen will be with the parent club...

5) I thought Scott Gomez had a nice game and several passes could have resulted in goals.
I must admit that I was not thrilled about the return of Scott Gomez,especially considering the way that he left the Devils.
I've been wrong.Gomez is still a pass first,second and third player,but for the Devils investment,Gomez has paid off...

6) This was a huge loss for the slim Devils playoff hopes as a win could have moved them within six points and playing Boston on Friday,it could have moved them to 4 with a Friday win.
It might have been best.the Devils playoff chances were 1.5 percent entering the game,I really think the Devils need to be sellers and this run might have deceived them into thinking differently.
I hope that isn't the case,,,

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Golovkin stops Murray in 11! Boxing Challenge Results...

The Boxing Challenge remained tied with R.L.Malpica as we both earned four points between the weekend's two fights.
The challenge is now tied at ten points after Arthur Abraham's unanimous decision over Paul Smith to keep his minor Super Middleweight title and with Gennady Golovkin's eleventh round stoppage of Martin Murray.

I haven't had a chance to see the Abraham week,but a few thoughts on the wrecking ball that is "GGG".

Before the bout,most said that Martin Murray is the best fighter that Golovkin has fought and should provide a stern test.
Keep in mind that similar things were said about Matthew Macklin (finished in 3),Daniel Geale (again,through in 3) and to a lesser extent Marco Antonio Rubio (gone in 2),so these voices were heard before..
Murray did give Golovkin a battle,but in the end-Golovkin mowed down Murray just as he has done to everyone else as he floored Murray twice in the fourth and might have stopped him then and there had he turned up to gas a little bit.
Golovkin would send Murray flying across the ring late in the tenth with a right hand that reminded me of when Ken Patera would pick up the enhancement talent and just throw them across the ring with ease.
Golovkin finished Murray off in the eleventh with a proud Murray not going down,but essentially helpless along the ropes.
Murray's corner could have stopped the bout many times and saved their courageous warrior,but continued to send him out for more.
Instead,Golovkin delivered the type of beating that ruin fighters careers to Martin Murray and that's sad.

Martin Murray might have proved himself as the second best middleweight in the world in this loss,but there is a huge gap between number one and number two.
If Murray has anything left after such a prolonged beating that has changed fighters for the worse after similar outings,I would consider picking him against any of the other 160 pounders and that includes Miguel Cotto (more on him soon).
I think Murray beats the winner of the vacant IBF title bout between David Lemieux and Hassan N'Dam and I think he beats WBO champion Andy Lee or his latest challenger Peter Quillin as well.
Murray doesn't punch hard,but his skills (assuming this bout doesn't speed up their deteriorating) might win decisions against any of these fighters.
It'll be interesting to see Murray's next few fights to see what this defeat and pounding took out of him.

As for GGG,he wants to fight three more times this year and I'm just not sure if we will see fighters against him any better than Martin Murray.
Miguel Cotto is the WBC champ and he seems more interested in fighting junior welterweights (Mentioned names include Tim Bradley,Brandon Rios and Cornelius Bundrage) for the middleweight crown.
I'd have a lot more respect for Cotto,if he said "I'm a natural 147 pounder at this stage of my career,proud to have won the middleweight belt,but it's too much for me etc" and vacated the title.
That would be understandable,but Cotto wants to fight once a year,duck top competition (he pulled out of a Canelo Alvarez bout),yet hold onto his title.
I can't see Canelo Alvarez fighting Golovkin anytime soon,since he is the top fighter of Golden Boy Promotions,who couldn't afford a huge loss.
I think Alvarez might try him in 2016,but I'd be surprised if it was this year.
Andre Ward talks about GGG for his 168 pound title,but that's all talk because Ward doesn't fight anyone of late.let alone someone of the talent of Golovkin....

If you want to see Golovkin collect all the titles-you need to root for David Lemieux against Hassan N'Dam and Andy Lee against Peter Quillin.
I do think GBP would take the risk with Lemieux,an exciting puncher,who would instantly move up in value with an exciting win over GGG and Andy Lee almost fought Golovkin before and I think he would again,which is more than I can say for Peter Quillin,who wouldn't fight Matt Korobov because manager Al Haymon said no.
No way that Quillin fights Golovkin and neither does the newest Haymon fighter Julio Cesar Chavez Jr,who backed out of a agreed to Golovkin bout,jumped to Haymon and then began to toss Twitter challenges,knowing all the while that Haymon would never allow it.

Looking at the WBA ratings for possible fights,I'd bet one of the next two will be the WBA top contender Dmitri Chudinov (or Chris Eubank Jr,if Eubank beats Chudinov Saturday night in England) and after that,it's going to be whoever steps up.
If I had to guess,Chudinov/Eubank winner,Lemieux and Lee would be the perfect dance card,but lots of things have to fall into place for that to occur.

In any event,Gennady Golovkin is always must see television right now and I'd bet that the steamroller keeps on running because I just don't see anyone standing up to him under 175 (yes I said 175) pounds for quite a while....

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Schneider shuts out Coyotes!

Mike Cammalleri scored twice (21 and 22 empty net) and Scott Gomez added another (5) to back up Cory Schneider's 38 saves as the New Jersey Devils dropped the Arizona Coyotes 3-0.
The Devils now are off until Wednesday when New Jersey hosts Calgary and the Flames...

Hell Raisers

1) Play of the game-Marek Zidlicky,who knocked away a puck that beat Cory Schneider just before it went into the net.
A superb play by Zidlicky.

2) Cory Schneider stopped 38 shots on the night and earned the shutout.
Schneider's saves usually came on the first shot and he kept the rebounds down,but still an excellent outing..

