Saturday, October 31, 2015

Cavaliers douse Heat 102-92

The Cleveland Cavaliers dominated the second half and took a "not as close as the score indicates" victory over the Miami Heat in the Cleveland home opener.
The 102-92 win featured the combination of LeBron James and Kevin Love scoring 53 points with Tristan Thompson adding 13 points off the bench.
Cleveland will take the weekend off before traveling to Philadelphia on Monday,


1) I know I raved about the ball movement against Memphis,but it could have been even crisper on Friday.
Spreading the floor with the talent that the Cavaliers possesses takes such a toll on the defense that it's going to be very difficult to beat this team in decent health.

2) LeBron James has stated the offense will run through Kevin Love and for the second game in a row,Love was hugely effective.
Love shot 6 of 15 from the floor,but his hustling around the rim (14 rebounds) and continuing to show some of the best passing skills from a big man in the game (5 assists) shows that the idea of funneling things through Love is a great idea...

3) I know I've thought that Tristan Thompson is overpaid with his new contract,but when Thompson is able to hit the occasional short jumper (which he did once in the win) his game is so effective.
Thompson is always going to be best shooting high percentage shots (dunks and foul line in),but imagine what it adds to his game (let alone the Cavaliers),if he could do that...

4) 10 assists from Matthew Dellavedova.
Imagine when he becomes the 3rd string point guard!

5) I really like what I've seen from Jared Cunningham.
Cunningham only played nine minutes,but he brings energy and athleticism that adds to a second unit that could use it.
Cunningham has a real chance to develop into a dynamic force off the bench,,,,

Friday, October 30, 2015

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM returns with Ohio State and Bowling Green on a bye week and since our normal substitute (Middle Tennessee State) is off as well,I'll add two games of the week to make up for it.

Last Week:7-2
Overall: 51-17

Boise State over UNLV 45-7
Oklahoma State over Texas Tech 43-36
Washington over Arizona 23-19

Games of the Week
Notre Dame over Temple 21-20
Georgia over Florida 30-29

Cardinals over Browns 35-14
Saints over Giants 28-26

Games of the Week
Packers over Broncos 24-13
Bengals over Steelers 35-31

Devils top Flyers 4-1

Travis Zajac scored two goals (3 and 4,both on the Power Play) and Kyle Palmieri added a goal (3) with two assists as the New Jersey Devils rebounded from a loss to Columbus with a 4-1 win in Philadelphia over the Flyers.
Andy Greene ended the third period onslaught with an empty net (1) goal with a few seconds remaining.
Cory Schneider finished with 27 saves in notching the win in net.
The Devils will next play Saturday at 1;00 in a afternoon matinee against the Islanders.

Hell Raisers

1) Travis Zajac looks like a different player this season.
That's easy to say as his numbers have improved early this season,but maybe it's motivation for either being criticized for being overpaid by people like me or for the trade rumors that surrounded him in the off-season.
Whatever it is-I hope it stays around...

2) Kyle Palmieri's goal beat Steve Mason and used his speed for the one on one chance.
Palmieri was brought in to help revamp the Devils into a speedier team and thus far I've liked what I've seen.

3) Adam Larsson isn't exactly known for his physical play,but he must have had bad intentions in this game as he seemed to be very aggressive in smacking Flyers around in leading the Devils in hits...

4) Brian O'Neill missed his first NHL goal by inches as his tip off an Adam Larsson shot eluded Steve Mason,but tipped off the goal post and trickled away.
It's odd how these things bounce sometimes.

5) The Devils have won five of six and are four and one on the road.
To say I'm surprised is an understatement,but I'm not arguing,
I'm not convinced that this can hold up all season,but I'll take it while I can,,,,

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Long Distance Information-Memphis TN...

After a close loss in Chicago to start the season,the Cleveland Cavaliers looked to have a tough draw with a next day game in Memphis against the talented Grizzlies in their home opener.
Instead,the Cavaliers showed why they are the favorites in the Eastern Conference with a 106-76 steamrollering of the Grizzlies.
Kevin Love led five Cavaliers in double figures with 17 points (and 13 rebounds) on the evening with Richard Jefferson adding 14 off the bench.
The Cavaliers will return to Cleveland for their home opener on Friday against the Miami Heat.


1) It wasn't unrealistic to hope for the Cavaliers to leave Memphis with a win,but had I been asked this-would you feel the same way if LeBron James would shoot 4 of 13 and finish with 12 points?
Of course,the answer would be no,but not just to win,but to win by 30?
That shows the offensive potential of this team...

2) Loved the ball movement!
Lots of passing,kept the ball moving and the Memphis defense just couldn't keep up.
Moving the ball is the key element in creating multiple and easier chances to score.
Simplistic? Sure,but sometimes the simplest answer is the best answer...

3) More bench help?
Yep and as I wrote yesterday,the Cavaliers off season moves have bulked the bench scoring a ton.
Richard Jefferson's 14 with Matthew Dellavedova and Jared Cunningham's 12 apiece (albeit some in garbage time for the latter) allowed Cleveland to outscore the Memphis bench by 23 points.

4) Kevin Love looked like he is truly settling into the offense.
Love was only 2 of 7 from three,but even with those numbers shot fifty percent for the game.
If Love can shoot in that vicinity every night..

5) 13 three pointers.
Spreading the floor with several options and drilling the J-this team has the capability to be far more than the stereotypical one man show.
Add to that,that the defense held Memphis to just two three pointers-Advantage Cleveland...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cavaliers lose opener to Chicago

Time is short with the Cavaliers playing in Memphis tonight against the Grizzlies,so I want to jot a few notes about Cleveland's 97-95 loss in Chicago to the Bulls.
LeBron James finished with 25 points and 10 boards with Mo Williams and Kevin Love scoring 19 and 18 points respectively in addition.
As mentioned,the Cavaliers are in Memphis tonight before the home opener on Friday against Miami....


1) The play of the game was the Pau Gasol block (shown) of LeBron James with roughly three seconds remaining.
Gasol got a little arm,but I had no complaint with no call of a foul.

2) I do take issue with the decision of Mo Williams to take the ball out on the final play.
I would have rather have Kevin Love taking the ball out and Mo Williams,a quicker player,moving around the outside  available to shoot.
Williams had to toss the ball in and the Cavaliers never even got a shot off..

3) Kevin Love looked pretty rusty to me,but he really started to warm up late.
I think Love without the issues of contract following him around will be an improved player over last season...

4) Two quick points-The Bulls blocked ten shots last night.
That's a high number to me.
It's a long season to go,but I think the Cavaliers will need to work on that as the season moves forward...

5) Wasn't thrilled with the free throw shooting with a 10 of 17 (58.8%) and outscored by six from the line.

6) Finally,I'll wrap up with liking how David Blatt used the bench last night.
Every player saw time except Sasha Kaun and Joe Harris.
The Cavaliers were badly outmanned last year in the finals by the Warriors by the depth on the bench and using these guys more over the course of the season is a good thing in my opinion.

Cleveland Cavaliers Preview

I planned on doing this earlier in the day,but the road office called and I had to get some sleep before going in early.
That results in the preview being worked on after the Cavaliers opener in Chicago and with luck,I'll have a recap of tonight's game later this morning.

To those of you asking about Devils coverage,been bad luck.
One game against the Buckeyes,one night with a 7;30 start and tonight being called in early has resulted in my missing those games.
I'll still be on the Devils when I get to watch the games.

