Saturday, April 30, 2016

Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge with R.L.Malpica continues with four fights from PBC,who for some reason has pulled another two shows on two networks to compete with each other deal.
I didn't understand why they did it two weeks ago and not sure why they are doing it now....

Showtime has the more significant bouts with two super middleweight title fights with IBF champ James DeGale defending against "Porky" Medina,who while a decent fighter, is another one of those IBF top contenders by default that truly isn't one followed by WBC champ Badou Jack defends against former champion Lucien Bute in what is a better bout.
Bute,who just lost a decision to DeGale in a good scrap,might be making his last stand as a top level fighters,while Jack being the main face of Mayweather productions needs a win to increase his exposure.
The winners are supposed to fight in the fall to unify the two belts....

On Fox,PBC has a rematch years later of a great action fight that was the only time Victor Ortiz ever
made a positive memory in a win vs Andre Berto.
Berto,who has always lost when not matched safely and Ortiz,who has shown a disturbing lack of heart except for the Berto win,should make a fun bout to watch.
It had better because if it isn't,it's pretty much a waste of time.
The other bout is another bout of two touted,but disappointing boxers as Edwin Rodriguez faces off with Thomas Williams.
I have a feeling that the winner will be fed to WBC light heavyweight champ Adonis Stevenson,who is always looking for competition on the PBC side...

WBC Super Middleweight title.12 rds
Badou Jack vs Lucien Bute
Both:Jack Unanimous Decision

IBF Super Middleweight title.12 rds
James DeGale vs Porky Medina
R.L: DeGale KO 6
TRS:DeGale Unanimous Decision

Welterweights.12 rds
R.L.:Berto KO 9
TRS: Berto Split Decision

Lt.Heavyweights.12 rds
Edwin Rodriguez vs Thomas Williams
R.L;Rodriguez Unanimous Decision
TRS:Rodriguez KO 8

Browns in the third-Take three...

The Cleveland Browns used three third rounders and made one trade to add an extra fourth rounder tomorrow on the final day of the draft...

The Browns took another pass rusher in Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib with their first pick in the round.
Nassib only started one season for Penn State,but finished with 15 and a half sacks to set a new record in sacks there.
Nassib can rush the passer,but can also be a run stuffer as well.
Nassib is suited to the 3-4 more than a 4-3,which is a refreshing change for the Browns to pick players that fits their scheme and is the type of guy that may never make a pro bowl,but could be part of your defensive line rotation for ten years.
There were players on the board that I liked better,but I cannot argue with the pick especially if the plan is for Emmanuel Ogbah to be a standup rush off the end linebacker....

Cleveland had two picks back to back at 76 and 77,but would use only one with 76 used on Auburn tackle Shon Coleman,which along with their pick yesterday of Corey Coleman,makes me wonder if they bought stock in Coleman camping equipment or might pick Gary Coleman in the seventh.
Seriously,Coleman will be an older (25 ) rookie,but the left tackle at Auburn will be the early favorite to replace Mitchell Schwartz on the right side of the offensive line.
The 6'5 Coleman is agile enough to play left tackle,but is a better fit on the right side.
At over 300 pounds,Coleman has long arms and is solid in both pass protection and as a run blocker.
Coleman has beaten leukemia after 30 months of chemotherapy and looks to be an excellent pick at this point.
Coleman has an excellent chance of starting the season at right tackle and I liked this selection...

Cleveland traded down as they traded the 77th pick in round 3 along with their fifth round pick (141) to Carolina for three picks-Carolina's 3rd (93),4th ( 129) and 5th (168).
Cleveland now has four picks in the fourth round...

The most controversial pick came next as the Browns used the third rounder from Carolina to take a quarterback,but it was not either of the two passers that had been connected to the Browns via a local tag.
Many thought the Browns might like Michigan State's Connor Cook or Ohio State's Cardale Jones,but instead tabbed USC's Cody Kessler.
Kessler is a tough guy and a very accurate passer which Hue Jackson seems to like,but doesn't seem to have the type of talent (as in not a very strong arm) that makes him a viable quarterback to lead a team as a starter.
What I do think that Kessler has is the type of attitude and character to be an excellent backup and this could be the Browns getting the guy into the locker room as a backup and see then what happens.
Kessler reminds me of a player that gets overdrafted and might be overwhelmed if forced into a starting role.
Cleveland may have their eye on a top quarterback in next years draft and could have picked Kessler to be the mentor of sorts to that QB.
I think this was a bit of a reach on the Browns and they could have likely added Kessler on day three of the draft.

Back tomorrow night with the final days of the Browns draft...

Friday, April 29, 2016

Browns tab Emmanuel Ogbah in round two

The Cleveland Browns decided to pass on various offers for their pick to start off day two in the NFL Draft and added a disruptive pass rusher in Oklahoma State's Emmanuel Ogbah.

The Big 12 defensive player of the year (funny,I didn't know that they played defense there) finished with 12 and a half sacks last season and shows the type of speed that few defensive end have.
Ogbah is a player that you would hope would bring some pass rush to Cleveland,but the Browns have attempted to draft pass rushers for years with little success.
Another flag raised is that Ogbah appears to be a prototype 4-3 end that the Browns appear to be attempting to turn into a standup 3-4 outside linebacker.
This is not a move that's impossible to make,but some players are just not suited for the role and I'm more likely to approve a player that has made that move in college,not a transition for the pros.

However,you have a player with tremendous tools with high college production and no off the field issues,so Emmanuel Ogbah looks like a very solid pick to me.
Ogbah was one of several players that would have made sense for the Browns,so I'm fine with it,just a little concerned about the plans to shove a player into a system that might not best suit his skills.
Here is hoping that Ray Horton uses Ogbah to his best and not use him to cover tight ends! Ha Ha!

Back later with the third round choices...

Browns trade down again,select Corey Coleman in Round One

The Cleveland Browns weren't finished trading down in the first round of the NFL Draft, but eventually settled in at 15th overall and selected Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman.
Before I comment on Coleman, let us discuss the trade with the Tennessee Titans that brought more picks to the Browns.

Cleveland traded their first-rounder (8) and a sixth-round pick to the Titans for their first-rounder (15), third-rounder (76), and the Titans second-round pick in the 2017 draft.

The lovely Cherie commented, "I know these are good picks, but don't you get tired of waiting until next year-every year?"
She's right of course, but the Browns now have 2 picks in each of the first two rounds of next year's draft and put themselves in a position to control that draft.

However, don't forget about this one where the Browns hold the first pick in the second round and possess three third-rounders (65,76, and 77) to play with to fill holes or even trade up into the second round if a special player is worth making a move for.

After the trade to the 15th slot, Cleveland did take a badly needed receiver in Baylor's Corey Coleman.
Coleman was not my top-rated receiver (My top was Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell), but TCU's Josh Doctson was considered very close to the top of my WR list.
Coleman is looked at as the top deep threat in the draft as his speed is superior to Treadwell and Doctson, although, at 5'11, he isn't as tall as that pair and might not as be as large of a red zone target either.
Coleman is more of a game-breaker and lord knows that the Browns need as many of those as they can get, but there will be a bit of a learning curve as Coleman accumulated huge receiving numbers playing in the Baylor spread offense, which is much different than the pro-style offense that NFL teams use.

What I really like about Coleman was his 20-touchdown season with the Bears which saw him win the Biletnikoff Award as the top receiver in college football.
Coleman caught 74 passes for over 1,300 yards for an average of 18.4 yards per reception, but keep in mind that teams that play in the Big 12 often have inflated offensive numbers due to the spread offense and poor defenses in that league.
The Browns (other than Josh Gordon in his one year of Comet Kohoutek-like play) haven't had a big play deep threat since the one solid year that Braylon Edwards had in 2007 and Coleman brings the capability of being able to do so.

