Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's Gotta be the Shoes, Lebron


Let me start this post by clearly stating:

I pray to the Lord above that Lebron stays in Cleveland. I may actually cry (physical tears) if the day comes that most Clevelanders are dreading and LBJ decides to play somewhere else.
That being said, if the photos of his latest shoes circulating on the internet are in fact real, not some Photoshop gag, it just reiterates comments I've posted before... I just don't trust Lebron.

Why, oh why, would you (continue to) jerk around not only your home town, but your home town fans and your organization? The Yankees hat, the Yankee-NY shoes are one thing... different sports at least... but a shoe promoting another team in the same league you play in? Yeah, yeah, I know... it's a hardwood classic representing old-school Cavs.... wink, wink. That's what we've been told, and could believe seeing as thought the Cavs were orange and blue in the late '80s. But then you turn the shoe over to reveal an "I Love NY" button... a "secret" message like Ralphie from "A Christmas Story" uncovered with his Little Orphan Annie Secret Club Decoder. Ralphie's message was a cheap marketing plug telling him to "Drink more Ovaltine". Is this much different of Nike for the soon-to-be greatest free agent ever?

Who knows how much of this was Nike and just how much input LBJ had, but Nike needs Lebron more than Lebron needs Nike, so I'm sure he could've vetoed the "I Love NY" message, knowing how the Knick colors (oh yeah... the Knicks are also orange and blue) mixed with this cute little feature would come across, especially in Cleveland.

The worst of it is it just adds to the nonsensical talk (something Lebron denounced earlier this year). Like Collin Cowherd of ESPN who said (paraphrased):
"Why does it have to be New York? I mean, Cleveland isn't championship material, but why New York. The Lakers, the Celtics, they're championship material."
This less than a week after the Cavs THUMPED the Lakers in L.A., and just before that, beat the Suns in Phoenix, and just in the last two nights beat a good Hawks team, once in Atlanta where the Hawks had only lost twice prior. Not to mention beating Orlando, Phoenix at home, and Dallas earlier in the year... all good wins against good teams. Hell, the Cavs have the second best record in the league.

I understand having the opinion that the Cavs aren't going to win the championship. Or that L.A. is still the favorite, or even Boston... but to say the Cavs aren't even championship material?

Oh well, I regress... that's what happens when you mix an already paranoid Cleveland fan with a blatant marketing ploy linking our superstar with another team.

Whatever his decision, Lebron's going to piss off a lot of people for stringing them a long. Question is, will it be the people in his hometown... or the people of New York who are all but banking (arrogantly I might add) on LBJ in a Knicks uniform in 2010.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Should the Browns go after Troy Smith?

He's requested a trade, and the PD asks that question.

My heart says yes, my head not so sure. Shoot I'd be okay with giving Krenzel and Hoying a once-over.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Avatar - The Experience

(This review does not contain spoilers).

At first, I was a little leery of the new James Cameron sure-to-be mega hit "Avatar" when I first saw the previews and started reading about the ten year long project developed by the creator of Terminator, Titanic, and True Lies. "Another sci-fi blockbuster, over-saturated with special effects and cheesy morality themes," I thought. But as I started hearing the positive buzz about the film, I decided to give it a try... in 3D.

Cameron envisioned this movie ten years ago but didn't feel he could deliver it the way he wanted, so he developed a "technology" that supposedly will change movie making forever, similar to what George Lucas did several years ago. Holding back for ten years to make the movie right says something about Cameron. It wasn't just about fast money and cashing in on his momentum from Titanic and Terminator. Cameron has a vision he values - unlike many producers and directors today, he does not aimlessly churn out blockbuster gag-fests. Sure, there are in-your-face metaphors and over-the-top effects, but they do not detract from the story.

Cameron has always been ahead of his time, and Avatar is no different. Terminator - an apocalyptic story about machines, ironically created by mankind, taking over the world - was created in the mid-80s, long before the internet, GPS, iphones, etc. Really if you think about it, The Matrix triology, although well-done, was nothing more than a Terminator update. Not that the story Cameron tells here with Avatar is unique (one egotistical group - humans - attempting to drive out "savage" natives to capitalize on a valuable mineral.) Avatar is ahead of its time obviously because of its technology, but also in the fact that Cameron dreamed up this concept ten years ago.

While Cameron's films are typically filled with special effects and futuristic themes, he presents them in more "down-to-earth" (no pun intended) manner than your typical sci-fi movies like Star Trek, Star Wars, 2001/2010, etc. Somehow, Cameron manages to strip down his sci-fi movies. Sure, the fantasy of Darth Vader, Greedo, Han Solo, Mr. Spock, and Khan have their place. But Cameron's movies are edgier, darker, more human. Avatar is not necessarily dark, but it portrays the majority of humans as corrupt, broken, and amoral. And while there is advanced, futuristic technology, there are no cute Jawas or Ewoks, quick witted droids, elaborate space ships, or phaser guns. Avatar maintains a level of humanism by (and perhaps purposely) focuses on the stunning and fascinating alien world of Pandora - immersing the viewer into the environment and in the middle of a major theme of the movie - the aliens physical and mental connection to their world.

Like many of his past movies, Cameron pays close attention to detail. While Titanic suffered from sappy dialogue and a nauseating love story, it was saved by incredible detail and accuracy of its sets and effects. The effects, however, did not dominate the film. Whatever technology he created to better tell his tale, it works with Avatar without being a distraction. I highly recommend experiencing it in 3D. It is worth the extra $3.50 (matinee price). The effect is not your typical objects-flying-at-you 3D. Instead, it creates unbelievable depth, truly enhancing the viewing experience. By placing the viewer into the alien world, you better appreciate its beauty and the natives' connection to it. You are almost literally invested. You are part of the world.

Sure Avatar suffers a bit from "high horse" metaphors, preaching on things like tyranny, lack of appreciation for/destroying the natural world, science vs. nature, etc. The name "Pandora" itself is pretty blatant. I'd even argue there is a visual metaphor to the falling towers of the World Trade Center attack. But Avatar is different in its approach and story telling. It is absolutely amazing from a pure viewing experience (except for the choice of the Papyrus typeface - I mean come on, you spent ten years developing this and use some standard computer font?). Along with the 3D depth of field, color and light are combined in an indescribable, awe-inspiring way.

Avatar is not the perfect movie, but like I tell people about Las Vegas - even if you aren't a gambler, you have to see Vegas at least once because it's not like any other place you've experienced. That's Avatar. It's an experience.

4 out of 5 stars.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Best Cavs effort of the year

The Cavs looked great last night against the Suns. I was really impressed with Hickson all over the court. And the play (in this highlight) where LeBron James just picked up a loose ball at half court, drove to the rim and dunked on Amar'e Stoudamire's head was unreal. I watched it about 10 times last night, it was right out of nowhere.




Eddie Johnson is the Suns color commentator. I was watching NBA TV and the feed was from the Suns. Eddie was pretty good, wanted to give him a shout out. Actually the whole broadcast was pretty good. They didn't hesitate to comment on the (lack of) speed of Steve Nash and Amar'e, that's for sure.

Haiku of the Day

Early Christmas Gift /
Holmgren new #Browns President /
Please fire Mangini /


Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Xmas from the Puppets

LeBron and Kobe puppets-- Dunkin' on a Reindeer.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Haiku of the Day

Kansas City Chiefs /
It's like Christmas with Holmgren /
The other #Browns' present.

 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It has been 10 Years...



...Since the Final Browns Game at Cleveland Stadium.

Haiku of the Day

King James in Philly /
Halladay watching from suite /
Please bring back Cliff Lee

Cavs beat Philly 108-101. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Haiku of the Day

Sixteen, five, and three /
Nice little duplicate line /
For ol' Shaqgauskis.

Cavs beat the lousy Nets in an ugly effort. Gotta start dismissing
these teams like the City Wide Tweakers dismissed us in Ohio State
intramurals.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Haiku of the Day (bonus)

Xmas gift searching?
Follow "@" The_real_Shaq!
It's Shaq-a Claus time!

Half court shots? French fry
stealing from fans? Good day
Sunday for the Cavs.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ohio State players singing Carmen Ohio

Who knew lineman Evan Blankenship had such a great voice!

