Monday, July 30, 2018

Cleaning out the inbox

The inbox is still full and I'm still under the weather.
I see improvement, but everything that I do seems to take twice as long (Imagine Joe Namath running the option!)

We start with the oldest piece in the inbox with a phenomenal story by Brin-Jonathan Butler and Kurt Emhoff from SB Nation on the late light heavyweight contender James Scott and his story on fighting on national television in the late 70's and early 80's while being an inmate at Rahway State Prison in New Jersey.
Scott's story is well known to boxing fans, but I think even boxing haters would find this story very interesting.
Look for Scott down the road in a Forgotten Superstars piece...

As we continue to clean from the bottom of the inbox. Deadspin writes of the two-year history of the NHL's Cleveland Barons and the failures that contributed to the only two years of NHL hockey in Cleveland.
I often think back to how things would have been different had the NHL allowed the Barons to enter the league in the 1950's or if the Barons had answered the NHL's request to enter the league in the 1940's. scores with this look back at the career of the late Ray Traylor, better known as Big Bossman to WWF fans or as I prefer to remember him, Big Bubba Rogers in his NWA tenure.
The article discusses the career of Traylor and the "Chair shot heard round the world" thrown by Dusty Rhodes and taken without emotion by Big Bubba!

ESPN writes of a new documentary on Cuban boxing on the Olympic Channel (I didn't even know this channel existed) that is based on the great Cuban heavyweight Teofilo Stevenson, but also talks to and covers some of the other great Cuban amateurs as well.
Stevenson, who grabbed gold medals in the 1972, 76 and 80 Olympics (and might have added 1984 if not for the Soviet boycott of those games, which Cuba honored) and knocked out future WBA champion John Tate (in 76) along with Duane Bobick, who was thought to be a future champion at that time (Bobick was actually the favorite entering their fight) was often thought about for a dream fight against Muhammad Ali in that era.
What would have happened had Stevenson been part of the heavyweight division then?
I think Stevenson at 6'3 used his size and reach to his best advantage against smaller heavyweights and I think he would have struggled against the similar sized Larry Holmes and the Holmes jab.
Stevenson would have had his share of success, but this fantasy that Stevenson would have swept through the division at a time when it was as deep in talent as in any time in boxing history, is just fallacy.

The Athletic finishes this off with an article on Penny Hardaway's return to Memphis as head coach to revitalize the Tiger basketball program.
The article looks at the city of Memphis, Hardaway's background and recruiting the city vs expanding the base for the program.
The issue that I think stands largest for Hardaway and success is that he has never coached above middle school and trying to lead a tradition-deep program like Memphis with zero experience, isn't just a leap, it's a jump of miles.
I'd like to see Hardaway succeed, but the odds are stacked heavily against him.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Cavaliers re-sign Kevin Love

Just when I think I have a chance to start catching up- I get sick.
It started the other night with the Dale Murphy/Bristol post, when something that usually takes an hour or two took all day and it's still here.
I'm going to work my way through it though and here is the biggest and perhaps the most surprising piece of news as the Cleveland Cavaliers extended forward Kevin Love's contract for four additional years at a cost of 120 million dollars.

Love, who most (myself included) was expected to be the asset that brought the most to the Cavaliers as the team attempted to rebuild for life after LeBron James, but the Cavaliers apparently will be trying to rebuild on the fly and avoid the tanking for higher picks that bad teams do.
Love will be the top option and the player that the offense will flow through and I believe his numbers will return to the statistics that he put up during his days in Minnesota that made him so valuable that the Cavaliers traded for him to begin with for Andrew Wiggins.

I'm not sure that Kevin Love's return will be enough to give the Cavaliers a playoff spot, considering the supporting cast, but it is a step towards that goal and I would say that it is at least possible with this move.
Rookie Collin Sexton, Larry Nance Jr and Cedi Osman at least gives the Cavaliers some building blocks around Love and it'll be interesting to see if role players like Kyle Korver are kept around or traded to contenders that might be able to use their skills better.

Love's contract isn't the "supermax" that he could have received but at eight percent less than the max. the cap-strapped Cavaliers gain some flexibility even if it doesn't come until next year when some of the overpriced veterans can be jettisoned with larger cap savings and help with signing future free agents.
The contract is also team friendly and has a no-trade clause only for the next six months, so again down the road, Love's deal makes him far easier to trade than under a supermax deal.

In closing, I find it ironic that the player that was loyal wasn't the local guy, wasn't the first overall pick, but was the person that most of us thought would be the first to leave.
Instead, despite all the barbs and digs (Some well-deserved) from teammates, coaches, and fans, it's Kevin Love that was loyal to the franchise, the area, and their fans.
There are reasons to be a little cynical, Can Love return to being the Alpha Dog after a few years of being the second or third option? Will Love be worth the extension at 34 (that's the final season)?
Is Love the type of number one player that lifts a team to be better than they are (he couldn't in Minnesota)?

No matter your thoughts on those questions, give Kevin Love a lot of credit for loyalty and the Cavaliers for trying to stay somewhat entertaining and competitive.

Still trying to get well, but I'll try to get another post up tonight.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Boxing Challenge;Usyk wins WBSS!!

Finally, we have a four belt champion and the winner of the first World Boxing Super Series as Oleksandr Usyk gave the performance of his career with a dazzling and dominant victory over Murat Gassiev in Moscow via a unanimous decision.

Usyk's win annexed the WBA and IBF cruiserweight titles from Gassiev added them to the WBO and WBC championships that he already held and left no doubt that he is the best cruiserweight in the world.
I thought the fight was a pick em level fight, but I leaned Gassiev by a hair.
I was quickly proven wrong as the speed and quickness of Usyk left Gassiev befuddled and confused for the evening and on the occasion that the power-hitting Gassiev did connect, Usyk took those hammers extremely well in winning a 118-110 decision on my card.
Usyk was the tournament's top seed and won all three of his tournament events in his opponent's home country defeating Marco Huck in Germany, Mairis Briedis in Latvia and then Gassiev in Russia in the final.

The rumored next fight for Usyk is Brit Tony Bellew, a former cruiserweight champ with two wins over former heavyweight champion David Haye in Bellew's last two fights.
Hopefully, that fight will be at cruiserweight, where it would be nice to see Usyk make a few defenses of the unified title and not have the title break back into four pieces after a move to heavyweight.
I'd like to see Usyk in a rematch vs Mairis Bredis, who Usyk defeated in the semi's by a narrow majority decision before he leaves for the bigger division.
I scored their fight a draw so this would be far from a sure thing for Usyk.

As for the WBSS, they couldn't have asked for more from their first tournament.
They had every major cruiser and most of the best in the world, were able to put together exciting and compelling bouts and unified all the titles.
Every tourney won't be able to do that, as their super middleweight bracket has shown and they won't be able to attract all the champions every time, as their 2018-19 brackets have shown.
The cruiserweight champions were all European attractions, so there was not a need for an American presence- eventually, they will need one.
The WBSS still will need to prove that they will be able to bring the best fighters in from the three main American promoters (they have yet to pull a major star from Golden Boy, PBC or Top Rank), and they have to hope Eddie Hearn's streaming service DAZN catches on as season two's contests will be exclusive to that outlet, but still I have to say the WBSS is an early success story, let's hope that this can be sustained.

On HBO, the main event was the return of exciting banger Jaime Munguia in the first defense of his WBO junior middleweight title against former champion Liam Smith in Las Vegas.
I haven't had a chance to watch Munguia's unanimous decision win, so I'll edit this later when I have.

Alberto Machado won every round over Rafael Mensah in the dull opener to retain a minor title.
Machado was arguably the most screwed over fighter by the WBA after he won their top title with a stunning KO of favored Jezreel Corrales, only to be dropped to their "regular' title in order to have the top "vacant" title (which really wasn't) filled by Gervonta Davis.
Machado knocked Mensah down at the end of the first round and had he had a few more seconds, might have ended the fight there.
Instead, we received eleven more rounds of a tedious beating.
I scored Machado a 120-107 winner.

In the challenge, Ramon Malpica scored 4 points to my 3 and cut my lead to 25 at 115-90...

Road Trip: Bristol

This edition of Road Trip comes from Bristol VA/TN and a trip for someone other than myself for a change.

