Saturday, January 29, 2011

All the small things

The dawgs are barkin, they're all having fun,
Bernie will lead us to that place in the sun.

With the long list of problems that have afflicted the Browns since their return in 1999, it seems foolish to worry about the future coaching prospects of Bernie Kosar. His reported talks with New England and Cincinnati regarding an as of now unspecified post are such a miniscule thing compared to the importance of this bedraggled organization ensuring that another off-season of wholesale change will be the last for a very long time.

A tiny thing, yes, but that doesn’t stop the Cleveland fan inside me –like so many of its downtrodden brethren keeping a desperate hold on a happier past – from being at least slightly perturbed at the seeming lack of interest for Kosar’s services coming out of Berea.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kosar to Join Bengals or Patriots?

Various reports are stating that Cleveland Browns legend and hometown hero Bernie Kosar is talking to the Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots about joining their organizations in some capacity. I don't know the details, but if this happens it will make me sick to my stomach. Bernie IS Cleveland sports. We already have a stadium in Cincinnati named Paul Brown Stadium for Pete's sake. Holmgren needs to understand the need for Bernie to be with the Browns and act swiftly. It goes beyond football operations. Please Mike - keep Bernie at home where he belongs!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ohio State learns their texting punctuation, Miley Cyrus. SMH

Turns out that Ohio State coach Thad Matta had to teach guard William Buford a little bit about his grammar.  Before the Buckeyes' commanding 87-64 win over the #12 Purdue Boilermakers, turns out Matta lectured Buford about his ellipses.  When I saw that, I figured he was talking three pointers, launch angle and parabolas, but turns out he just didn't like too much dramatic pause in the text messages he receives.

Buford twisted his ankle in the Buckeyes’ win at Illinois on Saturday. X-rays revealed no problems and Matta dismissed it as ‘nothing major’ on the Big Ten conference call on Monday. Still, the coach wanted to make sure Buford was all right before the team’s shootaround on Tuesday.

“I sent him a text and asked how he was feeling,’’ Matta said. “And he wrote back, ‘A little sore, dot, dot dot.’’ I said, ‘You don’t dot dot dot me. So we had a long conversation about what dot dot dot means.’’
Yes, young William, your coach doesn't want the follow-up text to read something like:
"A little sore...but the hangover from Four Loco is much worse."
"A little sore...so I skipped class again. Who needs it?"
"A little sore...from the tattoo I just got with #2."

Look Before You Tweet: A CST Public Service Announcement

My dearly departed and often ahead-of-her-time grandmother used to say to me - her shy, introverted grandson - "Don't let the bird s--t on your head. Open your mouth!" In other words, speak up or you may miss an opportunity, or worse yet, be taken advantage of. In today's media-driven world of instant gratification, athletes are having no trouble opening up wide and letting the Twitter Bird take a dump. Not quite what Grandma had in mind.

On the heels of the so-called King's Karma (Un)Tweet, we now have the Jay Cutler controversy, where several former and current NFL players criticized the Bears pouty QB for, well, basically being a wuss for not playing through a knee injury in the NFC Championship game. Keep in mind, these tweets happened during the game without any information as to the extent of Cutler's injury or who's decision it was to sit him. While this is America and we are entitled to freedom of speech/thought/expression and, as evident by this blog, everyone is entitled to their opinions, it would be nice for those associated with credible media outlets (and there were plenty) to at least be responsible with what they are offering up to the masses. Discounting Cutler's injury based on his body language and expressionless disposition is careless... and is another example of the evils of Twitter. While everyone else opened their mouth, it was Cutler that got crapped on – and from reports that he in fact does have a legitimate knee injury, it was unjustified.

For the record, Cutler had previously missed a total of 1 game in 5 seasons as a starting QB in the NFL. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cutler injured, LeBron quits. And the difference in player reaction couldn't be more stark.


Everyone knows that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler isn’t exactly beloved. Rick Reilly took his turn eviscerating Cutler last week, criticizing him for not much more than being aloof and not caring “who understands him and who doesn’t.”  But the level of talk in Chicago and the NFL about  Cutler missing the second half of the Bears’ loss to the Packers in Sunday’s NFC Championship game is amazing.

Maybe he's a bit of a jerk, sure, but at least he hasn’t been accused of any sex crimes, or tortured any animals to death. He comes off as condescending and rude to anyone who dares ask him a question, so it’s a bit understandable that reporters and columnists don’t like Cutler. And people who buy ink by the barrell can influence popular perception quite a bit. But it’s not just with the media that Cutler is apparently disliked.  