Team sings Carmen Ohio at Ohio State football banquet












Haiku of the Day

The Browns beat Pittsburgh!
Mike Tomlin was right!  Sure was
A cold day in hell!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Haiku of Today

Browns' situation
Currently so pitiful
Close loss--fans happy.

God, what did Cleveland do to you?"

That's the question Bill Simmons posed in his latest power poll.

32. Cleveland
First, the Cavs choke in the 2009 playoffs. Second, the best two starters on the 2008 Indians start Game 1 of the 2009 World Series for two teams not named "Cleveland." Third, the Browns clean house and hire Eric Mangini, who takes that same house and sets it on fire with a flame thrower. Fourth, what could end up being LeBron's final Cavs season is distinguished early by Shaq looking like a bald Aretha Franklin and LeBron's body language occasionally lapsing into "I can't wait to find a new team; I am tired of playing with crap teammates" mode. And fifth, there are two nights of star-studded concerts to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- located in Cleveland, as you know -- and those concerts happen at Madison Square Garden.
Here's my question, God: What did Cleveland do to you?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dark match?

There hasn’t been a Browns game blacked out in Cleveland since 1995, but the last one I remember was probably around 1987. It was a matchup against Oakland, and since my family didn’t have cable (pay TV stimulated the tingly, bulbous parts, my father explained sternly), I squintingly tried to watch the game through the ant races of static on Channel 2 out of Toledo.

The broadcast came and went; I soon became frustrated and shut off the television. As annoyed and disappointed as I was about missing my beloved Browns that day, I can’t say I’m feeling those emotions this week as darkness hangs over the upcoming contest against San Diego. What I’m feeling, unfortunately, is nothing at all, and perhaps I’m not alone. I wonder if the looming blackout is the surest sign that people are as sick of this organization’s everlasting on-field struggles and tri-annual front-office upheavals as I am.

All is not lost for those who want to torture themselves for three hours this Sunday, however. Per Tony Grossi of The Plain Dealer.
--

The Browns were granted a 24-hour extension by the NFL to avert their first local television blackout for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers.

The Browns would not give a specific number of tickets that need to be sold for the blackout to be lifted. They reported "a few thousand tickets" remained. The NFL frequently will extend the 72-hour blackout deadline if the home team is close enough to realistically have a chance to sell out the game.

The remaining tickets must be sold by Friday at 4:05 p.m. for the blackout to be lifted. Otherwise, it would not be seen on TV within a 75-mile radius of Cleveland.

The Browns have not had a game blacked out on local TV since they returned to the NFL in 1999.

--
I’d guess that some beneficent soul will step forward and buy up the remaining seats. Even so, it seems that the Browns ongoing ineptitude, in combination with a slowly recovering economy, has taken the sheen out of Cleveland’s so-called “Teflon franchise.” Maybe after 11 years of this mess, people really are mad as hell, and they’re not gonna take it anymore.

It’s about time.

Did it follow me to Chicago?

I am doing some quick remembering, and since I moved to Chicago in January 2008, I've attended lots of games with "my" teams against Chicago teams.

And the record isn't too good.

If I'm not mistaken, except for last November 5, when the Cavs beat the Bulls, I've been to:

March AND April losses late in the 07-08 season for the Cavs in Chicago.
January 2009 Cavs v. Bulls where they got demolished, even in a season when they won 66 games.
A Wrigley Field trip for the Indians where they got swept and their season got flushed down the toilet.
A Browns blowout loss where the Bears felt they looked like crap, even as they won by 24 points.
And Tuesday night, a shootout loss by the Blue Jackets to the Blackhawks.

I know I've been to a couple Indians losses to the White Sox too.

I guess if the Cavs play the Bulls in the postseason, I'll just watch on television.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Some thoughts from a game I couldn't (bear to) watch...

So I spent my Sunday driving from Chicago to Cleveland, and so couldn't watch what I expected to be one of the worst games ever played, between the 1-8 Lions and the 1-8 Browns.  Little did I know that it would turn out to be such a "great" game, at least for fans with no rooting interest.

I'll give my perspective.  By the time I got a score, I was driving through an area where I could only get the Packers game on about 6 different stations, but no Lions-Browns, and found out it was 24-3 Browns in the first quarter and Brady Quinn had 3 touchdowns.  Now, even tonight, I haven't seen highlights of the first quarter, so I can only assume he had a good quarter from the stat line I heard.

Here, however, is my perspective on Quinn's performance, gathered from the second quarter on when I could pick up the Lions' radio network.  There seemed to be a LOT of the same from Brady.  Either balls thrown behind or over the intended receivers, especially when trying to go deep.  This seemed to be a pattern I am only too used to seeing from Quinn.  No ability to make the great 20+ yard throw.  The announcers were basically saying if a couple of balls to Massaquoi would have been on target, they could have gotten even a couple more touchdowns, but the deep accuracy wasn't there. 

Now the defensive effort can speak for itself. Ugly.  But overall this year, the defense has played reasonably well, at least in contrast with the anemic offense. 

Finally, what the hell is up with WTAM 1100?  I could not pull that station in until I was well past Toledo.  I thought it was a powerhouse AM station?  I had no problem picking up 1000 ESPN Radio from Chicago even past Sandusky, and WLW 700 from Cincinnati was clear as a bell from mid-Indiana on.  Even the Redskins' Washington station came in way before WTAM.  Somewhere along the way, they must have had their power cut.

And finally, again.  I like Jim Donovan.  As a news sports guy, as a Cleveland guy, etc.  But I listened to half a dozen games on the radio during my drive Sunday, and I can really say I don't like him that much as a play by play guy.  I don't know if it's his "too exciteable" way of announcing, or what, but he just seems a bit minor league for me.  I miss Nev Chandler still, I guess.

Monday, November 16, 2009

MNF Haiku

#Haiku. It may be Monday/
But it's still a day of rest /
For the #Browns offense.

Are the Ravens Sarah Marshall?

Bill Simmons seems to think so...

Ravens (-10.5) over BROWNS
I was watching "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" at something like 4:30 in the morning recently because my body clock is screwed up and I keep waking up at weird hours like the girl in "Paranormal Activity." Anyway, Half-Asleep Me had this half-awake epiphany that the Browns are Sarah Marshall and Browns fans are Jason Segel's character. In other words, there was a devastating breakup (Sarah/Browns dumping Segel/fans), followed by Segel/fans being in the dumps, followed by an improbable reconciliation (Cleveland getting football again/Sarah wanting to make sweet love to Segel again) … and then, the awkward sex scene in the movie (when Segel can't perform, then realizes he needs to get away from Sarah) has been like the past 10 years of Browns football (when the Browns just sucked and kept sucking). Half-Asleep Me liked this parallel so much that I stumbled out of bed and fumbled for my glasses, then wrote it down on a notepad before falling back asleep.

Whether it made sense or not, I will never watch that movie without thinking of Browns fans again. The return of the NFL to Cleveland has been like one long awkward hotel-room sex scene. And it won't end. Just hire Bill Cowher already. For God's sake.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Browns' Efficiency Rating

Well, "Efficiency Rating" might be a bit of a misnomer, but listening to Aaron Schatz from FootballOutsiders.com on the BS ESPN Podcast, I was checking out the team efficency ratings. Not surprised at all that the Browns were near the bottom (actually I was surprised they weren't AT the bottom), but who knew that --compared to the baseline average--they have the #1 most efficient special teams in the NFL?

Of course that doesn't offset the second-worst offense and fourth-worst defense.

http://footballoutsiders.com/stats/teameff

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Schefter: The Browns "ship is sinking"...

Umm, kinda looks like it's at the bottom already to me.

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=4618940

Monday, November 2, 2009

Kokinis out??

The latest sorry chapter in "As The Unmitigated Football Disaster Turns" has taken place today in Berea. According to numerous reports, including one from The Plain Dealer, the glorious half-season reign of Browns GM George Kokinis has ended. Per the PD's Mary Kay Cabot:


Kokinis was escorted out of the Browns facility in Berea by security, two league sources told the Plain Dealer, and is believed to have been fired.The Browns did not immediately return calls or emails, including an email to owner Randy Lerner.

Lerner spent considerable time following Sunday's 30-6 loss to the Bears on Sunday talking one-on-one with Dawn Aponte, Vice President, Football Administration, who was under Kokinis' jurisdiction in the football operations department.

Afterwards, Lerner told two reporters that he wouldn't fire Mangini during the bye this week but that was searching for a football authority to guide the organization.

