Thursday, March 31, 2022

DeShaun Watson: Why the Browns should have passed

 DeShaun Watson was introduced to the media on Friday and as one would expect it was an uncomfortable affair filled with cliches' from Andrew Berry, Kevin Stefanski, and the Haslems along with a surprisingly defiant DeShaun Watson.

The trade does have some concerns and problems to consider and in order to be fair, here are some reasons that the Browns should not have pulled the trigger on DeShaun Watson.

The white elephant in the room is the allegations against Watson by the now-known twenty-two women.

While various grand juries have ruled not enough evidence existed to take any of the cases to the next stage, the allegations alone have placed the Browns in a very difficult state in acquiring Watson.

Watson's issues have placed the Browns and Watson directly in the sights of every sexual assault victims group, women's group, and many women in general.

Each of these groups will have its share of pull in media coverage but the biggest potential problem goes beyond the public relations hit that the team is taking and will continue to take for the foreseeable future.

The public relations on this may be very awkward and many Browns fans are stating that they have left the team for good but time will tell if DeShaun Watson's ability to lift the Browns to previously unseen levels will bring those fans back or not.

Will the addition of DeShaun Watson hurt the Browns in attracting free agents to Cleveland?

One could say that having a star of his caliber would help but it's also possible that it could hurt their pitch to prospective Browns.

We all have mothers, sisters, and daughters and in some cases, it could be tough to sell an important female that is close to a player that the Cleveland Browns are the type of organization that cares about the rights, etc of women when they give someone a pass due to his skill level.

I wouldn't sell this short as a potential factor in the future for at least an occasional Cleveland target that might get away.

And surprisingly there is a factor or two on the field that can make you think about this trade as well.

DeShaun Watson is a native of Georgia, played his college football in South Carolina, and has played his professional career in Texas under a retractable dome.

Watson played in a division with teams in Florida, Tennessee, and Indiana with Indiana inside a dome.

This means that Watson has played in at least eleven games every season in warm weather or inside a dome and it's not unfair to wonder how he could be affected by the wind off Lake Erie and the other games in the AFC North.

That could turn out to be a non-factor for Watson as many great cold weather QB's played in the South or West before going cold, Brett Favre (Mississippi) Aaron Rodgers (California), Bart Starr (Alabama), and Fran Tarkenton (Georgia) to name only a few success stories, so it may turn out to be a non-issue for Watson playing in the frosty conditions but it certainly is fair to question his capability until he proves that he can adjust to the less-than-perfect weather in the late season and potentially playoffs.

Another factor could be that Watson hasn't played in a year due to sitting out last season and could miss even more when the expected suspension comes down from the NFL.

I would be surprised if Watson played at his normal level right away but that is a short-term concern more than a long-term one and I'd be more concerned if he was an older quarterback going through the layoff.

An older quarterback could benefit from one year away from taking the punishment that comes with the game but that might help for that season but you lose a season of an aging player's remaining years.

I would think the time away might make a small difference in 2022 but shouldn't be a factor after that.

All of these are excellent arguments for why the Browns should not have acquired DeShaun Watson and you can make a strong point that the Browns as an organization shouldn't be employing someone with the accusations against Watson.

However, just as in real business it's all about money and in this case-winning.

The Cleveland Browns would have never had another chance to add an elite-level quarterback at twenty-seven (he turns 27 in September) and they sure weren't going discover Baker Mayfield suddenly getting to that level.

Sure, I don't like the accusations against DeShaun Watson and admittedly I'm a little concerned about an eventual Browns title meaning a little less under these circumstances.

Jimmy and Dee Haslam don't share those concerns.

They are running a business and for almost all of the last ten years of their ownership tenure, they have been downright awful at it- this is their chance to get right what they put wrong.

For their sake, they better get it right this time because if it doesn't, the Browns and the Haslems just may be beyond redemption.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Browns sign Ethan Pocic

  The Cleveland Browns don't have a lot of money to spend currently or at least until they can find someone willing to take Baker Mayfield for eighteen and a half million dollars.

However, the Browns still have holes to fill and Cleveland signed center Ethan Pocic to a one-year contract for an undisclosed amount.

Pocic was Seattle's second-round draft selection from LSU in 2017 and started ten games for the Seahawks last season, playing in thirteen games.

Pocic started forty games in his Seattle tenure and is reported to be better as a run blocker than a pass protector,

At 6'6 320 pounds, it is easy to see what Pocic could add to the offensive line should he start but the Browns announcement seems to lean towards Pocic, who started at Seattle, as the backup to Nick Harris, who backed up J.C. Tretter before Tretter was released at the start of free agency.

I'm a little surprised that Pocic isn't at least being announced as dueling with Harris for the center position but Harris has been thought of highly by the team since they drafted him in the fifth round in 2020 from Washington.

Pocic at best would win the starting job and at worst would be a quality backup in the event of an injury to Nick Harris.

Happy 15th Anniversary

   15 years.

One more year and our little hole-in-the-wall blog would be of age to drive a car!

TRS has undergone many changes through the years from sports, teams, and stories that I write about and things do ebb and flow.

Of late, I've been doing more cleaning of the inboxes and features that take a little longer for me to write, and since I've been writing (and caring) so much less about baseball, it has been easier to do those types of features.

I've always written that except for my job and the somewhat infamous boxing notebooks that TRS has been the longest that I have stuck with something in my entire life.

I try to not write unless I either have something worth commenting about or something that strikes me that I want to write about like a feature that helps to keep things fun.

I will admit as I age and begin to run out of past memories that I want to write about that things have gotten a little harder over the last few years than when I started but I still have plenty of topics that I can write about.

It's hard to believe that I have done this for so long and thanks to all of you for reading.

Family, friends, and friends that became friends from discovering TRS- I thank all of you for the times that you have read TRS and hopefully I've made it semi-entertaining...

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Boxing Challenge: Warrington regains title

   The boxing weekend started in Leeds, England where Josh Warrington roared out of his corner from the opening ball and floored Kiko Martinez in the first round before battering the Spanish champion throughout before the fight was stopped in the seventh round.

The win gave Warrington the IBF featherweight championship back after he vacated in 2021 and placed Warrington back in the divisional spotlight.

Warrington cut Martinez over both eyes and on the bridge of the nose with an aggressive assault in the first two rounds before settling and boxing an increasingly desperate Martinez, who continued to try to find the miracle bomb that won him the title from Kid Galahad.

I had Warrington ahead 59-54 after six rounds and after the fight, it seemed that promoter Eddie Hearn was ready to pit Warrington against WBA minor titleist Leigh Wood, who attended the card, even though Wood is supposed to face WBA champion Leo Santa Cruz for the consolidated WBA championship.

However,Warrington's father (and trainer) indicated that Warrington would prefer to face Santa Cruz next so things were in flux until it was discovered that Warrington had broken his jaw during the fight.

That makes Santa Cruz-Wood more likely ( as now Warrington will need time to heal) as the WBA has mandated that fight next with no exceptions, although I'll believe Santa Cruz fights again at 126 pounds when someone is singing the national anthems before the fight.

In Minneapolis from Showtime/PBC, undefeated top junior middleweight contender Tim Tszyu survived a first round flash knockdown to win a closer than I scored unanimous decision over Terrell Gausha.

Tszyu wasn't in serious trouble following the knockdown and starting in the second round, Tszyu began exert his strength and held Gausha at bay against the ropes for most of the remainder of the fight.

Tszyu hurt Gausha in the fourth and fifth rounds and once in (I think) the fourth, Tsyzu's right hand sent Gausha sprawling into the ropes and the referee could have called a knockdown with the ropes holding Gausha up.

The scores were closer than my 117-110 card for Tszyu with a 116-111, 115-113 and a really bad 114-113 official scoring.

Gausha did land far more right hands than you would like to see Tszyu get hit with and Gausha showed lots of heart making it to the end of the fight, so the fight was fairly entertaining but Tszyu still has questions to answer whenever he receives his title shot against either Jermell Charlo or Brian Castano and Gausha appears to be settling in as a gatekeeper of the division.