The core of the Eastern Conference champions returns and with a few additions to build the depth that was so glaringly absent against Golden State,could be set for a title run.
Cleveland starts up front with LeBron James,who's only question is a potentially balky back.
Assuming that can be dealt with,the Cavaliers have the best forward in the world,if not the world's best player.
James is joined by a healthy Kevin Love up front at the other forward to provide rebounding and three point shooting.
Love's game has modified since his days of huge numbers in Minnesota,but assuming he can stay healthy,Love should be the scoring option that again was missing against the Warriors.
Timofey Mozgov is the mainstay in the pivot.
Mozgov might be playing his final season in Cleveland as he is line for a huge payday in free agency after the season.
I would rather spend the money to keep Mozgov than the over eighty million spent to keep Tristan Thompson,but to each their own.
Thompson returns as a reliable role player,hitting the boards and scoring a little at the power forward and occasional center as does the "Wild Thing" Anderson Varejao.
Varejao is a high energy player that is effective until his inevitable physical breakdown,which seems to happen almost every season.
Cleveland cannot count on Varejao's health,so to prepare for that scenario,former Kansas Jayhawk Sasha Kaun was imported from Russia to bulk up the frontcourt.

The Cavaliers enter the season a little dinged up with injuries with Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert each missing time to begin the season.
Both players should return some time in January,but newcomers should take up the slack.
Veteran shooter Richard Jefferson arrives via free agency to play shooting guard and small forward and Mo Williams returns to eventually run the point for the second unit,although Williams will be the main distributor until Irving returns.
The remainder of the backcourt are more specialists than all around players,but each has the potential to contribute.
J.R.Smith was re-signed after a misguided attempt by Smith to test free agency that cost him a few million dollars.
Smith brings offense to the unit while fellow veteran James Jones brings three point range to the second unity.
Scrappy Matthew Dellavedova brings defense and can fill in at the point and Joe Harris returns after a rookie year spent mostly on the bench.
Former first round pick Jared Cunningham made the team to complete the roster after a strong training camp.

I think the Cavaliers are clearly the favorite to come out of the East with 60 wins and make the finals against whatever bully comes after the Western playoffs are through.
In my opinion,it's just a matter of health to derail anything less than that for Cleveland.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Routing Rutgers 49-7!

A quick few notes on the Ohio State 49-7 smashing of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in New Jersey.
Ohio State (8-0 4-0 Big Ten) takes next Saturday off before hosting Minnesota on the following Saturday.
Shorter than usual,but time has become a factor.

Olentangy Offerings

1) The offense runs better with J.T.Barrett.
That is not saying that Barrett is a better player than Cardale Jones,just that his skills fit an Urban Meyer offense better.

2) The defense is clicking again.
I know-it's Rutgers,but still...
Rutgers missed a field goal on their first possession and wouldn't cross the OSU 40 until the backups played late in the fourth quarter and lost the shutout...

3) Seven times the Buckeyes forced three and outs in a dominant performance

4) Remember when we talked about the Browns allowing big yardage in large portions against the Rams?
Well,Ohio State hammered out 12 of those types of plays against Rutgers..

5) I don't mind Chris Fowler and he was doing a blowout,but he got way too silly near the end of this game..
I miss Brent Musberger.

I know this was short,but wanted to have something up for the game.
Back tomorrow with more!

Sad in St.Louis,Browns anemic in 24-6 loss

Before I start,I'm not sure if I'll be doing a blog post on the Buckeyes rout of Rutgers.
Depends on the time allotted for me.
My good friends at Verizon are coming to fix the phones today (thank the lord that it hasn't affected the internet) and it will depend on how that goes.
If it is a quick (and quiet) repair,I'll do a Football weekend in Ohio and cover both games on the podcast.
If it is a loud and long job,I may hammer out a short post....

The Cleveland Browns played a lifeless and listless game in their worst performance of the season (maybe the Jets game was arguably worse) in their possibly final visit to the Edward Jones Dome in St.Louis and slunk out of Missouri with a 24-6 loss to the Rams.
Josh McCown threw for 270 yards without an interception,but fumbled twice under a vicious Rams pass rush and Gary Barnidge grabbed six passes for 101 yards to lead an offense that failed to reach the end zone.
Travis Coons connected on both of his field goal attempts to account for all the Browns scores and the only bright spots of the afternoon.
The now 2-5 Browns host Arizona next Sunday.

Brownie Bits

1) I picked the Rams as my possible surprise team in the NFC and it could happen,if they can get anything out of Nick Foles at quarterback.
I haven't seen a team with talent like the Rams on the D-Line this season and I think they are one receiving threat away from being a real NFC contender..

2) Todd Gurley.
I've been high on him since I first saw him at Georgia and made the statement that he is the most
talented back to hit the NFL since Adrian Peterson.
Gurley finished with 128 yards and two scores on just 19 carries.
This is a runner that can hit the smallest holes like a 5'8 scat back and run you over like a power back.
Gurley will be the gold standard in running backs as soon as the end of this season...

3) One more word on the Rams.
Only 35,000 people in St.Louis for the game and knowing the threats to move back to Los Angeles-I can't blame fans that have had one football team leave town (Cardinals) not come out at NFL prices.
Being a Suns fan and seeing threats constantly arrive,I've seen in person the affects that can have on attendance.
This whole Los Angeles mess is more of a mess every day....

4) Josh McCown wasn't great,but he wasn't awful either.
McCown only threw six incompletions and it isn't his fault that his receiver (Taylor Gabriel) fumbled a pass that turned into a scoop and score.
McCown did fumble twice,but anyone would taking the shots that he was in the pocket on Sunday.
The worst thing he did was whatever that was (slip,bang fall,etc) against the wall at EJS,banging a shoulder and almost hitting the ground.
McCown was injured late and may not be able to play against Arizona.

5) I'm surprised to see the vitriol against Joe Thomas.
Thomas did commit penalties,but he dominated Robert Quinn,an excellent pass rusher, to the point of Quinn having no statistics for the game.
I know this because Quinn is my fantasy defensive lineman and his numbers are usually strong.
Want to knock the offensive line in this game?
I'm on board and with five false starts and four holding penalties,there isn't much to dispute,but Thomas controlled Quinn and that's a top notch effort.

6) A team "Built on the running game" continued to plod like bugs in the mud.
Take away Josh McCown running for his life for 21 yards and Robert Turbin's 22 yard run (his other runs added eight yards combined) and you have a grand total of 39 yards.

7)  Another 100 yard game for Gary Barnidge and another great catch.
Barnidge became the fourth Browns tight end to have three 100 yard games in a season.
Only Milt Morin (4) has more,but I bet Barnidge gets to that point....

8) I know I have talked about the Browns not having top notch receivers,but the lack of size is often a factor as well.
The stature of Travis Benjamin,Taylor Gabriel etc can (and often does) lend itself to fumbles by bigger defenders as seen by Gabriel's first quarter fumble.
There is a place for smaller receivers,but having all (or most) of them being smaller lends itself to turnovers...

9) The defense just gives up plays in huge parcels and it makes a huge difference.
Todd Gurley alone gashed them for five runs over 12 yards with one of 48.
The secondary allowed a pass play of 41 yards among others.
Such a disappointment.

10) Another bad day for the draft class.
Danny Shelton had zero tackles,Cameron Erving hit the field and got called for a holding penalty.
Duke Johnson caught seven passes,but looks to be overmatched in the run game and the rest (Nate Orchard,Xavier Cooper and Ibreheim Campbell) were nondescript at best.

11) Finally,things are on the slide.
I'm sure a win might come unexpectedly,but remember both Browns wins came over teams with just one win each as of this writing.
I don't see one game that I give the Browns a chance to favored in (or even a pickem game) until San Francisco at home in December.
Look out...

Friday, October 23, 2015

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM returns with another big week of football.

Last Week: 6-3
Season: 44-15

Ohio State over Rutgers 43-10
Bowling Green over Kent State 45-24
Boise State over Wyoming 38-13
Oklahoma over Texas Tech 40-32
Stanford over Washington 21-14

Game of the Week
Ole Miss over Texas A&M 42-37

Rams over Browns 24-14
Colts over Saints 34-24

Game of the Week
Chargers over Raiders 28-24

Thursday, October 22, 2015

GGG drops Lemieux-Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge continued with R.L.Malpica and I and despite some differing results,the lead stayed at four points at 127-123.

