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Sunday, March 31, 2019

AAF Week In Review: Week 8

By Steven Weldon

As the playoff games become clearer, more questions arise for some teams. What would we make of week 8?


Garrett Gilbert had a bad day. The Express still figured out how to lose a game they led for a large portion. It was a messy day down in Memphis, on account of the weather, penalties and mental mistakes. Multiple plays called back due to pass interference changed the eventual outcome, including an injury suffered by Johnny Manziel. In all of the mess, the Express held a three-point lead with less than three minutes left. A muffed punt led to a recovery by the Apollos, putting them in great field position to win. On the ensuing play, Express head coach Mike Singletary came onto the field during a play, prompting a penalty after the Express made a stop near the goal line. Another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was charged to an unnamed Memphis assistant, putting the Apollos at the goal line. The best team in the AAF responded by punching in the eventual game-winning touchdown, effectively locking up home-field advantage for the playoffs, and ending the Express' season.

Player of the game: Charles Johnson, 8 receptions, 135 yards, 1 touchdown
Johnson is likely the best wide receiver in the AAF, and he continued his great season being a reliable option in a wild game.


In a low scoring affair at the AAF's highest elevation, the Stallions collected their third win of the season and entered the playoff race. Both teams struggled to score in this game, with the only touchdown scored after Josh Woodrum dropped the ball handing it off to Joel Bouagnon, who after collecting the ball, held on until crossing the goal line, after which the play had to be deferred to review due to a possible fumble. The Fleet threatened late, but Mike Bercovici threw his only interception of the game with 31 seconds left, ending their hopes at gaining ground in the playoff race.

Player of the game: Ryan Moeller, 2 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery
I gave this award to a defensive back on the losing team because this game would have been more out of hand if he hadn't been there. The Fleet are going to need a lot of help in the next two weeks, and Moeller needs to step up as he has all year.


The Iron wrapped up the second and final playoff spot in the east with a solid victory over the reeling Legends. Atlanta made a few nice plays, but couldn't get any closer than the five-yard line all day, as Younghoe Koo continued his perfect season of kicking, scoring all of the Legends points. Meanwhile, Trent Richardson had a big day on the ground, including a 16 yard gain, his longest of the season. With four sacks, two interceptions and one fumble recovery in a game where both teams endured butterfingers, the Iron defense stood strong and ended Atlanta's outside shot to the playoffs.

Player of the game: Trent Richardson, 18 carries, 83 yards, 1 touchdown
Richardson, despite his low per-game rushing statistics, is the best running back in the AAF. He's turning up his form at just the right time, as well.


The Commanders were in this game until the fourth quarter, when a sack-fumble recovery led to a Tim Cook dagger rushing touchdown. Miscues such as a Logan Woodside interception in the mid-second quarter were the story of the game, as Arizona capitalized as much as they could. The Hotshots led wire-to-wire and continue their rise to the top of the western conference.

Player of the game: Tim Cook, 3 carries, 30 yards, 2 touchdowns
Cook was the most efficient player on the field outside of Rashad Ross. He scored when the Hotshots needed him to.


Orlando wrapped up a playoff ticket and home-field advantage of the game. We already know their opponent as well. Will the Apollos rest some players in the final two games of the regular season? It's probably not on their mind, with all of the AAF players looking to secure NFL contracts. Let's see how they manage the future with a week 9 tilt against the San Diego Fleet.
The next two games for the Iron are simply practice to gear up for the gauntlet they'll meet on the road in the playoffs. Can Trent Richardson match his week 8 performance and give the Apollos something the worry about? It seems the Iron will have a quarterback preparation test, as they visit the Hotshots in the desert next week.
The west playoffs are up for grabs and the Hotshots sit in the drivers' seat. They picked up their game following the win over Orlando a few weeks ago, and now they're fighting to stay above the Commanders. Week 9 is huge, as the Iron come to town. Arizona needs just one win to clinch at least the playoff game.
I mean they didn't look good, but they're still good. The last game was a bad omen for any potential playoffs, but at least they know what to improve on at this point of the season. All they need is one win to get into the playoffs, and the Memphis Express come to the Alamodome next weekend. It's a good thing games aren't played on paper, because that's the only place Memphis doesn't have a chance to win this one.
They aren't out of the playoff picture, and they definitely helped themselves with a tough victory over the Fleet. They need to win out to make the playoffs, and their next game against the Legends should give them a measuring stick to see what they can do. Alas, they will be eliminated if both Arizona and San Antonio win, but if one loses, they've got a date with destiny.
I was really disappointed in their last game against the Stallions. The Fleet are better than this. Like their last week opponent, they're not out of the west race, but they face the Apollos next week. One loss and they are done.
The Johnny Manziel experiment seems to be over after he was hurt in the previous game. Looks like the Express are just out to spoil seasons now. With nothing to lose, how can they not win? Probably the same way they accidentally blow games. Yeesh. Here's to making the west race interesting against the Commanders next weekend.
Aaron Murray was the answer to the many questions, but as the season trudged along for the Legends, he became another question. This team needs an overhaul, but keep the kicker. The Stallions visit next weekend with their playoff lives at stake. Will Atlanta show their mid-season form?

AAF Week 9 will be live on CBS, NFL Network, and B/R Live. 

NHL news and notes

Some NHL news and notes as we head into the last week of the regular season

The Columbus Blue Jackets have surged into the first wild card spot with a perfect 5-0 week outscoring their opponents 24-4. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky pitched the shutout today against Buffalo 4-0 and has pitched 3 shutouts in his last 5 starts. Bobrovsky has been one of the most talented goalies in the NHL but there has been plenty of off ice issues with him including a team in house suspension this year and talk of possibly trading him in the off season.  The big win this week was the 6-2 thrashing of the Montreal Canadiens and the Blue Jackets now own a 1 point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes and 2 point lead over the Canadiens for a wild card spot.  The Blue Jackets have a favorable schedule for their last 3 games as they play the Boston Bruins at home who have pretty much clinched the 2nd spot in the Atlantic Division and finish at non-playoff teams the NY Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

The Montreal Canadiens despite the critical loss at Columbus on Thursday bounced back with a huge road win at Winnipeg 3-1 Saturday night to keep themselves alive.  Some very interesting scheduling dynamics for the Canadiens for their last 3 games.  They play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night at home who have nothing to play for and are nursing injuries on defense.  On Thursday they play at Washington who also might have nothing to play for since they have a chance to clinch the Metropolitan Division on Tuesday night with a win and an Islanders loss.  They conclude the season at home against Toronto who unless they have a total collapse are locked in the 3rd spot in the Atlantic and also might have nothing to play for as well.

The big 3-1 victory by the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Carolina Hurricanes today all but assures the Penguins of a playoff spot as they finish the regular season with a home and home against the Detroit Red Wings and a home game against the NY Rangers.  The Pens will have to win out and hope for the Islanders to stumble to get home ice in the 1st round of the playoffs.  Carolina has now lost 3 of 4 but if they win out they will claim the last playoff spot.  A tough road game Tuesday night at Toronto, a home against the New Jersey Devils Thursday night, and close with a Saturday night road game at the Philadelphia Flyers.

Can the Toronto Maple Leafs just flip the switch when the playoffs start? They have lost 7 of 10 and have only beat 1 current playoff team since February 14th.  In March they have lost 2 games to the worst team in the league in the Ottawa Senators and goaltender Frederick Andersen is in terrible form.  This team is talented enough to turn it around and have 4 games this week to maybe establish some momentum going into the playoffs with a looming 1st round matchup against the Boston Bruins.

