Sporting Views

Dream a little dream with me (and the Browns)

It’s that time again, folks.

“And exactly what time is that?” you query, in an impatient and clearly accusatory tone. (Obviously, you’ve read previous columns of mine. And BTW – you’re welcome.)

It’s the time of year when I boldly predict the Browns’ final record after they finish up against the Bengals on Jan. 9. (I’ll also make another prediction: If you’re going to that game, dress warmly, as it will be cold.)

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Volume 13, Issue 17, Posted 10:44 AM, 09.08.2021

Tribe incomplete-o moving forward sans Tito

As we try to shake off the memory of that recent 17-0 thrashing at the hands of the Oakland A’s – capping a humiliating 3-game sweep under the guidance of acting manager DeMarlo Hale – it got me to thinking about the future of the Indians/Guardians without Terry Francona as manager. And it’s not a pretty picture. 

For those of you who may not have received the memo, the Indians manager stepped down recently due to health issues. After lengthy absences in 2019, 2020, and now this year, it’s difficult to envision a happy ending to Francona’s managing career. He’s only 62 (which looks quite young from where I’m sitting), but his issues are serious.

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Volume 13, Issue 16, Posted 10:10 AM, 08.17.2021

'Stand Guard' more like 'Caught Off Guard'

So, now that we’ve gotten that whole new Indians name thing out of the way, I only have one question:

What?

The Guardians. Much like a Tristan McKenzie curveball that didn’t, I did not see that one coming. Now, I will be the first to admit that I would have been a tough sell on just about any name after 60-some-odd years of Chief Wahoo and the “Tribe,” but I have to say I am still a bit miffed at the name choice.

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Volume 13, Issue 15, Posted 9:55 AM, 08.03.2021

A little bit of optimism is good for the soul

You know, I was thinking about sports – specifically, Cleveland sports – the other day and it occurred to me that the general malaise which has enveloped my expectations for the Browns, Indians, and Cavs (with some notable exceptions) over my lifetime has – much to my surprise – spilled over to other things in my life, and frankly, it’s more than a little disturbing.

Take the Indians (please). I mean, I was really on the bandwagon when they were something like 10 games over .500 and then they did their Hindenburg imitation and went poof right before the All-Star game.

I mean, I was all grins and giggles even when the weather was lousy, because I was like, “Hey, man, cheer up, because the Tribe is on a roll.”

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Volume 13, Issue 14, Posted 10:24 AM, 07.20.2021

It is time to give the Cleveland Baseball team their due (reluctantly)

I was watching the local major league baseball team a few days ago – at least I thought I was but wasn’t entirely sure until I saw Jose Ramirez – and it occurred to me how far off I was with my gloom and doom prediction for this baseball season.

To be sure, they have had so many debilitating injuries this year with an already shaky roster, that the wheels indeed may soon come off this year’s baseball party bus, but all the same, it will be difficult to fault the organization for that.

I was thinking about last year’s opening day lineup, and I recall not being especially enamored with that group, but when compared to this year’s collection of questionable talent, last year’s talent level approached the ’95 Tribe.

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Volume 13, Issue 13, Posted 10:32 AM, 07.06.2021

Cleveland Indians (there, I said it) are a conundrum

So, here’s the deal: The local professional baseball team, soon to be formerly known as the Cleveland Indians, has succeeded in confusing the bejeebers out of me.

You’re familiar with the old idiom, “Caught between a rock and a hard place,” right? That’s where I am right now with our beloved – soon to never again be referred to as – our Tribe.

After a lifetime of living and dying on every pitch and every out of every game I could catch in person, on the tube, or on the radio, I doubt I could ever turn my back on them completely. Just the same …

The methodology of the current ownership is testing my loyalty – big time.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 10:01 AM, 06.15.2021

The 1971 Tribe in a word: Unbelievable

You know, it seems like only yesterday the Cleveland Indians were getting ready for the 1971 season. Okay, that statement is obviously a stretch. It really feels more like the day before yesterday.

There was a lot going on in my life at the time. I graduated high school, although I’m sure there were many in the school system who took issue with the wisdom of setting me loose in society. Then again, not pushing me through meant having me around for another school year, which had to be terrifying (especially for the English Dept.). I was like the Freddie Kitchens of academics.