Purdue prof forgets history, opines on Midwest "sports malaise" and heartbreak

Chicago fans, not entirely unlike insufferable Boston and New York fans, have a real knack for self-pity.  If it wasn't 80-something years since the Red Sox won the pennant, it is the decades since the Knicks have won a championship.

But come on, give it a rest.  I mean, a child born last time the Bears were in the Super Bowl would be nearly four years old today!  Oh the horror and neverending pain!  A child born last time the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup is still trying to sit up on his own.  The same Cubs fans who wail and moan were out partying last June, and of course several times in the nineties.

Well, the Chicago Tribune today documented what they called "sports fan big loss malaise," and how Bears fans are handling it in the wake of the NFC Championship loss to the Packers.. In a ridiculous quote from "distinguished" Purdue professor Randy Robert, who specializes in "sports and pop culture," he says the "most disappointing Midwestern sports event ever" was LeBron James taking his talents to South Beach.

"They lost their franchise," Roberts said.
They lost their franchise.  Now, I don't know Professor Roberts, and I'm sure's he's a nice guy and a great professor.  But looking at his photo, it doesn't appear he's 24 years old.  The moments of torture are too numerous to list in Cleveland Sports, but to use the phrase "lost their franchise," that only brings one event to mind.  And it was much worse than LeBron leaving.  For a professor of history, he sure lacks historical context.

Well Purdue has a pretty good basketball team--and I know it's January, not March, but I suppose the Buckeyes can show them some disappointment tonight.

Jim Brown, definitely cool.

While most magazines fill the doldrums of February with swimsuit models and body paint, GQ has decided to feature the sinewy Tim Lincecum on the cover, highlighting the 25 Coolest Athletes of All Time.

I paged through it, seeing many who I expected to see (Broadway Joe, Muhammad Ali, MJ) and a few surprises (Allen Iverson, Mario Andretti, Ted Turner.) 

But I was basically through the feature when I thought, "wait a second, where the hell is Jim Brown."  Because no matter what you think of him, and people do think many things of the man, he is undeniably cool.

Alas, I just hadn't gotten to him yet.  There he is, "the most dominant running back ever to carry a football." On page 66, right between gary Player and Kelly Slater.


And all is right.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Vox Lox: Championship Sunday

Are you there God? It's me, Vox. I humbly ask You for a little intervention tonight. Doesn't have to be extraordinarily divine; just make Rapistberger a step slower on 3rd down, and that should be enough to help those arrogant pricks in green and white win a tight one in Pittspuke. We all know God hates Cleveland Sports, but that doesn't necessarily mean The Man Upstairs wants to see another Stiller SuperBowl.

I saw a lot of "nice" people dressed in black and gold yesterday...pumping their hard earned coin into some rigged slot machine at Salamanca's casino, so artfully positioned amidst the overwhelming landscape of the Alleghany mountains. God, I'm very aware that a Jets victory will send those good people back to their steel mill jobs on monday morning, depressed and inconsolable. And I'm OK with that. I want that fan base to feel pain, Clubber-Lang style. God knows, I'm a vindictive SOB.

Blessings aren't just for the ones who kneel, luckily

JETS (+3.5) over Pittspuke, 3.5 dimes
Packers (-3.5) over Bears, 6.5 dimes

Last week: 2-2 (-6 dimes)
Season: 34-37-3 (-12 dimes)

P.S. I don't want to be greedy, but please don't let that punk Braylon Edwards find the endzone. Injure him, if You must.

"This moment of tremendous pain." Yes, it's NFL championship Sunday.

It's League Championship Sunday in the NFL, the day where dreams are made or hopes are dashed, where two teams will advance to the Super Bowl, and two will go home, bitterly disappointed.  Something Browns fans obviously know about way too much.

I'll be at Soldier Field today, but underneath my sweatshirts, scarves, and down coat will be my Browns jersey.  Trying to absorb some of that magic for Cleveland.  I have a ticket, but wasn't sure I should go.  However, given the enormity of the game--I mean, it can't get much better than Packers-Bears for the Super Bowl--I couldn't pass it up.  It has to fill in--for the time being--for the absence in my schedule and my heart, of the Browns' return to the AFC Championship game.

As everyone knows, the one moment that perhaps sums up Cleveland Sports Torture more than anything else, happened 23 years ago, a mile high and a million memories ago.  A fantastic last drive, and The Fumble by Earnest Byner, just seconds after being called "The Money Man" by the announcers.  The last drive is immortalized below.  What Don Criqui called "this moment of tremendous pain" is really just one in a series of moments.  Perhaps the high--or low--point, but certainly not unique in Clevelanders' hearts.