3) Scott Gomez got the game winner on his goal through the five hole of Mike Smith.
I'd like to see Gomez shoot more,but at his age,he is what he is....

I'd have more,but I am a day late on this,so I'll let it ride.
Back tomorrow with a look at Golovkin vs Murray...

Monday, February 23, 2015

Test Run

A very brief synopsis of the shows to come and test the equipment.
Thanks to Ramon Malpica for his help (and future help) setting things up.
I hope to have a full length show up sometime in the next week!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cavaliers sign Kendrick Perkins

It's been far too long since I have been able to watch a Cavalier game.
Between my schedule,the all-star break and the conflicts between the Cavaliers and Devils,it's been a while since I have been able to watch Cleveland hoops stars.

The next time that I watch them,there will be a new addition to the wine and gold in the person of the burly and perpetually scowling Kendrick Perkins,who was signed after being bought out by the Utah Jazz.

The thirty year old center brings his physical style of play and willingness to hit the boards to Cleveland,which should not only upgrades the Cavaliers toughness,but also adds to the Cavaliers rotation in the frontcourt.
Perkins was averaging four points and five and a half rebounds per game for Oklahoma City before the trade deadline deal that landed the Thunder Enes Kanter from Utah.
Perkins was not needed in OKC with the addition of Kanter and for a non-contender like the Jazz,the usefulness of the traits of Perkins was not nearly as large as they would be for a contender,so the salary cap savings was far more beneficial for Utah.

Where Perkins helps most is being able to give the Cavaliers 15-18 minutes off the bench to enable Timofey Mozgov to get some rest and allow Tristan Thompson to stay at the four position more often.
Perkins can also do the dirty work defensively,where in the playoffs the Cavaliers have had some worries about the interior defense in the pivot beyond Mozgov,in case foul trouble could step up and rear its head in the postseason.

Perkins will be a free agent at the end of the season,so there is little risk or long term harm in signing the veteran,so overall this could prove to be a nice addition to the Cavaliers.

Fast Start Cracks Canes..

The New Jersey Devils scored three first period goals and then floated their way to another home ice victory-this one over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1.
Devils goals to Adam Henrique (12),Tuomo Ruutu (7) and Andy Greene (1) with Keith Kinkaid and Cory Schneider splitting time in net after a second period injury to Kinkaid....
The Devils will host the Arizona Coyotes on Monday.

Hell Raisers

1) Keith Kinkaid seemed to be on his way to a shutout before leaving the game in the second period after stretching to make a save.
Kinkaid's injury was not announced,but I'd bet on a groin strain from watching the play or maybe a hamstring.
No word on Kinkaid's availability on Monday as of this writing.

2) The goal that Cory Schneider allowed was a pretty soft one.
It's too bad that the shutout was lost on such a makeable save,but I'll take the win...

3) Loved the breakaway goal by Adam Henrique.
Henrique often has struggled finishing in such situations and the difference between a 20 goal scorer to a 25 and up scorer is often capitalizing more on these types of chances.

4) Andy Greene did score his first goal of the season into a wide open net,but the play that created the goal was Jordin Tootoo going behind the net with the puck and drawing the defenders towards him and then deftly passing to Greene.

5) Adam Larsson initially was given the goal scored by Tuomo Ruutu before it was changed,but the assist was his fourth in two games.
Larsson's shot might not rank with the booming bombs off the stick of Eric Gelinas,but it isn't too shabby and it's nice to see Larsson shooting more...

6) Devils now down eight points from the final wild card.
I still don't like to think about that and I have concerns that the Devils recent run might delude the team into thinking the playoffs are possible .
That would keep New Jersey from making some deals that are best for the future of the franchise....

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Devils take Canucks 4-2

The New Jersey Devils used some strong play in the first 30 minutes of the game to build a lead and then hold on down the stretch to gain a 4-2 decision over the Vancouver Canucks at the Rock in Newark.
Mike Cammalleri scored twice (19 Power play and 20 shorthanded/empty net) and Adam Larsson had his first ever three assist night to lead New Jersey to victory.
The Devils also received goals from Patrik Elias (10) and Jordin Tootoo (5) in the win.
New Jersey will host Carolina tonight at the Rock,if the weather allows the Hurricanes to get there.
With a major snow in the forecast,my work night could be on-time,early or not at all.
If not at all,there will be no coverage....

Hell Raisers

1) Adam Larsson with three assists?
Yes and that shows the potential of his in the offensive game,but the best was his laser-like pass to Jordin Tootoo on his semi-breakaway goal.
Young defensemen take time to ripen,but the time and patience used is more often than not very well spent.

2) Steve Bernier didn't finish the evening with any points,but he did contribute to two of them by getting out in front of the net and screening off Eddie Lack.
It's the little things that add up...

3) First win over Vancouver since 2009-10 and although back then,the teams didn't play twice a year (or even once in some cases),breaking losing streaks always come in handy...

4) The two Mike Cammalleri goal gave the Devils a 20 goal scorer this season and it didn't look likely that was going to happen early in the year.
Cammalleri may not be worth his contract when the back end rolls around,but he's been well worth it this season....

5) Marek Zidlicky almost caused a penalty shot,when he caught the puck and tossed it over the crossbar.
Had he batted it,it would have been legal,but by closing his hand around the puck and throwing it,it caused a penalty and at the official discretion could have caused a penalty shot.
Instead,the Canucks had a power play,pulled Eddie Lack along with it and the result was Mike Cammalleri's empty net goal.
The result could have been much different with a potentially game tying penalty shot....

