Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Aftermath



Harvey Pekar wrote in one of his “American Splendor” comics about the futility of being a sports fan, especially if your loyalties lie in Cleveland. With his trademark aura of misery, Pekar tells readers not to get emotionally invested in the local teams...it’s just not worth the inevitable heartache, he says.

I always thought Pekar was full of shit on this score. If you love your city and you like sports, then naturally you’re going to follow your teams through their various trials and tribulations. Eventually your investment will pay off with a championship celebration.

Ah, but there are times when I wonder if Pekar was right after all…when it’s 2 a.m. mere hours after ALCS Game 7 and I can’t get to sleep and I feel nearly sick with bitterness and anger. When I wonder, “Is this really worth it?”

The last three games of the ALCS were a slow agony compounded by an unnecessary off day. Four days of thinking about baseball intertwined with the unfortunate legacy of Cleveland sports. 96 hours of hoping for the best but knowing in my secret heart to expect the worst.

The real dread didn’t overtake my brain until after Game 5. Even with Beckett on the mound, I thought the Tribe had a good chance if Sabathia matched Beckett punch for punch and it came down to the bullpens.

We all know how that went.

Friday and Saturday I went about my business with the Indians never far from my thoughts. I kept ping-ponging between two opposite polarities: Positive trumpeted, “We can do this!” Negative grumbled, “We’re fucked.”

Neither feeling was in the driver’s seat until Negative took the wheel and stood on the gas pedal after Drew’s grand slam in Game 6. I crashed emotionally when Boston turned the game into a route. Anxiety melted into that old Cleveland chestnut; resignation.

I viewed Game 7 of the ALCS much the same way as I did Game 7 of Cavs-Pistons in ’06. The Cavs couldn’t close it out that year, and neither could the Indians this time. Game 7 in Fenway was a formality, so I thought on Sunday.

Then the Indians went and made the game competitive…only to find a new and fun way to break our hearts. I didn’t even watch the last out (for that matter I didn’t watch more than two innings of the entire World Series), and actually felt OK until I turned on local radio for the post-game.

All that bitterness, anger and frustration from the callers go to me. Kenny Roda, reporting live from Boston, was at his overblown worst. Callers seemed desperate to name the disaster and add it to the sad lexicon of Cleveland sports futility. I couldn’t take anymore and went to bed, but a full hour passed before I drifted off to sleep. During that seemingly eternal 60 minutes I thought about our long legacy of frustration, and wondered what keeps us coming back to our teams when the rug keeps getting pulled out from under us again and again.

Hope keeps me coming back. Many of you who contribute to this blog think I’m overly optimistic about our teams. In truth, I am not. I’m just hopeful…that maybe this time we won’t get the sharp end…that our investment will pay off…and when we get our hearts pierced we’re left in shock despite a sordid history that should have vaccinated us to disappointment.

Call it the “Charlie Brown Theory.” Stephen King (an avid Red Sox fan) illustrates this theory well in his short story “The End of The Whole Mess.” The story is narrated by Howard Fornoy, whose genius younger brother Bobby discovers a chemical that reduces the aggressive tendencies of humans and other organisms.

The world is in chaos…terrorism is rampant and the international climate is one suggestive of approaching nuclear war. Bobby wants Howard's help to release the chemical and save the planet. Howard decides to help his little bro…but not without reservation.

“I think I knew even then that something was going to go totally wrong,” Howard narrates, “but when I was with Bobby for more than five minutes, he just hypnotized me. He was Lucy holding the football and promising me THIS TIME for sure, and I was Charlie Brown, rushing down the field to kick it.”



That’s a pretty damn good analogy for Cleveland sports fans…when our teams make the playoffs we’re blinded by hope (despite knowing better) that our athletic misery will finally end, so we wear our gear and pay big money for tickets and all the other trappings, only to have that bitch Lucy pull away the football at the last second and we’re flat on our ass once again.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Poll

I'm kind of shocked that half of us think that none of the teams are going to be better in their next season. I personally voted for the Browns 1) because the Indians were already only 1 game away from the World Series and 2) looking at the Browns offense, I have to believe they can improve the defense enough to be better next year. That basically means most of you think this year was the pinnacle for Indians and the Browns are playing better than the will the rest of the year or in the future. And I'm usually one of the most pessimistic people in regards to our sports franchises.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Does anybody care about the upcoming Cavs season?



I know I sure don't.


What is there to be excited about?


The Cavs made no improvements at all. Not one. This team that was lucky to survive the East and then was man handled in the Finals did not make a single move to upgrade their team. How is that possible?


If last year taught us anything it is that we are no where near good enough to win it all. Now we don't even have Sasha or Andy, 2 key bench players, around to help. Who is coming off the bench for us now? Cedric Simmons? Juwhan Howard? Damon Jones?


Z is a year older(and kind of scary looking bald), Larry Hughes is Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden sleep walks through half the games, Boobie still needs some work, and Lebron is a front running Yankee a-hole.


Someone please let me know why I should be looking forward to this season.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

1986, when all was right with Cleveland Sports

Paul Cousineau, who I believe is from the Sadda Euc, and writes for the DiaTribe, mentions in his post today that he is playing as the 1986 Indians vs. such luminaries as Doug Glanville, Curt Schilling, Baba Booey, and Jon Hein in the SportingNews.com 1986: Take Two Strat-o-Matic baseball game.



In solidarity I'll try to keep updated on the season, which starts November 5. Come on Rich Yett!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Vox in the Box (17)


There's a red moon rising
Down the Cuyahoga river
Rollin' into Cleveland to the lake
Cleveland, city of light, city of magic
Cleveland, city of light,
you're calling me

Even now I can remember
'Coz the Cuyahoga river
Goes smokin through my dreams

Burn on, big river, burn on
Burn on, big river, burn on
Now the lord can make you tumble
And the lord can make you turn
And the lord can make you overflow
But the lord can't make you burn

Burn on, big river, burn on

Burn on, big river, burn on

We're celebrating the two year anniversary of ClevelandSportsTorture this month (Thanx Pucky). This blog was born from the '05 Tribe regular season collapse, when playoff tix were all but printed and the Devils Rays were the only roadblock. Since that infamous week, I've felt we were closer and closer to The Golden Age of Cleveland Sports. An era where God would let our town get even and then some. A time when our teams would catch every break and the normally inept ownership would pump their organizations with talent so torrid that the promised land would be inevitable every season. After the pain that we've endured, the Golden Age would be just a rite of passage. Payback. The odds would even out; Cleveland is due. But "being due" is a gamblers' fallacy, and I know better.