In the co-feature lightweight Michel Rivera won a unanimous decision over Joseph Adorno in a fight that I have yet to watch.

On ESPN from Las Vegas, former WBC junior lightweight champion Miguel Berchelt might be finished as a top fighter after his lightweight debut saw Jeremiah Nakathila defeat Berchelt when the fight was stopped between the sixth and seventh rounds.

Berchelt fought very tentatively in an attempt to more of boxer than the slugger that defended his title six times before taking a pounding in his tenth round knockout loss to Oscar Valdez.

Nakathila dropped Berchelt with a jab in the third round and generally dominated the fight until the fifth when Berchelt stepped up the pace and landed some good right hands to win the only round he would win all evening.

Nakathila landed a booming right hand that sent Berchelt's gumsheild flying across the ring which saved Berchelt as the time that was taken to clean the mouthpiece allowed a shaken Berchelt some badly needed time and he barely survived the round but the fight was stopped before the start of the seventh in a very good move.

I had Nakathila ahead 59-54 at the time of the stoppage.

Nakathila will stay around in the future at lightweight and I wouldn't be surprised if he was selected to eventually be the comeback opponent for Vasyl Lomachenko when the Ukrainian star returns to the ring after the end of the Russian invasion of his country.

As for Berchelt, his legs are gone and he seems to be reluctant to use the aggressive style that gave him success because he is afraid to take the chance of getting cracked in return.

If Berchelt was my fighter, I'd suggest he consider hanging the gloves up because if he's not willing to engage and use his strengths, I see no chance of turning his career around.

Boxing challenge

TRS: 44 Pts  (5)

Vince Samano: 43 Pts (5)

Ramon Malpica: 38 Pts (3) 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Boxing Challenge

  The boxing weekend will showcase a world championship, the American debut of a potential young star, and the first fight of a former champion attempting to return to prominence.

The IBF featherweight title is the only title defended this weekend as former champion Josh Warrington attempts to regain the title that he vacated last year against champion Kiko Martinez in a rematch of 2017's Warrington decision victory.

Warrington vacated his IBF title rather than fight a rematch against Kid Galahad in their close but dull 2019 fight, Galahad won the vacant title, and what was thought to be a showcase fight, the thought to be past his prime Martinez knocked out Galahad in six rounds to win the title.

Warrington walked down and wore down Martinez in their first fight, the questions here are these- Can Martinez land a similar perfect bomb against Warrington as did against Galahad? And how well can Warrington take a punch anymore after spending several rounds taking crunching bomb after bomb from Mauricio Lara?

Warrington hasn't won a fight since October 2019 ( he was knocked out by Mauricio Lara and then a head clash forced a no contest in the rematch) and Martinez may have been very fortunate (lucky) to land a big shot, so one can only hope the winner takes on the very deserving Mauricio Lara.

Warrington-Martinez can be seen on DAZN from Leeds, England.

In the evening on Showtime from the newest PBC hub in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the main event will feature the American debut of Australian star and son of former junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu, junior middleweight Tim Tszyu.

The unbeaten Tsyzu faces former Olympian Terrell Gausha in a good test of Tsyzu, who is the WBO's number one contender and is in line to face the winner of the unification next month between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano.

Gausha has lost or drawn each time that he tried to improve his level of opponents (decision losses to Erislandy Lara and Erickson Lubin and a draw against a faded Austin Trout) but is a solid second level fighter and as a former Olympian has an excellent amateur resume'.

If Tszyu can dominate or even stop Gausha, it will stamp Tsyzu as a potential star entering into his first title challenge.

The Showtime co-feature pits lightweight Michel Rivera against Joseph Adorno in a ten-rounder.

Rivera won three exciting fights last year on Showtime against good competition and seems to be a cut above Adorno, who owns draws in his last two fights.

Adorno's draw against Jamaine Ortiz did see Adorno score two knockdowns of Ortiz, so he does have a puncher's chance but it does appear to be a pairing of two fighters of different levels and potential ceilings.

The main event from ESPN comes from Las Vegas as former WBC junior lightweight champion Miguel Berchelt fights for the first time since his devastating knockout loss to Oscar Valdez, which cost him his title and his status in the eyes of many (including mine) as the best 130 pounder in the world.

Berchelt moves up to lightweight in his return bout and faces another fighter moving up to the division in Jeremiah Nakathila, who was last seen losing every round to Shakur Stevenson in one of the dullest fights seen in years.

The big punching Berchelt defended his title six times before losing to Valdez and blamed some of his defeat on problems making weight at junior lightweight, which could be true as Berchelt is a big fighter for the division.

Top Rank is known for their astute matchmaking and while this may not be a compelling fight, it's a perfect fight to begin rebuilding Berchelt against a fighter that also is coming up in weight and shouldn't be likely to hurt Berchelt.

IBF Featherweight Title. 12 Rds
Kiko Martinez vs Josh Warrington
R.L: Martinez Unanimous Decision
TRS and V.S: Warrington Unanimous Decision

Junior Middleweights. 12 Rds
Tim Tszyu vs Terrell Gausha
R.L: Tszyu KO 9
TRS: Tszyu Unanimous Decision
V.S: Tszyu KO 8

Lightweights. 10 Rds
Michel Rivera vs Joseph Adorno
All: Rivera Unanimous Decision

Lightweights.10 Rds
Miguel Berchelt vs Jeremiah Nakathila
R.L: Berchelt KO 7
TRS: Berchelt KO 6
V.S: Nakathila Unanimous Decision 

Friday, March 25, 2022

DeShaun Watson- Why the Browns should have made the trade.

   The Cleveland Browns trade that acquired star quarterback DeShaun Watson from the Houston Texans will be one that will be debated for years by football fans, media, and even people in football and by more than the on-field considerations.

If the considerations were only those of Watson's ability, then no one would even consider objecting to trade, at least those in Cleveland anyway.

But of course, there are outside considerations and I'll write about them in the next post for why the Browns shouldn't have traded for DeShaun Watson.

This post will discuss why the Browns were right to make the trade even with the risks and the costs.

The biggest reason is to upgrade at quarterback whereas Baker Mayfield gave the Browns an average quarterback at best.

Watson immediately gives Cleveland a quarterback that can rank with any of the elite quarterbacks in the game and although it may be 2023 until Browns fans can see Watson at his best considering his inactivity in 2021 and the likely time that he misses in 2022 due to a looming suspension, the Browns are competitive at the most important position against the best the league has to offer for the first time since prime Bernie Kosar in the late 1980s.

I wrote after the trade that Mayfield gave the Browns either the tenth, eleventh or twelfth best quarterback in the AFC, a conference that continues to get better seemingly every day, and that's not going to cut it if you are serious about being a contender.

DeShaun Watson simply is better than Baker Mayfield in any category that you can name, arm strength, accuracy, mobility, and the ability to pass in the pocket.

Look at the numbers-DeShaun Watson's worst season is better than Baker Mayfield's best- Can the Browns afford not to take the chance on Watson?

Not acquiring Watson and starting Mayfield sets the Browns program back years unless Mayfield would have made a quantum leap in his play and that means better than his career season in 2020.

If Mayfield is even above average, the Browns have wasted a season, would have likely been drafting a quarterback in 2023, and dealt with the growing pains of a young quarterback- all as their core players waste prime seasons.

And even then, who is to say the Browns get it right?

With this list of first-round quarterbacks drafted by the Browns- Tim Couch (who I excuse for being battered behind an awful offensive line), Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden, Johnny Manziel, and Mayfield,  even considering the faith that I have in Andrew Berry, I would still have concerns about the Browns ability to get the right quarterback.

Another point to consider is how rarely proven quarterbacks that may be only beginning to enter their prime are traded.

I did some research on this and one can go all the way back to 1967 for a similar situation when the Minnesota Vikings traded 27-year-old Fran Tarkenton to the New York Giants.

That's once in fifty-five years!
It's clear to see that without the off-the-field issues, the Texans would have never traded DeShaun Watson and likely wouldn't have even considered trading him for the Browns' offer.

