Monday, November 30, 2015

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Harbaugh Hammered in Ann Arbor! Buckeyes cruise to 42-13 win!

Ezekiel Elliott ran over the Michigan Wolverines for 214 yards and two touchdowns,while J.T.Barrett added 139 yards and three touchdowns as Ohio State bounced back from their loss to Michigan State with a 42-13 romp over the Wolverines in Ann Arbor.
The running game dominated the game with 369 yards as Ohio State outscored Michigan 28-3 in the second half.
The 11-1 Buckeyes now will wait and watch to see if they have a slim chance of retaining their national title or will settle for a New Year's Day bowl-most likely the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Olentangy Offerings

1) This was the dominant performance that Buckeye fans have waited for all season and in the second half brought the type of bully ball that could have beaten Michigan State.
Easy to say and "if" can be the saddest word in any language,but it would have been interesting to see if this effort would have been enough...

2) Want another person to blame other than last week's victims for not returning to the final 4?
Michigan punter Blake O'Neal,who had he gotten rid of that punt he muffed against the Spartans,would have given Michigan the win.
Give that win to the Wolverines,take it away from the Spartans and look at the rest of the results and it's Ohio State in Indianapolis next Saturday.
I was laughing as hard as anyone on that day,but it did cost the Buckeyes.

3) An interesting note is how muted Jim Harbaugh was as the game went on.
The guy that was smashing buckeyes on gravesites wasn't quite so outspoken when his team was getting pounded.
Other than the Harbaugh whine on his team getting called clearly for roughing the punter,the king of the khakis had to watch his team get pummelled...

4) The best player on the field was Joey Bosa,who is one of those special players that dominates even when the numbers don't say so.
Bosa finished with an interception,a forced fumble and a sack that looked like it ended the career of Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock.
I know the Browns need a QB badly in next year's draft and I'm really high on Memphis passer Paxton Lynch,but they could go far worse than tabbing Bosa.

5) I have this sinking feeling that I'm going to be watching Bosa shrug in Baltimore for a long time-Bleech.
I think the chances are unlikely that Bosa comes back,but the chance grows if his younger brother and Buckeye commitment Nick is coming along in his recovery from an injury to play next season.
Playing with your brother is a special experience and it's possible,if not likely that situation might keep Bosa in Columbus.

6) Other than the late first drive that saw Michigan score their only touchdown,the defense was lights out.
The first quarter stiffening when Michigan looked to make the first score of the game six rather than the eventual three was huge and set the tone for the more physical team...

7) Ohio State didn't throw the football a lot (15 times),but they did take shots down the field that they didn't do against Michigan State and between that,some option and some misdirection plays,Ohio State was able to use the threat of being more than Ezekiel Elliott to ....

8) Give Michigan more Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott's 214 on 30 gave the nation's second ranked defense a small taste of physical football.
For Michigan's talk of not having "Harbaugh guys",they still have plenty of four star recruits over there and plenty of talent,so this was imposing your will on a darn good defense...

9) I thought the move of Ed Warriner to the press box with Tim Beck to help with play calling smacked of gimmickry before the game,but it clearly paid dividends.
As noted above,the play calling was tremendous and its often easy to say that when the players perform well,but the Warriner/Beck paring seemed one step ahead of the yellow and blue,so it must have had some positive effects...

10) Urban Meyer is now the second Ohio State coach in school history to win his first four games against the Wolverines.
I'll take that number every time over a nutcracker in khakis every time!

11) The win gives Ohio State the edge in the all-time series against the Wolverines in Big 10 play,Michigan will always have an edge after winning 13 of the first 15 games in the series....

12) Finally,I'll wrap up with this-Short of either North Carolina (vs Clemson) or Florida (vs Alabama) pulling huge upsets,the Buckeyes will not be in the playoffs.
That's disappointing,but can you really be disappointed in 11-1?
Sure,it was rocky at times and often seemed like they were underachieving,but 11-1 is nothing to scoff at.....

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Goodbye to Nick Bockwinkel

Here is the first of our looks at two recent passings from the squared circle-one from boxing and today from pro wrestling.

Nick Bockwinkel passed away at the age of 80 and the long-time champion of the Midwest-based AWA was remembered by many as one of the best wrestlers in the game during his day.
Bockwinkel was very smooth yet not overly rough in the ring.
You couldn't see through his style, so it wasn't an expose of the business, but he wasn't known as one of the rougher wrestlers either.
The sharp dresser with the huge vocabulary was a constant annoyance to the wrestling fan because of his high opinion and arrogance-all of which made him an excellent heel.

Bockwinkel was known for years as being the leader of the AWA, but not for the reasons that you would think.
You see, the AWA was owned by the aging Verne Gagne and the majority of their stars were on the older side as well as being lesser "workers" in many cases, such as Mad Dog Vachon, the Crusher, etc,
Bockwinkel was a top-level wrestler up until his last match, but the others were limited in the ring and only could be top contenders in the AWA, which used nostalgia heavily because of the pre-cable television.
The AWA did have some young talent come through, but were usually steered to the tag team division and away from Bockwinkel in favor of the veteran contenders.
Bockwinkel was able to make the older wrestlers look like reasonable contenders due to his ability in the ring.
Bockwinkel had an incredible money-making run with the first incarnation of the "Incredible" Hulk Hogan as a "good guy: in the AWA with Hogan chasing Bockwinkel for the title.
Hogan never a classic star in the ring, nonetheless had good matches with the classy veteran doing whatever it took to retain his title with a few times that Hogan had seemingly dethroned the champion only to have results overturned by a referee or AWA commissioner Stanley Blackburn.
Bockwinkel also defended the AWA title as the world champion in places that had issues with the NWA and therefore didn't use their champion such as Houston (Promoter Paul Boesch had problems with Harley Race), Memphis (Promoter Jerry Jarrett didn't like that Jerry Lawler wouldn't be given a title reign), Southwest/San Antonio (Not an NWA member) and Continental/Alabama (Not sure why, but I bet using Bockwinkel was cheaper than using Ric Flair or Race for a territory often down in dollars).

We didn't see prime Bockwinkel, but we did see him in the mid-'80s when ESPN added the AWA to their "slams and jams" lineup with roller derby.
Bockwinkel was the champion for years but was surrounded by controversy twice over the belt.
Both of these were from becoming the titlist without winning the title in the ring, but only one of them was done outside of the storyline.
The first was in 1981 after Bockwinkel had dropped the title after five years to the owner of the territory-Verne Gagne, who wanted one final run before a planned retirement.
Gagne won his retirement match and vacated the championship, but AWA commissioner Stanley Blackburn ruled that a title tournament would have taken too long to play out and gave the title to the top contender-Bockwinkel, who was such despite being beaten all over the territory for the ten-month Gagne reign.
This is another of the gaping holes in wrestling credibility to anyone who watched real sports. Anyone who lost to the champion as many times as Bockwinkel did certainly would not be the top contender, but that's wrestling...

