Monday, February 27, 2017

Browns release Andrew Hawkins

The Cleveland Browns saved some more money by releasing veteran slot receiver Andrew Hawkins.'
Hawkins caught 33 passes for the 2016 Browns,three of those for touchdowns..

The smallish 5'7 Hawkins was due to make 1.8 million in 2017 in the last of his four year contract that he signed before the 2014 season.
The receiving corps was extremely young last season with the exception of Hawkins,so I wouldn't be surprised to see the Browns dip into free agency for a receiver,not necessarily for the slot position played by Hawkins,but to add some sort of veteran to the group that has two second year receivers as the starters there (If Terrelle Pryor is able to be retained) in Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman.

Hawkins is one of the dwindling amount of players that I could still use the classic Browns uniform pics instead of the current eyesores having been around from 2014 or before,which shows the turnover on the team.
I liked having Hawkins around,his story was a nice one as he bounced around looking for a chance and he was a hard worker/great teammate,but for his production over the last two seasons was overpaid.
I can understand why the Browns decided to let him go,but he'll need to be replaced either by a signee or a younger player,but that money needs to be spent somewhere.....

Cavaliers sign Deron Williams

The Cleveland Cavaliers apparently are bringing in someone to address arguably their biggest need-someone to run the point when Kyrie Irving is on the bench and can add some scoring off the bench and it's a big addition as Deron Williams has cleared waivers and has told the team that he will sign tomorrow.
Word is that he will join Cleveland tomorrow,but is unlikely to play in the Cavaliers game vs the Milwaukee Bucks.

The 32 year old Williams was averaging 13 points along with just under seven assists a night for the Dallas Mavericks and was released in order to "Chase that ring",which is another issue to write about another day (maybe that day comes in a few days when another player may arrive in Cleveland),which the Mavericks allowed in a classy move.
Williams is shooting 43 percent from the floor and just under 35 percent from three,so he's not a one dimensional penetrator.

Williams isn't quite the player that he was a few years ago,age and extra miles on the legs will do that to you,but he has experience playing with LeBron James on team USA and I think going from thirty minutes (29.3) to likely around twenty is going to increase his productivity..
What I also like about Williams is that he offers the Cavaliers a chance to test a theory that I've had for a while-Williams can play the one guard and allow Irving to play what might be his best slot-off guard.
I've always thought that even in limited times that Irving could flourish as a hybrid guard (similar to that fellow Curry in Oakland) that isn't a true point,but not always a true off guard either.
I'm open to being wrong,but I think that a Irving/Williams backcourt in situations could be very interesting to watch opposing teams attempt to stop..

What I will say is that once again I have mixed emotions about these types of Cavalier additions.
On one hand,for once in my life,it is nice to have an owner for a team of mine that will go over and beyond what it takes to win financially.
Dan Gilbert wants to win,is willing to pay for it and knows that he only has a window of opportunity with LeBron James to go for it.
Let's face it-Deron Williams isn't coming to Cleveland to enjoy Lake Erie in spring,he's going for the ring and the chance to play with LeBron James and when the day comes that LeBron is either finished with basketball or at least on the downside of his career,the Cavaliers will return to being a typical Cleveland team with its problems of attracting top notch free agents.
I cannot tell a lie here,it's nice having this on my side for once.

However,I feel like somewhat of a hypocrite for not minding this as much as it should bother me.
I'm always critical of the Yankees,Red Sox and Dodgers for spending so much more than anyone else in baseball (although there is a little bit of an apples and oranges argument with farm systems etc) because of competitive balance issues.
The NBA is a little different though in another area as the cap does allow smaller markets to have a better chance (although,they can still leave town) to keep their own free agents compared to baseball,as the "Bird Rule" enables teams to exceed the cap in order to re-sign their own free agents.
Still,I feel a little uneasy about it anyway,it just doesn't feel right and I wish there was a more level playing field,but I'll be back with the underdog soon enough,so I should enjoy this while I can...

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Wilder stops Washington-Boxing Challenge

Ramon Malpica hit the round correctly on two stoppage wins,outscored me 8 to 5 on the night and moved into the lead over me in the boxing challenge 18-16...

The biggest (literally) fight of the night saw Deontay Wilder retain his WBC heavyweight title with a fifth round stoppage of late replacement Gerald Washington.
Washington had his moments in the fight and I had the fight even when Wilder dropped Washington out of nowhere in round five.
Washington rose,but was battered around the ring before the referee ended the bout.
Wilder didn't do much to answer any questions that I have about his viability against the top heavyweights when he was fighting evenly against the untested and inexperienced Washington.
I'll continue to look at him with a raised eyebrow until he defeats a top 10 contender at minimum.
Ramon scored three points to my two for the Wilder victory.

The co-feature saw Jarrett Hurd wear down Tony Harrison after giving away the first four rounds and stop Harrison in the ninth to win the IBF junior middleweight title that Jermall Charlo vacated last week.
I thought Harrison won the first four rounds and had him ahead after eight rounds,five to three,but you could clearly see things swinging Hurd's way and with Hurd landing the bigger shots,you had a feeling how this was going to end.
Hurd still needs some refining,but his uppercut is top notch and I see him having a chance to be a power broker in the 154 pound division.
As for Harrison,his meltdown occurred just as it had in his previous loss to Willie Nelson-building a lead and running out of gas before the finish line and his world title hopes look to be questionable at this stage until he can prove that he can complete an effort against top competition.
In this bout too,Ramon earned three points to my two.

In the PBC opener and non-challenge bout (Had I know it would be televised,I would have put into the challenge) you saw as good of an action bout in the heavyweight division that you could ask for as Dominic Breazeale stopped Izuagbe Ugonoh in the fifth round of an absolute bomb fest.
Breazeale knocked Ugonoh down in the third,then Ugonoh would have put Breazeale down,if not for a stunned Breazeale's tackle of Ugonoh on his way to the canvas.
Round three of this one is the clubhouse leader for round of the year.
Ugonoh looked on his way to the win when he floored Breazeale face first in the fourth and pounded him after that along with almost closing his puffy left eye,but as Howard Cosell used to say-BUT NO!!
Breazeale then sent Ugonoh down in the fifth,Ugonoh got up but was sent down and out along the ring apron to end an explosive bout!
Breazeale's punching and lesser chin is always going to make exciting fights,but not sure he's going to win against top 10 level opponents,while Ugonoh looks to be a little overmatched size wise and if it's possible,I think he should consider trying to fight at cruiserweight,where I think he'd be a tough out for anyone down there.
If you missed this one-catch it on youtube!!

In the non-American challenge bouts,Ramon would earn two points to my one as Rey Vargas won the vacant WBC junior featherweight title via a majority decision over Gavin McDonnell in England and Eliezer Alvarez knocked out Lucien Bute in the fifth round of their light heavyweight fight in Quebec City...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Browns add compensation picks

When you are a Cleveland Browns fan,draft news and to a lesser extent free agency news is about as good as it gets as far as hope,growth and opportunity goes.

In that vein,I'll drop this note on the Browns receiving four compensatory picks in April's draft.
The Browns only get to retain two of those picks,which teams are allocated by the league,which judges the worst losses in free agency and gives those teams something to somewhat handle their loss.
The Browns were awarded a third,two fourths and a fifth rounder at the end of each of those rounds.

Cleveland sends the third to New England for Jamie Collins,which is a pretty good deal since they signed him to a new contract,but even if Collins had not re-signed,if the Browns would have likely been given a 2018 3rd round compensation pick had they lost him,so a very low risk and high reward for the third rounder.

The fourth goes to the Eagles as part of the Carson Wentz trade last season.
The trade was written that the Browns would give up a fourth round compensation pick,but in the event that the Browns were not awarded one in that round,the Browns would have to send their own fifth round pick to Philadelphia.

The picks that the Browns have kept are a fourth rounder at pick 142 (three picks after the one sent to the Eagles) and a fifth rounder at pick 183.

