Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Boxing Challenge

I'm posting these late because today was a busy day and I got Ramon's picks after I went to bed, so these are late but legal.

Jr. Welterweights. 10 Rds
Alex Saucedo vs Sonny Frederickson
R.L: Saucedo KO 9
TRS: Saucedo KO 5

Jr. Welterweights. 10 Rds
Sal Briceno vs Josue Vargas
Both: Vargas Unanimous Decision

Jr. Welterweights. 10 Rds
Jose Pedraza vs Mikkel LesPierre
Both; Pedraza Unanimous Decision

Featherweights. 6 Rds
Robeisy Ramirez vs Adan Gonzales
R.L: Ramirez Unanimous Decision
TRS: Ramirez KO 4

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Boxing Challenge:Berchelt stops Valenzuela

WBC junior lightweight champion Miguel Berchelt returned to action with a probe into the lightweight division in a non-title bout against veteran journeyman Eleazar Valenzuela in Mexico City.

The fight proceeded as expected with Berchelt winning each round before battering the sturdy trialhorse along the ropes in the sixth round to force the referee to wave the fight off.
Berchelt knocked down Valenzuela in the first round with a left hook that stunned Valenzuela but didn't severely hurt him enough to endanger the stopping of the fight then and there.
Berchelt steadily stripped Valenzuela of his defense over the next few rounds, holding him off with the jab and hitting Valenzuela with his right whenever he wanted before the final barrage to end the fight in the sixth.

Berchelt is expected to return to 130 pounds for his next fight against former WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez in what looks to be an interesting and action-filled fight.
I would rate Berchelt as a solid favorite, but not a prohibitive one.
Berchelt is the naturally bigger man, the heavier puncher, and his style with a 5 and a half inch reach advantage against a fighter that is going to have to come to him, makes him the deserved favorite.
Add to those points that Valdez didn't look that great in his last fight against late replacement Adam Lopez in being knocked down, behind after six (on my scorecard), and would benefit from a premature stoppage and you can understand why I'm picking Berchelt.
However, Valdez is a good puncher and Berchelt's one loss was via first-round knockout to Luis Flores in 2013, so a Valdez win can happen, but Flores was a rare fighter that is taller than Berchelt in the division and Berchelt clearly had problems dealing with that.
Oscar Valdez lacks those physical attributes, but I'm still looking forward to this fight in the fall!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Lottery talk- Devils pick seventh

The NHL Draft Lottery Friday night was fairly straight-forward- Avoid anything other than a total FUBAR and the night is a success.
After all, the prize involved would gain some awful team the right to select winger Alexis Lafreniere and unless one of those teams entered into the swollen Covid-19 postseason would win this, the evening would go fine.

AND considering this is an NHL/Gary Bettman production, FUBAR is what happened as the "Team to be named later" won the top overall pick and a potential franchise player in Lafreniere, the worst team in hockey by far (Detroit) fell out of the top three, and now until that team is determined most of the draft movement comes to halt.
The Red Wings, who finished the season with twenty-three fewer points than the thirtieth place Ottawa Senators, will pick fourth behind the TTBNL, Los Angeles, and Ottawa's pick acquired from San Jose.
The New Jersey Devils moved from sixth to seventh in the first round after the lottery and will wait for whatever comes out of the potential finish of the season to see where and if they will own Vancouver's and/or Arizona's first-rounders in this draft.
The NHL will now hold another lottery after the first round of their playoffs with the eight teams that lost in the opening round all entered in a winner take all pull for the top pick.

Awful as Gary Bettman seemingly isn't pleased with Rob Manfred making a big move to challenge Bettman as the worst commissioner in sports title.
The one outcome that didn't work for anyone and that is exactly what the NHL received.
This easily could have avoided with one simple tweak and a small dose of common sense,
Since the league expanded the playoffs this season due to Covid-19 with eight extra teams making the postseason, the easy fix was this- Since those eight teams are being given the opportunity in the playoffs as a special bonus under the circumstances, the 2020 lottery would only consist of the seven teams not in the postseason.
That plan would have been the even-handed way to decide for the season and giving one set of teams a chance to play extra hockey and the others to battle in the lottery.
Typical Bettman.

I'm not crazy about lotteries and that's not sour grapes either.
The Cavaliers have won four NBA lotteries with Cleveland selecting LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett, and Andrew Wiggins, and only in the LeBron James draft would Cleveland have picked first by the record.
The Devils have "Won" three times tabbing Adam Larsson when the lottery rules stated that the winner could jump no more than four spaces, so the Devils moved from eighth to fourth in that "win",
Nico Hischier, and Jack Hughes, so this isn't a "poor my team" complaint.
New Jersey would never have picked first in a draft order decided by lottery to this date.

It's hard to keep fans interested in rotten teams.
It's next to impossible to do so when the type of talent that can be franchise foundations are lost because of a process.
I will use both the Cavaliers and the Devils as examples.
Both teams have struggles signing elite free agents, Cleveland as a cold location and with lesser nightlife and New Jersey does have the nearby "Big Apple", but if that's important to a player, he's more likely to sign with the Rangers anyway.

If your team is bad, they will need to rebuild in the draft and for fans, the one thread to look forward when they are getting drilled every night is that the team will have a chance to draft players that can turn the tide.
Your reward for that is lottery placement with both leagues giving the worst teams lesser odds than they would deserve strictly by their record and having better odds of dropping spots than retaining your spot.
The Detroit Red Wings had a better chance of dropping three spots then they did than to stay in the top three and they had the worst record!

The usual retort is- "this keeps teams from tanking, they'll try to be competitive, and it won't hurt attendance/fan interest as much as tanking will".
A: I'm not sure this prevents tanking as much as the league would like to think.
B: General Rule: Bad teams are bad teams and the way they stay bad is trading assets for players to move a 25 win team to a 30 win team.
C: Few things deflate a fan base more than sitting through a 22-60 (NBA) season, thinking you are going to at least land a top two or three pick at worst, and then slide to "Browns Land" where you spend more money on a player than most of the leagues, yet has a high likelihood of not being an impact player.

How so? Look at the Cavaliers.
By record alone- Cleveland would have had the second pick in the draft, which clearly would have been Ja Morant, the explosive point guard from Murray State.
By record, Memphis and New Orleans, who won the top pick and Zion Williamson, would have picked either sixth, seventh, or eighth as the two teams and Dallas all finished with the same record.
Morant is a foundational player and in his rookie season, averaged 17.6 points and 6.9 assists per game for a Memphis team that won 33 games in the season before his arrival and at the time of the COVID freeze, had won 32 games with 17 games to play with Morant as the only key player that the Grizzlies added from the previous season.

Cleveland fell to fifth and drafted Darius Garland, also a point guard, from Vanderbilt.
Garland is averaging 12.3 points and 3.9 assists a night and the Cavaliers are wondering if Garland is part of their long-term program already.
To be fair, some of those questions are because the Cavaliers foolishly picked Garland one year after taking Collin Sexton in the first round, giving the Cavaliers two players that need the ball to be effective, are below-average defensively to be kind and are smaller guards, which is why I preferred Jarrett Culver (taken sixth) to Garland as a positional fit.
Either way, Cleveland lost a player that you build franchises around and gained what could be a nice player, but is unlikely to be a franchise standout.
Tell me how excited Cleveland's fans were to suffer through a nineteen win season that deserved a franchise player and instead you were drafting at five?
Not going to make you run out and buy tickets, huh?
Garland, by the three various analytical standards (WinShares, VORP, and Real Plus-Minus), was named as the worst player in the league by their measurements.
I'm not saying Garland's a bust, but he will have to raise his game a bit and I think that's more likely than not to occur, even if Garland doesn't turn out as a top-five selection level player.
The NBA lottery will take place on August 25th with the Cavaliers owning for the second consecutive year an equal chance at the top pick with two other teams at 14 percent and a 40 percent chance of winding up in the top three.
By record, Cleveland would pick either second or third as a tiebreaker would have to take place to decide the order as they tied with Minnesota for that slot.

The Devils finished with the league's third-worst record when they won the Jack Hughes lottery, so I don't feel that bad about the one, but they jumped from fifth to one in the 2017 draft that resulted in Nico Hischier, which is a little worse.
Hockey is a little different than basketball as one player can make a difference, but rarely does a draftee take a team to the playoffs even with the elite players such as Connor McDavid.
McDavid's as good as they come, but the Edmonton Oilers made the playoffs only once in his first four seasons.