24 hours after The Fold, I know a little more bra. We are all losers. You are a loser. I am a loser. Vox is a loser. This city is filled with losers. That guy next to you at the office that you commiserate with daily is a loser. Your boss, who never attended a Cavs game until LeBron arrived, is a loser. Your neighbor, who has never been to C-bus but flies an Ohio State flag, is a loser. Your spouse is a loser. Our kids are born losers. There's something inherently defective in all of us. Cleveland is a lemon. My Golden Age is a fucking pipe dream. It busted with the slightest pressure. Then, sad and embarrassed, I'm forced to snake it clean with my small Hebrew dick.

This loss hurt me more than The Drive, Fumble, Shot, Mesa, etc. You know why? 'Coz when that shit happened I was young and naive. I believed anything was possible and that Cleveland's moment would come someday. But now I'm old and experienced and I know loser cities like us don't win shit. We'll never win anything. You know damn well we won't be in the ALCS again next year. Just like the Cavs won't even sniff The Finals again. With every lost opportunity, we have to wait a little longer. Then the losses hurt even more, because we start to appreciate that the chance we had was so rare. Fuck you, fuck me, fuck of all us. Fuck EBIRT. Fuck SVAC. Fuck the Clowns. Fuck the Red Cocks. Fuck the Nation. Fuck the Gaytors. Fuck Schilling and Beckett. Fuck the Frisco Chronicle. Fuck Larry David's wife. I'd bang her. Fuck that guy who can't speak in the post-game press conferences. Fuck Tim Carver. Fuck the umps for squeezing Fausto in the first inning of Game 6. They wouldn't have done that to a veteran. Fuck Dice and Oki. Fuck the Sports Guy, who lost all credibility when he wrote that buffoonish column defending Belichick. Fuck Marsellis Wallace for throwing Tony Rocky Horror out of a four-story window for no reason. Fuck Coach Taylor for taking the TMU job. Fuck Carsten Charles, if he leaves. I mean, when he leaves...And thanks for nothing, C.C., when it counted. Hey Cleveland, if you want to blame Mesa for '97, then you have to blame Sabathia for '07. And Fuck Fox, most of all, for doing their damndest to ruin our viewing experience.

I don't have any original things to say about Game 7 because yall covered everything thoroughly. Ryan nailed it when he wrote that he had the Drive/Fumble/Shot-feeling after Blake's double-play. That's exactly how I felt. A cold rush of blood to the head, a stomach drop...and then utter despair. Game over after Blake's double play. Even when we had two on in the 8th, you knew we were finished when Tito went to Papelbon. Papelbon dared Hafner to catch up to him. It's a truly helpless feeling when you know exactly how an at-bat is going to unfold and there's nothing you can do but watch it happen. Paplebon knew Hafner couldn't touch him. The announcers knew it and everyone at Fenway knew it. Worst of all, Hafner knew it.

Froms, good take on Schilling. The most selfish and despicable on-the-field demonstration I have ever witnessed from an athlete came from the heroic Curt Schilling in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. Schill made himself the center of attention at his teammate's expense. As "Wild Thing" Mitch Williams struggled to close out Toronto and Schilling's expected win, the TV cameras focused on Schill's face in the dugout. And he knew it. And instead of just cheering or clapping or trying to spur on Williams, like the rest of the Phillies, he put a towel over his face like he couldn't bear to watch Williams blow another save. He was typical Schilling in the process...over-dramatic and silly...like the baseball universe revolved around every one of his facial expressions. In front of America, on baseball's biggest stage, he sold out his teammate for his own selfish addiction to the limelight. If I were Williams, I would've taken a 2x4 to Curt's head in the clubhouse.

We are so our city tonight. The underbelly of Cleveland ain't soft and white. It's hardcore depravity and resignation. But we are rich with identity. We wear our failures and shame like a fucking badge. Misery is exquisite here. Days start with small Lake Erie waves crashing dirty and meaningless on our tortured soil, afternoons toil on in our dying steel mills, the last remains of a once-proud post industrial city that is now overcome with poverty; on to our bars in the evening, free flowing spirits and libations-- while our ballteams eventually prove inferior...and the Cleveland sun will rise hungover again. Like Red said of Andy Dufrain, "Every man has his breaking point." I speak for the entire city when I say: I am now at mine.

No silver linings from Vox in this edition. Not even a touch of grey. Here's all I can offer up for those who read the column for my traditionally life-affirming themes: Brownies are 3-3 and the Stillers may have five more losses in them. We make the playoffs, squeak by in the first round...and then we get the Patriots in a game where we have nothing to lose. I can't think of anything better than exacting revenge against Boston in what will be the biggest upset in NFL playoff history. Remember, the Browns played New England tougher than anyone else this season. Throw out the fluke interception in the final minutes that went though Winslow's hands, and it was a ten point game. If Anderson doesn't throw that endzone interception early, it's closer than that. Also, in my 25 years as a sports fan, we have a 4-3 lead over Boston in the playoffs. Cavs ended Larry Bird's career in '92. Tribe beat the Sox in the '95 and '98 ALDS. And the Browns beat the Pats in the '95 AFC wildcard. I feel a Top 10 coming. I emailed something similar five years ago, but here is the updated version:

SamVox's Top 10 Cleveland Sports Heartbreaking Losses

1. ALCS Game 7, Red Sox 11 Indians 2, Fenway Park, October 21 2007
We've covered The Skinner, the bad hops and the horrible calls. But here's why it really stings: We had a chance to knock off arguably the country's two most popular franchises in the same post-season. We had a 3-1 series lead. We had a chance to have homefield advantage in the World Series against an inferior NL club. This was maybe the best opportunity of our lifetime to win a ring. My dad, JeffVox, swears by the Cleveland Curse. It was put on us by Paul Brown when Modell fired him. Dad is not like SportsGuy's dad. Although he also loves Boston Legal, he doesn't care for sports. But he's been preaching the curse to me since I was old enough to understand it. I never believed in it until we lost this series. By the way, we had no chance to win this game because it was played on Sunday. The Fumble, The Drive, The Shot, Joe Table, Red Right 88*...all happened on a Sunday. Coincidence? Or are Clevelanders skipping church too often?