Cleveland will enter the 2017 draft with eleven picks,three less than in last years draft.
Cleveland has 2 1st rounders (Theirs and Philadelphia),2 2nd rounders (Theirs and Tennessee), 1 3rd rounder, 2 4th rounders (Theirs and Comp),3 5th rounders (Theirs,New England and Comp) and 1 6th rounder.

Look for lots of coverage of the NFL Draft here and on the podcast over the next two months leading up to the draft....

Podcast:Special Guest Stacey Gotsulias

The podcast returns with freelance writer Stacey Gotsulias with a wide ranging conversation ranging from baseball to my prom to Don Johnson and way more!
This was one of the most fun shows that I have worked on!!
The Don Johnson song will make more sense,if you listen to the show!!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge features two world title fights on Saturday night on Fox.
I lead the challenge over Ramon Malpica 11-10.

Deontay Wilder defends his WBC heavyweight title against late replacement Gerald Washington.
Wilder himself has questions about chin and competition,but the undefeated Washington,a former USC Trojan football player has far more.
I'm not sure how much the winner is going to prove in this one,but the loser will have more question marks than the Riddler has on his costume!!

The better fight is at junior middleweight,where a strong fight to be the IBF mandatory challenge to Jermall Charlo suddenly became a title fight when Charlo vacated his title to move up to middleweight.
Jarrett Hurd takes on Tony Harrison in a battle of two talented young fighters for the title and should be the fight of the weekend.
I've been very impressed by Hurd's last few outings and Harrison was seemingly headed to a title before being stopped late by Willie Nelson in a fight that Harrison was winning.
Harrison has rebounded with a few wins since that loss and this should be a good one...

We added two non-televised fights for the challenge as long time WBC top contender Elieder Alvarez stays busy as he waits for Adonis Stevenson and fights Canadian favorite Lucien Bute in a Quebec City light heavyweight fight while the vacant WBC junior featherweight belt is filled in Hull,England as Gavin McDonnell fights Rey Vargas for the championship vacated by the retirement of Hozumi Hasegawa...

WBC Heavyweight Title.12 rds
Deontay Wilder vs Gerald Washington
R.L:Wilder KO 5
TRS:Wilder KO 3

Vacant IBF Junior Middleweight title.12 rds
Jarrett Hurd vs Tony Harrison
R.L;Hurd KO 9
TRS:Hurd KO 11

Vacant WBC Junior Featherweight Title.12 rds
Gavin McDonnell vs Rey Vargas
R.L:Vargas Unanimous Decision
TRS:McDonnell Split Decision

Light Heavyweights.12 rds
Elieder Alvarez vs Lucien Bute
Both:Alvarez Unanimous Decision

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Getting Ready for the Summer!

A very slow news day,but I decided to take the time to catch up on the always looming baseball season and the plans for the 2017 season.

I'll start with the tentative trip schedule that will likely add some day trips as well.
When you work the hours that I do in the winter-April cannot come fast enough....

April:Charleston WV ,West Virginia Power
Two days.-Derreck Chupak,Doug Hopkins,Fred Landucci and Michael Landucci.

May: Unknown-30th Anniversary trip with the Lovely Cherie.To be Determined

June: Buies Creek NC, Buies Creek Astros
         ,Durham NC,Durham Bulls,
          Zebulon NC,Carolina Mudcats
          Kinston NC,Down East Wood Ducks-Derreck Chupak,Doug Hopkins.

July;Cleveland Ohio,Cleveland Indians,Derreck Chupak,Brandon Diehl
         Augusta GA,Augusta Greenjackets-This is a big one as 2017 is the last year in their current park
         Kannapolis NC-Kannapolis Intimidators
         Winston-Salem NC-Winston-Salem Dash
         Danville VA-Danville Braves-Doug Hopkins

August:Nashville TN_Nashville Sounds
          Burlington NC-Burlington Royals
          Charlotte NC-Charlotte Knights
          Bristol VA-Bristol Pirates-Fred Landucci

         Rochester NY-Rochester Red Wings
         Buffalo NY-Buffalo Bison
         Auburn NY- Auburn Doubledays-Derreck Chupak,Doug Hopkins

That comprises the definite stops,there (as noted) may be a day trip or two added,if the schedule falls right.
This would be 14 new ballparks on my list and would move two parks off the "been to the park,but not for a game list" in Danville and Bristol Virginia.
The TRS radius which is the closest park to the north,south and west that I have not been to-assuming we hit all of these and nothing crazy comes up would be as follows.
South-Norfolk VA-Norfolk Tides
North-Full Season- Hartford CT-Hartford Yard Goats
           Short Season-Wappinger Falls NY-Hudson Valley Renegades
West- Full Season-Dayton Ohio-Dayton Dragons
           Short Season-Kingsport Tennessee-Kingsport Mets

Besides those to "stretch the radius" and the 14 parks that get added to the list,I have a few others targeted for either a day trip or more likely 2018/2019
Indianapolis (AAA) would move a nice park off the "been to" list,that is pretty easy to get to.
Lexington (Low A) Would complete the state of Kentucky
Pawtucket (AAA) McCoy Stadium is rumored to be on the endangered list
Greeneville TN (Rookie),This years trip and Kingsport would leave only Greenville to complete the Appy League.
Norwich CT (Short Season),if you go to Hartford,why not hit the other pro team in the state on the same trip?

Just an update for those of you that can't wait for the season like me!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Cleaning out the inbox

Time to clean out the inbox with a few notes from the world..

Most of you should know that Jim Bouton's Ball Four ranks with my favorite books of all time.
I've mentioned it (and Bouton) here many times and my fondness for the book goes back to childhood through current day.
I have the book,the audiobook and the first book that I bought for my Kindle on Christmas Day was Ball Four,so I'm a big fan.

The soon to be 78 year old Bouton has suffered a stroke in recent years and isn't as strong as he used to be,so interviews with him of late are somewhat rare,but the family has decided to auction off the original notes and cassettes that Bouton used to compile Ball Four.
The best part of this collection is that there is so much that didn't make it into the book!
Think of it as the Director's Cut!!
Now,these will fetch a large amount,but I'm hoping someone will buy and donate to an organization that will make them available to the baseball public or even somewhere that allows baseball researchers access to them.
The New York Times talks about the sale and items here,while the Los Angeles Daily News takes a swing at things here.

Former Devil David Clarkson was always one of my favorite Devils and I never held it against him that he left the Devils via free agency after his career year (and a half) that saw Clarkson score 45 goals in that span.
A player has the right to cash in,especially when the numbers appear to be an aberration and the team that signs him is the player's hometown team,so I had no problems with Clarkson leaving.
Clarkson never even approached those Devils numbers after leaving and has been inactive with back problems that likely have ended his career.
A sad ending for a hard nosed player that loved the game as the Columbus Dispatch writes....

Here is my favorite Clarky commercial from his Devils days!

Politico writes about South Carolina congressman Mark Sanford and his political future,which surprisingly is still around.
Sanford is most remembered by non-residents of the Palmetto State for being their Governor and disappearing for a bit while he cheated on his wife outside the country.
Sanford was elected after that to congress and looks to be one of the main members of the GOP to be willing to take on Donald Trump,which considering the baggage of Sanford might not be the easiest water-carrier inside the party..

Why do Americans refrigerate their eggs?
The New York Times writes about why the Europeans prohibit washing eggs,while here in the U.S.washing eggs are mandatory.
Turns out the reason is that eggs have a natural cuticle that protect the inside of the egg from bacteria that gets washed away when they are washed.
The Europeans think the cuticle is more important and the Americans think the washing away is better.
In any event,once the egg is washed,it then needs to be refrigerated...

Five Thirty Eight discusses the Marshall basketball program under coach Dan D'Antoni,the older brother of the more famous Mike and a former NBA assistant.
D'Antoni is bringing the fire up the three offense to the mid-major circuit and this article takes a look at the analytical side of the game with values for where each shot is taken and how many should be taken.
I'm not sure how much that I agree with some of this,but it's a very interesting read on basketball...

