Tag Archives: week in review

My Cleveland Sports Weekend v5

Dear Diary,

This weekend has been INSANE! And really, it’s been more than just a weekend since the party got started last Thursday night!

Thursday – under the bright lights of the national stage, the Browns traveled down to Cincinnati for what has turned into a key game this season. No one gave us a chance to win – not the national media and certainly very fe"Gary Barnidge"w of our own hometown fans, but I believed. Call me crazy (you crazy girl!) but I just knew that if the running game could get back on track, we could win this thing. Let’s face it, Bengals QB Andy Dalton does NOT do well in big situations and it turns out that last Thursday was one of those bad nights for the Scut Farkas look-alike! All three of our running backs got TDs and the defense played like their hair was on fire the whole game. THE WHOLE GAME! Two interceptions for Craig Roberston and light’s out, shut down defense from everyone else. It almost makes me cry, I’m so proud of these guys. No Jordan Cameron. No Josh Gordon. Just amazing clutch catches from guys like Gary Barnidge! Holy Crap again – how good will this team get when those guys return? The leadership and the attitude changes I’ve seen this season give me real hope that we aren’t just holding the top spot in the AFC North for a short time. This is the New Browns. We are holding this spot until someone takes it away…. we are NOT giving it away like seasons gone by. As a fan who has been through some brutal seasons, I’m starting to learn to enjoy the wins, to look forward to games, and to not “wait for them to blow it.” Yippee!

Friday was a bit mellow with the high school playoffs starting. I really don’t have any dogs in that fight but I did feel bad that Lorain County’s own Elyria High pulled St. Ignatius and got destroyed. Those boys had a great season and should still be very proud of all they accomplished.

Now, Saturday night rolls around and – not gonna lie – I didn’t watch the first half of the OSU vs Michigan State game. I was still rolling on the high left from a Browns “Victory Friday” and I just didn’t think I could take watching the Buckeyes get ripped apart by one of the best defenses in all of college football. Well, the hubby texted me at half-time and said “PUT THE GAME ON DAMMIT!” So…. I tuned in for the second half and HOLY CRAP ON A STICK the Buckeyes were WINNING! It was an amazing thing to watch those last two quarters as the guys on the line just kept pounding away at Sparty and really made people take notice. The improvement this team has shown since that terrible loss to Virginia Tech is incredible. Just when everyone had us written off – BAM – they put on a show like that and, in my opinion, proved to the world that they could hold their own with any team.

Most importantly, however, the Buckeyes proved to their FANS that we weren’t just being homers. It’s really hard to have to justify your program and the schedule to non-believers. We can’t help who they play, we can’t help the blowout Bosawins, we just have to deal with the teams that are put on the schedule. But I think many fans were like me, a bit skeptical of what this team could really do when faced with a quality opponent. Now, it cracks me up to hear the national guys down play the win, especially after listening to them all last week talk about Michigan State’s defense and how great it is. Well. I guess JT Barrett has risen in some folks estimation because he and Ezekiel Elliott put on a display of how to beat an great defense! Plus Joey Bosa definitely showed QB Connor Cook what “Pressure” looked like! I kinda felt back for Cook, being from Hinckley, OH. Kinda. But just because he reminds me a bit of Brian Hoyer. The kid has skills, just hope we didn’t shake his confidence up too much. O-H!

I’d like to say Sunday was fairly boring without a Browns game but that would be a lie. The next best thing to a Browns win is a Steelers loss… and they lost to the J-E-T-S! I don’t think it gets any better than that!

Until next time, diary, enjoy the wins and pray the losses are few and far between!

Respectfully Submitted,
Cleveland Kate

My Cleveland Sports Weekend v4

Dear Diary,

SSSHHHHHHHHHHH STOP YELLING! Oh my aching head! My weekend was insane and I’m STILL hungover! I know I’m late in writing to you but gimme a break. I had a rough weekend!

football(whispering) I can’t even remember Friday night. That’s how bad it is! Saturday, however, is another story! The Buckeyes were in Happy Valley for an 8:30 kickoff vs Penn State and, after a 12-pack of Corona and TWO OVER TIMES (shhhh – sorry) two over time periods, we came out on top 31-24. As I’m watching (and drinking) their 17 point lead fade away to nothing, I had to cut up two more limes for the beer and ran out of nachos and, well, let’s just say that when Joey Bosa sacked Hackenberg on that 4th-and-5 play to end the game, we ALL passed out! Next thing I know it’s Sunday morning, the stupid London game is kicking off at 9:30 am (OY) and the hubby is trying to feed me runny eggs and sausage links! #Ralph

I make it to work ok and get everything done early in anticipation of the late game for my Browns vs the Oakland Raiders. My head’s a bit sore but I’m more or less ok… until half time. 9-6. Are you kidding me? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME! (yikes, ouch, my head) I will not handle any more of this field goal crap! Break out the vodka and make Pepto Bismolitans! No scoring in the 3rd quarter and I’m nearPepto Bismolitonly out of vodka. We are one break-out play away from losing – FOR THE SECOND WEEK IN A ROW – to a winless team!

When did we start running a charity around here? “Need a win? Play the Browns!” Oh. Hell. No. Not only am I completely tipsy at this point, but I’m getting really pissed. That’s right, I said it. Pissed. The Browns are playing AT HOME! The Dawg Pound has to matter! We have to make our opponents FEAR coming in here! I have to type more softly because it feels like the monkeys flinging this poo at my computer screen are dancing on my head right now!

Anyway, the 4th quarter finally brought some big plays, some excitement, some signs of life from an offense that has been as hungover as I am since the beat down of the Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks ago. (no, it never gets old, reminding you that we beat Pittsburgh) Solomon Wilcots referred to our injured Center as “Alex Smith” – TWICE – and we gave up a garbage TD. In the end, we won 23-13 but I have to say, as much as I enjoy Victory Monday and as much as a W counts regardless of how ugly it was, the defense needs to learn a serious lesson here. If you don’t shut teams down and let them keep coming back at you, you will LOSE more games than you WIN. The Oakland Raiders are NOT a good football team and we did NOT shut them down properly.

Frankly, my head still hurts and yes, celebrating two wins is better than two losses but still…. the hang over is the same. Until next week diary, behave yourself!

