Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jason Whitlock again eviscerates LeBron

Starting with "I give up", and then bestowing a nickname I'd never heard LeBron called before.

So I give up. I'm just going to accept his immaturity and stubbornness and bullying. He's an immense talent I'll never fully enjoy or appreciate. I'll tune in Thursday night and root for the Cavaliers.
James is a lost cause. He'll never man up and apologize. His bank account says he doesn't have to. His friends say he shouldn't. His coworkers and peers, besides Spoelstra, are too fearful to tell James what they really think. He's a bully. Team LeBron's next media leak could be about how Chris Bosh needs to be traded or Dwyane Wade must shoot less.


King Blames can't hear us. Not any of us who ask him to rule the basketball world with grace, class, fairness and eye toward greatness. We don't need him. And he doesn't need us.
I give up.

Nothing is Funny to Derek Anderson

Great rant by Derek after stinking up the joint on Monday Night Football....

Unfortunately ESPN won't let me embed the video...so click below....


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vox Lox (week 12)

The wallpaper may change, but this room still smells the same.

Falcons (-2) over Packers, 3 dimes
Chargers (+3) over Colts, 2 dimes
Vikings (+2) over Redskins, 2 dimes
49ers (-1) over Cardinals, 1 dime

Last week: 2-3-1 (-3 dimes)
Season: 18-25-3 (-12 dimes)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Jordan's Response to "What Should I do"

Obviously, a mashup of two different ads--but a great one for sure!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Vox Lox (week 11)

Six-pack of bookie-busters today, in honor of CST contributor Doug on his 36th.

49ers (-3) over Tampa Bay, 3 dimes
Patriots (-3.5) over Colts, 2 dimes (Buy down the half point)
Bengals (-5.5) over Buffalo, 1 dime
Packers (-1) over Vikings, 1 dime
Cardinals (+8) over Chiefs, 1 dime
Ravens (-10) over Panthers, 1 dime

Last week: 2-3 (even)
Season: 16-22-2 (-9 dimes)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Polls are a bad idea in the NFL too...

Not that it matters one bit...but the Browns go to overtime versus the #1 team in the Sporting News NFL Power Poll--and drop 2 notches for their effort.


Former Ravens LB (and Jets player) Trevor Price weighs in...

Trevor Price, with no apparent motive except what comes at face value, gives Colt McCoy mad props...

"Quote me on this: 'They have a quarterback now.  I'm glad I'm not in the AFC North anymore so I don't have to see him get better. They've had quarterback problems for a long time. They now have a legit quarterback. He plays with a lot of confidence and he plays with a lot of poise."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Deep breath, and reflections on Browns-Jets.

Well Sunday's game felt like old days.  In the first half, when the Browns were looking great, I turned to my buddy and said "what a weird feeling, huh?"  As in nervousness, excitement, all at 1PM on a Sunday, for the first time in what seems like a long time.  We were watching a team that was for real, a team made up of "professional football players" as Bill Simmons might say, and it feels good.

The feelings turned to elation, and then heartbreak, of course, as the Jets took over the ball with 24 seconds in overtime, and Santonio Holmes darted between three Browns defensive backs for a game winning touchdown with just 16 seconds to play.  Ouch.  Ball game, 26-20 Jets.  Oh what I would have given for a duplication of 23-20 Browns from my childhood.

Most of the postgame chatter was about a few negative, game turning plays, but before that, I just need to point out that Bud Shaw hit the nail on the head--it's apparent that the Browns now have put their trust in Colt McCoy...there is no going back, and I don't think Browns fans will complain at this point.  True,the lack of production by the wide receivers is very much alarming, and it makes me nervous about the "arm strength" questions McCoy had coming out of college.  But the leadership and smarts are there, and he makes some very nice plays, especially when it counts.

Some not so very-nice-plays?
-Chanci Stuckey fumbling in overtime.  Now I find it impossible to believe that Browns fans can hate Chanci for what he did--fought for more yards, tried to get closer to what he knew the field position needed to be for a first down.  It wasn't irresponsible 1-vs-5 fighting for more yards, it was a good strip and 20/20 hindsight is no good here.
-Joe Haden picking off Sanchez late in overtime inside the Browns 3.  That led to pass-run-run-punt from the back of the end zone, which then led to the Jets winning TD.  Should Haden have batted it down, and the Browns taken their chances on a punt.  In retrospect, yes.  But were the Jets in four-down territory?  Who knows.  I don't know, if Mangini had a "pause" button, what he would have told Haden to do there.  Probably drop it.  But if the Jets go for it, move down the field another 20 yards and kick a field goal, Haden would have been ripped for that.
-Play call from the 3 yard line in overtime.  Yes, running would have run the clock out and taken the tie.  I don't think anyone wants a tie.  But why pass deep on first down--a pass to a receiver who was open, Ben Watson, but overthrown--and then run twice?  That incomplete pass indicated the desire to win. The two runs indicated desire to tie.  So pick your poison.  Should have passed on second and third downs, and tried to do something. 
-Nobody has mentioned the ensuing punt return.  A dagger in the shoulder (not heart yet) when the Jets got the ball back.
-Finally, the Holmes touchdown.  Bad play by the defensive backs.  They know it, we know it.  No need to kick 'em when they're down.

