Sports Buffet for 06/03/10

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The Browns have announced that Hall of Fame RB Jim Brown and WR Paul Warfield will no longer serve as an advisers to owner Randy Lerner. Given the history of the Browns since the team returned in 1999, the leadership of the team needs all the advice they can get. Both will be missed.

Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger’s biggest test of the suspension is not now going back with the team and participating in the OTAs. The biggest test will be how he completes what the league has asked him to do to reduce the suspension from 6 games to 4. The other half of that test will be how he behaves or misbehaves during the time from the end of the last preseason game until he gets reinstated by the league. Under NFL rules he can have no contact with the team at all during that time except for medical staff as prescribed by the terms of the suspension. If he has another incident like the ones that got him suspended in the past, there could be games added to his “unpaid leave.”

The talk around Dolphin land at their OTA last weekend was all about the passing game. QB Chad Henne has developed nicely after replacing Chad Pennington in 09. The one thing that he needs to improve on in 2010 is his TD to Int ratio. In 09 he threw 12 TDs but 14 picks. He looked even better in the OTAs. However, a lot of “want to be” guys look good in shorts.

Eagle CB Marlin Jackson is out for the season after rupturing an Achilles tendon in the team’s OTA. The team signed Jackson from the Colts to start despite his ending the 09 season on the IR.

Packer CB Al Harris is behind schedule on his recovery from knee surgery that ended his 09 season. He was expected to participate in the OTA last week but is still on the sideline.

Ram S Oshiomogho Atogwe did not sign his tender with the team. On June 1 the Rams could have increased their offer to 7M to keep their exclusive rights for him. They did not. Atogwe is now an unrestricted free agent but the Rams are still hoping they can come to a long term contract with him. He has a history of being a ball hawk. The only question is how much in this economy is he worth. The Packers and Vikings are teams that might be interested.

Lion RB Kevin Smith is not ready to participate in OTAs and will likely start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Players on that list do not count against the roster limits but only qualify if they are hurt away from football or from an injury in the previous season. Players that are on the PUP on the final cutdown day may not be activated until after week 6.


Game 1 of the Finals goes tonight. The 2-3-2 format puts the stress most on the Celtics. To win the title, in my opinion, they must win one of the first 2 games. The latest on injuries indicates that Celtics PG Rondo will play and is 85-90% while C Perkins is OK. For the Lakers C Bynum is as good as he can be expected to be with his knee problem. He had more than 70 ccs of liquid taken out of the knee on Monday.


Tampa Bay continues to lead the AL East by 2.5 games over the Yankees. The secret has been a 21-6 record on the road. As long as the pitching holds up, the Rays could be in the race for the duration.

The Twins have built a 3.5 game lead in the AL Central over the Tigers. The Twinkies have been helped by the Tigers going 3-7 over the last 10.

The Rangers lead the AL West but both the As and Angels are coming on. The Rangers were 4-6 over the last 10 while both their pursuers were 6-4.

The two best races in MLB are in the NL. The Central and West divisions are both tight. The Reds and Cards have been trading leads in the Central for a couple of weeks. Last night the Cards beat Cincy 4-1 to climb back into a tie. The Padres have the best mark in the NL with a 32-21 record but only lead the Dodgers by 1 game in the West.

The Tigers traded former All Star P Dontrelle Willis to the Diamondbacks for P Billy Buckner and cash. The Tigers will pay all but the prorated remaining part a minimum veteran contract for Willis in 2010. Despite being a big dollar FA signing in 2008, he has only be able to start 22 games for the Tigers. In 2010 he had a 4.98 ERA and was 1-2 for Detroit.