The Browns' offer consists of three first-rounders (2022, 23, and 24), a third rounder in 2023, and two fourth-rounders in 2022 and 2024. which sounds like a lot and it is- BUT-

The only huge loss is this year's first-rounder as at 13, the Browns might have been able to add either a young receiver or pass rusher, both of which are needed.

Both of the first-rounders in 2023 and 2024 are picks that you hope would be near the back half of the round, and the Browns still have a pick in the fourth round this year and the third round next year, so Cleveland isn't hit nearly as badly with the other picks as one would think.

If DeShaun Watson plays up to his previous standards, the package that is being sent to Houston is quite light for a quarterback that you expect to be elite for the next decade.

Compare the Browns payoff compared to Denver's for Russell Wilson and one could argue that they sent less for a higher-rated passer (although Wilson has won a Super Bowl) that is six years younger!

Cleveland traded three firsts to Denver's two firsts but didn't include a second-rounder (Denver traded their next two second-rounders) and while Cleveland traded two fourth-rounders and a third-rounder, Denver traded a fifth and three players.

Drew Lock was a 2019 second rounder quarterback and while he hasn't overwhelmed anyone with his play, Lock isn't a bad player to play for a year for rebuilding teams, Tight end Noah Fant was a first-round selection in 2019 and in three seasons has caught 170 passes, and veteran defensive end Shelby Harris had six sacks last season and is a solid if unspectacular starter.

A rough equivalent would be Cleveland keeping a few of those later picks but adding Case Keenum (if he was younger), David Njoku, and a defensive lineman similar to former Brown Larry Ogunjobi to the trade instead.

I think I would say Denver paid more for Wilson than Cleveland did for Watson.

When you wrap it all up, there are next to no football reasons to not acquire DeShaun Watson.

The problem is what made him available is what makes adding him questionable to some, so in our next Watson-related post, we will look at reasons why the Browns should not have made the trade and see how the two opinions stack up against the other.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

TRS Boxing Ratings: Part Two

   Part two of the TRS boxing ratings.

This version will cover the divisions between light flyweight and lightweight as well as the top ten pound for pound.

Thanks to Ramon Malpica, Vince Samano, John Herndon, and C.J. Burney for their time and participation.

1: George Kambosos WBA/IBF/WBO Champion 21 Pts (Unranked)
2: Vasyl Lomachenko 20 Pts
3: Gervonta Davis 17 Pts
4: Devin Haney WBC Champion 10 Pts 
5: Teofimo Lopez 6 Pts (Down Four)
Also Received Votes; Ryan Garcia 

Junior Lightweights
1: Shakur Stevenson WBO Champion 25 Pts
2: Oscar Valdez WBC Champion 16 Pts
3: Miguel Berchelt 14 Pts (Down One)
4: Shavrat Rakhimov 10 Pts (Unranked)
5: Roger Gutierrez WBA Champion 5 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Jamel Herring, Hector Luis Garcia,

1: Emanuel Navarette WBO Champion 25 Pts
2: Mark Magsayo WBC Champion 18 Pts (Unranked)
3: Mauricio Lara 15 Pts (Down One)
4: Josh Warrington 8 Pts (Down One)
5: Gary Russell 6 Pts
Also Received Votes: Leigh Wood

Junior Featherweights
1: Stephen Fulton WBC/WBO Champion 25 Pts (Up One)
2: Murofjon Akhmadaliev WBA/IBF Champion 18 Pts (Down One)
3: Brandon Figueroa 15 Pts (Down One)
4: Daniel Roman 8 Pts
5: Emmanuel Aleem 5 Pts
Also Received Votes: Angelo Leo, Luis Nery

1: Naoya Inoye WBA/IBF Champion 25 Pts
2: Nonito Donaire WBC Champion 20 Pts
3: John Riel Casimero WBO Champion 15 Pts
4: Nordine Oubaali 8 Pts (Unranked)
5: Zolani Tete 4 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Lee McGregor, Jason Maloney

Junior Bantamweights
1: Juan Francisco Estrada WBA Champion 23 Pts
2: Roman Gonzalez 19 Pts
3: Srisket Sor Rungvisai 15 Pts
4: Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez WBC Champion 11 Pts (Unranked)
5: Kazuto Ioka WBO Champion 4 Pts (Down One)
Also Received Votes: Fernando Martinez IBF Champion, Joshua Franco 

1: Junto Nakatani WBO Champion 23 Pts (Up Two)
2: Artem Dalakian WBA Champion 18 Pts (Down One)
3: Julio Cesar Martinez WBC Champion 17 Pts (Down One)
4: Sunny Edwards IBF Champion 11 Pts
5: Cristofer Rosales 5 Pts
Also Received Votes: Ricardo Sandoval

Junior Flyweight/Under
1: Hiroto Kyoguchi 21 Pts
2: Kenshiro Teraji 16 Pts  (Unranked)
3: Felix Alvarado 14 Pts (Down One)
4: Jonathan Gonzalez 8 Pts
5: C.P. Freshmart 5 Pts (Down Two)
Also Received Votes: Panya Pradabsri, Masamichi Yabuki, Wanheng Menayothin

Pound for Pound
1: Canelo Alvarez 46 Pts
2: Naoya Inoue 43 Pts
3: Terence Crawford 40 Pts (Down One)
4: Tyson Fury 35 Pts
5: Errol Spence 30 Pts
6: Oleksandr Usyk 23 Pts (Up One)
7: Vasyl Lomachenko 16 Pts (Up Three)
8: Gervonta Davis 12 Pts (Up One)
9: Artur Beterbiev 10 Pts (Unranked)
10: Roman Gonzalez 5 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes; Juan Francisco Estrada, Shakur Stevenson, George Kambosos, Josh Taylor, Devin Haney,

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

TRS Boxing Ratings: Part One

 The first TRS Boxing Ratings of 2022 are here.

Thanks to Ramon Malpica, Vince Samano, John Herndon, and C.J. Burney for their time and participation.

A few notes.

Since Canelo Alvarez (Super Middleweights) and Josh Taylor (Junior Welterweights) are undisputed world champions, they are recognized as such and there are five challengers to their crown which creates a "Top Six" in those divisions.

Also, Erislandy Lara is still rated at junior middleweight although he holds a paper title at middleweight.

WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade is rated at middleweight and super middleweight as Andrade has not vacated his title at 160 pounds but is fighting at 168 for an "interim" title in his next fight vs Zach Parker.

The WBO has told Andrade that should he win against Parker, he will have ten days to decide which division title he will retain.

1: Tyson Fury WBC Champion 25 Pts
2: Oleksandr Usyk WBA/IBF/WBO Champion 20 Pts
3: Anthony Joshua 12 Pts (Up One)
4: Deontay Wilder 10 Pts (Down One)
5: Joe Joyce 3 Pts (Unranked)
    Dillian Whyte
Also Received Votes: Andy Ruiz, Frank Sanchez 

1: Marius Briedis IBF Champion  25 Pts
2: Yuniel Doritos 17 Pts 
3: Lawrence Okolie WBO Champion 16 Pts (Down One)
4: Kevin Lerena 6 Pts (Up One)
5: Ilunga Makabu WBC Champion 5 Pts (Down One)
    Thabiso Mchunu (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Andrew Tabiti

Light Heavyweights
1: Artur Beterbiev WBC/IBF Champion 25 Pts
2: Dmitry Bivol WBA Champion 19 Pts
3: Joe Smith WBO Champion 13 Pts
4: Gilberto Ramirez 12 Pts
5: Joshua Buatasi  3 Pts (Unranked)
    Callum Smith  (Unranked)

Super Middleweights
World Champion: Canelo Alvarez
1: David Benavidez 25 Pts
2: Caleb Plant 16 Pts
3: John Ryder 13 Pts (Unranked)
4: Billy Joe Saunders 9 Pts (Down One0
5: Demetrius Andrade 5 Pts (Unranked)
Also Receiving Votes: Andre Dirrell, Daniel Jacobs, David Lemieux