Regardless, after I was given my own walking papers in the form of a diploma, I’m pretty sure the school system completely re-designed their evaluation process. In an ironic twist, it pretty much mirrors what the Indians organization did during the 1971 season.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 10:18 AM, 06.02.2021

LeBronís 'outburst' not surprising

You probably heard about LeBron James’ now famous “You’re next” tweet from a couple of weeks ago. If you haven’t heard, it’s pretty clear you’ve been living under a rock or something (and I’m surprised I didn’t run into you down there).

For those of you not as media-savvy as the rest of us, it went something like this: Columbus, Ohio, police shot and killed a 16-year-old Black girl who was thought to be attacking other people with a knife.

Keeping in mind that this happened shortly after the Minnesota cop was convicted of murdering George Floyd, James sparked considerable outrage when he posted the photo of the Columbus cop who shot the 16-year-old with the caption of “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY” which also included an hourglass emoji, presumably implying that the “clock was ticking” on the Columbus cop getting the same fate as the guy who killed George Floyd.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:11 AM, 05.18.2021

The long ball in a long season

As I watched Franmil Reyes hit two monster shots against the Twins on April 27, shortly after the Tribe had been brutalized in 3 of 4 against the Yankees, it got me thinking about the home run and the psychological impact the “long bombs” have on the game – including its participants.

From a fan’s perspective – let’s use me as an example – I was pretty down after that Yankee series. Not only because we lost (although that was certainly a contributor), but the way we lost. It felt to me as if for about 90% of that series, we didn’t deserve to even be on the same field as New York, and for me, that’s a bitter pill to swallow.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 10:02 AM, 05.04.2021

Send in the Clown(ey)s

If you listen to the reaction of some folks around town ever since the Browns signed star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year contract, then we might as well skip the regular season, along with two or three playoff games, and plant them firmly in the Super Bowl.

Now, I get the excitement and all, but wasn’t it just a couple of years ago we were getting all teary-eyed and emotional about the signing of Odell Beckham Jr.?

Remember, we were going to have the greatest offense in the history of the NFL. We were going to score 50 points a game, and that would only happen when our offense wasn’t in sync. Heck, on good days, we’d probably put up 60 or 70.

What in the name of Braylon Edwards happened?

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:39 AM, 04.20.2021

Tribe 2021: Itís not in the cards

“Hi pal, what can I do for you?”

“Your sign outside says you buy, trade, and sell baseball cards.”

“That’s correct, friend. What cards are you looking for?”

“Well, I really want a Francisco Lindor card and …”

“I have to be honest with you, big guy. You’re buying Lindor cards when the guy is at his absolute peak. It will take quite a bit to pry a Lindor card out of my hands. He’s a sound investment.”

“Yeah, tell that to the Dolans.”

“Who?”

“The Dolans: Larry and Paul. They own the Indians.”

“Oh yeah, I remember now. They are the reason I stopped following the Indians – what’s it been – years ago?”

“Yeah, that’s about right. Feels longer, though.”

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 10:36 AM, 04.06.2021

This team was Michael Stanley's team

I never considered the notion that one column after writing about the death of a local radio personality, Les Levine, I’d be writing a similar column about Michael Stanley.

But here we go again, ironically, navigating a similar path for a local rock hero/disc jockey. It’s particularly ironic for me, personally, because – as was the case with Levine – I wasn’t much of a fan of Michael Stanley either (at least the on-stage version).

In Cleveland, Stanley’s reputation was more legend than substance, probably because he arrived on the rock scene at the tail end of the rock explosion of the ‘60s and ‘70s, in which a stretch of incredible rock talent made it difficult for the “merely good” talent to make much of an impact. And, make no mistake about it, Stanley’s gig as the afternoon talk show host on classic rock station WNCX didn’t hurt his visibility throughout the city, and undoubtedly contributed to the growth of the Michael Stanley “legend” over the years. As a result, I found him much more entertaining as a radio jock than a musician.

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Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 10:27 AM, 03.16.2021

They talked the talk

The recent passing of local sports talk legend Les Levine got me thinking about many of the area sports talkers I’ve listened to, from the early ‘60s all the way through today. (Yes, folks, if you do the math, that’s 60 years of listening to others talk sports).

Ironically, I never caught Les Levine that often. It wasn’t an intentional omission, but it always seemed his show would air while I was unable to listen, like during Indians, Cavs and Browns games, or he was up against a show I already had taken a liking to, or I was at work.

