Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Forgotten Superstars-Dangerous Don Rich

No, Dangerous Don Rich was not the tag team partner of Tommy "Wildfire" Rich in the early 1980s for Georgia Championship Wrestling, but what he was the best guitar player on the country circuit in the 1960's and early '70s and the biggest reason that Buck Owens became a star.

Don Rich was the leader of Buck Owens band "The Buckaroos" and was known for was his fiddle playing, his ability to sing harmony with Owens and as mentioned his guitar playing.
Rich also was one of those rarities in the music business-Don Rich was a member of a band, yet the country fan base looked at Rich as a star and not just as a supporting player to Buck Owens.
It isn't often that a member of a band is looked at as a star beyond the hardcore fans of said band.
Don Rich was just that.

If you were a country kid in the early '70s, Hee Haw was more or less a staple of rural living.
Before we moved in with our late Aunt Edna, she and her mother lived alone and Hee Haw was always a must-watch there as well as down the road with my grandparents.
There were parts of Hee Haw that I didn't care for, but the Buckaroos were the house band with Rich serving as a musical director for the show and Rich received exposure every week for his talents that almost no one had other than the hosts, Owens and Roy Clark.
If Buck Owens did a number, Don Rich was in the shot unless that shot was a closeup on Owens.
Rarely does that kind of exposure go to a band member and it reflects well on Owens and a lack of ego to allow Rich to share in the attention.
The other fun thing about looking back at clips from YouTube (besides the music) is Don's wardrobe, which brings to mind the sartorial splendor of Dwight Schrute from The Office!
It's a miracle more people didn't catch fire from the clothes of that time!

To so many fans of the era, Don Rich was looked at as the equal of Buck Owens with two people making great music and not the star and supporting character.
Rich's harmony in so many of those great songs meshes so well with Owens and I really give an edge to Don and Buck's singing their classic hits on Hee Haw or the Buck Owens ranch program live more than their studio versions.
I'm sure that you've listened to live versions and there is always a clear difference, but usually the studio versions are better after they have been "cleaned" up.
Not the case with the music of the Buckaroos in my opinion.

Rich never really had a solo career, although he did have two solo albums and two more releases in the CD age, one of which I'd like to have as Rich covers the catalog of George Jones.
Rich clearly had the talent, but just seemed to prefer being the leader of the Buckaroos and making classic records...

Don Rich passed away at just 32 in a motorcycle accident (I truly hate those things) when his cycle hit a center divider and sent Rich flying with fatal injuries.
The accident didn't just end Rich's life and career, it also ended the career of Buck Owens as far as hit records went.
Buck Owens would not have another huge hit until he teamed with Dwight Yoakum for "Streets of Bakersfield" over 15 years later and Owens referred to the loss of Rich as "part of me died" and despite still being popular on Hee Haw, would never have another singles hit without Rich.

Terrific with the fiddle, groundbreaking as a country guitarist and tremendous in harmony.
Adept as a band member or on his own, we welcome Don Rich to the Forgotten Superstars universe and wonder what might have been.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Podcast-Football Weekend in Ohio

Episode one-a bit delayed due to Podbean issues.

Raiders ramble over Browns 27-20

The Cleveland Browns looked pretty lame for most of the game before a fourth quarter rally gave the Browns a chance to tie before Charles Woodson baited Josh McCown into a game-ending interception as the Oakland Raiders left Cleveland with a 27-20 win.
Josh McCown did finish with 341 yards with two touchdowns and the game clinching interception was the only one that the veteran threw.
Gary Barnidge caught six passes for over 100 yards and a touchdown to pace the Cleveland pass catching bunch.
The Browns fall to 1-2 and will spend the next two weeks on the road against San Diego and then Baltimore.
The schedule gets tough,folks-it's about to get worse...

Brownie Bits

1) Josh McCown was not so swift for three quarters and managed to salvage some stats in the fourth quarter.
McCown still should have done better early on as he overthrew receivers on multiple occasions,but he wasn't awful enough to change things at quarterback.
I still think that Johnny Manziel needs to play,but if the decision was made for this game to go with Josh McCown,then I see no reason to reverse course based on this game.

2) Huge game by Gary Barnidge,who is most known for his blocking, with six catches,100 plus yards and a score,but keep in mind this -Oakland has made tight ends look like Kellen Winslow Sr.
Tyler Eifert (Bengals) and Crockett Gilmore (Ravens) each had huge games vs the Raiders this year and Barnidge was added to the list.
Something must be amiss in the Oakland defensive scheme that tight ends are killing them so much...

3) Brian Hartline had a nice game with five catches for 96 yards with one amazing catch as well.
Nice to see Hartline getting targeted a bit and perhaps his chemistry is better with Josh McCown than Johnny Manziel.

4) Travis Benjamin grabbed another touchdown and completed it with a nifty dive to break the plane of the end zone.
Benjamin also fumbled a punt that could have given the Browns more time to tie the game,but instead allowed the Raiders to run time off the clock.
Benjamin also was the intended receiver on the Charles Woodson interception and he didn't make a great effort to come back to the ball..

5) Mike Pettine's whole philosophy is to run the football and stop the run and the Browns get a huge fail on both.
39 yards rushing (36 of them to Isaiah Crowell) on 14 tries.
That isn't going to wear anyone down and you aren't going to win many games with Josh McCown or Johnny Manziel throwing 49 passes to these receivers.
Complete failure and shows the Browns failure in evaluating talent and tailoring it to fit what they want to do.

6) As for stopping the run-good luck as the Raiders continued the run (no pun intended) of team slamming the ball down the throat of this supposedly improved run defense.
This time,it was Latavius Murray that scorched the Browns for 139 yards and generally did whatever he wanted against the this sorry excuse for a run defense.
I see zero amount of improvement and this was supposed to be a major upgrade for 2015.

7) Joe Haden has had a rough three game start to the season and he suffered a rib injury early in the game in which Raider rookie Amari Cooper had his way with Haden.
To their credit,neither Haden or Mike Pettine used the rib injury as an excuse,but still it's starting to be apparent that Browns fans and the media may have overrated Haden as an elite shutdown level corner.
Haden just gets beaten far too often for that to be the case...

8) The Browns also play really dumb football for a team that wants to play smart,physical football (part of that play like a Brown garbage).
How about these two gems-After three cracks at the end zone on fourth and goal,Joel Bitonio (who has taken a step back thus far this season) false starts to eliminate that option and then Barkevious Mingo roughs the punter (although to be fair,the penalty could also have been called on three other guys as well) to give the ball back to Oakland.
Result-The Raiders drive the ball down the field with the possession gift for their first touchdown of the day....

9) This defense was supposed to dominate,remember? Well,in order to dominate,you need to tackle!
I watched too many tackles to count,be broken and result in huge gains over well of over 30 yards.
The most memorable of which was fullback Marcel Reece accounting for all 55 of his yards of the day on a screen pass that should have gained five yards,if not for poor tackling.
Donte Whitner appears to be a step slow and more interested in giving big hits than wrapping up.
Play like a Brown indeed.

10) If you liked Derek Carr and Khalil Mack's performances yesterday and you should have,remember that both could have been Browns.
I liked both coming out of college,but the Browns passed on both for Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel.
That's why they are the Browns.

11) Speaking of Justin Gilbert,he did dress for the game,but did not play.
As for the biggest Browns "addition" in the off-season,Dwayne Bowe was inactive.
Dwayne Bowe was Ray Farmer's guy and Farmer can return from his suspension right after the Chargers game.
It's clear that there is a difference on Dwayne Bowe between the coaches and front office as far as their opinions on the veteran wideout.
Watch for something to happen on that front as soon as it does.

