Well then. How was your week? Good? Mine was too, thanks for asking. Before we get into all the juicy stuff that happened last week in the world of Cleveland sports, an announcement. This is the last Monday night Week in Review now that the Browns season is over. Starting next week, the Review shifts back to Sundays (by noon-ish) where it belongs. I know there’s a few of you out there that set your off-line reader to download the article to read at your leisure, and I really do love you people that do that, so I just wanted to make sure everyone knew in advance, so that those of you that care had a chance to adjust your settings.
Okay? Great. Now for the week that was.
It’s been a long time since we had a weirder week in Cleveland sports, I’ll say that. I’d probably have to go all the way back to July 2010 and the whole Lebron free-agency-team-auditioning-downtown-debacle-thingy to find a week that was even comparable to the last seven days around here, and I’m not really sure that even that lines up that well, honestly. The games were the games, fine, but there were two events specifically that defined the sports scene in this town pretty well over the past week, if not forever symbolically, and that’s what I’m going to focus on here.
- Andrew Bynum getting suspended and basically kicked-off the Cavs, rather suddenly.
- The Browns firing first-year head coach Rob Chudzinski, again, rather suddenly.
We’re gonna break down these two events as we recap the (crappy) sports landscape in Cleveland, trade some opinions with each other on the matter, talk (untrue) rumors (and probably get Josh into a lot of trouble for doing it), recap the week in pictures, and more as the Cleveland Sports Week in Review: I Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up If I Tried gets rolling on a cold, snowy night here in Downtown Cleveland…and we’re going to start the festivities…and believe me, they are festivities…right now.
It was just supposed to be just another “last game of the season” type contest. Really. The 4-11 Cleveland Browns were traveling to Pittsburgh for a regular season finale against the Steelers with really nothing to play for of note, save for an obscure record regarding beating every team in the AFC North within the same season, and a chance at knocking the Steelers out of the playoffs with a win. Typical fare.
Browns fans, as usual, were pissed-off because their team had underachieved this season yet again, but were approaching the Steelers game with quiet optimism, and were actually excited for a chance to potentially ruin the Steelers season, by supplying the leather boot that would kick the Steelers (officially) out of the AFC playoff picture in 2013.
Just a typical late-season NFL Sunday in Cleveland, right?
Well it was. Until…
And with that, a simple tweet accompanied by a 15 second tv hit authored and performed by respected NFL journalist and inside man Chris Mortensen on a possible situation brewing in our fine city, people started asking questions, quite confused with what they had just seen and/or read. The very hint of problems with the head coach of the Browns, and possible job security issues in the position, was a shot out of the dark for all involved.
As the hubbub over Chris Mortensen’s blindside-smashing tweet started to pick-up a bit, the local Browns press decided that it was time to do what they do best and start rephrasing and retweeting the national guys who were carrying the story up to this point.
Now, before we continue on with the recap, just a quick question. What, exactly, do these beat reporters get paid for? I’m not trying to be facetious here, and I’m not trying to be mean. The question isn’t even rhetorical, I really want to know. What do our Browns beat reports actually get paid to do? Is it to retweet other news gathering agencies and get seemingly unnecessary access to the coaches and players? Or is it to break news? Or is it both? I’m curious, because between Grossi, Cabot, and Ruiter, nobody has broken anything of substance on the Browns all year. Seriously, not one story that we didn’t already know. Everything juicy, relevant, or even partially interesting has come from a national source first, and then filtered through one of those three.
And I ask what they get paid for, again not to be mean or rhetorical, but because I’m fairly certain that an intern can sit on a Macbook with Twitter open all day and RT Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter (adding a tiny bit of context) for substantially less money than these bozos are making. The intern could even crank out some articles that are two-hours late and dwarfed by national coverage anyway by the time they’re published, just like these beat reporters do. Be honest here, is there anyone reading this that gets their up-to-date Browns news and info from blogs written by Tony Grossi on ESPNCleveland.com? Anyone? Anyone? Right, me either. I really don’t understand why or how the bosses at ESPN Cleveland, CBS Radio, and the Plain Dealer put up with the three laziest high-profile beat reporters in the NFL, I truly don’t. Rob Chudzinski was determined by the Browns to be fired Saturday, according to reports. Yet, none of our ace beat reporters even smelled this story until Chris Mortensen smacked them in the face with it like it was a giant tuna from a studio 1000 miles away in Connecticut. And as a fan, I’m insulted that the local media companies even attempt to pass Ruiter, Cabot, and Grossi off as “insiders”, when the only thing that they’re “inside” of is how easily they’re stealing money from their employers for not doing a damn thing but not get to watch practice every day, scribble some very generic personal interest stories into WordPress from the comfy-cozy Browns media room, and get a free ticket to every football game to sit in the press box. Nobody is breaking news…nobody is delivering anything of substance for their paycheck. They don’t even try. They’re pathetic, and the sooner we get some component people covering the Cleveland Browns around here, the sooner every fan with an Internet connection will stop laughing at the pathetic coverage afforded the team by hacks like Grossi, Cabot, and Ruiter. It’s just as embarrassing as the team, quite frankly.