I thought I’d make a list of those whom I remember the best, and why I ranked them in the order I did …

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Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 9:46 AM, 03.02.2021

Dolansí possible sale of Tribe is rife with serious consequences

I don’t know about you, but I'm getting pretty tired of the “Larry and Paul Show” (otherwise known as “How to ruin a good thing in an effort to make a buck”). You know the drill: 1. Acquire baseball talent via the draft or trade; 2: develop said talent into quality baseball player(s); 3. claim you are losing money and trade talent to (see step 1). Lather – rinse – repeat.

Kinda like a gerbil on a spinning wheel, right? Except the problem is, we – the fans – are the gerbilious yo-yo’s on the Dolans’ spinning wheel (of fortune). “Losing money”? Get serious, now. These guys are in their third decade of “losing money” as owners of the Cleveland Indians. Do you honestly think they’d stick around for that long if they were really in the red all those years? Think about it: the only money actually being “lost” is ours!

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:09 AM, 02.02.2021

Browns and Indians stories inversely related to a quarter-century ago

Wow. Who woulda thunk it? The Browns playing football more than halfway into January … and meaningful football, at that. With Covid and all, the timing really couldn’t have been much better for the city. The holidays were in the rearview mirror, the Cavaliers were capturing the imaginations of, well, no one, and more than a month until Indians spring training, we needed something to get us through these cold winter nights, right?

With Baker Mayfield looking like the real deal, the best running game in the NFL, and a defense that – well, okay, as Meatloaf once sang, “Two out of three ain’t bad” – the Browns are actually fun to watch.

It did get me to thinking, though (which in my case, is always dangerous) about the situation in Cleveland in the mid-’90s, just over a quarter-century ago, when Art Modell announced on Nov. 6, 1995, that the Browns were indeed moving to Baltimore.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 9:58 AM, 01.19.2021

'The night before playoffs'

‘Twas the night before playoffs, and throughout Jimmy’s house, not a person was stirring, not even his spouse. A space had been cleared on the mantel with care, in hopes that a Super Bowl trophy soon would reside there. The executives were nervous all; (most likely on prescription meds), knowing an early playoff exit would likely be akin to “Off with their heads!” With Dee in her kerchief, and Jimmy in his cap, one could not help but wonder if this was some sort of trap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, Jimmy sprung from his La-Z-Boy to see what ‘twas the matter. But soon, in his haste to ID the noise in the snow, he tripped over Dee and down the stairs he did go. When, what to his tear-filled eyes should appear, but Baker in the doorway, doing Jello shots and beer. Overcome by the sight, Jimmy again nearly fell, but gasped a sigh of relief, for no, ‘twasn’t Baker, ‘twas Johnny Manziel!

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Volume 12, Issue 24, Posted 9:52 AM, 12.15.2020

Thankful during the Covid Era? Youíre darn right I am

This has been one of the rougher holiday seasons for our family; in fact, my wife and I – after 43 and a half years of marriage – experienced our first Thanksgiving of no family get-togethers. No kids. No grandkids. No other relatives, either. And Christmas looks about as promising as Thanksgiving. Seriously, let's break open a new case of Kleenex, and let it all out, shall we?

And while you’re at it, you might want to stock up on the toilet paper. (You remember what happened about eight months ago, and keep in mind that we are supposed to learn valuable lessons from past experiences.) Don’t be caught having to use some of those leaves you never got around to raking last month. And yes, the neighbors will know exactly what you are using those leaves for – don’t try to play “innocent” because they're not as dumb as they look.

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Volume 12, Issue 23, Posted 9:59 AM, 12.01.2020

Tribe pitching depth already a curse

Before you say it, I'll say it for you: "Almost every team in the Major Leagues would love to have the Indians' pitching staff."

I can't argue with that. For the better part of the last decade, the Indians have sported one of the most consistent – and consistently deep – pitching staffs in the American League, if not all of baseball. They have been contenders year in and year out, and not had a losing season during Terry Francona's tenure as manager. And yep, there are a plethora of baseball franchises who would love to be where the Indians are right now. The winning culture. Annual contenders. Strong (obviously) farm system. A steady and effective front office with an excellent scouting staff – especially when it comes to drafting and/or trading for pitching talent.

So then what, pray tell, is the problem here? Am I just getting ornery in my advancing age? Can't I just sit back and appreciate what we have, while we have it? 

