Monday, July 31, 2017

Indians add Joe Smith and...

The Cleveland Indians made one move to add to their impressive bullpen,but it wasn't what one would have thought for the relievers as instead of a much needed extra lefty to replace the injured Boone Logam,it was righthanded submariner Joe Smith.

Smith,a former Indian,returned to Cleveland for two minor leaguers-pitcher Thomas Pannone and infielder Samad Taylor and will be used along with Bryan Shaw as an option for the 6th and 7th innings.
Smith was pitching well for the Blue Jays with a record of 3-0 and an ERA of 3.28 in 38 appearances.
Smith also has been pretty durable over his career,although he did miss a month earlier this season.

For Smith,it's a return home,but the most excited person might be Smith's wife- CBS sports reporter and native Northeast Ohioan Allie LaForce.

I'll put aside that it was Smith that left the Indians to begin with,not the other way around,but I'm sure that the excitement is legitimate for the pair.
Joe Smith certainly adds bullpen depth and won't be one of these players that looks at coming to Cleveland as a pit stop.
He is a free agent at the end of the year and I think if Smith pitches well,there would be interest from both sides in bringing him back for next season.
I bet Allie LaForce might have a say in this as well.

As for the prospects leaving the banks of Lake Erie,neither are top prospects,but both are interesting to a degree.
Thomas Pannone has impressed me in a season split between High A Lynchburg and AA Akron.
Pannone didn't allow an earned run in five Lynchburg starts and has notched a ERA of 2.62 in 14 starts.
Pannone has a strikeout to walk ratio of 4 to 1 in Akron,throws in the low 90's and is an interesting arm to watch in Toronto,who did a remarkable job with another unknown arm in Joe Biagini.

Samad Taylor is a 19 year old second baseman that was a tenth round pick in the 2016 draft,but is hitting .300 with four homers for Mahoning Valley in the short season New York/Penn league.
Those are pretty solid numbers for a high school player in a league filled with college players,so Taylor's an interesting player to watch,but players at this level are a bit of a lottery ticket.

In the end,I like this for both teams.
Cleveland adds bullpen depth,although not from the lefthanded side and the Blue Jays add a pitcher that could help Toronto as early as next year in Thomas Pannone as well as a potential prospect in the lower end of their system in Samad Taylor.
Pannone has a better chance to move up quickly in the Blue Jays system than in the Indians,so this really could help both sides of the trade.

I'm on the road tomorrow,so I will try to write about the Pirates bullpen moves on deadline day tomorrow evening,unless breaking news occurs.

Stats,Schedules and Stiffs

Starting this at 5 AM.
I'm at work at this time more than I am home and when I roll over,the first thing that I think of is-"time to take Ed out".
It's an instinctual thing that I don't think will be going away for a while....

It's been a busy time for me of late-Working eleven days in a row and sixteen of seventeen will do that to a person when you work the days and times that I do,but the storm is over and now I will work just four days between today and August 25th.
Feels pretty good,although I'm sure my wallet will feel differently in the month of August!

I had a good time at Ryan's 30th birthday party.
It was a surprise party (which I know he hates and I would have never thrown,but he handled it better than I would have) and I wasn't as unhappy as I thought I would be.
That's a pretty good statement for me..

I did get to clean up some fantasy football things as I selected two owners to replace two owners that shockingly left the league on extremely short notice.
One of them is a very good friend of mine and I was not only surprised by this,but I wish I knew what the real reason was.
I don't think it'll change things much as the league goes,life goes on and this seems to have revitalized things a bit with some owners (anger can do that some times),but I'll still miss having my good friend not being involved and I still have a feeling that the real reason for leaving has yet to be disclosed to me.
I'm more excited for the draft than I was before,although I've done next to no prep work yet with six days to go...

During all of the work run (which I scheduled during a dry baseball time),I only had two baseball stops,so I was missing the graphing stops.
The West Virginia Power came into Hagerstown and I was able to get most of their team set signed for myself and two friends that asked to work on their set for a trade.
I was surprised by one player that would only sign one card.
Normally that wouldn't be such a big deal because that does happen,but the surprise this time was that the player in question wouldn't sign three team cards.
Usually when that happens,it is either a big prospect or someone that has mainstream cards (Topps products) and they are just tired of signed 30 of these easily available cards,in this case it was a late round draft pick with no other cards.
Team set cards are almost always obtained (unless you buy from a rare dealer that breaks these sets up) as a team and (again) it's almost always collectors and not sellers that have these cards.
I'm not really mad at this player,I'm more interested in how he thinks and how we are perceived as a hobby....

Still down to the wire on a trip to Lake County for their annual Cleveland Sports Night.
The Captains always drag out the announcement of the guests and I have to take the weekend off,just in case they bring someone that I really want in.
Not a smooth process for sure.We'll see if I go or not,but I'll know for sure soon.

Here is a rough schedule for trips and places in the month of August

Auburn at State College/Hickory at Hagerstown (Fred Landucci/Mike Oravec)

Hickory at Hagerstown (Fred Landucci)
Myrtle Beach at Frederick

South Bend at Lake County (Not finalized)
West Michigan at Lake County

Danville at Bristol (Fred Landucci/Mike Oravec)
Buies Creek at Salem

Winston-Salem at Frederick (Fred Landucci or alone)

Winston-Salem at Frederick (Mike Oravec)

West Virginia at Hagerstown

8/13- trip (Fred Landucci)
Rome at Greenville SC

Kingsport at Greeneville TN

Elizabethton at Johnson City
Danville at Burlington

Toledo at Charlotte

Kannapolis at Hagerstown

8/19 trip (Mike Oravec/Derreck Chupak)
Durham at Scranton
Portland at Binghamton

Williamsport at Batavia
Gwinnett at Buffalo

State College at Auburn
Scranton at Rochester

Wilmington at Frederick
Lakewood at Hagerstown

Akron at Harrisburg

Salem at Frederick
Delmarva at Hagerstown

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Garcia decisions Broner-Boxing Challenge

Ramon Malpica and I each scored seven points in the boxing challenge to move the total,but the margin stayed the same as the score is now 94-87...

The biggest fight of the weekend saw WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia deliver arguably the best performance of his career in his move to junior welterweight with a dominant unanimous decision over Adrien Broner on Showtime.
Garcia is about as technically sound as they come and he used combinations along with a surprising body attack to leave the inactive Broner to do little but shake his head in an attempt to shake Garcia's poise.
I scored Garcia a 118-110 winner and you could make an argument for 120-108.

Garcia has lots of interesting fights that could be made,if promotional issues would not enter into the picture-as they always do.
Garcia could drop back to 135 where he still holds the WBC title and fight WBA champ Jorge Linares,but with Linares with Golden Boy,that could be difficult to make.
If Garcia chooses to stay at 140,a Terence Crawford (or Julius Indongo should he upset Crawford in August) fight would be one of the best in boxing,but Crawford is a Top Rank fighter and since Garcia's divorce from the Bob Arum company,I doubt they will do many favors for Garcia.
Garcia could get PBC champions at 147 in Keith Thurman or Errol Spence in fights that again would be interesting,but that involves going up another seven pounds for a fighter that won his first title at 126.
Still,it'll be interesting to see what avenue Garcia takes next...

As for Adrien Broner,I think we've seen what we'll see from him.
He's good,but not great,neither a true boxer or big banger and more of a top ten fighter rather than a true elite fighter.
Despite the branding and building of the name,Adrien Broner simply isn't an elite fighter.
Oh.every once in a while in the future,the name he built will be used to make some money or build another fighters resume' and maybe he'll even win another title,if matched properly,but he's been exposed for good now and you'll never see him as a true A side in a big fight again.
Ramon and I each received two points for the Garcia win.