Regardless we can be proud of this team, they played hard.  Hillis came out crushing, McCoy showed his poise, but some days it's not enough, and Sunday was one of those days.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vox Lox (week 10)

One chalk, one road warrior, one home DAWG, one over/under, and one ultra-sexy, recently disrespected, 2-time SuperBowl MVP QB getting too many points in prime time. Nine weeks down, and these teams can't hide anymore. I expose the oddsmaker errors again this week, on my way to invariably reclaiming my premier status:

Tampa Bay (-6.5) over Panthers, 1 dime
Vikings (-1) over Bears, 1 dime
Browns (+3) over Jets, 1 dime
Colts/Bengals over 46.5, 2 dimes
Patriots (+4.5) over Pittspuke, 3 dimes

Last week: 3-1-1 (+6 dimes)
Season: 14-19-2 (-9 dimes)


Who is the Vox?
SamVox is not a professional handicapper, but a premier one. He has been gambling his entire adult life and has experienced every sickening turn and nasty twist of fate that occurs during a football season. What distinguishes the Vox is his amazing intuition, astoundingly long memory, attention to detail and preparation, aversion to propaganda and access to the industry's sharpest bettors. He is a two time Pick'Em champion and went 49-33-5 against the spread with his Vox Pix over two seasons. His critically-dismissed Vox in the Box column also appears here at Cleveland Sports Torture.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cavs confusion

Some years ago, local rocker, DJ and “PM Magazine” co-host Michael Stanley was commissioned by the Cavaliers to write their theme song. The Springsteen-esque tune’s energetic blue collar message was meant to connect with a fanbase that appreciates hard work and scrappy play over pomp and showmanship.

Flash forward to the late ‘90s and me hanging out with friends at their house on the campus of Ohio State University. I spent many nights with this totally awesome group of guys, lustily singing without irony and even in mixed company the Stanley-penned fight song before each Cavs game. We’d then watch Coach Mike Fratello employ a slow-it-to-a-crawl offense that squeezed every drop of talent out of a roster full of role players. Scores of 77-75 and 80-76 were common during those days.

Fratello’s teams averaged about 45 wins a year, but never made it out of the first round of the playoffs. “Hard working team” or not, those mediocre turn-of-the-millennium Cavs were never going to win a championship for a “hard working town” desperate for one.

In some ways, the 2010 Cavs remind me a bit of those old Fratello teams, starting with how Coach Byron Scott’s play style get more attention than any individual player, even if Scott’s up-tempo, pass-happy offense is more fun to watch than boringly efficient Fratello-ball.

The new Cavs, even in losing That Guy in Miami, are certainly not as terrible as some in the national sports media would have us believe. JJ Hickson is a nice young talent with upside who’s surrounded by decent role players and a couple of former All Stars who are capable, when healthy, of putting up 20 points on a given night. When the offense is flowing as it did against Philadelphia and Washington this weekend, these guys are going to beat some teams. What's more, this team’s unselfish chemistry has been enjoyable to watch and is easy to root for.

Still, as a fan among millions who would like to see that parade down Euclid Avenue some day, I can’t help but think about Cavs basketball not just bringing back the scrappiness of the Fratello years, but returning to the treadmill-like non-progress of the late-‘90s “Mills, Phills and Hill” teams as well.

After all, while “nice” and “decent” are fine qualities for your daughter’s Homecoming date, they just won’t cut it in a superstar-driven sports league. Coach Scott, I’m afraid, arrived one year too late, because the Cavs as currently constructed are destined to win 35-40 games a season, which will plunk them squarely into the depressing NBA shadow realm of 8th-playoff seed/low lottery pick.

In the NBA, it’s said that the worst place to be is in the middle. This is not a league where you can “contend while rebuilding,” as Indians’ GM Mark Shapiro once tried to sell Cleveland baseball fans. To me, that means the Cavs probably have to get bad to get better. It’s a painful process and we’ve been there before, but it’s preferable to the hamster wheel-like futility facing the Cavs if they try winning big with what they have.