Overall, I'm fine with Coleman.
Treadwell, Coleman, and Doctson all seem to be rated roughly the same by different observers with different orders of the three with most rating Treadwell as more NFL-ready and Coleman with more of the "upside" that we all talk about.
Corey Coleman will hopefully be the first step in revitalizing an offense that gives Dreary its name.....

I plan on a post on the Browns' second-rounder tomorrow night and then a follow-up on the third-round selections.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Much to do.

Much to do today in the TRS empire!

I have to do the routine Tuesday things (lunch with the lovely Cherie Yay!,shopping meh),but also have to squeeze in voting in the primary, a trip to Harrisburg for the Hartford Yard Goats and prep work for what I hope will be a productive podcast.

I'm planning our biggest event ever for the NFL Draft-Two previews with one on the Browns and the AFC North and the other with a hoped for guest to discuss the players available.
This has the potential to be awesome or a bust,depending on how things actually go,but I am quite excited!

This week is crazy with the return to work on Wednesday,the draft,the Salem Red Sox in Frederick and Rome Braves at the Muni-both team loaded with prospects and the day to day issues that we all deal with.
It is a good kind of crazy though!

Hoping that the prep work gives the football fans that listen to the show a worthwhile listen and I'll be posting here tomorrow...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cavaliers polish off Pistons!

Kyrie Irving led the Cleveland Cavaliers with 31 points,but seemed to score some of them exactly when Cleveland needed them the most as Cleveland held off a determined Detroit Pistons team 100-98 in Auburn Hills.
LeBron James added 22 points and 11 rebounds in the victory that ended the first round series four games to zero.
The Cavaliers will have some time off before their next series and that time could be substantial as two of the other three series are tied at two games apiece with the other one being at two games to one and playing their game four tonight...


1) Kyrie Irving was clearly the star of this game and not as noted,just for the 31 points scored-but for when he scored them.
Irving's roughly half court shot at the end of the third quarter visibly sagged the Pistons and even coach Stan Van Gundy..

2) The most impressive part of that shot was that it was a shot.
Most times when shots are made from such crazy distances it is more of a heave and throw with luck involved.
Irving took a straight jumper,which takes lots of strength in the arms and wrist.

3) Kevin Love struggled with his offensive game (3 of 11 shooting),but grabbed 13 rebounds.
Love often times last year would fade away when his offense wasn't great,but this year's Love is able to make a difference in other ways.
Love's rebounding numbers were always large,but this season,it seems that he grabs the big rebound as well..

4) Detroit played a tough series and didn't back down.The Pistons might be one more player away from being a serious contender.
Now,do they have the means to obtain such a player? That's a different story..

5) Cleveland would play the Atlanta-Boston winner in the next round unless Charlotte (down 2-1) or Indiana (tied at two) pulls out their series.
If Indiana wins their series,the rest of the results are irrelevant and they would play the Cavaliers.

6) The importance of a sweep comes later in the playoffs when the legs get tired.
Every game that you can get by without playing it takes away the wear on the body and as the Cavaliers saw last season,avoids the risk of injury.
End series as quickly as possible sounds simple and it is,but it is important.....

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Golovkin drills Wade-Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge moved on with three expected victories and R.L.Malpica and I each adding five points to our total to make the score 44-35....

The biggest fight of the weekend saw Gennady Golovkin drop Dominic Wade three times in two rounds before Wade was counted out.
Golovkin's win enabled him to keep his two middleweight belts and as impressive as his dispatching was-his post-interview basically calling out Canelo Alvarez to either fight him or "bring him the belt" was quite priceless.

It took a gritty effort from McWilliams Arroyo in order to last the distance with WBC flyweight champ Roman Gonzalez,but he was able to hear the final bell.
I gave Arroyo the first round,but no more as Gonzalez won on my card 119-109.
Gonzalez said he was going to fight one more fight at 112 pounds before a move up to 115 and junior bantamweights,
Hopefully,that fight will come against WBA/WBO champ Juan Francisco Estrada to unify three of the four belts in a rematch of a great fight when Gonzalez defended his light flyweight title against Estrada...

Nonito Donaire stopped Zsolt Bedak in the third round in the Philippines to retain his WBO junior featherweight title in the weekend's other title fight....

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge rolls on with two bouts on HBO that feature the top two fighters in their division in the TRS ratings and another untelevised title bout from the Philippines.

The most exciting fighter in the world defends his WBA and IBF middleweight titles against the IBF mandatory contender Dominic Wade.
Gennady Golovkin is about as big of a favorite as you can get over the talented,yet unproven Wade and is likely to deliver "big drama show" as he is so fond on saying.

I recently discussed the IBF as having the most fair manner to determine their top contenders,but yet so many don't participate in their eliminators,so therefore many of their mandatory fighters are weaker than the other organizations.

Roman Gonzalez defends his WBC flyweight title against McWilliams Arroyo on the undercard,
Arroyo is a solid enough fighter to make a good showing,but is unlikely to challenge Gonzalez in a bout that will hopefully set up a title unification fight with Juan Francisco Estrada in the fall.

Nonito Donaire defends his WBO junior featherweight title in his native Philippines vs Zsolt Bedek to complete the weekend.

I lead the challenge over R.L.Malpica at 39-30.

WBA and IBF Middleweight titles.12 rds
Gennady Golovkin vs Dominic Wade
R.L: Golovkin KO 3
TRS:Golovkin KO 6

WBC Flyweight title,12 rds
Roman Gonzalez vs McWilliams Arroyo
R.L; Gonzalez KO 7
TRS;Gonzalez KO 9

WBO Jr.Featherweight title 12 rds
Nonito Donaire vs Zsolt Bedak
R.L;Donaire KO 9
TRS;Donaire KO 5

Cavaliers pop Pistons,lead series 3-0

The Cleveland Cavaliers received twenty point plus performances from each of their big three and defeated the Detroit Pistons on their home court 101-91 and grab a three games to none lead in their first round series.
The 66 combined points was more than enough to push Cleveland to their third win in as many games and the Cavaliers will go for the sweep and a chance to rest up before the next round on Sunday night...


1) This won't be as detailed as usual.
I had a long day after work with a trip to a doctors 90 minutes away with my parents/
The resulting sleep day saw me miss the first half....

2) The big play that everyone is talking about is the long range,off balance shot with under a second on the shot clock three by Kyrie Irving that really shoved the knife in the Pistons heart.
That shot might have ended this series...

3) Was thinking again about the talented Andre Drummond of the Pistons and his horrible free throw shooting.
I know there is some amount of questions on the future legality of the "hack a horrible free throw shooter tactic",but for the Pistons,they have to wonder about building around a player that is not likely to be on the floor in crunch time because of that flaw.

4) I think Detroit has played the Cavaliers as tough as an 8 seed could play a 1,but they are about to be closed out.
You like to see sweeps in the early rounds-it saves the legs for when they are needed...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Goodbye to the Pearl and the golden age of Big East Basketball

It's been a big news day.
The Cavaliers winning their playoff game and of course the Browns trading down in the first round with Philadelphia,but another news item brought back memories.

Dwayne "Pearl" Washington passed away at the age of 52.
Washington had announced last summer that he had a brain tumor and was undergoing surgery in an attempt to remove it.
Washington was known for his ankle breaking crossover move and was one of the early stars of the Big East conference in the early to middle 1980's,
I remember those days as almost every team had a star player and the games were so physical and demanding that each game had an almost draining feel to them.