Gennady Golovkin continued his rampage through the middleweight division with a eighth round stoppage of David Lemieux that wasn't really competitive despite Lemieux giving a game effort.
I got to watch the fight a few hrs after as some kind soul posted on youtube (I'm sure it was ripped down shortly after) and I had Golovkin winning every round by the stoppage.
The win allowed Golovkin to add the IBF belt with his WBA title and gave R.L. and I each two points...

Roman Gonzalez retained his WBC flyweight belt with a dominant ninth round stoppage over Brian Viloria.
I didn't see this one,but Gonzalez stopped a top three flyweight and looks to have two top notch fighters in his sights-WBA champ Juan Francisco Estrada or Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue,either of which would be good bouts.
R.L and I each earned two points for the Gonzalez win....

I also missed the unanimous decision win on the card by Tureano Johnson over Eamonn O'Kane.
Johnson's win gave me two points,but R.L.earned just one with his call of a Johnson split win...

The PBC card on Saturday afternoon from Fairfax Virginia was filled with controversy,
The co-feature saw undefeated Pritchard Colon against late replacement Terrel Williams.
Williams won via disqualification when Colon's corner thought the fight was over after the ninth.
I always thought ring card girls weren't needed,but the PBC doesn't use them and this happened,so maybe there is a need after all!
In a dirty fight that saw Colon lose points for low blows and Williams drop them for hitting behind the head,I had Williams far ahead after knocking Colon down in the ninth.
Immediately after the bout. Colon was rushed to the hospital with bleeding on the brain and is still in critical condition at this writing.
A big win for Williams over the touted prospect Colon that takes a sad turn with the ending.
No points for R.L. and I as both of us picked Colon.

R.L.added one point to my none as hometown fighter Lamont Peterson took a majority decision over former Olympian Felix Diaz.
Diaz has had a slow start (although undefeated entering the fight) to his career,but I thought Diaz had a chance to pull a huge upset and picked him,even though it seems no one else was.
The scores were 114-114 (I can see that) and 116-112 for Peterson (Bad) with a 117-111 for Peterson as well (pathetic),
I scored it 116-112 for Diaz,who looked strong in a losing effort....

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Devils cut Coyotes in OT

Adam Larsson scored 43 seconds into overtime to give the New Jersey Devils their second win in a row and their first home victory of the season with a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes at the Rock in Newark.
Travis Zajac scored a goal (1 shorthanded) and assisted on the two other goal to pair with a Mike Cammalleri (2) goal for the Devils goals for the evening.
The Devils will now take on Ottawa Thursday night in their next game...

Hell Raisers

1) First win of the year for me as I missed the overtime win over the Rangers.
I hate when the Devils are scheduled against football as I'm usually going to go football.
Nothing pro or con one way or the other,just 82 games vs 12 (college) or 16 (NFL).

2) I have been critical of Travis Zajac for being overpaid by the Devils.
However,on this night,Zajac played like a player possessed.
Scoring goals,assisting on the other two tallies,winning faceoffs and being strong in the defensive end- Zajac had better watch it or I'll have to revise my opinion..

3) I noted in the last recap that I love the 3 on 3 format for overtime and I really do!
Wide open and free wheeling,the setup tends to give excitement,open ice and most of all scoring opportunities.
This came to the forefront in the game winning goal as the Devils stripped the puck,raced down the ice for a 3 on 1,but after Larsson missed Lee Stempniak with a pass,Travis Zajac wound up with the puck and casually passed back to Larsson for the open net game winner...

4) Have to be pleased with the development of Adam Larsson as an all-around defenseman.
Larsson was rarely used by Peter DeBoer,but since DeBoer was fired last year,Larsson has grown by leaps and bounds.

5) Mike Cammalleri's shot was a good one that eluded Mike Smith.
Cammalleri's game is best when he is used as a sniper and this shot was just that..

6) Arizona tied the game with under a minute to go with the goalie pulled as a Mikkel Boedker shot bounced off David Schlemko and dropped into the net.
These things do happen,so tough to be too upset with Schlemko...

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Podcast-Christian Giudice on Wilfredo Gomez

The podcast returns with author Christian Giudice on Hall of Famer Wilfredo Gomez.
Christian has written books on Roberto Duran and Alexis Arguello along with his current project on Gomez.
A note-I originally planned on talking about all three boxers on one show,but the show flowed so well just talking about Gomez that I have changed plans and Christian has agreed to do two more shows down the road to talk about Arguello and Duran on their own show.
I'm very proud of this show (other than one techinical flaw late in the show) and thanks so much for Christian for allowing me to speak with him.
I am also adding three youtube clips of Gomez,so those interested can see the Hall of Famer in action in three of his biggest fights.
Hope you enjoy it....

Monday, October 19, 2015

Browns defeated in OT-Denver drops Browns 26-23

Photo Credit-Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Cleveland Browns had multiple chance to deal the undefeated Denver Broncos their first loss of the season on Sunday in Cleveland.
But,these still are the Cleveland Browns,so between poor decision making by the quarterback,poor decision making by the coaching staff and a Denver defense that was too strong over the long haul,the Browns dropped a 26-23 overtime decision and fell to 2-4 on the season.
Josh McCown threw two touchdowns to Gary Barnidge,but also threw two interceptions that turned out to be massive in the result of the game.
Travis Benjamin caught nine passes for over 100 yards,while the real star of the day was veteran linebacker Karlos Dansby,who intercepted two passes,one of which he returned 41 yards for a touchdown.
The 2-4 Browns travel to St.Louis next week for a date against the 2-3 Rams.

Brownie Bits

1) Right off the bat,let us address the biggest complaint of Browns fans on this Monday-Mike Pettine's decision to go for two rather than kick the extra point with eight minutes to go in the game.
After Karlos Dansby's interception and gallop down the sidelines,the Browns held a 20-16 lead.
Pettine decided to go for two and failed. Had the Browns gotten the two,the lead would have been six points,an extra point would have been five and with the failure of the play-the lead was four.
Here is my issue with going at that stage of the game.
There is eight minutes to go.Even if Denver scores a touchdown (which they did quickly) and likely convert the extra point,the Browns still need a field goal to win,even with the two.
Kicking the XP would have meant that no matter what Denver did,the Browns could still win the game with a Travis Coons field goal.
By missing the conversion,the Browns took that off the table and when Coons eventually made the kick-it was worth only overtime,not a win...

2) Josh McCown reverted to past form.
Nothing great,but made a few plays pro and con and as a result looked like a vagabond QB rather than a comfortable pocket passer.
McCown just has issues in getting the ball away.
He takes too many sacks and he needs to just throw the ball away,which he didn't in an attempt to that,which was instead intercepted with under a minute to play....

3) Look at the situation that McCown inherited in overtime-first and ten at the Denver 39 after Barkevious Mingo (I know!) leaped into the air to intercept a Peyton Manning lob.
The play call of a pitch that was bobbled by Robert Turbin for a loss admittedly put McCown in a hole,but to take two sacks right after that?

4) I know Denver's defense is terrific and their pass rush ranks at the top of the game,but boy did the O-Line looked overmatched in allowing four sacks.
The Browns could go a long way in getting players to pressure the passer,but they draft guys to do that-they just pick the wrong guys...

5) Before I start ripping on the defense,full credit to Karlos Dansby,
Not just for his two interceptions and touchdown,but for the seven tackles and being in the screen far more than that.
It's easy to mail it in when you are an aging member of the Browns-Dansby hasn't.