As Cleveland is not exactly the #1 destination for superstar free agents, it will take high draft picks, smart trades and plain luck for the Cavs to get back to any level of prominence within the next five years. GM Chris Grant first needs to look at any offers for Andy Varejao, especially if he can get a team to take the contractual albatrosses of Antawn Jamison or Mo Williams off the franchise’s neck.

Then you clear the decks; blow it up; choose your cliché. It’s either going to happen now, or it’ll happen three years from now. Play the kids and draft a solid character guy who can create his own shot. Build on that.

At least that’s what my head says: Despite the assurance I have in the above statements, in my heart I still can’t actively root against these Cavs. This is not the horrible, unlikeable Cavs team whose best player shot at the wrong rim to get a triple-double, even if that was also the year we sunk low enough to win the lottery and bring in That Guy. (If you couldn’t tell, I’m giving the Voldemort treatment to our buddy #6. I’m going to try and keep his name out of this and future columns from now on. We’ll see how it works out.)

I’m rambling, but I don’t know what to do. What’s the point of rooting for a team that you know with absolute certainty can’t win it all? On the same token, cheering against your favorite squad just so they get some extra ping pong balls seems so pointless and hollow. Damn...this is tough. I think I’ll listen to some MSB to clear my head:

Tonight the hardwood’s burning
And the Cavs will keep on working
Get behind the wine and gold
With all your might
Cavs basketball, tonight’s the night
Ohhh, C’mon Cavs!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Vox Lox (week 9)

Words are very unnecessary.
They can only do harm.

Chargers (-2) over Texans, 4 dimes
Bills (+3) over Bears, 2 dimes
Oakland (-2.5) over Chiefs, 2 dimes
Browns (+4.5) over Patriots, 1 dime
Falcons over (-8.5) Tampa Bay, 1 dime

Last week: 3-1 (+2 dimes)
Season: 11-18-1 (-15 dimes)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"You Make My Dreams"

Someone I know posted a classic Hall and Oates video of "The Ghost Inside" on Facebook. This got me thinking, during this otherwise slow sports week in C-Town, about one of my favorite SNL skits from recent years and makes me ponder how CST contributor and resident music buff SamVox could leave Hall and Oates off his Vox in the Box (23): Vox Rox Redux Top 100 Rock Artists list:

(The H & O part starts after a few pretty funny jokes by the Weekend Update crew)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What do you think Mangini can do with 2 weeks to prepare?

This week's game could be interesting for sure.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vox in the Box (24): Talking to myself about Terry Pluto, Politics and other P.S.*

* (Pertinent Shit)

Q: So what's your beef with Terry?
A: I have no beef. I like Terry, especially his weekly appearances on More Sports and Les Levine. I've read False Start, The Franchise and Tall Tales. Not spectacular books, but enjoyable, easy reads.

Q: But you're messing around with this format to mock him?
A: Terry isn't a very good columnist.

Q: What??? He's a nine-time Ohio Sportswriter of the Year. If I recall, you would often buy The Akron Beacon Journal in the early 90s just to read his articles.
A: That is true. I liked his positivity and affection for the Cavs. Also, his straight-forward approach, tinged with homerism, was a nice change from Bud Shaw and Peter Brown on WKNR.

Q: Well now he's at The Plain Dealer, and you don't have to waste your money on the ABJ...
A: (interrupts) The problem is that Terry doesn't write anymore. I'm not sure if he ever did. He talks to himself, scribbles in his notebook, and makes a bunch of painfully obvious observations. Counting off a few unrelated statements about a certain subject is not a column. It's a fucking outline. He might as well use bullet points.

Q: That's harsh. You do realize you're in the minority?
A: When am I not in the minority?

Q: You can't answer a question with a question!
A: That was rhetorical, bra. Look, I respect Terry as a journalist. He builds relationships with coaches and players, then digs out the story. But he's lazy now. I sat next to the press table at an important Cavs playoff game a few years ago, and he left at halftime. Granted, that was one instance- but the proof is in his work. "Terry's Talkin'"- that's a joke. It's not insightful or provocative. It's written for third graders. Also, I'm not interested in his pieces about Case, Mount Union, high schools, minor leagues, etc. If you want to cover the small time stuff, go write for The News Herald or something.

Q: What about his faith columns?
A: Those aren't as bad, but they're extremely trite. Simplistic.

Q: That's Terry's style.
A: And his style is vacuous.

Q: Do you think the emergence of the internet had anything to do with the decline in Terry's work?
A: You have no class. Besides, I don't even believe in that type of addiction. Hasn't affected my writing!