It was devastating to see the '07 Tribe go down. This team had a lot of Jake Taylor in it. Borowski was cut and played in the Mexican league, working his way back to the majors. Victor couldn't make the throw to 2nd base all last year, and willed himself to respectability. Kenny Lofton came back to Cleveland for one last good year under the sun. Every bone in my body was telling me this was our year.

2. The Drive, AFC Championship, Broncos 23 Browns 20, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, January 11, 1987
Rich Karlis field goal in OT was no good. No good.

3. World Series, Game 7, Marlins 3 Indians 2, Pro Player Stadium, October 26, 1997
Doug, put this in the J-News: You and me watched this alone in disbelief in our Jack Beatley-rental on Chittenden. If Mesa saves the game, how do we react? Do we jerk each other off or just mutually masturbate?

4. The Shot, Game 5 NBA 1st Round Playoff, Bulls 100 Cavs 99, Richfield Coliseum, May 7, 1989
Am I the only one that can't get enough of that edited Gatorade commercial where Jordan misses The Shot? I'm serious. I smile every time I see it. Ehlo celebrates. Jordan walks off dejected. It's great therapy.

5. The Fumble, AFC Championship, Broncos 38 Browns 33, Mile High Stadium, January 17, 1988
The opposite of my Curt Shilling story: One of the classiest things I've ever seen in sports was when Ernest Byner sat alone on the bench after fumbling., and Bernie Kosar, obviously devastated by the loss, came over and gave him a hug/words of encouragement. I'll never forget...my Mom watched Bernie do this and said to me, "That's a leader." 20 years later, I hear Bernie on the radio three times a week and wonder why he does interviews drunk.

6. MISL Semifinals Game 5, Blast 7, Force 4, Baltimore Arena, May 1985
Force led 4-2 after three quarters, on the verge of finally eliminating the nemesis Blast and advancing to their first-ever MISL finals. The dynamic duo of Andy Chapman and Peter Ward scorched Baltimore early. But the Blast scored 5 unanswered goals in the 4th quarter. First time I cried after a sporting event.

7. AFC Wildcard, Stillers 36 Browns 33, Heinz Field, January 5, 2003
Two days after OSU wins the national championship, Kelly Holcomb and the upstart Brownies choke away a win against our hated rivals when Northcutt drops a bunny. Butch Davis never recovered from this loss.

8. ALDS Game 5, Red Sox 12 Indians 8, Jacobs Field, October 11, 1999
Indians were up 2-0 in this series and dropped three straight games. It was a run-fest with both teams blowing big leads early, as Nagy and Saberhagen got absolutely drilled. Boston brings in a supposedly injured Pedro Martinez out of the bullpen and he works the last 6 scoreless innings for the win.

9. NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 6, Pistons 84 Cavs 82, The Q, May 19, 2006
Gotta rebound, Flip Murray.

10. ALCS Game 4, Yankees 4 Indians 0, Jacobs Field, October 10, 1998
The 1998 Yankees are a legendary team; often considered the most dominant team of the modern era. I believe they won 125 games or something and swept the Pads in the World Series. The Indians were leading the ALCS 2-1 heading into Game 4. Colon was lights-out in a Game 3 win....and Grover handed the ball to Dwight Gooden. This was Doc's last chance at his first post-season win. But Paul O'Neil homered in the first, and that was all New York needed. Yanks would go on to win it in 6 games, when Manny climbed the wall for no reason. Look, this is my fucking list. Make your own.

* I don't remember much of anything about Red Right 88. Way too young. But I do recall being over Froms' house and seeing his dad punch the piano as hard as he could when Sipe threw the interception.

Burn on, big river, burn on


I am the mistake by the lake in the box

BURN ON, BIG RIVER, BURN ON...Parting is inevitable


Monday, October 22, 2007

Not Even as Close as I Thought

Look where the ump is and tell me how he missed this call...




I'm not saying that cost us the game, but there were two hits after that. Like the Skinner STOP, this could've changed the dynamics of the game... who knows, maybe the Red Sox start pressing and implode.

Oh well... still need to pitch I guess.

What the F*CK was Joel Skinner thinking???



Skinner said "I've had that play before. The ball ended up deeper than I thought, but that's the play. The play isn't in left field, it's coming back right behind the shortstop. Kenny has been in this league a long time."


HUH!?!


There is no way Lofton gets thrown out on that play. I don't care if that ball shot directly to Manny, Lugo, or Lowell. None of them could have thrown Lofton out. If that was Victor, Garko, or Hafner then maybe I could see holding them but it was one of the fastest players on your team and he had a great jump. Unforgiveable!


After Blake hit into the "I could see this coming from a mile away" double play I had the same feeling I had after The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot. The "are you f*cking kidding me, this did not just happen" feeling. I now wish Lugo caught Lofton's pop up. I could have lived with a 3-2 loss. I would have been upset but not nearly as upset as I am now. We were tied 3-3 in the top of the 7th, it was a foregone conclusion. I don't know what would have happened from there but Joel Skinner should have given us the opportunity to see.

Froms Rants in Honor of Hadman Rants

The things that annoyed and/or pissed me off during the ALCS...

1. How many f'ing times did Fox have to show the Boston bullpen playing their little hex instrumental on the lip of the bullpen roof? I don't know what annoyed me more... the Sox pen doing it, or the fact that Fox showed it at least once a game and Buck and McCarver cracked up every time. (I'll get to McCarver soon enough).

2. Jeanne Zelasko - I mean come on. She's as much worthy of hosting a sports pre-game show as I am of drinking a six pack of beer by myself in less than four hours. Her best moment was before Game 5... saying the Sox had us "right where they wanted us" (with Beckett pitching for a chance to go back to Fenway).Ummm, this was BEFORE the game. We were up 3 game to 1 at the time!