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Volume 12, Issue 22, Posted 9:21 AM, 11.17.2020

Faker ... or Baker?

I am often amazed by the fickleness of your average sports fan.

You know, like when the Tribe loses 8 in a row (as they did earlier this fall), and most of us nod in agreement that, yep, these guys just don't have the offense to hang with the big boys in MLB.

You know, like when the Tribe rattles off 8 wins in 9 games (as they also did earlier this fall), and most of us nod in agreement that, yep, this team just might go all the way with the pitching depth they have.

And those scenarios played out one right after the other only a little over a month or so ago. And then, when the Indians were taken back behind the woodshed and spanked – unmercifully, I might add – by the New York Yankees, I wanted to take Shane Bieber, Brad Hand, and the rest of that "deep" pitching staff and deep-six 'em. And, make no mistake, the wounds are still fresh enough that I haven't really changed my mind yet.

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Volume 12, Issue 21, Posted 9:28 AM, 11.03.2020

Season of great expectations: Year 22 (Part 2)

When we last met, I had predicted the Browns would boldly go where few Browns teams had gone before: a winning record after 8 games – albeit by the slimmest of margins.

The question becomes: will it continue? One can only hope so after the horrid post-season playoff showing by the Tribe against the Yankees, so let's focus on anything with a potentially happy conclusion, shall we?

Continuing with my picks from the previous issue ...

9.) Sunday, Nov. 15 vs. Houston: The Texans are not as good as they used to be, but probably not as bad as their record would suggest. The Browns had two weeks to think about their loss to the Raiders, and that creates some competitive fire in the Browns' locker room. They come out and play their best game of the season, beating the Texans, 30-10. At 5-3-1, Jimmy Haslam floats the idea of erecting a statue of himself. Dee accidentally fractures her hip when she doubles over in laughter.

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Volume 12, Issue 19, Posted 9:48 AM, 10.06.2020

Browns: Let the games (a.k.a. 'torture') begin...

Yes, I know it's a new season. And yes, we have a new coach (for a change, right?), and yet again, we have an influx of many new players.

Feel like you've seen this movie before?

The problem is, in the one vital area in which the Browns desperately need change, they have had continuity: ownership.

Ever since Jimmy Haslam took over as the Browns owner midway through the 2012 season, the Browns have won roughly a quarter of their games. (The chances of making the playoffs with that kind of "winning" percentage are not all that good, folks). The scary thing is that Jimmy keeps maintaining that he's going to "keep on trying" until he "gets it right."

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Volume 12, Issue 18, Posted 10:20 AM, 09.15.2020

On a scale of 0-10, how painful would you rate this column?

Before we begin this issue's foray into literary excellence, in spite of having spent the last several days in Fairview Hospital for a malady, the cause of which is yet TBD, there are a few things I need to get off my chest. As you will see, things some of which have been festering for a long, long time.

Seriously, how come it's called Fairview Hospital if it's located in Cleveland? Fairview's just on the other side of the valley, no? I'm way too lazy to verify this but I'll bet that long, long ago Cleveland annexed the hospital side. Why? Probably just because they could. I guess the city of Fairview should be happy the hospital still bears their name. Possibly one of the very first "naming rights" deals ever negotiated.

And what's with the asking of my name and birthday seemingly every 30 seconds? Heck, I was born in that hospital; shouldn't they already have that information? Or is the real objective actually to just keep asking away until I make a mistake and then using that as justification for throwing my rear out? A tricky bunch, I tell you.

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Volume 12, Issue 17, Posted 9:31 AM, 09.01.2020

No way to tame 'blame the name' game

With all the hoopla surrounding the (suddenly) inconceivable manner which this country has blatantly – and I might add, without my approval – named some of their professional sports franchises, I say… 

Bravo. 

It’s high time we saw all of the lowlifes and ne’er do-gooders for what they are: instigators of evil, and it all starts with the name of your local pro sports franchise. Yes, it took some time (I never go quietly) but I, too, now see the error in my ways in rooting for a team called the (cover your ears, children) Indians.

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Volume 12, Issue 16, Posted 9:15 AM, 08.18.2020

Sports in 2020: An absolute pain in the asterisk

Based on his first two starts of the season, Indians ace Shane Bieber should win the Cy Young Award. Think about it: 27 K's in two starts? That's the equivalent of striking out every batter for an entire game. And don't tell me my Cy Young prediction after seven games is premature. Simply because, my friends, seven games – this year – is 11.67% of the schedule. Conversely, in a normal 162-game schedule, 11.67% of the schedule would be 19 games played, with 143 to go. This year, seven games played means we have a whole 53 games to go.