Respectfully (and quietly) Submitted,

Cleveland Kate

My Cleveland Sports Weekend v3

Dear Diary,

“I am alone. I am utterly alone. My whole Sports Life is a dark room.”

Yes, I am channeling my inner Lydia Deetz today, but can you blame me?

First of all, the weekend started off Friday night with the NR Rangers falling to Bay 34-19. ZERO second half points!? The amazing junior “Run DMC” (you remember – DeMario McCall? Future Buckeye if I’m lucky?) did what he could, rushing for 138 yards and two touch downs but it wasn’t enough. They just got out-played and it was brutal to watch.

You’d think another tOSU Buckeye romp on Saturday would help me feel better but, no. Crushing Rutgers 56-17 only makes me mad all over again that we lost that dang Va-Tech game.
Too many one-loss teams to even thing about playoffs and yet, that’s what I’m doing. Wallowing in the sadness that comes from losing a game early in the season.

So Sunday comes along and I thought, “Wow, Browns are at Jax. The Jags have not played well this season; this should be an easy game.” Uh, not so fast there chickadee… we got our butts handed to us by a team that was desperately trying to get their first win of the season and, while they look bad on paper, still have enough talent to fight for yards.

I’m already hearing the Manzealots screaming for Johnny and, while I agree Hoyer wasn’t at his best, those people are CRAZY! Last week vs Steelers he had 217 passing yards and we scored 31 points.  Yesterday vs Jaguars he had 215 passing yards and we scored 6 points.  You know what the difference was? Turnovers and Rushing Yards!  A mere 62 yards on the ground? And we’re a Running Team? OY!

picture from www.nflrush.com
picture from www.nflrush.com

And if that isn’t bad enough, if simply getting smashed by an 0-6 team isn’t humiliating enough, we gave up 127 yards to Denard Robinson! Yes, the same Michi-scum my Buckeyes faced just last year, QB turned RB, That Guy! While I love seeing former Buckeye Whitner taking down Denard, it makes me crazy I have to see #16 at all anymore! Oy AGAIN!

The biggest hurdle I see, diary, is the Center position. I know I was all Patty Positive last week when Alex Mack got hurt and Greco came in, but it seemed, well, seamless. We moved the ball, did what we wanted, and kicked Steeler butt. This week however, was a very different story. CLEARLY, the defensive line for the Jaguars has been underappreciated.  And CLEARLY we undervalued what a great Center means to a football team. We haven’t had to worry about that position in so long that now everyone has to learn what I tried to explain during the offseason when Mack got his fat contract: The offense is Centered around the Center! Not only is he responsible for getting the QB the ball correctly and without the QB worrying about it, but he’s basically unblocked by the defense so he steps back and looks to the A or B gap to see who needs help. This is NOT something Greco can pick up in just one week.  I’m hopeful that Alex will be back in Berea to visit this week and will take Greco under his wing for some veteran coaching, tricks of the trade, something!

Heavy Sigh. And so my week without a Victory Monday commences.  I’m sure, diary, that by Friday, I’ll be cheerful again, rooting for my teams.  But for now, I shall simply wallow in the unhappiness that comes from my Sports Life being a Dark Room.  I know I’m being totally melodramatic here but I did warn you that I was channeling Lydia. And since Halloween is so near, it seems fitting, don’t ya think?

 

Respectfully (and Depressingly) Submitted,

Cleveland Kate

My Cleveland Sports Weekend v2

Dear Diary,

OMG! You thought last weekend was amazing? Well, hold on to your hat because this weekend was EPIC!monster v griffins

Friday was all about the return of the Lake Erie Monsters… The guys were on the road facing the Grand Rapids Griffins and WON 4-0! Calvin Pickard was light’s out in the crease, fending off 37 shots-on-goal from the Griffins! With 2 goals from Karl Stollery, 1 from Kenny Ryan and an empty-netter from Max Noreau, the Monsters offense looked ready to get this season started in their new divisi
on.

I have no idea what is up with the realignment but being in the Midwest Divison of the Western Conference is going to be tough. Based on last season’s records, we would finish a far off 5th in this group: Chicago Wolves, Grand Rapids Griffins, Milwaukee Admirals and Rockford IceHogs. Sheesh.

Saturday was fairly boring. The Buckeyes were on a bye and the Monsters lost their home opener 2-3 which depressed me and I don’t want to dwell on that right now, because…

SUNDAY was the BEST SUNDAY OF THE BROWNS SEASON in as far back as I can remember. Frankly, a victory never tasted so good as beating the pants off the Steelers yestereday 31-3. Yeah yeah the final score was 31-10 but that last TD was total garbage time stuff and shouldn’t count. Ha. After a kinda shaky first quarter, the boys in brown settled down and handled their business. With so many injuries this week I have to admit I was very nervous. This game had the ability to be huge. No, it wasn’t a “must win game.” Those are one-and-done playoff situations. BUT this game DID give the Browns an opportunity to make a statement. To tell the AFC North – and maybe the rest of the NFL – that we are NOT the Same Old Browns.

I don’t know what this week will bring, how long we are going to lose Alex Mack with the broken fibula, but I do know this…. WE BEAT THE FREAKIN’ STEELERS and we did it in convincing fashion… not some 3 point, last second field goal but three quarters of stomping on them, letting them know they’ve been in a battle, telling EVERYONE that we finally have Home Field Advantage, that the Dawg Pound DOES have teeth!

Respectfully Submitted,

Cleveland Kate

My Cleveland Sports Weekend

Dear Diary,

You won’t believe the sports weekend I just had!

First, in high school football action on Friday, my North Ridgeville Rangers suffered a Homecoming Game defeat to the dreaded Midview Middies, 28-14. Junior RB Demario McCall (Run DMC we call him) had a terrible time trying toRunDMC cut and run in the muddy, wet conditions and just couldn’t get it done. It’s strange to say that 103 yards and a TD is his worst game of the season but it’s true. Word on the street is that Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer was checking him out a few weeks ago… Hmmmm.