12) The Raiders believe in getting a young quarterback weapons and investing in playmakers.
Which is why the Raiders gave Derek Carr a young star in Amari Cooper to throw to and while the Browns were guaranteeing Ray Farmer's buddy from Kansas City nine million dollars,the Raiders signed Michael Crabtree for help for their young passer.
A young passer that plays by the way and doesn't sit behind a 36 year UFL veteran.
Amazing how you can rebuild when you draft impact players when the ball is in their hands.
The Browns? Well,they wait until round four to pick a guy with the dropsies and then release him.
That's the Cleveland M.O.

13) Today's uniform update-All Brown.
I generally like the colored jerseys,but on this team-I think the best look with these substandard uniforms would be white jersey,orange pants...

14) The schedule now becomes brutal with only one game over the last 13 that I see the Browns possibly being favored in-maybe the home game vs the 49ers,maybe.
I spoke on the preview podcast that the Browns had to be a minimum of 2-1 after these first three games (two at home) and they've came up with 1-2..
I'm sure they'll win one or two (at best) games that you don't expect them to and maybe they get the Niners,but that still is 4-12 at the top end.
I'd rather take 2-14 and the top pick,if those are my selections.
I predicted that the Browns would have that pick for 2016,let's see...
It's about to get brutal in Cleveland....

15) Cavalier camp opens soon at least.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Buckeyes hurdle Western Michigan 38-12

Cardale Jones threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns and Ezekiel Elliott added 124 on the ground as the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated visiting Western Michigan 38-12 at Columbus.
Adolphus Washington returned an interception for a touchdown in the victory as well.
Ohio State improves to 4-0 before they visit Indiana next week at the beginning of Big Ten play.

PC problems all evening, so this will be a little shorter than a usual wrap-up.
PC depending, I'll try to go more into things if I can get a Football Weekend in Ohio podcast up on Monday...

Olentangy Offerings

1) I thought Cardale Jones looked better after being named the starter.
Jones threw two touchdowns of over 30 yards but still needs to get an improved touch on his passes as he was still underthrowing on the long ball.
That problem could go away by just continuing to get reps and passes in...

2) Ezekiel Elliott used his hurdling skills twice in the game.
As much fun as it is to watch, I hope he slacks off on this a bit,.

3) Buckeye special teams chipped as Tyvus Powell blocked a first-quarter Bronco field goal attempt.
Between that and blocking a punt that was called back to a penalty, the Buckeyes have added a major weapon for teams to think about...

4) Western Michigan coach P.J, Fleck was incredibly annoying with his running all over the place and screaming all the time.
Fleck reminded me of Bill Cowher with all the noise and running all over the field and that was not a compliment towards Cowher.
If this guy ever has a job that would see him face one of the teams that I root for regularly, he is going to be very grating.

5) Western Michigan also featured lots of crap on the helmet, something that looked likes oars on the jersey and Fleck wore some sweater that mentioned rowing.
I'm sure that had something to do with some motivational thing, but it didn't have much to do with the Bronco mascot...

6) Curtis Samuel is starting to become a big-play man in the offense. Samuel ripped off a 40 yard TD run, had a 40-yard catch and finished with over 100 yds on 4 touches of the ball.
Watch if that develops.

7) I was worried about the leg injury to impact linebacker Darron Lee, who left the game on a cart after a Bronco leg whip, which sounds like an old pro wrestling finishing hold.
Lee did return to the game, so the sweat from Buckeye fans went for naught!

8) The big play of the game had to go to the Adolphus Washington pick and stroll for six.
Watching the play, Washington caused havoc on the screen by taking the running back away and Sam Hubbard's pass rush forced a soft and wobbly pass that was easy for even a defensive lineman to grab!

9) I missed the first drive, thanks to a local TV snafu that saw ABC list Virginia Tech at East Carolina OR OSU. When that happens, it is supposed to be ABC gets one game, the other goes to one of the ESPN networks.
On this day, both channels showed VT and it took a bit for the ESPN alternates to get the Buckeyes up and rolling.

10) The real TRS star of the day was on the field, but not in uniform as for the first time, we were able to see a new star in action-Olivia Harlan (daughter of NFL and NBA announcer Kevin) was the sideline reporter and we were impressed.
To the point of perhaps a new leader in the sideline reporter contest, Harlan did a nice job with Urban Meyer at the half and kept things up to date on Darron Lee's injury.
OSU fans likely won't see Harlan the rest of this season as her crew does the lesser games, but keep the name in mind-It won't be long before you will see her doing higher profile games and we have a clubhouse leader for the face of the 2016 PPM!!!

Sorry again for the lack of the usual detail, this thing is fighting me every step!
Until tomorrow with either a new PC, a Browns review and//or the podcast!!

Friday, September 25, 2015

On the Signing Front

Since my good friends at Columbia Gas are around the home office,I figured I'd use the time to add a signing front.
I have loads of cards sitting around,so the chipping at the pile might as well begin today....

The Savannah Sand Gnats hit Hagerstown for the first regular season visit in years-The Gnats had been forced to come for the 2013 SAL Championship series,but not in the regular season since I have been doing this.
The Gnats will return next season,but as the Columbia Fireflies after a move to South Carolina.
One of the disappointments of the year was my inability to hit any of the three towns that will be losing teams or moving to new stadiums in New Britain Ct,Savannah or Augusta Ga....
Savannah wasn't loaded with prospects,but I did get a few interesting players.
Eudor Garcia might rank near the top of nicest guys all season and he gave Mike Oravec a bat to send to a mutual friend.
Luis Guillorme signed his SAL top prospect card and team setter with a Bowman,Corey Oswalt signed a Heritage with his teamer,Christian Montgomery signed two different USA cards and Wuilmer Becerra signed a Bowman and Sand Gnat card,although he would only sign coming off the field for warmups,which makes me think he could be more of a problem as he rises in the Mets system.
This was also the series that I got the rising prospect Bryan Meijia on his 2014 and 2015 Auburn cards from the Suns....

I then did the home Frederick Keys as the Keys took on the Winston-Salem Dash.
At that time,the Dash was rumored to not be doing a team set,which they changed their mind at the last minute when first rounder Carson Fulmer was assigned to them.
So the result was nothing for the Dash and time to do the Keys.
This is the one day a year that I don't enjoy graphing.
The layout at Harry Grove Stadium means that you have to do one team or the other and all the graphers are usually on the other side,
The Keys were their typically Oriole weak team and other than Chance Sisco on his Keys card and Josh Hart on his Delmarva,2014 SAL prospect and Bowman,the Keys were not studded with prospects.
I did get Cody Wheeler on an old Donruss Elite in his Coastal Carolina uniform and I always like those.
Wheeler was a very nice guy and I enjoyed talking to him...

Mike Oravec did the Wilmington Blue Rocks and even though I mostly was finished,Mike filled in a few needs,most notably a Bowman Chrome of Santiago Nessy.

Not sure when,but sometime during this was the visit of Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat to Frederick and I found Steamboat to be so down to Earth.
He signed my card and figure and when I told him that I had rooted AGAINST him through my childhood and he snapped his head up and said "Against"? I told him that I was a heel fan and he said "you know you guys probably had a lot more fun than the rest of these guys" and smiled.
Great guy and if you are a wrestling fan and get a chance to meet Steamboat,I recommend that you take advantage of the chance..

Tom O'Brien sent me a Heritage signed by Nick Swisher with the Indians and had Nick add Go Bucks,which I always try to get when getting former Buckeyes.

The Greensboro Grasshoppers returned to Hagerstown for their second visit and their team set wasn't released,so the highlight of the series was Tyler Kolek and Justin Twine on their SAL prospect cards and a 1987 Topps of Luis Quinones on a Giants card,
Quinones ranks with the best coaches to come through Hagerstown in years-friendly,always had time to talk and signed everything that you had...
I also got Kevin Perez on a 2014 Lexington card after the Suns had signed him from the Royals,who had just released him...

Next in was the Delmarva Shorebirds,which was similar to the Frederick Keys.
Main addition was Brian Gonzalez on his SAL prospect card,little of of note other than team set cards.