6) Cory Schneider allowed one bad goal and had one that was not his fault totally.
Schneider was not at his best in this game,but for all the games that he was great and not picked up by the teammates-Schneider deserved one to be picked up!
Keith Kinkaid will start against Carolina.....

On the signing front

We return to the signing front with more stuff from the 2014 season.

We begin with thanks to Corey White for help with the Tennessee Smokies and their opponents.
Nice additions from the Mississippi Braves were Jose Peraza on the Carolina League prospects and All-Star cards,J.R.Graham on a 2013 CL prospect card and former number one pick Jason Hursh on a Bowman chrome and a rize card.
The Montgomery Biscuits (Tampa Bay) were led by Jake Hager on a Florida State prospect card,Richie Shaffer on an FSL prospect and a heritage.
The Chattanooga Lookouts (then Dodgers,Twins for 2015) only had a few,but Garrett Gould on a older Donruss Elite and Noel Cuevas on a California League all-star card led that bunch..

Kendall Morris took a trip to Texas and got me three top 100's on the trip with Austin Hedges (Padres catcher) signing in Texas and on a stop in Mississippi on the home added Reds pitchers Robert Stephenson and Daniel Carcillo on their cards among a few others scattered in.
Always love those top 100's!

We move to maybe the worst team that I've seen all year as Derreck,Brad and I did the Lowell Spinners in Aberdeen against the Ironbirds.
We did get a large amount of the Spinners and their team set finished,but you expect a day with a NY/Penn team to be smooth and that wasn't the case at all.
I did get manager and former Reds catcher Joe Oliver on his 90 score,but only at the bus after being no on three different occasions that covered before the game and after the game.
Former Padres first rounder Karsten Whitson was very nice though in signing his two USA cards and his Lowell card.
Whitson didn't sign with San Diego as he went to college as a Florida Gator.
Everything was a grind with this team,especially considering most of the team had just a team set card or two at the most.
My favorite was Bryan Hudson,who I had two cards for ,a Bowman and a Lowell card,telling me "one or the other,I just sign one"...
Derreck did the Ironbirds and knocked most of them out for me with the best catches being Alex Murphy on his NY/Penn top prospect card,a rehabbing Bobby Bundy on a minor heritage and Stephen Tarpley,who is now a Pirate from the Travis Snider trade...
He had to have had a much better time and Brad and I with Lowell.....

Thanks to Brett Shaw for finishing a few stragglers on the Richmond Flying Squirrels from the San Jose set.
The best was Hunter Strickland just before his promotion to the big club and Steven Okert on his San Jose card...

The final two teams in Frederick were the Salem Red Sox and Potomac Nationals.
Neither team had anything especially pressing prospect wise,but some leftover from team sets,past and present.
Salem's best was Simon Mercedes on his Carolina League top prospect and Carlos Asuaje on his SAL all-star card while Potomac's top was Pedro Severino on a team set card...

Jason Christensen added a few from my Florida State prospect with both Mets from the set signing in Brandon Nimmo (one of my favorites) and Steven Matz.
Jason also added Eddie Rosario and Jorge Polanco from New Britain (then Twins,now Rockies),but the best pickup? Former number one pick Alex Wimmers.
Wimmers has been plagued by injuries in his pro career,but I badly wanted his 2011 Donruss Elite in his Ohio State uniform.
That card had been all over the place between me and my traders trying to get this finished.
Jason finally got Wimmers to sign and got a "GO BUCKS" inscribed as well...

Bruce Begole made a trip to Lansing Michigan and saw the home team tackle the Lake County Captains and South Bend Silver Hawks.
Bruce got several cards for including two top 100's in Clint Frazier and Dorssys Paulino.
Bruce also added Mitch Brown on his 2013 Midwest League prospect and Mike Papi on his NY/Penn league card from Lake County among others and Lansing's D.J. Davis on his Midwest League and former number one pick Dickie Joe Thon on a few cards as well....

The final team into Hagerstown for the regular season was Lakewood and I had two whole cards-both for pitcher Matt Imhof on a USA and Williamsport.
Got them and finished.
This series was most noted for the Blue Claws spending an entire game checking my daughter out (the wonders of being a father).This was on youtube,but I am having trouble finding it,
Just don't want to seem to be a bragging dad,Ha Ha

The Greensboro Grasshoppers were the visiting team for the SAL Northern playoffs and since they had just been in a few weeks before,I had few cards.
I got Felix Munoz on his SAL all-star card along with Sean Donatello and Sean Townsley on their Hopper cards and that was all...

The Asheville Tourists hit the Hub City for the SAL title and I did their team set.
All of their best prospects signed-David Dahl on his SAL top prospect,all-star and team card,Ryan McMahon on the same three,Correlle Prime on team set and all-star,Raimel Tapia and now Braves prospect Jose Briceno on team set cards rounded out the best.
Other than Rockies first rounder Kyle Freeland that is,who I had to settle for a blank card.
I don't really like those,but sometimes that's what you have to work with.

That finishes the in person part of the signing season,but we aren't finished/
We still have some more cards via the trading block,so with luck we'll finish them up soon!!!

One card through the mail as former Raiders tight end Derrick Ramsey signed his 82 Topps....

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pacquiao vs Mayweather! Boxing Challenge

Finally,the one fight that so many fans from the hardcore to the casual have asked for will be made as Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao will finally happen on May 2nd in Las Vegas.

Many will say that the fight is too late and they may be correct,but it's still compelling and will have two of the big three welterweight titles on the line and without the silly catchweight that has become the rage in boxing's big fights of late.