"There's absolutely no question about that," he said. "The highest priority that I have is a strong, credible, serious leader within the building to guide decisions in a far more conspicuous, open transparent way..I think my highest priority is to have a stable figure that represents the voice that explains the decisions."

Even though Mangini has been the voice of the organization since his hiring, Lerner seemed irked that Kokinis didn't take a more high-profile role in the organization.

Kokinis' ouster comes just days after the Browns dismissed Mangini's hand-picked director of team operations, Eric O'Brien. O'Brien was Mangini's righthand assistant with the Jets.The move also comes just weeks after Lerner brought Bernie Kosar on board in an unofficial capacity as another pair of eyes.



So, what exactly does this change, besides making the Browns look even more dysfunctional? Perhaps this is a shot across Mangini's well-fed bow, telling him that he may be next to go. Maybe Lerner didn't want to fire both of his hires at once for fear of scaring away a big-name GM from joining an already constantly in-flux organization.

Otherwise, Kokinis's dismissal means nothing for the immediate future, and there's no way #19 is going to be named GM, no matter what your Bernie Fathead may be whispering to you at 2AM. We need a guy with NFL experience, and although I do believe Kosar is a football genius who would be a great guy to have within the organization, one year of picking players for the Arena League's Cleveland Gladiators is not nearly enough to recommend him for such a critical, high-profile gig.

I cannot commend Lerner for pulling Kokinis's plug, if that is indeed what happened today. Too little, too late...an experienced GM should have been brought in after the firing of Phil Savage. Did Lerner not learn the lesson from that failed experiment? Now we have fans planning "Brown Outs" in limp-wristed protest of a team that makes one pine for the days of Jerry Ball and Darrin Chiaverini. I cannot remember a lower point for this organization. This is not just a bad season in a decade full of them, this is incompetence of historical proportions, the kind Terry Pluto (or Stephen King) could easily be mining for the subject of his next book.

Lerner can shuffle deck chairs all he wants. The only way this ends is if he cuts his losses, does what's right, and sells the franchise. You gave it a go Randy, and it is not working. Sell low and give Cleveland back its football team.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This World Series is gonna be hard.

Game 1 tonight between the Yankees and Phillies. I think we might see Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia a few times in this series, and it's gonna hurt each time. What could have been, if the Indians just could play to their potential, the fans could just go to a few more games, the team just have a bit more revenue, the league's financial system just be a bit more fair. It's hard times in baseball. Especially in Cleveland.

Opening night jitters...we hope

The first game of the Cleveland Cavaliers' 2009-10 campaign was eerily reminiscent of the thuddingly anticlimactic final six games of the team’s 2008-2009 playoff run. Namely, the opposing team killing Cleveland with transitional threes and LeBron controlling the ball too much on offense. Trade Boston’s white over green jerseys with Orlando’s Disneyfied blue ones and there’s not that much difference between the two performances.

LeBron is calling it a “transition period.” Acclimating two new starters into the lineup after a flu-ridden, Delonte-less pre-season will certainly take some games, but I still don’t like to see the Cavs lose to an elite team at home in a manner depressingly similar to past disappointments.

The Cavs just looked slow and disjointed after the first six or seven minutes of the first quarter. The Celts took our opening punch and impressively locked down their defense, while Sheed, Allen and House splashed quick-transition threes. Fans got smacked with even more Orlando déjà vu with the reappearance of Bad Mo - both offensively and defensively – a bench bunch that was thoroughly outplayed, and some head-scratching possessions when the game was still winnable.

It didn’t take long for the Cavs to earn national disrespect. At halftime of the TNT broadcast, friend-of-Cleveland Charles Barkley (looking fairly ridiculous in a suit and a pair of Frank Costanza’s untied white orthopedic tennis shoes) proclaimed Boston and Orlando the top teams in the East.

I’m not going to get too crazy over Chuck’s assessment, his unfortunate choice of footwear, or the first game of a what should be a fun season. After all, the NBA regular season is just one long dress rehearsal for these Cavs, one where I’ll be looking at physical health and a mentally stable Delonte (whose presence was sorely missed last night) as barometers going into what will hopefully be a championship run starting in late April.

However, last night did re-expose flaws that Ferry’s off-season moves were supposed to fix. The Cavs have enough talent to overcome those flaws and beat down poor to mediocre squads on the way to 55-60 wins, but we won’t know until the playoffs whether that will be good enough to take out the top-flight teams.

The new-look Cavs have to prove they’re different from last year’s playoff-flameout iteration, but thankfully they have plenty of time to prove it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The hard-luck life of a Browns fan

A good article about what it's like to be a Browns fan these days. I'm sure all of us can relate a little.

From Geoff LaTulippe page 2 on ESPN.com

"In reality, it all began Jan. 17, 1988.

Yeah, OK, the hooks were in place way before that -- I was born in Berea, a Cleveland suburb, and even though I lived there for only a year, I'm too loyal for my own good. The Browns were my team by birthright, not unlike jaundice or fetal alcohol syndrome....


Click here for his 10 reasons I haven't given up on the Browns

Monday, October 19, 2009

Taking it from all sides

One thing I expected to see in Rolling Stone each issue is a blistering condemnation of some industry, government program, military exercise, or some other rail against the man by the often brutal Matt Taibbi. One thing I didn't expect to see when I opened my new issue of Rolling Stone was an article by Taibbi titled "Cleveland Chaos", which includes devastating review of the Cleveland Browns, but more specifically, coach Mangini. The article (which I can't find a link to) includes such gems as:

-I always wondered what happened to Augustus Gloop, the fat little boy in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...a boy with fat bulging from every fold, with two greedy eyes peering out of his doughball of a head--(but he) somehow ended up as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, perhaps the most fucked franchise in all of sports right now."
-Mangini's performance with the Browns is "one of the truly thrilling sports disaster stories ever"
-"a sort of Hurricane Andrew of football mismanagement"
-"horrific losses"
-"incredible tales of pointless disciplinary tactics."
-Mangini spent his time "frowning on the sidelines like a man with the winner of the annual Kansas great Pumpkin Weigh-Off up his ass, frantically changing his mind about which of his two psychologically battered quarterbacks to throw into the breach next."
-"Mangini's Browns have already done more laying down on national TV than Paris Hilton.."
-(Not often) "have we witnessed this kind of coaching catastrophe unfold. Enjoy it for the very short time it is sure to last.


____________________

Of course, anyone in Taibbi's sights takes it hard like Mangini. But it still caught me by surprise, The Browns must really be embarrassing to take this kind of national criticism every week. And hopefully they're embarrassed too.

Monday Haiku

Disaster weekend;
Tressel costs Buckeyes a win;
Usual result for Browns.

It was a hard week to be a Cleveland/Ohio football fan (given that the Bengals lost as well). It certainly looks like neither the Browns nor the Buckeyes have a quarterback nor a coach who can deliver us to the proverbial promised land. Or, in the Browns case, just mediocrity instead of embarassment.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Phiten Anyone?



I wondered why so many MLB pitchers & Players wear those thick ugly necklaces? They are Nylon coated with Titanium from a Japanese based compay called Phiten.

I wonder if Dolan has any room in the budget to out fit the team...

State of play, Part I



October is CST’s favorite sporting month of the year. It presents a convergence of college and pro football, baseball playoffs and on-the-horizon NBA action. With a fresh start represented by the Jewish New Year (5770 and counting...eat it, Pharaoh!), October is also a month that gets me thinking all expansive-like about the state of Cleveland sports. In that spirit, I will present to you a three-part round-up of where our three professional teams stand as the leaves fall and another long winter approaches the North Coast like hell on icy wheels. This week I will ruminate on the franchise that’s closest to bringing our city its first championship in a generation:
---
I have not seen too much of the Cavaliers this pre-season...I’ve come to despise pre-season anything, so I’ll be damned if I’m watching more than five exhibition minutes of Cavs vs. Olympiakos, which means “striped pajamas” when taken from the Greek. Did you see those uniforms? That catty bitch Mr. Blackwell is already sharpening his claws for his next international basketball uniform fashion review, believe me. Still, I’m pumped about a fast-approaching NBA campaign that’s sure to contain plenty of “LeBron-watch 2010” drama, as well as cheeky quotes from Shaq.