1: Gennady Golovkin IBF Champion 23 Pts
2: Jermall Charlo WBC Champion 22 Pts
3: Demetrius Andrade WBO Champion 16 Pts
4: Jaime Mungia 8 Pts
5: Ryota Murata WBA Champion 5 Pts
Also Receiving Votes: Chris Eubank

Junior Middleweights
1: Jermell Charlo WBA/WBC/IBF Champion 23 Pts
2: Brian Castano WBO Champion 22 Pts
3: Erickson Lubin 11 Pts
4: Tim Tszyu 10 Pts
5: Sebastian Fundora 5 Pts
Also Received Votes: Erislandy Lara

1: Terence Crawford WBO Champion 23 Pts
2: Errol Spence WBC/IBF Champion 22 Pts
3: Jaron Ennis 12 Pts (Up One)
4: Yordenis Ugas WBA Champion 11 Pts (Down One)
5: Vergil Ortiz 6 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Keith Thurman

Junior Welterweights
World Champion: Josh Taylor
1: Jack Catterall 25 Pts (Unranked)
2: Jose Ramirez 17 Pts (Down One)
3: Regis Prograis 16 Pts (Down One)
4: Jose Zepeda 9 Pts (Down One) 
5: Arnold Barboza 4 Pts
Also Received Votes: Gary Antuanne Russell, Subriel Matias

Cleaning Out the Inbox: Passings

    The passings never stop but they do ebb and flow sometimes, so here is our latest set of tributes and goodbyes.

Goodbye to Scott Hall at the age of 63.

Hall, a journeyman wrestler, turned what could have been just another gimmick in the WWF into "Razor Ramon" a character based on the one that Al Pacino portrayed in the film "Scarface' and the making of a star was born.

Hall would have great matches with many as "Razor Ramon" most prominently his ladder match at Wrestlemania X with Shawn Michaels that made the ladder match a regular staple in the pro wrestling business but his star rose to another level when Hall signed with rival WCW (using his real name) and ran out of the crowd as the first step in establishing the NWO as the heel organization bent on taking WCW out of business with the inference that Hall (and shortly thereafter Kevin "Diesel" Nash)  had been sent by Vince McMahon and the WWF to put WCW out of business.

WCW would go on a run for over a year that would see them surpass the WWF as the top wrestling organization in the world before the WWF would return to the top and buy WCW a few years later.

Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash deserve their share of credit for making the NWO a national craze where everywhere you looked one couldn't miss the black t-shirts with the basic white NWO logo but to wrestling fans, it was Scott Hall that was the most entertaining member of the core group.

From his catchphrases to his exaggerated bumps and for the quality of his matches, it was Scott Hall that was the name that many thought of first when you thought of the NWO.

Scott Hall may have had his demons outside the ring but inside it, Scott Hall was certainly one of the faces that come to mind when you think of what may have been the final huge mainstream run for professional wrestling and one of the most entertaining characters in the history of the business

Goodbye to Go For Gin at the age of 31.

Go For Gin was the eldest living Kentucky Derby winner as the champion of the 1994 edition of the Churchill Downs Classic.

Trained by Nick Zito, Go For Gin moved straight to the front on a sloppy racetrack under Chris McCarron, took the lead after a half-mile, and never looked back in defeating a field that included future Hall of Famer Holy Bull.

The Derby was the final race that Go For Gin would win as he would never win in his final nine races, although he would finish second in both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes to the winner of both races Tabasco Cat.

Goodbye to Ron Stander at the age of 77.

Stander was a one-time fringe heavyweight contender that owned wins over former title challengers Earnie Shavers and Thad Spencer before challenging heavyweight champion Joe Frazier in Omaha, Nebraska in May 1972.

Frazier would pound the "Bluffs Butcher" into a bloody mess before the fight was stopped after the fourth round in Stander's only challenge for the championship.

Stander would never contend again or defeat a contender although he would lose to future heavyweight champions Ken Norton and Gerrie Coetzee before retiring in 1982 after posting a record of 1-9-1 in his final eleven bouts of his career.

Goodbye to Roy Winston at the age of 81.

Winston spent his entire fifteen-season career with the Minnesota Vikings and would play for all four of the Vikings Super Bowl teams of the 1970s.

Winston would start in the first three Viking defeats and was a reserve in the final Super Bowl loss behind the excellent borderline Hall of Famer Matt Blair.

In 1964 in a game against San Francisco, Winston would intercept three passes to become the first Viking defender to accomplish that feat.

Winston is also remembered for his devastating hit on Larry Csonka in 1972 in a Vikings game against the Miami Dolphins. ( can be seen here) and was voted one of the fifty greatest Vikings of all time when the franchise celebrated its golden anniversary.

Goodbye to Ralph Terry at the age of 86.

Remembered by most as the New York Yankee pitcher that allowed the famous walk-off homer to Bill Mazeroski in game seven of the 1960 World Series, Terry won twenty-three games for the 1962 World Champion Yankees.

Terry redeemed himself in the 1962 World Series against the San Francisco Giants when he won two starts including a 1-0 game seven complete-game shutout to clinch the title and won the series MVP award.

Terry won seventeen games for the Yankees in 1963 and completed an American League-high eighteen games but would play for four teams between 1964 and 1967, winning only nineteen games before retiring to play professional golf on golf's version of a AAA tour.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Sean Miller returns to Xavier

    Xavier University wasn't going to mess around after missing the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years (Remember everyone missed the 2020 non-tournament) under Travis Steele and not only did Xavier target a big name and land him, they bagged someone with Xavier connections in former head coach Sean Miller.

Miller left Xavier in 2009 to take the head coaching job at Arizona, where he coached for twelve seasons before being fired last season for his involvement in a recruiting scandal in Tucson.

While Miller's Wildcats missed the tournament in his final three seasons (one due to Covid and another due to a school-imposed ban), it is mostly Miller's players that led Arizona to a number one seed in this season's tournament and Miller won 302 games in his Arizona tenure against only 109 losses.

Miller's record in his years at Xavier was even better as Miller's teams won 120 games against 47 defeats, made the NCAA's in four of his five seasons, and made the Elite Eight and the Sweet Sixteen with the Elite Eight season the first in Xavier history.

There are some differences in Miller's situation at Xavier than when he left as Xavier was arguably one of the top two or three "Mid-Majors" in the country and the almost unquestioned kingpin of the Atlantic Ten.

Since them. Xavier has hit the big time in joining the Big East, the elite conference that doesn't play division one football with the competition increase that comes with moving up the ladder.

Miller also will be able to sell recruits on the Big East and Miller returns to the league that he played in, although his alma mater (Pittsburgh) no longer resides in the conference.

However, when Miller will actually start to coach for the Musketeers is open to conjecture as the NCAA is still researching the issues at Arizona and Miller could miss some games due to the NCAA "Show cause" rule where a coach that commits violations can be penalized for them even if he is no longer at the school where the violations were committed.

Depending on the result of the investigation, Miller is likely to miss as little as two or three games but past transgressions by other coaches have seen punishments up to a half-year.

Miller's first Musketeer team will lose only two seniors and is reported to have perhaps the best recruiting class in school history (three players in the recruiting top 100) headed to Xavier, so if Miller is able to keep all of those players in the fold, Miller has an excellent chance of returning to the NCAA's right away.

At 53 and Xavier now entrenched in the Big East, it's not out of the question that Sean Miller could stay in Cincinnati for the remainder of his coaching career and not feel the need to move to a bigger program again.

Xavier basketball isn't the same position as Sean Miller left it but it's not a broken-down program at all.

It's similar to a one-owner car that just needs cleaning up with a good tune-up to be as good as ever.

Sean Miller now has the chance to see if he can drive Xavier into contention with the elite of college basketball.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Boxing Challenge: Teraji regains title

   A fairly non-descript boxing weekend started in Kyoto, Japan as Kenshiro Teraji avenged his only career loss and regained his WBC light flyweight title with a vicious one punch knockout of Masamichi Yabuki in the third round.