In the other Showtime bout,Jermall Charlo debuted as a middleweight with a fourth round knockout over Jorge Sebastian Heiland to become the WBC's mandatory contender for the winner of Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez.
Heiland clearly was injured entering the bout with a leg issue and just couldn't keep his balance in going down in the second and fourth.
Charlo did what needed to be done,but for this to be his first fight at the weight against an overmatched journeyman with just one name victory (an over the hill Matthew Macklin) and qualify him for a title fight was ridiculous.
Charlo's post-fight interview was just as ludicrous as Charlo called himself the Hitman,the "real Tommy Hearns" and later compared himself to Sugar Ray Leonard.
I wasn't aware that wins over Julian Williams (Charlo's best win to date) and Jorge Sebastian Heiland brought one such prestige,but apparently they do....
I added two points for the Charlo KO with Ramon adding one for the win.

Showtime also streamed a heavyweight fight for free on their YouTube channel,showing while HBO is stuck in 2007,Showtime is being innovative and using technology to grow the sport-now if they could only get some of their better guys to fight more often and versus better competition.
Talented,but overweight Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller returned after a long layoff to stop Gerald Washington at the end of round eight.
You might remember Washington's last bout in a undeserved title fight against WBC champion Deontay Wilder where he fought evenly for four rounds vs Wilder before being stopped in the fifth round,this time Washington was generally bullied by the bulkier Miller in being badly hurt in the sixth,seventh and eighth rounds before not being allowed to start the ninth round.
I thought Miller won every round before the end of the bout.
Miller is going to have to try to be in better shape against tougher opponents,but I'm intrigued by Miller's potential,if he could do that.
Ramon and I each added two points for the Miller knockout.

In an untelevised bout,former bantamweight champion Rau'shee Warren won a unanimous decision over former junior bantamweight champ McJoe Arroyo to become the IBF's mandatory contender for their champion Jerwin Ancajas.
Ramon received two points for the Warren win and unanimous nod,while I added one for the Warren win.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge kicks off August with four bouts on the Showtime platform-two on the network and one for free on the network's Youtube and Facebook pages.
The fourth may be televised if time permits...

The big bout of the weekend features WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia moving up to junior welterweight against multiple division former champion Adrien Broner.
Garcia is a big hitter,but started his career at featherweight and you wonder where he will meet the weight class where his power levels out.
Broner has won titles in three weight classes,but has never beaten a top five in his division fighter,let alone a fighter of the talent of Mikey Garcia.
Broner has shown a pretty solid chin among all of his fights,so it'll be interesting to see if Garcia can hurt Broner.
A loss wouldn't hurt Garcia,but a loss might send Broner to special attraction status...

Showtime also will have the return of former IBF junior middleweight champ Jermall Charlo,who looked so spectacular in winning as an underdog against Julian Williams in the final defense of his title before he vacated and moved to middleweight.
Charlo should have been right back into the ring to take advantage of the huge win,but eight months have went by since the win and the momentum has been lost.
As for Jorge Sebastian Heiland,Charlo's opponent in this WBC middleweight eliminator,he is 1-1 against anyone I've heard of and his only big win was a knockout three years ago over a faded Matthew Macklin.

Showtime might not have the cache' or the wallet of HBO,but they are light years ahead of HBO on streaming,where they stream their fight live to subscribers (HBO does not) and on Saturday,the network will be showing one challenge fight (maybe another) and a ladies bout for free on YouTube and Facebook

Talented,but untested heavyweight Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller takes on his first real test against former title challenger Gerald Washington.
Washington was stopped by Deontay Wilder in five in his last bout for the WBC heavyweight title in a shot that was undeserved,but fought on equal terms with Wilder for four rounds before the stoppage.
Miller has some talent,but doesn't always come to fights in shape,so it'll be interesting to see if Miller is in shape and how he matches up with the 6'6 Washington.

In the "television time remaining" category,former WBA bantamweight champion Rau'shee Warren drops down to junior bantamweight in an IBF eliminator against another former champion-IBF 122 pound champ McJoe Arroyo.
The winner will fight IBF champ Jerwin Ancajas,who dethroned Arroyo.
Warren lost his title in his last bout in a split decision to Zhanat Zhakiyanov in a fight that I scored for Zhakiyanov by one point..

I lead the challenge over Ramon Malpica 87-80

Junior Welterweights.12 rds
Mikey Garcia vs Adrien Broner
Both:Garcia unanimous decision

Middleweights.12 rds
Jermell Charlo vs Jorge Sebastian Heiland
R.L:Charlo unanimous decision
TRS:Charlo KO 7

Heavyweights. 10 rds
Jarrell Miller vs Gerald Washington
R.L:Miller KO 5
TRS:Miller KO 7

Junior Bantamweights, 12 rds
Rau'shee Warren vs McJoe Arroyo
R.L:Warren unanimous decision
TRS:Warren majority decision

Friday, July 28, 2017

Cleaning out the inbox-Sports Edition

The usual cleaning out the inbox begins with whatever this is to the right.
I've written before about my go-to site for Buckeye news and analysis being Eleven Warriors (located in the links section) and they did a great look back at the history of our favorite mascot-Brutus Buckeye.
Well,rather how we got to the current lovable Brutus from the beginning in 1965 with what looks like a lump of crap,to a friendly apple to a frowning apple,back to the friendly apple until 1975 when someone thought whatever the hell this hybrid of Popeye the Sailor and the Maryland Terrapin was a good idea.
Thank the lord that this was a one year experiment before the apple returned for a year and was followed by the eventual Brutus that we know and love today with gradual refinements.
Just looking at that thing makes me shake my head!

The New York Times writes about Jim Bouton,who disclosed at a recent SABR convention that he has cerebral amyloid angiopathy,a brain disease that has been connected to people that have dementia.
Bouton did the convention to discuss Ball Four,but the article talks about the book,his post baseball career,what he battles with the disease and much of the article is done through Bouton's wife,Paula.
I bet Jim Bouton has made more appearances in the inbox than any other person or topic...

We've been a booster of the Hall of Fame chances of Dick Allen-particularly with the continuing use of advanced stats that show Allen is a better choice than many already in Cooperstown's claim to fame.
Baseball Prospectus,one of the more progressive statistical groups,writes about their take on the career of Allen and his case for the Hall in an excerpt for the new book by Jay Jaffe-Cooperstown Casebook.
The book looks really interesting and one I might be buying soon!

FanRagSports (which this is my first time reading) gives a lot of facts that I wasn't aware of on why there isn't a hockey presence in Houston (NHL or AHL).
Apparently the Rockets owner,Leslie Alexander,has a massive grudge against the NHL and the article discusses all of these factors that have kept hockey out of Houston.
Since Alexander has placed the Rockets for sale,perhaps the door has been cracked for a return to the largest city in Texas..

The Big 10 network is giving Lisa Byington,a long time sideline reporter on the network,a shot on play by play this season with the Bowling Green-Northwestern game.
Byington will be the first woman to do the play by play on the network and follows in the steps of ESPN,who has used Pam Ward in the past and currently uses Beth Mowins for college games.
I'm fine with giving Byington a chance as I've never minded Mowins,although I thought Pam Ward was really bad when she did her games.

We wrap up with a quick look back at the 20 year anniversary of the Tennessee Titans spending a year in Memphis before their move to Nashville.
It's from the Memphis perspective since it's from a Memphis based newspaper,but I understood why Memphis was so bitter at the time.
It was Memphis that sold out NFL exhibition game and was mentioned as an expansion candidate and it was Memphis,not Nashville that supported both the Southmen (WFL) and Showboats (USFL),when Nashville couldn't even rate getting teams in new leagues.
However,Memphis made a huge mistake in not making the best of the temporary arrangement like Oklahoma City did with the NBA in supporting the New Orleans (then) Hornets in their pit stop in Oklahoma after Hurricane Katrina.
Oklahoma City earned massive league goodwill for the help and proved their market value and the NBA returned the favor when the owners of the Seattle Super Sonics wanted to move there.
Memphis may have done the principled thing,but not the prudent thing and the NFL will never forget that-Memphis was one of the first cities mentioned for the NFL for years and now they are highly unlikely to get a team ever....

