Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Cavaliers remove Tyronn Lue

Now that I finally have gotten past what seemed like twenty items to have time to write this, we finally move to the Cleveland Cavaliers firing of Tyronn Lue.

The Cavaliers had lost their first six games under Lue, but under interim head coach, Larry Drew won their first game last night over the Atlanta Hawks 136-114.
Lue, who won over 200 games at a percentage of over sixty percent, was the winning coach of the only championship team in franchise history.

The Cavaliers stumbled early with an injury to Kevin Love's toe, which is expected to keep him off the floor for as long as a month, but the larger factor seemed to be the pace of play installed by Lue.
Lue wanted to play at a faster pace, which the NBA is moving towards today, but still had personnel made for the surrounding cast for LeBron James, which to paraphrase the Boss, wasn't quite "Born to Run".

Another issue with Lue was that he wanted to continue to give the veterans (George Hill over Collin Sexton as the biggest issue) more playing time than the younger players, who would be more of a part of the rebuild.
General Manager Koby Altman had sold Lue on their intent to contend for a playoff spot and Lue was playing veterans that he thought (often incorrectly) would give the team a better chance to win.
The only argument that the front office could make would be that the more that veterans like Kyle Korver (very valuable to a contender), J.R Smith ( I'm not sure that the team could give Smith away under almost any circumstances) and Channing Frye (brought to help the younger big men, not to log huge minutes) would play, perhaps they could improve their marketability.

The Cavaliers are trying to have their cake and eat it too as they want to play the predominantly younger players, yet proclaim their interest in making the playoffs in which they aren't nearly as likely to challenge for the postseason using those players.
However, if the Cavaliers truly want to play the younger players and hope for the best, Tyronn Lue wasn't the best choice for the job.
They could have done a much better job in communicating that decision to Lue and perhaps this split (Much like the Browns with Hue Jackson) would have been better to have taken place during the summer to benefit both parties.

Of course, this being the Cavaliers, there is a certain amount of stress as interim coach Larry Drew wants to be named the full time coach at a bump in salary, while the team has named him interim coach for now.
This means that of course the relationship has stumbled out of the gate and no matter how well things turn out for a while, this will be remembered and will come up again sooner or later.
Drew spent three years as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks and one with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Drew coached the Hawks to the playoffs for all three seasons in Atlanta, before spending the next year in Milwaukee, where a disastrous 15-67 season gave Drew a deceiving 144-169 record.

Drew coached the Cavaliers to wins in eight of nine games last season during Tyronn Lue's medical absence, so he's somewhat used to being the head man.
Drew could be a good choice for the rest of the year, but considering this organization's history in bungling (other than having the world's best player want to return to his hometown team, it's less than dazzling under the ownership of Dan Gilbert), doesn't really give me confidence to say this will end well.

Tyronn Lue could have been freed in the off-season, it would have been the right thing to do, but sometimes you have to actually see a bad idea instead of imagining it.
Still, the firing now will help Lue be the more than likely favorite for the "team that many expected to contend, but have underachieved" head coaching position before the end of the season.
Now, the next step is to see if improvement comes under Drew and just what changes are made under Drew...

Next time- I hope to start the TRS boxing ratings or a piece on Emanuel Steward that I've been holding for a slow day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Browns drop the axe on Hue Jackson and Todd Haley

I thought I would be finally writing about the firing of Tyronn Lue by the winless Cavaliers until the word came through that the Browns had finally realized the truth that most observers had known for quite a while- Hue Jackson needed to go.

The Browns gave Jackson his walking papers as the team had reached the point of not being able to tolerate the problems between Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley among the losing after a promising start.

Todd Haley would not have his hand raised in victory on this morning as a few hours after the news of Jackson's release, word squeaked out of Berea that Haley had been let go and relieved of his duties as well.
Many thought that if Jackson was canned that it would be Haley, with his previous head coaching experience with the Kansas City Chiefs, that would be tabbed for the interim head coaching spot.
Instead, Haley was on his way out and the Cleveland Browns would be the talk of the league for the latest bout of craziness.

The Browns couldn't even avoid controversy with the interim choice as at first for a short period of time, the word (Unofficially) came through social media that it would be veteran Al Saunders that was chosen as the interim coach.
Saunders had been a head coach before with the Chargers, decades ago, is well-liked and at his age (in his 60s) would be unlikely to be a consideration for the permanent position so it would be an unexciting, but safe choice to make.

Instead, it would be defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, he of the manic behavior, potty mouth, and the baggage of the New Orleans Saints "Bounty" program, that would be the interim head coach.
Williams does have head coaching experience from a stint with the Bills, but between the bounty-based past and what I would think would be a reluctance to allow Williams so many chances to sit before the media each week and answer questions before a live studio audience, I was surprised that Williams was the chosen option.
I am fine with Williams, who although wasn't a success in Buffalo, wasn't a huge failure either, so Williams should at least make these last eight games somewhat entertaining and interesting, even if victories may be in short supply.

Hue Jackson should have been released at the end of last season and given Jackson's talent to ingratiate with the Haslams while throwing everyone short of Swagger the dog under the bus for his own miscues, you have to admire his ability for self-survival, if not his ability to accept responsibility.
When looking at the Jackson reign, I cannot look at almost anything and say Jackson did something good or accountable.
This is a guy that insisted that there was no way that the team would go 0-16 and if so, he'd jump in Lake Erie at the end of the season.
Instead of an icy dip in January, Jackson pulled every string that he could to push things to training camp for a nice warm splash, if he couldn't avoid it at all.
These things seem small but taken all together so many times that Jackson attempted to shuffle responsibility away from himself to anyone else that it could possibly stick to, usually through his pal on the NFL Network Mike Silver, who used his platform to spread the blame on everyone else like peanut butter and away from Jackson like insect repellent.
Poor game management, questionable in-game personnel decisions, and general lack of discipline with his players on and off the field have made the Jackson era one that could only have been worse in one way- Jackson could have gotten his way at last year's trade deadline and traded a second and third-rounder for A.J. McCarron, who turned out to be so good that the team that signed him in free agency (Buffalo) moved him along (to Oakland) before the season began.
Had Jackson gotten his way, the Browns may not have drafted Baker Mayfield ( whether I agreed with the pick or not, the Browns needed a QB), and the second-rounder that would have been sent to the Bengals was used by the Browns to select Nick Chubb.

I would have kept Todd Haley around as the offensive coordinator for now.
Haley seemed to have clicked with Baker Mayfield and between Gregg Williams and Haley, they might have added some old-school discipline that the younger Browns seem to be in desperate need of.
Yes, his play-calling hasn't dazzled anyone through a half-season, but he was forced to use Tyrod Taylor early (John Dorsey is just as responsible for that as Jackson) and then a rookie QB with fewer weapons than he was promised when he took the job.
I would have kept Haley for the season and would have told him now that he has eight games to go with a deep re-evaluation at the season's end.

As for the Browns, this day should have occurred long ago, and the decision of the Haslams (and I'm hearing more and more about Dee Haslam having more say than was previously thought) to arrange this shotgun marriage with Jackson with separately John Dorsey off the field and Haley on it, was doomed for disaster from the second the decision was made.
Those forced combinations rarely work and the Browns should know that from experience having seen Mike Holmgren and Eric Mangini struggle together, Tom Heckert slug it out with Joe Banner, and Mike Lombardi and Mike Pettine argue with Ray Farmer.

Nothing that the Haslams pull surprises me and even though it seems like Haley has more media and fan support for keeping his job than Jackson, firing both of them fits Haslam's preference for a lack of contentiousness in the front office.
After all, Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi battled for control and the Haslams didn't pick one or the other-they fired both.
Same for Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer, they didn't choose, they fired both.
The Haslams did fire Sashi Brown a year before Jackson, but I would argue that might have been the situation that would have been best to fire both at the same time.
The problem is that although the Browns have constantly been filled with dysfunction through various coaches and front-office types, the one ingredient that is always present is the Haslams themselves, who claim to hate the lack of cooperation and verbal aggression in-house, yet continue to have an organization that is set up to have two leaders (and in the Banner/Lombardi/Rob Chudzinski case three) to enable the same problem over and over again with often forcing two people together that don't believe in the same process, system, etc.
That is all on them.