Q: Speaking of your writing...you've taken some heat for Vox's Top 100 Rock Artists.
A: Please don't use the word "Heat." As Simmons noted in his mailbag, LeBron is now taking mental notes. Watch out.

Q: How do you think the Heat will do this season? Championship?
A: Without Wade, the Heat are no better than any Cavs playoff team LeBron played on. Even with Wade (and he never plays a full season), winning the title will be a difficult task with no power-post presence. I'll take the field.

Q: What about LeBron down low?
A: Unstoppable. But, despite being the most gifted ballplayer in NBA history, LeBron is still very immature. He wants to be a distributor and/or gun threes. That's fine; he'll be successful in whatever he does on the floor more often than not. But I'm interested in seeing 35-year old LeBron. He'll be using his strength down low to dominate, and his skills will be even more magnified since he won't be able to rely solely on his physical gifts. I love seeing a former NBA superstar turn into a crafty veteran and win games with his head. Yes, in ten years (or in the fabulous new Nike ad), LeBron will looking at his own mortality in the mirror. Only when a man sees his flaws can he truly capitalize on his strengths (Eek, that sounded like one of those dreaded self-help books). My guess is he'll win a boatload of championships then. Right around 2020. And it won't be in Miami. Or Cleveland. Probably the Lakers or Knicks. Or the new Las Vegas expansion team owned by Mark Zuckerberg and coached by Mike Krzyzewski.

Q: You're sounding as diplomatic as Brian Windhorst.
A: And I'm glad Windy got paid. Our loss, but I'd have done the same thing. If BuffaloSportsTorture.com or SanDiegoSportsTorture.com wants to quadruple my salary, I'm gone. I'll be good in both markets. Either I head north to the Sundowner or south to Tijuana. They like you, it's guaranteed (if you watch the clip, go right to the 8:00-minute mark).

Q: You don't have to be strong for me. Just admit you're still hurting from The Decision.
A: OK, I am hurting. Some days are better than others, but, if I'm honest with myself...I haven't recovered. Connie Schultz wrote life went on in Cleveland after LeBron left, but she hasn't loved this team the way we have. She hopped on the wagon when we drafted him, like most Clevelanders. They have no memory of bad basketball. I'm scared of what I'll feel a month into the season.

Q: How will the Cavs do?
A: I don't know, but get on my back. I'm excited to savor every regular season victory again- the way we did the mid-90s. Four days in April, my friends, Give me those four days in April.

Q: Stop! They're better off tanking and rebuilding.
A: Eff that. Stern won't let us win the lottery again anyways. And, even if we do- that doesn't equate to a championship. LeBron exceeded expectations, and we still only advanced past the second round TWICE in his 7 years. So coach, Byron, coach. Shame he's here one year too late. Accountability and Mike Brown were never synonyms.

Q: Let's do some rapid-fire election-day questioning, now.
A: OK, but hurry up. The SciFi channel is about to show Wrath of Khan again.

Q: Strickland or Kasich?
A: Neither. Both candidates made me absolutely sick with negative TV ads. Strickland didn't lose 400,000 jobs. That's just bullocks. And I hate defending Kasich, but his "Wall Street schemes" involved trying to make money for his employer. God forbid anybody makes any money nowadays, right Ted?

Q: You're still upset with Ted from when he decided against "Dancers for Democracy?"
A: Come on, this is a family column.

Q: You do realize that Kasich is pretty friendly with Bono?
A: Yes, I'm the one that told you that.

Q: And Kasich loves Radiohead, particularly the underrated Kid A album...
A: Where are you going with this? I'm not voting for Kasich. From an ideological perspective, he's cut from the same cloth as George Bush and Jesse Helms.

Q: So vote for Strickland.
A: Not after seeing him fight dirty. The only thing worse than legislating morality, is legislating fear. Ted- if you want to criticize Kasich for being pro life, pro gun, pro death penalty and opposing medical marijuana and same-sex marriage, well I'm down with that! In fact, I'll offer my lifelong devotion to the first democratic candidate that truly calls out a social conservative. But the only mud Strickland's slinging is Kasich's association with Lehman Bros.

Q: Is not voting the answer? You'll have no voice.
A: Not voting is my voice. It's a cliche, but it's true.

Q: Tell us what you really think-
A: I think you should have to pass a test before you're allowed to vote.

Q: An IQ test? That's fascist!
A: No, not an IQ test. An easy Political Science 101 exam. I don't care if you're smart or where your beliefs fall. But you should have a fundamental grasp of government, as well as each candidate's stance on important issues. If you don't know the basics, you are committing an injustice every time you step into that booth.