A few months back, the Bristol Pirates of the Appalachian League announced plans for a Dale Murphy night, where the former Braves slugger would come to Bristol and sign autographs along with a few other promotional events during his stay.
As soon as I saw this, I asked Ryan, if he would like to go as his birthday present and to my mild surprise, he immediately agreed.
The surprising part wasn't that he wanted to go, but it was more surprising that he agreed so quickly to keep his schedule open for that long.
Ryan works and travels a lot, so for him to make that commitment well in advance showed me he wanted to attend.

The added bonus was Cherie wanted to come along with us.
This wasn't surprising that she wanted to go (She watched plenty of Dale Murphy games on WTBS when we were first married), but she's never been a smooth traveler and the distance on a day trip (5 and a half hours each way) would have normally made me doubt her likelihood to do that type of trip.
However, she wanted to do it and she was a champ all day long.
I had worked all night and crawled into the car just an hour or so after getting off, so I spent much of the round trip "Sleeping" or as close as one could get to such in the backseat of a car.

The drive down was pretty uneventful, lots of fun chatter and a tip for a restaurant stop on my next road trip in Staunton VA before a stop at Shoney's in Dublin, Va for a decent meal before the rest of the Bristol trek.
I stopped into the nearby Pulaski County visitors center to try to find some pocket schedules, but no such luck.
We hit Devault Stadium with an hour to spare before our required arrival and there was a decent sized line that we would wind up being around the middle of by the time we were ushered into the stadium.
I even was able to grab some wi-fi and watch some of the pre-fight of the WBSS (Next post on the results) as I waited.

Now, I have been critical in the past of teams that handle events wrong and botch things that should be easy- BUT I also believe in giving credit when due and let me tell you- The manner in which the Bristol Pirates planned and executed this event was terrific and maybe (I can't think of another, but memory fades) the smoothest I have ever attended.
The team sent out multiple emails with tickets, directions to the stadium, times to arrive and if you did something wrong, it's because you didn't read closely.
At the stadium, there was a table with a large sign telling you where to check in and the employees were friendly-Imagine that!
The line moved reasonably quickly and the team had an employee waiting with Dale Murphy that asked you if you wanted a picture and if so they would take it for you- again keeping things running smooth and not taking time away by each person's fumbling around.

There were thunderstorms in the forecast and the sky was quite gray as we moved through the lane that leads to the actual stadium, so the race was on- Would we reach Dale Murphy before the rain began to fall?
The answer was yes, but barely as we each were able to meet Murph, have pictures signed, and told him how far we drove to meet him with it being Ryan's birthday present.
Ryan was pleased to have his favorite player wish him a Happy Birthday!.
We weren't even able to make the short jaunt to the field to try to get the few cards that I had for the Bristol Pirates to sign before the skies opened.
Dale Murphy was a success, but there would be no more on this day.

We waited through the rain and the announced delay before I threw in the towel.
I really wanted Shane Baz on his top 100, but it would have been at least an hour before they hit the field and with a long drive home, I didn't want to do that to Ryan, who had to drive.
First, though, it was time for dinner at Cootie Brown's.
You may remember Fred Landucci and me hitting the Johnson City Cootie's last year and loving their Key Lime Pie!
I still wasn't super hungry, but the road home is not filled with places to eat for the late night traveler, so I had a Reuben without any sides, so that I had plenty of space for a piece of pie, which each of us had.

The sky cleared as we left Bristol and I was starting to question not sticking around for the few cards that I had, but about ten minutes or so, the rain began to fall again and I felt better!
They would eventually play with the game going extra innings, but the time spent waiting would have meant a long time added to getting home and we wound up arriving at one AM as it was.

It was a great time and one that was a bit of a throwback for us with one more "family" trip for the three of us.
I'm so glad that I was able to do this for Ryan and Dale Murphy might be the nicest player that I've met and certainly the nicest player of his caliber that I've met, so that made it all worthwhile.

I still have to make time to watch the weekend's fights (I've watched one of the three so far) to post the boxing challenge, so look for that soon.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Passings-Sports Edition

The inbox is filled with items, but sadly, what seems to be the heaviest lifting is with recent passings- Enough of them to do a sports edition and a later non-sports edition.

Goodbye to Mr.Saito at the age of  76 from Parkinson's Disease.
The 1964 Olympian finished seventh in freestyle wrestling before turning professional the following year.
Saito was best known locally for his two WWF tag team title reigns with Mr. Fuji in the territory days, but was a huge star in New Japan pro wrestling as well as the AWA, where he starred in their glory days and their waning ones as well, when he briefly held their world championship, winning it and then losing it back to Larry Zbyszko.
Saito and Fuji were the best "working" tag team of my days as a territorial wrestling fan among the champions of "Captain" Lou Albano and in the ring, the large majority of that was due to the work of Saito.
Sadly, Saito might be most remembered by American audiences for something not televised- his 1984 brawl with Ken Patera against police officers in Wisconsin that would see both men serve jail time for their assault.
Other than Saito's short run in the dying AWA, Saito would wrestle mostly in Japan, following his release...

Goodbye to Gabe Rivera at the age of 57.
Rivera was the best defensive lineman in Texas Tech history and "Senor Sack" often comes up when the topic of Dan Marino being passed over in the 1983 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the team selected Rivera over Marino.
Rivera collected two sacks in six games before being paralyzed in a drunk driving accident.
Rivera would never walk again and would struggle with issues from the paralysis for the remainder of his life.

Goodbye to Ray Emery at the age of 35.
Emery drowned in Lake Ontario in what police called a "Case of Misadventure".
Emery played for four teams, but best remembered for his time with the Ottawa Senators that culminated in the Senators reaching their only Stanley Cup finals in 2007.
Emery was known for being pugnacious on and off the ice, where he had various incidents at both sites.
Emery often would have his goalie masks designed with artists renderings of boxers, most notable of these being Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

Goodbye to Lonnie Shelton at the age of 62.
The burly power forward played for three teams, including the Cavaliers, Sonics, and Knicks was a starter for the 1979 world championship team in Seattle, the only title that the Sonics ever won and was known as an enforcer in the days of NBA fights when punches actually were thrown AND landed.
Shelton also signed with the ABA, but never played there, which when it was discovered caused Oregon State to forfeit several games that Shelton played for the Beavers.
Shelton also was a starter for the 1984-85 Cavaliers, who rallied from a 2-19 start under rookie coach George Karl to make the playoffs as the eighth seed and would give the eventual champion Boston Celtics their toughest series of the playoffs.
Shelton was also the father of former Arizona Cardinals tackle L.J. Shelton,

Another enforcer of the time period, this time of the ABA variety, passed away at the age of 67 as
former Kentucky Colonel Ron Thomas passed after a bout with ill health.
Thomas was unable to attend the recent ABA reunion and the Dropping Dimes foundation, a group to help former ABA players in poor health pay medical bills are picking his funeral expenses.
Thomas was known as one of the better ABA fighters with the Colonels and spent much of his Colonels tenure protecting Louie Dampier and Dan Issel.

Goodbye to Frank Ramsey at the age of 86.
Ramsey was a Hall of Famer as a player with Boston and spent his nine-year career with the Celtics.
Ramsey's tenure in Boston saw the Celtics win seven titles and he averaged 13 points a game for his career, which looking at only the numbers isn't all that impressive compared to the current day.
Can you imagine anyone averaging 13 points and five rebounds in today's game even getting a vote from someone for the Hall of Fame, let alone getting in?
The game was different then though and statistics in all sports need to be evaluated in their own time to be truly considered fairly,
The Kentucky native won an NCAA championship in 1952 with the Kentucky Wildcats and would have likely won another in 1954, but an obscure NCAA rule at the time allowed graduate students to play during the regular season, but not in the tournament.
Coach Adolph Rupp's Wildcats finished undefeated but refused the tourney bid because playing without Ramsey and future Hall of Famer Cliff Hagen would have likely meant a loss and a ruined perfect campaign.
Ramsey also coached a portion of the 1970-71 season with the Kentucky Colonels and took the Colonels from a losing record to one game of the ABA title losing to the Utah Stars in seven games.

Goodbye to Lenny Chappell at the age of 77.
Chappell was the centerpiece of Wake Forest's 1962 ACC champions and led the Demon Deacons to their only Final Four appearance in program history in that season.
The 6'8 center was the ACC player of the year in 1961 and 62 and would become the all-time leading scorer in ACC tournament history, which held up until Duke's J.J Redick broke that mark in 2006.

That gets rid of some things from the inbox, but many more to come over the next few days...

Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge returns after missing last week's bouts due to time constraints- as in I missed putting them up, but three interesting fights on the docket for this version.

The lead fight is one that most Americans won't see unless they have something called Klowd Tv on the stream as the World Boxing Super Series crowns its first tournament champion with their cruiserweight finals that will see the winner walk away with all four world title belts.

That's too bad because this is not only one of the game's best fights to be made, it's maybe one of the most exciting too.
WBC/WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk invades Russia and the home of WBA/IBF champ Murat Gassiev as the top two seeds hook it up for all the marbles with what has the potential to be a fight of the year quality.
Usyk is more of a boxer/puncher, while the booming bombs of Gassiev hide an underrated standup boxer in a true matchup that is so close that you could easily decide the winner by a flip of the coin.
Gassiev's semi-final win over Yunier Dorticos will deserve some fight of the year consideration, while Usyk's victory over Marius Briedis was entertaining to watch as well, so the styles should create some action exchanges.
I picked Gassiev to win the tournament as the second seed before it started, so I shade towards him by a hair and don't forget the fight is in Gassiev's home country, so it could be tough for Usyk to win a close decision...

HBO returns to the boxing airwaves with a two fight card led by Jaime Munguia's first defense of his WBO junior middleweight title against former champion Liam Smith.
Munguia is a rising star after his impressive title-winning performance when he blew through Sadam Ali with an aggressive style that is going to make him a fan favorite.
Smith held the title in the past before his loss to Canelo Alvarez, so he's established at the weight and should be a decent test for Munguia.

Alberto Machado defends his WBA 'regular' title against Rafael Mensah.
Machado was the top WBA champion after his win over Jezreel Corrales before a mind-boggling decision by the always inept organization gave their top title to Gervonta Davis, dropping Machado down a level (three titles in a division SMH) without a particular reason.
Machado's win over Corrales was an exciting one and seeing him again is a good thing.
Mensah is undefeated against weak competition, but fighters from Ghana have a tendency to pop from the unknown to provide some excellent efforts.

I lead the boxing challenge over Ramon Malpica 112-86

Unification WBA/IBF-WBC/WBO Cruiserweight Titles
World Boxing Super Series Final
Murat Gassiev vs Oleksandr Usyk
R.L: Usyk Unanimous Winner
TRS: Gassiev Unanimous Winner

WBO Junior Middleweight Title. 12 Rds
Jaime Munguia vs Liam Smith
R.L: Munguia KO 9
TRS: Munguia KO 8

Junior Lightweights, 12 Rds
Alberto Machado vs Rafael Mensah
R.L: Machado KO 11
TRS: Machado Unanimous Decision

Friday, July 20, 2018

Indians bolster bullpen-Costs top prospect

The Cleveland Indians have struggled all season with a bullpen plagued with ineffectiveness and injuries.

Chris Antonetti and the Wahoo's attempted to shore up the hull a bit with a trade that added two new arms to the bullpen, one of which is coming off a trip to the All-Star game, but nothing comes for free (Unless you are dealing with the Orioles apparently) and it cost the Indians their best position prospect.

First, the return as the Indians added All-Star closer Brad Hand and rookie Adam Cimber.
The southpaw Hand, who collected 24 saves in the first half for the last place Padres, has an ERA of barely three and is fanning opposing hitters at a rate of 13 per nine innings to set him up as a possible new closer for Cleveland.
I suppose it is possible that Terry Francona may stick with Cody Allen and use Hand as the lefty closer, but it also might be that Hand slots in behind Allen and Andrew Miller and becomes one of the top options for the seventh and eighth innings.

Hand throws in the 90's, throws a wipeout slider. has been durable for the Padres since arriving from the Marlins ( Hand pitched here in Hagerstown with the Marlins low A affiliate Greensboro), and being under contract for two more seasons (plus a 2021 team option) made him very appealing to the Tribe with the expected departures to free agency after the season by Allen and Miller to step in as the future closer.
The only small concern that I have about Hand is that he wasn't successful in Miami and his rise to prominence in San Diego came in the massive Petco Park, where flyballs go to die.
That's a minor concern and one that I don't think is very likely to be a problem, but still worth noting.

Adam Cimber is an interesting player as well as he posted an ERA of 3.17 as a twenty-seven-year-old rookie in San Diego.
What I find most interesting about Cimber is the submarine motion that he uses.
Pitchers with odd motions can be quite devastating when used in small doses against opponents that share the same dominant side (righthander vs righthander usually gives the pitcher the advantage) and right-handed batters are hitting just .210 against Cimber and have hit just one home run.
Cimber's issue with becoming more than a situational reliever has been his problems with lefties, who hit over .290 against him in San Diego.
Still, even if he is a back of the bullpen piece at best, Cimber could be an Indian for quite a while with the team holding a few years of control.

And as mentioned earlier, when you are acquiring quality assets, you have to give up quality and the Indians did just that as they shipped their top position prospect and in the eyes of some, their top prospect in catcher Francisco Mejia to the Padres.

At 22 and considered to be a potential plus bat, the switch-hitting Mejia carried plenty of value, add in that he adds that potential from behind the plate and actually wants to remain there and you have a blue-chip prospect.
Mejia was hitting at a .279 clip with seven homers for AAA Columbus, but the Indians have tried to make his bat play with attempts to have him learn to play third and the outfield at various points with less than full success.
Some of that has been reported to be due to Mejia's less than enthusiastic response to the trials and with the return to form of Yan Gomes with the parent club (And Gomes has a year and two more years with team options) could leave Mejia blocked on the depth chart and even with the Indians less than strong situation in the outfield, Mejia was a somewhat expendable, if valuable trading piece.
The Padres stated that they see Mejia as a catcher despite having a fine young defensive minded catcher in Austin Hedges and in order to continue Mejia's development, he was assigned to the Padres AAA club in El Paso.
Mejia's arrival bolsters an already powerful farm system in San Diego and gives the Padres ten of's top one hundred prospects, which is pretty impressive on its own, but is even more impressive when you consider the ten is a pretty even mix of homegrown prospects and players obtained in trades.

I hate losing Francisco Mejia, but it seemed like his shine had dimmed in the front office over the last week or so and dealing him from a position of strength now is a good idea.
Brad Hand and Adam Cimber will bolster a bullpen in need of such bolstering, they are the type of acquisition that the Indians like to make and small market team should make- affordable players with some control before free agency.
With the expected loss of Cody Allen and Andrew Miller at the conclusion of 2018, this trade will hopefully pay benefits for the next few seasons with Hand likely to slot in as the closer for 2019 and Cimber as a situational reliever with the possibility of moving into a setup role with an improvement against left-handed batters.

Still have plenty to work on, but the trade took precedence, so back with more later.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

5-0 without the Hawaii

The big 5-0.
Yep, another hurdle reached in the mile markers
of the interstate highways of life and yet I feel

Why so?
Let us start with a recent clean bill of health (except extra weight, which I was told that considering the rest of my health isn't an issue other than some joint stress) and move on to what was a terrific birthday weekend.

Moving on to my birthday, where I was snookered into thinking that it was going to be a small party involving Cherie, the kids and my mother in law, Beverly and upon arrival, discovering that most of my good friends had been invited and were waiting for me at Ryan's home.
It was such a wonderful surprise and the gift of their appearance, considering how some of them passed on other places to see and things to do meant the world to me.
Thanks to all of you for the gifts, time and the great time.

I wanted to give a special thanks to all of you for pulling this off without suspicion on my part.
Apparently, this was planned for months and yet all of the participants managed to listen to me and not tip anything off.
More thanks to Cherie and Rachel for the planning and to Ryan and Courtney for allowing us to use their home for the event.

I also have a special thanks to someone that hardly knows me.
Janet works at the grocery store that we go to and she was kind enough to give me a birthday card with a special gift- a fifty cent piece from 1968 (which is the reason the coin is pictured above) that she received from her grandfather.
Janet was kind enough to pass this along to me along with a wonderful note inside the card and I was quite touched by her gift.
I wish that I could contact her right away, but unless she is reading this, I'll have to wait until next week- Thank you so much

I don't feel a lot different from 50 than 49 or 40 or even 30.
Immaturity will do that for a person-Ha Ha.
I've never been a numbers person that things like this bother me.
30 or 40 never bothered me and 50 hasn't either.
Sure, middle age has its issues, but I'm not feeling bad about it-I have a long way to go,

Honestly, what has bothered me more than anything of late has been the recent one-year "anniversary" of the loss of Big Ed.
I don't think I'll ever look at 4th of July the same way again after 2017 and it bothered me enough that I didn't even want to write about it.
The big guy is missed by all of us...