Monday, February 20, 2017

Transactions Trail

Before I start,I wanted to thank those of you that sent nice words on the George Steele and Ivan Koloff posts.I enjoy looking back at the old days of wrestling fandom and the stories that go with them.
Glad you liked them and now onto to a few minor transactions over the last few days..

The New Jersey Devils traded Sergei Kalinin to Toronto after Kalinin cleared waivers as the Devils made their first trade with former GM Lou Lamiorello.
Kalinin scored two goals with two assists this season for the Devils on the third and fourth lines before the team waived Kalinin,
Kalinin would have been a restricted free agent at the end of the season and I doubt that the Devils would have been likely to re-sign him,so getting anything was something,so the depth acquisition of defenseman Viktor Loov was at least something.
Loov appeared in four games for the Leafs in 2015-16 with two assists,but spent this season with the Toronto Marlies,the Leafs AHL affiliate.
The 24 year old Swede was assigned to the Devils AHL affiliate in Albany.

Moving to baseball with the San Francisco Giants,who continued to add to their camp collection of veteran middle infield candidates with the signing of Aaron Hill.
The soon to be 35 year old Hill hit ten homers in splitting last year between the Brewers and Red Sox and offers the ability to play three positions in the infield.
Hill was also joined by Gordon Beckham,who decided to re-sign with the Giants after being an emergency addition from the White Sox in late season play when the Giants were hammered with injuries in the infield.
The pair will battle with about for twenty eight other candidates from around the world in the new reality game-Veteran Utility Infiielder!
Many can play-only one (Or maybe two) can win!

The Giants also added two interesting names to the spring training list with outfielder Slade Heathcott and pitcher David Hernandez.
Heathcott,who was at one time a top prospect in the Yankee organization before battling injury problems and drug suspensions,is an interesting name.
Heathcott has only 30 big league at bats (2015 Yankees) and spent last season trying a comeback in the White Sox system last year.
At just 26,Heathcott is worth a flyer for a low risk contract,even if usually these don't work out.
I'd bet on Heathcott being assigned to AAA Sacramento,if that is allowed in his contract..
David Hernandez,a former Frederick Key,brings a chance to make the team in the bullpen.
Hernandez throws hard and has a high strikeout rate which are both helpful in pitchers!
The issues with Hernandez are that he has one of the higher walk rates for relievers and has problems in keeping the baseball in the ballpark,which tends to be a pair of major items to worry about!
The hope with Hernandez is that perhaps his problems with allowing homers might be countered by playing half his games in the hardest park to hit the ball out of in baseball.

The Cleveland Indians are bringing two long shot lefties to Tucson for spring training in Chris Narveson and Luis Perez.
Narveson was a back of the rotation innings eater at one time for the Brewers,but that was six years ago and he has pitched 50 innings in the following five seasons combined.
Narveson had an ERA of over eight in eight innings with the Marlins last season.
Perez hasn't pitched in the bigs since Toronto in 2013 and spent last season in Japan as a Yakult Swallow and looks to be a LOOGY in AAA Columbus as insurance against a injury to any of the lefty relievers.
Cleveland also sold reliever Austin Adams to the Angels after posting an ERA of 9.83 last season in 19 appearances....

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Broner squeaks by Granados-Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge continued on a free Showtime weekend with three interesting bouts.
I scored five points to Ramon Malpica's four on the night to take a small lead of 11-10 in the challenge...

In the main event,Adrien Broner squeaked out a narrow split decision over hard luck Adrian Granados in a ten round welterweight bout.
I scored Granados a 96-94 winner,but the fight was close enough that I would not argue with a card of the same score for Broner.
Here is the biggest problem that Adrien Broner faces-at 147,he just isn't strong enough to beat the best fighters in the division,which Granados is far from that level,but at 140 pounds where he would likely be the favorite against anyone except Terence Crawford,Broner simply cannot be relied on make the weight and I'd be very uneasy attempting to promote any fight with Broner at that weight.
Ramon and I earned one point for the Broner win.

In the co-feature,Lamont Peterson defeated David Avenesyan by a unanimous decision in another decent scrap.
Peterson won a minor belt with the win,but more importantly for him earned him the mandatory spot for the winner of the WBA-WBC welterweight unification fight in two weeks between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia.
I scored Peterson a 116-112 winner and looked solid,but not spectacular in earning the win over Avenesyan,who only had the aging Shane Mosley as an opponent of any note entering the fight.
Ramon and I would add two points for the Peterson victory.

Former Olympian Marcus Browne notched his best win as a pro as the light heavyweight knocked out Thomas Williams in the sixth round.
Williams,who was knocked out by Adonis Stevenson in a championship try in his previous fight,was dropped in the second and fourth before the knockout in round six.
After the fight,Williams was taken to the hospital with a broken jaw,while Browne announced his intentions to challenge WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson,which should be-
A) Easy to make since both are with Al Haymon,B) A fun fight to watch since both are big punchers with suspect chins and C) Stevenson only fights guys smaller than him,fighters with questionable chins and often times both.
A Stevenson-Browne winner wouldn't be any better than the third best (at most) fighter in the division,but like Stevenson's fight with Thomas Williams,it would be fun to watch....
I earned two points for the Browne win and knockout,with Ramon adding one for the win..

More on these fights and other boxing topics tomorrow on Fightheads.
Join us,won't you?

The Russian Bear-Ivan Koloff

Seems like the wrestling world is losing stars from its past every day recently with Jimmy Snuka,Chavo Guerrero,George Steele and now "the Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff,who passed at 74 from liver related issues.

Ivan Koloff was always a huge star in wrestling and made his name for good in this (WWWF) territory by being the man to end the seemingly indestructible Bruno Sammartino's first championship reign in 1971.
That victory (he would lose the title the next month to start the Pedro Morales title run) stamped Koloff as one of the top drawing bad guys of the 1970's simply by being noted as a former world champion in an era where world champions didn't come along every week.

Ivan Koloff had a huge run with the Mid-Atlantic territory from 1983-86 with the USSR's gimmick of invading the USA with first the converted American Don Kernodle and then the biggest of all,training the Nikita Koloff as the baddest Soviet of them all for matches against the Road Warriors (teaming together),United States title matches vs Magnum TA and world title challenges against Ric Flair.
Ivan Koloff was the veteran teacher for Nikita in both promos,where Ivan could talk enough to keep Nikita looking menacing without giving away his inexperience and in the ring where the older wrestler could be the workhorse and again-not give away that Nikita was limited in the ring as he learned the game.

Ivan Koloff moved down the card mainly due to something that was not due to anything that he did-the auto accident of Magnum TA.
The accident forced the promotion to make a decision to move Nikita into Magnum's role as the number two babyface and after that turn and a series of matches with Nikita,Ivan moved down the card first with Vladimir Petrov,a failed attempt to recreate the Nikita gimmick and then as a coach/advisor with the Paul Jones army with the Powers of Pain,which was aborted when the P.O.P.
went to the WWF before a short babyface turn against Jones and his Russian Assassins.
The Russian Assassin had a really cool entrance and then not so much...

Koloff had such an unusual look because for a top pro wrestling heel,he was a bit undersized at a billed 6'1,but looked more 5'10.
Looking at Koloff's pictures in the 1970's,he featured more of a squatty,weightlifters type build with transitioned into more of a refined look in the 1980's,which didn't help him standing beside muscular titans such as Nikita,the Warlord and the Barbarian as he looked almost tiny!
Known for the heavy stomping boots,the Russian Chain that he brought to the ring and often wrestling blowoff matches in his "speciality" the Russian Chain Match that he was dubbed usually as being "undefeated" in,yet never seemed to win any of those,Koloff played the part of the Soviet nationalist so well,Koloff was able to disguise that he was actually from Quebec!