Saturday was all about the Buckeyes. I’ll admit, their pass defense leaves much to be desired. They are playing like two separate defensive units, The Front Seven and buckeyesThe Back Four. Nope, not a fan of the Fickell, but you already know that. Anyway, with Cincinnati QB Gunner “The Gunslinger” Kiel at the helm, the Bearcats got over 400 yards of offense. Heck Gunner threw for 4 TDs and 346 yards! Luckily, JT Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott were more than ready to show that the Buckeyes have some offense too… JT had 324 passing yards, 79 rushing yards and 4 TDs of his own! And Zeke with 188 rushing yards?!? Amazing! Mark another one in the Buckeyes Win Column 50-28! That’s three games in a row where the offense socred 50+ points. I guess if the defense can’t hold ’em, we’ll have to win in shoot-out fashion!

I hear the Cavaliers had some kind of scrimmage and then a game vs the head coaches former team from Israel but really, it’s football season. Am I right? LOL Whatevs.

Now, Sunday was the capper! Let me tell you, diary, I was freaking out until around 4:10pm watching the Browns play down at the Tennessee Titans. It’s a good thing I am the only one in the office on Sundays because I was screaming and yelling and throwing things (just a couple things and they were soft so nothing got broken), but really, the missed tackles and mental mistakes make me crazy! Being down 28-10 at the half is insane! I know we came back to tie the Steelers in week 1 being down 24 points but I hadn’t seen enough to have faith that good guys in the white jerseys could come from behind. Again. And don’t even get me started on the defense! Could we give up just a few more points to backup QB Charlie Whitehurst? And his pony tail? Really? REALLY??? ARGH!BrownsvTitans

But oh gee lordy was I surprised when the second half started and the defense just shut them down. Plus, we never gave up on the run, just kept cranking away and chipping their lead down until we were ahead by 1 point! And yes, I was afraid that 1 minute on the clock was too much time for us to give the Titans. Can you blame me? Well, all I can say now is: HALELUJIAH BABY IT’S VICTORY MONDAY! I totally <3 Travis Benjamin. Sigh. He’s really making a name for himself as the Play Maker this team needs while JG is out. I’m not ready to declare them the Kardiac Kids 2.014 but maybe the Comeback Kids is who they are… or The Spread Coverers. LOL

Can I handle a long season of 3-point games differentials? As long as we are actually scoring TDs and finding ways to WIN these close games, you bet your butt I can handle it! Go Browns!

Respectfully Submitted,

Cleveland Kate

Cleveland Sports Week in Review 9/15-9/21

A week in Cleveland sports at times can be unlike anything else. There are days where if you are out of the loop even for a couple of hours you can miss a big story or development. From a Monday to Friday the collective pulse and emotion of the city can go from overly optimistic/joyous to doom and gloom/we’re not going to take any more of this. Things in Cleveland sports can and do change by the day. How can you keep up? Fear no more! Here is the More Than a Fan Cleveland sports week in review.

Cleveland Indians

Winners of five of their last seven games, the Indians currently find themselves 3.5 games back of the Kansas City Royals for the second AL Wild Card spot. After getting swept by the division leading Detroit Tigers, the Indians responded by winning a series against Houston (taking three out of four) and the Minnesota Twins (taking two out of three). This was done in large part to some excellent pitching. Over the last seven days the pitching staff has boasted an impressive 2.01 ERA, while the offense has struggled (Indians batting just .248 as a team during this stretch). Leading the Tribe offensively has been (you guessed it) Michael Brantley. Over the last seven games Brantley has a batting average of .419 with one home run, three RBI and four runs scored. Yan Gomes has also been productive, hitting .269 over the last seven games with two home runs, nine RBI and three runs scored. On the other side of the ball, Corey Kluber has continued his Cy Young award caliber season. In their last seven games Kluber has made two starts for the Tribe. During that time (15 innings pitched) he has struck out 28 batters, has a 1.50 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP while batters are hitting just .237 off of him. Carlos Carrasco has also made one start for the Tribe this past week, and he’s continued his somewhat unlikely second half resurgence. In his last start (September 17th against Houston) Carrasco didn’t allow a run and only gave up two hits in nine innings while walking one battery and striking out twelve. Cody Allen has continued to be reliable in relief for the Indians. He’s made three appearances over the last seven games (3.1 innings pitched) and has allowed just one earned run on three hits while striking out six batters. Unfortunately for Allen, that one run allowed resulted in a blown save.

Looking ahead: The Indians have an extremely important series against the Kansas City Royals, starting with a unique double header tonight. The Indians and Royals will play the remainder of a weather postponed game from 8/31, a game in which Cleveland was winning 4-2 with Kansas City coming to bat in the bottom of the ninth when bad weather struck, before the start of the scheduled game today. Should Cleveland finish off that game and sweep the rest of the three game series they would be in the driver’s seat for the last AL Wild Card spot.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns dropped a heartbreaker to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, losing by a score of 23-21. Despite the team playing well enough to win on Sunday (maybe not well enough to win every week) Cleveland’s defense was the largest reason for Sunday’s loss. Many will point to (and rightly so) the 32 completion to Steve Smith late in the fourth quarter who was being covered by Joe Haden as the games defining moment. Haden, who by all accounts hasn’t really lived up to the contract extension he signed this offseason, will be the first to tell you he has to make a play on that ball. He’d also be right. If Joe Haden wants to be considered one of the top defense backs in the league those are the types of plays he cannot give up. However, don’t fool yourself into thinking this was all Haden’s fault. Considering the timing of the play, yes that one completion that he allowed ended up being a defining moment in the game. But the Browns defense as a whole was unimpressive all afternoon. The front seven was unable to sack Joe Flacco once and the run defense was pitiful, allowing 91 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries to Lorenzo Taliaferro (who got the start with Ray Rice’s suspension and Bernard Pierce’s thigh injury) and also allowing Justin Forsett to rush for 63 yards on 11 carries. The Browns defense was also flagged twice for too many men on the field.

The poor play of the defense doesn’t excuse the offense either. While Brian Hoyer and the offense did manage three 80 yard scoring drives (all three touchdowns) they also failed to put the game away in the fourth quarter with multiple chances. In the fourth quarter Cleveland’s four drives yielded 65 yards (including a 4 play -2 yard drive) with two missed field goals (one blocked) and two punts. Their final two drives of the game resulted in punts and totaled six yards on six plays.

