Thursday, November 29, 2007

Death in Collinwood sports

Three Collinwood high school athletes have died in the past couple years, and just NOW the authorities are getting suspicious? Let's just say if this happened at a predominately white high school, say, Solon, people would have acted a hell of a lot faster. Unbelievable.


[Joi] Smith, 20, who ran track at the University of Michigan, succumbed to a rare muscle cancer almost two weeks ago. Regina Adams, who was part of the school's 2004 state title team, contracted encephalitis that same year, and died July 27, 2006, after nearly two years in a coma. And Brittany Holmes, a 2003 Collinwood graduate, died May 16, 2006, after an eight-month battle with a rare lung cancer.

Another Collinwood athlete, linebacker William Seldon, missed this fall football season while receiving chemotherapy to treat cancer in the back of his nose.

The cancer connection led a handful of parents and students to point to the basement where all athletes spend time, citing the condition of the area as concerning. Tiles are missing from generous portions of the ceiling, exposing pipes and crumbling bricks. Along one wall, a foot-long hole in the concrete reveals wire mesh and a glimpse at the inner construction. In a closet-sized room in the weight room, wires dangle from the exposed ceiling.


Cleveland Department of Public Health Director Matthew Carroll said he was forwarded information about the track deaths from the office of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson last week. Carroll said the health department has not yet investigated Collinwood, but that he initially sees no "obvious connection" between the deaths.

Wow! Bowl Playoff reactions to the author

Dan Wetzel reports that he has gotten over 3,000 emails about his comments (95% positive), and over a million views.  A few of which I hope came from this page. 
As he posts and responds to many of the emails (and a much higher proportion of negative ones) , a few interesting facts that I learned
This won't be reported on any ESPN/ABC outlet because of the sheer power of two of their biggest conferences (Big Ten and Pac-10), and the crazy conflicting fact that they OWN five bowls, the Las Vegas, Hawaii, Armed Forces, New Mexico and
Any argument about how much the players play ignores that the NCAA added a twelfth (and sometimes, like OSU in 2001-2, a thirteenth game), and that they are in for more plays per game than the pros.  Last weekend there were 16 NFL games and 17 college games involving teams ranked in the AP top 25. On average, the pro games featured 127.3 plays from scrimmage. The college games averaged 147.9. That's 20.6 more plays, or an additional 16.2 percent.
There are often times many open seats at championship games (football and basketball).  I can vouch that that wasn't the case last year in Arizona, although, because Buckeyes fans travel well (and that's an understatement.)

No, this is too easy...

I can't pretend that I made this up, or even found it, but Dan Wetzel on Yahoo has a pretty damn good argument and plan (click the link for the complete article, I just included a couple points below) for a Division 1--errr--whatever it's called now---playoff system. It's not like they don't do this in all the other divisions:


Just like in what used to be Division I-AA, the tournament would feature four rounds with teams seeded one through 16. Just like the wildly popular and profitable NCAA men's basketball tournament, champions of all the conferences (all 11 of them) earn an automatic bid to the field.

Yes, all 11. Even the lousy conferences. While no one would argue that the winner of the Mid-American Conference is one of the top 16 teams in the country, there are multiple benefits of including champions of low-level leagues.

First is to maintain the integrity and relevancy of the regular season. While the idea that the season is a four-month playoff is both inaccurate and absurd, there should be a significant reward for an exceptional season.

The chance for an easier first-round opponent – in this case No. 1 Missouri would play No. 16 Central Michigan or Miami (Ohio) – is a big reward for a great regular season. Earning a top-three seeding would present a school a near breeze into the second round. Drop to a sixth-seed in this year's scenario and you are dealing with Florida.

On the flip side, it brings true Cinderella into the college football mix for the first time. Is it likely that Central Florida could beat Ohio State? Of course not, but as the men's basketball tournament has proven the mere possibility (or even a close game) draws in casual fans by the millions.

Last season the most memorable college football game was Boise State-Oklahoma, in part because Boise was the unbeaten underdog that wasn't supposed to win. When it did, in dramatic fashion, it became arguably the most popular team in America.