Washington was a three time All-American and three time all-Big East and his showmanship and skills made the most emulated on playgrounds and gyms around not only the conference footprint,but also country wide as a result of an up and coming network known as ESPN,which showcased the Big East constantly.
Pearl wasn't exactly a great shooter (which would come back to haunt him in the NBA) or a plus defender,but his ballhandling skills brought to mind about any great dribbler of the past.
Washington was more of a pure point guard than a scoring guard,but could penetrate to the hoop with the best guards as his stocky build allowed him to bull by defenders when he couldn't outspeed them (Washington wasn't known as a burner) to drive the lane and lay it up and in.
Pearl's game didn't lend itself to the NBA,too slow to defend and the players were better suited to defend him off the dribble,forcing his always erratic outside shot and taking away his offense.
Washington was through after two years as a New Jersey Net (13th overall pick) and a season with Miami after being picked in the Heat's expansion draft.

Growing up during this time as a basketball fan was a great time.
This area was a crossover area as we saw all the games from the ACC syndicated network because of Maryland,but we also received the Big East slate of matchups too because of Georgetown.
Those teams in the Big East had their shares of players that became great pros in Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin but they also had players that were excellent college players that were just professional role players like Villanova's Ed Pinckney or even players that weren't able to reach that modest height like Washington and St.John's Walter Berry,a transcendent college player that didn't have the athletic ability to be the same player in the NBA.
Still,as I noted above,every game had this inner city mentality that featured a physical game that the more gentlemanly ACC never could match in sheer intensity,
I never truly had a favorite team in the Big East,although I suppose in hindsight,I probably rooted for Seton Hall and St.John's more than anyone else,but I always had time to watch their games and their stars.

I truly loved college basketball back then,a game not populated by one year players or polluted by bloated conferences put together by finances rather than for regional pride.
I'm not sure I'll ever get that love back.It's like a special love that was so torrid that it never again can be the same.
But,the memories are always there and it's always fun to look back at players from that age-like the flashy game from a point guard from Syracuse.....

Podcast:Browns trade and boxing

The podcast discusses the Browns trade with the Eagles,some boxing talk and Pearl Washington.

Cavaliers drop Detroit in Game Two

The Cleveland Cavaliers held serve in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs and dominated the second half in a 107-90 win over the Detroit Pistons at the Q in Cleveland.
LeBron James,Kyrie Irving and J.R.Smith all finished with over twenty points in the victory.
Cleveland leads the series 2-0 and travel to Detroit Friday for game three...


1) Cleveland hit 20 (Twenty!) three pointers to tie a playoff record.
J.R.Smith nailed seven of those to lead the Cavaliers,who shot 52 percent from long range.
You obviously cannot count on production like that every night,but even half that might go a long long way towards winning this thing...

2) LeBron James looked grimly determined in this one and showed why (in my opinion) he is still the best basketball player in the world.
The all around performance is why I rate him as number one as Stephen Curry may be an better offensive players and certainly a superior shooter,but I'll take LBJ as better rounded.

3) The Cavaliers did have issues at the five as Tristan Thompson got into foul problems early and Thompson and Timofey Mozgov combined for zero points in 22 minutes of play.
I don't expect the centers on this team to dominate offensively,but they'll have to do more than that eventually...

4) The centers (including Kevin Love playing there some) struggled against Andre Drummond on the defensive end as Drummond scored 20 points on eight of thirteen shooting.
Thank goodness that Drummond is legendarily awful from the free throw line and continued such in this game with a four for sixteen effort from the stripe...

5) Cleveland's defense might have struggled against Drummond,but they did improve against the three pointer as they held the Pistons to just four three pointers for a 23 percent evening.
Detroit is going to have to post numbers over fifty percent like they did in game one such as they did in game one to have a chance of stealing one of these games..

Monday, April 18, 2016

Cavaliers pop Pistons-win Game One

The Cleveland Cavaliers rallied late to pull away from the Detroit Pistons and win game one of their first round series 106-101 in Cleveland.
Kyrie Irving finished with 31 points with Kevin Love scoring 28 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Cavaliers.
Game two is Wednesday in Cleveland.


1) Tyronn Lue made one decision that paid huge dividends in the fourth quarter-moving Kevin Love to the pivot and Love was able keep the much slower footed Andre Drummond at bay,while Love drilled three pointers from the outside.
A tactical decision that allowed Love to roam and shoot with Drummond unable to challenge the shot...

2) LeBron James finished with 22 points,but also 11 assists,but was the main balhhandler in the second half.
James was back to what really is his best role-the point forward and the Cavaliers would be smart to use him in that role more often...

3) Kyrie Irving finished with 31 points and showed what I've always opined-Irving is a shooting guard in point guard clothing...

4) Tristan Thompson held Andre Drummond to 13 points after averaging 20 during the season.
If Drummond doesn't exceed his season (not notch stats below them) numbers,this is a short series...

5) Surprisingly DNP (did not play)? Channing Frye.
This could be due to Kevin Love's huge shooting day,but I hope that the Cavaliers don't glue Frye to the bench for the playoffs.
I think the former is most likely....

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Boxing Challenge-Errol Spence arrives!

R.L.Malpica and I arrived at the total from different avenues,but we each scored 8 points Saturday night in the boxing challenge.
I still maintained a nine point lead at 39-30....

The most impressive fighter of the night was Errol Spence,who made the transition from prospect to contender as the promising Texan mowed over Chris Algeri in five punishing rounds to achieve something that Manny Pacquiao,Ruslan Provodnikov and Amir Khan couldn't in stopping Algeri....

Spence dominated Algeri in the Brooklyn NY bout and looked ready for a further jump in competition.
Errol Spence is the real deal and if the PBC has any smarts at all,they'll begin to pound the promotional drum for him as a star and begin to get him fights against their better welterweights..
Spence gave me three points for the knockout win and calling the round,while R.L received one point for the win.. two points back to my none as Krysztof Glowacki dropped Steve Cunningham four times to win a lopsided unanimous decision to retain his WBO cruiserweight title.
To my surprise the bout was not on the PBC broadcast,so I didn't score the bout....

In a non-challenge bout,former Olympian Marcus Browne won a split decision that he didn't deserve over Radijovie Kalajdzic.
The bout was marred by bad officiating as Browne was given credit for a knockdown in round one that wasn't and hit Kalajdzic while he was on the canvas and wasn't penalized.
Kalajdizic floored Browne in the sixth and again in the eighth,but the latter was inexplicably not scored as a knockdown.
Awful scoring and officiating....

On Showtime,R.L and I each earned four points for victories as Gary Russell kept his WBC featherweight title with a second round knockout over outgunned and undeserving challenger Patrick Hyland.
Russell,who is 0-1 against top competition and just 1-1 vs top 15 contenders in a career marred by injuries,time off and bad opposition called out the only top fighter to fight him in WBO champ Vasyl Lomachenko,who won a lopsided decision over Russell.
Considering Russell is a PBC fighter and Lomachenko does his fighting for Top Rank,a rematch is unlikely,but a unification bout with WBA champ (and PBC fighter) Leo Santa Cruz is possible and would go a long way in testing Russell's mettle...

Jose Pedraza bounced back from a controversial decision in his last fight to keep his IBF Jr.lightweight title with a unanimous and decent enough win over Stephen Smith over England.
Pedraza looked far better than in his win over Edner Cherry as I scored him a 116-112 winner....

Felix Verdejo gave each of us one point with a unanimous decision over Jose Rodriguez on UniMas.
Verdejo has now went the distance in his last two fights in somewhat of a surprise.I haven't watched it yet,although I have it on tape.....