6) Denver entered the game 30th in rushing yards at just 71 per game.
Cleveland allowed Ronnie Hillman alone to go over 100 and 152 to the Broncos as a team.
And this was supposed to be a team upgrading against the run?
The interior defense is better,but the outside defense against the run is a reminder of a good whiff of rotting meat...

7) I'm not going to hammer the Browns pass coverage on the one good pass that Peyton Manning threw all day-the long score to Emanuel Sanders.
The coverage was fine,Manning just put the ball exactly where he needed to....

8) The Robert Turbin debut was underwhelming as he finished with just 27 yards on ten carries.
Give him a little time,but for now,I didn't see much to be excited about...

9) Travis Benjamin with another strong game.
I don't believe that Benjamin will ever be a true number one receiver (size),but boy could he be a hugely effective number two or three on a team with a big pass catcher..

10) Peyton Manning looks done to me.
Whether it is the finger "feel" issue or the lack of sync between his skills and what Gary Kubiak wants from a quarterback,this isn't working in Denver.
Denver is 6-0,but has exactly one win over a team with a winning record (3-2 Minnesota at home),I think this might be a team that gets whipped by better competition...

11) Finally,It's easy to look at things and say the Browns are close.
I don't see that at all. I saw a winnable game given back by poor decision making from the field and the sidelines.
I see a team lacking in talent that would be better suited for a talent upgrade than winning meaningless games.
I don't think they are close at all and remember Browns fans 3-13 is greater than 5-11....

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Podcast-Bobblehead King Brad Adams

Our latest podcast with my friend,the bobblehead king Brad Adams...

Buckeyes Black Out Penn State 38-10

On a special night that saw the Horseshoe blacked out with special uniforms,the Ohio State Buckeyes dominated the Penn State Nittany Lions in a 38-10 win.
J.T.Barrett threw for two touchdowns and ran for another two in the game.
The now 7-0 Buckeyes will travel to Rutgers next week.

Olentangy Offerings

1) Ohio State may be making a change at quarterback again.
The offense looked smooth and up-tempo under J.T.Barrett,while in Cardale Jones' possessions,the Buckeyes were rarely able to get things moving.
I think the move comes this week...

2) Barrett threw a jump pass to Braxton Miller for a touchdown and it was a throwback to last year when Barrett would pull that out of the bag.
It always reminds me of the Topps football cards of the 50's where a quarterback was always leaping into the air to throw the ball..

3) The running attack was hard nosed in the win.
Any running game with Ezekiel Elliott has a lot going for it,but last night the offensive line was carving huge canyons out of the Nittany Lions defense.
The offensive line likely played its best game of the season and seems to be jelling...

4) Five sacks and an injury of Christian Hackenburg crippled the PSU passing attack.
Joey Bosa had a sack and three tackles for loss among others that harrassed and shut down the Lions...

5) However,the bad news is that Penn State has themselves a pretty good running back and he's just a freshman as  Saquon Barkley rushed for 194 yards in being just about the only effective part of their offense...

6) Penn State was generally inept on third downs-just one of eleven.
Control third downs like that and you'll win a lot of games,even when you do it against a Christian Hackenberg directed team...

7) The Buckeyes did lose one of the linebacking bunch as Joshua Perry left in the first period with an ankle injury.
No word on his availability for Rutgers

8) Six of six in the red zone with five of those being touchdowns.

9) The uniforms.
I really liked them,especially the red buckeyes on the black helmets.
I'll definitely add it to my Buckeye mini-helmet collection,but in the end,they aren't our colors and I'll stick to scarlet and gray...

10) And finally this-Sometimes there are more than words-BWAAA!!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

PBC Fight of the Year-Boxing Challenge

Normally,I would not do a full boxing post with boxing challenge events scheduled for the next day,but with a few notes from a Friday night filled with boxing,I figured I'd add this quickly....

The PBC had their best fight of the year as light heavyweights Andrezj Fonfara and Nathan Cleverly hooked up in an action packed twelve rounder.
No knockdowns,but lots of punches landed by both men as Compubox (the punch counting people) listed this bout as the new 175 pound division standard for punches thrown and landed in a 12 round bout.
Cleverly suffered a broken nose and bled badly through the second half of the fight as Fonfara took a narrow victory of 116-112 (two cards) and 115-113 on the cards.
I had Fonfara winning 115-113 and the win could likely land him a rematch with WBC champion Adonis Stevenson,who swapped knockdowns with Fonfara in a Stevenson decision win in 2014...

R.L and I each added two points for the win and were both wrong for Kohei Kono's win over Koki Kameda,which I haven't seen as of now.
The challenge currently stands at 120-116.

I wish I could say I like the Spike TV team.
Antonio Tarver is one of the better analysts around,but I'm not a fan of MMA commentator Jimmy Smith and just when Dana Jacobson starts moving up on my list,she closes with a forced "Hail to the Victors" reference to reinforce her connection to the michigan Wolverines.
I'm only kidding a little,Jacobson has been a pleasant surprise on the program,but I'm not sure the MMA crowd would be thrilled with Tarver calling their bouts and acting like an expert,so I hope you would understand why Smith doesn't do that for boxing fans...

TruTV offered a Top Rank card that I didn't add any of the bouts for the challenge.
The main event featured Sean Monaghan pummeling a courageous but overmatched Donovan George.
The fight was decent enough,but I have a feeling that when the day comes that Monaghan faces a top light heavyweight that this fight will be repeated-with Monaghan playing the part of George.
The co-feature was a less than strong battle between undefeated Roy Jones disciple Brad Solomon defeat Ray Serrano.
Solomon even tries to fight like Jones,which was bad enough watching the real Roy Jones.
Top Rank was off to a good start with their initial few cards on TruTv,but this shows signs of a downward spiral that I hope can be avoided.

I did like the announcing unit on the color side.
I've been a fan of Ray "Boom Boom"Mancini since I was a kid,so having Mancini around is always welcomed.
Boom Boom might not be the most eloquent speaker,but his plain speaking and passion for the sport comes through to the viewer.
I think that had Mancini started with full time commentary after he got out of the ring,he might have been boxing's John Madden.

I also thought that the use of Crystina Poncher as the third person in the booth was original and I thought she was excellent.
Poncher's knowledge was strong and you can tell she puts the time into knowing the game.
I hope to see more of Poncher in a role of helping to call the action as well as the host role....

Devils bitten by Shark shootout 2-1

Adam Henrique tipped in (2 Power Play) a Damon Severson shot late in the third period to give the New Jersey Devils their first point of the year by forcing overtime against the San Jose Sharks.
That point would all the Devils would get as the Sharks would score with each of their two shooters in the shootout in a 2-1 San Jose win.
The Devils play on Sunday against the Rangers.but coverage is unlikely as they play at the same time as the Browns against the Broncos.

Hell Raisers

1) One piece of controversy was in the second period as the Devils killed off a penalty.
Stephen Gionta drove the net against Martin Jones and took a light push,Gionta made contact with Jones and Jacob Josefson fired the puck into the net.
The referee quickly waved the goal off.
I thought the call was OK,Gionta made enough contact that the puck would have never made it into the net without the interference...

2) The Adam Henrique goal was a deflection off an absolute missile from the stick of Damon Severson.
The sound of the shot was even different as Cherie turned and said "Did you hear how hard that sounded" ?
It was so fast that it wasn't until the official announcement that anyone even thought about Henrique getting the goal!

3) Cory Schneider finished with 33 saves and stopped Patrick Marleau on a penalty shot.
Schneider wasn't a force in the shootout as Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns each beat him,but I thought he notched a nice game otherwise....

4) Other than that,it was another uninspiring offense night for the Devils,who had few offensive chances and seem disjointed on the offensive end.
This team just doesn't have the weapons to compete and short of a trade,they won't have one anytime soon...