The Browns have an excellent personnel man in John Dorsey, they need to give him the power to hire the right man for Cleveland.
The important questions are these - Can the Haslams trust John Dorsey to hire the right man? Can the Haslams actually allow Dorsey to do so and not hamstring him with their choice, which might not be Dorsey's?
Can that man get along with Dorsey? Can the Haslams refine their setup from failing management pyramid and change it to one person (Dorsey) at the top?
And most importantly- Can the Haslams get out of their own way and do what owners should do-
Own and let their employees do their job...

I hope to write the Tyronn Lue post later tonight as promised unless the Browns are active at today's trade deadline.
I also have the TRS boxing ratings coming soon and I've been working on two features for slow news days that I hope you'll enjoy.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Pummeled in Pittsburgh- Browns lose again 33-18

The Cleveland Browns couldn't take advantage of a good first quarter and left the period with only a 6-0 lead on two field goals by Greg Joseph.
It would be the peak of the afternoon as the Browns would be thoroughly outplayed thereafter in a deceivingly close 33-18 loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
Baker Mayfield threw two touchdown passes (one in garbage time with seconds remaining), but finished with just 180 yards through the air.
The now 2-5-1 Browns will return home as a heavy underdog against the powerful Kansas City Chiefs.

Brownie Bits

1) I didn't figure the Browns would win this game to start with, but when the Browns kicked two field goals in the first quarter and Greg Joseph missed a third to start the second quarter, I figured that the day was not going Cleveland's way.
One staple of the "new" Browns have always been settling for field goals rather than touchdowns.

2) I still wonder about Greg Joseph as the long-term kicking answer with another missed extra point and another missed field goal.
You simply cannot allow kickers to miss so many kicks on a team that has little margin of error.
I would be bringing kickers in this week.

3) Baker Mayfield's play continues to slide and although it's not his fault completely, one of my concerns on him originally are becoming apparent- he's having more problems than expected against the pass rush.
I'll get to the larger problem next, but keep that in mind as you watch Mayfield next week against Kansas City, he's slippery but not speedy in avoiding the rush.

4) Mayfield is receiving almost no time at all to get the ball away, let alone downfield.
Chris Hubbard was awful at one tackle and Desmond Harrison continued his recent problems at the left tackle.
Mayfield was sacked on one play by T.J. Watt when Watt blew by Harrison without being touched, leaped into the air, had time to come down and then ran two steps to crush Mayfield.

5) The "offensive" line play gets worse when you consider that the Browns dumped millions of dollars into Chris Hubbard and spent the first pick of the second round on Austin Corbett, who hasn't been able to break into a less than a stalwart bunch.
Baker Mayfield has been sacked 20 times alone, not counting the times Tyrod Taylor was sacked-unacceptable.
Just thinking about the level of play that they are receiving for the dollars spent is a difficult exercise.

6) The Browns woes in stopping the run continue as James Conner cruised through the Browns for 146 yards and two scores.
Conner's not a bad back, but he looked dominant in the second half against the Browns and I would say that his second half was the key difference as the Steelers kicked sand in the Browns face.

7) Denzel Ward's Good News vs Antonio Brown- held him to just six catches and 74 yards with 43 of those yards on one play.
Bad News: On that 43 yard gain- that went for a touchdown that saw Ward beaten very badly after biting on a hard Ben Rothlisberger pump fake.
And Browns caught another touchdown pass as well.

8) And about those two Browns touchdowns.
Both came with asterisks as Baker Mayfield's third-quarter score to Antonio Callaway (on a very nice throw by the way) came as part of a 24 yard drive when Pittsburgh never touched a free kick (after the Browns allowing a safety on Desmond Harrison's holding Bud Dupree in the end zone) and allowed the Browns to recover for one.
The other was in complete garbage time with the Steelers in total prevent as Baker Mayfield hit Seth DeValle with a 24-yard pass for a score with just six seconds remaining.

9) On that safety, which was the first score of the half, Desmond Harrison clearly held Bud Dupree and even though you hate to do that, I'm not sure Harrison had a choice.
If Harrison doesn't hold, Dupree would have blasted by him, almost unobstructed for a free shot on an otherwise absorbed Baker Mayfield.
You never like to hand away penalties, let alone points, but I do see the need to avoid hits like that on what you hope is your franchise quarterback.

10) I'm not usually going to give Hue Jackson a ton of praise and I won't today, but credit to him for one thing.
After the Mayfield to DeValle pass and the resulting two-point try that failed, the Browns were down 15 with six seconds to go and Jackson made a smart and thoughtful decision.
Instead of a ridiculous onside attempt in a game that was decided, Jackson didn't pull a "Steve Robinson" and just had Greg Joseph pop the ball in the air deep where the Steelers could call for a fair catch and one kneel-down to end the game.
Down that many points and with just six seconds to go, Jackson decided not to take the injury risk (and the onside kick is rarely thought of, but it can be a play that can often cause injuries) for a game was decided.
Kudos to him for saving his players and not attempting to prove a point.

11) That said, the drama and contention around this team are clearly being caused by Hue Jackson.
Jackson's post-game comments in Tampa brought nothing but attention and stress to the team over the future of Todd Haley.
Haley's offense hasn't exactly reminded anyone of the Rams, but neither did the team over the last two seasons with Jackson calling the plays.
Jackson should be thrilled even getting to coach another season, but he continues to hamper any type of progress in a rebuilding effort that has seldom been seen in league history.

12) Hue Jackson has to have a special relationship with the Haslam's to survive because I'm struggling to find a reason why.
If you want Jackson to have the full season, I'm OK with that, but shouldn't Todd Haley have the same benefits?
Why (among the team and media, not the fans who call for Jackson to be the one axed) is all the scoops and news about Haley leaving in mid-season and not nearly as much about Jackson?
This team has had several cancers eating away over the past three seasons-the only common thread holding it intact is Hue Jackson and whether it is today or after the final game in Baltimore- that cancer needs to be removed.

Back later with a few thoughts on the Cavaliers firing of their head coach (Who would have thought the Cavaliers would be looking for a new coach before the Browns?) Tyronn Lue

Boxing Challenge: Jacobs edges Dereyvanchenko

The boxing weekend began in beautiful Bulgaria before traveling to the Big Easy and the Big Apple to finish with somewhat of a flourish.

The biggest fight of the weekend took place in New York City as Daniel Jacobs nipped Sergiy Dereyvanchenko via a split decision to win the vacant IBF middleweight title.
I scored Jacobs a 114-113 winner with the difference being a first-round knockdown scored by Jacobs.
Dereyvanchenko hurt Jacobs more often over the course of the fight than in reverse, but Jacobs managed to stay up and that gave him the win on my scorecard, which seemed to be closer than most of the press.
Jacobs should be the most likely opponent for Canelo Alvarez in May, considering both champions are contracted with DAZN in what would put the IBF title back with the WBA and WBC titles before it was stripped from Gennady Golovkin earlier this year.

The co-feature saw Alberto Machado impressively dispose of Yaundale Evans in the first round to retain his minor title, dropping Evans three times before the referee called the mismatch off.
The lanky banging Machado might be a tough out for anyone at 130 pounds, but with his size, I could see him moving to the lightweight division and have little problems with strength.

New Orleans was the host for two World Boxing Super Series scraps in the junior welterweight tournament with the main event featuring top seed and local product Regis Prograis dominate former WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan to retain his minor title via a unanimous decision to move the next round in the tournament.
Prograis dominated throughout and dropped Flanagan to his knees in the ninth for the first time in Flanagan's career.
I scored Prograis a 118-109 winner, which seemed to be in line with most.
Prograis will battle WBA champion Kiryl Relikh in the semi-finals.

In the other quarter-final, Ivan Baranchyk earned the vacant IBF belt when Anthony Yigit was unable to continue due to a virtually closed eye in the seventh round.
I had Baranchyk far ahead and the eye brought to mind the puffed eye that Rocky Balboa asked Mickey to cut in his first fight with Apollo Creed as Fred Landucci commented on when we discussed this fight.
I thought it was a good decision to end the fight because Yigit wasn't going to be able to keep Baranchyk off of him anyway and the eye was only going to make things worse for the wounded Swede.
The new IBF champion will face the winner of next weekend's Josh Taylor-Ryan Martin fight in the semi-finals.

In Sofia, Bulgaria, veteran Kubrat Pulev won a unanimous decision over Hughie Fury to become the top contender in the IBF ratings, which means an eventual shot at Anthony Joshua's championship.
Fury looked to be the stronger fighter early, but a Pulev jab in the second round tore open a gash along Fury's and slowly took the starch out of the Englishman, but didn't exactly leave Joshua concerned about his eventual challenge.
I scored Pulev a 116-112 winner.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica outscored me seven to five over the weekend and cut my lead to 177-154.

