Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Cleaning out the Inbox

  The latest cleaning of the inbox starts with two notes from an all-time injustice- the 1972 Olympic championship win by the then-Soviet Union over the United States, which recently celebrated its fifty-year anniversary.

The Athletic writes of the continued refusal of the United States team to accept the silver medals and the interesting part was the revelation that the IOC (International Olympic Committee) doesn't have all of the silver medals to award even if the U.S. Team wanted them!

The article writes of who they believe have them and where they could be as well as more information on the 1972 team through the years.

The Baltimore Sun writes of the 1972 team and the one possible scenario from former Maryland star and team member Tom McMillen, where the team would donate the medals to be gifted but would not accept them for themselves, why the IOC won't be doing that and why their reason is that of semantics.

ESPN writes of the history of the recently renewed football series, the Backyard Brawl, between Pittsburgh and West Virginia, with all the reasons that their series is so great and why it would be so great to be a permanent part of the college football landscape.

The two teams played on opening night in Pittsburgh with the Panthers taking a 38-31 victory and the two will play next year in Morgantown

I've written of Kate Abdo (along with Showtime's Brian Custer) as my favorite of the various boxing hosts but The Athletic writes of what Abdo is better known for,  her work for CBS/Paramount and Fox for their various coverage of soccer.

Abdo hosts the Champions League for the former and will be working the World Cup for the latter.

I'll take them at their word as I don't watch either of those competitions, although I have begun watching and rooting for a team in the English Premier League and I would even consider coverage here- IF I knew what the hell I was talking about enough for analysis!

My knowledge of soccer/football is limited but I've enjoyed learning and rooting, so look for a future post on my step into the Premier League.

Steve Rushin of SI.com writes of the memories of some of the children of baseball greats from the past including the daughter of Gil Hodges and the sons of Billy Martin and Harmon Killebrew.

The memories that spill out from the inside of baseball's past are interesting enough but just as absorbing are the tales that are told about the players as fathers.

The Hodges family (Gil Hodges's wife is still living today with their daughter taking care of in the same Brooklyn home that they lived in when Gil played with the Dodgers) receive the majority of the lines along with Billy Martin Jr. and Cam Killebrew some fewer but it's an all-around great read. 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Ohio State Jumps over Wisconsin 52-21

  The Ohio State Buckeyes were favored against the Wisconsin Badgers on their "wear black" night and were never threatened by the invaders from Madison in a 52-21 win that wasn't that close.

C.J. Stroud threw five touchdowns with one interception to go with his 281 yards, two each to wide receiver Emeka Egubka and tight end Cade Stover.

Egbuka finished with 118 receiving yards while both TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams eclipsed the century level in rushing yards against the Badger defense.

Ohio State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) will host Rutgers (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) next week as the Scarlet Knights attempt to rebound from their first loss of the season against Iowa.

Olentangy Offerings

1) Cade Stover has changed how Ohio State uses tight ends and the converted linebacker could be making himself into a possible NFL draft pick at the position. 

2) Stover caught four passes for fifty-one yards as one of only four Buckeye players to catch passes in the win but what I like is his good hands and ability to break tackles after the catch.

I wondered about this move in the offseason but I was wrong, Stover is proving to be a standout.

3) Ohio State scored touchdowns on their first three possessions and Wisconsin spit the bit out early in this one as the Badgers trailed 21-0 and for the first time moved the ball near midfield before a fourth-and-one situation.

4) I know it's tough either way but when Paul Chryst meekly decided to punt the ball away, you could see even at a very early point in the game that Wisconsin was simply hoping to get out of town without too much humiliation.

5) Ohio State's offense is doing all of this damage without Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

How good will they be when he returns?

6) Ohio State played without both of their starting cornerbacks, Denzel  Burke and Cameron Brown, due to injuries.

Jyaire Brown and JK Johnson played in their absence with Wisconsin finishing with only 104 yards passing.

7) Ohio State played the Wisconsin staple "Jump Around" in the third quarter in a troll move.

I really didn't like ribbing Wisconsin in a blowout but Bucky needs to realize that their tradition (and it is theirs) has become so popular that they may have to get used to more teams using their traditional anthem because it's just plain fun to Jump Around.

8) The black uniforms are always troubling to me as they look so great with the red buckeyes on the black helmet but Ohio State's colors aren't black, so I'm conflicted.

9) I am starting to miss the old days of college football.

Games that once were anticipated are now borderline squash matches and the crushing margins are becoming mundane, not electric.

A cautionary note.

Boxing Challenge; The Juggernaut Chugs On!

 Joe Joyce took everything that Joseph Parker had to give for ten rounds and then finished him in the eleventh with one left hand to stop Parker for the first time in his career and add another top heavyweight to a growing list that hit Joyce often but could not deter him.

Parker attempted to box Joyce and tried to stand his ground on occasion to establish his power and gain the respect of Joyce but while he may have gained the respect of Joyce, Parker could never stem the steady attack of the Juggernaut.

Parker landed his share of right hands but Joyce paid them little mind and Parker dealt with a bad cut over his right eye from the early portion of the fight.

I had Joyce leading 97-93 at the time of the stoppage.

I thought Parker had a chance to outbox Joyce and the New Zealand veteran fought well but Joe Joyce fought better and it's pretty clear that I didn't give Joyce enough credit for his similar win over Daniel DuBois.

Joyce reminds me so much of former heavyweight contender Ray Mercer with a rock-hard chin, plus power, a late start to a pro career, and a willingness to fight anyone.

Joyce does throw more punches than Mercer did as Mercer could be outworked in his fights- you won't say that about Joe Joyce,

Joe Joyce needs to continue to stay active as he is 37 years old and it's very possible that his first chance at a championship could be his final one but I think this win proves he's at worst the third-best heavyweight in the world.

I'd pick Joyce over former champions Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder and I'd rate him as a very intriguing underdog against either world champion Oleksandr Usyk or Tyson Fury.

Usyk defeated Joyce in the amateurs and certainly has the skills to outbox the sometimes plodding Joyce but can he do that for the twelve-round distance against the constant pressure of Joyce?

Fury will have the height and weight advantage over Joyce as he has over most heavyweights but the edge won't be as pronounced as usual and I wonder how effective a usual Fury tactic of laying on the inside and pushing down on the smaller fighter to sap energy would be against Joyce.

I would lean toward either champion in a potential Joyce bout but Joyce would have a decent chance of dethroning either man as well.

As for Joseph Parker, the former WBO champion has established himself as a top ten and very capable heavyweight and only the best of the division are going to get by Parker.

However, against those top-of-the-world boxers, Parker has fallen a little short and he may have fallen into gatekeeper status albeit as the best gatekeeper a heavyweight can be.

Parker may have been stopped for the first time in his career but under the circumstances has nothing to be ashamed of in defeat.

Meanwhile, over in Nottingham (Joyce-Parker took place in Manchester), a lightweight DAZN main event wasn't nearly as exciting as veteran lightweight Maxi Hughes won a majority decision over former IBF featherweight champion Kid Galahad in a fight that was filled with awkward exchanges and fouls that would eventually decide the fight as Galahad would lose on one card by one point and finished even on another after losing a point in round ten for headbutting Hughes.

The cards read 116-111 and 114-113 for Hughes and an even card of 114-114 so the point loss cost Galahad a draw.

I scored the fight 114-113 for Hughes in a close and hard-fought affair that didn't mesh smoothly in style.

Boxing Challenge

TRS:162 Pts (1)
Ramon Malpica:142 Pts (1)
Vince Samano:131 Pts (2) 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Boxing Challenge; Stevenson Misses Weight, Dominates Fight

   Shakur Stevenson may have disappointed on the scales when he was forced to vacate his WBC and WBO junior lightweight titles for missing weight but he didn't disappoint in the ring as he dominated veteran Robson Conceicao and won an easy unanimous decision in Stevenson's hometown of Newark New Jersey.