But it had no shot at a national title because the system says Boise can't be any good in 2007 because it wasn't any good in 1967. As illogical as this is, that's the system.

For even lower-rated conferences – the Sun Belts, the MACs – allowing annual access to the tournament would not only set off celebrations on small campuses but it would encourage investment in the sport at all levels. Suddenly, there would be a reason for teams in those leagues to really care. This would improve quality throughout the country.

With the bigger conferences, a championship would take on greater value. Does anyone without direct rooting interest really care if USC wins the Pac-10 Saturday? How about the Virginia Tech-Boston College ACC title game? You would now.


Understanding that there really isn't anything wrong with most bowl games – it's not like innocent people are dying because the Meineke Car Care Bowl exists – we'll allow them to stick around.

One bowl could serve as the championship game, giving college football its neutral, Super Bowl-style site to conclude the tournament.

As for all the other bowls, they can go on as they wish. The NIT still operates, doesn't it? It's not like most bowl games have any direct bearing on the championship now.

There is value to the smaller bowls in smaller communities. If the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, still wishes to stage a game, it by all means should. It just won't have access to the 16 playoff teams. But it doesn't have access to teams of that quality now. It still can host a meaningless game between two moderately successful schools. For most bowls, nothing changes.


The strangest part of the BCS is that outside businesses – the people who own the bowl games – get a cut of the revenue. It would be unfathomable for a league such as the NFL or NBA to allow independent promoters to stage its playoffs.

College football is leaving millions on the table by staging top games in far-off locales. Ohio State, for instance, earns an estimated $5 million-plus for each home game. And that is just direct revenue. Forbes estimates Buckeye football games generated $42 million for the Columbus area in 2005.

The 14 hugely profitable home games from the first three rounds would create a huge revenue stream.

There is simply no need to include the current bowl structure. Obviously no fan base can afford to travel week after week to neutral-site games. But they wouldn't have to. In what used to be Division I-AA, the playoffs are home field until the title game. That's the way it should be.

The competitive value of home-field advantage would also help maintain the importance of the regular season because the higher the seed, the more home games.

This would also be a boon to teams in the Midwest, which build their teams to deal with the predictably harsh weather only to play postseason games in generally warm, calm environs.

So how would say, USC fare if it didn't get a Big Ten opponent in Pasadena each January, but rather had to slip and slide around Ann Arbor or Columbus for a change? And who wouldn't want to see the Trojans invade one of those historic old stadiums, snow falling, and proving they have grit not just skill?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Get 'cha game face on

Awesome game tonight that I didn't get to see, as the Cavaliers hand the Celtics only their second loss of the season. (Photo from the AP)

My favorite part. No kissy-poo after the game:

During the closing minutes, James and Garnett exchanged a few choice words and both teams played as if it were a playoff game. After the final horn, there were no friendly hugs shared between two of the East's powers as players on both teams headed immediately to their locker rooms.

Ways to Alienate a Fan Base

1. Move a storied franchise to Baltimore, bolting to take the money.
2. Stab a blind man in the back, bolting to Utah to take the money.
3. Leave town after implying that you will stay with the team that brought you up, bolting to Philadelphia to take the money.
4. Play hard, fill a valuable role on an up-and-coming team with one of the brightest stars to ever grace a basketball court, then conceive a greatly exaggerated feeling of self-worth, hold out indefinitely.

Anderson Varejao now comes clean to on exactly how he feels.

'It's gotten to the point that I don't want to play there anymore. I'm just hoping for a sign-and-trade at this point. . . . I'm willing to go and play in Europe if that's what it takes. I know it's a risk and I'll be a restricted free agent next year, but at least I'd be happy. I don't think I'll be happy in Cleveland knowing that I was the lowest-paid player there for three years and am still paid much less than players on the team that I outperform. Life's too short to be unhappy.'
Guess what, Anderson? Second round draft picks sign low deals, often non-guaranteed. If you play well, and a team will pay you your worth. Varajao wants a sign-and-trade. As Brian Windhorst points out, that is extremely unlikely at this point in the season. The Cavaliers are certainly not going to sign a one-year deal with a disgruntled player who will certainly leave after a year with low contract. And it's starting to look to me like Anderson is precisely the kind of player who will, how do I say it?, not post as good stats once he signs that big deal. He already turned down a reported $6.4 million ($32 million over 5 years) from the Cavs, some sources have said he wants $10 million.