5) Travis Zajac missed the game with a "lower body injury" and for whatever one thinks of Zajac,he is dearly missed on faceoffs.
The Devils might be suited considering their offensive issues to bring in a veteran that can win faceoffs because other than Zajac,the Devils sure aren't winning them now..

6) I love the 3 on 3 overtime!
It flows so much with all the open ice and I had as much fun watching the overtime as I have watching hockey in quite in a while.
I hammer on the NHL for their thinking and fixing things that often aren't broken (the shootout),but this is a great idea and finally they have a winner!

7) Mr Met was in the house and who could turn down the opportunity to use a Mr Met on the Zamboni photo???

Friday, October 16, 2015

Boxing Challenge

The challenge with R.L.Malpica rolls on this weekend with fights selected from PBC on Spike and NBC along with the long awaited pay per view debut of Gennady Golovkin in a middleweight title unification bout vs David Lemieux....
I hold a four point lead in this years challenge at 118-114.

Lt Heavyweights.12 rds
Andreij Fonfara vs Nathan Cleverly

Both:Fonfara Unanimous Decision

WBA Jr.Bantamweight title 12 rds
Kohei Kono vs Koki Kameda

Both:Kameda Unanimous Decision

Welterweights.12 rds
Lamont Peterson vs Felix Diaz

R.L:Peterson KO 9
TRS:Diaz KO 7

Welterweights.10 rds
Pritchard Colon vs Terrell Williams

R.L;Colon KO 4
TRS: Colon KO 8

WBA-IBF Middleweight Title Unification. 12 rds
Gennady Golovkin vs David Lemieux

R.L;Golovkin KO 5
TRS;Golovkin KO 3

WBC Flyweight Title.12 rds
Roman Gonzalez vs Brian Viloria

R.L:Gonzalez KO 7
TRS:Gonzalez KO 10

Middleweights. 10 rds
Tureano Johnson vs Eamonn O'Kane

R.L;Johnson Split Decision
TRS:Johnson Unanimous Decision

Cleaning out the inbox

Time for a cleaning of the inbox and get rid of some of those pesky notes that pile up.

Grantland pays tribute to the innovative Space Ghost Coast to Coast as "secretly TV's most influential show".
For those of you that never watched the show (1994-2004),it was a parody of talk shows which stars the mundane super hero of the 1960's Space Ghost with his super villains as the backup band and producers etc.
It definitely is an acquired taste and you have to appreciate camp,but I loved the show and reading the article really brought home the originality of the program...

Want to learn a little about the big bad wolf of the planets and how it affects the Earth?
Jupiter deflects asteroids,eats comets and lord knows what else.
Universe Today discusses whether Jupiter is friend or foe and looks at its role in the solar system....

Moving to sports, ESPN writes about the football wasteland that is New Mexico State and problems that the lower level Division I teams have to deal with.
It also follows the team as it takes another loss to a bully in Florida in return for the big check that helps keep programs of that ilk afloat...

Tony Grossi talks to former Browns quarterback Brian Sipe about a topic in his career that didn't deal with the Kardiac Kids or Red Right 88 as the discussion around Donald Trump led to Sipe's time under Trump as a New Jersey General in the USFL.
Want to know why I hate Donald Trump? It is because he is the guy that killed my beloved USFL!!!!
I'll NEVER vote for Donald Trump for just that reason....

Grantland snaps off an article on a fonder memory than Donald Trump as it discusses the old NHL waiver draft.
Held just before the season,the draft did help weaker teams get stronger before the year started in an interesting way.
Teams could occasionally improve their team with a player out of options or even an occasional one time superstar that might be a bit expensive for his current production.
Usually though,what changed hands was a rotating wheel that shuffled enforcers from team to team.
I guess when your game has passed from fighting,the draft that moves them is passe'....

We wrap up with the passing of Dean Chance,the Cy Young award winner in 1964.
Chance beat out Sandy Koufax among others because in those days,the Cy Young was awarded to just one pitcher in all of baseball,not one for each league.
Chance won 20 games twice in his career (1964 as an Angel and 1967 as a Twin) before an arm injury saw him appear as an Indian among other teams.
Chance finished 1964 with a microscopic ERA of just 1.65...
Chance was just as famous for his off the field carousing with his friend with the Angels,the legendary skirt chaser Bo Belinsky,who dated several starlets including Mamie Van Doren and Tina Louise,better known as Ginger from Gilligan's Island (That's major league females there folks).
The pair were the first well known players from the Los Angeles Angels and were famous at the time to even not sports fans.
Chance was 74...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM will be early this week,since the Saints are playing on Thursday this week...

Last Week:7-2
Overall: 38-12

Ohio State over Penn State 35-16
Bowling Green over Akron 53-35
Boise State over Utah State 35-27
Texas Tech over Kansas 62-14
Washington over Oregon 23-20

Game of the Week
Michigan State over Michigan 24-20

Broncos over Browns 24-14
Falcons over Saints 35-24

Game of the Week
Patriots over Colts 31-20

Podcast-Boxing talk with R.L.Malpica

90 minutes of boxing talk with R.L.Malpica!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Devils lose 3rd in a row.

A tepid start for the 2015-16 season for the New Jersey Devils continued as the Devils lost to the Nashville Predators 3-1 at the Rock in Newark...
Kyle Palmieri scored ( 1 power play) for the only Devils goal.
Keith Kinkaid stopped 17 shots in another start in goal.
The Devils now are off until Friday when they host the San Jose Sharks..

Hell Raisers

1) This was a horrible game to watch.
Next to no action for the game until the last two and a half minutes.
Just awful from both teams...

2) I know the "New Devils" are heavily into analytics and the numbers that come with the game.
I have never claimed to know hockey from top to bottom as much as I do the other three major sports and I realize that numbers indeed can be a help,but pulling your goaltender with roughly three minutes to go and your team already with a man advantage smacked me as being dumb.
I understood the risks of pulling the goalie in Washington with a man down and losing on the scoreboard,but on this night-it made zero sense...

3) I just didn't see a lot of urgency in this game or a ton of hustle.
I realize this is a rebuild and I don't expect to win a lot of games,but I do expect development and I do expect effort.
There was not enough of either on this night.

4) I thought Keith Kinkaid was fine in goal,
The goal he allowed (to Roman Josi) was one that he couldn't be liable for as he had to respect Shea Weber's shot.
All and all,this loss goes far more on the lack of offense than anything Keith Kinkaid did...

5) Cory Schneider missed the game due to the birth of his child.
Yann Danis was brought up to back up Keith Kinkaid and Reid Boucher was sent to Albany in a paper move to accommodate the evenings roster.

6) Finally,this.The Devils are not a good hockey team.
They are going to constantly struggle to score goals and they aren't going to win many games.
It will be interesting to see how John Hynes handles a lot of losing and how he deals with players that will not be part of a long term plan.
As Patrick Swayze once said in Road House "It's going to get worse before it gets better",,,

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Reviewing the tape-Browns clip Ravens 33-30 in OT!

Josh McCown set a new Cleveland Browns record with 457 yards through the air and when Travis Coons drilled his fourth field goal of the day from 32 yards away,the Browns had a stunning 33-30 win over the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore.
Gary Barnidge caught eight passes for 139 yards and a touchdown that will likely be in the running for catch of the year in the victory that brought the Browns record to 2-3 on the season.
Cleveland will host Peyton Manning and the 5-0 Broncos on Sunday.

My apologies for this going up so late.
I did the podcast instead yesterday,so I watched the tape last night to type this up today...

Brownie Bits

1) I have to say it-Josh McCown has far exceeded anything that I thought he was capable of.
Ok vs Oakland,Good vs San Diego,but his performance in Baltimore was unreal.
McCown became the first quarterback in the HISTORY OF THE GAME to have over 450 yards passing,two touchdowns passing,a rushing touchdown and not get intercepted.
You cannot quibble with that.

