Sunday, April 19, 2015

Eight years later, Cavs fans are witnesses again

Eight years ago, I showed up at Game One of a Cavs playoff series (pretty sure it was the first round Wizards matchup, but not sure), and just past the ticket taker, someone gave me (and the other 20,000 fans) a black shirt with WITNESS written on it in white. The only clue what it was for was the little Nike swoosh on it. It wasn't until just before tipoff that the fans were tipped off, and the iconic Nike Lebron James Witness campaign was born.

Unfortunately, that shirt ended up in the garbage after The Decision three years later, but nonetheless, we are witnessing something special yet again. The way the Cavaliers have been playing over the past three months, nobody is expecting anything less than a Finals appearance.

And I'm expecting to witness more. I want Lebron to hold that trophy in a Cavs uniform. I want Love and Blatt to shut the national media up. 

All I want is one before I die.

Go Cavs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Browns introduce new logo, much ado about nothing

Ever since the Browns sent a cryptic email to their Backers' clubs last week teasing a new "rebranded" logo, there has much much panic in the street. Would they add a logo to the helmet? Would they get rid of Brownie the Elf? Would they accentuate Brownie the Elf? Would they use a sad picture of Paul Brown? Would they change their colors to Wine and Gold?

Well, the changes are in this morning. Hold on to your pants, because they are groundbreaking. 

Actually, no. they're not.

Flatter design. Yay. Just like every mobile phone screen out there, like Android Material Design or iOS design . A brighter orange. Not sure if the Browns front office just updated their iPhonesor what, but seems like they took some inspiration from there.

Not that excited, not that annoyed. It's just fine. The brown facemasks are the most interesting part of the whole logo, and could have slipped under the radar. I imagine they will be part of the uniform redesign we see in April.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Vox Lox: Super Sunday 2015

I came off the bench three weeks ago, colder than Paulie and Christopher at Pine Barrens, and promptly stole an ATM, filled it with manure, and dropped it on your bookie. Hadn't handicapped a game since NFL week one, but that wouldn't prevent the Vox from releasing his biggest play in over fourteen months- a 4-dime lock on the Cowboys. My bookmaker sees Vox on his Caller ID and he's already laying off my action in his head. Can't blame him. We came within a field goal of sweeping the entire weekend against the spread. Unfortunately, nowadays, I don't drop words or wagers as much I should. My contributions to society as a parent, salesman, teacher, coach and ex-husband prevent me from investing time into my two notorious passions, but SuperBowl Sunday is always my annual confluence of gambling and writing. Some history: 364 days ago, I plucked the underdog Seahawks for two dimes and broke up with Cavs. The year prior, I begrudgingly backed the Ratbirds in the Harbaugh Bowl. In 2011, I hit on my biggest bet ever- a Fergalicious 10-Dimer hunch-play on the Packers. And in my first ever SB release for CST, I virtually nailed the exact score. I own this game, yes, but I am human...and lost two dimes on the Patriots in 2012 on the day I counted off the Ten Sexiest Men Alive.

I just wanna use your love tonight
Speaking of sexy- what an effortless transition- hello, Tom Brady--the last Wolverine QB to win in Ohio Stadium and America's favorite sports enemy. An aloof and enigmatic cross between 1990s Christian Laettner and Manchester United-era David Beckham, Brady surely must've inked a deal with the devil--because his looks, talent and accomplishments translate to this generation's Joe Montana. But while Montana was revered across every NFL city, Brady is ridiculed. He's become Darth Vader to Belichick's Emperor and is generally despised outside of Massachusetts. However, around the mid-way point of Brady's career, I stopped fighting my feelings for him. I once wrote that Tom is "spiritually easy," but after he erased two-touchdown deficits TWICE in their division round victory over Baltimore, I finally grasped why Brady is so irresistible to my football palate. 

See, for fifteen years, Clevelanders have been condemned to a modified version of the NFL. Games are rarely enjoyable, largely because our offense sets the standard for failure and folly. While scraping the ice off my car on dark Monday mornings, only fifteen hours removed from the latest Browns debacle, I've often wondered if Cleveland is the earthly-version of Hell. Should I be so helplessly immersed in a tradition that offers no healthy reciprocation? After four months of that shit, I'm beat-down and weak. Enter playoff weekends in January, and Brady restores and refreshes my faith in football. He magically throws to small, undefended spaces across the field and occasionally slits the secondary's throat with a calculating scramble or sneak into the endzone. First comes the Brady fist pump after the winning score, then fast forward to the final moments of a New England win, and you'll find the Foxborough faithful crooning The Outfield's "Your Love." Gives me goosebumps every time...and I curse my great, great grandfather's brother, NathanVox of Radzilow Poland, for taking the train to the CLE when Boston was surely much closer.