In the end, the lottery is very similar to hockey's shootout- it's an exciting, but flawed and unfair way to decide who wins a game or how talent is allocated.
I think the lotteries should be weighted more towards the top three or four teams, but it could take a few years of craziness every year with lower teams odds gaining the top picks before any changes will be made.
Change only comes over time in these cases.

The NBA lottery will take place on August 25th and the draft has been moved to October 16th.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Boxing Challenge: Moloney stops Baez

Australian bantamweight Jason Moloney managed to battle his way through the adversity of his twin brother Andrew's loss two days earlier in the "bubble" in Las Vegas and methodically broke down Leonardo Baez to earn a victory when Baez could not answer the bell for the start of the eighth round.

Moloney smothered Baez, a late replacement for Oscar Negron, from the start and didn't allow Baez to create the space that he needed to throw his longer punches from a distance to win.
Moloney's shorter shots and combinations connected time and time again until a battered Baez's corner decided to end the fight in the corner to save their fighter from more punishment.
Moloney is ranked in the top five by each of the four organizations and I would imagine that he would be an attractive challenger for the winner of the upcoming three belt indication between Naoya Inoue and John Riel Casimero later this year.

The co-feature was supposed to be the coming-out party for undefeated junior lightweight Abraham Nova and while Nova won a unanimous decision over Avery Sparrow, he looked far from impressive in doing it.
The light-punching Sparrow won most of the early rounds on my card but seemed to be winning these rounds more on awkwardness and a lack of punching from a somewhat confused Nova.
Nova took command late in the fight and on my card pulled it out by a close decision (96-94) before the scorecards that ranged from one that agreed with me, one at 97-93 that seemed a bit strong, and a totally ridiculous 99-91 that must have been filled about by Nova's family before the fight.
I could have seen 96-94 Sparrow, depending on when you thought Nova's rebound started, so the fight was close, but it certainly didn't raise the status of either fighter and I certainly have zero interest in a rematch with the lack of action in this one.
Steve Kim reports that Nova may be matched with former IBF champion Masayuki Ito by Top Rank in his next fight in a match that could possibly become a title eliminator.
Nova will need to show far more against Ito to win than he did in barely clipping Sparrow.

In the boxing challenge, I earned four points to Ramon Malpica's one for the evening to move my lead to 57-49.
The difference was the two points for the win by Abraham Nova and two points to Ramon's one for the stoppage win by Jason Moloney.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Cleaning out the Inbox

Photo: Richland Source
The inbox is finally full, so there's no better time to clean it out than now!

As I've been writing during the pandemic in the various inboxes, The Athletic has been filling time and space with the type of stories that during the average sports year aren't always being written because of the live-action on the fields of play.

We start with three stories from The Athletic and the first will cover the man behind the donut shop as Tim Horton's hockey career funded what is the Canadian standard for coffee and donuts.
Tim Horton's is moving into America more every year it seems as it moves franchises south and although I'm not a passionate donut fan, I do like one a few times a year and Tim Horton's does have a good one.
Tim Horton, the player, played for 24 years in the NHL, retiring more than once and returning to roll more money into the donut shop business.
Horton played until he was 44, made the hall of fame, and was named one of the NHL's top 100 players of all-time in 2017.
Horton was still playing for the Buffalo Sabres in 1974 when he died in a car accident driving back to his home in Toronto (The Sabres had lost to the Maple Leafs) and what I found interesting after his death dealt with the business as his partner bought Horton's wife's half-ownership in the chain (40 stores at the time) for one million dollars.
Tim Horton's was sold to Burger King in 11.5 BILLION in 2017.

The next story deals with Phil Steele, the maven of college football.
Steele's annual preview issue release is anticipated by me as one of my favorite days of the year and the article talks to Steele about how the magazine is assembled, the work that it takes to do so, and just how close Steele came to not making a magazine this season.
You can order a copy of Phil Steele's college football magazine here with a release date scheduled for July 15th, which I have been told is another special day...

BTW- While I'm still firmly in Mr.Steele's camp, on the word of John McAdam, I purchased Brett Ciancia's Pick Six Previews that covers the Power Five leagues.
Like Phil Steele's, Brett takes a deep and comprehensive dive into each of the teams that he previews and it's a sharp read.
Phil gets an edge for including every division one team and my beloved space to write in the results, but otherwise, I found the two very comparable.
I really enjoyed it and I'll be a customer next season.
I think I've converted very well to the digital age with books, magazines, etc, but the two items that I want physical copies of are college football previews and NFL draft previews (and reviews), so I'd be happier with a Pick Six physical copy (Phil Steele's goes straight into the backpack on day one and travels everywhere I go until the end of the season).
Brett's PDF file is said to be printer-friendly, but I'd wager that the printing and binding bill might cost what the file cost (18.00) and well over thirty dollars isn't viable.

The final article from The Athletic recalls the most recent trip by the Purdue Boilermakers to the Final Four when Purdue arrived via bus in Indianapolis in 1980.
The Big Ten placed two teams in the Final Four, as Purdue and Iowa won regionals before losing to UCLA and Louisville respectively.
Purdue would win the now-defunct consolation game over Iowa for the official third place designation.
Purdue was coached by Lee Rose, who took UNC-Charlotte to the Final Four in 1977 and then Purdue in 1980 in the second of his two seasons in West Lafayette.
Rose left for South Florida after this season and after six seasons with the Bulls and zero trips to the NCAA's (South Florida did make three NIT's), Rose resigned, never coached college again, and would spend several years as an NBA assistant.

Purdue's star was Joe Barry Carroll, who has been given a bad rap for his career following his top overall pick in the 1980 NBA Draft.
Now the trade that saw the Warriors trade for the top pick to draft Carroll wasn't a good one (Golden State traded the 3rd overall pick, used to select Kevin McHale and veteran Robert Parish to Boston), but Carroll was a productive player for Golden State and averaged over twenty points a game on four occasions in his seven seasons in Oakland with eight rebounds a game five times.
Carroll's numbers were better than Parish's four years there and Parish didn't become a hall of famer until after the trade.
Boston clearly won the trade, but Carroll certainly wasn't a bust on the level of 1972 top pick Larue Martin and shouldn't be remembered as such.

This is an older article from 2016 and the Omaha World-Herald as columnist Tom Shatel remembers the days when Omaha shared the Kansas City-Omaha Kings from 1972-78 and for ten to fifteen games a year- Omaha Nebraska had NBA basketball in their town.
I can't imagine Omaha as an NBA city today as their demographics have them twenty spots behind the NBA's smallest market (Memphis) in television market size and two hundred thousand fewer than the same smallest city in population, but one never knows if Omaha's favorite son (Warren Buffet) would decide to give his hometown one final gift.

ESPN writes about the business side of the XFL's collapse from people that worked for the league.
It's an in-depth piece that writes of the chances taken both and off the field, the dealings with Vince McMahon, the suit that commissioner Oliver Luck has filed against McMahon, and yes the chances of the league surviving for 2021.
There will be a bankruptcy process for bidders on August 3rd and over thirty interested bidders have perused the books and signed non-disclosure agreements to do so.
Vince McMahon had planned on potentially bidding on the league, but demurred after league creditors claimed McMahon was rigging the process to encourage a low bid to pay those creditors.
Imagine someone thinking such things about a wrestling promoter...

The Bulwark may be known mostly for their political writings, but many of their writers are sports fans as well and Ed Condon writes of MLB using the pandemic to force-feed the designated hitter into National League baseball.
Baseball says the DH is only installed for two seasons and then will be evaluated, but how often are rules in sports installed when the league in question wants them badly, eventually overturned?
Condon adds some of the other changes through the years that he disagrees with and he asks this question to fans that have children- how far would it go with you, should your child utter this comment when playing sports- "I don't do defense"?

We wrap up with Fred Landucci sending this from Definition.org asking how many of these defunct restaurant chains do you remember?
Of the thirty chains, I had heard of fifteen (Fewer than I figured before I started), had eaten at ten with one as a former employer.
Battlin' Bob defeats me as he can checkmark two of these chains off as a former employer!
Check it out and see how high you score.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Boxing Challenge: Franco Surprises Moloney!

ESPN's Tuesday night card seemed to be their strongest card thus far entering the evening and it came through with two entertaining fights.

