Sunday, January 31, 2016

Kovalev bullies Pascal-Boxing Challenge

Sergey Kovalev punished Jean Pascal for every minute of their rematch and after round seven of their one sided drubbing,Pascal's trainer Freddie Roach called off the bout and Kovalev retained his WBA,IBF and WBO Light Heavyweight titles in Montreal.
Kovalev scored unofficial knockdowns in each of the first two rounds,but the referee missed each one and battered Pascal from buckle to buckle throughout the bout.

Kovalev threatened to carry Pascal in order to prolong the punishment for Pascal's pre-fight comments that accused Kovalev of being a racist and usually those types of comments are typical hyperbole.
However on this occasion,Kovalev took those statements to heart and then did exactly what he said-pound away and hand Pascal the type of punishment that destroys careers.

This fight brought another to mind from almost fifty years ago when Muhammad Ali refused to put away Ernie Terrell and administered a fifteen round beating when Terrell refused to call Ali by his name and instead called him by previous name "Cassius Clay".
The most exciting part of watching the fight was the post-fight interview with Kovalev,who called out WBC champ Adonis Stevenson by calling him "Adonis Chickenson".
Stevenson then "tried" to get Kovalev,but as the video shows below,you really don't want to get to a guy when the color commentator holds you back with one arm.
Stevenson has shown little interest in actually fighting Kovalev and despite television politics playing somewhat of  a part in that,Stevenson wasn't interested in the bout when it could have been made,when he was affiliated with HBO.
Since Stevenson isn't interested and a potential bout with Andre Ward not until the fall (not that I'm convinced that Ward will ever fight the bout),Kovalev looks to have a stay busy bout later in the year to stay active-just in case Ward does decide to take the fight.

In the boxing challenge,R.L.and Malpica and I each earned two points for the Kovalev knockout,while I added two for the Dmitry Mikhaylenko unanimous decision over Karim Mayfield.
R.L. selected Mayfield.
I scored Mikhaylenko a 100-90 winner.
The boxing challenge currently stands at 13-7.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A reluctant decision and boxing challenge

The Boxing Challenge rolls on with an HBO doubleheader from Montreal as Sergei Kovalev defends three of the four light heavyweight titles (WBA,IBF and WBO) in a rematch from last year vs Jean Pascal.
Kovalev stopped Pascal in eight and even though I thought the referee's stoppage was OK,many thought it was a hair premature.
Considering that Kovalev doesn't have a lot of other options with Adonis Stevenson (WBC Champ) seemingly uninterested and a potential fight with Andre Ward at the end of the year (I'll still be surprised if that ever happens),a rematch with Pascal will draw in Montreal,so it makes sense to keep Kovalev active and do it again....

This will be the first chance that I have had to announce that I have begun to recognize the WBO as a world championship.
I fought this as long as I could as the WBO has been around since 1988 and I really didn't (and still don't) think that four titles are needed.
However,through the years,the WBO champions have improved,are often the best in the division and for a sanctioning body in boxing,haven't been totally putrid in their decision making process.
I'm not thrilled with this nod,but it was time.

Why is this such a big deal to me?
Here's why-Since 1982,I have written into various notebooks the results of each fight that I watch on television.
These books are now closing in on 35 years old and I try to keep them as accurate as possible.
For WBO title bouts,I would always write for example-Light Heavyweights,12 rds.
That changes tonight.....

I lead the boxing challenge 9-5 in the initial stage of the run.

WBA,IBF and WBO Lt.Heavyweight Titles.12 rds
Sergei Kovalev vs Jean Pascal
R.L.:Kovalev KO 4
TRS:Kovalev KO 6

Welterweights. 10 rds
Dmitry Mikhaylenko vs Karim Mayfield
R.L:Mayfield Unanimous Decision
TRS:Mikhaylenko Unanimous Decision

Podcast:Baseball Numbers,Strat O Matic and Rashida Jones!

We talk about Baseball,it's reliance on advanced numbers and how it could be working against building a fan base,Strat O Matic on the PC and the hilarious Rashida Jones and her new show-Angie Tribeca!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Browns hire Andrew Berry as Personnel Head

The Cleveland Browns finished their front office overhaul with their hiring of Andrew Berry to run their personnel department.

Berry is 28 and has only worked for the Indianapolis Colts since leaving Harvard as a three time Ivy League cornerback.

Now,as soon as you see Harvard on the resume',the easy assumption is "OK,here we go another Ivy League brain to toss on the pile as the Browns continue to try to show that they are the smartest bunch in the room".
However-you would be wrong to think that way.
As mentioned,Berry played four years at Harvard and his background with the Colts was in personnel (more pro scouting than college),so this is not what you could call an "egghead" hire.

The Colts recent drafts have not been impressive,but as noted above,Berry was more instrumental in the pro scouting than college,so I think giving Berry any credit or blame would be an overreach in judgement.
In any event,this is a football person in a football position (which is more than I can say for Sashi Brown at this time) and despite being a little light on the background (who wasn't at 28),Berry seems like a really bright guy that knows far more than numbers about the game.

I'm not saying I love the hire,but considering the constraints of the position placed on it by the Browns,you weren't going to get a person with a long list of successes and if you did hire someone with experience,you were likely going to get a Martin Mayhew type (failure with the Lions and a Browns interviewee).

I'm still filled with mixed thoughts on the revamp.
I love the hire of Hue Jackson as head coach,Paul DePodesta is an interesting hire to say the least and I'm mildly positive on Andrew Berry,but I'm still a bit uneasy on Sashi Brown and I really wish that Alec Scheiner would have gotten the axe.

In the beginning of yet another Browns era starts soon and I'm really interested in seeing just what value this front office has on free agents (keeping and getting from other teams) and especially in the draft.
The players are set-now it's just sitting in our seats and waiting for the curtain to rise....

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Quick Update

Sorry that I haven't been around for the last few days.
It took me that long to recover (and my driveway still isn't finished) from a 72 hour shift from the snowstorm...