Stevenson knocked the former Olympic gold medalist down in round four with only a few seconds remaining in the round with a left hand but Conceicao wasn't seriously hurt after rising and would avoid serious trouble for the remainder of the fight.

Stevenson was docked one point for throwing Conceicao to the floor in round nine and looked like he may have had a chance at a stoppage in the eleventh after continuing to land the left hand repeatedly but the Brazilian made it to the final bell.

Give Conceicao credit on two fronts as he fought to the final bell against a superior foe and he could have scuttled the entire evening as under New Jersey rules, Conceicao could have collected his entire purse and not fought Stevenson after he made weight and Stevenson did not.

Plus Conceicao would have likely fought for one of the two titles that Stevenson sacrificed in a fight that he would have been far more likely to win and chose to take his chances against a superior champion.

Conceicao would have caused major heat with his promoter, Top Rank, had he not fought but still considering his background and loss to Stevenson, I'd think it was fair if one of the two organizations considered the total picture and perhaps placed Conceicao in one of the fights for a vacant title.

Stevenson won on two cards 117-109 and 118-108 on the third, which was the same score as mine.

Stevenson announced his intention to move to lightweight for his next fight and called for the world champion Devin Haney or Vasyl Lomachenko but both have October fights planned (Haney in a rematch against George Kambosos, Lomachenko against Jamaine Ortiz) and should both win in matches that they are heavily favored, they would next fight each other, so Stevenson will have to fight someone else in his lightweight debut.

If I was going to guess at an opponent, I might pick former IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey, who has a recognizable name and is coming off a good draw against Jose Pedraza at junior welterweight.

Pedraza signed to face Teofimo Lopez in December rather than a Commey rematch, so Commey might have an edge for a Stevenson fight. 

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 161 Pts (2)
Ramon Malpica: 141 Pts (2)
Vince Samano: 129 Pts (1) 


   The PPM returns with another loaded football weekend,

Last Week: 10-6 
Overall: 32-15

Ohio State over Wisconsin 37-17
Texas over Texas Tech 34-26
Boise State over UTEP 22-13
Mississippi State over Bowling Green 45-21
Miami Fla. over Middle Tennessee State 41-21
Georgia Southern over Ball State 31-24
Houston over Rice 36-24
Arkansas over Texas A&M 30-28
N.C. State over Connecticut 43-10
USC over Oregon State 36-20

Games of the Week
Wake Forest over Clemson 24-21
Tennessee over Florida 27-22

Browns over Steelers 17-14
Chargers over Jaguars 35-17
Saints over Panthers 24-10

Games of the Week
Bills over Dolphins 33-24
Buccaneers over Packers 24-21

Friday, September 23, 2022

Boxing Challenge

  The boxing weekend will see three fights of note with one showcasing arguably the best young fighter in the world that was supposed to be defending his two world titles, a heavyweight contender that has decided to challenge himself against a worthy opponent rather than Dean Smith stall it as he waits for his title challenge and two British lightweights squaring off as one fighter attempts to continue a return to contention with his former world champion opponent leaping two weight divisions to face him.

The weekend starts on Friday with Shakur Stevenson scheduled to defend his WBC and WBO junior lightweight titles against Robson Conceicao in Newark, New Jersey.

That ended on Thursday when Stevenson missed weight and was forced to give away both titles on the scales.

Assuming that the fight can be saved (and usually, that happens with the weight-offender giving a chunk of their payday to the opponent), Stevenson will move to the lightweight division for his next fight in a division that his promoter, Top Rank, has recognizable opponents for Stevenson to fight in Unified World Champion Devin Haney and Vasyl Lomachenko.

Stevenson earned the signature victory of his young career when he took away the WBC title from Oscar Valdez in a highly anticipated fight that Stevenson easily won a unanimous decision.

Stevenson is a heavy favorite over Conceicao, who lost a split decision to Valdez in Valdez's last fight before the Stevenson showdown and dominated previously undefeated Xavier Martinez in his most recent outing.

Conceicao is arguably better than the two remaining champions in the division (Joe Cordina IBF and Hecto Garcia WBA) and he's far from an easy touch.

However, the betting odds show how highly Stevenson is thought of and he is fighting in his hometown, so he has every advantage against a talented but not talented enough contender.

Should Conceicao earn what would be a huge upset, he would be given the two titles that Stevenson had stripped from him, and should Stevenson win, the WBC and WBO championships would be declared vacant.

Saturday from Manchester England, ESPN plus returns with a key heavyweight fight as the WBO's top contender and their mandatory challenger to Oleksandr Usyk, Joe Joyce, faces a former world champion in Joseph Parker in what could be a career-altering fight for both men.

The lumbering yet hard-punching Joyce is painfully slow and due to his age (37) has been moved very quickly and could have been carefully protected until his eventual showdown with Usyk.

Instead, Joyce, who earned his position with a tenth-round knockout of Daniel DuBois in November 2020 decided to face Parker, the former WBO champion and a boxer that might help Joyce gain some experience against a boxer to better prepare for Usyk.

Parker has won six straight since consecutive losses to Anthony Joshua (losing his title) and Dillian Whyte in 2018 and his last two wins over Derek Chisora were wildly entertaining brawls, so should Parker decide to engage Joyce we could have another wild slugfest.

However, Parker's best chance to win over Joyce would be to outbox Joyce and take advantage of his superior speed.

This is the fight that I'm looking forward to most this weekend.

DAZN will also have a card from England, theirs from Nottingham, with veteran Maxi Hughes battling former IBF featherweight champion Kid Galahad in a lightweight crossroads fight.

Hughes has won six fights in a row against European-level opponents other than a decision win over former world title challenger Jono Carroll and with a win could keep himself on the fringes of contention.

Galahad had finally won an elusive world title in winning the vacant IBF title in August 2021 but was knocked out in the sixth round by thought to be washed-up Kiko Martinez.

Galahad dominated Martinez until a knockdown late in round five and was finished off with the first punch Martinez landed in the sixth.

The question is easy with Galahad- If you can't take the punches of a past his prime featherweight, how on Earth do you expect to take punches from lightweights?

Still, Hughes is nothing special at 135 and I could see Galahad outboxing Hughes but the intriguing piece is what happens if Hughes connects?

Boxing Challenge

Lightweights. 12 Rds
Shakur Stevenson vs Robson Conceicao
Ramon Malpica and TRS: Stevenson Unanimous Decision
Vince Samano: Stevenson KO 9

Heavyweights.12 Rds
Joe Joyce vs Joseph Parker
R.L and V.S: Joyce Unanimous Decision
TRS: Parker Split Decision

Lightweights.12 Rds
Maxi Hughes vs Kid Galahad
R.L:  Galahad Unanimous Decision
TRS: Hughes KO 10 
V.S: Hughes Unanimous Decision

Browns bounce back with 29-17 Steelers win.

    The Cleveland  Browns badly needed a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers for many reasons after their debacle against the New York Jets and it was fair to wonder if the short week would be an advantage or a hindrance.

It turned out to be a non-factor as the Browns played a solid game and against an offensively challenged Pittsburgh team, it was enough to grab a 29-17 win and perhaps offset the loss to the Jets as the "Road to Watson" continues.

Nick Chubb rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown with Jacoby Brissett throwing for 220 yards and two touchdowns and just as importantly- no interceptions.

Amari Cooper caught seven passes for 101 yards with David Njoku grabbing nine for 89 yards with both receivers catching a Brissett touchdown pass.

The now 2-1 Browns will have ten days before they travel to Atlanta for a trip against the currently 0-2 Falcons.

Brownie Bits

1) You may make an argument that Nick Chubb isn't the best back in the NFL and there are plenty of quality backs that could be slotted as the best on anyone's list.