I'll be back to normal now with more posts soon.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

TRS Boxing Ratings-Part Two

Part two of the TRS ratings will feature the lighter-weight fighters from the lightweights down through the flyweights.
I'll be editing this later with the addition of pound for pound ratings.

Part One can be found here.

1: Vasyl Lomachenko WBA Champ 14 Pts (Unranked)
2: Mikey Garcia WBC Champ 13 Pts
3: Jorge Linares 9 Pts (Down Two)
4: Robert Easter IBF Champ 6 Pts (Down Two)
5: Ray Beltran WBO Champ 2 Pts
Also Received Votes; Richard Commey

Junior Lightweights
1: Miguel Berchelt WBC Champ 15 Pts (Up One)
2: Gervonta Davis WBA Champ 12 Pts (Up One)
3: Alberto Machado 9 Pts (Up One)
4: Francisco Vargas 7 Pts (Unranked)
5: Jezreel Corrales 3 Pts
Also Received Votes; Christopher Diaz

1: Leo Santa Cruz WBA Champ 15 Pts
2: Gary Russell WBC Champ 11 Pts (Up Two)
3: Carl Frampton 9 Pts
4: Oscar Valdez WBO Champ 7 Pts (Down Two)
5: Josh Warrington IBF Champ 3 Pts (Unranked)

Junior Featherweights
1: Guillermo Rigondeaux 14 Pts
2: Issac Dogboe WBO Champ 13 Pts (Unranked)
3: Rey Vargas WBC Champ 10 Pts (Down One)
4: Danny Roman WBA Champ 7 Pts
5: Jessie Magdaleno 5 Pts (Down Two)

1: Naoya Inoue 15 Pts
2: Ryan Burnett WBA Champ 8 Pts
    Luis Nery (Down One)
4: Emanuel Rodriguez IBF Champ 5 Pts (Unranked)
    Zolani Tete WBO Champ (Down One)
Also Received Votes: Juan Carlos Payano

Junior Bantamweights
1: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai WBC Champ 15 Pts
2: Juan Francisco Estrada 12 Pts (Up One)
3: Jerwin Ancajas IBF Champ 8 Pts (Up One)
4: Kai Yafai WBA Champ 5 Pts (Up One)
5: Roman Gonzalez 3 Pts

1: Artem Dalakian WBA Champ 14 Pts (Up One)
2: Cristofer Rosales WBC Champ 9 Pts (Up One)
3: Donnie Nietes 5 Pts (Down Two)
    Vincent LeGrand (Unranked)
5: Sho Kimura WBO Champ 3 Pts (Down One)
    Daigo Higa
    Andrew Selby
    Moruti Mthalane

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


It's been a whirlwind of a few days for me and I'll try to get caught up over the next day or two.

My friends know that I turned 50 on Sunday, but my wonderful friends and family surprised me with a wonderful birthday party.
Almost everyone in the area that is important to me was able to make it and I had a great time.

It's hard to put into words what that meant to me and I tried to thank everyone on Facebook, but one always seems to miss a few people that are important enough to mention.

In any event, I'll be writing a decent amount over the next few days.
I have to finish the boxing ratings, I want to talk about my party and turning 50, I also have something in mind about an anniversary that I haven't had time to write about as well.

It was a busy three day weekend for me, but one that was as fulfilling as I've had in a while;
I'll be writing quite a bit over the next few days- stay tuned..

Friday, July 13, 2018

TRS Boxing Ratings-Part One

The TRS Boxing Ratings return with the rankings from the Heavyweight division through the Junior Welterweights.
The lightweights down through the flyweights will be posted later this week.

1: Anthony Joshua WBA/IBF/WBO Champ 15 Pts
2: Deontay Wilder WBC Champ 12 Pts
3: Luis Ortiz 9 Pts
4: Alexander Povetkin 6 Pts
5: Joseph Parker 3 Pts

1: Murat Gassiev WBA/IBF Champ 15 Pts
2: Oleksander Usyk WBC/WBO Champ 12 Pts
3: Mairis Breidis 7 Pts
4: Yunier Dorticos 5 Pts
5: Krzystof Glowacki 4 Pts
Also received votes: Andrew Tabiti

Light Heavyweights
1: Sergey Kovalev WBO Champ 15 Pts
2: Dmitry Bivol WBA Champ 11 Pts
3: Adonis Stevenson WBC Champ 10 Pts
4: Oleksandr Gvozdyk 6 Pts (Up One)
5: Artur Beterviev IBF Champ 3 Pts (Down One)

Super Middleweights
1: Gilberto Ramirez WBO Champ 15 Pts
2: George Groves WBA Champ 9 Pts
3: James DeGale 8 Pts
4: David Benavidez WBC Champ 7 Pts (Down One)
5: Callum Smith 4 Pts
Also received votes; Jose Uzcategui IBF Champ

1: Gennady Golovkin WBA/WBC Champ 15 Pts
2: Billy Joe Saunders WBO Champ 11 Pts (Up One)
3: Canelo Alvarez 8 Pts (Down One)
4: Jermall Charlo 7 Pts (Up One)
5: Daniel Jacobs 4 Pts (Down One)

Junior Middleweights.
1; Jarrett Hurd WBA/IBF Champ 15 Pts
2: Jermell Charlo WBC Champ 12 Pts
3: Erislandy Lara 8 Pts
4: Jaime Munguia WBO Champ 7 Pts (Unranked)
5: Julian Williams 2 Pts (Unranked)
Also received votes; Austin Trout

1) Errol Spence IBF Champ 15 Pts
2) Terence Crawford WBO Champ 12 Pts (Up One)
3) Keith Thurman WBA Champ 9 Pts (Down One)
4) Shawn Porter 5 Pts
5) Manny Pacquiao 4 Pts

Junior Welterweights
1) Jose Ramirez WBC Champ 13 Pts (Up One)
    Regis Prograis
3) Antonio Orozco 7 Pts (Up One)
4) Josh Taylor 6 Pts (Unranked)
5) Kiryl Relikh WBA Champ 4 Pts (Unranked)
Also received votes: Eduardo Troyanovsky, Sergei Lipinets

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Road Trip:Lake County

Our trip had one day to go and this day wasn't set until the morning.
Derreck and I had two plans set depending on whether or not, we will hear from my aunt Becky and uncle Terry.
Becky has been noted in the past, is easily my favorite aunt (I never have problems saying things like that, the truth is the truth after all), Terry might be the same in the uncle division. although he does have some competition-ha ha and I wanted to try to see them before we left, if they had time.
So, we decided if we hadn't heard from anyone by say 11;00, we would leave and be on our way to Pickle Bill's for a seafood lunch, but if we would hear from them, we would stay in town for lunch and then move onto Lake County.

About 30 minutes before we were going to leave, we heard from them and agreed to meet at Buffalo Wild Wings.
Ashland had been one of the first few places to have a BWW franchise, but their store had become very small and time had passed it by so in the last year or so, a new restaurant had opened in a different portion of town.
Derreck, of late, has developed an issue with BWW, while I on the other hand, quite like it.
I might have chosen local champion Lyn-Way, but Becky said they are constantly loaded with people
on Sunday mornings.

While they prepared (and picked up Missy as well) to drive in, Derreck and I first hit a packed Grandpa's Cheesebarn to bring some cheese and more for the ladies and then a Wal-Mart stop for some supplies for the drive home.
As we walked through the parking lot, Derreck received a call that told her that they were there and since we only had to cross the lot to reach BWW, we were there in a minute.
They were kind enough to buy us lunch and the catching up and stories (I even learned something new about my dad) was very enjoyable.
Thanks to Terry and Becky for picking up the tab and for spending such a good time with us.