Ivan Koloff didn't have a long stay in the WWF during my days as a fan,being managed by Fred Blassie for a run that really wasn't all that memorable (other than one slap upside the head of Pat Patterson),but he did have one interaction with Shane and I.
I think in the Jimmy Snuka post,I mentioned that Snuka was scheduled for a Hagerstown bout against Ray Stevens that was cancelled due to the blizzard of 1983.
When that card was rescheduled,it was Koloff that would battle Snuka in the main event.
Koloff passed Shane and I entering the building and we were puzzled what he was doing there as he was not advertised.
I remember Shane being very excited to see the unadvertised Russian Bear not only there,but in street clothes!
The other story from the night was in the ring for the match as Snuka signed autographs before the match,Snuka was signing autographs and just got to Shane,put the pen on the picture just as the dastardly Koloff swung his chain to hit Snuka with a sneak attack!
Shane showed me the picture which had a small dot/line where Snuka had started to sign and was foiled by the villain!

As for the cover shown,I never owned that magazine,but I was intrigued by it in 1981.
Two of the most hated wrestlers in the world Koloff from Russia against Hussien Arab (better known as Iron Sheik) of Iran at a time where our country had issues with both countries.
It was so rare to have two "rulebreakers" battling each other with nothing to show that one was "good" underneath,just guys beating the hell out of each other for no particular reason.
I saw how rare it was then and even more so now!

I enjoy doing these posts looking back at wrestlers,I only wish I was doing them under better circumstances.....

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Boxing Challenge

After I forgot to do the boxing challenge last week,I wanted to make sure I covered this weekend fights on Showtime.
The Boxing Challenge with Ramon Malpica is tied at six points apiece.

Showtime features the three bout card for free with a preview weekend and if you are a cord-cutter,Twitter is showing the card live from Cincinnati as well.
So,if you are interested in watching-there is no excuse for missing this one!!

The card features Adrien Broner in the main event against Adrian Granados.
Broner,who has lost titles on the scale before was supposed to fight at 142 pounds,but often happens in an Adrien Broner bout,Broner wasn't going to make weight so the fight was changed to a 147 pound limit.
Granados upset Amir Imam,so he's not a gimme,but Broner has a history of not making weight,paying some dollars and using his weight advantage to bully his smaller opponent,so look for that possibility to play out.

The undercard sees a minor title on the line with David Avanesyan defend against former junior welterweight champ Lamont Peterson in a bout that could see the winner take on the winner of the March unification bout winner between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia.
Avanesyan looked pretty ordinary in winning a decision over ancient Shane Mosley,but Peterson has been idle for 16 months and I thought he lost his last fight (he won a majority decision) to Felix Diaz.
The winner needs to look impressive,if they want to move to a bigger fight as mentioned.

The opener pits former Olympian Marcus Browne against former title challenger Thomas Williams in what might be the action bout of the night.
Browne won a split decision and was dropped in his last fight against Radivoje Kaladzic in an eight rounder that I thought he lost.
Normally,a 10 rounder after such a fight seems like a huge step up and against a guy that punches pretty well in Thomas Williams,but Williams has a very suspect chin and might be the perfect opponent to put some shine back on Browne....

Welterweights.12 rds
Adrien Broner vs Adrian Granados
Both:Broner Unanimous Winner

Welterweights. 12 rds
David Avanesyan vs Lamont Peterson
Both:Peterson Unanimous Decision

Light Heavyweights.10 rds
Marcus Browne vs Thomas Williams
R.L:Browne Unanimous Decision
TRS;Browne KO 5

George Steele and 1981

George "the Animal" Steele passed away this week with Jason Christensen sending me the word.
Steele was 79 and had suffered from kidney issues in recent years.

Steele was a high school teacher/football coach in "real life" in Michigan, which is why in the territorial days, Steele would often show up in the WWWF/WWF during the summer for a run against Bruno Sammartino or Bob Backlund as his students in Michigan wouldn't see the WWF television and Steele wouldn't miss time in the classroom with school being in hiatus.
Steele is most remembered by fans for his mid-1980's "babyface" run as the lovable imbecile with a crush on Miss Elizabeth, the manager of the company's top (or second, depending on your perspective) "heel" Randy "Macho Man" Savage.
Savage would wrestle Steele several times over the next year, never defeating him of course, but being able to prolong a one-note feud far longer than one would suspect that a program like this should have lasted without much overkill...

I must admit, I wasn't a huge fan of the Animal.
I thought the character was a dollar store version of the Sheik and Abdullah the Butcher and for the "Crazy" antics of Steele, the "violence" factor paled in comparison to the mentioned pair, although much of that was where he wrestled, which usually didn't feature as much blood and guts as most other territories.
The green tongue and turnbuckle destroying came across as hokey to me than fearsome and even considering the age didn't make Steele a favorite of mine.
Even his finishing move in the pre-expansion days wasn't a strength as the Flying Hammerlock (Steele would put the opponent's arm behind his back, lift and hold him in the air for a submission) wasn't a finisher that was a visual thriller.

I do have two memories of Steele though.
The first was a few years ago when the Animal came to Harry Grove Stadium for a Frederick Keys game.
I didn't know he would be there and Bill Cover and I watched a dismayed Animal sit at his table for much of the evening with very few fans coming over.
I'm not sure why that was, but Bill and I both commented on how few fans were getting things signed.
I kinda felt bad for him, but thinking about his compensation for the evening made me think that Steele was OK with it!

The other is one is a memory that makes me smile.
You see, my brother and I have been on and off through the years and I rarely see him, although if we do, we are at a stage right now, where we do speak and things are at least cordial.
However, there was a time of my life from childhood to around my mid-20's where Shane was my best friend.
We shared tons of interests from baseball and football to comics to his love of loves-professional wrestling.
Some (not all) of my disenchantment (the current product is truly silly to me now) with pro wrestling since the change of millennium is the fact that I have no one that experienced my wrestling history to discuss it with me since Shane and I parted for the majority of that time.

How does this relate to George "the Animal" Steele?
Well, let's go back to the summer of 1981 with our rabid wrestling fandom in full froth and our dad still being a firm wrestling hater (I still need to tell some of those stories sometime!), Shane and I had the chance to attend our first live match as a fellow that played on my dad's softball team offered to take us with his kids to the Capital Centre for the monthly WWF card.
Shane and I were literally the kids in the candy store and I remember spending the night before at this fellow's house and not being able to be quiet to the point that he had to come in and ask us to be quiet so he could get some sleep!

The Capital Centre cards were big deals to me as when I first started to like wrestling, a person that rode my school bus had the first issue of "Pro Wrestler", which was a four-page bulletin on wrestling, the last card at the arena and more important (to them) promoted the upcoming card at the Capital Centre.
I dutifully copied the address down off the back of the newsletter and sped my address off to Landover to get on the mailing list.
I received the second issue before the next show in Landover (destroyed by my mom in a rage one day.)
I would then have every issue of Pro Wrestler sent to me until the program was discontinued and in my attic archives, those still remain as a great memory of those years.
Pro Wrestler made the Capital Centre cards more important than the Baltimore Civic Center cards to us and the Capital Centre was the newer and more modern arena of the two.
Ironically, it is the Capital Centre that is long gone and the Baltimore Arena is still standing as the main building of its type in Baltimore!

I don't remember a ton about the ring action that day over 35 years ago, but I remember a few things.
The massive size of Andre the Giant as he and Killer Khan brawled to a double disqualification, but the Giant would loom even larger a few years later when Shane and I would see him closer at South Hagerstown high school and Pedro Morales lifting his shoulder barely at two to defeat King Kong Mosca after a back suplex went awry for the former CFL star.
The true main event for me was the Magnificent Muraco (remember my past posts on my childhood hero?) defending his Inter-Continental title against Tony Atlas.
Tony Atlas rarely lost and when he did, he never was a clean loser (Pin or Submission defeat), so even with expecting that pro wrestling was pre-determined (it was a little easier after a while to see the pattern from the McMahon product), as a fan of Muraco, there was a little concern.
I was loudest during that match and when Muraco hit the referee to save his title from Atlas, I was more than a little relieved.

