Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol review

The ironic aspect of the modern, effects-laded action movie is just how chintzy expensive CGI can appear. A team of artists can produce the most seamless chase scene on a computer and it will still look like something made, well, on a computer.

In this light, "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" is a throwback of sorts. That's not to say the fourth film in the "Mission: Impossible" series doesn't have its share of machine-made derring-do, it's that it combines CGI with real stunts, car chases and well-choreographed fight sequences.

Monday, December 26, 2011

What we think will happen this year in the NBA

2011-2012 Cleveland Cavaliers/NBA Season

December 26, 2011


Cavaliers Record: 25-41

Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving

MVP: Dwayne Wade

NBA Finals: Lakers over Bulls

Cavaliers Record: 33-33

Rookie of the Year: Derrick Williams

MVP: Kevin Durant

NBA Finals: Thunder over Bulls


Cavaliers Record: 19-47

Rookie of the Year: Derrick Williams

MVP: Kevin Durant

NBA Finals: Thunder over Heat

Cavaliers Record: 28 - 38

Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving

MVP: Kevin Durant

NBA Finals: Clippers over Heat*
*Yeah, I'm probably nuts

Cavaliers Record: 29-37

Rookie of the Year: No pick for ROY. Have no clue, but I'll take the field against Kyrie.

MVP: Rajon Rondo

NBA Finals: Thunder over Knicks


Cavaliers Record: 19-47

Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving

MVP: Lebron James

NBA Finals: Heat over Lakers

Cavaliers Record:

Rookie of the Year:


NBA Finals:

Wanted Dead or Alive

Monday: I'm finishing a late business lunch at the Arcade when I get a jolting text from an old friend: Jon Bon Jovi is dead. Eyes welling, head rushed with blood, I calmly excuse myself and dart for the men's room. Internet is down on my phone, so I take a few deep breaths, straighten my tie, and put my sadness on a two-hour hold. Driving home, I call MJVox, I mean Mom, and she quickly informs me it was just a Twitter hoax. I feel silly and slightly angry, as I've only been affected by a handful of celebrity deaths-- Bobby Phills, Michael Hutchience and the 1993 boating accident that killed two Indians relievers-- but even those, surprisingly enough, didn't leave me nearly as physically shaken as that false text. Clearly, I must re-evaluate John Bongiovi's status in my life. After I put the kids to bed, I play "Runaway" on repeat, and the beat is amazingly fresh. Bon Jovi week is on.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What we think will happen vs. the Ravens (Week 16)

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

December 24, 2011


Ravens 24
Browns 10
The Ravens show what a good coach hire is.Old or not, the defense that Baltimore posts will run circles around the Browns' offense, no matter who is at quarterback. This might not be worth the break from Christmas present wrapping.


No pick
Last Christmas, I gave you my heart, but got too loopy on eggnog to give a game prediction.


Ravens 27
Browns 6
The Ravens will not be in a giving mood after last week's shellacking in San Diego. The Browns, meanwhile, are playing out the string, and the only gift they're offering to fans is the fact that this will all be over soon.


No Pick
No pick, too busy hiding his kids' presents


Ravens 17
Browns 13
Go Cavs.


Ravens 23

Browns 13
Merry Christmas!!


Ravens 24
Browns 10

If just the other Peyton (Manning) played this year, or at least the one game against us, we would be in the running for Luck...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Here's the NCAA ruling on Ohio State

A lot harsher than I would have guessed, including four additional scholarship losses for the football team (on top of the five self-imposed scholarships taken away. But, of course, most of all, Ohio State is banned from postseason play next year, including the Big Ten championship game and any additional bowl game.

The 'repeat offender" clause comes into play here, as the 2006 and 1994 basketball infractions definitely affected the decisions. 1978 and 1957 football infractions are mentioned also.

You can read the entire findings at this link.

I still maintain that the vast majority of the blame here falls with Jim Tressel. Yes, there were actions by players that led to the trouble (selling merchandise and receiving free tattoos, mainly). But the action, or more accurately, inaction of Coach Tressel is what has led Ohio State to this sad day. And I had really thought the self-imposed punishment, including complete vacancy of all wins in the 2010 season and ouster of Coach Tressel, would have fit the crime. Apparently not.

"The Game" is 340 days away. Hopefully all the recruits who came to play in Scarlet and Grey still want to suit up for new coach Urban Meyer, and they don't mind that being the last game of the year. I wish the Buckeyes could just forfeit the bowl this year, but...too much money is at stake.

Of course.

Countdown to zero-hour for Buckeyes

The Associated Press confirms with Gene Smith that the NCAA will issue its ruling regarding the Ohio State football violations at 3PM eastern today.