A great race between the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.  The Avalanche have a 1 point lead and a game in hand against the Coyotes heading into the last week.  The Avalanche won at home Friday night in a shootout against the Coyotes to maintain their lead. Goaltender Phillip Grubauer continues to be the big story in net for the Avalanche winning his last 6 of 7 giving only 10 goals in regulation during this stretch  The Avalanche finish at St Louis, home against Edmonton and Winnipeg and finish at San Jose.  Arizona finishes with the LA Kings at home, at Vegas, and home against Winnipeg.

Winnipeg Jets fans have to be concerned about their team as they have lost 4 of 5 including 3 straight at home and now are in a battle to win the division and could possibly lose home ice in the 1st round of the playoffs.  The big loss was blowing a 4-2 lead against the offensively suspect NY Islanders giving up 2 goals in the last 2 minutes to lose 5-4.  It should be a wild finish in the Central Division with Winnipeg and Nashville tied at 94 points and St Louis with 92.  Winnipeg and St Louis have 4 games this week and Nashville only has 3.  All of Winnipeg's games are on the road playing at Chicago, Minnesota, Colorado, and Arizona.  St Louis has Colorado at home, at Chicago, and finish with Philadelphia and Vancouver at home.  Nashville finishes at Buffalo, and have Vancouver and Chicago at home to finish.

The Dallas Stars now with 89 points finished an impressive Canadian swing winning at Winnipeg, Calgary, and Edmonton before losing in a shootout to Vancouver to conclude the trip.  They would have to have a major collapse not to get in the playoffs and finish with all non playoff teams Philadelphia at home, at Chicago, and Minnesota at home.  Still concerns with starting goaltender Ben Bishop who left the game against Calgary Wednesday night with a lower body injury.  Anton Khudobin has filled in nicely but the Stars need a playoff tested veteran like Bishop to have a chance in the playoffs.

You can pretty much put a fork in the playoff hopes for the Minnesota Wild as they get shutout today by the Arizona Coyotes 4-0 and now trail Colorado by 4 points who have a game in hand and trail Arizona by 3 with 3 games to play. They have lost 8 of 11 and have only scored 17 goals during that stretch.  Coach Bruce Boudreau will probably be the fall guy for missing the playoffs.

What is going on with the San Jose Sharks heading into the playoffs?  They have now lost 8 of 9 and and 6 of those losses have been at home and 5 of those losses have been against non playoff teams.  They are locked into the 2nd spot of the Pacific Division but like the Toronto Maple Leafs are in very poor form.  I considered them a possible favorite to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals but right now I would pick the Vegas Golden Knights to beat them in the 1st round of the playoffs.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Softball Really Is A Great Sport

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

In past week I have had the privilege of watching both a high school and college softball game live.

In was fun, exciting and fast paced.

We often think of softball scores as 1-0, 2-1, with great pitching. Well I have also seen some great hitting.

And while I will not be buying season tickets, I will watch several more games this year and you should as well.

As well, if you coach softball on any level and would like to be a guest contributor on Craw’s Corner, contact us,

Will NBC Admit A Mistake

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

When will NBC madmit it was a mistake to replace the retired Johnny Miller with Paul Azinger?

If you are an  analyst on a major network, of a major sport, you better be major good.

Azinger falls very short of major, for one big reason. He only tells you the obvious, nothing ever new. Plus the last thing golf needs is a golf analyst that constantly talks like a good old boy.

Where there is criticism, there better be Thoughts. I would have gone with Brandel Chamblee, who always tells you something new.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Eli Sports & NFHS Network


Eli Sports & NFHS Network

by Ron Soanka

A brief introduction if I may. My name is Ron Soanka and for those of you that may not know me, I've  had the honor of broadcasting high school sports in Oregon and Washington for the last 27 years.. I started covering the Greater St. Helens League in 1995 and have not regretted one second. For over 5 years now I've been working for the Eli Sports Network. These past two years Ive been on medical leave as I  continue to recover from my second cancer surgery  almost two years ago. At the present time I've been asked if I would be a broadcast mentor for the rest of the broadcast teams for our network, and do a little writing from time to time.

As sports fans I think it is safe to say that we all love to watch high school sports. The purpose of this article is to explain to you how it is possible to watch high school sports from all ove the country, and not just the Pacific Northwest. The Eli Sports Network teamed up with the NFHS sports network to allow this to happen. Thru our partnerships it is now possible to watch high school sports the enitre school year. NFHS is a subscription based company that allows this to happen. For the small fee of only $9.95 a month. You may cancel anytime you wish. You would probably spend more then that just to attend one football next fall. This is the second year Eli Sports has teamed up with NFHS and in that short period of time we have become the largest most watched network in the nation. Quite a feat for us here in the Pacific Northwest to say the least. We covered basketball tournies in Tacoma, Spokane, and Yakima this year and the viewing numbers were staggering. In three short days our viewship was just a shade over 900,000. To be honest, it is even hard for me to comprehend those kind of numbers. I want to see as many people as possible have a chance for you to see your kids, grandkids, or any family members that are playing sports to see them perform.

It is very easy to get started. Please go to and at the top of the paage you will see a tutorial that will walk you thru the process. It's that simple. I am not a computer techie by any stretch of the imagination folks and I even figured it out.

If there may be any queations you have please feel free to let me know and I"ll help as much as I can. Thanks so much for your time and hope to see you down the raod.


'Break up the Mariners' / Seattle Routs Sale and Red Sox 12-4!!

by Harry Cummins

Here are some takeaways from Seattle's unblemished 3-0 start to the 2019 MLB season:

Marco Gonzales, with one eye on his Gonzaga Bulldogs basketball team last night in the Sweet 16, went 5 1/3 innings in improving his season mark to 2-0 in besting the reigning World Series champions.

Domingo Santana, with a 2-run home run and a bases loaded double, already has a MLB leading 9 RBI's in just 3 games.

Tim Beckham is finally showing why Tampa Bay selected him as the Number 1 overall draft pick in 2008.  After going 5 for 7 in the two games in Japan, he homered in his first two at bats last night off Boston ace Chris Sale.  He is now on pace for 162 home runs this season!

Edwin Encarnacion got to "walk the parrot" for the first time as a Seattle Mariner with his home run Thursday night at the newly named T-Mobile Park.

Next Game:   Friday night.  RHP Nathan Eovaldi vs LHP Yusei Kikuchi

Teaira McCowan Highlights Sweet 16 Weekend in Portland

by Harry Cummins

     Most of the crowd pouring into the Moda Center tonight in Portland for the NCAA women's basketball tournament will be rooting for the Oregon Ducks (31-4) and their super-star Sabrina Ionescu, who holds the NCAA record with 18 career triple-doubles, as they match up with South Dakota State in a late game Sweet 16 clash.

     However, if fans want to catch a glimpse of the best women's player in college basketball and the probable No 1 pick in the upcoming WNBA draft, they should not miss the early game between Mississippi State and Arizona State, slated for a 6 pm tip.

    This is where you will find Mississippi State's 6'7 center Teaira McCowan, as the Bulldogs (32-2) attempt to make the Final Four for the third year in a row, having lost in the national championship game the past two seasons.

     McCowan is the SEC player of the year, averaging 18.3 ppg and 13.5 rebounds.  She has registered an amazing 29 double-doubles this season, often sitting out the 4th quarter of games because her team was so far ahead.

    Baring an upset, Mississippi State and Oregon appear headed for a Sunday showdown in the Portland Regional for the right to advance to the Final Four.

