Monday, February 29, 2016

Devils dealing at deadline

The New Jersey Devils were beginning to take a skate back in the playoff race,so general manager Ray Shero did the smart thing-continue the resuscitation of the franchise by building for the future on a day that saw the Devils made three trades and claim someone off waivers.

In the end,when the Devils take the ice tomorrow in Newark vs Carolina,there will be two new Devils,three players gone and three extra draft picks for future use after the Shero spree was concluded.

The biggest deal was the Devils saw veteran winger Lee Stempniak shipped to Boston in return for a 2017 second round pick and a fourth rounder in the 2016 draft.
Stempniak had been signed in the off-season and had surprised with the amount of offense that the vagabond wing had provided (16 goals and 25 assists) in leading the team in scoring.
Stempniak had discussed a possible extension with the Devils before the deadline,but the two failed to come to an agreement.
Stempniak could still be signed in free agency during the next off-season and I have a funny feeling that Devils fans haven't seen last of him in red and black (or green).
The Bruins will be the TENTH team for the 33 year forward.

The Devils also traded the oft-scratched Eric Gelinas to Colorado in return for a 2017 third rounder.
Gelinas had not played in nine games and clearly had become persona' non grata in New Jersey.
Gelinas has a booming shot,but had issues on the defensive end.
Gelinas might be best suited as a power play specialist,but clearly the Devils had prepared to move with a stockpile of younger defensemen.

New Jersey claimed a defenseman off waivers as the first move of the day saw yet another Penguin arrive in New Jersey as the team added David Warsofsky.
Claiming a defenseman was a pretty clear hint that the Devils had a move in mind and unless a taker was found for future free agent David Schemko (there wasn't) that the likely person to go was Gelinas.
Warsofsky spent some of the season with the AHL Pens in Scranton-Wilkes Barre,but had some concussion related issues after scoring a goal in twelve games with the parent Penguins in Pittsburgh.
Warsofsky is reported to be a strong skater and even though he spent five years in the Boston organization before signing with Pittsburgh before this season,I don't know if I've ever seen him play and if so it was nothing memorable....

The only trade that saw the Devils trade player for player saw another young player that the Shero/Hynes crew soured on traded to Montreal as former first rounder Stefan Matteau was sent to the Canadiens for winger Devonte Smith-Pelly.
Matteau scored just one goal this season for the Devils and hadn't been in a game for over a month.
Smith-Pelly had six goals and six assists and at 23,might be in a situation with something to prove as the stocky six foot right wing will be joining his third team in the last two seasons.
Smith-Pelly is a physical player not afraid of pounding the body and crashing the net,but is a restricted free agent at the end of the season....

My take
I love the return for Lee Stempniak.A two and four for a veteran player that's a free agent?
I'm fine there.

I'm also OK with the adding a third rounder for Eric Gelinas.
I like Gelinas as a power play specialist,but he clearly had played his way out of the teams plans,so getting a decent pick is a solid move and Gelinas could use a change of scenery as well....

I also think Devonte Smith-Pelly might help in third or fourth line play and he brings an aggressive attitude to Newark as well.
That said,Stefan Matteau has the larger upside,if he can ever put it together in Montreal.
The Devils got the better player now,but the Canadiens have the player with more potential.
I'll reserve thoughts on David Warsofsky until I can see him play......

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Crawford,Santa Cruz score KO's-Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge rolled on with four fights from HBO and Showtime.

The HBO version saw WBO Junior Welterweight champ Terence Crawford finish off Hank Lundy in the 5th round in an impressive performance.
I'd like to see Crawford against better competition because he has nothing further to prove against top 15 level competition like Lundy.
Felix Verdejo won every round in winning a tedious unanimous decision over William Silva.
Verdejo has talent to burn and like Crawford,I'd like to see him take a boost in opponents.
R.L.Malpica and I each earned three points on this card-2 for Crawford's win and 1 for Verdejo's 1.

Leo Santa Cruz stopped a game and determined Kiko Martinez in the fifth on Showtime to keep his WBA Featherweight title in Anaheim.
Martinez made it an exciting fight with a gutsy attitude and consistent aggression,but the bigger Santa Cruz was simply too much for the smaller fighter.
Santa Cruz called out Carl Frampton,who is more likely to face Guillermo Rigondeaux and Santa Cruz,who has been light on strong competition doesn't have as many bright lights on the PBC side.other than WBC champ Gary Russell.
The hard part about that is that Russell and PBC have been even more reluctant to face good fighters than Santa Cruz has,which says a TON!.
On the undercard Hugo Ruiz knocked out Julio Ceja in one round to win the WBC Jr.Featherweight belt.
I missed that fight,so not sure of how Ruiz looked.
R.L and I each added a point for the Santa Cruz win and the Boxing Challenge stands at 17-11 in my favor.....

Frampton shades Quigg by split decision

Editor's Note:I'm writing this ahead of time,but not posting in case any of you decides to watch the replay on Showtime and match up Ramon Malpica and I's live time podcast.
And if you did watch-you should have listened!

Northern Ireland's Carl Frampton kept his IBF Junior Featherweight title and added Scott Quigg's WBA belt with a split decision win in Quigg's hometown of Manchester England.
Frampton controlled the first part of the fight by dominating a reluctant Quigg with his jab and won most of the first half of the fight on my card.
Quigg rallied with a thumping body attack in the second half of the bout and had a one point lead entering the final round,but I thought Frampton won the final round with more punches thrown.
Frampton winning the final round gave him a 114-114 draw on my card and a 115-113 win on Ramon's.
The official cards saw two judges score for Frampton 116-112 with the dissenting judge going 115-113 for Quigg.
Frampton is now mandated to fight former champion/slickster/insomnia reliever Guillermo Rigondeaux by July by the WBA in what could be an interesting fight as Frampton's style of throwing lots of punches and forcing Rigondeaux to run might be the best strategy that one could try against the talented Cuban.

The internet seems more disappointed than Ramon and I with the bout.
I thought the bout was filled with action in rounds 7-12,but many seemed to be displeased.
Considering that a stadium was sold out for this bout,I'd think a rematch is likely down the road....

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Live Podcast on Frampton-Quigg with Ramon Malpica!

We do a live podcast of the Carl Frampton-Scott Quigg 122 pound title unification with Ramon Malpica!

Give it a listen,if you watch tonight's Showtime replay!

It's Frampton-Quigg Time!!!

It's time for the bout that I've been waiting for two years and I am super excited for it!
The WBA and IBF Jr.Featherweight titles will be unified as Northern Ireland's Carl Frampton (IBF) takes on England's Scott Quigg (WBA) in Manchester England.
I think this is going to be a super action fight and with it being a 5;30 start on Showtime Extreme,I'm going to do something special.
Ramon Malpica and I are going to watch the fight "together",offer our opinions on the fight as it happens,discuss it all in real time and then immediately after the broadcast,I'll (and Ramon too) will immediately upload it to the podcast.
Hopefully,this trial balloon will work out and lead to other experiments!
Frampton-Quigg is about as even of a bout as you can find and if you have a way-watch it!!