This is from Brian McPeek of Swerbs Blurbs, not from me so please don't tell me how inappropriately harsh I am...
"If I want to watch a pig like Jeanne Zelasko I'll rent ‘Babe' or turn on Discovery channel. Just NBC football pre-game with the sound turned down. I love listening to Bob Costas with the sound down. Best way to hear him. "


Thought the Costas dig was pretty funny too.

3. Kevin Kennedy - that pocked-faced jabronie has always grated on me.

4. Tim McCarver - Just when I thought (and I think I even said it to someone) "Hmmmm - Tim McCarver seems to be on his best behavior this year" the Tribe begins their gradual choke job and I just get more and more annoyed by McCarver. I think he was better this year, but his patronizing tone and long-winded statements make me long for the Bob Costas/Bob Uecker days.

www.shutuptimmccarver.com

5. Manny - I used to like Manny even on the BoSox because he was Manny... our little brother who we saw grow-up... errrrr.... play in Cleveland. But in this series he was just a jackass. Nice hair Manny. Anytime your hat or helmet won't stay on your head when you're running... errrr... jogging means it's a little out of control.

6. The fans at the Jake trying to start the wave. Its not 1988 jackasses. Some dude (I'd say in his late 20s early 30s) was trying to start one in the 7th inning of Game 4. Nobody would do it and he was getting pissed, like he was the only "true fan". The guy in front of me yelled at him to "sit his ass down, we aren't 7!" Sounded VERY familiar for some reason

7. Kevin Millar - the day one of my athletes blatantly roots for another team (in my division) is the day that athlete can go play somewhere else... unless that athlete's name is LeBron James. (Rumor has it they wanted Pedro to read the lineup one night but the Mets nixed it... the Orioles not so much).

8. Jonathan Papelbon - the river dance in his jockies, barefoot was utterly embarrassing and painful to watch. It made Mark Madsen's "Who Let the Dogs Out" blast seem like Whitney Houston proudly singing the National Anthem at the Superbowl in the midst of the first Iraq War.
And how about some lip moisturizer dude? You look like Dr. Freeze from Batman.
(By the way, how Hafner missed three straight Papelbon fastballs down the gut is beyond me... last year he could've closed his eyes and hit one of those out).

9. Dustin Pedroia - yeah he's an Angles-n-Jobber, but the gnats from Game 2 of ALDS think you're annoying. Anyone got a fly swatter? Craig Counsell called... he wants his gimmick back.

10. Curt Schilling - does any one guy bask in the limelight like Schilling? The dude searches out cameras and scripts his words to perfection. Schilling's hero? Well.... Schilling. At least he didn't go with the ketchup on the sock routine this year. I expected him to report a broken arm prior to Game 6 and then pitch "a heroic performance".

I could go on with the mood I'm in today, but I'll end with one giant bonus #11 - that goes to the Cleveland Indians.... all of them.... Hafner, Wedge (for not moving Hafner down), Sizemore, Perez, C.C., Carmona, and Joel "The Stop Sign" Skinner.

Back to normal life...

Game of Inches... Can't Catch a Break When it Matters

It is amazing to me how all the breaks the Indians were getting in the ALDS and the first four games of the ALCS flipped so suddenly for Boston (despite Veritek's viewpoint).

Game 6 - Carmona gets victimized by TWO infield singles to load the bases in the first.
Game 6 - Carmona gets squeezed by the homeplate umpire, causing him to fall behind and elevate his pitches.
Game 6 - Garko hits a deep fly off the Green Monster, that if 5 feet to right, is a homerun.
Game 7 - Two more squib hits just out of reach in the first inning.
Game 7 - Mannny gets the first RBI due to a bad hop over Peralta.
Game 7 - Hafner misses a homerun by 2 feet.
Game 7 - Garko misses another homerun by 5 feet.
*Amazing that little punk Pedroia can muscle it out over the Green Monster, but Pronk and Garko can't.
Game 7 - Lofton is clearly safe at second base on a ball off the wall.
Game 7 - Dice-K knocks a ball off his glove but recovers and throws to first for th out (I bring this up because in Game 4, Wakefield as the same thing happen and the ball rolls too far away to make the play).
Game 7 - Skinner decides the play is too close to send Lofton home.

etc., etc., etc...

When are we ever going to catch the breaks when it counts?

Couldn't have said it better myself...

"Without the pain, the champagne, when it finally flows, will have no taste."

-Howard Bryant, ESPN.com, this morning.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Numb.

Numb? Is that the proper term? Is it "sudden-shock-numb"? Or "I'm-getting-used-to-the pain-numb-so-it-doesn't-hurt-like-it-used-to" numb? At some point in the next two months I'll have to sit down and put this sports year in some kind of context. But right now, all I can think of, without getting into the specific failures of the Indians in Game 7, a game that looked terrible until Jake Westbrook manned up and gave us all the chances he could have.

  • Last Sunday at Macy's when I almost puked seeing those World Series T-Shirts on sale? I think I skipped breakfast, that must be why I didn't puke.
  • The unexplainable failure for the Indians offense to really find a groove all season long showed its head all series long against the Red Sox. The Tribe had a few good innings, but even the two seven-run eruptions hid some mighty crappy hitting.
  • After C.C. guaranteed that the Indians would win the division in mid August, and he and Fausto followed through to make it so, the one reason I thought the Indians could compete and maybe, just maybe, make it all the way, is because of our top two starters. Yet, again unexplanably, they manage to crap the bed like nothing anyone could have ever predicted.
  • Travis Hafner. For the last couple years he was possibly the most dangerous hitter in the league, and certainly the most dangerous hitter nobody talked about. Yet this year something happened, especially in the ALCS. What the hell happened?
  • Finally, I just hate Kevin Youkilis. He is a total jerk, I can just tell by looking at his big pale head.
Jason Varitek just said "we didn't get any breaks". REALLY????? (But that's a post for tomorrow.)

Like Victor Martinez, with red eyes, I'll watch the Red Sox celebrate, once again with a team of ours on the losing end when it counts. Torture, indeed.