I'm planning on a podcast tonight and I have a neat blog planned for later in the week as we return to the forgotten superstars universe!

Two quick notes as well

Today is the 49th anniversary of the fire inside Apollo 1 during a test procedure.
It was the first tragedy in the American space program and it shouldn't be forgotten as it cost the lives of Gus Grissom (second American in space),Ed White (first American to walk in space) and Roger Chaffee.
The sacrifices that are made in exploration of space and the knowledge gained from such should always be remembered..

The wrestling world lost Archie "the Mongolian Stomper"Gouldie at the age of 79 after not waking up from surgery on a broken hip.
The Stomper was the top headliner for years in Calgary's Stampede territory and the Tennessee/Georgia areas as a heel.
The Stomper would never speak in the United States as he would use a manager to play the monster heel,but would give pretty strong interviews in Stampede.
Why? Well,Gouldie was from Calgary and knew that putting on a facade of being unable to speak would expose the business in a time that it didn't want to be exposed.....

Sunday, January 24, 2016

On the Signing Front

We don't finish up the complete pile,but we do finish the in person portion of the graphing season.
After this,I think the pile will be things that my friends and traders were able to get signed for me.

A trip to Altoona late in the season with Kendall Morris saw me get Nick Williams on his heritage and just miss J.P.Crawford as the two got to Kendall and I,they were pulled away.
The result meant I didn't get the other Williams card signed and missed Crawford all together on this trip.
Other than the 1 Williams,the only other card I was able to get was Ethan Martin on a 2013 heritage.
My friend Brett Shaw got two Curve players for me with Jose Osuna signing three and Erich Weiss adding one...

The final series of the season in Hagerstown was another visit from the Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox).
Kannapolis was mainly team set cards,although I did add Thad Lowry from the SAL top prospect set.
The Suns brought up Jefry Rodriguez and I got Rodriguez to sign his Auburn and SAL prospect card,while both of the players in the New York/Penn top prospect sets from the Nationals signed as Suns in Erick Fedde and Andrew Stevenson.

A visit to Harrisburg for the Richmond Flying Squirrels allowed me to finish up the Giants AA team.
I was able to get a rehabbing Tanner Roark to sign his 2015 heritage card for the Senators.
I grabbed a few Squirrels with one of my favorite players all season Tyler Beede signing his Red Ice Bowman,Stars and Stripes,San Jose and Debut and the other of note was former third rounder Chase Johnson on cards from Salem-Keizer,Augusta and San Jose.
I also added Fresno cards from the past for Juan Ciriaco and Jackson Williams.
I always buy Columbus,Indianapolis and Sacramento (previously Fresno)to have them,but I rarely get cards from those sets finished,so it's always nice to add any that I can get...

We wrapped up the Frederick Keys season with a visit from the Winston-Salem Dash (White Sox).
The Dash initially claimed that they were not going to produce a team set this season,but the arrival of first rounder Carson Fulmer likely changed their mind.
So we had a team set to do and Mike Oravec and I did the Dash.
Mike worked on the Dash for us,while I did the home Keys and Orioles outfielder Dariel Alvarez for us.
Alvarez was playing for the Keys because the Orioles were in Toronto against the Blue Jays and for some reason Alvarez is not allowed in Canada.
So every time that the Orioles play in Toronto (twice a year),Alvarez has to find another place to play and keep sharp,
Alvarez signed his 2014 Bowie,Eastern League All-Star and 2015 Bowman's and was very nice doing it....

For the Dash,between Mike's work and another trip in the series,I was able to clear out the Dash set and Kannapolis players that had been promoted.
The best catch was Carson Fulmer on his Dash card and two USA cards with another interesting addition was former Olympic silver medalist in speed skating Eddy Alvarez on an Olympic card.
Alvarez was very nice and through the season when we got him on various team set cards and I enjoyed talking to him....

I think that finishes (no promises) the in-season signing,but I still have the pile filled with stuff from others,so the signing front is far from over!!!

Garcia decisions Guerrero-Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge rolled on as the PBC hit Los Angeles on a three bout card.

In the main event Danny Garcia took a unanimous decision over Robert Guerrero to win the vacant. WBC welterweight title.
Guerrero started quickly by winning three of the first four rounds,but would win just one thereafter as Garcia won on my card 116-113.
Garcia appears to be a good not great fighter that looked awfully slow in this victory.

The undercard fights saw one exciting and one sleep inducing (although the awful announcing on Fox could take care of the latter) bout to round off the evening...

In a dull welterweight bout,Sammy Vasquez won every round on his way to a sixth round TKO when Aron Martinez claimed an elbow injury at the end of the round.
The heavyweights put on a better show as undefeated Dominic Breazeale pulled out a miracle win when Amir Mansour couldn't continue after the fifth round after Breazeale broke Mansour's jaw near the end of the fifth.
Mansour dropped Breazeale in the third round and held a healthy lead on my card at the time of the surrender.
Breazeale is a prospect that looks ripe for the picking against anyone of Mansour's level or above..

In the boxing challenge-I earned five points to R.L.Malpica's three.
Each of us picked up two for the Danny Garcia win and one for the Sammy Vasquez victory.
The extra two points for me came on the Dominic Breazeale win..
The current tally has me ahead 9-5

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Pigskin Picking Machine-Championship Edition

It's championship week for the PPM!!!

Last Week;3-1
Overall: 108-44

AFC Championship
New England over Denver 24-13

NFC Championship
Arizona over Carolina 34-31

Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge continues as the PBC returns boxing to Fox with a three fight card.

Sadly in typical PBC form,they start with a less than great main event as Danny Garcia battles Robert Guerrero for the vacant WBC welterweight title.
Garcia moves up from 140 after a disappointing four fight run in which he received one decision that he lost on my card (Mauricio Herrera and another one that could have went either way (Lamont Peterson) and two wins over overmatched opponents (Rod Salka and Paulie Malignaaggi).
Guerrero is 2-2 in his last four with his last fight a split decision over Aron Martinez in a bout that he was dropped and lost on my card.
The fact that this is for the vacant WBC belt is a joke considering the other available alternatives..