     Nearly 12,000 seats have been sold in anticipation.




Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Great Work Contributors

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Great team of contributors at Craw’s Corner. Big thumbs up for all hard work and effort to make it entertaining for our readers.

MLB Team Most Likely to Surprise in 2019.. and Why.

                                 Buxton will be baseball's most exciting player in 2019
                                 and The Minnesota Twins its most watchable team.

By Harry Cummins

     With Spring Training concluding and Opening Day at hand, it's time to make a bold prediction as to which team is most likely to surprise the soothsayers this season in Major League Baseball.  Our selection resides in the Central Division of the American League.  It's the Minnesota Twins!

     The Twins should battle all season long with the pitching rich Cleveland Indians for the division crown, paced by breakout seasons from their German-born RF Max Kepler and enigmatic CF Byron Buxton.

     Minnesota's everyday lineup is solid from top to bottom and should receive elevated performances from talented players like Eddie Rosario,Jonathan Schoop,C.J. Cron and former Seattle Mariner Nelson Cruz.  Miguel Sano, when finally healthy, could provide power in the middle of the batting order and Jorge Polanco should enjoy a full season after his steroid suspension last year cost him half a year of playing time.

     The Twins pitching staff should come of age this year, behind first time All-Star Jose Berrios along with Michael Pineda, healthy after Tommy John surgery in 2017.  Martin Perez will be a pleasant surprise in the rotation.

    The farm system is loaded, with uber-prospects Royce Lewis and Alex Kiriloff close to major league ready and ex-Oregon State Beaver Trevor Larnach a projected 'fast mover' after the Twins drafted him with the 20th overall pick last year.

    The task of interlocking all these pieces falls to rookie manager Rocco Baldelli, hired away from the Tampa Bay Rays to replace first ballot Hall-of-Famer Paul Molitor as skipper.  Baldelli, at age 37, becomes the youngest current MLB manager.

     Add it all together, and you have baseball's most surprising team of 2019.  Might we see October baseball in the Twin Cities?

Opening Day   Cleveland at Minnesota.  Cory Kluber vs Jose Berrios.


This Week On PGA Tour

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Dell Technologies Match Play

Purse: $10,250,000

Par: 71

Yardage: 7,108

Austin Country Club

Craw’s Prediction: Bubba Watson to defend his 2018 title

Hand Wringing Over D1 Transfer Rate is Misplaced

There is considerable wringing of hands (and some gnashing of teeth) in college basketball circles over the spiraling transfer rate over the last decade or so. Jeff Goodman, a quality journalist who keeps a list  of transfers just announced the list is now at 350. Is this really a horrible phenomenon as many would have you believe? I think not...

First of all, yes it  would be great if all D1 student-athletes (and D2, D3, NAIA  and JC for that matter) were seamless fits in their chosen programs. Places where they were successful as students, athletes and as people, thriving on and off the court experiencing mutually respectful relationships with their coaches. Conventional wisdom opines that if these young people were not so fragile or soft and lacking in commitment there wouldn't be such a high transfer rate. This seems like a little bit of victim blaming.

Evaluation and recruiting are not easy! Despite the tremendous time, effort and energy that go  into these efforts, coaches sometimes make errors in their evaluations of 14-18 year olds, and how they will behave as they grow and emerge as adults.  Importantly, this in turn leads to dissatisfaction with limited playing time and roles presented by the coach once the player is in the program. Typically, this occurs when a player commits to a school a little above the level where they can effectively impact. Or the player actually turns out to be a poor system, scheme fit and opts for a new program and a fresh start.

Coaches sometimes turn out to be quite different than the manner they presented themselves during the recruiting process telling prospects what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. There is also ample evidence that there are a handful of coaches who aren't very balanced people and behave as dictators who diminish and demean their players. So we can point to some coaching quirkiness as a cause of transferring as well.

College students who are not athletes and 18-22 year olds often change their minds and seek new schools or opportunities, and these developments aren't seen as a crisis by the hand wringers because they see it as young adults exercising fundamental freedom of choice.

Finally, and possibly most importantly coaches seem to be able to jump from school to school chasing more money, a better opportunity or simply more contract years and a fresh start. People breathlessly follow the coaching carousel each spring and cheer the new hires. Why then are players held to such a different, better yet, such a double standard?

An Epic Staging of World X- Country Championships Set For Saturday

by Harry Cummins

     For a sport in need of a major marketing boost, it may receive exactly what it requires this coming Saturday when the elite cross country runners from 67 nations assemble in Aarhus, Denmark for the staging of the 43rd IAAF/Mikkeller World Cross Country Championships.

     Instead of idyllic golf course footing, the 2019 Championships will be contested on the obstacle-laden, roller-coaster grounds of the Moesgaard Musueum, barely a mile from the Bay of Aarhus on the east coast of Denmark's Jutland Peninsula.  This promises to be unlike any previous Championship course in both design and degree of difficulty.

     The spectacular course is tough right from the gun, as runners will climb 100 feet in just the opening 400 meters of the 10,000 meter test.  Then it really gets interesting.

     Athletes will actually race up the grassy slope of the Moesgaard Museum that serves as the ROOF of the building and will encounter a 200 meter course circling the top of the Musuem and then back down.  There will be special extreme challenge zones scattered throughout the course filled with mud and sand and a expansive water splash area filled with 6 inches of water.

    The challenging course will also traverse thru single tract forests, and over slick grassy knolls and gravel roads.  For thirsty spectators, the highlight of the day will occur when runners enter the 'Valhalla', a massive 50x20 feet tent and cheering zone where fans are encouraged to drink beverages provided by the race's sponser, Mikkeller, a Danish microbrewery.

    As anyone who has competed in cross country will attest, this sort of insane course design will destroy the very elite who depend on rhythm to best utilize their talents.  One race official thus sees this course as a "equalizer", giving athletes from outside east Africa a chance to be competitive.

    In the Men's race, favorites include:

1. Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya, seeking his record 3rd straight World X-Country title.
2.  Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda, the World U-20 Champion.
3.  Selemon Barega of Ethiopia
4.  Ronald Kipruto, 19 year old phenom
5.  Joshua Cheptegi, also from Uganda. (10,000m World Championship Silver)

     In the Women's Field, Hellen Obiri, Beatrice Chepkoech and Letesenbet Gidey are expected to contend for the top spot.  Obiri will be making her World XC debut. On the American side, U.S. Cross Country champion Shelby Houlihan declined her spot to Aarhus.  The Bowerman trained United States trio of Marielle Hall, Courtney Frerichs and Karissa Schweizer may be overmatched as each is making their first appearance in a World XC.

    No American has won the World XC since Craig Virgin in 1981.  None has medaled since Alberto Salazar in 1982.  The top American runner in the men's field is 30 year old Shadrack Kipchirchir.

     Organizers are expecting a crowd in excess of 5,000 spectators for race day festivities, which will include various mass participation races that will showcase IAAF President Seb Coe and Frederick, the Crown Prince of Denmark.

     Short of being in the 'Valhalla' in person Saturday morning, I will toast the organizers of this ground breaking, eclectic event with a coffee and...a Danish!!!  It promises to be quite a show!


AAF Week in Review: Week 7

By Steven Weldon

Two close games, and the playoff picture becomes clearer in another week of AAF action! Let's go in depth.


The Legends fall flat on their face again, but to their credit, they did not allow the Apollos to score 40 points again. They also had no answer for running back Deveon Smith, who found the endzone four times, three on touchdown runs and one two-point conversion.