Friday, October 26, 2018


After a great bounce-back week from a losing record in the PPM in the week before, it is a less than a loaded schedule of games this week.

Also, the unofficial host for this year for the PPM, Annie Yu has changed stations in the Washington DC market, leaving weekend morning and weekday reporting for WTTG-5, a Fox affiliate in favor of the CBS based WUSA-9 as their weekday morning anchor.

Last Week: 11-1
Overall: 59-12-1

Iowa State over Texas Tech 31-29
Houston over South Florida 37-32
Middle Tennessee over Old Dominion 24-16
Boise State over Air Force 28-20
Washington over California 28-13

Game of the Week
Georgia over Florida 24-17

Steelers over Browns 24-10
Saints over Vikings 31-27

Game of the Week
Rams over Packers 37-31

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge returns with a two-fight card and a middleweight title filled on HBO, the World Boxing Super Series visits New Orleans and a heavyweight title eliminator from Bulgaria.

The biggest fight of the weekend is the final major event on HBO as the IBF's vacancy in the middleweight division will be occupied by the winner of the Daniel Jacobs-Sergey Derevyanchenko fight.
The title was ridiculously stripped for Gennady Golovkin in the spring for fighting an interim bout against Vanes Martirosyan after the GGG team was assured that they would not be stripped after filing (and more importantly paying for) an exception for the Martirosyan and resulting Canelo Alvarez fights.
Alvarez would have the title now, but that made the decision no less obtuse.

Daniel Jacobs is a fighter that basically is living off his first-round knockout of Peter Quillin in 2015 and his better than expected performance against Gennady Golovkin that a few foolish Kool-Aid guzzlers insist that he won.
He doesn't own another significant win over a top ten 160 pounder and hasn't looked great in his two post-Golovkin fights in decision wins over Luis Arias and Macjej Sulecki, against who I had Jacobs winning by just one point in his last fight,
I'd feel a ton better about picking Derevyanchenko to pull an upset if he had fought more than once (in a stay-busy fight) since August of last year.
Derevyanchenko looked so strong in mowing down Tureano Johnson (who I would grade as being close to the level of Peter Quillin) to earn the IBF's number one contender slot that I was really looking forward to a Golovkin-Derevyanchenko fight for a possible war.
Sadly, boxing politics cost us that and Derevyanchenko has protected his guaranteed title fight since, even at the possible cost of sharpness.
Most people are picking Jacobs, but Derevyanchenko is a hitter and I still think Jacobs doesn't take the best shot...

Alberto Machado defends his minor title after being screwed out of the WBA title (Machado knocked out their "Super" champion Jezreel Corrales and then the WBA made him their "regular" champion and filled the real title with Gervonta Davis after Davis defeated Jesus Cuellar) against Yuandale Evans.
Evans is talented, but was taken out in one round by Javier Fortuna in one round in his only loss in 2012 and has fought just four times since.
This might be an interesting fight as Machado isn't afraid to trade punches and Evans looked good in his fight against Luis Rosa last time out.

The World Boxing Super Series shifts to New Orleans and DAZN with two fights in the junior welterweight tournament.
Hometown fighter and top seed Regis Prograis defends his minor title against former WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan in the main event.
Prograis is an incredibly effective offensive fighter and punches like a mule, while Flanagan vacated his lightweight title after five successful (and usually dull) defenses to move up for one of the titles vacated by Terence Crawford, where he dropped a split decision to Maurice Hooker.
I don't see this being close unless Flanagan is able to slow it down and win a boring and rougher fight, but the problem for Flanagan that he is the smaller guy, the lighter puncher and the fighter that isn't the stronger.
The winner faces the third seed and WBA champ Kiryl Relikh in the semi-finals.

The IBF title at 140 pounds is on the table for the winner of Ivan Baranchyk of Belarus and Sweden's Anthony Yigit.
The unbeaten Baranchyk has been on a nice run against B level opposition including a stoppage over respected veteran Petr Petrov on Showtime' ShoBox series while Yigit is undefeated, against weaker competition and has stopped just seven opponents in his twenty-one wins.
I think Baranchyk likely walks Yigit down and wins a lopsided decision or gets him out late.
The winner not only gets the IBF title, but they also move to the semis against the winner of England's Josh Taylor and American Ryan Martin.

ESPN + brings an important heavyweight eliminator in the IBF as Bulgaria''s Kubrat Pulev faces Hughie Fury of Great Britain in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Pulev was scheduled to face Anthony Joshua in 2017 before pulling out with an injury and has just one loss, a knockout to Wladimir Klitschko in his only challenge for a title.
Fury lost a tight decision to Joseph Parker for the WBO title in his only loss in 2017, but has fought just once since.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 172-147.

Vacant IBF Middleweight Title. 12 Rds
Daniel Jacobs vs Sergey Derevyanchenko
R.L: Jacobs Unanimous Decision
TRS: Derevyanchenko KO 11

Junior Lightweights 12 Rds
Alberto Machado vs Yaundale Evans
R.L; Machado KO 7
TRS; Machado KO 9

World Boxing Super Series Junior Welterweight Quarter-Final. 12 Rds
Regis Prograis vs Terry Flanagan
R.L: Prograis KO 10
TRS: Prograis KO 8

Vacant IBF Junior Welterweight Title/World Boxing Super Series Junior Welterweight Quarter-Final. 12 Rds
Ivan Baranchyk vs Anthony Yigit
Both: Baranchyk Unanimous Decision

Heavyweights. 12 Rds
Kubrat Pulev vs Hughie Fury
R.L: Pulev Unanimous Decision
TRS: Pulev Split Decision

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

5 Things:1968

I turned 50 earlier this year as most of you know, but what you might not know besides that is the mid-20th century is a time that I like to study and read about.
I've always had a soft spot for 1968, not just for my birth month, but also because so many observers of history have dubbed it the worst year of the 20th century with so many newsmaking items, more of them than not controversial, if downright bad
I'd like to think my birth wasn't bad, although if you talk to some, it might have at least resulted in controversial!

Anyway, I decided to mark off five things that when I have the chance to read something new, I usually don't pass it up and we'll stick to keeping it in 1968 for this post...

Tommy Smith and John Carlos
Arguably the remembered picture of the 20th century along with Earthrise (also taken in 1968), the picture of Smith and Carlos with their hands held aloft at the 1968 Olympics has become iconic, if not still controversial for interjecting protesting into the Olympic Games.
The "Black Power Salute" which Smith (the gold medal winner) would write in his autobiography that he preferred the term "Human Rights Salute" would be so controversial that both men would be banned from the Games for life.
Sports Illustrated recently did a long article on the pair and I learned that the two really weren't friends, although not enemies through the years.
Another fact that I learned and didn't know was that Carlos (the bronze medal winner) was considered the favorite entering the race and one topic that separated the pair through the years was the claim by Carlos that he "let Smith win".
Watch the race below and decide for yourself.
Both players would try pro football with Carlos failing to make the Eagles and Smith spending two years with the Bengals, catching one pass for 41 yards.

Speaking of Earthrise, the famous picture taken by astronaut Bill Anders in the waning days of 1968 aboard Apollo 8 nears its 50th anniversary,
The photo was taken of the Earth as the spacecraft rose above the Moon, if not the most famous picture taken of the age, certainly has to be considered the most influential one for the environmental movement.
Earlier this month, one of the large craters in the picture was renamed "Anders Earthrise" to honor the photographer and the photo.
Most friends and readers know that I am a buff of the space program, mainly the Mercury, Gemini,
and Apollo programs so it won't be often I pass up books or articles dealing with that side of history.

Another topic that I enjoy learning about is the 1968 Presidential election, which while being extremely close, one would think that there would have been plenty of books written on the three-candidate race.
There really hasn't been many though and I think part of that is that many think the race was anti-climatic after the Lyndon Johnson decision not to run for re-election, the assassination of Robert Kennedy, the post-assassination disenchantment of peace candidate Eugene McCarthy and the chaotic Democratic convention.
I would disagree with that as any race with Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace all running and Lyndon Johnson sitting in the Oval Office, but still being involved, sounds interesting on its own merits and not anti-climatic at all.
The Intelligencer writes of the campaign with fifty years to look back at.