Muraco-Atlas was the main event to me, but the actual main event was Bob Backlund defending his WWF title against George "the Animal" Steele.
Keep in mind that as noted the date was August and Steele's was doing his "summer vocation vacation", which because of the lack of available time for Steele's return to teaching (no, we didn't know that at the time), usually saw Steele go straight to Bob Backlund and dodge working his way through the cards as most main eventers did.
Steele would win this match to set up a "Texas Death Match" for Backlund to get his conclusive win on the next card, but I remembered being surprised by two things.
The first was glaring: the managers (either Lou Albano, the Grand Wizard or Fred Blassie.) didn't appear at ringside with their proteges.
I would discover later that was a WWF thing as in other territories, the managers did travel and spend their time outside the ring.
The other surprise was that the Backlund-Steele match was announced as the main event, but was the match held before intermission.
It seemed dumb to me then that the main event was held early and not last, but I remember people around us saying that the main event was always before intermission.
I would find out years later why this policy was installed-in Boston (1971, I think) a rabid Pedro Morales fan stabbed Blackjack Mulligan and ever since, the main events were held early, so the crowd would relax a bit and the heel would be able to leave the arena without fans waiting for him.
The policy would continue through the second Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund reigns, but I'm not sure exactly when that was changed.

It would be years before Shane and I returned to the Capital Centre for wrestling, although we would be in attendance for a few times that the WWF would come to Hagerstown as they hit all three places in Hagerstown that was marginally suitable at the then Hagerstown Junior College along with North and South Hagerstown high schools.
I still have such a fondness for 1980's pro wrestling, even today with the advent of YouTube, I still enjoy watching things that I remember for the memories and clips from other areas that I'm still finding items that I have never seen before!
But, half of the fun is still from the eyes of child/teenager/young adult and looking back on what life was like at the time that I saw those matches.

I have such great friends now and I have a great time hanging out with Derreck, Doug and Fred among others, not to mention talking with them on the phone.
I also have the IFL bunch too, even if I don't see some of them as much as I would like to, but there still is something to be said for the person that at one time knew you best.
Things change in all of our lives, but far more often than not, when I think of pro wrestling in the 1980s, I think of one person usually being a part of the memory right along with me.
It wasn't the wrestling that I most remember about that night in 1981, it's who I shared that first wrestling night with as one of many great pro wrestling memories.
And there aren't any bad memories in that bunch...

Back later with this week's boxing challenge on a free Showtime preview weekend, so you can catch tonight's card even if you usually do not have Showtime.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cavaliers trade Birdman

Not a lot to write about this,but a few days ago the Cavaliers basically bought their way out of a jam by sending Chris "Birdman" Andersen to Charlotte for a top 55 protected second rounder and the all important cash.

Andersen,who had torn his ACL in December, was immediately waived by the Hornets,who were happy to help the Cavaliers gain a spot for their bench as long as they were going cash the check for an undisclosed amount.
The 38 year old Andersen could possibly retire with the amount of rehab involved for a comeback that is unlikely to see him be more than occasional player for anyone next season.
Andersen averaged a hair over two points a game and a bit under two boards a game in his 12 games in Cleveland.

The Cavaliers are unlikely to ever see the second rounder that was needed in name only to loosen up this trade as the Hornets would have to reach the conference finals to activate the pick,which is unlikely as Charlotte is currently a game and a half from even  making the playoffs.
Cleveland was in desperate need of a roster spot with the loss of Kevin Love for six weeks and the willingness of Dan Gilbert to spend (and continue to pay the highest luxury tax in league history) was the only way to find space to replace Love and give the Cavaliers another body before the trade deadline and Love's return.

I give David Griffin lots of credit for finding a way to make these additions,but even though it's nice to see a team that I root for be willing to spend,I have some mixed feelings.
Cleveland won't be able to sustain this level of spending forever,so I understand why you spend while the window is open,but I still wish that it didn't have to be that way.....

Five Dumb Sports Events that I'd rather see than Mayweather-McGregor

My friend and podcast co-host Ramon Malpica and I have made the decision that we are going to ignore this proposed Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor "bout" on it's merit.
I suppose if someone wanted to call in and talk about it,then we would discuss it,but it's not going to be something we dwell on.

Seeing people ask about such silliness makes me think about the most circus-like event in boxing since the Ali-Inoki stuff in 1976 and I decided to create five events of sports crossing over that have nothing to do with the other.
I wouldn't pay to see any of these or Mayweather-McGregor,so here are five ridiculous made up events for your reading pleasure in no particular order.

1) Our first event features the best basketball player in the world in LeBron James facing off against Mr.105 fireballing lefty Aroldis Chapman.
I chose Chapman because he occasionally deals with wildness to add to our carnival tent.
Can the 6'8 James come anywhere close to fouling off  a pitch?
Could Chapman hit a large target with a flaming fastball?
The latter might be the only interesting thing about this...

2) Super Bowl MVP and 39 year old Tom Brady battles the electrifying phenom Andrew Wiggins in a game of one on one!
Wiggins is younger (soon to be 22),taller (6'8 to 6'4) and more athletic,so he should render Brady unable to get by him to the basket and not likely to shoot over the taller man,so the only question is does Wiggins "Skunk" Brady by a score of 21-0?
Sense the excitement!

3) Baseball phenom Bryce Harper had his struggles at the plate in the second half of last season,so let's have Harper lace up the skates and hit the ice in various skills competitions!
Harper has to get by various hard hitting defensemen,try to win in a shootout against goalies that are the best in the game and maybe go at in a 3 on 3 situation..
Being that the Las Vegas native may have never been on skates before,this looms as just awful...

4) Let's have an exhibition game with any team and feature Eclipse Award winning jockey Javier Castellano playing the skill positions on offense in an NFL game!
The 4'11 (and barely 100 pounds) Castellano should be a blast to watch as he goes over the middle to catch passes against the roughest linebackers and safeties in football!
Imagine the excitement in watching the diminutive jockey run between the tackles or the power sweep!

5) We feature Olympic champion wrestler Kyle Snyder in an Olympic style decathlon with the ten events that comprise the competition to decide "the world's best athlete".
That would be hard enough for the heavyweight bruiser,but we'll make it tougher as Snyder faces the best in the world at each sport!
Snyder runs sprints against Usain Bolt,the marathon against Eliud Kipchoge,the high jump against Derek Drouin and the beat goes on.
Can Snyder even stay in the same stadium in any event?
Whew,the thrills!

Bonus: Since we are talking about freak show events,in an "Exhibition" bout with Mayweather-McGregor in the ring,5'11 and 160 pound seven time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson decides to prove his toughness at the age of 41 vs world middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin!
The physical size might be equal,but nothing else is.
Does Golovkin decide to smoke Johnson early or pound him all night?
The only intriguing part of this is the question;Does Johnson crumble from the first solid shot or does it take a few???

Hope you enjoyed some laughs and that's how serious boxing and MMA fans look at the proposed Mayweather-McGregor bout.
Save your dollars....

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cleaning out the inbox

We start with the remarkable decision by Chili's to rescind their long time suspension of Pam Beesly Halpert from their restaurants.
The-then Ms.Beesly was given a lifetime suspension from Chili's for behavior 12 years ago during the Dundies award dinner in Scranton, PA.

Seriously, full credit to Jenna Fischer, who played Pam on the classic "The Office" for tweeting the picture to the left with the tweet reading "Should I go in?"
And to Chili's for playing along, we don't see enough of this type of harmless fun and playing to fans that love dearly a show that is off the air...

It's funny as Hagerstown just opened a Chili's and the lovely Cherie and I ate there shortly after opening.
That led to me (a passionate Office fan) asking Cherie, "should we spend our money at a place that won't serve Pam Beesly?".
Now I will never have to ponder those questions further!!

Former NFL running back and announcer of various sports, Mike Adamle is having issues with dementia and early signs of CTE.
Adamle's issues likely come from his days on the gridiron and the article looks at what Adamle can and cannot do on a day to day basis.
Adamle is best known for being the host of American Gladiators along with his work in sportscasting.