Jason Christensen sent me some cool stuff from the Binghamton Mets with various cards of Brandon Nimmo,L.J. Mazzilli and Gavin Cecchini.
Jason also added me Phillies prospect J.P.Crawford  and Yankee prospect Aaron Judge on their SAL prospect card and Eastern League prospects of Cecchini and Nimmo with three Reading Phillies from that set in Aaron Nola,Roman Quinn and Zach Elfin.

The Salem Red Sox finished their trips to Frederick and after doing most of their team set in a previous visit,the main addition was Trey Ball on his Carolina League prospect card

Bill Cover added me some Bowmans during a visit to Pulaski VA.
Yankees Gosuke Katoh and Kendall Coleman were combined with the Braves Dylan Manwaring and Ian Hagenmiller.

Between Bill Cover and Fred Landucci,I was able to get a lot of the Richmond Flying Squirrels finished while I was away.
Kyle Crick (EL,Bowman and Richmond),Mac Williamson ( Bowman Breakout,and 2 San Jose) and Tyler Beede (Richmond) were the big gets.

Fred Landucci also was able to get me Josh Bell and Tyler Glasnow of Altoona on their EL prospect cards before both of them were promoted to AAA Indianapolis...

I wrapped up this set with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in Harrisburg with Bill Cover.
I was able to get a decent chunk of the team set finished,but the big get was Jeff Hoffman on his top 100.
Hoffman signed tons during this set and shortly after was traded to the Rockies in the Troy Tulowitski trade.
Also was able to get former Columbus Clipper Scott Barnes on two of his AAA issues during this series.

That put a small dent in the pile,but much to be told over the fall and winter,so stay tuned...

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM is back for another week at the football altar!

Last Week:6-3
Overall: 19-5

Ohio State over Western Michigan 37-20
Bowling Green over Purdue 40-31
Boise State over Virginia 23-16
TCU over Texas Tech 52-34
Washington over Cal 24-23

Game of the Week
Oregon over Utah 30-21

Raiders over Browns 28-20
Panthers over Saints 21-14

Game of the Week
Packers over Chiefs 26-17

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cleaning out the inbox

We return to the inbox with plenty of news and some passings as well....

The post on the Hagerstown Suns pitchers was our 3000th post here!
It's hard to believe that I have done so many posts.
I am amazed that I actually stuck with this....

Starting with the passings as "Lefty" Koch sends word of the death of former pitcher Joaquin Andujar at the age of 62.
Andujar won 20 games in 1984 and 1985 with the St,Louis Cardinals,but was surprisingly out of the game by 1989,
The righthander blossomed after becoming a Redbird after a journeyman-like tenure with the Houston Astros that never saw him win more than 12 games in the rainbow uniforms in the Astrodome.
Andujar is also remembered for being ejected in the middle of the Cardinals game seven loss in the 1985 World Series in what would be his final game as a Cardinal,as he was traded to Oakland at the end of the season.
Andujar might be best remembered as he dubbed himself "one tough Dominican" and once said his favorite word in English was "Youneverknow"......

Another passing was that of former Iowa forward Roy Marble at the age of 48,
Marble,who is the father of the Orlando Magic's Devyn Marble,left Iowa in 1989 as the schools all time leading scorer and would spend two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks.
Marble could play small forward or shooting guard and I thought that he would have been a better pro than he turned out to be.
Marble passed away due to lung cancer..

I really enjoyed the SEC Network program on former N.C.State and LSU head coach Bo Rein.
A forgotten figure,Rein took the LSU job in 1980,but never coached a game after dying in a mysterious plane crash.
I think you'll be pleased with the half hour on the former Buckeye baseball and football star.
Eleven Warriors brought it to my attention and I enjoyed the program.

Hardball Times looks at the career of Bobby Murcer.
Hardball Times often looks at players on the 40 year anniversary of Topps baseball card sets and the Murcer card from that season was after the winter trade to the Giants (we wrote about it here) for Bobby Bonds.
The card features one of those awful Topps airbrushing jobs of the day with a not so swift Giants cap on Murcer.

Grantland discusses two southwestern programs with two different types of problems.
The first topic is about the problems that the SMU Mustangs have had since their death penalty in the late 1980's.
What I thought was most interesting was the comparison to fellow Dallas/Ft.Worth metroplex school TCU,which was of the same status as SMU for years before the investment into their program and resulting rise....

The other talks about the Arkansas State football program and the difficulty in keeping coaches as for the first time in years,ASU has been able to retain their coach (Blake Anderson) for a second year.
Arkansas State lost three coaches in a row to more successful programs after their first season in Jonesboro and this article talks about the issues in retaining coaches after success at lower levels...

Hagerstown is considered part of the Washington TV market,which moved up one spot in the Nielsen ratings.
Nielsen has been the name brand in TV ratings for decades and their research saw Washington nose out Boston for 7th place.
Baltimore is 26th overall and if Baltimore and Washington were to be considered one market,it would move up to 3rd behind just New York and Los Angeles overall.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

Benjamin bombs Titans in 28-14 Browns win!

Travis Benjamin accounted for three touchdowns (then why isn't the picture of him then?) two via the arm of Johnny Manziel and a punt return to lead the Cleveland Browns to a 28-14 win over the Tennessee Titans in the Browns home opener.
Manziel finished the day completing 8 of 15 passes for 172 yards, with Benjamin grabbing 115 of those.
The 1-1 Browns will host 1-1 Oakland next week before the schedule begins to significantly stiffen...

Brownie Bits

1) Getting some work done on the home office, so didn't do a podcast on the win.
Just a little too much surrounding noise.
I have a tentative plan that may see blog posts on the Buckeyes and Browns that will be supplemented by a weekly podcast entitled "Football Weekend in Ohio".
If you watch both games and want to appear on the show, drop me a line.

2) Johnny Manziel avoided the big mistake and that's as much as you can ask for.
Manziel is going to be what he was at Texas A&M at his best-Let him improvise and try to supplement with a strong running game.
Reigning him in and trying to fit a round peg into a square hole is a waste of time.
Manziel may not turn out to be a successful player in the league, but turning him into a mold that is against his skill set will almost certainly fail.

3) The kill shot to Travis Benjamin showed what Manziel could do at his best, scramble out of the pocket, get into open space and make things happen.
Now those things will be harder to make happen against teams better than the Titans, but allowing Manziel the freedom to roam (and the mistakes that will come) is the best decision.

4) Travis Benjamin certainly has been the breakout star through the first two weeks.
Benjamin has shown the possibility of being a playmaker in the past and I still question Benjamin being more than an occasional big-play guy on offense/kick returner, but you do have to account for him when he hits the game and it also seems that Johnny Manziel has gotten comfortable with him as well.
If that continues, Benjamin's value to the Browns and fantasy owners will continue to climb.

5) The running game improved with Isaiah Crowell grinding out 72 yards with a score and Duke Johnson ripped off a 20-yard run to go with it.
Again, consider the opponent, but the ground game was more effective-especially in the first half.

6) The offensive line still wasn't as good as I expected and Alex Mack in particular was bullied around by Al Woods, who had a tremendous day spent most lined up versus Mack.

7) Lots of credit to the Browns pass rush as Cleveland racked up seven sacks of Marcus Mariota.
Two and a half from Armonty Bryant, who was very impressive in 2013 before losing much of 2014 due to injury,
Bryant might wind up being the only thing memorable from the only Mike Lombardi draft of 2013.

8) The interior defense was pretty tight, but the Browns had trouble around the end as Dexter McCluster ran for 98 yards on 10 carries that were all basically the play to the same area.
That to me is on the outside backers and corners and will need to be fixed..

9) Special teams look to be a real strength after the off-season.
Travis Coons drilled all four extra points and kicked the ball out of the end zone every time.
Andy Lee punted two inside the twenty and averaged over fifty yds.
Take that with the dynamic play of Travis Benjamin and special teams was a dominant part of this win...