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Buckeye Hero traded to West Coast

Photo Courtesy:Tommy Gilligan-USA Today
A Buckeye hero from the past was traded today and at a cost that was so reasonable that I wish the Cleveland Browns would have bought in at that price.

Cardale Jones,the star of the surprising Ohio State 2014 National Championship run, was traded from the Buffalo Bills to the Los Angeles (Lots of getting used to the name there) Chargers for a conditional seventh round draft choice.
No idea what the conditions are,but usually it's either if the player makes the opening game roster,plays in a certain amount of games or finishes the season on the roster.

Jones was the fourth round pick of the Bills in the 2016 draft and played one game for Buffalo last season as a rookie,throwing an interception as his only "big play" stat.
Buffalo drafted Pittsburgh's Nathan Peterman in the 2017 draft and signed veteran T.J.Yates as a free agent to backup Tyrod Taylor,so Jones looked to have a tough time making the team under new head coach Sean McDermott.
San Diego,however,looks to have a need behind Phillip Rivers and long time journeyman backup Kellen Clemons with their new coach Anthony Lynn being on the Buffalo staff that drafted Jones,I would bet on Jones making the team.

At that price,I wish the Browns would have taken a shot at Jones.
I know the Browns are allergic to Ohio State players and Jones is a bit raw,but physically I never understood why the Browns passed on Jones in the 2016 draft over the less talented Cody Kessler with the upside that Jones possesses.
The only logical reason that I can see for the Browns not to bite at a Jones trade is the physical similarities and lack of polish to their rookie DeShone Kizer-big arm,tall in the pocket,needing reps etc that the Browns may have figured that the training camp snaps weren't going to be there for both of them,especially since the Browns are unlikely to cut Kizer or Kessler and only a slim chance of cutting Brock Osweiler.

For the Los Angeles Chargers,a team that is beginning to collect Buckeyes in the last two seasons with Joey Bosa,Joshua Perry and now Jones,they'll be an interesting team for me to keep an eye on since I'm always looking for a team to watch from the West Coast.
It makes sense for the Chargers to give Jones a try at a bargain price with a lack of young quarterbacks on the team and with a coaching staff that knows him,I think Jones makes the team and maybe even sees some mop up work behind the king of garbage time fantasy points-Phillip Rivers.

As for Cardale Jones,he may never get an opportunity to be a starting quarterback in the NFL,but I wager he'll have a really good chance to earn an NFL pension and he has one thing going for him that no matter how his NFL career goes-that three game run that brought Ohio State a national championship and he'll likely have no problems finding people in the state of Ohio willing to pick up a dinner check!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Giants trade Eduardo Nunez to Boston

Photo Courtesy:Josh Morgan-Greenville OnLine

The San Francisco Giants made the first of what could be a few over the next few days as the trade deadline approaches as the Giants traded third baseman/utility player Eduardo Nunez to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for minor league righthanded pitchers Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos.

Nunez should plug in for Boston at third base as the desperate BoSox have called up top prospect Rafael Devers after Devers had played just a few games at AAA Pawtucket.

The 30 year old Nunez has been one of the hotter hitters in the league of late and is hitting .307 for the season.
Nunez was obtained near last season's trade deadline from the Minnesota Twins and will be a free agent at the conclusion of this season..

As for the return from Boston,the two pitchers are a few years away from the bigs at best and we know much more about Shaun Anderson than we do about Gregory Santos.
Anderson was the Red Sox third rounder in 2016 out of Florida,where he served as the Gators closer.
Anderson throws in the low 90's and the Red Sox were trying to stretch him out into a starter in his full season in the minors.
At 6'4 and 225,Anderson looks the part of a workhorse/innings eater and could peak out as a 3 or 4 starter in the majors.
Anderson split 2017 between Low A Greenville ( 2.56 ERA in seven starts) and High A Salem (3.99 ERA in 11 starts),with the rise in level seeing a drop in effectiveness,but the move to Salem still saw batters hit just .236 against him with a solid strikeout to walk ratio of 48 to 18.
I saw Anderson pitch once and it was his worst outing of the year,so I caught him on an off night!

I know next to nothing about 17 year old Gregory Santos (turns 18 next month) other than numbers,which look sharp in seven starts for the Boston entry in the Dominican league (0.90 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 30 innings).
Santos is 6'2 and 190,which makes me think that he's quite lanky and those type of pitchers tend to throw pretty hard (think of former Red Sox top prospect Anderson Espinoza).
Santos is a hail mary selection,you just don't know what you have when you are making such a trade,but I'm assuming someone sees enough upside to take a throw deep on him.

In such a bad season for the Giants and with such a bereft farm system,these are the type of trades that are easy to make with impending free agents.
The larger question is what other trades could the Giants make?
Could Jeff Samardzija be a target with stats that both look great and terrible depending on how you want to read them?
Could Johnny Cueto be a factor in talks despite a bad season,a big contract and his player option at the end of the year?
Do the Giants think that the time is right to rebuild? Or does the front office believe that a few tweaks would put a highly thought of team before the season back into contention next season?
If that's the case,what would those tweaks be and would the team trade players in question for immediate help or prospects that might be closer to the bigs?
Lots of questions in San Francisco,the first of which was answered tonight...

Jim Vance

Recently, Jim Vance of WRC 4 (NBC affiliate) passed away from cancer at the age of 75.

Vance was the anchorman at WRC for 45 years and for many people (myself included) have known no other anchor in the Washington market for almost their entire lives.
I remember Vance not only as the anchor at the dominant station in town (WRC hasn't been threatened in the local ratings in years) but as one that was the ultimate professional.

So many remember the video on YouTube where George Michael and Vance just broke into uncontrollable laughter when watching a runway model fall twice, but to me, I thought that that made him even more professional because it made him human and someone that we all can relate to because that's exactly how we would react in such a situation.
Oh, Vance was more than professional as his numerous awards would account for, but he came across as part of his community in Washington and since Hagerstown is in the Washington market, even in those days of antenna tv, we knew about it too...
Unafraid to be opinionated and offer commentary that might be unpopular locally, such as his commentary on the Redskins, who he rooted for with a passion, and how ridiculous he thought their name was upon reflection, Vance was truly an old school anchor.

Jim Vance was my anchor of choice growing up too as I've noted before about watching George Michael in the days that sports on the local news meant so much more than it does in the media of today.
The schtick between Michael and his putting pro wrestling on his shows (therefore drawing viewers like me) and Jim Vance playing the role of pro wrestling hater (basically being a heel) was always priceless.
Vance might not have been the reason that I started watching WRC, but he was a big part of the reason for keeping me there.

I think another reason that Jim Vance resounded with his audience was that you could tell that there was authenticity with Vance.
Vance had been through some hard times growing up and had his share even after his career had begun to blossom with abuse of cocaine that sent him to the Betty Ford Center to deal with his dependency in the 1980s.
Vance never relapsed and often was involved in the community with various drug programs to help addicts...

Much like I faded away watching David Letterman after I moved away from home due to busy lives and more and more choices through the years, I did the same with WRC news.
I still used them as my go-to when there was something directly Washington related, but in these media times in 24-hour news, local news at 6 and 11 just cannot compete with the cable networks for breaking news and I didn't watch Vance as much especially after the passing of George Michael.
Still, I feel like yet another familiar and comforting part of life isn't there anymore.

Jim Vance will be missed in Washington, but he'll be missed everywhere in the DMV.
His work won't be forgotten, but in these times, I think the days of local titans like Vance are slowly becoming extinct.
There won't be another Jim Vance anytime soon and I might even wager at all...

Monday, July 24, 2017

Cavaliers ink Derrick Rose

The Cleveland Cavaliers attempted to insure themselves against the departure of Kyrie Irving by signing Derrick Rose to the veteran exception and a one year contract.
The 2.1 million deal is a steal for Cleveland with the massive IF Rose is able to stay healthy.
Rose has suffered several knee injuries in Chicago with the Bulls and torn his meniscus with the Knicks after 64 games.
Rose did pass his physical with the Cavaliers,so for now at least looks to be physically fine.

