Monday, October 31, 2016

Browns trade for Jamie Collins

The Cleveland Browns indeed made a trade before the trade deadline,but the surprise was that there was talent entering the Browns complex-not leaving at as many expected..

The Browns trade for linebacker Jamie Collins of the Patriots for the compensation third rounder at the end of that round in the 2017 draft seems to make no sense for an 0-8 going nowhere,but I'm going to tell you the thought process behind this deal and even if you don't agree with it,it'll make sense with how the front office is doing things..

The Browns already have lots of picks in the 2017 (2 firsts,2 seconds,now their own third and 3 fourths) draft and feel that for this cost that Jamie Collins,a Pro Bowl linebacker is a bargain price.
When you look at the massive amount of youth on this year's team and the likelihood of least almost as many next season,the Browns could say what's one pick?
But,one could ask the question that isn't Collins a free agent at the end of the season and why wouldn't he just walk away from a losing team like the Browns?
Well,he may,but the Browns could franchise him,if they can avoid having to do that with Terrelle Pryor and if Collins leaves via free agency? Well,the Browns would get (wait for it) mostly a compensation pick in the third round of the 2018 draft as they continue to accumulate assets in that draft.
So,essentially,this is how the deal breaks down if Collins leaves-Cleveland gets to play Collins for eight games and for that right would trade a 2017 3rd for a 2018 3rd.
If Collins buys into Hue Jackson and what the Browns are trying to build,the Browns just added a Pro Bowl linebacker for a pick at the end of the 3rd round.

Another question is this-If Jamie Collins is such a good player,why isn't he still playing for the title contending Patriots?
Well,New England likely won't have the cap space to keep Collins anyway after the season,so Bill Belichick can send that proverbial message to his team that business is business to keep them on their toes while adding an asset in the third round for the next draft.
Mike Lombardi,(and his opinion means little) is reporting that Collins had not been playing within the system this year and been "freelancing" more than Belichick cared for.
That may be on this team,Collins instantly becomes the best player on the defense with 43 tackles,a sack,forced fumble and two interceptions after leading the Patriots in tackles for the last two seasons.
Collins is a three down linebacker that can rush the passer and excel in pass coverage,so the Browns are getting an excellent player to build around,if he can be retained.

The trade might not make sense to some,but I'm intrigued and it'll be interesting to see how Jamie Collins attitude is coming to Cleveland.
If motivated,he could raise his demand on the free agent market with a strong final eight games and if not cost himself some dollars as well.
For the Browns,it's pretty low risk when you consider everything involved and how the Browns are thinking right now.
Collins will likely cost a bundle and the Browns may not to decide to pay that much when they are this far away from contention.
For me,I get it-I just want to win one game and hopefully Jamie Collins is a step forward in getting that one win...

Back to Cleveland-Cubs win Game 5

The Cleveland Indians were just one inning away from the long waited for world championship.
The problem was that inning was the fourth for the Chicago Cubs,who scored three runs in that stanza and held off the Tribe to stay alive in the World Series with a 3-2 win.
Jose Ramirez homered in the first inning to give the Indians a one run lead that held until Trevor Bauer,who was the losing pitcher allowed the three runs in the fourth.
Cleveland would add a run in the sixth for the final tally.
Game six is tomorrow in Cleveland with Josh Tomlin pitching for the Wahoos with Jake Arrieta facing him for the Cubs...

Smoke Signals

1) I didn't think Trevor Bauer pitched badly in his losing game.
Some of the pitches were decent enough,they just got hit.
Those things happen in baseball...

2) When the Indians are closer to full strength,I might consider moving Trevor Bauer to the bullpen.
With his stuff,Bauer could be really effective in that role..

3) Stunned that David Ross was able to throw out Francisco Lindor stealing against Jon Lester,who is abysmal holding runners on.
Nothing wrong with the jump by Lindor,Ross just made a great throw...

4) Joe Maddon used Aroldis Chapman to get the final eight outs of the game and it worked out.
The better question now becomes this-Did it take anything out of Chapman for the final two games?
Chapman had never done that before and can he continue at his normal level if needed Tuesday?

5) The Jon Lester routine is tired.
The bitching,whining,glaring about balls and strikes calls is overdone and ridiculous.
Considering that it effectively changed over the course of not just the game or inning,but even at an batt,it's really poor form.
I understand why because it's clearly effective,still doesn't make it right.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Browns collapse in second half,downed by Jets 31-28

For one half,the Cleveland Browns seemed on their way to the first win of the Hue Jackson era,trotting in with a 20-7 halftime lead.
That's as good as it got for the Browns,who allowed the New York Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick to do whatever they wanted in the second half with 24 unanswered points before a late meaningless score to give the Jets a 31-28 win.
Cleveland was led by Josh McCown,who threw for 341 yards and two scores-both to Andrew Hawkins to go with two interceptions and Terrelle Pryor caught six passes for 101 yards as the top receiver.
The now 0-8 Browns will host Dallas next week....

Brownie Bits

1) I thought this was the best chance for a Browns win in a while and for a while and I looked smart for a half.
The problem is that the same thing happened against Hue Jackson that happened to the past Browns coaches-the opposing team made adjustments at the half and the Browns could not counter the counter.

2) I like Hue Jackson. I do,but some of his decisions each week get passes and I'm not sure why.
This week's came on the final drive and down eleven.
The Browns just strolled to the line of scrimmage,time rolling off the clock and no urgency from the sidelines.
That type of stuff isn't about your talent,it's about coaching and preparation....

3) The Jets scored touchdowns on their first three drives of the second half,none of the drives being shorter than 78 yards.
The pass rush that bothered Ryan Fitzpatrick in the first half was non-existent in the second and that secondary-Oh,that secondary.

4) The secondary is just awful-Jamar Taylor likes to flex when he does something well,which isn't often,Joe Haden looks to be a shell of himself,Tramon Williams looks washed up and the safeties (Ibraheim Campbell and Derrick Kindred) look to be similar players (better against the run,but struggle against receivers that challenge them athletically) in need of a free safety with some ball skills.
Joe Haden was mentioned this morning as possible trade bait,If they can get anything near a decent return,I'm OK with it...

5) Awful tackling is something that has plagued the Browns for years and once again,that spectre arose against the Jets on Quincy Enunwa's touchdown catch.
I counted four Browns that could have tackled Enunwa that either missed completely or had their tackle attempt broken.
I guess there is not an easy answer to this issue-because the easy ones (toughness,technique and hustle) would have solved the problem already..

6) Josh McCown was sharp in the first half,not so much in the second,although one of his two interceptions was on the receiver for not pulling in a good pass.
You can argue whether or not winning a little (or at all) is a good thing for the Browns,but this is my best guess-If the Browns want to win a game this season,the best bet is with Josh McCown.

7) I realize that with rookie receivers there is a learning curve,but there also has to be tough love treatment after a while.
Ricardo Louis came to the team as a talented receiver that needed to work on catching the ball.
Louis still does as he continues dropping very catchable passes.
I'd like to see more Rashard Higgins and less Louis until he shows that he can hold onto the football...

8) Josh Gordon left his rehab today with rumors noting that the Browns will be trading him before the deadline.
I can understand those that have had enough of his routine,but I'd prefer to keep Gordon and try not to sell low.
I don't know why someone would trade anything of value,if the Browns have made it clear that they want Gordon out of their hair..

9) One good sign was the continuing development of Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib on the defensive line.
Nassib knocked down three passes and Ogbah had a tackle for loss among some pressures.
Add that to another rookie in waiver signee Tyrone Holmes picking up a sack and you at least can start to see a little hope in that area.

10) So 0-8 and three of the four games I targeted as games that they could win are past.
The Dolphins was an overtime loss that could have been won and the Titans and Jets games were decided by two and three points respectively.
I don't suspect the Browns have much a chance in their next three games-Dallas at home,at Baltimore and then Pittsburgh at home.
They might have a chance against the Giants  at home,the Giants have been known to throw some clunkers in,but if the Giants show up-likely not.
That leads into the bye followed by the Bengals at home and at Buffalo,I'd would say maybe Buffalo under Rex Ryan could be vulnerable for the same reason as the Giants,but in Buffalo,gotta go Bills.
The Chargers could be a winnable game on Christmas Eve,especially if they are eliminated from the playoffs by then.
San Diego could have nothing to play for,a cold weather game for a warm weather team and perhaps a team that just wants to get home for the holidays makes me think this is the best chance for a win.
Finishing in Pittsburgh is more likely for another different starting quarterback than a Browns win.
I want that top pick,but I don't want a humiliating 0-16 either.
Going to be a long nine weeks.