I think there's a solid chance that the self-flaggilation that the OSU Athletic Department has implemented (up to and especially the firing of Jim Tressel) will satisfy the NCAA committee. There didn't appear to be institutional lack of control, and huge USC-style violations were not present in any way

Not to mention that a certain scandal in Happy Valley have consumed the headlines for the last two months. So here's hoping that Ohio State can put this whole sordid affair behind them, and maybe the donation of a couple hundred thousand #2 jerseys will be the final penance OSU has to make.

Monday, December 19, 2011

What we think will happen vs. the Cardinals (Week 15)

Cleveland Browns at Arizona Cardinals

December 18, 2011

*Due to a technical error, the CST predictions were not posted in time for the game. This is what we planned on saying yesterday before the game...


Browns 13
Cardinals 7
Is it over yet? 

Cardinals 21
Browns 10
The Browns actually look good in this game. With the vet Seneca Wallace running the offense we actually get to see what the west coast offense looks like. If Wallace looks good whats that mean for Colt McCoy long term....

Cardinals 24
Browns 10
This is the last game of the year in which the Browns have any chance at winning, but victory led  by a back-up quarterback would gain them nothing but lost slots in the upcoming draft. So yeah, such is out lot in another invigorating Browns season!

Cardinals 17
Browns 16
The Cardinals won 4 out of 5 with QB John Skelton starting in place of Kevin Kolb. I don't care if former Ohio State basketball star Jaime Skelton was starting for Arizona - the Browns are the Browns, even with a career backup starting for injured Colt McCoy. If Seneca Wallace moves the offense with any amount of efficiency we'll have (yet) another QB controversy and it will "business as usual" for President Big Show in Brownstown.

The Vox is off this week.

Cardinals 20
Browns 17
No comment.

Cardinals 27
Browns 10
Beanie runs wild...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hey Mike, you better recognize!

Holmgren gave media the business at the presser
Browns' president Mike Holmgren swept his stern gaze over the journalistic rabble gathered in front of him. As the cameras rolled during yesterday's press conference in Berea, a get-together ostensibly about poor Colt McCoy's horrific prime-time de-cleating and subsequent concussion, Holmgren had something else to add during his matter-of-fact and occasionally prickly media address.

Expressing frustration with some cynicism-stepped reports on the injury, Holmgren said:

"Another irritant to me is that it's 'business as usual' around the Cleveland Browns, it's not. It's not. This was an incident that took place and hopefully after I explain how it happened, you'll understand. Because it's not (business as usual)."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This is how you should remember Baron Davis on the Cavs

March 29, 2011: Cavs 102, Heat 90.

Thanks for your help, Baron. Good luck.

 Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Harrison suspended one game for hit on Browns' McCoy; is it enough?

The NFL has ruled.

James Harrison will be suspended one game for the brutal* helmet-to-helmet on Colt McCoy in the Steelers' 14-3 win Thursday against the Browns. (He will reportedly appeal the suspension.)

Courtesy WFNY
I'm on record saying that I thought this could be a much worse suspension. This wasn't a last second flip by McCoy where he dropped his head and Harrison couldn't avoid the helmet collision. James Harrison is a great player, and he had plenty of time to make a tackle without using his head as the tip of a spear. How many linebacker or safeties have you seen crucify a receiver without launching themselves head-first? 99% of them. Harrison refuses to change his style. He knows what can hurt the opposing player the most. And even though he's been warned, he declines the constructive advice of the rulebook.

Ballcarrier or not, there's no place for tackles like that in football. It's just as cheap as going for someone's knee from the side. James Harrison is a great player who just doesn't have the line in his head that he knows not to cross. I thought in this case, a multi-game suspension would be warranted.  I doubt this is the last time he'll be looked at for this. In face, doesn't Pittsburgh visit Cleveland in a couple weeks...?

*Note: when I say 'brutal', I think that fits. Lots of hits that are perfectly legal in football are "savagely violent" or "punishingly hard or uncomfortable," as the definition of "brutal" reads. Many of Harrison's hits are bone crushing, violent--and yet legal, and truthfully, fantastic plays. But in this case, "uncomfortable" is a great way to put how Colt McCoy felt for a while after that one.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Let's talk about Colt McCoy...

A little roundtable discussion from Cleveland Sports Torture about the Browns' Colt McCoy, and his role as quarterback going forward...