The New York Times reflects on the protest at the Oscars in 1973 when Marlon Brando refused his best actor Oscar for the Godfather and instead sent Native American Sacheen Littlefeather in his place to protest the Wounded Knee incident and the treatment of Native Americans in the film industry.
The interesting parts to me were when Littlefeather describes that she was given just 60 seconds on stage before she would be escorted off stage-possibly by John Wayne, who reportedly was being "Held Back" behind the curtain!
The other note of interest was that Littlefeather was an actress and after the protest, claimed that she never saw a film role again!
That's not quite true, as her Wikipedia entry shows, but it sure cast a knockout blow!

Bad, but understandable news for Giants fans as one half of the best broadcast team in baseball will miss some games this season.
Mike Krukow suffers from Inclusion Body Myositis, which weakens the muscles in the arms and legs, and with Krukow, makes it very difficult to get around without help.
Krukow will not travel with the Giants for non-division games, which will mean that he will be doing 120 games, which is still pretty good.
The replacements for the non-divisional road games with Duane Kuiper (TV) and Dave Flemming/Jon Miller on the radio will be former Giants relievers Jeremy Affeldt, who retired after the 2015 season, and recently retired Giants LOOGY Javier Lopez, who left the team last week.
Affeldt had been rumored to be headed for a role in the broadcasts since late last year when he sat in on a few games in the booth.
Lopez has a great voice and although it takes more than that to be a good announcer, it is a good start to being a success rather than having a shrill sound that is hard to listen to.... 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Pirates trade for Gosselin and Light

The Pittsburgh Pirates shored up their infield a bit and attempted a revitalization of another power arm in two different deals.

Pittsburgh added utility infielder Phil Gosselin in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks in return for minor league pitcher Frank Duncan.
The 28 year old Gosselin saw his most action in the show last season for the Diamondbacks as he hit .277 with 2 homers in 240 at bats.
Gosselin's best position is second base,although he can fill in all around the infield.
The former Brave (before Arizona) prospect is expected to battle Alen Hanson for the final infield spot on the team and that should be interesting to follow as Gosselin has minor league options and the once top prospect Hanson is out of those options.

As for the 24 year old Duncan,he had an excellent year split between AA Altoona and AAA Indianapolis (2.34 ERA combined between the two stops),but reports on his stuff indicates that he is more of an innings eater/5th starter as his ceiling and the former Kansas Jayhawk has several arms ahead of him in the Pirates system,so dealing him seems to be from a position of strength,although one can argue that Gosselin is far from an upgrade over Hanson to be dealing even limited prospects for.
Pittsburgh designated Nefi Ogando for assignment after claiming him from the Marlins in December in order to make space on the roster for Gosselin.

Pittsburgh also sent some cash to the Minnesota Twins in return for righthanded pitcher Pat Light.
The soon to be 26 year old Light was a touted prospect in the Boston system,but was sent to the Twins last season for Fernando Abad and didn't exactly light (Pun intended) the league up in his first taste of big league action.
Light posted an ERA of over seven in 16 innings between Boston and Minnesota and walked 16 batters in those innings.
Lights throws in the mid to high 90's and he would seem to have the arm that is intriguing enough to try to smooth out the command issues that have
plagued Light throughout his years as a Red Sox farmhand.
Light should compete for a spot in the bullpen and at worst be a callup in event of injury from AAA Indianapolis.
The Pirates designated Lisaberto Bonilla for assignment to make space for Light.
Bonilla had been signed in the offseason after spending last season in the Dodgers organization

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Bouncing the wrong way

Watching this card on Bounce TV is just mind numbing.
Let's start with an apology-things have been a little off at the home office and I've been sleeping a lot and as a result,I forgot to do the boxing challenge with Ramon Malpica for the PBC on Bounce card.

Bounce (we talked a little about it on Fightheads) is one of those digital channels that network local television owns now and they have a contract with PBC to show their product,
The announcers are decent enough with Fran Charles as the blow by blow man and on this night former junior middleweight champion Austin Trout as the analyst.
Charles is better than the other PBC announcers in calling the action such as Mauro Ranallo,Scott Hanson or Brian Custer and Trout is nothing special,but far from terrible either.
My issues with Bounce feature two big ones and one that ranges across the PBC platform.
First:These digital channels just don't look as good as "regular" channels do.
Lots of "tiling" and breakups during what seemed like every round really got annoying.
Far too many technical problems that I hope can be partially fixed before the next Bounce card in March...
Second: Several times in the middle of ROUNDS of the main event,the network would cut to a commercial!
Now occasionally,these things happen,but multiple (and the number wasn't two) times,the fight was in the ring and we were then treated to commercials.
That has to stop as well...
Third: PBC advertises their shows for two hours (this one 9-11 EST),but has three fights on the card-one of ten rounds and two twelve round world title fights.
There is no way if all of those fights go the distance (as in this case,they did),you squeeze in a two hour block.
This show lasted 3;15,which isn't bad if you advertise a three hour block,but awful for a two.
I'm not complaining at all about a three hour show,but advertise it as such..

The main event saw Robert Easter retain his IBF lightweight title with a lopsided unanimous decision over Luis Cruz.
Easter dropped Cruz in each of the final three rounds,but was unable to finish the gritty Cruz bringing the fight to the scorecards.
I had Easter an easy 119-106 winner,but despite the talent that Easter possesses,he didn't impress me as much as I expected against an outmatched opponent.
Easter seems to me to be unable to decide if he is a long range boxer or a walk 'em down puncher.
Until he makes that decision,I would hesitate to move Easter up our TRS rankings,which had Easter ranked 5th at lightweight...

A mild upset came in the co-feature as Zhanat Zhakiyanov upset Rau'shee Warren to lift the WBA bantamweight title via a split decision.
Zhakiyanov dominated the final eight rounds,but had put himself far behind on the scorecards after Warren knocked him down twice in round one and controlled the following round as well.
Thereafter,Zhakiyanov bullied and outpunched Warren and earned the win on my scorecard 113-112.
Warren entered the fight ranked 2nd at 118 pounds in the TRS ratings with Zhakiyanov rated fifth,but all of his points came from one voter (not me),so credit to him for having the new champ in our ratings.
Look for a shakeup at bantamweight in April!!

The opening fight featured former United States Olympian Terrell Gausha decision Luis Hernandez,but didn't look great doing it and Hernandez knocked Gausha down in the third round.
I scored Gausha a 97-92
winner,but looks to have a vulnerable chin that could see him derailed against tougher competition than the journeyman Hernandez.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Cavaliers sign Derrick Williams

Normally,I don't spend a lot of time on the Cleveland Cavaliers signing players to ten day contracts,but this one was pretty interesting to me as the Cavaliers signed forward Derrick Williams to one of those before last night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
I missed the game (Long story) despite it being televised,but Williams seemed to have played well.
Williams hit all three of his shots from the floor and finished with 12 points in 22 minutes of play.

The 6'8 Williams was the second overall pick in the 2011 draft by Minnesota and coming out of Arizona,I was so high on Williams that I slightly preferred him at the number one pick over Kyrie Irving,although much of that was due to the injury issues concerning Irving at Duke.
Williams has played for five teams before Cleveland since that draft and only once averaged in double digits in points,but a deeper look at his numbers shows that he has never averaged more than 24 minutes a game and Williams is still just 25.
I think of Williams as being similar to another talented vagabond in Michael Beasley-for all of their talent,they might be best suited as a sixth or seventh man on a contender than a player on a bad team being in a featured role.

Williams is not what the Cavaliers have been in need or looking to acquire.
Williams isn't a board banging big man and certainly isn't going to be the backup running the point either,but he brings something interesting to Cleveland that they don't have.
Derrick Williams brings a guy that can do some of things that LeBron James does off the wing (Not comparing him to LeBron by any means),can play either forward and isn't awful defensively.
In other words,if the Cavaliers keep Williams around (and I would make every effort to try to do so),he can come off the bench to spell James and he might even be able to play some for Kevin Love,so it would be interesting to see how he might mesh with LeBron James.