If that doesn’t do it for you, how do you feel about a whole lot of wins and one of the top playoffs seeds in the East? Another division title, if not 66 wins, is almost a certainty. Along with acquiring the Big Man for the proverbial hill o’ beans, the Cavs also strengthened their backcourt with the acquisitions of Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon. And while I don’t love Andy V’s new contract, I suppose I can live with it as long as he (1) remains the fifth offensive option at all times,(2) never shoots outside of 7-10 feet when he does feel the need to hoist one up, and(3) grabs double-digit rebounds every night. I also want to see what Leon Powe can do if and when he returns from microfracture surgery on his knee.

I’m hearing good things about Parker thus far. While not a perennial All Star, he seems to be a guy that can come off a screen and hit the mid-range jumper, a skill that’s a lost art in the NBA. He could be big depending on the situation with Delonte West, who practiced with the team this week for the first time since leaving on an excused absence Oct. 7.

Ah, Delonte...a true wild card in numerous senses of the word. I don’t know if the Cavs need him to win a ring, but even with Shaq around, West is still arguably the second-best player on the team--a hard-nosed, highly undervalued shooter and the best on-ball defender on the roster. West’s also the only guy after LeBron who came to play every night against Orlando in last year's ECF.

The organization is dong well to keep a sensitive situation in-house. (If this were the Browns, Delonte would be cavorting atop Key Tower, brandishing a bazooka and screaming, “Top of the world, Ma!!” Then Mangini would trade him to the Jets for a conditional draft choice.) By all accounts, the daily grind of the NBA is what helps keep Delonte focused.

One wonders, however, just what in the hell West was doing sans medication hauling ass through Maryland on that ridiculous three-wheeled motorcycle, carrying two handguns and, for a final touch of cinematic absurdity, a shotgun in a guitar case. Unless he was waging war on Virginia or is, in fact, The Punisher, one also must wonder how many missteps West can take before Ferry is forced to unload him. If I know Delonte, and I don’t, I think he’ll be with the team for the opening tip against Boston on Oct. 27. Hey, I’m an optimist.

Well, I’m usually an optimist...come back next week for an exclusive Cleveland Sports Torture breakdown on the state of Cleveland Indians. Try to keep your chin up.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Best shirt website ever

The hilarious website uniwatchblog.com had a link to a new sponsor today, Homage Clothing, who has tons of Ohio shirts.  Love this Bernie Kosar shirt--but especially the website!

http://www.homageclothing.com/store/t-shirts/bernie-kosar

http://www.homageclothing.com/store/images/bernie.jpg

Stunning good looks and a dazzling side-arm release make Mr. Kosar, along with former Brownie and running mate Webster Slaughter, a formidable duo in 2012.

Peter King has news on the Browns...

Peter King will apparently write a bunch about the Browns on the Tuesday column.  Stay tuned.

I'd planned to write 800 words or so on the Browns and where they stand in the wake of their three big deals this year -- trading Kellen Winslow, the draft day trade-down that netted the Jets Mark Sanchez, and trading Braylon Edwards -- but decided to save it for the top of the Tuesday column instead, barring major news breaking. There are some interesting developments in Cleveland, with the scratch-and-clawing 6-3 upset of the Bills Sunday, following Adam Schefter's report on ESPN that the Browns willingly allowed a rookie running back, James Davis, to practice recently without pads against fully padded defensive players, resulting in a season-ended shoulder injury for Davis. Hopefully we'll get to that tomorrow.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Eric Mangini is a liar or an idiot.

Postgame quote after one of the ugliest games in history, a 6-3 Browns victory:


It's great. It's fantastic. I couldn't be happier.

Monday, October 5, 2009

More Than Just a Basketball Movie

I went and saw "More Than a Game" opening night with two of the more regular contributors to this blog. Being a huge basketball fan and Cavaliers fanatic, I have to honestly say this movie is not just for people like me. It's fair to say this movie, about Lebron James' high school team, is for anyone. You don't have to be a sports fan, let alone a basketball fan, to appreciate how well this documentary is put together and to truly enjoy the journey of these kids and coaches. Not only is the story so improbable and impressive, the editing (i.e. the chronology of the way it is told) is phenomenal. It keeps you invested from beginning to end.
***This commentary does not contain real spoilers. It contains general information that I don't believe is a secret, unknown, or spoils the movie in any way.***
The movie follows 5 friends brought together at a young age on the basketball courts of Akron. It does NOT focus on Lebron James' rise to superstardom. For those looking for a James bio-pic, this isn't the film. I'd argue that (besides the interview format) Lebron's footage is the LEAST touched on of the 5. His suspension and how the team dealt with this and his stardom is the focal point of the "Lebron James part" of the movie.
Instead, "More Than a Game" is about the coaches (mostly Dru Joyce) and his relationship with the kids, his own son, and the genuine friendship exhibited by this group of kids. I really believe the movie's point was to show that nothing, not even Lebron James' mega-star status, overshadows the genuine bond developed between friends (and a coach). "More Than a Game" is not about the game of basketball or the rise of a phenom... it is about boys becoming men and the coach that went the extra mile to make that happen.
Two thumbs up and a strong recommendation for all.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Oh the haiku humanity...

Indians fire Wedge
Delonte missing, Quinn out.
Chaos in the Cleve.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Glory Days

As a day symbolic of the disastrous state of Cleveland sports comes to end, I found these highlights of perhaps my favorite team of all time. Led by Bernie, Kevin Mack, and Reggie Langhorn, we get a glimpse of real football, a true offense that is a glaring contrast to the debacle this organization puts on the field currently.

Although we all know how it ends, these clips remind us of how great a comeback it was in that AFC championship in Denver... or would've been... and what a great offense we had once here in Cleveland.




What a day in Cleveland Sports...

Delonte West away from the Cavaliers on an unexcused absence for the second straight day.

Indians fire Eric Wedge, still with a week to go in a disastrous season.

Browns bench their first round draft pick quarterback Brady Quinn after three disastrous starts, going back to a guy who threw three second-half interceptions Sunday against the Ravens, Derek Anderson.

This about sums it up.  LeBron signing a lifetime contract would just about balance the day out.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Doug Lesmerises' Poll Logic

I love it.  I hate preseason polls.  All the Florida whiners should just shut up and let the season play out.  Who cares what your ranking is on September 22?

Here's his detailed explanation of his rankings, including a justification of some serious anomalies from the rest of the AP voters.  This shows that he put serious thought into his ballot.

Here's his poll.  I'll post a comparison link from Pollspeak when it's available.

1. Alabama
2. Miami
3. Houston
4. Cincinnati
5. Florida
6. Boise State
7. Texas
8. LSU
9. Cal
10. Michigan
11. Auburn
12. UCLA
13. Virginia Tech
14. Florida State
15. Penn State
16. Missouri
17. North Carolina
18. TCU
19. Oklahoma State
20. BYU
21. Oklahoma
22. Ohio State
23. Iowa
24. Mississippi
25. USC

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Michigan Fan told me...

Today a Michigan fan told me that the complaints about Jim Tressel's coaching sound exactly like the complaints near the end of the Lloyd Carr era.

Lost weekend

Not a good 24 hours for CST’s two favorite football teams: An agonizing loss by Ohio State followed by a not unexpected, but still depressing performance by the Browns. I could complain about the play calling in both games (and I will), but what it comes down to for both of our beloved squads is an obvious lack of offensive talent.

Let’s start with the Buckeyes: To continue Pucky’s point, Tressel seems to have let the game pass him by. This is not 2002 anymore, coach. This is the text-happy, Facebook-fellating “get it now” era of 2009, where Kanye West can bust in on any award ceremony he so chooses, and where ball control offense and playing for field position don’t work against top-5 programs with monstrous speed and athleticism. Eventually, you’re going to get burned, and that’s what happened Saturday night.

Tressel may not trust Pryor enough let him air it out for an entire game, but he’s got to let him try. Why put shackles on the Buckeyes most potent weapon? Pryor still tosses flutter-balls from his back foot, but I’d rather have him throw to untested receivers while there’s no Beanie Wells or Maurice Clarett safety valve around to pick up key yards on the ground. Put simply, “three yards and a cloud of dust” doesn’t work when your quarterback is also your best running back.