And somehow Anderson and his agent both don't realize that no team in the NBA will pay him that. So what we might see is a sign-and-trade that can be worked out under the cap, with the Cavs getting 60 cents on the dollar for Anderson. Because he doesn't want to play for the fans he "loves", with the teammates he "loves", for a mere $6 million per year.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Nice 'n easier

That’s more like it.

No need for fortuitous bounces or nail-biting uncertainty this week. No weirdness or controversy. Just strong play on both sides of the ball by the Browns leading to a solid victory. They looked a little uncertain on offense in the first quarter—I hate that quick handoff to Vickers on short yardage. Chud needs to ditch that play and give it to Jamal Lewis all day in those situations...Lewis was used much more effectively in the second half to grind down the Texans’ defense. What more can be said about the offensive line and D.A.? One sack today and one poor decision on the interception...otherwise Anderson had time to make plays, and he made some huge ones when needed. (Quick tangent: During the CBS post-game Phil Simms was talking about Eli Manning’s bad game against the Vikings. Simms opined that Manning needs to step up, even though “he’s no Tom Brady or Derek Anderson.” That’s a direct quote from Simms. How...weird is it to hear D.A.’s name being spoken in the same breath as a chewy, cleft-chinned, 3-time Super Bowl champion putting up Arena-ball stats this year?)

My man-crush on Kellen Winslow, Jr. continues to blossom. Once the symbol of this franchise’s luckless incompetence, #80 is now a beacon for its resurgence. Winslow is a beast with soft the guy in that Disney movie with the talking china. He (Winslow) seems to catch every ball thrown in his direction despite taking a lot of big hits...all this playing with a sore knee and shoulder.

Perhaps the nicest surprise was the play of the defense. This is the second week in a row the Browns have gotten solid pressure on the QB, and the result was a couple of forced turnovers. This Brandon McDonald guy, a fifth-round pick out of Memphis, had the INT that pretty much sealed the win and did a nice job on Andre Johnson.

Now the Browns have five very winnable games left....I would be disappointed if they go any less than 4-1. It’s go-time now...they are in the driver’s seat for the playoffs and with continued improvement on defense could make things very interesting come post-season. I never thought I’d be typing those words after game one...but here we are.

No Country for Old Men

I’m a big Coen brothers fan. I enjoy their edgier, more straightforward films over some of their irreverent fare-i.e. “The Big Lebowski.” But “Fargo,” “Blood Simple” and “Miller’s Crossing” are probably among my top 50 favorite flicks if I were to make such a list. “No Country for Old Men” may be the Coens' best movie yet. “No Country” follows an average Joe who stumbles across $2 million, the spoils of a drug deal gone bad in the dusty Texas borderlands. On his trail is a psychopath whose weapon of choice is a compressed-air gun of the sort used for killing cattle. On the killer’s trail is a weathered sheriff who fears the monster he’s chasing. In the ham-fisted clutches of Michael Bay or some other hack this scenario would make for a loud action movie. But the brothers go a different way—finding the perfect pitch of eerie suspense intermixed with spasms of gruesome violence, and translating damn near to the letter Cormac McCarthy’s pared-to-the-bones “minimalist” novel. Go see it, folks.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The hits keep on coming...

...but in a good way?  Louisiana State falls, ensuring that Ohio State will be no worse than #3 (behind the Missouri/Kansas winner and West Virginia, should they win) in next week's BCS pool.

Or does it?  Might the fervent anti-Big Ten Voters not drop Kansas below the Buckeyes ( because they lost to only the #4 (errrr...number 1/2) team in Missouri, instead of all the other teams who have fallen to unranked opponents?  Despite the fact that Kansas has played a bunch of weak teams, only to lose their toughest game?  Time will tell.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Are they finally bouncing our way?