The odds of gaining a key contributor from the waiver wire (technically Williams was a free agent after being released by Miami) are usually long,but this time,Cleveland has a young,talented and motivated player that could be just that.....

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Podcast:DC Comics

We talk DC Comics from the 70's,80's and early 90's with Chris And Reggie from the Cosmic Treadmill and Weird Comic History Podcasts!!

Cleveland adds and drops

The Indians and Browns each made moves with one adding a player and the other adding one player and dropping two from their roster...

The Browns gained some salary cap space with the release of two high priced veterans in quarterback Josh McCown and defensive back Tramon Williams.
The 37 year old McCown was under contract for another year at over three million with a 750.000 dollar roster bonus due if on the roster on March 11.
McCown was winless in three starts with the Browns in 2016 and was battered around and missed time with a broken collarbone.
McCown threw six touchdowns and six interceptions,but looked to be finished as a starting quarterback at least,if not period.
Over his two year run in Cleveland,McCown will be best remembered for setting two team records-most passing yards in a game-457 and for being the 1st Browns quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards in three consecutive games.

The other release was that of veteran defensive back Tramon Williams,who after being released saved the Browns a March roster bonus of one million and 5.7 million in 2017.
Williams was signed to start at corner,but was beaten out by Jamar Taylor after Taylor was obtained from Miami.
Williams spent most of the season as the third corner and was spending some time at safety as well.
Williams intercepted one pass in each of his two seasons with Cleveland,but was generally thought to be a disappointment as a Brown.
The soon to be 34 year old Williams might be of value as a dime back on a good team,but his starting corner days appear to be finished....

Cleveland made a very popular waiver claim as Clevelander and former Ohio State Buckeye safety Tyvis Powell was claimed off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks.
Powell was surprisingly undrafted in the 2016 draft and signed by the Seahawks as a free agent.
Powell played in eight games as a special teamer for the Seahawks and was reportedly thought of highly by Seattle,but a roster crunch forced Seattle to waive Powell before their playoff game due to a urgent need at another position (Seattle brought kick returner Devin Hester to the team after the waiving of Powell)
When a player is waived during the playoffs,the process is not announced until the conclusion of the postseason,which is why it took this long (Seattle lost in the NFC semi-finals to Atlanta) for the official announcement to be made,although the Browns having the number one claim and used it,knew that they were going to obtain Powell.
The 6'3 Powell brings some size to the safety spot for a team that needs safety help and clearly wants to be a Brown.
Powell spent a season learning from some of the best defensive backs in the league in Seattle,so hopefully some of that will rub off and help the Browns....

Meanwhile,across town,the Indians added a badly needed lefthanded reliever as they signed Boone Logan to a one year deal for 5.5 million and a team option for 2018.
Logan is expected to be the LOOGY for a bullpen in need of one since Andrew Miller is far more than that role for the Indians.
Logan was 2-5 with 3.69 ERA for Colorado last year,but whiffed 57 in 46 innings and lefthanders (which Logan will almost always face) hit just .142 against him.
If the 32 year old Logan can approach his usual numbers (with relievers is not always the case),he should be a perfect fit for just what the Indians largest pitching need was.
Logan is not a guarantee,situational relievers rarely are,but I feel pretty good about the Indians trying to shore up their weaknesses entering 2017....

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Richard Hatch

Housecleaning before I start-Our podcast on DC Comics was postponed one day at our guests request.
Look for it late Wednesday or Thursday morning.
If you are a DC Comics fan from the 1970's,80's and early 90's-this is for you!!

Jason Christensen was the first of a few to send me word of a sad day as
actor Richard Hatch passed away at the age of 71 from pancreatic cancer.
Long before someone of that name was the first star of reality television,Richard Hatch was a star of late 1970's television from the ABC soap opera "All My Children",the replacement for Michael Douglas for ABC's "Streets of San Francisco and the ABC sci-fi cult attempt to take advantage of the Star Wars rage-"Battlestar Galactica" in the main role of "Apollo".
Hatch also was one of better participants in the various "Battle of the Network Stars" competitions as well,so during his time,Hatch was pretty visible..

I've talked about my childhood of watching soaps with my late Aunt Edna and remember the character that Hatch played,but he was gone from the soap by then,but I wasn't a Streets of San Francisco watcher and despite watching Battlestar Galactica,I wasn't a passionate fan as a child.
It wasn't terrible,but it wasn't all that memorable to me despite it being the first thing that I remember seeing Dirk Benedict in before "The A-Team" and the last thing that I remember seeing Lorne Greene in that I watched (Greene did a few more things that I passed on),though thankfully Greene didn't sing in Galactica (Although I wouldn't have minded a little "Ringo")....

So,why a post on Richard Hatch then?
Well,Richard Hatch was part of the introduction to something that I continue to be a fan of to this day.
In 1978,I was in 5th grade at rockin' Fountain Rock Elementary and with the days of the three networks on television,things like made for television movies were far more frequently televised than today.
This leads to one night that my mom watched a CBS Movie of the Week entitled "Deadman's Curve",which was the story of the 1960's music duo of Jan and Dean.
Richard Hatch would play Jan Berry with Bruce Davison of "Willard" fame (another late night viewing from the younger R.S) as Dean Torrence,but I had never heard of them.
Two hours later,I was asking my mom,if she had any of their albums,she had two and I wore them out!
To this day,those two albums are framed and hang in my hallway (along with another J&D album that Ryan found for me) with my fandom set forever.
To this day,I still have J&D CD's in my car to listen and I've never met a bigger fan of the pair than me.

I bought Deadman's Curve on VHS years ago and it didn't quite age as well as I remember,but it was solid enough for a movie that fudged a few facts (those weren't easy to find out in the non-internet age) and Hatch and Davison looked enough like Jan and Dean to get by and their lip-sync was pretty good for the film as well.
Without that film,I wouldn't have been introduced to the group,which I've been such a fan of since then-from albums to cassettes to homemade dubbed cassettes to cd's and now some youtube videos as well-Jan and Dean has been background music to much of my life.
I've always been a person that when I like something,I mean really like it,it stays forever.
One time,a person that I know told another person "I bet he (me) still listens to Jan and Dean'.
My response was upon being told this-'Yeah,I do,I like what I like" and it all traces back to that movie,the music and the performances of Richard Hatch and Bruce Davison to hook me and leave me wanting more...

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Pigskin Picking Machine

The final PPM for the 2016 Football Season

Last Week 1-1
Season: 119-48

Super Bowl
New England 31 Atlanta 21

Devils trade Fiddler

I missed the Devils loss to Calgary (Had to work) and their win tonight over Columbus due to being in Harrisburg for the Senators Hot Stove Banquet,so not much on the game front.
As I have written before,I don't feel comfortable writing about games that I haven't watched.
In my opinion,that does not add analysis,I'm just rehashing numbers and other peoples thoughts that watched the game..

However,there is Devils news as the Devils traded veteran forward Vernon Fiddler to the Nashville Predators in return for a fourth round draft pick.
Fiddler had recently returned from a foot injury and scored one goal with two assists in 39 games with the Devils.
Fiddler had been signed over the summer to a one year contract from the Dallas Stars as a checking line forward and for help with the penalty kill and was exactly the type of low cost free agent signing that you hope could provide some help and leadership before potentially being moved to a contender for an asset at deadline time..

A fourth round pick doesn't seem like much,but more late round picks add up,can help in getting a prospect by moving up on draft day and when you are in the middle of a rebuild-the more picks for journeyman players that you can obtain,the faster the process can move.
Vernon Fiddler may have not produced as much as the Devils may have wished for,but we don't know what the pick obtained for him will bring-Hope springs eternal...

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The XFL!

Recently was able to watch the 30 for 30 on the one year wonder that was the XFL.
Owned and operated by Vince McMahon,the XFL had one night of huge ratings and was followed by the worst ratings ever seen by a network by the end of the season.

