Sporting Views

José being Manny?

A couple of decades or so ago, the Cleveland Indians had a young outfielder who went by the name of Manny Ramírez. Manny was a gifted athlete who came up through the Indians’ farm system and went on to have an illustrious career, hitting 555 home runs, including 236 during his eight years with the Tribe.

Indians fans who remember watching Manny play baseball may recall that although Manny quickly became one of the most feared hitters in the game, his fielding – and his base running in particular – also evoked fear in many who were watching the game. Especially his managers.

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Volume 9, Issue 14, Posted 9:54 AM, 07.18.2017

Gilbert's ego eliminates possibility of additional NBA championships

It’s funny how history always seems to repeat itself when it comes to sports in Cleveland. Okay, maybe not double-over-in-hysterics funny, but more like it-could-only-happen-in-Cleveland, ironic kind of funny. Some people even refer to it as “sick” humor – especially folks who’ve spent their entire lives here. But enough about me.

From the early 1960s up until the mid-'90s, the Cleveland Browns had an owner who went by the name of Art Modell. Maybe you’ve heard of him. After Modell purchased the Browns, he decided to use his expertise in advertising (where he made the bulk of his money) to help in promoting not only the Browns, but the entire NFL. The thing is, he was pretty good at it.

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Volume 9, Issue 13, Posted 9:31 AM, 07.05.2017

Will Tribe learn from Cavs’ mistake?

It was only a year ago that the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the sports world by coming back from a 3-1 deficit to wrestle away the NBA Championship from the Golden State Warriors. Slightly more than four months later, the Cleveland Indians took the Chicago Cubs to extra innings in the seventh game of the World Series before falling to the boys from the Windy City.

This past NBA season, the Cavaliers looked like anything but NBA champs, stumbling their way to a 51-31 record, despite playing in the competitively challenged NBA Eastern Conference. And they looked downright awful at times in the process. Many commentators, and fans alike, spoke of the Cavs “flipping the switch” once the playoffs began – that the regular season was merely a warm-up for the playoffs.

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Volume 9, Issue 12, Posted 9:19 AM, 06.20.2017

Be afraid: The Browns listened to me

Boy, did it get scary on draft day! It was being reported that the Browns were going to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the first pick in the draft and go against all of the advice I had provided to them in this paper. As that day went on, I was thinking of all of the failed first round picks and the obvious choices that were bypassed. Julio Jones and Khalil Mack readily come to mind.

It was a huge relief when the name of the consensus numero uno pick, Myles Garrett, was announced and not Trubisky. Do you realize that not one of the Browns' six first-round picks from 2011 through 2014 is on the team? These selections: Phil Taylor, Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden, Barkevious Mingo, Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel should be making up the heart, if not the soul, of the team now, but they do not exist. Most fans believe that the Browns got this pick right by simply not screwing it up.

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Volume 9, Issue 10, Posted 9:39 AM, 05.16.2017

The three faces of Cleve(land)

I was thinking about the owners of our three major sports teams recently, and how the perception of at least two of the ownership groups has changed significantly over the past year or so – at least from my perspective. The third was never all that good to begin with and remains that way five years later.

Let’s begin with the most obvious of the three: Larry and Paul Dolan, the father-son team who own a majority interest in the Cleveland Indians. Anyone out there who has read my column for any length of time certainly knows I’ve spent a great quantity of ink bashing the Dolans over the fiscally-cautious manner with which they’ve run the Tribe for the better part of the last two decades. In fact, I think I can attribute the nasty case of carpal tunnel syndrome I’ve acquired largely to the columns I’ve written about those guys over the years.

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Volume 9, Issue 10, Posted 9:35 AM, 05.16.2017

Garrett an obvious choice, but Browns still Myles away

Okie dokie, someone needs to explain something to me.

First of all, why did all of the Browns faithful go berserk (with euphoria, presumably) when the Browns made Myles Garrett the first choice in the first round of the draft a few days ago? I mean, this guy was consensus pick numero uno in the NFL for the last three months at least, right? So let's tone it down with the pats on the back of the Browns' "brain trust" (sorry, I have to put those words in sarcasm quotes until proven unnecessary – if indeed that ever happens). Who else could the Browns have drafted at No. 1? Seriously. Giving the Browns credit for choosing Garrett with the first pick would be like crediting the Cavs for drafting LeBron. Or Kyrie.

