Monday, January 31, 2022

Cavaliers let off the gas, lose to Detroit.

   The Cleveland Cavaliers reversed their play against the Milwaukee Bucks in their last game as they scored the first fifteen points of the game against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

Then as the Bucks did in Cleveland, the bottom fell out for the Cavaliers as the Pistons outscored Cleveland by fourteen points in the fourth quarter to ease past the Cavaliers 115-105.

The loss stopped Cleveland's winning streak at three, dropped their record to 30-20 on the season, and was only the 12th win for the lowly Pistons.

Darius Garland led Cleveland with 24 points with Evan Mobley adding 18 in support.

Cleveland returns home tonight to face another lottery-bound team in the New Orleans Pelicans.


1)  J.B. Bickerstaff stated after the game that the Cavaliers "thought it was going to come easy" and after the first quarter, I think the coach nailed it head-on.

It did seem that the intensity was waning, especially on the defensive end of the court where the Cavaliers definitely seemed to be a step slow.

2) Detroit's starters couldn't have hit the ocean with a shot in the first quarter but their second unit was a key factor in not allowing the game to get too out of hand.

Frank Jackson scored fifteen of his nineteen points in that quarter to single-handedly keep the Pistons from falling behind by twenty or more.

3) The Cavaliers are the team that is supposed to be built on defense and the edge that comes with that but it was the Pistons that were the more physical and rougher team defending in this game.

You could almost say that the Pistons got away with too much grabbing and holding if the Cavaliers didn't often use the same tactics.

4) Cleveland held Cade Cunningham without a point in the first half but the top overall pick from Oklahoma State would finish with 19 points and a triple-double with ten assists and ten rebounds.

5) Dean Wade finished with 14 points and was four of five from beyond the three-point arc but Wade doesn't present the matchup problems that Lauri Markkanen can and defensively Wade is far from a force.  

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Boxing Challenge: Hamburglar Alert in Warren

 The boxing challenge starts in Warren, Ohio as what I thought was a bad decision didn't only decide a world championship it could have been a multi-million dollar bad call.

WBC cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu was very fortunate to escape mandatory challenger Thabiso Mchunu by a split decision to retain his championship.

Mchunu was the more active fighter and I thought he was the more aggressive one but Makabu retained his title with scores of 116-112 and 115-113 overruling a 115-113 call for the challenger.

The decision not only retained the title for Makabu, but it also kept alive the chances of a multi-million dollar paycheck against Canelo Alvarez as Alvarez attempts to add another belt to his trophy case.WBC cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu was very fortunate to escape mandatory challenger
Thabiso Mchunu by a split decision to retain his championship.

Mchunu was the more active fighter and I thought he was the more aggressive one but Makabu retained his title with scores of 116-112 and 115-113 overruling a 115-113 call for the challenger.

I scored the fight for the challenger 116-112.

The decision not only retained the title for Makabu, but it also kept alive the chances of a multi-million dollar paycheck against Canelo Alvarez as Alvarez attempts to add another belt to his trophy case.

The Don King promoted was even worse with another WBA minor title "defense" as Trevor Bryan won a split decision over Louisiana clubfighter Jonathan Guidry.

Bryan generally controlled the dull fight over the overmatched but gutsy Guidry and scored the only knockdown with seconds remaining with the bell ringing after a weary Guidry barely made it to his feet.

Bryan won on scores of 118-109 and 116-111 with the usually dependable Steve Weisfeld offering an inexplicable 115-112 for Guidry.

I saw it for Bryan at 118-109 but the win was far from impressive considering the competition and Bryan will have to be far better in his next fight against the WBA mandated Daniel DuBois.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Robson Conceicao rebounded from his close defeat to Oscar Valdez with an easy unanimous decision over Xavier Martinez in a WBC junior lightweight eliminator on ESPN.

Martinez stunned Conceicao at the end of the third round but that was the only round that he won on my card in a 99-91 defeat.

Conceicao likely will be in a position to either challenge the Oscar Valdez-Shakur Stevenson unification winner or fight for a vacant title should the winner decide to vacate their championships.

Last-minute replacement Giovanni Cabrera shocked heavy favorite Rene Tellez Giron by outboxing Giron over eight rounds in winning an upset unanimous decision.

Cabrera took the fight when Luis Melendez missed weight and hadn't fought since 2019 but his awkward style puzzled Giron from the start and his four-inch height advantage kept Giron from doing any work on the inside.

In the boxing challenge

Vince Samano 12 Pts (4)
Ramon Malpica 11 Pts (2)
TRS 10 Pts (4)

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Boxing Challenge

  The boxing weekend will feature two cards with four fights including one world title bout from a site that isn't accustomed to hosting championship events.

Warren Ohio is the place (I almost decided to attend this card but the cheapest seats at 100 dollars made me think twice as winter weather could cancel a trip on the day of travel) as the WBC cruiserweight title is on the line between champion Ilunga Makabu and mandatory challenger Thabiso Mchunu.

Now even though this is a world title fight, Makubu is from the Congo, Mchunu is a native of South Africa, and neither is known by many of even the hardest core fans, so it's not unreasonable to wonder why this fight is in Warren, Ohio.

Well, the answer is Don King, the one-time titan of promoters, who at ninety is more sideshow than promoter currently and Makabu is promoted by King so that's what you get.

The fight is of interest to even casual fans though as Canelo Alvarez has asked the WBC to fight the winner and with the huge paycheck that whichever of these two could receive for a fight against Alvarez on the line, so people that may not have heard of either boxer may be interested.

The two fought in 2015 in South Africa with Makubu scoring an eleventh-round knockout.

The other fight on the card pits minor champion Trevor Bryan in an "ahem" title defense against unknown Jonathan Guidry.

Bryan, who has fought once in the last three and a half years, will eventually stumble his way into a bigger fight by holding his "title" has two names on his record, knockouts over faded former cruiserweight contender and in his last fight, one year ago today, Bryan stopped washed-up former WBC heavyweight Bermane Stiverne in eleven entertaining but sloppy rounds.

Bryan has been forced to a certain degree to be inactive as the WBA consistently ordered a fight against Mahmoud Charr that never seemed to happen and once again, Charr fell out of this one against Bryan.

Enter late replacement, Louisiana's Jonathan Guidry, who has no relation to former Yankees pitcher Ron "Louisiana Lightning" Guidry, who has never fought past eight rounds and if you think Bryan's resume is underwhelming, you may want to look at Guidry's.

Just an affront to title fights everywhere...

On ESPN, two interesting fights at junior lightweight top at the card from Tulsa Oklahoma.
Robson Conceicao returns from his narrow points loss to WBC champion Oscar Valdez and faces undefeated Xavier Martinez in a WBC eliminator.

Conceicao lost by one point on my card to Valdez and the former Olympic gold medalist proved that he is a solid contender in defeat and is in line for a future title shot.

Martinez previously fought for Floyd Mayweather's Money Team but defected to Top Rank with Mayweather's blessing after two entertaining decision wins over former contenders Claudio Marrero and Juan Carlos Burgos.

Marrero dropped Martinez twice in the eighth round of their fight to cause concerns about the quality of the chin on Martinez.

I'm looking forward to this one and think it could be an exciting pairing.

The co-feature will pit Rene Tellez Giron against Giovanni Cabrera.

Giron was originally scheduled to face Luis Melendez but when Giron weighed in a shocking five pounds over the weight, Melendez was pulled from the bout (Kudos to Top Rank for paying Melendez his purse anyway) and replaced by the undefeated Cabrera.