10) Dwayne Bowe played.
Amid rumors that the coaching staff wants the reported malcontent gone, Bowe has done little to change minds in order to stick around.
Other than Ray Farmer's dubious decision to make nine million dollars of his contract guaranteed that is.

11) Uniforms.
White looked crisper than the brown of last week, but I'm still not a fan of the white with white look and I felt that way with the preferred previous uniforms for the record...

12) Finally,I thought this was a must-win.
I've said all along that the first three games were the most winnable and there should have been no excuses for a loss at home to Tennessee.
I watched Oakland's win over Baltimore yesterday, the Raiders have improved and I think the Browns should be favored in a pickem-level game only because of the home field.
Buckle up,Browns fans after next week, Cleveland will not be favored in a game for a long time...

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Defense leads Ohio State over Northern Illinois

Darron Lee's 41 yard interception return for a touchdown stretched a lead to ten points in the third quarter and the Ohio State Buckeyes rode the defense the rest of the way to hold off the Northern Illinois Huskies 20-13 in Columbus.
Ezekiel Elliott rushed for a workmanlike  108 yards in the win that saw Ohio State use two quarterbacks that were both unable to crack 100 yards on the day.
The Buckeyes (3-0) host Western Michigan (1-2) next Saturday..

Olentangy Offerings

1) I've often been critical of Luke Fickell through the years,but on a day that saw the offense deal with major issues,it was the defense that stood up and won this game.
Northern Illinois finished with under 200 yards of total offense and generally (with one exception) was unable to do anything against the Silver Bullet defense.
Give the credit where it's due...

2) The defensive line led by Adolpho Washington and Joey Bosa was the main part of the victory as they bullied the undersized Huskie offensive line and didn't allow any time for Drew Hare to throw the football.
If Washington continues to play at that level every week,teams are going to have a hard time keeping their quarterback up right.....

3) Darron Lee said he had a real chance of taking an interception for a score and did just that.
I love the OSU linebacking team of Lee,Raekown McMillan and Joshua Perry and all have an excellent chance of playing on Sundays in their future.

4) I was a bit concerned about Gareon Conley when I did the preview on the podcast,but he has had a strong three games thus far.
Conley has been the picked on player by the opposition and thus far,Conley has done very well...

5) Cardale Jones or J.T.Barrett?
Neither exactly played well and neither threw for over 100 yards.
Other than Barrett's 23 yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas,neither did much to distinguish themselves in whatever this has become at the quarterback position.

6) Here's the problem as I see it.
I leaned toward Cardale Jones at the beginning of the season,but in an attempt to give both players playing time,neither have been allowed to settle into the position.
At this point with Western Michigan finishing the non-conference schedule,I think that it's almost imperative for Urban Meyer to pick Jones or Barrett one way or the other.
Both players said that's what they wanted to start with and what Meyer said he wasn't going to do before the season.
Pick a player,make the call and give them the ball....

7) Ezekiel Elliott rushed for over 100 yards,but they were a quiet 100 (I know that always sounds dumb) as his longest run was just 13 yards.
Elliott was more of a workhorse than a breakaway threat...

8) Much of this was the offensive line,which really didn't have a strong afternoon.
That will need to change in conference play,but some of this is due to number nine...

9) The Buckeyes aren't using Elliott in the manner that they should.
Elliott is not being used in between the tackles and despite his speed,might be getting too many calls around the end.
Elliott is a physical back and just isn't being given the chance to wear down the opponents with the play calling.

10) Ohio State misses Devin Smith more than anyone expected them to.
Michael Thomas is a fine receiver,but without the deep threat of Smith,teams are able to play a tighter zone and play closer to the line of scrimmage,which then allows teams to push back on Ezekiel Elliott.
If there is a reason to pick J.T.Barrett over Cardale Jones,it might be this reason-if the team lacks a deep threat,the more powerful (and less accurate) arm of Jones isn't quite as needed.
Someone needs to break out in practice to give the Buckeyes that seam stretcher that's such a need...

11) Finally,I picked Ohio State 45-14,but Northern Illinois was a BCS team just two years ago and has won the MAC three of the previous four seasons.
I thought the NIU would hang tough for a while,but the Buckeyes wpuld pull away in the second half for a larger score.
That didn't happen,but even though the Buckeyes offense was disappointing,don't be too quick to toss this game aside.
Northern Illinois is a strong football team and I might look back at this game as being a better win than it seems today...

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM returns with another week of picks!

Last Week:7-2

Ohio State over Northern Illinois 45-14
Bowling Green over Memphis 37-34
Boise State over Idaho State 45-7
Arkansas over Texas Tech 31-21
Washington over Utah State 17-14

Game of the Week
Ole Miss over Alabama 24-22

Browns over Titans 17-14
Saints over Buccaneers 34-16

Game of the Week
Packers over Seahawks 27-21

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fun with the Solheim Cup

The Solheim Cup starts in a few hours from Germany and I'm sure I'll be watching a lot of it.

Just what is the Solheim Cup?
It is the ladies golf version of the Ryder Cup and in many ways,more fun.
The Cup is currently in the hands of team Europe,which has won the last two cups and this years is being held in Germany.

I like team golf,especially when it is held every two years.
The infrequency of the event makes it special and the two teams are generally pretty equal.

It's also fun to watch the patriotic aspect of things,particularly on the American side with the uniforms,colors etc.
Sometimes these things can be overdone,but the tournament directors do an excellent job of getting this right.

What I really like most though is the various games of golf that come into play in the Solheim Cup,which again is most similar to the Ryder Cup.
28 matches comprise the tournament with two members of each team playing in alternate shot (I really enjoy watching this) using a ball for each team in eight matches, each team using two players in foursomes which has four balls in play and each team uses its lower score for its score in eight matches and then 12 singles matches on the final day.
Each match is worth one point and in the event of a overall tie,the team that holds the cup retains it...

Even though Jessica Korda (my favorite player) didn't make this years team,I'll still pay close attention to the cup because I love the format.
Since the Cup is in Germany it's early in the morning,so I'll be watching on-line from the road office.
I'm sure the time will work against you people that work normal hours,but if you happen to be up,flip over to the Golf Channel and give the Solheim Cup a try.
You just might get caught up in it!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

2015 Hagerstown Suns Review-The Pitchers

We finish our series on the 2015 Hagerstown Suns with a look at the pitchers.
The cutoff line is six games pitched.
If a player appeared in less than that number,I didn't offer an opinion on such a small sample.

There certainly were no Lucas Giolitos or Reynaldo Lopezes on the 2015 Suns,but there were a few interesting arms,especially a few that arrived in the waning days of the campaign.

The standout of the early season was Austen Willams,who composed a tiny ERA of 2.10 in 13 starts before a promotion to Potomac.
Willams doesn't throw gas as some do in the organization,but he has nice command (30 walks in 135 innings in two stops) and with his size (6'3) and ability to keep the ball down (allowed just 4 homers),I would say that Williams is a prospect to keep tabs on.
Williams should start next season in AA Harrisburg.

The other pitchers that are worth discussing as interesting all came into Hagerstown later in  the season.
I really liked what I saw in two hard throwers out of the 2015 draft.
Andrew Lee was downright dominant in 29 innings that saw him start and relieve.
Hitters hit just .171 against him his ERA and WHIP (2.15 and 0.92) were microscopic and his number that impressed me most-34 strikeouts in 29 innings.
I've said before that when I evaluate pitching numbers in the SAL,the ratio of strikeouts to innings pitched is my top stat.
If you aren't striking batters out here with the hitters not being as disciplined in the strike zone,the odds are that the number will not excessively improve at higher levels.
On the contrary,a high number (anything above 1 is considered strong) shows a arm that has the potential to play as the competition increases.
Another interesting note on Lee,who was drafted out of Morristown Tennessee as a high school product-Lee is listed as 21 and will turn 22 in December..
Either someone made an error or Lee was one old high school senior!
Lee should start at High A Potomac and should be given the chance as a full time starter.