I watch a lot of live baseball games and therefore I listen to a lot of versions of National Anthems.
This usually is a chore because most seem to want to do everything to show that those few minutes are about them and their singing skills, which sometimes are found wanting.
I often find myself mumbling to myself and my friends that I wish they would just sing the song.
That's usually after someone takes twice as long to sing the song than needed, but I've seen some downright terrible takes including a rap version at Frederick, a version "sung" by three special needs people at Hagerstown without anyone to guide them along, a fellow at Hagerstown who missed words and squeaked through half the song before summoning enough gumption to boom "and the rockets red glare" before looking at the press box with the "cut it" motion and walking off the field and some "superfan" of the Nationals driving to Hagerstown for a version that I think someone taped somewhere that has to be "heard" to be believed.
So I've heard some bad versions, but the first person to add their own interpretation was Jose Feliciano (who today might be best known for the Christmas song Feliz Navidad) before game five of the 1968 World Series and I find it fascinating.
Feliciano, who would see his career drop some after this performance, put together such a haunting yet stirring version that represented the country that was so divided over the Vietnam War at the time.
I can't help but claim it as my favorite version, which I suppose is hypocritical, considering the above.
I suppose I explain it by understanding that Feliciano's version had his own reasons for the style and that didn't have anything to do with advancing his career or hoping a talent scout would hear them sing.
Smithsonian Magazine writes of the 1968 song and Feliciano here.

The final note is for the "Prague Spring" of 1968, when then Czechoslovakia under the leadership of Alexander Dubcek, made major changes in loosening the communist system before being invaded by the Soviet Union in August in order to force Dubcek from power and restore the normal puppet regime that took their orders from the "Warsaw Pact" bossman Soviets.
The interesting part of this was that Dubcek was not against communism, but he wanted to allow more freedom for movement, speech and most importantly a free media.
That same media began to criticize the government and push for a second political party (which Dubcek was for) and that was the main reason the Soviets invaded- their need to stay in power could not allow what was developing in Czechoslovakia to spread to other Warsaw Pact nations and the possibility of a full-scale rebellion.
When the dust cleared, the Soviet manner of government was cemented once again and Dubcek, who in hindsight, I'm surprised that he wasn't "terminated", was given a menial and mundane job as a forestry official away from Prague.

Hope you enjoyed these five things from 1968 that I like to read about.
I have another five things from 1968 planned for a post before the year is out.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Browns lose 26-23 in Tampa.

Tampa Bay's Chandler Catanzaro booted a 59-yard bomb in overtime (after he had missed from far less at the end of regulation) to leave the Cleveland Browns with a dropped jaw and gaping mouth along with a 26-23 loss in Tampa against the Buccaneers.
The Browns did rally to tie the game in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns but did nothing with the ball in overtime offensively of note before a Jabrill Peppers fumble of a Tampa punt in overtime that would set the game-winning field goal drive into motion.

Baker Mayfield threw two touchdowns without an interception, although he did fumble at a key time and finished with 215 passing yards, while Nick Chubb rushed for the other Cleveland touchdown to go with 80 yards rushing.
The now 2-4-1 Browns travel to the waiting and rested (off their bye) Steelers in Pittsburgh next week.

Brownie Bits

1) Ok, no I did not think the Chandler Catanzaro kick had a chance after his earlier miscues.
However, I don't blame the Buccaneers from trying it and so many were laughing about before it was good.
The weather was not a factor, the kicker had a career-long of 60 yards, If I was Dirk Koetter, I would have tried it too.

2) Baker Mayfield looks like a different guy than the guy that entered the game against the Jets.
Not in production, that will vary according to the opponent from week to week, that happens with rookie quarterbacks.
No, the guy that ran around showed so much enthusiasm looks a little beaten down already and that
is a worry.
Now that could be playing under the perpetual mess that comes with Hue Jackson and I'm sure the staff and Jackson isn't helping either, but the only time that I saw that flash from Mayfield was after the hit on him,

3) And about that hit?
For a league that has called some of the weakest, nickel and dime hits into roughness penalties, how on earth do you pick that flag up?
It looks even worse on replay than it did in live action, but Mayfield was clearly beginning his slide and gave himself up (Penalty one) and the contact was just as clearly helmet to helmet (Penalty two).
It's crap like that and others that make the Browns and Browns fans think the referees are against you.
It brings to mind the old question- "Are you ignorant or corrupt"? Neither answer is acceptable.

4) One of the things that I wondered about most with Baker Mayfield entering the draft was his speed/size.
The concern was that it's different dashing around and making plays at Oklahoma than the NFL, the speed of the game is different and could he get away with that?
The fumble at the end of the first half showed just that. Mayfield had the first down, but the strip of the football caused the ball to go backward and out of bounds, short of the first down.
There is a major difference between being elusive/quick and being fast as Ryan and I talked about during the game.
Ryan brought up the example of Aaron Rodgers, who isn't a guy that is fast enough to rip off 15 yard runs very often, yet is elusive in the pocket to avoid pass rushers.
Mayfield hopefully will learn those differences.

5) Jarvis Landry stepped up huge with a great game with several terrific catches during his ten catch afternoon, but Landry took a pounding in being targeted fifteen times.
It makes me wonder how good Landry could be with any type of threat outside of himself in the receiving corps.

6) The Browns did get production from the defensive line in sacking Jameis Winston four times and harassing him all game long, but what I really liked most from Myles Garrett (along with his two sacks) was the effort shown by Garrett.
In the overtime, you can clearly see Garrett on his knees between plays, unable to even stand, yet summoning more effort on the next play.
The Browns need to find a way to get Garrett out of the lineup on occasion to keep him fresher, but what a tremendous effort that showed a lot of heart.

7) Really, the defense played well for the most part, if you choose to overlook nine penalties called on them.
Forcing four turnovers, the aforementioned sacks and even when dog-tired in overtime, the defense pushed the Buccaneers back to what was thought to be a punting situation.
Jamie Collins has picked up his game in the absence of Joe Schobert and Emanuel Ogbah did his best Clyde Simmons (Clyde is the Browns DL coach currently) impersonation with a sack and a half along with two passes batted down.

8) Demarious Randall finished with eleven tackles and it seemed that at times he was covering the Buccaneers main threat in Mike Evans.
I like Randall much better at safety than at corner, but he played a strong game as even though Evans finished with over one hundred yards, he did not catch a touchdown and Randall even broke up a pass intended for Evans in the end zone.

9) Jabrill Peppers looked to have finally broken out as a punt returner with a late punt return of 32 yards that allowed the Browns to start a touchdown drive deep in Tampa Bay territory and I thought OK this is it, he'll finally begin to have some confidence in returning and who knows where that will lead.
Then Peppers coughed up the football on a return in overtime and it all went to Hades or Ann Arbor if you prefer.
Peppers was quite contrite about the fumble and blamed himself for the loss, so that will help a little with the fans, but after he had improved his play in the last few games, I hope that this doesn't cause his recent run to end.

10) 14 penalties.
Do I need to write more?

11) And then there is Hue Jackson, who passed up a short to a medium field goal try at the end of the first half that ended in the Mayfield fumble and passed up another field goal try for a fourth-down gamble on Baker Mayfield's sneak attempt that came up short.
Jackson's post-game comments on helping the offense and coordinator Todd Haley makes me think these two questions- Doesn't Jackson have enough problems with his own job performance that he might be better suited guarding his own doghouse? And if Jackson is such a superior play caller to Haley, should we ask just who was the guy calling the plays for the two seasons/one win Browns?
Answer: The guy who proclaimed himself the head coach four times in his press conference.
That guy. The head coach.

12) Rookie Desmond Harrison had his hands full with veteran Jason Pierre-Paul, who sacked Baker Mayfield only once but seemed to be around him constantly.
Harrison might be a terrific tackle eventually, but he still has plenty to learn and facing an experienced pass rusher will often have disastrous results.

13) I mentioned that this game was almost a must win when you look at the schedule.
They didn't.
Now, comes the tough part, at Pittsburgh, who has seemed to have righted their ship and I'm sure will be motivated after their tie with the Browns, Kansas City, who seems to be way out of the Browns pay grade, Atlanta, a better version of the score a lot, give up a lot Buccaneers before the bye.
By that time, the trade deadline will have passed and what the Browns are will not change very much.
Assuming the Browns lose all three of those games and they will be underdogs in all three, that leaves the Browns at 2-7-1 at the break.
Is that finally enough for the Haslam family to realize Hue Jackson is a major problem?
I think that it is more likely than not, that is the exact decision that will have to be made.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Boxing Challenge: Brant stuns Murata!

