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The Full Contact Fight Federation is feeling new all over again

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FCFF

The Full Contact Fight Federation is feeling new all over again

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As the doors closed following Rumble at the Roseland 93 last Saturday at the Roseland Theater, one thing was clear: The Full Contact Fight Federation (FCFF) had delivered a near perfect show and the fighters loved it. Saturday night’s fight card was the first time in 13 events that the FCFF had a professional fight on the line up, the first time in 7 events that women squared off in the cage, and it was the first time they had ever held a post fight press conference to close the show. Individually these milestones don’t necessarily mean a lot but when the sum of all parts met at this event, it was truly inspiring. From start to finish, there was something different about the show on Saturday night.

The crowd seemed especially excitable. Fans of headliner Cris “Sunshine” Williams held up cardboard cutouts of the young fighter’s face adhered to popsicle sticks and cheered loudly as fight after fight ended without going to the score cards. Some of the region’s top amateur prospects were on the card so it is no wonder that 13 of 16 fights ended with a finish. The exciting fights definitely added to the exuberant nature of the crowd and in a place like the Roseland Theater, the energy makes the room come alive. If you have never been to a fight at the Roseland, you are missing out on an interesting experience. The close quarters make it feel as if you are sitting right on top of the cage and the better the fight card, the louder it gets, making a room of a few hundred feel like a few thousand in an instant.

Even with all the great fights that night, there was something electric in the air that was hard to put a finger on. However, as each fight was announced, it started to become clear. FCFF owner Kevin Keeney was truly in his element this night. As he introduced each fighter, donning his signature cowboy hat, his voice came alive more than usual. Keeney sold the show and the crowd loved it. His energy seemed to feed off the energy of the fighters and fans. By the end of the night, he had announced that the post fight press conference would be open to the public, giving the fighters another moment to shine in front of the packed house.

The fighters all seemed to enjoy the press conference experience, cracking jokes and basking in the spotlight. Fernando “FDOT” Alvarado seemed especially excited to get his hands on the microphone as he reversed roles to ask a question of his own,

“How you doing tonight Rose City?! You have a good time?! Make some noise if you had a good time! Give it up to Kevin Keeney, Kevin Keeney puts on a good show, man.”

Beyond that, there was some mouthy banter between Cris Williams and local up and comer Keaneo Moyer. Worlds apart in weight and experience, the two still can’t seem to get enough of jawing back and forth. Aside from that, respect was shown between most everyone on stage. The time to sell the fights had finished and this was a much looser room than the press conference the week prior. With Chael Sonnen off in the background soaking it all in and the packed bar cheering as their friends, teammates, and loved ones were asked questions it was clear that the team at the FCFF had found a way to dust off its coat and make one of the longest running MMA promotions in the country feel brand new all over again.

Kyle Lewis – Seattle Mariners’ lone rep. on mid-season Top 100 Prospects List

Kyle Lewis – Seattle Mariners’ lone rep. on mid-season Top 100 Prospects List

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Personally, one of my favorite things about the Major League Baseball All-Star break is the aftermath that always includes an updated Top 100 Prospects List from MLBPipeline.com. This year was no different, as I was curious to see what Mariners – if any – would make the list, especially after trading No. 2 organizational prospect Tyler O’Neill to the St. Louis Cardinals last week.

Single-A Advanced outfielder Kyle Lewis came in at No. 47 overall as the lone representative for the Mariners on the prestigious list. O’Neill, meanwhile, slipped to No. 100 on the list after being ranked much higher during spring training.

WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT LEWIS?

It’s a small sample size due to a knee injury that set the 22-year old’s development back a bit this season, but in 19 at bats through six games for Modesto, he is showing both power and his ability to hit to contact. Lewis has a .368 batting average and three home runs with seven RBI.

Again, very small sample size, but that’s what Lewis has been up to so far this season for at least a somewhat competitive level of the minor leagues. He also played 11 games in the Arizona League, but analyzing Class-A Advanced is as low in the minors as I will go to evaluate a player’s major-league promise. If I start evaluating short-season, single-A players I apparently have nothing to do in my free time.

Anyways, the Mariners like Lewis. If he didn’t start the season injured, I would have expected him to be in Double-A by now, but I would assume that’s where he will begin 2018 with a projected major-league debut in 2019.