In the main event, Joshua Franco dominated the second half of the fight and surprised favored Australian Andrew Moloney via a unanimous decision to take away Moloney's minor junior bantamweight title and his undefeated record in Las Vegas.
Franco knocked down Moloney in the eleventh round and an argument could have been made to stop the fight to save a badly hurt Moloney.
Moloney showed plenty of heart in surviving the round and his best round in the second half was the final round, which could have been scored for him.
I had Franco a 116-111 winner (8-4 and a knockdown), but the fight was much closer on the official scorecards with two judges scoring for Franco 114-113.
Had Franco not scored the eleventh round knockdown, the fight would have been scored a majority decision draw, which would have brought the Hamburglar out from his grill to complain about the decision!
Moloney was taken to the hospital following the fight and was diagnosed with both eardrums busted, but showed enough in defeat to not write him off as a future contender in the division.
As for Franco, who entered this fight after three terrific fights against Oscar Negrete (and a KO of Juan Burgos), which he won a split decision with the other two ending in draws, he looks like he'll be at least be a solid contender, if not a long-term champion in a division that is very solid at the top.
I'd love to see am eventual title defense in a fourth bout against Negrete, who was scheduled to fight the other Moloney (Jason) on Thursday but was found to have a detached retina in his checkup entering the fight.
It'll be interesting to see how Franco fares in his next few fights, but at minimum Franco will make solid action fights and he could develop into a top fighter in the division with some luck.

Christopher Diaz won a unanimous decision in the co-main event over Jason Sanchez in a crossroads fight between two fighters that entered the fight in desperate need of a win.
Diaz looked like the fighter that was favored to win a vacant world title against Masayuki Ito before losing an upset decision and landed the more powerful punches against Sanchez, who threw more punches but landed less in defeat.
I scored Diaz a 98-92 winner, which was the same as two of the judges, and while Diaz called for a world title fight after the win, I'd like to see another solid victory or two before that shot.
I would think that Diaz should get that title try with those wins as Top Rank is well situated in the featherweight division, although I see no point in a rematch with WBO champion Shakur Stevenson.
However, Diaz could be in the mix to possibly fight for the title vacated by Stevenson, should he do so in the future which he has been rumored to be considering.

Ramon Malpica earned two points for the Diaz victory to my zero and trimmed my boxing challenge lead to five at 53-48.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge continues with three more cards from ESPN and Top Rank this week.
The cards are slowly getting better, but many still aren't thrilled with the competition.

As for me? I'm just happy to have something to watch- For now.

The Tuesday does have an interesting main event as the American debut of the Moloney Twins begins with Andrew defending his minor junior bantamweight title against Joshua Franco.
The Australian siblings are a talented pair ( more on Jason Moloney soon) and it'll be interesting to watch them this week.
Andrew looked very impressive in the two fights that I have seen him, with a 10th round knockout of former WBA flyweight champion Luis Concepcion and his last win- an eighth-round stoppage of Elton Dharry.
While Moloney should be a solid favorite here, Joshua Franco should make this a fun fight.
Franco is best remembered for his three-fight series with Oscar Negrete that couldn't have been closer if the decisions were decided by the toss of a coin with Franco winning one split decision with the other two fights ruled as draws.
This one is my favorite fight of the week.

Former world title challenger Christopher Diaz continues his comeback in what could be another close fight at featherweight against Jason Sanchez.
Diaz was touted as a future star by Top Rank and was a solid favorite entering a July 2018 match for the vacant WBO junior lightweight title against Masayuki Ito, but lost a decision.
Diaz was fed to Shakur Stevenson a few fights later and dropped another clear decision, but returned from that with a decision over veteran Adeilson Dos Santos in his last fight.
Jason Sanchez knocked out the same Dos Santos in his last fight (before the Diaz win over Dos Santos) and his only loss to former WBO champion Oscar Valdez can be easily excused.
This is a close matchup with the winner likely moving up to fringe contender status and the loser taking a step back into a borderline opponent level for a bit.

Thursday, the other Moloney hits the ring as Jason battles Leonardo Baez in a bantamweight bout.
Jason owns a stoppage win over former WBA junior bantamweight champion Kohei Kono and lost a very close split decision in the first round of the World Boxing Super Series to then-IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez in Orlando.
Baez has one of those typical records from Mexico filled with a lot of wins over guys with losing records, but won an eight-round decision (winning every round on all three judges cards) over former world title challenger Moises Flores.

The co-feature is interesting as undefeated power-hitting 130 pounder Abraham Nova takes a step up against Avery Sparrow in a ten rounder.
Nova has 14 KO's in 18 fights but against very weak competition, so this is a good test against Sparrow, who upset durable veteran Hank Lundy via majority decision in March and knocked him down twice.
I wonder if Sparrow, who has only three knockouts in his ten wins, is growing into some power or has Lundy's chin simply has begun the process of erosion?
You may also remember Sparrow as the fighter that was scheduled to fight Ryan Garcia last year that was arrested walking out of a Target on his way to the weigh-in on a past charge and forced the fight to be canceled.

Saturday night from Mexico City, the top-rated fighter in the TRS rankings returns in a non-title event as WBC junior lightweight champion Miguel Berchelt will stay busy against journeyman Eleazar Valenzuela.
This is very similar to the Emmanuel Navarrete's non-title fight in the same venue last week as Berchelt attempts to sharpen up for the impending challenge of Oscar Valdez.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 53-46.

Junior Bantamweights. 12 Rds
Andrew Moloney vs Joshua Franco
Both: Moloney Unanimous Decision

Featherweights. 10 Rds
Christopher Diaz vs Jason Sanchez
R.L: Diaz Unanimous Decision
TRS: Sanchez Unanimous Decision

Bantamweights. 12 Rds
Jason Moloney vs Leonardo Baez
R.L: Moloney Unanimous Decision
TRS: Moloney KO 8

Junior Lightweights. 10 Rds
Abraham Nova vs Avery Sparrow
R.L: Sparrow Unanimous Decision
TRS: Nova Unanimous Decision

Junior Lightweights. 10 Rds
Miguel Berchelt vs Eleazar Valenzuela
R.L: Berchelt KO 9
TRS: Berchelt KO 4

Monday, June 22, 2020

Forgotten Superstars; The Masked Superstar

We return to the Forgotten Superstars universe with an actual "Superstar" by name as our latest entry in the series.

The recent passing of Mr.Wrestling II made me think of masked wrestlers and the one wrestler that for me deserved to be involved in the Forgotten Superstars series.

You don't see many masked wrestlers anymore, but I always enjoyed the wrestlers that wore the mask as a fan and it might have been better and more mysterious at that time as seldom did masked wrestlers come to the Northeast and the McMahon/WWF territory.

Since I couldn't see other wrestling companies (other than the one weekend a year that I visited my Ohio relatives when I would watch Georgia wrestling on WTBS) , I relied entirely on the wrestling magazines to gain any knowledge of the happenings around the country and even though the articles were hokey and usually even more fictional than the actual programs (even as a kid and as a regular purchaser of these, it was pretty apparent to see that wrestling wasn't on the level), it was the only way to read about other wrestlers.
I always liked the masked wrestlers because the masks were often colorful, more often than not were "rulebreakers" (the term the magazines used for the "heels"), and it was fun trying to figure out any small tip on their "real" identity.

There were many masked wrestlers such as the Super Destroyer, the original Assassin and his partner Assassin #2, the Masked Grapplers, etc, but for me, three stood out above the rest.
Mr.Olympia was often a "fan favorite", but I liked the mask and he would eventually turn in the Mid-South area.
The Spoiler had a really menacing look with his vicious finisher- The Claw.
The Spoiler was often managed by J.J. Dillon or Gary Hart and magazine articles on him would picture bloody grapplers damaged by his fierce grip, but the other was my favorite- The Masked Superstar.
Superstar was a wrestler that stretched the rulebook because he wanted to, not because he had to.
The magazines always stressed the Superstar had the "scientific ability" to win fairly, but he preferred the rougher style with breaking the rules and that appealed to me!
The Masked Superstar also used several different masks with far more colors than the usual black or white and those hoods stood out even in the black and white print of the magazines.

The Superstar cemented himself with me on an Ohio visit when I saw him for the first time with his unique interview style because he was a rare entity in pro wrestling.
The Superstar rarely screamed and yelled or made ridiculous threats, he spoke matter of factly as in I mean what I say, take me seriously, he came across as a legitimate athlete similar to those in other sports and there was the hook- legitimacy.- The Masked Superstar fit that mold and his finishing "Cobra Hold" was a little different as well.
The hold and application were similar to the "Cobra Clutch" of Sgt. Slaughter, but the Superstar could use it as a submission hold as Slaughter did, as a "sleeper" hold, and on occasion even drop the affected grappler to the canvas and pin him as he continued to maintain the cobra.
Slaughter's hold was a bit more flashy but the Superstar's cobra seemed a bit more realistic and far more versatile in its use.
Superstar brings out his toolbox in this win over Mike Davis, an underrated wrestler that is most remembered for his brief stint as "Dusty Rhodes" (has to be seen to be believed) and as part of the "Rock N Roll RPM's".