Showtime has two live bouts at ten with Leo Santa Cruz defending his WBA Featherweight title against Kiko Martinez (a victim of both Frampton and Quigg) and Julio Ceja facing Hugo Ruiz in a rematch of a good fight for Ceja's WBC Jr.Featherweight belt.
HBO counters with dominant WBO Jr.Welterweight champ Terence Crawford defending against tough Hank Lundy and super prospect Felix Verdejo against William Silva...

The boxing challenge rolls on with my lead standing at 13-7

WBA-IBF Jr.Featherweight title unification.12 rds
Scott Quigg vs Carl Frampton
R.L;Quigg KO 7
TRS:Quigg KO 10

WBA Featherweight title.12 rds
Leo Santa Cruz vs Kiko Martinez
Both:Santa Cruz unanimous decision

WBC Jr.Featherweight title 12 rds
Julio Ceja vs Hugo Ruiz
R.L.Ceja KO 5
TRS: Ceja KO 9

WBO Jr,Welterweight title.12 rds
Terence Crawford vs Hank Lundy
R.L:Crawford KO 4
TRS;Crawford KO 8

Jr,Lightweights.10 rds
Felix Verdejo vs William Silva
R.L;Verdejo KO 4
TRS:Verdejo KO 6

Friday, February 26, 2016

Thoughts from the Lake

Time for a thought or two on each of the teams in Cleveland....

The Cavaliers were thought to be the easy favorite to sign shooting guard Joe Johnson when he was bought out of his contract by the Brooklyn Nets.
This had been rumored for well over a year that if this came to pass,Johnson would likely be a Cavalier target and most considered Cleveland to be the likely destination.
Instead,the 34 year old Johnson will be heading to Miami and the Heat,where he has been promised the chance to start.
Johnson will likely be a major part of any Miami playoff run,while in Cleveland,he would have likely been a scorer off the bench.
One can make the argument that Johnson may receive more minutes in Miami,but his minutes in Cleveland might be more important.
Johnson would have been helpful,but his loss won't ruin my day.

I questioned several times why the Indians were counting so much on Abraham Almonte based on a 51 game stint by a career AAA player that was around league average as their starting centerfielder.
I'm not a believer in Almonte and it'll be even harder to think that he'll be a contributor after a PED suspension that will see him miss 80 games.
I'm not a fan of the team's off season moves and with the less than motley crew that the Indians have for outfielders in the absence of the injured Michael Brantley,I have real doubts on the Indians being able put together an offense capable of backing up what looks to be a strong starting rotation.
The Indians did sign former Padre Will Venable to a contract to join a less than intriguing group and Venable does bring some experience,if not a key bat after splitting last year between San Diego and Texas.
The best bat available as a free agent right now that might help is Austin Jackson,but between the noted Cleveland reluctance to spend and Jackson's decline in productivity over the 2014 and 2015 seasons,I'd be surprised to see Jackson hit Cleveland....

The Browns continue to go through the NFL combine process and prep for the upcoming free agency period.
I don't really watch the combine much,but I will try to watch the quarterbacks with the Browns likely to pick one in the draft.
Talks can begin with free agents on March 7,although new players cannot be signed until March 9.
The key Browns that are free agents are Alex Mack (expected to activate a clause),Mitchell Schwartz,Travis Benjamin and Tashaun Gipson.
It'll be interesting to see with all the hype around the "analytics" driven front office to see how many of these players are valued enough to return-especially Mack and Schwartz,who would likely take a massive pay increase to retain them...

Rumors are flying that Hue Jackson wants to heavily raid his former team in Cincinnati in free agency with wideouts Marvin Jones and Mohamad Sanu each mentioned often.
My question is that if the Browns bring both of those two in,will they go above and beyond to retain Travis Benjamin?
My guess would be that that they would try,but would not go all in for Benjamin...

Back later with the boxing challenge...

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Podcast-Jason Christensen talks Battle of the Network Stars

Jason Christensen returns to the podcast with talk of Binghamton baseball,autographs and Battle of the Network Stars.
Apologies for the fuzzy phone connection...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Turning the Corner

On a rainy February morning,it makes you think how close and yet how far we are from the baseball season.

Players are reporting to spring training and we are within six weeks or so from warmer weather and the season starting,but that still can be a long time.
I'm not sure what the month that takes the longest really is.
I've always thought January was the longest being the beginning of the run,but cases can be made for February (too long to go) and even March (close enough to smell it,but with weeks to go).
March wasn't so bad when I coached because you had tryouts and practices,but now it seemed just as long as the others.

Now that we can look forward to that-my trips are starting to come together,
Looks like I have Tennessee/Kentucky trip in the works on May with the podcats bunch and an Ohio/Erie Pa one with Mike Oravec for May as well.
Mike and I have an August trip planned for Batavia NY as well and I need to pick a weekend trip with Ryan too.
The lovely Cherie and I are likely returning to Lake County for Cleveland Sports History night again in August,although if many of the guests repeat-I may switch to another place since I'd have the time.
If it's an Ohio trip,maybe Toledo or perhaps a further north N.Y. to a Auburn/Hudson Valley.
If you are interested in having me for a trip,let me know very soon.
My boss is quitting and I'm having my off requests processed before we leave.
If you want a Sunday,Monday or Tuesday trip-That's really great because I'm always off those days...
Get in touch,if interested in the TRS road trip experience! Ha Ha!

Getting really psyched for the season!!!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Endorsements? ENDORSEMENTS???

Some of you will remember way back in the infancy of this blog,we endorsed political candidates for Presidents and if you remember that,you'll remember that we didn't choose the winner.

Well,I decided to stay out of that business for 2012 and I am tempted to do so again for this,but what would this be if I didn't walk out on the ledge.
However,I'm not totally enthralled with any of them,so here is my endorsement-If you are a Democrat-Anyone but Hillary Clinton.
If you prefer the GOP-Anyone but Donald Trump..

Hillary Clinton carries so much baggage that it wouldn't surprise me that she didn't even make it to the election and would spend a term waiting for a shoe to drop on her various problems.
Donald Trump has spent an election with behavior that would sink any normal candidate and in my opinion does not have the temperament to be President.
Hillary Clinton at least offers some specifics (as erroneous as most of her plans are),which is more than I can say for Donald Trump,who says he'll have Mexico build a wall and the best he has to offer otherwise is that whatever he does will be  "Great" or "the best" without any specific plans that would pay for it or make it work.