Alright, anyways…Back to it.
So the game went on with rumors swirling about the future of Browns field boss Rob Chudzinski, and unfortunately for all involved, followed a familiar pattern. That is to say, bad QB play, horrible defense, and questionable coaching decisions resulting in yet another loss (20-7) on a cold and rainy day in Pittsburgh. But the game wasn’t the story on this day, it was what happened next.
I’m not even sure where everything went from here, it was kinda crazy. However, there were some notable exchanges with fans/players on social media that are worth taking a look at, like this exchange between Mike Silver from nfl.com and Browns OL Jason Pinkston.
Yeah…that didn’t go so well for Pink, did it? Silver’s an assassin.
And then there’s my exchange with ESPN’s Pat McManamon, which was far less contentious, but relevant in that yet another local reporter was hoodwinked and completely clueless regarding the big story of the day, despite the growing storm on the national outlets about it – one of which employs Mr. McManamon. This was all happening directly under these people’s noses, mind you. This is their home beat.
I like Pat, but he was obviously wrong here, but I think his being wrong is telling. This story was almost entirely broken by national reporters, and the local beat guys and various Browns reporters like McManamon had absolutely no clue regarding what was happening within the Browns front office – to the point that some were coming out fairly strong in denial of the story. I again harken back to my rant earlier about Browns beat reporters…who is actually reporting on the team, and who is using the “affiliation” with a major sports media outlet as a free ticket and privilege resource? It’s a fair question, given how this story unfolded thousands of miles away from the epicenter, be it Cleveland or Pittsburgh.
Once the news was confirmed that Chudzinski was out as Browns coach, the fans…well…I’ll just let you take over from here.
Man, what is it with women tweeters and Brandon Weeden? Guess chicks don’t dig the ginger, I dunno. Harsh.
The question that a lot of Browns fans had about the firing of Cudzinski is a simple one. Why? Why did the Browns fire a coach that had no quarterback to play, no running game to work the clock, no defense in the second half of the season to hold on to any leads, and seemingly no support from the front office in changing any of that by bringing decent players to fill those roles.
Why was a pretty good question, and one that was answered today (Tuesday) in a press conference that can be found at the link below:
I’m not going to embed it, because the Browns are protective regarding these sorts of things, but hit the link if you haven’t already and check it out. It was pretty good stuff honestly. One reporter even found a creative way to call Jimmy Haslam, Joe Banner, and Mike Lombardi “The Three Stooges” by hiding behind some fan-generated Facebook comments. Definitely worth a watch or listen if you have a second. You’ll enjoy it. And if you haven’t noticed, I have refrained from giving you my opinion of the firing of Rob Chudzinski up to this point, because I wanted to do the best I could to get the relevant facts out into the open, and let those of you who are reading some of this stuff for the first time make your own decisions. Hopefully, you’ve done that, cause I’m taking my turn now.
Firing a first year head coach is never a good thing, let’s make that clear from the start. It means that someone screwed-up the hire, and that it’s painfully obvious to all involved that the working relationship is never going to result in the original desired success, for whatever reason. That’s usually easy enough to spot by itself, but here’s the rub, people with large egos (like the people who run professional sports teams, for example) don’t like admitting that they were wrong. Truthfully, they detest it. And some will go to great lengths to prop-up a bad hire for as long as possible, just so they don’t have to admit that they made said bad hire, and consequently, a mistake. To their credit, the Browns took the high road, and made a change. A hard change. An unpopular change. A change that has fans and analysts from Cleveland-to-Everywhere questioning their sanity and their patience. But in their minds, it had to be done, and that’s okay. If they didn’t feel Chud was the right guy, then awesome. Thank you for not dragging us though another Mangini-type waste of a year with a lame-duck coach.
However, limited props aside, you had better not fuck this one up.