Player of the game: Deveon Smith, 13 carries, 40 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 receptions, 27 yards.
Smith was the catalyst for scoring in this game, as he made Garrett Gilbert have a very easy day.


The AAF's best defense and the AAF's most turnover-prone team faced off in the Alamo, and a competitive game came out of it. The Commanders struck paydirt on a 36-yard touchdown by Trey Williams late in the fourth quarter, but allowed the Stallions to score with 1:54 left. It would be all for naught though, as the Commanders would intercept their two-point conversion attempt and score it for themselves.

Player of the game: Marquise Willams, 2/3, 49 yards, 1 TD, 6 carries, 19 yards
Williams didn't fill up the stat sheet after coming in as an injury replacement, but he was the driving force behind the Commanders victory.


In a battle for second in the west, the Fleet rode their ship into Tempe looking to make noise. They had a case for hitting their fourth win, but they could not sustain it into the second half. In fact, the Fleet got lucky their final score of the game didn't get called back, as Marcus Baugh seemed to have dropped the football prior to crossing the plane of the goal line, in the midst of a celebration. That was the second quarter. The Fleet threatened the rest of the day, but could not stop John Wolford. Hotshots take their fourth win.

Player of the game: John Wolford, 15/19, 212 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 5 carries, 44 yards, 1 TD.
Wolford shredded the Fleet defense, only being taken for a fool once on an interception.


The AAF's closest natural rivals were on in the final game of the week, and this one did not disappoint. The Express had a lot of positive moments in this game, including an exciting blocked punt leading to a touchdown and an integral kick return inside Iron territory late in the game. Down 25-14, with 9 minutes left in the game, Express wide receiver Reece Horn willed the squad back with multiple long receptions leading to a field goal and the game-tying touchdown with 30 seconds left. In overtime, the Express defense stood tall and Nate Silvers swung a short pass to Dan Williams for the game-winning touchdown and the Express's second win. The Iron gave it all they had, with Trent Richardson providing his usual one touchdown game, but this night was not theirs.

Player of the game: Reece Horn, 7 receptions, 113 yards, 1 TD.
Horn, aside from Nate Silvers was the most important player on the Express offense. He'll need to come up big in the final three games of the year for the Express to actually get back into the playoff picture.


They've been the best team all season, and avoided a post-loss hangover by hanging a big game on the lowly Legends. They've clinched the playoffs, now they just need to secure the #1 seed in the east. They'll face upstart Memphis next weekend.

Offense wins games, defense wins championships. If the Commanders keep going at this clip, they'll be in the mix for it. They can't wrap up a playoff spot unless the Fleet lose, but they will get a good test from Arizona next weekend.

Look out! Here come the Hotshots! They followed up their impressive win with another impressive win and can make things quite interesting in the west with a victory over the Commanders next weekend. John Wolford may have his hands full.

Ouch, the Iron did everything right for about 51 game minutes, but could not close it out. Luckily, there's no immediate threat to them losing their #2 seed position. They'll have a rematch with Atlanta this weekend and can clinch a playoff spot with a win.

The Fleet had a chance to control their own destiny but failed, and the only thing that can stop the bleeding is a win over the Stallions next weekend. They need it to keep pace with Arizona for a playoff spot.

At this point, the Stallions are just playing for upsets. They can still make the playoffs, though it is highly unlikely. Their game against the Fleet next week could jump them up with a win, but it's still a longshot.

Here's another bad team getting hot! Johnny Manziel had a nice debut, but the game was closed out by Nate Silvers. The Express can squeak into the playoffs if everything goes right, but that journey meets the Orlando Apollos next week. They'll be eliminated with a loss. Yeesh. See you next year.

What went up, came down hard. Two weeks of nice play followed by two weeks of garbage play. Not ideal. They can make the playoffs still, but like Memphis, they need a lot to happen. Birmingham can eliminate them next weekend.

Catch the AAF on Bleacher Report Live, NFL Network and CBS Sports Network! 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

NHL news and notes

Some NHL news and notes as we get down to the last 2 weeks of the regular season:

2 big wins for the NY Islanders this week to keep themselves in 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division and remain only 1 point behind the Washington Capitols for the top spot and 2 points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Doing it typical Islander fashion with defense and goaltending with Robin Lehner pitching his 5th shut out of the season against the Arizona Coyotes today 2-0.  Still worried about the lack of goal scoring with only 16 goals in the last 9 games.  Their defensive style could work in the playoffs but the Eastern Conference is so loaded with prolific goal scoring teams playing from behind might be a difficult task.  We could possibly have a huge showdown for the division title in the last game of the regular season as the Islanders play at Washington.  Both teams will go 100% if it is for division to avoid in all likelihood playing Pittsburgh in the 1st round or at least maintaining home ice.  And the big x factor for the Islanders is all of their 1st round home playoff games would be played in Long Island instead of Brooklyn.

If you are a Toronto Maple Leafs fan you have to be concerned how this team is playing as we get close to the playoffs.  They are solidly 3rd in the Atlantic Division but have lost 6 of 9 and all of those wins are against non-playoff teams.  They had a 4 game stretch during this span of giving up 23 goals and now in their last 4 games have only scored 7 goals and lost to the worst team in the league the Ottawa Senators 6-2 and NY Rangers 2-1 in OT.  They have 3 straight games against non playoff teams this week but end the season with 4 straight against playoff teams.  They are pretty much locked in to playing the Boston Bruins in the 1st round but will have to be at their best to have any chance of winning that series.

A heartbreaking loss for the Montreal Canadiens tonight losing 2-1 in OT to the Carolina Hurricanes ending their 3 game winning streak as Carey Price had the shut until the last 5 minutes of the game and eventually gave up the OT winner.  However the Canadiens do still hold the last playoff spot and Price has led the way giving up less than 2 goals a game in his last 6.  A possible playoff type game this week at they play at Columbus Thursday night and as of this writing have a 4 point lead on the Blue Jackets.  Their last 5 are ridiculously tough with Columbus, Winnipeg and Washington on the road and Tampa Bay and Toronto at home.

A disastrous road trip for the Blue Jackets as they have played themselves out of the playoffs with 3 straight losses and try to salvage the last game of the road trip against the Vancouver Canucks tonight. If they lose tonight it might be a must win game against Montreal at home Thursday night.

You can pretty much put a fork in the Philadelphia Flyers for the playoffs this year losing their last 3 of 4.  Their Tuesday night loss against Montreal all but eliminated them.

And just like the Columbus Blue Jackets the Arizona Coyotes have played themselves out of the playoffs with a disastrous 0-4 road trip and now have lost 5 straight and trail the Colorado Avalanche by 1 point for the last playoff spot.  They have only scored 5 goals total during this losing streak.  This losing streak typifies the big weakness for the Coyotes in not having that tip of the spear goal scorer or that line that can produce goals in bunches.  A monstrous game Friday night at Colorado that could determine their playoff fate.

You thought that one of the more consistent teams in the NHL would not go in a slump but the San Jose Sharks have now lost 5 straight. They have given up 23 goals during this losing streak and have lost to non playoff teams Florida, Anaheim, and the LA Kings.  Shark fans better hope that goaltender Martin Jones hasn't been overworked and stays healthy once the playoffs start since back up goaltender Aaron Dell is not the answer.  They are staring down a playoff match up with the Vegas Golden Knights and have a huge match up at home Saturday night against Vegas which could possibly determine home ice in the 1st round.