Brian: I am desperately trying to give Colt McCoy the benefit of the doubt. He shows definite leadership, and flashes of real playmaker ability. But the constant stream of dink-and-dunk passes and underthrown (yet rarely attempted) down the field balls is just too much to take. There was a question about his arm strength coming into the league, and I think that's what's showing up. Remember, similar musings about Tim Couch were heard before the 99 draft, and sure enough, that was a problem. Yes, I know the coaching on this team is abysmal. And the league-leading drops aren't helping. But to say that it's all drops and coaching FUBAR, is being dishonest. (And I'm not even counting the end zone interception Thursday. That was quintessential underthrowing by Colt, but that's all on the coaches after putting him back in after getting head-blasted by James Harrison.)

Sean:  Up until the past few weeks. I was in the camp of  'we really don't know what we have in Colt, let see how does with a few above average players around him.' He's a tough kid, blah, blah... Now I think if we can grab one of the top 3 QB in the draft next year...follow that up with OL & WR, and put Colt on the bench.

On the way home Jarod Cherry had a comment that  made me second guess myself. He said RGIII has the athleticism to extend plays (ulgh I'm so tired of that line) and avoid the sack, but that he is a deeper passer and not built for the dink and dunk passes the West Coast offense is known for.  And, that Barkley  would get eaten up in the pocket behind our weak ass line and end up like all of our other QB's in the past 12 years. I kind of see that point too. So we can just save this conversation and change the QB's name every 2 years or so.

Lerner is not a media guy, and is paying Holmgren to be the face of the brass, and he's nowhere. It's not like him sitting out at a press conference will solve anything, but still, I grow more apathetic with each game.

Kevin: Brian mention similarities between McCoy and Couch - the biggest similarity to me is that the Browns are going to (like they did to Couch) destroy a young QB, mentally and physically, by not putting enough around him. Couch may not have been worthy of a #1 overall pick, but the guy was certainly good enough to play in the league, which he wasn't able to do once he left the Browns (mainly because of injuries due to getting pummeled every Sunday).

Colt may not be the answer. But I don't see how anyone can fairly judge him. Sure he has mishaps, but how much of it is from just developing bad habits on this awful team (similar to Couch)? We can't just keep going on with this revolving door at QB... I think Colt needs (and I'd love to see it) a year with some good (or at least competent) talent and coaching. I saw flashes of  something special last year and I want that guy back. 

Doug: The Browns are in a terrible spot with McCoy. It's very difficult to determine exactly what they have in their young QB when his receivers are consistently dropping balls and the line is failing to protect him. But the confidence Colt showed last year looks shot, his decision-making is poor, the accuracy that is supposed to be his strong suit has steadily declined all season, and the physical tools manifest in the league's top-shelf quarterbacks are not in evidence.

The question the front office must ask themselves this off-season is, What is Colt's ceiling? McCoy is probably better than what he has displayed in 2011 - last year proved to an extent that he can make plays with on-field help and better playcalling from the sidelines. Still, his upside seems limited in a league where mediocre-to-good quaterbacking will simply not get you to the promised land. It's said that the true measure of a man is how he responds to adversity. McCoy has not responded well, and that should be very concerning to Messrs Holmgren and Heckert. 

SamVox: Count me in Colt's corner. Albeit slightly and infrequently, I've seen all the intangibles from McCoy that attract me to quarterbacks: vision, grit, intelligence, accuracy, class, and a clutch throw or two. He recalls Brian Sipe and Jeff Garcia. But Shurmur hasn't a clue about how to use Colt effectively. Pat and Big Show are too arrogant to watch film of Mangini rolling Colt out and/or keeping the defense flummoxed with a mixed bag of power-running plays and Colt's finesse. Certainly, Colt has made some shitty throws this year, but he'll learn about his limitations with experience. Unfortunately, our front office has done virtually nothing to assist with his development. Young receivers running poor routes and dropping bunnies are a weekly detriment. Vet wide-outs with skill are a dime a dozen, but only God knows why Homgren wouldn't sign one. And, obviously, our O-line is the NFL equivalent of second grade girls holding hands to form the weak part of the wall in "Rover, Come Over."

And please don't mention arm strength-- Jeff George, Derrick Anderson, Jamarcus Russell, etc. You can take your big arm and shove it up your scout's ass. The bottom line is we are losing football games to less than average NFL teams because Randy Lerner mistakenly gave our fat f__ President ten million dollars to bring his outdated football philosophy from the Pacific northwest--where it failed miserably--to our lakefront, where--wouldn't you know--it's failing miserably.

Ryan: Wow, I can't believe how much I agree with Kevin. I want Colt to succeed and, as Sam mentioned, I think he has all the intangibles to do so. That whole arm strength argument drive me crazy too, he certainly doesn't have a laser arm but he can still make all the necessary throws. It is impossible to judge him with the talent we have an offense. I hate the idea of drafting a QB in the first round(besides Luck) who will likely be a bust if we don't improve the guys around him.