We drove to Lake County for yes, yet another heat index of over 100 degrees.
The waiting team was the Fort Wayne Tin Caps, a San Diego Padre affiliate and since we do not have any San Diego teams on our circuit, there was a chance to add some players that we have to travel to see.
The hoped-for hit was the Padres 2017 first rounder and top 100 pitcher Mackenzie Gore, who ignored our requests (Derreck and I were alone in an area) and walked across the outfield.
I did add Tin Cap Luis Almanzar on his Bowman, so the Tin Caps weren't a total loss, but not tagging Gore for the top 100 set was disappointing.
I was able to add a few Captains, most notably perhaps my favorite Indians prospect that no one is talking about in outfielder Oscar Gonzalez on three cards.
I asked Gonzalez to sign and he said he'd come back.
90 percent (if not more) of the time, that's a kiss-off, but Gonzalez came right back to me.
Gonzalez is still raw with just ten walks as of this writing, but his. 286/11.43 line is still encouraging to me, yet Gonzalez did not make the Midwest All-Star game and teammate Will Benson did,
Benson, who signed one card for me, is having huge issues despite 13 homers as of this writing as he is hitting just. 173 with a Tebow-like 99 strikeouts in 266 at-bats.
Despite the talent and power potential, strikeout numbers like that don't tend to get better as you rise in the minors and for the life of me, I don't get how a guy hitting .173 makes the All-Star team.

After I bought a Midwest League top prospect set and a Captains logo baseball, we watched a few innings and Derreck asked what do you want to do?
As in stay for post-game and another shot at MacKenzie Gore or hit the road and arrive home a few hours early.
We talked for a bit and I told him that I was fine either way as both had their advantages.
Finally, he decided to go and his reasoning was sound- Had we spent that time, staying longer and getting home later and we didn't get Gore to sign-the ride home was going to be long and very gripe-filled!
Neither of us was really hungry, so we didn't stop on the way, which was faster as we went home via the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which continues to raise their prices to now 28 bucks from the Ohio line to the Breezewood exit.

Believe it or not, this was my first ever trip with Derreck alone through our long friendship.
Derreck is like a younger brother to me and my family and I had a great time with him, especially since he hasn't been graphing as often this season.
Also special thanks again to Missy, Aunt Becky, Uncle Terry and a very special thank you to "Aunt' Gayle for providing us her home to stay in...

That finishes the road trip coverage for now, but we have plenty coming up with massive inbox cleaning, the TRS boxing ratings, the non-sports podcasts that I listen to, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Road Trip:Akron

The second day added a special spin for Derreck and I as we picked up my cousin Missy for the first portion of the day.

Missy is my favorite cousin in a field that ranges from family that I don't know very well to family that I don't care for and we were bringing her along to a local stop that she had never been to before.
It's funny how that seems to work out- we seem to never get around to visiting the places that others want to see in our backyards.

We were on our way to nearby Mansfield and the Ohio State Reformatory.
The OSR has been closed to prisoners for quite a while but has drawn visitors for several different reasons.
Many come because they believe in ghosts and want to hunt for them.
Others are there for the experience of seeing how the prisons of the past were run and others even come for the gothic architecture, but we were there to take one of the various tours entitled "History and Hollywood" to see the many parts of the prison that featured filming of the Shawshank Redemption- which is not only a classic but a favorite of mine as well.

The tour was interesting and I even learned a few things about the movie (Tom Cruise was the original choice for Andy Dufresne and then Tom Hanks was taking the role but had to give it up for Forrest Gump and that left the role to Tim Robbins) along seeing so many of the locations.
The tour was an hour and a half long and really was way too much to recount, but if you are in the area and have any of the interests that I mentioned above- you really do need to check the OSR out.
A few notes though if you are considering it.
There is a lot of walking and many steps as well.
It is far from handicap friendly and with all the walking, I would say not an easy navigation for children under 12.
Also if you have a fear of heights, you may have a problem because you are often four floors in the air looking down.
It's not unsafe, but it could bother the acrophobic and if you are bothered by closed in places, there are a few of those as well.

We then had a quick lunch at the A&W root beer stand.
I wanted Derreck to try the coney's and the shredded chicken sandwich, but only eat those because we still had another stop before hitting Akron.
We ate at a local park and had a great time chatting before taking Missy back to her home.
Because we ate just a little, we had space enough after the hour drive to eat at my favorite chicken place in Belgrade Gardens.
I've raved about Belgrade in the past and once again, it lived up to the billing.
I had chicken of course and two slaws (dinner comes with THREE sides) and fries that I ate only a few of.
I do love their very vinegary slaw though and missing out on Belgrade Gardens is about the only thing that I miss about not taking the Pennsylvania Turnpike anymore (Belgrade is in the opposite direction of the "Back Way" that I often use.

Derreck and I were off to Akron for the Clu Haywood bobblehead as Akron does a Major League bobblehead every year.
I wasn't really interested in the Hayward (I will be very interested when the Rubber Ducks do the heel of the sequel Jack Parkman), but part of bobbles, especially popular ones is getting there and yes- standing in line.
This wasn't an all-time bobble wait and paled in comparison to the one time at State College, but still, I get so bored in these situations, it's usually hot (although this was far hotter than even a usual summer day and rarely is the item something I care about.
Upon arrival at Canal Park, I was surprised to see the team store open.
I've always wondered why more teams didn't open their store on these nights with a captive and hot crowd looking for something to do and occasionally get cool.
I went inside the store (and as soon as I left, the store closed) and bought a few things, but as I checked out, I saw two hats of the old Akron Aeros.
Longtime readers might remember my first visit to Akron after their name change to Rubber Ducks, where it looked like it had been a government coup with nothing at all even in the clearance area that said Aeros and I was more than surprised to see these two hats.
I asked the fellow behind the counter if those were for sale and he said he didn't think so, but he'd check.
He came back with the manager and a story, that if true, was pretty cool.
Supposedly, in a stadium cart in a storeroom that was cleaned out over the winter held a case of Akron Aeros hats-one in each size.
Normally, I would wear a size 8, but with these the size 8 was way too large and the 7 7/8 was still a little big, but the 7 3/4 was somewhat small, so I wondered if I should buy one or not.
New Era's hats simply have no consistency in how they made- I have tried size eight's that was like wearing a trash can and eight's that were insanely tight- Their game needs to be stepped up.
Of course, I bought one, I mean really- you should have known the story was headed in that direction!

After waiting for the gates next to a person that bore a stunningly resemblance to a grapher that currently resides in the Midwest, the gates finally opened and Derreck got his wonderful bobblehead.
I moved to the Ducks side to graph some and hopefully add some really Tristan McKenzie cards to my collection.
I never saw McKenzie and the area was really crowded, even with being able to position in a good spot beside the field.
With a sellout crowd and a Boy Scout promotion on the field, I was stuck in a position with a heat index of over 100 degrees pouring over me, it wasn't worth the problems to have Derreck come down and help.
He waved at me from the concourse and would wait until the end of pregame for me.
Or so I would assume as you will shortly see.
I did manage to get five cards signed, most notably Bobby Bradley before finally breaching the wall of people that had me wedged in and Derreck on the outside and walking up to the concourse before the game started.

It was the concourse that I expected to find Derreck at, thereafter we would watch the game etc,
But I walked up, No Derreck.
I would bet cash money that I walked that busy ( the concourse at Akron is very crowded) concourse more times than I could count and still No Derreck.
But I walked it from far left field to the team shop which is on the right field side but ends in short right field because I figured Derreck would be on the left field side and I just couldn't see him.
After three innings of this, the ridiculously high heat index began to work on me and I really started to be affected by the elements.
I didn't feel like I was going to have heat stroke, but it started to mess with me mentally and my thinking became a little muddy.
For the first time, now in hindsight, I can see how elderly people's thoughts can get disoriented in particular situations and frankly I have so much empathy for that now than I did in the past.

Finally, after more fruitless searching, I asked guest services to page Derreck and have him meet me at the team store.
I waited for a few minutes and again-No Derreck (It turned out when I asked him later- He never heard the page-so much for paying attention), so now I'm pondering just what the hell I'm going to do next and I looked to the fellow next to me.
I did a double take as I thought "Boy, this fellow looks familiar" and then he spoke to me "Are you, Shawn"?
Turns out that someone had been trying to contact me all day to ask if I was going to Akron, but Gayle doesn't have Wi-Fi, so I had been at the mercy of the free providers during much of the trip.
I was stunned to meet Vince Samano- As in Vince Samano. my friend that I had never met in person and helps with the TRS Boxing Rankings!
What this means is that Vince Samano, who had never met me in his life had walked into a sold out  7,600 seat stadium and had instantly found me, where Derreck Chupak, who had come with me to Canal Park had not been able to in four innings!
I talked boxing to Vince for a few minutes and then with my head clearing a bit, I asked if he would mind if I could use his phone as I thought of an idea.
I called the lovely Cherie at home and asked her to please find me Derreck's phone number, so I could call him and see where he was.
She said to call back in a minute and she'd have it, but needed to find it.
Cherie instead called Derreck and explained that I could use his help.