The other and more fun to the insider wrestling fan was in 1986 when Gagne scheduled then-champion Stan Hansen to lose the title to Bockwinkel in Denver.
Hansen as the major American star in All Japan Pro Wrestling wasn't going to lose by pin to almost anyone, refused to lose the title, and left the arena with the actual belt.
The AWA created a new belt for Bockwinkel but threatened to sue Hansen for the old belt as he was "Defending" it in Japan.
Hansen sent the belt back by UPS with massive tire track marks over where he had run over it with a truck,
Bockwinkel did an interview where he concluded with "I'm happy as hell"!
That statement with inflection has been quoted by the author more times than I can count over the last 30 years.

Bockwinkel would feud with Larry Zbysko and enter a rare babyface turn during the years as the AWA died on the vine.
Bockwinkel would then drop the belt for the final time to Curt Hennig in his first time as a heel before his Mr.Perfect years in the WWF.
Bockwinkel went to an hour draw on ESPN with Hennig at the age of 52 on a New Year's Eve show, which was amazing considering his age.

Bockwinkel left the AWA to go to the WWF as a road agent, as they weren't interested in him as a wrestling talent, despite still having ability.
Between his age and a physical appearance that wasn't what they wanted at the beginning of the steroid age, Bockwinkel wouldn't have been a star even if he had wrestled for them.
Other than that and a short run as WCW commissioner, Bockwinkel was finished in the wrestling game...

Nick Bockwinkel was the type of wrestler that you don't see anymore and he will be missed.
Look for our other feature on a recent passing-Bob Foster in a few days...

Friday, November 27, 2015

Podcast-Thanksgiving and College Football

We give thanks to family,friends and all of you!
We also talk the weekend in college football,the big job vacancies and why college is better than the NFL!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM is back early this due to Thanksgiving.
The Bowling Green game has been played,but as always I give an honest selection..

Last Week:4-4

Ohio State over Michigan 16-14
Bowling Green over Ball State 45-14
Boise State over San Jose State 35-23
Texas over Texas Tech 42-39
Washington State over Washington 35-28

Game of the Week
Oklahoma over Oklahoma State 54-43

Saints over Texans 35-34
Ravens over Browns 13-10

Game of the Week
Patriots over Broncos 24-16

Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge goes up early this week as ESPN has a title bout,albeit one with more of the most boring fighters in the world against an overmatched opponent on Wednesday.
I lead R.L.Malpica 136-131 at this time.
The biggest fight of the weekend features the world heavyweight champion (WBA and IBF anyway) Wladimir Klitschko defending against the brash Brit Tyson Fury.
Fury is actually bigger than Klitschko,so this could be a rare exciting battle for the champion....

WBA Jr Middleweight title.12 rds
Erislandy Lara vs Jan Zaveck
Both:Lara unanimous decision

WBA and IBF Heavyweight titles. 12 rds
Wladimir Klitschko vs Tyson Fury
R.L:Fury KO 6
TRS:Klitschko KO 10

IBF Super Middleweight title.12 rds
James DeGale vs Lucien Bute
R.L;Bute split decision
TRS; DeGale KO 8

Light Heavyweights,12 rds
Issac Chilemba vs Elieder Alvarez
Both;Chilemba unanimous decision

IBF Jr.Middleweight title.12 rds
Jermall Charlo vs Wilky Campfort
Both;Charlo unanimous decision

Welterweights. 12 rds
 Errol Spence vs Alejandro Barrera
R.L;Spence KO 4
TRS: Spence KO 6

Monday, November 23, 2015

Canelo decisions Cotto-Boxing Challenge

Another big boxing weekend for the boxing challenge and I extended my lead over R.L.Malpica by adding six points to his five for the weekend.
The current standings are 136-131.

In the biggest fight of the week and second most anticipated fight of the year-Saul "Canelo" Alvarez hammered out a unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto.
Alvarez added the vacant WBC middleweight title to his collection and with luck,we will get to see Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin sometime in 2016.
I didn't score the fight as part of the PPV card,but Ramon had Alvarez winning on his card.
Each of us added two for the Canelo victory.
The replay is HBO bound to go with the heavyweight title defense of Wladimir Klitschko against Tyson Fury on Saturday...

The other two fights on the card ranged from a fight of the year candidate to another snoozer.
Francisco Vargas rallied from a knockdown and being behind on the cards to stop Takashi Miura and win the WBC Jr.lightweight title.
HBO is interested in televising a rematch early in 2016.
R.L. and I each earned one point for the win and two points for the expected duller than dirt win for Guillermo Rigondeaux and his unanimous decision win over Drian Francisco...

On the European side,neither of us earned points as Arthur Abraham earned a split decision over Martin Murray in Germany.
Germany is notorious for being the home of awful decisions involving home fighters and I scored Murray a 115-113 winner,but the fight was too close to be considered a robbery.
If you want a decision in Germany,you have to do better than a win a close bout...

I added one point in the only fight that R.L. and I differed on from England as Anthony Crolla knocked out Darleys Perez in the fifth round to win the WBA lightweight belt.
I thought Crolla would be a decision winner,so I only picked up one point,while R.L.picked Perez to win.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge returns with one of the biggest fights of the year as Miguel Cotto fights Canelo Alvarez.
I hold a 130-126 lead over R.L.Malpica,but there's still time to go in the race to the wire.

WBC Middleweight title.12 rds
If Cotto wins,title goes to Gennady Golovkin,if Alvarez wins,he becomes champ,but must fight Golovkin next...
Miguel Cotto vs Canelo Alvarez
Both:Alvarez Unanimous Decision

WBC Jr.Lightweight title 12 rds
Takashi Miura vs Francisco Vargas
R.L:Vargas Split decision
TRS:Vargas Unanimous Decision

Jr.Featherweights.10 rds
Guillermo Rigonadeaux vs Drian Francisco
Both:Unanimous Decision

IBF Bantamweight title .12 rds-Caballero did not make weight,this fight may not take place.
Randy Caballero vs Lee Haskins
Both:Caballero Unanimous Decision
Editors Note-Fight cancelled as Caballero wouldn't have made the Jr.Feather limit!
Haskins given the IBF title...

WBA Lightweight title.12 rds
Darleys Perez vs Anthony Crolla
R.L;Perez Unanimous Decision
TRS:Crolla Split Decision

WBO Super Middleweight title.12 rds
Arthur Abraham vs Martin Murray
Both:Murray Unanimous Decision (I hope he gets it,No place on Earth has more bad decisions than Germany)

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM returns for a big college football weekend.
With both the Browns and Saints on bye,I'll be doing two games of the week.

Last Week: 4-5

Ohio State over Michigan State 27-16
Bowling Green over Toledo 36-30
Boise State over Air Force 28-27
Washington over Oregon State 23-13
Middle Tennessee State over North Texas 35-10

Game of the Week
Oklahoma State over Baylor 54-42

Packers over Vikings 24-19
Cardinals over Bengals 35-30

On the Signing Front

Since it's been a while since I've done an On the Signing Front and the card piles don't reduce in size until they do,I figured it's time for one....

Thanks to Derreck Chupak for doing a Connecticut Tigers team set for me.
Derreck was going to Aberdeen for a bobblehead and offered to do a team set for me,so I accepted his kind offer....