It's a good thing that the other two bouts could be action bouts with the aforementioned Aron Martinez against Pittsburgh's Sammy Vasquez in a welterweight bout and former Olympian Dominic Breazeale against hard punching veteran Amir Mansour in an interesting heavyweight fight....

In the boxing challenge,I lead R.L.Malpica 4-2.

Vacant WBC Welterweight title.12 rds
Danny Garcia vs Robert Guerrero
Both:Garcia unanimous decision

Welterweights,10 rds
Sammy Vasquez vs Aron Martinez
R.L:Vasquez unanimous decision
TRS:Vasquez split decision

Heavyweights, 10 rds
R.L:Mansour KO 4
TRS: Breazeale KO 6

No more excuses-Cavaliers axe David Blatt

The Cleveland Cavaliers surprised the basketball world and knocked the Browns and their hires to fill out Hue Jackson's staff off the front page with the firing of David Blatt as head coach.

The Cavaliers posted a 30-11 record thus far this season under Blatt,which was the best record in the Eastern Conference,so on the surface-one could wonder just what the hell is going on in Cleveland.
However,if you have watched the team under Blatt over his tenure with the team,you can understand it pretty quickly.
David Blatt never seemed to grasp what type of team that he had in Cleveland and this goes all the way to when he was hired.
Please recall that David Blatt was hired before the return of LeBron James,so Blatt accepted a job that was offered that was still a rebuilding effort built around Kyrie Irving,Tristan Thompson,the departed Dion Waiters and the just drafted Andrew Wiggins.
Compare that to the setup that he would wind up with-LeBron James,Kevin Love etc and you can see that Blatt was far better suited to coach a young team in the beginning stages of development than one loaded with veteran talent with the potential to win a championship.

I loved Andrew Wiggins from day one and was against the Cavaliers trading him for Kevin Love,although I understood considering the credentials of Love- especially if they could re-sign him to a deal (They didn't right after the swap,but would after the season).
I believe it was that trade that began the eventual destruction of David Blatt as the Cavaliers just never seemed to mesh between the pair.
I don't think it is much of a stretch to say that Kevin Love has been a disappointment,but calling him a bust as some have is an even bigger reach.
Kevin Love is the player most on the spot now (in my opinion) even more than LeBron James as he will have a chance to overcome the perception of Blatt's inability to make the best of Love's skills.
In other words-Love is out of excuses.

Blatt at his core is a coach that believes in keeping the basketball moving and the team he was hired to coach might have been able to develop into that type of team.
Instead,he had a clear the floor squad with three talents that may not need to have the ball in their hands at all times,but certainly aren't the types to avoid having it there often.
Blatt seemed to struggle with X's and O's,which was the opposite of the reputation that he came in with and often seemed to be a wallflower when dealing with his star players.
I'm not going to speculate on the locker room because I'm not there and no matter what you read-it's all speculation,but it seems by almost all accounts that there was issues and respect had been lost.
It isn't very often that a successful team makes this sort of move,but I can see why the move is made.
Clearly,the Cavaliers have work to do in order to defeat Golden State,San Antonio or any other Western survivor in a possible NBA finals and with only one slot available for an upgrade (a possible buyout free agent),this move might be the only one that has the potential to make the type of progress needed....

As far as Tyronn Lue goes,he is reported to have the respect that Blatt lacked as a former player,Doc Rivers protege' and assistant,Lue has been one of the top assistants mentioned that would be ready to make the jump to head man.
Lue was hired at head coach dollars to be the top assistant in case that the Blatt experiment went awry and he'll need to do a Pat Riley level ascension in order for the team to top a finals visit.

Only in Cleveland,could a first place team create such drama,but any observer could see that change had become needed,if not mandatory.
David Blatt is not a bad coach and I don't hold him accountable for some of the shortcomings.
However,LeBron James is only getting older and I don't want to waste chances-I'm OK with it,even if it wasn't all David Blatt's fault.....

Friday, January 22, 2016

USFL Memories

I've often promised a USFL podcast and it is coming soon before the end of winter.
We even have a guest lined up as author and New York Times writer Jeff Perlman,who is currently in the early stage of finally writing the badly needed history of the league has even agreed to do the show!
If anyone out there has questions for Jeff, I'll be happy to see if we can get them answered when he does the show.

I am very excited about doing the USFL show to talk about the league that meant the most to me of all the renegade leagues that challenged the established leagues.
I loved the ABA,but they didn't have national television and they merged with the NBA just before I turned eight,but the USFL? Now,I was there for the beginning and the ending of that!
I have lots of USFL stories of my brother and I watching games,buying merchandise in an area that generally ignored the league and other stories that will wait for another day or the podcast even.

This blog is even more personal to me.
Jeff Pearlman posted a youtube tonight of him and his nine (I think Jeff said he was nine) year old son Emmett as they searched their area for former Jacksonville Bulls quarterback Ed Luther.
Now,what this brought to mind was all the hours that I spent with Ryan watching USFL tapes with Ryan being roughly the same age as Emmett.

I still tape games of my teams,but I'm not as fanatical about it,but for years my main hobby was trading tapes of older and newer games that I couldn't get in my area.
USFL games were often swapped and the quality was pretty painful in hindsight in many cases as they were multiple generations old.
When you copy a DVD,the copy is exactly the same as the original.
VHS degraded in quality with each pass down the line,so many of those games weren't anywhere near broadcast quality.