When I was at the Pittsburgh game on Thursday we had nice upper deck seats on the 50 yard line. I was really able to see how well the Steelers receivers were able to separate from the DB's or find open holes in the zone. Roethlisberger would hit the receiver and they would have room to run. The Browns WR's don't create that separation or find open holes very often so all of Colt's passes have to be perfect and when he is running for his life I imagine that is hard to do.

I think Colt deserves more time with more talent. Hopefully the Browns can find talent in the draft and maybe spend some money in free agency this year.
I actually kind of hope McCoy can't play this week. I would like to see the kind of success Seneca Wallace will or won't have with the offense. That may tell us a little something about McCoy.

I do think it is funny that most people seem willing to give Colt more time but are already done with Shurmur. Certainly Shurmur's in game adjustments and play calling need a lot of work but the problem is talent. I think Colt and Shurmur both deserve next year to show improvement. I know Shurmur isn't going anywhere but if it was up to the fans he would be fired. I think Holmgren and Heckert both knew this year was a rebuilding year and planned on waiting until this off-season to find some impact free agents. At least I hope that is the plan.

Trout (guest contributor): I'm tired of this conversation right now. If there was someone on the bench that could have a future I'd spend more time thinking about it and decide whether to put him in or not. But there is no other option right now. Really, I think McCoy shows promise at times, as does the offense, but it's never consistent. Why, I don't know. The coach doesn't seem too bright. I think it's a bigger mess at RB. And I think that makes for a better conversation than the QB situation.

Now--whether to draft a QB or not. It comes down to who is available where. If a QB is the best option at that time take him. Even if Colt might be the answer, if the other QB is good you can trade him down the line or trade Colt a la Brees/Rivers. It worked out for both. Brees is in an offense that makes him better and Rivers is pretty good too. But if we have a draft risk on the board at QB but a stud LB is there, take the stud. I do think you should draft a QB in the top 4 every three years though. Just so you have a plan if someone gets hurt--or sucks.

Heckert knows who he likes, he liked Haden, Taylor and Sheard. He either trades down or takes the player he likes, Luckily for him we need all positions. It would be hard to pass up Richardson if we were able to get rid of this coach and get a real offense. If the Browns can get Richardson and a guard or tackle, then follow up by signing a WR it would be sick. 

Tom:  Before the season I was behind Colt 100%. Now...it's more 60/40. I want him to be the guy but this year it seems like he has regressed. Not sure if it has to do more with the talent around him, however. The lack of arm strength doesn't bother me so much because how often does any NFL QB go more then 30+ yards in the air. His accuracy issues are more of a problem in my eyes. I read a couple of weeks ago his shoulder was bothering him, haven't heard much since so it may be an injury we don't know about. It doesn't help that the guys he's throwing to have issues with drops each week. I wish he was doing well just so we didn't have to worry about taking a QB high in the draft. Based on the looks of it, a good QB in round 1 is a possibility unfortunately.

The Browns really dropped the ball with his concussion though. I'm not sure what they were thinking. Ben Watson and Owen Maricec were benched for concussions and they weren't the ones de-cleated in front of the Browns' bench. For no one on the sideline to think he didn't possibly have a concussion is insane. I understand going back in the game eventually because he said he's ok, but he should have of at least been held out for the rest of the series. Its not like they didn't have another option at QB. Once again Shurmur dropped the ball with an injury situation.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Vox Lox (14)

Yes, you are reading that correctly. "Playoff Picture," "Browns," & "In the Hunt" all in the same graphic!! Wacky, I know...but the image was not doctored. That's an ESPN screen shot from one year ago, when the 5-7 Brownies were actually playing a meaningful football game in Week 14. Never mind that we wouldn't win again in 2010. At the time, after victories versus the Saints and Pats plus the heartbreaker against the Jets, there was reason to believe we had an outside chance at the big dance if Man-genius could run the December-table as he did in 2009. Now, I ask you humbled Browns fan, what would our current record be had Shurmur faced New Orleans, New England, and New York instead of Indianapolis, Seattle, and Jacksonville? Furthermore, how badly have the Browns underachieved considering we didn't face a quality NFL team for the first eleven weeks of the season? We were set up to make a playoff run this year with a weak schedule, a solid defense, a powerful runner hungry for a big contract, and the best quarterback we've had since Jeffrey Jason Garcia. And it all went to shit.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

College football playoff a risk, but a worthy one

How about Braxton vs. Oklahoma in a future playoff?
Bowl season is upon us carrying its usual air of controversy and discontent. This year's kerfuffle over an all-SEC title game carries a hint of good news, at least for supporters of football games that aren't mere post-season exhibitions, in that league athletic directors are considering adding a "plus-one" four-team playoff to crown a national champion.