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Volume 9, Issue 9, Posted 9:30 AM, 05.02.2017

Is the Tribe better than last year? The Sequel

When we left off last issue, I believe – and trust me, at my age nothing is a “given” anymore – we had examined the Tribe’s infield and were about to look at the outfield and pitching when – alas – I ran out of column space. Fortunately, I haven’t been canned yet and have a clean slate this issue, so let’s kick things off (since the Browns can’t) with the outfield.

Outfield: Having given this some serious thought, I don’t see much reason to attach a name to a particular position in the outfield, since the way the outfield is constructed so “fluidly”, most guys play multiple positions out there anyway. Some of those guys – most of whom are not (or at least weren’t most of last season) household names – were Tribe outfielders last year.

In 2016, guys like Abraham Almonte, Marlon Byrd, Lonnie Chisenhall, Collin Cowgill, Coco Crisp, Rajai Davis, Brandon Guyer, Michael Martinez, Tyler Naquin and Jose Ramirez somehow combined to form one of the most productive outfields in the American League last year. Since Naquin was recently sent down to the minor leagues, the only guys who remain who had an impact on the team last year are Chisenhall, Almonte, Guyer and Ramirez (who is now an infielder).

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Volume 9, Issue 8, Posted 9:51 AM, 04.18.2017

Could the Tribe really be better than last year?

Opening Day in the Major Leagues has finally arrived. We can now get down to the business of enjoying Indians games that count. While discussing (with some friends at work) this year's Tribe and how they compare to the 2016 version, a co-worker said I made it sound like the 2017 version will be far superior to last year's almost-champion.

So let's take a look at the infield for 2017 version (or at least what I presume it to be).

First base: Edwin Encarnacion has to be considered – at the very worst – as good as the departed Mike Napoli. But Edwin shall be platooning with Carlos Santana, whom I can't see duplicating his 2016 season. Regardless, Encarnacion is an upgrade, and even if Carlos slips a bit as anticipated, the worst I see is a wash, because Encarnacion is the real deal, folks. But I truly think overall production at first will be a plus over last season.

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Volume 9, Issue 7, Posted 9:15 AM, 04.04.2017

Injuries can be a real pain

What attracts us to sports? The magnetic effect which draws us to sports is its inherent unpredictability; hence the ever-famous “Wait ‘til next year” phrase, probably repeated more in this city than anywhere else in the civilized (and uncivilized, for that matter) world. The sport doesn’t really matter; for after every contest in any sport, there is a winner and there is a loser. (And yes, I know about “ties” in football, hockey and soccer, but stay focused here or you’ll miss the point). 

The promise (often confused with hope: see Cleveland Browns) that this year will be much better than the previous one is what compels a typical sports fan to continue following his/her team(s) even after a year (or years) of “entertainment” that is usually more easily equated to excruciating torture. Just the mere chance of players improving upon their previous season’s performance is what gives that fan the inner strength to soldier on, no matter how depressing the odds might be. And in reality, those odds are pretty long, because generally, when one player improves, another one struggles, which typically results in a “wash” anyway.

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Volume 9, Issue 6, Posted 10:09 AM, 03.21.2017

Could it be déjà vu for the Tribe?

"So buckle up, Tribe fans, it's going to be special."

Those were the final words in my column a year ago when I predicted good things for the Indians during the 2016 season. And sure enough, the team delivered with a trip to the World Series – its first in two decades. 

There’s an old adage in sports – and baseball in particular – which states that even though it’s hard to get to the top, it’s even harder to stay there. Baseball fans in Cleveland will be quick to agree with that argument, as the Indians have – over the last 116 years – never appeared in consecutive World Series.

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 9:28 AM, 03.07.2017

Letters from a dwindling fan base

Okay, gang. While the Indians are unpacking their gear in Goodyear (that has sort of a poetic ring, doesn’t it?), the Cavs are playing and Browns fans are praying (I know, I should have quit while I was ahead), now seems like a good time to look in the old mailbag and see what my loyal reader(s) have on their mind(s).