Wow.  Hard to believe that the Browns actually got a call (correct as it may be) that reversed a loss and gave us the ability to win.  I have never seen a ball bounce through the crossbars and back, but you would think that two referees standing ten feet away would have been able to make the correct call.  (See the video here.)  Don Banks on points out that the controversy is far from over in this one.  As the Ravens' PR team pointed out in detail, field goals are explicitly not reviewable.  And everyone and their mother knows that instant replay was used, whether it was the referee going into the (functioning??) replay booth, them getting a call from upstairs, or merely looking up at the ginormous scoreboard and seeing the screwed up call.  At least the right call was finally made. 
Regardless, Cleveland won, Pittsburgh lost, and we are a game and a half behind them (we'd lose a tie, obviously).  And John Clayton has dubbed this "The Immaculate Deflection".
Buckeyes make it four straight in Ann Arbor, Lebron takes over against the biggest a-hole in pro sports, and all is well in Cleveland for a weekend.  Does Larry Hughes being out for a month make it a better weekend, or a worse weekend.  The fact that it's up for debate says a pretty big amount about him.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Reminds Me of Tuesday Night Basketball

In reference to the Lakers Tuesday night loss to the Spurs, Phil Jackson had an interesting analogy.

"We call this a 'Brokeback Mountain' game, because there's so much penetration and kickouts," Jackson said. "It was one of those games."
The 2005 film, which won three Oscars, depicts two cowboys who conceal their homosexual affair.
"But in retrospect, it wasn't really funny," Jackson said before the Lakers played Houston on Wednesday night. "When you take it out of context, it wasn't funny. It was a poor attempt at humor and I deserved to be reprimanded by the NBA."
Still, Jackson couldn't resist making another joke as he apologized.
"If I've offended any horses, Texans, cowboys or gays, I apologize," Jackson said.

The meanest thing LeBron's ever said about anyone (in public)

"I don't know him that well," James said of (Stephon) Marbury. "But I couldn't have a guy like that on my team."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cavs takes today

A couple interesting Cavs takes you may have missed today on
Chris Sheridan writes that if the Knicks decide to trade Stephon Marbury, the Cavs might be the best fit:
Trade No. 1
Marbury, Renaldo Balkman and Fred Jones to Cleveland for Larry Hughes, Anderson Varejao and Damon Jones

The Knicks gain some perimeter defense and add a frontcourt player who can actually play a little defense. The Cavs get a true point guard along with an energy forward, Balkman, to replace Varejao, and they get rid of their $13.65 million obligation to Hughes for the 2009-10 season, allowing them to become major players in free agency the summer before James' contract expires.

And Bill Simmons writes the second part of his belated Eastern Conference pseudo-preview, where he bumps the SVAC from "out of the playoffs" to "#3 seed", apparently based on one game he saw from behind their bench in LA.  He relates this little anecdote:

I had seats behind the visitor's bench for Sunday's Cavs-Clippers game, which was perfect because I love keeping track of all the bench guys who watch the Jumbotron, don't listen to their coach, search the crowd for girls and crack jokes during 25-point blowouts, and I love the player-coach interactions and even hearing the coaches yell at players and referees if it's quiet enough. You just get a great feel for the general mood and spirit of the visiting team (good or bad). During the third quarter, LeBron drove toward the foul line and made a beautiful dish to Gooden, who didn't gather himself for the pass in time. As the ball bounced out of bounds, a frustrated LeBron jogged back up the court staring at the coaches with one of those, "Did you see that? You saw that, right?" looks on his face. And that would have been fine if it ended right there. After all, we get it -- he's great, the rest of his team sucks, and occasionally, it's going to be a little exasperating.

Well, LeBron wasn't done. He glanced back disdainfully at Gooden again, then back to the bench for an extended pseudo-glare. Reading between the lines, I interpreted the glare to mean either, "Take him out of the game before I punch him in the face" or "If that happens again, I'm running straight into the locker room, getting my stuff and chartering my own jet home." At this point, Gooden was running back upcourt and watching the whole thing -- he was officially getting shown up in front of 15,000 people. LeBron shook his head and glanced at Gooden one more time, then back at the bench for a third time, just in case they missed the message the other two times. What a bizarre sequence to watch from 20 feet away. After tasting the Finals and earning some well-deserved media hype last spring, it's pretty clear LeBron won't accept the Cavs taking a gigantic step backward and becoming a non-contender again. But that's where they're headed. Stay tuned.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

We're Number Seven!