In off the field news, Josh Gordon officially had his indefinite suspension for a failed drug test reduced to ten games. This means that Gordon will be available for the team’s final six games of the season, doesn’t have to apply to play again next season and (under the new agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA) is allowed to be around the team during his suspension.

Looking ahead: The Browns have a bye week this coming week.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers signed free agent power forward Lou Amundson. The 6’9” eight year veteran appeared in 18 games for the New Orleans Pelicans and one game for the Chicago Bulls last season. Amundson averages 3.6 points and 3.5 rebounds a game (averaging 12.6 minutes per game) for his career. He and Cavs GM David Griffin were both in Phoenix from 2008-2010.

LeBron James will once again tower over downtown Cleveland, literally. The City of Cleveland approved a Nike sponsored banner of LeBron James to once again hang from the Sherwin Williams building.

This Week’s Cleveland Top Five

I heard the clamoring all week and have decided to bring it back for another go round. That’s right everyone! My list of this week’s Cleveland top five. In case you missed last week, here’s a refresher on how it works. I sat down and listed the top thousand best and most important people, things, stories, and events as they pertained to Cleveland sports over the past week. For the sake of brevity I then narrowed that list down to the top five, along with a few honorable mentions. Please note that these rankings are completely as I see them and may, in some cases, seem to have no rationality or logic behind them. I’ll have to respectfully ask you to just deal with it.

Honorable Mentions

Unranked – The Miami Heat Supporting Cast

(No comment needed)

#986 – Jason Giambi’s Athleticism

The sage old veteran has once again found himself on the disabled list. I’m not going to say that his playing career is officially over, but after watching him this season I think it’s definitely on life support.

#6 – Josh Gordon Goes Another Week Without Breaking the Law or League Rules

Pretty self explanatory. The talented but troubled Browns wide receiver has strung together two full weeks without getting into any kind of trouble. If this keeps up I may have to move this into the top five out of pure astonishment. And a bit of superstition.

The Top Five

#5 – Johnny Manziel

A veritable mainstay on this list, at least through two weeks, Manziel is by far the biggest thing in Cleveland sports right now. Whether he’s face down with a bottle of champagne on an inflatable bird or doing something that’s not that, there’s no escaping him right now. Most of the coverage hasn’t exactly been glowing, but that may have something to do with the fact that it’s the off season, nothing is really going on right now, and every single person in this country has a camera attached to their hip at all moments. Not that Manziel isn’t bringing some of it on himself. But still, it’s all a bit over the top. Let me know when he actually does something illegal or detrimental to the team and then I’ll start to worry. Until then, I’m still completely aboard the Johnny bandwagon. Oh, and before I forget, if I hear one more thing about him not studying the playbook every waking second of his life I’m going to lose it. As if pouring over a playbook every night until you fall asleep with your face between the pages is the key to being a good quarterback. Man, if only Brandon Weeden had a little more bookworm in him he could have been a superstar. No, I’m sorry to say that it takes talent and a certain mentality to be a great quarterback. Besides, do you really think he isn’t putting the time in or working on what the coaching staff needs him to work on? Give me a break. Let loose Johnny. This week I want to see you floating down a lazy river with a six pack of Molson on a giant Castaway style wooden raft. Just make sure that the playbook is securely fastened to the mast so you can ease the minds of all the armchair coaches in this city.

#4 – David Blatt?

BLATT! I just can’t help but shout the name of the newest Cavs coaching candidate like it’s a cheesy sound effect from a children’s cartoon. That’s probably because I had no idea who he was until a couple weeks ago. But now he’s the newest serious name to emerge for the Cavs still vacant head coaching position. I have no idea whether or not he’d be a good hire. Like I said, I hadn’t heard of him just a few short weeks ago. But I won’t let that fact cloud my thoughts on him as a candidate. I hadn’t heard of Mike Pettine until a couple weeks before he became head coach of the Browns and I like that hire more and more as the months go by. The only thing that will matter if David Blatt ends up with the job is whether or not he can mesh with young talent on the roster and get the most out of the players. I feel like coaching in the NBA, much like its Draft, is a complete crap shoot. I don’t care about getting the “name” guy. I just want someone who can get our young guys to play together and can guide this team to the playoffs. If it’s David Blatt and I get to emphatically shout his last name for the next several years then that’s just a little cherry on top.

#3 – Joel Embiid

Embiid was in Cleveland last week for his workout with the Cavs. In completely related news, I may be slightly leaning towards taking him with the first overall pick. Last week I was squarely focused on one of the wing players. After all, it makes sense to key in on either Parker or Wiggins in a league that is dominated by great players on the wing. And both of those guys certainly are fantastic prospects who could be great players for the Cavs. On that same token though, there is a serious shortage of dominant big men in the NBA compared to previous eras. It may stand to reason that a dominant center may be more valuable due to the scarcity of that basketball resource. Everything is obviously dependent on the health of Embiid’s back. If there’s any concern at all then I think you have to completely take him off the board. It would be much more prudent to avoid that risk and go with Parker or Wiggins. But if everything checks out he could completely change the on court dynamic of the Cavaliers. We’ve still got about two weeks for me to change my mind another dozen times, but count me as extremely intrigued by the possibility of Joel Embiid.

#2 – Nick Swisher

It’s been a pretty rough season for the Tribe’s most valuable bro. While much of the criticism has certainly been deserved, the vitriol for Swisher has kind of been a little over the top. I think it stems from the pressure placed on him for the contract he signed two off seasons ago, fair or not. His production hasn’t nearly been what was expected, but the expectations were probably way too high. Even if Swisher produced at his career average, he probably still would have been overpaid. That’s what happens when a player hits free agency. Especially in baseball. For a fan base that loves to blast ownership for not spending money (which is completely fair by the way) I find it somewhat comical that the fans have so much ire for one of the few high priced players that have actually been brought in via free agency. In no way am I trying to defend the Dolans or the front office here. Just pointing out the realities of bringing in higher priced free agents. Anyway, all that is neither here nor there as it pertains to this article. This is a good week for Nick Swisher. He’s back from injury and he blasted a game winning home run Sunday in Fenway. It was definitely one of the bigger hits that he has had in an Indians uniform and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come. Maybe now we can all lay off of Swish for a couple days.