Source: STEVE MARCUS/Getty Images North America
In a five-fight boxing challenge weekend, the best fight and biggest news occurred in Las Vegas where Top Rank's best-laid plans burned in ashes as Rob Brant upset Ryota Murata to take his minor title via a clear and unanimous decision, that still was an exciting fight to watch.

The Brant victory blew up a planned Murata "title" defense in Japan at the Tokyo Dome early in 2019 against Gennady Golovkin that would have been a major event there with sizable checks for all involved.
Brant ruined that with a relentless attack that saw an Aaron Pryoresque offense that just never stopped throwing punches at the taller Japanese import.
No knockdowns were scored, but Brant's punches beat up Murata around both eyes and around his cheekbones causing some impressive swelling.
I scored Brant a 117-111 winner, which was along the line of the three judges.
Murata does have a rematch clause, so should he choose to activate it, Brant might have to travel to Japan for it, but against the best competition that he has faced at middleweight (his only loss was to Jurgen Braehmer at super middle in the WBSS), Brant looked like someone that is going to be a tough out even for the best in the division, should he fight at this level every time out.

Meanwhile, DAZN featured a pair of cards from Boston and Orlando that you could pick the one you want to watch live and watch the other on replay.
This is always a hard strategy to navigate when you are trying to avoid knowing results (especially if you are friends with Fred Landucci! Just teasing, buddy) and fight facts beforehand.

Photo: Matchroom Boxing
From Boston, Demetrius Andrade grabbed one of the two vacant middleweight titles with his shutout win over Walter Kautondokwa to win the WBO version.
Andrade joins Canelo Alvarez (WBA/WBC) and the winner of the Daniel Jacobs-Sergey Dereyvanchenko fight next Saturday (IBF) and suddenly there could be a way to unify the titles if the desire is there with all of those fighters having connections with DAZN, Matchroom Boxing or both.
Andrade won every round on my scorecard (120-104) with the wider margin explained by Andrade dropping Kautondokwa in the first, third and twice in the fourth.
Andrade wasn't as safety-first as he had been in the past, but he never seemed to truly turn the jets on and try to put the Namibian away.

In the other Boston challenge bout, IBF junior lightweight champion Tevin Farmer dominated James Tennyson of Great Britain thru four rounds and finished him in the fifth.
Farmer dumped Tennyson to the canvas with a fourth-round body shot that essentially finished him then, even though an ailing Tennyson came out for the fifth, but was quickly staggered with another body blow that was enough to convince the referee that the fight should be concluded.
The rare knockout (just the sixth among twenty-seven wins) for Farmer might say more for Tennyson's lack of an ability to take a good punch (he once was knocked out by a guy with a 2-64-5 record) than any newfound punching ability of Farmer, who has been involved in a social media shouting match with WBA champ Gervonta Davis with both calling the other out for a unification battle.
I don't mind fighters calling the other out- IF there is a chance of making the fight, which I think this one has little chance of happening with Davis, who sadly rarely fights, being involved with Floyd Mayweather's Money Team/PBC and Farmer with Matchroom/DAZN.
There just isn't enough money to be made from this fight to be worth the sides to work together to get this one in the ring.
If the fight would be made, I like Davis in that one.

Meanwhile, in Orlando, the World Boxing Super Series filled semi-final slots in the bantamweight and cruiserweight tournaments.

Yunier Dorticos went the entire twelve rounds for the first time in his career and won a narrow unanimous decision over a tougher than expected Mateusz Masternak to move to the semi-finals.
No knockdowns, but the story was Masternak giving the booming punches of Dorticos and his vaunted power all that he wanted before just falling short on my card 115-113.
Dorticos will move on against American Andrew Tabiti in the semi-finals in early 2019.

Talented Emmanuel Rodriguez also was given all that he wanted by the mandatory contender Australia's Jason Moloney, but moved to the semi's and retained his IBF bantamweight title with a split decision victory.
All three judges scored the fight the same at 115-113, with two selecting Rodriguez and the other picking Moloney as the victor.
I agreed with the majority leaning the way of Rodriguez by the same score.
Rodriguez will face the Monster Naoya Inoue in the next round and though Inoue will be a heavy favorite, Rodriguez will be a live underdog in my opinion against the Japanese sensation.

In the boxing challenge, I scored five points to Ramon Malpica's four.
Ramon and I scored one point each for wins by Dorticos, Farmer, Rodriguez and Andrade, but my extra point came from predicting Andrade would go the distance.
I lead the challenge 172-147.

Purdue Rolls Over Ohio State 49-20

It may have been West Lafayette Indiana in 2018, but it felt a hell of a lot like Iowa City Iowa one year ago as the Ohio State Buckeyes weaknesses became glaringly exposed in a game that they could never get off track in before a fourth quarter that their defense looked like they were trying to catch rain with a fork in a 49-20 loss to the Purdue Boilermakers.
Dwayne Haskins set several passing records in the loss, which was the only hairline positive that I could find.
The now 7-1 (4-1 Big Ten) Buckeyes have a bye week to try to pull some of this together before returning against Nebraska at home.

Olentangy Offerings

1) I'm going to start with the one positive before I go rogue and seem like an ingrate for the Buckeyes daring to lose a football game.
Dwayne Haskins set team records for passes (73), completions (49) and for yards (470).
Haskins threw two four-quarter touchdowns and just one interception, although it could have easily been a few more as some ham-handed Boilermakers dropped a few would-be picks.
Did Haskins play great? No, but he's one of the few that I'm going to go a little easy on.

2) A few plays that made you think this was not the Buckeyes night.
A first-half bomb to a wide-open Terry McLaurin that Haskins overthrew by five yards made me think a little, but there were two plays that were key in setting the stage.
Late in the first half with the score just 7-3, Ohio State seemed to have held the Boilers to a field goal attempt, Jeff Brohm pulled off a fake that caught Ohio State sleeping, got the first down and Purdue would then score a touchdown to lead 14-3 at the half.

3) The other came in the third quarter after Ohio State used their opening drive to cut the lead to 14-6 and stopped Purdue's first drive of the half to force a punt.
Ohio State would then rough the punter to give Purdue a new set of downs and they would score a touchdown.
I would never feel like the Buckeyes would win after that.

4) Much will be written about the lack of success in the red zone and it's justified.
Dwayne Haskins had three passes hit his receivers in the end zone, only to have them drop them or bobble them enough to allow the Purdue defender to stick his hand in there and bat the ball away.
Even still, that was not the main issue.

5) That was the running game, which had zero holes to run through.
Otherwise, explain to me why a team with JK Dobbins and Mike Weber combined for just 67 yards on twenty carries.
That is all on the offensive line with Isaiah Prince, who has been really bad (I'll try to be nice) in the last two games and the badly miscast center Michael Jordan, who for some reason was taken away from guard, where he was excellent in 2017.

6) And then there is the inability to defend against the pass with Purdue's David Blough throwing for 378 yards and the very scary Rondale Moore finishing with two scores and 170 yards.
The pass defense hasn't made any progression, they have gotten worse.
Safeties leaving receivers alone, a pair of overrated corners (Damon Arnette did not play in this game due to injury) that some think have a chance to be first rounders (those people must not watch games) and linebackers that take not only poor angles to get to the pass catcher, they tend to bounce off them when they do.
Much of that is on defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, but don't let secondary coach Taver Johnson off the hook- it's his bunch that looks worse by the week.

7) Even still, if you didn't watch the game, you would look at 49-20 and say it was an Iowa type rear end whipping.
It was a little different, even though I didn't feel great about it, the points that made it ugly came late in garbage time.
Against Iowa, those points came a bit differently, but the ending was the same.

8) Ohio State committed ten penalties, many at awful times- a roughing the passer in the second half by Dre'Mont Jones stands out as especially bad.
This is the most penalized Buckeye team in the Urban era with just under NINE a game.

9) As bad as this loss is- Ohio State controls its own destiny- win out over Nebraska and Michigan at home and on the road against Maryland and Michigan State and they are going to the playoff with a win in Indianapolis against Wisconsin or Iowa, the likely representative from the other division.
It won't be easy, but at least it's on them and without having to rely on others.