However, there isn't a team in the league that has two backs like Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

The pair rushed for a combined 160 yards on the evening and it was their physical running that wore down the Steeler defense in the second half.

2) Jacoby Brissett did exactly what the Browns need from him for the third week in a row and while the competition hasn't been as tough as the teams to come, it's the type of steady performance that will need to continue for the Browns to have success.

3) Kevin Stefanski has stated from his arrival how much he loves to have tight ends as a key piece of his offense and the Browns are paying David Njoku a large amount of money as their starter, yet often ignoring him as part of the offense.

Jacoby Brissett threw to Njoku ten times with nine of those passes being caught for eighty-nine yards and a score.

Njoku is the Browns' second-best receiving option and Brissett almost doubled the passes to Njoku in the first two games (six) which gives me hope that the tight end-friendly offense may be getting chummy with David Njoku.

4) Amari Cooper's night was good but could have been better with two drops of the four passes that he didn't catch on the evening.

I still think that Cooper will be far improved by the end of the season and even with the best players, there is a learning curve for anyone after they change teams, so I'm far from worried.

5) The Browns lost two of their starting linebackers as Anthony Walker was carted off the field with a leg injury that will cost Walker a significant amount of time at a minimum and perhaps the season as the injury looked pretty serious in my non-medical opinion.

6) Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah suffered a groin injury early in the third quarter and will have an MRI today.

Should JOK miss some time along with the injury to Anthony Walker, the Browns, who under Andrew Berry seem to undervalue the linebacker position at times, may have to go shopping for a linebacker.

Sione Takitaki and Jacob Phillips would be fine as starters but that will take a huge toll on the depth chart which would have only Tony Fields and special teamer Jordan Kunaszyk as reserves.

Fields saw some playing time in the second half and finished with a solo and an assisted tackle in his time.

7) Generally, I try not to whine too much about cheap shots because you could see them on every play if you look for them but on the Anthony Walker injury play, Pittsburgh tackle Chuwuma Okorafor delivered one as Walker lie face down as the play continued elsewhere Okorafor decided to land a big splash reminiscent of Crusher Blackwell on AWA wrestling.

It was uncalled for and Okorafor should have been penalized for unnecessary roughness.

Okorafor wasn't, although he was flagged for illegal man downfield on the play.

8) Jacob Phillips made an impact after the departures of Anthony Walker and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah late in the game as Phillips sacked Mitch Trubisky and made a key deflection near the goal line on the final Steeler drive that helped hold them to a field goal.

Phillips has always been a talented player and after missing much of 2021, this could be his chance to break into the starting lineup for good.

9) Might be time to place a call to Texas for a little Phil Dawson instruction for Cade York as York hit the right upright for the second time in two starts in Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Cold weather stadiums are difficult places to kick and it seems like the stadiums that are located near water (Cleveland, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati as a few examples) are even worse as the winds can move the ball around like a baseball knuckleball.

Don't get me wrong, I still think the world of Cade York and think he'll develop into an excellent kicker but Cleveland is a tough place to kick and it hasn't even gotten cold yet!

10) Give the Steelers credit for effort, especially on two plays.

On Pittsburgh's first touchdown, Najee Harris shoved John Johnson aside with a stiff arm that reminded me of "Pat Healey" classic touchdown run in "There's something about Mary".

11) On the other play, Pittsburgh rookie George Pickens made a catch that may have exceeded the classic Odell Beckham one-handed grab.

Pickens elevated and hung horizontally in mid-air with Martin Emerson providing close coverage and reached out to snatch the football with one hand AND remain inbounds.

The gain was thirty-six yards and Pickens had two other catches in the game for a combined total of three yards.

It was a head-shaking play by the second-rounder from Georgia that I so badly wanted the Browns to find a way to draft in my pre-draft rankings.

Pickens was available for Cleveland in the second round before the decision to make a trade and traded down with Houston in return for a third-rounder and two fourth-rounders.

12) It was nice to see Jack Conklin back in the lineup for the first time this season at right tackle and the Browns offensive line immediately improved with the veteran's return to the lineup.

Cleveland also used backup lineman Michael Dunn as an extra tight end five times on a second-half touchdown drive to give the Browns extra strength to push the Steelers off the ball.

It worked well as the Browns scored the go-ahead touchdown on an eleven-play, eighty-yard drive- ten of the eleven plays were running plays.

13) The defensive communication issues were solved for this week but I'll reserve judgment until I see how they do in Atlanta against the Falcons, who are 0-2 but have scored 53 points in their two losses and lost both games close to New Orleans by one and to the Los Angeles Rams by four.

The Falcons issues aren't on offense so this will be an interesting game to see if the secondary problems are truly solved.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Cleaning out the Inbox: Passings

   The tributes always continue for persons of note as we salute some of the people that have left us recently.

Goodbye to Earnie Shavers at the age of 78.

Dubbed "The Acorn" by Muhammad Ali, Shavers challenged for the heavyweight title twice on prime-time national television against Ali in 1977 and opposite Larry Holmes in 1979 as one of the many contenders in the best and deepest heavyweight era in the division's history.

Shavers is always mentioned as one of the hardest punchers in boxing history with a one-round demolition of Ken Norton on ABC that was intended as a tuneup fight for Norton before a rematch of his memorable fight with Larry Holmes, which instead earned Shavers a rematch of his own against Holmes, who defeated Shavers via decision in 1978 to earn Holmes his title chance against then-WBC champion Norton.

Shavers badly hurt Muhammad Ali in the second round of his first title challenge but Ali mugged and clowned his way out of danger and Shavers later would say that he never knew how badly Ali was dazed.

Holmes handily outboxed Shavers in their first fight but in the rematch, Shavers dropped Holmes with a thunderous right hand in round seven when you watch the fight today, one realizes the greatness of Holmes for being able to not only get up but survive and win by stoppage in the eleventh round.

Shavers would lose two of his next three fights (to Bernardo Mercado and Randall "Tex" Cobb" and would slip into gatekeeper and journeyman status that would occasionally knock someone out to remain viable as in a fifth-round knockout of rising prospect Jeff Sims and a second round KO of fellow veteran Joe Bugner.

Shavers defeated three world champions in his career- Ken Norton, Jimmy Ellis, and former WBA light heavyweight champion Vincente Rondon and two former world title challengers-Jimmy Young and Joe Bugner. 

Goodbye to Mark Littell at the age of 69.

The closer for the Kansas City Royals and St.Louis Cardinals at the latter end of the 1970s, Littell saved 54 games for the two Missouri teams from 1976-79.

Littell is remembered by most as giving up the series-deciding walk-off homer to Chris Chambliss in game five of the ALCS to send the Yankees to the World Series rather than the Royals.

Littell had saved sixteen games for Kansas City in 1976 and had allowed only one homer in that entire season before the Chambliss home run.

Goodbye to John Stearns at the age of 71.

Stearns, who played one game for the Phillies in 1974, was selected by the Phillies in the first round of the 1973 MLB draft, second overall, and was the seventeenth rounder in the NFL draft by Buffalo as a safety from Colorado.

Stearns still holds the Colorado programs record for interceptions in a career with sixteen but signed a far more lucrative contract with the Phillies.

With Bob Boone established as the Phillies' backstop, Stearns was traded to the Mets in 1975 in a trade that landed Tug McGraw for Philadelphia and while Stearns would never be a star he would make four All-Star teams from a Mets franchise that often needed a representative on the team.

Stearns would later serve on a few major league coaching staffs and as a minor league manager including two seasons with the AA Harrisburg Senators.

Goodbye to Scott Campbell at the age of 65.

A defenseman, Campbell was drafted at the peak of the NHL-WHA hockey war and was selected in the top ten of both league drafts with the Houston Aeros of the WHA selecting Campbell first overall and signing him over the St.Louis Blues.

The Aeros folded before the final season of the WHA with Campbell being assigned to the Winnipeg Jets, who won the final Avco Cup as WHA champions.