Let’s start with one from a “J.B.” in Westlake.

“How come you always rip the Browns, dude? Cut Jimmy and his boys some slack. Don’t blame him for all of the team’s problems. Lighten up – you depress me.”

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Volume 9, Issue 4, Posted 9:48 AM, 02.21.2017

Want to recall special sports memories? It’s all in the cards

I made a surprising discovery recently, quite by accident. With my son – who lives out of state – turning 40 next year, I wanted to do something special to celebrate the big 4-0, and I also wanted it to be a gift he might want to hold onto and (hopefully) treasure for many years to come. 

Jason became a father recently, but it wasn’t without some scary moments. I will spare the details of my grandson’s birth out of deference to his family’s privacy and the space limitations for this column. The important thing is that my grandson is now 5 months old and getting stronger every day – the little dude is a fighter – and appears to have left the worst behind him. 

After trying to recall things my son and I did together when he was a boy, it dawned on me that there was one thing he really enjoyed as a kid: collecting baseball cards. I’m pretty sure he also dabbled some in the other major sports too, but baseball cards were the runaway first choice. We spent a lot of time going to baseball card shows, card shops, and the like in our never-ending pursuit of whatever the “hot” card at the time was. We had a blast chasing those mutual goals together, which I will always treasure.

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Volume 9, Issue 3, Posted 9:56 AM, 02.07.2017

Checking in on the local sports teams

With the Browns having recently completed their season, the Cavs halfway through theirs, and the Tribe’s equipment truck about to embark on its annual pilgrimage to Goodyear, perhaps now is a good time to give the three franchises a good look.

The Cleveland Browns: Well, don’t look too hard at these guys; it might trigger a migraine. Unfortunately, the jury is still out on the latest management team, since their first draft has brought mixed reviews. And while it appears they have drafted a few guys who might actually become serviceable NFL players, my guess is that the majority of them are destined to be nothing more than the answers to trivia questions a few years from now. And that’s not good. Another lackluster draft this spring and Jimmy Haslam will have no choice but to call in the demolition boys to blow up yet another front office.

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Volume 9, Issue 2, Posted 9:36 AM, 01.24.2017

Browns successful at one thing this year: lowering the bar

After nearly two decades of horrific football (which equates to 140 years in dog years; no, make that “dawg” years) the Browns in 2016 decided that a new approach was necessary. I mean, after the seemingly annual replacement of head coaches and front office personnel bore little fruit, Jimmy Haslam and company finally decided to go in a different direction.

This year, they decided to go “cerebral.” In other words, since they couldn’t beat the opposition with the talent on the field, maybe they could beat ‘em at the brain game. You guessed it: we’re talking “analytics,” baby. 

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Volume 8, Issue 23, Posted 9:36 AM, 11.29.2016

Now don't mess this up, Dolans

The recent World Series appearance by the Indians certainly has created a much-needed surge in favorable publicity for the Tribe, translating into a bump in season ticket and – presumably, come next spring – general ticket sales as well.

Now, with everything looking rosy in Tribe Town, it's easy to get caught up in the hoopla and maybe even get the idea that – suddenly – Indians management is nothing short of "brilliant."

Well, not so fast, Bucco.

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Volume 8, Issue 22, Posted 9:44 AM, 11.15.2016

Read this column (if necessary)

As most of the baseball world (at least that which is centered in Cleveland, anyway) watched the Indians dismantle the mighty Boston Red Sox in the first round of the MLB American League playoffs, the Wild Card Toronto Blue Jays were doing an even more impressive number on the top-seeded Texas Rangers.

The first thing that went through my mind as this was occurring was, “Awesome … now we’ll have four home games against the Blue Jays (if necessary).” Immediately, that got me to wondering why, whenever there is a playoff series in any sport, the schedule always lists all the possible games but with the disclaimer “if necessary” for the games which are dependent upon the distribution of victories in the playoff series.