By then, the 24-year old outfielder will be ready to make an impact – assuming he doesn’t get traded at the deadline next year like O’Neill was this year.

WHY DID THE M’S TRADE O’NEILL?

The trade with the Cardinals for SP/RP Marco Gonzales was a bit of a head scratcher for me at least.  I know the Mariners need relief pitching and the 25-year old Gonzales gives you some flexibility with the ability to start as well. At least general manager Jerry Dipoto realized the trade for Miami Marlins pitcher David Phelps was NOT going to solve the bullpen issues independently (Unfortunately, that is old news at this point, so ranting about how much I dislike David Phelps wouldn’t be relevant.)

Anyways, I am guessing that the numbers O’Neill put up at Triple-A this year were underwhelming for the Seattle brass. It’s a pretty healthy sample size – 349 at-bats in 93 games for Tacoma, but the 22-year old hit only .244 in a hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He did add 19 home runs and 56 RBI with nine steals, and I’m not sure how he is defensively, but Dipoto must have seen a red flag somewhere.

I really don’t know, but I am trying to justify it for him.

Gonzales, meanwhile, has some major-league experience this year. It might be an experience he wants to forget though – lasting 3.1 innings, giving up five earned runs and three home run balls when he pitched for the Cardinals. At triple-A, however, he pitched well this year, going 6-4 in 11 starts with a 2.90 ERA for Memphis. In his one start for Tacoma, he went six innings and gave up three runs.

I get it that the Mariners need pitching depth and Gonzales can start or come out of the bullpen, I just don’t know if trading a power hitter who is three years younger for Gonzales was the best move. It will end up being one of those ‘wait and see’ trades, I guess. Until we see how it turns out, I am proceeding with skepticism.

Keep in mind the Cardinals system produces outfield talent so quickly, they resemble a Chinese manufacturing plant. This year alone, Tommy Pham, Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty and most recently Harrison Bader, who doubled and scored the walk-off run Tuesday night, have all come from the Cardinals minor-league system. There’s also former Cardinals outfielders Colby Rasmus and that Albert Pujols guy – who came up at as a third baseman but started his career in the outfield.

Tyler O’Neill will be next… I’m not saying Gonzales won’t be worth it – just saying O’Neill will be better.

BACK TO KYLE LEWIS

Sorry, I got super distracted. I have been pretty hot about the O’Neill trade, so I needed to get that out of my system.

Anyways, Lewis will be a fun one to watch over the next two years in the minor leagues. The bottom line is he will need to stay healthy and will the knee injury hinder his speed at all? That could be a huge factor.

The former Golden Spikes award winner in 2016 was drafted 11th overall by the Mariners and immediately jumped to the top of their organizational top prospects list. The Golden Spikes Award is given to the top, amateur baseball player in the country, so winning it in 2016 is nothing to scoff at.

Lewis is the real deal (when healthy).

To put it into perspective, other recent winners of this prestigious award include Andrew Benintendi of the Red Sox (2015), A.J. Reed of Houston (2014) and highly-touted Brendan McKay out of Louisville in 2017.

Lewis a big presence at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. Since he’s only 22-years old he will likely fill out that frame and add some muscle. He can hit for power and he can hit for average.

The big question remains: How is the rebuilt ACL going to heal and will that set back his development further? We shall see.

FINAL WORD

The Mariners’ farm system is fairly weak – to be polite, making not only Kyle Lewis more valuable to the team than most No. 1 organizational prospects, but it also limits what kind of pitching additions the M’s can make before Monday’s trade deadline.

Taking the first two games against Boston has been refreshing and maybe Seattle can make a playoff push without landing a top-level, pitching talent.

Enjoy the rest of your week, readers. Go Mariners!

O.J. parole hearing: Did Simpson make amends or make excuses?

O.J. parole hearing: Did Simpson make amends or make excuses?