I just remember so many times sitting on the battered couch with the latest game to arrive on the TV and watching the various teams and teaching Ryan,the Memphis Showboats with Walter Lewis,the Pittsburgh Maulers with Glenn Carano,the New Jersey Generals with an aging Brian Sipe to name just a few.
Sure,it was a lot of time spent on an dead football league,but the time spent with Ryan was just as important and watching Jeff with his son Emmett brought those times back to mind.
I miss those days-sharing something I loved with someone I loved.
I'm not sure how much Ryan really remembers of those time and the league or him dancing around in a hallway "playing" a football game with a small rubber football hollering the name of Gary Anderson as the Tampa Bay Bandits played over the tile.
But I sure do and watching the Pearlman's hunt for Ed Luther made this person look back in time for even a few minutes and smile...

Thursday, January 21, 2016


I hate it.
That seems simplistic,but I truly do and I hate it the more that I age.

I hate the shoveling,hate being stuck at work in inclement weather and I hate driving in it.
But what do I hate more than anything?

People that aren't forced to travel in it on social media with stuff like this-Bring it on!!!

Sure,I could say bring it on too,IF I had the luxury of being at a job that canceled the day with three flakes or didn't have to travel to my job.
I could even understand kids not wanting to go to school,but even then-nope.

I'm sure that if I ever move from here-it'll be south not north because I hate cold and winter weather that much.

I'm sure this sounds bitter or whiny,but this is definitely a pet peeve of mine and I just needed to vent! Ha Ha!

There is one thing good about being stuck at work-I'll have time to write and do the podcast,so might have some extra stuff over the impending snowstorm weekend....

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Howard Davis,Iron Mike Sharpe and another note

Before I begin today's blog, I wanted to answer a question asked of me on the lack of posts of the Devils and Cavaliers.

Honestly, I'm not sure why I've gotten lazy on those.
I've just been enjoying what I've been writing and haven't really felt like covering a regular beat.
I could return to it at any time and I certainly will be covering playoffs, but for now, I'm just not up to it despite watching the games every night...

Howard Davis Jr passed away on New Year's Eve at the age of 59 from lung cancer.
Davis was the 1976 Olympics Val Barker winner as the best boxer of the games and was the leader of the famous USA boxing team that included Ray Leonard and the Spinks brothers.
Davis was looked at as the best prospect of the team (Five gold medal winners,1 silver, and 1 bronze) entering the pros and signed a contract with CBS as an exclusive fighter on the network.
CBS signed Davis over Ray Leonard, who would sign a deal with ABC shortly after and quickly surpass Davis in the eyes of the casual fan.
Davis lacked power as a pro and fell short in both of his title bouts at 135 pounds as Scotland's Jim Watt bullied a surprisingly listless Davis in his first title shot.
Davis had his most memorable title shot against Edwin Rosario in Puerto Rico as ahead on two cards entering the final round, Davis was winning the 12th round until being dropped with a left hook with seconds to go and losing a split decision.

Davis would have one title opportunity at the 140-pound division but was stretched in just one round by Buddy McGirt.
Davis would train boxers after his career ended but also advised MMA fighters on how to improve their striking for mixed martial arts bouts...

Jason Christensen sent me a word about the death of Iron Mike Sharpe at the age of 67.
Sharpe was known best for being one of the "tougher" jobbers for the WWF, but Sharpe was more than that earlier in his career as Sharpe was a tag team champion for the Bill Watts promoted Mid-South and was reasonably high on the card for Georgia Championship Wrestling in the heyday on Atlanta's WTBS.

Sharpe came to the northeast as a protege of Captain Lou Albano with his "loaded" arm brace and at first was put over as a looming contender for Bob Backlund, racking up wins that would see him get a shot at Backlund in Philadelphia at the Philly Spectrum, where he of course lost.
But Sharpe didn't get the push that most guys with a manager did and he never got a shot vs Backlund at Madison Square Garden, which was the biggest payday on the circuit.

The match that Sharpe would be most remembered for me was the below match vs Tito Santana on WWF TV.
This was at the time when TV matches rarely featured two top stars and when they did it was usually a precursor to cause an angle that would then match the two around the circuit or if a champion was involved, it could be a title change, so Santana vs Sharpe was treated as a big deal.
Instead, it became the transition from star to jobber for Sharpe as Santana would knock Sharpe from the ring with his flying forearm, and Sharpe would stomp back to the dressing room with Vince McMahon sitting at the announcer's table calling Sharpe a coward.
In a day where a submission loss was looked at as a sign of gutlessness, McMahon's verbiage changed the way Sharpe was looked at, and his days as even a mid-carder were over.
Sharpe likely did Ok with money as an enhancement talent and would occasionally win on a house match, but his career would never be the same...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Wilder spots Szpilka-Boxing Challenge

The heavyweight title doubleheader at Barclays Center in Brooklyn generally proved nothing in the big scheme of the division,but did produce one decent bout and one that did nothing but disappoint.

In the main event,Deontay Wilder retained his WBC title with a devastating one punch knockout of Arturs Szpilka in the ninth round.
The punch retained the championship and ended a reasonably entertaining bout.Szpilka spent the evening at a local hospital after he left the ring.
I had the fight even at 76-76 entering round nine.

Just as entertaining was the appearance of the "real" heavyweight champion Tyson Fury,holder of the WBA and WBO belts,who sang,screamed and acted generally insane as he went nose to nose with Wilder.
I think an eventual Wilder-Fury would be hugely entertaining in the pre-fight buildup and could even be explosive as I have a feeling that neither has much of a chin,but each has other business to take care of-Fury defending his two titles in a Wladimir Klitschko rematch,while Wilder will face his sternest test in WBC mandatory contender Alexander Povetkin.
I actually favor Povetkin over Wilder in their bout...

In the evening's other bout Charles Martin grabbed (term used loosely) the vacant IBF belt with a third round stoppage over Vlacheslav Glazkov,when Glazkov torn his ACL when the fighters feet tangle.
Glazkov arose and then fell to the floor in the next exchange despite Martin not landing a punch and was unable to continue.
Martin came in untested and leaves in the same manner despite now being a "world champion"
I did have Martin winning the first two rounds in uneventful fashion,but I see the PBC moving slowly with Martin as they (much as everyone else) have no idea just what they have....