When the NHL added Winnipeg, Edmonton Hartford, and Quebec to the league in the merger, the terms were oppressive with each franchise only allowed to keep two skaters and two goalies with the remaining players moving to the NHL clubs in another draft.

Campbell was so highly thought of that he was one of the Jets two protected skaters but following his first NHL season, a chronic asthma condition allowed him to play only fourteen games in 1980-81 and he requested a trade to a warmer climate due to the situation.

Winnipeg kindly accommodated Campbell in trading him to St.Louis (short of the Los Angeles Kings, St.Louis was the most southern team in the NHL at the time) but Campbell would only play three games for the Blues before being forced to retire at only 25.

And a very late addition as Ryan sends word of the passing of Maury Wills.

Goodbye to Maury Wills at the age of 89.

The 1962 National League MVP, Wills was the first player to steal more than 100 bases in a season and led the NL in stolen bases every season from 1960 through 1965. 

Wills made the All-Star team in five seasons, won two Gold Gloves, won three World Series with the Dodgers, and finished his career with over 2,100 hits and a career batting average of .281.

After retiring after half a season in 1972, Wills became a somewhat controversial figure in baseball with drug and use alcohol use, a autobiography that Wills claimed to have had an affair with actress Doris Day among other statements that caused a long falling out with his son, former Texas Ranger second baseman Bump Wills, and arguably the wackiest managerial reign ever with the Seattle Mariners over eighty-two games in the 1980 and 81 seasons.

During Wills's reign, Wills had the groundskeepers draw the batter's boxes shorter than regulation, left a spring training game in the sixth inning to fly home, called for relief pitchers to enter the game with no one warming up in the bullpen, and turning in an official lineup card that listed Leon Roberts as the starting centerfielder, who Seattle had traded a month earlier.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Jets ground Browns 31-30 as heads shake

   The Cleveland Browns seemed to have taken care of business with 1:22 remaining against the New York Jets as Nick Chubb barrelled into the end zone for a touchdown that boosted their lead to thirteen points and with a lead along with the Jets having no timeouts remaining, the Browns could smell a 2-0 record going into a Thursday night showdown with the hated Pittsburgh Steelers.

Little did they know that as Cade York lined up for the extra point that things were as good as they were going to be for a long time and circumstances were about to hand Cleveland arguably the worst loss in the history of a franchise filled with horrible defeats.

The 31-30 defeat to the lowly New York Jets started when the seemingly superfluous extra point was missed by rookie and Carolina hero Cade York to keep the lead at thirteen and not fourteen.

A point that didn't appear to be important at the time spelled the difference between overtime and a regulation defeat.

After the kickoff and a nine-yard completion kept the clock rolling, Joe Flacco hit a wide-open Corey Davis for a sixty-six-yard touchdown without a Brown in the picture, it brought to mind the late game Baker Mayfield strike to Robby Anderson against Carolina only one week ago.

Still, the Browns only have to recover the onside kick and the game ends.

They don't as the Jets wrestle the ball away from Amani Cooper with still 1:22 remaining.

Joe Flacco leads the Jets fifty-three yards in one minute, punctuating the score with a fifteen-yard pass to former Ohio State star Garrett Wilson, Wilson's second of the day for a player that the Browns could have possibly had without the trade for the socially-distanced DeShaun Watson.

The Jets kick the ball out of the end zone with Cleveland needing to get into range to give Cade York a chance at redemption and on the first play, Jacoby Brissett scrambles for twenty-one yards.

Brissett then throws his only interception of the day and the disintegration was complete.

Nick Chubb ran for eighty-seven yards and scored three touchdowns with the last one ending with some controversy.

Amari Cooper caught nine passes for one hundred one yards and the only Cleveland passing touchdown reception.

Cleveland will host Pittsburgh, who is also 1-1, on the Amazon Special Thursday night in what was once a luxury game now has become a must-win in order to even out the loss to the decrepit Jets.

Brownie Bits

1) Nick Chubb should have hit the ground or stepped out of bounds on his final touchdown, which would have led to a few kneeldowns and the clock running out.

Chubb did just that in a 2020 win over Houston, so he should have known- BUT

2) Kevin Stefanski admitted in his press conference that he didn't prepare Chubb for what he wanted to be done in that situation, which is his fault.

Good for accountability at that time but is it really accountability?

The same things happen again and again from the smartest guys in the room and they are always going to be fixed.

3) The coach's job, whether it's Kevin Stefanski or a position coach, is to prepare his players for situations, and after a time-out, it is essential to prepare them properly.

You can argue Chubb should have known better but it is the coaching staff that didn't make sure that Chubb knew in the event that he neared the goal line to get down or out.

4) Coaching any sport at any level, in game situations, it is the coach/manager's job not to assume that the player knows what to do.

The player is in the moment, instruct him what to do, and then if he doesn't follow the instruction-the coach did everything possible.

5) It's too bad that Amari Cooper flubbed the onside kick because it took the shine off an excellent game.

Cooper is exactly what you hope to see from a number one receiver- he runs excellent routes, his hands are dependable and he's willing to lay out to make a play.

6) The offensive line did their job and gave Jacoby Brissett time to throw as the Jets finished with just one sack in the game.

The work by the offensive line gave Brissett good protection and allowed the veteran to play very well.

7) Jacoby Brissett's one interception was unfortunate and not a bad one but look past that and give him credit for a solid game with one touchdown, one interception, and 229 yards.

If Brissett can play like this for nine more games, the Browns aren't going to be hurt by his play.

However, that's a huge if.

8) I was complimentary of Grant Delpit last week and I'm critical this week.

The long touchdown pass to Corey Davis has been either blamed on Delpit for not being in the right place or Delpit for not communicating with Denzel Ward and some have blamed Ward.

In any case, I wonder if the Browns are using Delpit properly to get the best use of the former LSU Tiger as Delpit seems to do best when he is allowed to freelance and run to the ball and in what Joe Woods is doing with him, Delpit seems some times to look lost when used as a centerfielder.

That's not to excuse Delpit but part of coaching and personnel is not slamming a round peg into a square hole and expecting it to fit well.

9) The Browns are paying Denzel Ward over one hundred million dollars to shut down receivers and lead the secondary on the field and even if the Corey Davis score was more the fault of Grant Delpit than Ward and I'm not sure that's completely the case, Ward needs to communicate better because that's what your leaders and stars are supposed to do.

10) Cade York moved from hero to goat in one week and that's part of the high-pressure job of an NFL kicker and he has to make that extra point.

Kickers will have missed kicks, even the best of them but York's miss hurts under the circumstances and it will be very interesting to see how that miss affects his confidence.

11) Special teams screwed up more than York's miss and the failure to recover the onside kick as in the first quarter, the punting unit allowed a fake punt to give the Jets a first down, which continued a drive that the Jets would score a touchdown in the end.

12) Joe Woods as defensive coordinator and Mike Preifer as special teams coach are both on the hot seat right now and I'd be surprised if either lost their job.

Letting Woods go would be merely a message as the season has started, the team would likely promote someone on staff to the coordinator position and the system would almost definitely remain the same, so firing Woods doesn't make sense to me.

13) Mike Priefer though, I wouldn't argue against letting him move on.

The Browns special teams have been bad under each of his seasons with the team, don't seem to be improving any this season, and changing the special teams' coach would be an easier position to fill from outside the organization.

14)  This is a devastating defeat and the type of loss that has the potential to ruin seasons.

Now go out and beat Pittsburgh Thursday night and things even out but if they cannot, the Browns have no chance of being 3-1 at the end of the first month and with the schedule tightening after their visit to Atlanta, the Steeler game is a must-win.

It may be a stretch but Kevin Stefanski might be safe but almost anyone else may not be if the Browns get drilled by the Steelers on Thursday night.

More than a game or even a season could be on the line in the next two weeks- it could be some coaching and maybe even front office careers.