Podcast-Chasing Cardboard Episode 1A

We return on the ride home with a recap of the nuttiest night we've seen in graphing as Chasing Cardboard features a postgame wrapup of the Reading Fightin' Phils and things I still do not believe with J.P.Crawford.
Co-Host Brad Adams and guest Derreck Chupak discuss the craziness...

Podcast: Chasing Cardboard Episode 1

Our initial episode of Chasing Cardboard with tales and stories from week one on the graphing circuit with co-host Brad Adams and guest Derreck Chupak....

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge returns this weekend with five interesting bouts on Saturday night,but even though just five are in the boxing challenge,you could watch boxing on four different networks on that day (Showtime,NBC,UniMas and CBS Sports Network)....
I lead the boxing challenge vs R.L.Malpica 31-22.

NBC finally has its first PBC card of the year with the one fighter that could be the future face of PBC facing his first top 15 type opponent and a cruiserweight title fight that could feature lots of action.
The talented Errol Spence steps up against Chris Algeri in what should be his introduction to solid opposition in a welterweight bout.
Spence is the one guy that could be a breakout star for PBC and tomorrow could be step one.
Krzystof Glowacki ended the long reign of Marco Huck in his last bout in an exciting win to lift the WBO cruiserweight title.
Now Glowacki defends against another former champion that had a long reign in Steve Cunningham,who returns from the heavyweights for a shot at a title in his old division.
This might be the best action of the weekend.

Showtime has two world title bouts of varying quality on their network.
Gary Russell starts his WBC featherweight title reign against the type of no-hope opponent that has marked his career in Patrick Hyland.
Russell is a talented fighter,who has seen his career filled with poor opposition and long periods of inactivity and this seems to be another case of the former.
Jose Pedraza defends his IBF Jr.lightweight belt against Stephen Smith of England in what could be a nice fight in the co-feature.

Top Rank's talented lightweight Felix Verdejo is on UniMas against Jose Rodriguez in what is essentially a stay busy fight.

Welterweights.12 rds
Errol Spence vs Chris Algeri
R.L:Spence unanimous decision
TRS:Spence KO 5

WBO Cruiserweight title.12 rds
Kryzstof Glowacki vs Steve Cunningham
R.L:Glowacki unanimous decision
TRS:Cunningham unanimous decision

WBC Featherweight title .12 rds
Gary Russell vs Patrick Hyland
R.L:Russell KO 8
TRS:Russell KO 10

IBF Jr.Lightweight title,12 rds
Jose Pedraza vs Stephen Smith
Both:Pedraza unanimous decision

Lightweights.10 rds
Felix Verdejo vs Jose Rodriguez
R.L:Verdejo KO 4
TRS: Verdejo KO 3

Friday, April 15, 2016

Goodbye to Merle and Mulligan

After a rough Thursday,I decided to do this on the blog rather than the podcast since tomorrow could be the debut of "Chasing Cardboard"which would then be posted on Sunday.

Country star Merle Haggard passed at 79 on his birthday last week.
Haggard,who was once told by Johnny Cash that "you are the man everyone thinks I am" had 38 number one hits from the 1960's through the 1980's and was best known for his songs that reverbed with the common man during that time period such as "Okie from Muskogee" and "Fightin' Side of Me".
I liked those songs of Haggard,who had served time in prison for attempted robbery (later fully pardoned by then California Governor Ronald Reagan,but Haggard could do more than right wing tunes.
Haggard could sing ballads such as "Carolyn" or honkytonkers like "Rainbow Stew",but of all of Hag's hits,my favorite was this-"I take a lot of pride in what I am".
The song was later covered by Dean Martin (another TRS favorite),but I prefer the Haggard version.
It speaks to hard working people everywhere and tells us all that having pride and dignity is about far more than possessions and money.
Haggard's catalog might not be quite as well known today as it was in past years,but if you are a fan of older country music,Merle Haggard's music is quite difficult to beat...

The other loss was of pro wrestling star Blackjack Mulligan,a worldwide star and father of Barry Windham at the age of 73.
Mulligan,who was a star as both a heel and "babyface" made his biggest claim to fame in the Mid-Atlantic territory on both sides of the fence,but made his biggest impression on me as a giant heel in the old WWF managed by Fred Blassie.
Mulligan went around the circuit with title matches against then champion Bob Backlund as well as many "battle of the giants" against Andre The Giant.
Mulligan drew huge money in the Mid-Atlantic against Ric Flair and the Masked Superstar among others.but outside that promotion was best known for wrestling Andre,Bruiser Brody and John Studd as there were few that could match the size of Mulligan (listed as 6'8,but more likely around 6'5).the
Mulligan also started his run through the 70's as part of the tag team of the Blackjacks as Mulligan adapted the cowboy gimmick of partner Blackjack Lanza.
One of many that used the "claw" as a finishing move,Mulligan's WWF run was most noted for using the claw to win TV matches against the no-hopers,which would be "censored with a huge X across the screen as it gave the illusion that Mulligan was squeezing so hard that "it was just too bloody to show on television" and therefore really get the claw "over" as such a huge finisher.
Mulligan would later return to the WWF as a good guy and host of "Mulligan's Barbeque" as the antithesis of Roddy Piper's Pit.

I hope to be back later with another overdue column..

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Big News and Big Plans

Just a few quick notes on some upcoming news for the blog/podcast and a little promotional note as well.

We start with my appearance with Ramon Malpica on his Prizefighter Podcast.
I love doing Ramon's show as it gives me time to offer opinions on the fight game without the constraints of being the host.
Ramon having me on his show,I've noted in the past,was the impetus for the beginnings of our podcast,so give it a listen and see what you think!

I'm also looking forward to our newest feature for the podcast that I'm hoping will start on Sunday as a weekly feature (usually) will be named "Chasing Cardboard".
Brad Adams will be a regular on the show and we will have other people on the show during the baseball season.
The plans for the show will be to tell stories from the autograph chasing game,who's signing and who's not with other items from the trail.
I'm excited about it and I hope you'll make it a regular part of your week,,,

I also wanted to add another stop on this year's ballpark tour as another new park might be stamped on my ballpark passport as Fred and Michael Landucci have graciously invited me to add the home of the West Virginia Power in July as the Power takes on the Augusta Greenjackets.
Augusta does not visit Hagerstown this year (the only SAL team not to do so),so this trip not only adds a ballpark,it gives me a chance hit a team loaded with prospects including first round pitcher Phil Bickford,assuming Bickford lasts that long before being promoted.
I'm looking forward to that!

I'm in the middle of a brutal 72 hour stretch complete with trainings and meetings,so if my head is clear enough,I plan on either a blog or podcast on the recent passings of country music legend Merle Haggard and pro wrestling star Blackjack Mulligan.....

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Boxing Rankings-Part Two

Part two of our first ever boxing rankings consists of Lightweights under as our three man committee made our votes.
I decided to stop at the flyweight division and institute a top five under the flyweight limit for our next ratings in July.
Thanks to Ramon Malpica and Vincent Samano for taking the time to vote....