It's this fire--fueled by moments like thirteen winters ago--that keeps us going, that keeps us focused, that will be extinguished only by a championship.

Someday.




PS I am hoping with all my being that the Jets beat the Steelers then lose to the Bears.  Give me something.  And the Plain Dealer also pulled together a nice (if that is the right word) revisiting to the losses to the Broncos.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Browns QB situation could be worse. We don't have Brett Favre.

Funny or Die manages to eviscerate Brett Favre and LeBron James, all in the same 2 minute video.

Pretty awesome.  For the first 10 seconds I thought it was Brett.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This is why I hate math

The irony, she is cruel.

It’s said that holding a grudge is like taking poison and waiting for the other guy to drop dead. That must be why I feel a twisting in my guts when regarding this year’s AFC playoff picture.

For a Cleveland fan, watching this post-season is a form of cruel and complicated calculus. Do we root for “Hated Rival X” to beat “Depressingly Successful Former Cleveland Franchise Y?” And how do we choose between “Despised One-Time Brown A” and “Stone-Faced Super Bowl-Winning Ex-Coach B?”

These are equations I find difficult to solve, although keep in mind I did go to Stupid School for 9th-grade Algebra – a class taught during that long-ago summer by the lovely if undertrained Ms. Cmok - where more time was spent watching movies (including, of all things, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) than learning about intercepts and value expressions.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Yes, Karma certainly IS a b****!

Perhaps it is shallow to find happiness in the misfortunes of others. Well, then - guilty as charged. What do you want from me? I'm a vindictive S.O.B.

Ever since "The King" tweeted, retweeted, passed on a tweet, or didn't tweet, that so-called "karma" is swirling around the Miami Heat, as if it was Lost's Smoke Monster looking to claim it's next victim. The night after "The Tweet", King Karma twisted his ankle and has not played since. And apparently neither have the Heat, losing three straight, including a 28 point drubbing by the Denver Nuggets and a loss to the lowly L.A. Clippers. See world -  the Cavs aren't the only ones who are A LOT worse without the guy. To make matters worse... or better if you're like me... Chris "The Ultimate Sidekick" Bosh hurt his ankle during the Heat's latest loss and then, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, cried about it later, saying:

"C'mon, that is how guys get hurt, that is how serious injuries happen. You've got to watch people's legs. I know guys want to hustle and everything but we all want to play and provide for our families and have a job.We all want to be healthy and that is very important If it is by somebody's leg, don't dive for the ball, it's too close."
Jeez... would someone please give lil' Chrissy his bottle already. What a baby.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Patriots-Jets trash talking gets out of hand. Errr, foot.

Well, it might not be directly related to the Browns, but with this weekend subjecting Browns fans to the prospect of the Ravens and Steelers in a playoff fight while the Browns reassemble a coaching staff, a few laughs are in order.

Courtesy Deadspin
With all the uninformed skeptics complaining about Pat Shurmur's hiring as the Browns' head coach, at least he doesn't have a foot fetish.  That we know of.

Unlike, shall we say, the rotund twin brother of our very own defensive coordinator this past season--Jets coach Rex Ryan.  Ryan, made famous through HBO's 24/7 series last summer, is now infamous (which I believe means more-than-famous) for the foot-fetish videos that surfaced during the season.  Fortunately for everyone involved, the lady in the videos appears to be his wife. And the voice behind the camera appears to be Rex's.  So in the grand scheme of things, it's just fine.  More than fine.  It's awesome.

With all the trash talking going on this weekend between the Jets and the Patriots, what Wes Welker did on Thursday was pretty epic.  Earlier this week, Coach Ryan said the game was personal between him and Bill Belichick.  Then Jets DB Antonio Cromartie used a not-so-nice body part description to explain his feelings on Tom Brady.

But Wes Welker came out for a routine press conference and proceeded to allude to feet eleven times in a 9 minute interview, including references to "foot soldiers," "sticking your best foot forward," and "sticking your toe in the water."  Jets LB Bart Scott then basically threatened Welker's career, and the NFL Saturday warned teams that the trash talk etc. better not carry over to dirty play on the field.

Even though the Browns season is over, at least there's some entertainment to be had.  For the record, I don't care who wins the Patriots-Jets game, I just hope whichever team does, kicks (whoops) the Steelers-Ravens winners' ass.

Video after the jump. 