At his peak before the injuries,Rose was arguably the equal of Kyrie Irving as he won the league's MVP in 2010-11 in leading the Bulls to the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Rose was effective last season in his only season in New York as he averaged eighteen points on forty seven percent shooting before another injury and it didn't seem that the injuries had eroded his abilities.
Derrick Rose turns 29 in October,so there should be plenty left,if the body will allow him to do so.
Rose should slot into the starting lineup,should Kyrie Irving be given his wish and get the trade that he requested,but what if this can be straightened out?
Well,I would imagine you would see a decent amount of Rose quarterbacking the second team,but you could see J.R.Smith being shifted to an off the bench role in crunch time with Rose and Irving comprising a backcourt of "Shooting Point" Guards.
My guess is that the Irving situation might be too far gone to be salvaged,but it is fun food for thought.
My biggest concern is Rose meshing well with James.
LeBron has always been best when he is surrounded by good outside shots and at his best,that really wasn't the game of Derrick Rose.
There is my concern,if Rose is the full time point guard.

This was a signing that had to be made,regardless of the injury issues.
Derrick Rose would have been a luxury, had the Cavaliers kept Kyrie Irving,but the expected departure made him a need.
If Rose can stay healthy and that will be part of the narrative for the rest of Derrick Rose's career,he is more than a replacement for Irving skill wise and has bought into the LeBron James concept for now.
The price is right for the Cavaliers with their cap constraints and for Rose,it's a way to prove some things on a contending team for his next contract.
All things considered,it's a risk,but a low risk for both player and team with an upside that only can be measured next June.

Cleaning out the inbox

Time for another cleaning of the inbox and lets start with Mike Tyson!
Not only just a dominant heavyweight champion of his time,Tyson might be even more famous to people under a certain age for the Nintendo classic-Mike Tyson's Punch Out.
I played lots of Tyson's Punch Out with Ryan and my buddy Greg during those "Nintendo" years and I never even fought Mike Tyson,which shows you that I may have been an avid player,but not a very good one!
The interesting part from the inbox is from the Comeback,which reports that Nintendo paid Tyson just 50,000 dollars to license his use in the game.
This was a phenomenal bargain even then,but the post manages to make one think about just much that Mike Tyson would have made in today's media market.
Nintendo didn't renew that contract,which I'm sure many might wonder why they didn't,but around the end of the contract,Tyson was stopped by Buster Douglas in Japan,home of Nintendo and wasn't as valuable thereafter or so Nintendo thought....

Last month,the Monday Morning Quarterback page on held a 1967 week where they were looking back at some fun topics from 1967 since this would be an anniversary year.
Two of them that I found interesting were on the expansion New Orleans Saints and on the original enigma Joe Don Looney...

Joe Don Looney was a running back that had the ability (so says most observers) to be one of the best of his era,yet between an unwillingness to bend to coaches,suspected steroid use,drug use,yoga,drafted to Vietnam and even more wound up washing out of the league.
The Looney story really has to be read to be believed.but the life this man led was interesting on its own,but if he truly was that good of a back,seemed like quite the waste of talent...

Meanwhile,in 1967,the expansion New Orleans Saints were beginning their first season in the league under owner John Mecom,who discusses his tenure owning the Saints and includes his on field fight DURING a 1967 game in Yankee Stadium against the Giants!
The article talks about the craziness involving an expansion team in those less than organized days with players in and out the door,training camps,aging veterans (including Hall of Fame defensive end Doug Atkins),rookies like John Gilliam (a future All-Pro) that took the first kickoff in the history of the franchise for a touchdown,fights,fans and more.
I love reading about startup teams and franchises in the days where information was so limited because I usually hear at least one story that I've never heard before...

A article in the LA Times on former punter Zenon Andrusyshen focuses on the punter's missed extra point for UCLA in their one point loss in the 1967 version of the "Game of the century" to USC and a fellow that you likely have forgotten-O.J. Simpson.
Andrusyshen would spend several seasons in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts before a stint with the Chiefs and my best memory with the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits for all three years of the league.
I found it really honest as Andrusyshen talks about his arrogance in his youth,how he was treated after the loss,his tirade at the UCLA team banquet after his senior year and his current charitable endeavors...

David Letterman has sent a ton of memorabilia from his career back to his alma mater at Ball State.
The gift includes the marquee from the Ed Sullivan theatre,Letterman's desk and chair from the show,guest chairs and many more.
There must be loads of things sent to the Muncie,Indiana campus that haven't been noted to the public since 2015.
I'm hoping that down the road that many of these items might be on display and maybe make Muncie a stop for tourists other than Gerry Gergich.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Panda Returns

It goes to show how disappointing the 2017 season has been for the San Francisco Giants after a season that most (including me) expected to see a solid championship contender and instead received a team that is so bad that they have a chance to have the first pick in next years draft (currently they would pick second) that the most exciting thing of late (other than the return of Madison Bumgarner) was the signing of a player that hit .212 this season and was basically paid to go away.

The return of Pablo Sandoval is surprising when you consider the noise that he made when he left for a five year and nearly one hundred million dollar contract with New York Lite err.Boston Red Sox.
Sandoval left on less than great terms after turning down the Giants offer after the team won the 2014 World Series and made several disparaging comments about the team and its players after arriving in Boston.
Sandoval made sure that he apologized to the Giants and their fans after he signed a minor league contract.which was smart in order to take that off the table and allow him to concentrate on a comeback that seems unlikely to end well,if his numbers in Boston indicate what Sandoval's value is at this time.

The Giants are in a position to see what a once valuable player can give since of the remaining two and a half years on the contract that Sandoval signed with Boston,only the veterans minimum would have to be paid by San Francisco,if Sandoval is ever able to make the parent club again.
The minor league contract will see Sandoval play third base for the next six weeks or so in AAA for Sacramento and gauge his progress from there.

Sandoval was clearly out of his element in Boston when his first season (2015) was the highlight of his tenure with pedestrian numbers of .245,10 homers and 47 runs batted in,followed it up with just three games in 2016 (0 for 6) and  his struggles in just 32 games this season continued at .212,4 homers with 12 RBI.
I thought that Sandoval was the type of player that could lose his skills quickly (I wrote it here) because of his size and weight issues and I've seen it happen before (George "Boomer" Scott anyone?),but I was still surprised that it began to happen almost immediately after leaving the Giants.

Sometimes players are made for certain teams,leagues and even ballparks and Pablo Sandoval might be one of these players.
It's hard to believe,but Pablo Sandoval is still just 30 years old.although he turns 31 in August.
It seems like he should be closer to 35,but in theory,if Sandoval is a "horse for a course" for San Francisco,he could have time left as a contributor at an extremely low price tag.
I'm all for giving it a try,but I'm not counting on that happening.
Still,it is something for Giants followers to keep tabs on for a while in a season that ranks among the most disappointing in franchise history....

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Kyrie Irving asks to leave

Kyrie Irving has reportedly asked the Cleveland Cavaliers to trade him as he is tired of playing with LeBron James and wants to be the "focal point of a team".

Well,as long time readers might recall,Mr.Irving was the focal point of a team-the Cleveland Cavaliers at one time and they were at no point of that tenure,even a playoff team-let alone a championship contender.
Kyrie Irving has provided a list of teams that he wants to be traded to,none of which Cleveland is under any obligation to send him to or even at all since Irving's contract does not include a no-trade clause.
The fact that San Antonio is on the list is hilarious to me as the always gruff Gregg Popovich and the team concept that he has built there seems like an awful fit for a guy that would rather be "THE guy" than contend for championships,but if the Spurs would be interested in shipping Kawhi Leonard (no chance at all) than by all means,give the guy what he wants....