Even though they lost in OT 2-1 at Chicago tonight the Colorado Avalanche did salvage a point and have played themselves into the last playoff spot winning their previous 4 games including huge wins at Minnesota and Dallas.  Goaltender Phillip Grubauer has almost single handedly carried the Avalanche during this run giving up only 6 goals in his last 5 starts.  Playoff like match up against Arizona at home Friday night.

Impressive run by the St Louis Blues winning their last 4 out of 5 and pretty much securing themselves a playoff spot.  A huge road win at Pittsburgh and home wins against Edmonton, Detroit, and Tampa Bay.  They only trail the Nashville Predators by 2 points for the 2nd spot in the Central Division with a game in hand and 5 of their last 6 games are against non playoff teams so a realistic shot of grabbing home ice for the 1st round of the playoffs.

The Minnesota Wild are only 2 points out of a playoff berth but have the toughest road to get there with their last 6 games all against playoff teams and have lost their last 8 of 11.

A Great Match-Up, Will It Draw TV Audience?

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Could be one of the best contests of the opening weekend of Big Dance

UC Irvine— Most wins in school history at 31-5 and a dominant team in the always competitive Big West.

Oregon— 24-12, winners of 9 straight and completely took apart a good Wisconsin team on Friday.

Oregon is favored by 5 points. Bad news, game will start at approximately 9:40 ET. Many, many will miss what on paper looks like a blockbuster contest.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

An Inside Look At The Inside Linebackers


It looks like this will be the Devin (White) and Devin (Bush) show when it comes to middle linebackers waiting in the green room to cross the podium on draft day. Most of the other talent here are blue collar types, but a few teams like Green Bay and Pittsburgh are looking at a highly rated rush end as a possible transition to the second level. Here is what super scout Dave-Te' Thomas and Paul Crane discussed in their latest Scout's Honor podcast.

From the Day One players all the way through Day Three, including a couple of super sleepers, football fans with teams in need of some men in the middle will learn all about those who should hear their names called in the upcoming NFL draft.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Hopelessly Beaten, Teenage Tennis Sensation Strikes Again

by Harry Cummins

     After her improbable wildcard romp to the BNP Parabas Open crown last week, Canadian teenage sensation Bianca Andreescu found herself down a set, and trailing 5-1 in the second set today, in her opening round match of the Miami Open.

     Across the net was Irina Camelia Begu of Romania, the same player she beat last week in her opening match at Indian Wells.

     That's when the 18 year old Cinderella of the tennis world went to work.  Fending off match-point, winning 5 straight games and then a tie-breaker, Andreescu forced the match to a third and deciding set, which she dominated.  She now advances to the second round of the Miami Open with the 4-6,7-6,6-2 win.

     It's only March, but Andreescu already has compiled a 29-3 record in matches so far this year and has moved into a Top 25 ranking in the world.  She is now scheduled to meet Sofia Kenin in the next round, the 20 year-old former prodigy who has enjoyed a metoeric rise of her own.  (see Craw's Corner  January 11 this year for Sofia's story)

     It should be a great match-up of two rising stars in women's tennis, both with devastating drop shots in their arsenal.

     From toiling in obscurity last year, to her astonishing breakthrough at Indian Wells, Bianca Andreescu has become the toast of the tennis world.

Chinese Pair Claim World Gold With Breathtaking Free Skate

by Harry Cummins

     2018 Olympic Silver Medalists,Wenjing Sui and Cong Han, skating together since childhood, brought a packed house in Saitama, Japan to its collective feet today with one of the most lyrical performance ever witnessed in international competition, in capturing the pairs gold medal at the 2019 World Figure Skating Championships.

     Their breathtaking free routine resulted in a season best 155.60 points (234.84 combined) en route to the pair's second world championship following  their world title in 2017.  The Chinese pair had only recently returned to major international competition a month ago due to Sui's lingering foot injury.

     Skating last in the order, and sitting in second place behind the great Russian pair of Yevgenia Tarosova and Vladimir Morozov, Sui and Han showed why figure skating can be the most watchable sport in the world for its athleticism, artistry, and passion.

     To this veteran reporter who has covered other World Championships, this performance by Sui and Han was perhaps the most powerful ever witnessed, as they skated to the hypnotic 'Rain In Your Black Eyes' by Ezio Bosso.

     Find it on You Tube.  It may just move you more than any One Shinning Moment will from this week's March Madness.



Wednesday, March 20, 2019

PGA Tour, This Week

Valspar Championship

Innisbrook Resort

Par 71

Yeardage 7,340

Prize Money $6.7 million 

Craw’s Prediction— Kevin Kisner wins

NHL Playoff format

As we are exactly 3 weeks from the start of the NHL playoffs the big debate is which current playoff format do you prefer.  Here are some of the options and the possible match ups.

With the current format the playoff match-ups would be:

Columbus vs Tampa Bay
Toronto vs Boston
Carolina vs Washington
NY Islanders vs Pittsburgh

Arizona vs Calgary
Las Vegas vs San Jose
Winnipeg vs Dallas
St Louis vs Nashville

The old 1-8, 2-7, 3-6, and 4-5 the match-ups would be:

Columbus vs Tampa Bay
Carolina vs Boston
Pittsburgh vs Washington
Toronto vs NY Islanders

Arizona vs Calgary
Dallas vs San Jose
St Louis vs Winnipeg
Vegas vs Nashville

The strict division format 1-4 and 2-3:

Montreal vs Tampa Bay
Toronto vs Boston
Carolina vs Washington
Pittsburgh vs NY Islanders

Dallas vs Winnipeg
St Louis vs Nashville
Arizona vs Calgary
Vegas vs San Jose

And to make it very interesting here would be the all NHL playoff match-ups if it was 1-16, 2-15, 3-14, 4-13, 5-12, 6-11, 7-10, 8-9 free for all

Arizona vs Tampa Bay
Dallas vs Calgary
St Louis vs Boston
Columbus vs San Jose
Vegas vs Washington
Carolina vs Toronto
Pittsburgh vs NY Islanders
Nashville vs Winnipeg

I don't care for the current format since if you had 3 of the best teams in the same division one of those teams would be eliminated from the playoffs in the 1st round.

I don't like the strict division format since Montreal with less points would get in over Columbus who has more points this NHL season. 

I prefer the 2nd format since in my opinion it is the most fair and you still have keep many of the traditional rivalries in each conference.

However wouldn't an all NHL playoff free for all be fun? Obviously it would never happen with all of the travel and no real rivalries.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

March Madness - Performance Of The Night

by Harry Cummins

DYLAN OSETKOWSKI of the Texas Longhorns posted our Performance Of The Night as we dive into March Madness in earnest.

The 6'9 Senior scored a career high 26 points on 9 of 13 shooting, including 4 of 6 from 3 point range, as Texas held off South Dakota State 79-73 in the first round of the NIT.

Mike Daum had 25 points and 11 rebounds for the Jackrabbits and finishes his storied career as the 7th leading career scorer in NCAA D-1 history.

Why Time WON'T Begin On Opening Day This Season

by Harry Cummins

     In 1984, the sports writer Thomas Boswell released a collection of his Washington Post baseball columns in a book entitled 'Why Time Begins On Opening Day'.

     For every true baseball fan, Boswell's title got it right. And it kept on being right until recent years when MLB decided to set sail for foreign shores to open the baseball season.

     Today, if you are a baseball fan of the Seattle Mariners or Oakland A's, you should already be asleep in anticipation of rising at 2:30 AM West Coast time Wednesday morning to catch all the excitement of Opening Day 2019...from Japan!!