That leads us to the other candidates.
Hillary Clinton's only viable opponent is Bernie Sanders.
Sanders,who seems to be a good and genuine man, means well,but I'm not sure that this country is ready to invest more money in government and elect someone that calls himself a "Democratic Socialist",which is different than an actual Socialist.
Keep in mind that Socialism is a term that 100 years ago that was applied to Eugene V.Debs for such radical thinking as Social Security and Health Care,so I'm not saying that as an epithet,but at this particular time isn't really suited to curing the overt problems of government waste and ill fitting programs.

On the GOP side,Ted Cruz offers a similar problem as Donald Trump-being so disliked that you cannot get members of your party to work with you,so we have another term of government grinding to a halt.
John Kasich seems to be the most reasonable of the candidates and the most experienced,which in typically American fashion almost disqualifies him from the start.
Marco Rubio has moved from being a Tea Party style radical to being middle of the road when you stand him beside Trump and Cruz,while Ben Carson seems to be beyond overmatched and seems to be more concerned with positioning himself to be a conservative author than a serious candidate for the office....

In the end,a bunch of guys that offer more questions than answers and therefore our endorsement above...

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Podcast-Graphing/Baseball talk with my buddies!

Today's podcast talks graphing,baseball,cards,road trips and more with my buddies Brad Adams,Derreck Chupak and Kendall Morris....

Is anything going to feel this real forever?

Photo Credit:Ed Miles-NME
I'm paraphrasing the Foo Fighters and their wonderful song "Everlong",but I do question things sometimes.
Life's a funny thing and turns on a dime.

I still have my good days and bad days and what I want to write and say varies.
Some days,I have things that I feel like I'm going to explode if I don't get them out in some form,whether that is verbally with the important people in my family or good friends,typing it out here or even on the podcast-It needs to come out somehow.
Sometimes,it's just looking into black and I have nothing to say.
On these days,I have to force myself to take care of business.
The perception is that I just say whatever I want and there is some truth to that,but there is more than that as well.
Sometimes,you just aren't ready to turn it on and then it's easy to disappoint.

You see,life is more than sports to me,although many have thought that is the main focus of mine.
I have other interests,other things to learn about and other things that I am passionate about.
However,I love the games.They are my ultimate distraction from the disappointment that I often carry around and I suppose that's what has always held the attraction to me from early childhood on.
Being a whiz kid wasn't easy and you have two roads-the road of challenges to build growth and work ethic or the way of ease in which you coast on talent until the challenge becomes one made of oneself.

I've thrown myself into various interests and I'm far more multi-faceted than people think.
It's only the people that know me very well that really know that.
Those of you that know me to that level all know you much that means to me when we have discussions that are far deeper than "are the Indians really going to stick with Abraham Almonte in centerfield"?
That doesn't mean that I think less of talking sports at all,just that mixing it up is so enjoyable for me.

I'm writing this as a sort of a mea culpa on those rare occasions that things just dry up.
I'm starting to get rejuvenated and I'm starting to have some more things to say on sports and otherwise.
I realize most of you come here to read about sports or even the stuff I write about that deal with sports in a roundabout way,but it's about more than that.
It's paying a debt.
A debt to myself and others for what I (if not others) perceive as a waste of many things that I could have offered.

I've wrote many times that this is an avenue to get things down on "paper" for my grandchildren to know me better and a way to look back at myself as I see things at middle age.
But,it's also a way to entertain,make you think or just plain relax as you read or listen to my "work" here and I hope that I'm able to do that.

I also want to thank a few of you.
I do this from time to time,but I never want to take things for granted.
Of course,there's the lovely Cherie,who basically takes care of me under such duress and must really love me to tolerate me!

I also want to thank a few others based on this.
To Big Don Cain and Fred Landucci,my two most devoted readers/listeners-thanks for caring about the work I do here.
Few things pick me up more than when you two gentlemen drop me a line and tell me that you liked something on the podcast or the blog and something that I jogged a personal memory out of it.
I always appreciate that....

To Steve Brandenburg,thanks so much for the last year of sponsoring the podcast.
You allowed me to pick up a new way to speak out and without you,my voice would have been much more limited and I sincerely appreciate that.

To those of you that call and write me and walk me through things.I appreciate you as well.
I'm not going to name names,but you know who you are and I thank you...

And to those of you that read and listen,but I don't hear from-thank you too.
I know you are there and my hits show that and even though I like hearing from you on comments or personal notes-you too are appreciated.

I've never tried to make money off this.
It's always been about the art (how pretentious sounding is that?) and I've turned down ads here.
I didn't mind getting a sponsor that I knew,but I didn't want things on here out of my control.
I'm not against money and if I could pay my bills by doing this-I'd do it tomorrow,but I don't think that this type of varied topics has a huge market.
I don't even make money off Steve's sponsorship-it went straight to Podbean and I'm still paying for equipment myself.
Actually,there is a really sharp microphone that I've got my eye on sometime soon that will make the podcast sound really good when I can afford it,but my point is I don't get rich off this.
I had a fellow ask me why this was worth doing without making money once and I didn't know what to tell him.
Now I kinda do-it makes me feel better.
Talking about topics,about forgotten people from the past and yes stories about my past and present makes me feel better for the time that I'm writing.

I feel better now.
Until next time......

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Indians ink Juan Uribe

The Cleveland Indians opened Arizona to their pitchers and catchers,but they added to their biggest question mark among the position players as Juan Uribe was signed to a one year contract,pending Uribe being able to pass the Indians routine physical.

The soon to be 37 old Uribe hit .253 with 14 homers in 2015 in a year split between three teams (Dodgers,Braves and Mets) and just under 400 at bats.
Uribe will likely be the opening day starter at third,although he will have to fend off Giovanny Urshela,who finished last season as the third sacker.
Urshela was a fine defensive player,but struggled in hitting just .225 in his 267 at bats and I can see why the Indians were looking for a offensive upgrade.
Uribe hits righthanded,which on the Indians is a help as most of their better hitters hit lefthanded and the one year contract for five million isn't the kind that you choke on-even the small market Indians.

However,I'm not as optimistic about this signing as many Indians observers are.
Uribe hasn't really hit well since leaving San Francisco in 2010 (an exception was 2013,which was really the only season that Uribe has stayed reasonably healthy) and seems to have problems staying in the lineup.
Uribe hasn't played more than 132 games since 2010 and despite a decent 2015 seems to me to be a player nearing the end of the line.

The Indians didn't appear to have many options and Uribe seems to be the best of those choices,but I wouldn't be surprised if the Indians got an out of gas veteran by the end of the year.
These players in decline tend to get old quickly and Cleveland had to act in desperation on Uribe.
I'd be happy if the Indians received anything near the league average from Uribe or even if he could stay in the lineup.
Not high fiving anyone over this signing,but looking at it as a one year stopgap-it could have been worse....