Teraji had lost his title via tenth round knockout to Yabuki last year in a surprising upset, which Teraji blamed on not having fully recovered of Covid-19 which caused the first fight's postponement before it took place.

Turned out that may have been the case as Teraji stormed Yabuki from the start, pounding Yabuki with a power jab and forcing the champion to back up from the opening bell.

Teraji ended the fight with one right hand that dropped Yabuki to his knees and only with great effort and to my surprise, Yabuki beat the count but the referee correctly stopped the bout.

For Teraji, he could be looking for unification in the division but a bigger fight could be at flyweight where he could face countryman and WBO 112 pound champion Junto Nakatani.

The fledgling promotional company Probellum's latest card from Dubai was streaming on the FUBO sports network (check out your Roku,Amazon Fire, etc to find this channel) with two fights of world caliber interest.

In the main event, Sunny Edwards retained his IBF flyweight title with a unanimous decision over mandatory challenger Muhammad Waseem.

Edwards did just enough in a foul-filled affair to hold off Waseem, who was deducted points twice in the fight, in a fight that Edwards controlled when he boxed from the outside but fought with Waseem enough to allow the challenger to win a few rounds.

I had Edwards a 116-110 winner (8-4 in rounds minus the two lost points) which was the same as one scorecard with the other two cards seeing Edwards a 115-111 winner.

After the fight, Edwards called out WBC champion Julio Cesar Martinez in a unification fight that would have a backstory with Martinez battering Edwards's brother Charlie for Charlie's then-WBC flyweight title but was ruled a no-contest when Martinez hit Charlie after knocking him down.

After the WBC ruled an immediate rematch was in order, Charlie Edwards vacated the title with Martinez winning the vacant title.

I'm not sure this fight ever takes place not due to the different promoters (Martinez is with Matchroom) but Martinez missed weight badly in his junior bantamweight loss to Roman Gonzalez, so I'm not feeling positive about Martinez's ability to make the flyweight limit.

In the co-feature, former WBA junior welterweight champion Regis Prograis continued his comeback with a sixth round TKO over Tyrone McKenna when McKenna's cuts around his eyes were judged to be too bad for him to continue.

Prograis knocked McKenna down in the second with a left hand and dominated McKenna throughout as most expected in Prograis third fight since his close loss to Josh Taylor in 2019.

Prograis should be in the mix of one of the four titles that are expected to vacated soon by Taylor.

The evening saw cards from DAZN and ESPN with interesting main events.

DAZN and Golden Boy's top of the card bout was the best action fight of the day as welterweights Alexis Rocha and Blair Cobbs slugged it out for nine rounds before Rocha finished Cobbs off for a ninth round victory.

I had Rocha slightly ahead after seven before Rocha dropped Cobbs with an uppercut in round eight with Cobbs barely surviving the round.

Cobbs did show courage in coming out of his corner for the ninth bu Rocha quickly leaped on him with a volley of punches to grab the win in the first minute of the round.

It was an excellent action fight but the stronger and better technically Rocha wore down the flashier and faster Cobbs and looked very good in the win.

I had Rocha ahead after eight rounds 77-74 (5-3 with a knockdown) and I'm hoping to see Rocha again against at least an opponent of Cobbs level, if not someone better.

ESPN+ wasn't nearly as lucky in their main event as undefeated super middleweight Edgar Berlanga won a unanimous decision over Canada's Steve Rolls in a dull ten rounder.

Berlanga went the distance for the third fight in a row after fourteen first-round knockouts to start his career and didn't dazzle anyone in this fight although I thought he won the first five rounds mainly because Rolls did even less than Berlanga did.

Once Rolls started rolling in the sixth (sorry, had to do it)  and threw a few punches, Rolls won three rounds in a row and seemed to be ready to push Berlanga to the edge.

And as quickly as it started, it ended as Berlanga turned the fight back around and won the final two rounds.

My 97-93 Berlanga score equaled two of the judges with the other scoring 96-94 in a fight that gave Berlanga a victory but added another log to a fire that wonders just how good Berlanga really is.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 39 Pts (6)

Vince Samano 38 Pts (6)

Ramon Malpica: 35 Pts (7)

Browns Sign Brissett, Trade Keenum

  The maneuvering for the Cleveland Browns at quarterback continued on Saturday as the team sent Case Keenum to Buffalo and signed Jacoby Brissett to serve as the main backup to DeShaun Watson.

The thirty-four-year-old Keenum was signed to a three-year contract in 2020 to backup Baker Mayfield and would win both of his starts (three touchdown passes and one interception) in relief of Mayfield in 2021 but was owed a one million roster bonus on the third day of the start of the league season and the Browns didn't see Keenum as a good fit as the backup to the newly acquired DeShaun Watson at a pricey 6.1 million additional dollars under the cap.

Keenum was being paid a lot of money to be able to step in should Baker Mayfield be injured and yet Mayfield was injured for much of the season, head coach Kevin Stefanski didn't seem to have the needed confidence in Keenum to sit the battered Mayfield.

It says a lot when you pay millions for a backup for an emergency situation and when that time arrives, you don't feel good enough about that player to put him in the lineup.

It's always a good idea to have your backup quarterback resemble your starter's skills or style because it doesn't force a complete revamp of what you like to do to accommodate the second-stringer when he needs to play.

The Browns addressed that with the addition of Jacoby Brissett to a one-year contract for an undisclosed amount.

The 29-year-old Brissett played in eleven games last season with the Dolphins, making five starts off the bench and finishing 2-3 in those starts, throwing five touchdowns and four interceptions.

2021 was Brissett's first season with Miami after four years with the Colts, who traded for him in 2017 after Brissett's rookie season with New England, who drafted him in the third round from N.C. State in 2016.

The mobile 6'4 Brissett is similar to DeShaun Watson in many of the things that he likes to do and while I was hoping for Marcos Mariota, who is even more similar in style to Watson, it could have been that Mariota had wanted more money than the Browns wanted to pay or even that Mariota could have preferred to sign with a team where he might have an opportunity to start which could be the same teams that could be interested in a trade for Baker Mayfield. who remains on the roster for now.

Jacoby Brissett should be a good fit for the Browns as a backup and the questions now are where does Baker Mayfield go, what do the Browns receive in return, and who could be the Browns' third-string arm, which is more interesting than usual as that player would be only one hit away from playing during a potential Watson suspension.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Browns change DeShaun Watson's mind!

    In what can only be considered to be a stunning turn of events, Quarterback DeShaun Watson reversed his decision of the previous afternoon and waived his no-trade clause, and accepted the Cleveland Browns as his destination of choice to give the Browns arguably their best quarterback since Otto Graham and at least their best since the days of Bernie Kosar in the 80s.

The Browns will send Houston their first-round picks in the 2022, 23, and 24 drafts along with a third-rounder in 2023 and a fourth-rounder in 2024 in exchange for Watson and a 2024 fifth-rounder from the Texans.

Watson had eliminated the Browns from the four teams (also Saints, Falcons, and Panthers) that were attempting to acquire his services from the Texans Thursday afternoon but the Browns worked their way back into contention with an offer that signed Watson to a new five-year contract worth 230 million and the factor that likely changed the mind of Watson- fully guaranteed the contract.

The Browns were taking lots of heat for pursuing Watson and not landing him, which then caused Baker Mayfield to demand a trade,  and faced with a choice of starting a mediocre and disgruntled Mayfield or having to start a free agent from a group that wasn't a major improvement on even Mayfield, the Browns acted decisively and took the risk of acquiring one of the top quarterbacks in the league.

Considering that the Browns were catching hell for going after Watson, getting even more for not getting him, and maybe most of all for upsetting Baker Mayfield and the "Baker Bros" for either the "Disrespect" (Mayfield fans) or "looking to upgrade" (Browns fans).

That could have caused the Browns front office (Andrew Berry) and even more likely Jimmy Haslem to I don't really want to use this term but it fits, panic about the team being in major chaos that could last throughout the season should they have to play Mayfield all season, and go back to Watson in desperation and more than likely offer the full guarantee that changed his mind.