For Irving to not want to play with LeBron James is mind boggling.
I don't recall players wanting to leave Michael Jordan,Magic Johnson or Larry Bird and just a cursory look at the oft-maligned Kevin Durant in Golden State to see the importance of keeping a team together.
Irving had a run as the foundation of a team and it didn't go well,although Irving was a young player at the time and players do need to ripen on a vine a bit to lead a losing team.
In addition,the stats show that even now-the Cavaliers were outscored on the season during times that Irving played and LeBron James was on the bench-a number that might not bode well for a player that wants "his own team".
I've always thought of Irving as more of a 2 guard that moves with the ball more than a true point guard and those guys tend to put up big numbers on teams that range from bad to a marginal playoff team.
LeBron is a player that makes the other players on the floor better,I'm not sure that Irving is that type of player.

I just don't understand it unless it comes down to Irving's ego and immaturity or an outside influence (Irving's father has been reported to have a LaVar Ball type of influence) pushing him to be more of a solo star,because other than that-it simply makes zero amount of sense.
LeBron James isn't blameless on the overall though.
He says he's committed to Cleveland (I think and hope he is),but it seems like every year or two,we play this LBJ hits free agency soon game and as a result,the franchise doesn't know what to expect and Cleveland is a destination for elite players only as long as they host James,so players are naturally reluctant to commit to Cleveland without the same commitment from James.

The Cavaliers won't have a small number of suitors for the services of Irving,but I would assume they would prefer to send him to the Western Conference,although a possible deal might link Irving to the Knicks (near his hometown in New Jersey) for some combination that would involve Carmelo Anthony.
I would want some draft picks involved as the Knicks should be delivering some high picks even with Irving in that type of deal.
I'd prefer that Irving be sent to the West and would really rather him be traded to a bottom dweller out there where he can score thirty points a night,be the star and go 30-52 every season.
Phoenix or Sacramento would fit that description nicely!
Had Irving made this demand a month ago,the Cavaliers might have been able to make a much better deal.
I would think Indiana would have preferred Irving to the Paul George deal they made with the Oklahoma City Thunder and I would especially think that the Clippers would have rather had Irving than what they acquired from Houston for Chris Paul.

Even though every Cavalier fan is broiling Irving right now,I won't-Not yet.
Remember when Kobe Bryant did a similar trade demand in the media and yet he spent his entire career as a Laker?
These things don't always result in trades and I wouldn't say that we have for sure seen the last of Kyrie Irving as a Cavalier quite yet.

I don't approve of what Kyrie Irving is doing,but I'll still have some problems ripping him too much.
That championship went a long way with me and even though this is shaping up to be an ugly divorce,I'll try my best to remember one jump shot in Oakland rather than the guy that wants to jump ship...

Thursday, July 20, 2017

How to rebuild in just a few short months

The Chicago Cubs may be the more popular team in Chicago and they are the defending world champions along with being set up to be a contender for a long time to come.

All of that might be true,but if all works out,the Cubs might not wind be being the best team in Chicago,if the amazing amount of talent that has been brought to the less popular team on the South Side in the White Sox pans out.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has moved assets for a bounty of prospects that are the envy of the league and took advantage of teams from contenders that frankly surprised many observers.
These deals have revitalized a franchise that has had four losing seasons in a row (about to have their fifth) and their fan base by trading good players to desperate contenders.

Let's go back to December and the first deal with the Red Sox.
Chris Sale is a legitimate top of the rotation starter,but seemed like a luxury item on a below average team.
Combine that with occasional clubhouse issues like this one and it made sense to shop Sale as the player that could bring back the highest return (more on that later).
The Red Sox won their division last year after missing the playoff two years straight,but being swept in the first round left a rabid fan base wanting to see their team make a move to improve a good team into a serious championship contender.
Sale was sent to Boston and the prospect return was quite good as the top prospect in the game in second baseman Yoan Moncada (last night ,Moncada made his big league debut) was the headliner.
Getting Moncada was a good start,but add power armed Michael Kopech (several times clocked at over 100 MPH),who in each level of his career is averaging double digits strikeouts per nine innings with a ceiling of a 1 or 2 starter and a floor of a hard throwing reliever,an interesting arm in Victor Diaz (Diaz has struggled in high A this season with Winston-Salem) and toolsy outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe (Basabe is striking out once every four at bats with Winston-Salem) and the White Sox looked to be quite happy with their return.
This deal might come down to how Michael Kopech develops.
Moncada looks to be about as sure of a bet as you can have for a prospect and Kopech might be the difference in a good deal and a very good deal as both Diaz and Basabe were high ceiling lottery tickets that the White Sox have to be hoping that they get anything out of just one of them to make this a successful trade.

One day later,Hahn struck again with a team desperate to make postseason progress in the Washington Nationals,who have made flopping in the post-season a habit over the last few seasons.
Even considering desperation,it was more than a surprise that the ChiSox were able to turn outfielder Adam Eaton into three high level pitching prospects.
Eaton was injured after 23 games in Washington,so the jury is still out on this trade,but Washington felt the need to win now as their window might only have a few years left and Eaton was under a very friendly contract,so he would not be considered a rental.
The cost was three of the Nationals top four pitching prospects and left the Nationals dependent on the development of Erick Fedde if they are to get any help at all from the farm system for the immediate future as far as pitching wise.
Lucas Giolito was thought of as one of the best pitching prospects in the game,but had struggled in a brief cameo with the parent club in 2016,Reynaldo Lopez looked very good at AA Harrisburg last year,but was unimpressive in Washington in his short stint there and the Nationals first round draft pick Dane Dunning was included in the deal as well.
The results so far are mixed,but promising for the White Sox.
Giolito has been pounded for AAA Charlotte,but has occasionally shown signs of brilliance (a seven inning no-hitter and seven innings allowing just two hits two starts ago).
I wondered about Giolito (the link is here somewhere) and the lack of movement on his fastball as far back as his time with the Hagerstown Suns,but the talent is there.
I liked Lopez as the better of the two even back then and Lopez has begun to be mentioned as the next potential callup from the Charlotte Knights.
Lopez has allowed more than three runs only once since the end of May and more than two just twice in the same period.
Dunning has been excellent all season at two stops (Low A Kannapolis and High A Winston-Salem).
In my opinion,the White Sox had to do this trade even if none of them turn out at the big league level.
The potential to plug in three arms into a future rotation for a good,but not impact outfielder is one that a rebuilding team has to make every time....

The season moved on and the White Sox used Jose Quintana,a good not great starter that will eat innings and slot into the middle of most teams rotation anywhere from 2 to 3 depending on the team.
Combine that with another reasonable contract and Quintana was yet another valuable trade chip for Hahn .
Hahn managed to turn the dependable arm of Quintana into the huge upside of outfield powerhitter Eloy Jimenez as the main piece of another four player return.
Jimenez (Remember him?) missed the early part of the season,but his eight homers in 155 at bats was enough to make the Carolina League All-Star game and his forty doubles last season at low A South Bend is the type of stat that impresses observers.
Power bats like the 6'4 Jimenez don't come around every day and at 20,Jimenez looks like a future star.
Add another top prospect arm in Dylan Cease (thought of as a top 100 level prospect) at low A South Bend (batters in two seasons have hit below .200 against him) and two other high A minor prospects in first baseman Matt Rose (14 homers with Myrtle Beach this season) and middle infielder Bryant Flete (hitting over .300 in a breakout season for the same Pelicans) and you have the potential for a huge return.
Jimenez could be a franchise cornerstone,Cease has the upside of a solid starter and if Rose or Flete give the major league anything,this deal would rate as a huge win for the White Sox.