Editor's Note:I was told by a reader that Lee spent time in Knoxville as a Tennesse Volunteer,which wasn't listed on his page.
Things make so much more sense now!!

Koda Glover  is another 2015 draftee with a power arm that sits in the mid to upper 90's.
The Oklahoma State Cowboy had the same WHIP as Lee and in 24 innings struck out 27 while walking just one.
Glover is a simple pitcher matching pitch speed vs bat speed and in his last game against Kannapolis,Glover might have been close to 100 MPH as he fanned all three batters on 11 pitches and allowed just one foul ball.
Glover has the stuff and attitude to be a closer and is likely to start as the Potomac closer in 2016.

2014 first rounder Erick Fedde finished his first pro season in Hagerstown (six starts) with an ERA that was deceivingly high (4.34) due to a six earned run filled first start,but even that considered,Fedde was a mild disappointment to me.
Hitters hit  just .224 against Fedde and his WHIP was strong at 1.10,but he struck out just 23 in 29 innings,his stuff didn't seem overwhelming and looked to me to be a polished college pitcher that overwhelmed the less experienced SAL hitters.
I still think Fedde is a prospect as the UNLV product was in his first year of post-Tommy John surgery,but I wasn't as impressed as I thought I'd be.
Fedde could start back with the Suns,but is more likely to be in Potomac....

None of the four pitchers that threw the highest number of innings truly stood out.
Luis Reyes struggled most of the season,but spent the season as a 20 year old in Hagerstown.
Reyes numbers were nothing special and he suffered an injury in his last start,so his future is clouded at best.

6'6 Connor Bach struck out 106 in 110 innings and hitters hit just .238 against him.
However,his control was spotty,WHIP was high and his ERA was just under four.
Combine that with being a little old for the level,Bach will need a strong 2016 in Potomac for prospect status.

Drew Van Orden's numbers look passable enough,but the former fifth rounder from Duke doesn't miss many bats (47 k's in 92 innings) and was old for the level (23).
Van Orden might project best as a long reliever.

Lanky Venezuelan Mario Sanchez spent the season in Hagerstown at 20 with a high ERA and stats that were not worth noting except for one-18 walks in 90 innings.
I'd return Sanchez to Hagerstown and hope for better results..

As for the rest
Phillips Valdez was excellent as a Sun including one memorable night at the Muni,where he threw seven innings of no-hit baseball,but his numbers fell after a Potomac promotion.
Valdez will start next season at 24,so 2016 is a make or break season.

Jefry Rodriguez started the season with high expectations as the brightest prospect of the pitchers.
Instead,Rodriguez posted an ERA over six,almost walked as many as he struck out and spent more time in short season Auburn than Hagerstown.
Still just 22,Rodriguez's time might be running out.

Jake Walsh didn't allow a run in 17 innings,but will start 2016 at 25.
If he is assigned to AA Harrisburg,the organization is giving him a chance.Any lower and they consider him roster filler....

Justin Amlung put up pedestrian numbers after being signed after the Cubs released him.
Amlung was 25 and didn't dominate,I'd be mildly surprised to see him next season.

Former top prospect Matt Purke started eight games in Hagerstown as part of an attempted comeback.
Purke used guile and smarts to outclass the SAL,but clearly lacked the toolbox that he once had.
That caught up to him when he was hammered at AA Harrisburg.
Purke looks to be finished as a prospect.

Two years ago,former third rounder Brett Mooneyham looked to be on the verge of being high on the Nationals prospect list.
After 19 brutal innings and a drop from a higher level,Mooneyham was released.
The end was pretty sad and fall from grace was quick as Mooneyham clearly either had lost his confidence or perhaps was injured as he was not even close to the pitcher that pitched in Hagerstown in 2013.

Robert Orlan was old for the level (25 in two weeks),but his 68 strikeouts in 55 innings jumps off the page to me and makes him worth noting.
Orlan might have a chance as a situational reliever,if he could post similar numbers at higher levels.

Soft tossing Ryan Brinley posted nice numbers in 11 games in August,but struck out just six batters and I'd bet he gets exposed at higher levels.

Kevin Perez was excellent with the Suns,but bombed in Potomac after being signed by Washington after the Royals released him.,
Hitters hit just .205 against Perez and he's still just 22,but he'll need to put it together soon.

Three pitchers appear headed for organizational soldier status after a second year in Hagerstown.
Andrew Cooper,David Napoli and Sam Johns all were undistinguished,although Cooper had the best numbers of the bunch and is the youngest (23).
None are of prospect status and other than maybe Cooper will be lucky to be around for 2016.

Deion Williams struggled with control and will be fortunate to be back next season.
Williams turns 23 before next season,so he's likely to get one more chance,but it will be his final one.

David Ramos was injured after 7 games and 13 innings of pretty bad work (ERA just under seven)
Ramos just turned 24,so he'll be lucky to get another year...

Hope you enjoyed the Suns series,still have more planned for this week,so stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

2015 Hagerstown Suns Review-The Hitters

We start our annual review of the Hagerstown Suns as we look at the hitters.
The Suns were not a prospect-laden team in 2015 as the parent Washington Nationals begin to pay the price in the draft for their improvement in the standings in Washington.
As has also been the more the rule than the exception,the Nationals provided little in power hitting potential as only one Sun reached double digits in homers (11).
Some of that does have to do with beloved Municipal Stadium as the left to left center power alleys have to rank among the hardest in the game to get a ball out of.
I'd wager that if you charted such things,I bet there aren't anymore than 20 homers between home and away teams hit to left and left center all season.
It's damaging to the power numbers of righthanded hitters for sure,so keep that in mind as some righthanded players will suddenly seem to develop power at High A Potomac and AA Harrisburg that simply have struggled at a power challenged park such as the Muni.

There were four players who intrigued me at various points in the season,so I'll discuss them first and then move along to smaller bullet points for other Suns that I might have questions or opinions about their 2015 season and prospects as a (well) prospect.

The conventional prospect that was a Sun all season was first baseman Jose Marmolejos,who put together a season that was worthy of prospect status with a .310 (avg),11 (HR) and 87 (RBI) line with a ops of 848.
Marmolejos turns 23 over the winter,so this wasn't a case of a totally overage player doing so well and if you want to look at the stat the interests me the most-39 doubles. I bet that the Muni alone cost him a few homers,although not as many as others as Marmolejos hit from the left side.
His 89 strikeouts are a little above average,but nothing to raise a huge red flag about and his fielding could be improved as he had his share of clunkers.
Far from a sure bet,I'm interested to see Marmolejos next season at High A Potomac.

Catcher Raudy Read came to Hagerstown rated pretty highly by some,but injury issues limited him to 82 games.
Reid reminded me some of former Sun and current National Pedro Severino,but I'd rate his arm a level less than the strong-armed Severino,although Read's is quite strong,but I think he has the potential to be a better bat than Severino,certainly with more power.
Read hit just .244,but he kept his strikeouts reasonable (50 in 82 games) and turns 22 over the winter.
If it were me,Read (at 22 for next season) would start the season back in Hagerstown and get a promotion after a month or so,but Washington has another catching prospect at Auburn in Jackson Reetz that will start with the Suns next year.
Read looks to be just good enough as a prospect to perhaps be a consideration for other teams in trades over the winter-he may be blocked in this one.

2015 second rounder Andrew Stevenson arrived in Hagerstown for the final 35 games of the season and quickly became a Muni fan favorite.
The former LSU Tiger has above average speed (16 steals in 20 attempts) and his hustle resulted in many spectacular catches as a plus defender.
Stevenson also started really hot at the plate before cooling off to .285/1/16 line.
Stevenson specialized as a lefty in going the other way and hitting soft liners over the head of the third baseman,so his .285 was a very soft average as his .695 OPs will attest.
Stevenson will have show a little more than that to progress beyond a potential fourth outfielder type,but he is lots of fun to watch and won't turn 22 until next June,so he has a little time to develop.