After watching the O.J. Simpson parole hearing Thursday morning, a few reactions:

  • I think there was a clear reason why Simpson was originally sentenced to 9-33 years for burglary -- an uncommonly long penalty for such a crime. You can talk all you want about how his previous murder trial had nothing to do with this crime, but I don't believe that. In spite of denials, I believe the judge in that case delivered a verdict meant to keep Simpson behind bars for as long as possible -- partly due to his escape from the double-murder charge. Remember, the most notorious gangster in our country's history, Al Capone, was finally sent up the river for tax evasion -- not for any of his more heinous crimes. Sometimes justice gets a second chance.
  • When Simpson's eldest daughter told the parole board about how much her family has gone through, I cringed. I can't imagine the Goldmans' reaction.
  • Simpson still owes the Goldmans $33 million as the result of the civil case, which Simpson lost. He lives in Florida in order to preserve his personal wealth ... and not pay the debt.
  • After watching the car chase, the trial and all the documentaries about the murders, I have a hard time believing Simpson isn't a hardcore sociopath.
  • Simpson told the parole board he has lived a "conflict-free" life. Is he that delusional?
  • This man wrote a book entitled, "If I did it." It took a lot of hubris to do that.
  • At the hearing, did he make amends, or make excuses? I would say the latter. What say you?
  • He was released and judged by the parole board not to be a danger to society. After what he went through in that long murder trial, to then get involved in what was basically an armed robbery, was inexplicable. And it was an indication that he's probably not real accomplished at controlling his reaction to adverse situations.  I would not be surprised if he re-offends in some way.

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After all these years, Portland still not on MLB radar

After all these years, Portland still not on MLB radar

No surprise.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred Tuesday named three cities as potential candidates for an MLB expansion team -- Charlotte, Montreal and Mexico City.

Portland? Nope. No mention. No discussion. No movement. No owner. No stadium bigger than the tiny one in Lents Park. No politician with enough guts to even talk about it.

After all these years, still a bush-league town.

That is all.

All rise -- and not just for Aaron Judge but for baseball in general

All rise -- and not just for Aaron Judge but for baseball in general

Last night's Home Run Derby in Miami was a spectacle, as it turned out. No longer a sideshow to baseball's All-Star Game (or MLB's tired answer to the worn-out NBA slam-dunk contest), the contest was a stunning example of the sport's sudden realization of the value of the home run.

Not only to drawing fans but to winning games.

Just as the NBA has finally given in to the statistical data that proves the three-point shot is an invaluable weapon to winning basketball, baseball seems to finally understand that home runs beat the hackneyed old "small-ball" attack -- and attract attention, too.

Aaron Judge -- a massive man who reminds me of one of baseball's long-lost sluggers, Frank Howard, won the derby and is the player in the forefront of its power surge. He's hitting homers at a Ruthian pace and is one of those players you simply can't take your eyes off of when he's in the batter's box. He's so big, so strong, that his average fly ball seems to carry over fences. And, of course, it isn't just this one player hammering tape-measure home runs.

A juiced baseball and a complete turnaround in hitting philosophy has led to an almost home-run-or-nothing era that is on a record pace this season. Can you believe that one out of every 6.8 hits this season has been a home run? That's amazing.

People within the game will tell you that the baseball has changed and studies outside of MLB seem to support that theory. The seams on the ball aren't as high as they used to be (college baseball lowered seams on the ball a couple of years ago and NCAA power numbers are up). Lower seams lead to less wind resistance, allowing the ball to travel farther.

And at the same time, an entire new approach to hitting is taking over among MLB players. No longer are players trying to hit ground balls or even line drives. The way our dads taught us to hit is not the proper way these days. Upper-cut swingers are in vogue as players have decided to forget about trying to beat shifts and to just hit the ball over them. Players don't want infielders to ever come near anything they hit. They want the ball in the air to the outfield.

Suddenly, launch angles and exit velocity are the new buzzwords among hitters. And hey -- Ted Williams was telling hitters decades ago to upper-cut the ball to keep their bat on the same plane as pitches coming from the mound, so this isn't exactly a new idea.

I have no doubt that just as Monday's Home Run Derby was a thrilling event, the home run is going to lead to an upsurge in interest in the game, just as it did during the steroid era, back when they used to say "Chicks dig the long ball."

Everybody digs the long ball, especially when they travel 500 feet. Those long ones Monday were both majestic and breathtaking. And as I've been saying for years, nobody ever paid a dime to watch some poor overmatched guy bunt the ball or hit a weak ground ball to second in order to advance a runner.