Hahn still wasn't finished as he used the interest of Boston in Todd Frazier to help with their failing third base situation to parlay that into a deal with the Yankees that included help for the New York bullpen in David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle.
This deal carried a little more financial wiggling as Robertson is owed 18 million for 2018 and the pro-rated version of that for the rest of this season and Frazier earns five million over the final few months of the year.
Chicago had to decide to move them and eat some money,perhaps improving the haul or make the money the problem of the buyer and as a result,the prospects might not be of the level of the players returned earlier.
This time,Hahn chose the lesser return in order to save the dollars and gained one nice prospect and others with questions.
Outfielder Blake Rutherford is the blue chip return of this bunch as he was the Yankee first round draft selection in 2016.
Rutherford was hitting .281 for Low A Charleston with only two homers,but his twenty doubles gives me hope that he'll grow into his power.
Righthanded pitcher Ian Clarkin has good numbers in two years at High A Tampa,but has been plagued by injury and has never pitched 100 innings in his nearing five year career.
Outfielder Tito Polo is hitting .307 in 2017 between High A Tampa and a recent promotion to AA Trenton after being acquired from Pittsburgh at last years trade deadline.
Polo has speed to kill (stolen base numbers of 46,37 and 27 over the last three years),but doesn't seem to have the pop in the bat to be more than a 4th outfielder.
The White Sox also took on veteran reliever Tyler Clippard for the rest of 2017 to offset some of the Yankees expenses of the new players.
This deal is the riskiest for Hahn,yet he managed to turn a player he acquired in a minor deal (Kahnle) and two high priced players into somewhat of a decent return.
There is no sure thing in this trade and only the recent fourteen games of Polo have been at the AA level,so all three players have reasons to be looked at skeptically.

The Chicago White Sox have accumulated what seems to be a strong amount of talent by moving players that didn't help them to even be average.
None of these players are guaranteed to be contributors,although the odds are that at least a few will be,but the commitment to blow it up and do it quickly is a sound one.
I like what's being done in Chicago and if even some of these players fulfill their potential,there could be two powerhouse teams by Lake Michigan....

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I'm not Catholic,but...

This was such a great idea that I had to have it for myself.
What was it?
My go to Buckeye Football site is the terrific Eleven Warriors and being a member of their site,I was scanning their daily articles and stumbled upon their yearly feature "Confessionals",
where their writers "confess" to various "sins" against Ohio State athletics.
It is a funny column and it also breaks the myth of fans being a 100 % homer,so after I was finished-I was stealing that for myself and spinning it.
I plan on a sports feature and a non-sports version to come "clean" on a few things.
Let me know what you think...

1: I really don't like the Ohio State gimmick uniforms being worn even though I like how some of them have looked.
I liked the black helmets with red buckeyes and the chrome helmets were sharp,which would be OK with the current uniforms,but I like the regular uniforms and hate them being messed with.
OSU colors are scarlet and gray and I don't recall black being either scarlet or gray.

2: I like Chief Wahoo on the Indians hats,but if the team is to going to continue to shrink his size,just move on already!
I hate the Block C caps and wish that the team would compromise and go to the 70's Crooked C.

3: I know this seems bad,but the Giants have caught the Pirates.
Not because of anything that changed my mind,but I just see so many more Giants games (even though they are surprisingly just brutally bad this season) and I like both teams pretty much the same.

4: I don't buy Cleveland Browns items very often-not because they stink,but because I can't stand their uniforms and I figure they will change back as soon as they can in a few years.
Actually,if it isn't a throwback item with Brownie the Elf,I stick to buying older stuff of the Browns.

5: I'm not saying I'd never go to a Cavaliers game (Never have been to one in Cleveland),but the noise from the surrounding from the team just seems so over the top.
Watching all that on TV makes me think I'd be less than tolerant.

6: I hate the Pittsburgh Steelers,but I still root for the Ohio State players that play there.
I root for all of our players,no matter what NFL team they have moved onto.
My feeling on that is this-Players pick the college that they play for,they have no choice in what NFL team picks them...

7:I've never been a Texas Longhorn football fan,but I must confess that I'm rooting for them a little now that Tom Herman is the head coach there.
I'm a big Herman fan and I cannot help but to root for his teams...

8: I hate to admit it,but Tom Brady's resume' gives him the nod as the greatest QB of all-time.
But I still pick John Elway as my QB,if you need to win one game to save the earth.

9: I'm as unenthused for my fantasy football season as I've ever been.
I think this is because my NFL interest is dropping.
I usually watch the Browns and a 4 PM Sunday (usually Rams,Chargers or Raiders) game not on the national network and last year I rarely watched the Thursday,Sunday or Monday night games.
I still have huge interest in the NFL draft though and I think that is because A) I love draft talk and B)
I can watch college football from the noon kickoff throughout the late games from the West Coast.

10: I know that so many fans,writers etc gush over downtown stadiums,but give me a suburban one with easy highway access any day of the week.
What most call "Buzz and Excitement",I call "Noise and lack of personal space".,.

Hope you enjoy some confessions.I'll have a non-sports version soon!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Road Trip:Danville

We drove the hour plus from Winston-Salem to Danville,Virginia as quickly as possible in order to try to add the few cards that we had for the Appalachian League teams finished.
That's a lot of the problem when you graph the Appalachian and New York/Penn league teams-there just aren't that many players with cards until the team sets get released.

I had been to Danville ten years ago for a team set pickup on our way to Lynchburg then,this time Danville was the destination to move it from the "been to,but not for a game" list to the game list.
Legion (formerly known as Dan Daniel) Field is placed on a city facility that when you drive in you pass softball and soccer fields for youth and recreation leagues.
We arrived in the sixth inning for the Braves and the Burlington Royals (ironically,the same two teams that Fred Landucci and I will be seeing in Burlington next month) and after Mike bought a game used Danville Braves jersey at the team stand,we moved under the small grandstand.

We were both surprised by the energy in the crowd as they were stomping and cheering throughout the last few innings.
It was dollar dog and drink night at Danville and the drink came in a Danville Braves souvenir cup.
Quite a deal and one that I wish the Hagerstown Suns would consider,but that would mean they would have to purchase ice,lids,straws and cups (BTW,that's not me being sarcastic,I was given that as the reason that the Suns don't offer discounted sodas on Thirsty Thursday with their beer discounts)...

The best part of the game came with the game tied and Danville outfielder Izzy Wilson hit an inside the park home run that was the eventual winning run.
The excitement generated when the third base coach started pumping his arm and giving Wilson the chance for the rarity was almost more than I can describe!
And the pop from the crowd when Wilson slid into home and narrowly beat the tag from the Burlington catcher,well,you wouldn't have thought you would have been in Danville,Virginia hearing it!

The graphing is one that might take a few trips before getting it down.
There is a small tunnel (more like a doorway) that leads the players from dugout to clubhouse before a short walk there behind a fence.
I only had a few cards,Kyle Muller signed a few Bowman's of Mike's and mine.Leudys Baez noticed my calling him and came back out to sign his 2015 Danville card and the hero of the day,Izzy Wilson (who was promoted to Rome shortly after this game) got by me,but I figured it was him talking to a writer outside after the game and he signed his 2016 Danville card.
Mike got us the two Burlington players that we needed on the other side,so with one card being excepted,we had the small amount finished before the drive home.

Danville's field really is a well maintained high school/small college field with some nice backed seating and a small grandstand,but don't take that as a negative-it's a fun place to go with some knowledgeable and enthusiastic fans!
Check Danville out (along with the other Appy League parks),it's a throwback to the old days of minor league baseball and a part of the game that needs to remain just that.

Great trip and thanks to Mike for driving and allowing me to share everything with him and as before thanks to the Parrish family for allowing me to stay with them as well!

Well now,caught up on everything,so we have a Forgotten Superstars that has been sitting on deck for tomorrow news permitting and I have some thoughts on the recent Cubs-White Sox trade coming soon as well....

Monday, July 17, 2017

Road Trip:Winston-Salem

The final day of our trip would see Mike Oravec and I hit two more stadiums,stop by to see two more and able to graph four more teams as we worked our way home.

The start of the day came early as Mike and I sat around and spent the early morning talking with the Parrish family.
It was so enjoyable that I almost didn't want to leave,but all things must come to an end.
Thanks to the Parrishes for allowing me to come into their home and treating me so well...