Boxing Challenge: Canelo Decisions GGG

    Canelo Alvarez dominated the first two-thirds of the fight and held off a late Gennady Golovkin rally to win a unanimous decision to retain the world super middleweight title Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Alvarez kept a curiously reticent Golovkin from throwing more than his jab until late in the fight and Golovkin looked every bit of a fighter that saw openings but was simply too slow to fire and take advantage offensively.

Golovkin did win three of the final four rounds on my card and the fourth could have gone to either fighter but never seriously troubled Canelo, who was content to sit on a lead and cruise home.

The decision was closer than I expected with two scores of 115-113 and one at 116-112 (my score was 117-111 for Canelo) and other than the tenth round, I didn't see any other round that was difficult to score.

It almost had the feel of judges "trying to make things right" from the first two fights by giving Golovkin any close rounds.

I compare it to the second fight between Marco Antonio Barrera where Barrera was felt to have beaten Morals in their first fight and so much was made of it that the judges went overboard for Barrera in the second fight and arguably gave the fight to Barrera when Morales likely deserved the edge.

For Golovkin, I think he should consider retirement.

GGG does have something remaining but as in his win over Ryota Murata, it's taking him far too long to get started and against the top fighters in his weight class (es), GGG could be giving away rounds at the beginning of fights that will eventually cost him against a fighter below his level.

Besides, I really don't see a big money fight for him as he just lost to the champion at super middleweight and while he could return to middle to defend his WBA and IBF titles, the only semi-attractive fight might be a unification bout against WBC champion Jermall Charlo and even that has lost some shine with GGG's loss and Charlo's inactivity along with questionable opposition.

WBO champion Janibek Alimkhanuly would be for GGG as Golovkin once was for Sergio Martinez, Miguel Cotto, and Canelo himself- a high risk for a very low reward.

As for Canelo, the natural fight is against David Benavidez, although some will think Jermall Charlo with others pushing for Demetrius Andrade.

Benavidez at least tries to stay active while Charlo and Andrade have fought some less than distinguished challengers and while that may not be completely their fault in all cases, I'd like to see either beat a solid contender before a Canelo chance.

Canelo will likely activate his option for a rematch against WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol but Bivol has to get past mandatory contender in undefeated former WBO super middleweight king Gilberto Ramirez and that's far from an easy affair for Bivol.

Should Ramirez upend Bivol in what would be a mild but not massive upset, Canelo vs Ramirez in an All-Mexican battle would make all the sense for the long-rumored Canelo attempt to break the boxing attendance record for one fight in Mexico City.

I'd also wonder why Canelo has been outworked down the stretch in each of his last two fights?

Is it possible that we have seen the best that Alvarez may have had to offer in the ring and a slow decline could be starting now?

It's a fair question and one to consider.

In fights that I have not watched as of this writing

Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez retained his WBC junior bantamweight title over Israel Gonzalez via unanimous decision in what has been reported as a very good fight that was closer than the scorecards would indicate.

Super middleweight Ali Akhmedov was reported to have won every round of his ten-rounder against warhorse Gabriel Rosado.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 159 Pts (3)
Ramon Malpica: 139 Pts (5)
Vince Samano: 128 Pts (4)

Ohio State drubs Toledo 77-21

     C.J. Stroud threw five touchdown passes, two each to Marvin Harrison Jr. and Julian Fleming as the Ohio State Buckeyes cruised to a 77-21 win over the Toledo Rockets in Columbus.

Stroud finished the evening with 367 passing yards with Harrison, Emeka Egbuka, and Jayden Ballard (who caught the other passing score) each finishing with over 100 yards receiving.

Dallan Hayden led the rushing attack with 108 yards and a touchdown.

Ohio State improves to 3-0 and will host Wisconsin next Saturday to open Big Ten conference play.

Olentangy Offerings

1) Ohio State scored on every first-half possession and cruised from there- basic but true.

2) C.J. Stroud was accurate as well hitting 22 of 27 pass attempts.

Stroud completed 18 of 20 and four touchdowns in the first half alone.

3) Marvin Harrison Jr. made several sensational grabs including one touchdown catch that he appeared to have little chance of getting his feet inbounds.

Instead of only one, he placed both feet in.

You'd almost think that he had some expert coaching at some time in his life.

4) Jaxon Smith-Njigba returned with two catches for 33 yards, one of those gaining 21 yards.

Returning from his leg injury against Notre Dame, it's good for the Buckeyes to have their star get back into the lineup for a few snaps before the conference schedule begins.

5) It was really nice to see Julian Fleming play a little with two scoring receptions.

Fleming has struggled with injuries since arriving in Columbus but his talent is clear even among the many talented receivers over the past three seasons

6) TreVeyon Henderson scored a touchdown on four carries before leaving the game with an undisclosed injury.

The word from the team is that Henderson was not seriously injured but stayed on the sidelines since the game was well in hand.

7) The Ohio State line kept all three quarterbacks clean as Toledo didn't register a sack.

Ohio State will be tested next week against the always physical Wisconsin Badgers.

8) Ronnie Hickman's interception was the first of the season for the Buckeye defense.

9) They haven't been a turnover machine thus far but some of that could be the improved defense staying off the field.

10) I write every year that the hardest posts to write are the blowout non-conference games.

That hasn't changed.

Glad to step into conference games next week. 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Boxing Challenge

   The boxing world revolves around Las Vegas as the world's super middleweight championship is at stake with Canelo Alvarez defending his four world titles against WBA and IBF middleweight king Gennady Golovkin in their third and likely final fight.

Alvarez is a strong favorite due to his recent advantage in activity since their second fight and Golovkin's age (turning 40 this year) with few giving GGG more than a puncher's chance of finally winning what many (including me) think he has deserved twice already against Alvarez.

Golovkin stopped Ryota Murata in his most recent fight in nine rounds to take Murata's WBA middleweight title while Alvarez was upset by Dmitry Bivol by unanimous decision in his last outing in May.

Alvarez is established at the higher weight division and seems to be the larger man, which is ironic when you consider that Canelo's then-promoter Oscar De La Hoya used the reasoning of Golovkin being the stronger fighter and Alvarez needing time to bulk up as a reason to avoid Golovkin well before their first fight.

Golovkin has shown a vulnerability to body shots in recent fights and Alvarez is known as a vicious body puncher, so it makes sense that many think the most likely ending is Alvarez by late-round knockout after a body punch.

And with GGG at 40 to Canelo's 32, it would seem that Canelo's prime is now with Golovkin's slightly past his best performances.

Admittedly, I have been a Golovkin fan, and I do think that he won the first two fights ( first and second) but for all the Canelo hype at this point in his career, Canelo is a deserving favorite for the bout.

Still, I cannot stop thinking about the parallels between Golovkin-Canelo and the final fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez that saw Marquez battle past questionable decision losses and lesser recognization to score the decisive victory (Has it been ten years already?) that he had always deserved.

And maybe it's sentimental and not factual but I think we might be sitting on an upset.

The two undercard fights in the boxing challenge are interesting with Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez attempting to stake a claim to Fighter of the Year with a defense of his WBC junior bantamweight title.

Rodriguez, who upset Carlos Cuadras to win his title and defeated Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to retain it, defends against Israel Gonzalez, a solid top ten contender who has failed in three past attempts to win a world title against Roman Gonzalez, Kal Yafai, and Jerwin Ancajas.

It is the type of defense that champions used to make to stay busy against solid but not overwhelming challengers rather than in overmatched squash matches.

Gonzalez lasted the distance against Chocolatito and Yafai and until the tenth against Ancajas, so he has a solid chin, and should Bam Rodriguez stop him, it is a sizable achievement.

Once beaten super middleweight Ali Akhmedov continues his comeback against veteran Gabriel Rosado in a ten-rounder that should have its share of action.