Giron shocked the boxing world on a PBC card when he knocked out undefeated Olympian Karlos Balderas (Balderas is now with Top Rank)  and has notched two knockout wins since.

Cabrera has not fought since October 2019 and was scheduled originally in a four-rounder on the card.
Giron is a tough opponent to face off a layoff of that length.

Boxing Challenge

WBC Cruiserweight Title. 12 Rds
Ilunga Makabu vs Thabiso Mchunu.
R.L: Makabu KO 8
TRS; Makabu KO 6
V.S: Makabu KO 9

Heavyweights 12 Rds
Trevor Bryan vs Jonathan Guidry
R.L: Bryan KO 5
TRS: Bryan KO 3
V.S: Bryan KO 6

Junior Lightweights. 10 Rds
Robson Conceicao vs Xavier Martinez
R.L: Martinez Unanimous Decision
TRS: Conceicao Unanimous Decision
V.S:  Conceicao Unanimous Decision

Junior Lightweights. 8 Rds
Rene Tellez Giron vs Giovanni Cabrera
R.L: Tellez Unanimous Decision
TRS: Tellez KO 7
V.S: Tellez Unanimous Decision 


The PPM returns for the conference championships and who punches their ticket to the Super Bowl.

Last Week: 1-3 
Overall: 161-97

Chiefs over Bengals 34-29

Rams over 49ers 24-21


Friday, January 28, 2022

The Mayfield Conundrum

     The Cleveland Browns have many authors in the book that contains the 2021 season that brought such unexpected disappointment to followers of the team.

There are many to blame but one seems to bear the most blame and is the most polarizing to Browns' media, observers, and fans- Baker Mayfield.

Mayfield defenders blame his injuries for his poor play but overlook his lack of injuries for the rest of his bad play during his tenure and believe that Mayfield can be a franchise-level quarterback if he only gets healthy.

Mayfield deriders point to his one good season that you need to assemble from various parts of different seasons (Mostly some of his rookie season and the second half of 2020) and believe that the ceiling for Mayfield is what you saw in 2020.

Which is the truth?

I'd like to say somewhere in the middle but that would be giving Mayfield a large benefit of the doubt.

Look at Mayfield's one indisputable run of strong play, the 2020 season (mostly compiled in the second half of the season) and compare the numbers from 2020 to 2021 and the numbers don't show an appreciable difference other than the obvious elephant in the room- the difference in touchdowns (26 to 17) and interceptions (8 to 13), the numbers are in the same realm.

Granted, the touchdowns and interceptions are a large stat to eliminate from the conversation but let us do so for now.

Mayfield's yards (3563 to 3010), yards per game (222 to 217), completion percentage (62.8 to 60.5), yards per completion (11.7 to 11.9), and sacks allowed (26 to 43) all are in the same ballpark of production.

Keep in mind that Mayfield played sixteen games in 2020 compared to fourteen in 2021, so if you give Mayfield his YPG for two games in 2021 and add it to his numbers, you would have 3,427.

In other words, if you consider that the interception numbers rose because he didn't have the same amount of protection in 2021 as 2020, which I think had something to do with it yet is far from the only reason, Mayfield's numbers in his best season aren't appreciably better than last season.

Yes, Mayfield was playing with an injured shoulder, which I'm sure didn't help his season but looking at the numbers-the shoulder just wasn't as major of an issue as the "Baker Bros" would have you believe.

The numbers show in each season that Mayfield still doesn't get the ball downfield, still isn't as accurate as an average-armed passer needs to be (or as Mayfield was reputed to be when he entered the league from Oklahoma), and has become increasingly vulnerable to injury.

Let's think back to the tremendous Bills-Chiefs playoff game and imagine the crazy final few minutes with both Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes firing the ball downfield for big plays.

Now after you watch those throws with seasons on the line, close your eyes and think- Can you visualize Baker Mayfield making those throws?

Me neither.
Mayfield can't and he couldn't when he came into the league, it's just not his strength.
However, if you cannot be that type of quarterback and you struggle as a game manager, how on Earth can you think that you can win a Super Bowl with this player?

In a conference with quarterbacks named Mahomes, Allen, Herbert, Burrow, and Jackson, all more established, all with bigger arms (except maybe Jackson), and all but Herbert having done more than Mayfield?

Can you imagine any one of those teams trading their guy for Baker Mayfield?
I wouldn't trade Patrick Mahomes or Justin Herbert for Baker Mayfield and five first-rounders and their teams wouldn't either!

No matter how you look at it without bias, Baker Mayfield is an average quarterback in a conference loaded with excellent young quarterbacks with a decade or more still to play in their career and he simply isn't going to get the job done if the Browns have serious plans of winning a championship.

Now I've been asked this question- If you decide that you don't want Baker Mayfield next year, who do you bring in that is better?

That depends as we really don't know who is available and I'm not even sure that I am in the camp of no Mayfield for 2022 because there are worse options-but I do know where I stand for after 2022.

Baker Mayfield would have to post a season above and beyond what he has ever done and one that, in my opinion, is one above his capabilities. for me to even consider an extension to keep him in Cleveland after 2022.

However, in part two of the Mayfield Conundrum, I'll write about possible options if the Browns would be committed to making a change for next season and what I might do to push the envelope if it was needed to move on immediately... 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Cavaliers bomb Bucks 115-99

 Kevin Love scored 25 points off the bench and Cedi Osman popped in 23 from the second unit as the Cleveland Cavaliers overcame an awful start to overwhelm the defending world champion Milwaukee Bucks 115-99 at Rocket City Field House in Cleveland.

Cleveland trailed by as many as fifteen in the first quarter and was fortunate to trail by only nine at the end of the quarter.

Cleveland would outscore Milwaukee by seventeen in the second and ten in the third and cruised to the win whereafter.

Cleveland's win was their third in a row and eighth in their last nine games.

The Cavaliers are off until Sunday when they travel to Detroit to play the Pistons.


1) Cleveland allowed Milwaukee to connect on six three-pointers in the first quarter and only three others in the final three.

Milwaukee lives and dies with the three-pointer and their bombs rarely hit their target/

2) Cleveland's hit nineteen three's on the game and seven came in the third quarter as the Cavaliers swallowed up their first-period deficit and blew by them in the second quarter.

3) The NBA game has evolved a great deal with the three pointer playing such a larger role in today's game and this game shows how when a team drills nineteen three-pointers and it really isn't all that unusual.

4) Darius Garland left the game with back spasms but did return after missing a few minutes.

Those few minutes likely cost Garland another double-double after finishing with nineteen points and eight assists in twenty-six minutes.

5) Kevin Love had been a target for many (including myself) over the last two years for lack of effort, a massive contract ( which still doesn't get off the books until after 2022-23 ), and an attitude that threatened to infect a young team in the locker room.

This season has been entirely different in play and attitude for Love, who initially appeared to resist being used off the bench as an offensive force.

Instead, it might have saved his career.

6) Cedi Osman can be streaky and both good and bad can come from that.

Osman was six of fourteen from three-point range in the win finishing with twenty-three points.

Osman had combined for twelve points in his previous three games.

7) The win moved the Cavaliers to fourth in the Eastern Conference and their thirty wins pulled them even with the three teams ahead, although playing more games to reach the number than the other teams.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Things I think...

  A few opinions of mine from the sports world.

Sorry, call me a crusty old guy dedicated to "stats of the past" but I'm not in on Scott Rolen for the Hall of Fame.