I'm often critical of Floyd Mayweather,but give him credit this time for getting past pettiness and stubbornness (much of it his own) and finally giving the fans the fight they wanted after years of giving them everything but that...
Give credit to Manny Pacquiao for taking a little less (I think he'll get by ) to make plenty and get this done as well.

Very excited and interested in seeing just how the undercard looks.
Will it be loaded with showcase fights since the buys will be high anyway?
Or will both sides use the chance of so many eyes on the fight to showcase our sport at its best??

The boxing challenge continues tomorrow with the real middleweight champion defending his title in Monaco.
WBA champ Gennady Golovkin defends against perhaps his toughest test in Martin Murray,who narrowly lost to then-champion Sergio Martinez in Argentina for his only loss.
Keep in mind for all of Murray's talent,we were hearing the same things about Matthew Macklin and Daniel Geale and both fell in three to Golovkin.
We also have a rematch in Germany for the WBO Super Middleweight belt as Arthur Abraham defends against Paul Smith after a fight that all thought could go either way and was scored lopsided by German judges for Abraham....
The challenge is currently tied at six points apiece

Boxing Challenge

WBA Middleweight title 12 rds
Gennady Golovkin vs Martin Murray

R.L:Golovkin KO 5
TRS:Golovkin KO 6

WBO Super Middleweight title.12 rds
Arthur Abraham vs Paul Smith

Both:Abraham unanimous decision

From the TRS Kitchen

Like a nitwit,I forgot the cards and therefore are unable to comply with today's On the signing front.
I'll be sure to work on it soon as time is beginning to run out getting caught up.

Instead allow me to offer a few words on a different matter-Food.
Since I am at the road office and do not have availability to the lovely Cherie's recipe collection.
Try this-Meat Loaf covered with mashed potatoes from MR.Food.
It's not exactly like Cherie's,but it's in the ball park.Give it a try and tell me what you think.

  • 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 slices white bread, torn into small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups seasoned mashed potatoes

  • What To Do:
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
    2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except mashed potatoes. Place mixture in prepared baking dish and bake 35 minutes. Remove from oven, drain off any fat, and evenly spread mashed potatoes over top.
    3. Return casserole to oven and cook 25 to 30 more minutes, or until no pink remains in beef and potatoes are hot.


    Back tonight with Devils vs Canucks....

    Thursday, February 19, 2015

    Freezing,looking to spring and a few thoughts

    Another ice blaster of a day with a looming worse tomorrow,so thinking of spring....

    Pitchers and catchers reported yesterday,so the ray of warmth is beginning to look closer-even if it doesn't feel like it.
    The baseball season cannot come soon enough for me and tonight,it looks like the first trip of the season has been planned even if it is not the first on the calendar.

    Looks like a Friday/Saturday trip that will allow me to knock off a new ballpark in Erie Pa along with a return to Akron-this time for the Pedro Cerrano (of Major League fame) bobblehead.
    Maybe I can get some of my relatives to come up to Akron and see me for that day????

    If I am able to get to Erie,that trims my Pennsylvania ballparks needs to just Scranton and Philadelphia to cover all the the stadiums in that state.
    My Ohio needs also is at three,but doesn't look like any of them will get added this year.
    Those parks are in Cincinnati,Dayton and Toledo.

    Also in the middle of fantasy season as I plan for my "big" league that includes minor leaguers.
    I also am playing in a National League only league (need two teams,so let me know and you might get a team) and will be playing on a new website that I was invited on for the LPGA,so the fantasy world is heating up after a dull winter.
    Two years in a row without a hockey or hoops league can make winter a less than fun time....

    My audio equipment finally arrived-no thanks to the USPS,who claimed they delivered it on Sunday.
    Being that I was home all day and Ed didn't bark (he hates people that come to the door),I think it was misdelivered.
    Amazon made it right though and got it right to me via one day shipping!
    Via UPS that is!
    I've got the recording part down,just need to learn to shift to the PC and then upload it.
    It's a learning process for sure!

    I also have an interview lined up for us as soon I can smooth the bugs out on this....

    Suppose that's all for now.
    I think I'll be working on a signing front tonight to try lower that pile some more before the season!

    Wednesday, February 18, 2015

    Devils backhand Sabres in 2-1 shootout win

    Scott Gomez and Jacob Josefson each scored in the shootout to give the New Jersey Devils a 2-1 win at the Rock over the worst team in hockey in the Buffalo Sabres.
    Patrik Elias scored in the first period (9 power play) for the only Devils goal in regulation.
    The homestand continues Friday against the Vancouver Canucks....

    Hell Raisers

    1) It is nice to see the Devils at least being competitive in the shootout again.
    It's not like the days of Parise and Kovalchuk by any means,but for the time being,at least the Devils have found a few players (and surprising ones at that) that can keep them afloat without the automatic losses of last season...

    2) Did you notice that both Scott Gomez and Jacob Josefson each beat Michal Neuvirth with the backhand and each lifted the puck over his shoulder?
    Interesting and I wonder if that was a deliberate strategy/coaching tip or just something that was improvised?

    3) The Devils should have won this in regulation as the Devils blew one of the rarest opportunities in the game- a two on NONE against Neuvirth.
    Scott Gomez and Jaromir Jagr raced in and simply got too cute as Gomez passed to Jagr,who should have shot,but instead passed back to Gomez sending the puck outside the net....

    4) I'm not always the biggest Marek Zidlicky fan,but it was his pass to Patrik Elias that resulted in the only New Jersey goal.
    Zidlicky might be an interesting name to watch around the trade deadline as a possible trading chip...

    5) Stephen Gionta returned to the lineup.
    Gionta was pretty quiet,but welcome back anyway.
    The Devils were already under the roster limit,so the team did not have make a move to activate Gionta....