Need one more! Indians take game four!!

The Cleveland Indians allowed a run in the first inning to the Chicago Cubs,but got their offense going shortly thereafter and rolled to a 7-2 win in game four of the World Series.
The victory gives the Indians a three games to one lead and just need to win one more game to bring Cleveland its first baseball world championship since 1948.
Corey Kluber got the win after allowing just one run in the first over six innings of work.
Andrew Miller and Dan Otero mopped up in relief,
The wood was paced by Jason Kipnis,who drilled three hits with the biggest being the three run homer in the seventh inning that crushed the hopes of the Wrigley fans,who were then pretty despondent during Vince Vaughn's Take me out to the ball game" rendition.
Carlos Santana smacked a solo shot in the second to start the scoring for Cleveland.
Santana also finished with three hits for the evening.
The Indians can become world champions with a win in game five Sunday with Trevor Bauer starting for Cleveland against Jon Lester for the Cubs in the final game in Chicago this year...

Smoke Signals

1) Corey Kluber allowed a run in the first on two hits that just happened to fall in front of outfielders and was almost untouched thereafter.
Kluber got six innings of work in off short rest and now is off to get whatever rest he can get before a possible start in game seven-which hopefully won't be needed...

2) Andrew Miller is human as he allowed a solo homer to Dexter Fowler in the eighth,but otherwise continued his tremendous run as it was the only hit that he allowed in his two innings pitched.
Miller's two strikeouts set the record for postseason strikeouts by relievers.
I'm not saying that Miller's feat is not a easy one,but records come easier now in the bloated postseason.

3) Jason Kipnis and his bat came alive with three hits and became the answer to a trivia question-Kipnis is now the first second baseman in history to homer in the ALDS,ALCS and the World Series,

4) The biggest play of the game might have came in the second inning.
Corey Kluber fouled off pitch after pitch from John Lackey until a slow dribbler froze Kris Bryant,who threw the ball away which allowed Lonnie Chisenhall to score.
The Cubs had intentionally walked Tyler Naquin to face Kluber and the two run second took away any momentum the Cubs felt from scoring the first inning run off Kluber.

5) Terry Francona continues to push the right buttons as he had a tough decision to make in the non-DH park.
Rajai Davis had good numbers against John Lackey,so he wanted to use him,but he had a choice between Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli,neither of which had hit well vs Lackey.
Francona chose Santana,who homered off Lackey in his first at bat among his three hits in the game.

6) The Indians are keeping the Cubs from making contact in this series and that's a huge factor for the team that led the league in walks this season.
Cleveland has whiffed the Cubs 17 of 37 times with runners in scoring position,so the Cubs are not even able to move runners up in those situations...

7) It's Trevor Bauer next,who started the only Cleveland loss in the series and Bauer is maddeningly inconsistent and even more so with the uncertainty of his injured finger.
Can Bauer put enough together to end this series against Jon Lester?
I'm not sure,but he'll need to pitch well enough to keep the team in the game and hope for the best.

8) Cleveland will need to take advantage in the running game against Lester,who has a huge flaw in holding runners.
If the Indians (most steals in baseball) can move up against Lester at will,they have a very good chance of pulling this off.
It'll be interesting to see if Terry Francona loads his lineup with a little more speed to perhaps deal with the issue from Lester....

9) I've said before that the Cleveland sports fan is the best in the country,but the Indians selling such a massive amount of tickets to fans watching the game on the Progressive Field scoreboard shows such.
That on the heels of the Cavaliers selling out the Q last year on the road against the Warriors and I'm telling you that there is no other market that would do such numbers...

10) One game away.
I was all prepared to do a podcast on the Indians last night,but decided against it-66 years of history riding on one more win-I can wait...

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Buckeyes survive Nippy Northwestern 24-20

The Ohio State Buckeye showed flashes of brilliance,but not enough to completely put away the gritty Northwestern Wildcats before ending the contest with a 24-20 win in Columbus.
Mike Weber ran for 87 yards and two touchdowns,while Curtis Samuel ran for a score while catching seven passes for 68 yards.
Ohio State improves to 7-1 (4-1 Big Ten) and will host Nebraska (undefeated as of this writing,but playing Wisconsin as I type) in Columbus next Saturday night...

Olentangy Offerings

1) The offensive woes continued and a lot of it is the passing game.
Not blaming anyone or anything in particular,but the play calling is predictable (most receivers running short curl routes) the receivers still unproven and J.T.Barrett being less reliable as a passer than I would care for all add up for the problems throwing the football.

2) Considering that,you would think that the Buckeyes would spend more time establishing the run.
They did run 41 times,but the true pounding with the rock never really came between gimmick runs,kneeldowns and J.T. Barrett's draws and that is what is keeping the Buckeyes from wearing teams down...

3) J.T.Barrett's runs sometimes seem like one can see them coming,but his 35 yard run on the final drive basically ended any Wildcat comeback hopes.
I hope when you read Buckeye wrapups that it doesn't come across that I hate Barrett's runs=I don't.
I just wish they were a little less predictable and more varied in the types of runs...

4) Malik Hooker finished with 14 tackles from safety and they weren't all downfield either
Hooker made several stops near the line of scrimmage on run plays and would have gotten my star of the game.
Hooker might be the next Buckeye star in the secondary at the next level...

5) The Buckeye defense gave up points on several long scoring drives,but they stiffened when needed in the fourth quarter and held Northwestern to a field goal with the score 24-17.
That would be the final time the Wildcats touched the football..

6) Another week of not getting the ball to Curtis Samuel enough.
Samuel's six catches were fine,but he only carried the ball seven times and is spending more time as an H-Back and less in the backfield.
Lining him up so much limits how Samuel will get the ball and allows teams to not have to account for him on running plays.
I'd rather see him more in the backfield.

7) Funny to be almost pulling for Michigan,but for the Buckeyes to win the Big Ten,they need a three way tie with Michigan and Penn State,so Michigan needs to be undefeated entering the OSU game.
Penn State could lose and make that academic,but I'm assuming they win out.

Shorter version than usual since I have to do game four of the World Series...

Indians win game three masterpiece

Pinch hitter Coco Crisp dropped a single into right field in the seventh inning to score Michael Martinez and account for the total scoring of the game as the Cleveland Indians ruined the return of the World Series to Chicago with a 1-0 win in the third game.
Andrew Miller was the winning pitcher with Cody Allen getting the save.
Game four in Wrigley will see Cleveland start Corey Kluber with the Cubs countering with John Lackey.

Smoke Signals

1) What a phenomenal game with both teams getting tremendous pitching and with one exception-good fielding.
This game had it all-drama,a big play or two,managing skill and the aforementioned pitching....

2) I worried about this game because of Josh Tomlin and his fringy stuff at Wrigley Field,but Tomlin's 4 and two third's were sharp and I wondered if Terry Francona's move in the fifth for Andrew Miller was premature.
It wasn't because the Indians won ,but I still think Tomlin had a few more outs in him.
That could be a decision that may benefit Cleveland as Tomlin may have a few more innings or even outs on short rest ready.

3) More from the bullpen as once again Andrew Miller and Cody Allen (along with Brian Shaw) were able to be keep teams off the scoreboard,even through threats.
Shaw had the heavier lifting as both Miller and Allen were under 20 pitches to get the win and help their availability for tonight's game four..

4) Many on Twitter (even Cubs fans) were ranting about the different strike zones that John Hirschbeck was calling for for starters Kyle Hendricks and Josh Tomlin.
I always find balls and strikes to be subjective and can live with whatever zone an umpire would call-as long as it is a consistent one from team to team.
All the way down to little league baseball,both the pitcher(who needs to know where to throw) and the hitter (what to swing at and what to lay off of) need to have a good idea on what is being called.
Hirschbeck seemed to call the outside strike for Hendricks and not for Tomlin.
The strike zone did begin to even out after the starters were removed,but it still was a less than strong job behind the plate...

5) More postseason heroics from Coco Crisp as it was his single that scored the only run of the game.
Crisp was a late season addition for outfield depth and has turned out to be a key addition...

6) Michael Martinez scored the only run in a pinch running capacity,but the former Hagerstown Sun was nearly picked off third just before Coco Crisp's single on a play so close that the Cubs looked at it on video replay.
The journeyman utility player dove back to third beating the throw of Willson Contreras by inches.
It brought to mind to mind similar plays in little league that made me wince as the umpire was usually going to call the runner out even if he was back to the bag in now.
It almost cost the Indians a chance to win..