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Volume 8, Issue 20, Posted 10:21 AM, 10.18.2016

October could be downright scary

It’s hard to believe, but fall is here. The Tribe is gearing up (painfully) for the MLB playoffs, training camp has begun for the Cavs, and the Browns? Well, let’s just say the Browns have been every bit as painful as the Indians, but in a totally different way. So let’s take a peek at all three franchises.

Way back in the spring I predicted a World Series appearance for our beloved Tribe. I was absolutely certain they had the horses to get us to the postseason, and I was correct in that regard. Unfortunately, one by one, the “horses” – and I’m of course referring to our starting pitching – started falling by the wayside. First Salazar, followed by Carrasco, and then the coup de grâce was when the guy we couldn’t afford to lose under any circumstances, Corey Kluber, bit the dust.

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Volume 8, Issue 19, Posted 8:57 AM, 10.04.2016

Nuthin’ from nuthin’ leaves nuthin’

The old Billy Preston tune came to mind as I was thinking about the Browns and how they will fare in the upcoming season, and the song title pretty much sums it up. In fact, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam might want to seriously consider it as the Browns “fight” (or lack thereof) song. 

Now, just in case the masses have forgotten, a year ago I predicted on these very pages that the Brownies would finish the season at 3-13, and you know what? Perfect prediction. I don’t like to brag – well yeah, I kinda do – but in the office pool at work I also predicted the Indians would have a 93-69 record this year, including a trip to the World Series. As of this writing, the Tribe was sailing along with a .576 winning percentage. Now, apply that percentage to 162 games and you get something like 93.3 victories by the Indians this year. So, you’re not dealing with the prognosticating equivalent of chopped liver here. Just sayin’.

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Volume 8, Issue 17, Posted 11:05 AM, 09.07.2016

Tribe managers always manage to keep it interesting

Now that the Indians appear (hopefully) to have recovered from a lackluster stretch of ho-hum baseball while the pitching staff appeared to have forgotten how to pitch, we can once again return to dreaming of a World Series appearance, along with (maybe) a world championship. 

Manager Terry Francona’s recent bout with chest pains got me to thinking about the first Indians manager I can remember, George “Birdie” Tebbets, who suffered a heart attack as manager of the Indians in 1965. Birdie, who had a degree in philosophy and was always good for an interesting quote, had a fairly decent team in 1965, but the team faltered in 1966 and Bridie was canned. He retired from managing, but scouted for numerous teams (including the Indians) until his death in 1999.

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Volume 8, Issue 16, Posted 9:39 AM, 08.16.2016

Browns need more coaches

As our beloved Cleveland Browns open training camp with a squad destined to finish in double-digit losses yet again once the season begins, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. A couple of migraines later, I've came to one obvious (to me) conclusion as to what the Browns could do to improve the team immediately in 2016: more coaches.

A perusal of the current Browns coaching staff indicates there are (including head coach Hue Jackson) twenty-seven – count ‘em, 27 – guys who make a very good living helping football players make an even better living than they do. There are eight offensive, eight defensive, three special teams, and seven strength & conditioning coaches. And with a 53-man roster it means there is essentially a coach for every two players! Obviously, this is a wise investment for the organization, since the same strategy last season resulted in a whopping three wins.

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Volume 8, Issue 15, Posted 9:07 AM, 08.02.2016

The more the Browns change, the more they stay the same

I’m sure everyone is familiar with that old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” I don’t know who said it, but whoever coined the phrase most likely was a Cleveland sports fan. At least up until recently.

Look at the changes – and I mean positive changes, folks – regarding the Cavs and Indians over their most recent season. The Cavs stun the world by going out and winning an NBA Championship, and the Indians follow suit by looking like a very good bet to make the postseason. I mean, really, who’d a thunk it?

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Volume 8, Issue 14, Posted 9:44 AM, 07.19.2016

Post-party confession

Now that the Cleveland Cavaliers have ended Cleveland’s infamous 52-year championship drought (sorry Lake Erie Monsters, you don’t count), I think it’s time for me to come clean. Sure, I sat (and sometimes stood) there and cheered on the team for the last couple of months, but quite honestly, I never approached the level of excitement I would have had if it been my beloved Indians (and yes, their time is coming soon), the Browns (be patient another decade or so) or even my Cavs teams of the late 1980s/early 90s (Nance, Daugherty, Price, Harper, Hot Rod).