I think Rolen was a very fine player and I wouldn't be furious over his selection but the baseball Hall voting seems to wobble from one extreme to the other with the younger more stat focused voter preferring players that suit their ideas of a great player and the various committees that prefer ignoring many qualities in favor of the buddy system such as the induction of Harold Baines.

I'd rate Rolen as a Hall of Very Good player but not quite at the level of what a Hall-level should be.

I wonder what the New Orleans Saints will do without Sean Payton but I don't think that things look good at all in the Crescent City.

New Orleans somehow wobbled to a 9-8 record in what was Payton's best coaching job but have been kicking salary cap problems down the road for years, have a major problem at quarterback, and have two impact players with large salaries and injury issues (Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas).

The Saints job might not be the most attractive job available and it might be the least.

I wonder boxing lightweight Ryan Garcia isn't rapidly becoming boxing's version of Shawn Michaels?

Talented, temperamental, and can thrill you in the ring before disappointing you with his behavior outside the ring.

I wonder if this past weekend's four playoff games might have been the best weekend in NFL history.

Four games all decided on the final play of the game.

My solution to the disappointment of teams not getting the ball in playoff overtime?

Toss the coin, play an extra period, and should the game be tied at the end of that period, the game then moves to sudden death.

This would be used in the playoffs only, although I would like to see the regular season's sudden death overtime period return to fifteen minutes rather than the current ten-minute version.

For all the hype about the three young quarterbacks in the AFC in this weekend's games (add Justin Herbert of the Chargers, and first-round losing QB's Mac Jones of the Patriots and Derek Carr of the Raiders) as the future of the conference. the Browns could have had some of them.

Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and Mac Jones were off the board in the 2020 and 21 drafts plus the Browns believed they had their foundational quarterback already, but Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Derek Carr all could have been Browns.

While I ranked Patrick Mahomes as my top QB in the 2017 draft, not even I at that time wouldn't have taken Mahomes over Miles Garrett, the Browns could have drafted Derek Carr three times and passed him over for Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel, and Joel Bitonio in 2014, and what seems to be the biggest mistake (since they drafted a quarterback over him), Baker Mayfield, over Josh Allen.

Meanwhile, as the Browns believe they have turned a corner as a franchise, there are several AFC teams that have their proven franchise QB and only one is over 30, the soon-to-be 31 Derek Carr.

Cleveland has Baker Mayfield.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Cleaning out the Inbox: Passings

     For now, this should be catching us up on recent passings, although sadly these things never stay caught up.

Goodbye to Al Unser Sr at the age of 82.

Unser, one of four drivers to win the Indianapolis 500, was part of the powerhouse Unser racing family that combined for nine wins at the Brickyard with brother Bobby winning three and his son Al Jr.winning two others.

Unser won three USAC national championships and was the only driver ever to have a brother and son win at Indianapolis and his final win in 1987 at the age of 47 is still a record for the oldest driver to ever win the 500.

Goodbye to Luisa Harris at the age of 66.

"The Queen of Basketball" is the subject of a soon-to-be-released documentary of a dominant player that was well before her time.

Harris's Delta State (Mississippi) teams won three consecutive national championships of the AIAW variety in 1975-77 since the NCAA didn't sanction women's sports at the time and Harris was the only African-American on a team that played in a coliseum named after an outspoken white nationalist.

Harris averaged 25.9 points and 14.5 rebounds a game for her career and would be named first-team All-American in her final three years at Delta State.

Harris would play for the United States in the first-ever Olympic basketball tournament for women and Harris would score the first basket ever in Olympic play on her way to winning a silver medal in the tournament and leading team USA in scoring and rebounding.

Harris was also the only woman to be officially drafted in the NBA draft when the New Orleans Jazz drafted her in the seventh round of the 1977 draft with Harris turning down the chance to go to training camp due to a pregnancy.

Goodbye to Jim Forbes at the age of 69.

Forbes never played in the NBA due to a knee injury, although the Chicago Bulls drafted him in the fourth round in the 1974 draft, but is remembered for his time on the 1972 Olympic basketball team, which lost the controversial final to the Soviet Union.

Forbes was one of the two players from the American team that fell down on the still-debated final play with the Soviet Union's Alexander Belov laying the ball in for a 51-50 USSR win.

Forbes would become a successful high school coach in the El Paso Texas area, winning over 600 games in a coaching career of over forty years.

Goodbye to Clark Gillies at the age of 67.

Gillies was the New York Islanders first-round pick (fourth overall) in the 1974 NHL Draft and was a standout left-winger on the top Islander line (with Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy) on all four of the Islander Stanley Cup dynasty from 1980-83.

Gillies scored over thirty goals six times and finished his career with 319 goals after two final seasons with the Buffalo Sabres from 1986-88.

Gillies was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Islanders retired his number nine in 1996.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Cavaliers lose Markkanen in OKC win

   The Cleveland Cavaliers were due for a sloppy game and they had one.

Fortunately, they were playing the Oklahoma City Thunder on their home court and were able to grind out a 94-87 win.

Darius Garland (23 pts 11 assists), Evan Mobley (15 pts 17 rebounds), and Jarrett Allen (14 pts 13 rebounds) all posted double-doubles for Cleveland.

Cleveland will host New York Monday night.


1) The big news was the loss of Lauri Markkanen to a badly sprained ankle that was absolutely sickening to watch on the replay.

No word on how long Markkanen will be lost but I would assume that it would be at least a week or two if it is a lesser sprain.

2) It's too bad as Markkanen was really starting to play well after scoring 28 pts in his last game, his return to Chicago against his former team, and had hit three of four three-pointers in thirteen minutes against the Thunder before the ankle injury.

3) Darius Garland, who I would think is almost a lock to be on the All-Star team considering the game is in Cleveland, struggled in the first half but roared to life in the second half as Garland scored nineteen of his twenty-three points and eleven of his assists.

4)  Evan Mobley's seventeen rebounds were a career-high and he reached one hundred assists for the season before the All-Star break.

5) The loss of Lauri Markkanen could be massive as it takes the Cavaliers out of their three big men starting lineup just as Markkanen's play had been on the upswing.

Can this surprising team take another injury blow after losing Collin Sexton, Ricky Rubio and still play at the level they have thus far? 

Boxing Challenge: Magsayo dethrones Russell!

  Boxing's longest-reigning champion is no more as Gary Russell lost his WBC featherweight title to mandatory challenger Mark Magsayo by majority decision in Atlantic City, New Jersey Saturday night on the Showtime-televised card.

While the decision was close but not really in dispute (Magsayo won 115-113 on two cards with the dissenting at 114-114, I agreed on my card with the majority of the judges), the controversial part is the injury to the right shoulder of Russell that forced Russell to be a one-handed fighter for much of the bout.

Russell claimed he entered the bout with the injury that he suffered two weeks ago in camp and insisted that he fight through the pain anyway, Magsayo stated that he landed a punch in the third round that caused the damage, and I thought Russell's injury came in the fourth round when he winced in pain following a punch.

While the timing of Russell's shoulder issue, the courage, and talent of Russell can't be as he essentially fought one-armed and battled his way to a fight that could have easily been scored for him.

Magsayp started fast in winning the first two rounds but Russell's shoulder began to be a factor just as he was turning the tide and Magsayo, on my card, won just enough over the remainder of the fight to win on my card

Magsayo didn't dominate the fight as one would have hoped against a one-armed fighter and that alone makes a rematch appealing to me.