That's right ... we're in the stretch run, baby!

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Volume 12, Issue 15, Posted 9:50 AM, 08.04.2020

A rose by any other name (in sports) is always profit-driven

Okay, I get the thing with the Redskins name soon disappearing from the NFL. “Redskins” is and has always been a derogatory term; and there is no way anyone can (or should) sugarcoat it. Bye-bye!

But “Indians”? When was the last time – if ever – you heard someone use the term in a derogatory manner? Can’t recall, can you? And that’s because you haven’t heard it used in that context. So, what’s the beef, Chief? (See what I did there?)

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Volume 12, Issue 14, Posted 10:05 AM, 07.21.2020

Don't do us any favors

They tell me that after 60 games last year, the eventual World Champion Washington Nationals were 27-33. Zowie!

The mighty, mighty Seattle Mariners, after 15 games, were 13-2. They didn't quite maintain the momentum, losing 94 games on the year. You don't say.

These little nuggets of baseball lore are supposed to get me pumped for the 2020 MLB season. Because, the story goes, in a shortened season, "Anything can happen." You gotta love sports cliches, right?

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Volume 12, Issue 13, Posted 10:01 AM, 07.07.2020

The dog days of COVID

We are now in week 112 of the sports lockdown and there are no sports to write about, which also means I am in week 113 of having a heck of a time dreaming up subject matter. (Yes, I know, not that it will make much difference, right?) I mean, there's writer's block, and then there's trying-to-imitate-a-legitimate-writer-who-has-writer's-block writer's block. I'll spare you the suspense and tell you up-front I'm in the latter category (like you didn't already know that).

Yes, I exaggerated – slightly – about the length of time COVID-19 has disrupted the sports scene in Believeland, but seriously gang, writing about sports when there are none is as about as difficult for me as finding something good to say about Jimmy Haslam. (If that doesn't put it in perspective for you then nothing will). Now I know why Dr. Acton decided to get out of Dodge: Nothing to report!

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 9:45 AM, 06.16.2020

Return to 'normal'? R-i-i-i-i-g-h-t

Now that we’ve shed our figurative “stay at home” ankle bracelets – at least, it’s figurative for most readers – many states are gradually re-opening businesses with the idea of getting the economy back up and running ASAP.

That includes sports. Perhaps not exactly as we recall them, but sports just the same. As of this writing, the plans for the four major professional sports return were changing quickly – seemingly at the rate of about once every couple of hours or so.

Let’s take a peek at the latest absurdities:

Hockey: The NHL continues to claim that the league’s fans want to see a champion crowned for the 2019-20 season. The league commissioner, Gary Bettman, says there will be a tournament starting the end of July (at the earliest) which will determine seeding (and get the players back into shape, theoretically).

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:35 AM, 06.02.2020

What in the Snell is Matt talking about?

It’s been a weird year so far. Now, that shouldn’t come as a profound revelation to anyone out there who’s still remotely lucid (unless you’ve been getting carried away with the hand sanitizer or you made your facemask out of paper-mâché), but I learned a long time ago to never assume anything.

With that thought in mind, I, like most of you out there, revised my perspective on 2020 a couple of months back when that intrusive, absolutely uninvited party crasher (aka coronavirus – aka COVID-19 – aka the opposite of a Happy Meal) dropped in for a visit. And, just like the unemployed 40-year-old who still resides in Mom and Pop’s basement, we have no idea how much longer it will be before he packs up and leaves – provided he ever chooses to do so.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 10:39 AM, 05.19.2020

Sing Along: Take me out to the ball game, and tell me, what is a 'crowd'?

The last time we met, I think we talked about how the "sellout" crowd of 2020 or '21 will look far different than the sellouts of way back in, oh, say, 2019. We focused on how different things will be for Joe Fan when things return to quasi-normal. What we didn't cover (ostensibly due to lack of column space, but more accurately due to my lack of writing talent), was how all of this coronavirus stuff was going to impact the game itself. And will it ever, baby ...