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Volume 8, Issue 13, Posted 9:27 AM, 07.06.2016

Tribe getting it done, but taking different path

The wonderful – and frustrating – thing about sports is that whenever you examine a team, you have a plethora of statistics to help you measure a player’s value in a particular sport. The more time an athlete has in the sport, the easier to project his stats for an upcoming season.

It was based upon those stats I predicted a World Series trip for the Cleveland Indians this year and – the recent sweep of the Tribe by the K.C. Royals notwithstanding – the Indians have performed like a playoff team most of the year. But there have been some surprises, as well as disappointments, this season. Let’s take a look at the Tribe so far.

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Volume 8, Issue 12, Posted 9:30 AM, 06.21.2016

It takes real gall – and then some – to ignore Tribe, Cavs

So there I was: Minding my own business, working for the man, coming home each evening to a beautiful woman (don’t tell my wife) and settling down to watch the Indians and/or Cavs for a while before repeating the whole process the next morning.

The day was Monday, May 16, and my wife was out of town visiting our daughter who had given birth to her third boy two days earlier. I started having some serious stomach issues (at first I thought it may have been from the coffee at work, as it had been known to pack a pretty good punch on occasion).

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Volume 8, Issue 11, Posted 9:47 AM, 06.07.2016

The ultimate two-party system

Ever wonder what it’s like being the guy who writes the “Sporting Views”? Actually, and this is a little more to the point, ever wonder what the wife of the guy who writes the “Sporting Views” thinks about all this?

I’ll bet there are a few of you out there who are curious, and if there are at least a few of you, I won’t have to worry about my readership numbers taking a hit as a result of me choosing this topic.

First, perhaps a little history about my wife: Patti and I met 46 years ago in the field behind St. Bernadette church in Westlake. Ironically, we would be married at the same church seven years later (much to the chagrin of her parents). 

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 9:42 AM, 05.17.2016

Cleveland's unique NFL Draft Day perspective

Draft day in Cleveland.

Is it me, or is it nothing short of ludicrous how it happens that year after year, massive failure after massive failure, Browns faithful nonetheless religiously plant their posteriors around the tube to witness the NFL draft? I have to assume it's the never-ending hope – indelibly etched into the collective psyches of all Browns fans – that the odds will be with us this year because of the against-all-odds run of drafting failures. Sort of like "even the blind squirrel finding an acorn on occasion" mentality. (The same way I approach the possibility of writing a good column).

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Volume 8, Issue 9, Posted 9:46 AM, 05.03.2016

The island of misfit teams

P.T. Barnum once proclaimed, "There's a sucker born every day."

There are times, when I look back upon the many years I've spent rooting for the pro sports teams in Cleveland, with very little return on my – always psychological, sometimes monetary – investment, I invariably arrive at one question: Why? As in, "Why have I spent so much of my life enduring the torment associated with our, ahem, "professional" franchises, when the 'pattern of pathetic' was established so very long ago?"

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Volume 8, Issue 8, Posted 9:43 AM, 04.19.2016

Why the Indians will do it this year

When it comes to sports in Cleveland, the Indians have always been number one with me. Given their overall track record since 1901, invariably the reaction to that statement is "Why?"

It's a valid inquiry. I remember following the Tribe starting in the early '60s. Unfortunately, for most of my early life, every time the Indians would shock the world with a respectable season – "respectable" usually being defined by making it through the season without 90 or more losses – the Tribe would annihilate our dreams the following year by doing a deep-six.

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Volume 8, Issue 7, Posted 10:03 AM, 04.05.2016

When MLB cheating makes sense

Shortly after the announcement from Major League Baseball that Indians projected center fielder Abraham Almonte was suspended for the first 80 games of the 2016 season after testing positive for steroids, a friend and I were discussing the suspension.

While we weren't about to christen Almonte as the second coming of Grady Sizemore, Abe did play an above-average center field, and showed enough pop in his bat last year to be a competent hitter in the Tribe lineup, at least until Michael Brantley had recovered from surgery. The news that Almonte was popped for using Boldenone, a horse steroid, had us tempering our optimism for the upcoming season before it even began.