#1 – The World Cup

I know, I know. You’re wondering what this has to do with Cleveland sports. In all actuality it doesn’t have anything to do with them. I don’t care it’s my list. I am a self admitted soccer convert. I once scoffed at the game as I’m sure many of you do. But that was a long time ago and I have since seen the light. The World Cup is one of the most magnificent events you will ever witness in sports. Shortly after this article gets published the United States Men’s National Team will be playing their first match of the tournament against Ghana. If you are a fan of soccer then I’m sure you’ll be watching somewhere. If you’re not, tune in an give it a chance. Trust me, it will be worth it.

This Week's Cleveland Top Five

I’d like to welcome you to the debut of something that I may, or may not, try and continue on a regular basis. At least until I come up with something better. I sat down and listed the top thousand best and most important people, things, stories, and events as they pertained to Cleveland sports over the past week. For the sake of brevity I then narrowed that list down to the top five, along with a few honorable mentions. Please note that these rankings are completely as I see them and may, in some cases, seem to have no rationality or logic behind them. I’ll have to respectfully ask you to just deal with it. Now let’s dive right into it.

Honorable Mentions

#1000 – Joe Banner Gives an Interview to the Plain Dealer

Former Browns President and CEO Joe Banner spoke with our hometown newspaper this past week. He reminisced about his time as the head of the Browns front office and waxed poetic about how he left the team in good shape for the future. Or, at least, that’s what I’m assuming he said. I have to admit that I did not read the article. I have absolutely no interest in reading a bunch of revisionist nonsense from yet another failed Browns executive. Can we stop interviewing these guys well after they horrendously fail at their jobs? Can we stop giving them these outlets to spout off complete crap about the work they did (or lack of work in Mike Holmgren’s case) while they were with the Browns? You know what, I’ll make a deal with the entire platoon of horrible coaches, general managers, and executives that have presided over the pathetic last two decades of Browns football. I’ll admit that you all did a terrific job and left the team in great shape if you promise to never give these interviews ever again. Deal?

#999 – The Off the Field Media Coverage of Johnny Manziel

This would have ranked dead last on my list had Joe Banner not decided to speak. As it is, the media coverage of Johnny Manziel, both locally and nationally, has been so over the top and ridiculous that it legitimately makes my head hurt. Obviously, having dozens of outlets that need to generate constant content leads to coverage that can feel excessive. I understand it just having to write a weekly article, let alone fill hours and hours of time every single day. However, that in no way justifies the wall to wall coverage of every single thing that Manziel does off the field. Personally, I couldn’t care less what he chooses to do in his spare time. As long as it’s not illegal, doesn’t affect his play, and he does what he needs to do in terms of his work. I haven’t seen anything to lead me to believe that any of those things aren’t the case. I have a sneaking suspicion that this isn’t going to change any time soon. In fact, here’s hoping that this continues for at least a decade. Nobody will care about the side show for a player who is irrelevant and doesn’t play.

#262 – The MLB Draft

The incomparable forty round marathon where most players will never be heard from, and the ones that make an impact won’t do so for a least a few years. But hey, it’s a draft. Count me in.

#6 – Josh Gordon Staying Out of Trouble

Seven days. No arrests, no tickets, no failed tests. I think we can call that progress, right?

The Top Five

#5 – The NBA Finals

It pains me that I have to talk about this. Still. Four years after the best basketball player to ever suit up for the Cavaliers left us all at the altar on national television. I don’t hold nearly the same amount of hate or disdain that I once did. I can’t honestly say whether or not I would want Lebron to come back to Cleveland. There are parts of me that fall on each separate side of that issue. But whether or not that option is even a possibility more than likely lies on the outcome of this series. Any small chance of a return certainly takes a hit if Miami wins a third straight championship. If they fail to do so there is at least a small chance that a reconciliation could take place. As I said, I don’t exactly know how I feel about that, but this series between the Spurs and the Heat could loom large for decades to come here in Cleveland.

#4 – Who is Going to Coach the Cavs

The Cavaliers have been searching for a new head coach for approximately the last 6 months. At this point there have been many, many names associated with the job. Some much more underwhelming than others. It’s not clear if we’ll end up with an experienced coach or a young one. I’m definitely not buying into any of the “big name” college coaches coming to Cleveland. I just hope it’s someone that can get the most out of our young talent and get them all to play together. I really don’t care who that person is. I guess I’d hope that it’s not Mike Brown again. Isn’t it funny that the Browns got absolutely lambasted for a coaching search that lasted around a month and had just about the same amount of candidates linked to them, but the Cavs really haven’t received nearly the same amount of criticism. Crazy how that works.

#3 – Hoyer vs. Manziel

Who will win? Who will start? Two men will enter. One man will exit. Well, no, actually that’s not right. Both will exit. One will just be ahead of the other on the depth chart. In any event, this will probably be a fixture on this list for the next few months. I’m sorry. For all of us.

#2 – Parker vs. Wiggins

I will wholeheartedly admit that this past winter I watched the least amount of college basketball that I probably ever have. I barely even got to watch my alma mater, let alone any other teams. Like, say, Kansas or Duke. I didn’t really see any of Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins. Or Joel Embiid for that matter, but I’m focused on the wings. I’m having to rely on things that I see and read about these guys to form my opinion. I seem to go back and forth every other day on who I want the Cavs to pick. I think it changes every time I hear or read a case for the player I’m not leaning towards at that moment. Either way, I think the Cavs are going to end up with a really good player. They better. And if you’re wondering, right now I’m leaning toward Parker. Until I think about Wiggins’ athleticism and potential. You know, forget what I just said. Think I’m actually going with Wiggins right now.