I talked to Vince some more before he had to return to the event that he came for (a nearby barbeque event) and I only wish I would have been a better conversationalist.
Vince loves the boxing game and the history of the sport as much as I do and I'd love to have a better shot at a good discussion with him.
I'm hoping that I can have that chance in the future when I am in the area.
And as Vince Samano walked east, a grinning face moved closer from the west.
Derreck Chupak seemed no worse for wear, compared to me and why should he have been so?
After all, he had been sitting under a tiki hut in RIGHT FIELD!
Now, normally I'd give myself some grief here for not looking there, but not this time!
Our seats were on the left field side, I had been graphing on the left field side and we had seen each other on the left field side, so it is easy to think- that Derreck is somewhere on the LEFT FIELD SIDE!
This was followed by the kicker- "you should have figured out that beer was cheaper on the right field side".
This was a mistake on my part, I don't drink, so I didn't even consider beer as a possible reason on where to look or even consider that beer in a ballpark might be more or less expensive from one place to another.
These are major things to think about if this situation ever happens in the future because if you knew Derreck Chupak, you would know the importance of beer.
Had I thought like him, none of this would have happened.
Still, suffering through this enabled me to meet Vince, so things worked out for the good.

We watched a little more of the game before driving back to Ashland, where Derreck wanted another pizza from Donna D's for dinner.
After pizza and watching the constant updates on NBA free agency, I went to bed for more podcast listening and to drift off..

One day to go as we wrap up the trip in Lake County...

Monday, July 9, 2018

Giants dump salary-With a fascinating story!!!

The San Francisco Giants have been trying to contend in 2018, but at the same time, the team has been trying to reduce salary a bit to attempt to avoid payment for exceeding the limit for the luxury tax.

There is no other way to explain the Giants trade with the Texas Rangers, where reliever Cory Gearrin and outfielder Austin Jackson were headed along with minor league pitcher Jason Bahr for either a minor leaguer to be named or cash.

Neither Gearrin or Jackson was having an especially big year (Gearrin's ERA was over four in 35 games and Jackson was hitting just .242 without a homer) and the team saved over four million with Jackson (signed thru 2019) and another million and a half from Gearrin by sending them away.

Teams don't help others for free and Texas added an interesting prospect in Jason Bahr.who led the SAL in strikeouts at Augusta (88) before being called up to San Jose where he allowed only three runs in three starts.
The fifth-round pick from Central Florida in 2017 was assigned to the Rangers high A affiliate in Kinston NC-the Down East Wood Ducks...

San Francisco called up two players to fill the vacated two roster spots as outfielder Steven Duggar and reliever Ray Black arrived from AAA Sacramento.
Duggar is a plus defender and was hitting .272 in Sacramento, while the 28-year-old Black struck out 38 batters in 21 AAA innings.
Both played in Sunday's game against St.Louis with Duggar's double giving him his initial big league hit, while Black allowed three runs in a third of an inning to welcome him to the majors.
And there is where we write a story about Ray Black.
Let's say a fascinating story with full credit to the Folksmen.

Ray Black throws hard.
HARD- as in clocked at 104 MPH hard.
Look at Black's strikeout numbers and one can see that, but until he began to harness his control and cut back his walks as he did in 2017, Black was going to be looked at as more novelty act than bullpen asset.

We move back to our first trip to Charleston WV in 2016 when we saw the Augusta Greenjackets in town against the West Virginia Power.
As we needed to this season, to see the Greenjackets we needed to hit the road because Augusta doesn't visit Hagerstown.
I wrote back then about the famous West Virginia "Toastman" Rod Blackstone and his heckling.
The Toastman's routine has become somewhat famous through the minors and he has even been placed in a few of Topps minor league sets.
Fred and Michael Landucci were at our hotel, checking out the next day and our hotel was next to the hotel that Augusta was staying.
Their bus driver was waiting outside and we struck up a conversation about the previous night's game (a game so good that Fred and I still talk about it) with him.
The lack of hitting came up and the bus driver started talking about Rod Blackstone and his ability to distract players or as the driver put it " That F'ing Toastman knows how to get inside these kids head".
The driver told us about Blackstone getting to the players because he doesn't curse or do anything nasty, he simply drives them nuts by telling the truth about their stats, signing bonus, draft status or background- "Its hard to ignore someone that's telling the truth".

But then came the really interesting part- "but one guy pushed back on the Toastman".
Of course, we then needed to know the story and it features the power-armed Ray Black- as in the previously mentioned 104 MPH fastball Ray Black.

The driver said that Black had claimed that he wouldn't tolerate the Toastman experience and he didn't as he was brought into the game as a reliever and watched as Blackstone began his reciting of various facts for Black.
This is where the story gets interesting- The driver claimed that in his warmups that Black rocked back and gunned his best fastball "and you know that Black throws very hard" at Blackstone at the netting.
"The net bulged back, Toastman's eyes grew WIDE OPEN and he almost got nailed!"

I found this story very interesting and remembered for our trip to Charleston in 2017 and asked Rod if this indeed happened- his response was that he didn't remember it occurring.
I thought that perhaps the driver had been either telling a story or exaggerating one as sometimes a fable is far more fun to listen to than the actual truth.
Maybe Black did throw a wild pitch and then commented as we all do as "almost getting him" etc?

Fast forward a few weeks after this, I'm in Harrisburg for the Richmond Flying Squirrels and who comes walking by to their bullpen but Ray Black.
I have to ask him about this and I do so with Black answering with a sheepish grin and a "so where did you hear about this?".
I told him that the Augusta bus driver told us this story and Black replied so "bus drivers name ( I cannot say that I remember his name) still remembers that".
We talked for a few minutes about Augusta, the Greenjackets then-home, Charleston and of course, the Toastman before Black had to go back to work.
It didn't seem like a story that Black was bragging or embellishing and he was very matter of fact about it, which lent some credence to me that at least a portion of the story was factual.

The entire thing made me a Ray Black fan and he seemed like a cool guy when we talked about the story, so I was very happy to see him get a shot at the big time at the age of 28.
No matter if the story was as described or not, it was still a good tale and it is fabled such as those that make minor league baseball what it is- Fun...

Boring Boxing Weekend

A very soft weekend in the boxing challenge saw three less than scintillating encounters and nothing to be really excited about from any of the three winners, let alone the three losers.

Let's start with the Top Rank card on ESPN from Fresno where to be fair the last minute loss of the title defense of hometown hero Jose Ramirez took away some of the shine and energy from the crowd, but even considering that- the two fights that were shown and planned for the card anyway left a lot to be desired.

The new main event saw hyped welterweight Egid Kavaliaukas win a workmanlike, if not visually thrilling unanimous decision over veteran Juan Carlos Abreu.
"The Mean Machine" won a 96-94 decision on my scorecard, but struggled to avoid Abreu's jab and didn't look anywhere ready for a title shot against any champion, let alone one of the quality of Terence Crawford.
However, with the political issues, Kavaliaukas could very well receive that shot in the fall as there are few other options for the WBO titleholder.

The co-feature saw undefeated Andy Vences cruise to a clear, but unimpressive win over trialhorse Frank De Alba in a junior lightweight encounter.
Vences was a fighter that I was high on when I watched his early bouts but hasn't made the next step as he moves into a higher caliber of opponent.
I scored Vences a 99-91 winner.

And from beautiful Kazakhstan and another one of those wonderful WBA "title" bouts from the people that bring you three "champions" per division, former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champ Beibut Shumenov returned from a brief retirement caused by eye issues to defeat Hizni Altunkaya in what was a pretty ridiculous excuse for a "title" bout, when Altunkaya's corner stopped the contest at the end of round nine.
Altunkaya was floored in the first round by what appeared to be less than a strong body shot and as I watched on YouTube, I figured after that, it was going to be a short evening for this mismatch.
Instead, Altunkaya rose, ran and generally stunk the joint out for the next eight rounds.
Shumenov doesn't deserve roses for his win, as he generally plodded after Altunkaya, landing punches mainly due to the ineptness of his opponent and didn't do a thing to prove to any observer that he has anything left in the tank against reasonable competition, let alone championship level fighters.
Just awful.
Thanks, WBA- You make me want to return to the days of Orlin Norris, Alfonso Ratliff and S.T. Gordon and those good old days weren't all that good!
I know that you have the best looking title belts in the game, but that doesn't mean that three of them in each division needs to be handed out- especially to fighters that are not worthy of being world champions.