Superstar spent almost his entire career under the mask ( Bill Eadie had previously been one of the Mongols) with either the Jim Crockett/Mid-Atlantic territory or the Georgia territory as a heel but did have brief runs with both companies as a fan favorite in tag teams with Paul Jones (Mid-Atlantic) and King Kong Bundy (Georgia).
Superstar ranked at the top of the list of wrestlers that I wanted to see enter the WWF that I hadn't seen there before and in 1983, Superstar finally arrived under the tutelage of the Grand Wizard and when the Grand Wizard died in October 1983, Superstar was the last wrestler that he officially managed.
Superstar had to scrap the cobra hold since Sgt. Slaughter was using it there, but using the sweeping neckbreaker as his finisher, he rose to the status of the latest challenger to then-champion Bob Backlund after injuring Backlund's protege Eddie Gilbert with the neckbreaker on the floor to boost the heat for the Superstar's challenge.

The Superstar still had the confident, self-assured "real sports" interviews, but other than the Gilbert angle and his two-match set at Madison Square Garden (the unofficial WWF capital at the time) challenging Bob Backlund for the championship, Superstar's WWF tenure likely wasn't remembered as anything special for anyone other than his most devoted fans.

Backlund's November 1983 win over the Superstar was an odd one, as it seemed that Superstar had a solid amount of crowd support, which was unusual, and would be a forbearing of the following month when Backlund's title reign of almost six years was ended by the Iron Sheik.
Had the situation been a little different, Superstar would have been a better choice to be the man that supplanted Backlund, but Superstar was leaving the WWF shortly and if he wrestled as another wrestler (changed gimmick), he couldn't take credit for the title reign anyway.
Sheik was the better choice but had the WWF chosen a few month title reign for the conqueror of Bob Backlund, and then lose to Hulk Hogan as the Sheik did the following month, Superstar would have been the superior option.
Ironically, it was the Superstar that would be Hulk Hogan's first title defense and he did receive a few title shots around the circuit against Hogan.

For the most part in North America, that was the end of the Masked Superstar.
The Superstar would wrestle in Japan as under that mask until early 1986 when he returned to the WWF as one of the Machines (Andre the Giant, Superstar, and Blackjack Mulligan under masks).
After that stint was somewhat disappointing, it was back to the Masked Superstar in the Florida territory in that promotion's waning moments for a program against a young Lex Luger.
Superstar won the Southern title (Florida's top championship) from Luger, lost it back before moving back to the WWF as Ax of the tag team Demolition.
Demolition was successful with three championship reigns but other than an occasional independent show long after leaving the WWF, the Masked Superstar was gone from the ring.
The Superstar did refer once to a possible trip to WCW when Ole Anderson was booking the company, but Anderson wanted the Superstar character, while Bill Eadie preferred to use the Demolition gimmick and the sides couldn't come to an agreement.

For all of the success that Bill Eadie would have as part of Demolition, Eadie will always be the Masked Superstar to me and even though the Spoiler is close (The Spoiler could make these pages someday), the Superstar will always be the epitome of the term masked wrestler and we welcome him to the Forgotten Superstars Universe.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Boxing Challenge: Navarrete squashes Lopez

The boxing challenge moved out of Las Vegas for the first time as WBO junior featherweight champion Emanuel Navarrete took on journeyman Uriel Lopez in a non-title featherweight bout.

The less said about this mismatch the better as Navarrete won every round, knocked down Lopez with a combination of punches in the fifth round, and finished him off with a right hand to the body in the sixth round.
An argument could have been made for stopping the fight after the first knockdown or even between the fifth and sixth rounds as nothing Lopez was going to be able to do against the harder hitting and far busier Navarrete was going to turn the tide and pull off a miracle.

I'm becoming a bit torn on Navarrete.
I love how he loves to stay active ( the win over Lopez was his seventh since winning his title over Issac Dogboe in December 2018), and I really like his two-fisted style that throws a lot of punches, yet packs power in those punches.
However, his opponents since the Dogboe rematch have left plenty to be desired and each of the three fighters that share the top of the division with him- WBA/IBF champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev, former WBA/IBF champion Danny Roman (who lost a split decision to Akhmadaliev that could have gone to either fighter), and WBC champion Rey Vargas, have all fought better opponents than anyone on the resume' of Navarrete with the exception of Dogboe.
While I would like to see Navarrete fight any of the three (all of which are signed with different promoters) and each would present a different set of problems, Navarrete needs to get in the ring with the first one that agrees to a contract and as soon as possible.
Navarrete isn't being tested and he could begin to stagnate.
If it's that big of an issue signing to fight any of those three and it simply cannot be signed, then, by all means, move to featherweight where Top Rank has more stars in the division (IBF champion Josh Warrington, Xu Can, Carl Frampton, Jessie Magdaleno, and Michael Conlan)  and with the WBO's rules for champions moving up, Navarrete would immediately step to the front of the line for a fight with champion Shakur Stevenson (Top Rank) or would automatically be installed for a slot in a fight for the vacant title should Stevenson decide to move up in weight.

One way or another, Navarrete needs to be tested soon because we all will tire watching these squash matches after a while...

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica and I each scored two points for the knockout win.
I maintained my seven-point lead at 53-46.

Friday, June 19, 2020

A little of this, A little of that

Well, since the manager of Mikkel LesPierre couldn't bother to stay Covid-Clean while entering the Top Rank bubble, the main event of the card and the only boxing challenge bout of the evening was canceled, I'll try to add a few notes on some various topics.

My frustration with baseball grows and deepens as the owners continue to shove a shortened and gimmicky season at players and fans as one of many things that cause me to feel like the game is eating itself on the way to disinterest.
Forcing the universal DH for the 2020 season is one thing, it's another to keep it for 2021.
When you work any job or deal with a government, you realize one general rule- Something added is seldom to be taken away.

There is almost a one hundred percent chance that we have seen the last game played under the original player lineup with the nine players on the field all in the batting lineup and I think that is sad.
I know there is a place for the designated hitter and I'm not really a DH hater, but I do prefer the National League game.
There is more than one flavor or style of anything, and there could be room for both versions of the game, and if it shortchanges a few teams (from both leagues) during interleague play, so be it.

Take this, the changes that have been sampled in the minors (but not installed), the looming destruction of the minors, and the other ridiculous ideas that Rob Manfred's office has considered and you have a recipe for a game that I don't recognize.
Rob Manfred continues to chase a fan that baseball will never catch as he snatches the game that long-time fans love away as Lucy moves the football from Charlie Brown.

Ohio State signed an agreement to play Alabama in football for the 2027 and 2028 seasons as the best programs of their conferences will battle in the regular season for only the second time and for the first ever at their school site.
The two played in the now-defunct Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium in 1986 with Alabama winning.
The 2027 game will be in Columbus with the return engagement in Tuscaloosa in the following season.
I always like these games as it's good for the best to try to play the best, but the best part is the campus sites as often these are the dreaded neutral site games that take away from the grandeur of the game.

The Athletic ranked the various local broadcasting crews for baseball and the folks that I like fared well in the rankings.
The Giants team of Mike Krukow, Duane Kuiper, and Amy Gutierrez ranked a very close second to the Mets team of Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez as the two were only 0.03 apart for the win at 4.91 to 4.88.

Other favorites- Brewers play-by-play man Brian Anderson helped the Milwaukee team to a sixth-place finish, Cubs analyst Jim Deshaies and his unit ranked in seventh, Tampa's extremely underrated group of Dewayne Staats, former Indian (the other)  Brian Anderson, and Tricia Whitaker landed in the eighth spot overall.

Two TRS favorites that received excellent reviews despite their team finishing deep in the pack were Bob Carpenter of Washington (23rd), Emily Jones of Texas (25th), and Dan Shulman of Toronto (26th), all were mentioned fondly by their fans voters.
The Indians team of Matt Underwood, Rick Manning, and Andre Knott finished in the middle of the league in the 18th position.

As for me and what I've been doing since baseball isn't around and despite the easing of some of the Covid restrictions, I still don't really want to test the other people right now.
I don't see where wearing a mask hurts anyone and it seems like it is more of a "don't tell me what to do" thing than it is a real issue in wearing it.
Feel free to take your chances, just stay away from me (within reason).