#1 –  The Indians

That’s right! After a horrendous start to the season, the fighting warriors of the Cuyahoga are number one on my list. They have been streaking of late, winning nine of their last ten, and have pulled to within just two games of the first place Tigers. I said it at the time and I think it’s proving to be correct. The game winning home run that Michael Brantley hit in the first game of the series with Detroit was a potentially season changing hit. And ever since Dr. Smooth roped that ball down the line the team has been playing exponentially better baseball. The season is turning. The stupendously boring product that they were putting out earlier in the year has been replaced with a much less boring, much more successful product of late. I still don’t feel the same excitement or get the same amount of entertainment out of this team that I have with other Indians teams of my lifetime. But at least they’re starting to win. That really is the bottom line (Warning: Caption Obvious Sighting!). I’m not going to bring up any of the frustrating or depressing parts of this team. I will not be a Debbie Downer as long they keep winning and sweeping series. Hopefully they’ll be number one on this list again next week. As long as there is a list next week. We’ll see.

Cleveland Sports Week in Review: We're Experienced Fans in the Subject of Suck

 

Hello,

 

With much of the focus this week centered on who’s going to what NFL prospect’s Pro Day and who isn’t, the Cleveland Browns remain very much in the headlines and hearts of local sports fans, months after their regular season expired once again rather uneventfully. But this is Cleveland, and in Cleveland, football reigns supreme. So even though the Cavs are limping home toward the finish-line of yet another busted season, and the Indians are gearing-up for another crack at the American League postseason (and hopefully a much longer stay in it), the most popular discussions on Cleveland sports social media this week all centered around the Browns, various NFL prospect Pro Days and the Browns, and the Browns pattern of attendance at those Pro Days.

 

So…we’ll spend more time than is rationally deserved talking about the Browns, touch on the Cavaliers closing the season-out with a whimper for the fourth consecutive season, the Indians and Justin Masterson, your tweets, and more as the Cleveland Sports Week in Review: We’re Experienced Fans in the Subject of Suck rolls on, here on a chilly and cloudy Sunday morning in Cleveland Ohio…with a nagging cold and a freshly repaired laptop ready to take on the world…right now.

 

Cleveland Browns

 

Alright, so here’s the scoop as I understand it. Basically, the fans are in an uproar (surprise, surprise) because Ray Farmer and the Browns top brass seem to treat top-level NFL prospect Pro Days in the same manner that single guys treat the churchy-part of a wedding.

 

“I’d really rather not go to that…”

 

To that end, the Browns have bucked conventional NFL wisdom in this department, and have been fairly anonymous at some top-level quarterback Pro Days this week…

 

https://twitter.com/BrownsWatch/status/447372651531476995

 

And have attended some others which my surprise you, given the profile of the two examples mentioned above…

 

https://twitter.com/NFL_AllNews/status/446894147186991104

 

Now look, I’m a guy who’s currently sitting in a 24-hour greasy spoon attached to a T/A with a laptop at 7am, opining about sports from a healthy distance away from any real responsibility, so take my opinion for what it is. However, it seems to me that the Browns aren’t acting like a team that is picking #4 overall, at least not yet. Now granted, a lot can change between now and May (stop me if you’ve heard that before) but I just don’t think that the Browns are paying a lot of attention (at least outwardly) to their top pick, and are spending more time (again, outwardly) on other things.

This could mean a few different things:

 

1) I’m stupid, and the Browns are doing plenty of homework on the quarterbacks / Sammy Watkins / etc. at the top of the board.

2) They’re going to trade the pick, move down, and use the extra picks acquired in that trade to bring even more new blood into the roster than they were going to anyway.

3) The Browns (Ray Farmer, really) don’t care for the scripted nature of the NFL Combine and individual player Pro Days, and want to bring the candidates in for a private workout that they control before they judge anyone.

4) The Browns think that they’re smarter than everybody else.

5) The Browns are smarter than everyone else.

 

All of this is made even more relevant because of the shake-up in the Browns Front Office a few weeks back. Quite frankly, we have no idea how “good” Ray Farmer is at this whole NFL Draft thing. As fans, we look at these unusual tactics (like interviewing no quarterbacks at the Combine) and immediately get that sinking feeling, like “Oh, another ‘regime’ that thinks their smarter than the rest of the League. Yay”. And it’s not our fault, the past decade plus of botched off-seasons and GM’s that have it all figured out that go 4-12 every year has auto programmed us to think this way. We’re experienced fans in the subject of suck, that’s for sure.

 

 

As I mentioned, we have absolutely no idea how Ray Farmer approaches an NFL Draft, and consequently, no idea whether or not he’s going to pick good players. We hope that he will, as well as hoping that another unknown (first-year Head Coach Mike Pettine) can “coach ‘em up” and use the players he’s given to have a little success on the field. But we’re a long, long way from that. Hell, we’re still a long, long way away from the damn Draft, which is in freaking MAY this year. MAY! That’s like practically next year as we sit here in March. So there’s a lot of time left for debate on this, as well as a lot of time for the Browns to talk to whomever it is that they want to talk to. I’m not sounding an alarm here, but I feel like I can speak for other Browns fans on this and mention that just once..one time…we’d like a Front Office that behaves like other NFL Front Offices. You know, the teams that have had success. Recently. It’s alright to have your own ideas and vision for how a football team approaches an offseason, but when you’re taking over a team like the Browns with their decade of disfunction (over a decade, really), you can’t be tone deaf toward outward appearances. And after countless regimes in which all kinds of funky things happened both in front of the fans and behind the scenes, we as Browns fans just want some damn normalcy in our team’s approach to…well…everything. And until Ray Farmer and his crew prove that they can turn .25 into a phone call, we will continue to be (and have every right to be) skeptical. Or not…depending on who you ask…

 

 

So who knows, maybe I’m crazy. I sincerely hope the Browns know what they’re doing, that’s all. For all their faults, the previous regime set-up the current regime pretty well this offseason with crazy cap space (hello Andrew Hawkins and Ben Tate), a ton of draft picks, and low expectations. So lets see what happens from here. In Ray Farmer we trust, because we really have no other options available.

 

Other Browns news:

 

As mentioned above, the Browns signed two new free agents this week.

 

Andrew Hawkins (CIN failed to match the Browns offer)

 

Ben Tate

 

I like both signings. In the pre-draft configuration of the Browns roster, Hawkins is a great compliment to All-World WR Josh Gordon, and Lord knows we’ve needed some real talent at running back since Jamaal Lewis was here, so having a guy like Ben Tate taking the pressure off whomever the QB is by being able to establish the run is a great plus.

 

 

 

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

 

Let’s play word association. All of these images have one theme in common. Can you guess what it is?