In the boxing challenge, I scored five points to Ramon Malpica's three over the weekend.
I earned two points for the two ESPN wins and one for Beibut Shumenov.
Ramon added two for Andy Vences victory one for the Shumenov win.
My overall lead extended to 112-86.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Road Trip: Columbus

I had been looking forward to getting back to Ohio for a while and the plans for the trip looked like it was going to be a fun schedule of events.

Derreck Chupak arose from the land of the missing to travel on this trip and we hadn't seen much of each other during this season (which stunningly to me is over halfway completed ), so it was going to be fun catching up.

I worked the Thursday night into Friday (as did Derreck ) and we didn't bother to go to bed as we left shortly after getting home from work.
Both of us knew that it would be a long day, but when you work the night shift, you realize that more often than not, no sleep can be better than a little sleep.
The weather was hot, as it would be for all three days, with heat indexes at each stadium over 100 degrees.
We went what I call the "back way" to Columbus, which allows me to miss the current cash grab that goes by the name of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
The alternate route isn't that much slower going to Columbus than the turnpike, but there is a difference in time between the two when you go to more northern towns in Ohio than Columbus.

The issue with the alternate route (and it's even worse taking this route for a portion of the trip to Charleston WV) is that you really have to plan ahead if you are planning to eat.
There just aren't an abundance of places and you have to try to project down the road when you think you'll be ready to eat.
Fortunately, I've been able to remember where to stop and where not to and I remembered a Quaker Steak and Lube, which is a usual stop on trips whenever I can find them (and if I haven't eaten already) was on the way.
Derreck stopped there and ate and I was able to adroitly tick Derreck off on the subject of tips.
Derreck doesn't believe in tipping, so I picked up the full tab and had him add the tip.
This drove him up the wall and sent him grumbling good-naturedly throughout the trip about "having to pay a tip"!

We cruised into Columbus for my return to Huntington Park with the Columbus Clippers (Indians) hosting the Indianapolis Indians (Pirates).
The last time that I had been inside the stadium was in 2010 (although the GPS sent me there in 2016 when Ryan and I were looking for the remains of Cooper Stadium), so it had been quite a while.
Huntington Park hadn't really changed other than a very minor change in the scoreboard, but I still liked the layout of the stadium.
My only minor quibble with Huntington is the lack of a wraparound concourse in the outfield.
Newer stadiums are often designed to ease the traffic flow and Huntington stops in centerfield, which tends to clog foot traffic in the shaded concourse, which runs from first to third base behind the plate.
In other words, if you are located on one side of the field, you have to walk entirely around the facility rather than move across the outfield.
All the outfield seating in Huntington Park is in the left field area, with the exception of some standing room space in the right field vicinity and when the sun goes down in Columbus, if seated in the outfield-you are looking directly into the sun.
This can give you a very nice picture but can make it very difficult to follow the game, so keep that in mind for a potential visit.

The Clippers allows fans to enter the stadium 90 minutes before game time instead of the more standard 60 minutes and this allowed extra time to hit the team store along with seeing some batting practice.
I wish more teams would do this. Fans love it and the team makes more money with fans inside the door than they will standing outside the gate in the heat-especially on hot days like this.
Derreck was gracious enough to grab me an International League baseball that an Indianapolis player had hammered over the left field wall.
Being in the stadium early allowed me to hopefully have a chance to grab Indians shortstop Kevin Newman on his Top 100.
I didn't bring a lot of cards for Indianapolis as I remembered that you could only do one team or the other in Columbus, so I kept it light.
I asked Newman to sign and he said that he would sign after he stretched before the game in about an hour.
I've never quite understood that in similar situations as I was alone and the time that it took to give an explanation, Newman could have signed the card and be finished with me, but everyone has their manner of doing things.

Derreck and I moved to the other side of the stadium and I saw a small sign in the concourse, which would be easily ignored unless you fell into it.
Which of course, I almost did (not literally) and mentioned to Derreck about the free bobblehead.
Since he is a bobblehead guy, this made him very excited and interested, yet quizzical about what the catch was for the giveaway.
After all, how often do you truly receive something for nothing?
Well, it was next to nothing as Ballpark Digest was doing their annual fan voting for best ballpark at the different levels and Huntington Park was in the semi-finals.
The cost of the bobble was voting for their stadium and proving it to them (showing your mobile device) and you were handed a bobble.
Derreck was given a Corey Kluber for his trouble and he asked if I was going to vote.
I wasn't going to bother, but I thought about it and a Francisco Lindor would have been a keeper, but I planned on giving it to Derreck if I was given anyone else.
As Mike Oravec is fond of saying "One hand helps the other" and in this hobby, I've helped friends with stuff and I've been helped, so I like to do things when I can.
After I voted and handed Derreck a Carlos Santana bobble, he expressed his gratitude and asked what he could do for me- "Could you get Kevin Newman on the other side for me?"
He was happy to help and that enabled me to try for the two Columbus top 100's (2018 Francisco Mejia and 2017 Bradley Zimmer) and work on the Clippers team set.
I don't buy very many AAA team sets, but I always buy Columbus, Indianapolis, and Sacramento.
I don't usually wind up with many signed cards from them, but I always like having them around.

Alas, the Clippers weren't a success as I never saw Bradley Zimmer at all, Francisco Mejia wasn't in the original starting lineup before being inserted suddenly ten minutes before game time (He had very little time to get loosened up, so I understood his lack of interest) and in the end, I was able to get just one team set card signed- pitcher Ben Taylor.
Derreck came through with Kevin Newman (as well as pitching prospect Nick Kingham, now back with the Pirates) though, so I still consider the night a success!
We watched some of the game, but with our seats being in the dreaded left field seats directly in the path of the sun and the heat pounding down on us. we discussed whether we were doing postgame or not.
If we weren't, then discretion should be the better part of valor and we should head on up the road.
Another inning of heat later and we tossed in the towel for the hour plus drive to Ashland.

My wonderful "Aunt" Gayle (she's not my blood aunt, but I look at her as such- sue me!) allowed Derreck and I to stay at her home while she was away in San Antonio, so we checked in there after ordering dinner at Donna D's, yes the same Donna D's I usually eat at when in town.
Derreck was especially anxious to try this after hearing my raves throughout the years and after hearing similar questions about Quaker Steak before we stopped there (Thank goodness, it was a hit). I was a little concerned about Donna D's living up to the hype.
Donna D's didn't help themselves when we arrived back to pick up our pizza's and Derreck's hadn't been prepared and the resulting wait wasn't exactly welcomed.
Luckily for me, when Derreck eventually was given his pizza, he thought it was delicious and I breathed yet another sigh of relief of an arrow that was dodged.

It wasn't too much longer before we were ready for bed as Derreck fell asleep a little before I trudged off to Gayle's spare room to turn the lights out and drift off to sleep as a podcast droned on in the background to help me sleep.
The trip was off to a good start and the new day awaited with a trip to a place that I've been by often in my life but had never actually seen up close and the Akron Rubber Duck for another bobblehead with a classic story for the archives!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge was going to return with a WBC junior welterweight title defense by Jose Ramirez in his native Fresno on ESPN, but those plans went out the door when challenger Danny O'Connor could not make the weight and was hospitalized with severe dehydration.
Normally, I'm very critical of fighters that don't make weight, but clearly, O'Connor was trying to hit the mark and simply couldn't.

With the title fight canceled, Top Rank moved two fights up the card and the new co-main event was added to the challenge.
The new main event is interesting as undefeated Egid Kavaliauskas faces strong veteran, Juan Carlos Abreu.
Kavaliauskas is coming off his best win, which saw him win in a dominating stoppage of David Avaneysan, while Abreu is the type of solid gatekeeper that should at least make Kavaliauskas work for a victory.
A victory could mean a title shot in the fall against WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford.

The new televised bout will feature undefeated junior lightweight prospect Andy Vences against Frank De Alba.
Vences drew with fellow prospect Erick DeLeon in his last fight and could use a solid effort after the DeLeon fight was less than exciting.
The veteran De Alba is coming off a loss to O'Shaquie Foster and might be the perfect foil for Vences.