The West Virginia Power made their final visit to Hagerstown with their team set in tow.
The biggest two gets were Cole Tucker and Connor Joe,each with their Power and SAL top prospect cards.
Cole Tucker was the nicest player in the SAL this season,hope things help him stay that way...
Austin Coley signed his Elite extra as the only other oddball Power pickup.
This was also the Dane Anthony bobblehead giveaway.
Anthony was the first ever pitcher in Suns history (I was at that game) and the team did a sharp giveaway.
Anthony signed the bobble,a 1979 Batavia and 1983 Watertown card.
Super nice guy and credit to the Suns for bringing him back to town!

The Winston-Salem Dash hit Frederick without a team set.
I got the Dash players in the Carolina League prospects done in Trey Michaelzski,Cleluis Rondon,Adam Engel and Jordan Guerrero.
The biggest addition was Chicago's first round pick on his USA card in Carson Fulmer.

Thanks to Jason Christensen for his always welcome help with the Binghamton Mets.
Jason helped me with Michael Conforto (he of the MLB post-season heroics),Gabriel Ynoa and Brandon Nimmo along with the B-Mets team set.

Thanks to Steve Nicholas for adding Kyle Crockett on two cards when Columbus (Indians)visited Indianapolis.
Crockett signed his Panini insert (1 of 100) that I had missed on him a few times....

A trip to Harrisburg produced some chipping away at the Akron Rubber Ducks (Indians) set,but I did get Bradley Zimmer on two cards.
Zimmer signed his Panini Draft Picks and his Mahoning Valley team set card from 2014...

The Charleston Riverdogs (Yankees) made their only visit to the Muni.
The main star was shortstop Jorge Mateo,who was hit by so many of the "1,000 club",that it was difficult for the rest of us.
I eventually got Mateo on his Bowman,Charleston and SAL prospect card,but coach Travis Chapman told us that "I'm trying to get him down to 2 or 3".
Before the series had concluded,Mateo was moved up to High A Tampa,so he was only signing on the first two nights of the set.
The Yankees also had Austin Aune,who was extremely pleasant in signed all five cards,including a heritage and Jordan Foley signed a few including a Bowman Chrome and NY/Penn prospect card.
The other nice addition was former big league Greg Colbrunn,who coached for the Riverdogs...

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans visited Frederick and between my visit and Mike Oravec later in the series,I was able to get some of the team set finished and Jen-Ho Tseng on his SAL prospect.
Tseng is a one per,so I got him once and Mike got the other for me.
The other neat pickups were David Berg on various USA cards and Mike got me David Garner on his Panini elite.
I always like those and will especially like them in their next set now that Panini has the rights to college logos,which made me like their product to begin with years ago!

I'll wrap up with two cards that I was able to get signed during this trip as I got Dodgers prospects Grant Holmes and Alex Verdugo on their Bowman cards.
I would have rather had their Midwest prospect cards,but Lake County was out of them.

Still a long way to go before we are caught up for the season as I still haven't gotten beyond the second pile yet.
I'll try to do more next month!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

WBC strips Miguel Cotto

In a surprising move,considering its a few days before a huge fight,the WBC stripped Miguel Cotto of its middleweight title for not paying its $300,000 sanctioning fee.

Cotto balked at paying the fee,which is pretty high,but Cotto didn't have a problem paying Gennady Golovkin $800,000 to step aside in order for Cotto to fight Canelo Alvarez,so what's another 300 g's between friends?
So,had Cotto made his point to the WBC a few months ago,he could have saved himself 800,000 dollars,which is a lot for a guy that griped about the WBC and its fees as "Money I could leave to my kids".
For a fellow that has spent the last few years touting himself as a"boxing businessman",dropping the belt after paying Golovkin (in order to keep it),this doesn't exactly make him look like Warren Buffett.

The WBC said since Alvarez had complied with all of their procedures that should Alvarez defeat Cotto,he would become champion and would have to fight Golovkin next to keep it.
If Cotto wins,Golovkin (who holds one of their stupid interim belts) would be upgraded to full WBC champion.

I give the WBC credit for the decision,but they should have acted long ago.
The organization allowed Cotto to take 14 months before his first title defense and then when Cotto did put their title up against Daniel Geale,they didn't object when Cotto made Geale come in far under the middleweight limit in one of these silly catchweight bouts that are made to "even the playing field for the lighter fighter",but in reality are ways to weaken the naturally stronger fighter.

As far the lineal middleweight title (as in traces back to as far as you can go),Cotto will keep that with a win and will likely continue to tout himself as such-if you don't mind a 160 pound champ that won't allow his opponent to weigh more than 155 that is.
I've always been a proponent of titles,despite the lousy jobs that the organizations that control the titles do with them,but this catchweight thing shows why organizations in boxing are badly needed,even if they may need to be replaced themselves.
For one day,an organization made the right decision,even if it was a little late.
Better late than never....

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

1980's Heavyweights-Terrible Tim Witherspoon

I started this series a year ago and never picked it back up,so I thought it would be a good time on a slow day with one of my two favorites of the "lost generation" of heavyweight boxing.

Thanks again to Jeff Heimberger for the idea for the recurring series and if you missed the first installment over a year ago-click here.

In an era of 45 sanctioning bodies and billions of titles,would you believe that as recently as 1986,only three men had ever held the heavyweight title twice?
Muhammad Ali and Floyd Patterson were Olympic gold medalists and boxing hall of famers,but the name Tim Witherspoon stands out as an unusual addition to that triangle.

After a limited amateur career,Witherspoon made a name as a sparring partner for Muhammad Ali and first got the attention of the boxing community with a decision win over amateur standout Marvin Stinson and a knockout win over Alfonzo Ratliff,who would later become one of the better cruiserweights of the decade.
Witherspoon would then be signed with Don King,who owned the contract of most of the top heavyweight contenders.
King would put Witherspoon in a position to win a title,but he would also add to the lack of motivation and perhaps cost him his peak fighting years.
In Witherspoon's first fight with King,he decisioned Renaldo Snipes over ten rounds.
Snipes had just challenged Larry Holmes for the title and had dropped Holmes,so the win over Snipes made Witherspoon as credible of a challenger as anyone else at the time.
Holmes-Witherspoon was the main event of the first ever pay per view card entitled the Crown Affair with Michael Dokes defending his WBA title against Mike Weaver among other heavyweight bouts.
Despite his light resume,Witherspoon and his awkward crosshanded defense negated the Holmes jab,taking away the top weapon of the champion and took Holmes to the cards,where Holmes won a narrow split decision.
I scored it a draw and the bout could have went either way,but it cemented Witherspoon at the top of the division.

Witherspoon would follow up the close defeat with two wins,the more notable being a one round blitz of James "Quick" Tillis,which slotted him in line for the vacant WBC title after Larry Holmes vacated rather than fight Greg Page.
Page and Witherspoon as the top two contenders were chosen to face off and in a rough,mauling type of fight (which is exactly how Page shouldn't have fought),Witherspoon took the title with a majority decision.