     Whatever benefits are gained from taking America's Game to the rest of the world are lost by diminishing the beloved tradition of Opening Day across our country.  At least lost for fans in cities like Oakland and Seattle this season, who pay the price.  For the official record, this odd start time  will be considered the home opener for the A's, despite being played in the Tokyo Dome, half-way around the world!  This is the fifth time M.L.B. has opened a season at the Tokyo Dome.

     It's a long season and maybe we will forget that we lost the best day of the year here in the Pacific Northwest.  The Mariners will promote their own "home" opener next week and casual fans will make their way to the ballpark because baseball will be back.

    I do think 45 year-old Ichiro Suzuki will be happy to be home in Japan the next few days, in what could be his swan song.  As for me, maybe I will forgive MLB this transgression of sacred tradition.

     Seattle's starting lineup returns just 4 starters from last year Opening Day.  And none of those 4 players are in the same defensive position. Pitcher Felix Hernandez, who had started 10 straight Opening Days, has relinquished that honor to 27 year old LHP Marco Gonzales.

     Opposing Gonzales, will be Oakland's Mike Fiers, who returned to the A's on a two-year deal during the off-season.

    Only the Yankees and the Dodgers hit more home runs last season than Oakland, who brings back their top 4 home run mashers: Kris Davis, the MLB leader at 48, Matt Olson with 29, Stephen Piscotty with 27, and Matt Chapman with 24.

    Yes, it's Opening Day..somewhere.  May the gods of the game forgive us for tinkering with this day that ennobles the soul and renews our hope.

     Shiai kaishi!!!

P.S.   The Yankees and the Red Sox play a series at London Stadium in June.  This will be MLB's first regular-season games in Europe.




Serve 'N Volley Meets Rock 'N Roll--The New Face Of The Miami Open

            "Don't you know about the new fashion honey?
            All you need are looks and a whole lot of money
            It's the next phase, new wave, dance craze anyways."

                                               -Billy Joel

by Harry Cummins

     Gone is the scenic water-view drive over the Rickenbacker Causeway to Key Biscayne.  Instead, say hello to parking lot palm trees priced at $35,000 each, Ferrari leather cushioned seats, and Picasso paintings that can be purchased for a cool million.

    The relocated Miami Open tennis tournament that begins a 12-day run today (weather permitting) in the home of the Miami Dolphins of the N.F.L. is part art deco, part rock 'n roll!!!

     Stephen M. Ross, the billionaire real estate developer who purchased the Miami Dolphins in 2008 and then spent $550 million renovating the stadium, has just dropped another $72 million to transform Hard Rock Stadium into a state-of-the-art tennis facility.

     Ross stepped in to rescue the Miami Open when organizers found themselves in a battle with a Key Biscayne resident who controlled the land where this tournament had been held for the last 32 years.  Ross is also the key figure in the development of the futuristic Hudson Yards Project on the west side of Manhattan that has recently transformed the skyline of New York City.

     At the new site of the Miami Open, just 20 miles northwest of Key Biscayne, a main court painted in 'Oasis Blue' was installed on the football field.  A 5,000 seat grandstand court, two other show courts, and eight additional match courts were built on top of parking lots surrounding the stadium.  There is also 18 additional practice courts available to the players on-site.

     Many of the stadium's 13,800 seats feature lounge-like seating equipped with individual television screens.  These seats go for $50,000 to $70,000 for the two week tournament that will feature the top players in the world from both the WTA and ATP tours.

     Premium-seat suite packages sold out two months before the start of the event and feature private dining rooms.  For the elite 1,000, there is a private entrance to the stadium from a private parking lot, in which patrons pass through a tent lined with original art works for sale from the likes of Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso

     This will not just be a luxury experience for the well-healed spectator.  The top eight seeds in the men's and women's singles draw, as well as all former champions, will be given private suites to be used by their entourages.

     Just as the recently concluded PNB Paribas Open in Indian Wells is directed by a former player (Tommy Haas), so to is the Miami Open.  James Blake, Miami tournament director, admits, "There is a bit of a challenge in giving people the confidence that this really is for the best."

     Spectators seeking traditional ball-park fare and pricing at the Miami Open, may be in for a surprise this week as well. Here is a sample of what's on the menu around the grounds:  Seared yellow-tail snapper with curry confit; Rosemary steakhouse tenderloin with horseradish aioli, petite arugula and pan de queso; Watermelon tomatillo salad; crispy pork belly chunks glazed with quara barbeque sauce. get the idea.

     Welcome to the new face of tennis!

     The Rolling Stones concert arrives at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on April 20, sans the seared snapper!!




Monday, March 18, 2019

AAF Weekend In Review Week 6

By Steven Weldon

We're almost to the playoffs! The best team in the league is knocked off, the on-fire Legends get a smack in the teeth and the Express picked up Johnny Football after their absolutely awful game! Let's see what the AAF brought us this past weekend.


Another week, more disappointment for the Express. This game was seemingly over in the first quarter, as the Stallions took a 16-point lead and never really let go of the game. Looks like the best of the worst comes out of the S-L-C.

Player of the game: Josh Woodrum, 24/37, 243 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Woodrum was finally consistent and played much better than the other players in the game. I mean, that's what it comes down to, right?


The best team in the league has fallen. In a back-and-forth game, the Hotshots controlled most of the game, but lost the lead in the middle of the fourth quarter. However, timely defensive play and a contested pass interference call led the Hotshots to a rushing touchdown to retake the lead. They did not let go of the lead, despite a late charge down-field by the Apollos. In the midst of their no timeout rush to the line of scrimmage, an Orlando player was found to be offside with four seconds left. By rule, the penalty came with a ten-second run-off, ending the game there, as well as the Apollos' streak.

Player of the game: Jhurell Pressley, 13 carries, 57 yards, 1 TD, 1 reception, 9 yards, TD
Pressley accounted for all of the Hotshots touchdowns, including the eventual game-winner. I almost gave this award to an Orlando player though, despite the loss.


After a nice hot streak, the Legends fell back to earth -- hard. San Antonio's defense was all over Aaron Murray and now it's back to the drawing board for the Legends.

Player of the game: San Antonio Commanders Defense, 3 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 2 sacks
Logan Woodside had a nice two-touchdown game, but the Legends were hindered by the massive defensive presence all game long.

After a few lackluster weeks, the Birmingham Iron came to play in San Diego, and they brought their offense too. Luis Perez of the Iron and Mike Bercovici of the Fleet were slinging the ball all over the field, combining for six touchdowns and four interceptions. While the Iron had a solid hold on the game in the first half, the Fleet busted the door down in the third quarter, scoring 14 points. The game was tied with just seconds left, when Nick Novak barely knocked in the game-winning field goal as time expired.

Player of the game: L'Damian Washington, 4 receptions, 128 yards, 2 TD.
Washington was huge in this game, including a long touchdown reception that opened the door further for the Iron. This award could have also gone to Trent Richardson, who was also all over the field, scoring two touchdowns of his own.


The Apollos were four seconds away from being 6-0. Despite their loss to the Hotshots, they still showed why they are the best team in the league. They'll get a huge chance at redemption taking on the lowly Atlanta Legends next week. They can actually clinch a playoff spot with a win.

The Commanders stay in control of the western conference with an impressive victory over a team that seemed to be out of a slump. The best thing about the road ahead for the Commanders, is they have the easiest schedule. They face the Salt Lake Stallions twice, first game next week, and a game against the Memphis Express in week 9. The Commanders have control of their own destiny. Let's see what they make of it.

The Iron stood their ground, never wavered, and showed off a passing offense they haven't displayed before this past week. Their big win keeps pace with the top Apollos, and they need every win they can hold on to. They'll take on regional rival Memphis next weekend, and with a win, come one game closer to clinching a playoff berth.