2) All of that written,I still stand by that Johnny Manziel needs to play sometime during this season.
The Browns need to know if they are young passer shopping next year and unless (and I would not be surprised if this is the case) they have already decided that Manziel isn't the guy and they are looking to draft a QB no matter what,they need to find some time for him to play eventually.
If you have come to the conclusion that you are doing that in any circumstance already,then play Josh McCown.
The only reason to play Manziel is to evaluate and if that process is completed-I would have no issues with McCown playing the season...

3) Considering that the Browns want to be a running team and that they have put virtually nothing into the wide receiver position (Unless you like the nine million for a guy to be inactive in Dwayne Bowe) by Ray Farmer,this has become an effective passing team.
I have been screaming for two years about the lack of attention shown to the pass catchers,but these obscure players have certainly played well.
This makes me think one of two ways-Is a number one pass catcher a need or is it now even more of a glaring opening as a top level player could really open things up for the current crop.

4) Still not thrilled with the pass protection as Alex Mack and Joel Bitonio still regressing.
Bitonio in particular stood out as he was dominated by journeyman Lawrence Guy,who beat him for two sacks and another one that was called back by a Baltimore penalty.
It's perhaps the most clear problem with the lack of continuity in the front office and coaching staff.
Bitonio was a great fit in one blocking scheme and struggles like a castoff in another.

5) The defense still has holes.
Justin Forsett rushed for well over 100 yards and if not for an ankle injury on a run that moved the ball inside the Cleveland five,could have possibly ended the game in regulation.
The run defense still is far from even average..

6) Joe Haden suffered a concussion and will mostly likely miss the Denver game on Sunday.
The bigger question is will Haden be available for the following game against the Rams.
The injury came at a bad time as Haden was in the middle of the best game that that he has played all season...

7) Gary Barnidge continued to roll up receiving stats that far outweigh the wildest dreams of Browns fans.
His catch for the touchdown that Tyebriefly gave the Browns the lead was caught with his thighs and then he reached down and transferred it to his hands for the score.
Barnidge's numbers are surprising to say the least,but the veteran deserves the time in the sun...

8) Travis Coons improved to 10 for 10 on the season in field goals with the game winner included in the total.
Young kickers are always a high risk high reward play when you sign them,but thus far,the Washington Huskie has been quite the find...

9)  The Browns did have some dumb penalties.
Ka'waun Williams had a really dumb high hit on a uncatchable ball that would have left a 4th down.
Danny Shelton got two-one for twisting an ankle of a Raven which was justified and a tossing the ball "at a Raven" which appeared to me to be tossing the ball to the ref and a Raven walked by him...

10) Finally and you can check the podcast for more Browns talk,where does this place the Browns?
I'm concerned this will be another win enough to not be rotten,but not enough to be even average.
Few things are worse than 6-10 or 7-9.I'd rather be 3-13....

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Devils capped in Washington

The New Jersey Devils played the Washington Capitals even for two periods before being dominated in the third period in a 5-3 loss in Washington.
Devils goals to Adam Henrique (1),Eric Gelinas (1 Powerplay) and Mike Cammalleri (1).
Keith Kinkaid allowed four goals to go with 22 saves.
New Jersey returns home in another attempt for their first win against Nashville...

Hell Raisers

1) What a lousy third period for the Devils,
Washington turned on jets that the Devils lack and it seemed the Devils were awfully flat.
A team lacking talent cannot afford to be anything other than top level,if they want a chance to win..

2) The Alexander Ovechkin goal going around and through John Moore was pretty sharp.
I suppose that's why he's tops in the game in scoring!

3) Moore was hit by a shot off the Ovechkin stick and after the game had a badly bruised and swollen arm.
No word on status for Nashville.

4) The Devils specialty teams has highs and lows.
They allowed a shorthanded goal to Jason Chimera and a power play to Marcus Johannson,but did kill off a 5 on 3 situation,so there is some promise.

5) The Mike Cammalleri goal looked familiar as Jason Chimera of Washington put the puck in his own net.

6) John Hynes pulled Keith Kinkaid with the team shorthanded and with over three minutes to play.
The decision seems a bit odd,but the Devils are reported to be heavily entering the statistical analytical world and those numbers could be more favorable than one thinks.

7) Eric Gelinas scored on the power play after sitting out the opener,but Damon Severson was scratched for the Washington game.
The puzzling part is the activating of David Schlemko for the second night in a row.
Playing a journeyman like Schlemko over the young blueliners are the type of thing that I criticized Peter DeBoer for....

Ohio State makes Edsall obsolete 49-28

The Ohio State Buckeyes were tied for a while in the third quarter before ripping off four consecutive touchdowns to defeat the Maryland Terrapins 49-28 in Columbus.
Ohio State used both Cardale Jones and J.T.Barrett and were rewarded with quality outings from both.
Jones threw for 291 yards and two touchdowns,while Barrett ran for three more as the red zone specialist.
Ezekiel Elliott ran for two touchdown and his 106 yards continued his string of 100 yard rushing games.Michael Thomas went over 100 yards receiving on the day on seven catches.
The now 6-0 Buckeyes become bowl eligible and will host Penn State next week...

Olentangy Offerings

1) I'm not sure on the two quarterback usage,but it worked well today.
Cardale Jones was able to throw deep and J.T. Barrett was able to be used as a runner in the red zone with the decision ending with Buckeye touchdowns on all six chances...

2) Why was this game so close?
One reason-Ohio State simply refused to use a linebacker to key on Maryland quarterback Perry Hills.
Hills would finish the day with 170 yards and two touchdowns and had the Buckeyes simply made one small adjustment,this game could have been even more lopsided.

3) Braxton Miller caught a touchdown pass and was more involved in the offense than he had been since the opener vs Virginia Tech.
Miller finished with five catches for 79 yards and made one catch that could have been a score had he not had to leap for the football...

4) As noted in the intro,Ezekiel Elliott continued his 100 yard run and extended it to 11 games.
Elliott didn't go over the barrier until fourth quarter action,but the offense appeared to really click when the offense made the attempt to get Elliott the football...

5) Joey Bosa had not been the same force as in 2014 this season as he entered the game with just a half sack.
Bosa turned the clock back with a sack and multiple hurries of Perry Hills.
Hopefully,Bosa is beginning to hit his stride...

6) No turnovers for the Buckeyes in this one.
Ohio State entered the game with 13 turnovers,so this was a positive development....

7) Much of the talk before the game was about the rumored impending firing of Maryland's Randy Edsall.
As a Terrapin fan,all the way up to their entry into the Big 10,I was disenchanted with the hire from day one.
Even though my rooting interest has changed,I still have a soft spot for the Terps and I hope they make a good hire.

8) Discussing the open Maryland job,I was wondering this-if the home run hire that Maryland's dreams of in the Philadelphia Eagles Chip Kelly comes true,couldn't the Big 10 East have the potential to be the "new" SEC West?
Ohio State with Urban Meyer,michigan with Jim Harbaugh,the upswing with Michigan State being a top program,the past tradition at Penn State and Maryland with Chip Kelly could have the potential to being the division in college football.

9) Next week should be an interesting matchup with Penn State.
The Lions crunched Indiana after OSU battled with them,but went down to the wire at home with Army.
Christian Hackenberg is rated by some to be a first rounder next year and I have a feeling that this is either a close game or a game that finally sees the Buckeyes put together a huge win..

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Devils drop opener to Jets 3-1

In what looks to the first of many in a long season,the New Jersey Devils fell to the Winnipeg Jets in their opener by a 3-1 score at the Rock.
Jiri Tlusty was credited with the only Devils goal (1 power play) to cut the Jets lead to 2-1 before a Jets goal in the third period by Andrew Ladd put the game firmly in the Winnipeg victory column.
The Devils travel to Washington tomorrow night...