In the new boxing challenge,I earned four points to R.L.Malpica's two.
We each earned two points for the Deontay Wilder knockout win,with an extra point for the correct round called for me.
I earned one point for the Charles Martin win with R.L picking Glazkov.....

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Podcast-Hue Jackson,Midnight Express and Boxing

Podcast with thoughts on Hue Jackson,today's heavyweight title fights and looking back at Jim Cornette and the Midnight Express.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Boxing Challenge-An ending and a new beginning!

We begin the 2016 Boxing Challenge with two heavyweight title fights,but first,a wrapup of the 2015 challenge with R.L.Malpica.

I managed to hold on and win the second challenge 159-149.
The win gives each of us one boxing challenge title,so this year will break the tie...

Showtime features WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder defending against Artur Spilka of Poland in one bout with the IBF title that was declared vacant by Tyson Fury accepting a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko being filled by the winner of Vlacheslav Glazkov against Charles Martin...
I believe that this is a free Showtime weekend,so non-Showtime subscribers can take a look.

WBC Heavyweight title.12 rds
Deontay Wilder vs Artur Spilka
R.L;  Wilder KO 8
TRS: Wilder KO 9

Vacant IBF Heavyweight title.12 rds
Vlacheslav Glazkov vs Charles Martin
R.L: Glazkov unanimous winner
TRS:Martin split winner

Pigskin Picking Machine-Playoff Edition

The PPM keeps rolling on with four playoff games!

Last Week:5-0
Overall; 105-43

Patriots over Chiefs 23-20
Broncos over Steelers 24-16 (this pick is made only because of the questionable health of Ben Rothlisberger and Antonio Brown)
Seahawks over Panthers 16-14
Cardinals over Packers 34-24

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Podcast-Cleaning out the inbox

We clean the inbox with the podcast!
Many thanks,passing of Monte Irvin,Jim Simpson and Lawrence Phillips,NFL relocation thoughts,the closing of Al-Jazeera America and more!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Browns hire Hue Jackson as head coach

The Cleveland Browns got their man in Cincinnati offensive coordinator Hue Jackson to be the next head coach in Cleveland.

The fifty-year-old Jackson ran one of the league's better offenses in Cincinnati, but the intriguing part to me is how he got the best of what one could say is pretty pedestrian talent.
Andy Dalton performed better on Jackson's watch than he ever did under Jay Gruden, Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard are above average backs, but neither are great and with the exception of A.J.Green, the Bengals receiving corps were nothing to excite as talent goes either.
Jackson used Tyler Eifert excellently at tight end ,which brought to mind why Eifert was a first rounder at one time with an excellent season and the Bengals did not have anywhere near the issues as far as the crazy headcases go with Jackson's offense as they did on the defense.
Combine those with the inside knowledge of the AFC North that Jackson's possesses and those reasons alone make Hue Jackson a strong hire.

However, the main reason that I had Jackson tabbed as my top choice had nothing to do with his time in Cincinnati-it was his one year as a head coach in Oakland.
Now, some may think-why the excitement about a guy that lasted just one year in Oakland and hadn't been a head man since?
Well, that year (2011) saw Jackson go 8-8, which ordinarily wouldn't excite you until you realize dealing with Al Davis, the constant crazy personnel moves that always occur in Oakland and the less than strong roster, makes you think that was a pretty decent job for a first-year coach.
The 2011 Raiders used three different starting QB's and still wound up at .500 with an 11th in the league passing offense, which even more impressive with a starting wide receiver pairing of Darius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore.
So I'm pretty comfortable with Jackson as an offensive mind and as a coach with the ability to get the best out of the talent that is far from elite.

The biggest worry that I have about Hue Jackson is how he left Oakland after one pretty good season, all things considered, is this-Jackson got into a political battle with general manager Reggie McKenzie for the football control and Jackson lost the battle.
If Jackson and/or the eventual general manager decide to flex their muscle for more control against the analytics dept or especially Sashi Brown for roster control-could Jackson be in the middle of another power struggle?
Maybe, but let's not put the cart before the horse-building the roster and winning games with the roster that the team as in place will take time, so that battle (If it ever should occur) is down the road a bit.

For now, the Browns certainly got the man that I thought fit their needs best in Hue Jackson.
The hard part begins now.....

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Cavaliers trade Joe Harris

The Cleveland Cavaliers made a small move that could open the door for an addition near the trade deadline as the team sent injured guard Joe Harris to Orlando for the 2020 second rounder of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Cleveland sent the Sacramento Kings 2017 second rounder and cash to Orlando as well.

Harris played in five games with the Cavaliers and another ten with the Cleveland affiliate in Canton with the Charge before injuring his foot.
Harris just underwent surgery on the foot today,so clearly the deal for Orlando is for the cash and willing to wait to get anything out of Harris,
For Cleveland,the trade opens up three million dollars that the team could save against the luxury tax,but it also opens up a spot on the roster for a player that could be bought out by the February
deadline from elsewhere.
Often,one can obtain a valuable role player at those times for a fraction of the cost of obtaining a player via the trade route,so this could be a minor deal that leads to something with a larger impact on the roster.

Harris was a second round pick in 2014 from Virginia by the Cavaliers,averaging 2.7 points in 51 games and played often in the first part of the 2014-15 season before seeing the playing time that he was getting dwindle to the level of the DNP.
Harris is known for his outside shot and could eventually help a team with three point shooting prowess,should he return to full strength from the foot surgery.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Cleaning out the inbox

Time to clean out the inbox and we start with the passing of David Bowie at 69.
I would consider myself to be somewhat of a Bowie fan,although not nearly as large as some.
I prefer his 70's stuff a little more to his 80's comeback songs,which received tons of radio play when I was in high school.
Bowie was a master of re-invented himself through various personas and characters,most notably the Ziggy Stardust character,which is what is still most often recalled in shows and commercials that involve Bowie.
Bowie also appeared in several films,plays and television shows with one that I remember best was a cameo with of all people,Bing Crosby to sing "the little drummer boy".....