And I suppose that’s the real problem with these Buckeyes. The skill players are either young or inexperienced, and I’m hard-pressed to point to Ohio State’s second best offensive player after Pryor. It’s true that the Buckeyes lost to the better, more athletic team, but a bit more imagination from Tressel would have resulted in a big win against a top opponent, just what this program needs to polish its somewhat tarnished legacy.

Sunday brought us another head-smackingly schizophrenic performance by the Browns. The team was lively in the first half, and from a defensive standpoint I loved seeing Coach Ryan run a few blitzes from the secondary. The running game picked up chunks of yards, opening up some nice pitch-and-catch action from Brady Quinn to tight end Robert Royal.

I can pick the precise point when the tide turned, and you probably can, too. After the Edwards interference play, why the hell did the Browns run two straight up-the-middle runs with Josh Cribbs in the so-called “flash” package. Why not give it to Jamal Lewis, who was running very well at that point, or let Quinn run some play action? I’d think the formation with Cribbs would work better in space, not so much at the goal line. Those two plays were not only predictable, they were run right into the teeth of one of the better defensive front sevens in the NFL.

I also question the conservative play calling at the end of the first half. Quinn stood there at his own 40, audibling like Peyton Manning while time ticked away. Quinn took the snap and simply slid to the turf, essentially killing the rest of the clock. That’s weak sauce, man.

Mangini must really distrust Quinn if he’s not allowing him to take a shot down field at that point in the game. Perhaps that distrust is not unearned from what I saw of Quinn yesterday (the game-killing second-half interception was terrible recognition on Quinn’s part), but at this juncture in the franchise’s existence we need to see what we have under center. Mangini cannot baby Quinn with dinks and dunks ala Charlie Frye. It’s going to take a whole season to see if Quinn is a gamer, or just keeping the spot warm for Colt McCoy.

The questions about our golden boy QB echo throughout the offense (and throughout the entire roster for that matter). I will belabor this point until hell freezes over, or until this team can play consistently for consecutive quarters. I ask you again, Dear Reader, who are the Browns offensive playmakers? Lewis? Edwards? Cribbs? Quinn? James Davis? Too many questions, too few answers.

So, what exactly is ailing our two favorite football teams? Is it the coaching, or an overall lack of talent? I’ll take Door #2 - for in the upper echelons of sport, talent, or lack thereof, is what usually wins or loses the day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Ohio State Problem

Saturday night's game showed that the defense of Ohio State was more
than up to the task of competing with the potent Trojans (despite
their freshman QB). But it exposed one thing, and convinced many
people of another.

1. I've felt for a couple years that the vaunted "Tressel ball" of
field position and mind-numbingly boring games, often too close with
weaker opponents and as of late not enough for big-name opponents, is
not working. Troy Smith's magic covered up some of that but during his
years, but the pattern remains. Last night the Buckeyes were so
conservative, kicking 2 field goals on fourth and short, and passing
up a 53 yard attempt (within range) to punt on another 4th-and-one.
The Trojans, on the other hand, got 3rd and 4th downs at ease all
night long, even though they were generally kept in check most of the
game.

The game was boring, and it didn't need to be that way

2. The second thing is that Terrell Pryor looked young and
inexperienced. In the first quarter he made some nice throws (despite
the INT) but for some reason wasn't able to regain that momentum the
rest of the game. Way too many flipped long sideline passes, not
enough quick slants and crosses. He's 6'5" for pete's sake! He can
see over the line!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Brady

I emailed this to the Rizzo show this morning and they've been playing it all morning...

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's not HBO, it's just TV

Okay, to preface this, I hadn't ever watched the show "Weeds" on Showtime before last night.  It's gotten such great buzz and and I heard it's amazing, but I never had Showtime so never got to see it.

Sunday night, I tried to get into it.  I have Netflix streaming through the XBox (pretty cool!), and so sat down to watch a couple episodes.  Now, I'm sure that there are some fans out there, and maybe (hopefully?) it gets better, but from what I saw in the first two episodes, it was total garbage television.  A great premise, Mary Louise Parker is awesome, etc., but the actual product was some of the most crappy television I have ever seen.  Terrible, unrealistic, campy dialogue, continuity issues in directing, terrible acting by several people, etc, etc.

Now, maybe I'm just used to HBO standards, and maybe that's not fair, but Weeds, at least in the beginning, is not even in the same ballpark as anything on HBO, FX, or any broadcast network.

I'll keep plowing through the season, and hopefully it gets better.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Browns save GLC, city's collective sanity



You may now go limp, Browns fans.

Saturday night’s Great Lakes Classic™ versus the Detroit Lions will be televised after all. The Blackout Clock was at 11 and steadily nearing midnight when our benevolent football franchise swooped in and saved the broadcast of this tradition-rich pre-season contest.

As reported by Plain Dealer Browns’ beat reporter Tony Grossi:

Approximately 4,800 tickets were available as of this morning, but the Browns and (WKYC Channel 3) agreed to share the cost of the half-price seats. There was no word from the club (regarding) what will be done with the unsold tickets.

According to my sources within the media, local restaurants, concert venues and charity events were deluged with a massive tidal wave of cancellations and refund requests mere minutes after the announcement was made. It seems the entire City of Cleveland will be watching as the Browns attempt to wrest the Bronze Barge trophy back from the Lions. Make us proud, boys!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Give me one reason to stay here


The New Browns have become the gridiron version of “Groundhog Day.” While Bill Murray comically deadpanning his way through the same depressing day over and over again was vastly entertaining, there’s nothing fun about watching this pale, limp-wristed football franchise get thoroughly outplayed season after aggravating season.

I hate to base a good rant on two quarters of a preseason game, but the first 30 minutes of Saturday night’s stultifyingly dull 17-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers were reflective of everything that has ailed this team since its return in 1999. You had your “micro” variety problems -dropped passes, dumb penalties, sieve-like run defense, zero pass rush – to go with your “macro” issues that have plagued the Browns for a dawg’s age, i.e. a lack of playmakers and a tendency to get pushed around at the line of scrimmage.

That brief sketch is all you really need to know about last weekend’s contest. I’ll leave the detailed film study to Coach Mangini and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the latter or whom has beautiful wavy silver hair and looks a little like Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments.” (Neither a headset nor a humid Green Bay night could muss that impressive pompadour. So we’ve got that going for us at least.)

Indeed, my concern is much larger than two bad preseason quarters. It entails this football club extricating itself from the lightless void of perpetual suck that has consumed three management regimes in a decade’s span. Ever see that episode of “Seinfeld” where George is lamenting his lousy love life? He tells Jerry, “I cannot envision any circumstance in which I'll ever have the opportunity to have sex again. How’s it gonna happen?”

In a way, that’s how I feel about these Browns. What’s it going to take for this broken organization to play even in the same universe as Pittsburgh and Baltimore, two well-run franchises with solid organizational philosophies from which they do not waver? How’s it gonna happen?

With Randy Lerner as owner, I believe it will simply take a massive dose of luck for the toxic cycle of losing to finally end. I have no idea who Lerner was consulting with when he quickly paired Messrs Mangini and Kokinis this offseason. I don’t know if it’s going to work, and I don’t think Lerner knows either. I’m just hoping that Lerner’s seemingly half-assed due diligence works out somehow, and by some miracle of modern science ManKok becomes pro football’s new superpowered management team. But such blue-skying is not much to hang one’s hat on, is it?

Which brings me to the crux of my dilemma approaching this NFL season: Put simply(and blasphemously perhaps), I’m finding it very difficult to care about the Browns. The stone fact that they’re not going to make the playoffs is not even the biggest issue. A losing year in 2009 is almost a certainty. What will drain my reserves is a continued lack of perceptible progress; some sign that this plodding, boring brontosaurus of a franchise is pulling itself from the tar pit.

So, after such a long-winded treatise, what I’m saying is this: If the Browns are playing non-competitive football by Week 11 or 12, I’m checking out on the season. That’s it...I’m just not going to put forth the effort anymore to watch lousy football out of some misguided sense of loyalty. Call me a fairweather fan if you must, but rest assured I'm damned sick of the rain.