The title reign wouldn't last long as Pinklon Thomas used a harder jab to blow through the crosshanded defense and take a majority decision and the title away from Witherspoon.
Terrible Tim bounced back with five straight wins including a second round blowout of James Broad and a decision win over "Bonecrusher" Smith to earn a WBA title shot against Tony Tubbs,who had won that belt over Greg Page,who had lost the above mentioned WBC title fight to Witherspoon.
Do you see now just how crazy the heavyweight scene was after Holmes and before Tyson?
The same guys fought each other all the time in the same less than exciting fights and often the fights were determined by who was in shape and who wasn't.

The Tubbs-Witherspoon fight was another similar bout from Atlanta's Omni,which was used to heavyweight bouts in the squared circle being the host of Jim Crockett Promotions at the same time.
Witherspoon earned the 15 round majority decision as the WBA and IBF were still using the 15 round distance,while the WBC had started the 12 round movement.

A title defense against England's very popular Frank Bruno at Wembley Stadium ended in an 11th round knockout with Witherspoon using his chopping overhand right to finish Bruno in a corner in an impressive win.

Witherspoon was trying to break away from Don King before the contractually mandated rematch with Tubbs at Madison Square Garden and when a few weeks before the bout,King inserted harder hitting (and previous Witherspoon victim) Bonecrusher Smith in his place.
Witherspoon tried to postpone the fight,was not allowed,came in extremely unprepared and out of shape and lost his belt in one round.
That fiasco saw Witherspoon lose his belt,his deal with King and more importantly a huge payday that went to Smith to unify the two titles with Mike Tyson.
Witherspoon would never fight for the title again,although he would pop up with an occasional win to keep him on periphery of contention.
His one round knockout of Anders Eklund on USA's Tuesday Night Fights showed up on boxing highlight reels for years after afterward,but never got him a larger stage.

Tim Witherspoon had much of what it took to be a popular champion.
He hit reasonably hard with a right hand that was easy to imitate and had an engaging personality,so he should have been better than he was.
However he was a fighter of his time,so his lack of willingness to train along with his consistent promotional problems made him one of so many of those "lost generation" of heavyweights that was bound to disappoint......

Monday, November 16, 2015

Twisted in Pittsburgh-Browns trashed 30-9

The Cleveland Browns crawled into Pittsburgh and if you could leave in a maneuver lower than a crawl,the Browns left that way as the Pittsburgh Steelers crushed the Browns 30-9 in a game that wasn't even that close.
Johnny Manziel threw for 372 yards and threw the only Browns touchdown to Gary Barnidge as the offensive "leader".
The now 2-8 Browns have next week off and will return on Monday Night Football against 2-7 Baltimore in a matchup that I am sure ESPN has to be thrilled with....

Brownie Bits

1) I didn't think Johnny Manziel played poorly.
He wasn't perfect as his awkward fumble on the Browns first play led to a Pittsburgh score showed,but I thought he played reasonably well.
I cannot hold his one interception against him either as it was scrambling for his life on fourth down and tried to make something happen.
Not tremendous,but not awful...

2) I did think that the facemask shown on Manziel by Arthur Moats should have warranted an ejection of Moats.
However,I don't think that the facemask was a deliberate one and Moats seemed apologetic after the game....

3) Manziel was accurate (33 of 41),but other than a 61 yard play to Travis Benjamin,most of the throws were short and medium (not many of those either) and the play calling seems to take away any type of deep passes.
Nothing wrong with that,if Manziel has proven that he can't-however if he isn't allowed to try-he won't prove the point...

4) Now the first and goal from hell.
Johnny Manziel appeared to have scored on a scramble,but a replay reversed the call to make a first and goal from the half yard line.
Multiple penalties and the desperate Manziel interception later.Zero points.
That was so bad that words can't describe...

5) 12 penalties for 188 yards.
Not the mark of a well-coached or disciplined team.
With four pass interference penalties resulting in large chunks of yardage to Pittsburgh,you knew that wasn't going to end well....

6) The Browns entered the game dead last against the run and I expected a huge game from DeAngelo Williams.
The Browns held Williams to 54 yards,much of it in the fourth quarter,so that was better than expected,but when you throw like Pittsburgh did-who needs the run?

7) The Browns never took advantage of a hobbled Ben Rothlisberger,who entered the game after a Landry Jones injury.
Rothlisberger clearly was not as mobile as he normally was,yet the Browns rarely blitzed or trying anything different to try to add a pass rush.
A very vanilla and lackluster effort from defensive coordinator Jim O'Neill...

8) Hated the red zone "wildcat" call with Isaiah Crowell in the shotgun.
The wildcat deservedly is dying and here the Browns are running it without a passing threat.

9) I thought the Antonio Browns somersault into the endzone was classless.
I'd expect no less from the guy that karate kicks punters,but I'd think he'd be happy enough playing against the Cleveland corners to not do things like that.

10) Cameron Erving committed two holding penalties and was the toast of twitter vines as Cameron Heyward literally ran over Erving.
Erving was out of position for the day at left guard,but he was certainly abused.

11) Cameron Heyward-31st pick in 2011.The Browns ? traded up for Phil Taylor at the same position.
The Steelers love picking Ohio State players.The Browns have an aversion to them in the draft..

12) Finally,I'm at my wits end with the Browns.
I'm for continuity,but do you really want Ray Farmer picking your next franchise player after his failures,just to say there is stability?
Mike Pettine seems so embedded with Jim O'Neill that I don't know if the head coach is flexible enough to make the defensive changes that are needed.
As the closing credits roll on Corner Gas goes-"I don't know the same things you don't know"....

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Buckeyes drop Illinois,Bullpen notes!!!

Ohio State kept the Illibuck trophy with a 28-3 win over Illinois.
Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 181 yards and two scores to lead the now 10-0 Buckeyes to the victory.
Ohio State will host Michigan State next Saturday before traveling to you know where the following Saturday...

I was exhausted from work and went to sleep,so I missed the game up until late in the third quarter.
The result is that I'm not going to do game coverage.
I suggest going to Eleven Warriors for that,if you wish.

Bullpen Notes

Those of you that were here at the beginning few years might remember a different format on coverage and bullpen notes finished the coverage.
For one day,it's the return of bullpen notes!

I watched the second and third period of the Devils 4-0 win over Pittsburgh,even though I was home.
The Devils seem to be putting it all together under John Hynes,but a word of caution-I've seen a change of system and attitude jump start teams that lack some talent before and rarely do they sustain it all season.

New Jersey goes out to Western Canada for a four game swing,just as I do a 13 day work run.
SO that means I doubt if we will have much Devils coverage until I return....

