Friday, August 31, 2018

Road Trip: Kingsport and Tennessee

Day two of a two-stop day started off strong with a stop for lunch in Johnson City, Tennessee after a few liquor store stops for Michael.

I don't want to give you the idea that Michael was imbibing, he collects liquor and works in the industry, so that has a huge interest to him.
Me? Not so much, but I can always read in the parking lot!

As always, I send suggestions for food stops to Fred and he picks from the list.
Well, usually as this time, he vacillated from the list and selected Nick's in Johnson City on his own.
Michael and I agreed to say fine and our time at Nick's was great!
All thirty seconds of it as we pulled in to the parking lot without any cars, a for lease sign in the window and trash in the lot-Other than that-Nick's was terrific!
We left Nick's, looked at the area and a chastened Fred told us to pick, Michael and I were both intrigued by Mellow Mushroom, which looked to be a psychedelic pizza chain that I've seen in a few different places, but never tried.

We all shared a large pizza and I thought it was pretty good, I'd return and we decided to not order an appetizer or side so that we could have dessert at Cootie Brown's, which is right up the street from Mellow Mushroom.
A quick jaunt and Key Lime Pie later, we were off to nearby Kingsport and more liquor stores for Michael, but we did visit the campus of East Tennessee State University, where Michael and Fred each bought a hat from the Buccaneer bookstore.

Arriving in Kingsport, the third of the East Tennessee "Tri-Cities" area, I was somewhat excited.
The visit to Hunter Wright Field completed the ten team league, which meant I had visited every park in the league and even though I did not have a lot of cards, they were important ones.
The opponent for the homestanding Mets were the Bristol Pirates and both teams shared the same building for their clubhouse.
The problem was the length of the building that made it impossible to get from one end to the other if you saw someone you needed from the far side.
That meant that I decided to do the Mets and their first rounder Jarred Kelenic and that meant a very short time to react as it was just a few steps to a walkway that led to the field.

As you can see in the picture of Hunter Wright Field, the tarp was rolling out, the storm clouds were rolling in and I had to snap a picture of the field quickly.
Shortly, after I took this picture the rain fell- hard!
The field does have a small overhang that some fans could get out of the rain, but you could tell that this game was in jeopardy.
Hunter Wright is built on a slanted lot, the water tends to drain from one area to another and then pool there. Does that remind you of a place I know well?
A few of the Mets came out to check the field and one of the first was Mark Vientos, who was very nice in signing a few of his 2017 Bowman's.
Kelenic came out to just four graphers (three of which were me, Michael and Fred).
I had just two cards as I was getting one for someone else for Kelenic and I was third in line.
I watched him sign just one for the first person and then Michael, who asked if he could sign another ball.
Kelenic said no, so I didn't bother to ask him for a second card, he signed one and handed the other back unsigned.
It wasn't anything to be mad about, he could have signed none, but Kelenic might be an even tougher sign next year in the SAL when he sees even more graphers.
The game was delayed and we decided to move on to Tennessee and the Smokies for their game against the Jackson Generals.
As we traveled, we discovered that the game in Kingsport had been canceled, but in Kodak (an hour away) all was well and the game was on.

Arriving at Tennessee, we met up with my buddy and Southern League connection Corey White.
Corey does yeoman work for me (and some time for my buddies too) in that AA league and his help is always appreciated.
I brought some of Corey's cards that I had gotten signed for him (still some on the way buddy!) along and he gave me mine with lots of great stuff with several top 100's for my sets.
Big additions were Eloy Jimenez (that had to be tough), Dylan Cease, Dane Dunning ( On a green 100!) and Bryce Wilson among others.
Thanks so much to Corey for all of his help!
We ate inside the stadium at a "real" restaurant in the Smoky Mountain Brewery Bullpen during the game.
We were getting a little hungry and with the late hour of return to Asheville (a little over an hour away), I figured I should have something healthier and not too heavy.
I selected their house salad which added lots of meats and bacon, but plenty of veggies too (No tomato of course).
Ballpark food can get old and mundane (except Akron, which always has unique offerings), so a place that can serve a good dinner is a must stop and Corey's recommendation was dead on!

The only player that I brought cards for Jackson was Arizona pitching prospect Jon DuPlantier, who I had a top 100, Midwest top prospect and Midwest All-Star card for.
I would have been happy with the 100 and we did wait a while for the hurler outside after the game as DuPlantier charted the game from the Smokies press box.
However, the Diamondback prospect was very nice, signed all three cards and signed several minutes for everyone waiting for him-Success!

After saying goodbye to Corey, the drive back to Asheville awaited and I didn't get to actually sleep until 2 in the morning after preparing cards and lists for the next day and a 6 AM car ride to Danville Va.
It didn't work that way exactly, but that tale will wait until next time.

Part three wil wait a few days as we have the OSU preview, the PPM debut and then the recap tomorrow of the Buckeye opener vs Oregon State.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Road Trip: Asheville

With only four games left in my baseball season (all in Frederick and Hagerstown) and the football season on the horizon, it's time to kick it in and show that I am alive and breathing!
That means over the next few days, I have to write an Ohio State preview up and the return of the PPM with this year's selection as "host" as part of that process before the weekend.

However, before that, I still need to get some road trips stories finished and I'll start with day one in Asheville, North Carolina accompanied by the Landucci's and McCormick Field, which is one of the few stadiums in use for minor league baseball that is older than Hagerstown's Municipal Stadium.
The original plan was for us to do batting practice, hit both teams and then drive to Greenville S.C for the Hickory Crawdads and the Greenville Drive.
That plan went awry when road construction on I-81 slowed us down enough to make that plan less than feasible, so since Greenville was the backup plan anyway, it was the game that was easiest to jettison.

I hadn't been back to Asheville since my first trip there with Ryan and Battlin' Bob years ago other than Fred and I's rain-drenched stop earlier this season.
I had the Tourist team set to do since they did not make an appearance in Hagerstown this season (Asheville will appear in Hagerstown in 2019) and a few cards for the Greenjackets, who I had been able to work on earlier this year in Charleston.
The bigger issue at McCormick Field for graphers is that you have to pick which team that you want to work on so I couldn't do both.
Fortunately for me, I had Michael, who happily picked Asheville to help with after losing a bet on the travels.
I think he would have helped anyway though!
While Michael worked on the Tourists, I filled in a few Greenjackets from the team set and worked on Mike Oravec's set for him.
I also was able to see Heliot Ramos again with a few nice refractors and limited cards that I had been able to acquire over the course of the year.
I told Heliot that I had seen him in Charleston and that he had shown me how to switch my Ipad camera for a picture of us.
Heliot laughed and said "I remember that!'
Whether he did or didn't, Ramos ranks with Triston McKenzie of the Indians as the nicest prospects that I've met this year ( I first met McKenzie last year though).

McCormick Field has the problems that so many old stadiums have to deal with- concession stands without a view of the field, some obstructed views, less than comfortable seating and limited parking.
Add that last one with the stadium being built into a hill and you have some issues to deal with.
Still, McCormick did have a decent amount of food offerings, even though I didn't eat any (I did have two Minute Maid frozen lemonades) and our seats were decent enough behind home plate, but one pet peeve of mine did occur in Asheville.