Hell Raisers

1) Jiri Tlusty was credited with the Devils goal,but he really didn't have much to do with the only New Jersey goal as Winnipeg's Jacob Trouba put the puck into the Jets own net for the only N.J. goal.
I'll take those when you can get them,but you won't win many games counting on those types of goals..

2) Cory Schneider allowed three goals,but the first was deflected off David Schlemko.
Not a good night for the Devils netminder,but not an awful one either.
New Jersey isn't going to be good enough to win,if Cory Schneider is just OK...

3) I'll give David Schlemko a pass on the deflection,but he otherwise looked pretty overmatched.
Schlemko looks to be a seventh defenseman and playing him over Eric Gelinas is against what this team should be trying to build.
If the Devils were going to play slow,mediocre defensemen,they could have just kept Peter Harrold.

4) Winnipeg is a bad matchup for this Devils team.
They skate well,put lots of pucks on the net and just are faster than the Devils.
In other words,they are the type of team that the Devils should hope to be building towards.
Winnipeg didn't build this overnight and the Devils will not either,but there is hope...

5) Andy Greene was named captain before the game.
I think this is a good choice.
Greene could be around for a while and has the respect of the younger defensemen.
I suspected that Greene and Travis Zajac were the leading contenders for the spot and Zajac was named as an alternate captain along with Patrik Elias (upon his return) and Adam Henrique..

6) I liked the team coming out to AC/DC's Hell Bells.
With the Devils name,it lends itself to many cool songs and other interesting things that can be used to add electricity and excitement to the arena.
Hope to see it continue....

Friday, October 9, 2015

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM returns for another week.
I didn't realize that Washington played on Thursday,so welcome our standby team for bye weeks and early games-the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders to the PPM....
It's possible that MTSU will be added to the full time PPM for 2016.

Last Week:5-3
Overall: 31-10

Ohio State over Maryland 41-14
Bowling Green over Massachusetts 49-17
Boise State over Colorado State 36-24
Texas Tech over Iowa State 55-23
Middle Tennessee State over Western Kentucky 26-24

Game of the Week
Utah over California 46-43

Ravens over Browns 24-13
Eagles over Saints 24-21

Game of the Week
Bengals over Seahawks 24-17

New Jersey Devils Preview

The New Jersey Devils continue to rebuild and rebrand as for the first time since parachute pants were in style,Lou Lamoriello isn't calling the shots.

With a new coach (John Hynes) and a new general manager (Ray Shero) in town running a team still adjusting to relatively new ownership,the New Jersey Devils are a team that is either in transition (best case scenario),rebuilding or in the worse case-a total reconstruction from a team that could,depending upon how the cookie crumbles-be the worst team in the game...

The Devils still have huge scoring questions and because these things are always so fluid,I'm not going to even try to group the forwards by line,so I'll discuss by the returning players and then the newcomers...

Travis Zajac returns with the heftiest paycheck,if not the largest production with just 25 points last season.
I could live with the 11 goals,but the 14 assists from a player that is best known for his passing being his top offensive asset needs to at least double,if the Devils have any hopes of improvement.
Mike Cammalleri scored 27 goals in 68 games,so the oft-injured Cammalleri notched a strong first season with the Devils.
If Cammalleri can stay fairly healthy,30 goals isn't out of the question for a team in desperate need of people to put the puck in the net.
Adam Henrique's goals dropped from 25 to 16,I think Henrique is more of a 20 goal scorer,so if the Devils got that production from the player that will eventually be a captain,I (and they) would be pleased.
After those three,you just cannot count on anything from the remaining returnees.
Patrik Elias will miss the start of the season with an injured knee,is now 39 and appears to be fading badly.
Anything out of Elias should be considered a plus.
Jordin Tootoo scored ten goals and brings a gritty game to the table,but is unlikely to give you ten goals every year.
Stephen Gionta is much like Tootoo and brings fourth line energy,but not much in the way of offense.
Jacob Josefson showed signs last season of perhaps beginning to break away from disappointment,but this could be his last opportunity to break into the lineup as a featured player.
I've always liked Tuomo Ruutu,but at this stage of his career,he is the "Roger Dorn" of the Devils-High priced without the numbers to back it up.
Reid Boucher and Stefan Matteau both come to New Jersey after spending most of last season with the AHL Albany Devils.
Boucher brings some speed to the lineup,Matteau is more of a power forward type,but both have plenty to prove with the parent club.

The Devils have added a few forwards from outside the organization to accent the new attitude that is intent on speeding up the slowest team in the league.
I think they have done that,although the jury is out on how much actual scoring they have added.
Kyle Palmieri was obtained during the draft for a draft pick with the salary cap challenged Ducks.
Palmieri brings some speed and scored 14 goals in each of the last two seasons.
With the increased playing time,Palmieri could approach 20 goals .
Jiri Tlusty was signed as a free agent after he split last season between Carolina and Winnipeg.
Tlusty had a career year in the lockout year (23 goals in 48 games) and has scored 16 and 14 since.
Tlusty could surprise and with a one year deal should be highly motivated.
Well traveled Lee Stempniak (the Devils will be his eighth team) made the team after coming to camp without a contract.
Stempniak has not finished with double digit goals since 2011-12 and I'm not really sure just what he has left at this stage.
24 year old Sergei Kalinin arrives from the KHL,but his all-time goal high in a league not known for defense is only 12,so Kalinin has question marks as well.
Brian O'neill was traded for with the Kings after being the AHL MVP last season.
O'neill is undersized (5'9) and 27 years old,but reported to be a skilled skater and scored over 20 goals in each of the last two seasons in Manchester....
Not the most overwhelming bunch as far as offense,but they should be quicker than last year's group and change doesn't come overnight...

The defense is the part to be excited about.
Andy Greene is the veteran as well as the most well rounded of the corps and Greene could be named as captain.
I would not be surprised to see his name floated as trade deadline bait and could bring a nice return.
Adam Larsson signed a long term contract and played very well once the Devils fired Peter DeBoer last season.
I look for Larsson to put together an excellent season.
Jon Merrill was a DeBoer favorite,who did the opposite of Larsson and regressed after DeBoer got the axe.
Hopefully,Merrill can bounce back.
Damon Severson looked very promising before an injury cost him 30 games and I really look for him to take a leap forward.
Eric Gelinas may have some defensive issues,but with a booming shot,should be a power play specialist at worst...
Former Ranger John Moore was signed as a free agent after finishing last season in Arizona and David Schlemko should fill the seventh defenseman role after playing for three teams last year.
I like this group for the most part and the young defensemen getting consistent time to mature and grow should be the most fun thing to watch this season.

Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid return in goal from last season after strong seasons from both.
If the Devils are going to have any chance at all for a playoff spot,both will have to repeat their seasons,if not improve.

John Hynes will be the youngest coach in the league and there will be a learning curve for the former AHL coach of the year.
It'll be fun to see how Hynes handles the new job and who breaks out as a surprise in playing time that we don't expect.

I don't think this is a playoff team unless Cory Schneider stands on his head and carries the Devils there.
Other than that possibility.I just don't see it happening.
The ceiling for this team-Everything goes perfect and the Devils earn the 7th or 8th seed in the Eastern Conference.
The floor will be that they are the worst team in hockey and the Devils have the highest chance of the top overall draft pick before the new draft lottery ( the lottery now determines the 1st 3 picks).
Split the difference and I'll say somewhere in the lowest five teams in the league,likely not the worst as they battle with Carolina to stay out of the basement in the Metropolitan Division....