I gave the Fleet the four spot on my power rankings because they have been consistent. They had the game against the Iron in hand but wilted late. The game could have very well have gone to overtime had Nick Novak shanked a second kick. It doesn't get any easier though, they'll face the Arizona Hotshots next week. Will they stay the second best team in the west?

A big win for the Hotshots, but it looks better on paper than it does in real life. The Hotshots can get back into the contender conversation with a win over the Fleet next week. I still think they've got the talent to compete for the championship, but they aren't convincing me unless they finish strong.

They won the battle of the cellar against Memphis, and have nothing to lose coming into their game against San Antonio. They won't be able to hop anyone in the standings with a win, but they'll sure make things interesting if they do.

Ouch. Aaron Murray looked so good. I guess he only plays well against teams that don't have good defenses. He's the one bright spot on this team. Going into their game against the Apollos, they face almost certain elimination with a loss.

I had nothing good to say about this team until the news came out that they signed Johnny Manziel. Johnny Football can revitalize this team and their fan base, but they're officially eliminated from the playoffs with a loss to Birmingham next weekend.

Check out the AAF this weekend on TNT, NFL Network and CBS Sports Network.

NHL key games this week

Key games this week in the NHL

3/18 Vegas at San Jose  Possible 1st round playoff preview.  Vegas is comfortably in the playoffs sitting 3rd in the Pacific Division but the Sharks are trying to chase down the Calgary Flames for the top spot. The Sharks have been one of the best teams on home ice but have lost 2 straight at home.  After tonight they will play 4 straight non playoff teams then have a huge showdown with the Flames at home on 3/31.

3/19  Boston at NY Islanders  The Bruins are trying to fend off the Toronto Maple Leafs for home ice in the 1st round of the playoffs while the Islanders are deadlocked with the Washington Capitals for the top spot in the Metropolitan division. 

3/19 Montreal at Philadelphia   Both teams sitting 9th and 10th in the Eastern Conference playoff race with Montreal 3 points behind Columbus and Philadelphia 6 behind.  Neither team can afford many more losses the rest of the way.

3/19  Pittsburgh at Carolina  Both teams would be in the playoffs right now with Pittsburgh sitting 3rd with 88 points in the Metropolitan Division and Carolina 4th with 85.  The Pens still have their eyes on winning the division trailing the Caps and Islanders by 3 points while the Hurricanes are looking to snap a 9 year playoff drought.  The Hurricanes do have 2 games in hand against Pittsburgh so could chase them down for the 3rd spot. 

3/19  Colorado at Minnesota  Just like Montreal & Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference both teams sit 9th and 10th.  Minnesota trails Arizona by 1 point with Colorado 3 points behind.  The Wild are going in the wrong direction losing 4 of their last 5 and have played 1 more game than all of the playoff teams they are chasing. 

3/19  Columbus at Calgary The Flames were the 2nd team to clinch a playoff spot but still in a battle with San Jose for the Pacific Division.  The Blue Jackets right now have the last playoff spot and are trying to fend off Philadelphia & Montreal.  Their last 7 of 10 are on the road and start a crucial 3 game Canadian swing this week against Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver.

3/21  Colorado at Dallas  The 2nd of two crucial road games this week for the Avalanche and desperately need points to stay within shouting distance.  As of today the Stars would be in the playoffs but they have lost back to back home games.  Their next 3 are at home but play their last 5 of 7 to finish on the road.  The good news for the Stars is that backup goalie Anton Khudobin has played well in the absence of Ben Bishop.

3/23  Nashville at Winnipeg  The Jets lead the Central Division and have 2 games in hand against the Predators but are only 1 point clear so this Saturday night showdown will possibly determine the division winner. The Predators next 6 games are against playoff teams but close the last 3 against non playoff teams. 

Teenage Wildcard Shocks Tennis World!

by Harry Cummins

     18 year-old Bianca Andreescu capped a remarkable run at the BNP Paribas Open Sunday when she stunned former world Number 1 and three-time Grand Slam singles champion Angelique Kerber 6-4,3-6,6-4 to become the first ever wildcard entry to capture the championship at Indian Wells.

    The upstart Canadian teenager was ranked outside the world's top 150 at the end of last season, but now stands to move into the top 25 as a result of a week-long string of shocking upsets over highly ranked players Dominika Cibulkova, Elina Svitolina and Garbine Muguruza.

    Andreescu is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Naomi Osaka, who won at Indian Wells last year as an unseeded 20 year-old and used that surprise victory as a springboard to titles at both the U.S. and Australian Open and an eventual Number 1 world-ranking.


Talented Beaver Backstop Continues to Rake


by Harry Cummins

     The 'Rutschman Watch' continues.

     After yesterday's 4 for 5, 2 HR, 4 RBI performance in a 9-7 loss to UCLA, Adley Rutschman of the Oregon State Beavers has moved into the Top 10 in NCAA D-1 baseball statistics in both batting average and home runs.

     After 18 games, Rutschman is hitting a lofty .456 with 8 long balls and 23 RBl's.  The Beavers are 14-3-1 on the season after dropping two of three to the Bruins this weekend.

     Next up for Oregon State is a three game set with California (9-8) beginning Friday night in Corvallis. It represents a rare showdown between the top 2 projected draft picks in next June's MLB Draft. The Cal Bears feature consensus All-American Andrew Vaughn, the 2018 winner of the Golden Spike Award presented to the best amateur baseball player in the country.

     Vaughn hit .402 last year with 23 home runs, the second most HR's in the country.  He already has hit 7 this year, one behind Rutschman.



NFL Draft Has Great Talent at Defensive Tackle


The latest Scout's Honor podcast looks at the top 21 defensive tackled in this year's NFL Draft.

While most teams (22) labeled Edge Rusher as their primary needs entering the draft, nine teams (Arizona, Atlanta, Buffalo, Cleveland, Dallas, Indianapolis , Chargers, New England, Jets) listed defensive tackle as their biggest holes to fill. The Browns secured the services of Sheldon Richardson through veteran free agency, but just three other teams followed that route to add depth to their first level defense (Minnesota signed Shamar Stephen, New Orleans added Malcom Brown and the Eagles snared Malik Jackson).
The Jets and Raiders are both coveting the top player in this draft (according to our staff) - Alabama 's Quinnen Williams, but New York also has pressing needs on the edge. This podcast features Paul Crane (@PaulCrane7) sitting down with super scout Dave-Te' Thomas, as he delves into the top 21 defensive tackles in this draft, along with some "perfect fits" for those athletes to reside at during the upcoming season. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Arkansas Baseball In Shipping Container

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Arkansas lost in the title game of College World Series In 2018.

They may however have a winner at the box office.

For home games this year you can buy their version of a luxury box which just happens to be a 300 square foot shipping container. Comes with its own grill, can accommodate up to 25 people.

Rental cost per game between $1,500 and $1,000. Outside the box thinking always wins. Best on “ Razorback Boxes”.

Board Approves New Arena For U of Idaho

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

The Idaho Board of Education has given approval providing the new president to be named soon approves, for a new basketball arena to be built on the Vandal campus.

Cost is estimated at $49 million and completion date of 2021.

A Little NBA Poetry

By Gregory “the poet” Crawford @wchoops

On St. Patty’s Day, Here is what we know.

The KING will not see the playoffs in the SPRING.