The reign of Gary Russell was one that was a disappointment to most boxing fans and observers and the loss of his title had the same disappointing ending with a close loss and a less than satisfying ending.

The co-feature was the fight of the evening as junior welterweight Subriel Matias avenged his only loss when Petros Ananyan was unable to answer the bell at the beginning of round ten.

Matias was far ahead on my card after nine (89-81) dominating but entertaining rounds that saw Ananyan give his all and land some shots on Matias but the Puerto Rico native was a different fighter than in their first fight and pounded Ananyan with counter shots as Ananyan walked in.

Matias landed a strong left hook late in round nine that dropped Ananyan and only the bell ringing after he got off the mat. saved him as the fight may have been ended then and there if there had been more time remaining in the round with Ananyan looking badly dazed.

The doctor/corner did the right thing and ended the fight rather than send Ananyan out to take more punishment, which was definitely the right decision.

Matias appears to be in good shape with the IBF with a fight against Jeremiah Ponce, which would be a very interesting fight between two exciting bombers, that would either be a final eliminator or could be the vacant IBF title should Josh Taylor start shedding belts after his title defense against Jack Catterall next month to move to welterweight.

In the evening's first event, late replacement Sakaria Lukas was robbed of an upset win over Tug Nyambayar in a ten-round featherweight opener.

Lukas landed a left in the eighth round that knocked down Nyambayar but was not scored as a knockdown and cost Lukas a win in the fight that was scored a draw at 96-94 for each fighter and then a 95-95 even card.

Had the knockdown been scored properly, Lukas would have gotten the decision.

In the boxing challenge, here are the current standings with the points for this week in parentheses.

Ramon Malpica 9 pts (3)

Vince Samano 8 pts (2)

TRS 6 pts (1)

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Boxing Challenge

  The boxing weekend is all about Showtime from Atlantic City, New Jersey, and the return of WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell in his annual title defense that was extended to two years with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Russell, who won his championship almost seven years ago, has arguably been the boxer most damaged by the promotional divide in boxing as he has never received an opponent that would have been a fight that would have been center stage in boxing and his only elite opponent was his only loss, a loss to Vasyl Lomachenko for the then-vacant WBO featherweight title.

The thirty-three-year-old Russell claims that no opponents will face him, as many fighters state, but most of his top prospective opponents fight for other promoters making a Russell fight a difficult fight to make, although I believe Russell's claims that WBA champion Leo Santa Cruz has no interest in a Russell fight are true with both fighters fighting for PBC and Santa Cruz moving up and down in weight to do anything but fight Russell.

I've always been a Gary Russell fan and wished we would see more of him in the ring but sadly it's not out of the question that we may never see the best of Gary Russell as a boxer.

WBC mandatory contender Mark Magsayo earned his shot at Russell with a come from behind tenth round knockout of former WBC junior featherweight champion Julio Ceja in August.

However, it is the Ceja fight that concerns me with Magsayo, falling far behind on points against the only fighter of world-class note against a fighter that was best at 122 pounds, and causes me to wonder if Magsayo isn't a very talented fighter that may be rushed before he is quite ready against the best featherweight in the world (my opinion, not in the TRS ratings).

The co-feature is a rematch of a very good junior welterweight from February 2020 as Subriel Matias attempts to avenge a decision loss to Petros Ananyan.

Ananyan dropped Matias and won the decision that was a surprise to most as Matias was on his way up the 140-pound ratings.

Matias has looked impressive since with overpowering wins over Batyr Jukembayev and Malik Hawkins while Ananyan has fought only once.

The opener will place former Gary Russell victim Tug Nyambayar against late replacement Sakaria Lukas.

Lukas is subbing for Vic Pasillas and lost in his only fight of note, a defeat to Isaac Avelar, so even though this fight seems to be competitive in the record, it may not be so in the ring.

WBC Featherweight Title. 12 Rds 
Gary Russell vs Mark Magsayo
R.L: Russell KO 8
TRS: Russell Unanimous Decision
V.S: Magsayo Split Decision

Junior Welterweights 12 Rds
Subriel Matias vs Petros Ananyan
R.L. Matias KO 9
TRS & V.S: Matias Unanimous Decision

Featherweights. 10 Rds
Tug Nyambayar vs Sakaria Lukas
R.L and TRS: Nyambayar Unanimous Decision
V.S: Nyambayar KO 7

Friday, January 21, 2022


   Divisional Playoff weekend arrives for the PPM as the NFL trims the field from eight to four!

Last Week: 5-1

Overall: 160-94

Bills over Chiefs 34-31
Bengals over Titans 27-24

Packers over 49ers 31-21
Buccaneers over Rams 30-20

Cleaning out the Inbox-Passings

 We continue to work our way through the list of recent passings and we move to the non-sports world to continue to catch up for a while.

Goodbye to Ronnie Spector at the age of 78.

Spector came to prominence in 1963 as the lead singer of the Ronettes, who placed nine songs in the Billboard Top 100 and five in the top forty between 1963 and 1966.

The Ronettes (and Spector) are most often remembered for their hit "Be My Baby", which reached number two in 1963 and has been used in many films since its release.

Spector made a comeback in the 80s with a cameo singing her line from "Be my Baby" in Eddie Money's smash hit "Take Me Home Tonight", including one memorable night on Late Night with David Letterman where Spector clearly stole the show from Money.

Goodbye to Michael Nesmith at the age of 78.

Nesmith, one of the four Monkees of television and musical fame, was well-known for more than just his stint in the made-for-television band.

Nesmith was a multi-millionaire for a non-Monkee related reason (his mother invented liquid paper), won multiple millions from PBS over home video rights to some projects that included Ken Burns's "The Civil War". had a chance to run MTV which he turned down because he was running his own production company that started a music video show before MTV in "Pop Clips", won a Grammy award for video of the year, and was a successful songwriter before the Monkees as it was Nesmith that penned the Linda Ronstadt classic "Different Drum".

All of that AND The Monkees!

As a Monkees fan (Yet not fanatic), Nesmith and Micky Dolenz were my favorites watching as a preschooler (The Monkees TV series were in syndication by then), and I think that I liked his knit cap!

I found Nesmith so interesting that I am cutting some of this short to have material for a future Forgotten Superstars post.

Goodbye to Ron Franklin at the age of 79.

Franklin worked for ESPN from 1987 to 2011 as one of their top play-by-play voices for their college football and basketball games and was ESPN's announcer for their top game of the week on Saturday nights until being fired in 2011 for comments made off the air to Jeanine Edwards and a 2005 on air incident with comments to Holly Rowe.

Franklin never returned to sports television and while his comments in a work environment weren't going to be tolerated in this era but I did miss his solid and to the point work in the booth.

Goodbye to Peter Scolari at the age of 66

Scolari had a long resume on Broadway and in Hollywood but is most remembered for his role as yuppie lawyer Michael Harris on the 80s version of "Newhart" and for the two year run of "Bosom Buddies" with co-star Tom Hanks as two men living in an all-women complex forced to dress as women for the lower rent.

Scolari would work several times with Hanks in cameo roles, would win an Emmy for his guest spot on HBO's "Girls" in 2016, and would have a small recurring role in "Gotham" as well as taking over for Rick Moranis as the star in the "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" franchise.

Goodbye to Lisa Brown at the age of 67.

Brown, a longtime soap opera actress, was best known for her roles on "As the World Turns" and as "Nola Reardon" on the "Guiding Light".