10) I had been talking for a few weeks that this game concerned me.
Unlike the Iowa loss last season, which caught me by surprise, I feared this game.
A road, night game against a team that likes to throw and a young and fearless head coach.
Purdue was the "trap game" that wondered about from the time that it seemed that Benny Beaver from Oregon State was grabbing slant patterns for fifty-yard gains-Purdue was the game that I thought could bite OSU.
You expect the two Michigan's and Penn State to be tough games and those can easily go against you, but when you look at the schedule for the unlikely loss, this is the one that stood out.
When Purdue started 0-3, some wondered, I didn't as those three losses were by a combined eight points and when they trashed a then ranked Boston College, you could see them coming together.
If I could see it, you would like to think our football people could as well.

11) Finally, let's talk Urban Meyer, who not only has lots of things to fix, but he might want to look into the mirror.
I'm not going to be one of the guys screaming for his head, but for the second year in a row. Meyer has brought a heavily favored team to a town with a middle of the pack team waiting for them and was ripped to shreds.
Iowa played a perfect game and Purdue didn't make mistakes either, but Iowa never found that level again last season and even though Jeff Brohm seems to have Purdue on the rise, they aren't likely to play this very often.
In these situations, you have to look at being prepared and that goes to the head man.
It's not unfair to at least consider Urban Meyer as one of the problems in the loss.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge is back for the weekend with four bouts on DAZN, two of those four from the World Boxing Super Series and one from Las Vegas on ESPN+.

Two of those bouts will be part of the re-shuffling of the middleweight division.
ESPN+ brings over Japan's Ryota Murata and his minor title to defend against Minnesota's Rob Brant.
A Murata victory might mean a fight with Gennady Golovkin next in Japan, while Brant lost two fights ago in the super middleweight bracket of the World Boxing Super Series to Jurgen Braehmer before dropping back to 160 with a win over 12-11 Colby Courter.
Considering Brant's loss to Braehmer was his only fight against a top 20 level fighter and only a win over Louis Rose gives him a win over a top 100 fighter, it's not unfair to wonder why Brant is even in this fight.
Murata's resume isn't exactly one that is bulky with only a win (should have been two wins) over Hassan N'Dam against anyone of world-class, so this isn't as lopsided as you would think to enter the bout.

DAZN offers two cards with four challenge bouts on Saturday.
In Boston, Demetrius Andrade will face Walter Kautondokwa of Ghana for the vacant WBO middleweight title.
Why the vacant title?
Billy Joe Saunders was stripped of the title recently for failing a PED test and then stripping us of an interesting Saunders-Andrade bout.
Considering Kautondokwa has fought zero notable opponents and the talented if inactive Andrade should be considered an almost sure thing -if such a thing can be considered such in boxing.

The other challenge fight on the card has Tevin Farmer making his first defense of his IBF junior lightweight title against James Tennyson from Britain.
The slick Farmer is going to give anyone trouble style-wise and Tennyson is a fighter that I've never seen fight and is on a six-fight winning streak, but he has arguably the worst loss that I have ever seen for someone challenging for a title.
Tennyson was stopped in two by then 2-64-5 Pavel Senkovs in 2013 and it's going to take a lot of research to find a title contender with a loss that awful!!!
The card also features an IBF eliminator between Toka Kahn-Clary and Kid Galahad along with the return of Scott Quigg in an eight-round staying busy bout.

DAZN also will broadcast two more tournament entries from the bantamweight and cruiserweight divisions from the not exactly known for being a boxing hot spot in Orlando Florida.
The cruiserweight bout features power punching and second seed Yunier Dorticos matches up with Mateusz Masternak.
Dorticos is returning off his exciting loss to Murat Gassiev in what might be the best fight that the WBSS has made yet should be a huge favorite over Masternak.
The winner will face Andrew Tabiti in the semi-finals in a bout that I hope is more entertaining than Tabiti's quarter-final stinker over Ruslan Fayfer.

The bantamweight fight has much more potential as talented IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez faces his mandatory contender Jason Moloney of Australia.
Both fighters are undefeated with one name on their resume'- Rodriguez with Paul Butler from his title win and Moloney with a win over former junior bantamweight champ Kohei Kono.
This looks like an interesting fight, but I was really impressed by Rodriguez in his win over Butler.
The winner faces the "Monster" Naoya Inoue in the semi-finals.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 167-143

Middleweights. 12 Rds
Ryota Murata vs Rob Brant
R.L: Murata KO 7
TRS: Murata Unanimous Decision

Vacant WBO Middleweight Title. 12 Rds
Demetrius Andrade vs Walter Kautondokwa
R.L: Andrade KO 5
TRS: Andrade Unanimous Decision

IBF Jr. Lightweight Title. 12 Rds
Tevin Farmer vs James Tennyson
Both: Farmer Unanimous Decision

IBF Bantamweight Title/ World Boxing Super Series Quarter-Final. 12 Rds
Emmanuel Rodriguez vs Jason Moloney
Both: Rodriguez Unanimous Decision

Cruiserweights. 12 Rds
Yunier Dorticos vs Mateusz Masternak
R.L: Dorticos KO 3
TRS: Dorticos KO 5

Friday, October 19, 2018

Browns trade Carlos Hyde to Jaguars

The trade deadline isn't for another week and a half, but apparently, the Cleveland Browns didn't enjoy the "problem" of having two good running backs as the Browns traded Carlos Hyde to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 draft.

Hyde rushed for 382 yards on 114 carries (3.4 yards per carry) with five touchdowns as the Browns main bell cow in the backfield.
This means that the sparingly used Nick Chubb will become the main ball carrier and Duke Johnson will see some more snaps, although his role should not change.

Chubb has been spectacular in limited use, but the key word is limited as Chubb has carried the ball just 16 times for a 10.8-yard average that is built around those two long touchdown runs in Oakland.
Nick Chubb certainly deserves more carries and I would have had no problems at all giving those to him.
However, the problem for me is that Chubb has already had a major knee injury at Georgia, has never been the workhorse ( Sony Michel shared carries) and since Duke Johnson is not anything more than a situational back ( love what he does,but not a 15-20 carry a game player), the Browns suddenly lack depth at running back.
My problem is that I would have preferred moving Chubb into the main role, but keeping the carries reasonably close for this season to also test Chubb for durability.

 Again, my issue isn't Hyde vs Chubb, it is that a team that has lacked depth for years has just traded
their depth away for a late fifth round choice.
I just don't see the rush for the Browns, although the Jaguars with an ailing Leonard Fournette are in a hurry to make the trade, but you could make the argument that a desperate team may have paid more, then again perhaps not.

One argument for the trade could be that Hyde was likely to be released at the end of the year anyway, so why not get something for him?
I see that and I'd bet that with Hyde's contract taking an almost three million dollar raise for next year, I'd say that was likely unless Hyde was willing to take a pay cut.
Still, this team has seen what one injury/trade can do to a team at wide receiver and they are walking a dangerous line now at running back.
I don't feel too badly for Carlos Hyde, who will be joining a team that reached the AFC title game and will offer him plenty of carries, at least for a while.

John Dorsey has managed to accumulate a few extra picks for next season, although it is not nearly as glittering as last year's draft of course.
The Browns currently have all of their 2019 picks, the Patriots 3rd and 5th rounders (Danny Shelton and Josh Gordon), the Jaguars 5th (Carlos Hyde) and possibly the Jaguars 7th (If Cody Kessler remains on the roster for the entire season), so they have a little ammo to make a move up into day two positions, should they desire.

I'm not a fan of this trade.
It relies too much on Nick Chubb being a workhorse, that he may or may not be ready for, but what I do think is this- John Dorsey and Hue Jackson aren't on the same page.
Not because Jackson isn't using Dorsey's guy (Chubb), because Dorsey signed Hyde too, so this isn't a case of moving a guy along that an incoming GM was stuck with.
It is more of a case of this- Dorsey thinks Chubb needs more carries after seeing his production in limited use.
Jackson continued to use Hyde far more often and since Jackson does control who plays on the field and Dorsey thinks Chubb is the future but is being held behind Hyde, Dorsey simply forces Chubb on the field by removing Hyde from the equation.
Make no mistake, there are disagreements between these two men, who were forced together via shotgun marriage and if Nick Chubb doesn't perform as well as hoped- there will likely be a clash after this season and Jimmy Haslem will be forced to make a choice on which man should be trusted with the future of the Cleveland Browns.

Back later with the boxing challenge.


The PPM suffered through a poor week last time out and hopefully, I can rebound a bit.