For one of few times this Sunday, the KNICKS got their KICKS

And this is for sure, the NBA is never the SAME, when the Lakers and Knicks are both LAME

Today’s Final Knicks 124 Lakers 123

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Priority Position in NFL Draft: Edge Rusher

When NFL Draft Report publisher Dave-Te' Thomas asked all 32 NFL teams for positions and their levels of need in the upcoming draft 22 of the teams labeled edge rusher/defensive end as a "priority."  In the new Scout's Honor podcast Paul Crane (@PaulCrane7) and the super scout Thomas run through the top 20 edge rushers in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Thomas breaks down some of the moves already made in free agency and how they may effect the draft itself. The pair discuss the top 20 edge rushers in this draft along with the good, the bad and the ugly with each player and teams that have shown interest or would be best fits.

From Day One through Day Three of the upcoming draft, football fans and draftniks will get a solid understanding of the edge rushers from Round 1-7.

CBS Happy With AAF

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

CBS is more than happy with their partnership of Alliance of American Football. TV ratings have met expectations and beyond.

That is why CBS has announced they will televise a regular season game Memphis at San Antonio and the conference championship game on April 21st. Both of those contests were SCHEDULED TO  be on CBS Sports Network, the much less watched cable network of CBS. Way to go AAF.

For constant coverage of the AAF, NFL and soccer, our Steven Weldon gives you great info on Craw’s Corner.

All 30 Now In For NBA

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

OKC is no longer the last hold out. Loves Travel Spots will now be the jersey patch sponsor for the Thunder. All 30 NBA teams now have a jersey patch sponsor. Next big challenges for most teams will be renewals of their present jersey patch sponsors and the ever present valuation issue of any sponsor.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

NHL thoughts and other random musings

If you were wondering why I call my blog Hermo Strong it has to do with a family member overcoming cancer.  In late August my 24 year old nephew Troy Hermo was diagnosed with a rare form of adrenal cancer.  After going through some tremendous struggles with most of that time at the hospital for the next month, he was able to make it through a difficult 9 hour surgery at OHSUin September.  They actually removed a tumor the size of a grocery store ham.  To support Troy our family came up with the theme #HermoStrong to give all the necessary support in such a difficult time.  After a long recovery he is resuming his normal life activities and we are thankful for modern medicine and the wonderful doctors and nurses who provided his treatment. 

And some thoughts on the NHL this week....

Two teams who are peaking at the right time are the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitols.  The Pens have now won 6 of 7 and are only 4 points behind the Caps for the Eastern Division lead who have also won 8 of 9.   The NY Islanders won't go away as well as they have won 4 of 5 and are only 2 points out.  It could set up an unbelievable 1st round match up if the Pens play the Caps and another saga of Ovechkin vs. Crosby. I'm still expecting Washington to win the division but each team has a legit shot of winning the division.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are the best team in the league illustrated by their two wins this week.  They absolutely blitzed the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto Monday night getting out to a 4-0 lead and winning 6-2 and tonight behind 3-0 against Detroit scored 5 straight goals and held on for a 5-4 win.

If you are a Toronto Maple Leafs fan you have to hope this week is not an omen for the rest of the season.  You can understand getting blitzed at home by the Tampa Bay Lightning but no excuse getting down to the Chicago Blackhawks 5-0 at home.  They did show fight coming back with 4 straight goals and coming very close to getting the game into OT.  Second straight game that starting goalie Frederik Andersen has been yanked and the Leafs are blowing an opportunity to catch the Boston Bruins as they have finally slowed down losing 3 straight.

The Dallas Stars got another huge road win tonight winning at Minnesota 4-1 and are now tied for 3rd in the Central Division.  Going into this game goalie Ben Bishop had posted 3 straight shutouts and had another shutout going tonight before leaving the game with a lower-body injury.  Bishop was putting himself into Vezina consideration with his current hot streak so if you are Stars fan you are holding your breath that this is a minor injury.

Being an Edmonton Oilers fan these days feels like one big tease.  Another disappointing season but it looked like they were turning it around for one final playoff push winning 5 of 6 and playing the lowly New Jersey Devils last night.  The Devils had lost 7 straight and got absolutely hammered by the Calgary Flames 9-4 the previous night giving up 6 goals in the 3rd period.  And so what do the Oilers do?  Get blitzed 6-3 on home ice.  If you want a good laugh just read the venom on the Oiler message boards.

And to end this NHL weeks notes as an LA Kings fan, just lose for Hughes........but at least the NHL teams out of the playoffs don't blatantly tank like the NBA.

Random thoughts on other subjects...

I have always loved the Oregon high school state basketball tournaments.  I have been going to the tournaments since the mid-70's and was lucky enough to be on a broadcasting team covering the tournament the last 25+ years.  However with all of the changes to the landscape of high school sports I've become a bit disillusioned and here the reasons why:

-The major re-classification that was instituted in 2006 has watered down and devalued a state championship and a league championship. I favor going back to 4 classifications or at worst 5. 
-They should go back to having separate weeks for the boys and the girls. 
-They should go back to the 16 team tournament field.
-It always felt special to play and watch tournament games in the Memorial Coliseum, Rose Garden, Mac Court, or Gill Coliseum.  Does it really feel special to play a state tournament game in a high school gym?

And the saddest part of high school sports now is that the Oregonian at one time had 5 different writers covering high school sports. Today they do not have one full time writer covering the high school scene.

But we do now get coverage of 7 on 7 summer football camps an get those oh so important updates of little Johnny Jones star rating going from a 3 star to 3.5 star since he improved his out cuts and put on 5 pounds of muscle. 

When your favorite baseball team lost 112 games the year before can you really be optimistic?  The over/under that Las Vegas put out on my Baltimore Orioles was 57.  That my friends is the lowest over/under win total ever posted. Welcome to Charm City Adley!!

Can anyone ever remember a worse February early March weather wise in Portland??

As a sports fan I highly recommend satellite radio.  If you are a soccer fan and want an entertaining 3 hours of satellite radio listen to "The Grumpy Pundits" Tommy Smyth and Rodney Marsh on channel 157. 

And when the NCAA tournament field is being announced on Sunday follow the twitter feed of Alan Boston (bostonred88), you will surely be entertained and love how he eviscerates the committee. 

Jefferson rebounds in title game, but baskets hard to come by

Jefferson trailed by 10 points with 1:35 to go in the 2019 6A boys’ basketball championship game last week. Then they rebounded.
The trouble was, that was about the only thing they could get right. They missed most of their shots. But by rebounding 12 of their 13 missed shots, they kept the ball in play at their end of the court until something positive happened.
Although it wasn’t enough, they trimmed the lead to five points before losing 71-66.
During their remarkable rebounding streak, they got the ball back on all five of their missed three throw attempts. So although they were only 3-8 on free throws in the closing 95 seconds, they came away with more points than had they simply made the foul shots.
They hit four of 12 field goal attempts in the last 1:35, regaining possession on all but one of the eight misses.
How were they able to rule the boards in desperation time?
I haven’t watched the video or dissected each play, but it seems to me that with nothing to lose by hanging back to defend against a Jesuit fast break, they sent everyone crashing the boards. With so almost every player on the court going for the ball, it was impossible officiate tightly. The most typical rebounding call is for going over the back of the rebounder, but any such offenders were buried from sight by layers of players on both teams, perhaps most of them going over the backs of those inside the scrum.
There’s also a tradition of not making ticky-tack calls in these do or die moments. 
Jefferson had the clear advantage in size, athleticism and motivation to get those boards. Still, getting 12 of 13 potential offensive rebounds—when the norm is for two-thirds of rebounds to go to the defensive team—is nothing short of amazing.