Brown served as an acting coach in recent years both in soaps and out but I'll always remember her as "Nola" as my late Aunt Edna was a passionate viewer of Guiding Light and had the habit of calling the show by the name of the character that seemed to be the most important to her at the time.

Brown's run on the show from 1980-85 was at the same time as my middle school and high school years and Edna would more often than not refer to the show as "time for Nola" or I have get whatever done so that I can see "Nola".

Lots of good memories...

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Cavaliers nip Nets 114-107

 Darius Garland scored 22 points to pair with twelve assists to lead six Cavaliers in double figures as the Cavaliers dumped the visiting Brooklyn Nets 114-107 on MLK Monday.

Isaac Okoro scored fifteen points to lead the remaining Cavaliers, who travel to Chicago for a meeting tonight against the Bulls.

I started this and forgot about it, so I am finishing it late to order to add to the archives.


1) There was a certain feeling of the Cavaliers finally slamming a past door behind them as Darius Garland representing the future of the franchise facing Kyrie Irving, the man who more than anyone represents the duality of the franchise.

2) Irving finished with 27 points and nine assists and played well in a season (four games thus far) that he is only allowed to play in road games in certain cities due to his refusal to take the Covid-10 vaccine.

Irving will always be a polarizing figure to me as I appreciate the role he played in the only Cavaliers title and hitting the shot that nailed down game seven against Golden State.

3) However, I also blame Irving (yes, even more than LeBron James) for the rotten basketball that has been played since James left (Irving forced his trade before the final James season in Cleveland) and Irving started that ball rolling.

Irving forcing the Cavaliers to make a bad trade ( with Boston bringing Isaiah Thomas, Jade Crowder, and a New Jersey number one that was used to draft Collin Sexton), leaving the Cavaliers undermanned for the final battle with the Golden State Warriors, and hurt the Cavaliers case to keep James.

4) But it was the play of Garland, who each time that Brooklyn made a big move had an answer for the Nets.

Garland's play with controlled abandon (which I realize makes little sense)  saw him take almost every big shot down the stretch and outscored Irving eight to four in the final period.

5) I didn't see James Harden play in day-to-day action as much with his career taking place in the Western Conference until his trade to Brooklyn last season so some of his acting routine did take part off Flatbush but boy does the flopping routine get old.

Harden fell like he was hit by a rifle by Jarrett Allen on a three-point shot when replays showed that Allen never touched Harden, who was rewarded with three free throws.

6) Isaac Okoro returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench previously after his elbow injury kept him off the floor for a few weeks with the injury to Lamar Stevens.

Okoro took on Irving defensively in the fourth quarter and held him to two of seven shooting including a possession in the final two minutes where Okoro was so stuck to Irving that after several attempts to shake the second-year man, Irving was forced to dish the ball off.

Okoro was drafted as an athletic player that had the potential to be a shutdown defender and he is showing signs of maturing into a defender of that level.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Cavaliers rally past Thunder 107-102

  Darius Garland scored twenty-seven points and passed out a career-high eighteen assists as the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied from an eighteen-point third-quarter deficit to surprise the Oklahoma City Thunder 107-102 in Oklahoma City.

Garland's career evening lifted Cleveland back into the game in the third with fourteen of his twenty-seven points and eight of his eighteen assists in the third quarter alone.

Evan Mobley finished with twenty points on the evening with Jarrett Allen adding a lucky double of thirteen points and rebounds.

Cleveland's win was their fifth in six games on their Western Conference swing and improved to a 26-18 record on the season.

Cleveland returns home tomorrow for an MLK Day afternoon tilt against the Kevin Durantless Brooklyn Nets.


1) Watching this game made me think of the occasional evenings when a star player grabbed hold of a game and willed themselves to victory,

That's Darius Garland in Oklahoma City as Garland hit jumpers, drove to the hoop for scores with dishes off for easy dunks.

I'll be the first to admit that I wondered about Garland during his rookie season woes- I worry no more.

2) Evan Mobley was another player that stepped up his game in the final quarter and a half.

Mobley scored sixteen of his twenty points in the second half as the Cavaliers' top interior option.

3) Lauri Markkanen made a key shot in the Cleveland win over San Antonio and Markkanen made another in the win over Oklahoma City with a three-pointer with eleven seconds remaining to boost the Cleveland lead from one point to four points.

4) The Thunder made only four shots in the fourth quarter and scored only seventeen points as the Cavalier's commitment to an improved defensive game continues.

5)  Darius Garland became only the sixth player in Cavaliers history to score 25 points and 15 assists in a game.

The others?

LeBron James, Terrell Brandon, Andre Miller, John Johnson, and Bobby Washington.

Now the first three make a lot of sense and John Johnson was the Cavaliers' first-ever first-round pick in 1970, but Bobby Washington?

Even I had to look that name up, Washington played two games in the 1969-70 season with the ABA Kentucky Colonels and then the following two seasons in Cleveland with the Cavaliers (completing the TRS Double Play for 70s basketball) and in November 1971 against Portland, Washington accomplished the feat.

It would be his final season in basketball.

Boxing Challenge: Smith breaks down Geffrard

    Joe Smith methodically broke down late replacement Steve Geffrard and stopped Geffrard early in the ninth round to retain his WBO light heavyweight title in Verona, New York.

Geffrard did score on occasion early as Smith attacked in the first three rounds but he wasn't able to keep Smith from keeping Geffrard off the ropes, where Smith crunched Geffard to the body and pounded his arms as his answer to the high guard defense used by Geffrard.

Geffrard complained to his corner about an injury to his left arm in between the sixth and seventh round and it seemed that Geffrard had put his best into the fight and his gas tank was empty.

Smith hurt Geffard near the end of the eighth and charged out in the ninth to batter Geffarrd with a flurry of shots that were intended to land rather than land explosively and the tactic with Geffrard going to a knee in the corner with seemingly no intention of rising before trainer Kevin Cunningham signaled his approval for the fight to be stopped.

I had Smith winning every round, although Geffrard could have been given the third, so all things considered, it could have been a larger mismatch than it actually was.

Smith gets a win and some rust off his engine and hopefully, his next fight would be a unification match against WBC and IBF champion Artur Beterbiev.

However, different sources have other fighters in that slot against Smith as Eddie Hearn is trying to get the date for Daniel Jacobs and Frank Warren has stated that Anthony Yarde has been promised the next chance at Smith, so I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for Beterbiev to be next in line.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica, Vince Samano, and I all earned two points for the win.

I didn't receive a pick from C.J. Burney so no points there.

Boxing Challenge

Ramon Malpica and Vince Samano 6 pts

TRS 5 pts

C.J.Burney 4 pts


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Cavaliers slide by Spurs 114-109

 Darius Garland scored 32 points and Jarrett Allen added 17 points and 16 rebounds to lift the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 114-109 triumph over the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio.

Evan Mobley finished with fifteen points as the top scorer of the remainder of the lineup as Cleveland improved to 25-18 on the season.

The Cavaliers travel to Oklahoma City Saturday night to finish their road trip against the Thunder and will return home to host Brooklyn Monday afternoon for a Martin Luther King Day matinee'.


1) Darius Garland's 32 points were not the only superlative in this game for the Vanderbilt point guard.

Garland never left the floor in the fourth quarter and it was Garland knocking down four free throws to clinch the contest.

Garland has grown a lot in the season and a half since being graded as the league's lowest full-time player by something analytic ratings of players.

2) The Cavaliers' defense deserves some credit as well as they held the Spurs without a point in the fourth quarter from the 6:04 mark until a free throw from Lonnie Walker with 59 seconds remaining.