Last Week:5-6
Overall: 48-19-1

Ohio State over Purdue 34-21
Boise State over Colorado State 40-21
Ohio over Bowling Green 35-17
Middle Tennessee over Charlotte 30-20
Washington over Colorado 24-13
Houston over Navy 28-24
Texas Tech over Kansas 56-28

Game of the Week
Michigan over Michigan State 24-19

Buccaneers over Browns 42-35
Saints over Ravens 28-25

Game of the Week
Chiefs over Bengals 34-28

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Cleaning out the inbox

Time for another cleaning of the inbox as we'll begin with a goodbye of a good type as Ken "Hawk" Harrelson stepped away from the Chicago White Sox broadcast booth at the end of the season a few weeks back.
As an announcer, he was certainly a polarizing figure and his blatant homerism certainly was a throwback to radio days long in the scrapbooks.
ESPN looks at Harrelson, the difference between Ken and "Hawk", the routine at the ballpark and at home and more.
I've always liked Hawk, but I can easily understand why other fans would not!
Still listening to Hawk's calls, I always thought he added fun to a game that needs more and more of just that.

My all-time favorite basketball coach (as far as the NBA anyway) Larry Brown is still coaching at the age of 78- this time in Italy.
Brown, who always seemed to be looking for Camelot and as a result lost many opportunities through the years to build dynasties, although he almost always delivered winners at his various stops, has run out of teams in the states between his vagabond ways and his age.
The Athletic checks in on Brown and offered a few notes that I didn't know about, including why he didn't pick Paul Pierce when he was with Philadelphia even though he knew he was making a mistake.

The SWC Roundup writes of a rivalry between two teams that usually are at or near the bottom of Division I, but usually, play very close games that offer memorable endings.
New Mexico State and UTEP play in the "Battle of I-10" and two rivalry trophies are on the line in the Silver Spade and Brass Spittoon.
Often the most torrid rivalries are from teams on the same level and both of these teams that usually (New Mexico State did win six games and a bowl last year) struggle to win more than two or three games look at each other as not only rivals, players from the same high schools that have played against each other before, but as a good opportunity for a victory.
This article looks at three games between 1989-91 where UTEP won all three games by a combined six points.
Their game this season was reasonably close with the Aggies defeating the Miners 27-20.

Another rivalry from schools of similar quality seems to be fierce despite the teams only playing each other twice as of now as Texas State (Sun Belt) and UTSA (Texas-San Antonio, Conference USA) have developed some hate with each school drawing over 30,000 for their home game in the series thus far.
There is a nice ( but pretty generic looking) trophy given to the winner, but it looks more like a larger and shinier version of a fantasy football league trophy.
A regional supermarket (HEB) sponsors the game and trophy, but a fan has come up with an idea that favors neither school but plays to the sponsor with a golden shopping cart.
Weird? Yes, but that's college football!

18 Birdies covers the evolution of the golf ball over the years going way back to the first golf ball in 1550 which was an all wooden ball!
Imagine hitting a ball made of wood with the limited clubs of the time and think about just how far that ball "flew"!
The article moves through several other phases that the ball moved through in how they were made during each change of the ball and was quite interesting to read about what the balls were made of and contained on the inside.

We leave with the passing of former Philadelphia Eagles safety Wes Hopkins at the age of 57.
Hopkins was a second-round pick of the Eagles in 1983, was a first team all-pro in 1985, a devastating thumper in the Ronnie Lott mold and seemed to be on his way to an outstanding career.
A devastating 1986 knee injury ruined all of that and even though Hopkins would return from the injury to be a starter and a fine player, he was never able to reach his previous form, which had he been able to maintain that level of play might have placed him in Hall of Fame consideration.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Nick Bosa leaves Ohio State

College Football continued its evolution and not always for its benefit as Ohio State lost Nick Bosa for the rest of the season as he attempts to recover from the core muscle injury that he suffered in the Buckeyes September win over TCU.

I see both sides as I will explain shortly, but it is one more step towards even more of a sea change for college football that might not be a good one.

For the Buckeyes and as a Buckeye fan, I understand how it feels to have lost one of the best two defensive players in the country and it would have been very nice to hope that Bosa would have been able to return for a potential playoff run or even the Michigan game.
However, after hearing from Bosa's father (Former Dolphin John Bosa), it looks to have been unlikely that Bosa would have been able to return for the playoffs at close to 100 percent and nearly impossible for the Michigan game.

Considering that outcome, that Bosa would be lucky to be back at all and even higher odds that he would be close to peak level, I'm OK with this- For Nick Bosa.
I mean, Bosa is going to be in the top three players selected in the draft and an aggravated injury could cost him millions of dollars, so in this particular case, I understand it.
Since Bosa wasn't going to return for his senior year anyway and he had to rehab his injury, I can understand why he didn't want to squeeze classes into a packed schedule.
I do think as a team captain, that Bosa should have considered that part of the decision a little more, but perhaps he did that or talked to the team and received the OK.
Still, this is a multi-million dollar decision and let's be honest- you go to college for setting up your future and since it is now in order, risking injury can only dilute that future.

Besides, for all that I love Ohio State football, with the exception of support from boosters and people that remember the gridiron heroes of the past with jobs, opportunities etc, Ohio State will move onto the next player that helps pack that stadium.
It sounds cold, it is and until players start receiving some type of compensation ( and any such compensation would have been nowhere near enough for Nick Bosa to return when you consider the money involved), the lack of loyalty will go both ways, no matter how many times you sing "Carmen Ohio".

I get why Nick Bosa did this and with his draft position and the health issue adds a variable that many players that will have to make a similar decision in future will not have to deal with.
However, it is another step down the road in college football towards a change in the game.
Last year, it was Denzel Ward sitting out the Cotton Bowl (a non-playoff game) to avoid injury before the draft, now it's Bosa not attempting to return and the ball could possibly just be beginning to roll downhill.
Players have established that non-playoff bowl games aren't worth the risk, so what's next- conference title games?
If you get there, what are the chances of a hard-hitting rivalry game such as the Michigan game that ends your season?
Those are likely stretches but are at least theoretical scenarios that could happen depending on the situation and player.

Ironically, for all the edges that the Power Five (and especially the elite schools there) have in so many areas, this is an area that the Group of Five schools will be able to avoid for the most part.
Now, there will be exceptions- I'd be amazed if Ed Oliver played in Houston's bowl game unless they were the G-5 representative in the New Year's Day bowls, but usually for those schools, they'll play the bowls with the same players that got them there and that will be an advantage in the small to medium bowl games where they would play a lesser Power Five team.

In closing, I'm not mad at Nick Bosa, I think he made the right call and Ohio State will move on to the next player until this happens again.
Still, I think more and more of these type things are going to happen and it won't be good for the game.
I don't have an answer to solve this problem, but some people are going to have to start thinking about this because it is not going to leave anytime in the future.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Boxing Challenge: Crawford Cuts Down Benavidez

It was a WBO weekend in the Boxing Challenge with three championships being defended in various venues and two quarterfinals in the World Boxing Super Series.

The biggest bout hailed from Omaha, Nebraska where hometown star Terence Crawford ripped home a tremendous uppercut in the final round to drop Jose Benavidez and followed up with the most ferocious finishing attack in the business to end the fight with a beaten Benavidez helpless and sliding along the ropes.
Benavidez fought pretty well for the first half of the fight, but Crawford steadily wore the taller and seemingly larger opponent down and was well ahead on my scorecard (8-3) entering the final round.

The problem for Jose Benavidez and what a talented fighter hasn't been able to figure out to date, is that he has excellent physical advantages for the division (tall and strong), but has never learned to use them.
In other words, Benavidez doesn't fight "tall" and use a strong jab to keep opponents on their back foot.
When Benavidez tried that against Crawford and he didn't do enough of it, he had success and whether Crawford took that away from him or he simply refused to continue using what worked, that is where the fight swung to Crawford.

As for Terence Crawford, arguably the top fighter in the world, it looks like a mandatory defense next and then who knows what waits on the Top Rank side.
Everyone wants to see Errol Spence vs Terence Crawford, but the problem is that the guy that likes to fight and wants to be more active (Crawford) doesn't have a lot of fights available, while the person that is content with one or two fights a year (Spence) has plenty of them that are easy to make.
I hate to say it, but we might look back down the road at Crawford-Spence and that might be another great fight that never happened or at least, happened too late.