7) Joe Buck's favorite player Kyle Schwarber pinch hit in the eighth with a feeble pop up against Brian Shaw,
Schwarber is clearly a nice player,but the drooling over his bat like he is Babe Ruth still is old...

8) The Indians tried to keep the Cubs alive with two outs with Mike Napoli's error on a Jason Heyward that could have ended the game.
That would have been so Cleveland to lose such a great game that way,but Cody Allen whiffed Javier Baez in the following at bat.

9) I know that I'm rooting for the Indians,but I'm still a non-DH guy and the National League rules made the Indians choose with Mike Napoli-glove or bat.
No half and half players in NL play,you want the bat,live with the glove.

10) So that means on to game four and Corey Kluber on short rest against John Lackey.
Lackey's post season numbers are solid,so the Indians aren't getting off easy and Kluber will be pitching on short rest for the second time in the postseason.
Kluber may have to do this again if a game seven if needed,so this will likely be a six inning stint at best and the Cubs will try to work the pitch count to remove him sooner.
Don't I wish the Indians had Carlos Carrasco about now....

Pigskin Picking Machine

Back for another week of the PPM!

Last Week: 8-2
Overall: 52-15

Ohio State over Northwestern 34-20
TCU over Texas Tech 50-46
Boise State over Wyoming 39-29
Washington over Utah 28-17
Middle Tennessee State over Florida International 40-23

Game of the Week
Wisconsin over Nebraska 24-14

Browns over Jets 20-17
Saints over Seahawks 28-27

Game of the Week
Cowboys over Eagles 24-16

Friday, October 28, 2016

Cleaning out the inbox

Time for a long overdue inbox cleaning and we start with an ESPN oral article on the career of Bill Belichick.
I found the part on Belichick's tenure in Cleveland with the Browns most interesting.
When you read books and articles on Belichick,there is always a part where people rave about what was being built in Cleveland,what was done in New England was going to happen in Cleveland etc.
I'm not sure how much I believe of that,those Browns were an older team,not built with youth,the drafts were nothing to rave about and it could have been that Belichick learned what not to do in Cleveland and applied it with the Patriots.

ESPN returns with another interesting article on the 1976 Oklahoma-Texas which came with spying accusations,old fashioned hatred,Gerald Ford and a 6-6 tie.
If you wonder why some rivalries are just so heated,it's stuff like this that builds that heat...

After months of schools selling themselves like political candidates and renovating facilities with big bucks,the Big 12 decided not to expand and delivered a seltzer water shot to all the schools that participated in the this roundup without a winner.
The two biggest losers were also the two biggest spenders as Houston and Cincinnati spent tons of money with nothing to show for it.
Cincinnati will have a tough time keeping things rolling with a planned renovation of Nippert Stadium and Houston,despite spending massively on sports infrastructure will now be hard pressed to keep head football coach Tom Herman when the biggest wallets in the game call on Houston to call on Herman to run their program.
The Big 12 is on borrowed time....

Two of our podcast guests each have some new work available.
Christian Guidice's book on Wilfredo Gomez has been released and I'm getting ready to read it as soon as I finish the book that I am reading right now.
Anya Alvarez penned a piece for SB Nation that looks at the skill and the competitors on the Long Drive championship circuit.
The long drivers are simply the players that crush the golf ball off the tee and what it takes to win this championship.
What I found most interesting was Anya's note that many of these players have problems breaking 90 on the course,showing that even in an individual sport like golf,there are specialists in the game...

The Civil ConFLICT trophy takes two bitter rivals in Connecticut and Central Florida places a trophy that can be awarded to the winner of the game.
I write that tongue in cheek as this is another game between two schools stuck in a mid-major conference that they don't really want to be in that has little on the line are playing a game that lacks a lot of passion,
Connecticut coach Bob Diaco started the trophy and tried to create a rival in UCF and instead saw his issues laughed at by the Knights.
Laughed at to the point of UCF tweeting "We have no involvement with the trophy or a rivalry with UConn",but that was was nothing with what was to come after the Knights grabbed a 24-16 victory in Hartford.
The Knights ignored any attempt to take the trophy and left the field-with the trophy NOT in tow!
I love trophy games as much as the next guy and I would have no troubles with a trophy being introduced to a series between teams with some sort of rivalry,but this smacks of all of those Joe Paterno attempts to fit in the Big Ten,when he signed up for various trophy games with half of the conference-Contrived and Manufactured.
Diaco seems like a high energy guy that was looking to add a little interest to just another game,but this is usually a bad idea when both sides agree,but it becomes hilarious when only one side cares..

We wrap up with Hardball Times and their discussion of the return to baseball to Kinston NC and how towns that lose baseball manage to keep things afloat in hopes of getting baseball to return to their town.
It is quite interesting in the lengths of that towns have to take to keep those hopes alive and it also looks back at Albuquerque,New Mexico and Pulaski Va and their time without the game with the results of their return to minor league baseball.
It also discussed the decision to not return the name "Kinston" to the new team in the Carolina League in favor of "Down East",which seems to me to be one of the dumber names in the game...

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Cubs shut down Indians-Series tied at one

It took until the sixth inning for the Cleveland Indians to get a hit and the team was generally befuddled by Jake Arrieta and the Cubs bullpen as Chicago evened the World Series with a 5-1 win in game two in Cleveland.
Jason Kipnis would score the only run for the Indians on a Jake Arrietta wild pitch in the sixth inning.
Game three is at Wrigley Field Friday with Josh Tomlin for the Indians and Kyle Hendricks for the Cubs.

Smoke Signals

1) The Indians were just overmatched vs Jake Arrieta,who has streaks of sheer brilliance,but hasn't reached that level of late.
As much as I would like to say the Indians caught bad breaks,it all came to down to not getting off early against Arrieta.

2) Rough night for Lonnie Chisenhall in right field as he threw to the wrong base,which allowed the Cubs to score a run without a throw on a play that Cleveland might have had a play at the plate on.
Chisenhall would later slip chasing a Ben Zobrist shot into the corner and turned a double into a triple..

3) Trevor Bauer struggled all game with his command and didn't get through the fourth inning,but he did manage to grind his way through several jams with allowing just two runs.
The injured digit held up and the two runs Bauer would have allowed would have been one too many,but he could have been far worse...

4) This game went way too long for a 5-1 ball game-Over four hours!
Started at seven,ended a little after eleven,no wonder baseball has issues with hooking young fans...

5) I respect the work and effort put in by Kyle Schwarber's return,but boy is Joe Buck belaboring the point.
I have gotten tired of hearing about this from Buck after just two games,what if it goes seven??

6) Now the worry,can Josh Tomlin and his stuff be enough against what should be an almost football like frenzy at Wrigley?
I wish I could say I feel good about it,but I just can't.
I have to hope Cleveland can get one of three there and pray for a two game winning streak...

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Perez powers Indians to game one win

Roberto Perez cranked two home runs off Chicago Cubs pitching and three Indians pitchers combined to keep the Cubs off the scoreboard as the Cleveland Indians won game one of the World Series 6-0 in Cleveland.
Perez finished with four RBI on the evening in another surprising power outing in the postseason for the Indian backstop.
Corey Kluber tossed six innings of shutout baseball before handing the ball over to Andrew Miller and Cody Allen to finish the game.
Game two starts tonight at seven,an hour earlier than expected due to forecast of rain late Wednesday evening with Trevor Bauer for Cleveland against Jake Arrieta and the Cubs.

Smoke Signals

1) Post season heroics often come from those that you wouldn't expect and Roberto Perez fits the ball.
Two homers from a guy that hit all of three in the regular season?
Brings back memories of Brian Doyle!!

2) 15 strikeouts of the Cubs combined between Corey Kluber,Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.
That's a lot of swinging and missing,but a good sign for the Indians to keep such a strong hitting club not only off the board,but frustrated as well...

3) I know it's been 30 years and Corey Kluber isn't going as long into games,but the current Kluber run makes me think of 1988 Orel Hershiser or even more the dominance of 1986 Mike Scott.
Scott so dominated the Mets in the 86 NLCS in winning games 1 and 4 that Davey Johnson went above and beyond in game six to win because they knew there was no beating Mike Scott in game seven.
Could it be that way again with Corey Kluber? We will see,but there are some parallels...