3) Underrated play of the night: Lauri Markkanen's drive from the lane for an authoritative slam to move the Cavaliers lead to three points with a little over two minutes to go.

The Spurs were in the middle of the noted above scoring drought but the Cavaliers were in one as well.

Markkanen's putting the ball on the floor for the resulting slam woke the Cavalier offense up as they began to move towards the basket, adding a Jarrett Allen dunk on the next possession and drawing a foul on a Darius Garland drive on the following possession.

4) Isaac Okoro returned to the lineup from an elbow sprain.

J.B. Bickerstaff didn't start Okoro, who scored six points in sixteen minutes of floor time.

5)  The game really shouldn't have been that close as the Cavaliers missed ten free throws on the night (they made fourteen), the Spurs aren't a very good team so the door was open to win a game on a night like this- that is unlikely to happen against good teams.

6) I watched the game on the Spurs feed, so I could listen to Bill Land call the game on their network.

Can it really be going on thirty years ago watching VHS tapes sent to me with the now-extinct Southwest Conference games with Land at the microphone?

7) The Spurs wore their alternate uniforms and their court and I'm not a fan as it's based on their 90s versions with lots of blues and bright colors of the era.

The Spurs uniforms are classic in their simplicity and the 90s versions added unneeded colors to the palette.  


  The PPM moves to the postseason after I for some reason forgot the PPM for the final week of the NFL regular season.

Last Week: 8-4 
Overall: 155-93

NFL Playoffs

Chiefs over Steelers 37-17
Bills over Patriots 24-20
Bengals over Raiders 31-28

Buccaneers over Eagles 32-14
Cowboys over 49ers 31-28
Rams over Cardinals 28-21 

Boxing Challenge

   The boxing challenge is sparse this weekend as January always starts slow in the boxing world following the holidays and with the latest Covid swarm hitting sports as hard as it hits the rest of the world, the slate has been even weaker than usual.

The only fight in the challenge comes from ESPN and Top Rank as Joe Smith defends his WBO light heavyweight championship for the first time against last-minute replacement Steve Geffrard in Verona, New York.

Smith won a debatable majority decision over Maxim Vlasov  ( I scored Vlasov a 115-113 winner) to win the vacant title last April and has had a few fights canceled for various reasons since.

Smith is best known for his power which has brutally stopped former WBO champion Elieder Alvarez, former title challenger Andrej Fonfara, and ended the career of all-time Bernard Hopkins but he was outboxed badly in his losses to WBA champion Dmitry Bivol in 2019 and to then-contender Sullivan Barrera in 2017 before his issues with the awkward Vlasov.

Smith's original opponent would have made a very interesting matchup in Great Britain's Callum Johnson, an aggressive hard-hitting bomber that floored WBC and IBF champion Artur Beterbiev in the second round in their 2018 battle before Beterbiev finished Johnson off in the fourth.

Instead, due to Covid, we get an extremely last-minute replacement in Steve Geffrard, who has won eighteen straight since losing his first two pro fights but other than an eight-round decision win over aging former fringe contender Denis Grachev, has defeated no one of note.

Geffrard is a complete unknown in what he brings to the table against Smith, who hits as hard as anyone light heavyweight other than Artur Beterbiev and a sturdy chin to boot, and based on the resume is overmatched.

Still, Geffrard has a good amateur background and as Smith showed in his past defeats, Smith can be outboxed.

The question is can Geffrard take that punch well and if so, does he has enough skills to outbox Smith?

I'd say no, but there just isn't enough data on Geffrard to really know. 

R.L: Smith KO 7  
TRS: Smith KO 3 
V.S: Smith KO 6

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Cavaliers club Jazz 111-91

   The Cleveland Cavaliers received double-digit points from all five starters with a surprising leader as Lamar Stevens scored a career-high 23 points as Cleveland defeated the depleted Utah Jazz 111-91 in Salt Lake City.

Lauri Markkanen finished with twenty points with Darius Garland picking up his first career triple-double ( 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 15 assists) to help Stevens in the Cavalier victory.

Cleveland will visit San Antonio Friday night before finishing their six-game road trip Saturday night in Oklahoma City.


1) Before the game, the Cavaliers announced that general manager Koby Altman's contract had been extended through 2027 and added the title of director of basketball operations to his business card.

Altman had his share of struggles in his first few seasons as general manager but has done a very good job over the last year in his reshaping of the Cavaliers roster.

Some of that was fortunate breaks such as Detroit and Houston taking Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green (especially Houston!) over Evan Mobley but part of being a quality personnel evaluator is being lucky enough to have players available in the draft that shouldn't be and then being smart enough to take them when they fall and his trades over the past year to land Jarrett Allen, Ricky Rubio and a sign and trade for Lauri Markkanen have been positives.

Maybe you could argue that half a season of strong play isn't enough to extend Altman right now but Altman only has one year remaining on his contract and the Cleveland thinking is likely to take speculation off the table for the next year and a half to give the franchise some stability.

2) Lamar Stevens's twenty-three points led the team and Stevens scored the first thirteen points for Cleveland in the second half.

Stevens is a player that I've liked since Cleveland signed him last season, he'll be a role player at best over his career but role players that do one or two things well have no problems finding employment and can have long careers.

3) Utah was at a major disadvantage in this game as the Jazz were missing all three of their centers (including Rudy Gobert) due to Covid-protocol and dressed only eleven players.

Utah used 6'5 Royce O'Neale at center in desperation, hoping that O'Neale's quickness would help at least somewhat against the taller Cavalier big men and O'Neale did finish with nine rebounds to lead the Jazz in that department.

Cleveland's clear game plan was to bang the ball to their big men to use their height advantage and it worked as their three frontcourt starters finished with 49 points and 23 rebounds.

4) Utah finished the game with only ten players after starter Joe Ingles drew a technical foul in the first quarter after an elbow to the head of Jarrett Allen and a second in the second quarter for a referee beef.

Ingles had missed four games in Covid protocol and lasted thirteen minutes in his return.

5) Darius Garland's triple-double was the first of his career and the first for a Cavalier since Kyrie Irving's three stat stuffer back in 2014.

6) The Cavaliers slammed this one in the win column early in the third quarter with a chunk of the thirteen-point streak of Lamar Stevens part of a 21-0 run to leave the Jazz in the dust with Cleveland leading by 25!

7) Rajan Rondo missed the game with a tight hamstring and Denzel Valentine, who was the player that Cleveland traded to acquire Rondo, made his debut with the Jazz.

Valentine would score five points in seventeen minutes of playing time.

8) As for Rondo, he was listed as questionable entering the game and some of this could be maintenance for Rondo, who has seen a significant increase in his minutes since arriving in Cleveland and the signing of Brandon Goodwin to a two-way contract can occasionally allow Rondo to rest up.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Cleaning out the Inbox:Passings

   I'm still working on finishing the inbox cleaning that has built up over the last month and this will be passings from the baseball world.

Editors note; The final two were noted after this post had started and why they are from the football world.

Goodbye to Bill Virdon at the age of 90.

The 1955 National League Rookie of the Year with the Cardinals, Virdon was traded to the Pirates the following season and would spend the following ten seasons with Pittsburgh before retiring after the 1965 season to go into managing.

Virdon managed four different teams (Pirates, Yankees, Astros, and Expos) in the 70s and 80s and twice managed teams to division titles (Pittsburgh 1972 and Houston 1980) that came down to the final inning of the NLCS before losing.