One thing that I HATE about minor league baseball is this- Most parks that I visit don't sell out.
Even more often, they don't even come close, yet a surprising amount of the time, a person or a few people will have seats next to you and because that ticket says Section B Row g Seat 5, by golly they are going to sit right next to me in seat 4, no matter their comfort or mine, even if there if the rest of the row is empty.
When I'm in that situation, I try to find seats in the area and if someone has those seats, I'll move, but I'll never understand in a two-thirds empty stadium, someone has to put their shoulder next to mine.
I can't imagine why someone wants to be crowded next to my bulk or listen to my conversation, but it happens more than you think and it happened in Asheville.
So, I crawled into the row behind our seats and sat in those seats so the guy with the hat that reminded me of Don Ameche in Cocoon could have his space, more importantly, I could have mine.

The game itself was pretty dull and for a game that ended 2-1 (Augusta getting the duke as Vince McMahon used to say) with neither team making any errors, it was insanely long- Three hours and thirty-five minutes for a game without errors, delays or extenuating circumstances is just nuts.

The only thing that stood out about this game was that when I moved to the back row, I sat near a young couple (No, I moved a few seats down from them!) and we struck up a baseball conversation.
The young man said his grandfather was a former big leaguer and when I asked his name, he quickly responded Gil Coan, who played in the '40s and '50s with several teams, but mostly for the Washington Senators.
It seemed legit to me, a young man of that age would be unlikely to make someone up that quickly, let alone select someone that retired in 1956!
I asked about Coan and his career (Coan is an NC native and is one of just five players to ever hit two triples in the same inning), which I found very interesting.

Asheville allows fans/graphers to remain in the stadium by the front gate concourse to nab players from both teams after the game and we took advantage to knock some extra players off the sets.
After a while, we were all tired after a long day and went back to the hotel for a rest before a two-stop Tuesday.

I like McCormick Field and I am never against visits there.
It's a good, not great graphing site and a solid, well-kept older stadium to watch a game in.
I would definitely return for future visits and being that in SAL there are always teams that don't visit Hagerstown, I'm sure that should occur.

Not sure what I'll be writing about next, but I'll try to write about day two before Friday's Ohio State preview and the PPM.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Boxing Challenge: Pedraza dethrones Beltran, Dogboe crushes another

ESPN presented a strong two fight (I listened to a podcast during the ladies fight) card from Glendale, Arizona that saw a star continue to develop and a new champion crowned to challenge Vasyl Lomachenko in December.

In the main event, Jose Pedraza upset Ray Beltran via unanimous decision in a close tussle to lift the WBO lightweight title from Beltran.
I had Pedraza a narrow 114-113 winner (6-6 in rounds) and the scores were wider than I thought was reasonable.
Going into the fight, the veteran Beltran figured to be the stronger fighter later in the bout and going to the eleventh round, that scenario seemed to be rolling into play.
Pedraza had won the first three rounds, but the charge of Beltran began in the fourth and Beltran would win all but one round from the 4th through the 10th.
However, it was the younger Pedraza that grabbed the final two rounds with not only a knockdown in the eleventh but a rally late in the twelfth that seemed to have Beltran buzzed a bit and backed in a corner as the bell rang to end the encounter.
The victory was more than just a title for Pedraza, who was released from PBC after his loss to Gervonta Davis, it meant a possible seven-figure payday in December for a unification match with WBA kingpin Vasyl Lomachenko.
I'm not sure Pedraza will offer a stern test to Lomachenko, but his rangier boxing style may cause Lomachenko a few more problems than the pressuring Beltran would have caused him.

Issac Dogboe continued his rise as a must see boxer with a one round blitz of Hidenori Otake.
Now, Otake was 37, had lost his only fight against a top fighter (Scott Quigg), had lost the only time that he fought outside of Japan (Again to Quigg) and looked overmatched, but when you have an opponent that isn't in your class, the best way to get something out of such fights is to get rid of them quickly.
Two knockdowns and an uppercut that turned Otake's legs to those similar to Ralph Dibny ended this one in just one round.
Moving on from Otake and the sooner the better there, I'd love to see Dogboe in the unification fights that he called for against WBA champ Daniel Roman and WBC champ Rey Vargas, but both fights will be tough to make with opposing promoters and networks (Roman is with Eddie Hearn's DAZN and Vargas with Golden Boy and HBO).
Both of those fights would be interesting with a Roman fight having the potential to be a strong action bout and the taller Vargas would be interesting to see how Dogboe deals with a talented boxer that uses distance well.

In the Boxing Challenge, I added two points for Dogboe's KO and Ramon Malpica gained one for Dogboe's victory.
Both of us selected Ray Beltran over Jose Pedraza.
The challenge now stands at 127-101.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Boxing Challenge

Well, almost a whole week off.
The final overnight trip of the year is in the books and I'll be writing about that soon, tomorrow is my annual reconnecting with my longtime friends-AKA the IFL Draft and we have one week to go in the graphing season.
Very soon, you'll have more here than you can stand!

In the boxing challenge, it's a two-fight ESPN card with a possible future star and a fight that is for more than a championship, it's about the dollars that come with the next fight that the winner will receive.

The main event is interesting as veteran warhorse Ray Beltran makes his first defense of his WBO lightweight title against former IBF junior lightweight champion Jose Pedraza.
The title is on the line, but the added bonus is that the winner will face WBA champion Vasyl Lomachenko in a unification bout in December for what will be a career high purse no matter which fighter wins tonight.
This is a fight that could go either way as Beltran is a walk forward fighter against the smoother boxing Pedraza.
Beltran has often come up short in his fights against elite fighters, but Pedraza is more good than great and in his title loss to Gervonta Davis, he was basically mowed down by the stronger, aggressive Davis, who had less experience than Beltran, but more natural talent.
I could see Pedraza outboxing Beltran, but I think this comes down to toughness and few will challenege Beltran in that category.

In the other title fight on the card, WBO junior featherweight champion Issac Dogboe makes his first defense after a spectacular win over Jesse Magdaleno to win that championship.
Dogboe faces 37 year old Hidenori Otake of Japan, who lost to Scott Quigg in his only fight against world class opposition.
Otake is ranked 6th by the WBO, so he's at least eligible for the title shot, but seems to be the opponent to showcase the skills of Dogboe, who will have an interesting mandatory coming up soon in Diego De La Hoya should he notch the expected win.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 125-100.

WBO Lightweight Title, 12 Rds
Ray Beltran vs Jose Pedraza
Both: Beltran Unanimous Decision

WBO Junior Featherweight Title. 12 Rds
Issac Dogboe vs Hidenori Otake
R.L; Dogboe Unanimous Decision
TRS: Dogboe KO 10

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Fury, Frampton win, Rosales crushes Barnes

The boxing challenge was brought to you from Belfast with three bouts of interest with world ramifications and some less than thrilling action at times.

The fight that most were interested in viewing, was Tyson Fury's second fight back from hiatus and the big question was not if Fury would win, that was a given against journeyman Francisco Pianeta, but could Fury avoid an injury that could cost him a WBC title fight against champion Deontay Wilder later this year?
Fury managed to do that in winning each round in a lopsided unanimous decision over the plodding Pianeta.
For all the appearances of the hulking frame from the 6'9 Fury, he just isn't that exciting of a fighter with a refusal to set his feet to throw power shots and it showed in this one as he never seriously hurt a fighter that has been stopped in one round by Ruslan Chagaev and in seven by vagabond Kevin Johnson.
Fury looks to me to be a fight or two away from being back in true condition, but you can't blame Fury or his promoter for pushing the chips in now to challenge Wilder.
Anything can happen in a heavyweight fight and Fury might as well get paid well for a Wilder fight that would likely double or triple, should Fury pull an upset over Wilder and move on to an Anthony Joshua battle for all the titles in the heavyweight division.