Akhmedov was far ahead on the scorecards in a title eliminator against Carlos Gongora in December 2020 before Gongora knocked him out in the final round and has won only two fights since against lesser competition.

The veteran trialhorse Rosado will bring what he usually brings-a tough chin, tender skin, a huge heart, and a puncher's chance of winning as in his upset of Beketmir Melikuziev.

Boxing Challenge

World Super Middleweight Title
Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin
Ramon Malpica: Alvarez Unanimous Decision
TRS: Golovkin Split Decision
Vince Samano: Alvarez KO 9

WBC Junior Bantamweight Title. 12 Rds
Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez vs Israel Gonzalez
R.L: Rodriguez Unanimous Decision
TRS: Rodriguez KO 9
V.S: Rodriguez KO 7

Super Middleweights. 10 Rds
Ali Akhmedov vs Gabriel Rosado
R.L: Akhmedov KO 10
TRS and V.S: Akhmedov Unanimous Decision


  The PPM continues with another great football weekend and hopefully, my picks turn out better than Barbara Eden suspects to the right!

Last Week: 11-5 
Overall: 22-9

Ohio State over Toledo 45-17
N.C. State over Texas Tech 34-29
Boise State over UT Martin 44-13
Georgia Southern over UAB 31-27
Houston over Kansas 34-31
Marshall over Bowling Green 34-18
Arkansas over Missouri State 40-12
Middle Tennessee State over Tennessee State 27-17
Oregon State over Montana State 35-14

Games of the Week
Texas A&M over Miami Fla 24-21
Oregon over BYU 29-27

Browns over Jets 24-14
Chargers over Chiefs 34-32
Buccaneers over Saints 27-21

Games of the Week
Bills over Titans 24-14
Bengals over Cowboys 31-15

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Cleaning out the Inbox-Non-Sports Passings

   This version of our tributes to recent passings is a bit overdue but all four tributes are to people that had an impact on me in their various fields and all will be missed.

Goodbye to Nichelle Nichols at the age of 89.

Nichols, of course, is best remembered for her role as Nyota Uhura for the three seasons of the original Star Trek on NBC as well as the Trek animated series and six of the Star Trek films.

Nichols had a long and varied career in film, television, and stage but her legacy will always be with Star Trek with two interesting notes from the show off-screen.

The best-known is her interaction with Martin Luther King near the end of the first season of Star Trek, where Nichols had just decided to leave the show in order to take a role on Broadway and had turned in her resignation paperwork to depart but met King at an NAACP event and told him of her decision to leave the show.

King told her that she could not and told her of Uhura's importance and that because her role of Uhura was not a specific role to her race, that should she leave Uhura could be replaced by anyone-including an alien race.

Nichols decided then to remain on the show for the duration, which leads to the other note that I wasn't aware of until writing this, as Nichols claims that she was offered the role of "Peggy Fair" on "Mannix" which was preparing for its second season on CBS but was not allowed out of her contract with Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry.

Star Trek was nearly the end of what proved to be its third and final season but Roddenberry believed it would be renewed for a fourth season at the time and refused, which cost Nichols the role that would be cast with Gail Fisher and would run for another seven seasons.

As a fan of the original Star Trek since I was a small child, it's sad as another member of the Trek cast passes away, and a little ironic to me personally as I had just a few days after her passing finally landed her Mego action figure from the seventies for my collection from a road trip to an antique market.

Goodbye to Judith Durham at the age of 79.

Durham was the lead vocalist for The Seekers, the first Australian group to succeed in the United States and the United Kingdom, and the top five songs "I'll Never Find Another You" and the theme song to the 1967 film "Georgy Girl".

It's Durham's beautiful voice that carries those songs and makes them so memorable even as you listen to them today

Georgy Girl was listed as number one in the USA on the Cashbox chart and number two on the Billboard listings.

Cashbox became defunct in 1996 but at the time of The Seekers, it was equally important as the Billboard listings.

The Seekers are to this day, the unofficial band of Australia, and it would be very difficult for another group to reach the same level there and have sold over fifty million records worldwide.

Goodbye to David McCullough at the age of 89.

The two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Presidential biographies for Harry Truman and John Adams, McCullough also is known for hosting the American Experience series for years on PBS and for his voice work that included the Ken Burns series "The Civil War".

McCullough also was the narrator of the film "Seabiscuit", both of his Pulitzer victors were adapted for films on HBO and he was the subject of the documentary "David McCullough: Painting With Words".

McCullough's thirteen books also include biographies on Theodore Roosevelt and the Wright Brothers, and books on 1776, the Brooklyn Bridge, Panama Canal, and the Johnstown Flood.

Goodbye to Bernard Shaw at the age of 82.

The long-time lead anchor at CNN, Shaw retired earlier than he could have and was quoted as saying that his success wasn't worth the cost of what he missed from his personal life.

Shaw is most remembered for his controversial question to Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis in a 1988 debate that used his wife Kitty in a hypothetical question that concerned the death penalty stance of the then-Massachusetts Governor.

Dukakis's passionless answer sent his candidacy into decline and he would lose the election to George Bush.
Shaw is also remembered for his Gulf War coverage in which he was the rare journalist to honestly convey their unease at being in a war zone Shaw reported being under a desk in his hotel as missiles whizzed by and stating that he felt like he was in the middle of hell. 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Cade the Cannon guns down Panthers 26-24

 Rookie kicker Cade York nailed a fifty-eight-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining to give the Cleveland Browns their first season-opening victory since 2004 with a 26-24 win over the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte.

Nick Chubb rushed for 141 yards and Kareem Hunt scored a rushing touchdown as well as a receiving one to lead the Cleveland offense.

The Browns will host the 0-1 New York Jets next Sunday in their home opener.

Brownie Bits

1) Cade York might have finally given the Browns the weapon in the kicking game that they have lacked since the departure of Phil Dawson and showed why picking a kicker in the draft makes sense-IF (like every other position) you pick the right kicker.

2) Cleveland had tried on two other occasions to draft the problem to their placekicking solutions (Zane Gonzalez and Austin Seibert) since losing Phil Dawson but York seems different as he brings the dimension that Baltimore's Justin Tucker adds to the Ravens- the ability to add ten to fifteen yards longer than a normal kicker's range to give you a chance to win or tie in late game situations.

3) Jacoby Brissett was okay in his Browns debut but far from spectacular as he overthrew three receivers in the first quarter, most notably Amari Cooper on a pass pattern that would have likely resulted in a touchdown or a minimum of a first and goal situation.

4) Still, Brissett avoided the big mistake (zero turnovers) and while the overthrows are a concern that will continue as the Brissett era moves forward, this is the type of performance that Cleveland hopes will result in keeping the team afloat during the absence of DeShaun Watson- Basic and avoid mistakes.

5) The Browns did finally use some formations that used Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the backfield at the same time and it proved to be effective.

The key to this working is Kareem Hunt and his ability to disguise himself as the halfback or the fullback.

Hunt will usually be the fullback in these alignments but if Hunt can keep defenses wondering what he will do, it should open up some huge opportunities for Nick Chubb.

6) Speaking of Nick Chubb, Chubb averaged 6.4 yards per rush in this game and much of that was pure effort in dragging Panthers downfield.

Chubb reminds me of the backs of yesteryear that could outrun you but would rather run over you and while those types of backs often don't have a long-term shelf life, they are very fun to watch while you have them!

7) Cleveland's defense played well except for two massive exceptions and those were almost enough to cost them the game.

Blown coverages set up a second-quarter score as Baker Mayfield hit Ian Thomas for a fifty-yard gain to the one-yard line and the fourth-quarter seventy-five-yard strike to Robby Anderson for a score kept Carolina in the game.

Otherwise, the defense was fine but those two blown coverages have to be stopped when you play against better teams than Carolina and better passers than Baker Mayfield.