Watson likely downgraded the Browns a bit because of the colder weather and Watson's personal connections to both the Falcons and Panthers but comparing the Browns roster to those teams (and the other contender in New Orleans) as a likely championship contender ( with the addition of Watson) along with the new guaranteed contract were the top factors in changing the mind of Watson and bringing him to Cleveland.

While panic is a harsh word, I don't mean it in a completely negative manner.

The Browns know that in a conference that has quarterbacks that go possibly ten-deep in better quarterbacks than the one they have.

Sidebar: So you believe I'm biased against Mayfield?  Tell me which of these players that Baker Mayfield is superior to?

For the purpose of this and since he didn't play last season and wasn't returning to Houston, I didn't add Watson to this list.

No way in hell category: Mahomes (Kansas City), Herbert (LA Chargers), Wilson (Denver), Burrow (Cincinnati), Allen (Buffalo)

Better but not elite: Carr (Las Vegas), Jackson (Baltimore),

Younger but better upside: Lawrence (Jacksonville), Jones (New England)

Comparable: Tannehill (Tennessee) Trubisky (Pittsburgh) before you scream about Trubisky, he did take the Bears to the playoffs twice and with better kicking would have won a playoff game- the same total as Baker Mayfield.

That leaves Mayfield in either tenth, eleventh or twelfth (depending on the person choosing) and over only two young unproven quarterbacks with bad supporting casts (Zach Wilson Jets and Davis Mills (Houston), one young quarterback that hasn't impressed me (Tua Tagovailoa Miami) and for now the vacancy with the Colts.

Under those circumstances and especially with five of the top seven quarterbacks under thirty and another (Carr) only thirty, the Browns had to feel the need to do something and do it quickly in order to compete for championships.

So Watson taking Cleveland off his list had to have placed the Browns in full action mode in what to do.

They had these choices- Keep Mayfield and the drama that would surely follow for 2022 and look for someone new for 2023.

Move Mayfield and settle for a stopgap like Jimmy Garroppolo or Marcus Mariota and renew the search in 2023

Or try to change the mind of Watson and grab a quarterback that ranks with the elite.

Under those circumstances, the move was a clear and decisive move by the Browns.

One would have to assume that Watson will miss some time in 2022 as he will likely be suspended for what I would guess to be four to eight games for his off-the-field issues and civil court cases leaving the Browns in search of a second-string quarterback.

Who the backup quarterback will be as important as that player will likely be the Browns starter for a period of time that will likely decide possibly the AFC North title and even home playoff games, so I'm interested to see who the Browns are looking for.

I kinda like Marcus Mariota as someone that resembles Watson's playing style and could get the Browns through a likely Watson suspension.

I'll likely deal with the risks that come with DeShaun Watson in a future post but without his background problems, a quarterback with his talent and his age (Baker Mayfield is actually six months older), Watson would have never been available for a trade without those situations.

Teams don't trade franchise-level quarterbacks without a reason and Watson instantly slots into the Mahomes, Burrow, Herbert, Allen category as elite and young enough to give the Browns a decade of not having to worry about the quarterback position.

I plan on doing a post (or two) on why this trade was a great idea and why it could backfire over the next few days and although I do have some concerns, which I will address in those posts, it is very difficult to complain about the football end of this trade.

Back later with the evening's boxing challenge. 

Friday, March 18, 2022

Boxing Challenge

        Boxing may not have many well-known fighters doing battle this weekend but two world titles are at stake, a former world champion continues his comeback, a prospect attempts to regain some of his shine, and a fight that was promoted to the main event on their show could be the fight of the weekend.

Not televised in the United States, the rematch between Masamichi Yabuki and Kenshiro Teraji for the WBC light flyweight title from Kyoto Japan might be the fight with the largest stakes of the weekend.

Teraji was looked at as the best fighter below flyweight and had he defeated the veteran and prohibitive underdog Yabuki in their September 2021 fight, Teraji would have likely taken his undefeated record to flyweight and a title fight against another exciting fighter in WBO flyweight champion Junto Nakatani this year.

Instead, Yabuki, who had never fought for a title higher than the Japanese championship, fought the fight of his life and led on the scorecards after nine rounds before a candidate for the round of the year in 2021 occurred as Teraji roared out of his corner knowing that he likely needed a knockout to win and badly hurt Yabuki.

Teraji looked to be on the verge of pulling a miracle comeback almost as big as Leigh Wood'srally last week against Michael Conlan until Yabuki fought off Teraji and stopped him to win the title in the same round.

This should be an excellent rematch with the main questions surrounding Teraji's preparation after maybe not being in top shape for their first fight and Yabuki's ability to repeat a performance that few expected him to give in the first place.

The other world title event comes from Dubai and new promoter Probellum and IBF flyweight champion Sunny Edwards defends his championship against Muhammad Waseem.

Edwards impressively won his title from long-time champion Moruti Mthalane last April and defended against Jayson Mama in December, both won by unanimous decision.

Waseem has won four straight since his only loss, a decision to Moruti Mthalane.

The co-feature from Dubai is a showcase fight for former WBA junior welterweight champion Regis Prograis as Prograis continues his comeback from his only loss- a close decision to Josh Taylor in a unification fight that was also the finals of the World Boxing Super Series in 2019.

Prograis has fought only twice since the defeat in knockout wins over outclassed opponents Juan Heraldez and Ivan Redkach and seems to be fighting an opponent of the same ilk this time in Tyrone McKenna of Ireland.

McKenna has lost only twice but both losses were to his best opponents in Jack Catterall and Ohara Davies and own only six knockouts in his twenty-two victories.

The two evening cards from ESPN and DAZN are prospect-based and while interesting will only have one fight for the challenge.

DAZN and Golden Boy were scheduled to have welterweight contender Vergil Ortiz return to the ring against Michael McKinson in a stay busy bout but Ortiz dropped out with an illness.

The co-feature was promoted to the main event with an interesting welterweight bout between two up-and-coming prospects that are beginning to near fringe contender status as Alexis Rocha faces Blair Cobbs.

Rocha has knocked out both of his opponents since losing his only fight in a unanimous decision to Rashidi Ellis in 2020 in his first jump in competition, while the flashy and undefeated Cobbs knocked out veteran Brad Solomon in his last fight.

Cobbs has tons of personality and if he is able to climb up the ladder, more and more people are going to pay attention but Rocha will test how much steak or sizzle that the future of Cobbs may hold.

ESPN with Top Rank places undefeated super middleweight bomber Edgar Berlanga in their main event against Canadian Steve Rolls.

Berlanga started his career with sixteen first-round knockouts in a row before being taken the distance in his most recent two fights and faded badly down the stretch as Marcelo Coceres knocked him down in the ninth round.

Berlanga suddenly has lots of questions about his future and needs a spectacular performance to shine his star a bit.

The veteran Rolls has only one loss but it was against his only top opponent where he was stopped in four rounds by Gennady Golovkin in 2019.

Rolls is a natural middleweight so he's a much smaller fighter than Berlanga, so if Berlanga goes the distance with Rolls even more alarms will go off regarding him.

WBC Light Flyweight Title. 12 Rds
Masamichi Yabuki vs Kenshiro Teraji 
All: Teraji Unanimous Decision

IBF Flyweight Title. 12 Rds
Sunny Edwards vs Muhammad Waseem
All: Edwards Unanimous Decision

Junior Welterweights. 10 Rds
Regis Prograis vs Tyrone McKenna
R.L: Prograis KO 7
TRS: Prograis KO 5
V.S: Prograis KO 9

Welterweights. 10 Rds
Alexis Rocha vs Blair Cobbs
R.L and V.S: Rocha Unanimous Decision
TRS: Cobbs Unanimous Decision

Super Middleweights.10 Rds
Edgar Berlanga vs Steve Rolls
R.L: Berlanga KO 3
TRS: Berlanga KO 6
V.S: Rolls Unanimous Decision

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Browns sign Jakeem Grant, release Austin Hooper

   While the residents of Cleveland Browns nation debated whether the team should pursue DeShaun Watson from Houston and whether or not Baker Mayfield is getting a fair shake from the front office, the work of the off-season continued as the Browns signed one player, re-signed two others, and announced plans to release another after June 1st.