Virdon won the American League Manager of the Year award with the Yankees in 1974 and the National League version with Houston in 1980, where he still holds the Astros record for managerial wins.

Virdon finished his managing career with a winning percentage of .519.

Virdon never managed in the bigs after being fired by Montreal in 1984 but would spend most of the next two decades on various coaching staffs, mostly with Pittsburgh.

Goodbye to Doug Jones at the age of  64.

The well-traveled closer best known for his slow stuff and change-up, Jones made the All-Star team five times and finished his career with over 300 saves.

Jones was generally the closer for bad teams and could be acquired on the cheap by losing teams like the pre-John Hart Indians when he racked up 112 saves from 1988-90.

Goodbye to Jerry Remy at the age of 68.

A slap hitting second baseman for the Angels and Red Sox in the 70s and early 80s, Remy made one All-Star team in 1978 but was beloved by Red Sox fans as the color commentator for NESN on Boston's television games.

One of the better color commentators in the league, Remy worked for NESN from 1986 to last season when his lung cancer recurred.

Goodbye to Don Maynard at the age of 86.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver was the top target for the Joe Namath-led Jets of the 1960s and was the hero of the Jets AFL title victory over Oakland when Maynard finished with over 100 yards receiving and scored the final two touchdowns in the Jets 27-23 win.

Maynard would play in the Jets' historic Super Bowl III win over the Colts but was used as a decoy after suffering a hamstring pull in the win over Oakland.

Maynard was one of only twenty players to play in the AFL for the league's entire ten-year existence and one of only seven to spend all ten seasons with one team.

Maynard would finish his career with just under 12,000 yards receiving and would end his playing career in 1974 in the World Football League with the Houston Texans/Shreveport Steamer franchise that moved in the middle of the only completed season that the league would finish.

Goodbye to Don Sutherin at the age of 85.

Sutherin kicked the game-winning field in the 1958 Rose Bowl to give Ohio State a 10-7 win over Oregon and the 1957 national championship.

Sutherin played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1958 before moving to the NFL for 1959 and 60, where he spent time with the Giants and Steelers before a return to the CFL for good late in the 1960 season.

Sutherin would win four Grey Cups with Hamilton playing defensive back and kicker, and also played for Toronto and Ottawa before retiring after the 1970 season and was voted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1992.

Sutherin also would serve as head coach of the Tiger-Cats from 1994-97 during the time that I was receiving tapes from Canada for Tiger-Cat games, compiling a record of 20 and 34 in Hamilton.

Cavaliers hold off Kings 109-108

   The Cleveland Cavaliers survived a second-half run from the Sacramento Kings that the game come down to the final possession before Cleveland could insure a 109-108 win in Sacramento.

The Kings De'Aaron Fox had a chance to win the game for Sacramento in the waning seconds but his mid-range shot refused to fall to give Cleveland the win.

Kevin Love's 19 points led six Cavaliers with double-figure scoring with Jarrett Allen (18 pts and 17 rebounds) and Darius Garland (12 pts 11 assists) each posting double-doubles.

Cleveland improved to 23-19 on the season and won their second of three games on their six-game road trip before visiting Utah Wednesday evening.


1) Play of the game- Newcomer Rajan Rondo stopping De'Aaron Fox from driving to the basket, as Fox wanted to do, and forced Fox to fire a fallback jumper with Rondo contesting.

The odds of that short falling, under those circumstances, are long and Rondo's veteran smarts had to know that, so by making sure that he forced Fox to shoot rather than drive, decreased Fox's chances of making the winning shot.

2) The win gave Cleveland their 23rd win of the season, which means the Cavaliers have now won more games at the halfway point of the season than they did all of the 2020-21 season.

And yes, I am surprised.

3) I wrote last week that I thought the Cavaliers needed to at least win two of their six games on their road trip to consider a disastrous trip avoided.

Cleveland has done so with wins in Portland and Sacramento sandwiched around the expected loss to Golden State on Klay Thompson return night. so one more win (or even two) would be a very successful trip.

4) For a team that is known for playing a multiple big man lineup and uses 6'10 Kevin Love as well, the Cavaliers get beaten far too often on the offensive boards.

Sacramento only led Cleveland 15-14 in offensive rebounds but they did it with a front line of Marvin Bagley, Harrison Barnes, and Alex Len, and they aren't confused with the Dennis Rodman's of the world.

5) Cedi Osman came back to the lineup at the start of this road trip and against the Kings, Osman finished with fifteen points but his deep three-pointer to end the first quarter was a key part in Cleveland building their lead to thirteen at the half.

Osman has improved his game this season from a player that was thought likely to be elsewhere in the off-season to a key contributor off the bench.

6) I've been reading rumors of the Cavaliers using Ricky Rubio's large expiring contract as trade bait as the trade deadline nears.

Collin Sexton's name has been mentioned as well, but the number of open dollars that a team trading for Rubio would gain (just under eighteen million) in an expiring contract might land the Cavaliers a badly needed off guard or a wing that could play the two or the three.

Indiana's Caris LeVert has been a name mentioned with the Cavaliers as well as Orlando's Terrence Ross and Sacramento's Buddy Hield, who scored nineteen against Cleveland in this game. 

Monday, January 10, 2022

Browns beat Bengals 21-16

  D'Ernest Johnson rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown as the offensive star of a game that often lacked offense to lead the Cleveland Browns to a 21-16 win over the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals in Cleveland to wrap up a disappointing season.

Case Keenum threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns to go with one interception at quarterback with Jarvis Landry catching one of the two passing touchdowns and finishing with 76 to lead the receivers.

Cleveland finished 8-9 on the season and will select 13th in April's NFL Draft.

Brownie Bits

1) It's so Browns to win these meaningless end of the season games with nothing on the line but the Browns entered the day with the 13th pick in the first round and they leave it with the 13th pick, so they didn't lose draft position winning a game that is almost forgotten as soon as it concluded.

2) Case Keenum was solid in his spot start and although his interception in the end zone to Cincinnati's Mike Hilton was a bad pass, Keenum was good enough otherwise.

Keenum is considered borderline on returning next season and while he isn't a quarterback that can carry a team to the playoffs (especially in a cold-weather climate for a long run, the unanswered question for the Browns will be this- For a team that carried one of the highest-paid backup quarterbacks in the game for situations with an injured starter, why did the Browns refuse to use him rather than a clearly impaired Baker Mayfield?

3) Speaking of Mr.Mayfield, various NFL outlets were reporting that the Browns had made a decision to "make it work" next season and bring Mayfield back as the starter.

While these sources are wrong as often as they are correct, I do think that this is possible with Mayfield returning.

The cost (18 million) is reasonable for a starter and unless the Browns want to roll the dice for a star, the alternatives aren't any more thrilling than Mayfield.

While I would love to see someone other than Mr.Progressive as the starter next season, I'm not sure many upgrades are available and as of now, all things considered, I might take away all his, his wife's, and his delusional supporter's excuses away and stick a healthy Mayfield in the lineup to see what happens.

4) D'Ernest Johnson continued to show that he is at least a solid number two back with another big performance and create the Browns a dilemma at running back.

Johnson is a restricted free agent and the Browns could place a second-round tender on Johnson to deter someone from poaching him.

5) Kareem Hunt is still under contract for one more season for 6.2 million and while I love Hunt as a runner, I'm starting to wonder with Hunt's issues with staying healthy if the Browns might be better suited to keep Johnson and not Hunt if the team has to make a choice.