Just apply today's social distancing rules to a Major League Baseball game when(ever) it returns to the corner of East 9th and Carnegie. I mean, ballplayers will have to live by the same rules the rest of us have to, right? Coronavirus is indifferent to dollar signs, right? That being the case, let's look at some of baseball's "norms" and how they soon will devolve into "abnorms":

1.) Dugouts: Hmmmmm. This year, baseball allowed the roster to expand to 26 players. With the coaches, trainers, clubhouse attendants, team physicians, and, oh yes, the players, all maintaining a minimum of 6 feet separation I calculated the Indians dugout starting right behind home plate and stretching to, well, to somewhere close to Lakeside, near City Hall. Lest we forget, we have the visitors' dugout too, which I estimate will also begin somewhere behind home plate and stretch eastward until it hits close to I-77. Heck, that might even be a new zip code. All I know is I'd hate to be the guy on the very end of the bench who realizes he has to make a quick dash to the restroom.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 9:40 AM, 05.05.2020

How sports life will be lived in the future

Unless you've been living under a rock of late (perhaps not such a bad option, come to think of it, as nobody can cough on you down there), you've no doubt heard our governor, Kentucky's governor, Timbuktu's governor, and every other state's governor talk of how things "won't be the same" when we return to life as we (sort of) knew it.

Okay, we get it: there's a change a-comin', and a hard rain's a-gonna fall, right?

Whilst we scurry for cover from disaster (either the next wave of COVID-19 or the presidential election: your choice as to what you fear more), wouldn't it be helpful if we knew what we were getting ourselves into? I mean, we have our gloves. We have our masks. We have a six-month supply of hand sanitizer and an 18-month supply of toilet paper. We are armed with a Louisville Slugger lest someone encroach upon that magical six-foot radius (and don't challenge me, bub, because I also brought a pair of recently calibrated yard sticks). Saddle us with any more protective gear to ensure our health and I boldly predict the next run on the hospitals will be for emergency hernia surgery from lugging all this stuff around.

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Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 8:59 AM, 04.21.2020

Let's play ball! (COVID-19 style)

You say they canceled your baseball season? You say they took away your American pastime of baseball, apple pie, and Cracker Jack? You say you miss it so much you don’t even recall the Dolans ever being “cheapskates?” Is that what’s troubling you, Bunky?

Well, we’re about to change all of that. We’re changing the rules just a bit to adapt them to today’s world, but you can still play ball and maybe even save your (and perhaps someone else’s) keister in the process. Here’s the deal:

You are your own team. First, make up a team name. Sure, you can go with Indians or Tribe or, yikes…Yankees, but this is your chance to be creative. How about the Vaccines, or the Social Distancers, or, if you’re feeling particularly frisky, call yourself the Charmins, and your tag line can be something like, “We’ll wipe out the opposition!” (Who knows … the trash talking might be more fun than the game.)

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 9:45 AM, 04.07.2020

Now, THIS is serious Ö

Okay, so I heard the NBA was canceling their season because one of their players tested positive for everyone’s new best enemy, the coronavirus.

So, the biggie here is …? The Cavs canceled a few games at the tail end of their season, and, let’s be honest: given the quality of play from the Cavs this year, wasn’t their season actually over before Christmas?

At least they didn’t take my baseball from me. After all, the Tribe opener is only a couple of weeks awa…WHAT? Say it ain’t so, MLB! No baseball until – in all likelihood – May at best? You’re telling me no Frankie? No Clev? No Beibs? Now you have my attention.

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Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 9:41 AM, 03.17.2020

A 'totally anonymous interview' with Himmy J.

WBVO: Well, sir, let me first thank you for agreeing to meet with me for a "totally anonymous interview," per your request.

HJ: You're welcome. I thought meeting in the parking lot of a Flying J truck stop would not only be discreet, but also ensure my anonymity.

WBVO: Don’t you think mentioning Flying J might tip your hand?

HJ: Quite candidly, no. It’s not like we’re saying which one we’re at, now are we? Besides, Dee said that as long as I didn’t say anything stupid, I’d be fine.

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Volume 12, Issue 5, Posted 10:00 AM, 03.03.2020

Frankie's Hall of Fame future fractures frustrated fan base

A glimpse into the future ...

July 2020

Cleveland Indians fans worldwide mourned the arrival of the day they had collectively prayed would never come. The Indians announced today that star shortstop Francisco Lindor had been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for an array of young talent which team executives hope will keep them competitive for the next decade and beyond. It appears that it had better be the case.