1) Jorge Linares WBC Champ 15 pts
2) Terry Flanagan WBO Champ 8 pts
3) Dejan Zlaticanin 7 pts
4) Anthony Crolla WBA Champ 6 pts
5) Rances Barthelemy 4 pts
Also Received Votes:Emilio Marsilli,Ismael Barraso,Yuriorkis Gamboa

Junior Lightweights
1) Takashi Uchiyama WBA Champ 15 pts
2) Francisco Vargas WBC Champ 10 pts
3) Takashi Miura 5 pts
     Nicholas Walters
5) Rocky Martinez WBO Champ 4 pts
Also Received Votes: Orlando Salido,Javier Fortuna

1) Vasyl Lomachenko WBO Champ 15 pts
2) Leo Santa Cruz WBA Champ 12 pts
3) Gary Russell WBC Champ 8 pts
4) Jesus Cuellar 7 pts
5) Lee Selby IBF Champ 2 pts
Also Received Votes:Joseph Diaz

Junior Featherweights
1) Guillermo Rigondeaux 15 pts
2) Carl Frampton IBF Champ 11 pts
3) Scott Quigg 8 pts
4) Nonito Donaire WBO Champ 7 pts
5) Genesis Servania 2 pts
Also Received Votes:Juan Ceja,Hugo Ruiz

1) Juan Carlos Payano WBA Champ 14 pts
2) Shinsuke Yamanaka WBC Champ 13 pts
3) Jamie McDonell 6 pts
4) Anselmo Moreno 5 pts
5) Lee Haskins IBF Champ 4 pts
Also Received Votes:Rau'shee Warren,Marlon Taples

Junior Bantamweights
1) Naoya Inoue WBO Champ 15 pts
2) Carlos Cuadras WBC Champ 12 pts
3) Kohei Kono WBA Champ 9 pts
4) McJoe Arroyo IBF Champ 4 pts
5) Omar Narvaez 3 pts
Also Received Votes:S.S.Runguisi

1) Roman Gonzalez WBC Champ 15 pts
2) Kazuto Ioka 11 pts
3) Juan Francisco Estrada WBA/WBO Champ 10 pts
4) Amnat Ruenroung IBF Champ 5 pts
5) Brian Viloria 2 pts
Also Received Votes:Giovanni Segura, N.P Chockchai


Monday, April 11, 2016

Podcast:Different thoughts on guns and one and dones..

We offer some different thoughts and theories on a mobile mini-cast.

I offer some thoughts on guns and the people that use them without discussing gun control legislation in the aftermath of the death of former Buckeye Will Smith.

I also look at a not thought of theory of how being a 18 or 19 year old NBA player can affect a players career longevity and peak along with how this could affect the Cavaliers...

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Pacquiao decisions Bradley,Joshua destroys Martin-Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge rolled on with four big fights Saturday.
I added eight points over the day to R.L.Malpica's six and moved the overall lead to 31-22.

The glamour fight of the weekend might have involved Manny Pacquiao,but we might look back in time at this evening and realize that that the most newsworthy bout of the day was Anthony Joshua's two round demolition of Charles Martin to win the IBF Heavyweight title.

Joshua knocked Martin down twice in round two on his way to ending the title reign of arguably the least deserving heavyweight champion ever.
Martin,who won a vacant title when his opponent (Czar Glazkov) tore his ACL (knee) in the third round,deserves some credit for going to the UK to fight the former Olympic gold medalist and for being a good businessman for cashing in,was clearly out of his league against Joshua,who may still need some polishing,but has the most talent in a suddenly interesting heavyweight division.
Joshua will likely make his first defense against another talented prospect-New Zealand's Joseph Parker,who needs to get through a title eliminator against Carlos Takam first and with a win has options against David Haye in a huge fight for the UK,Tyson Fury in a bout to unify three of the four titles in an even bigger UK bout and maybe even down the road-American Deontay Wilder,should he keep his belt after a tough fights vs Alexander Povetkin.
R.L and I each earned two points for the Joshua win.

Lee Selby defended his IBF featherweight title on the Joshua undercard with a unanimous decision over Eric Hunter.
Selby was knocked down in the second,but controlled the rest of the fight and gave Ramon and I two more points...

In the glamour pay per view fight,Manny Pacquiao took a unanimous decision over Timothy Bradley in the unwanted third fight between the two.
Pacquiao knocked Bradley down in the seventh and ninth in cruising to the win.
Pacquaio claims this was his last fight and it may be,but I'm not sure it's because of that,but a lack of bigger fights for him.
Most of the talent in the division seems to be on the Al Haymon side of the ledger and unless Top Rank wants Pacquiao against Jessie Vargas (WBO champ and only champ promoted by T.R),which might have less buzz than this one,Pacquiao might be better suited to take time and see what opens up..
R.L.and I each added two more points.

Gilberto Ramirez won every round on the co-feature to win his first world title with a unanimous decision over Arthur Abraham for the WBO Super Middleweight title.
Ramirez is expected to be the latest star for Top Rank and was the first ever Mexican fighter to win a title heavier than 160 pounds.
The Ramirez win gave me two points,while R.L. picked Abraham.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge returns after a hiatus from action and a missed date as far as picks go.
A PPV offers two big bouts and Showtime has another with a title bout on the undercard.

The biggest bout is the bout nobody wanted as Manny Pacquiao takes on Timothy Bradley in what is supposed to be his final fight
Top Rank bets on what it thinks will be a future star as Gilberto Ramirez goes after his first world title against Arthur Abraham and the IBF heavyweight belt is on the line in London with Charles Martin defending vs Olympic gold medalist Anthony Joshua.

I currently lead the challenge over R.L.Malpica 23-16.

Welterweights. 12 rds
Manny Pacquiao vs Timothy Bradley
Both:Pacquiao unanimous decision

WBO Super Middleweight title.12 rds
Arthur Abraham vs Gilberto Ramirez
R.L;Abraham split decision
TRS:Ramirez unanimous decision

IBF Heavyweight title.12 rds
Charles Martin vs Anthony Joshua
R.L;Joshua KO 4
TRS:Joshua KO 6

IBF Featherweight title.12 rds
Lee Selby vs Eric Hunter
Both:Selby unanimous decision

Our First Ever Boxing Ratings

Our first boxing ratings start today as we release part one of our quarterly rankings.
Part two of the ratings of the lightweights and under should go up next week....
The three person panel of myself,Ramon Malpica and Vincent Samano have worked on these.
I'd like to add two more voters for the next rankings,so let me know.
The ratings are determined as every voters ranks the top five with the top fighter getting five points down to the fifth fighter getting one...
I didn't give a clear criteria for the rankings,but my rankings balance overall ability with a big emphasis on quality victories..
Without further ado-here is part one of the first ever TRS boxing rankings

1) Luis Ortiz 12 pts
2) Tyson Fury WBA/WBO Champ 11 pts
3) Wladimir Klitschko 9 pts
     Deontay Wilder WBC Champ
5) Alexander Povetkin 2 pts
    Anthony Joshua

1) Krzystof Glowacki WBO Champ 14 pts
2) Denis LeBedev WBA Champ 12 pts
3) Marco Huck 10 pts
4) Gregor Drozd 6 pts
5) Illunga Makubu 2 pts
Also received votes;Oleksander Usyk

Light Heavyweight
1) Sergei Kovalev WBA/IBF/WBO Champ 15 pts
2) Adonis Stevenson WBC Champ 10 pts
3) Andre Ward 9 pts
4) Artur Beterbiev 7 pts
5) Andrzej Fonfara 6 pts

Super Middleweights
1) James DeGale IBF Champ 13 pts
2) Gilberto Ramirez 12 pts
3) Arthur Abraham WBO Champ 11 pts
4) Badou Jack WBC Champ 5 pts
5) Andre Dirrell 2 pts
    Callum Smith

1) Gennady Golovkin WBA/IBF Champ 15 pts
2) Canelo Alvarez WBC Champ 12 pts
3) Daniel Jacobs 8 pts
4) Miguel Cotto 7 pts
5) Billy Joe Saunders WBO Champ 2 pts
Also received votes;David Lemieux

Jr Middleweights
1) Erislandy Lara WBA Champ 14 pts
2) Demetrius Andrade 10 pts
3) Jermall Charlo IBF Champ 7 pts
    Julian Williams
5) Jermell Charlo 5 pts
Also received votes;Austin Trout

1) Kell Brook IBF Champ 14 pts
2) Manny Pacquiao 11 pts
3) Timothy Bradley 9 pts
4) Keith Thurman WBA Champ 7 pts
5) Danny Garcia WBC Champ 3 pts
Also received votes:Shawn Porter

Junior Welterweights
1) Terence Crawford WBO Champ 15 pts
2) Viktor Postol WBC Champ 12 pts
3) Lamont Peterson 7 pts
4) Lucas Matthysse 6 pts
5) Adrien Broner 3 pts
     Ruslan Provodnikov

Hope you enjoyed this feature!!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Cleaning Out the Inbox

Time to clean out the inbox with a few notes of interest...