There’s an adage that says a bad team may be bad for a couple of seasons, while a bad franchise may stay that way for decades. I hope the latter is not the case with our Browns, but until they show fans that they’re not the sad-eyed football version of Punxsutawney Phil, I will find it hard to believe otherwise.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Big Splash*


*My pseudo-clever headline is just a sad appetizer of the hackish smorgasbord that awaits sports fans as both the media and blogosphere attempt to give the newest Cavalier a Cleveland-centric nickname. A dozen wacky nom de plumes have already been floated...the dumbest is The Big Pierogi. Really now, that’s just too much.
----

If you’re a Cleveland fan, how can you not like the trade bringing Shaquille O’Neal to town? Every story about the deal should begin and end with, “The Cavaliers got a 15-time All Star for nothing:” Creaky Ben Wallace was mostly ineffective in his achy, short-lived wine-‘n-gold career. Sasha Pavlovic, while not without athleticism and raw skill, possesses a low basketball IQ to go along with his maddening inconsistency. Let Sasha drive some other fanbase nuts with his lousy ball-handling and inability to finish around the rim.

Perhaps the one regret I have with this trade is the jettisoning of $500,000 to the Suns. Dan Gilbert could have used that money to dress the dance team in tasteful French maid outfits, or to elevate the earsplitting intensity of the pregame introductions from “jackhammer” to “F-14 Tomcat exploding in mid-takeoff.”

Acquiring Shaq is certainly a gamble. The big man, who is slower afoot than even Z, will be 38 once next year’s playoffs begin. It’s likely Shaq will have to sit on some back-to-back nights to preserve his aging carcass for the post-season. He has an ego to match LeBron’s and will no doubt want his touches down low, leading some pundits to believe Shaq will clog the paint and stall a Cavaliers offense that is not exactly dynamic in the first place.

On the happy side of the ledger, the star of “Steel” and “Kazaam,” who has also recorded numerous rap songs with such brilliantly subtle titles as “Shoot Pass Slam,” “Boom!” and “I Hate 2 Brag,” is still a physical presence. Shaq had somewhat of a resurgence last year in Phoenix, and while he is not the titanic force of his Orlando and early-decade L.A. Lakers days, he may still have enough juice left to remind Cleveland fans of his strong if not dominant second-banana pairing with Dwayne Wade in Miami.

You can also say goodbye to those annoying Cavaliers’ double-teams on opposing big men. It’s no secret that Orlando murdered us on those Dwight Howard doubles during the Eastern Conference finals—Mike Brown’s defense simply could not contain Howard down low, nor stop him from finding open shooters. I’ll take even a twilight-era Shaq bodying up Howard if that allows our perimeter guys to stay the hell home on Hedo Turkoglu (who hopefully will leave Orlando via free agency) and friends.

Did I mention The Big Pierogi’s outsized ego? Arrogance can be an advantage, too. Shaq just watched Kobe Bryant win a ring...he and his former running buddy are now tied at four championships a piece. Shaq will want one for the thumb...why can’t the Cavaliers, and by extension us, be the beneficiary of his petty, immature, ego-driven gamesmanship?

And if heaven forbid this Big Experiment doesn’t work during what will be LeBron’s lord-help-us walk year? Well, Shaq’s $21 million contract only runs through next season, allowing Danny Ferry to ditch The Big Chuck & Lil’ John and sign one of the glamorous free agents of the 2010 class...along with LeBron of course.

The acquisition of Shaq is not the only move Ferry will make, either. He has cited the need for an athletic wing man/shooter to help LeBron on offense, perhaps allowing Delonte West to come off the bench. There's also the matter of resigning free agent Anderson Varejao, as well as finding a back-up point guard.

Whatever transpires, the buzz around this team is going to be deafening come November. Maybe, just maybe, we will be joining Shaq and LeBron on Euclid Avenue for the parade, all of us crying hysterically like a Swedish girl at a Michael Jackson concert. The soon-to-be Big Cuyahoga can make our golden dreams come true!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

...and the Big Man joined the Band!

The Cavs and Suns just agreed to a trade bringing Shaq to town. Now the minimum this will give us is the best one-two introduction skit in the Enn Bee Ay! At the max, a huge presence that will give the Cavaliers a damn good shot at winning 60 games again, and a much better shot at holding their own against the top teams in the Association.

More on the deal when I'm more awake.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Star Trek: The Review


(This review may contain minor spoilers)
Full disclosure: I am not a Trekkie.
I don’t remember much from the original series besides campiness and hammy acting. I have fleeting memories of blue-skinned alien girls in beehive hairdos and spangled eye-shadow; spaceship interiors that looked like Hugh Hefner’s den (velour furniture, purple wall sconces); Spock mind-melding with a paper-maché creature that resembled a moldy pizza (that was a weird episode); and red-shirted ensigns being gruffly pronounced “dead, Jim” by Leonard “Bones” McCoy.
The classic show led to numerous spin-offs, and while I have my nerdish leanings, I’m not a fan of “hard sci-fi,” a term that sounds pornographic, but unfortunately is not. All it means is the writers of “Deep Space Nine” and “The Next Generation” got the theoretical science right when it came to explaining the intricacies of warp drives and particle accelerators. I went to summer school for high-school algebra for Spock’s sake, so crazy moon-man talk about quantum physics fried my non-math-understanding synapses.
All I wanted out of J.J. Abrams’sStar Trek” reboot was an intelligent, character-driven sci-fi/ action movie, a scarce multiplex commodity in these dark days of Bay, Ratner and Emmerich.
Abrams did not have to march lockstep with the franchise’s much obsessed over canon to make me happy, and truly, the red-hot “Lost” creator does his damndest to make the movie his own while (hopefully) keeping even the crotchetiest Trekkie pleased. The result is an ambitious, well-cast, but ultimately imperfect sci-fi experience.
The story smartly twists the origins of the famous USS Enterprise crew. Abrams contrives an alternate “Trek” universe that uses the series’ beginnings as a kind of pushing off point. The result is an all-new film cosmos that recognizes the origin story while remaining free of that story’s sticky narrative constraints.
Unfortunately, Abrams makes his solid if clichéd time travel/revenge plot less important than the re-introduction of the Enterprise crew. Abrams knows how familiar fans are with these mainstays, and ensures most everyone hits their stock catchphrases and shopworn character moments. Chekhov mis-pronouncing “V” words with “W?” It’s in there. McCoy grouchily insisting he’s a doctor, not a physicist, dammit? That’s there, too. Young Kirk hooks up with a blue alien babe, and there’s even a “red-shirt moment” (Ah, Chief Engineer Olson, we hardly knew ye) for particularly nostalgic fans.
I understand the necessity of offering such filmic signposts to help re-launch a foundering franchise. However, this new “Star Trek” has almost too much of a prologue feel.
A game cast of virtual unknowns elevates the proceedings, and gives me hope for the inevitable sequel. Chris Pine gets Capt. Kirk’s brash arrogance just right without having to do a William Shatner impression, while Zachary Quinto’s Spock is all simmering emotion under that placid Vulcan exterior. Karl Urban’s McCoy channels a bit too much from DeForest Kelley’s original-series performance, but it’s still a dead-on imitation. The only cast member who suffers is Eric Bana, whose villainous Romulan ship captain doesn’t get enough screen time to be a daunting presence.
My tiresome hair-splitting aside, I recognize that “Star Trek” is in talented hands. From his work on “Lost,” “Alias” and the fun monster flick “Cloverfield,” Abrams has shown he knows how to craft a smart, action-packed product. A meatier plot for the sequel will ensure his new franchise both lives long and prospers.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Great Defense?

I think now is as good a time as any to revisit the Cavaliers "great" defense. Many of us on this blog have had this debate over the last 2 years or so and maybe now you see my point, this Cavs team has a good defense not a great defense.

Please don't bother throwing all the statistics at me, I am aware of how good a regular season they had. If you need any proof that they are not great defensively simply re-watch all 6 games against Orlando. It was sickening to see how many wide open 3's the Magic shot. I heard and read over and over how great the Magic shot in the series and how there wasn't much that the Cavs could do with a team shooting that well. How about not allowing so many wide open shots, getting a hand in their face, playing "great" defense. Many teams would shoot that well from long range if they are wide open.

The worst part is the Cavs defense this year was better than in years past when many of you argued how great they were.

A great defense may look bad a game or 2 in a 7 game series but a great defense would adjust, it certainly would not continue to allow wide open 3 after wide open 3.

So Froms and Vox rather than carry on this silly debate, just apologize for some of the name calling and admit I as right.

Then I will move on to Froms silly "Mike Brown is a great playoff coach" statement.

LeBron and Byner (but not the reason you think...)