Vox Lox: Divisional Playoff Pix


Allow me to shine Vox Lox's little light on Brandon Lang. In case you didn't know, Lang had a movie made (2005's Two for the Money) about his life as a handicapper working for a taut service. He attempted to use the film to increase his visibility, and, of course, sell more picks. Lang's always been quite adept at marketing himself, although his handicapping skills never measured up. 2009 exposed him as one of the biggest scam artists in an industry full of them. He went 406-460-15, which equated to -1634 dimes. For the mathematically challenged, let me put that into perspective: If you bet $100 a game using Lang's selections, he would've lost you $163,400. Lang sought to salvage his reputation by foolishly offering a 1000-dime play on the Colts in the SuperBowl. His bosses refused, and Lang lost another 250 dimes when the Saints won outright. So unbelievably horrid, Lang was soon fired from his own website (he recently returned, spewing a new brand of bullshit).

Yes, I'm trying to make myself feel better as I head into this weekend's games on the wrong side of my bankroll. Rest assured, I won't chase my money. But I am much more confident in my locks this week than last-- hence the increase in dimes wagered. I released only two four-dime plays throughout the regular season (and won both); on this week's AFC sunday slate, the gambling genies have granted us two oddsmaker errors:


Ravens (+3.5) over Pittspuke, 4 dimes
Patriots (-8.5) over Jets, 4 dimes
Packers (+2) over Falcons, 1.5 dimes
Bears (-10) over Seahawks, half dime


Last week: 2-2 (even)
Season: 32-35-3 (-6 dimes)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Stuck in the middle with you

Is this love, that I'm feeling?
Is this the love, that I've been searching for?


So, it’s Pat Shurmur.

The name isn’t sexy, and the résumé does not sparkle with the glitter of tacky, oversized championship rings.

The former St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator, formally introduced by the Browns this morning in Berea, has never been a head coach. Hell, he’s only been an offensive coordinator for the last two seasons.

As this column is part of the blogosphere - that glowing digital bastion of unwanted opinions and half-baked blanket statements – one could extrapolate from my dour opening paragraphs that I don’t like the hire.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Yes, basketball happiness does exist in Ohio

The O stands for Ohio for Jared Sullinger
I think Ohio State sent new Michigan football head coach Brady Hoke a message last night.  Your fans might cheer for you, but we still own your ass.

The OSU basketball team proceeded to beat a tough Michigan team in Ann Arbor last night, holding on to beat the Wolverines 68-64 Wednesday night.  Hoke and Wolverines QB Denard Robinson were in attendence, and saw Michigan fight back, but fall short.

Cleveland's favorite chef gets ass burned, serves up a LeBron slam

Well it turns out that the way LeBron taunted his ex-teammates and fans after the embarassing loss by the Cavs to the Lakers on Tuesday didn't sit well with Iron Chef Michael SymonHe of the maniacal giggle, mad knife skills, and love of pork, golf, and all things Cleveland. 

Symon fired off an open letter to LeBron James via his Facebook page on Wednesday evening, and I think it pretty much sums up what all Clevelanders think of our ex-favorite Cavalier now.  He's nothing but a spoiled brat.

Dear Lebron
I have defended you leaving in the past.  Even though I never agreed with how you handled it I still tried to understand your decision and always understood it was business..but the karma comment just burns my ass.  Regardless of if you feel Mr. Gilbert did you wrong,  you need to realize that a comment like that is a smack in the face to the city of Cleveland.  You may be the greatest basketball player in the world but it is quite obvious you have alot of growing up to do and that money and mad skills dont give you class.  Watch out for the karma..it may bite you in your ass!!

Michael Symon

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cavs Clueless. LeBron Classless.

Wow. That's all I can say right now. Wow. 

Okay, no it isn't.

The Cavs reached an all time low last night losing by 55 to the L.A. Lakers. Granted, the Cavs are currently giving extended minutes to guys that probably belong in the D League at best, but there is no excuse for these repeated lackluster performances. On top of it, newly crowned a-hole of the world is rubbing salt in the wound, tweeting about his former organization, laughing in their faces. How does that saying go -  "Those in glass houses..."?

Now I'm not one to play the "I'm embarrassed to be a Cleveland fan" card. But today I am. At least a Cavaliers fan. Sorry, but it's true... it's damn true.

Maybe instead of making their "biggest priority" (as Senior V.P. of Marketing Tracy Marek stated) bringing in homeless-man-turned internet-sensation Ted Williams to fill a position that, to my knowledge, isn't really needed, they should worry about how the hell they're going to sell tickets next year. The carry over season ticket holders, who re-upped before The Decision will vanish faster than the Cavalier defense.