I've messed around with the metal detector once, working on clearing the yard of brush that has accumulated for years and nuisance trees that weaken and fall during winter ice and snow and summer thunderstorms, and believe it or not- I did get a reading of something metal under the brush!
I figured that for just a dirt patch, and I haven't been able to access the area directly, but I am excited to test that area when everything is moved out!

As for television, I'm still watching the same shows as I mentioned last time out- Once Upon A Time (Just started season six), Without A Trace (middle of season two), and the Spanish with sub-titled Monzon (episode three).
I have to really have time to concentrate when watching Monzon as I have to read the subtitles, so I usually watch alone and not when doing anything else.

In the gaming world. I've been stuck in the basketball world with the ABA and the Kentucky Colonels.
The Colonels had to win their last game to finish in a tie for second in the Eastern Division with St.Louis and hold homecourt advantage in their first-round playoff matchup against those Spirits.
They did so and grabbed the second seed clinching a winning record at 43-41.
Considering in real life, those same Colonels won 58 games (losing only 26) and won the division over the New York Nets (the division winners by six games over the Colonels and Spirits in this replay) by winning a one-game tiebreaker against the Nets.
The coaching by your humble author likely contributed far more to the sixteen extra losses than the luck of the game, but as the season moved on, I improved in my in-game coaching.
I'm interested to see the results of my next basketball project to evaluate my coaching.
Anyway, I have been playing the entire playoffs and of this writing, I finished the Western semi-finals earlier tonight at the road office.
Here are the playoff results

Eastern Division
Semi-Finals-Best of Five
New York (1) over Memphis (4) 3 games to 2
Kentucky (2) over St.Louis (3) 3 games to 0

Finals-Best of Seven
Kentucky (2) over New York (1) 4 games to 2

Western Division
Semi-Finals-Best of Five
Indiana (1) over Utah (4) 3 games to 1
Denver (3) over San Antonio (2) 3 games to 2

Finals-Best of Seven
Indiana (1) over Denver (3) 4 games to 3.

This places Kentucky against Indiana in the ABA Finals- the exact matchup that the real finals saw.
The real fun was in the Western regular season where Indiana and San Antonio finished with the exact same record (52-32) with Denver only one game behind.
All three would have easily won the Eastern Division.

I've played two hockey games with the 1974-75 Kansas City Scouts since the last update, losing to the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in Chicago and stunning the eventual Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers with three goals in the first ten minutes and holding on desperately for a 3-2 win at home.
The Scouts are 6-18-1 for 13 points and last in the Smythe Division, trailing the next team above them, the St.Louis Blues by nine points.
The Scouts and fellow expansion team Washington have the fewest points in the league with the California Golden Seals one point ahead, but Washington has played two more games and California three more at this writing.

I haven't played baseball, but I've been working on adding players, logos, and ballpark pictures as a gentleman that helps at a site for Action fans made "homebrews" of all the 2019 minor leagues.
I've never seen those before, so I downloaded the South Atlantic League, Carolina League, and Eastern League to be able to play those leagues!
I'm really looking forward to giving those a shot, particularly since it looks like it will be the last year of the Hagerstown Suns.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Cleaning out the inbox: Passings

Time once again to pay tribute to recent passings of note as we try to stay caught up on the inbox.

Goodbye to Ken Riley at the age of 72.
Riley spent all fifteen seasons on the corner in Cincinnati for the Bengals from 1969 through 1983 and is one of those defenders of that era that has fallen through the cracks for induction for the Hall of Fame.
Riley intercepted 65 passes in his career, which is fifth on the all-time list for interceptions and when he retired after the 1983 season, Riley was still playing well as he intercepted eight passes in his final season.
Riley would serve as head coach at his alma mater, Florida A&M, from 1986-93 and then took over as athletic director from 1994 until 2003 when he retired.

Goodbye to Claudell Washington at the age of 65.
Washington, who played for seventeen years in the majors, never became the star that he was projected to be when he made the 1975 All-Star team at only 20 years old but was of enough value that he would play for eight teams in his career.
Washington hit a career-high of .308 with ten homers and career-high in stolen bases with forty in 1975 and looked to be on his way to stardom, but it never panned out for Washington in his travels around baseball.
Washington also has another interesting point as it is Washington that hits the foul ball that Ferris Bueller catches in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off".

Goodbye to Mike McCormick at the age of 81.
McCormick debuted at 17 in 1956 for the New York Giants and won fifteen games for the San Francisco Giants in 1960.
McCormick was traded to the Orioles for the 1963 season, struggled to six wins in two seasons there before moving to Washington in 1965 where he would win eight and eleven games in two years with the Senators.
The Giants reacquired McCormick before the 1967 season and McCormick won the Cy Young award out of seemingly nowhere as he finished 22-10 with an ERA of 2.85.
McCormick would win 33 games over the next four years and in 1971 would pitch only four games with an ERA over nine for the Royals and would be finished in baseball at 32.
McCormick's passing leaves only 14 living New York Giants.

Goodbye to Mr. Wrestling II at the age of 85.
Johnny "Rubberman" Walker was a journeyman wrestler that in 1972, was semi-retired and running a gas station when he was approached by Georgia promoters to become Mr. Wrestling II to play off the spectacular success of Mr. Wrestling (Tim Woods) as someone to take the place of Woods when he was wrestling elsewhere both in and out of the territory.
Wrestling II would often tag team with Woods, but would become the bigger star nationally with II being one of the first stars of Georgia Championship Wrestling on WTBS with his "Million Dollar Kneelift".
Wrestling II was given even more mainstream publicity when Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as President in 1977 and the President-elect's mother Lillian Carter's favorite wrestler was Mr. Wrestling II, who she invited to the inauguration as her guest.
Walker had to turn down the invite when the Secret Service insisted that Walker unmask for the ceremonies and Walker decided not to risk his identity being known.
Walker did eventually meet Carter at the White House with a picture of the two appearing in newspapers of the day.
Wrestling II's most memorable angle for me was his heel turn in Mid-South Wrestling where II was teaming with Magnum TA as the Mid-South tag champions as II "mentored" the younger TA, but subtlely became jealous of TA's developing popularity.
II would eventually win the North American title from Junkyard Dog as a heel and abandon TA in the middle of a match with the Midnight Express that caused their team to lose the titles to the Midnights and with a stipulation of the losers getting whipped with a belt in play, II walked away to leave Magnum to receive all the lashes and begin a feud between the two.
Magnum would eventually win the North American title from II and the run was the last big one of II''s career as he would sign with the WWF, but rarely wrestled on television (I don't ever remember seeing him then) and usually was on the lower end of house show cards before retiring.

Boxing Challenge: Plania upsets Greer!

The Top Rank series produced two good fights from their feature matches with a surprising upset in the main event and another surprise from the co-main with most believing that the wrong fighter had his hand raised.

In the main event from Las Vegas, Mike Plania knocked down Joshua Greer in the first and sixth rounds and dominated most of the bout on his way to an upset majority decision victory.
Greer entered the fight as the WBO's top-ranked contender at bantamweight and would have likely gotten a title shot against the winner of the unification match between Naoya Inoue and John Riel Casimero after their bout is concluded, but you could see that going out the window in round one when Plania connected with a left hook from the sky that dropped Greer to the floor.
Greer didn't seem seriously hurt, but the respect for Plania's pop was immediate and it changed Greer's appetite for engaging the more powerful puncher.
Plania would land the same screaming left hook near the end of the sixth round to score another knockdown and put the fight in the winning column, although Greer did attempt to outwork Plania in the fading rounds and won a few rounds before losing 97-91 on my card (7-3 and two knockdowns).
The scores for Plania were 97-91 and 96-92, which might have been a hair generous ( as mine might have been)  to Greer, but Dave Moretti, who usually is a solid judge, somehow came up with a 94-94 card.
In other words, in a fight that Plania dominated, it was only the two knockdowns that salvaged a draw on Moretti's scorecard.
A really bad scorecard there and the only mild mar on the upset win for Plania, who might be a coming standout in the division although I'm not sure that he will move from an unranked fighter to take Greer's place at number one in the WBO rankings.
Steve Kim stated that he hadn't seen a chopping left hook like Plania's before and upon thinking about that, I think he may be right.
Chopping punches for whatever reason have usually been right hands (like Tim Witherspoon used to throw) and thrown almost overhand.
Plania's hook has an unusual delivery, but it's not overhand and it's hard to describe in words, but Kim is correct- it's certainly unique.