Patriots (pick) over Seattle, 4 Dimes

Divisional Round: 3-1, +6 Dimes
Season: 5-3, +6 Dimes
Vox CST SuperBowl Record Against the Spread: 4-2, +12 Dimes
Career: 147-127-14, +41 Dimes

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Royal Rumble 2015: CST Live Blog

8:13: Welcome to CST's live blog of Royal Rumble 2015. This year's event is being broadcast from Philadelphia, while this blog is thought experiment being recorded at the home of CST Kevin. My name is Doug and I will be your host this evening. Technical difficulties are causing us to run late, and we already have had one match between The Ascension and The New Age Outlaws. The Ascension took the duke in a short match. Frankly I know little and less about these guys, other than they're from NXT and have a gimmick where they dress like Legion of Doom. They need some work on the stick if last week's appearance on Raw is any indication. They have a tagline of 'Born and bred to rip and shred' and I've yet to see evidence of either ripping or shredding thus far.

8:21: Tag team of Miz of Damien Mizdow now coming to the ring. Miz is from Cleveland, and has delivered the city's only championship in 50 years. They're facing The Usos for the tag team championship. My colleague Kevin informs me that The Usos are Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's cousins and the sons of Rikishi. Trust but verify, folks, the action is too furious for me to google.

8:27: The match continues. Crowd is popping for Mizdow but don't like Miz. Miz was a star of MTV's Real World years ago, which is as good a reason as any not to like someone. Mizdow's gimmick apparently is as a stunt double for Hollywood A-lister Miz. A Hollywood gimmick for a guy who will star in a little movie called The Marine 4, a follow up to The Marine 3.

8:33: Hellacious Skull-Crushing Finale by Miz with a kick out at two by one of the Usos. Mizdow powders out and the Usos double team Miz, executing a flying body splash for the three-count and a successful defense of the tag-team championship.

Frankly I'm a little rusty with my wrestling knowledge. Both CST Kevin and I are somewhat lapsed fans. The last time I was really into WWE was during the so-called Pipe Bomb era when CM Punk was champion, circa 2011 or so. Then WWE went and cocked that up by hot shotting the title to Alberto Del Rio, and I fell off the map once more.

8:40: Women's match time, a tag team affair between the Bella twins and Paige/Natalya. The women's division has suffered for years, and the outfits the performers wear are still impractical at best.  Fans not super into this, and are engaging in a soccer chant, perhaps in homage of Paige's English heritage.

8:49: A Bella delivers a deadly forearm shiver to Natalya. It's over, folks, and now we go to commercial for Wrestlemania. Never been to one, though I did go to SummerSlam '96 at Gund Arena. That event featured CST contributor Ryan throwing a Super Ball at Big Van Vader from the second deck. In the ring, the Undertaker and Mick Foley engaged in a punch-up that started in Gund's boiler room and ended in the ring when Undertaker manager Paul Bearer turned on the Dead Man and gave the magical urn to Mick Foley, who smashed said urn into Undertaker's head and a bunch of monks came out and carried Taker's incapacitated body from the ring. Wrestling folks, pushing boundaries since 1887!

9:00: Three way dance for the WWE championship.That's John Cena, Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar.  Lesnar makes maybe 10 appearances on WWE TV a year, but he has what you call 'zazz' so he gets to hold the belt and show up on television at his leisure. Cena getting booed by the Phili crowd. Phili is the birthplace of ECW hardcore wrestling and hence won't cotton with the kid-friendly palooka from Boston.

9:07: Rollins and Lesnar the heels here. Rollins has a security team given to him by The Authority, which is the kind of evil corporate angle that WWE has been trucking with since Vince vs. Stone Cold. Lesnar german suplexed both of Rollins's security guys at once. Impressive.

9:14: F-5 from Lesnar on Rollins for a near pinfall. Three Attitude Adjustments on Lesnar from Cena and a kick out from Lesnar. Now Cena tackles Lesnar through the announcer's table, followed by Rollins jumping on Lesnar right through the Spanish announcer's table. Or maybe the regular table. Again, fast and furious action here and this is live, so the loss of details is the price you must pay for my lively commentary. Phili crowd giving props to the performers with 'This is awesome' chant.

9:23: Double AA from Cena on Rollins' security team. Actually impressive no irony here in cynical town. Double AA sounds like something you'd search for on PornHub but I assure you it's a wrestling move. Lesnar completely out of the match now, working a 'rib injury' after the hellish elbow from Rollins on the announcer's table. Rollins and Cena going at it, more near falls. Lesnar flies back in and suplexes Cena from the ring. A couple of reversals including an attack with a Money in the Bank briefcase by Rollins on Lesnar.  Rollins goes for the Curb Stomp which is reversed into one final F-5. Lesnar retains and goes to Wrestlemania as the champ. Rumble next!

9:33: Getting ready for Rumble. Kevin predicts Roman Reigns, as he eliminated the most competitors  last year which points to a 'push' (as is the parlance of the time) for an actual Rumble victory this year. I have no fracking idea who's going to take this, but I can tell you none of them have appeared in my kitchen. Daniel Bryan is a possibility after returning from injury a few weeks back. Bryan's a smart mark favorite though a Rumble victory may be too much ask at this juncture.

9:41: Miz and R-Truth start out. Next is...Bubba Dudley! Phili favorite and ECW alum. Devon cannot be far behind. ECW chant comes down from above and Truth and Bubba smite Miz with a Dudley Death Drop. Miz is out, Bubba throws out Truth soon after. Luke Harper is in the ring now, continuing WWE's tradition of sweaty deranged hillbillies well into the 20th century.