Friday, February 19, 2016

Cuts and cuts

The Browns made two cuts and I'll get to them shortly,but a bigger cut to me came this afternoon and I'd like to drop a few lines on that first.

I've written that I was considering rooting for the newly re-located Los Angeles Rams,due to reasons that I've written in other posts,but that took a hit today as they released James Laurinaitis.
Laurinaitis ranks as one of my favorite Buckeyes ever and as a stalwart for years as a member of the Seven Time IFL Champion Ohio Hitmen was a reason that I tried to catch the Rams when I could.
The 2009 second rounder became the all time Rams tackler last year and even though I'd bet the odds are long,I'd love to see Laurinaitis become a Brown.

The Browns chopped two veterans off the cap as defensive tackle Randy Starks and tight end Jim Dray each were released with one year to go on their contracts.
Dray was basically a blocking tight end (six catches in 2015) that is a dime a dozen and Starks contributed just one sack in 15 starts,so the pass rush up the middle that Starks was going to bring never really materialized.
The Browns would likely be looking for help at the interior defensive line even with Starks,so count on someone being brought in there,while I'm sure a veteran blocking tight end can be added at a far cheaper deal than that paid for Jim Dray.
The release of both helps save some cap space somewhere and just how that will be spent is the story of the off-season.

Where have You been?

So...Was I missed?

I took almost a week off,although it wasn't planned that way.
It's been a slow news week with not as much to write about and I was in the middle of taking care of various run of the mill issues that we all deal with in day to day life.

Trips to the parents,oil changes,dealing with my friends at Strat O Matic and Posey's trip to the dog groomers all added up to a busy week.
Take that with the slow news week and I've been less than motivated.
I have a podcast planned for the weekend and the Browns cut two players yesterday,so things are getting better as far as topics go....

On the workfront,I'm still working lots of overtime and trying to plan the summer for time off.
I'm sure I'll do some sort of week in August,I have an Ohio trip in late May,a Bowling Green football game in September and Ryan's wedding in October,so the work off requests are flying...

In any event,I'm hoping to have more ideas.
As we near our 9th anniversary,on occasion,I just don't have much to say.
That is usually a short term issue and usually after some downtime,the ideas come flying...

Back later....

Cavaliers add Channing Frye,lose the "WIld Thing"

The Cleveland Cavaliers attempted to add another weapon to the offense and yet shed salary as well as the team worked a three way trade to add Channing Frye from the Orlando Magic.
The cost to gain Frye and drop a contract was sending the Wild Thing-Anderson Varejao and their 2018 first rounder to Portland and Jared Cunningham to the Magic.

First,let's talk about the departures.
I always liked Anderson Varejao,his always happy attitude and the effort/hustle that came with his frenetic play.
Varejao wasn't afraid to do the dirty work and would be fearless in hitting the floor for loose balls.
However,he was extremely overpaid and still had two more years on the extension that he signed.
Considering that and the constant questions of could Varejao stay healthy for an entire season and it's easy to see why Cleveland selected Varejao to be the player that was moved.
It's sad when you consider all that the Brazilian had done for the franchise,but in the end-it is a business and the trade makes sense even if it was just done for the financial reasons,which it wasn't.
I also liked Cunningham in his limited action,which had dwindled to next to nothing over the last month or so,but there are always the guys on the lower end of the pay scale that make these deals work with the salary cap.

As for Channing Frye,he brings a unique set of skills and I was surprised to see that he is 32 and in his tenth year in the league.
I figured he was 28 and maybe six or seven years played,but it's true,..
Frye is under a reasonable contract at under eight million for each of the next two seasons and can play the four or five (although you might want to carefully spot his time at center) defensively.
The description most seen yesterday of Frye was of being a "Stretch 4",which basically means that he is a finesse' player that has effective shooting range out past the three point line.
The 6'11 Frye is shooting over 39% from behind that line,so he clearly is effective there and brings the Cavaliers yet another offensive weapon to their cache'.

One can argue that the Cavaliers still lack a true bruiser other than Timofey Mozgov and I'd agree.
The Cavaliers clearly are attempting to build a roster filled with players with varied offensive skills with a plan of attacking whatever team comes out of the West with a barrage of offense.
Channing Frye brings something unique and in adding this piece,Cleveland dropped salary.
It makes good sense on the floor and off the floor,although I'm sad to see the Wild Thing go after 12 years.

I plan on being back later with a brief description of where I've been over the last week....

Friday, February 12, 2016

Cleaning Out the Inbox-Non-Sports edition

I told you that there was a large amount of items in the inbox and here we are for part two with more of a non-sports slant.

Another Apollo astronaut has passed away with Apollo 14's Edgar Mitchell being the latest.
Mitchell,who was best known for his personal experiment with ESP while on the mission,started the Institute of Noetic Sciences to better study the paranormal.
Mitchell was 85 and leaves the living Apollo astronauts numbering just seven,The Atlantic memorializes Mitchell here.

A man that was part of my life almost on a daily basis for years passed at the age of 88 as Sam Spence died on Saturday.
Who was Sam Spence?
Spence was the composer and the man behind all of the great scene setting music for NFL Films and their iconic soundtracks to football that made so many fans from the 1970's on.
Spence might not have been the name that came to mind when you were humming some of those sounds that meshed so perfectly with the highlights,but clearly he had a huge impact...

The Blood-Horse may be a magazine about horse racing and that may be a sport,but the article Taking Shergar is about more than the horse.
The great Irish racehorse Shergar was kidnapped in 1983 and was never seen or heard from again as the most famous cold case in Irish history.
The article discusses the various theories on how and why this happened (The IRA is a huge suspect) from an insider perspective with one of the main detectives on the case...

Some volunteers in Miami spent time restoring the Ferdinand Magellan,the famous railway car that was used by Presidents to get around before airplanes became commonplace.
The car was the main mode of transport for Presidents Roosevelt,Truman and Eisenhower before being retired in 1954.
The car has been in Miami since 1959 and didn't need a ton of structural work,but had a few dings taken out and some paint touchups to keep rust away!

Here is a list of great restaurants that didn't survive the 1980's.
I ate at all but three on the list,but four hit home for personal reasons.
Burger Chef was my first job,Gino's was a favorite stop of my dad's on the way home from Orioles or Bullets games,Howard Johnson's was a staple of the Pennsylvania and Ohio travel areas when we visited Ohio and Bob's Big Boy?
Well,that one was my favorite Aunt Becky's favorite and myself and Cherie went there with them when Cherie was carrying Ryan in one of the craziest days of our lives!

This is a sports story from Hardball Times,but it's more about how the Topps company got into selling baseball cards as a business and the decisions behind it.
Topps is celebrating its 65th year with baseball cards and it's a good read even if you don't collect cards...