The most surprising on this list is Bryan Mejia,who arrived on June 30th as an unheralded prospect and then proceeded to hit everything in sight for two months.
Mejia hit a blistering 345/5/46 in Hagerstown with NINE triples and an OPS over .924!
His previous history didn't indicate anything close to a breakout like this,so one could think this was a player old for the SAL level,but that's not true either as Mejia played the entire season at 21.
I just cannot find anything to pick at Mejia about other than an iffy glove (13 errors),which could just as easily be attributed to the bizarre Nationals fetish of playing infielders at 2b,ss,and 3b on a whim instead of allowing a prospect to settle in somewhere.
I'd just park him at second next year and watch his development,but I'd bet that doesn't happen.
This could be a blip on the screen of a career or a breakout season,but Bryan Mejia has made my list of players to watch in 2016.

Here are some quick thoughts on the rest of the 2015 Suns position players

The Suns ran through three catchers that hardly played (18 games combined),so I'm skipping them for this article.
Matt Reistetter was the main backup mitt and played during Raudy Read's injury.
Reisetter hit surprisingly well (.308),but had lots of defensive issues and doesn't seem to be a threat against the running game.
The former Hofstra Flying Dutchman might be headed for that organizational soldier in the reserve catcher mold.

At first,Jose Marmolejos dominated the position as only multiple time Sun Carlos Lopez (who was then released) and a short 13 game stint from Diomedes Eusebio that was most memorable for Eusebio taking the mound in a blowout got even a cameo appearance.
In such a short sample,I wouldn't feel right about rating Eusebio's talents.

I referred earlier to the Nationals liking to move players around the infield,so I will just roll along here with the infield rather than by specific position.
Unless noted,assume they played the middle infield and third base,

Osvaldo Abreu was the standout among this group as he played the most (123 games),hit the best (274/6/47) and was the youngest (21).
Some like Abreu more than I and compare him to Wilmer Difo.
I still consider the jury out on Difo himself,let alone his successor and 30 errors really give me pause.
Abreu is interesting and next year at High A will give me a better feel for him.
Like Bryan Mejia,I'd give him a position defensively and let him play....

Grant DeBruin hit .327 in 69 games at first and third in Hagerstown before a promotion to High A Potomac,but he hit just two homers and he should have hit that well here.
DeBruin is 25 and a former independent player,very old for the level and I don't consider him a prospect.

All of the next few players fit the same mold-light hitting,can play multiple positions and only will receive regular playing time,if there is not a real prospect to play somewhere.
Former Pepperdine Wave Austin Davidson hit six homers,which for this team made him a reasonable power threat,but hit only .202 doing it.
Cody Dent hit just .226 here before a promotion to Potomac (which must have been a need somewhere) and his season ended due to unknown reasons after just nine games there.
My memory of Dent this season was seeing him walk smiling into the Harrisburg clubhouse after a drive from Hagerstown after a promotion and then five minutes later leaving being told he wasn't promoted.
His bags must have never left his hands!
David Masters hit a punchless .230 and committed over twenty errors before a promotion that left regulars at the Muni stunned.
Masters will be an organizational soldier at best or his fate will resemble that of Brennan Middleton,who hit .198 in his second year in Hagerstown before being released.
Former Wake Forest product Conor Keniry struggled in his month in the Hub City and being 24 by the start of next season,may not even get a chance here next season,although he could be given another shot off a small sample size.

The outfielders didn't really produce a prospect although a few show enough to hope for.
Former Princeton Tiger Alec Keller hit well in hitting .294 in a year split almost equally between Hagerstown and Potomac,bur he didn't hit a homer in either place and his skills might be redundant with Andrew Stevenson moving through the system.
I look for Keller to have a chance to start in AA Harrisburg,if the Nationals want to keep Keller and Stevenson separated for a while.

Dale Carey looks the part as far as tools go and is one of my favorite Suns in a long time.
That makes it sad to say that the numbers didn't add up (234/8/52) for prospect status.
Carey is a plus defender with an excellent arm,so I'm not ready to push him aside,but playing next year at 24 makes 2016 a make or break year for the Miami Hurricane.

Jeff Gardner hit just .226 in being in Hagerstown all season and showed the Nationals issues with picking light hitting college players in round eight-twelve.
Lacking power (5 homers) and speed (8 steals),Gardner too enters 2016 in need of a breakout season.

Matthew Page spent the last two months here playing first and the outfield and despite not hitting a homer,had a fair OPS (.741) and 30 walks showed a good eye.
Another college player in the draft range as referred to with Jeff Gardner,Page might be back here next season at 24,where he will need a good start.

Wilmin Rodriguez spent his second Hagerstown season on the DL for much of the season.
Other than having the coolest looking Suns team card in a long time (a great shot of a sliding catch),Rodriguez looked pretty average.
Considering Rodriguez turns 25 in the middle of next season,I place him firmly in the organizational soldier slot.

Hope you enjoyed this look at the Suns hitters.
I'll work on the pitchers sometime this week!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ohio State hammers Hawaii 38-0

The Ohio State Buckeyes offense often sputtered at times against the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii in Columbus,
The defense didn't as OSU floated to a 38-0 victory.
Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 101 yards and pounded for three touchdowns on the ground.
Ohio State (2-0) will host Northern Illinois next week....

Olentangy Offerings

1) Both Cardale Jones and J.T.Barrett each saw time and neither was overly impressive.
Neither threw for a score and both just seemed like they were a hair out of sync...

2) The main reason for the lack of rhythm in the offense was the lack of time after the big win in Blacksburg.
Very difficult to bounce back in what was essentially three days after travel no matter the opponent.
Hawaii may not be a power by any means,but I do think that they are improved over the last few years.

3) I know Braxton Miller and the coaching staff have to be somewhat tentative with Miller's shoulder being untested,but running Miller in the single wing without the threat of a pass takes away the element of surprise.
Long time readers might remember the limitations that the Browns placed on Josh Cribbs in a similar formation and the less than stunning result.
Just the threat of a pass keeps the defense guessing-Hawaii really didn't have to guess..

4) Darron Lee continues to show his candidacy as a Butkus candidate with two sacks and a forced fumble that Vonn Bell scooped and scored on.
Lee continues to get better and better...

5) The quarterbacks mishandled three snaps and even with the excuse of short rest,this needs to be worked on,
Cardale Jones seemed to especially struggle with the center snap and this will be interesting to keep an eye on..

6) Ezekiel Elliott did finish with over 100 yards and three scores,but unlike against Virginia Tech,it didn't come with a large chunk off a long run.
Give Hawaii credit on defense for not allowing what so many teams have given up to Elliott..

7) Joey Bosa returned to the field and was reasonably quiet,although a sack was overturned by a penalty.
The offensive returnees were quiet as well,but this should change with a normal week of preparation...

8) Ohio State did not throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 25 games.
Had they thrown one,it would have set a school record in the team category.

9) Liked Hawaii using the throwbacks uniforms.Very sharp,I also like Hawaii's regular togs of a very sharp green,so the Warriors couldn't lose..

10) I know Ohio State occasionally uses the black shoulder numbers as a nod to the 1968 uniforms,but I don't care for it.
The names are also in black and that makes it hard to read.
Wish they didn't do it that way.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Pointless in the PBC

In what was another pointless PBC card,this one from Spike,the PBC put together another three fights that reminded one of the old squash match oriented days of pro wrestling.
Add to that Top Rank's card on TruTv and only one fighter shined on Friday night.