Positive thoughts

Well nothing sums up "Cleveland Sports Torture" quite like the last 3 days (and the next 8 hours.) But everyone knows how everyone else is feeling, so let's point out some positive thoughts for tonight's Game Seven against the Sox:

  • When Jake Westbrook is on, he is very hard to hit
  • Thanks to some nifty bullpen work yesterday, the core of our bully is available tonight
  • Travis Hafner can't be kept down forever, can he?
  • Eric Wedge has the ability to get this team's confidence up
  • The apparently chemically enhanced Paul Byrd is available in relief, also.
  • Dice-K is pitching and he should be scared
Let's go Tribe.

Byrd Took HGH... So?

Shocking... the San Fransisco Chronicle waits until the morning of Game 7 to release information about Paul Byrd purchasing $25k worth of HGH. Now we all know that everyone but the people in Cleveland and NY want to see the Red Sox "save" the World Series (oh the thought of a Cleveland/Colorado World Series), so the SF Chronicle is apparently doing its best to manufacture a huge distraction... and of course get their name out there on national tv and sell more papers.

My reaction to this whole thing? SO WHAT? It's documented that it happened before it was banned. Byrd isn't breaking any records like Bonds, so who cares... put an asterisk by his wins. . As long as he stopped before it was banned, then I don't see what the big deal is right now. Being illegal is one thing, obviously, but as far as its concerned right now... I see it nothing more than a way to create a buzz for tonight's game and potentially the World Series.

On a another note... although this may seem contemptuous, I really think anyone who voted for Blake's HR on the poll is either just doing it to disagree with me (which is a very likely scenario) or not understanding the situation clearly. PEOPLE... THE LEAGUE USED TO DO IT THAT WAY AND GOT RID OF IT AFTER 9 YEARS BECAUSE IT WAS SO RIDICULOUS. IT IS REGARDED AS ONE OF THE DUMBEST THINGS EVER IN SPORTS STATISTICS. THE OTHER SPORTS ALL DO IT THE "PERALTA WAY" AND NOBODY COMPLAINS. The poll asks which SHOULD be considered, not if it was based on the old way. Blake's was an important "clutch" HR, as are all HR, RBI, runs in the ALCS... but Peralta's was the one that actually "gave us a lead we'd never relinquish"... there's no arguing that.... I'm sorry he happened to come up after Blake. I guess he just has good timing. Just like the 4th goal in an 8-3 win in hockey, even if it happened to put the winning team up 4-0 in an apparent blowout in the first period.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hadman Rants

You know what bugs me...

The use of the word "Trickeration" every Saturday during College Football Season. It used to be just Rece Davis (I think that's who I'm thinking of) that I heard it from. Now its used often, by many, any time there is a fake kick, flea flicker, reverse, or any other play fake. I checked Websters, it's not in the dictionary, stop using it.

How about when you're at a game or in a bar and some Jack Ass who played football (likely on the defensive side of the ball) 20 years ago feels the need to yell "REVERSE" when there is a reverse during the game. Like the defense can here him from the 2nd deck of The Boneyard or The Stadium.

The new all red End Zone for the Buckeyes field. Yes I said Red and not Scarlett, because it looks Red to me and is way to much color. I like the classic grass with Scarlett and Grey block letters.

James Brown during each in-game update says "Pat Dirt" instead of touch down or end zone. "Larry Johnson bounces it outside and takes it 35 yards to pay dirt." - annoying!

NFL Pregame in general . Now I haven't tuned in for a few weeks, so I don't have specifics off the top of my head but my biggest rant is...I can't stand how each announcer, analyst, or broadcaster just cracks the fuck up at everything the next person says. It's like there are 1000 inside jokes that I'm not in on. And Tom Jackson must be on Drugs, he just laughs and laughs.

I could go on for hours about Chris Berman:
He is a slob. Remember a few years ago when he wouldn't cut his hair until the playoffs.
The songs for nicknames. What the fuck? Not entertaining, just annoying.
"Back, Back, Back...Gone" makes me nauseous. The saying, that is, not the '97 intramural softball championship team.
The great Swami always seems to have a less than .500 record against the cap. He makes the Vox Lox, Cleveland's Premier Handicapper, look like a good bet.
Not a fan of Berman.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Is Chief Wahoo the same as Little Black Sambo?

Here's an article with a few thoughtful links to articles on Chief Wahoo and whether it's racist.
_____________

King Kaufman's Sports Daily

The Cleveland Indians minstrel show: Fans painted to resemble the outrageously racist mascot are shown without comment in the mainstream media. Enough.

Oct. 18, 2007 | For a short while Wednesday morning, the lead photo on the front page of ESPN.com depicted some Cleveland Indians fans at Tuesday night's ALCS Game 4 with their faces made up to resemble the Indians absurdly racist caricature mascot, Chief Wahoo.

The photo was replaced early in the day by one of Kobe Bryant as his possible trade from the Los Angeles Lakers became the top story. On ESPN.com's baseball cover the lead photo was of Cleveland relief pitcher Rafael Betancourt.

The photo of the fans became a topic of discussion in this column's letters thread as well as other places around the Web, including at Deadspin, where Will Leitch wrote, "We don't want to sound like the PC police here, but seriously now: Is it really OK for Indians fans to be dressing up in red face?"

I don't mind being called p.c. so I'll answer: No. It's not OK.

I suppose reasonable people can disagree about whether the team name Indians is offensive, but there's just no arguing about Chief Wahoo. It's a Little Black Sambo-style caricature that should have been retired decades ago. If those fans in Cleveland had been in minstrel-show blackface, ESPN never would have run a photo of them without comment, as simply a depiction of happy fans in the stands. The picture only would have run as the centerpiece of a story about fan racism.

And there is nothing about grinning-Indian redface that's even a little bit less racist than minstrel-show blackface.

In an e-mailed statement, ESPN spokesman Paul Melvin said, "The photo came down due to normal, daily editorial cycle. However, we have also discussed the photo choice internally and determined that we must, and will, be more selective as the series progresses."

The Indians realize at least some of this. Chief Wahoo is not as ubiquitous as he once was. The official, in-stadium mascot is now a generic Youppi-esque critter called Slider.

A search for "Chief Wahoo" on the Indians Web site reveals one mention in 2007, a reference to a fan's tattoo. Yeah, he's a thing of the past. Except he's on the uniform, and his image is all over the site, though you might not notice at first glance.