Last week we saw as some national writers tried to turn a possible (and eventual, it turns out) loss by the Cavaliers into a giant choke job, on par with The Fumble. One writer even glossed him LeByner.

On the other hand, David Aldridge says that LeBron James should take a page out of Earnest Byner's handbook, and show the graciousness of a defeated player. Byner, who answered reporters questions over and over after The Fumble. Byner, who Aldridge says LeBron should call at the Tennessee Titan's headquarters.

After the clock ran down to zero Saturday night ... you walked off the court without shaking a single Orlando player's hand. Not one word of congratulations to a team that beat yours fair and square, after a tough series. That was poor sportsmanship, LeBron, no matter how you or any of your followers, acolytes and media protectors say otherwise.

No one likes to lose, especially someone as competitive as you, who's as used to winning, and winning big as you. You have won more in your short life than most people do in their entire lives. But that doesn't give you the right to be a poor loser, on the rare occasions that you lose.

Then, you got dressed, and walked out without speaking to anyone other than your teammates. Not to the Nike reps that were, reportedly, waiting to see you (they'll understand), to the Magic players in their locker room (not cool, again) or to the media that was waiting for you.

On that last one, I know: who cares? Well, a lot of people. You may think what we do doesn't matter, but we're still the conduit through which many fans that don't have Twitter or Facebook pages or anything else get their information about their teams and favorite players. You may not think so, but LeBron, you stiffed them, too -- many of whom are your loyal fans. You know that thousands of kids emulate you, want to be like you. Is this the lesson you want them to learn?

You did congratulate the Magic on Sunday for their victory, which was good. But you still said you were right not to shake hands. Not so good.


...

That's why you should call [Byner], LeBron. He knows.

And after you do, you'll know what to say, and what to do. It wouldn't hurt if you showed up at the Finals and shook Dwight Howard's hand, but however you want to handle it, you should handle it. It doesn't make you less of a winner to congratulate the dude that beat you. It makes you even more of a champion.

Another day, another Florida team...

...crushing the hopes of an Ohio team. This is getting repetitive.

Florida State 37, Ohio State 6. And this isn't football.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Torture. Agony. Anguish. Frustration. Sadness. Misery.

Those are the feelings we're left with, yet again, as the Cavaliers just could not match up with the Orlando Magic and fell 4 games to 2 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

There will be a lot of time to discuss what went wrong. LeBron James, uncharacteristically, walked off the court and out of the locker room without addressing reporters. He's been called out today for mild unsportsmanlike behavior, and maybe rightfully so. People will certainly draw many conclusions from his behavior after the game, and the meaning of it as it pertains to LeBron's future in Cleveland. But again, there will be time to worry about that.

One thing this series was not was a "choke." Or even an "exposé" of the Cavaliers weaknesses. A team does not win 66 games, including 8 straight playoff games, if they are a one man team. The Cavaliers just ran into a team playing on all cylinders, who posed grave matchup problems with the Cavs. It wasn't The Shot, or The Fumble, or anything that could have gone either way. It was just The Execution that the Magic could do, and the Cavaliers could not, when it counted.

I can only mourn in haiku:

Confetti falling;
LeBron walks from the building;
"Wait Until Next Year."


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

CBSSports.com with a little hatin'

Mike Freeman offered the genius analysis that this should be "The Choke", even given that the Magic are playing at an otherworldly level, and it's not any choking by the Cavaliers, or even less, by LeBron James, that has the Cavaliers at the brink of elimination, down 3 games to 1, headed back to the Q for game 5.

Freeman even manages to get some Earnest Byner digs in, glossing LeBron "LeByner." Really?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vox in the Box (21)


A) Amway Arena, enough said. "Amway distributor groups have been accused of using cult-like tactics to attract new distributors and keep them involved and committed; allegations include resemblance to a Big Brother organization with paranoid attitude to insiders critical of the organization, seminars and rallies resembling religious revival meetings and enormous involvement of distributors despite minimal incomes." Would I have posted this if the Cavs were up 2-1? No.

B) Before you write off SVAC, remember that leopards don't change their spots. The Cavs may have been exposed, but the Magic have consistently played one really dumb game per playoff series. Hopefully it'll come in Game 4 or 6.

C) Can somebody float me a Xanax or some of that weed Sasha smokes? I need it for tonight.

D) Do he got a girlfriend? Girl, he is fine, I like to RUSH that. He go to Washington? Nah, he go to Crenshaw.
If the Cavs lose, I will never watch TNT again. Except for the mandatory after-midnite-G-rated screenings of Boyz N the Hood. Movies for guys who likes movies, yeah.

E) Even if the Cavs lose Game 4, the series isn't over. It's never over for the team w/ home court advantage when they're down 3-1, because two of the next three are in your gym.

F) Fuck Boston, yet again, for being up 3-2, and not being able to close out Lando. We owned that city until 1999, but, when we look back on the last decade, we'll reminisce on all of the ways Bawstun fucking fucked us. First the BoSox were down 2-0 and came back to beat us in the ALDS when they trudged out a supposedly injured Pedro Martinez to throw six scoreless in Game 5. They won another three st8 in the '07 ALCS, a classic example of how a series is never over when the team with home-field advantage is down 3-1. Moreover, the Association was wide open last year, but the Celtics won it all because they caught the breaks in Game 7. And Belichick went to four SuperBowls. Really, Boston, how did this all happen? Cleveland is the United Kingdom and you fucking tea-bagged us for ten years.

G) Goin' Diamond. See letter A. Or just google "pyramid schemes."

H) HD rules. I'm not a gadget/technology guy, but HD and the iPod turn me on. The iPod is the most important invention since the electric guitar and Basketball in HD ensures that I never have to step foot in the Q again. Unless the seats are courtside, of course.

I) I'm not above wearing the Orlando Magic Starter jacket in public. I wore it with pride from 1989-92, and I'd probably still be sporting it had I not switched to the John Bender trench coat in early 1993. I've been switching off Cavs jerseys for these games, but if I have to sleep with the enemy to reverse the jinx, I can and will do it. I will gladly sacrifice all that I am for a Cavs victory. Where have you gone, Reggie Theus?

J) Just askin', but was Nick Anderson ever cleared of that rape accusation? And how is the press conference where Nick tearfully denies the charges not on YouTube? Amazing, there are still some things you can't find on the internet.

K) Kroger Retail Food Chain is currently hiring cashiers and stock clerks. Boobie Gibson may want to apply, as he is playing himself out of the league. See Kroger.com for details.

L) Let's see what Madam Ruby sees. I seeeeee......a bicycle! Yes! Is it okay? It's okay, it's okay. Where is it? Can you see it? Wheeeeere is it? It's somewhere else! Somewhere far, far away! Where? THE ALAMO. Innnnnn.....the basement. I'll never forget you.

M) Mo, get off LeBron's jock and make some shots. Much as been made this season of the collective Cavalier willingness to play second fiddle to LeBron, but I wish Mo would play as if he thinks he's at LeBron's level. One of the reasons the 90s Bulls were successful is that Pippen honestly believed he was as good or better than MJ. Obviously, it wasn't true but that belief fueled Pippen to some ridiculously good playoff performances. Healthy competition between teammates is imperative to championship teams.

N) Nero really brings down Star Trek. It was hard to enough to tell those Romulans apart, and Nero lacks the complexity and duality of a great onscreen villain. The reviews are a lovefest, but Nero, Leonard Nimoy, and a convoluted plot stop Trek from reaching it's potential. Can't wait for the sequel, though. Simplicity, Mr. Abrams, simplicity. I know that's not your style but think the first season of Felicity.

O) Obama is killing me. It's not the banks that need reform, it's the consumers. And didn't he promise to end the war? Barry, being a centrist doesn't suit you. Also, wouldn't you know it, Mr President is a Steelers and Tar Heels fan. He is the biggest frontrunner of all time. Time will tell if he's a master of panic, too.

P) Prediction time: Nuggets over Lakers in 6. The Cavs win another game this series on a buzzer-beater, but not by LeBron. Bron scores 60 in an OT game. True Blood improves on a disjointed first season. Tribe scores seven runs in the ninth to edge the Rays, ha. Now, I'm going to really go out on a limb and guess that someone updates their facebook status tonight with "Go Cavs."