The main event was another title defense against outgunned opposition by WBC Light Heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson,who destroyed clubfighter Tommy Karpency in three rounds in Toronto.
Stevenson dropped Karpency late in the second and only the bell managed to give Karpency,a third round in which he was quickly dismissed.
The interesting part of the fight was Karpency landing a sharp left that might have stunned Stevenson in round one.
Stevenson has built an entire reign of fighting fighters from a division below and boxers that lack his talent with the exception of Andrej Fonfara,who gave him a tough fight and even dropped him showing the questionable chin of a man once stopped by the immortal Darnell Boone.
I'm not sure just what these bouts prove.Knocking over guys like Karpency and the shot Sakio Bika aren't proving anything to anyone.
PBC has one fighter (Two if you want to see a Fonfara rematch) that would make an interesting fight (Artur Beterbiev) against Stevenson,so hopefully PBC can make that happen because the recent Stevenson bouts are just not worth coming to watch.
After the win,Stevenson offered the obligatory callout of WBA/IBF champ Sergey Kovalev in a fight that boxing fans want to see made,I think Kovalev wants to see made,but not sure that Stevenson and Al Haymon want to see just how solid that chin is.
Kovalev and Main Events aren't blameless either with their insistence (contractual) that such a bout take place on HBO,which won't ordinarily do business with Haymon clients,but would make an exception in this case.
Haymon/PBC is very unlikely to make an exception even for this bout,so as a result,both will issue challenges that won't/can't be accepted and life trolls on...

I missed Errol Spence's stoppage of Chris Van Heerden,due to a co-workers need to watch another program after I was called into work early.
Spence won on an eighth round knockout that was expected.
I think Spence is extremely talented and look forward to him taking on real challenges.
The KO's gave R.L.Malpica and I each four points in the boxing challenge.

The real winner to me was Oscar Valdez in an impressive fifth round stoppage of former contender Chris Avalos on TruTv.
Valdez looks ready for better competition and disposed of Avalos in a way that makes one look forward to seeing him again.
Super Middleweight Jesse Hart came in highly touted,but didn't impress in a wild and undisciplined win via ninth round stoppage of Aaron Pryor Jr.
Hart looked a little green and might need some work.

R.L. and I each add three points for the Top Rank fights and brings the current total to 107-104 going into the Saturday fights...

Late note: Saturday results,I added 7 points to R.L's 6 for a 114-110 score.
I earned two points for Floyd Mayweather's unanimous win over Andre Berto with R.L. adding one.
We both earned a point for Marcus Browne's one round KO of Gabriel Campillo.
We each added two points for Peter Quillin's KO of Michael Zerafa and we each picked one point up for Jermall Charlo's stoppage of Cornelius Bundrage.
Roman Martinez drew with Orlando Salido for zero points and we both picked George Groves to defeat Badou Jack,who won a split decision over Groves....

Podcast-Cleveland Browns Preview

We discuss the 2015 Browns!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge continues with a huge boxing weekend with two cards from PBC,one from Top Rank and a Pay Per View from Mr.Money himself-Floyd Mayweather.
I currently lead R.L.Malpica 100-97 in the challenge

WBC Lt.Heavyweight title.12 rds
Adonis Stevenson vs Tommy Karpency

R.L.:Stevenson KO 4
TRS: Stevenson KO 6

Welterweights 10 rds
Errol Spence vs Chris Van Heerden

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

Featherweights.10 rds
Oscar Valdez vs Chris Avalos
Both:Valdez Unanimous Decision

Super Middleweights 10 rds
Jesse Hart vs Aaron Pryor Jr.

R.L;Hart KO 5
TRS: Hart KO 8

Middleweights.10 rds
Peter Quillin vs Michael Zerafa

R.L;Quillin KO 2
TRS; Quillin KO 3

IBF Jr.Middleweight title. 12 rds
Cornelius Bundrage vs Jermall Charlo

Both:Charlo Unanimous Decision

WBA/WBC Welterweight titles 12 rds
Floyd Mayweather vs Andre Berto

R.L:Mayweather KO 5
TRS:Mayweather Unanimous Decision

Jr.Lightweights. 12 rds
Roman Martinez vs Orlando Salido

Both:Martinez Unanimous Decision

WBC Super Middleweight title 12 rds
Badou Jack vs George Groves

R.L;Groves KO 7
TRS:Groves KO 10

Lt.Heavyweights. 10 rds
Marcus Browne vs Gabriel Campillo

R.L:Browne KO 4
TRS; Browne KO 5

Lots of chances for R.L to make up ground or me to pull away this weekend,So whether its Spike or TruTV shortly or NBC tomorrow.Give some of these bouts a shot!!1

Pigskin Picking Machine

Long night from the road office,so I wanted to get the PPM finished now.
My intent (once again) is to do the Browns preview for the podcast tonight....

Last Week:6-0

Ohio State over Hawaii 60-13
Bowling Green over Maryland 34-30
Boise State over BYU 24-21
Texas Tech over UTEP 44-39
Washington over Sacramento State 42-13

Game of the Week
Michigan State over Oregon 27-23

Jets over Browns 14-10
Saints over Cardinals 24-21

Game of the Week
Broncos over Ravens 28-19

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Browns waive Terrelle Pryor,add Robert Turbin

Before I begin,a housecleaning word-My PC has been awful all day-to the point of being ready to buy a new one this evening!
However,I have gotten it moving a bit now after all day problems,so as long as it's rolling-I'm going to try to save more money to buy a new one...

The plan is this,since the PC is unreliable at this point,I plan on moving the Browns podcast preview up to tonight from the road office in order to have it (hopefully) uploaded in case of potential issues...

I mentioned the Browns signing Austin Davis as another quarterback a few days and I don't have a problem with that.
Davis was at least average (11 TD 9 INT) in a starting stint forced by injury with the Rams and for free to be a backup for Josh McCown (compare the stats of Davis in 2014 with those of McCown),I think its a decent enough addition.

The Browns looked like they were going to continue the conversion of former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor to wide receiver after his appearance in the final pre-season game in which he took snaps and did everything but catch a pass.
Pryor made the final 53 man roster,but Mike Pettine said yesterday that the team had little time for projects,which seemed odd at the time.
It made sense today as the Browns waived Pryor in favor of former Seahawk running back Robert Turbin.

I'll write more on Turbin in a bit,but first this.
I'm not sold on Terrelle Pryor.
Now that's because I've never seen him catch a football in a game more than anything else because athletically,Pryor certainly has the skills to make this move.
The problem that I have with the release goes back to Mike Pettine's statement about carrying projects-The Browns had to know that Pryor was going to be a work in progress,if they weren't willing to be part of that,they were wasting both theirs and Pryor's time.
That is just so typical Browns-wasting time with something that in the end seemed that few were interested in....

Robert Turbin has been the caddy (along with Christine Michael,who was just traded to Dallas) for Marshawn Lynch in Seattle,but the sudden availability of veteran Fred Jackson made the Seahawks willing to let both young backs go.
Turbin is suffering from a high ankle sprain that will keep him sidelined for the first few weeks of the season,but Turbin is easily a good addition for the waiver price.
Turbin has the capability to be in the hunt as the Browns top back and you rarely get those type of players off waivers.
Although I liked Michael better,Turbin at that price is a theft,once he gets to full speed,which won't be a while....
I just wish that the Browns could have found someone else to waive to order to add Turbin....

As I wrote,I plan on the Browns podcast tonight and maybe even the PPM while things are running smooth....

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ohio State spins out of Blackburg

Cardale Jones got the nod as the Ohio State quarterback and Jones threw for two TD's in Ohio State's 42-24 win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
Braxton Miller scored a touchdown on a play that will be a highlight staple all season and Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 122 yards,which 80 of which came on a long scoring run.
The now 1-0 Buckeyes will host Hawaii (1-0) on a short week in Columbus...

This version might be a little shorter or different than usual due to time constraints.
My plan is for a Browns preview on the podcast later this week and then decide on how best to do wrapups from there....

Olentangy Offerings

1) Cardale Jones over J.T. Barrett?
I was surprised with the decision of Jones,but I agreed with it.
Jones will be gone after the season,Barrett has time remaining.
Urban Meyer's call is what I would have done.