Let's start with the newest Brown as Cleveland made its latest attempt to find someone to solve the problems in returning kicks and punts that have existed since Josh Cribbs left town and maybe this time, they may have gotten it right as the Browns signed wide receiver/ return man Jakeem Grant from the Chicago Bears with a three-year contract worth just under fourteen million dollars.

Grant made his first Pro Bowl last season after playing a few games for Miami before being traded to Chicago, averaging twenty-three yards per kick return and just under twelve yards per punt return with one punt returned for a touchdown.

Grant was Miami's sixth-round selection in 2016 out of Texas Tech and spent his entire career in Miami before the midseason trade that saw the Bears send the Dolphins a 2023 sixth-round draft pick.

Grant has also seen action occasionally at wide receiver, finishing this season with eleven catches and 132 yards with two touchdowns.

Grant will hopefully be able to solve the problem that has existed for quite a while.

The Browns announced that they will be releasing tight end Austin Hooper with a post-June 1 designation in order to roll some of the cap hit over two seasons rather than one.

By holding onto Hooper until June, the Browns will be able to save nine million of Hooper's cap number after his release.

Hooper was a highly touted signing in 2020 after Hooper had made the Pro Bowl in both 2018 and 2019 with over seventy catches in each season and the Browns signed him to a four-year contract that seemed to have solidified tight end in the Kevin Stefanski offense.

But Hooper struggled in Cleveland with "chemistry" with Baker Mayfield and developed an alarming tendency to fall down as soon as he caught the football, finishing with a low in receiving numbers that hadn't been seen since Hooper's rookie season.

Hooper caught only 38 passes for 345 yards and only three touchdowns and with his disappointing numbers and needing to give David Njoku a raise, it was a foregone conclusion that Hooper was likely to be a cap casualty.

The Browns re-signed two players, one of those a starter as linebacker Anthony Walker and tackle Chris Hubbard each returned to the Browns.

Anthony Walker signed with the Browns last season after leaving the Colts on a one-year contract and is returning on another one-year contract worth five million dollars.

The twenty-six-year-old Walker was a solid if unspectacular player who started twelve of the thirteen games that he played in 2021.

Walker finished the season with 69 solo tackles and a sack and is expected to be in the middle with Jeremiah Owusu-Koaramoah and  Jacob Phillips on each side of him.

The other transaction was the Browns retaining 30-year-old veteran offensive lineman Chris Hubbard with a one-year deal for an undisclosed amount.

The veteran can play guard or tackle and was injured for the season in the opener against Kansas City after suffering a triceps injury.

Hubbard is expected to provide depth at both offensive line positions.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Travis Steele out at Xavier

  One night after Xavier defeated Cleveland State in the first round of the NIT,  the school decided to part ways with Travis Steele after four seasons as their head coach.

Steele's record with the Musketeers was a decent 70-50 but none of Steele's four Xavier teams were selected for NCAA Tournament play and in each of the last two seasons suffered late-season collapses that sent them to the NIT rather than the NCAA.

Xavier started this season 16-5 before losing eight of their final ten games along with an overtime loss to Butler in the first round of the Big East tournament to finish 18-13 and outside the NCAA's.

Steele replaced Chris Mack in 2018 when Mack left for Louisville, where he also left this season after involvement in a recruiting scandal.

I admit I don't watch nearly as much college basketball as I once did, so I don't have concrete opinions on some issues in the game because I'm just not knowledgeable enough.

However, on the rare occasions that I do watch, it's usually Xavier or Ohio State, so I'm a little closer to this one than any other hire in college hoops.

Xavier doesn't play football at all, so it is the quintessential basketball school and after years of working its way through the mid-major morass to finally make the big-time in the sport, Xavier cannot afford to settle now, if the goal is to be among the best in the game.

Xavier now resides in a power conference (in basketball) in the Big East with all the competition that comes with membership and yet they still share a state with Ohio State, an area with a strong mid-major (Dayton), and even a city with a team with a strong basketball tradition (Cincinnati), so in their situation, Xavier cannot afford to take a step back where not making the tournament four years in a row is tolerated.

Xavier had made the Big Dance sixteen times in eighteen seasons before Steele replaced Chris Mack so a setback such as during the Steele years is significant.

Still, it's not insurmountable and Xavier still as a Big East member doesn't have to be a steppingstone job anymore, so it's very important to get this hire correct.

One name that I keep hearing is that of former Xavier coach Sean Miller, who built the Arizona Wildcats team that is a number one seed in the current tournament in his twelve seasons since leaving Xavier for Arizona.

Miller is reportedly being chased by openings at Florida and South Carolina and its not out of the question that Steele's removal could be in order to return Miller to Cincinnati.

Chris Mack could also be a candidate but both Miller and Mack would come with NCAA problems at their previous school so there could be a possible suspension for both or either to start the season if Xavier goes in that direction.

Another former Xavier (and Ohio State) coach that could be involved might be Thad Matta, who left Ohio State due to health issues and hasn't coached since.

I don't have knowledge of the situation changing but Matta wouldn't be the first coach to return from health issues feeling renewed from a few years away from the game.

Archie Miller was disappointing at Indiana but he was terrific at nearby Dayton before that, knows the area, and could have simply been a bad fit in Bloomington.

And unlike his brother, Archie wouldn't come with NCAA issues.

Xavier has usually promoted from within for over thirty years when hiring a new head coach with the exception of Thad Matta (from Butler) and should they do so again, Jonas Hayes could be the man.

Hayes will be coaching Xavier through the NIT.

Connecticut assistant Luke Murray could be in the hunt with a Xavier background.

Murray was a Chris Mack assistant for three seasons before leaving with Mack for Louisville, where he stayed until this season with UConn.

If the Musketeers go outside the family, Cleveland State's Dennis Gates has been mentioned as a strong candidate after three seasons with the Vikings that have seen two regular-season titles, a trip to the NCAA, and an NIT bid this season.

Xavier is far from a downtrodden program so the right hire could turn things around as quickly as next season- but another set of seasons similar to the Steele years could put the school in a difficult spot to dig out.

This hire has to be a winning one.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Browns release Tretter, trade for Winovich

  On a Tuesday that saw the Haslem bunch travel to make their pitch to DeShaun Watson in an attempt to have the beleaguered passer give the Browns his stamp of approval for a potential franchise-altering swap, the Cleveland Browns still were making alterations to the franchise as the Browns made two transactions that they did not need permission to make.

Cleveland released starting center J.C. Tretter after five seasons with the Browns.

Tretter was beaten up often in his Cleveland tenure but never missed a game and helped add professionalism to a team that desperately lacked it before his arrival from Green Bay.

The Browns will save eight million dollars off their cap by releasing Tretter but it remains to be seen if former fifth-round choice Nick Harris can replace Tretter's production.

Tretter had been questioned by some about the distraction of his role as the head of the players union since he took over that position but I don't think that it affected his performance with the Browns and I think that this all came down to moving dollars around (DeShaun Watson or no DeShaun Watson) and make a cheaper and a little younger offensive line.

The Browns also made a trade as they traded linebacker Mack Wilson to the Patriots in exchange for linebacker Chase Winovich.

While on a roster sheet, this looks like a trade of players at the same position the two are vastly different players as Winovich is an outside linebacker that adds pass-rush ability as a rush end while Wilson is a more traditional linebacker that can drop into coverage.

I always liked Mack Wilson since the Browns grabbed him in the fifth round from Alabama in 2019 and he played well as a rookie with eighty-two tackles, a sack, and an interception.

Wilson's playing time decreased in each of the following seasons and last season rarely played outside of special teams and it was clear that Wilson might have a hard time making the team in 2022.