On the undercard, Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson knocked down late replacement Viorel Simion three times in the first round in a round one stoppage in showing the power that Stevenson had yet to flash in his start as a pro.
A great performance by Stevenson, but I thought the refereeing was inept as the second knockdown was clearly a slip and despite Simion being badly hurt after the third knockdown, the bell clanged loudly that the round was over after Simion rose, yet the referee stopped the fight rather than allow Simion the minute between rounds to try to put things together.
I'm very doubtful that would have happened, but Simion deserved the chance to try.
Bad refereeing happens so often in states like Nebraska that rarely have fight cards and I know that there would be a certain degree of hassle involved, but I'd really like to see referees (and judges for that matter) be imported that have more experience for the world-class cards that are scheduled for less than world class boxing states.

In Russia, the World Boxing Super Series limped to a slow beginning with two quarter-finals in two divisions that went the distance and excited no one.
In the cruiserweight division, American Andrew Tabiti won a unanimous decision over Ruslan Fayfer in a less than exciting fight.
The most exciting thing in this fight was Fayfer's point deduction in the last round for pushing.
I scored Tabiti a 115-112 winner and Tabiti will face the winner of this weekend's Yunier Dorticos-Mateusz Masternak matchup in the semi's.

The other fight in the bantamweight divisional tournament wasn't more exciting as lanky Zolani Tete retained his WBO title with a unanimous decision over a decorated amateur, but inexperienced professional in Mikhail Aloyan,
Outside of Tete knocking Aloyan down in the first round, the bout was eleven rounds of attempted movement by Tete and loads of grabbing, wrestling, and holding by both boxers to the point of both fighters having a point deducted.
Tete will face the winner of the upcoming WBA title fight between Ryan Burnett and Nonito Donaire in the next round.
Let's hope that both Tabiti and Tete will deliver better fights in their next fights than they did last week.

I'm not sure how many people were watching on Facebook as this fight took place at the same time as Terence Crawford was fighting on ESPN, but WBO light flyweight champ Angel Acosta took out Abraham Rodriguez with a bullet of a left hook in the second round as you'll see anywhere.
I'm not sure what Acosta has next for his future, but for his size, he punches as hard as anyone under 126 pounds.

In the boxing challenge, I outscored Ramon Malpica 8-7 on the weekend to increase my lead to 167-143 on the season.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Browns Bubble Burst by Bolts 38-14

The bubble that was the Cleveland Browns did indeed burst against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers, who did anything that they chose in a 38-14 thrashing by the banks of Lake Erie.
Baker Mayfield threw for 238 yards and one touchdown but threw two interceptions in a game that saw the rookie look the way most rookies can at times.
David Njoku led the Browns receivers with seven catches and the only Cleveland touchdown.
The now 2-3-1 Browns travel to Tampa next week in what could be a very fun game to watch against a 2-3 Buccaneers team that has allowed 30 or more points in four of their five games.

Brownie Bits

1) Baker Mayfield returned to Earth in the loss as the Chargers took away his passing lanes and limited his ability to move around the pocket.
Notice that I didn't use the word "Exposed" as that would mean teams would have a concrete way of stopping Mayfield, but the problems that helped me grade him lower than other QB"s arrived on this day- trouble seeing through a dirty passing lane, can he avoid athletic blitzers (The Chargers had success sending corner Desmond King and safety Derwin James), how quickly does he figure out illusions in coverage and how long does it take to get rid of the football.

2) Note that I'm not saying that makes him a failure either. Baker has been able to get the ball out faster in the previous starts than against the Chargers and some of that has to with his lack of targets (more later) and others on what the Chargers did against him.
This game is one of adjustments, the more film that is available on Baker, there will be things that opponents try and he'll have to be able to change accordingly.
The players that have initial success and then fade away are the players that aren't able to do that.
That is what is interesting about watching the maturation of a young quarterback.

3) Jarvis Landry isn't a number one receiver.
That's not a knock. He's a hell of a number two receiver, but he's not a number one.
If the Browns are able to find themselves a number one in the next season or so, we'll all see just how good Jarvis Landry is, but when covered by top corners that are able to push and shove him around because they don't have to worry about him running by them.
In the defeat, Landry saw nine passes tossed his way and he finished with two catches for just eleven yards.

4) Baker Mayfield's line didn't do him any favors either.
The aforementioned passing lanes weren't cleared and Mayfield had little time to throw.
Perhaps the rookie didn't get the ball out as quickly as in his previous three games, but the Chargers sacked Mayfield five times and none of them were by their best rusher in the absence of Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram.
Desmond Harrison struggled for the first time since the Steelers game and the offensive line is going to have to do better.

5) For as poorly as Baker Mayfield played, it wasn't all on him and his numbers should have looked far better as both Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley dropped very catchable passes in the end zone.
Would the Browns still have lost? Of course, but three touchdowns and two picks on a bad day certainly would have looked better in reviewing the game for Mayfield.

6) Personally, I don't know why the Chargers even bothered to throw the ball at all.
The game hadn't even reached the second quarter yet and I'm noting "Melvin Gordon does whatever he wants, gouging for huge chunks of yardage, UGH".
Gordon would finish with 132 yards on 18 carries with three scores.

7) It wasn't just Gordon, the rest of the Chargers added 118 yards on 18 more carries.
Two points here- first, this is where offensive coordinators get too cute (the Chargers bungled a trick play for a large loss early) and don't catch on that they are bullying the opponent to do what they wish.
Second- I think Keith Lincoln could have entered into this game and rushed for fifty yards.
Keith Lincoln was a Charger great that retired in 1968.

8) The one play that you could circle and say this isn't our day-The 45-yard touchdown pass from Phillip Rivers to Tyrell Williams that dropped through three Browns for the score.
When three guys are on one and the ball is caught without a tip or a fluky bounce- it's usually not your day.

9) And then consider the second Rivers to Williams score from 29 yards away.
Tackle Russell Okung not only moves for a false start, HE STOOD UP, which screams FALSE START!
All the Browns stop and most visibly Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi stand there as the flags stay in EVERY referee's pocket and Rivers just drops back and hits Williams for the score.
The Browns didn't lose because of that call, but boy you are starting to think that someone really hates the Browns or someone on the coaching staff.
Supposedly, Hue Jackson got an apology for that when the game went to commercial.
Big Whoop.

10) On top of that, another wideout injury after losing Rashard Higgins in the win over Baltimore and Derreck Willes on Friday to a broken collarbone, it's Rod Streater that is lost on special teams in the first quarter.
Editor's Note: Streater was announced Monday to be lost for the season.
That meant that only Jarvis Landry and rookies Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley were available wide receivers for the rest of the game.
I'm not excusing the drops and miscues, but with only those guys available, it had to limit the formations and even play calling.

11) Before the game (and of course, they couldn't use him because he had not even practiced) the Browns signed former Baltimore first-round pick Breshad Perriman to help with the wideout depth.
Now, the Browns will have to sign another receiver in the next day or two as well.
Perriman missed his rookie season in 2015 but had an intriguing 2016 with 33 catches for 499 yards and three scores.
Perriman caught just ten passes last year in eleven games before the Ravens released him in their final cut.
Washington would sign him but only kept him for four days.
I have no idea what Perriman will bring to Cleveland, but at 25 years old and considering the "free" talent, I'm interested.
Perriman's dad is former Saint WR Brett Perriman, a noted Tecmo Bowl legend.

12) Joe Schobert left the game with a hamstring injury and no word on his status for Tampa Bay.
The Browns linebackers aren't a particularly deep bunch as it is and backup James Burgess also left the game with an injury as well.

13) Ok- teams in various stages of growth will throw a shoe every now and then.
It hurts that it was a home game and even though I bought into things a little too much and picked the Browns, the Chargers are a better football team (they'd look even better in the AFL powder blue uniforms) and in hindsight should have been the favorite.
That's over and now it's a trip to Tampa Bay for a huge game.
Why huge at 2-3-1?
Tampa Bay has played five games and allowed 30 points or more in four of them with the one that didn't reach 30, it was close at 27.
Tampa Bay stops no one.
However, they score a lot and if you take away their version of yesterday ( a 48-10 loss at Chicago) they have scored 48,29 and 27 twice, so they will score points.
The Browns will need this one because they will be underdogs at Pittsburgh and home against the Chiefs, so a loss to Tampa Bay could see the Browns quickly at 2-6-1 before hosting Atlanta, a score a lot/allow a lot team before the bye.
So there is a scenario that sees the wheels flying off at 2-7-1 entering the bye and that could mean goodbye to Hue Jackson.
This next one is a big one, bigger than some will imagine and it could decide just where this season goes.