Finally,thrilled to see the upset of the world as Holly Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey in Australia in the female MMA title fight.
Some of you may remember the podcast where I discussed my weariness of Rousey and my wish to see her beaten.
I didn't go as far to pick Holm to beat Rousey because I don't know enough about that sport to make a logical reason to predict things,but yesterday on twitter before the fight,I made a few remarks and watched the weigh-in for the bout.
It made me see two things to relate to boxing and made me think Holm could win.
The first was the obvious where Rousey seemed a little nervous and jittery compared to Holm.
Sometimes (not always) a fighter in Rousey's position acts that way because some doubt has crept in.
Interesting to watch as Rousey scuffled with Holm and that relates to my second point.
Holly Holm looked to be the bigger fighter.
In the scuffle,it was Holm swinging down on Rousey and keeping her at bay.
If she could do that there,there was a chance she could do that in the fight.
It reminded me of the 1980 fight between Pipino Cuevas and Thomas Hearns,which was a pickem fight between two stars that ended in a spectacular KO that sent Hearns on the road to stardom.
Hearns looked to be so much more of a physical power than Cuevas that you took one look at the fighters,it made you think-the bigger fighter has a major edge,if they take advantage of it.
Holm did.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM returns with another big week of college football.
The Bowling Green game has already been played,so I am counting my pick for that game...

Last Week:6-4
Overall: 64-23

Ohio State over Illinois 42-19
Bowling Green over Western Michigan 35-24
Boise State over New Mexico 37-21
Texas Tech over Kansas State 48-34
Washington over Arizona State 23-17

Game of the Week
Baylor over Oklahoma 52-48

Steelers over Browns 24-9
Saints over Redskins 36-28

Game of the Week
Seahawks over Cardinals 21-17

Podcast-Peanuts,Comic Books and more!

A quick little podcast on a few different things...

Friday, November 13, 2015

Ball Four! Cleaning out the inbox

Before I begin,it's been tough for motivation this week and the month of November is very busy.
As in three days off for the month-busy.
So,I've been missing games,no recaps and a phone issue at the road office hasn't helped either.
I've had two podcast guests delay appearances and the podcast suffered for the week.
However,even if things won't be slowing down from the road office (I'm off Sunday and Monday and not again until December 1st),I've started with some ideas to perk things up and I think I have a good idea for a podcast-assuming I have time to get it "on the air".
Just an update....

I've written before that Jim Bouton's 1970 best seller Ball Four is my favorite sports book of all time.
Many agree as Bouton's book was the only sports book to make the top 100 books of the 20th century as voted on by the New York Public Library.
Hardball Times did a two part series on the teams (Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros) to see what happened to the Men of Ball Four-45 years after the book hit the printers.
Click here for the Pilots and here for the Astros.
If you are a true baseball fan,I highly recommend this book for baseball in the 60's and to understand dozens of "code" as others have called it between Ryan and I,but it also comes through as a look at society in the late 60's as things began to turn in sports,media and so many other things in our time...

Betamax is dead?
Sony announced that in March,the last of Betamax tapes will roll off the line.
Which brings me to this question? Who was still buying Betamax blanks?
As someone (the only person I know) that hangs on to VHS, who is hanging onto Betamax,which was the clear loser in the 80's home video war?
The interesting note brought here by the Guardian,discusses the turning point in the VHS vs Betamax war was the porn industry!
Yes,the porn industry decided that VHS served their purposes better and that nod began to turn the tide.
Still sad though and someday that will be me and VHS too....

We wrap up with the Cleveland Plain Dealer's coverage of Jeff Ruetter's talk on Lake Erie and how to fix it.
Five things to focus on the lake after a record setting algae bloom on continuing to rehab the shallowest of the Great Lakes.
Reutter was also the leader of the attack to rid Lake Erie of invasive species and pollution to become the Walleye capital of the world.
Love that Lake Erie perch and walleye!

I'm planning a podcast from the road office today.
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Browns waive the must have back.

Three interesting Browns notes all from the same day!
Well,interesting isn't always the same as good ,but it is the Browns after all-so I'm used to it.

Remember the must have running back Robert Turbin?
The runner supposedly so desired by both Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer that they cut Terrelle Pryor as a big bodied WR project to claim?
Although to be completely fair,Pryor is still sitting at home since that cut,both Pettine and Farmer raved about the addition of Turbin and that his skills were so valuable that the Browns would wait weeks until Turbin recovered from a high ankle sprain.
Five weeks later,Robert Turbin made his debut and after three games,60 yards on 18 carries,two fumbles and not getting off the bench in Cincinnati despite being active on the roster,the Browns let him go on waivers.
I'm not going to kill the Browns for Turbin not working out.
Not every waiver guy makes an impact and the number is relatively low,but this stands out because of how Farmer and Pettine raved about how much they loved Turbin,what a super addition,stunned they got him and on and on it went to the point of hyperbole over a running back had just been released.
And yet,he played three games and goodbye?
This situation really makes me wonder about the talent evaluating by the Browns to be so effusive about a player and he can't even make the field?

Just as interesting is Mike Pettine's statement that Josh McCown would start against the Steelers,if healthy-even though he doesn't know if he is healthy.
I'm not a huge Johnny Manziel guy,but the Browns need to know if he can play before drafting another quarterback in theory.
This insistence on McCown tells me two things-Mike Pettine thinks his job is on the line and Farmer,Pettine or both have already decided that Manziel is not the guy and he won't be given the opportunity unless forced to by injury....

The mildly nice story is Cleveland native and former Maryland Terrapin /Towson Tiger Monte Gaddis.
Gaddis is standing outside the Browns training facility and with a sign is asking the Browns for a tryout.
I doubt the Browns give him a shot,at least now anyway,but he seems as qualified as many to be a training camp body,so why not give it to him for 2016 camp????

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cleaning out the inbox-Mostly Non-Sports

Lots of things in the inbox to clean and we'll start with a goodbye to two time ABA MVP and basketball hall of famer Mel Daniels at the age of 71.
Daniels,who in recent years had been been employed with the Pacers in the player personnel department,started his ABA career with the Minnesota Muskies in winning the Rookie of the Year before financial issues with the Muskies forced Daniels to be sold to the Pacers,where Daniels led the Pacers to titles in 1970,72 and 73.
Daniels was a bit undersized for a center (6'9),but in the quicker game in the ABA was better suited than a larger,more ponderous big man that flourished in the NBA.
Daniels was 71....

ESPN notes of Matt Jenkins,who has created a hobby of making detailed Big 10 stadiums made of Lego blocks.
They look simple,but I'd bet they aren't....

CBS is bringing Star Trek back to television!
Except they aren't.
New adventures and new characters based on the premise of the original "Wagon Train to the Stars" sound like a good idea,but not many will see it as CBS will be using the show to drive viewers to their CBS All-Access site.
CBS is changing their site to a pay site,so basically the new Star Trek will be a pay per view program.
It'll be interesting to see how many viewers pony up the dough to sign up.....

The Economist writes of the ins and outs of a inter-bred species that is now beginning to enter the Eastern portion of the U.S.
The "Coywolf" is a species that is a majority coyote with a small amount of wolf and dog bred in to create a separate animal.
The breed numbers in the millions and possesses skills and traits that makes it much more versatile than any of the three animals on their own.
A very interesting article.

The National Wildlife Preserve recommends that you don't rake leaves.
Aside from not wanting to rake leaves,this can be a good idea for those of you lazy gardeners that suddenly have a natural mulch created for your yard over the winter simply by doing nothing.
That's not a bad thing,is it?
Surprisingly,leaves and yard waste account for more than 13 percent of landfill waste each year and without enough oxygen to decompose properly can release methane according to Joe Lamp'l-author of the Green Gardeners Guide.
I'm liking this idea on many levels!