Q: How about Cuyahoga County Executive?
A: I'm undecided.

Q: Matt Dolan?
A: I'm willing to occasionally vote Republican, but it would have to be a pretty special circumstance. Dolan's not special.

Q: Mayor Fitzgerald?
A: Um, does Ed even know the east side exists? He doesn't have a sign in sight. Not one. Also, he voted against the creation of the very position he seeks. So, no thanks.

Q: Ken Lanci?
A: (Silence)

Q: You're not honestly thinking of voting for Lanci?
A: No, but at least he's new blood for a supposedly new government. As I said in Vox Lox: Corruption in Cuyahoga County, it wasn't the political machine that was broken. It was the people running it. That's why I voted against the charter two years ago.

Q: Well then who?
A: I'm going to write in Mark from Norton Furniture. If he's willing to finance any jobber that walks into his store, well then perhaps he'll open up the credit markets and capitalism's wheels will miraculously spin freely in Cleveland.

Q: And Bill Mason?
A: You know I'm no fan of Mason. In fact, I genuinely dislike him, but the PD is jobbing him now. The crap the FBI is investigating has been going on since the beginning of time. If you want to target Mason's hiring practices, then you have to prosecute every "political ally" hire from a government official. And if you do that, you'll have 100% corruption. Shut it down, PD. Shut it down, FBI.

Q: Who is hotter: your neighbor or her boyfriend?
A: Now that's a great question. They're both pretty hot. She's an ice queen. He's more flirtatious. Remind me to delete this, should we ever become facebook friends with them.

Q: Concussions?
A: The NFL has a problem, for sure. They can't legislate mid-season, but they can't continue to watch their playmakers take defenseless hits. There are no good answers, and all I know is no son of mine will play football. I suffered a concussion on December 4th, 2000. One of the scariest moments of my life. I didn't know what day or year it was, and had no recollection of how I'd come to that point in time. About a month ago, I had my second concussion after an MPBL collision. That was far less severe, and I didn't know it then...but the doctor said a concussion is to blame for the neck pain and earaches that have plagued me recently. Once you've had one bad concussion, you are much more susceptible to future head trauma.

Q: The NFL has bigger problems than concussions...
A: That's true; a work stoppage in 2011 seems inevitable now.

Q: What's your take?
A: I support the players. It's the owners wanting to renegotiate, but they won't open up their books. The league is a cash cow, and yet there are no guaranteed contracts.

Q: Heard you won the Super Lotto saturday night?
A: Yep. I hit three of six numbers. It paid $2.

Q: I would laugh, but at least that's a $1 net profit. You must be down a small fortune from the horrendous football picks you release weekly on this blog.
A: I went 3-1 yesterday.

Q: Spare us. Your selections have been an embarrassment to you and CST, so far.
A: Agreed. I almost quit last week. I've been on losing streaks before, but nothing close to what's happened this NFL season.

Q: And what does the NFL stand for?
A: Nice Fucking Lines!

Q: How about New Fucking Leadership?
A: Needed in Dallas and Minnesota, no doubt. Don't get me started on how much jack Wade Phillips has cost me over the years. And Brad Childress, letting Favre cock-block Minnesota in the NFC Championship game.

Q: Boardwalk Empire?
A: Brilliant. The Sopranos in the 1920s.

Q: Bored to Death?
A: A triumphant second season. Kevin Bacon, to boot.

Q: Eastbound & Down?
A: Disappointing. Looking forward to season three, and Kenny Powers leaving Mexico.

Q: Give us a Random Top Ten, before we split. Your Top 10 All-Time HBO Shows?
A: 1. Sopranos
2. Six Feet Under
3. Carnivale
4. Entourage
5. The Mind of the Married Man
6. Big Love
7. The Wire
8. Lucky Louie
9. In Treatment
10. The Comeback

And that doesn't even include BE, B2D and EB&D. I also liked Tell Me You Love Me, John From Cincinnati, Oz, Sex & the City (occassionally...sshhhhh), Hung, and, of couse, Curb Your Enthusiasm. Essentially, I willingly consume anything HBO puts in front of my face with the exception of Flight of the Concords.

Q: Almost forgot- new U2 album in early 2011!
A: Heaven knows, I need it more than ever. But I'm not holding my breath for this record. As I said in Vox 23, the band has a complacent, almost monotonous vibe these days. Hard to fathom it'll be 20 years since Achtung Baby.

Q: Take us home, SamVox...
A: (clears throat)

To touch is to heal, to hurt is to steal
If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel
On your knees, boy!

I move in mysterious ways in the box.
Parting is...inevitable