The film focuses more on McMahon and his good friend and often time business associate,former NBC Sports head Dick Ebersole than on much of the talent in the league (coaches,players and front office types) and that is somewhat of a flaw,but an understandable one as the director of the film is Dick Ebersole's son.
That doesn't take away from the entertainment value,what it does is take away somewhat from the overall information that can be learned about the league.
Considering the filmmakers relationship with the two main persons of interest,the film was pretty honest and fair in dealing with the problems and demise of the league,if a little sappy at the end.

I was prepared to buy into the XFL from day one because I loved the USFL,have always believed that there is a place for spring football and still to this day believe that had Donald Trump (as noted in the past,this is my starting point for my Trump dislike) not stuck his stubby little fingers into the league that the USFL might have been around to this day.
At that time,the XFL was a perfect opportunity for me and my buddies (some of those guys are still around,others were "voted off the island" since then) to pick a team together that we could all root for together,
It's rare to have a chance like that to start from scratch,so we decided on the San Francisco Demons (who wound up losing in the championship game) and I remember all of us watching the first Demons game at our old apartment and we were actually getting into the game as the Demons defeated the Los Angeles Extreme 15-13 on a Sunday afternoon.
I seem to remember the Demons winning the game on a late field goal,but it was a good time by all.
I remember having a Demons cap that I know still has to be around here somewhere,but there was a problem with the league-mainly that the football wasn't up to par.
Don't get me wrong,it was passable and I remember seeing several players that were excellent players that were CFL all-stars that didn't dominate the XFL,but it wasn't what anyone beyond the super hardcore fan (like me) was going to devote their time to.

The lack of top talent in the league was what made it look minor league.
The USFL spent money (and lost much of it) on stars out of college,developed a solid level of talent and developed more of an audience.
Vince McMahon thought that it was more about marketing and flash than actual football talent and with the exception of Rod "He Hate Me" Smart,was wrong.
What the league turned out to be was neither fish nor fowl-the football wasn't going to be a draw for anyone other than fans like me and the braintrust discovered that the cheerleaders and all the other bells and whistles weren't enough to pull in viewers that tuned into wrestling.

The television product had some innovations that the NFL wound up using (the skycam and microphones on everyone in sight for just two),but the league also had some bad announcers,less than great camera work,the persistence of the wrestling side of the promotion cutting wrestling promos on the NFL and attempting wrestling angle type issues like Jesse Ventura constantly trying to rile up New York head coach Rusty Tillman with criticism.
The uniforms were about what you expect from the time period (over the top and ugly) although the helmets were decent enough and I thought the black and red football was pretty sharp,although red with black might have been more visual.

I liked a few of the rule changes that the league attempted.
The scramble to decide possession was fun to watch,although it provided many injuries and I didn't mind the no extra point rule.
I didn't care for the no fair catch rule (sounded better than it was because players couldn't get closer than five yards of the returner until he possessed the ball) and I thought the ten yard penalty when you punted the ball out of bounds was pretty dumb.
Give the XFL credit for trying things and anytime you try things,they won't all be winners,will they?

I have every XFL game ever televised in the VHS archives,although I am doubtful on the future of those since it is becoming harder and harder to find quality machines to transfer games to VHS.
I originally planned to just tape Demon games (they finished 5-5 in the regular season) ,but Ryan suggested that I should tape every game,I took his advice and did just that-If you want XFL games and have a VHS/DVD recorder,call me at ....

I liked the XFL for all of its flaws,although I must admit that I didn't hold it in nearly as high esteem as the USFL and wished that it would have been given more time,although from a business perspective,I certainly understand how and why the decision was made in order to cut their losses and end the league.
Give Vince McMahon one thing-when he fails,he fails spectacularly..

Friday, February 3, 2017

Turning the world on...

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Mary Tyler Moore at the age of 80 and surprised as well.
Normally,you hear about a celebrity not doing well and I hadn't heard any of that type of news,so it hit me as a shock.

I was a fan of Mary Tyler Moore,mainly because of the 1970's show that carried her name.
I liked the Dick Van Dyke Show where she was married to the namesake from the syndicated episodes,but it was her show that I remembered most from childhood.
CBS owned Saturday night television in the days when Saturday night was more important in the ratings,so with no school the next day,I could watch all the shows that comprised that powerhouse block which included All in the Family,Bob Newhart and the Carol Burnett show from beginning to end without the dreaded "time for bed" call for school the following day.

The show was trendsetting for the obvious reasons (Check my podcast with Jennifer Keishin Armstrong out,she wrote a terrific book on the MTM show),but I'll stay off the show,so I can talk about my memories on the career of Mary Tyler Moore.
For my money,Mary Tyler Moore in the first season of that show ranks with the most beautiful women not only of her age or era,but anytime and she was witty with the ability to play the straight person for the funny lines from the other performers as well.
The show was funny for many reasons,just not MTM,but she clearly was the glue that held the various pieces together.
Many people always go to the Chuckles the Clown episode as their go to memory,but I have two memories that make me smile.
The first is the neat set of the first apartment on the show.
It was such a nice little place that you could very easily see yourself living in and even though the inside was made for TV (the exterior shot was of a real home in Minneapolis),as a child,I could just imagine what it was like on your own.
The other was the classic theme song by Sonny Curtis,who had hits with the theme twice,with the the opening and then later with a slowed down country version.
I'm not sure if you are over 45,you couldn't sing at least some of that song....

Mary Tyler Moore also has some other memories for me.
Her Oscar winning role in Ordinary People was an outstanding performance and she was a very deserving winner in her role as a very cold mother in a family split apart by the death of their son.
That was an excellent film and one that I recommend if you haven't seen it.
Another memory is the awful "Mary" variety show from the late 70's.
Michael Keaton's skills would seem to be somewhat of a fit for that type of show,but it didn't turn out that way and this was my introduction to Keaton (other than his guest appearances on Mister Rogers Neighborhood,that is) and as bad as Keaton was in this show-Imagine this being your first time seeing David Letterman and it's in that format!
It wasn't my first time seeing Letterman (I had seen him plenty of him on the Tonight Show),but words cannot convey seeing his rampant squirming with being uncomfortable on about anything that he did on this show-So..I'll show you below,but I cannot imagine anyone thinking David Letterman would be a great selection for a variety show cast position!

However,of all these (except for the MTM show),my best memory always was a guaranteed laugh.
You see after the Dick Van Dyke show and before the MTM show,Mary Tyler Moore had struggled with some lackluster films and was looking for a hit to revive her career a bit.
Her selection was an Elvis Presley film of course,because what could be better in bringing your career back to the forefront than an Elvis Presley vehicle!
Well,this one got even better than the usual Elvis romp because they tried to play it straight in "Change of Habit" in which Elvis plays a doctor and Moore played an undercover nun (seriously)
attempting to see what the secular world was like.
Change of Habit is one of those films that is so bad,that I find hilarious in just how bad this film is...

Two memories of this film;One is this-Not long after we got married and Cherie and I like most new couples with very little money,saw me walking through the now defunct Ames department stores (Ames and its local predecessor Zayre's never did much for me) and there was Change of Habit on VHS for $4.99.
4.99 doesn't seem like much,but at that time,an excellent argument could be made for about 10,000 things that could have been a larger need than a VHS copy of Change of Habit,but we left Ames with this wonderful films and nearly 30 years later,I still hear about that day!
The other was this-back in the "olden days" of pre-cable television,if you stayed up late,there wasn't much on television other than old movies and I had scoped out the TV guide to see what was showing on a late Saturday night at 1 or 2 AM.
I knew about this film and being a good big brother (Snicker) I hyped it to Shane constantly about what a great movie this was,it had Elvis and Mary Tyler Moore in it,you have to stay up to watch etc.
So,I figure you see where this was headed and upon watching this,during every commercial break,Shane would climb down from his upper bunk and pummel me with a pillow as he told me what a jerk I was (I'm sure the words were worse than jerk) for talking him into this....

Those are a few of my memories of Mary Tyler Moore and her career.
I'm sure this is a cliche' used by many in writing of her passing-but she did turn the world on with her smile....