Although the team was only four games behind the Twins at the time of the deal, owner Paul Dolan said the Tribe had to "maximize Lindor's high market value," and that the hoopla regarding Lindor's trade rumors had become "a distraction and was impacting the clubhouse." None of the current Indians players wanted to be quoted directly about the trade, but one said off the record – and on the condition of anonymity – that the only thing that was a distraction was "the cheapskate owner." Others questioned whether the team could recover from losing a player of Frankie's caliber.

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Volume 12, Issue 4, Posted 10:03 AM, 02.18.2020

Swimming up the waterfall with Jimmy

At one time or another, I'm sure everyone's seen the video in which a toddler kicks a ball, then bends over to pick up the ball, but in doing so kicks it a few feet farther in front of him. It's hilarious for a while, but you soon wish someone would just go over and show the kid what he's doing wrong, and call it a day. Nevertheless, it goes on, presumably, until sometime in the future when the kid eventually sees the light and solves the problem.

It reminds me very much of Jimmy Haslam's ownership of the Cleveland Browns: Jimmy's the toddler in the scenario above, and the Browns are the ball. The difference? Eventually, even the toddler figures out what's going on. Jimmy? Well, let's just say he's still kickin'.

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Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 9:42 AM, 02.04.2020

What the Browns need from Santa: veteran leadership

The year was 1994. The Cleveland Indians were in the midst of the massive rebuild that would transform them from perennial losers of the '60s, '70s and '80s into one of MLB's better franchises moving forward. Owner Dick Jacobs had invested heavily in the farm system and it was beginning to pay dividends, turning out promising talent such as Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez and Charlie Nagy.

Jacobs' young GM, John Hart, added to the farm system's yield by trading shrewdly for talent such as Kenny Lofton. The team was exciting, and any serious fan who followed the team at the time knew things would soon change for the better.

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Volume 11, Issue 24, Posted 10:09 AM, 12.17.2019

The worst IN us usually brings out the worst OF us

Just as the NFL season was beginning, I joined a few of the Browns Facebook groups, because I thought we were in for a particularly fun season, and I wanted to share some of my highbrow humor with fellow fans to, you know, promote my “brand."

Man, could I have ever been this wrong before? (Before you even think about answering, my friend, be advised that this is a rhetorical question and, as such, means you may respectfully remain silent. Please.)

Anyway, the thing that really rots my socks is that Browns fans, bless ‘em, couldn’t leave well enough alone with the whole Myles Garrett fiasco. They should have accepted that fact that he was an idiot who did an idiotic thing – no, what he did was beyond idiotic – and let him serve his suspension for the rest of this year and hope he’d keep his nose clean and be reinstated for the 2020 season. That goes for Myles Garrett, too.

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Volume 11, Issue 23, Posted 10:08 AM, 12.03.2019

First the helmet came off ... followed by the wheels

I remember "Beer Night" at Cleveland Stadium. It was June of '74. Nobody was paying to watch a marginal Indians team play baseball, but the deep thinkers who ran the Tribe's promotions department figured folks just needed a little encouragement, so they came up with a 10 cent beer promotion. Unfortunately, 10 cent beer provided too much encouragement, a riot ensued, and, well, let's just say things didn't go as planned.

I remember "Bottlegate" at Browns Stadium. It was December 2001, only a couple of years after football returned to Cleveland after Uncle Artie shuffled off to Baltimore with what would become the Ravens. The Browns with a very un-Browns-like record of 6-6 were trying to make the playoffs.

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Volume 11, Issue 22, Posted 9:24 AM, 11.19.2019

What's scarier: Halloween or the Browns' season?

The recent Browns meltdown against the Patriots – a mistake-prone atrocity which none of us thought was even possible given the "advantage" of the bye week, making the results even more mind-numbing – left me searching for something good to ponder in the aftermath. Obviously, the level of play was so poor that it took me quite a while to find something to grab onto, but eventually it did bring a smile to my face – and a big smile, at that.

My daughter Leah was married 9 years ago this past August, and as her way of saying thanks to me for participating in her wedding (I should state for the record that it wasn't like my wife and I were going to pull a "no-show" or anything) Leah got tickets for her and I to attend the Browns versus Patriots match-up on Nov. 7 that same year.

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Volume 11, Issue 21, Posted 9:23 AM, 11.05.2019