Another star of my youth passed away as Wayne Rogers,best known for his role as Trapper John on MASH,passed at the age of 82.
Rogers as Trapper was always my favorite character of the MASH bunch,but he left the show after three seasons as it seemed Alan Alda's Hawkeye was transitioned into the main star,where the movie (and book) had Hawkeye and Trapper as equals.
I always looked at the long run of MASH as three different shows-slapstick rebellion with Hawkeye and Trapper messing with Frank Burns,a funny transition period with Mike Farrell as B.J.Trapper's replacement and then more of a "Dramedy" after Larry Linville's Frank Burns left the show.
Rogers would later star in "House Calls" for a few years and played Major Anthony Nelson (replacing Larry Hagman,who wasn't interested) in a I dream of Jeannie reunion movie.
Rogers would leave acting in the 1990's for the most part to pursue a career in financial management and had been seen often in recent years on Saturday morning's on "Cashing In" a show about finances on the Fox News Channel.

Peter King does a great job in his Monday Morning Quarterback column in addressing the issues and answers on the possible move to Los Angeles from the views of the cities and fans in San Diego,St.Louis and Oakland.
I feel for all of those cities and fans....

The AKC has added two new breeds to its registry in the American Hairless Terrier and the Sloughi have been added.
The Hairless is a spinoff of the rat terrier off of one puppy born that way in the 1970's,while Sloughi is similar to the Saluki-an African hound built for long distance running.

If you like the cole slaw at Chick-fil-a,,you had better hurry up and get some because next Monday (18th) will be the last chance to buy yourself some.
The chain is discontinuing the slaw,but did put the recipe online,so you can get close to it at home.
If you click the above link,it'll give it to you as well...

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Disgrace to the game

It was sad to watch the "game" Saturday night between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals.
Not just because the Steelers were handed a victory by two boneheaded decisions by the Bengals and not just because of the sloppy play that could be somewhat blamed on the rainy conditions.

No, this game was disgraceful by the behavior of the two teams on the field and the actions of both teams reflected badly on the game itself.
I cannot say I was surprised that something happened, but I was surprised that so much of it occurred.
Pittsburgh has employed players that made a career of questionable tactics for years such as Joey Porter (and then bring him back as a coach), James Harrison, and even offensive players such as the now-retired Hines Ward known for his knee-cutting blocks, but Cincinnati has slowly begun to rival the Steelers and Ravens for players with thuggish behavior as Marvin Lewis, who coached in both Pittsburgh and Baltimore copied the M.O. by giving every malcontent/cheap shot artist that he could "rehabilitate" a position on his club.

This game featured the Bengals' Vontaze Burfict nearly knocking Antonio Brown's head off with a cheap shot, Adam "Pac Man" Jones pushing coaches, Jeremy Hill challenging four Steelers to a fight and someone coming off the bench to push a Steeler for a penalty that allowed a Steeler drive to continue.

Pittsburgh certainly wasn't going to allow that to stand as Ryan Shazier knocked out Giovanni Bernard on a play that deserved a flag (I'm a huge Shazier fan, but that wasn't clean), William Gay dancing around in the endzone (earning a flag), Mike Munchak(a coach!) drawing a flag for pulling the hair of a Bengal along with the aforementioned Porter in the middle of the field arguing with Bengals and drawing the flag that meant the game.

I'm still trying to figure out what Porter (a linebackers coach) was doing on the field with the fallen Antonio Brown (an offensive player), but he was an instigator as a player so it makes sense to do it as a coach.
It's been reported (with no verification) that Porter was voted a game ball for his stunt with Pac-Man Jones- classy.

This just scratches the surface of the issues of this game.
Look, I'm not a violet and I love a hard-nosed game, but this went beyond that- it was just plain dirty and cheap.
In other words, a sad excuse for a game.

Editors Note: Forgot to mention Mike Tomlin going for two with the score 15-0.
The extra point would have meant it would have taken 2 touchdowns and 2 two-point conversions to tie-no coach decided to go for two in that situation unless you are trying to run the score up or your kicker is injured, which Chris Boswell was not.
A Steeler loss would have been worth Tomlin trying to explain that decision alone.

I don't blame Steelers fans for being happy with the win, it is the playoffs and you take it any way that you can get it, but I wouldn't be proud about it.
Bengals fans shouldn't complain too much (although the Shazier hit should have been a penalty) as they played in just as bad of a manner and even they added to the "event" with the throwing stuff at an injured Ben Rothlisberger.

Marvin Lewis clearly has lost control of his team and you can make a real case for his removal of the old NCAA term "Lack of institutional control".
Meanwhile, you watch the same old Steeler routine every week with Mike Tomlin with his sheepish grin of tacit approval at press conferences basically condoning this crap.
It's simply a sad state of affairs in both cities.

A friend of mine has been a Bengals fan for years and last night, he had enough and renounced his fandom.
It was that bad and it was a disgrace to the game...

Saturday, January 9, 2016

TRS Boxing Awards

The time is here for the first annual TRS boxing awards.
I didn't do a round of the year as so many do on these types of things.

Fighter of the year:Gennady Golovkin.

Many gave this award to Canelo Alvarez,but as exciting as his win over James Kirkland was,it was over a limited fighter and I'm always hesitant to give an award based off of one fight (decisioning Miguel Cotto).
Golovkin added the IBF title with a KO of David Lemieux along with stoppages over Willie Monroe Jr and Martin Murray in a three fight season.
Hopefully,GGG can get Canelo in the ring for a megafight before 2016 ends and not at catchweights either..

Fight of the year:Lucas Matthysse vs Ruslan Provodnikov
This bout looked on paper to be a war and it was just that.
Matthysse took a majority decision that I scored a draw.
As I've said before-If you don't like Ruslan Provodnikov and his heart-this isn't the game for you..