Q) Quixtar (formerly AmWay) and Quicken Loans, ironically, employ the same type of shady strategies and cult brainwashing. The Quicken environment is basically AmWay without religion and pyramids. But, hey, a little mortgage fraud won't bother me if it's going to help us sign Chris Bosh next summer.

R) Rumor is that friend Carlos Boozer was at Game 3, and wouldn't mind signing with the Cavs. Although he is injury prone, overrated and hated, I would take him back under these conditions: 1) He issues a sincere public apology to Mr. Gund, Jim Paxson, lousy GMs and blind people everywhere for his snake-dealer conduct. He blames his ex-wife for stabbing Gund & Paxson in the back. Hey, it's easy to blame your ex-wife. CeCe made me sign with Utah. I said no, we should honor the promise we made to Mr. Gund, but that gold-digging bitch wouldn't let me. 2) He promises to play better help defense, instead of camping out under the hoop to pad his rebound stats. 3) He augments his CBooz Unleashed tattoo to read CBooz, douchebag. And he does something with that strange chest hair. If not, maybe he wears a smaller jersey-- so the V neck isn't so low-cut.

S) SamVox, still Cleveland's premier handicapper, hits Game 7 of the Magic/Celtics series for three dimes when all of the betting public staked Boston. Did you expect anything different after I practically nailed the final score of the SuperBowl to finish the NFL season 29-21-3? Anyway, the Magic have covered five straight games. It's a gambler's fallacy to reason they are due to not cover, but, friends, they are due to not cover.

T) There's a red moon rising
Down the Cuyahoga river
Rollin' into Cleveland to the lake
Cleveland, city of light, city of MAGIC?????


U) Utimately, I think something monumental will occur for me as a Cleveland Sports Fan in 2009. It's a milestone year, marking my 20th anniversary as hardcore fan of the NBA. In 1989, the Cavs filled a void in my life after the Force folded a year earlier. 2009 also marks my 25th year as a Cleveland Sports fan. I'll turn 35 in 2009. And, of course, the year 2009 means 45 years without a major sports championship for Cleveland.

V) Varejao has to guard Howard the entire game. It slows Andy down offensively somewhat, but Z on Howard won't cut it. When Howard lowers his shoulder, as Froms noted, Andy will dramatically hit the floor and draw some fouls. Z will just rack up fouls on himself.

W) Walk out, into the sunburst street...Sing your heart out, sing my heart out. I’ve found grace inside a sound. I found grace, it’s all that I found.
I found grace after LeShot.

X) Xs and Os, Coach Brown is getting drilled. How many times will Lando set us up for an Alson three bomb from the left corner? Van Gundy is having his way with us, and then rubbing it in by letting the network mike him up. Reminds me of when the other Van Gundy out-coached Fratello in the first round of the 1996 playoffs, winning the first two at the Gund on his way to a Knick sweep.

Y) Year after year, at the charity stripe. Free throws are proving to be the achilles heel of LeBron and the entire organization.

Z) Z must not see action for the rest of this series. Rest up for the Finals, Z, we'll need u then. SVAC IN SEVEN.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Tick, Tick, Tick... BOOM: ECF Game 3


I have a recurring dream where I'm frantically racing around my old high school, or sometimes college, trying to find my classroom. When I get there, I realize I didn't study for a test and there's absolutely no way for me to answer the questions. At this point I usually wake up from that dream.. not so lucky in what has become a nightmare of an Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavaliers may have studied for this test, but they studied the wrong material. Not only did they study the wrong material, they're in the wrong grade. The Cavs look like 8th graders taking the SAT. They simply cannot answer these questions. Period.

Think about this for a minute. The Cavs are one miracle shot away from being down 0-3 and on the verge of being swept after a 66 win season. You might look at it from a more positive perspective and say we had a 15 and 23 point lead and are a Rashard Lewis 3 away from being up 2-1. Okay, if that makes you feel better...

What I want to know is where is the confident, composed Cavalier team that I fell in love with this season? The team that didn't play it's opponent... their opponent played them. In other words, the Cavs played their game. They dictated everything. They challenged themselves to play the game the right way and to follow their game plan. The Cavaliers have become a struggling, deperate team as the Magic continue to frustrate them in almost every aspect of the game. Now the Cavs have to win 3 of 4 against this new nemesis. Can it be done? I guess. But nothing I've seen so far in this series leads me to believe it will.

Speaking of frustration, one word: referees
I can't stand when people act like it's blasphemy to call out the officiating. I have a saying... "Money can't buy happiness, but it sure helps." While officiating may not be lone reason a team loses, it sure doesn't help. I bring this up in light of Dwight Howard bulldozing anyone or anything in his path to the basket (not to mention traveling). If the refs are going to let him throw his shoulder into a defender's midsection, how can he possibly be defended? On the flip side, then they're calling ticky-tack fouls left and right. There were 86 free throws in Game 3. 86! And they're inconsistent. Turkoglu hooks and pushes off every time he drives. Even Barkley and the TNT guys called out the officiating.

That being said, the Cavaliers from the 2008-2009 regular season have all but vanished in a puff of smoke due to the guys from the Magic Kingdom. In their place is the Cavs teams from years past. The one-man-gang Cavs are back. I almost prefer those teams because nothing was expected. It was just a fun ride. The only ride we're on now seems to be off a cliff. The result? Crash and Burn.

TNT keeps playing a commercial for a new horror flick. In the movie, a girl is cursed and subsequently tormented as she grasps in desperation to hang on to her life. Sound familiar Cleveland? The name of the movie: "Drag Me to Hell". I'm on board... who's with me?

Bad thoughts

After the disasterous Game 3 vs. the Magic, in which the Cavaliers played like garbage, yet stayed in the game, and yet couldn't make up the seemingly small deficit, some sad facts are starting to make themselves clear.

The Cavaliers have not shown they can beat the Magic or Lakers 4 out of 7 times.  Embarrassingly so, in this Easten Conference Finals.

Is this torture continued?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Good and bad, heading into Game 3

Well let's talk now about the Cavaliers-Magic series, where it stands now as the series heads to Orlando, tied 1-1, with the Magic now holding the home court advantage.

The good: LeBron James' amazing 3 pointer as the buzzer sounded last night gave new life into the team, pulling them from the feeling of inevitability that would accompany a team who just lost two straight at home in a seven game series.

The good: The excitement shown by the team as they celebrated like crazy. Except for one player, who I couldn't tell who he was, who stood there with one hand in his pocket the whole time.

The bad: Some Magic players seem to have taken the exhuberant display by the Cavaliers as a personal affront, like a player hotdogging after a home run. But in my opinion that is an invented slight, as any team would have been thrilled as the victory-from-the-jaws-of-defeat materialized in one final second.

The good: A gut shot like the one LeBron delivered to the Magic can totally change the momentum of a series.

The bad: As Stan Van Gundy insisted, they have lost last-second games throughout the playoffs, and have bounced back each time. Games 1 and 3 against Philly and Game 4 against Boston both didn't unnerve the Magic.

The bad: I'm sure a lot of people, in both cities, feel like the Cavaliers are down, 1-1, like Bill Livingston said today. They have blown huge leads in both games, at times looking like the Cavaliers in LeBron's early years, with their famed 1-on-5 offense.

The good: At the same time, the Cavaliers have led something like 95% of the time in the first two games, as shown on the gameflow charts on ESPN (like this one from Game 2.) Despite blowing the big leads, and being disappointing overall, they have still played very well at times, and built big leads.

The bad: They couldn't hold those leads.

The good: LeBron James is playing amazingly well, although he had some major issues with his jumper, especially in Game 2, (before the game winner, obviously.)

The bad: Mo Williams and Delonte West have not been providing the options the Cavaliers need to keep their offense running at the levels necessary to beat a good Orlando team.

The good: Sasha Pavlovic gave a great spark to the offense Friday, and made some fine defensive plays as well.

The bad: He also had some noticeable defensive lapses. LeBron called out his focus to the media the other day, quite unusual, but like Terry Pluto mentioned, it must be an open issue for the team.

The good: Dwight Howard was neutralized in Game 2, due to the defensive adjustment by the Cavaliers.

The bad: But if Howard is on, it's obvious Z doesn't have the wheels to keep with him (and I'll be a dollar that Doug Collins talks about Z's "lateral movement" after Howard's first basket Sunday night.)

The good: We all know how good Mo and Delonte can be. LeBron James plays for the Cavaliers.