The press conferences and buildup might be the best part of a fight between two less than reticent fighters with the lip, but I could see at least the possibility of a good fight.
For all of Fury's issues, he does throw straight punches with an excellent jab and might be able to find the range against the harder punching, but technically crude Wilder, who still has many questions about the quality of his chin.
Still, this fight could be a dull one with two giant fighters standing on the outside that might be unwilling to take a chance (Especially Fury) to do much more than work off the jab.

The main event on the marquee' featured Carl Frampton in a homecoming against unheralded Australian Luke Jackson in a defense of his minor title and Frampton did what fighters in his situation should do with a ninth-round stoppage when Jackson corner literally threw in the towel midway through the round with Frampton chasing a stung Jackson across the ring.
Jackson fought well early, cutting Frampton over the right eye in round three, but gradually wore down under the pressure of Frampton before dropping to the floor in the eighth, leading to the eventual ending in the following round.
Frampton should receive a far sterner test in his next fight against IBF champion Josh Warrington in the fall.

And the real star of the weekend was Cristofer Rosales, who slammed one body blow into former Olympian Paddy Barnes ribcage at the end of round four, sending the Irishman down for the count for the end of the fight and retained his WBC flyweight title.
Rosales, who looked very similar to countryman Roman Gonzalez in his previous win over the highly regarded Daigo Higa to win his championship, was challenged by Barnes in the first two rounds but won the third before his thunderous punch that ended the fight.
Rosales will be in against tough competition again next time against mandatory challenger Andrew Selby, who decisioned Rosales last year before Rosales won the championship against Higa.

Both Ramon Malpica scored three points in the boxing challenge (one for each fight) to move our totals to 125-100 for the season.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Cleaning out the inbox:Passings

The inbox has seen its share of passings of late-enough to merit its own post on just that topic.

I have plenty of road trips to work on and little time to do them for now but look for a bunch of road trip reports soon.

Three passings from the wrestling world and the most notable to me was that of Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart at the age of 63.
Neidhart was one half of my favorite WWF tag team (The Midnight Express were my favorite on the NWA side) with Bret 'the Hitman" Hart as the Hart Foundation winning the WWF tag titles twice during their tenure together.

The classic Hart Foundation bouts against several teams through their time in the 80's were usually tremendous but will be most remembered for their bouts against the British Bulldogs, which were the best matches in the company at the time.
Neidhart was trained in the famous Hart dungeon and married one of Stu Hart's daughter's (Bret's sister) to become literally part of the family.
While not the technical wrestler of the level of Bret Hart, Neidhart offered a good mix as part of the team with power moves such as tossing his opponent across the ring (Neidhart earned his nickname for tossing an anvil for length), powerslams and football tackles and holding a beaten opponent in a bearhug in the air for a clothesline from a running Hitman for their finishing move.
Neidhart also was a good contrast to the sometimes stoic Hart with his manic behavior during the team's interviews complete with his crazed laugh while stroking his pointed goatee.
Neidhart is reported to have passed from a fall caused by a late-night seizure and was in the early stages of Alzheimer's.

Another WWF star of the 80's passed as Nikolai Volkoff died at the age of 70.
Volkoff was portrayed as more of a comedy wrestler with the WWF in his title-winning team with the Iron Sheik, but his time in the southern territories was shown to be a much more malevolent force as a communist bent on taking over wrestling in the name of Mother Russia.
Volkoff was the top "heel" in the Mid-South territory before going to the WWF and his much more serious style was a contrast to his often buffoonish (Especially after his title run with the Sheik ended) character there.
Volkoff did have two earlier WWF runs in the Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund reigns where he was challenging for their title, but might be best remembered in the end for his rendition's of the Soviet national anthem before his matches to most.
My favorite Volkoff memory was his 'cover' of Jay and the American's 1960's hit Cara Mia on the first wrestling anthem.
I've always been a mark for bad singing and covers of hits and Volkoff managed to hit both of those buttons with Cara Mia!

Brian Christopher passed at the age of 46 after hanging himself in prison days after being arrested for driving under the influence and evading police.
Christopher, the son of Jerry Lawler, once was part of the popular team in the WWF (might have been WWE by then) of Too Cool using the name Grandmaster Sexay with partner Scott Taylor (Scotty Too Hotty) that won the tag team titles on one occasion, but was better remembered for their pre-match choreography and post-match dancing.
Christopher was also one of the main stars of the Memphis territory in its last few years, but despite the clear physical similarity to his father, neither would admit in those years that Christopher was Lawler's son.
The reasons were noted as possibly being Christopher trying to avoid being the son of Lawler in a territory that already had a second generation star in Jeff Jarrett or the more likely reason of trying to not expose Jerry Lawler's age as being old enough to have a son of pro wrestling age.
Christopher was a smaller wrestler in a time that bigger wrestlers were in vogue and he ranks as an excellent in-ring performer that was born a little too late to be a big star with the territory years being a time gone by.

From outside of the wrestling world, there were two losses in the inbox.

Adrian Cronauer passed at the age of 79 in a Virginia nursing home.
Cronauer was the DJ that Robin Williams character was based on, although there was a lot of creative license in the film as many of the scenes never actually occurred.
Cronauer didn't rip the film for the differences but would note, if asked, the difference between his experiences and the story told in the film.

We wrap with the passing of Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Dick Feagler at the age of 79.
Feagler was the top columnist for the PD from 1993 to 2009 but wrote and appeared for various Cleveland media outlets since 1970.
Feagler wrote two books that were basically compilations from his columns..

Boxing Challenge

I've been busy most of this week and next week is even busier as the minor league season nears its end.
Stay tuned, I'll have more writing time soon and even though the work season looms, that means more time to be around here.

The boxing weekend is all free and available on Facebook and YouTube, thanks to Showtime, who has picked up a card from Northern Ireland with a title fight, a minor title with large implications with a win and a contest that means nothing other than the one time linear heavyweight champion needing a win for a shot at a title later this year.

It's not the main event or for even a minor title, but the most important fight on the card features former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury's second fight in his comeback against Francisco Pianeta.
Fury is reported to meet WBC champion Deontay Wilder in December, should he defeat Pianeta.
Pianeta did challenge Wladimir Klitschko five years ago (being stopped in six) but has fought just two fighters since that you might have heard of (Ruslan Chagaev and Kevin Johnson) and was stopped by both.
A Wilder-Fury fight does have its interesting points and makes sense from Fury's standpoint since no one really knows what he has left and he might as well be paid well for his first test.
Wilder brings big power and a questionable chin, so there is a chance that fight could be a barnburner.

Carl Frampton defends his minor featherweight title against undefeated, unheralded and untested Australian Luke Jackson in what is the gate attraction in Belfast on this day.
Frampton has a much bigger target in his future such as IBF champ Josh Warrington in what would be a large money bout in Europe in December, but he still needs to notch the W over Jackson and preferably impressively so.

WBC flyweight champion Cristofer Rosales returns to the road for his first defense after upsetting the highly thought of Daigo Higa earlier this year in Japan.
Rosales defends against two time Olympic bronze medalist Paddy Barnes of Ireland, who is just 6-0 and is being moved quickly after turning pro at nearly 30.
The winner will take on mandatory contender Andrew Selby of the UK and either fighter would make an interesting bout against Selby.
A Rosales win will force a rematch of their fight in 2017 that Selby won a decision, while a Barnes-Selby match would have few problems selling tickets in either the UK or Ireland.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 122-97.