    Monday, February 16, 2015

    Lesley Gore

    On a slow news day with snow in the forecast comes very sad news from the music world as Lesley Gore passed away at the age of 68.

    Gore passed away from lung cancer, which had not apparently been released to the public before, in Manhattan this morning.
    Lesley Gore was part of what I often referred to as the "holy trinity" of female pop singers of the mid-1960s with Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield and had many hits through the span with "It's my party" being the most well known.
    Other hits were the follow-up to It's my party in "Judy's turn to cry", the female anthem "You don't own me" and the peppy "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows", which recently returned to the air in the film "Cloudy with a chance of meatballs" among many.
    My personal favorite of Lesley's was "Maybe I Know" which I just played on CD in the car on the way home from taking Cherie to work today.

    Lesley Gore first hit it big in 1963 with "It's my party" and was clearly the top solo female pop singer in the country (Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, and most others of the time period were British).
    Lesley's final hit was one that I knew often as a child as "California Nights" was performed during her two-episode appearance on Batman as "Pussycat" a sidekick to Julie Newmar's Catwoman.
    During the beginning of her run of success, Gore attended Sarah Lawrence College and during her stint there, toured and recorded on her downtime.
    However, as Gore continued her education, music changed and her fun and poppy sound began to fall out of style in favor of message music from the rock and folk scene.

    Gore would never really return to the charts, but she did quite well as a songwriter and hitting the nostalgia circuit, which I'm sure allowed her to live quite comfortably.
    Lesley also hosted a PBS series In the Life, which focused on gay and lesbian issues.
    It was on that program that she announced that she was a lesbian in 2005.
    That doesn't bother me at all and to my knowledge, she never lied about that question.

    I have to admit, I'm pretty sad today.
    Lesley Gore was always a huge favorite of mine.
    She was one of those artists that made fun music, not that all of her work was frivolous as You Don't Own Me is regarded as an early feminist anthem, but music that was just fun to listen to.
    I've often thought many of the pop artists of the 1960s have gotten short shrift for the rock hall of fame because of the age and the time being remembered more for message music than music that is just enjoyable to listen to.

    She'll be greatly missed by me and hopefully some others too...

    Sunday, February 15, 2015

    A few notes

    Just a few observations/notes on a very cold night/morning and boy,do I hate this weather.
    Ugh,Just horrible.
    I often say when the topic comes up-I could handle living in Canada until winter-those folks up there are a different breed.
    They put up with this almost every day during this time of year-far tougher than I am when it comes to the cold.
    I often think about going back to Ohio and I've kinda resigned myself that it likely will not happen for two reasons.
    The first is that I want to stay close to the kids and unless they move away from here,I'm likely not going anywhere.
    The other? It's colder there than here and this is too cold for me!!

    Hoping to have my podcast equipment here soon.
    The tracking says sometime today,but I'll believe that when I see it and I still need a USB cord too.
    If all breaks perfect,I could have the first show early next week,if I can figure out what I am doing,that is....

    I have some questions for a future Q and A ready and I still need to knock cards out to put away from last season,so there will be some signing fronts coming.
    I always start the season well on the signing front and then the cards start to accumulate and I jsut get behind.
    Once the season ends,then the urgency isn't so important....

    Not sure,if I would have ever seen this coming,but I like to watch golf more than college basketball anymore.
    Any of the three tours (PGA,Champions or LPGA) I enjoy watching and with my slowly decreasing interest in the college game-mainly to the loss of rivalries and the "one and done" players,I give golf the edge,
    I do still enjoy the conference tournaments,especially the smaller ones and March Madness,but with a few exceptions,I just don't watch much during the regular season....

    I also have begun to casually collect the 1965 Topps baseball set.
    I rather doubt that I'll ever finish it,but visually the 1965 set is my favorite of the 60's and I decided to go after it.
    The lovely Cherie was surprised as I usually collect things within my lifetime,but sometimes one mixes things up.
    If I ever did a set from the 1950's though,it would not be one of the mainstream Topps sets-it would be either the 1951 Topps red and blue back sets or the Red Man chewing tobacco sets for sentimental reasons.
    Don't bet on me doing either,although I might buy a few just for fun....

    Finally,a short note on other things that I am adding to the collection soon-I need to add a 2014 National Champions Buckeye helmet to the mini helmet collection and another possibility is beginning to collect things from the Batman TV show.
    The lovely Cherie has given the provisional OK for that-IF I get rid of some other things to make space.
    I'm amenable to that,but not until things warm a bit.Just too cold to spend time in the attic......

    Saturday, February 14, 2015

    Forgotten Superstars: Dale Murphy

    We return to the Forgotten Superstars universe with one of the most popular players of his time-Dale Murphy.

    Many would say that Dale Murphy was the National League's version of Cal Ripken and that wouldn't be far off,except I really liked Dale Murphy and never cared for Cal Ripken.
    But I look at Dale Murphy as the first favorite player over a national basis and not just because he was a great player.

    Dale Murphy was the star of the Atlanta Braves when WTBS was just starting to cover the country and give areas that didn't have a team in their area a team that they could watch every night as if they were the home team.
    The station began to market the Braves as "America's Team" and they truly were as can be seen to this day with the large amount of Braves fans between the current ages of 21 and up.
    I'll never understand why TBS traded the Braves everyday following in return for a game of the week and a few playoff games,but the WTBS story with the Braves,Hawks and Wrestling will wait for another day because this is about the franchise player in the days before the Braves became the powerhouse that we know them as now.