4) Andrew Miller worked his way out of jams and looked a little more human in loading the bases in the seventh and putting two on in the eighth,but still hung zeroes on the board.
Miller threw 46 pitches,so his status might be slated as unavailable for game two or at least limited to a batter or two.
In any event.Miller slammed the door on the Cubs when they could have gotten back into the game...

5) I watched some of this game with my buddy Derreck and Brandon Diehl at Buffalo Wild Wings.
It was really my first time watching an important game in such an environment and I found I enjoyed it.
You naturally don't watch in as much detail as usual,but it was great to hang out and talk sports where most of the people really care about the game....

6) Brandon predicted before the game that Jose Ramirez was sitting on a big series and he went three for four with an RBI that was more like a swinging bunt than a hit or a conventional bunt.
That hit in the first inning made me think that this was the Tribe's night...

7) I'm more than a little surprised of the Cubs use of Kyle Schwarber as the DH in the series.
Schwarber,who did have a hit in game one,became the first player to ever have a hit in the World Series after not having one in the regular season.
Schwarber had been playing in Arizona Fall League action in an attempt to prepare him for the Cleveland home games in the series,but I still wonder about playing someone with that much down time.
Schwarber was injured in the first series of the season for the Cubs and spent the season on the disabled list...

8) Can the Indians win this series?
I'll have a better take after tonight.
You had to think that you were going to get a good effort from Corey Kluber,but can you get one from the drone repairman Trevor Bauer?
Can you get one from Josh Tomlin and his finesse stuff?
A win tonight would go a long way in determining that dream...

9) I feel bad that I missed the Cavaliers opener (for the most part,it was on at BWW too) and ring ceremonies,but it is the World Series after all.
I plan on a Cavalier preview after the World Series is over....

Monday, October 24, 2016

Banged around in Cincinnati-Browns fall to 0-7

The Cleveland Browns used some deception and another new quarterback in order to hang in with the Cincinnati Bengals in Ohio's Queen City for a while,but the conclusion ended with the same ending as the rest of the games had been-a loss,
The 31-17 defeat to the Bengals saw Kevin Hogan rush for 104 yards and a score with Isaiah Crowell ran for the other touchdown for the Browns.
The now 0-7 Browns will host the Jets next week in Cleveland...

Brownie Bits

1) Another two quarterback day as Cody Kessler was knocked out with concussion-related symptoms.
It was too bad as Kessler was off to a decent start as he completed nine of eleven before leaving the game.
From what I have seen so far of Kessler,I've seen a pretty accurate short to medium passer and a guy with lots of intangibles and toughness.I like him.

2) That said-I have been amazed at the things in the Cleveland media being written about Cody Kessler.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealers has suggested that the Browns already have their quarterback of the future with the impressive performance of Kessler.
I beg to differ.everyone loves guys like Kessler-at first.
They have grit,moxie hustle etc-all things that overcome physical shortcomings like being able to throw the deep ball or the physical stature to hold up to the physical pounding of the position.
In other words-Cody Kessler might be Brian Hoyer.
A guy that can string a few games together,maybe even a season if you get lucky,but you can't win long term with those types of quarterbacks.
Can Cody Kessler get you through 2017,if you don't love anyone in the 2017 draft?
Maybe.But thinking he's the one?

3) The absence of Cody Kessler meant the debut of Kevin Hogan as the 5th quarterback (6th,if you want to count Terrelle Pryor's few snaps in gimmicky formations) for the Browns in seven games.
Hogan first few snaps saw him come into the game before the Kessler injury and basically run the wildcat stuff that Terrelle Pryor usually runs.
Pryor was not at full strength for this game and using Hogan to save some pounding on Pryor was a good idea in one way (saving Pryor),but not in another as what if a scenario had came into play of Hogan getting injured doing this stuff and then Kessler joined him?

4) Hogan did rip off one scoring run of 28 yards (longest for a QB in Cleveland history) and showed some good things,mobility and maybe a better arm than Kessler.
However,he seems to be almost too mobile (happy feet) and doesn't set when he throws at times.
Another work in progress...

5) I like Hue Jackson and think he has the makings of a good coach,but seems like every week that he makes a decision that makes you wonder what he was thinking.
This week it was this-The Browns are in this game,down just 14-10 on the road and under two minutes to go,the Bengals are content to just run the clock down and hit the locker room.
Considering the above facts,one would suspect the Browns would be thrilled to let them do that.
Instead,Jackson was using timeouts and that led to the Hail Mary catch by A,J, Green and a 21-10 deficit..
Essentially,that was the game...

6) Just awful defense.
Massive chunks of huge yardage allowed by a defense that allowed two scoring passes of over 40 yards and two runs by Jeremy Hill,not exactly Adrian Peterson in speed of 74 and 40 yards make this either an issue of lack of talent,effort or both....

7) Other than Emmanuel Ogbah's two sacks-one of which he used one hand to take down Andy Dalton,the defense came up with zero redeeming factors.
The lack of talent shows and the lack of speed is glaring.

8) The Browns were able to establish the run in this game and the offensive line that has so many failings in pass protection were pretty decent in this one.
180 yards on the ground is not a number to sneeze at,perhaps the Browns should try a little more of that and a little less of the gimmicky calls that we see more of every week..

9) Cameron Erving left the game due to an undisclosed illness and I'm not going to say whether that was a good thing or a bad one,
If the injury is a recurrence of his lung injury,Erving could be lost for the season.
John Greco would slide to center,Alvin Bailey or hopefully new arrival Jonathan Cooper would take over at right guard.

10) Before the season,I picked a record of 2-14 at best with five games selected as 'most winnable'.
Three of those games have passed and all three of those were the road games on the list.
Now one of the two most winnable home games arrives next week with the Jets.
The Jets are coming off a surprise win over Baltimore,so I'm willing to guess they could have a possible letdown-If the Browns are able to play Josh McCown (possible) or Cody Kessler-this might be the one to watch.
Not saying I'm picking them,but I have a feeling this one will be close in Cleveland...

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Special teams break down,cost Ohio State win in State College

Marcus Allen (I thought he had exhausted his eligibilty) blocked a Tyler Durbin field goal and when Grant Haley covered the 60 yards with the football,Penn State had a touchdown,the lead and eventually the game as the Nittany Lions shocked the second ranked Ohio State Buckeyes 24-21 in State College PA.
J.T. Barrett threw for 245 yards and a score,while Curtis Samuel rushed for a 74 yard score.
Ohio State falls to 6-1 on the season (3-1 Big 10) and will host Northwestern next Saturday...

Olentangy Offerings

1) Special teams breakdowns was the biggest part of the loss.
A blocked punt led to one score and the blocked field goal cost the Buckeyes the lead.
Combine that with the continuing issues of Dontrae Wilson fielding punts and you have the main reasons for this defeat...

2) Yes,I know the late pass to James Clark was clearly pass interference as the defender held Clark's arm to the point that he couldn't raise it as the pass hit him in the helmet,but I'm not convinced that would have changed anything on the final drive.
Sure would have helped and you never know what could have happened,but I'm not going to scream about that costing OSU the game...

3) The offensive line was pretty offensive as the Penn State offensive line dropped J.T.Barrett for six sacks and eleven tackles for loss.
Barrett was rushed constantly and the Penn State line controlled the line of scrimmage and that might have been the main reason for the Penn State win-other than the blocks that is...

4) Curtis Samuel did have the long touchdown run,but that was just one of two carries.
Samuel did catch eight passes,but their biggest playmaker didn't touch the ball enough...

5) For the second consecutive year,an Ohio State loss is looked at with questions about the decisions to run an vanilla offense without utilizing their best offensive player enough.
The Michigan State loss in 2015 saw Ezekiel Elliott not given the opportunity to wear down the Spartans and last night,it was Curtis Samuel's two carries in State College.
Who does this fall on? Urban Meyer to an extent,but mainly on the offensive leaders Ed Warriner and Tim Beck.
I generally don't go nuts over a loss about coaching staff changes and I won't this time,but combine this with the loss last season and there are lots of parallels in the losses-maybe it's something to keep tabs on..

6) The defense didn't play badly as they held Penn State to  276 yards on offense and often the most effective plays for their offense was throwing the ball up and hoping for the best.
Penn State did make some plays that way,but on the overall,I wouldn't say the Buckeyes defense played badly at all other than some occasional completions...