Heavyweights. 12 Rds
Tyson Fury vs Francisco Pianeta
R.L: Fury KO 9
TRS: Fury KO 5

Featherweights 12 Rds
Carl Frampton vs Luke Jackson
Both: Frampton Unanimous Decision

WBC Flyweight Title. 12 Rds
Cristofer Rosales vs Paddy Barnes
R.L: Rosales Unanimous Decision
TRS: Rosales Split Decision

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Boxing Challenge: Streaming isn't perfect

Sometimes in boxing, everything that can go wrong does just that as Golden Boy Promotions would find out with their much-ballyhooed debut on Facebook.

To start with. Joseph Diaz, one of GBP's in-house favorites didn't make weight for his minor title challenge, but still anticipated event vs Jesus Rojas and despite yet another drop in the bucket as far as boxing's problems with the scale, the fight still was scheduled for Saturday night and still loomed as a fight to be seen.

For four rounds, Diaz and Rojas looked to be on their way to give the fans watching on Facebook a nice main event and then pfft.
The bottom dropped out of the live stream and it would not return for me until midway through round ten, so no scoring for me in this one as Diaz was the winner via unanimous decision.

In the boxing challenge, I earned two points for the Diaz win and Ramon Malpica selected Rojas for zero points.
The standings currently show a 122-97 lead for me over Ramon.

Since I don't have a lot to write about the fight itself, this does bring forward one of the concerns that I have as so many platforms seem to be moving to or originating from digital platforms.
Yes, this was a rocky start for boxing on Facebook, but keep in mind, this was a free offering.
That does take some of the sting away from the failures last night, but it does make me think of how I would feel if I was paying to see this fight as I will shortly when I begin to subscribe to ESPN+ and perhaps even DAZN.
You constantly read about the "Cord Cutters" that are moving away from television and into watching programs through various streams and avenues, but even though I've used some of these at times, I've seen the quality vary from top notch to 1970's antenna level.

I've often worried about the quality of streams and especially being able to rely on the stream being available when you need it.
I've noted that I usually watch Showtime's boxing offerings online because I'm not always home to watch them live on the big screen and they have been uneven to be charitable.
That's not always on Showtime as far as fault can be placed, there are many variables to how these things can go awry and since I'm paying to have the network on television and the stream is an added bonus for being a subscriber, it's tough to get too worked up over the occasional problem, even if it's not welcomed.

However, as more and more live events are moving to be internet based and many of those are on some type of subscription plan, the signal/stream needs to be one that can be relied on to be consistently available and of good quality.
Fans of a sport that are becoming more and more subscription based will not stand for missing large chunks of main events and should that happen for a more important fight than Diaz-Rojas that fans are paying for, boxing could take a severe shot for being nothing more than a test subject as we make further steps into the streaming age.
For boxing's sake-they had better get the concept correct and be a reliable provider- or pay the price for advancing an idea before it was prepared to do so. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge is short and to the point this week with just one fight and it is available to watch on Facebook Saturday evening as part of the new contract that the social media giant signed with Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions.

The main event was scheduled to be for one of the WBA's minor titles in the featherweight division with Jesus Rojas defending against Joseph Diaz in what should be an interesting scrap with a belt on the line or not.

The belt won't be on the line as Diaz didn't make weight as part of a continuing problem that boxing is going to have to deal with sooner than later, but after Diaz returned a part of his purse to the state commission and another slide to Rojas, the fight will go on and it should be a decent one.
Rojas was very impressive in stopping Claudio Marrero in seven rounds in his last fight that saw him take a jump in competition and Diaz is another bounce forward in quality fighters so Rojas will be tested by Diaz, who was decisioned in his last fight by Gary Russell for Russell's WBC title.
The WBA has ruled that Rojas will retain his title, win or lose due to Diaz missing weight.
I am critical of the WBA most of all the sanctioning bodies, but this is a fair decision.
I've never understood how a fighter can lose a title (legitimate or not) because their opponent did not meet the required terms and it's good to see an organization agree.

This will be a huge fight for Diaz- title or not as I suspected entering the Russell fight that he might be a solid contender, yet not one that could be an elite level fighter.
That's pretty much how I saw Diaz's performance against Russell- solid, but not good enough against a talented fighter that might be the best in his division,
The fight should place Rojas on the food chain, as either one that is capable of being at the top of the division or just another contender.

Diaz should be the tepid favorite, but this is a fight that could go either way and should start GBP's series with Facebook in a strong manner.

Featherweights 12 Rds
Jesus Rojas vs Joseph Diaz
R.L: Rojas KO 9
TRS: Diaz Unanimous Decision

Friday, August 10, 2018

Cleaning out the inbox-Non-Sports Edition

The Non-Sports Edition of the inbox sometimes is one of our least read versions.
We've also had a few that exploded in views, so it's hard to tell just what will hit and what will miss, but it gives me a chance to write about something other than sports, which is always a nice change of pace.

I wrote years ago about Floyd Lawton- Deadshot in the Suicide Squad and my favorite character, but I've never written about my second favorite Squad character, who is very close to Floyd, Count Vertigo.
I might write a Vertigo post over the off-season but for now, the blog Sequential Pictures has a deeper look at the Count and just why he's the "hero at heart" of the Squad.

You wouldn't select Sports Illustrated as the most likely landing spot for an oral history of the Karate Kid, but that's where that article landed and it's interesting to read if you are a mega-fan like me or just a casual fan.
Most of the stars and co-stars in the film were spoken with for the piece and I really enjoyed it.
I found the potential casting sheets to be very interesting and I also liked the discussion on how the Cobra Kai gang were kept away from Ralph Macchio even on the set to build the tension naturally to be used in the film.

I'm not really a Will Ferrell fan.
Honestly, I've found his supporting characters (Ashley Schaffer in Eastbound and Down and Chaz in Wedding Crashers) to be far funnier than movies that are based around his starring characters.
However, there is one exception-Step Brothers, which ranks very high in my all-time favorite comedies.
Farrell is funny in this, along with John C. Reilly, who I've always been a fan (I thought Walk Hard-the Dewey Cox story was hilarious, which I have found few that agree with me) of and have always thought that there is still comedy gold to be mined from "Dale and Brennan".
The Ringers writes an oral history of Step Brothers and again, whether a fan or not, it's interesting to read how these films come to be made.

The lovely Cherie sent the next two notes of interest to me for the inbox, the first of which is from Weather Nation and discusses just how a brief torrential downpour can result in a major flash flood as has happened twice in the last three years in Ellicott City, Maryland.
It gives plenty of charts and graphs, looks at just how an area can be so clogged in a small area and cause so much damage.
It also looks at just how deceiving the term "thousand-year storm" can be and just how often these events can occur.

Cherie's other link comes from Mother Nature Network and the loss of thirteen Bald Eagles recently in Maryland.
Apparently, the birds ate a raccoon that had been poisoned and then the drug Carbofuran was ingested by the Eagles.
Carbofuran is supposedly banned from the U.S since it is toxic to birds, yet it was here anyway.
Maryland natural resources claimed that this was the largest single eagle die-off in the last thirty years.

Frank Bruni of the New York Times talks to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan about whether the Republican Party belongs to the more traditional Republicans such as Hogan or to the Donald Trump influencers.
I'm pretty middle of the road politically, but I think Hogan has been the best governor that Maryland has had in years and he deserves re-election.

Still more to come soon!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Cleaning out the inbox-Football Style

Time to clean out the inbox with an all football version.