    Dale Murphy played on a lot of bad Atlanta teams,only reaching the playoffs one time on the NL West champions in 1982 and only that team and the 83 Braves finished more than one game over .500 in his tenure (the 1980 Braves finished 81-80).
    Eight of Murphy's seasons in Atlanta ended with more than ninety losses,so Dale Murphy can be given credit for much of the fan base that would become hooked on the Braves because more often than not,Murphy was the only reason to watch such a forlorn franchise.
    Playing in often in front a sparce crowd in a stadium a quarter full,Murphy was the Braves in those years.
    Starting as a catcher,Murphy was moved to the outfield and quickly proved to be the among the best defensive outfielders in the game as he was the winner of six gold gloves as he patrolled center in Fulton County Stadium,a less than visually exciting stadium,unless the sight of Chief Nok-A-Homa and his teepee turns one on.

    Murphy started to impress in 1978 with 23 homers,but he did it hitting just ,228,it was the following season when despite missing almost 60 games,he raised his average fifty points and still hit 21 homers.
    In 1980,Murphy began a run that lasted through 1987 that one could make a legitimate argument that he was the best player in the game.
    During this run,Murph won two MVP's never hit fewer than 29 homers (with 44 as a high) three seasons in a row of 36 homers and followed up with a 37 HR year,over 100 RBI's five times (on a team that he carried on his back far more often than not) and underrated speed,usually finishing in double digits in steals.

    That changed dramatically in 1988,when Murphy's batting averaged dipped into the .220's with mid-20's power.
    When the following year resulted in similar statistics,Murphy was clearly on the downside.
    In the middle of 1990,the Braves shipped Murphy to the Phillies in a mid-season trade and it was hoped that the change would revitalize the bat of the veteran as well.
    Murphy's produced a decent 1991,but that proved to be his final stand as he would play just 18 games for the 92 Phillies and another 26 for the 93 Rockies before throwing in the towel for good.

    Dale Murphy was the favorite player of so many,including Ryan,so I do get the occasional question-Is Dale Murphy a hall of famer?
    His peak was eight years and his dropoff was very quick,but two more homers would have given him 400 for a career in an era where that was far more impressive than it looks today.
    The rapid decline hurt his candidacy,but to me if you put Jim Rice in (the numbers are very similar,except for average) and I supported his induction-I would have no problem giving a vote to Murphy.
    I know many would argue that Murphy's resume' wasn't long enough at the highest level,but I've written before that I'd rather have seven or eight years at the top of the game rather than 12 to 15 of being good to very good and under that argument,Murphy would earn entry,especially consider the induction of Rice.

    Combine on the field excellence,being a great ambassador for the game and being so popular with so many and Dale Murphy still may not make the hall,but he will be welcomed into the forgotten superstars universe with pride!

    Friday, February 13, 2015

    Three Goodbyes-Dean Smith,Ed Sabol and Bob Simon

    I wrote last night about the passing of a favorite of mine in Jerry Tarkanian, but among three passings that I'll note today was the man that I enjoyed disliking most (next to Bo Schembechler) in college sports growing up.

    I always respected Dean Smith, but I couldn't stand him.
    He built the flagship program in the ACC when I was growing up and defended against all challengers.
    Norm Sloan and Jim Valvano at N.C. State, Lefty Driesell at Maryland, Bill Foster, and later Mike Krzyzewski at Duke and Terry Holland at Virginia all made their runs at toppling Smith and none quite pulled it off.
    Each might have had the edge for a season or two like Sloan's three years run with David Thompson, Holland with Ralph Sampson, etc, but in the end, it was still the Heels standing tall...

    Smith was always whining about something and for a coach that most looked at as gentlemanly was one of the best referee baiters in the game, but he was the coach that every team wanted to beat.
    Every team in the ACC circled the Carolina game as the game on the home schedule that everyone wanted to see, so every game that UNC played they were playing a team that looked at them as a rival.

    Smith usually had the more talented teams and he was responsible for the NCAA bringing the shot clock to college basketball with his sleep-inducing, but very effective Four Corners to close out games, but on occasions used it against similarly talented teams.
    The 1982 ACC tournament final vs Virginia and Ralph Sampson saw Smith finish the Cavaliers off with a two-point lead over the last seven minutes of the game with the four corners, but driving a national television audience to boredom and spurring the change with the shot clock.
    Smith was occasionally wrong with the four corners, having his 1977 Heels roaring back against Marquette and went into the corners, blew all momentum, and lost the title contest.

    Dean Smith will be remembered by many for victories, but to me-I'll remember him most for tons of crazy wins over my beloved Terrapins, that damn four corners and being my most despised figure in college basketball.
    After all, in sports-the dislike is often just as important as the love.....

    Two other passings of note as well occurred recently that we wanted to mention along with Dean Smith...

    Ed Sabol, the founder of NFL Films and a member of the football hall of fame passed away at the age of  98.
    Sabol is the person that came up with the idea of filming all the NFL games, starting the company, and running the business end.
    Steve Sabol might have been the creative genius, but Ed Sabol certainly was a major part of the success of NFL Films.

    Bob Simon, recently of 60 minutes, passed away in an automobile accident at the age of 73.
    Simon was an award-winning reporter for CBS for over 40 years, winning numerous awards for various pieces of journalism.
    Simon was also noted for spending 40 days in an Iraqi prison during the Gulf War after being captured and his resulting book 40 days.
    Simon also was often criticized for various groups for a reported bias against the state of Israel, which was interesting as Simon was Jewish himself...

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

    Goodbye to Tark the Shark

    Among a flurry of people passing away over the last few days-Dean Smith and Bob Simon among them,one hit home most in former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, who passed away at the age of 84.