In the co-main event, undefeated welterweight Giovani Santillan rallied in the late rounds to win a very unpopular majority decision over former WBC lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco in a matchup of two lefthanders.
DeMarco threw more and landed slightly more, but Santillan did some good work in the late rounds as he won the close decision (96-94 x 2 and 95-95), with my scoring agreeing with the 95-95 scorecard.
It seems that almost everyone thought DeMarco won clearly and it did seem that I gave the closer rounds to Santillan, so the fight might be worth a second watch to score again.
A rematch could be for the still-undefeated Santillan considering the controversial scoring.

Ramon Malpica and I each earned one point for the win by Santillan in the boxing challenge to move the totals to 51-44.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Boxing Challenge

ESPN and Top Rank are back with a three-card week for the boxing challenge with a world champion in a  non-title fight, two former world champions, and a mandatory challenger for a world title, all in action this week.

Tonight's main event will pit the WBO's number one contender at 118 pounds, Joshua Greer in a stay busy contest against Mike Plania of the Philippines.
Greer awaits the eventual winner of the scheduled three-title unification fight between Naoya Inoue (WBA and IBF) and John Riel Casimero (WBO) and will likely fight the winner in their next fight.
The Chicago native has won two close decisions in his last two fights, including a majority decision over Nikolay Potopov that I thought that he clearly lost to move him to the top of the WBO rankings.
Plania has fought just once against top competition in losing a decision to former WBA champion Juan Carlos Payano, so we'll see what he brings against Greer, but lasting the distance against Payano does indicate some durability.

The Tuesday co-main event will match a rising fighter in undefeated welterweight Giovani Santillan and a former world champion in former WBC lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco.
Santillan appears to be a well-rounded southpaw from Thompson Boxing that I've been impressed with in the times that I've seen him on Thompson's Facebook streamed contests and DeMarco will be his first step up in competition,
DeMarco is a bit past his prime from the days that saw him defeat the likes of Jorge Linares and John Molina at lightweight and has lost five of his last seven fights but lasted the distance in all of them against bigger and quality opponents such as Jessie Vargas, Rances Barthelemy, Omar Figueroa, the late Maxim Dadashev, and Jamal James.
There is no shame in losing to any of those names (Three former world champions and two top ten contenders) and DeMarco should be a strong measuring stick for Santillan in an interesting pairing.

Thursday from Las Vegas will pair former IBF junior lightweight and WBO lightweight champion Jose Pedraza against Mikkel LesPierre in a junior welterweight fight.
Pedraza lost a decision to Jose Zepeda in his last bout, but with Zepeda working his way into top contender status the loss is nothing to be ashamed of.
LesPierre is a slick southpaw that has lost only once in a title challenge to then WBO champion Maurice Hooker via a lopsided decision, but Pedraza hasn't always entered fights motivated and slick southpaws often pull upsets against ill-prepared fighters.

Saturday night, the stage moves to Mexico City as the hardest working man in boxing- WBO junior featherweight champion Emmanuel Navarrete returns to the ring against journeyman Uriel Lopez in a non-title event at featherweight.
Lopez is only 13-13-1 and is likely to be an opponent to get some work in for Navarrete, who will be fighting for the seventh time in the last eighteen months.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 50-43.

Bantamweights. 10 Rds
Joshua Greer vs  Mike Plania
Both: Greer Unanimous Decision

Welterweights. 10 Rds
Giovani Santillan vs Antonio DeMarco
Both: Santillan Unanimous Decision

Junior Welterweights. 10 Rds
Jose Pedraza vs Mikkel LesPierre
Both: Pedraza Unanimous Decision

Featherweights. 10 Rds
Emmanuel Navarrete vs Uriel Lopez
R.L: Navarrete KO 3
TRS: Navarrete KO 5

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Greg's Day

The Friends and Family series continues with what might be my favorite one yet.

Greg Church is my oldest friend and despite not getting to talk to him as much as I used to since Greg's not an internet regular as most of my friends, I knew that I wanted to at least ask him if he wanted to participate in the series.
I was glad to see him respond and I really enjoyed his questions as they made me really think hard about my answers.

You'll see why I chose the "Quantum Leap" picture as you read Greg's questions (And yes, Cherie-I made sure to pick one with Al in it!), and thanks again to all of you that were kind enough to take your time to participate in the series!

Here is what Greg asked for:
                                              You have been given access to a time machine and while you cannot change history, you have free reign to travel to the past for the following things.

1: Top Five sporting events- If part of a series, only one game can be chosen.
2: Top Five historical events.
3: Top Five choices of general time.

Then for the final choice- Five events that I could change history, but consider consequences.

This wasn't an easy group of choices and that, of course, is what makes it fun!
I'll do my best and this post was worked on over a few days as I wanted to give it my best shot.

Top Five Sporting Events in no particular order, but I'm going to add to this with one event from the sports I follow closely or did at one time with the caveat that I am attending these events.

1: Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier I- Boxing
2: 1960 World Series Game Seven Yankees at Pirates- Baseball
3: 2003 Fiesta Bowl- Ohio State-Miami- College Football
4: 1964 NFL Title- Browns vs Colts-NFL
5: 1983 NCAA Final N.C. State-Houston- College Basketball
6: 2016 NBA Finals Game Seven- Cavaliers-Warriors- NBA

Top Five Historical Events-No Particular Order
1: Yalta Conference- Meeting of FDR, Churchill, and Stalin.
2: Moon Landing 1969.
3: Sputnik 1957.
4; Truman defeats Dewey 1948
5: Beatles on Ed Sullivan 1964.
Bonus; I'd go back to my day of birth, just to wander around and see what the world was like on the day I was born..

Choices of general time.
I'm a 20th-century guy and I've never had nearly as much interest in history beyond that, so that will be pretty visible by my choices.
1: 1960s (So much stuff going on that I can't list them all).
2: 1970s ( A chance to be in the time of my childhood)
3: 1915-1921 (The World War I period and after in the age of the "Six Presidents" of 1920.)
4: 1950s (Pretty Good Baseball).
5: 1980s (Not an awful period to return to- if I didn't have to go to school!).

Five Events to change history-with hoped for consequences, I'm going to stick to American history for this one.
1: Gore defeats Bush in Florida in 2000 and wins the Presidency.
2: Stop the Robert Kennedy assassination in 1968.
3: See just what landed in Roswell New Mexico in 1947.
4: Fix the plane that caused the death of Nile Kinnick in 1943.
5: The cocaine to Len Bias' dorm room never arrives.

Reasons Why:
1: I'm a firm believer that this decision by the state of Florida (with their silly ballot that saw people with vision problems that intended to vote for Al Gore to instead vote for far-right candidate Pat Buchanan) and/or the Supreme Court ruling to stop a recount is still causing reverberations today.
Here's my theory: Gore defeats Bush and wins re-election in 2004 ( Very likely, Gore would have been a far better President than a candidate).
That leads us to 2008 and with a motivated GOP coming off four Presidential defeats in a row (that has happened only once in their party history), they run whomever they choose against someone that is unlikely to be Barack Obama and would likely be Joe Lieberman after serving as Gore's V.P.
No matter who wins the election of 2008, there isn't the animosity towards that person as the right-wing had for Barack Obama and the anger that allowed Donald Trump to be elected isn't large enough to even nominate him if he even tried in either the 2012 or 2016 elections.
All of this goes back to that election.

2: The easy choice is the JFK assassination, but since I didn't want to load up on assassinations for this, I decided to make this case.
Robert Kennedy still would have had to outmaneuver Hubert Humphrey for the 1968 Democratic nomination, but let's assume he does and at that time, it would have been tough to deny a Kennedy that wanted the nomination.
Kennedy likely defeats Richard Nixon, which takes Nixon out of national politics, and as a result, Watergate never happens with the beginning of the mistrust and dislike for Washington politicians that are still growing today.
Without Watergate, there is likely not a Jimmy Carter administration, and assuming Kennedy takes the nation out of Vietnam, the United States leaves the Vietnam War in 1969 rather than 1973.

3: I don't really have a firm opinion on just what crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, but imagine if it was advanced technology from an alien culture and what could have been learned.
And if it was really a weather balloon as the military announced, I'll have wasted a trip.

4:Nile Kinnick was the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner for Iowa and the more that I read and learn about him, the more that I think that the United States missed out on the type of the leader that comes along once in a generation and that he might have been a leader on the level of a potential President.
Kinnick crashed in an airplane training accident in 1943.