The nation's best player (apologies to Ohio State's Nick Bosa) gets a Sports Illustrated cover, albeit a regional one as Houston's Ed Oliver reigns supreme on the southwest cover.
Yes, I will be trying to procure one of these for the collection, so if you are reading and have one, let me know!

ESPN writes of the 50th anniversary of Emory Bellard's designing of the Wishbone offense at Texas in 1968.
Bellard came up with the idea and the Longhorns rolled over everyone in sight-Until Darrell Royal (Texas head coach) for some reason told Bellard to open his books and the keys to his offense to a struggling Chuck Fairbanks at rival Oklahoma.
It took a little while before the Sooners were able to run the bone on all cylinders, but once they did, it was the Sooners that became dominant with the offense for close to 20 years under Fairbanks and Barry Switzer.
Bellard would eventually leave Texas for the head coaching job at another UT rival, Texas A&M.

Eleven Warriors writes of the most memorable Ohio State football finishes over the last ten years.
I always like these types of pieces as it gives me a chance to look back at some exciting games and their endings.

SWC Roundup writes of the craziest conference title race ever in 1994 in the SWC.
A record five teams (Texas, Texas Tech, TCU, Rice, and Baylor) tied for the title with a record of 4-3 in the conference after NCAA banned Texas A&M was ruled ineligible for the championship.
It's a four-part series, links at the bottom of the page will send you to the other parts of the series.
I'm all for parity, but having watched many of those games, this took it to a huge extreme!

ESPN is back with an article on Mount Union and its new reputation as the "cradle of coaches".
Mount Union's staff has already produced two division one head coaches in Iowa State's Matt Campbell and Toledo's Jason Candle along with numerous coordinators and assistants.
It all traces back to the machine that retired Larry Kehres built and the article looks at the program along with just how it is producing so many excellent young coaches.

The Athletic finishes us off with a post about the American Athletic Conference and how despite adding themselves to the "Power Six", they still have plenty of streets to walk down before they truly are perceived that way.
The conference will have to find a new television contract and this looks at just what the league needs and possibles suitors along with expansion, as in the American adding to their stable or even the possibility of losing a star school or two as other conferences grow larger.

Still, plenty in the inbox as we will have an all baseball version and a non-sports edition coming up soon.

My Favorite Non-Sports Podcasts

I'm sitting in a hospital.
No, not for me.
My dad appears to have suffered a stroke yesterday and we're still trying to see if it was of the mini variety or not, but he seems to be himself, so I'm hoping that this was a small issue that might give him a warning about keeping himself together a little better.
Please keep him in your thoughts.

Anyway, since I am without wi-fi at the moment, I thought I would knock out a nice easy column that finishes one from last month- My favorite podcasts, this time from the non-sports universe.

Let's start with one with a really basic title- New books in biography.
I must admit that I don't listen to every one of these because the subject range is so huge and wide and not everyone interests me, but some of these are just wonderful hour plus programs with various authors that are incredibly interesting.
When the topic is one that really grips me, this might be my favorite podcast around.

The Batcave podcast is one that deals with episodes of the classic Batman 1966 TV series, but also talks about the Filmation cartoons from the 60's (that I so loved in the early 70's in syndication) and the Batman comic book that has been created over the last few years that is based directly on the TV series.
If you are a Batman fan like me or if certain episodes just make you smile or laugh, they have episodes that deal with specific episodes and is well worth the listen.

More from the animation world with Limited Cel where a father and son duo (Nick and Mike Wood) look back and rewatch Hanna Barbara programs from the 1960's through the 1970's.
I would bet that the show will eventually lead to the H-B 1980's shows as well.
It's pretty entertaining and nostalgic and I do enjoy the father/son dynamic going back and forth over the merits of Quick Draw McGraw very much.

And even more from the comics world with Heroes and Villains.
This one generally selects a Hero or Villain (really?) from either the DC or Marvel universe and discusses in great detail that character's background, powers, weaknesses, appearances and about anything that you can think of about that particular character.
Bruce Leslie is about as comprehensive in covering the subject as one could find and trust me if you walk away from an episode with a question, you likely weren't paying attention!

The Watch Party is hosted by my friend Samantha Blinn with her friend Crystal and the premise of this podcast is films that Sam (a huge film buff) has seen many times, yet Crystal has never seen.
They do an introduction to the film and Sam asks Crystal her perception of the film before they view it.
The pair then talks about the film after watching. how close Crystal's preliminary thoughts were and what type of grade they would give.
Give it a listen and not just because Sam's a friend- it's very entertaining.

I also have in my queue, multi-part programs that I have listened to some episodes, but not the full series yet, that deal with Watergate, Chappaquiddick and the Robert Kennedy assassination from various podcast hosts.

Hope you give any of these of interest a listen and see what you think.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Boxing Challenge: Alvarez storms through the Krusher

The boxing challenge rumbled into the Northeast on Saturday with a five-bout slate split between Atlantic City and the renovated Nassau Coliseum in Long Island and at the end of the evening, there was one fighter that clearly was the star of the weekend- and he did it without winning a round.

In an upset that some thought could happen, but that few thought would occur in this fashion- Eleider Alvarez scored three knockdowns on Sergey Kovalev out of nowhere in the seventh round and stripped Kovalev of not only his WBO light heavyweight title but also his fearsome demeanor and possibly even his career.
I thought Kovalev had won every round and seemed to be on his way to a lopsided win over the long-time WBC number one contender that champion Adonis Stevenson had spent almost three years avoiding.
One right hand changed all of that and three knockdowns later, the immediate future of the 175-pound division was gone as a Kovalev-Dmitry Bivol unification bout in December was gone.
There is a rematch clause and Kovalev winning all the rounds gives "Krusher" backers hope for a second battle, but this is a huge shot for the light heavyweight division in the short-term.
Alvarez, this KO aside, is not a big puncher and being promoted by Canada's Yvon Michel, who has managed his man Adonis Stevenson away from challengers for years, makes things even more confusing for his future.
As for Kovalev, he did answer some questions about his heart from the Andre Ward fight, as he rose from each knockdown and tried gallantly to fire back and survive, but he still was knocked out by a contender that had never knocked a top ten contender at 175 ( worn-out former super middleweight champion Lucien Bute doesn't count) out and isn't a draw even in his adopted country.

The co-feature from HBO saw Dmitry Bivol retain his WBA title via a unanimous decision over Issac Chilemba.
I haven't been able to watch this fight yet, so no scoring from my card.
Bivol has made some noise about fighting Alvarez in the same December unification bout planned for Kovalev, but after what has been reported to be a workmanlike, but nothing special effort for Bivol.

PBC wasted another national television platform on Fox with three less than thrilling fights.
In the main event of faded former welterweight champions, Andre Berto won a surprising split decision over Devon Alexander at the renovated (Praise the Lord for that fixup project from the home of Circulatory Socks) Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.
Alexander gave away some rounds late, but scored the fight's only knockdown in round three and won going away on my card 116-111.
Berto now gives us the gift of yet another undeserved PBC title shot in which the net result is a one-sided beatdown and waste of the viewers time.
Alexander has to feel snake bitten as for the second fight in a row (This loss and a draw with Victor Ortiz), the judges took away a deserved decision victory.

Former WBO middleweight champion Peter Quillin dominated super middleweight J'Leon Love and won a clear unanimous decision as the co-feature.
It wasn't a fun fight to watch as Quillin walked Love down, as Love did little other than bounce around the ring and generated little offense.
Quillin might be an interesting name to see as an opponent for WBC champ David Benavidez or IBF kingpin Jose Uzcategui on a future PBC card, especially Uzcategui, who may be looking for an opponent with the injury to mandatory Caleb Plant pushing that fight back until late 2018 or early 2019.
I had Quillin winning 99-91.