Well maybe the doubters were right, maybe not, but nevertheless, nine years after #1 Ohio State fell to unranked and off-and-on-struggling Michigan State, the scene repeated itself in Columbus versus the Illini from the University of Illinois. Not much to say about this one except that I sarcastically said "Quarterback Draw" right before the second of four QB draw runs by "Juice" on Saturday, and the Buckeyes defense still couldn't stop it. WTF? That's about all the analysis I could muster on the game.

Not to make excuses, because even the diehard Buckeyes fans can't pretend that they are the powerhouse this year they looked like last year*, but explain to me again why a team is penalized for losing their one game in November instead of September or October, again? Why does every other level of college football not care about their student athletes and have them play in a playoff system? And why couldn't the NCAA find a way to monetize the playoffs in the framework of the current bowl system?

Ecstasy into Agony, the story of Cleveland (and Ohio) sports in 2007. Still being written, I'm sure.

(*in the regular season)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Most Ridiculous British Laws

I saw this story and thought it was pretty funny. Since there hasn't been much Blog activity lately, I thought I'd share it here.

The laws and other regulations were culled from published research into ancient legislation that has never been repealed although subsequent statutes have rendered them obsolete.

Respondents were given a shortlist and asked to vote.

Most ridiculous British law:

1. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament (27 percent)

2. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside-down (seven percent)

3. In Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store (six percent)

4. Mince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day (five percent)

5. In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter (four percent)

6. A pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman's helmet (four percent)

7. The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the king, and the tail of the queen (3.5 percent)

8. It is illegal to avoid telling the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing (three percent)

9. It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour (three percent)

10. In the city of York it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow (two percent)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

What Does This Button Do?

In the words of Robot, from "Lost in Space"... "WARNING! WARNING!"

I know it was the first game. I know Sasha didn't play. I know Andy is nowhere close to being on the team. But last nights season (home) opener was absolutely pathetic. On Halloween night, the defending Eastern Conference Champions stumbled around the court like the zombies from "Night of the Living Dead".

I know Dallas is good. Maybe the best team in the West. But if you want to take that final leap to NBA Champion, don't you have to find a way to beat the best... especially on your home court on opening night?

Okay, okay... the Cavs were very short-handed without Sasha and Andy so expecting a win might have been a little far-fetched. But to get blown out of the building? And the game wasn't even as close as the final score indicated. EVERYONE not wearing a white, green, blue, and silver jersey sucked last night... LeBron, Hughes, Mike Brown, the Refs... EVERYONE!

I'm now convinced Larry Hughes will never be the player we thought we were getting. I kept holding out hope that he's been injured, he had an off-year, etc. but THE GUY CAN'T SHOOT! I'm tired of hearing about his defense damn it! Great... he's a good go put the ball in the frickin' basket!

Mike Brown... I'm BEGGING... PLEADING.... please go get help with offense. PLEASE!!!! All I heard about this summer was that we were going to have this new offensive scheme. Now don't get me wrong... with LeBron getting in foul trouble so early, things got complicated. But why don't we have an offense scheme when he's not in?

Which leads me to my next issue... WE DON'T HAVE ANYONE WHO CAN SCORE CONSISTENTLY EXCEPT LEBRON. And who's to blame? Danny Ferry. I'm sorry, but you have to strike while the iron's hot, especially when it's Cleveland. We just came off a trip to the Finals. LeBron was coming off his legendary Game 5 of the ECF. This is when you go get free agents. When guys WANT to come here and contend for a title. They're not going to come next year when we're back to being average to slightly above average... including Agent Zero. This is, after all, Cleveland in the winter.

I think we deserve better from the Cavs this year. Why shouldn't we expect them to be one of the elite teams in the league? Maybe Barkley's right... we aren't going to make the playoffs. I still think we will... and I think we'll be at least the 6th seed.. still not what I expect after last year's trip to the Finals. Last night was a disgrace.