In Kazakhstan, former two-division champion Beibut Shumenov returns from a brief retirement to fight for one of the WBA's minor trinkets against Hizni Altunkaya.
Shumenov suffered an eye injury that forced his retirement and his return seems to be questionable to me.
If Shumenov cannot get past Altunkaya, he needs to move on as Altunkaya's resume ranks with the worst I've seen for a title bout, even it is not a "real" title.
The native of Turkey suffered his only loss to the only fighter that you have heard of in Kryzstof Glowacki and has fought some of the worst opponents that you can imagine, including a decision win in his last fight against an opponent that entered the fight with a record of 3-6-1.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 107-83

Welterweights. 10 Rds
Egid Kavaliauskas vs Juan Carlos Abreu
R.L: Abreu Unanimous Decision
TRS: Kavaliauskas Unanimous Decision

Junior Lightweights, 10 Rds
Andy Vences vs Frank De Alba
Both: Vences Unanimous Decision

Cruiserweights. 12 Rds
Beibut Shumenov vs Hizni Altunkaya
Both: Shumenov Unanimous Decision

Friday, July 6, 2018

My Favorite Sports Podcasts.

I was planning to start my trip review, but I discovered that I left my notes on my tablet, so that will be slightly delayed.

I also started work on a new version of a post that I wrote a few years ago-Fights that I'd like to see, but I'm doing a little of that at a time, so I'll have that in the future on a slow day.

Instead, what I'm going to offer today is a list of sports podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis and perhaps one or more of them might entice you to give them a try.
I'll have a non-sports list sometime soon.
I listen to podcasts more of late than I had in the past after purchasing an IPad and I find that I really enjoy the return of radio, albeit in a specialized form.
I'm not connecting any links since I'm sure that not everyone uses the same podcasting provider.
I miss doing Fightheads and I'm hoping that Ramon Malpica will consider returning in some form eventually, but besides our podcast, here are a few of my favorites in no particular order.

Let's start with my favorite boxing podcast with Steve Kim's Three Knockdown Rule that he hosts with Mario Lopez of Saved by the Bell fame.
It's a fun podcast that sticks mostly to the fight game, yet is willing to drift off into anything that might strike Steve and Mario at any moment.
It's clearly my favorite boxing podcast and since I'm not around for your listening pleasure at the moment, give Three Knockdown Rule a listen.

In the world of wrestling, Jim Cornette's Drive-Thru and Cornette Experience are must listens.
The Drive-Thru sticks more to old school wrestling (which is the only kind I want to hear about), while the Experience is more wide-ranging with plenty of wrestling too.
If you are offended by strong language or have a great affection for President Trump, you might want to think about passing on the Experience, but if not- get ready for plenty of laughs and lots of great memories!

Another wrestling podcast is Scott Bowden's Kentucky Fried Wrestling, which sticks to looking back at the old Memphis territory.
Bowden used to run the website of the same name, where long-time readers might remember Rachel defeating Bowden at a wrestling pick em and Scott sending her a DVD years ago.
There are many interesting guests from classic Memphis grappling and from someone that loves the classic era, yet missed so many of the great Memphis television shows (Since I didn't live there!), I always learn something new from Bowden and his guests.

Tim Hanlon's Good Seats Still Available focuses mainly on defunct and deceased teams and leagues.
Tim's shows on the WFL, USFL and the CFL's American expansion are among the few podcasts that I have saved for permanent safekeeping.
I'd be lying if I said I listened closely to every show as a show with this format is not going to focus on mainstream sports every episode, but Hanlon is always super prepared and when it features a subject that I really love, there is none better.

Scott Dryden used to guest on the TRS podcast, before hitting it big and now is the featured analyst at the Browns Scout Podcast.
Dryden's opinionated, smart (although the jury is still out on our disagreements on Jabrill Peppers and now Baker Mayfield) and the show is stocked with intelligent football talk.
Don't look for a lot of chuckles, bells, and whistles here, but if you like your Browns talk straight forward- give the Browns scout a listen.

I've also enjoyed the Rouge, White and Blue podcast with American fans talking about the Canadian Football League.
I've reconnected with an old friend that hosts the show in Joe Pritchard and it's nice to listen to American fans that love the three-down game.
And Joe, I'm still available to talk 80's and 90's CFL in the off-season!

Most of you know that my go-to college football expert is Phil Steele and his season preview is constantly with me all summer and season, but Phil has a podcast as well- Strong as Steele.
Phil is weekly during the season and then Strong as Steele goes dormant, but his conference previews will hopefully begin any day now!

Cleveland Baseball and Brews might not seem to be a good fit for someone that hates the taste of beer, but for Indians fans, it is well worth the listen.
Generally, it's just good conversation by Indians fans for Indians fans and Caitlyn Boron, who also appeared on the old TRS show, is one of the regular panelists on their program.
I always enjoy listening to Caitlyn's segment as her energy and passion for the town and the Indians literally jumps out at you through the speakers.

My final recommended podcast is Justin McGuire's Baseball by the Book where McGuire talks with authors of baseball books.
I haven't come anywhere near clearing out my chosen archives of Baseball by the Book, but if you love baseball, yet don't have the time or don't care to read- this is your avenue to learn a lot about the history of baseball!
I'm a big fan of Baseball by the Book!

Hopefully, you'll give one or more of these a try and if you like them, be sure to give them a good rating and tell them that TRS sent you!!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Boxing Notes

Catching up on a few notes from the boxing world before the weekend's bouts and first, a big shout out to Vincent Samano, who I was fortunate enough (More on this during the road trip posts) to meet in Akron.
Vince made a special visit to meet me and I loved talking to him about the fight game.
What a great guy and I only wish I had more time to talk about the past greats in the game.

Ramon Malpica did send me his picks for the two fight card on ESPN from Top Rank before I left town and I ran out of time to post them for the boxing challenge.
Ramon (and I) each picked the winners correctly, but I'm not going to add them to the total for the challenge.
As boring as the main event was (Gilberto Ramirez winning a dull unanimous decision over Roamer Angulo to retain his WBO super middleweight belt), the co-feature was about as good as you are going to find as Alex Saucedo defeated Lenny Zappavigna in the sixth round when Zappavigna's corner tossed in the proverbial towel midway through the stanza.
The term "War" is somewhat overused in boxing, but it is accurate in this case with both fighters badly hurt during the fight and both fighters battling through awful cuts, the title eliminator to determine the mandatory contender for newly crowned WBO junior welterweight champion Maurice Hooker has a legitimate case for fight of the year- it was that good.

James DeGale decided to vacate his IBF super middleweight title rather than face the interim champion Jose Uzcategui in a mandated bout.
Uzcategui was elevated to the full titleist and mandated to fight Caleb Plant in his first defense.
The exciting Uzcategui won the interim strap with a pounding of Andre Dirrell, who retired in his corner in February and looks to me to be entering his prime.
Plant, on the other hand, has defeated just one top 30 fighter (a decision over Porky Medina), is one of the more boring fighters to see, in my opinion, is a creation of Al Haymon's PBC, where Plant dates PBC reporter Jordan Hardy and is a thoroughly undeserving challenger.
As for DeGale, as much as I'd like to hit him for ducking Uzcategui, I understand why he gave the title up as he has a possible bout with the winner of the WBSS super middleweight final between George Groves and Callum Smith for far more money than Uzcategui and roughly the same risk.

The second year of the World Boxing Super Series will have American television with Eddie Hearn's streaming service DAZN.
This year, the WBSS will feature three weight classes with bantamweights, junior welterweights, and another division to be determined.
I wonder about the long-term viability of DAZN as sooner or later there comes a breaking point for all consumers for extra channels etc and DAZN is expected to be in the range of 20-25 dollars a month, more than Showtime and far more than ESPN+.

I've been critical on occasion of Golden Boy Promotions, but give them credit for caring somewhat about boxing fans and their wallet with an agreement to show cards on Facebook.
Their first event looks to be a pretty decent one with WBA "regular" (Yuck) featherweight champion Jesus Rojas defending his minor trinket against Joseph Diaz, who recently lost a decision to WBC champion Gary Russell on Showtime.
I always like when quality shows are available for free as that is how the interest in the product grows.
To me, boxing lost its way in the 1990's when the sport went away from the networks and moved almost exclusively to premium cable and pay per view.
Returning and using various different avenues to have their products find their way to the eyes to any potential fans is always a great idea.

I'm going to try to return with a road trip post tonight...