7) J.T.Barrett didn't have the luxury of a great night from his offensive line and he sure didn't have some brilliant plays to run,but that said-it still wasn't anything special for the junior from Texas.
Barrett wasn't good enough to overcome such a poor night by various units on this night...

8) In hindsight,I might have overestimated this team.
Before you rip me for being one of the THOSE fans,I think the issue might be that many and me as well overrated Oklahoma and that led to why the Buckeyes rose to where they did.
I spoke more about this on College Football 101,but that call led to me taking a team that had several spots of inexperience and move them up prematurely.
Does that mean that this isn't a good team? Of course not,but maybe they aren't the second best team in the country.

9) I'm also guilty of not looking at this as a trap game.
Second road game in a row,two hostile environments and a team coming off a bye along with a team coming off a physical and emotional game and things were set for a surprise.
I didn't think Penn State was good enough to pull that surprise off and most days,I think I'd be right.
But I only had to be wrong once.....

10) Ohio State still controls its own destiny-win out and they go to the playoff.
That's doable as the schedule begins to lighten other than undefeated Nebraska at home.
Northwestern and Nebraska at home will be tests,but finally they get someone at home after a bit.
Maryland and a suddenly weak Michigan State on the road could give Ohio State a chance to rest and I'm still not convinced Michigan is as tough as the Harbaugh hype suggests and I know they whipped Penn State,but there is a huge difference between a home game and a road game under the above circumstances.
Clearly,this needs to be a perfect run,but the season is not over for the Buckeyes.
Urban Meyer's track record shows his best work comes under stress,he'll need to do that one more time...

Editor's Note; Late addition to this is the issue on the blocked field goal.
I didn't have an issue with attempting the long field goal,I did with a clearly unorganized team rushing onto the field to try it.
It would have been far more prudent to take a timeout and reorganize things a bit.
Had that been done and then the field goal was blocked,I could say these things happen.
Instead,that falls back on Urban Meyer for taking so long to make the decision and then hurry an out of sync team to attempt the kick...

Podcast :College Football 101

Lots of talk from a big Saturday in college football...

Friday, October 21, 2016

TRS Boxing Ratings-Part Two

Our ratings continue with the lightweights down through the flyweights with our first ever pound for pound ratings...

1) Jorge Linares WBA Champ 15 pts
2) Dejan Zlaticanin WBC Champ 12 pts
3) Terry Flanagan WBO Champ 8 pts
4) Anthony Crolla 5 pts (up one)
5) Robert Easter IBF Champ 4 pts (unranked)
Also received votes:Rances Barthelemy

Junior Lightweights
1) Vasyl Lomachenko WBO Champ 15 pts
2) Francisco Vargas WBC Champ 11 pts
3) Jezreel Corrales WBA Champ 6 pts (unranked)
4) Takashi Miura 4 pts (unranked)
     Orlando Salido (up one)
Also received votes:Jose Pedraza IBF Champ,Nicholas Walters,Takashi Uchiyama

1) Carl Frampton WBA Champ 15 pts (up two)
2) Oscar Valdez WBO Champ 12 pts  (up three)
3) Gary Russell WBC Champ 8 pts (down one)
     Leo Santa Cruz (down two)
5) Jesus Cuellar 2 pts (down two)
Also received votes:Lee Selby IBF Champ

Junior Featherweights
1) Guillermo Rigondeaux WBA Champ 15 pts
2) Nonito Donaire WBO Champ 12 pts
3) Scott Quigg 9 pts
4) Hozumi Hazegawa WBC Champ 7 pts (unranked)
5) Hugo Ruiz 2 pts
Also received votes;Jessie Magdaleno

1) Shinsuke Yamanaka WBC Champ 15 pts
2) Rau'Shee Warren WBA Champ 11 pts (up one)
3) Lee Haskins IBF Champ (up one)
    Juan Carlos Payano (down one)
5) Jamie McDonnell 2 pts
Also received votes:Anselmo Moreno

Junior Bantamweights
1) Naoya Inoue WBO Champ 15 pts
2) Roman Gonzalez WBC Champ 12 pts (unranked at this weight)
3) Carlos Cuadras 9 pts (down one)
4) Juan Francisco Estrada 4 pts (unranked at this weight)
5) Luis Concepcion WBA Champ 3 pts
Also received votes; Jerwin Ancajas IBF Champ

1) Kazuto Ioka WBA Champ 15 pts (up two)
2) Johnriel Casimero IBF Champ 10 pts (up two)
3) Donnie Nietes 8 pts (unranked)
4) Amrat Ruenwrong 3 pts (unranked)
5) Giovanni Segura 2 pts (unranked)
Also received votes;Juan Carlos Reveco

Pound for Pound
1:Gennady Golovkin 22 pts
2:Sergei Kovalev 19 pts
   Vasyl Lomachenko
4:Roman Gonzalez 18 pts
5:Terence Crawford 14 pts
6:Andre Ward 10 pts
7:Canelo Alvarez 6 pts
   Naoya Inoue
9:Guillermo Rigondeaux 5 pts
10: Manny Pacquiao 2 pts
    Keith Thurman
Also received votes;Kell Brook

Pigskin Picking Machine

This weeks PPM!!

Last Week:5-3
Overall: 44-13

Ohio State over Penn State 42-21
Boise State over BYU 35-29
Bowling Green over Miami Ohio 40-31
Oklahoma over Texas Tech 60-43
Washington over Oregon State 55-13
Middle Tennessee State over Missouri 30-28

Game of the Week
Alabama over Texas A&M 30-21

Bengals over Browns 28-10
Chiefs over Saints 28-23

Game of the Week
Patriots over Steelers 32-17

Beaten in Boston-Devils lose 2-1

After a scoreless first two periods,the New Jersey Devils looked to be in position for a road win after Kyle Palmeiri (2 Power Play) scored the first goal of the game..
However,the Boston Bruins scored twice in the final ten minutes,one with under two minutes to play and left the Devils grasping at air in a 2-1 Boston win.
Cory Schneider finished with 34 saves in the loss.
The Devils face Minnesota on Saturday-no coverage as the game is against the Ohio State trip to Penn State

Hell Raisers

1) The Devils lived by the deflection and died by it.
The Kyle Palmeiri goal was redirected off a skate of Boston's Brandon Cairo and the game winner by Patrice Bergeron ticked off the skate of Kyle Quincey,handcuffing Cory Schneider and giving Boston the win.

2) New Jersey just seemed out of sync in this loss and was outskated by the Bruins.
I'm going to give a lot of the credit for this to being the Boston home opener.
The Devils were boosted vs Anaheim by that factor,I'll assume that was the case for Boston in this one...

3) Cory Schneider was excellent in defeat.
Being beaten by a deflection and a well placed shot to defeat him,no shame there...

4) Remember the last edition of Hell Raisers when I raved about Taylor Hall being a finisher?
Hall missed an open net in this one and should have scored a goal,but Zdeno Chara did get a piece of the puck on a stick check and the penalty called on the play turned out to set up the Kyle Palmieri goal..

5) The Bruins honored my all time favorite player before the game as the 50th (I cannot believe that is so!) anniversary of Bobby Orr's debut is this year.
Orr pushed 98 year old Milt Schmidt to center ice for the ceremonial puck drop.
Orr is currently a player agent and looks like with a drop or two or hair dye that he could still play today....

Thursday, October 20, 2016

TRS Boxing Ratings-Part One

Time for the latest rankings from TRS and our esteemed panel with Ramon Malpica and Vincent Samano...

1:Luis Ortiz 13 pts
2:Anthony Joshua IBF Champ 12 pts
3:Deontay Wilder WBC Champ 9 pts (down one)
4:Wladimir Klitschko 8 pts (up one)
5:Tyson Fury 1 pt (down one)
Joseph Parker
Alexander Povetkin

1: Olesander Usyk WBO Champ 15 pts (unranked)
2: Denis Lebedev WBA/IBF Champ 12 pts
3: Krzsytof Glowacki 8 pts (down two)
4  Marco Huck 3 pts (down one)
5: Tony Bellew WBC Champ 2 pts (down one)
    Marias Bredis
Also received votes:Murat Gassiev

Light Heavyweights
1: Sergei Kovalev WBA/IBF/WBO Champ 15 pts
2: Andre Ward 12 pts
3: Adonis Stevenson WBC Champ 9 pts
4: Artur Beterbiev 6 pts
5: Eleider Alvarez 1 pt
    Nathan Cleverly (unranked)
    Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (unranked)

Super Middleweights
1: James DeGale IBF Champ 14 pts
2: Gilberto Ramirez WBO Champ 13 pts
3: Badou Jack WBC Champ 8 pts
4: Anthony Dirrell 4 pts (unranked)
5: Callum Smith 3 pts
Also received votes:Andre Dirrell,George Groves

1: Gennady Golovkin WBA/WBC/IBF Champ 15 pts
2: Daniel Jacobs 12 pts
3: David Lemieux 8 pts (up one)
4: Billy Joe Saunders WBO Champ 7 pts (down one)
5: Andy Lee 2 pts
Also received votes:Chris Eubank Jr.