 

NewImage

 

NewImage

 

NewImage

 

NewImage

 

NewImage

 

Did you guess it?

 

Yep. The word is “tank”, and even though they’re starting a bit late this season, with Kyrie Irving, Luol Deng, and CJ Miles all out with injuries…maybe for the rest of the season (if they’re smart)…the annual post-Lebron Winter / Springtime ritual has begun.

 

https://twitter.com/thebenzed/status/445699307300065281

https://twitter.com/JakeLFischer/status/445695468937703424

 

Look, whatever. I think the Cavs made an honest attempt at it this season, and it just didn’t happen, for whatever reason. I don’t feel like debating the “why’s” right now, there will be a proper post-mortem for that once the regular season is over, but with Luol and Kyrie hurt and the chance of sneaking into the playoffs all but gone…screw it, go ahead and tank. Why not? It’s probably the smart thing to do. And who knows, with the Cavs Draft Lottery luck…well, let’s just say that stranger things have happened. Get me?

 

 

Cleveland Indians

Yeah, so, about that “Justin Masterson hometown discount” thing…

 

https://twitter.com/NOTSCCleveland/status/447456307679735808

https://twitter.com/MetalManRadio/status/447527112010788865

 

My thoughts on this are the same that they’ve been since the beginning. There is so much distrust and ill-will in this town toward the Indians Front Office that has built-up over the years, that they absolutely cannot afford to blow this opportunity to lock Masterson in – especially when he’s making it very agreeable to do so, and is basically bending over backwards to try and get something done to stay here, in Cleveland, with the Indians. Last year’s spending spree was great, but years of penny-pinching and trading established franchise cornerstones for prospects because we can’t pay them market value isn’t undone with one offseason. And while nobody expects the Indians to compete with the top-level free agents and the insane contracts that those players get, you have to capitalize on opportunities to keep yourself relevant to the fans and rebuild a little of the trust that has been lost since the mid 1990’s. This is an opportunity to do that, and the consequences for squandering this chance to sign a fan-favorite (and your staff ace, I might add) could be devastating for the Tribe long-term. I don’t think it’s possible to overstate this point. They have to sign Justin Masterson, and they should probably do it quick, before this situation continues to grow and becomes a distraction. Not necessarily to the players, but to the fans.

 

https://twitter.com/jnkron/status/447072548753117186

https://twitter.com/ShadowScars/status/446985776148930562

 

Now having said all that, let me just point-out that I am not naive, and I realize that all the public posturing by Masterson to get a deal done probably centers around the fact that he knows that he’s not a “true” ace, and that he most likely won’t get ace money next year on the open market. I understand that this is a negotiating tactic, and a damn fine one too, I might add. But…so what. It is what it is. In any business, there are fixed costs that are required for continuing to stay in business in a community, and in some cases, keeping up with your competitors. This is one of those fixed costs. The downside of not signing Just Masterson to a deal here is just too great. Maybe it’s not fair, and maybe you think that Masterson is being a bit dis-ingenious and whatever, and that’s fine. But all that being as it may, and all excuses aside, just pay the man and give your fans something to be proud of for a change. Please.

 

Thank you.

Cleveland Sports Week in Pictures

https://twitter.com/JasonPinkstonOL/status/447508370212151296

 

That’s it, see you guys next week! Don’t forget to vote for your favorite Cleveland media personality in MTAF: Cleveland Media Madness! The Sweet 16 is going on now through March 28th. Vote here: cleveland.morethanafan.net/2014/20688/fan…

 

 

Cleveland Sports Week in Review: Even Super-Villains and Mortal Enemies are Kind to Kittens

 

Hello.

 

It’s Bizzaro-Week here at More Than a Fan: Cleveland, with two events taking place within the confines of the weekly Gregorian Calendar that are unprecedented from a Cleveland sports perspective…and in a positive way, at that. Well, generally. We’ll get into that, the Cleveland Sports Pics of the Week, and whatever else tickles our soft underbelly of love as the Cleveland Sports Week in Review: Even Super-Villains and Mortal Enemies are Kind to Kittens rolls on here on a cold and sunny Sunday morning in Cleveland, and we do it with no commercials, no intrusive advertisements, and no selling of your information to Russian terrorists…ever…right now!

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

 

So the #11 worn by Zydrunas Ilgauskas has been retired alongside the numbers of the other greats in Cleveland Cavaliers franchise history. Legends like Bobby “Bingo” Smith, Larry Nance, Mark Price, Austin Carr, Nate Thurmond, and Brad Daugherty have been joined by the big center from the Ukraine, Zydrunas Ilgauskas. It was a well-deserved honor for the Cavaliers franchise leader in games played, games started, offensive rebounds, total rebounds, blocked shots, and personal fouls. It was his night, and nobody will ever be able to take that away from him.

 

https://twitter.com/RealMaga22/status/442623223365001219

 

So that was nice, congratulations to #BigZ on being honored for his years of dedication, hard work, sacrifice, and foot surgeries in playing (and trying to play) for the Cavaliers. Truly deserved. But as I said, there were two unprecedented events this week, and one of them revolved around Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ ceremony last night.

 

A WILD LEBRON APPEARS!

 

Yes, Lebron James attended Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ number retirement ceremony, at the Q, while still being under contract to the Miami Heat. This is absolutely unprecedented in the NBA, and quite frankly, I don’t ever recall something like this happening before, anywhere, ever. Truthfully, from a League perspective, this has tampering written all over it in 135pt Impact font considering Lebron’s upcoming decisions regarding voiding his contract and becoming a free agent and all. Word has it that Miami was not particularly stoked about Lebron flying into Cleveland to attend the ceremony, but truthfully, what were they gonna do? Say “No”? Right, exactly. No way. The decision to attend was Lebron’s firstly, the Cavaliers secondly, and everyone else just had to sit and watch as James strolled-in to the arena of (potentially) his #1 suitor in a few months, sat on the Cavaliers bench, hammed it up with Cavalier players, sat in a luxury box, talked to the media, etc, etc, etc.