Sack up Cavs. I'm all for getting that #1 pick... but not at this embarrassing rate.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Final AP Poll released, and GameDay doesn't like scarlet and grey

The Associated Press released its final poll this morning, and like the BCS, crowned Auburn its champion.  However, a couple anomalies stand out.

Oregon, who qualified for the BCS Championship game over TCU, dropped to #3, despite losing only on a last second field goal on a neutral field to Auburn.  Undefeated TCU beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, and some voters are harboring a grudge (not without merit) that they were shut out of a chance at the National Championship.

Despite that--I feel that if you are in the championship game, you're either first or second place.  No exceptions.  Lose 63-0, you're still #2.  (Incidentally, one college coach voted for TCU in the BCS voting--which is contractually against the rules for coaches.)

I took a look at the fabulous website Pollspeak.com for some of this....check it out if you ever are interested in how specific AP voters voted.

Ohio State finished 5th in the poll...which is two spots above Wisconsin.  I think most Buckeye fans would feel that Ohio State would beat Wisconsin on a neutral field, but at this point, the head to head results on the field must show through.  I'd have voted Wisconsin over Ohio State by one spot. Just like Doug Lesmirises did.  And Kirk Herbstreit,who incidentally ranked Ohio State #9, which was the lowest that anyone ranked the Buckeyes.

The only other voter to rank Ohio State that low was Chris Fowler.  Who somehow ranked Boise State above Ohio State, despite their loss to Nevada, and Ohio State's only loss being on the road to Big Ten Champion Wisconsin, and their BCS victory over Arkansas.  (Very curiously, no voter voted Boise State higher, nor Nevada lower.)

Wonder what it was that made two GameDay announcers vote Ohio State so low?  Was it the vendetta Herbstreit has against Terrelle Pryor?

Complete AP poll after the jump.

New Orleans, The Complete Diaries



Part 1, April 2002


gutter plants turned to barbed wire,
street magicians turned magistrates,
tarot readers turned palm-cheaters,
glad handers turned pan handlers,
the freaks turn up with the sun...
so turn down their attention--
this evening, they'll be back with friends;
oh, and did I mention?
role problems here are an easy fix...
men turn into women,
and the tourists turn the tricks...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cavs change hotels, avoid being kept awake by Miami Heat self-congratulations

Well this is pretty sad, and I suppose can be painted in an embarassing light.  The Cavs and Heat will both be in LA this week for a bit, and they were scheduled to both stay in the same Beverly Hills hotel.  Well, when Moondog or Sir C.C. or whomever on the Cavaliers books their travel found this out, they quickly moved to change hotels. The Cavs will now be staying down the street.

Knock-Knock! Room Service!
After all, since the Cavs and Heat played, let's just say things have gone a little bit better for the Heat than the Cavs, as the Cavs are much worse than I thought they were going to be.  And unfortunately, the Heat figured out how to turn it on.  I'm sure given the humility of LeBron James and his master and their lapdog, some childish mocking pranks would be in order.  Like doorbell ditching JJ Hickson.  Or ordering 12 lobsters and bottles of Cristal to the room of Mo Williams.

And given the rage that I hope is building up in the Cavaliers players' hearts and souls, that could have led to very bad repercussions.  So let's just be happy the Cavs moved.  The circus might be in Miami this week, but a real circus could have taken place in LA if Mo Williams had come back to his room to find all his furniture moved to the hallway.


Uniwatch remodels fake Nike Uniforms, Browns still sweet.

As you may have seen, some time ago a series of images were release which purported to represent the uniforms that Nike will force players to wear implement in the NFL next year.  Fortunately, they were fake.  As if the Steelers would ever wear this one.

UniwatchBlog today has rejiggered some of the uniforms, again not official from Nike, and released the first half of the AFC today.  Much better designs, (especially the Buffalo Bills), and wanted to share the Browns.  Obviously not much tweaking, since as the author says, "The Browns have pretty much one of the most classic unis in the game, so pro combat, with the ability to put proper striping on the comp sleeves, makes it even better. ‘Nuff said."

Pictures after the jump.

Construction delay


Perhaps the worst thing about watching the Cavaliers flounder so fantastically this season is the reality that the team isn’t even technically in rebuilding mode yet. By definition, the word suggests having at least a foundation in place around which you can erect a solid structure.