Joe Posnanski of the Kansas City Star, the best baseball writer in the business and a native of Cleveland, has a long post about Chief Wahoo on his blog that includes a history of the mascot, a discussion of how the founding myth of the team name -- that it was a tribute to Louis Sockalexis, a Native American player for the old National League Cleveland Spiders in the late 1890s -- is complete bull, and Posnanski relating that as a child he wore plenty of Chief Wahoo imagery and liked it.

"I love Cleveland," he writes. "I love the Indians and I even love Wahoo in a weird way because it is such a part of my childhood. But it is not just time to get rid of Wahoo, it is way, way past time."

I'd like to see the Indians get rid of the team name too, because whether the name itself is offensive or not, it lends itself to this type of racist caricature, which also includes various teams' version of the Tomahawk Chop.

This column is on record as favoring Posnanski's suggestion that the Indians revive that old Cleveland baseball nickname, the Spiders, which I think would be a marketing bonanza. More than a decade after the single year my home city had a team in the International Hockey League, I still get comments on the rare occasions I wear my rapidly deteriorating San Francisco Spiders T-shirt. You may have heard about a certain arachnoid superhero who moves a little bit of product.

But this column is not stupid. The Cleveland Indians are not about to throw 90 years of brand loyalty down the dumper when they're on an upswing between the lines and at the box office.

But is it too much to ask that outrageously racist caricatures of peoples on whom this country has perpetrated genocide be retired? The answer is no, it's not too much to ask.

As Jonathan Zimmerman wrote in an excellent commentary this week in the Christian Science Monitor, "How can we profess equality of all Americans, then mock the first Americans in our sports teams?"

The Indians are one win away from a bully pulpit. This would be a great time to make a statement.

This -- 2007 -- would also be a good time for the mainstream media to stop displaying without comment photos of fans of the Indians and similarly named teams engaged in ethnic mockery as though that were the same thing as San Diego Chargers fans wearing hats with lightning bolts on them.

And on a related note, American Indian Movement activist Vernon Bellecourt died this week at age 75.

He spent much of his adult life fighting the use of Native American names and imagery by sports teams, and while that fight has seen a lot of success on the high school and college level, Bellecourt goes to his grave not having won any concessions from what he called his "big four" professional teams: the Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Game Winning RBI... or anything game winning.

Regarding the poll question...

We've had this discussion before. A game winning RBI, goal, etc. is the run or goal that "puts you up for good", (i.e. wins or eventually wins you the game) meaning if you score ten runs in the first and in the ninth inning the other team scores 9, the person who drove in the 10th run (even though it was in the first) had the game winning RBI. The stat was only official in baseball from 1980 to 1989 or something. It's not the person who drove in the first run and broke the tie.

Casey Blake did not hit the game winning home run. I believe Peralta's was the game winner (if that was the fourth run)... that's the RBI/home run that was the difference in the game (i.e. the game winner).

In soccer, if you score 3 goals in the first half and the other team scores two in the second, then the person who scored the third goal had the game winner, not the person who scored the first.

IT'S NOT DAT HARD TO FIGURE OUT!

Manny goes Broadway

Wish I knew who created this to give 'em credit!

C.C.'s Game 1 Report Card

For those who don't have ESPN insider, click on the image below to see the Inside Edge report card for C.C. for Game 1. I know, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out he didn't do good finishing off batters w/2 strikes, or especially throwing off-speed pitches for strikes. But interesting nonetheless.

I'd like to see these kind of stats for pitchers' entire seasons, but that's not included with ESPN Insider!

Let's hope the Red Sox don't hire Serena Williams as bench coach

How awesome is this?

The Indians have slated country music singer, and Josh Beckett's ex-girlfriend Danielle Peck to sing the national anthem at tonight's Game 5.

And she's not bad looking either. Methinks Grady should make a move pre-game.

Please just shut the hell up...

The next time I want to hear talk about the Indians playing in that final series where the two teams from different leagues play each other for the World Championship is if or when the Indians win four games in an ALCS. Way too much premature talk already, they're practically matching up the Tribe and Rockies already.

SHUT UP and Go Tribe!

(PS I saw WS shirts at Macy's last weekend. And nearly puked.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Joe Borowski's 1-2-3 innings

Terry Pluto, in today's PD, wrote:

But Joe Borowski is so much like this team. He's a low-budget guy coming through in a high-pressure situation. Now here's a statistic you won't believe, but Borowski has had more 1-2-3 saves than Mariano Rivera this season, 15-10.

Just like Monday night: pop out . . . fly out . . . pop out. The man who led the American League with 45 saves, the man who does it more with guts and grit than speed and talent . . . well, Joe Borowski did it again. Ballgame, one if you watched, you won't soon forget.

Now I won't disagree with the sentiment, I kinda like Joe. The crowd certainly was chanting "Let's Go Joe!" during the ninth. But the impression of the statistic Pluto quoted was misleading. He may have had more 1-2-3 innings than Rivera, but let's compare him to other top closers this year. (And by my count, using ESPN.com's game-by-game stats, Borowski had 16 3-batter saves.)

Caveat: I evaluated each closer's saves, counted the ones where they faced 3 batters. Sure, there could have been a double play mixed in, or they could have come in with 2 outs and faced 3 batters. But I'm at my desk at work doing this, and it's not my living!

Valverde, ARI: 37.0% of his chances had 3 batters or less. I'll make up this stat as NHAS. (Non-Heart-Attack Save.) 20 3-batter saves/47 saves. 7 blown saves (BS).
Borowski, CLE: 32.1% NHAS. 16/45 3-batter saves. 8 BS. 1 2-batter save.
Cordero, MIL: 45.1% NHAS. 21/44 3-batter saves. 7 BS. 2 1-batter saves.
Hoffman, SD: 46.9% NHAS. 21/42 3-batter saves. 7 BS (including one fateful October game). 2 1-batter save.
Rodriguez, LAA: 32.6% NHAS. 12/40 3-batter saves. 6 BS. 1 2-batter and 2 1-batter saves.
Putz, SEA: 38.1% NHAS. 15/40 3-batter saves. 2 BS. 1 1b-batter save.
Jenks, CHI: 58.7% NHAS. 22/40 3-batter saves. 6 BS. An amazing 3 1-batter and 2 2-batter saves.