After all, the home run is a permanent part of the lexicon in this country. When you do something well, you've hit a home run. You come up with a great idea, that's a home run.

Baseball hit a home run Monday night -- and has this season -- with the home run.
















 

Multiple missteps lead to Hops loss

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CSN

Multiple missteps lead to Hops loss

The Hillsboro Hops couldn’t get out of their own way Friday night, committing five errors in route to a 5-1 loss to the Boise Hawks. 

After dropping two of three at home to Salem-Keizer, the Hops entered Friday’s game tied at the top of Northwest League South Division with a 4-4 record.

Tyler Keele (1-0, 2.70 ERA) took the mound for the Hops in the series opener across from Breiling Eusebio for the Hawks.

After Keele made quick work of the Hawks first five batters, defense failed the Hops. In the top half of the second inning, the Hops committed four errors and allowed two runs to come through. Keele pitched his way out of a bases loaded jam, but wore out his arm in the process, throwing 40 pitches through two innings. Errors continued to plague the Hops in the third inning. Making his pro debut, shortstop Camden Duzenack committed his second error of the game when he threw wide of first baseman Paxton De La Garza. The next batter, Danny Edgeworth sent a 1-0 fastball on the inside corner over the right field wall to give the Hawks a 4-0 lead after three innings. It was Edgeworth’s first home run of his professional career. 

While the scoreboard was lopsided, Keele allowed 0 earned runs on just two hits and struck out 9 in five innings of work. 

While it was hot outside, the Hops bats weren’t. They only had one base runner on through the first 7 innings. 

Hillsboro was able to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the 8th after leadoff hitter Billy Endris grounded in a run, set up by Camden Duzenack’s double that put runners on second and third.

Pavin Smith, the Diamondbacks first round pick, went 0 for 3 in his first game with the Hops.   

Friday’s game was the first of six Friday night telecasts from Ron Tonkin Field in 2017 on CSN.

The Hillsboro Hops have moved their weekend game times (June 24 & 25 games). First pitch on Saturday will be at 7:05pm and Sunday’s game time is 6:05pm. Water stations, additional tents on the concourse and misters will be set up for the comfort of fans in attendance at Ron Tonkin Field.   

Hops rally from 6-0 deficit to win home opener

Hops rally from 6-0 deficit to win home opener

HILLSBORO -- It was the home opener for the Hops Tuesday night and there was a special added attraction. Right-handed pitcher Matt Koch, who has pitched in the major leagues, was the starting pitcher for Hillsboro -- the first big-leaguer to ever appear for the team.

But in the end, all Koch did was put the home team in a 6-0 hole. Which it climbed out of, thanks to a sensational bullpen performance and a walkoff single in the 12th inning by Domingo Leyba that climaxed a 7-6 victory.

The Hops loaded the bases in the ninth after a two-out triple by Eudy Ramos on a bloop that turned into a triple after a failed attempt at a shoestring catch. But after two walks, a groundout ended the inning. And in the 10th they had runners at first and third with one out but couldn't score.

Koch, a former big-leaguer with the parent Arizona Diamondbacks, was making a rehab start for the Hops and didn't’t exactly get off to a smooth start.

The right-hander allowed a long, wind-aided home run to the first batter of the game, Malique Ziegler, and then singles to the next three hitters, upping the lead to 2-0 with still nobody out in the first.

But a pickoff at second, a strikeout and a groundout got Koch out of the inning.

He retired the side in order in the second but was touched for two more runs in the third and the same number in the fourth.

Koch finished up his start after five innings, allowing nine hits and five earned runs.

But the Hops didn't quit.

Designated hitter Kyle Smith got the home team on the board with a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth, pulling Hillsboro within 6-2.

The Hops scored in the seventh on a two-out, two-run bloop double to right field by Yan Sanchez.  The tying runs were in scoring position after that, and Bryan Araiza got one of the home on a checked-swing infield single and the tying run scored moments later on a wild pitch.

By that time the 4,537 fans were in a frenzy after watching their team rally from the 6-0 deficit heading to the eighth. But they had to hang around a while as the night turned chilly to see the end.