Fact is, at 8-29 and with a roster full of players unlikely to be in wine-and-gold when and if contention rolls around again, the 2010-2011 Cavaliers are still a house on fire – we have to wait until the flames consume everything before we can start sifting through the ashes.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Vox Lox: Wild Card Playoff Pix


For the past seventeen weeks, this column has been relegated to nothing more than a cheap, internet confession booth. The NFL regular season zoomed by, as far as I'm concerned. And I spent most of it conning myself that this was the week the 49ers and/or Chargers would stop underachieving. Mike Singletary paid for his team's struggles with his job, and you would guess Norv Turner isn't close behind. But my position as CST's Premier handicapper goes on, and I have four more weeks to turn a profit. As always, I'm desperate to learn from my mistakes. Perhaps I wasted too much time the last four months watching the other football? Maybe I should've been scouting teams on Sunday Night Football instead of viewing the same episode of Boardwalk Empire twice, and then wistfully hoping Kenny Powers would ditch Mexico and reunite with April? All of those Sports Guy/Cousin Sal podcasts I only half-paid attention to while I chased those proggers around Pogo's speed chess rooms...well, it showed when I made my picks every Sunday.

I even turned off the Patriots vs. Colts in November to watch Pretty in Pink for the umpteenth time. And, let me just say it, I stopped suspending my disbelief during the prom scene: Andy's dress was awful, and Molly Ringwald didn't do it any favors. So, in essence, the film's title is a lie. While we all can relate to the tumultuous caste systems built into every american public high school, it's rather unfortunate that Molly wasn't pretty in pink. She wasn't even average in pink. She was sort of a hot mess in pink, and a pretty limited actress. Which bring me to this entry's revelation (I use that word too much): Lately, when the Vox looks in the mirror, he sees Molly Ringwald. Vox Lox is a snappy title and synonymous with give 'em-hell-handicapping, but it's just a mirage. I've been masquerading behind my ridiculously good record for the past few seasons, but now everyone knows that I end up leaving the dance with Ducky...

Packers (+2.5) over Eagles, 2 dimes
Colts (-2.5) over Jets, 2 dimes
Seahawks (+10.5) over Saints, half-dime
Chiefs (+3) over Ravens, half-dime

Last week: 0-3 (-5 dimes)
Season: 30-33-3 (-6 dimes)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bodyslams to Pirouettes, Aronofsky Delivers





















Professional Wrestling and Ballet - The two go together about as well as LeBron James and humility. One is considered a lowbrow spectacle of unsophisticated violence, aggression, sweat, and blood. The other is known as a high class, refined art form full of sophistication, grace, and class. (I will let you decide which is which). Turns out, however, the two are not so different, as I realized after seeing the gripping psychological thriller, Black Swan, the latest movie by Darren Aronofsky, who previously brought us the critically acclaimed movie, The Wrestler.

I know what most of you are thinking: "Did that loser just say pro wrestling and ballet are similar?" I can appreciate the apprehension, but (aside from the loser part) you might be wrong to automatically jump to such a hasty conclusion. Case in point - Aronofsky's interview with MTV, where he proclaims that The Wrestler and Black Swan should be considered companion pieces and that the two films actually started as one. Arnofsky states:

“I’ve always considered the two films companion pieces. They are really connected and people will see the connections. It’s funny, because wrestling some consider the lowest art — if they would even call it art — and ballet some people consider the highest art. But what was amazing to me was how similar the performers in both of these worlds are. They both make incredible use of their bodies to express themselves. They’re both performers. At one point, way before I made The Wrestler, I was actually developing a project that was about a love affair between a ballet dancer and a wrestler, and then it kind of split off into two movies. So I guess my dream is that some art theater will play the films as a double feature some day.”

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A lightless void of perpetual despair



The Browns make me sad.

When I say “sad,” I don’t mean the “Robin Williams-smiling-through-his-tears” sweet, longing ache, which I understand can be therapeutic. No, watching this team turns me into an emo teenager who writes awful, angsty poetry under the name “OnyxRavenWolf” and posts Nine Inch Nails lyrics on his black-and-purple bordered MySpace page. And the only therapy the Browns inspire is the kind that costs $80 an hour.

Buckeyes Sweet victory withstands sour refs, broadcasters

Tuesday night's Sugar Bowl had a little bit of everything.  And gave Cleveland-Ohio State fans a thrill ride where the head spinning, gut twisting, soul trying anxiety was just all too familiar.

But, unlike often times in the lives of northeast Ohioans, this one had a happy ending.  Not necessarily  the ending where you run into the front yard and whoop and hollar with your family after winning the lottery.  No, more like the ending where you collapse on the ground,  kissing the turf after crawling away from a plane crash.