Knockout of the year
Canelo Alvarez KO 3 James Kirkland
Kirkland's chin may not be the best,but his aggressiveness and punch can never be questioned.
Alvarez exposed the former with a knockout that spun Kirkland around and left him supine on the canvas.

Prospect of the Year
Errol Spence
Spence narrowly earned the nod over Puerto Rico's Felix Verdejo.
Spence just might turn out to be the mainstream star that Al Haymon's Premiere Boxing Champions badly needs....

This was a little shorter than usual because of a family issue at home that was a distraction.
I'll do better next year-Promise!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Pigskin Picking Machine-Playoff Edition

We continue to the NFL Playoffs and add the National Championship for College.

Last week:3-3
Overall:100- 43

National Championship
Alabama over Clemson 38-21

NFL Playoffs
Chiefs over Texans 21-14
Steelers over Bengals 35-28
Seahawks over Vikings 24-19
Packers over Redskins 26-20

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Browns hire Paul DePodesta???

I was originally going to do a podcast on this development, but the road office was a bit busy this evening, so the time delay turned it into a blog post.

The hole at the top of the Cleveland Browns that I wondered about after the firings of Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer and the resulting placement of Sashi Brown at the head of football operations was filled quickly.

The name was sending shockwaves throughout not just the NFL, but the sports world as the new head of the Cleveland Browns was Paul DePodesta of the New York METS.

Yes, the New York METS-who last I watched in October played baseball.
You know baseball-the little small round white seamed ball.

As opposed to football-the pointed-ended brown ball filled with air, which is what the Browns play.
DePodesta was a football player at Harvard (which is more than Sashi Brown) and is the newest chip thrown into the middle of the table under the heading of Analytics.
DePodesta holds the shiny new title of Chief Strategy Officer, which sounds more like something that should be held on the starship Enterprise and will be one of what the Browns call a four-pronged approach with Sashi Brown, Alec Scheiner, and the eventual head coach...

Now this certainly qualifies as out-of-the-box thinking for the Browns and I can certainly see the logic in avoiding what seems to be the same old decision-making Browns, but I'm still puzzled a bit.
I have real issues with Sashi Brown having the final say on a 53-man roster and I have been an advocate of getting rid of whatever it is that Alec Scheiner does since he screwed up the uniforms so badly, but DePodesta is such a catch that I'm willing to give this a chance.

Can this work?
Well, analytics certainly has its place and shouldn't be ignored, but my biggest concerns are these-
How much do they come into play when evaluating talent (draft especially) and can you get a head coach that buys in totally because a halfway effort isn't going to go well for anyone involved...

This (once again) smacks of the usual Browns thinking that they are the smartest guys in the room and are ahead of the curve.
The management structure that the Browns are using is not one filled with success, but considering what Brown's fans have suffered through, it's worth a try.

After all-can it gets much worse????
The answer is -Yes, it can-It's the Browns

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Browns fire Pettine and Farmer and who the hell is Sashi Brown?

I'm sure you know all about the firings of Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer by now and I hope that you have listened to my podcast from yesterday that involved me discussing the Browns' decisions on this and other issues.

Now that I have had a little time to go over things, here are my thoughts on the flotsam and jetsam that is the Cleveland Browns.
As I said yesterday-I'm as down as I have been in a long time.
I see little reason to feel confident in a management structure that flows through a person (Sashi Brown) that will have the final say on the roster, yet has never been involved on the football side of the organization with an NFL team and was part of the failed management structure that was somewhat cleaned out.

Give me one reason-ONE that makes any sense for ANYONE keeping their job, let alone getting a PROMOTION!
Hold on, I'll wait. Enjoy a musical interlude.

SO the Cleveland Browns now are being run by a lawyer that was involved in running the salary cap and negotiating contracts.

BREAKING NEWS-I started this earlier in the day and the Browns have made even more moves-considering a podcast tonight...

I just don't understand why a non-football person is suddenly in charge of personnel.

As far as Farmer goes, his abysmal record in drafting (Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel) and free agency (Dwayne Bowe) makes me fine with not bringing him back.
I want him nowhere near the draft or anything else.
As far as Pettine-I wouldn't have whined about him staying despite his awful 2015 when you consider the flotsam and jetsam that populated the roster-I don't know of anyone that could have won with this team.
Pettine's petulant attitude towards Johnny Manziel (not that he didn't deserve it) cost the team valuable evaluation time and he reminded you of the fast food boss that bullied you around because he could -not because of a real reason.
Combined with that and his devotion to his pal and defensive coordinator Jim O'Neill on the terrible defense and you could make an easy case for the firing of Pettine too.

All I know is this-After Jimmy Haslam's news conference,I felt as bad as I had for the Cleveland Browns in a long time.
And that is a lot of bad...

Monday, January 4, 2016

So YOU had a bad day-Browns fall to Pittsburgh 28-12

The Cleveland Browns finished off another sad season with a 28-12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Travis Coons booted four field goals for the Browns points in a game that saw five trips to the red zone result in four field goals and an interception.
The Browns finish 3-13 (as we predicted) and will pick second in the NFL Draft in April...

Brownie Bits

1) I'm not going to get into the game too much,but I'll give the Browns this much and boy do I HATE using this term-they battled.
Outmanned and outgunned,they did play hard and didn't roll over in a game that meant nothing to them and everything to Pittsburgh.

2) That said,the Browns forced three turnovers and came away with next to nothing to show for it.
You want to pull upsets? You need to take every advantage and they just didn't.

3) The one highlight was the terrific interception return by Craig Robertson,who made the Steelers look silly as he eluded them like Tanner Boyle making the cops miss in the Bad News Bears in Breaking Training.
Sadly,he only brought the ball to the Pittsburgh five and on this day,if the Browns were going to hit the endzone,the defense was going to have to do it...

4) Austin Davis didn't have much time to throw,but he still gets an F to me.

5) For all the B.S. about Mike Pettine throwing it all out there and becoming Riverboat Pettine in a desperate stand against a superior force,that became very apparent early on ( other than one first quarter fourth down attempt )that wasn't going to happen-nothing ventured,nothing gained...