That just about cleans things up for a while,so hopefully you found something interesting worth linking to!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cleaning out the inbox

The inbox is literally over the top with items and I'm going to break it up into two or maybe even three of these before its finally cleaned up.

The Pittsburgh Pirates obtained pitcher Jesse Biddle from the Phillies in the type of decision that I like-a mild risk for a big reward down the road.
Pittsburgh sent Yoervis Medina to the Phillies,who was picked up over the winter after splitting 2015 with the Mariners and Cubs and should be part of the Phillies bullpen for Biddle.
Biddle was looked at as the Phillies top lefthanded pitching prospect for years,but underwent elbow surgery and will miss the 2016 season.
You are never sure in what a year off will do to a pitcher,but when your cost is a free agent journeyman reliever for a player of Biddle's upside-the proactive GM does the trade.

During our recent podcast with Carling Coffing Nolan,we referred to 18 holes with Jimmy Hanlan hiring a replacement for Carling in LPGA star Natalie Gulbis.
Here is an article on Gulbis being hired with Crain's Cleveland Business Journal.
I look forward to Natalie's version of the show,but I'll miss Carling and the birdie dance!

A blog that I never heard of in Exile on Trumbull Street covers in eight well written parts where all the bodies are buried in the move of the Hartford Whalers to Carolina.
Here is the link to part one,you can find the remaining parts off to the side.
It is not a short read,but it is an interesting one as you wind through the political and business maneuvers of moving a team....

Best wishes to long time favorite of ours as Bret "the Hitman" Hart as he is in a battle with prostate cancer.
The Hitman is 58 and has had quite a few medical problems over the years.....

We wrote a little while back about the passing of Ken Stabler and his health issues.
Stabler has been in the news twice this week with the best of the news being his finally entering the pro football hall of fame.
I'm glad Stabler made it,but once again it happened too late for the player to see it.
Stabler should have been in long ago...
Stabler also was discovered to have CTE,a brain condition that is becoming all too common in the lives of former football players.
The New York Times discusses Stabler and his condition in detail,so if you were a fan of the Snake or interested in the issues involving CTE,I think you'll find this interesting...

I just found out about the passing of former Vikings linebacker Fred McNeill in November from Lou Gehrig's disease,but McNeill was the first former NFLer to be diagnosed with CTE while still alive.
Back in 2013,a UCLA study showed McNeill to have CTE and that was a step forward in being able to make huge progress in concussion research,
The Showdown discusses this and more about the former Vikings first rounder that was an underrated player on those later 1970's Vikings teams....
McNeill might be best remembered as the first player to block hall of famer Ray Guy's punt in the Minnesota 32-14 super bowl loss to Oakland.
Back then,many said that Guy's punts were unblockable-McNeill showed differently.
McNeill's block takes place around 3;07 on the below video.

SABR (I allowed my membership to lapse) has many pages on many different baseball players and there is a new updated player page/article on Sandy Koufax.
It's detailed and scan the free part of the SABR files as the articles are on more than just the great ones....

We still have more in the inbox later this week!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Memories of Marty

The New Jersey Devils retired the number of the greatest goaltender in the history of the game last night before the Devils 2-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers.
I missed the third period (and Reid Boucher's game winning goal) due to going to work a little early and the game starting late due to the ceremony,bur I was able to see the important part of the evening and say goodbye to our greatest star.

Martin Brodeur holds just about every record there is to hold in goaltending,but never seemed to get the accolades that he deserved in most of his career.
What isn't often remembered about the "Marty's Better" chant is that it started way back in the Stanley Cup Finals against Dallas when the hockey media continued to push another goalie as the best in Dallas netminder Ed Belfour.
I can see the argument (although I disagree with it) for Patrick Roy as the best,but no one else and certainly not Belfour and the Devils fans used the chant to tweak those that overlooked "our" Marty.

My first memory of Marty came without seeing him play.
My friend Joe Plum was a semi-season ticket holder for the Baltimore Skipjacks,who then played in the AHL and I would ask him about the Devils players for the AHL Devils-then located in Utica.
I asked Joe about this first round goalie and should I make sure I get a bunch of his rookie cards as the sports card bubble was still the rage.
Joe's response was one that I've never let him forget- "Ahh,I watched that guy play against the Skipjacks,he sucks,you guys have nothing to get excited about there".
I only bought a few (Not that they are worth a ton,too many made) and I remind Joe often about his scouting skills!!!

Marty's style was not exactly new wave,in fact-it was more old school than cutting edge.
He eschewed the butterfly for a hybrid and used his Spiderman like anticipation to make uncanny saves that most others would be trapped into guarding corners could not.....
Considering that the butterfly style has taken over not just professional hockey,but the amateurs and juniors as well,Marty's career may never be duplicated,but his brand of goaltending may not either.

There was always another goalie around that that was flashier (Henrik Lundquist) or more spectacular (Patrick Roy) and there were several flavors of the month through the years to get more credit than Marty and the reason that was often given for the lack of accolades through the years was that many thought that he was an above average goalie that was helped by the clamp down "Devils Trap" and tended face fewer shots than other goalies.
The lack of shots may hold a little water,but most of that is a myth-The Devils trap was successful in keeping shot totals down,but when a mistake was made,there was always number 30 waiting in the wings to erase that mistake.

Marty's stickhandling won't be seen for a while either-Think of the players that had a rule changed just because of their skills?
The infamous trapezoid was enacted just to control the puckhandling of Martin Brodeur and try to take away the "third defenseman" that the Devils so often played with.
The trapezoid did take away a little of Marty's "deep game" as he used to literally go into the corners to pass the puck up ice,but even with that eliminated-Brodeur was still the top passing goalie in the game.
Brodeur turned the position into not just a third defenseman,but as an additional part of the offensive unit with his passing skills.
Add to that his three career goals and you had a goaltender that could be considered a bonus part of the offense....

When you consider the players that play in the sport and consider the small number of players that reach the Hall of Fame or get a number retired by a franchise-that's a huge accomplishment.
Take that and look at how few get a statue and that shows the impact that Martin Brodeur had on this franchise.
The greatest goaltender of all time and we had him for his entire career with the exception of a few games at the end of his career (a cameo with the St.Louis Blues).

I often tell Rachel,how fortunate Devils fans were for years-we had the greatest goaltender ever,one of the hardest hitters ever (Scott Stevens),one of the best all around defensemen ever (Scott Niedermayer),a borderline genius for a long run (Lou Lamoriello) and one of the greatest announcers in the booth (Doc Emrick) calling all of our games.
It truly was a Camelot-like era and I'm not sure we can ever have that again.

Now with the official honoring of Marty,combined with the new (er) front office,coach and yes, goaltender.The era of glory is truly over and I hope to see a new generation of winning in the red and black,but last night was one final goodbye to our goalie-The best ever.

Podcast-And now a word from our sponsor!