A couple things stood out.  Many of which will be used (or ignored) by SEC honks, ESPN, and general Ohio State haters to diminish the win. But we'll remember.

First, undoubtedly, the suspended players for Ohio State played enormous roles in the win, including winning MVP, catching a touchdown, running for one, and clinching the game with an interception.  Should the players have been in there?  Probably not. But don't put that onus on Ohio State.  It is the BCS and the Sugar Bowl who needed Terrelle Pryor and guys to play.  Should the five game suspensions be held up, playing Herron, Pryor, and Posey yesterday will only hurt Ohio State more next year than it helped them in a meaningless exhibition game.

A meaningless exhibition game that thrilled and entertained millions, but come on, please let's have a playoff system. Anyway...

Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett played very well, showing off his cannon arm quite often.  All too many times, his receivers dropped balls at key times (including an almost sure touchdown on the Razorbacks' first play from scrimmage.)   But if it weren't for a dropped interception in the fourth quarter by OSU, and a fumble on fourth down by Herron, the ending would not have been in doubt either.  Funny how the announcers didn't mention that very often. (By the way, if Jim Tressel had decided to punt on fourth and a foot in the fourth quarter, they wouldn't have deserved to win.  And probably wouldn't have.)

The safety.  Suffice it to say giving up 2 points and giving Arkansas the ball at the 50 was a huge momentum boost.  And also the worst call I have ever seen.  I haven't seen an official explanation, but that play was the very definition of forward progress.  I've never before seen a call like that, and it went basically unchallenged by ESPN. Additionally, several ball spots were...questionable...as well.  Each horrific call seemed to go against Ohio State. Four replays in the first half...where were they all in the second half?

Ohio State came out shooting in the first half.  Good scouting and film work obviously showed them something about Arkansas' speed to the lines.  The offensive and defensive lines dominated Arkansas', and Cameron Heyward probably should have been MVP. Dane Sanzenbacher' fumble recovery might have been a combination of luck and hustle, but the touchdown pass he caught from Pryor was pure magic.  The 28-7 lead had Buckeye nation in a mood of cautious euphoria.

Of course, as written in the Ohio state constitution, the second half got tight.  ESPN will remember the Razorbacks' drops, but it was the failure of the OSU offensive line to keep their first half pace, the few big mistakes (like Herron's fumble), the hugely pro-SEC crowd and announcers, and the malpractice by the zebras that pulled the game as close as it was.

Ohio State 31
Arkansas 26

Overall a strong performance on a big stage, and Ohio State finally gets its first bowl win against the SEC.  There are bleary eyes and palpitating hearts in Ohio today, and smiles across the land.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What we think will happen tonight...

Sugar Bowl: Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Arkansas Razorbacks


(Actual result:  Some pretty close guesses, as Ohio State hung on to win, 31-26, and Terrelle Pryor did win the MVP award.) 

BrianOSU-38
Arkansas-16
It's not really even this close as Ohio State's defense dominates. Terrelle Pryor puts enough stats on the sheet to make NFL scouts reconsider his pro potential, and him to reconsider his so-called "pledge."
TomArkansas-24
OSU-13
Terrelle Pryor can't handle the heat in the Big Easy.  Buckeyes offer no help for the Big Ten's bowl game record.
DougOSU-30
Arkansas-26
The money-for-memorabilia scandal and the fact that OSU hasn't beaten a single team in the top-25 BCS standings don't seem to bode well for the Buckeyes' chances in New Orleans. Still, I'll be optimistic and say Coach Tressel will use the controversy to rally his team for their first-ever bowl win against an SEC program.
KevinOSU-31
Arkansas-28
Terrelle Pryor wins MVP and at the post game press conference, announces that he has decided to turn pro after all, based on sound advice from his trusted friends at LRMR.
RyanOSU-27
Arkansas-20
Terrelle Pryor tries to do too much and performs only average (at best), but the OSU D steps up with a game changing Pick-6. The Buckeyes finally win one against the SEC and restore a little pride for the Big Ten.
SamVoxOSU-23
Arkansas-22
Predicting NCAA Bowl games is much like playing the ponies at Northfield Park-- a stab in the dark. When in doubt, be a homer.
SeanOSU-33
Arkansas-27
Bucks pull off a thriller, TP wins Sugar Bowl MVP (immediately available for sale on eBay after the game.)

Michigan fires Rodriguez, hopefully gives "rivalry" new life

Michigan today fired embattled head coach Rich Rodgriguez, whose three years at Michigan were only distinguished by a series of embarrassments, ending with a 52-14 humiliation at the hands of Mississippi State on New Year's Day.