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Volume 8, Issue 6, Posted 10:02 AM, 03.15.2016

Musings of a fanatic

I've always been very critical of the Dolan family and the manner in which they've succeeded in alienating what was once a sizable Indians fan base, due to their apparent complete lack of urgency in building a winner. I know some folks who have vowed not to follow the Indians until the Dolans sell the team, and while they are in – hopefully – the minority, it still aggravates me that the owners even let it reach this point.

That being said, the Indians have also quietly assembled perhaps the best starting pitching rotation in the American League, if not all of baseball. Assuming they all stay relatively healthy, the Indians boast at least seven starters who are on the upside of their careers, so they should be able to withstand a couple of injuries or bad years if anyone falters. Add to that a healthy Yan Gomes, who is a huge key to the success of the team, along with Francisco Lindor, who may be the best shortstop in the American League already. Add to that new acquisitions Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis, and the offense will be much better than last year.

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Volume 8, Issue 5, Posted 9:33 AM, 03.01.2016

Start the antibiotic drip, Doc: It’s Indians fever

Good afternoon, Mr. ...uh… let’s see here … ah, yes, Mr. Bing! And how might we be of help to you today?

I think I’m delusional, Doc.

Hey, you’re the guy who writes that column for the Observer, right?

Yeah, so?

Then I can confirm that you are indeed delusional, sir.

Ha. So how come you’re practicing medicine when stand-up is obviously your calling?

It puts my patients at ease when I inject a little levity into the office visit.

Why don’t you save that for when you hand me the bill?

Touché, Mr. Bing. I’ll make sure it lives up to your expectations. So, you think you’re delusional? Why do you say that?

I think the Indians are going to the World Series this year.

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Volume 8, Issue 4, Posted 9:35 AM, 02.16.2016

Cavs championship no longer a sure thing

It wasn’t all that long ago the city of Cleveland was celebrating the return of LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the roster improvements GM David Griffin made after LeBron returned, it wasn’t a question of "if" the Cavs would win a world championship – it was more a question of when, and how many?

Last season, the Cavs were granted a mulligan when Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were derailed during the playoffs with season-ending injuries. Most fans – including this one – were impressed by the Cavs taking Golden State to six games before the Warriors won the NBA Championship. The prevailing opinion was along the lines of, “If we came to within two victories of a championship without two of our big three, we’ll be unstoppable when healthy.”

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Volume 8, Issue 3, Posted 9:50 AM, 02.02.2016

Will Browns’ latest new coach work out? Are Hue serious?

From 1946 through 1995, the Cleveland Browns had 10 head coaches. Even more amazing: It was only eight head coaches if you don’t include Dick Modzelewski, who coached the last game of the 1977 season after Forrest Gregg was fired, and Jim Shofner, who did similar mop-up duty for the deposed Bud Carson in 1990. Just the same, by sticking with the figure of 10 head coaches over a 50-year period, you don’t have to be a math major to see that the average coaching stint was five years. That would indicate at least some degree of stability, wouldn’t you say?

From 1999 into 2016, the Cleveland Browns will have had at least nine head coaches. (I say “at least” because it would be presumptuous to assume the latest coach will make it through the entire 2016 season.) But, just for argument’s sake, let’s say that he does. Even with that lofty goal, it would mean that in the 18 seasons since the Browns “returned” (some argue that we’re still waiting) we have had nine coaches in those 18 glory-filled seasons.

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Volume 8, Issue 2, Posted 9:54 AM, 01.19.2016

Lowering the Bar

Sometimes writing about a current, popular topic can be challenging. This is particularly true when addressing sports in Cleveland, where the Browns, with their ever-changing organizational structure, were expected to make changes after their final game Sunday, Jan. 3. The tricky aspect of writing about sports versus something less fluid, of course, is the changeability factor, particularly when addressing a currently "volatile" topic.

