Bob Hunter commentary | Rumblings: Braxton Miller’s spring consists of watching, talking

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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For Braxton Miller, Ohio State spring football practice meant a lot of standing, watching and talking as he recovered from arthroscopic shoulder surgery, but activity for the senior quarterback should pick up in coming weeks.

Because the surgery was on the top joint of his right arm, Miller has not been allowed to throw since the procedure, in late February. He is expected to begin soft-tossing tennis balls soon, however, and should be in top throwing form by midsummer.

To keep Miller’s head in the game, Ohio State coaches had him wear a cap with a camera attached through much of spring practice. It was his job to call out plays as they were being signaled, stand behind plays as they were being run by Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett, and talk about the reads he made as plays progressed.

Facebook this week released a map of the United States and Canada based on which NHL playoff teams garnered the most “likes.” The Blue Jackets were among five teams to capture only one state or province — in their case, naturally, Ohio. The other teams to carry only their home state were the Rangers (New York), the Tampa Bay Lightning (Florida), the Dallas Stars (Texas) and the St. Louis Blues (Missouri).

The Philadelphia Flyers captured two states in the highly unscientific social-media poll, but they were nearby New Jersey and Delaware, not Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Penguins earned the most likes in Pennsylvania as well as five other Eastern states and three Canadian provinces.

The Chicago Blackhawks collected the most states, 10, and the Detroit Red Wings had the most diverse collection — eight states including Michigan, as well as places such as Louisiana, Washington and Alaska.

 

Keith Olbermann of ESPN jokingly named some Crew fans as the “worst persons in the sports world” on his Olbermann program Wednesday for welcoming Atlanta to Major League Soccer with a photo of William Tecumseh Sherman, a Lancaster, Ohio, native and Union Civil War general.

Score one for the Crew’s supporters group, Massive City FFC, for getting national recognition for a funny bit and to Olbermann for his humorous response:

“Today, MLS awarded an expansion franchise to Atlanta for 2017, and the Columbus supporters decided to start something with a team that has no name, no players and no fans. The message is, ‘ Dear Atlanta, Welcome to Major League Soccer, our warmest regards from your old friends in Ohio,’ over that picture of, yes, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who of course during the Civil War in 1864 first beat the rebels in Atlanta and then kinda, you know, burned the city down.”

 

As surprising as it seemed when the Cleveland Indians sent Nyjer Morgan to the Clippers after Michael Bourn came off the disabled list — Morgan was batting .348 — it doesn’t seem so odd upon closer examination.

Morgan and Bourn are similar players — left-handed-hitting center fielders who bat in the leadoff spot. The Indians might have sent Elliot Johnson to the Clippers instead of Morgan — Johnson has one hit in 11 at-bats (.091) — but Johnson has the versatility to play infield and outfield, and he’s a switch-hitter.

 

So far, Penn State is winning the competition for spring-game supremacy, having drawn 72,000 fans for the first football exhibition under coach James Franklin. The free event, which also included an autograph session, threatened the program’s spring-record crowd of 76,000 set in 2009.

Tennessee drew 66,548 to its free event on Saturday and Nebraska drew 61,772, just ahead of the 61,058 who attended Ohio State’s game. Nebraska charged $10 for its game; Ohio State initially charged $12 in advance and planned to charge $20 on the day of the game but lowered the price to $5 when it became apparent that it couldn’t come close to attracting the 80,000-plus fans Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer hoped for.

Ohio State set the all-time spring-game record when more than 95,000 showed up for the 2009 event. Auburn (83,401) and Alabama (78,315) led the nation a year ago, and both have their spring games this Saturday.

 

Here’s one for Cleveland Browns fans irritated by the team’s history of free-agent reticence: Since NFL free agency began on March 11, the Browns are third in the league in guaranteed money spent, having dropped a cool $55.8 million. Only Tampa Bay and Denver have guaranteed more.

Most of the money has gone to center Alex Mack (a reported $18 million, after matching Jacksonville’s offer), safety Donte Whitner ($13 million) and linebacker Karlos Dansby ($12 million), and the team still hasn’t addressed a need at quarterback.

The Cincinnati Bengals, by contrast, have spent just $7.3 million in guaranteed money, the fourth-lowest total in the league.

 

The Oakland Raiders are trying to trade Terrelle Pryor before the start of the team’s offseason conditioning program, according to Pro Football Talk.

The effort to move the former Ohio State quarterback apparently began in January, though news of it didn’t surface until March.

After playing sparingly in his first two seasons, Pryor appeared in 11 games with nine starts in 2013 but eventually was supplanted by Matt McGloin, an undrafted rookie from Penn State.

 

Joey Votto has hit three home runs in the past four games, a power surge that directly coincides with his move from the No. 3 to No. 2 spot in the Cincinnati Reds’ batting order. He is 8 for 17 with two doubles, three homers, seven RBI and six runs scored since the move, although he denies there is any correlation.

Votto told MLB.com the output is the result of extra work in the batting cage and watching video of his 2013 swing. Last season, he hit .305, but his power numbers were down.

“There were a couple of things … that I wasn’t doing in previous years, when I was having a lot of success driving the ball,” Votto

said. “I feel better in that regard.”

Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.

bhunter@dispatch.com

@dailyhunter

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