9:48: Bray Wyatt in, fighting the Boogeyman. The Boogeyman has not been seen for years and is thusly eliminated in 30 seconds. That's all i have to say about that.

9:55: Wyatt cleaning up the midcard now, eliminating Sin Cara and Zack Ryder in short order. Wyatt's got some of that gravitas and I can see the appeal. He plays a kind of spaced out southern fried witch doctor and does this creepy Exorcist spider move where he bends back and crabs around with his head upside down. I'll be frank cuz it's just us chickens: I'm actively afraid of Bray Wyatt.

10:00: Daniel Bryan in to huge pop from the 'smart mark' crowd in Phili. He's a favorite of the Internet Wrestling Community otherwise known as the 'IWC.' Think guys with glasses who think they're smart and only like indie wrestlers. They're the Pitchfork of the wrestling community and if they were into music would be listening to concept albums by The Decemberists and that's about it.

10:04: Now you're talking! DDP makes a surprise entrance. One of my favorites all time, and the only wrestler for whom I've bought a t-shirt. DDP has been out of the business for a few years and makes has buck with something called 'DDP Yoga.' It's like regular yoga but swishy names for positions have been replaced with manly monikers like 'Touchdown' instead of Child's Pose and so on. I wish I was kidding about this.  Used to follow Diamond Dallas on Twitter but all he talked about was yoga.

True story.

10:10: Ring's filling up, though Daniel Bryan has been eliminated which is a slight surprise. Roman Reigns coming down.  It's Wyatt, evil Russian Rusev and Reigns. Can't we have a nice Russian for once? The USSR split up 20 years ago, and now Russia is led by the warmest, cutest, gentlest leader since Yeltsin. Getting with the times means crossing political boundaries in the geopolitical arena and the squared circle as well.

10:21: Brief C.M Punk chant. Not gonna happen. Instead it's Corporate Kane. Poor Glen Jacobs, who's been saddled with some terrible gimmicks. Google Katie Vick and tremble. He's also in a film called 'See No Evil,' a post-'SAW' torture porn crapfest that I believe has a sequel coming out. Ambrose is next. He looks a little like that character actor who played Toombs in X-Files and made news when he married an underage girl with her parents' consent. I can't be arsed to look it up...not with so much furious action to chronicle!

10:31: Big Show your 29th entrant. Getting down to brass tacks, our players are looking tired as Show and Kane chuck out a couple of guys. Last competitor is Lakewood own's Dolph Ziggler. Dolph smashed with a K.O. punch by Show and his lifeless corpse is ejected ringside. I cannot believe what I'm witnessing!

10:38: God Almighty, it's Reigns with the win as he eliminates Kane and Show through various means. Show and Kane gang up on Reigns who's saved by..the Rock!  Massive pop. Then a bleeding Reigns takes out Rusev, who had not been eliminated as he'd rolled out of the bottom rope. Loopholes, people, you got to read the small print on these competitions. Reigns is celebrating with Rock as HHH and Stephanie, aka The Authority, come out and glare the glare of doom. They leave without further incident, and we fade to black as Reigns points to the Wrestlemania sign, which explodes with fireworks in a true sports-entertainment moment.

It's going to take time to digest what we've witnessed these last three hours. Rumble replay is at midnight, so we'll be watching that for analysis purposes as the initial viewing was for entertainment. Thank you for your support this evening.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cardale Jones and his "Decision"

AP Photo
There isn't a bar in all of Ohio, let alone Cleveland, that Cardale Jones can't (legally) have a beer bought for him right now (he's 22 after all.) The last three games in his football career and three months in his life have been like nothing before (and in all reality, nothing in the future) for young Mr. Jones.

And he's about to make a pretty big decision at 3PM 4PM today.

I've been saying since after the Alabama game, and especially now after the Oregon win to give the Buckeyes the Championship, if Cardale goes to the NFL (which is likely what this announcement is), it's the right move.

[Update: He's returning to school! Playing school for another year, getting his degree in the fall, and definitely playing football for another year. Welcome back Cardale!]

He's got the physical skills--the size, the arm, even the legs of a premier NFL QB in the mold of Ben Roethlisberger. He seems to have the game skills--dude didn't look rattled at all. Two "stupid" fumbles as he said, but none of the skittishness of, say, the Browns' rookie QB. His demeanor is amazing.

Mel Kiper was on television Tuesday morning saying that Cardale could be the #1 overall pick next year. If that's true, I don't see every NFL team passing on him for more than two rounds. And I certainly can see some combine work where he shoots up the draft board.

The risks--and not just injury--are pretty big. There is no guarantee that he can beat out JT Barrett or Braxton Miller, should they both return, for the starting position next year. There's no possible way he has bigger wins than the three he just had. Maybe the same--but the risk is a shaky showing against someone like Iowa or Rutgers.

If the NFL is your path--good luck, Cardale. It's been a fun but all too brief ride. It might take a couple years, but in the right place, I think you'll be fine.

Plus, looking forward to more of the amazing social media you'll put out there. Like this, probably the best tweet in Ohio State history.