The first fight saw Sergey Lipinets struggle to a majority decision win in his welterweight bow against trialhorse Erick Bone.
I agreed with one judge at 95-95, but the remaining judges had their cards filled out before the fight with ridiculous cards of 99-91 and 98-92, which were insulting to the effort of Bone.
Lipinets might be better served to stay at junior welter, where he made a strong effort in his loss to Mikey Garcia earlier this year.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica gained two points on me in the boxing challenge as he scored five points to my three.
Ramon added two points each from the Quillin and Bivol wins and one from the victory by Lipinets.
I scored one point for each of the above victories.
The challenge now stands at 120-97.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Cavaliers trade for Sam Dekker, sign David Nwaba

The Cleveland Cavaliers continue their rebuild on the go with the acquisition of two young players that have surprised and disappointed in the league, but both will be given chances to earn minutes by Lake Erie that neither has been given in the league during their career.

The Cavaliers have reportedly come to agreement with free agent guard David Nwaba, who averaged just under eight points last season in 23 minutes per game as the Chicago Bulls backup point guard.
Nwaba, who worked his way to the Los Angeles Lakers through the D-League in 2016-17, but didn't make an impact there on a bad team, was claimed by the Bulls last summer and put together a nice season.

Nwaba shot just under 48 percent from the field as a Bull and almost 35 percent from the three-point line and joins the Cavalier guard depth chart.
Nwaba isn't a shooter but is strong on the defensive end and at 6'4 can be quite helpful as with long arms, athleticism, being taller than many on the point and is capable of defending point and shooting guards as well as some small forwards.
What the signing of Nwaba makes me think is that perhaps the Cavaliers are not finished dealing and are setting themselves up in case they are able to trade George Hill, which would lead to some substantial savings against the cap.
Nwaba hasn't officially signed, so I don't have any word on the financial aspect of the terms, but Nwaba has announced his "intent" to sign a contract.

The Cavaliers weren't finished as the team is reportedly finishing a trade that will send forward Sam Dekker to the team from the roster position challenged Los Angeles Clippers.
Dekker was the 15th overall pick from Wisconsin in 2015 by the Rockets, where he spent his first two seasons before spending last season with the Clippers after being one of seven players (or over half the then-Rockets bench) traded in the deal that sent Chris Paul to Texas.
The 24 year old averaged just 4.2 points per game in only 12 minutes of playing time per game for Los Angeles and has been given tags at two ends of the spectrum as I've read some reports that praise Dekker as a high energy player that works hard on both ends of the floor and others that have questioned his dedication to the game, so I'll reserve judgement on that part of Dekker's game, since I honestly don't remember seeing Sam Dekker play a minute for either the Rockets or the Clippers!

Dekker can run the floor and will make the occasional spectacular dunk, but his shooting in the league has been pretty bad outside the paint with a painfully bad 16 percent from three last season and he might be miscast defensively as too not big enough to guard power forwards or quick enough against the small forwards.
Still, if he can even improve his outside shooting a little bit, he could help with the second team off the bench and there is an opportunity for minutes in Cleveland as they really only have one true "3" on the roster in Cedi Osman.
Rodney Hood can play small forward, but is better suited to play shooting guard and the other power forwards on the roster aren't suited to guard away from the basket.
You might be able to get away with Larry Nance Jr in certain defensive situations there, but I wouldn't want to try it too often and I wouldn't want to try Channing Frye or Kevin Love (who will be more of a PF/C this season) there as much as I would Nance!
Still, considering the cost (either cash, "Future considerations" and some swapped rights of European players that will likely never see the NBA anyway), I'm ok with taking a flyer on Dekker.
Dekker makes 2.7 million for the upcoming season and will be a restricted free agent next summer, so the risk is minimal.

I'll be back later or tomorrow with the boxing challenge and another Pittsburgh Pirates addition through trade.

End of an Era-Corey Coleman shuffled off to Buffalo

One more linchpin of the Sashi Brown era was taken off of its moorings late last night as the Cleveland Browns traded 2016 first round wide receiver Corey Coleman to the Buffalo Bills for the massive return of a seventh rounder in the 2020 draft.

Honestly, I would have rather seen Coleman more in camp and preseason than take a 7th rounder in 2020 now, but apparently the Browns either had enough of Coleman already, liked rookie Antonio Callaway and/or third-year holdover Rashard Higgins far more  or all of the above and decided to take whatever they could receive even a lowly seventh rounder two years down the road.

Coleman was selected with the 15th pick in the 2016 draft out of Baylor, but struggled with broken hands (twice) and dropped passes even when his hands were not broken, most notably the fourth-down pass thrown to him against Pittsburgh as the Browns attempted to avoid the 0-16 record on the final week of the season.
Coleman did catch 56 passes for 718 yards with five touchdowns in his two years in Cleveland and occasionally flashed big-play ability but between issues staying on the field and the occasional off the field miscue, there are likely few in Cleveland disappointed in Coleman's departure.

Put me in the middle of the road.
Yes, Coleman drops passes and has been an immense disappointment, but he has had some terrible quarterbacks around him and maybe he isn't a number one receiver (although you'd like to think a 1st round pick can be that), but there have been plenty of players that aren't true number one receivers that flourish as a 2nd or 3rd pass catcher with more talent in the offense.
All things considered, I lean toward Coleman being a bust, but his speed is still there and provided the Browns run Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry etc out on opening afternoon, I would have liked to have seen how productive Coleman might have been in running deep routes against the other team's nickel or dime coverage defensive backs and getting a seventh rounder doesn't change that.

However, if the Browns have already made a decision on Coleman and if they didn't think that he had a chance to stave off Higgins, Callaway or a new arrival to the roster, then it was best for the team and Coleman to move him to another opportunity and take the proverbial something instead of nothing.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Pirates leap into deadline!

The Pittsburgh Pirates looked to be sellers a few weeks back if you looked forward to the trade deadline, but then something happened in Pittsburgh- the Pirates ripped off eleven wins in a row, leaped back into the wild-card race with a Bob Beamonesque leap and Neal Huntington suddenly had a decision to make- sell and basically tell his fan base that the franchise had decided to punt the season from the green flag, stand pat with a suddenly hot team or make some moves and try to make the postseason.

To my surprise, Huntington made not just one, but two moves and they were big ones for the Pirates, costing them several good prospects that might have Pirates fans looking at these trades for years as either the day the Pirates added some arms that turned them into contenders for a few years or the day the team overreacted to a win streak and dealt players that should have thrived in Pittsburgh.

Starting with the larger of the two trades (the second of the pair), the Pirates landed perhaps the biggest arm to change teams at the deadline as Pittsburgh added righthander Chris Archer from Tampa Bay for outfielder Austin Meadows, right-handed pitcher Tyler Glasnow, and a player to be named later.
That's quite a package of cost-controlled young talent to send away for an often financially challenged franchise, but let's look at what Pittsburgh acquired first before the lost prospects in Chris Archer.

The soon to be 30 year old Archer (turns 30 in September) has been the best pitcher on a bad team over the last few seasons (53 wins since 2013), has been durable (no trips to the DL since his 2013 call-up) and hasn't notched an ERA higher than his current 4.31, so this is a quality starter to slot into the rotation for the Buccos.
Add to that, Archer's very team friendly contract that has him under control for 2019  (7.5 million) at a minimum with two team option years for 2020 and 21 at a very affordable (9 and 11 million) cost as well and you can see why the Pirates paid what they paid in prospects.