Over 90 minutes of sports with Our Sponsor-Steve Brandenburg of CSA Cards.
Hope you enjoy it!!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Forgotten Superstars-Duane Thomas

We return to the forgotten superstars' universe with one of the most controversial players of his time and for a brief two-year window was one of the most exciting backs to run the football in Duane Thomas.

Duane Thomas is remembered by most for a tenure that saw bizarre behavior such as refusing to speak.
As in at all.
We live in an age where athletes will at times refuse to speak to the media, but in the early 70s, such behavior was downright shocking.
Considering the shunning of the media and add that Thomas refused to speak to his teammates or members of the coaching staff and that was likely the act of a heretic in 1971.

Thomas and his act wore out so quickly in Dallas that after his rookie of the year season in 1970, Thomas and two other players were traded to the Patriots for running back Carl Garrett and the Patriots' number one pick.
Pete Rozelle then made a decision that hasn't been made since- Thomas and Garrett were returned to back to their original teams because Thomas refused to talk to or acknowledge Patriots coach John Mazur!
New England got Garrett and their top pick but kept the other two players by sending Dallas their second and third-rounders.
Can you imagine a trade being voided for a reason like that today?

Thomas had rolled up over 800 yards in 1970, averaged 5.3 yards per carry, and accomplished these numbers despite only starting eight of the Cowboy's fourteen games.
Thomas returned to Dallas and rushed for just ten yards less than in 1971 despite playing in three fewer games (he carried the ball 24 more times though-finishing with a still good 4.5 YPC) and led the league with eleven rushing touchdowns.
Thomas should have been the Super Bowl MVP in the Dallas win over Miami and reportedly was the winner in the voting, but Sport Magazine, which then gave the award (and car) was supposedly concerned about how Thomas would behave if he even would show up for the ceremony and gave the award instead to Roger Staubach.

Thomas never played another game for Dallas as he was traded to San Diego, where he would dress for one pre-season game, didn't play, and would sit out the 1973 season.
San Diego traded him to Washington, where he put together two pedestrian seasons that were most noted for one Thanksgiving game against-you guessed it, the Cowboys where he scored two touchdowns and would have been the talk of the league had not Dallas won the game on the immortal Clint Longley's bomb to Drew Pearson to win the game with seconds to go 24-23.
Thomas would leave Washington to play the 1975 season with Honolulu of the World Football League, which would fold in the middle of the 1975 season.

It's too bad that Thomas is remembered more for his personality than his running because he was one beautiful runner to watch,
Thomas could run over people but had a way of gliding that made it seem like he was about to be tackled and suddenly turned a hip and moved away.
The closest thing I've seen to Thomas in style was Gale Sayers.
Barry Sanders had some similarities, but Thomas was so much bigger than Sanders.
Watching Thomas run made me think of watching the water roll over a waterfall and then flow around the rocks on the river floor.
Just an awesome runner to watch.
Check the Youtube at 12 minutes for some Thomas highlights.

Comets tend to burn brightly and then flame out quickly and the career of Duane Thomas was exactly that, but for those that watched him run (and still can through YouTube), he was a tough back to forget...

Welcome, Duane Thomas to the forgotten superstars' universe...

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Podcast with Carling Coffing Nolan!

We talk with Carling Coffing Nolan from Big Break,18 Holes and the LPGA!

Carling discusses her career in golf, television on 18 holes and her passion and fight with Type 1 Diabetes....

Cleveland Browns Season in Review-The Defense

The Cleveland Browns poured lots of money into their defense under the assumption that they would be a run first team that would win by pounding the ball on offense and shutting teams down on defense.
Now we know how that turned out,but I think a lot of this can be blamed on defensive coordinator Jim O'Neill and his decisions/philosophy.
Here is our look at the Browns defense....

The defensive line was still a sieve against the run,but they did manage a mildly improved pass rush with the Bryants (Desmond and Armonty) leading the group with 6 and 5.5 sacks respectively.
Armonty Bryant also was used as a standup outside backer,which he wasn't quite as effective at.
Randy Starks didn't bring as much as hoped for after being signed as a free agent and John Hughes didn't set the world on fire after signing an extension before the season.
Danny Shelton was somewhat of a disappointment after being drafted in the first round,but played very well over the final month and gives me hope that this maturation will continue next season.
The surprise was Jamie Meder as the former Ashland Eagle showed signs of at least being a strong rotational player,while third rounder Xavier Cooper was seldom used after being a preseason terror.

The linebackers still lacked impact players as Jim O'Neill continued the sad Browns tradition of not using players skills in the best usage.
Paul Kruger was less than strong (16 tackles,2.5 sacks),but Kruger was used less and less in the pass rush (his strength) and more in pass coverage,which isn't really his game.
Kruger has a 6.5 million dollar roster bonus coming and considering his drop in performance,the Browns could cut him loose unless Ray Horton thinks he can revitalize Kruger.
Nate Orchard was drafted to be a rush end at outside linebacker,but O'Neill rarely cut him loose and used him in pass coverage more often.
Orchard was surprisingly good in that role,but he wasn't drafted to do that-Orchard might have had a much larger impact had he been used as a pass rusher more often.
Former first rounder Barkevious Mingo was used similarly as Orchard and like Orchard was drafted as a pass rusher.
Mingo has tremendous speed,but lacks strength and when he would reach the quarterback,this lack of strength often hurt his ability to bring the QB down.
Mingo might go elsewhere,unless Ray Horton decides to try a reclamation project in a similar manner to Paul Kruger.
Karlos Dansby was his solid self,but at 34,the Browns at minimum need to be thinking about replacing him down the road.
Craig Robertson was nothing special at one inside spot,while Christian Kirksey played well,although I don't see him being a top level starter.

The secondary was pretty bad and I might be being a bit generous in that statement.
Joe Haden struggled early,never got better and wound up missing most of the season with concussion problems.
The Browns will need him to bounce back,because for all the money put into the secondary,there isn't anyone capable of replacing him.
Veteran Tramon Williams was brought to Cleveland to be the second corner at age 32.
With the injuries to Haden,Williams was forced into the top spot and was overwhelmed at the number one corner.
Williams is best suited to be a 3rd or 4th corner at this stage of his career and the Browns simply asked too much of an aging veteran.
The Browns used a variety of young players at the corner and none truly distinguished themselves.
Pierre Desir has the physical skills,but still is very raw,K'Waun Williams is more polished,but has a susceptibility to injury,Charles Gaines played late in the season with mixed results,Johnson Bademosi was badly beaten and was overmatched as anything more than a special teams player and Justin Gilbert continues to give the Browns next to nothing from a top ten draft pick.
At safety,Donte Whitner is still a solid tackler,but is getting worse and worse in pass coverage as he clearly has lost a step.
Tashaun Gipson had quarrels with the front office before last season over being tendered a contract,went out and was less of the ballhawking centerfielder than in 2014 and will likely leave via free agency.
Look for the Browns to address this position in either the draft or free agency.
Ibraheim Campbell played fairly well in his late season playing time and might have a chance to be the long term starter at strong safety.
Jordan Poyer is a special teams player that should be limited to just that role rather than any secondary time....