You get one of these as a leadership group. One mulligan. One do-over. You can’t pull this stunt with Chud, go through the process of hiring another coach, struggle through a 2014 season like you struggled through this one, and then fire that guy. That won’t fly. This has to be the last coach the Browns hire for a while – five years at least, and that might be a conservative number.
So here’s the deal, kids. They’re gonna hire a guy – probably Josh McDaniels if current reports are true – and that guy is going to have to win next year. Not six games, not seven games…eight games at least to justify this firing. You’ve got more salary cap space than any team in the league coming up, a ton of draft picks, and five (possibly six) Pro Bowlers. There is no reason why the Browns in 2014 shouldn’t be fighting for a playoff spot until the final whistle of the final game. That’s what we demand as pittance Joe Banner. That’s what your fans are demanding from you Jim Haslam. You blow up the team this season and whatever, but next season…next season you had better win. Period.
No more excuses. No more progress. No more battles.
What did Andrew Bynum do?
Saturday morning, as the Cavs were preparing to play the Celtics in Boston in a rare Saturday early-afternoon game, the news broke all over Cleveland media.
Alright, so. Here’s what we know:
1) There were no perceived “problems” with Andrew Bynum, his attitude, buy in, effort, or anything else prior to his suspension Saturday morning, at least that was released to the media/fans. I mean, his play had dialed back a bit over the prior few games, but Bynum hadn’t played in over a year, a little fatigue and slippage from time to time was to be expected. He wasn’t in NBA shape. Not like before, anyway.
2) Nobody will go on record regarding this.
3) Whatever it is, it does not appear to be basketball related, although that’s always possible.
4) Taking out basketball reasons, just for the sake of argument, we’re left with insubordination, being a cancer in the locker room, refusal to rehab properly, or…while we’re just throwing things against the wall here to see if they stick…
Now. Let’s talk about this. First of all, this is alleged. I don’t know that Andrew Bynum was caught having sex with *REDACTED*, who is the significant other of a Cavaliers assistant coach who’s name may or may not be *REDACTED*. In fact, he probably wasn’t. The Cavs, in fact, are out in force ripping down webpages that are even implying that this story is true, which we are not doing here. The rumor itself is the story, not the validity of it.
So if he wasn’t having sex with the fiancee of an assistant coach, what could Bynum have done to get yanked-off the team immediately, given an indefinite suspension with pay, and basically told to GTFO and never come back until the Cavs either release or trade him?
And so now, here’s the problem. The likely answer is probably something far less interesting than the hot rumor, but dammit, the hot rumor makes too much damn sense in this context! Short of putting Mike Brown in a headlock (which we’d know about…think Sprewell), assaulting a teammate with a deadly weapon (he’d be in jail), or just flat refusing to practice / rehab / play (unlikely, would kill any leverage he would have to go to a contender eventually)…what gets a cheap, talented seven-foot 25 year-old center immediately suspended, sent home, and told to never come back again because the relationship is never fixable? I mean seriously! Brian Windhorst of ESPN seems to think that the issue stemmed from a playing time issue, meaning that Bynum is/was pissed that Kyrie wasn’t getting him the ball and that reduced production was eating into his minutes. There was apparently a meeting between Bynum and Mike Brown on Friday, after which BAM! he was gone forever.
Again, I want to be clear about this, I am not saying that there is any truth to the rumor (and that’s all it is, is a rumor with no validity) that Andrew Bynum was kicked-off the team for having an illicit affair with the fiancee of a Cavaliers assistant coach. I am not saying that. I am, however, saying that if that was it, it would make perfect sense as to why the Cavaliers are acting like they are, and why this eradication from the team came-up so suddenly.
But it’s not true, so pay it no attention.
NO! It’s not true. This is not a picture of them, and even if it was, there was no sex between Bynum and this woman! None!
That’s not funny! And not true. This is nothing but a false rumor! You stop this!
No No No! Where would you get such a thing? Absolutely, categorically not true.
That’s ridiculous, that’s absolutely not what happened in that well written and informative article you linked in your tweet. Don’t be a fool.
Remember kids, Andrew Bynum was ripped away from all team activities, cast into a virtual black hole with an indefinite (paid) suspension, and was immediately listed as “FOR SALE BY OWNER” to every team in the NBA, available to the highest bidder (sacrificing all leverage in the process and with a very team-friendly contract) because he was unhappy about his playing time, and got in a fight with Mike Brown.
Yep. Sounds legit to me. I have no reason to question any of this.
Yeah, I’m sure that’s the reason. That’s never happened in the NBA before…
The Week in Pictures
C-ya next week! Maybe.