Junior Middleweights
1: Canelo Alvarez WBO Champ 15 pts
2: Erislandy Lara WBA Champ 12 pts
3: Demetrius Andrade 8 pts (up two)
4: Julian Williams 7 pts (down one)
5: Jermall Charlo IBF Champ 2 pts (down two)
Also received votes:Jermell Charlo WBC Champ

1: Kell Brook IBF Champ 13 pts
2: Keith Thurman WBA Champ 12 pts (up one)
3: Manny Pacquiao 9 pts (down one)
4: Errol Spence 6 pts
5: Shawn Porter 3 pts
Also received votes:Timothy Bradley

Junior Welterweights
1: Terence Crawford WBC/WBO Champ 15 pts
2: Edouard Troyanovsky IBF Champ 9 pts (unranked)
3: Adrien Broner 8 pts
    Viktor Postol (down one)
5: Lucas Matthysse 3 pts (down one)
Also received votes:Antonio Orozco

Merritted! The Indians win the American League!!

The Cleveland Indians were able to piece together four and a third innings from unexpected starter Ryan Merritt with another powerhouse outing from the bullpen and finished off the Toronto Blue Jays 3-0 in Game 5 of the American League championship.
Cleveland received solo homers from Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp in the victory.
The Indians now get some badly needed time off to rest and perhaps buy time to heal some injuries before playing the National League winner.
That series is currently tied at two per...

Smoke Signals

1) Ryan Merritt did what you might have hoped for in a perfect world in keeping the Blue Jays off the board for four and a third before handing the ball off to Bryan Shaw,who pitched an inning to get the victory,
Merritt has average stuff at best,but actually challenged the Toronto hitters and made them miss in getting just two singles.
I wrote yesterday that I hoped Ryan Merritt could be this year's Bob Wolcott and he was just that.

2) Overlooked as a big play was the bullet that Mike Napoli drilled off the wall off the wall in the first inning.
Napoli hit the wall with such force that has Ezekiel Carrera played the ball properly,Francisco Lindor would have had to stop at third.
Instead,the ball bounced away and allowed Lindor to score...

3) I wondered about what Coco Crisp would bring when the Indians traded for him late in the season and he has been more than I would have thought.
The Crisp homer put the game away and more or less took the crowd out of the game...

4) So many "stat guys" try to say there is no such thing as clutch hitting and the numbers do reflect that,but the old adage of stats can say whatever you want them to say was somewhat true in this series.
The Indians hit just .168 in the series and hitting that weakly,shows the value of clutch hitting-even if you cannot count on it...

5) Eight more outs from Andrew Miller,who won and deserved the series MVP.
Miller whiffed 14 of 26 Toronto batters that he faced and makes guys like me say "What trade?"
Miller's creative usage in the playoffs has maximized his effectiveness for a team that needs that type of dominance at various times in games-not just the ninth.

6) So a battered bunch of Indians now gets time to rest as the National League series is guaranteed to be at least six games.
Can some of the injured Wahoos return to the lineup?
One can hope,they will need as much help as they can,no matter the opponent..

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hall of a debut in Devils home opener

Taylor Hall scored twice on the power play in the second period to lift the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 victory in their home opener over the visiting Anaheim Ducks.
Cory Schneider finished with 23 saves in net to earn the victory..
The Devils travel to Boston Thursday to face the Bruins...

Hell Raisers

1) Now that is what this team has been lacking since the loss of Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk!
Taylor Hall brings the type of finisher both around and outside the net that Devils fans have missed so much.

2) Watch how Taylor Hall slammed Mike Cammalleri's shot off John Gibson into the net.
That is a finisher,my friends and the lack of those type of players on this team still shows as Adam Henrique would show hitting the pipe.
The Devils still need some more offensive firepower,but a player such as Taylor Hall shows the foundation for our rebuild has been poured...

3) Cory Schneider gets ripped a lot in my house and not by me either (The ladies here are far from fans of his),but his stop of Chris Wagner on a penalty shot was big and not for a save either.
Schneider's maneuvering to force Wagner into doing things that he didn't want to with the puck,resulted in Wagner losing control and the puck skimmed helplessly into the boards.
It's not always the flashy things that make one an excellent goaltender...

4) A rough night for the man that is loved by Rachel as Adam Henrique committed two dumb penalties,one of which created the penalty shot and hit the pipe on a wide open scoring opportunity.
I know that anything negative written about "The Most Handsome Man Alive" (Rachel's opinion,not mine!) doesn't go well,but gotta call them straight if you want to be credible...

5) I think Pavel Zacha has the potential to be a offensive force (although maybe not right away) and I think the Devils need to start the learning curve now with keeping him on the team.
I really liked his passing and he set up Devante Smith-Pelly up for five shots last night.
Keep that up and the third line might surprise some people with production with Beau Bennett joining in...

6) Loved the crowd last night-the place was really rocking and brought back old memories of better days.
However,I hate the "new tradition announcement" before the game of after the anthem conclusion of some fans shouting "We Are" followed by "Jersey".
It brings to mind Penn State and that is neither New Jersey or Classy considering what that school allows....

Indians lose Game four

The Cleveland Indians dropped their first postseason game in Toronto as the Blue Jays defeated Cleveland 5-1.

The Indians handed Corey Kluber the loss on short rest after Kluber allowed two runs in five innings.
The battle scarred Indians will send Ryan Merritt out to the hill today vs the Blue Jays Marco Estrada...

Smoke Signals

1) Was asked yesterday about what I thought the beaten up Indians would do with a 3-0 lead.
My response-I think even with a battered pitching staff that Cleveland should win one out of four against Toronto,but in the World Series,it would not be good and under the present conditions,I see no way that they will beat the NL champions...

2) Corey Kluber was very admirable starting on short rest and I think the decision to remove him after 89 pitches was a smart one.
Why,when I so often criticize about the pitch count mentality in today's game?
Because with the staff in the state that it is in,Kluber could have to return again on short rest for a potential game seven...

3) Two plays that changed the feel of this game.
Fifth inning-two down,one run in and Roberto Perez on second with the tying run.
Carlos Santana hits a bullet that looks headed to left field,but Josh Donaldson dives,scrambles and ends the inning by throwing out Santana.
If this game being everything to Toronto gets tied up,does the Blue Jays momentum end?

4) The Bryan Shaw throwing error didn't score any runs on its own,but you just had the "feel" that the Indians knew at that stage.
Body language sometimes can be very telling and with the screaming Blue Jay crowd,I didn't feel great about the Edwin Encarncion at bat,which would score two runs and put the game away...

5) Just two hits (Roberto Perez and Tyler Naquin) and with Marco Estrada,who with the exception of one pitch,controlled the Indians in game one facing them today-could the Indians bats be cooling at the worst time?

6) Ryan Merritt- I've seen Ryan Merritt pitch a decent amount as he rose through the Cleveland system.
I like him,but this is a huge game for any pitcher let alone one with his level of experience.
Merritt doesn't throw hard,changes speeds a lot and is a lefty-My answer?
Who knows,maybe Merritt will be the next Bob Wolcott!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The wheels on the bus go...

The wheels on the bus go round and round as the kids song used to always chant.

Well,yesterday was a hectic and crazy with multiple races across town from end to end combining with decisions to be made then left little time for things like sports.
Yet,I was able to see some of the Indians game three win over Toronto (more below) and scramble home to do an hour plus of Fight Heads with Ramon Malpica.

In the end of a few day period that saw all the stress and movement of weddings,travel,rental cars,car repairs and car sales,we wound up with a new car...
Pretty happy with it,but it left me with little time for the world of sports or writing.
I still am not sure if I'll be able to hammer out a recap of the Browns loss to the Titans,I may decide to just pick up with whats new,which is tonight's Indians game as they go for the American League title against Toronto and the Devils home opener...

SO instead,I think I'll do a throwback to our old friend Bullpen Notes with a little of this and that...