 

Bellator 180 Looking To Steal The Show This Summer

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Bellator 180 Looking To Steal The Show This Summer

BY: DAVID GOLDEN

On June 24th at Madison Square Garden, Bellator MMA will make their return to pay-per-view (PPV) with Bellator 180: Sonnen vs Silva. This will be the first time the company has put a product on PPV since Scott Coker took over as president and they are certainly putting their best foot forward. The card boasts three title-fights along with a co-main and main-event that feature some of the most talked about fighters in the history of mixed marital arts. This fight card has the chance to be the best MMA PPV of the summer and it just so happens to have two of Oregon’s finest on the main card.  The full card is listed below:

Main Card — PPV

  • Light Heavyweight: Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva
  • Heavyweight: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione
  • Welterweight Title Fight: Douglas Lima(c) vs. Lorenz Larkin
  • Lightweight Title Fight: Michael Chandler (c) vs. Brent Primus
  • Lightweight: Aaron Pico vs. Zach Freeman

Preliminary Card — Spike TV

  • Light Heavyweight Title Fight: Phil Davis (c) vs. Ryan Bader
  • Featherweight: James Gallagher vs. Chinzo Machida
  • Welterweight: Neiman Gracie vs. Dave Marfone
  • Flyweight: Heather Hardy vs. Alice Yauger

Early On-line Prelims — Bellator.com

  • Welterweight: Ryan Couture vs. Haim Gozali
  • Lightweight: Jerome Mickle vs. Anthony Giacchina
  • Catchweight: John Salgado vs. Hugh McKenna
  • Cathweight: Matt Rizzo vs. Sergio da Silva
  • Lightweight: Nate Grebb vs. Bradley Desir

***As always, card subject to change

With 14 total fights there really is something for everyone on this card. Let’s break down what to watch for at Bellator 180.

Title Fights, Title Fights, Title Fights

There are three titles on the line at Bellator 180, and all three bring with them interesting matchups and fresh faces. First up, Ryan Bader will make his promotional debut for Bellator when he takes on Bellator light heavyweight champion Phil Davis. These two UFC cast offs are both 8-2 in their last 10 fights with Davis currently riding a 4-fight win streak and Bader having won his last 2. What makes this fight such an intriguing matchup is that these two have fought before and in fact Bader was the last man to hand Davis a loss. The fight was very close and won on a split decision. Davis will certainly be looking to wipe that loss off his record and Bader will be looking to make a huge splash in his promotional debut.

Next up, Michael Chandler will put his lightweight title on the line against Oregon’s own, Brent Primus. This fight is a huge step up for Primus and a major risk for Chandler. With Primus having so few fights, there isn’t nearly the footage available for Chandler to study while Primus has a good-sized library to watch on the champion. This fight pits the one time fresh face, Chandler, against the hot young upstart, Primus. This matchup really mirrors Chandler’s first title shot and could be the beginning of a new regime in the lightweight division. For more on this matchup, please see my recent article on this fight here.

Lastly, Douglas Lima will put his welterweight title up for grabs when he faces the recently signed Lorenz Larkin. Larkin comes to Bellator from the UFC riding a 3-fight win streak and looking more dominant than ever after dropping to welterweight from 185 lbs. His explosive striking and fast pace matches up perfectly with Lima, who has a very similar style. Lima has only lost twice in his last 18 fights and both were in championship bouts. In his last fight, Lima recaptured the welterweight title with an emphatic win over Andrey Koreshkov proving that he will not have problems facing larger welterweights like Larkin. This fight is going to be a barnburner and is my pick for fight of the night. Don’t blink this one might be quick.

Sonnen and Silva Finally Settle the Score

Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva have a beef that spans nearly a half a decade since the moment it was announced that they would coach opposite one another on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Some argue that this animosity on the show was fabricated; others say the editing made things look worse than it was in person. No matter how you slice it, there is video of Sonnen and Silva fighting on set during the filming of the show and since that time, people have wanted to see this fight. For Sonnen, this is a must win fight after losing his Bellator debut to Tito Ortiz. For Silva, this marks his return from a “lifetime” ban by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and his first chance at redemption. These two fighters are legends in the sport that hardcore fans adore. This fight is a must watch for the old school MMA fans of the world.