We will have more soon on the podcast or here on this,but this obit on the late Merle Haggard,who died yesterday at the age of 79 by Malcolm Jones is about as good of a tribute as you can get....
As a long time fan of Hag,it's a massive loss.....

Two different takes on the Boston Braves from Boston University and the Providence Journal.
The Journal piece is a little more basic and the BU article is far more detailed.
The BU article also focuses more on the home stadium of the Braves-Braves Field,which is now known as Nickerson Field.
The right field bleachers as seen in the photo are the only part of the seating that still stands to this day.
Nickerson Field was also the home for the one year existence of the USFL's Boston Breakers.
I'm always a huge mark for the stories from the teams no longer with us and you will (and have) see a lot of this type link through the years....

As a long-time and avowed SCTV fan,I had to add this article from the New Yorker on former SCTV stars Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara.
The pair currently star in Schitt's Creek,which is a Canadian television series,which can be seen here on the POP network.
I'd give it a chance,if it was on any other network.
POP is formerly the Tv Guide channel and only shows their programming on half the screen while scrolling the television schedule for the provider of choice as the program air.
That's incredibly annoying to me and maybe I'll find another venue to try the show as I have noted-I've been a fan of the two for years....

I haven't done very many games of daily coverage of the Devils this season,but I will be doing a season in review.
The best place to go for Devils info for years has been Tom Gulitti and the Bergen Record.
Gulitti's work on the Fire and Ice blog has been the first place that I have went for any Devils transactions,news etc and made my life much easier for what I write about the Devils.
Gulitti will be moving to Washington and writing for,so someone else to be named will be taking over the Devils beat for the record next year.
He will be missed.. looks at the final days of Al-Jazeera's American venture.
It's very interesting in the look behind the scenes at the mistakes,issues and problems that led to the demise of the network.
Nicole Mitchell,who long time readers will remember doing an extensive interview with us here,offers some comments for the piece.
I know the stigmas that come with the network,but I actually liked their network.
People that gave it a chance (and that was the hard part) found it very even handed and straightforward with none of the nonsense that passes for news on other networks...

That cleans things up for now.
More to come!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Happy Late Anniversary to Us!

I missed our 9th anniversary when we took Rachel to Ohio and wanted to do our annual post,where we thank our friends and readers for what we do.

The past year has been a big year for the TRS empire as we added the podcast to what we do.
I've had some great opportunities to talk to some people that I would never been able to without the podcast and I so enjoy doing it and hearing that people enjoy the show.
Without sponsorship,there could be changes on the horizon,but I like doing it so much,that even without sponsorship-I believe it will continue,just in a reduced manner due to the constraints of bandwidth.
I still have some interesting people that have agreed to do the show and I'm looking forward to getting bring those shows to you-no matter how long it takes.
It still to this day freaks me out (in a good way) when someone says how much they liked a show or know something about my life because they read or listened to my work.
The numbers here might not be Sports Illustrated level,-but I appreciate each and every one of you more than you can ever know.
Day to day coverage of most sports has transitioned away,but things haven't changed that much-They still are the Thoughts of RS.

So without further ado-lets start with the thanks!
Of course to the lovely Cherie,who makes everything run and always receives credit for the original idea of the blog.
Nothing I do happens without her input and whenever I have things on my mind (important or not) she is the go-to person for counsel.
My children aren't exactly regular readers or listeners,but I appreciate having both Ryan and Rachel in my life.
I so miss staying up and watching a late baseball game from the left coast with Ryan,talking about sports or things so mundane as what you did that day and I love watching almost every Devils game with Rachel as she's learned the game and fallen in love with the team.
You don't know how many times I've glanced down the couch and realized the memories being made and that like with Ryan,there will be a day where these times are no more...
I love you all more than words can describe.

Thanks to my graphing buddies that make spring and summer worth savoring-Brad Adams,Derreck Chupak,Bill Cover,Doug Hopkins and Kendall Morris.
I don't know what I'd do without hanging out with you guys in the summer,but let's not find out!
I have a feeling you just might be hearing more from some or all these guys on the podcast soon!

I'd also like to thank Steve Brandenburg.
I know some of you might wonder if Steve and I have had a falling out-nothing could be further from the truth.
Steve's friendship is important to me and I couldn't have gotten the podcast off the ground without him.
Thanks,Steve it was appreciated more than you know....

Thanks to my two big sisters-Denise Nicarry and Krista Anderson,both of who have filled a void in my life that has existed since day one in the big sister role.
Denise reads my stuff and even listens to the show (she fast forwards through the boxing stuff,I'm fine with that) and Krista?
Well,Krista has known me longer than anyone I know outside of family and she has such an interesting and varied bunch of friends that she'd be amazed at just how often I pluck them for items to clean the inbox.
Now if I could just get Krista's sister to do my show! Ha Ha!
Thank you both of everything.

A really special thanks to Fred Landucci and Big Don Cain.
These two gentlemen always read,listen,give me input and their kindness goes a long way when the day is bad here or elsewhere.
Fred and Don are easily the people that tell me quickly when a column or a show was great and even when it's mediocre,because it didn't hit home-because I didn't hear from them! Ha Ha!
Thank you both so much for being such terrific friends and supporters of what I do.

Thanks as well to three people that I have physically never met-Ian McArdle,Ramon Malpica and Julie Kendall.
Ian is the Chico Marx to my Groucho on Facebook and our antics there always makes me laugh for a good time.
Ramon is my boxing ear and it was doing Ramon's show that I enjoyed so much that helped me make the decision for my own podcast.
Julie has done the show several times and rare is the day that she doesn't check on me to see how I'm doing.
When Julie makes it big some day in acting,no one deserves it more...
Thanks to all of you.

I'm sure I've missed some of you and I have some great friends that I haven't mentioned,but I decided to keep it to people near me online or somehow related to the blog in some way.
Thanks to all of you,I hope to keep you reading and listening as the road to year ten begins!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Browns cuts reach the secondary

The cuts in Cleveland continue and they now have reached the secondary as the team released another starter from the 2015 team and cut one of the Ray Farmer flyers from the same year's draft.

The Browns released veteran safety Donte Whitner and 2015 seventh-round cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu in two separate moves.

Donte Whitner spent two years in Cleveland after signing as a free agent and I agree with the decision to release him-with an asterisk.
I don't have a problem with shedding the over 12 million over the next years of the contract, but I do think that the Browns weren't really fair to Whitner by waiting this long into free agency.
The team could have released Whitner when they cut Karlos Dansby and given him a better chance to find a new team.
That said, Whitner was painfully slow last season and his lack of speed was obvious to even the casual fan.
Being that Whitner would most likely be even slower in 2016, I see their point in getting younger in 2015 4th rounder Ibraheim Campbell, cheaper (Campbell makes far less) and likely faster-Campbell would have to be pretty slow to not be faster.
I liked Donte Whitner, he always played hard, hit hard and was a great attitude guy-he just didn't fit on this team for those dollars.