1) How 'bout that Andrew Miller trade?
Miller retired the final four outs in devastating manner.
Miller is almost to the point of unhittable (although Toronto did have one hit off him) and the Wahoo's interesting use of him adds to the mystique...

2) Terry Francona continues to hodgepodge together a winning bullpen and show that he has to be in consideration for best manager in the game.
Francona used Andrew Miller to close,Cody Allen in the "fireman" role in the seventh, got mileage out of out of Jeff Manship,Zach McAllister and Dan Otero and grabbed a win in a game that Trevor Bauer finished after two-thirds of an inning.
I'm not sure if the Indians with all of their starting pitching injuries can approach defeating the Cubs in the world series (assuming they can get one more win vs Toronto),but if the Cleveland Indians can win the championship with all of this,Terry Francona deserves kudos for what could be the best managing job ever -and that is not hyperbole...

3) As for Trevor Bauer,that finger dripping and shooting blood was pretty nasty and I'm torn on the whole "Drone Gate" thing.
On one hand,should a player be messing around  with anything that could injure himself during postseason play?
On the other-doesn't a player have a need to get away from it all and relax?
I mean,it's a crazy injury and might really cost the Indians,but no one can be all about the job all the time,can they?

4) Was asked yesterday in a car office about Cody Kessler,who I thought played very well in Cleveland's loss to Tennessee.
Kessler threw for over 300 yards and showed toughness in moving the team down the field late in the game.
I see what Hue Jackson saw in him,but I still think of Kessler more as being a quality backup on a good team and far from the long term staple at quarterback in Cleveland..

5) Kessler will be lucky to make it through the season as he continues to take an unreal beating from the pass rush.
Already vulnerable,Kessler took another beating from the Titans.
As noted,I'm still not a huge believer in Kessler's physical ability,but he is one tough guy..

6) The Browns lost one of their best players in left guard Joel Bitonio for the season before the Tennessee game and took away the thing that they could count on-the terrific left side of the line.
I'd like to see new arrival Jonathan Cooper there soon....

7) Also want to see more of rookie receivers Rashard Higgins and Jordan Payton.
I'm not against seeing another rookie in Ricardo Louis,but Louis has been on the field and dropping passes,which was a issue for him at Auburn..

8) Yes,I'm happy about the car,but get ready for more OT from work when I can-gotta pay for it and those summer baseball trips...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Lots of work,but....

It was far from a vacation not was it all that I ever wanted,but wanted to toss a few notes here before I fell too far behind.

As most of you (I'm assuming the reader average) know that Ryan married his bride Courtney on Saturday.
We spent time in Morgantown WV for the wedding and best wishes to my son and his new wife for the future.

However this (and another issue that I'll write about soon) did send TRS to a halt.
I missed the Indians game two win over Toronto due to the wedding (actually played during the festivities) and I did have the pleasure of watching the Ohio State overtime win over Wisconsin,but I did so on a small TV tucked away in the hotel.
The company was awesome with the lovely Cherie and Rachel,my best buddy Derreck and Melissa,my oldest friend Greg with his wife Tina,daugher Ashley and boyfriend Dustin and Cherie's longtime friend Christine and her husband Doug.
Even though I didn't get to take my usual notes for the recap,it was a great time and the Buckeye win with company was the highlight of my weekend!
Great time.but because of that I doubt we will have a recap here of the win...

I got back late for the Browns loss to Tennessee,but arrived midway through the first quarter (Titan lead of 7-6).
I plan on trying to get a Browns recap in today,but I have tons of things to get finished and it's questionable,but I'd like to...

I'll try to be back later with Browns and maybe more,if time permits-wish me luck!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Pigskin Picking Machine

Almost forgot about the PPM,so this is a quickie from the road..

Last Week: 7-1

Ohio State over Wisconsin 20-13
Texas Tech over West Virginia 55-53
Boise State over Colorado State 40-19
Toledo over Bowling Green 34-20

Game of the Week
Tennessee over Alabama 27-26

Titans over Browns 24-7
Saints over Panthers 35-30

Game of the week
Raiders over Chiefs 32-27

Lindor blast leads Tribe to Game One win!

Francisco Lindor's two run blast in the bottom of the sixth inning accounted for all of the runs in game one of the ALCS as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 2-0 in Cleveland.
Corey Kluber threw six and a third innings to keep Toronto off the scoreboard with Andrew Miller and Cody Allen finishing the game.
The Indians lead the series 1-0 with game two tonight in Cleveland.
Josh Tomlin for the Indians against JA Happ for the Blue Jays.
As most of you know I am away for the day,so I'm not how much coverage that I will have for the Indians and Buckeyes as I will be watching in a sports bar.
The Buckeye coverage may come later in the week with a rewatching of the tape,while I'm not sure on the Indians...

Smoke Signals

1) Corey Kluber was more gritty than sharp in his stint on the mound,but zero is still zero.
Kluber had to fight off six runners in the first three innings,but managed to survive.
Sign of a great pitcher is the ability to escape jams on nights that he doesn't have his best stuff...

2) Loved Francisco Lindor's enthusiasm on his homer run with smile intact racing around the bases.
I liked Lindor's play and attitude from the first time that I saw him play in the Carolina League.
Love Lindor's game and he's exciting to watch as a building block of the Cleveland future...

3) I'm rooting for the Indians of course,but I felt bad for losing pitcher Marco Estrada,who went the distance for Toronto (eight innings).
The former Hagerstown Sun made just one mistake,but otherwise equaled the Tribe at all turns.
Marco was one of my favorites during his tenure in Hagerstown and I've rooted for him ever since...

4) Andrew Miller struck out five of the six batter that he faced.
It's easy to see why the Indians traded so much for his services with the Yankees and he's a fun guy to watch pitch with all the mechanics that come with a 6'6 fireballer.
Way back in the beginnings of this blog,I complained about the Pirates passing Andrew Miller (in the draft before the blog started) in favor of Brad Lincoln in another one of those Dave Littlefield signability issues that always seemed to pop up in those days.
Miller might not have turned out to be a rotation horse,but boy is he one dominant force from the bullpen...

5) I've often been critical of Lonnie Chisenhall in the past as a doubter.
Chisenhall has been a serviceable player this season and that came to mind after his three for three night in this game.
Chisenhall might not project for power,but he's matured as a player to be a helpful role player..

6) I've also been a fan of Josh Tomlin since his minor league days,but I'm a little worried about him in this matchup.
Tomlin's stuff doesn't always play against a powerhitting team and with guys like Donaldson,Encarncion and Bautista,I'm wondering about this matchup.
This was scheduled to be Trevor Bauer's start,but Bauer and Tomlin's start were switched after Bauer suffered a small cut on a finger repairing a drone.
I'm sure this is a first time occurrence for a playoff start to be changed for a "Drone repairing injury"...

Friday, October 14, 2016

Devils drop Florida opener in OT

The New Jersey Devils picked up one point in their season opener in front of what appeared to be 100 people in Miami,as the Florida Panthers scored a 2-1 overtime win over the Devils.
PA Parenteau scored the only Devils goal in the first period when a Yohann Auvitu shot bounced off Parenteau and by Roberto Luongo....
The Devils return to the ice in Florida Saturday night in Tampa on a busy sports night for me (Indians,Buckeyes and Devils) and on a day/night that something else is going on as well...

Hell Raisers

1) Not the most exciting game that I have ever seen and that is to be expected from an opener,but the Devils were outshot 34-24 and that I don't account for being in the opener.
Shots on goal should not be totally affected to that degree early on in the season..

2) Great night for Cory Schneider,who was not accountable for either of the Florida goals-the first of which deflected off a Devils (John Moore,I believe) and the game ending goal in which he was hung out to dry.
Terrific night from Schneider and the main reason the Devils walked away with a point...

3) Damon Severson has to get tougher on the puck.
Severson was just blown away behind the net in overtime by Michael Matheson,who then hit Aleksander Barkov for the one timer that ended the game.
Severson has to be tougher in situations similar to that and at least force teams to work harder...

4) That said,there could be an argument that Severson was interfered with shortly thereafter.
Severson was knocked off the puck cleanly,but was then thrown off off his feet and to the ice.
Remember in Rocky III in the Clubber Lang intro where he threw his opponent into the turnbuckle?
It was kinda like that.
It was a borderline call and one that (in my opinion) shouldn't be called in overtime and wasn't-Lets hope that over the course of the season,the Devils get one of those too...