5: As a Maryland basketball fan, I've never seen a better Terrapin than Len Bias, and the loss of Bias affected basketball for years.
Len Bias as a Celtic (although I've never been a Celtics fan) would have prolonged the careers of both Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, who both broke down earlier than they may have with Bias, due to extra minutes and wear and tear, would have given Michael Jordan the Alpha Dog opponent that Jordan never had (Both were born in 1963) throughout his career, and the Bulls six titles would have been at least cut by two and maybe even more.

This post took me quite a while to finish, but it was a lot of fun and I tried to place a lot of thought into it.
I'm positive that there are items for these lists that I'll wince by not including simply because I forgot about them!

Thanks to my oldest friend for participating and to all of you that also took part.
Should things continue to drag in sports over the summer, I may be back for more ideas for the friends and family series.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Boxing Challenge:Magdaleno wobbles by Vicente

Jessie Magdaleno may have gotten the victory in Thursday's main event from Las Vegas on ESPN, but he surely did not dazzle anyone doing so and he certainly didn't show that he would be able to match well in an upcoming featherweight title shot.

But a victory is a victory and Magdaleno took that away from the evening as his opponent, Yenifel Vicente, was finally disqualified for repeated low blows in the tenth round with roughly ninety seconds remaining by referee Robert Byrd.
It's not like Byrd had a lot of choices after he took away three points from Vicente in the fourth round and yet another point in the tenth round before Byrd decided to give Vicente no more chances on this night in closing the card.
Magdaleno knocked Vicente down in rounds one and five with counter right hands to combine with the three points deducted to have a huge lead on the cards entering the final round, but judging strictly by the rounds, I had Magdaleno winning six of the nine rounds.
Magdaleno is the top contender in the WBC for their champion Gary Russell and is in position in the WBO ratings (4th) for either champion Shakur Stevenson or should Stevenson move to 130 pounds, Magdaleno could be in a spot for a chance at the vacant title.
From what I've seen, Magdaleno would be a sizable underdog against either champion as both just appear to be far too fast for him.

The co-feature was a terrific match as Adam Lopez nosed out Louis Coria via a majority decision.
No knockdowns, but plenty of action as Coria started fast and finished well, but Lopez took the middle rounds of the fight as he battled through both eyes with significant swelling.
Coria never stopped marching towards Lopez, but the slicker boxing skills won out slightly as I agreed with the two judges with Lopez a narrow 96-94 victor.
I certainly wouldn't mind seeing these two face each other in a rematch and I think Lopez against Jessie Magdaleno would be an interesting fight if Magdaleno would be interested.

Ramon Malpica and I each took two points in the boxing challenge, one for each winning fighter and moved the standings to a total of 50-43 in my favor.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Indians select Carson Tucker

The Cleveland Indians made a surprise selection with their first-round pick, but it was a pick that didn't disappoint me as the Wahoo's tabbed Arizona high school shortstop Carson Tucker at the twenty-third slot of Wednesday's draft.

The eighteen-year-old Tucker is the younger brother of Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker, who Pittsburgh selected in the first round of the 2014 draft and made his major league last season.
Cole Tucker ranks at the top of the nicest players to move through the minors, so it'll be easy to root for Carson, who has a similar projection as Cole as a glove-first shortstop.
Tucker is a right-handed hitting infielder that most think can stay at shortstop, but could also be able to handle a move to second base if need be.
Tucker doesn't appear to have plus power, but he does have the frame to give him a chance to develop it, even if the chance is an unlikely one.

Keith Law of The Athletic disliked the pick of Tucker, having him rated as a late-second to early third-round prospect and listing him with "zero plus tools and as an average defender at shortstop, if he stays there".
Others seem to like him better, but the consensus is that this was a mild overdraft, but considering his background and work ethic, Tucker's pick isn't being overwhelmingly panned.
Tucker moved up draft boards in the last year with a growth spurt that saw him gain several inches in height and resemble his brother physically.
Tucker does have a commitment to Texas that will have to be bought out for the Indians to sign him, but I haven't heard that Tucker is locked into the Longhorns firmly and shouldn't be a major obstacle in getting him signed and into a system that has other promising shortstops in top 100 prospect Tyler Freeman, Brayan Rocchio, and Yordis Valdes that are jockeying for position to be the replacement for Francisco Lindor when he leaves via free agency after the 2021 season or is traded before then.

The Indians also picked with the 36th pick with a competitive balance choice and took college pitcher Tanner Burns from Auburn.
Burns throws right-handed and finished with a 2-1 record for the Tigers with a 2.42 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 22.1 innings in the Covid-chopped season.
Burns whiffed 2010 batters in his two-plus years with Auburn and the Indians say he sits around 92-93 MPH and gets as high as 96 MPH when needed.
Burns did miss time in 2019 due to shoulder issues, but the Tribe thinks those problems were not only minor but in the past.
The stocky six-footer is projected to be a back of the rotation starter or possibly a late-inning reliever in the majors.

Giants draft Patrick Bailey

The San Francisco Giants had been connected to a catcher in the first round of Wednesday's major league baseball draft.
The Giants didn't disappoint those predictions by position, but it was a mild surprise with the catcher that the team selected in Patrick Bailey of North Carolina State.
Not that I'm disappointed in Bailey, who was rated as the top catcher in the class and most mock drafts had Bailey rated as a top ten player, but the Giants had been noted by many mock drafts as interested in California high school backstop Tyler Soderstrom, but in those mocks, Bailey was likely off the board by the Giants choice.

Bailey hit .296 with six homers and 20 RBI in the shortened college season in which Bailey played only seventeen games.
The 6'2 Bailey has been credited with being the best defensive catcher in college baseball with a plus arm (as shown in the video below) and his six homers in seventeen games show that he does have power, but .296 in college is respectable, but not extraordinary and there may be questions about hitting for average in the majors.

The question asked by many Giants followers about Bailey is why him when the Giants already have Joey Bart in the system with both selected out of ACC colleges (Bart from Georgia Tech) in two of three drafts?
Bart, however, will turn 24 in December to Bailey's 21 and from what I saw (and I didn't put nearly as much time into looking at the draft prospects this year) from and about Bailey, the Giants decided to take the best player on the board and not worry about position.

This is what successful teams do in the draft, especially in the MLB draft as developmental time can vary, but there is one concern- college catchers usually are moved quickly as their prime can be short and they are often close to the majors coming out of the college game, so Bart and Bailey could find themselves arriving within a year or two of each other with a team that still could have Buster Posey for a little while as Posey is signed through 2021 with a club option for 2022 at twenty-two million that I would think (as of this writing) that the Giants aren't likely to pick up.
I do wonder a little about that, but if Bart, who should get there first, is hitting well and establishing himself as a starter and Bailey is moving through the minors quickly as a top catching prospect, the Giants should be able to move Bailey as catching prospects that are close to the bigs are always in demand.

All and all, I'm rarely going to rap a team for taking the best available player and if this was a situation with two players at any other position than catcher, it would be scarcely mentioned.
It'll be interesting to see how the catching situation eventually plays out, but dealing from a position of strength is always preferable and part of building (and maintaining) a winning program.
The Giants hope to see that problem of too much talent arriving sooner than later.

I'm hoping to find time this morning to look at the Indians' pick with a very familiar name.
Should time be short and it may with some evening responsibilities, I'll write on it tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Boxing Challenge: Stevenson leads boxing renewal

Photo: Mikey Williams-Top Rank
Boxing's rebound from Covid-19 began as part of ESPN/Top Rank's two cards per week for the next five weeks promotion with one of the more talented boxers in the game as its headliner.

While the card lacked competitive matches, that was to be expected from the first card and the upcoming cards appear to be more competitive and evenly paired as the series moves along.

Give Top Rank and ESPN lots of credit for pulling this off with the safety requirements involved with keeping everything and everyone as safe as is possible and that also will improve as more and more cards are held.
The broadcast was a little slow, but that is going to be a way of life for a while.
Without standby swing bouts and the ring needing to be cleaned after every fight, time is going to need to be taken and there will be downtime involved.

In the only boxing challenge match, WBO featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson cruised past unheralded Felix Caraballo via sixth-round knockout, as Stevenson finished Caraballo with a strong left to the body.
Stevenson only allowed Caraballo to land eighteen punches before the end of the one-sided drubbing that saw Stevenson score an earlier knockdown from a punch to the body in the first round.
Stevenson is expected to try to work out an agreement for a unification bout with IBF champion Josh Warrington or could decide to move to junior lightweight (where this non-title bout occurred) for possible fights with WBC champion Miguel Berchelt or perhaps Oscar Valdez, should Valdez win his fight with Berchelt.