Andy Lee was one of the better punters in the league after being traded for from the 49ers with a 46 yard average.
Lee might have been the teams best asset in many ways.....


Defensive Line D+
The Bryants aside,the line didn't do a lot of pressuring the passer and the run defense remained a huge problem...

Linebackers C-
Nothing special,very few playmakers and players not used to their best abilities turned what was thought to be an asset into a below average unit...

Secondary D-
Lots of money spent for a low performing group.
A unit that spent more time chasing players than tackling them.

Punting A
Andy Lee was often this teams best weapon and was well worth the seventh round pick spent to acquire him....

Friday, February 5, 2016

On the signing front

The signing front returns as I continue to attempt to have it all completed by the beginning of the season.
I may miss the most important cards (top 100's) because I put those away as soon as I get them.
Please don't think I forgot about them as far as importance!!

Two final stops in Harrisburg fell through the cracks from the last signing front as we made trips to see Richmond and then Akron.
Richmond's additions were Joe Biagini (who always seemed to pitch when I saw them) and a 2015 Augusta Matthew Gage,while Akron's big pickup was Nick Maronde on a 2012 Heritage along with Bobby Ison on a Lake County from 2015...

Thanks to Ed Loyd for sending me a 1990 Score for the set of one of my all time closers in Lee Smith.
Lee Smith deserves to be in the hall as much as any other closer of the last 40 years and needs to be inducted!

Thanks to Mike Oravec for an autographed card of my favorite player as a child in Toby Harrah,
Mike found Toby's rookie signed (1972 Topps) at the Maugansville Card Show and picked up for me!

Thanks to Brett Shaw for his help in Altoona.
Brett got Nick Williams and J.P Crawford to sign the cards that I missed (Story in last signing front) and did the Altoona team set for me since they were finished in Harrisburg early,,,,

Thanks to Corey White for all of his Southern league help this season.
Corey did the Tennessee Smokies team set  with prospects Billy McKinney,Albert Almora and Carl (formerly C.J.) Edwards among them.
Corey went to see the Cubs in Cincinnati and got me Edwards there.
Corey also got me so many cards throughout the season and the cards for the top 100 were so great including the top prospect in the game in Byron Buxton.
I cannot thank him enough for his help!

Steve Nicholas in Indianapolis helped me with an Indianapolis team set with some other top 100's over the year and a very cool Bowman chrome of Cleveland prospect James Ramsey.
His help with the AAA International League has been a godsend in getting things signed that would have otherwise never been signed...

The pile is beginning to dwindle,so it's looking good to maybe be finished before the start of 2016!!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Cleveland Browns Season in Review-The Offense

I always seem to get delayed in doing these season in reviews for the Browns and often get to the point of abandoning them because of the delay.
I do them anyway because I like having them in the archives,so here goes....

The quarterback play wasn't anything to get excited about,but considering that the distinct lack of weapons that each passer had to deal with,the play could have been far worse.
Between the three quarterbacks that started games (Josh McCown,Johnny Manziel and Austin Davis),they combined for 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions,which isn't a number that leads many leagues,but wouldn't have been a number that makes one wince either.
McCown had problems staying healthy and had some high-profile miscues,but he set a Browns record for passing yards in a game and wasn't a minus on the overall.
McCown was always around (even when injured) and did exactly what he was brought in for-keep the position warm,try to tutor Johnny Manziel and act with class.
I would have little problem with McCown returning to try to mentor whatever rookie that they draft this year.
Johnny Manziel showed glimmers of progress,especially when allowed to freelance as he did at Texas A&M,but still struggled in the pocket and with his off the field issues,just isn't worth the hassles that his behavior brings with him.
Austin Davis pretty much is about what you would expect from a third string quarterback,but the decision to sign him to a long term contract stills makes me wonder when you have the ability to sign someone for that slot for around the minimum without losing production.

The running game wasn't the best either,but did have its occasional bright spots.
Isaiah Crowell finished with over 700 yards as the main back. On a good team,Crowell isn't the back to be the bellcow,but he can be solid as a secondary back.
Duke Johnson wasn't anything special as a ballcarrier (379 yards on 104 carries),but showed electric moves as a pass catcher with 61 receptions and looks to be a long term contributor in a third down/pass receiving role.
Only one other player carried the ball more than twice-the since released Robert Turbin (60 yards on 18 carries),who showed a disturbing tendency to fumble on his way out the door.

The wide receivers were led by Travis Benjamin,who fell just short of 1,000 yards on 68 catches.
Benjamin started faster than he finished,but some of that can be attributed to being a little under the radar in early play and being the big play target when Josh McCown played,who preferred going downfield more than Johnny Manziel.
I still think Benjamin is better suited to being a second or even third receiver,but on the 2015 Browns,he was clearly the best they had.
The remainder of the corps struggled with injuries and missed time,which led to a parade of no-name receivers throughout the season.
Brian Hartline made some tremendous catches,but missed three games and often was ignored by the various passers.
Taylor Gabriel missed three games,but caught just 28 passes and appeared to regress over the season.
Andrew Hawkins was out for half the season with concussion issues and was deeply missed at the slot position.
Hawkins hopefully will be able to return to full health for 2016 as Hue Jackson has experience with Hawkins with the Bengals and should use him often.
Marlon Moore is more of a special teamer type and the less I mention the waste of dollars on Dwayne Bowe (nine million for five catches) the better.
Terrelle Pryor likely made the training camp roster with his one spectacular catch (only one of the season) against Pittsburgh and knowing Hue Jackson helps him there.
Actually,it wouldn't surprise me to see Jackson either return Pryor as a backup QB or at least use him often in trick play formation/play calls.

The tight end position brought far more than fans could have ever expected from Gary Barnidge.
Barnidge came to Cleveland with a reputation as a strong blocker with limited pass catching skills.
Barnidge proved all of those wrong with a phenomenal season that surprisingly surpassed that of the departed Jordan Cameron.
Barnidge finished with 79 catches (many of them in the jaw-dropping category) and for over one thousand yards-Barnidge deserved the contract extension that he signed before the end of the season.
One feels silly asking for more from Gary Barnidge,but it could happen.
When you look at the numbers that Tyler Eifert accumulated in Cincinnati under a Hue Jackson offense,one could see even more from Barnidge-if the Browns have the ability to give him some help on the outside.
The other three tight ends combined for eight catches and under one hundred yards.
Jim Dray was essentially a blocker,Rob Housler suffered a season-ending injury early in the year and E.J. Bibbs didn't see the field much after showing unique physical skills in the pre-season.
I'd like to see more of Bibbs in 2016.