    Tarkanian, who coached UNLV to a national title and another Rebels squad to the closest run to an undefeated national title since Indiana in 1976 with an undefeated string that ended with a loss to Duke in the final four, also coached at Long Beach State before UNLV and Fresno State after his Rebels tenure with a short 20 game stint with the San Antonio Spurs.

    Tarkanian won 729 games at three schools, but for all the winning and for all the entertaining basketball that he is responsible for, he will be most remembered for his run-ins with the NCAA, which tried to suspend him and essentially run him from the game.
    Tarkanian won in the end though as he never served the time and beat the NCAA in court to the tune of winning an unofficial admission of guilt from the NCAA along with a check for 2.5 million dollars...

    Tark's career at Las Vegas has been noted extensively, but what is forgotten was his term at Long Beach State, where behind high scorer "Easy" Ed Ratleff, Long Beach almost KO'ed UCLA in the West finals, losing by two points, when Ratleff fouled out,
    Tarkanian's problems with the NCAA began at Long Beach when he wrote a column criticizing the organization for only going after the smaller schools such as his teams while ignoring the issues at larger power programs such as UCLA and their multi-millionaire booster Sam Gilbert.
    That column would start an over twenty years and three schools battle between the two with some taking the side of Tark for sticking up for the little man, while others preferred to look at Tarkanian as a win at all costs coach that was free and easy with the rulebook.

    Tark might have taken a few too many chances on troubled players (academics and otherwise), but he did have some players that would turn out to be good pros and excellent in the classroom.
    Tarkanian is often thought of running renegade programs and that's of his own doing, however, that was part of needing a special vibe to attract top-notch players to a mid-major program.
    UNLV was in the small-time PCAA (later to be known as the Big West) and needed to bring into town top-notch recruits, so the Runnin' Rebels would also play a national schedule against a powerhouse from other parts of the country in order to showcase the program and help the strength of schedule that a small conference school has problems building due to the in-conference weakness of schedule.

    What else would bring players to Las Vegas (besides the off floor enticements of the city that never sleeps and what his detractors would say were illegal ones, that is)?
    Try the up and down the floor running style with teams that averaged over 100 points in seasons without a shot clock or the three-pointer.
    The style of play along with an aggressive style of pressure defense always is a popular style for players to play and brought players that didn't want to play the four corners or slog along in a slow-paced, walk the ball up the floor halfcourt offense to play for him.
    When you are able to sell an appealing way to play-recruiting becomes so much easier and the results speak for themselves.

    Jerry Tarkanian wasn't a saint, he wanted to win and he had some whiffs on players that likely would have been nowhere near a college had they not had the ability to put the ball in the hoop.
    That happens about a million times more than any of us wants to admit-from even the best
    coaches, no matter their reputation, but Tark openly embraced being different and honest, at least on some things anyway.

    In the end, though, I was proud to call myself a fan of Tarkanian and his Rebels and I wore my Rebels gear with pride after they won their national title and the following year.
    Much in the way that I pull for Boise State, now, I love pulling for the little guys that can compete with the big men-if they only get a chance.
    I lost interest in the Rebels after Tarkanian left, but some of my best memories came AFTER his UNLV years.

    Tarkanian returned to his alma mater, Fresno State from 1995-2002, and because of his name (and some decent teams there), Fresno was often seen as the late-night ESPN games from the left coast.
    Ryan and I spent many nights watching and rooting for those Bulldogs and of all the memories that I received from Tarkanian-that one might be the best-teaching Ryan the game, rooting together (we don't really share a lot of teams), and spending time together.
    One cannot beat many memories like that...

    Back later tonight, maybe with a look at a great coach that I didn't care for! 

    Wednesday, February 11, 2015

    Cleaning out the Inbox-Non-Sports Version

    We finally begin the inbox cleaning of the non-sports notes as time has become a little more manageable.
    The Cavaliers play the next two nights without competition from the Devils,but both games are eight o'clock starts,so there might not be any game coverage from either team until next week.
    If that indeed is the case,look for lots of various articles coming up.

    I'd also like to thank those of you that sent me emails or liked the status on Facebook about the beginnings of the podcast.
    I'm very excited about it and I'm hoping that the show will be a success.
    I think it is going to be easier to have interviews and it might help us add more of them.
    I'm hoping that the biggest issue might be transcribing the verbal interview into the written word (I'm taking volunteers to you fast typists out there).
    I plan on having interviews on the podcast and then over the long term having them available here as well.
    The hope is to have the blog and podcast complement each other and have fun with both.
    I hope you'll enjoy it.....

    Onto the inbox and we begin with the picture above from long time favorite of mine and Ryan's-Battlebots,which will be returning this summer to ABC for a six episode season.
    The first run was on Comedy Central,so Battlebots hits the networks for the first time and I'm hoping that it catches on,so that perhaps a full season could be ordered in the future.
    I loved the show,which features homemade robots slugging it out in a battle for destruction.
    Think UFC (the arenas are very similar) for remote controlled robots.
    Ryan and I loved it and he sent me the note letting me know about the return.
    I'm very excited for this!!!

    We move to the space world where the late Neil Armstrong apparently didn't leave ALL of the lunar module Eagle on the moon as Armstrong's wife found a small bag of parts from the lander in Armstrong's closet.
    Those few parts are all that is left from Eagle as it was crashed back into the lunar surface after Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin returned and entered Columbia for the return trip to Earth.
    Armstrong was notorious for being buttoned to the vest and he never spoke of having these souvenirs.
    The items are now on loan to the Smithsonian with the intent of a permanent donation...