The Montgomery Indiana paper reports the whereabouts of the Hickory Huskers team bus that the team used in Hoosiers.
It's another interesting where are they (is it) now on a piece of memorabilia from one of my favorite film....

Five Thirty Eight writes about issues with the Republican primary and how those issues with the base along with the impact of states that have little to no chance in the general election to go blue.
I've always suspected that the one thing that people are members of the minority party in states that are lopsided toward one party or the other can have an effect in just one way-a party primary.
The numbers back up that theory and it makes sense....

I hope to have a podcast up tonight and maybe another blog post.
The Devils and Cavaliers play tonight,but since I am going to work early,I might not have coverage....

Monday, November 9, 2015

Bradley KO's Rios in 9-Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge stayed at the same point differential between R.L.Malpica and myself as each of us added three points on the HBO televised card from Las Vegas.
The standings currently show TRS in the lead 130-126 with plenty of boxing in the final two months of the season.

Timothy Bradley kept his name in the Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes with a ninth round knockout of Brandon Rios.
R.L. and I each thought Bradley would win via decision,but Rios showed up badly out of shape and other than a decent first two rounds,was badly outclassed.
Rios was dropped twice in the ninth round and basically had nothing left.
Rios announced his retirement after the bout,although in boxing,look for Rios to qualify for a 2016 Zabbie after his less than professional effort,but for Bradley after his initial bout with new trainer Teddy Atlas,there are a few appealing options for the first time in a while.
Bradley is one of three names mentioned for Manny Pacquiao,but a third fight between the two after two less than great action bouts,makes Bradley the third choice in the eyes of most fans after promising star Terence Crawford or England's Amir Khan.
However,an interesting name arose after Bradley's victory-Canelo Alvarez.
Alvarez,who win,lose or draw,in his WBC middleweight title bout vs Miguel Cotto is not expected to face Gennady Golovkin in his next fight (as mandated by the WBC) and might be looking for a name opponent.
Bradley fits both bills,but being the naturally smaller man would make him a strong underdog in that bout.
Bradley looked as good as he has in a while,although only his next fight will tell whether Atlas has made that much difference or just that Rios was a rusted battleship ready to be sunk....

R.L and I each earned two points for Vasyl Lomachenko's 10th round stoppage of Romulo Koasicha with a body shot that I felt.
Lomachenko won every round against Koasicha,who consistently showed gameness,but was out of his league against Lomachenko.
I feel bad for Lomachenko,who is so talented,but just has no one to fight in his division.
A fight with Nicholas Walters would have been interesting,but Walters gave up his title on the scales and Lomachenko wants to stay at 126.
WBC champ Gary Russell was dominated by Lomachenko and promotion difficulties would arise to make a rematch,
WBA beltholder Leo Santa Cruz would be interesting to see,but again promotional issues are there as well and considering the PBC saw how Lomachenko controlled Russell,I cannot see them losing another cash cow to the Russian in Santa Cruz.
The makeable fight appearsto Guillermo Rigondeauz,the former WBA and WBO Jr.Featherwt.champ,who recently was stripped of both belts for inactivity.
Rigondeaux has worked with Top Rank in the past,HBO has signed off on buying the fight and it has an historical aspect as well-It would be the first ever match between two multiple winners of Olympic gold medals.
It might not be an action packed fight,but should be very technical and pleasing enough from two of the best in the world...  

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Ohio State moves past Minnesota 28-14

In a performance that was less than smooth at times on offense,Ohio State held serve and defeated Minnesota 28-14 at the Big Horseshoe in Columbus.
Ezekiel Elliott ran for 114 yards and a score while temporary starter Cardale Jones threw and ran for a score.
The now 9-0 Buckeyes travel to Illinois next Saturday in what will be the final prep for the rugged final two games vs the teams from the school up north...

Olentangy Offerings

1) As pictured,the first score was an interception return for a score by Vonn Bell that almost came off the board.
Joshua Perry was initially called for targeting against Gopher passer Mitch Leidner,but a replay showed that call was incorrect...

2) Cardale Jones was workmanlike,but not great in the win.
Jones did score the backbreaker late in the game on a 38 yard run,but underthrew receivers and missed potential big plays.
I'll be fine with the return of J.T.Barrett,who seems to run the offense smoother...

3) On a night that Ezekiel Elliott could have made a move in the Heisman race,he delivered enough to keep his 100 yard string going,but not enough to excite anyone.
Elliott is likely to get an invite to New York,but I don't think he is a threat to win the award.

4) Michigan State's surprising loss to Nebraska hurts the Buckeyes a little in their showdown with the Spartans in under two weeks,but it still doesn't kill playoff hopes or anything.
It really just took some gloss off the matchup,but it'll still be a glamour matchup.

5) The Buckeye defense continued to be very strong.Other than one defensive breakdown,Minnesota could do nothing against the Silver Bullets...
This could have very easily been 28-0 without a breakdown and a short field...

Shorter than usual as I have some things to do at the road office....

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Boxing Challenge

A quick boxing challenge with HBO hosting two minor title fights from Las Vegas.
The challenge has been slim of late with some less than scintillating matchups than we didn't do for the challenge.but there will be plenty of challenge bouts over the final two months of the year.
I lead R.L. Malpica 127-123 at this writing.

The main event features Timothy Bradley defending his trinket vs Brandon Rios.
Bradley with new trainer Teddy Atlas looks to box more against the pressure that Rios brings.
Here's my take on this-Bradley has always been very good.not great.
Rios has always been good,not very good.
Bradley hasn't always shown the best chin,but he has always survived when hurt.
Rios might have his moments,but Bradley survives the tide....

Vasyl Lomachenko defends against little-known Romulo Koasicha.
Lomachenko is having a hard time finding interested challengers to face and is having to settle for stay busy fights.
It's sad,but perhaps this is a window to better future fights.

WBO Welterweight title.12 rds
Timothy Bradley vs Brandon Rios
Both:Bradley Unanimous Decision.

WBO Featherweight title .12 rds
Vasyl Lomachenko vs Romulo Koasicha
R.L:Lomachenko KO 5
TRS:Lomachenko KO 8

Fast start,slow finish,Devils upset Blackhawks 4-2

The New Jersey Devils stunned the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks with three first period goals and held on down the stretch for a 4-2 upset win at the Rock in Newark.
Four different Devils scored in the win as part of the balanced offense-
Travis Zajac (6),Mike Cammalleri (4),Kyle Palmeiri (4) and Lee Stempinak (3) led the Devils in the win.
Cory Schneider finished with 27 saves on the night in notching the win in net.
The Devils will host Vancouver on Sunday for their next game...

No Cavalier coverage due to the "Rachel Factor"

Hell Raisers

1) Travis Zajac continued his career resurgence with a goal and an assist.
Zajac has now scored goals in the last three games.but what I liked about the goal was his aggression.
Zajac's shot was saved by Corey Crawford,but Zajac hung in the crease,fought for the rebound and put the second chance shot by Crawford.