However, there are a few caveats on Chris Archer.
The largest of these is that Archer never took the expected leap to the next level after 2014 and 15 seasons that would have seen him firmly in the Cy Young race on even an average team and his numbers although still good, are declining slightly.
It could be that Tampa dealt Archer just as he is at his highest value and just before Archer could be starting a steep decline.
Archer's strikeouts numbers are down a bit (a strikeout and a half per nine innings from last year) and his hits per nine innings are up one from last season and those make me at least wonder a bit about Archer.
Still, Archer is still about as safe as you can trade for at this stage and even if he gives the Pirates what he has given to the Rays this season for three and a half seasons, that's still enough to be in the upper half of the Pirate rotation and if he gives you what the 2015 Archer is capable of, the Pirates have a clear number one starter.

Here's the issue for the Pirates though- you don't get a pitcher like this for free and they sure didn't this time.
Tyler Glasnow has the type of arm that makes scouts drool and as he flew through the minors, Glasnow was thought to give the Pirates a contention window with three big righthanders with power arms with Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon, but for one small problem- every time that Glasnow was given a chance with the Pirates, he had problems finding the strike zone.
The Pirates placed him in their bullpen and despite the walks remaining high (34 in 34 appearances), the strikeouts were as well ( 72 in those 34 appearances) and to me to have an arm like this that hasn't turned 23 (He will later this month) that you seem to have given up on as a starter is incredibly short-sighted.
Perhaps the Pirates figured they had run out of answers for Glasnow's questions or that their staff couldn't get through to Glasnow or who knows what other thoughts that they have, but all I will write is this- when you have a 6'8 fireballer with that kind of stuff and you give up on him this soon- you had better hope you are right because those arms don't come along as a homegrown product every day.

Austin Meadows was thought to be the next starting young outfielder and was the natural long-term replacement for Andrew McCutchen.
McCutchen's trade to the Giants was thought to have opened the door for Meadows, but when the team traded with Tampa Bay to add veteran Corey Dickerson, that door closed until Meadows was given a shot in May and responded with a torrid first month in the bigs hitting over .400 with four homers in his first 13 games.
Meadows cooled off in his next forty games, but still seemed to be in their long-term plans between the veteran Dickerson and the erratic Gregory Polanco, but Tampa had to have wanted the cost-controlled Meadows in this deal to make it work.
I've always liked Meadows bat, but he has had problems staying healthy and with the way that Meadows had dropped off after his start, the Pirates had to have wondered at least a little.
Meadows was the best outfield prospect in the system as far as talent and was the nearest to the parent club as well, so this was not a player that the Pirates could easily trade away.
The departure of Meadows also puts a lot of heat on the Pirates to re-sign Corey Dickerson in the off-season, despite an arbitration number that might make a Dickerson re-signing oppressive, this trade almost makes that a must do rather than we'll see consideration.

The player to be named will be interesting as well.
Will it be a third higher level prospect ( O'Neil Cruz at low West Virginia is the best prospect position wise or pitcher Mitch Keller at AAA Indianapolis, which I would think is unlikely), a b-level player that is at Bradenton or Altoona or a lottery ticket from the lower end of the system?
Glasnow was added to the Tampa roster and Meadows was assigned to the Rays AAA affiliate in Durham after the deal,
This trade will be evaluated for years and many Pirates fans will be following Tampa box scores for quite a while.

Editor's Note; The PTBNL was pitcher Shane Baz, the Pirates 2017 first round selection,

The first trade saw the Pirates add to their bullpen with a trade with the Texas Rangers as they added closer Keone Kela, favorite of former TRS fan Brad Adams (If two people read this and ask, I'll write about the Kela story that I have to tell) and owner of 24 saves in 25 chances for the Arlington's in exchange for minor league lefty Taylor Hearn and a player to be named later.
The 25-year-old Kela pitched well for the Rangers in 2017 and 18, can close or fill a setup role and can even pitch in a semi-long role in a rare situation that calls for it.
Kela will be arbitration eligible, but the Pirates again have added a pitcher that gives them some control over his rights for a while.

The part that hurts is losing former Hagerstown Sun lefthander Taylor Hearn, who was having a breakout season at AA Altoona.
Hearn has an ERA of 3.12 in twenty starts, struck out 115 in 109 innings and held opposing hitters to under a .200 batting average.
Add that to a lefty that sits in the mid-90's and you have a southpaw that didn't seem to be far away from the big leagues.
This might be another pitcher that the Pirates might have wished hadn't gotten away.
Hearn was assigned to the Rangers AA squad in Frisco after the trade.

Give the Pirates credit, they saw an opening and for once- went for it.
For a team that is almost always questioned about finances, you have to give them credit for doing what they are usually criticized for not doing- giving themselves a chance to win.
However, you can argue (and time will answer this question) that the Pirates might have overreacted to a winning streak that put them in sight of a playoff spot (and that's really what the streak did put them in the running) and might have cost themselves as many as five young players that make the big leagues for a mirage of a playoff run.
They are valid questions to ask and I don't think that the answer is an easy one, mainly because I've been critical for the Pirates not being buyers when in the position to make sense to do so.
Still, looking at all things fairly, I lean to the side of not making the deal for Chris Archer.
Here's why- you didn't think that you were going to contend, which is why you moved Gerrit Cole for young players (Michael Feliz, Joe Musgrove, and Colin Moran) that were expected to make the parent club, yet weren't expected to make instant impacts on the lineups.
The team (in my opinion) traded better prospects for Archer than they received for Cole and yet the trade for Cole put the surprise contender in need for a pitcher.
Archer will be under team control longer than Cole, so that plays a part in those deals, but still, if you don't trade Cole, the need for Archer is not as great and so it goes down the line.
Now you lose players with the potential to help you down the road for what could be a mirage of a few weeks in one season and the risk is massive, particularly if Tyler Glasnow figures things out in Florida.
I understand the reasons why but consider me more than concerned about the end results of these trades.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge continues after a missed weekend caused by yours truly.

The six-fight weekend features one already fought (both predictions made before the fight), two on HBO and three on Fox complete with me wondering why PBC puts these on a network, but I digress.

The most important fights are part of an HBO doubleheader in the light heavyweight division as two titles are on the line with WBO champ Sergey Kovalev defending against long-time WBC top contender Elieder Alvarez and WBA kingpin Dmitry Bivol putting his belt up against Issac Chilemba.

The once feared Kovalev faces his toughest test since Andre Ward after two confidence builders against lesser opponents in Alvarez, who was the long avoided mandatory for WBC champion Adonis Stevenson after his close majority win over Issac Chilemba almost three years ago.
Alvarez isn't a puncher or a cutie as a boxer, but he provides a nice measuring stick for Kovalev and just what he could have remaining in the gas tank.

In HBO's other bout, Dmitry Bivol faces his second top 10 level opponent after an impressive knockout of Sullivan Barrera, against Issac Chilemba.
Chilemba had lost three in a row (Alvarez, Kovalev and Oleksander Gvozsdyk) before a win over Blake Caparello last time out earned him this fight vs the rock-fisted Bivol.
Chilemba isn't slick enough to outbox Bivol or punches hard enough to keep Bivol off of him so this could be an excellent candidate for knockout of the evening.