8) The defensive line tormented Baker Mayfield all game and in the first half, the Browns seldom allowed him to get an uncontested throw away without a tip, deflection, or a hurried pass.

Myles Garrett finished with two sacks and the Browns generally proved the point that Mayfield isn't good enough to be a quarterback to build around.

Mayfield did hit on those two blown coverages which a normal quarterback should but he otherwise didn't dazzle or look too much better than Jacoby Brissett did.

9) The officials may have blown two roughing the passer calls, one for each team, although the Carolina penalty cost them fifteen vital yards on the Browns last possession.

Carolina's Bryan Burns was called for roughing Jacoby Brissett on that play and it was at least an arguable call but it was no worse than the obviously awful call on Taven Bryan, who forced Baker Mayfield to hurry a throw and would have forced a punt from Carolina's own end zone.

10) Carolina was upset about intentional grounding not being called late in the game on Jacoby Brissett as he spiked the ball to stop the clock.

Brissett appeared to pump his arm as he took one step back and flags were thrown but after consultation, Brissett was ruled to be allowed to take the step as the rule states that the passer's step does not disqualify the passer from spiking the ball.

Matt Rhule didn't like the call and I might not have either but it was the correct call.

11) I thought Grant Delpit might be taking a step forward this season as a ball-hawking safety and it was Delpit that grabbed the only interception of the day on Baker Mayfield.

The Browns have lacked that type of player for so long and I believe Delpit will fill that role well.

12) Donovan Peoples-Jones led Cleveland with six catches for sixty yards and was targeted eleven times.

Peoples-Jones made several tough catches over the middle and bailed Jacoby Brissett out of a few jams with some excellent grabs.

13) Where does this put the Browns?

They had to have this game and the next game against the Jets.

Beating bad teams is a must until the return of DeShaun Watson and after dominating Carolina for the first fifty minutes, Cleveland allowed the Panthers back into the game with sloppy play.

That trend cannot continue as I'm convinced that Cleveland needs to be at least 3-1 after the first month if they have any playoff hopes.

They almost gave a game away that was well in hand, they are not good enough to do that against good teams and it's a bad habit to start to get into...

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Ohio State drops Arkansas State

  C.J.Stroud threw four touchdown passes, three of them to Marvin Harrison Jr as the Ohio State Buckeyes eased past the Arkansas State Red Wolves 45-12 in Columbus.

Harrison finished the game with seven catches for 184 yards with Emeka Egbuka also finishing with over one hundred receiving yards (118) on the afternoon.

Ohio State improves to 2-0 and will host Toledo next Saturday night.

I am posting this incomplete as due to a family issue, I have yet to watch the game.

In the event that I have time to watch it, I will add some notes.

If not, I wanted to at least have the score of the game etc. on the blog.

Cleveland Browns Preview-The Defense

     The Cleveland Browns may have to rely more on their defense this season than in the past.

The Cleveland defense has an impact player in Myles Garrett and a few young players that have a chance to become breakout stars.

Whether those players do so might make the difference between a top-five defense and a top-ten version, which could also make the difference between a good team and an average one.

The starting defensive ends are top notch with the gifted Myles Garrett at one end and the Browns re-signed Jadeveon Clowney to return on the opposite end of the line.

The depth is unproven though as Chase Winovich arrives via a trade with New England and two rookies round out the group with third-rounder Alex Wright from UAB and seventh-rounder Isaiah Thomas from Oklahoma.

Cleveland could be vulnerable at defensive tackle with former Jacksonville number one pick Taven Bryan and returning Jordan Elliott as starters.

Neither has set the world on fire in their career and they are backed up by second-year man Tommy Togiai and fourth-rounder Perrion Winfrey of Oklahoma.

This unit will have to exceed expectations in order for the defense to be strong against the run.

The linebackers feature Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who seems to be ready for a breakout season.

JOK can be a three-down linebacker, rush the passer, and drop back in pass protection, and he only has to be healthy to perform at a top level.

Veteran Anthony Walker returns as a steady tackle accumulator and Jacob Phillips is back after missing most of last season due to injury,

Sione Takitaki will see some time and help on special teams as well as Tony Fields.

The Browns are strong at the corners with Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome and they used their top pick in the third round on Martin Emerson of Mississippi State.

Cleveland traded Troy Hill back to the Rams, so they expect Emerson to fill his spot at the slot corner.

A.J. Green and Greedy Williams complete a solid collection of cornerbacks.

Grant Delpit showed signs late last year of giving the Browns a possible star at safety after missing his rookie year with a torn Achilles.

Delpit has the ball skills that the Browns have never seemed to possess at safety and I think he could be another breakout star this season.

John Johnson will start at the other safety after a mildly disappointing first season with Cleveland.

Ronnie Harrison was re-signed to some surprise and Harrison can be an excellent player if he can stop his issues with taking dumb penalties by being overaggressive.

D'Anthony Bell made the team after a strong training camp battle with second-year man Richard LeCounte that was so close that the Browns decided to keep both players.

Rookie Cade York was drafted from LSU to hopefully solve the Browns kicking problems that date back to allowing Phil Dawson to leave via free agency and veteran Corey Bojorquez was signed in free agency from Green Bay as the punter.

Cleveland signed Jakeem Grant to help the return team but Grant was injured in camp and will miss the season.

The plans are for Demetric Felton to be the main kick returner in Grant's absence.

I don't know what to think of this team.

There are some very special players on this team and some with the potential to be on that level as well.

However, I have doubts about the eleven games without DeShaun Watson and even when Watson returns, it's asking a lot to be in top form after missing almost two years and joining a new team.

I'm not impressed with the non-Amari Cooper wide receivers and if this team gets behind, they will have a tough time battling back.

On defense, the Browns could be very good, especially if they can get any production from the interior defensive line, even if only to stop the run.

The question is this- can the defense be very good or can they be elite?
Elite is what it may take this season and I would cautiously that they might fall a little short of that.

Let's call it 9-8 and in the battle for the final wild-card spot with a third-place finish in the AFC North.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Cleveland Browns Preview-The Offense

    The Cleveland Browns rank at the top of the most polarizing teams in the NFL at the start of the 2022 season.

You will find some pundits that believe they have the type of talent to keep them near the hunt for the playoffs until the return of DeShaun Watson, which would then allow the Browns to hit the turbo button, make the postseason, and be a very dangerous team that few will want to face in those playoffs.

There are others that think the Browns will not be able to overcome the absence of DeShaun Watson with Jacoby Brissett and the lack of any wide receivers other than Amari Cooper that scare anyone and they might be the fourth-best team in a four-team division.

Both could be right and the truth could also be in the middle but the Cleveland Browns 2022 season could be predicted in several ways and no predictions can be laughed away or scoffed aside as being ridiculous.

Until DeShaun Watson's suspension is over, it'll be Jacoby Brissett at quarterback and Joshua Dobbs as the backup.

Dobbs looked better in the preseason but he is far less experienced and I understand the decision to use Brissett until Watson's return.

Second-year player and former third-round draft pick Kellen Mond was claimed from Minnesota to serve as the third-string quarterback.

The Browns offense still seems a bit one-dimensional as Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski seem to think that replacing Jarvis Landry with Amari Cooper is more than enough to upgrade the passing game.

While Cooper certainly is an upgrade downfield and overall, the Browns stubborn belief that adding Cooper and rookie David Bell in the slot will be enough to give Jacoby Brissett the targets that he needs to give the Browns a fighting chance during his eleven-game tenure.

The running game still will be among the deepest in the game with Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, DeErnest Johnson, and rookie Jerome Ford and they will need all of them if the Browns are going to have any chance of making the playoffs.

Donovan Peoples-Jones returns as the starter at wide receiver opposite Amari Cooper with Cleveland still seeming to place far too much faith in 2021 third-rounder Anthony Schwartz to improve his pass-catching and sixth-rounder Michael Woods and versatile Demetric Felton can be used at wide receiver or running back.