The offensive line was better than you would think from a three win team.
The tackles were good enough as left tackle Joe Thomas continued on his way to the Hall of Fame and Mitchell Schwartz put together his best season as a Brown-just in time for the Browns to lose him via free agency.
The guards were a little above average,albeit not tremendous.
Joel Bitonio missed the final month with an ankle injury and took a small step back after a tremendous 2014 as a rookie.
John Greco was his typical steady self at right guard-solid,but unspectacular.
Alex Mack returned from his broken ankle and suffered a drop in play.
Not that Mack was poor,but he clearly was not what he had been before the injury.
Mack is going to likely explore free agency and for a 30 year old player that might be in decline,Mack might be too expensive for my tastes to return.
First round pick Cameron Erving was touted as the best center in the draft,but versatile enough to play tackle or guard.
What the Browns received was a disappointment on a level rarely seen even by Cleveland standards.
Erving had lowlights of being bowled over and thrown into backfields to the point of having issues even blocking for field goal attempts.
Erving looked to be not strong enough for guard or quick enough for tackle among other issues.
Center is still reported to be his best position,so I'm open to him being the replacement for Alex Mack,should Mack leave,but he needs to hit the weight room in a major way during the downtime.

Travis Coons was 28 of 32 on field goals,but was kept away from long field goals because a low trajectory lended itself to the possibility of blocks.
Coons performance was more acceptable,but I would love to see a bigger leg challenge Coons for 2016.


Quarterback C-
Nothing great to see,but quarterback play is really hard to grade with a team that saddles the passer with so few weapons.

Running Back D
The numbers simply don't indicate anything to get more excited about than that other than Duke Johnson's numbers as a pass catcher out of the backfield.

Wide Receiver D
You get what you pay for and Ray Farmer's lack of interest in upgrading the passing game gave him what he deserved-a lost job.
Travis Benjamin almost lifted the grade to a C-.

Tight End A
Gary Barnidge was tremendous and was the only offensive skill player to stand out every week...

Offensive Line B
Better in pass protection than as true earth movers in the running game and with the issues of Cameron Erving whenever he filled in considered,the O-Line might not have been worth the dollars spent on them,but still was more than adequate on the whole.

Kicker C-
Travis Coons was accurate enough,but the failings outside of 40 yards deeply hurt a team that often struggled to move the ball into scoring range...

I'll look at the defense sometime soon.....

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Devils rally by Rangers!

The New Jersey Devils twice tied the New York Rangers and then put the game away on a David Schlemko goal (5 Power play) with the man advantage to left the Devils to a 3-2 win at the Rock.
The Devils win moved them within two points of the Rangers for second place in the division among four teams in that race.
New Jersey also received goals from Lee Stempniak (15 Power play) and Joseph Blandisi (2) in the win.
New Jersey travels to Toronto on Thursday to meet the Maple Leafs and their new logo...

Hell Raisers

1) Nice to settle in and do a game review for a change.
Not sure how many I'll be doing,but I'll take them as I go.
This was a fun game to watch as Ranger games usually are,but the Devils have taken such a step forward under John Hynes that they are more competitive than the last few years.

2) Loved the second game tying goal by Joe Blandisi.
On a team that still needs to add speed,Blandisi has the potential to be part of the improved skating and on this play,he simply blazed by Dan Girardi like he was a trash can on the corner and snapped the puck by Henrik Lundquist for the goal.

3) The Devils still have some holes to be filled,if they are truly going to revamp the team,but New Jersey has found themselves a few spare parts to be a temporary fix.
One of which was Lee Stempniak with his 15 goals and almost as many teams on his resume'.
Players like this are going to be the bridge to the eventual contender,but it's very cool when journeyman players are able put a good year together because it's so unexpected...

4) Cory Schneider really only allowed one goal as the first of the two J.T, Miller goals was on a 2 on 1 breakaway.
Schneider has put together a strong season and made some excellent saves in the victory.

5) Two power play goals showed the Devils making strides on the man advantage.
It was clearly the difference in the game,but for a team that has struggled over the last few seasons,this improvement goes a long way in helping the Devils in a potential playoff season.

6) I was dubious of David Schlemko's signing as more than a 7th defenseman type because I feared he would take time away from a younger player.
I was wrong.
Schlemko has been better than expected and added a two way blueliner that the team needed....

This was fun,I'll try to be back for Toronto.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Bullpen Notes

Those of you that are long time readers (or if you cared enough to go back through the archives to the early years) might remember bullpen notes.
Bullpen Notes were a smaller daily version of Cleaning out the inbox that was usually located below the daily recap of the game review.

I miss daily recaps (funny from the guy that has done almost no Devils and Cavaliers coverage this winter),but I wanted to bring back bullpen notes as a way to catch people up with the latest plans for the TRS family and other things to hit the mind...

Off the stick-we landed a GREAT guest for the podcast over the weekend!
I'm not going to announce the name yet,but if you are a golfer or a golf fan-I'd bet you have heard of this person.
The interview will be Sunday night and upload either Sunday or Monday.
I'm very excited for this one!

I'm also trying to learn some more on the PC as I'm attempting (small steps) to learn how to upload the podcast to YouTube and ITunes.
The exposure that the podcast (and blog trickledown) would gain from those two spots would be a large benefit to the podcast....
If anyone knows how to do such things and wants to spend the time to teach me-LMK!

I'll also have a second podcast on Sunday as I'll be visiting the sponsor to do one with Steve Brandenburg for open discussion on sports,the baseball card hobby and likely some political talk as well.
That episode will likely be uploaded in the middle of next week.

Another podcast before winter's end will be the long awaited USFL show on the late and lamented United State Football League.
Jeff Pearlman of the New York Times has agreed to guest on the show.
Jeff is currently working on a book on the league and I cannot wait to read that one!

I enjoyed watching the Iowa Caucus coverage last night.
We might be the only family that had a small food party for the Iowa caucus instead of the Super Bowl!
I watch CNN's coverage.mainly because I prefer their pundits to those of Fox,despite me being a fan of Megyn Kelly of Fox.

Judging by the stats,Blog readership was up an astonishing 23 percent in January!
If you have been Facebook sharing and/or Retweeting on Twitter-we thank you!!

Working on two of my favorite pieces for 2016 as we will do "If I ran a network",which looks at who I would hire as a program director with unlimited funds and "the Zabbies" for boxers that need to move that I'm tired of seeing.
Both are a lot of fun to write...

63 or 64 days from my first game in 2016.
All depends on the team accepting my pass for Opening Day.
The teams in minor league baseball are not obligated to do so and I'm just not up to fighting over it,if it's a big deal....

Hope you enjoyed this and thanks to all of you for reading and listening!!!