6) Terrelle Pryor made one big play that likely got him a training camp spot from someone as he went over the top of a Pittsburgh corner for a 42 yard gain and just took the ball away.
That play will get him a contract somewhere next year.

Just a shorter version than normal-Check the Podcast for more thoughts and I'll be working another post for today or tomorrow on the firings of Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer with the ridiculous ideas of the process of rebuilding the front office.

Podcast-Guest Caitlyn Boron on the Indians and I am disgusted with the Browns.

We welcome guest Caitlyn Boron from Burning River Baseball to talk Indians and I express my disgust with the Browns.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Football notes-pre-game!

A few football notes with the rumor mill running wild before the Browns expected loss to the Steelers.

The Browns are now being reported to be firing both Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer following the Steelers game.
This comes a few days after the same reports had Farmer going,but Pettine staying.
This has legs though and the two names getting play are the just fired Chip Kelly from the Eagles and Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

Gase is interesting because he is offensively oriented and the Browns haven't hired a guy with that background (other than Rob Chudzinski's 1 year cameo) since Chris Palmer in 1999.
However,he's never been a head coach and being young (37) could be overwhelmed with such a huge job ahead....

Chip Kelly clearly doesn't know personnel and would need a strong GM ahead of him to rein in his demands,but as an on the field coach-I might buy in.
A motivated Kelly that learned from his mistakes in Philly could be quite a force,but did he take enough time away from the game to fully learn this lesson?

Hiring Gase would show me that the Browns are serious in trying to lure Peyton Manning to run things when his career is over with "his" guy installed as head coach instead having a coach forced on him.
Hiring Kelly looks like another forced coach/GM pairing as once again the coach would be hired first rather than the traditional other way around.

I'm open to either on the surface,but I'd also like to see the bigger picture....

Also with three teams trying to move to L.A. here is a scenario for how to make me a fan if one of the 3 moves there-the Rams.

The Rams would give me my longed for NFC West Coast team to watch every week after the Browns and have several players that I really like in Todd Gurley and James Laurinatis.
Keep Jeff Fisher as head coach (long time favorite) and change the colors back to the blue and yellow and the Los Angeles Rams just might have a new fan...

Podcast-Happy New Year and Football Talk

Happy New Year,college football talk,Browns mess and some upcoming plans for 2016 on the podcast.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Buckeyes hit the Fiesta!

Ezekiel Elliott rushed for a Fiesta Bowl record tying four touchdowns and 149 yards as the Ohio State Buckeyes bullied and ripped their way through the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on their way to a 44-26 Fiesta Bowl victory.
J.T.Barrett threw for over 200 yards and another touchdown in the win.
Ohio State finishes their season at 12-1 and next plays Bowling Green at the Horseshoe in September...

Olentangy Offerings

1) This game looks closer than it was.
As someone always looking for a way to find a way to lose as I watch-I never had that feeling that the Buckeyes were remotely challenged at all.

2) Ezekiel Elliott finished his OSU days by physically beating down Notre Dame.
You could clearly see the Irish wincing at bringing Elliott down and the Buckeyes dominated at the line of scrimmage.

3) Joey Bosa was ejected for targeting in the first quarter.
Had Bosa not been ejected (by the letter of the law,the ejection was warranted,but still a dumb rule),this game would have truly been a massacre.
Ohio State was up 14-0 when the play happened and it allowed a Vonn Bell interception to come off the board.
Between that and Bosa destroying off the line of scrimmage,OSU looked on the way to a huge win,if 16 isn't enough already...

4) Yes,the targeting rule is dumb.
Joey Bosa's helmet did hit the ND player-in the chest!
Add into that that the quarterback was on the move and you could argue that the targeting rule needs some revising.
All things considered,the rule should be revised for a 15 yard penalty (at best) for plays that did not involve helmet to helmet and no ejection.

5) Even with the Notre Dame scores,the defense still played pretty well considering that the Buckeyes played without three quarters of their defensive line.
Tommy Schutt (broken foot),Adolphus Washington (suspension) and Bosa weren't on the field by the end of first quarter,but Sam Hubbard took up some slack.
Ohio State still ended the game with four sacks,so imagine what could have been!

6) Braxton Miller touched the ball just four times,but I wanted to take a minute to thank a player that graduated early,always worked hard and never complained about his situation.
I'm not sure about Miller's NFL future,but he's a high character guy-someone should take a look..

7) Next season is a rebuilding one.
Now this is Ohio State,so it won't be that bad,but they go to Michigan State and Wisconsin next year,get underrated Bowling Green and add Oklahoma at Norman for non-conference,so a four loss season isn't out of the question.
However J.T. Barrett is back and Urban Meyer often does his best work when underestimated so one never knows,but the people that complained about schedules shouldn't have much to say next year.

8) The mass exodus of talent is part of a rebuild,but the recruiting class is supposed to be strong.
So strong that some analysts rate it as tops in the country.
I'm not a recruiting guru,so I'm taking the word of others,but the step back will be a small and fast one...

9) Finally,the what might have been.
Yes,the play calling still makes me wonder against Michigan State and yes,the Buckeyes would have been a better ratings draw and I think would have offered better competition in the final four.
Howevee,no matter how great they looked vs Michigan and Notre Dame,that loss meant they didn't deserve to be there.
Even if they might have been the best team...

10) Let the cries for 8 teams begin.
I plan on talking about this tonight on the podcast!
Yep,there will be a podcast tonight and another on Monday-Enjoy!

11) Anyone know just what Battlefrog is or does?
They sponsored the Fiesta Bowl and I have never heard of them or whatever they make/do etc..

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year

A quick note of Happy New Year to the readers and listeners.
I'll be around later with the Fiesta Bowl,but wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year with best wishes for all.
The blog will keep chugging along,but the podcast is coming along too with some cool guests coming up.
A phone issue has made things a little tougher at the road office,but hang in there-good things to come!