The wide receivers (other than the non-Watson games) might make or break this season on the gamble that drafting David Bell and swapping Jarvis Landry for Amari Cooper is going to be enough for a wide receiver improvement.

David Njoku was signed to a four-year contract extension in May with the hopes that his occasional glimpses of greatness can show up more often as the number one tight end.

The skills and ability are there for Njoku but can the consistency be relied upon finally?

Harrison Bryant is a nice second tight end with excellent hands and Jesse James was signed as the third tight end for blocking situations.

The offensive line is top-notch at guard with perhaps the best tandem in the league at the position in Wyatt Teller and Joel Bitonio.

2020 first-rounder Jedric Wills struggled with injuries last season and affected his performance in his second year at left tackle, while former All-Pro Jack Conklin attempts to return from his season-ending injury in 2021 on the right side.

Chris Hubbard will also try to return as the backup swing lineman after going out for the year last season in the opening day defeat, 2021 fourth-rounder James Hudson is backing up Wills at left tackle and veteran Joe Haeg was signed a few days for more depth at tackle.

The Browns decided to release steady veteran J.C. Tretter even though he was signed for 2022 in order to pave the way for Nick Harris, who then injured his knee in the preseason opener and ended his season.

Fortunately, the Browns had signed former Seahawk Ethan Pocic to backup Harris and Pocic does have some starting experience in his days in Seattle.

Michael Dunn is the primary backup for Pocic and Dunn can also play guard and tackle.

The offense will all come down to how well the passing game will do with Jacoby Brissett.

If Brissett can keep offenses honest enough with his arm and a questionable group of receivers is able to step up, the Browns could have a pretty good offense.

If Brissett or his pass catchers cannot do that- the Browns are going to struggle with their offense and any hopes of a decent season could be out of bounds before DeShaun Watson ever hits the field.

I intend on trying to return later today with a look at the defense...


 The NFL season kicks off this week and I'm making one change as I'll be adding the Los Angeles Chargers to the PPM.

I have what seems to be a hundred Chargers on my fantasy football team and as a big fan of Justin Herbert, I've been watching a lot of their games in the four o'clock window over the last few seasons, so I've decided to add them to the PPM to bulk up the NFL portion.

Last Week: 10-1 
Overall: 11-4

Ohio State over Arkansas State 51-12
Texas Tech over Houston 49-47
Boise State over New Mexico 36-17
Arkansas over South Carolina 36-28
N.C. State over Charleston Southern 45-17
Bowling Green over Eastern Kentucky 31-20
Colorado State over Middle Tennessee State 28-17
Nebraska over Georgia Southern 35-20
Oregon State over Fresno State 41-35

Games of the Week
Alabama over Texas 47-17
Baylor over BYU 36-30

Browns over Panthers 21-16
Chargers over Raiders 37-34
Saints over Falcons 24-13

Games of the Week
Bills over Rams 29-27
Bengals over Steelers 27-21

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Cleaning out the Inbox: Passings

 It's been a bit since I've caught up on some recent passings of note so before the football season kicks off in full, I'll try to catch up on the inbox items!

Goodbye to Len Dawson at the age of 87.

Dawson was the pilot for the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs, who upset the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV 23-7, winning the Super Bowl MVP, and is a civic icon in the Kansas City area.

Dawson also led the Chiefs in their previous incarnation as the Dallas Texans to the 1962 AFL title in a three-overtime win as well as the 1965 AFL title before losing in the first Super Bowl to Green Bay.

Dawson had failed in the NFL in Pittsburgh and Cleveland after the Steelers selected him from Purdue as their first rounder in the 1957 draft spending two unsuccessful seasons with each team before signing on in the AFL with the Texans for the 1962 season and revitalizing his career.

After his playing career, Dawson along with Nick Buoniconti was the host of HBO's Inside the NFL from 1977 through 2001 as well as serving as the beloved color analyst on the Chiefs radio network from 1985 to 2017.

Goodbye to Pete Carril at the age of 92.

The long-time coach at Princeton and developer of the school's namesake offensive system, Carril was the head coach of the Tigers from 1966-96, winning 514 games, taking them to eleven NCAA tournaments, and ending his career with a colossal upset of defending national champion UCLA in the 1996 tournament with an incredible game plan that saw a 43-41 win in the shot clock era.

The Carril system with its patient passing and backdoor cuts to the basket gave undermanned teams at all levels hopes for upsets and there would have been few bigger upsets in the history of sports than number one ranked and seeded Georgetown losing to Princeton in the first round of the 1988 NCAA Tournament.

Princeton led most of the games before Georgetown took a 50-49 lead with Princeton with the ball with seconds remaining but Alonzo Morning blocked a shot out of bounds with one second to go.

Princeton's Kit Mueller took the final shot with Mourning blocking the shot to end the game with many (including me) believing Mourning fouled Mueller with the referees swallowing their whistle.

A larger and forgotten achievement was Princeton's 1975 NIT title in a day when the NIT title really meant something as a conference could only receive bids for two teams each and gave the NIT a top-notch field.

Goodbye to Tom Weiskopf at the age of 79.

Weiskopf was the first of many in the late sixties and seventies to be named the "Next Nicklaus" only to discover that there was only one Jack Nicklaus and he wasn't going away from the golf course.

Still, Weiskopf put together an excellent career with sixteen wins and one major- the 1973 British Open before winning four times on the senior tour, including the 1995 U.S. Senior Open.

Known as "The Towering Inferno" as a player for his noted temper, Weiskopf finished second four times in The Masters, which holds the record for most second-place finishes at Augusta for someone that would never win the tournament.

Weiskopf would later work as a color commentator for both CBS and ABC after his retirement from the PGA Tour in the days before the Senior Tour offered as many tournaments per year as they currently do.

Goodbye to Steve Worster at the age of 73.

A bruising fullback, Worster was the inspiration behind the University of Texas designing the Wishbone offense in order to use Worster, Ted Koy, and Chris Gilbert all at the same time in 1968.

Texas would win the Southwest Conference titles in all three seasons that Worster played and won the 1969 national championship as Worster rushed for over 2,300 yards in those seasons with Worster named All-American in 1969 and 1970, and finishing fourth in the voting for the 1970 Heisman Trophy.

Worster was drafted in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Rams in 1971 but chose to sign with the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats where he would play in three games before retiring after the season as football was no longer fun for Worster.

Goodbye to Bob Locker at the age of 84.

Known for his sinkerball, Locker didn't make the big leagues until he was 27, debuting with the White Sox in 1965.

Locker's best season came in 1967 for the White Sox, when he saved a career-high twenty games and posted an ERA of 2.09 in seventy-seven appearances.

Locker would win a World Series ring with Oakland in 1972 and would finish his career with ninety-five saves and an ERA of 2.75.

Goodbye to Gene LeBell at the age of 89.

"Judo Gene" has perhaps the most diverse resume' of any person involved in combat sports in the last seventy years with stints in pro wrestling, judo, mixed martial arts fighting before there was such a thing, television and film work as an actor and stuntman, and running the Los Angeles NWA wrestling promotion.

LeBell refereed the Muhammad Ali-Antonio Inoki fight in 1976, sparred with Bruce Lee on the set of the Green Hornet, appeared in three Elvis Presley movies, promoted boxing and wrestling at the legendary Olympic Auditorium with his mother and owner of the Olympic, Aileen Eaton, trained Ronda Rousey, and is reported to have been the person that Brad Pitt's character in "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" is based on, although Quentin Tarantino denies it.

And that's even before the story that has become legend with several witnesses swearing that LeBell got the best of Steven Seagal on the set of Out For Justice where LeBell was serving as the stunt coordinator- the story gets even more colorful than it sounds!

LeBell's life is reported to have a possible film project in the works and it sounds pretty entertaining on the subject matter alone!