PBC once again wastes an excellent platform with three fights that carries some interest, but none of which can be considered must-see TV.
Perhaps this is as simple as PBC playing out the string on a contractual commitment, but I would still think that giving a higher level of fight a network time slot (Next month's Danny Garcia-Shawn Porter fight for the vacant WBC welterweight title would have been a great choice) would be a better allocation of exposure, but who am I to argue with the PBC's ahem success.

The main event features former champions in Devon Alexander and Andre Berto.
Berto, who to be described as faded may be too strong of a term, has plenty of heart but little left in skills and against Alexander, who has retained some of his championship level slickness and was robbed in his last bout in being given a draw against Victor Ortiz in a bout that he clearly won.

Former middleweight champ Peter Quillin returns to the ring against fringe contender J'Leon Love in a super middleweight fight.
Quillin looks to return to title form after his one round loss to Daniel Jacobs in 2015, while Love is winless against top 20 level opponents.

The opener features former IBF junior welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets move to the welterweight division against trialhorse Erick Bone.
Lipinets, who gave Mikey Garcia a tougher outing than most in his last bout, faces Bone, who is the perfect type of opponent for someone on the comeback trail- tough enough to make you work, but isn't a threat to defeat you either.

Both Ramon and I had our picks in for the vacant IBF junior lightweight title from Australia from ESPN+ as Tevin Farmer took a unanimous decision over Billy Dib for that title.
Farmer was robbed of that same title in December when Kenichi Ogawa was given a ridiculous decision before failing the post-fight drug test, so it was only fair that Farmer was given a second chance when Ogawa was stripped.
Both of us selected Farmer via decision for two points...
After the Farmer-Dib fight,the challenge stands at 117-92.

WBO Light Heavyweight Title. 12 Rds
Sergey Kovalev vs Elieder Alvarez
Both: Kovalev Unanimous Decision

WBA Light Heavyweight Title. 12 Rds
Dmitry Bivol vs Issac Chilemba
R.L: Bivol Unanimous Decision
TRS: Bivol KO 9

Welterweights. 12 Rds
Devon Alexander vs Andre Berto
Both: Alexander Unanimous Decision

Super Middleweights. 10 Rds
Peter Quillin vs J'Leon Love
R.L: Quillin KO 9
TRS: Quillin Unanimous Decision

Welterweights 10 Rds
Sergey Lipinets vs Erick Bone
Both: Lipinets Unanimous Decision

Friday, August 3, 2018

Indians add Leonys Martin

Many expected the Cleveland Indians to be one of the bigger players at the trading deadline.
They weren't one of those, but they did make two small trades that they hope will improve themselves defensively/

In the first trade, the Indians acquired veteran centerfielder Leonys Martin along with minor league pitcher Kyle Dowdy from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for minor league shortstop Willi Castro.

Martin is the centerpiece of the deal, as he will be expected to shore up a flagging Indian defense in the outfield.
The 30 year old Martin will play against righties in a platoon with Rajai Davis, who will start against southpaws.
Martin was hitting .252 with the Tigers with nine homers, so he's not without his occasional helpful spots with the stick, but he's never hit higher than .274 or hit more than 15 homers, so counting on him for more than the defensive help is likely to be looking for Fool's Gold,

Minor league right-hander Kyle Dowdy was thrown into the deal.
Dowdy split the season with the Tigers AA (Erie) and AAA (Toledo) affiliates and didn't post even interesting numbers, so he seems to be a toss-in by any standards.
Dowdy was used as a starter for Toledo and a reliever for Erie, so maybe the Indians see something in him as a reliever and assigned him to AA Akron.

The Indians gave up a nice prospect in shortstop Willi Castro, who was hitting .246 with 5 homers and 13 steals for the AA Akron Rubber Ducks.
The Indians did have the depth to move Castro, as he might have repeated AA anyway with the Indians being stocked at the middle infield positions.
I don't mind trading Castro because of the depth chart, using the minors to add talent is part of a strong system, but I always hate losing talented players.

In the other smaller deal, the Indians traded for toolsy centerfielder (see where this is going?) Oscar Mercado from the St.Louis Cardinals.
Considering the position now and for next year with Bradley Zimmer missing some of the 2019 season, the Indians must think Mercado can contend for playing time next season.
Mercado was assigned to AAA Columbus after hitting. 285 with 8 homers and 31 steals for AAA Memphis and turns 24 in December.
This might be a deal that looks much larger down the road as Mercado could be a contributor for the 2019 Indians.

Conner Capel is the more known of the two players going to the Redbirds as the son of former big league pitcher Mike Capel.
Capel hit .261 with 6 homers and 15 steals for High A Lynchburg, but I'm not sure has long-term prospect type status.

The other player was a lottery ticket in Columbian outfielder Jhon Torres, who at 18 was playing for the AZL Indians at the time of the trade, hitting. 273 with 4 homers in 99 at bats in Tucson.

Hoping to find time tonight for the Pirates trades and the boxing challenge.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Urban Meyer-Stay or go?

I'm still sick, but as good as I've been for a while and I really wanted to dig into those baseball deadline dealings where the Indians were surprisingly mostly silent and it was the Pirates (?) that made the explosive moves.

That was until this morning when more of the Zach Smith drama in Columbus dribbled along and then erupted with a force that left Urban Meyer on "Administrative Leave" and offensive coordinator Ryan Day in charge as the temporary head coach.

I'm not going to get into details about what Urban Meyer knew and when did he know and I'll skip the Howard Baker voice as well, but the interesting thing to think about is this- Has Urban Meyer coached his final game at Ohio State?
How about Perhaps?

Clearly, if it can be proven that Meyer knew about the Zach Smith accusations from 2015, he's gone.
In these days and times, something like that means instant dismissal.
However, what if Urban Meyer isn't connected to actually knowing by text, email. another person, etc and his wife Shelley backs up that claim with a statement that she never told him despite her knowing?
If that scenario occurs, that is the avenue that could see Urban Meyer retain his position.
After all, it would be difficult to fire a person for not knowing that someone on their staff could have been a domestic abuser although no charges had been filed against that assistant and should OSU try and it is proved that indeed Meyer didn't know anything, Ohio State could be on the hook for the lawsuit of the century.

Here's another problem- with the selection of Ryan Day as the interim coach for possibly the 2018 season over more established candidates Greg Schiano and Kevin Wilson, the Buckeyes might have made their choice- for good or bad, for the duration.
The 2018 Buckeyes are going to be very talented.
Talented to the point of anything less than 11-1 might be looked at as a disappointing season and how on earth could you fire a coach that finishes with that record under these conditions?
Nothing against Ryan Day and I'm open to changing my mind, but I've seen nothing that makes me think that he would be my top choice as the next Buckeye head coach,
Not saying that it has to stay that way, but it wouldn't be that currently.

Another problem is 11-1 likely gives Day the job, but 8-4 is a bad year with this talent and means a new coach would likely be hired.
However, can that coach keep together what looks like another super recruiting class?
So, what would be a record that would be acceptable enough yet still consider other candidates?
I'd say 9-3 if that includes a Michigan victory.
That might be good enough to consider Day, but enough that the usual level of excellence had fallen short to open the job interviews to the outside.
Keep in mind that a similar situation occurred last year at Colorado with the Buffalo's coach keeping his job, although the social climate has changed over the last year and clearly Colorado isn't Ohio State as far prestige goes, but some precedent has been set.

Not sure how this plays out, but the longer this game is played, the more it favors Urban Meyer keeping his job.

Back later with finally some trade thoughts.