A plus-one system would not be enacted until the current BCS format expires after the 2013 season. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney, whose conference gets that comfortable, big-money Rose Bowl appearance every year, is on record as opposing any kind of bracketed playoff, especially one that could put Division I college football on a path toward a full-fledged, NFL-style playoff of eight to 16 teams.

Dan to the Rescue

David has slayed Goliath... for the time being. And I'm not referring to NBA Commissioner David Stern putting the kibosh on the trade that would've sent Chris Paul to the Lakers for some nice complimentary players–a deal that would've further solidified the NBA as a league of the Haves and the Have Nots. Although Stern threw the gavel down, it was Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert playing the role of David, championing the cause of the Little Guy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Reports say Browns are up 1-0 already (must be the orange pants)

Our very own Ryan has braved the foul stench and has fought his way deep into enemy territory. Word is, Mike and Ryan, who can normally be found in Section A of the Muni Lot early Sunday mornings, have already staked Cleveland to an early 1-0 lead over Pittsburgh. In cornhole, at least.

If you see them, share your Colt 45 with 'em. And if they get attacked by virulent Steelers fans--don't post it to Youtube.

What we think will happen vs. the Steelers (Week 14)

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

December 8, 2011


Steelers 20
Browns 10
Colt McCoy (and Pat Shurmur, for that matter) are still looking for their first division win. The pitiful offense put up for the Browns can't possibly push them over the top to get it this week. But I think their defense and garbage-time scoring keeps them inside the point spread.

Steelers 34
Browns 6
The Browns catch the Steelers at the worst time, short week, key injuries, and absolutely no idea of what their identity is on offense. This isn't going to be pretty.  Steelers are 14-1 vs the Browns in the last 15 games, so not sure it's much of a rivalry anymore. 

Steelers 27
Browns 9
The horror...another division game that's not going to be close. The talent gap between the Browns and their AFC North rival is Grand Canyon sized and will take a great draft or two to narrow.

Steelers 28
Browns 10
This just in kiddies: The Browns stink.

Pittspuke 22
Browns 0
A Las Vegas sharp told me he loaded up on Cleveland when the line jumped from 11 to 13.5. National TV, division game, short week, etc., he said. Browns fans know better.

Browns 20
Steelers 17
Browns shock the world. (Editor's note: Ryan will be shocking the world in his orange pants at the stadium. And it's Cleveland 1, Pittsburgh 0 in cornhole so far.)

Steelers 27
Browns 13
It's that time of year where we eye the standings and other teams schedules...in order to figure our potential seeding. In next year's draft.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Baltimore batters Browns bruisingly, Biff

Rice a-Ronied all over the Browns (sorry).
If there's two fundamental elements of football that epitomize the Browns' miseries since 1999, it's that they can't run and they can't stop the run. Both of these traits were on display today against a workmanlike Ravens squad that simply ground Cleveland under its merciless purple boot heel.

The battle at the line of scrimmage was a rout, with Baltimore running back Ray Rice bringing back bad memories of Jamal Lewis vs. Butch Davis's defense. Meanwhile, Baltimore's defense stopped the Browns' ground attack after an opening Cleveland drive that found Peyton Hillis battering open some holes. See, good teams make course corrections during games. I've studied this phenomenon, mostly through old newsreels and faded microfiche, but I've not seen it put into practice by the guys in the home whites for awhile.

What we think will happen vs. the Ravens (Week 13)

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns

December 4, 2011


Ravens 20
Browns 10
The Browns don't have the offensive power to look even competent against a defense like Baltimore, although a strong defensive effort could keep the score closer than it should be.

Ravens 24
Browns 14
Browns hang in the game longer then anyone expect, but they don't have enough punch to match the Ravens offense or defense. 

Ravens 17
Browns 7
The Ravens have had a few letdown games this year, but the Browns don't have enough punch on offense to hand Baltimore another upset loss.

Ravens 17
Browns 13
While at the mall yesterday, I saw a sign outside a sporting goods store that read "60% OFF ALL PEYTON HILLIS JERSEYS AND T-SHIRTS". He may be our best hope in this one. And so it goes with our beloved football team.

Ravens 19
Browns 13
An early Ed Reed pick and a late, lucky throw by Flacco help Baltimore escape with a win. That's So Raven.

Ravens 23
Browns 10
I hope I'm wrong.

Ravens 31
Browns 10