Podcast-Jason Christensen

We talk with special guest Jason Christensen about the Binghamton Mets,autographing,a pro wrestling story and more!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

One and Done-Pirates fall to Cubs

The Pittsburgh Pirates ,for the second season in a row, had home field advantage for the wild card game and for the second year in a row,scored zero runs.
Being that scoring zero runs gives you no better than a scoreless tie,you better be perfect.
They weren't as the Chicago Cubs behind the arm of former Frederick Key Jake Arrieta dominated in a 4-0 win.
Gerrit Cole allowed all four Chicago runs over a five inning stint with the main damage being homers off the bats of Kyle Schwarber and Dexter Fowler,

Pirate Hooks

1) Feels good to settle in for Pirate Hooks,
Been a long time as I don't get to watch as many games as I used to.

2) There were really just two entertaining parts of this game for a Pirates fan and both spun off of a seventh game bench clearing incident after Jake Arrieta was drilled in the rump by Tony Watson.
The actual incident was pretty much your typical baseball incident,pushing,shoving and screaming,but still for Pirates fans,that was about as good as it got...

3) Other than the ejection of Sean Rodriguez,who was started for defensive purposes at first base,only to be removed after the Pirates fell behind 3-0 for the bat of defensively challenged Pedro Alvarez.
Rodriguez was the only player ejected,which didn't harm any plans for Clint Hurdle since he was already out of the game,but gave the internet ammo for a while with a bizarre six punch combination on the water cooler,that made me think of Stetson Allie's pounding of another water cooler at the Muni.
Not sure what got Rodriguez all fired up,but had to like his spirit...

4) Gerrit Cole really didn't pitch badly,just left two pitches up and they were taken care of.
Cole had a terrific year and what should make people feel even better about him is that he still is somewhat of a work in progress.
Power pitchers give up homers,that's to be expected- a little refinement and Cole will be in the elite category.

5) Pittsburgh had two shots at getting back into the game against Jake Arrieta.
The first came in the sixth as Travis Snider singles,Josh Harrison was plunked by a pitch and then a grounder by Andrew McCutchen was misplayed by Addison Russell.
The Pirates looked for a rally with cleanup man Starling Marte at the plate,but instead watched as Marte rapped the ball to Russell,who then started a 6-4-3 double play...

6) The next chance came in the seventh,while I was driving to work.
Francisco Cervelli singled and was followed by a Neil Walker strikeout.
Aramis Ramirez came up as a pinch hitter,which could be the final at bat of an excellent career.
Pirates radio announcer Greg Brown (ugh) squealed in excitement as he described a smash down the third base that looked to be extra bases until third baseman Kris Bryant speared the ball and started a 5-4-3 double play.
The Pirates seemed to lose all spirit after that...

7) Give the Cubs all the credit in the world for turning Jake Arrieta from a failed Oriole prospect/big league disappointment into one of the best pitchers in the National League.
Arrieta's win was the first ever complete game shutout with double digit strikeouts and zero walks.
Dominant might be a light word to use...

8) One thing that I did notice was the difference in the lineups.
Joe Maddon with the Cubs gambled on an offensive lineup,losing a little on defense with Kris Bryant starting in left and Kyle Schwarber in right.
Clint Hurdle went with defense first and it showed.
I'm a pitching guy,but when it comes to position players in the postseason,you need to address every avenue to get bats in the lineup...

9) I really hate the one game wild card.
It's so gimmicky and unfair,so here's my solution.
A mini,best of 3 with the team with the better record having the choice of either game one at home or games two and three at home with (wait for it old school fans) a doubleheader to keep the schedule humming along.
Imagine the fun and strategy a doubleheader to decide advancement could bring!

10) Pittsburgh finishes with the second best record in baseball and they are gone after one game.
If you still like the one game so much (I don't) what about the two teams with the worst records playing it?
Even with the Cubs winning,they won 97 games and draw the 100 win Cardinals,while 92 game winner Los Angeles plays the 90 game winning New York Mets.
If you are going to play this gimmick,make it somewhat fair or be really radical-get rid of divisions altogether and the top five make it in...

11) Does it sound like I'm bitter about the wild card?
Well,it played to the Giants advantage twice before and I still hate it.
Pittsburgh deserved better and under the format,it is what it is,but still doesn't make it right...

12) Onto the off-season where the Pirates have three free agents to make decisions on (Corey Hart,Antonio Bastardo and Sean Rodriguez,but the bigger decisions come in arbitration with Neil Walker,Pedro Alvarez,Mark Melancon and Francisco Cervelli all in line for huge raises in their final year before free agency after 2016.
Do they keep them all at inflated costs for one more run?
Do they move some of them to keep the salary costs down?
Very interesting decisions for Neal Huntington's bunch in Pittsburgh....

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Dilapidated Memories

We all get nostalgic at times, some more than others.
Some times, I think back to the happiest part of my childhood and most of them were up until I was 11 or 12-the elementary school years.
I've mentioned Fountain Rock school before but living in a rural area that occasionally saw a bad element (the mean streets of Fairplay/Tilghmanton had nothing on NYC! LOL) there were occasional good things that mixed with bad things.

It truly was a sign of the times that at eight years old, I was walking along the Sharpsburg Pike and walking to various places to play.
I played pickup baseball through those years at the District 12 Ruritan and faced players like future major league pitcher Mike Draper, played tackle football at the "beautiful" Fairplay Carnival grounds which was had to be the local equivalent of this lovely facility,but of the local pickup games,what I enjoyed most was basketball.
Basketball was played at the abandoned Fairplay Elementary school against people that aren't household names outside their households and often shoved off the court.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes when we read books, we insert backgrounds from our own lives for the environment around the story?
Well, anytime that I read about inner-city basketball-the backdrop is usually this tossed aside schoolyard (it was already vacant even by my childhood).

It was this court that had an astonishing lean from left to right that saw many a ball roll off the court that was my childhood home base (Other than a hot attic to hunker away and read or play with figures).
Practicing jumpers as my favorite college or pro players of the time and especially Pistol Pete Maravich, I usually fared very well against extremely limited competition until the older kids arrived.
And when I mean older kids, I mean high schoolers and guys outside of school age.
I used to really despise this one kid that was just two years older than I that was always allowed to play because he had an older brother in this bunch.
He was one of these guys that thought he could play, but it really was because he was "hands-off" because of the brother.
Between that and an elitist attitude, I never changed my opinion of this guy throughout school...

I thought about those days one day last March and snapped these pictures on the court.
Decayed, with one goal completely removed and the other with the same backboard that I played on standing, but beyond repair, the court still looked much the same.
Grass growing in between the blacktop and an increasing sun bleached surface wasn't much different than all those years ago, but it's odd returning to a ghost town.
I can't imagine having my kids go places alone at the age I did and considering how kids have so many activities these days,I have no problem believing how this rural court has fallen in such disrepair.

It's funny and sad when you look back at the places of your youth and how time marches on.
The place I grew up is similar yet different.
The snack bar (the only place you could get ice cream locally and a future post) has fallen victim to a more mobile society and only a gas station and liquor store a mile up the road in our "bitter rival" Lappans remains of the places that I went to pass the time as a kid.
You remember the things that you miss when they are there.
I remember looking across the street from my grandmothers' porch and seeing a long gone billboard advertising Pepsi and the snack bar and the Coke scoreboard at District 12 was small little nuggets of a time gone by.
I guess it's people like me that keep the nostalgia merchandise business rolling!

It's funny looking back at those days on the playground that is no more.
I guess the kids in the area now are in the higher priced new homes that have basketball hoops in their driveways and have no need to play and it does seem that there are fewer children living in the older homes in the neighborhood that need places to play.
The Fairplay school closed before I was in school, but for kids of my age, it still was the little focus of the area and I guess sooner or later, someone will just tear the building itself down.
But until then, the school and the court will stand steadfast through the seasons as it stands guard with all the ghosts and memories.....