By these measurements, only F-Rod was close to Borowski in giving his fans nervous palpatations every time he came up to bat.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Thanks, Jake!

Who would've thought that out of Sabathia, Carmona and Westbrook, it would be Westbrook giving the Tribe the best performance of the three? He came out tonight and nutted up when the Indians really needed some length out of a starter...Meanwhile, the 'pen has has delivered in an equally huge way. No longer does Wedge have to count on just three guys (Perez, Betancourt, JoeBo) as some folks worried about before the beginning of the playoffs. Jensen Lewis has come up big. And Tom Mastny delivered perhaps the biggest inning of relief in the playoffs so far when he retired Boston's big three sluggers on Saturday night. Hey, Borowski goes 1-2-3...it's a good night.

There's only one Actober!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The first BCS standings are out

BCS Standings
RkTeamW-LHarrisCoachesCPU %BCS



RkPoints%RkPoints%
PrevAvg
1Ohio State7-012845.998211495.9967.83000.942
2South Florida6-032508.880031320.88001.00000.920
3Boston College7-022650.929821383.9220.82000.891
4LSU6-152303.808151173.7820.93000.840
5Oklahoma6-142503.878241288.8587.55000.762
6South Carolina6-162009.70498997.6647.86000.743
7Kentucky6-1111759.617213874.5827.85000.683
8Arizona State7-0121697.595412936.6240.83000.683
9West Virginia5-181926.675871007.6713.64000.662
10Oregon5-171974.692661077.7180.50000.637
11Virginia Tech6-1131638.574711982.6547.66000.630
12California5-1101894.66469983.6553.48000.600
13Kansas6-0151200.421115705.4700.66000.517
14USC5-191915.67199983.6553.09000.472
15Florida4-2141458.511614726.4840.31000.435
16Missouri5-1171053.369517519.3460.43000.382
17Auburn5-219667.234019372.2480.53000.337
18Hawaii7-0161198.420416558.3720.06000.284
19Virginia6-124240.084224184.1227.48000.229
20Georgia5-220528.185320282.1880.30000.224
21Tennessee4-222420.147422193.1287.31000.195
22Texas5-218786.275818396.2640.00000.180
23Cincinnati6-123369.129523192.1280.10000.119
24Texas Tech6-121459.161121232.1547.00000.105
25Michigan5-225229.080426127.0847.07000.078

Sunday, Day of Rest

Wow. 5 hours and 14 minutes (plus) later, the Indians manage to win a game that was oh, so loseable. (is that a word?) Two games in Boston, the top #1/#2 starter tandem, and they lay two eggs. And yet the Tribe escapes with a split. Every Indians fan out there (and I wonder how many were there at Jacobs Field until 1:30 in the morning) should be extremely pleased with that. Facing Beckett and Schilling, it could have been worse, regardless of my predictions for Schilling. The Red Sox have to be a little deflated, at least. Well, exhausted at least. Hopefully the Tribe booked Sunday night hotel rooms!

Jhonny is the man. Betancourt is absolutely lights out. Trot Nixon (batting only because Travis Hafner--by the way who would have figured he could dunk a basketball--is slow) comes up huge with a hit that he'll never forget. The pile-on begins. And Franklin Gutierrez shows maybe why Wedge let him bat six times with an at bat that only a Volvo sign kept off Lansdowne Street (or maybe the Mass Pike.)

I feel, at this moment, the same way about the Buckeyes and the Indians. Excited and hopeful about where they are, yet entirely unsure about just how good they are.

After LSU and Cal lost today, the Bucks are sure to be #1 (and may have been regardless of the Cal game) when the BCS standings come out this week. But have they been tested? Will they be? How good (or bad) is the Big Ten?

Michigan State looked red-hot, then lost a good game to a good team Wisconsin. And then let Northwestern score 48 points on them. Not red-hot any more. Red-hot Wisconsin then lost to red-hot Illinois, and then lost again to Penn State. Michigan loses to a freakin' I-AA team and then gets killed by a pansy-ass Pac-10 team. Then proceeds to win five straight, including games over Penn State and (formerly) red-hot Purdue (who had already been beat by the hopefully great Buckeyes.) Illinois looks great, beats two top 25 teams, and then proceeds to lose to Iowa, who had lost eight (!) straight Big Ten games. So basically the Big Ten is either a group of pretty damn good teams who just beat up on each other, mediocre and inconsistent teams, or wildly inconsistent but always dangerous teams. All of which makes me think of the rest of Ohio State's schedule: "Huh??" But at least they control their destiny. After being in the midst of LSU fans this week, I started to panic about OSU being left out in the BCS cold.

The Indians return home and need HUGE offensive games in games 3 and 4, regardless of how good (or bad) Jake Westbrook or Paul Byrd hurl it. With some of the clutch hitting we saw all last series, and more than a little luck, we will get C.C. in a very important game Thursday for some redemption. And if that doesn't work, Fausto for some redemption. Do you sense a theme?

Oh yeah, speaking of mediocre, inconsistent, certainly not horrible, and quite possibly dangerous, the Browns face the winless Dolphins Sunday.

Friday, October 12, 2007

C.C. is still our best pitcher

Ok, the first game went not so much how we wanted. We weren't going to sweep. Our hitters can't play "Kill the Yankees" forever. But this is one game in a seven game series. A series long enough to tell you (unfortunately?) who the better team is. But let's hope when C.C. was on the bench, staring onto the field after he got pulled, he was thinking "There is no f*cking way this is happening to me again." Fausto and Jake, let's go baby.

Separated at Birth?

Yankee Pitcher Mike Mussina & Jake Ryan, the Bo-Hunk Heartthrob from 16 Candles 
 
Doug Mientkiewicz & our own Tom M.

Last minute thoughts


I don't want to rehash all the previews, or go position-by-position on the Red Sox-Indians ALCS that starts tonight, but just a couple quick thoughts and some links for your reading pleasure.

If I had to pick one of the first two games that I liked more than the other, it would be the Indians stomping on Schilling's grumpy old neo-conservative fat ass Saturday night. Yes, he's tough, yes, he's had some postseason success (with a possibly fake bloody sock), but I think the Indians can retire his ass while we're busy doing it to other fat old pitchers. Fausto should be electric also, after seeing him face A-Rod in the ninth, I can't wait to see Big Papi and Manny face him.