2) Braxton Miller with two catches and a touchdown and with a spin move right off a video game,showed that the Buckeyes indeed have another playmaker in their offense.
Could the Buckeyes have FOUR legitimate Heisman contenders???

3) Miller's spin move could be the highlight of the season.Does he have any other tricks in his book?
I wouldn't be surprised if he did.

4) The Buckeyes certainly were hampered by the one game suspension of Joey Bosa,but the bigger loss might have been missing Jalen Marshall and Dontre' Wilson returning punts.
That left Ezekiel Elliott back returning them and his fumble led to a VT touchdown.
That won't likely happen for a while when the regular punt returners are back in the lineup.

5) The other key play was the Buckeyes knocking Virginia Tech QB Michael Brewer out of the game in the third quarter with a broken collarbone.
The Hokies never were able to get their passing game going again after Brewer left the game as Brenden Motley was more of a running threat rather than a passing one.

6) The offensive line did their job in protecting Cardale Jones as they did not allow a sack in the win...

7) Give the Virginia Tech crowd credit,they had a terrific atmosphere going in Blacksburg.
The house was loud and rocking and I wish that the Buckeyes had a little more "Enter Sandman" sometimes in Columbus...

8) I also liked the Virginia Tech metallic helmets.
I like the metallic OSU helmets too for the same reason-they took the regular helmet and added to them instead of using a different design...

9) Chris Fowler is OK in the booth,but I still miss that big game feel that Brent Musberger brought to the table..

10) Now that the memory of Virginia Tech is wiped away,the Buckeyes continue in non-conference.
Hawaii shouldn't be an issue,but the next two opponents are two of the better teams in the MAC,so it wouldn't stun me any to see Northern Illinois and/or Western Michigan hang in there for a while vs the Buckeyes....

Monday, September 7, 2015

Podcast- Ohio State Football Preview

The podcast finally returns with a quick look at why I have been away and then an Ohio State Football Preview with just a few hours before kickoff!  

An indictment of another bad draft-Terrence West Traded

The Cleveland Browns were ready to move on from second year running back Terrence West,apparently so ready that they were ready to release West,if they couldn't find a trading partner.

That wasn't needed as the Browns were able to get a conditional seventh round pick from the Tennessee Titans for the former third rounder.
As exciting of a return as that is,the Browns took the lowest thing that you could receive and had to have a condition slapped on it for a player that just one year ago was not only worth a third round pick,but was valued as being worth trading an additional fourth and sixth round selection for.

I wasn't a Terrence West fan-he danced behind the offensive line far too often for my tastes and he didn't exactly run hard between the tackles either.
West wasn't a pass catching threat and I liked Isaiah Crowell better last season anyway,so this isn't really about losing Terrence West,although with Duke Johnson dealing with concussion issues,one could argue mildly about the timing.

What this does do is raise even more questions about the current Browns regime.
Take away the silly ( and easier to laugh at) "Play like a Brown" stuff and take away the reported "maturity issues" with West alone and look at the 2014 draft.
Many have said that you cannot tag Ray Farmer with the draft because he wasn't on the job long enough to truly sink his teeth in the minutiae of knowing players background.
The Browns have now dealt with these issues with three players from that draft-two number ones and a number three and yet it isn't Ray Farmer's fault?
If Farmer is supposed to be given a pass for not knowing these things with Justin Gilbert,Johnny Manziel and Terrence West,answer me this-Why are you trading up for guys that you don't know everything about?
Why were these things not caught by scouts or crosscheckers,employees that total job was to catch those types of potential issues?
Joel Bitonio has been a standout in round two,Christian Kirksey will start and Pierre Desir looks like a surprise in the 4th,but not only missing on early,but trading assets to miss is simply a disaster.

The only saving grace has been the signings of undrafted free agents Isaiah Crowell and Ka'Waun Williams at two of those positions and some argue that those signings offset the Gilbert and West disaster by "look at Crowell and Williams as the high picks and Gilbert/West as the free agents".
Simply put,that is a cop-out.
If you thought that was the truth,why not take them high and not take the risk of losing them?
Or maybe take other players and make the team even stronger?

I'm not ready to say Ray Farmer needs to go,but the body of work shown thus far is not good.
Once again,the Browns have shown severe front office issues as once again,the team has placed higher priority on saving money and gambling on an unknown quantity rather than on a proven winner in the front office.
And no,I don't count Mike Holmgren as a proven winner in the front office as his general manager reign in Seattle was unsuccessful as only when he became a coach only did the Seahawks turn things around.

I'll have a Browns preview up later this week.
I don't think it will be pretty....

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Elevation Burger and grading burgers

As we went to Frederick for the final time of the season,a curveball was thrown when a new high-end burger store was recommended by Bruce Begole.
We've been going to Smashburger as previously noted,when we went to Frederick this season.
Being burger aficionados,we have the top notch Five Guys in town,so Smashburger became the summer of 2015 Frederick staple.
We planned one final Smashburger trip,but in our previous Frederick visit.Bruce recommended an new chain that I had never heard of,but that he had said was from a similar vein in Elevation Burger.

Elevation Burger does a gimmick of after their standard two burger sandwich of offering a burger that that can go from three burgers up to ten!
Elevation also claims to be enviro-friendly with 100% organic burgers from grass-fed beef with the french fries fried in "Heart-Healthy" Olive Oil.
Sounds nice,but as usual with these statements,I'll take them with a raised eyebrow,

Elevation has a mostly beef menu,although there are a few chicken items and ice cream/milk shakes with a veggie burger option as well.
I actually don't mind veggie burgers,although those that tell you that you'll be unable to tell the difference from beef are full of something else,so I applaud having that option.

I ordered the "standard" though of two patties with a thick slice of cheddar cheese and added mushrooms,pickles and jalapenos with a side of fries.
Like Smashburger (and unlike Five Guys),the order is brought to your table and they used a metal cake pan for each order.
I liked that because it gives the sloppy eater (like me) a chance to maybe not make a mess on oneself.
The burger was juicy,arguably overly so,so maybe if you like a burger to be more well-done with less juice,you might want to ask them to cook it a little longer.

The cheese was melted,but not to the point of being mush and the side items were all crisp.
I also added "elevation sauce",which was described as similar to McDonald's Big Mac Sauce,which is mainly Thousand Island dressing and sweet relish,by our cashier.
If you are going to try a burger,you try the standard first with the things you like on it.
You can vary things later.

I thought it was a good burger,not a great burger.
The sauce was lacking and if I went back again,I think I'd pass on the sauce.
Just a little too sweet for my tastes.
I did like the cheddar cheese slice though,I thought it added a homemade touch to the hamburger.
The fries were quite good,not as large as Five Guys,but larger than the shoestring cut from Smashburger.

I'd return to Elevation Burger,It was good,but like I said earlier not great.
Maybe it was the sauce,but I feel like my meal was not quite as good as a Five Guys or Smashburger.
Smashburger still retains its title as place to go in Frederick due to its proximity to Harry Grove Stadium.
It's right down the road,while Elevation is across town and if you aren't familiar with Frederick,might be a pain to find.

If I was ranking the three,I would look at it as follows.
You can't really go wrong with any of the three and I certainly would love to see Smashburger or Elevation Burger come to Hagerstown....

1) Five Guys-Winner by a hair.Wins for the following reasons.
They have A-1 as an option (always a plus) and gives you tons of fries for your dollar (A medium can easily feed three people).

2) Smashburger-Loser in a photo finish.
Takes the beefy burger and thins it out for an easier bite.
The fries are smaller than I usually prefer,but I love the Frank's seasoning that they use.
I'd buy a container of that,if they sold it!
Also love the various types of bun options that the other two do not offer...

3) Elevation Burger
Good,not great,
A solid contender,but in my only visit,seemed to be lacking what the other two had.
Don't take that as a non-endorsement,I think you'd enjoy it.

Let me know if you like these types of food posts!
I always enjoy getting input!