 

I get all of that, and I get why Miami (and maybe the NBA to a small extent) would be upset about this, but honestly, it was much ado about nothing. Lebron’s gonna do what Lebron’s gonna do. If fans hanging bedsheets from overpasses up I-77 North with “PLEASE STAY LEBRON” and “HOME” spray painted on them during the summer of 2010 didn’t make an impact on him to stay with the Cavaliers (and they didn’t), then this event certainly isn’t going to make much of a dent. And to his credit, Lebron handled the event (and the story of his appearance at said event) with class, as the 2014 version of Lebron James is a much more polished, well-spoken, moment-aware version of the kid that went on National TV three-and-a-half years ago and embarrassed his hometown fans with The Decision. Lebron understood who he was, where he was, and most importantly, what the real story of the night was…Big Z’s #11 being raised to the rafters.

 

Still, that didn’t stop the fans from getting a little bit jazzed about “The King” returning to Cleveland in such a manner.

 

https://twitter.com/AndrewNAWolf/status/442641874172395520

https://twitter.com/jzrose32/status/442529322306658304

https://twitter.com/SamPtak1/status/442517814125948928

 

I don’t know what’s going to happen, and truthfully, it doesn’t really matter. Not right now, anyway. For what it’s worth, noted Lebron “expert” and ESPN Miami Heat junkie Brian Windhorst isn’t convinced that the Cavs are going to win the long game here:

 

 

Still, Lebron was back on the Cavs bench for a few minutes, and it was a fun, moving, and well-done ceremony. Really good stuff. So of course, the actual basketball team took it upon itself to go out and lose by ten to the Knicks at home. That-a-way to impress Lebron guys. Way to capitalize.

 

 

 

Cleveland Indians

https://twitter.com/strawmaryblonde/status/442376521483710464

 

Yeah! So, that’s exciting. The Indians are on a tear through the Cactus League schedule, which I suppose is better than not being on a tear through the Cactus League schedule, but still worth about the same as a twenty-five cent phone call to your boss from a jail cell. Nice, but basically meaningless.

 

3 9 14springstandings

 

Now, I mentioned that there were two “unprecedented” events this week in Cleveland sports, and the Indians are involved in the second one (the first, of course, being Big Z / Lebron).

 

 

Justin Masterson, the Indians de-facto “ace” and a free agent next offseason (after agreeing to a one-year contract worth close to ten million dollars this past offseason), has, literally, made the Indians an offer. And it’s not your typical “superstar” offer to team that is completely one-sided and mortgages the future of the franchise for ten seasons…this one is…actually…fair.

 

https://twitter.com/BrianDoering80/status/441530236920803328

https://twitter.com/MARKYZSUKAS/status/441279358762643456

 

Basically, it stacks-up like this. Three-to-four years, sixty-to-eighty million. $20m a season, yes, but a shorter-term contract in an attempt to make it palatable for the Indians. With a deal like this, both sides would be making concessions. The Indians would be paying more for a single player than they are comfortable doing (and possibly have ever done), and Masterson gives-up dollars on the back-end and long-term security. The Indians risk here is the same as Masterson’s risk in that if he doesn’t preform up to the level of the contract, they have a $20m black hole in their payroll, severely limiting their ability to improve the roster for the term of the deal. However, Masterson is taking the most risk by offering a contract like this, because while the Indians are only on the hook here for three or four years, Justin Masterson is on the hook for life. If he gets hurt, underperforms, or befalls some other type of difficulty that prevents him from fulfilling the expectations of a $20m/yr contract, he won’t see this kind of money again. Years four, five, and six, which would be $20m/yr years under a typical free agent pitching contract, wouldn’t be worth nearly as much, as they haven’t (and wouldn’t have) been signed. Masterson would need a new contract, and if we’re playing around in the scenario that Masterson under-delivered, he would suffer severe financial losses from what could potentially be made if he signs a standard six-year, $120m free agent pitching contract or whatever. Hell, Homer Bailey got like $200m. So there is risk there on both sides.

 

 

Sometimes, you plan-out your finances for the next three months in extreme detail, two days before your furnace blows up. I realize that the Indians probably had no intention on paying Masterson $20m a season (or anything close to it) because they assumed that Masty would want five-or-six years and force them to be on the hook for a number that would devastate the ball club for a decade if anything went wrong. However, that is not the case, and if the Indians were smart (and they are), they’d start looking in earnest for a way to make this work. Quite frankly, and fairly or unfairly, the fans will demand nothing less than signing Masterson to a long-term deal, especially since they know that a significant “home town discount” has been applied. Sure, genius move by Masterson to leak this to the media, because now the fans are frothing at the mouth about it, but it is what it is. This is one of those PR moves that you have to make, no matter the cost, because the long-term effects of not making the spend may be significantly worse. The Indians have had a hell of a time shedding the “cheap” tag, and believe me, it won’t get any easier if the Tribe doesn’t lock Masterson in now. Especially since they did close to nothing in the offseason besides replace players that they had no choice but to replace for whatever reason, like John Axford replacing Chris Perez.

 

So there’s that. Oh, and the whole Chief Wahoo debate is still raging. I could print a million tweets about the Chief, and whether-or-not it’s an offensive caricature (I don’t think it is), and degrading to Native Americans and whatnot (Not my call), but I’ll spare everyone the debate. The choice here is very, very simple. Keep it or kill it. Enough of this “diminishing” garbage behind the scenes. Either embrace Wahoo as your logo and be done with it, or replace it with something better than that stupid, un-inspiring block “C”. I think that may be part of the issue here, honestly, is that there is nothing to replace the Chief as an “icon” of the team. I myself have always liked script Indians, but the team is moving away from that as an identifying icon for whatever reason as well. Oh, and script “I” was a disaster (and rightfully so…it was bad).

 

I don’t understand why Mark Shapiro doesn’t reach out to local artists and ask them for some inspiration. Have some Indians fans who are into graphic design take a stab at it…why not? What’s the harm? If someone nails it, give them a couple hundred grand (agreed upon before hand) and be on your way. I don’t understand why logos are so damn hard. I think if there was something inspiring coming-up to replace the Chief, there would be a lot less backlash, but that’s just my opinion, I dunno. I think that stupid block “C” isn’t quite what the fans are looking for in terms of inspiration. But what do I know, I only read all of your tweets every week.

 

 

 

Cleveland Sports Week in Pictures