While online information is often presented immediately, traditional print media requires lead time, understandably, to allow for the physical manufacture of the final printed product. A good example of how that can impact my situation was illustrated in the fact that, due to the production schedule, I had to write this by Friday, Jan. 1, for the issue you will see on Tuesday, Jan. 5.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 9:53 AM, 01.05.2016

Believeland: A Christmas wish list

“So this is Christmas, and what have you done?” I never got the chance to ask him, but I’m pretty sure John Lennon had Cleveland sports franchise owners in mind when he penned the first line of “Happy Xmas.”

Last time I looked, the Browns’ fan base was finally beginning to disintegrate, the Indians’ fan base had already disintegrated, and the Cavs’ fan base – well, you saw how they responded after LeBron went bye-bye half a decade ago – is a house of cards, at best. When LeBron decides to retire or play elsewhere, it will be like a giant sneeze onto that same house of cards. Gesundheit!

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Volume 7, Issue 24, Posted 9:41 AM, 12.15.2015

Playing to Johnny's strengths

Unless you reside under the proverbial rock, you’re painfully aware of Johnny Manziel’s latest, um, “transgressions” with his employer (at least as of this writing, anyway), the Cleveland Browns.

As we all know, the Browns have gone to great lengths to try and keep their young, party-loving quarterback in line. But now, with a fairly large sample size to reflect upon, it appears most will agree that so far the attempts have yielded disappointing results. In other words, it ain’t workin’, gang.

I suggest it’s time to think outside the box with Johnny Manziel.

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Volume 7, Issue 23, Posted 9:47 AM, 12.01.2015

This is only a test

As I was watching the Bengals administer a beat-down of the Browns on the telly (that’s what we call it across the pond) the other night, I thought now might be time for you – as a highly-motivated sports fan – to have your sports knowledge checked. I mean, you go to the doctor on a regular basis, right? You go to the dentist on a regular basis, right? So why should your “sports health” be any different?

This will be a word association quiz. I will provide you with a name or phrase, and you choose the word or phrase that best matches the item given. What could be easier (other than finding something better to do with your time)?

So stop arguing with me, and answer the questions. You’ll be a better sports fan for it.

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Volume 7, Issue 22, Posted 9:20 AM, 11.17.2015

Pearls of wisdom

Sports fans are a curious lot. Anyone with half a brain (that’s my cue to enter the conversation) knows that “fan” is short for fanatic, right? So it shouldn’t come as a big surprise when people make some of the comments they do about our sports teams in Cleveland.

But it continues to surprise me anyway. For example, take this exchange (please):

There I was at work, working away. [Note: I have to say I was working (wink-wink) because my boss claims to read my column (probably another wink-wink); I guess this is a definitive way of finding out for sure.] We were talking football, and out of the blue, a coworker who shall remain nameless (because I don’t know his name) said, “I wonder what kind of extension they’ll (the Browns) give to Josh McCown after the season.”

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Volume 7, Issue 20, Posted 10:01 AM, 10.20.2015

'Meaningful games in September' a stretch

Ever since Terry Francona became manager of the Indians a few years back, the mantra of the Cleveland Indians has been to play “meaningful games in September.” Now, one would have to presume that the context of those words suggests that the Indians would be involved in a playoff race to some degree; correct?

Well, my friends, the true mantra of the Indians over the last three seasons has been to lull Tribe fans to sleep for the first two-thirds of the season, then – well after most have declared the team dead and buried – somehow manage to make themselves relevant come September … only to fall short of the playoffs.

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Volume 7, Issue 19, Posted 8:54 AM, 10.06.2015

Prediction? Pain. Lots of it.

“So, where do you think the Browns will finish?” That’s the question making the rounds in Cleveland these days. A quick perusal of the schedule says the Browns will finish at FirstEnergy Stadium on Jan. 3, 2016, against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“No, wise guy, where do you think the Browns will finish record-wise?”

Oh. Now that’s a horse of a different color. Regrettably, in truth I think the Browns season will end much earlier than next January. In fact, it might be over before we see a stinkin’ frost, for that matter. Anyway, I went over the schedule and tried to be realistic in choosing who was likely to win. I know, I know: If Browns fans can’t dream, what on Earth is left? So I apologize in advance for this …

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Volume 7, Issue 18, Posted 9:08 AM, 09.15.2015