If Manny launches a 700 foot home run against C.C. and sits at home plate and poses like he did against the Angels, I expect the next pitch he sees to be right into his thorax.

Not sure about the Amish look, but who am I to judge?



King Kaufman of Salon blames Borowski for his doubts about the Indians:

If the Sox can take a lead into the late innings, they should be able to hang on. You can't quite say that about the Indians.

It's kind of looking like the Red Sox's year, which is how it looks for two or three teams every season right before they get eliminated. The Sox appear to have the ever-so-slight edge because of their hitting and bullpen. Then again that might just be my astigmatism.

I'm going to go with the Indians because of those top two starters, and because I'm tired of Indians fans whining in the letters threads that the Indians get no respect because they're not the Red Sox or Yankees. Now they can whine that I've picked them, which of course means that this is the Red Sox's year after all.
Prediction: Indians in seven.

Slate Magazine (not exactly a big sports publication) actively asks "Do the Indians have the guts to dump Joe Borowski?"

Some great links-to-links. Deadspin is posting blog snippets about each of the surviving teams. "Why My Team Makes Me Happy." See the Indians posts here. Also the other teams here.

And my prediction: Indians in 6 games. Although I wouldn't mind them winning in 5--at home. Indians will rough up Schilling and Dice-K. Pronk will be going to town on that right field wall. And JoeBo will do just fine. The Red Sox might have two World Series MVPs starting the first two games, but hopefully in a couple weeks we can say we had one too.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wow!

Something to chew on that you will undoubtedly hear a dozen times over the next two days.
On July 24, C.C. Sabathia gave up one run in seven innings, falling 1-0 to Dice-K and the Red Sox.
On July 25, Fausto Carmona gave up only four singles in eight shutout innings, beating Josh Beckett and the Red Sox 1-0.
The Indians have the best one-two starting pitching combo in the league, and Westbrook can be pretty damn good at times. That will hopefully be the difference in the series. That, and whether the Indians "had a down year" stars (Hafner and Sizemore) and "stop swinging at crap" players (Peralta and Garko) can continue the Indians recent trend of actually scoring runs.

It's been so long, I forgot how great playoff baseball can be. Every half inning, every pitch, so tense. Especially in person. Although the game 1 ass-whipping that I witnessed in the flesh did not have the tension of game 2, it was still pretty amazing. Too bad I had to watch the extra innings of game 2 with 20,000, errrrr, 5,000 Maroon 5 fans at The Q.
Like Bill Livingston said, starters on 3 days rest are 29-52 since 1995 in the postseason. I supported Wedge's move, thinking that a rested Byrd might just be more effective than a tired Sabathia Wednesday. He certainly wasn't "amazing", with all the baserunners. But he was gutsy, and he epitomizes the Indians this year. You can tell by the "Got Pronk?" shirt that he wore after the Indians clinched the division. These guys all love each other.

Some of you are familiar with Bill James' (who works for the Red Sox now) Pythagorean theorem, which uncannily can predict a team's record based on runs given up and runs scored against. (Surprisingly, "runs scored" is a better prediction than the idiotic way teams' offenses are measured...batting average.) Last year, the Indians won 12 games less than they should have. An amazing anomaly, suggesting a underperforming team (or more likely, a fluke.) This year the formula had them winning 92 games, 4 less than actual, suggesting that maybe they weren't quite as good as their record. The Red Sox, on the other hand, underperformed by 7 games.

Can the national media, and by this I mean ESPN, please give the Yankees story a break? I don't care if Torre comes back or not, I don't care if Posada, Rivera, Pettite come back. I don't care if Scott Boras makes the case that A-Rod is worth a half-billion to a billion dollars to a team's regional sports network as he chases both Hank Aaron Barry Bonds and Pete Rose. Why don't we start talking about the teams that actually win a postseason series this year?

And by that I mean other than the Rockies. Of course, winning 17 out of 18 games including a 163rd game where your MVP candidate scored the winning run while sliding 15 feet on his face is a pretty good story. I, for one, would like to see C.C. batting in Coors Field. Thin air + 300 lb. batter = bye bye.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Read it and weep New York

Some headlines you may see in tomorrow's New York Post:

-Indians Plague Yanks for 2-0 Series Lead
-Gnat Again! Yanks Fall to Tribe
-Insects Clobba Joba, Yankees
-Bugs Bite Bombers
-Yankees Swatted out of Cleveland

I took a peek on the Yankees' message board and plenty of fans were blaming the umps for not calling the game after the swarm descended upon Jacobs Field. How about all those gnarly closeups of Chamberlain's sweaty, insect covered neck? Those must have looked kickass on HD. Whatever..Carmona was dealing with those same bugs when he K'd Mr. Regular Season MVP in the 9th. Fausto's filthy. Thank God for Pronk...I had horrifying visions of him taking that 3-2 pitch for a called strike three. Losing this game after Carmona's great performance (and having so many chances with RISP against Pettitte) would have been very bad.

Of course, I'm not going to count out the Yankees. They've built their legend (at least during their string of 13 straight playoff appearances of which we've been witnesses) on extracating their asses from the proverbial sling. Tribe's got to jump on Clemens early Sunday because Westbrook's probably gonna give up some runs. Get to that shaky NY middle relief, give WestB five innings, and hand the ball to Lewis, Betancourt, Perez and if need be Borowski to finish things off. Many Cleveland fans are scared of JoeBo, but Wedge is going to put him in during save situations, so prepare yourselves for that eventuality. Me, I can wait on that as the Tribe finishes off the sweep by a count of 9-5.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Preview: As-n-Js Championship Rings

The Angles-n-Jobbers will be receiving the franchise's first ever World Championship rings. Below is a preview of the rings the organization will be receiving next opening day. Order your's today to receive the special limited time offer of 10% off. Don't wait... these are sure to go fast.

Preview: As-n-Js Championship Rings

The Angles-n-Jobbers will be receiving the franchises first ever World Championship rings

Monday, October 1, 2007

Cavaliers Training Camp Minute

Sacha and Anderson are looking very iffy all of a sudden. As Brian Windhorst wrote, "Their decision to not take qualifying offers is unprecedented in recent NBA history."