The Flyers got back into the finals series with a 4-3 OT win yesterday. The key for Philly will be to win game 4 at home then take game 5 at Chicago. Otherwise, they could be in trouble. The Black Hawks are a lot deeper than the Flyers. As the series goes on, that should give them a real advantage.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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Niblets for 5/9/09

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By Bill Smith

Best Email of the week:

Comment from Alex on “Anatomy of a blown draft—Browns and Raiders”:

you are completely wrong about the browns draft. i’m not even of fan of theirs but can you really not understand what they were trying to do? the team is in rebuilding mode because their last coach and GM had a terrible roster. they trade down and add depth. you know who did that? the patriots as soon as belicheck took over. the browns got players that are familiar with mangini’s system and added a bunch of depth. the draft value chart is a guide and not a strict rulebook. many people have even argued that those figures are out of date based on when it originated and how the cba has changed. in conclusion, you’re a dumba**

This was just one of a number of rather less than complementary comments I received about that column. First of all, I agree that the Browns were smart to trade down. However, they did not get anything close to market value. I am not the only one to say that. For example, several teams traded down a couple of spots in the second round and got a 4th round pick in the deal. The Browns traded down in the first round and got only a 6th. The value chart is used by almost every team. While each deal is different the Browns got less than 70% of the value of the pick trading from 5 to 17.

Mangini likes guys he knows. That is clear from the fact that the Browns second color is now Green rather than Orange. However, the 3 players that the Browns got were not in the starting plans of the Jets. What the Browns got were 2 free agent fill in starters from last year’s Jets D that gave up more points than Cleveland’s did.

QB Brett Ratliff will be a clip board jockey 3rd or 4th string QB that can maybe run the scout team. He has some upside and might someday be a starter.

DE Kenyon Coleman came to the Jets as a Cowboy reject in 07. In his last 32 games, he has a total of 2 sacks and what is worse—he is 30 years old. He is not the pass rusher the Browns needed.

S Abram Elam was a restricted FA this off season and someone that Mangini wanted. The Browns made an offer but the Jets matched it. Elam was not going to start for the Jets. In the last two seasons he has played in 29 games and has one—that’s right 1 single interception. He will be 28 half way through the season.

I stand on my original position and Alex, learn to use the shift key. I love the passion but it makes your email hard to read.

NOTE: This article did get picked up by more than a dozen web sites.

Updates on previous columns:

Brett Favre is messing with his legacy. ESPN and Sporting News Radio are all Favre all the time. Farve said that he is definitely retired and has no intention of playing now. That was just before he sent his X-rays to the Vikings. Take it any way you want but Favre loves the attention.

The Commissioner suspends the entire National League for 50 Games! Since some of the names on the 2003 list were leaked, Baseball owes it to the fans to release the other names or fire anyone that was involved in the leak. If they have problems finding out who it was, fire everyone in the league office that was involved. That would send a message to the rest of those pinheads that leaking confidential info is not to be tolerated.

Niblets fresh from the Cob:

Former Bills QB Jack Kemp passed away. Kemp was a guy that used every ounce of his talent and energy in everything he did. After football he was a Congressman from NY and a candidate for VP. Players today could use some of his dedication to the game. He gave it everything he had every day.

Former NBA and Olympic coach Chuck Daly passes away. When you think of an NBA team playing like a unit, Daly’s teams are among the first that come to mind. In the hardest sport to coach because of guaranteed contracts and a bench full of head cases, Daly got the best out of any team he coached. The teams seemed to take on his character—tough, physical, and disciplined. He will be missed.

The NCAA is looking at changing the charging/blocking rule in college basketball. Having refed an industrial league with some pro rookies, I can tell you that the charge/block is the toughest call there is. Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News Today reports the rule committee has recommended a change so that a secondary defender must not be under the basket and must make an attempt to defend the basket to get the call. Otherwise it is a blocking foul. That is a good change. The committee looked at the issue of a player unable to take a foul shot but decided not to propose a change at this point.

The worst thing that can happen to a manager is to win the Manager of the Year award. The Diamondbacks fired Manager Bob Melvin yesterday. The team was 8.5 games behind the Dodgers before last nights game. Melvin had won the MOY award in 2007 and now his history. Winning that award is almost as deadly to a career as the owner making a public statement of support.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

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