The Browns also released 2015 seventh-rounder Ifo Ekpre-Olomu from a knee injury suffered before his Oregon Ducks team 2014 playoff game
Ekpre-Olomu has said that his recovery was coming along and that he expected to play in 2016.
The Browns disagreed and released him.
We'll see if anyone claims the young corner or gives him another chance, but this really comes down to the opinion of doctors on the condition of Ekpre-Olomu's knee and if the Browns doctors think that the knee isn't up to the standards that are needed for NFL play, then I understand the release.
I mean, why employ the doctors, if you aren't going to listen to their opinion, but an argument could be made that for the relatively low cost (450K) that the team could have given him more time to rehab the injury.
If Ekpre-Olomu never plays for anyone else, then the Browns were correct, if he eventually does and plays well, it will be another example of a front office (no matter the regime) that always thinks they are smarter than they are.....

Back soon with our anniversary post which is more than a little late...

Monday, April 4, 2016

Podcast=Special Guest Christian Guidice on Boxing

We welcome author Christian Guidice on upcoming fights,state of boxing and the status of his book on Wilfredo Gomez....

San Francisco Giants Preview

The preview series concludes as we take a look at the San Francisco Giants.

The easy thing to say is the even numbered year means the Giants will win it all because they have won the championship in each of the last three even years.
The Giants should make another run with the off-season shoring up of some weaknesses,but are they good enough to get by the Dodgers in the division?

Buster Posey stars at catcher as the best catcher in the game.
There may be guys a little better defensively,but there isn't a better all around in the game than Posey.
The Giants will spot Posey at first base on occasion to keep the bat in the lineup and lessen the load from behind the dish everyday.
Rookie Trevor Brown took advantage of a injured Andrew Susac to win the backup job behind Posey.

Brandon Belt mans first base as part of a homegrown Giant infield.
Belt recovered from a injury in 2014 to return to form and might be sitting on a career year with free agency beginning to loom.
Joe Panik will start at second base after back problems last season and Brandon Crawford had his career year last season at shortstop as he established career highs in all categories.
The surprise player of 2015 returns at third as Matt Duffy came from the minors to post surprising offensive numbers (.295,12 and 71) in filling the void leftt by Pablo Sandoval.
Ehire Adrianza and Kelby Tomlinson both fill the role of utilitymen with the ability to play multiple positions...

The outfield sees Angel Pagan moved from center to left after a pedestrian 2015.
Pagan will be a free agent as seasons end,so perhaps that will perk up his bat a bit.
The team signed former National and one of my favorites in Denard Span .
Span brings all that the Giants need-speed,defense and hitting,the only concern for me has been Span's health of late.
If that is in order-the Giants will be thrilled with the addition.
Hunter Pence brings his unique skills back to right field after missing 110 games last year.
Just having Pence back in the lineup should be good for a offensive jolt.
Gregor Blanco is the 4th outfielder and can play all three defensive outfield positions.....

The starting pitching is where the Giants put most of their off-season dollars to upgrade beyond their ace in lefty Madison Bumgarner.
Bumgarner,who continues to be under one of the best contracts in baseball went 18-9 with an ERA under three in 2015 and solidifies the top of the rotation,
The middle was the issue last season and the Giants added Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija in fre agency.
Cueto had dominant numbers in the NL with the Reds,before winning a world title with the Royals,where his numbers weren't as good.
Samardzija was a disappointment for the White Sox (11-13 4.96 ERA),but has the stuff to bounce back strongly.
I'd think both righhanders will benefit from pitching in AT&T Park,one of the better pitcher parks in the game.
Veterans Jake Peavy and Matt Cain complete the rotation,but if either struggles watch out for Clayton Blackburn to get a call up from Sacramento to receiver his chance after winning the 2015 Pacific Coast League ERA crown...

The bullpen that ended last season returns almost intact as Santiago Casilla brings his 38 saves back along with former closer and current setup man Sergio Romo.
The situational setups return as well with lefty Javier Lopez and right George Kontos.
Both of those pitchers were tremendous with both appearing in over 70 games with Kontos notching an ERA of 2.33 and Lopez even better at 1.60.
Closer in waiting Hunter Strickland brings his 100+ MPH gas back as well with spot starter Chris Heston and lefthanded Josh Osich handling the long to middle relief work,
The only reasonably new face is righthanded Cory Gerrin,who appeared in seven games in a late season cameo...

The Giants have addressed their rotation and added a potent bat to the lineup.
Is it enough to get the Dodgers in the rear mirror?
Not sure,but it's enough to create an intriguing race and at least a playoff berth.....

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Cleveland Indians Preview

Before we begin, I've had a few people ask me about my opinions of Chief Wahoo being dropped to the secondary logo.
To me, that isn't new, it has been that way for a while.
I hate the block C hats (although not as much as the despised cursive "I" ones that were DOA a while back) and you wouldn't be likely to see me wear one.
My Indians' cap of choice will remain-Wahoo. the early 70's "Wishbone" C in either red or blue or the mid 70's "Crooked" C to the left.

Many media outlets have the Cleveland Indians listed as serious contenders in the American League Central this season.
I would agree with that, but I wonder if the Wahoos invested enough in the offseason to upgrade an offense that caused 2015 to be a disappointment.

Yan Gomes has been on fire in Arizona and hopes to rebound from an injury-plagued and disappointing 2015.
A Gomes return to form would go a long way to helping an offense that seems to need it.
Roberto Perez returns as Gomes' backup with some pop off the bench with seven homers in 184 at-bats last season.

Cleveland's attempt to jolt the offense a bit was mainly built around two aging veterans-one in the infield and one in the outfield.
Mike Napoli's career looked to be over before a sizzling six week stretch in Texas convinced the Indians that his bat still had life in it.
Napoli and Carlos Santana will share the first base and designated hitter slots and hope that the Indians receive the Texas Napoli, not the Boston Napoli.
Jason Kipnis will start at second base and Francisco Lindor will begin his first full season at shortstop.
The talented Lindor looks to be an elite shortstop for years to come and is the beginnings of the Indians attempt to become an exciting and fun to watch team, which hasn't been the case lately in my opinion.
Aging Juan Uribe was signed in spring training in another attempt to solve the third base issue, I'm not convinced Uribe is a great addition, but if he is even average, the Indians would likely be pleased.
Jose Ramirez will back up at 2nd,3rd and short and I wouldn't be surprised to see Ramirez be a trade chip as he could start as a middle infielder for some teams.

The outfield doesn't look improved to me.
Michael Brantley is the standout but will start the season on the DL after winter shoulder surgery.
Brantley seems to be healing faster than expected, but still will miss time.
After Brantley, you look at this bunch and wonder how a contender thinks this is a decent crew.
Cleveland was counting on Abraham Almonte after a decent few months after being traded for by San Diego, but was popped for PED use and will miss half the season.
I wasn't an Almonte believer from the start and I don't think he will be a meaningful loss.
Lonnie Chisenhall was moved from third to right field after disappointing with the bat and I'm not sure what about that move will turn his offense around.
Chisenhall will start the season on the disabled list and veteran Marlon Byrd was signed in spring training to hopefully add some power to the lineup.
Byrd's game has changed with age, but he could be a helpful part of the Indians.
Rajai Davis was signed from Detroit and the journeyman was hoped to have filled the spot of Almonte in center and spell on the corners occasionally,
Davis will still spell, but Davis was beaten in center by an excellent camp by former first-rounder Tyler Naquin, who will start the season in center and be given a chance to hold down the position.
Veteran Collin Cowgill arrives from Anaheim to be the final outfielder on the bench...