2) Kyle Palmieri scored once,but almost scored again when he slammed in a rebound off a Sergei Kalinin shot.
The goal was waved off when Kalinin and Chicago's Trevor Daley knocked down Scott Darling.
The Devils challenged the call and lost the challenge.
It was the first time that the Devils used the new NHL challenge system....

3) The Blackhawks were down 4-1 with over six minutes to go when they pulled goalie Scott Darling.
They would get one goal out of this tactic,but the bigger story is the Devils being unable to score .
New Jersey would get just one shot with Stephen Gionta getting the best chance,but firing wide.
The Devils could have put this game away far easier with just a little more work by the penalty killers.

4) Chicago got its first goal when a Patrick Kane shot hit off Damon Severson's back and past Cory Schneider.
Considering the other goal came with a six on five,the Devils with a little luck could have came up with a shutout win...

5) To the surprise of all,the gloves were dropped between Chicago captain Jonathan Toews and future Devils captain Adam Henrique.
It wasn't the greatest fight in the world,but the combatants tried to the horror of Rachel,who saw her hero and her favorite non-Devil going at it.
To Rachel,this must have been bigger than Mayweather-Pacquiao and as she watched,she hollered "I'm taking your picture down!" at Toews!!!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Browns bounced in Cincinnati 31-10

The outgunned Cleveland Browns hung tough with the unbeaten Cincinnati Bengals for a half before the Bengals made some positive adjustments and crushed Cleveland in the second half on the way to a 31-10 Cincinnati win.
Johnny Manziel threw for the only Browns touchdown late in the first half to pull within 14-10 at the intermission.
The now 2-7 Browns have ten days off before visiting Pittsburgh.
Hard to believe,but between a Thursday appearance and a bye week-the Browns have just one game between now and the final day of November..

Brownie Bits

1) Of course,the first thing about this game is how did Johnny Manziel play?
15 of 33,168 yards and the one score aren't great numbers,but he didn't turn the football over and Manziel had very little in the way of help.
A great outing? No,but Manziel doesn't get blame for losing either...

2) Manziel actually was quite effective in the first half before the Bengals mixed things and wouldn't allow him to leave the pocket..
The odd thing was Mike Pettine in perhaps the first time a halftime interview was interesting,
Pettine said that Manziel was "OK but we need settle him down and stay in the pocket".
Which was exactly what the Bengals wanted to do and in the second half,Manziel and the Browns were largely ineffective...

3) It's pretty clear that expecting Johnny Manziel to sit in the pocket is a recipe for losing.
Manziel's one bright spot came off a scramble and then a nice pass on a line to Duke Johnson late in the first half.
If you expect Manziel to be in the same style as Josh McCown and play in the same system-you are setting him and you up to fail.

4) I did like what I saw from Isaiah Crowell last night at times.
Crowell put his head down and earned some hard yards (10 carries 38 yards) along with catching a few balls out of the backfield.
I think Crowell might be one of those backs that need 18 carries to get revved up and wear down a defense.
We won't know that until the Browns try it.

5) Dwayne Bowe caught a few passes (3 for 31 yards),so the Browns have something to show for their dollars,but he still seems to be less than enthused as far effort goes.
Only Mike Pettine might be less enthused about Dwayne Bowe than Dwayne Bowe is about football.

6) Most pivotal drive of this game came in the second quarter when Randy Starks stepped up and put a team in position to score.
Sadly,it wasn't his Browns.
Starks made a nice hit on a Gio Bernard run play,but had to tell everyone about doing his job and was called for a taunting penalty-good for 15 free Bengal yards.

7) Starks then clearly lined up in the neutral zone on a fourth down play for Cincinnati on the Browns six yard line.
I'm watching on TV and screaming "GET BACK" and Starks couldn't figure that out.
Andy Dalton's pass was incomplete and the Browns would have had the football.
Instead,the Bengals took the gift of a first down and scored on the next play.

8) The Browns tiny pass catchers sure didn't help as Taylor Gabriel and Travis Benjamin each dropped passes right to them.
Have you noticed that Travis Benjamin puts up nice numbers when he is the third or fourth option,but he is the number one receiver and the numbers just aren't there.
Benjamin is not that type of player and the Browns are using him that way....

9) The Browns would be well suited to use Duke Johnson more as a wideout.
Johnson's pass catching skills are excellent,I've seen little of his use as a running back to make me overly excited.

10) It was nice to see Nate Orchard arrive with a big play on Andy Dalton that forced a Bengal field goal,
Orchard didn't bit on the fake to the running back,stuck with Dalton and hauled him in.
Had Orchard not made that play,Dalton would have likely strolled into the end zone.

11) Finally,this.
I've been pontificating for years about the need for the Browns to be bad-2-14 style bad,not 5-11 mediocre.
Now that this looms as a possibility,you cannot complain about losing.
I'll point out the problems with this team,but I will not gripe about losing football games.
You have my word.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM is early this week with the Browns playing tonight.
For the record-the Bowling Green game is over,but I used my actual pick...
I watched that game instead of the Cavaliers,so that is why there is not Cavs coverage.

Last Week: 7-2

Ohio State over Minnesota 38-13
Bowling Green over Ohio 45-19
Texas Tech over West Virginia 50-41
Utah over Washington 27-15
Marshall over Middle Tennessee State 42-24

Games of the Week
Alabama over LSU 17-13
Clemson over Florida State 45-39

Bengals over Browns 35-13
Saints over Titans 31-10

Game of the Week
Packers over Panthers 27-17

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Devils bounced in Brooklyn

Casey Cizikas knocked the puck past Cory Schneider with 2;12 remaining in the game and give the New York Islanders a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils in Brooklyn.
Travis Zajac's power play goal (5) early in the third period tied the game for the only Devil goal.
The Devils host Chicago on Friday in their next outing..

Hell Raisers

1) I was all ready to look at the two goals allowed by Cory Schneider and blame him,especially for the first goal.
But upon further review on (I try to do that before I do these posts),neither were bad goals..

2) The first goal by Brock Nelson came after a excellent save by Schneider and then the puck bounced off Eric Gelinas and into the net.
Tough to blame the goalie there..

3) The game loser in this case isn't on Schneider either.
Andy Greene didn't clear the net on Casey Cizikas and after a Schneider save,the rebound was there for the taking.
Could Schneider have made more of an effort for the save? Perhaps,but as Jim Cornette once said "You can't hit what you can't see",

4) Outshot 33-24 by the Islanders after being well down on the shot amount against the Islanders on Saturday?
Could there be a problem on the horizon or are the Islanders just a bad matchup?
The Islanders just might be one of those teams that put more pucks on the net than their opponents..

5) Those alternate uniforms of the Islanders were awful,The logo brought to mind-the 1975 New York Giants football logo.
The "disco" logo was only used for one season and is generally disliked by Giants fans.
Add that almost all black and you had a pretty ugly mess on your hands....

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

LBJ hits 25,000 in Cavaliers win!

LeBron James hit 25,000 points for his career in leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 107-100 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in Philly.
James finished one rebound short of a triple double in scoring 22 points.
Mo Williams added 21 points among five Cavaliers in double digit scoring in the victory.
Cleveland begins a four game home stand on Wednesday against the New York Knicks..