In the boxing challenge, I scored three points for the Stevenson win, earning an extra point for the round of the knockout with Ramon Malpica picking up one point for the win.
I extended my boxing challenge lead to 48-41.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Boxing Challenge- WE"RE BACK!

FINALLY- Some live sports to write about!!

Honestly, I've missed boxing the most during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Both the Cavaliers and Devils were lousy and once they started canceling games to ruin my trips for the season, baseball continued to really piss me off with their actions towards the minors and now Rob Manfred's shoving a very flawed concept down the throats of the fans- I found I was living OK without it.
But boxing isn't seasonal, for me, it's been a consistent part of my everyday life and I've found that I missed it more than the rest.

Anyway, Bob Arum and Top Rank are the first to return and the ESPN platform is hungry to show something live, so Top Rank is going to have an aggressive return with cards on Tuesday's and Thursday's for each of the next five weeks.
Each of the shows will be from Las Vegas, except for a June 27th Saturday card from Mexico City.
They won't be top fights, but you will see top fighters as they attempt to crack the lesions of inactivity and in the final week, Jamel Herring will be defending his WBO junior lightweight title.
Some of the fights wouldn't normally be of the caliber for the boxing challenge, but with the dearth of sports action, I'm going to include them to have things to write about.

We start with Tuesday's main event with WBO featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson in a non-title event at junior lightweight against Felix Carabello.
The former Olympic silver medalist looked tremendous in his last fight against bitter rival Joet Gonzalez to win the vacant title and it was Stevenson, who was the last fighter to be affected by Covid-19 as his first title defense against Miguel Marriaga in New York was literally hours away before the card was canceled.
Stevenson will be fighting for the huge exposure that is expected and he should look very good against Caraballo, who appears to be overmatched and hasn't fought against a world-class level opponent, let alone one with the ability of Stevenson.

Thursday's card will feature Jessie Magdaleno in a junior lightweight fight against Yenifel Vincente.
Magdaleno, who lost his WBO junior featherweight title in April 2018 to Issac Dogboe by eleventh round knockout, has looked better in his two comeback fights at featherweight in wins over Rico Ramos and Rafael Rivera.
Vincente is a tough veteran that is a cut below Magdaleno, but has never been stopped in his four defeats and should give Magdaleno some steady work.

The co-feature pits Adam Lopez facing Luis Coria in a featherweight battle.
Lopez was a last-minute replacement against undefeated and former WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez in November and gave the bigger Valdez all he wanted in dropping Valdez in the second round and leading on my card after six rounds before Valdez stopped Lopez in the seventh in what I thought was a premature ending much to the relief of Valdez and Top Rank, who had to be sweating a bit at the thought of their planned Valdez challenge of WBC junior lightweight champion Miguel Berchelt flying out the window.
Lopez drops back to featherweight for this one against Coria, who despite a 12-2 record, has faced two fighters with winning records and is 1-1 against them with the loss against a 10-9 fighter.
Still, Coria's November 2018 to the best fighter on his resume' 17-3 Thomas Valdez was a close split decision loss, so he may give Lopez a tussle.

We return to the boxing challenge from hiatus with a lead over Ramon Malpica 45-40.

Junior Lightweights. 10 Rds
Shakur Stevenson vs Felix Caraballo
R.L: Stevenson Unanimous Decision
TRS: Stevenson KO 6

Junior Lightweights. 10 Rds
Jessie Magdaleno vs Yenifel Vincente
Both: Magdaleno Unanimous Decision

Featherweights. 10 Rds
Adam Lopez vs Luis Coria
Both: Lopez Unanimous Decision

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Cleaning out the Inbox: Non-Sports Passings

The never-ending tributes series continues with a non-sports version as we say goodbye to more stars from the past.

Goodbye to Phyllis George at the age of 70.
The 1971 winner of the Miss America pageant, George was best remembered as the first female co-host of a network sports show in the NFL Today, was unique for her time as she managed to be loved by her audience despite two points that would have hindered most sportscasters.
By being the first female in the network field, George could have been less than accepted by the audience and the players that she wanted to interview, but instead, George was popular with both fans and players, despite not always having the level of knowledge that you would expect from someone in that position today.
George was also loved by fans even with her unabashed partisanship towards the Dallas Cowboys, as her appearances on the road in home cities of Cowboys rivals.
George would later host a few shows including a brief stint with the CBS Morning News and a show of the then-syndicated network PAX, and write several books.
George would also serve as Kentucky's first lady as the wife of John Y. Brown during his term.
Brown was at one time the owner of Kentucky Fried Chicken, the Boston Celtics, and before his marriage to George, the ABA Kentucky Colonels and made the decision to take buyout money from the NBA and keep the Colonels and Louisville out of the merger in 1976.
George is also the mother of CNN political reporter Pamela Brown.

Goodbye to Fred Willard at the age of 86.
Willard, who never had a starring vehicle of his own over six-plus decades of acting, might be the comedy version of Kevin Bacon if you desired to play that famous game.
I would wager in some way or another if you were on television or made comedy movies- you will be able to trace that person to Fred Willard somehow.
Cherie's Fred Willard role was in a recurring role of "Everyone Loves Raymond", but since I DESPISE that show and its star, I'll have to take her word for Willard's performance.
As for me, I loved Willard as "Jerry Hubbard" as the Ed McMahon to Martin Mull's Garth/Barth Gimble on "Fernwood/America 2-Night" and his various roles in the Christopher Guest mockumentaries, with my favorite "A Mighty Wind" as washed-up comedian/manager Mike LaFontaine.
Willard also made many guest appearances on the original David Letterman show on NBC and a personal favorite was his SCTV stop-by as SCTV station owner "Guy Caballero" played by Joe Flaherty is desperate for dollars to keep the failing station afloat, decides to pick a celebrity to forge a check from that "wouldn't miss it" and he chooses Fred Willard as the person to steal from.
I was surprised that Willard was 86 at his passing, I would have guessed him perhaps a decade younger than that age.

Goodbye to Ken Osmond at the age of 76.
Few people are lucky enough to make money for over sixty years from a profession and it's even fewer from making money from one position, Ken Osmond made money from his teenage years until his recent passing from one role- the insincere "Eddie Haskell", the best friend of "Wally Cleaver" on "Leave it to Beaver".
Osmond nailed the role of the snide and two-faced bully among his peers that was over the top in his faux flattery of adults and he did so to the point that "Eddie Haskell" became the name brand for that type of person.
"Eddie" became such a part of pop culture that people born multiple generations after "Leave it to Beaver" was off the air still knew what that reference meant.
Osmond had trouble finding acting after the end of "Leave it to Beaver" due to typecasting, but Osmond found a career in law enforcement as he worked as a Los Angeles police officer from 1970 to 1988 before filing for disability.
Osmond often appeared at nostalgia shows and comic cons, and revived "Eddie" in the "New Leave it to Beaver" in the eighties when the surviving cast returned for four seasons split between The Disney Channel and WTBS.
Osmond's real-life sons Eric and Christian played his sons on the show- "Freddie and Eddie Jr.", but Osmond remains famous in the wrestling world for one appearance.
On the first Clash of the Champions in March 1988, the new LITB was coming to WTBS, and Osmond was promoting the show and showed up in Greensboro, North Carolina to sit at ringside for the classic Ric Flair-Sting match that made Sting a star.
Osmond also slipped into character as "Eddie" for a memorable promo with Jim Cornette during the broadcast.

Goodbye to Kurt Thomas at the age of 64.
Thomas was a gold medal favorite in gymnastics for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow but did not compete due to the Jimmy Carter boycott.
However, what I know about gymnastics begins with Olga Korbut, moves to Nadia Comaneci and ends with my seventh-grade vault attempt that saw me launch off the "box" and never get off the pad as I slammed face-first as in a line drive into the waiting and stationary horse, so Kurt Thomas isn't here for his gymnastic talents.
Thomas is here for one reason-Gymkata.
This 1985 "action" film stars Thomas as "an American gymnastics champion that combines the skill of gymnastics with the kill of Karate in a deadly competition in a foreign country".
Uh, Yeah and it gets worse with the acting, the "action scenes", the script and other than being in focus (sometimes) as Bob Uecker mentioned in Major League II, I can't think of one thing nice to say about Gymkata other than this- It's unintentionally hilarious for all the reasons that it's an awful action film.
Gymkata is easily the worst film of its genre' and is a solid top ten worst film of all-time.
It's that bad and therefore that funny.
Kurt Thomas may not have won Olympic Gold, but in Gymkata, he left us the gift of unintentional comedy gold...