6) Jadeveon Clowney finished with two sacks to reach nine for the season and activated a $250,000 bonus clause with the final sack being reviewed to see if the play was a fumble or an incomplete pass.

The $250,000 review might have been the most compelling part of this entire game.

7) The win could possibly be the final game for Jarvis Landry as a Brown but if it is, Landry was the professional that he has been throughout his tenure.

Landry caught six of his eight targets and while Landry's 16.5 million paycheck for 2022 is bloated for a team that will need to add at least two receivers to the lineup for next season if the Browns can make it work, I would welcome him back.

8) Kevin Stefanski stated all season that the idea was to keep Nick Chubb fresh for the postseason and while that plan worked, the part of Chubb being ready for big games didn't work out that way.

Chubb carried nine times with one run of thirty-five yards but with Chubb signed for three more seasons, I liked the decision to not beat up the running back in a game that meant nothing.

That's smart long-term thinking.

9) The Browns got a big game from Jacob Phillips with eight solo tackles, a sack, and two passes defended.

Phillips was being counted on at linebacker before a training camp injury and Phillips with Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah should be major parts of the 2022 defense to build around.

10) Austin Hooper's 2022 salary is not guaranteed but the Browns would take a huge cap hit should they decide to go away.

I wonder about paying Hooper so much and getting average production in return when David Njoku will be a free agent with a decision looming for a player with loads of talent but so inconsistent.

I think the Browns keep Hooper but I'm interested in seeing the future of Njoku and if Harrison Bryant begins to eat into Hooper's snap count next season.

11) Where do I go at 13 in the first round?

As of now-Best receiver available.

I plan on a recap sometime soon and my planned article on Baker Mayfield is still in progress so I'm far finished with the Browns and a season that fell short in so many ways. 

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Cleaning out the Inbox- Football Passings

    Sadly we have had enough recent football passing to give the football world its own tribute post, so we honor these recent passings.

Goodbye to Dan Reeves at the age of 77.

Reeves played eight seasons with the Dallas Cowboys as a running back, winning a Super Bowl championship with Dallas in 1972 in their 24-3 win over the Dolphins but is better remembered for his coaching career with the Broncos, Giants, and Falcons.

Reeves took Denver to three Super Bowls and Atlanta to their first-ever Super Bowl but all four teams lost on the big stage and that might be what is keeping Reeves from the Hall of Fame, although Marv Levy and Bud Grant each lost four Super Bowls and are enshrined in Canton.

Reeves's Denver teams won 10 or more games seven times to go with the three AFC titles and Reeves is one of only nine coaches to win more than two hundred games in their career.

As a Denver fan during the Reeves years, I know personally how little offensive skill talent that Reeves and John Elway had to work with and honestly I don't see how if you have Marv Levy in the Hall that you don't vote in Dan Reeves.

Goodbye to Ralph Neely at the age of 78.

A teammate of Dan Reeves with the Dallas Cowboys, Neely was named All-Pro at offensive tackle. four times and was selected to the NFL's all-1960s team.

Neely won two Super Bowls with Dallas and many believe that Neely is just as deserving as his partner at tackle with the Cowboys, Rayfield Wright, as a Hall of Famer.

Neely was the only player that had a specific place in the 1966 AFL-NFL merger as Neely had signed contracts with both the Cowboys and Houston Oilers coming out of Oklahoma.

The case moved into litigation and one stipulation of the merger was for the Neely situation to be settled between the two Texas teams.

The agreement would see Dallas send a first, second, and two fifth-round draft choices as well as agreeing to an annual pre-season game between the teams for a "Governor's Cup".

Goodbye to Len Hauss at the age of 79.

Hauss started 192 consecutive games in a 14-year career that he spent all with Washington at center.

Hauss was the anchor of the successful teams of the offensive line for the standout George Allen teams of the 1970s, making five Pro Bowls between 1966 and 1972.

Hauss was the ninth-round pick in 1964 by Washington from Georgia as part of a draft that saw Washington draft Hall of Famers in the first two rounds in Charlie Taylor and Paul Krause.

Len Hauss was the first professional football player that I ever met and should I stumble upon the picture that he signed for me, I'm sure I'll write a post about that day!

Goodbye to Ross Browner at the age of 67.

Part of the Browner family that saw four brothers play in the NFL and two of their sons, including Browner's son, Max Starks, play in the league, Ross Browner was the first of the four to make an impact as Browner was the eighth overall pick by the Bengals in the 1978 draft after winning the Outland Trophy in 1976 and the Lombardi Trophy in 1977 at Notre Dame.

Browner would play nine years with the Bengals, finishing with eight or more sacks six times before jumping to the USFL's Houston Gamblers for the 1985 season.

Browner would play again for the Bengals in 1985 and 86 before finishing his career in 1987 with the Packers.

Goodbye to Dave Campbell at the age of  96.

Campbell's namesake magazine " Dave Campbell's Texas Football" is known as the bible of Texas high school and college football and has been in print since 1960.

Campbell was the long-time sports editor for the Waco Tribune-Herald and when he started Texas Football (and for several years) printed the magazine out of his home before it eventually outgrew the kitchen!

Campbell would sell the magazine in 1985 but his name would remain and he would be involved with the magazine until his passing.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Cavaliers nipped by Grizzlies 110-106

    The two surprising teams in the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference with each team with one of the best young guards in the game hooked up in Cleveland and the game came down to the final seconds before the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-106 in Cleveland.

Darius Garland led Cleveland in his return to the lineup with 27 points and ten assists with Jarrett Allen (22 and 12) and Kevin Love (18 and 10) each adding double-doubles to the stat sheet in defeat.

Cleveland drops to 21-17 and starts a six-game road trip Friday in Portland and against the Trail Blazers.


1) Both Darius Garland and Memphis guard Ja Morant played excellent basketball in their head-to-head battle but in the end, it was Morant and the Grizzlies that came up biggest at the end of the game.

Morant hit a bank shot with under a minute to give Memphis a two-point lead and seconds later after Cleveland tied the game on an Evan Mobley hook and after Memphis scored to take the lead, Morant made a steal off a pass intended to get the ball into Darius Garland's hands and broke into the open court for a layup.

Cleveland would cut the lead back to two before Morant iced the game with two free throws to put the game away,

2) However, those free throws should not have been attempted as when Memphis inbounded the ball to Ja Morant, Morant's sneaker clearly slips and should have been called for traveling.

However, with an official standing literally in front of Morant, watching the entire play there wasn't a call made and Cleveland was forced to foul Morant.


3) I'm a huge fan of Ja Morant and I was on record before the  2019 draft that I would have taken Morant if I was picking first and with the hype over Zion Williamson, there weren't many people that agreed with me.

New Orleans tabbed Williamson first overall with Memphis scooping Morant with the second pick.

Williamson has been an impact player when he plays but has struggled with injuries.

4) Darius Garland was a player that I wasn't thrilled with after his rookie season but improved with each game.

Garland stood toe to toe with Morant and gave as good as he got.

5) Garland's passing helped Jarrett Allen hit eleven of fourteen shots on the evening with several alley-oops or passes that led to slams.

6) The loss was Cleveland's fourth in five games and with a six-game road trip coming up, the Cavaliers are staring at what may be the pivotal stage of the season.

If the Cavaliers could get a split of the six games (Portland, Golden State, Sacramento, Utah, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City) the schedule begins to get easier for the final months of the season but should the Cavaliers struggle on the road (anything 2-4 or worse) the surprising season could be headed for choppy waters.