1) This game wasn't all easy.
A bad first period had Cleveland behind by as much as 15 points in the first half and against the second unit,the Sixers cut the score to as close as six with under a minute to go.
Still some edges to be sanded down....

2) LeBron James is the youngest player (30) to ever to hit 25,000 points.
Much of that is the four years that he was able to play from 18-22 that so many players from the past spent in college,but those four years,much like Kobe Bryant,might be the difference in being the top scorer ever with good health.

3) Philadelphia fans aren't usually known for their good manners,but give them credit last night for giving James a standing ovation.
Very classy...

4) Nice game from Matthew Dellavedova with 12 points,9 assists and some pretty passes near the rim to LeBron James.
Hard to believe that this team is so talented that Dellavedova will be the third string point guard when Kyrie Irving returns,...

5) J.R.Smith left the game with a knee injury.
An MRI is scheduled for today.
If Smith misses time,Jared Cunningham should be the player that watches his playing time rise....

Monday, November 2, 2015

Orange is the new..Browns lose to the Cardinals 34-20

The Cleveland Browns looked reasonably decent for time in the first half in building a 20-7 lead.
The Browns then regressed to the norm as the Arizona Cardinals scored the final 27 points of the game-24 of them in the second half and brought back a 34-20 win back to the Valley of the Sun.
Josh McCown threw three touchdowns in the first-two to Brian Hartline and one to Gary Barnidge before being ineffective,pounded and replaced by Johnny Manziel in the garbage time that was the final drive.
The now 2-6 Browns travel to Cincinnati for a wonderful Thursday night game against the undefeated Bengals....
I've talked about this game and some of the issues that I'll write about on the podcast below,so if you'd rather listen-try here.
If this sounds redundant,I apologize.

Brownie Bits

1) Josh McCown was not terrible (3 TD's,1 INT) in defeat,but he was clearly a beaten man in body,if not spirit.
McCown was beaten up and in my opinion,Mike Pettine should have taken him out of the game far sooner than he did-not for performance,but for overall health.
The Browns were not going to profit from a possibly concussed McCown and trying to do so was borderline criminal.

2) Take that alone and you can see that the Browns,or at least Mike Pettine, do not think highly of Johnny Manziel.
I've seen reports that Ray Farmer likes Manziel and Mike Pettine does not,so I can see some sort of fracture there,but having so little confidence in the skills of the Aggie that you would rather see the concaved hulk of Josh McCown out there,I have no recourse other than saying that you are extremely unlikely to see at least two (if not all three) of Ray Farmer,Mike Pettine and Johnny Manziel in Cleveland next season.
It's just too chaotic.

3) Another example of the possible divide between the front office and the field staff-Dwayne Bowe,who was actually activated for this game,yet didn't arrive on the field until that same drive that saw Johnny Manziel.
Manziel threw one pass to Bowe,who didn't move showing all the effort of a deceased worm as the ball whizzed into the Arizona sideline.
Farmer paid this guy millions,Pettine doesn't even want him on the field.

4) Brian Hartline did find the end zone twice of his four catches,but only caught four of ten targets.
Hartline dropped some passes that I didn't expect from a sure-handed receiver.

5) Another mediocre or bad day for the running game-20 carries for 39 yards-10 of those on a run for your life Josh McCown scramble.
Isaiah Crowell was especially bad-14 yards on 10 carries,but not as bad as...

6) Robert Turbin. The must have addition that was worth waiting for from Seattle carried the ball three times,fumbled twice,lost one of those to the Cardinals and produced three whole yards!
Wow,I can see what the excitement was all about...

7) I was pleased (as much as you could be) to see some defensive rookies do some good things.
Danny Shelton had a few tackles including one huge stuff of Andre Ellington on a third down run,showing what Browns fans hoped to see from Shelton as a disruptive presence against the run.
Ibraheim Campbell finished with five solo tackles after the injury to Donte Whitner and seems like a good tackler at least.
Nate Orchard even made a few tackles as well.
The three rookies had been mildly disappointing in the first half,perhaps they will pick it up in the second half...

8) The Cleveland secondary took a hit from more than the Carson Palmer aerial assault (374 yards,4 touchdowns) when Joe Haden and Donte Whitner each left the game with concussions.
Considering that the Browns play on Thursday,it is very unlikely that either will play against the Bengals.
Look out Andy Dalton fantasy owners!

9) Before the game between Twitter,Pre-Game shows and people emailing me,I had FIVE names rumored as possible trade bait on the Browns.
Some of these are believable (Barkevious Mingo),some make sense to get something before they leave for free (Alex Mack) and some would be ridiculous unless someone was giving up the moon (Joe Thomas).
Paul Kruger and Dwayne Bowe's names also came up and some of these would make sense at the right price.
I wouldn't move Thomas unless I was getting a top 10-12 draft pick,but I'd listen to offers on the others.
The problem is that makes a team already having problems competing as far as talent and would make it far worse.
I'd bet that few of these actually happen....
More on this in the podcast.

10) Finally,I said in the preview that the Browns would finish at 3-13.That looks very likely at the halfway point with a 2-6 record.
I think this is likely no better than 4-12.
Remember 2-14 is better than 4-12....

Podcast-One Hour of Frustration!

One hour of me on: Drew Brees,the Browns loss and issues,Kovalev vs Ward,Ronda Rousey and why I want her to lose,the GOP debate and the Debacle in Durham...

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Devils win matinee over Islanders in shootout

Mike Cammalleri and Jacob Josefson each scored in the shootout to overcome one of the worst offensive periods that a team can play as the New Jersey Devils defeated the New York Islanders at the Rock 3-2.
New Jersey received goals from John Moore (1) and Bobby Farnham (1) in regulation to force the extra play.
New Jersey will make their first trip to the Islanders new home on Tuesday for a rematch..

Hell Raisers

1) Had to feel good for Bobby Farnham,who was active for his first game as a Devil since being picked up off waivers and scored his first NHL goal along with an assist.
The 26 year old has been well traveled and even if Farnham does nothing else in his career-he had one big day.

2) When I had a little time away from the team was when the Devils added Bobby Farnham off waivers,so I didn't have a chance to comment.
Bobby Farnham will be the first of many players to arrive in Newark that have a background with the Penguins.
Ray Shero and John Hynes were part of the Penguins organization and you always bring in people that you know.
Look for more to come.

3) Incredibly disappointed in the play in the third period.
You cannot have much worse of an offensive performance than one shot on goal that came with 30 seconds to go in the period...
Simply awful.

4) In notching the win,Cory Schneider had a bad game.
Franz Neilsen's goal beat him badly on a shot that was very stoppable and Neilsen again beat Schneider in overtime with the puck trickling through.
Only the hockey gods allowed Schneider to make the save by falling on his back after nearly knocking it in and Damon Severson's help also almost putting the puck in the net...
Sometimes luck is all you need...

5) The Devils were outplayed and somehow came away with two points.
That's what the game is about,but I'm more concerned about poor play.
Games like this are OK on occasion,but I'm looking forward to more on Tuesday than just the Barclay's Center.