Mike and I decided to start our trip with a stop in Burlington NC and a stop at Burlington Athletic Park,home of the Burlington Royals of the Appalachian League.
Mike wanted to check on jerseys for sale,while I liked adding a ballpark to the " been there,but not for a game list",but more importantly scout the place out for my visit to Burlington for a game in August.

Mike bought a game used jersey for both himself and a friend of his that lives elsewhere.
Me? I passed.I await the day that I can squeeze into a jersey like that again,but we aren't there yet.
I took some pictures in Burlington,but I'll save them for the trip review next month,but I do have a idea of just what park BAP reminds me of and I'll wager that you'll never guess in a middle years just what park came to mind!
We left BAP with a specific eatery in mind as the Parrish's highly recommended Hursey's BBQ in Wilmington.
Mike is a big BBQ fan and particularly of the Carolina style as he attended college in North Carolina.
I ordered the 4 piece white meal of their "Broasted Chicken" which brags of "95% less grease" than the standard fried chicken because it is prepared inside a pressure cooker.
It came with 2 breasts and the option to replace the two wings with two legs.
I did so and then gave them to Mike along with the breaded hush puppies instead for his cole slaw.
Swapping food like baseball cards is always fun and satisfying to both when you move items that aren't your bag for ones more to your liking.
Alas the slaw was more sweet than tart sadly for me,although it was passable.
Cole Slaw varies from place to place and it is very subjective to what's good and what's not.
Anyway,I liked Hursey's and I'll bet the "Rib Man' Fred Landucci will want to give it shot in August!

We left next to drive to Greensboro and the plan was to check out the ACC's Hall of Champions.
Sadly when we arrived,we discovered that it was only open on Thursday,Friday and the weekend.
Too bad for me,I would have really liked to have re-lived my old passion for ACC basketball.
Since they were closed.we drove a few miles to Greensboro's stadium,the home of the SAL's Grasshoppers.
Long time readers might remember that ten years ago in my previous visit,I hadn't been impressed by the Hoppers customer service and lousy autographing stadium on my trip there with Ryan and Battlin' Bob.
I hadn't known that Greensboro had a morning game and had I known,I might have pushed to give Greensboro another chance and Mike had never been there.
Mike wanted to see about some programs and the game was over,so we went to the team shop to see about his programs and the door was locked-despite it being 3;00 and the door noted that the shop was "open until four on gamedays".
We were groaned at as "Brooke" went to look reluctantly and I stepped into the concourse for a picture or two.
I was told they are "cleaning" and "it's been a long day".I did get one picture,but ten years later,Greensboro still ranks low on my list.

There were graphers by the bus as the Lakewood Blue Claws were making their only visit to Greensboro all year and their graphers were out and about.
If you remember reading about my trip to Norfolk in May,you might remember my story about a particular grapher and his boorish behavior toward me and Derreck as well as toward White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada.
Well,as we walked by,this "gentleman" was graphing Lakewood,I gritted my teeth and walked by,all the while grumbling to Mike that if he showed up in Winston-Salem,he was going to hear about it.
Fortunately for him,he didn't go to the game in Winston-Salem.

We drove to Winston-Salem to continue to run out the clock and we stopped by a bakery there named Dewey's to get some treats for Mike's mom (I'm far from a huge sweets eater),a McDonald's to keep hydrated (it was really hot) and we were across the street from the original Krispy Kreme (they are coming to Hagerstown soon,I hear) as part of a few stops,but the stop I really wanted to make was at Ernie Shore Field.
On the trip ten years ago,we stopped by Ernie Shore and the Wake Forest football stadium next door,Groves Stadium to take a look around and snap some pictures.
Back then,the Dash played there and were named the Warthogs,but the time was running out there as the new stadium was being built.
Today.Wake Forest owns Ernie Shore Field for their men's baseball team and the field is named after David Couch,who was the top donor for a renovation.
The outside looked pretty similar,but looking through the gates (we didn't get in unlike ten years ago),it's clear that the school has put major money into the stadium with new turf (My guess is artificial),a new scoreboard and upgraded seating.
It's amazing how colleges get money to improve places with the drop of the hat,yet pro teams (minor league) often have to fight for every nickel.
Next door at Groves,that name is history too as it's now BB&T (along with everything in Winston-Salem) Field.

My picture there last time was of the top of the entry way with the Deacon logo,which also is replaced-this time by the generic WF.
It's too bad that you have to sell history to get things finished,but it is the way of the world.
I've always been a passionate Big 10 football fan,but I have great memories of ACC football from the days when the ACC was more along the lines of the Group of Five in football.
I would love to make an September or October trip some year to Groves (nee BB&T) or Raleigh's Carter-Finley Stadium (or whatever NC State has sold its name to) and see a live game.

After that,it was off to BB&T Ballpark,the home of the Winston-Salem Dash.
We entered the park through the outfield entrance and while you wait,you look up at the imposing scoreboard-I'm not saying that the scoreboard is the largest I've ever seen,but from the angle,it sure seems that way!
When you walk into BB&T Ballpark,you are immediately hit by the design of the place-Very wide concourses,plenty of concessions and room to breathe makes BB&T Ballpark very user friendly and a park that would make the most claustrophobic person happy.

Mike went to graph the home Dash,while I went down to a small tucked away corner to do the visiting Carolina Mudcats.
I got a few for myself from the Carolina League All-Star set and was happy to get some top 100's signed for Kendall Morris,but it came with maybe the worst interaction that I have all year with a player.
I'm not going to name the player because it's possible that he just had a bad day,but he was downright rude and I was the only person that needed him.
These things happen.

Walking down the steps to the field,I saw a familiar face that to my surprise recognized me with a smile and a handshake in CJ Johnson.
CJ was a Suns employee back in the early years of the blog during the Will Smith era,so I must say I was mildly surprised when he welcomed me to Winston-Salem because I wasn't shy about criticizing the team in those years.
I learned something from that-Be careful what you wish for or in this case write.
I was often critical of Will Smith at that time and most of that was fair on reflection (in my opinion anyway),but I learned that the grass isn't always greener elsewhere as we've seen since Mandalay sold the team.
CJ was always one of the good guys back then and didn't beat up on me too badly when I was critical.
It was nice seeing him and I wish I had more time to catch up with him...

We watched a few innings and reluctantly left since if we were going to make it to Danville,there was a time deadline.
Let me say this about BB&T Ballpark-I loved it!
It wasn't an overtly urban park like Akron for example,but it seemed to have enough of a taste of their community that it wasn't more than a cookie cutter park either.
I've been to every park in the Carolina League (Myrtle Beach,I have been inside and looked around,but not for a game) and I would rank Winston-Salem at the top.
Beautiful place and I definitely have Winston-Salem listed as a place that I would love to return to often through the years.

Back tomorrow with the final leg of the trip-the last few hours with the Danville Braves unless something important breaks...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Boxing Challenge Weekend

Photo Credit:Rich Schultz Getty Images
The Boxing Challenge returned with three fights on HBO,two from PBC and two more from the United Kingdom.

Let's begin with the PBC show on Fox,which rated as a disappointment on several levels.
In the main event,former lightweight champion Omar Figueroa returned after a year and a half hiatus and blasted out former multi-division champion Robert Guerrero in three rounds with Guerrero hitting the floor three times in the second round and twice in the third before the bout was stopped.
For the winner,Figueroa couldn't ask for a better opponent than the faded Guerrero,but I wonder about Figueroa's size at 147.
It seems as Figueroa and his camp wonder as well,as Figueroa announced after the win that he planned to drop to junior welterweight for future bouts.
That seems smart to me as Figueroa looks to be a pretty strong challenge for anyone in that division that isn't named Terence Crawford.
As for Guerrero,who dropped to 1-4 in his last five bouts and could have been 0-5 if not for kind judging-he needs to give it up.
Guerrero clearly is not at the world class level anymore and continuing to try to do so will only result in lopsided losses and potential injury.
I earned one point for the Figueroa win with Ramon Malpica not earning any by picking Guerrero...