    Krista Anderson posted this on Facebook and Rachel and I leaped at the chance to look at this-Cuddle Clones.
    Cuddle Clones takes pictures of your late pets and creates a very realistic looking stuffed animal of your pet.
    They aren't cheap (some can be 200 dollars),but they are extremely well done and far less creepy looking than work done by a taxidermist.
    I wouldn't be against one of our Teddy.....

    Vox discusses the issues of retaining sounds from long ago using technology from days gone by.
    Every generation has its version of cutting edge and all are destined to become obsolete,so this problem will never go away,although the digital format will be much easier to deal with,I would think,than vinyl or especially tape which degrades so quickly.
    It's incredibly interesting from how these are being saved and the decisions that archivists face in their job....

    FiveThirtyEight takes a look at ten of the biggest busts in Presidential primary history with this article on candidates from both parties.
    All of these candidates were well thought entering primaries and for various reasons,badly sputtered.
    I even voted for one of the guys on this list and remember writing a school paper on another,so it is not always bad people that make failed candidates..

    We wrap up with a look at a President that didn't carry a positive legacy after his Presidency,but did have an interesting game that his doctor created for him to stay in shape.
    Herbert Hoover's tenure in office might not have the fans of others,but the game of Hooverball combines some features of volleyball and tennis with the use of a net,but uses a four or six pound medicine ball to play.
    Iowa State has started a Hooverball league in Ames on the club level,which makes sense as Hoover was born in Iowa and his Presidental library is there as well.
    Hoover's great-granddaughter is the Republican commentator often seen on CNN,(and a Thoughts of RS favorite from her appearances on Real Time with Bill Maher) Margaret Hoover.

    That cleans up the inbox for now.
    May be back tonight from the road office with another post....

    Tuesday, February 10, 2015

    Devils not so slick in Edmonton loss

    The New Jersey Devils looked to get things back where they were last week-as in beating bad teams at home.
    Didn't happen last night as a listless Devils squad was defeated by the second worst team in hockey,the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 at the Rock in Newark.
    Patrik Elias provided all the Devils offense with a first period goal (8) and the Devils
    would score no more.
    Cory Schneider finished with 22 saves for New Jersey,who will now be off for three days before back to back games in Chicago and Nashville.
    No coverage of those games due to the central time start and me having to work for a living...

    Hell Raisers

    1) It wasn't all bad-Cory Schneider was OK and the stop shown above late in the game against Teddy Purcell was a shining one that allowed the Devils to at least have a chance to pull Schneider in an attempt to tie the game.
    SO we did have that going for us....

    2) I generally like Adam Larsson,but it cannot be denied that his stupid delay of game penalty against the Oilers perhaps cost them the game. The penalty led to a Edmonton power-play goal by Nail Yakubov. When you look at those types of plays that is why the Devils are where they are.
    It seems like every game has someone making a pivotal boneheaded play that costs a goal.

     3) 14 shots? Really ? Fourteen shots against the second worst team in hockey.And the second worst team in hockey playing at your home arena. Absolutely pathetic.
    Look,it's clear this team has offensive problems and those problems are not going to be solved anytime in the near future,but shots on goal are a issue that can sometimes be related to lack of effort or at least lack of any haste at a particular time.

    4) Should the Devils try to tank for more tickets in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes?
    You could make an argument that they already are with some of the decisions made in the lineup.
    Mark Fraser and Peter Harrold are nice guys,but BOTH of them in the lineup consistently?
    While Eric Gelinas sits as the power play rots away?
    Unless the argument is that these players are being showcased for a trade,which makes no sense (who would want them or pay anything for them?),I barely see an argument to play one,let alone both.

    5) I'm not saying that a high draft pick is going to solve problems on this team.
    They won't,at least right away,but there is little doubt in my mind that this has a cancer eating away.
    I'm not calling out particular players-I'm not in the locker room,but it's clear that effort is becoming an issue and players are not being held accountable.
    I realize the mid-season coaching change and spread around power has something to do with the lack of accountability and I'm hopeful that some of that will change for next season,but nonetheless,the last thing that you want to have is veterans teaching your youngsters (as few as there are) that losing is a OK thing and building such a culture.
    After all-if I wanted to write about that,I'd write about the Browns.

    6) Wrapping up with this- Edmonton is a bad hockey team,but they are a talented one,albeit a someone green one.
    I'm sure the Oilers have their putrid nights,but they have some hope in Edmonton that some of these talented players turn out to bring the Oilers back to glory.
    I'm not sure that the Devils have that hope.
    Sure,the Devils have some young defensive talent,but next to nothing in the form of potential scoring forwards and the team's answer to every free agent cycle to is sign someone that used to be a 30+ goal scorer.
    Some of those has worked out well (Mike Cammalleri),some were a mistake to begin with (Ryane Clowe with his head issues) and yet others have been downright invisible (Martin Havlat),but the larger point is this doesn't change until the Devils do and I've seen next to evidence that Lou Lamoriello is capable of such change.
    Now,I love Lou and respect all that he has done to build a franchise that was dismal in three cities before he took command of the Devils,but I'm starting to come to the realization that Lou might have lost a little off his fastball.
    Unless,there is a plan that I am not privy to,I have concerns that the Devils under Lou Lamoriello may not be willing to rebuild and will continue to try to float an old,dull and sometimes lackluster team along the river.
    With the spendthrifty Rangers and the talented rebuilt Islanders both in the same market potentially overshadowing them-the Devils are in danger of being what the Islanders were for so many years- a boring team,with little talent in their prime that few outside the hardcore fan cares about.
    Sometimes,you have burn everything down in order for the grass to grow.
    Something to think about....