I hope Wilson can make the best of his fresh start in New England with Bill Belichick, who likely has some inside information on Wilson from his college coach- one Nick Saban and I would not be shocked at all to see Wilson flourish in Foxboro.

Chase Winovich might be remembered by some as the long-haired leader of the Michigan Wolverines "Redemption Tour" in 2018 that talked so much smack only to lose to Ohio State but after the Patriots selected him in the third round in the 2019 draft, Winovich was productive in his first two seasons as he finished with five and a half sacks in both 2019 and 2020 in a part-time role as a pass rusher.

At 6'3 and only 250 pounds, Winovich will have to make his living off the pass rush as he's too small to play defensive end against the run and not quick enough to play in coverage and Winovich was occasionally a scratch for the Patriots, rarely playing and didn't notch a sack in his six tackles on the season. 

Like Mack Wilson, Winovich might be a player that needs a change of scenery, and to be used as a situational pass rusher could be helpful to the Browns.

The Winovich for Wilson is a classic trade of talented players that disappointed their teams that drafted them but have shown enough at times to have value for another team to take a chance with.

Mount Mobley lead Cavaliers to OT Win

   Evan Mobley scored a career-high 30 points and Darius Garland added 24 points with 13 assists to bump the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 120-111 overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers in Cleveland.

Isaac Okoro added twenty more for Cleveland, who moved to 39-29 overall with the victory.

Cleveland hosts Philadelphia in the second game of their five-game homestand on Wednesday.


1) I've been watching the last few games but wasn't able to write on them but moving Evan Mobley to center to replace Jarrett Allen after Allen suffered a broken finger may not have been only an inspired choice- it was the only choice.

Mobley shot twenty-two times and hit one of three from three-point range on the evening and isn't playing a traditional center on offense but this isn't a traditional lineup either.

2) Mobley is playing a more traditional role on defense though as he's much more of a rim protector without Allen.

Allen's role on defense was as the rim protector and without him, the Cavaliers need Mobley to stay home and perform that duty.

3) The play of the night was an amazing block by of all people six-foot Brandon Goodwin, who had the hops to block someone's shot (I can't remember who) with a resounding rejection to save a basket.

4) Isaac Okoro finished twenty points but Okoro shot thirteen free throws and hit eleven of them.

Okoro drove to the basket and forced the Clippers to foul him on the drive over and over, daring the Clippers to stop him.

5) The Cavaliers hit fifteen of thirty from three-point land with seven different Cavaliers connecting over the course of the contest.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Browns Free Agency:Slow First Day

    Andrew Berry and the Cleveland Browns made their biggest off-season move over the weekend when the Browns acquired Amari Cooper from the Dallas Cowboys but today was the official start of the free agency period and Cleveland was fairly quiet on the opening day.

Now the Browns were rumored by some and others reported otherwise to be involved with Allen Robinson and among the teams rumored to be selling themselves to DeShaun Watson to drop his no-trade clause in an attempt to be the team that lands Watson from the Houston Texans.

However, for all the noise from the opening bell, Cleveland would sign only one player on the first day, defensive tackle Taven Bryan formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who signed a one year contract that could be valued at five million, should Bryan hit all of his incentive base marks.

The 6'5 291 pound Bryan was a first-rounder by Jacksonville (29th overall) in the 2018 draft from Florida but has been regarded as a disappointment to the Jaguars, who declined his fifth-year option last season and Bryan fell out of their line rotation by the end of the season for a Jacksonville team that finished 3-14.

Bryan finished last season with two sacks, both of the sacks coming in the same game against the Buffalo Bills, and notched only five and a half in his four seasons as a Jaguar.

At 26, Bryan is young enough to help a Browns team that is in desperate need at defensive tackle with last year's stop-gap signing Malik Jackson returning to free agency and the release of rehabilitation project Malik McDowell, who decided that a naked stroll near a Florida pre-school was a good way to celebrate his first season in the league, leaving the Browns without both of their starters from 2021.

Only 2020 third-rounder Jordan Elliott and 2021 fourth-rounder Tommy Togiai along with journeyman Sheldon day return at defensive tackle from last season so even with the addition of Bryan, the interior defensive line is going to have questions so Cleveland is still going to have to place further resources either by free agency or the draft to the position. 

Browns release Jarvis Landry

 As expected at the beginning of free agency, the Cleveland Browns were unable to reach an agreement on a restructured contract with wide receiver Jarvis Landry and released the veteran after four seasons in Cleveland.

The veteran possession receiver caught 288 passes for over 3,500 yards and grabbed fifteen touchdowns in his Cleveland career with a 2021 season that saw him miss five games but still caught fifty-two passes for 570 yards and two touchdowns, which were all career-lows.

Landry was obtained in the first major move of the John Dorsey era from the Miami Dolphins in 2018 in exchange for fourth and seventh-round picks in 2018 and 2019 drafts in what was a trade very similar to how the Browns added Amari Cooper in acquiring a proven player from a team that has cap problems for a cost far below the players worth.

Add into the equation that Jarvis Landry always showed up to play, played through injury at a physically taxing position in the slot, didn't mind blocking, and embraced the challenge of helping a belittled franchise raise itself from the bottom of the league and it's not hard to see why Cleveland fans wanted to see Jarvis Landry find a way to stay a Brown.

However, with Landry turning thirty during next season, scheduled to earn fifteen million next season (along with Cooper's twenty), and a body that may be aging early, I understand the Browns deciding to move away from Landry at his cost for next season.

That does leave Cleveland in a pickle as unless the Browns are able to land Allen Robinson of the Bears, who is the most accomplished free-agent wideout, the Browns are back in a situation of needing to select a receiver in either the first or second round.

The Browns currently have Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Anthony Schwartz, Rashard Higgins (who is likely to be elsewhere), JaMarcus Bradley, and Ryan Switzer on their roster and that's not a massive improvement at this time over the group that ended the season.

The Browns are rumored (by some) to be involved with talks with Allen Robinson  and should the Browns land Robinson the need at wideout will be decreased, although not eliminated.

Otherwise, this is a group with some work to be done by Andrew Berry and company.

I'll miss Jarvis Landry's leadership and professionalism but I'm understanding of the situation, now it's Andrew Berry's turn to take center stage to add more weapons for Baker Mayfield for 2022. 

Cleaning out the Inbox

  The delightful-looking fellow to the right has been the number one menace to the future of the ash baseball bat, which had traditionally been used for the bats of major league baseball.

The Athletic tells the story of the Emerald Ash Borer, the invasive species that has singlehandedly devastated the ash tree and changed professional baseball bats from ash to maple, but it also discusses other factors, including Barry Bonds, and the lengths that Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto is going to in order to make sure that he will be able to use ash bats for the remainder of his career.

Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer gives us a double play of his work as Pluto writes of the first two Cleveland Cavaliers to participate in the NBA All-Star Game and a tribute to long-time Browns radio analyst Doug Dieken, who finished his final season with the Browns with the conclusion of the 2021 Browns campaign.

John Johnson and Butch Beard were the first two players from Cleveland to make the All-Star teams and while neither are likely to come up in casual hoops conversations, both had solid NBA careers.

Johnson was the Cavalier's first-ever first-rounder in 1970 and would have a solid twelve-year NBA career with four teams and would win an NBA championship in 1979 with Seattle while Beard would play for four teams in a nine-season run in the league.

As for Doug Dieken, he worked as the Browns radio analyst since 1985 and worked with three different play-by-play announcers during his time with the network.

Listening to Dieken and Jim Donovan through the years has often been more entertaining than the lousy Browns games that they worked on!

Autoblog gets in-depth into gas prices and why for all the pain that we feel at the gas pump, there is a certain amount of value (I was stunned to discover this) for gas at the cost that we are struggling with even today.

The article also deals with the variable of state taxes, imports, exports, and just why even if America kept every drop of its own oil- there still is one reason that the United States cannot become self-sufficient with oil.

We wrap up with the New York Times article on the late ABA and NBA star Connie Hawkins and a recent plan to rename a New York City playground after him.

There is a problem. there is another famous person from the same neighborhood- read the article and guess who it is.