The other challenge bout on the PBC side saw former Olympian Marcus Browne blow out Seanie Monaghan in two rounds.
Browne dropped Monaghan in round one and pummeled him in the second before the bout was stopped.
Browne called out WBC champion Adonis Stevenson after the fight,although if there was justice,he would offer a rematch from two fights ago with Radivoje Kaladzic,who I thought clearly defeated Browne,but Browne was given the split decision.
Monaghan,who had been mentioned several times as an opponent for a champion or contender was exposed as a clubfighter that had never beaten anyone remotely resembling a top twenty fighter.
I added one point for Browne's win with Ramon picking Monaghan...

We move to HBO and a three fight card that looked great on paper,but didn't really produce in the ring.
Miguel Berchelt retained his WBC junior lightweight belt with a unanimous decision win over mandatory challenger and former champion Takashi Miura.
Berchelt couldn't miss Miura with the jab and on my card,I had Berchelt an 119-109 winner (11-1 in rounds).
Berchelt solidified his claim as the second best fighter at 130 pounds behind Vasyl Lomachenko and said he has no problem fighting Lomachenko,although he would be a huge underdog in that potential bout.
Ramon and I each picked up one point for the Berchelt win..

Berchelt might be better suited to unify with WBA champion Jezreel Corrales,who squeaked by rugged journeyman Robinson Castellanos by majority decision after ten rounds after a Corrales head butt busted open Castellanos and forced a stoppage.
I had the fight even at 94-94 after being mandated to score the tenth round after just 30 seconds of action in one of the dumber rules in boxing.
I scored the 10th round even,but Corrales was ahead in rounds (6-3-1),but Castellanos dropped Corrales twice in the fourth round to pick up points before losing one of those back when Corrales knocked Castellanos off balance and to the floor in the seventh.
Berchelt vs Corrales would be an interesting fight,unification is always a good idea and the winner would clearly stake his right as the second best 130 pounder and might earn himself a Lomachenko bout...
One point to both Ramon and I for the Corrales win.

The miracle run of Joe Smith hit a lull as Smith lost a unanimous decision to the talented Sullivan Barrera.
I only saw the final two rounds as of this writing with Ramon and I each getting no points for selecting Smith.

In the U.K.Chris Eubank Jr punched his ticket to the World Boxing Super Series with a unanimous decision over Arthur Abraham and Lee Selby retained his IBF featherweight title with a unanimous win over Jonathan Barros.
I've yet to watch either fight,so no scoring yet.
Ramon and I each picked two points for each of these wins.

On the day,I added eight points in the boxing challenge to Ramon's six and extended my lead in the boxing challenge to 87-80....

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Road Trip:Kannapolis

The second day of the trip featured my first visit to Kannapolis NC, home of the low A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox and the team that was owned by and named after the late NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt as the Intimidators.

The Intimidators (On this very field in full Vince McMahon voice) defeated the Hagerstown Suns four times in two days in June to complete a collapse that saw the Suns first half lead evaporate in the North Carolina heat and give Kannapolis-not Hagerstown the first-half championship in the South Atlantic League.

The Parrish's accompanied Mike Oravec and myself to Kannapolis and my expectations weren't high.
I had read reviews of the imaginatively named Intimidators Stadium that weren't glowing, but Bob talked to us before the game and described it in even worse terms.
Bob would later tell us that he likely "undersold" the place without realizing it.

Pulling into Kannapolis, it's clear that this was a suburban stadium that was placed near the highway, and hoped that time would fill things in around it.
That didn't happen and that is why Kannapolis is rumored to be considering a new ballpark in their downtown.
I'm not a huge fan of downtown parks, but I'll take an easy to get into and easy-to-get-out-of suburban park every time.
You walk into the stadium under a small area that resembles a carport more than anything that oversees the field and that's the last shade that you will see in Kannapolis.

There are plenty of steps here as in you walk down (and up) two long levels of steps to get from the top level to the field in an attempt to autograph.
On this day, there was a doubleheader between the Intimidators and (surprise) the Hagerstown Suns because while we were getting a 30-minute thunderstorm that cleared out in Augusta on Saturday, these two teams were getting rained out in Kannapolis.
As a result, a meet the team scheduled was first postponed to between games and then pushed to after the doubleheader.
We didn't find that out until after the initial game, so our mistake was graphing the Suns rather than Kannapolis before game one.
Both teams enter the field via clubhouses that reside beyond left centerfield and walk across the outfield to their dugout.
Graphing access isn't that bad here, so you can get some things finished.

The stadium's playing surface itself reminded me of some of my visit to Lexington, but what the seating portion reminded me of was Charleston, but the seats seemed to be a little farther away from the field than in West Virginia.
You could see plenty though and I have no complaints about the sightlines at all.
The food was OK, I had a hot dog, fries, and a soda for eight dollars, which is not oppressive for a ballpark at all.
Not a lot of choices, but the price was right.
The crowd here rivaled the Muni and for now, Kannapolis is the only team that Hagerstown is outdrawing,
Although that comes down to one fact-Hagerstown had Tim Tebow hit their town for four games and Kannapolis didn't get them at all.

However, what was oppressive was the heat.
Remember the shade comment above? This is how bad it was.
We sat just a few rows from the field on plastic seats and when you sat down,it felt like your bottom was on top of a working oven.
I'm not exaggerating and it gets worse.
Most times in these situations, you get more comfortable, but that's not the case here!
The slightest move and you were warmed again!
I've never felt anything like this at a ballpark and I can only imagine that if the plastic seats were that hot- what on earth could the metal bleacher seats feel like?
If you go here, consider bringing a stadium seat or at least a blanket!

The best part of the game was sitting around and talking baseball with Mike, Bob, Will, and Tucker.
Tucker tells me that his goal is to be a general manager for a major sports team.
He has the knowledge for sure and I loved talking baseball along with a lot of NFL draft talk as well.
It's been a long time since I've been around someone of his age who has this much on the ball.

After game one (another Kannapolis win), we decided to work on our Intimidators team set (I am working on two others for traders) on their side and add the 2017 White Sox first-round pick Jake Burger on two baseballs for Fred and Michael Landucci.
I was very glad that I was able to get those finished for them as they do so much for me.
Mike then made a friend as he was accused of stealing a ball left lying around by some kid and verbal hi-jinks ensued!
By now, everyone was hot, tired, and hungry, so we were picking up dinner before we went back to the house, but first, the boys wanted Icee's from a local store named QT.
They raved about their Icee and they did have a good one in Cherry Limeade.
They didn't have a grape and it wasn't quite Thornton's from my Louisville trip, but it was in the ballpark!

We stopped at Penn Station, which is a sub-chain that I've seen plenty of times, but never stopped to try.
Mike graciously paid for all of our dinners (what a guy!) and I ordered a Reuben, which has always been a favorite, as long as I don't have to have it on rye bread!

We watched the Futures game on "tape" and saw what we think proved to be the last game that Eloy Jimenez played as property of the Cubs, as Jimenez was traded to the White Sox as part of a package for veteran pitcher Jose Quintana.
If only I was able to discuss that trade with Tucker on that day!
The Reuben was top notch and I might be willing to try Penn Station on another day/trip.

I forgot to tell you one thing more about the Parrish's- they are a Strat O Matic family!
Yep, I took Tucker on with my 2010 Giants against his Nationals with the old dice.
I mostly play the PC game now due to the speed of the game and not having to keep stats, but there is so much to be said about the dice and card game for sure.
Lots of fun and when the evening wound down, I was exhausted and went to sleep far earlier than the previous night.

Good company, good times, and a better-than-expected ballpark as well.
I found myself liking Kannapolis more than I thought I would and I'd come back -but I'd try to add a few provisions for a return-mainly let's try to go earlier in the year or if in the summer season, gotta make it a night game. It's just too much sun...

I'll be back tonight with the boxing challenge with bouts from HBO, and Fox and two key fights from the United Kingdom.....