5) Happy for rookie French defenseman Yohann Auvitu for his first NHL point in his first game.
We'll see how long he sticks around,but he'll always have Florida..

6) Adam Henrique whiffed on a great opportunity early in overtime.
I of course would love to see those slammed home,but on that at least,I'll feel comfortable with "it's early season".

7) This defense is going to be slow.S L O W....
Both newcomers that played on the blueline (Kyle Quincey and Ben Lovejoy) looked downright turtleish in the loss.
This team needs more speed on the defense and if Lovejoy is slow now-imagine how slow he'll be after the end of his three year deal?
That one looks questionable to me....

Thursday, October 13, 2016

2016-17 New Jersey Devils Preview

The retooling of the New Jersey Devils organization continues in year two of the Ray Shero/John Hynes area as the team attempts become a smoother,faster and more offensive team and catch up to the rest of the National Hockey League that made changes far faster than the Devils did.

The biggest and flashiest move made since the season ended was the surprising addition of left winger Taylor Hall in a straight up trade with the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Adam Larsson.
Although Larsson will be missed (more on that with the defense preview),the Devils haven't had a scorer like Taylor Hall since the departures of Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk and Hall's 26 goals last season might even able to be improved on.
Hall will start the season on a line with Adam Henrique and my guess (a guess based on player style and could change on chemistry) would be the newest Devil PA Parenteau,who was claimed off waivers yesterday from the Islanders.
If Henrique can score in the neighborhood of his 30 goals of last season.this could be a very productive line and maybe give a little playoff hope...

I'm going to skip trying to project the rest of the lines because these things are constantly fluid,so I'll work on position for the rest of the forwards..
Travis Zajac continues to be the highest paid Devil as the last bad contract of the oft-rocky end of the Lou Lamoriello age and at 31 with five more season on the contract,New Jersey has to be hoping for a good season and pray that someone might be interested in taking him off their hands-even if the Devils have to pay some salary to get such a deal done.
Zajac isn't awful (14 G and 28 A in 74 games) and still is the teams best faceoff man,but the contract is bad and long,he's only going to slow down further and his speed/playing style is the antithesis of what the Shero/Hynes bunch is trying to install.
It only gets worse from there as 36 year old Vernon Fiddler was signed from Dallas after a 12 goal season and Jacob Josefson,the Schleprock of the NHL returns for likely his last chance to cement himself into the lineup.

There will be some shuffling as the season goes along with the wings as many can and will play each side of the line.
Michael Cammalleri at left wing still has the chops to be very productive if he can only stay in the lineup.
If he can do that,he still has the ability to score 25-30 goals.
Kyle Palmieri scored 30 goals in his first New Jersey season and if slotting with Cammalleri and Zajac as a line,could approach that number again.
As with the centers,once you get past the top few,the questions become more numerous than any answers right now.
Devante' Smith-Pelly was impressive in 18 games with the Devils after being obtained from Montreal,but we will see if those numbers can be repeated.
Talented former first rounder Beau Bennett arrived from Pittsburgh with an injury-prone reputation,Reid Boucher still has plenty to prove and the remaining three youngsters that made the opening night roster have questions where they will play most of their season.
Sergei Kalinin (illness) and Luke Gadzic (broken foot after being added from Edmonton) will start the season on injured reserve.
When healthy,both players will likely be given ice time with the fourth line.
2015 first rounder Pavel Zacha will be given every chance to stick,Miles Wood might be the up and down player to make rosters work with in season injuries to Albany with Joe Blandisi (who was actually assigned there) and Blake Spears made the team,but is still eligible to return to junior hockey..

The defense took a massive hit in trading Adam Larsson to Edmonton for Taylor Hall.
I liked the trade for the Devils and agreed with the move,but Larsson was just beginning to really come into his own as a player and his loss will be felt..
Andy Greene returns as the captain and the steady hand on the wheel on the blueline.
The soon to be 34 year old will need that steady hand with young players and new players joining the corps.
Ben Lovejoy was added from you guessed it Pittsburgh and French defenseman Yohann Auvitu makes his NHL debut after spending last season in the Finnish league.
John Moore is the only other returning veteran other than Greene,
Recent signee Kyle Quincey (lower body) and returning Jon Merrill (broken finger) will each start the season on the IR.
The most interesting and needed are young players Damon Severson and Steve Santini,who both will need to step up for the Devils to have a chance at the playoffs.
Severson has been unable to sustain some occasional strong play,while Santini is essentially making his debut after a one game cameo last season.
Both are very talented and if both are able to play well,the Devils defense could suddenly look pretty strong.
Seth Helgeson would be the most likely callup from Albany,if injuries required such a move.

Cory Schneider is back as the mainstay in net after a strong year with a 2.26 GAA,which was impressive in general,but especially on a non-playoff team.
In order for the Devils to have a playoff chance,Schneider will have to repeat those numbers.
Keith Kinkaid returns as the number two man after fighting off Scott Wedgewood in a tight battle to backup Schneider.
In case of injury to either goaltender,Wedgewood will get the call up to fill the roster...

Now what do I think?
The Devils have made steps forward.
Acquiring Taylor Hall is huge,but the team will need some of the younger defensemen to play well and one of the forwards with talent yet unproven production to break out a bit.
Whether it is Pavel Zacha playing at a high level at 19,Beau Bennett staying healthy all season,Reid Boucher improving or Devante Smith-Pelly continuing his performance since arriving in New Jersey,one or more is needed to happen.
I still don't see this as a playoff team,too many questions and older legs at forward and the defense isn't top notch either.
I suppose that a superb Cory Schneider could wrangle enough extra wins to allow the team to contend for the 8th seed,but more likely a similar finish to last season and a draft pick in the 8-12 range in the 2017 draft.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Predictable Ending-Bullpen Blows NLDS

For eight innings,it looked like the San Francisco Giants vaunted "Even Season Magic" was going to return the NLDS back to Chicago for a deciding game five on Thursday.

Apparently the "Bullpen Voodoo Curse" was larger magic on this night as the Giants Achilles heel arrived once again in the top of the ninth and sent the Giants spiraling out of the postseason in a 6-5 loss.

I'm not going to focus too much on the game,I watched a replay (in live time as I went to bed before the game,Feeling a little old and rundown last few days),but I did want to give a lot of credit to Matt Moore,who really is the guy to feel bad for as he allowed just two runs on two hits and showed some real signs on some occasions of returning to the form that he showed in Tampa in 2013 (17-4 3.29 ERA) after being brought in at the trade deadline.

The Giants rotation looks like it'll hang in there with anyone next year (Bumgarner,Cueto,Samardjza,Moore and a battle among prospects for the 5th spot) ,but they will have to address the bullpen.
That bullpen didn't just lose this game,that could be lived with,it was the key in the second half that saw so many leads turn into losses and it needs a major overhaul.

I'm generally not a guy that believes in spending a massive amount of money on the bullpen,but just for morale reasons,there is going to have to be some expenditures and for competitive reasons,there may have to be more.
The Giants used five guys to protect a three run lead and couldn't hold it-and think that the Giants didn't use the one reliever most fans were frustrated with most in the second half-Santiago Casilla.

It'll be interesting to see the tactics of the Giants and how they decide to retool the bullpen.
Many of the pitchers are free agents,so how many to do you bring back and how many do you allow to look elsewhere after the 2016 season.
Santiago Casilla,Sergio Romo,and Javier Lopez all could be playing in other towns next season.
Will Smith might be be given a bigger role next season and considering the cost of losing Phil Bickford,he likely should be given a chance.
Hunter Strickland has the arm to close,but hasn't shown the ability to do so when given the occasional opportunity and after that,you are looking at young guys like Derek Law or even pitchers from AAA to make a move.
Will the Giants go after veterans to shore this up? Young players?

It's been an interesting season for Giants fans,a first half that was the best in the game and a record settingly awful second half that saw NINE games lost by the pen.
Well worth watching,but sometimes gut wrenching.
I tell people all of the time that I haven't paid my dues as a Giants fan,I started rooting for them when we bought our house,but I didn't have a ton of bad times to suffer through like the Indians and even the Pirates.
I am able to watch the Giants more than the other two because of my schedule and as the years go on,I become more and more invested in the team,but still nothing would rank with an Indians title.
I would trade those Giants championships in a finger snap (if I could snap my fingers that is) for just one Indians trophy.
Perhaps last night,I could have truly become a dues paying Giants fan...

Beginning to work on the Devils season preview to be listed later today or tomorrow...