The pitching is where the Indians hope to be among the leagues elite and make up ground on the competition.
The rotation ranks with the leagues best with 2014 Cy Young winner Corey Kluber dropped from 18-9 to 9-16 and his ERA went up, but it wasn't a bad season with an ERA still under 3.5.
Expecting Kluber to be 2014 level every season is unfair, but I do think he'll improve on a year that really was bad only in the won-loss record, which most overrate in pitching stats anyway...
Carlos Carrasco won 14 games (a career-high) and just as importantly-posted a career-high in innings.
Carrasco might be sitting on a super season.
Danny Salazar has tremendous stuff if he can just harness it consistently and also struck out almost 200 batters with a career-high in innings.
Salazar's talent might be the best of the group and if he can even improve a little -he could be a Cy Young contender.
The Indians had four pitchers contending for the back two spots with Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin winning over Trevor Bauer and Zach McAllister
Anderson had three spectacular starts to begin his Indians stint last season before pitching more of a league-average type for the remainder of the season.
Tomlin is a consistent innings eater that teams love to see in the five slot and was very sharp in his ten starts last year (3.02 ERA).

Trevor Bauer and Zach McAllister will be the long men in the bullpen with each likely to get spot starts and the chance to be the first to step in the event of rotation injury or ineffectiveness.
Bullpens can range from year and year and I usually don't put a lot of stock into some relievers previous performances-they can vary that much.
Jeff Manship was excellent last year in Cleveland, Dan Otero was awful in Oakland, they could switch numbers this year with ease.
Journeymen Joba Chamberlain (Detroit) and Ross Detwiler (Texas/Atlanta) will each attempt to hold a specialist role in the pen while hard-throwing Bryan Shaw returns as the setup man.
Cody Allen closes after earning 34 saves in 38 chances last season.....

Prediction; This team has the pitching to match almost anyone and could make a big run.
However, I'm not convinced that the additions to the lineup have made up ground offensively and the scoring will continue to be an Achilles heel.
It may come down to just how much is left in the bats of Napoli, Uribe, Davis, and Byrd.

I'll try to get a Giants preview finished soon...

Pittsburgh Pirates Preview

The Pittsburgh Pirates season starts on Sunday,so our preview series will start with the Buccos.

Pittsburgh will be counting on players that out-performed pedigree last year and on doing their typical revitalization of arms that have moved on from other stops...

The Pirates start behind the plate with the return of Francisco Cervelli,who hit a surprising .296 last season.
Elias Diaz arrives in Pittsburgh to get his feet wet once he returns from elbow issues with vagabond vet Chris Stewart as the backup mitts.

Pittsburgh will try to replace the power bat of Pedro Alvarez with a hodge podge of John Jaso,Michael Morse and David Freese at first base.
Freese will start the season at third until Jung Ho Kang returns in later April and then slide into the platoon spot.
Not sure how I feel about that ,but the team is hoping to buy enough time for Josh Bell to arrive from AAA Indianapolis.
With the trade of Neil Walker to the Mets Josh Harrison moves from the super-sub role to the full timer at second base.
Steady Jordy Mercer will man shortstop with Pedro Florimon and Sean Rodriguez as the keystone backups.
Jason Rogers was acquired from the Brewers and will see time at third and first.
Editor's Note:The team sent Rogers to Indianapolis and designated Florimon for assignment after I wrote this preview.
Cole Figueroa made the team and will fill the same role.

The outfield ranks with the best in the game with Andrew McCutchen,Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco.
All three are plus defenders and on normal teams could play center with the range that they possess.
McCutchen has become a perennial All-Star performer and Marter might have had a better 2015 than McCutchen.
Polanco still has some things to prove,but has the talent to rank with the other two flychasers.
Matt Joyce has made the team as a pinch hitter and Michael Morse along with Sean Rodriguez can occasionally spell someone that needs a day off....

The pitching staff still has some questions with the rotation.
Gerrit Cole won 19 games and finished with an ERA well under three (2.60) and struck out over 200 batters.
Cole is certainly capable of being the ace that all teams lust after,
Francisco Liriano won twelve games with an ERA of 3.38,but has never thrown more than 200 innings in a season and has a history of injuries.
Liriano is skilled,but his track record makes one a little concerned about a rotation relying on him at its top.
The rotation quality dips quickly after the two top hurlers.
Former Hagerstown Sun Jon Niese was the return in the Neil Walker trade and the Pirates hope that Ray Searage can work his magic with retread pitchers with Niese.
The lefty went 9-10 last season with the Mets and has a career record of exactly .500 (61-61).
Jeff Locke returns with after a pedestrian 8-11 (ERA at 4.49) at one spot and free agent addition Juan Nicasio will be another challenge for Searage as the career reliever will start the season in the rotation.
The hope is that the Pirates will be able to get enough from Locke and/or Nicasio to get them to the summer where perhaps someone from the talent laden Indianapolis rotation might be ready supplant one or both of them..

Mark Melancon is back as the closer after a dominant 51 save 2015.
Melancon was rumored to be trade bait over the winter and still could be,if the Pirates stumble this season.
If Melancon goes on the market,the team could get a deadline bounty in return for the righthander.
Tony Watson will be the lefty setup man and Jared Hughes will be the righty version,although Hughes will start the season on the DL with a lat strain.
After that,there are questions.
Pittsburgh once again will lean on Ray Searage to attempt to revive a career-this time,it's the formerly almost unhittable Neftali Feliz,who posted an ERA of over six last year.
Arquimedes Caminero was decent last season after being added from Florida and the Pirates have collected three veterans to be the long relievers and stand-by starting possibilities in Kyle Lobstein,Ryan Vogelsong and Corey Luebke.
All are far from sure bets,but if I had to wager on one to bet on,I'd go with Luebke as an intriguing option.

Prediction? I think the Pirates could take a small step back this year,but I still think they can make a run at a wild card spot.
The back of the rotation is a concern and the corner infield positions could do wonders for contention hopes with some unexpected production.

I'm going to hope to get the Indians and Giants previews finished soon as well.....

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Back to normal

It wasn't really a vacation, but I am back from Avon, Ohio.

Rachel had another shoot with the ShurTech/Duck Tape people and I did what I do- make the arrangements with them, drive, and play Strat O Matic while things are going on.
I did manage to do the podcasts while there and I hope you enjoyed those.
The podcast was a little easier to do because I could tuck away and talk for a bit, whereas the blog was hurt by the interruptions that come with being in a workplace environment.

I had a great time in Avon with my favorite ladies and ate at a lot of great places- You can see what I thought of them- here
The people at ShurTech treated us all well and whether Rachel ever does future videos for them or not, I have nothing negative to say at all about how they treated her or us...

I was in Avon during our 9th anniversary here at TRS and with all the hubbub going on,I just remembered that I need to do our annual post talking about the anniversary along with our thanks to the various people that support the TRS empire.
I'll try to do that sometime during the next week.

For those of you interested in my schedule for the first two weeks of the season.
I'll be in Altoona on Tuesday for meet the team,
Hagerstown on Wednesday for meet the team,
Skipping the Suns home opener on Thursday as the pass isn't accepted on opening day and I just don't feel like arguing over it.

I'll then be at Hagerstown Friday through the following Wednesday, but then skipping the Frederick home opening series vs Lynchburg (Indians! Grrr) due to a crazy 48-hour run at work because of some work training, and then I might be able to hit Harrisburg on that Saturday for Vlad Guerrero night!
That is about the only good thing about the trainings-I was able to trade off to get the Guerrero night off!

Keep your eye out for a new feature every three months, which will be our official boxing rankings!
We have three voters right now and look to add maybe two more.
I think the boxing fans will enjoy that feature!

Think that will do it-Hope to be back tonight with our annual anniversary post!