I cannot imagine anyone is saddened at this turn of events.  

Maybe--just maybe--"coach" Rodriguez feels bad, but he has 2.5 million ways to make him feel better.  Michigan fans have to be relieved that the last three years are over.  I mean, Michigan--the University of Michigan!!--has gone 1-11 versus ranked teams over the last three years.  Not to mention lopsided losses to Ohio State, NCAA violations, and of course, everybody realizing that your coach is a dick.   

The Big Ten wants Michigan to be good.  They need Michigan to be good.  Obviously, since they structured their whole ridiculously named new division structure around Ohio State and Michigan.  

And of course, most* Ohio State fans want the greatest rivalry in sports to be that--a rivalry.  Right now about as hard to get excited for the third fourth Saturday in November as it is for the Steelers to get up for the Browns.

I'm one of those fans who would love OSU-Michigan to be #1 vs #2 every day.  Not everyone is like that--some want Michigan to never sniff victory--but I doubt anyone wants their arch rivals giving up 65 points to Illinois.

*The debate whether you want your rival to go winless, or have their hearts broken by you, is a debate without end.  What do you think?

It's Sugar, and nothing's sweeter than defense

Finally, after the yearly six week layoff between games, Ohio State takes the field again tonight, returning  to the Superdome for the first time since LSU beat the Bucks 38-24 in a virtual home game in the BCS Championship three years ago. The Buckeyes seem to have considerable motivation here, as LB Brian Rolle has said this win would be “even bigger” than last year’s Rose Bowl.


Basically, it’s because of the big bad wolf. The boogieman.  The monster under the bed.  Yes, it’s the SEC all over again.  Now, of course this is not Florida or LSU, it’s Arkansas.  And not Corliss Williamson and the Razorbacks.  An Arkansas football team, and it’s got a very good offense, which seems to consume much of the chatter before the game.  The Razorbacks have former Michigan quarterback Ryan Mallett, who is as high-profile as any quarterback in all of college football. In fact, Arkansas passed for over 335 yards per game this year.

However, it should be noted that the Buckeyes are no slouches on offense either.  They average 219.7 yards on the ground, which is nearly 70 yards more per game than Arkansas.  And they score 2 more points per game than Arkansas.  They don't have the pure passer that Arkansas does at QB1, but Terrelle Pryor has his well-documented strengths as well.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mangini Fired

UPDATE - The Browns have released an official statement. Eric Mangini has been fired.

-------------------
Chris Mortensen of ESPN is reporting that Eric Mangini has been fired. Mangini is meeting with Mike Holmgren this morning.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What we think will happen today...

Week 17, Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns

(UPDATE:  Actual result:  Not only did the Steelers avoid the trap game, they humiliated the Browns, ending the season for Cleveland with four straight losses, and putting the final nail in the coffin of coach Eric Mangini.)

BrianBrowns-24
Steelers-23
Browns squeak out a victory, to the delight and consternation of their fans, coach, and general manager. Not to mention the Baltimore Ravens. Phil “the foot” Dawson seals a happy ending for the Brownies.  Hillis and team play hard for Mangini.
TomSteelers-17
Browns-10
Closer on paper than it really is.  Back-to-back 5-11 seasons doom Mangini.
DougSteelers-23
Browns-10
The Steelers have something to play for while the Browns are playing out the string for a (likely) lame duck coach. The 2010 Browns have shown they can get up for these types of games, but the talent gap with Pittsburgh is still too wide to make a difference.
KevinSteelers-28
Browns-
14
Goodwill that was created with mid-season big wins has disappeared faster than Mangini's gut. But was it enough to save his job?
RyanBrowns-20
Steelers-17
Because picking with my heart feels better than picking with my head.
SamVoxPittspuke-17
Browns-16
Tight game, but the real drama starts tomorrow.
SeanSteelers-27
Browns-10
Since 1969, the Browns have had thirteen head coaches.  Possibly soon to be fourteen.  The Steelers have had three.  It's a small victory, right?

Vox Lox (week 17): On Mangini


I've never struggled so much with my opinion of a coach in Cleveland. I usually come to conclusions quickly and rarely waver. As a lifelong fan of The Human Rain Delay, I thought John Hart should keep Grover, even after Boston beat us three straight in the '99 ALDS. I wanted Fratello forever, regardless of how many fans abhorred seeing the Cavs grind out ugly wins. I disliked Silas and Romeo from Day One. Liked Mike Brown and Butch Davis instantly, but their flaws began to drain me-- and I felt relief when they were terminated. I spent lots of energy hating on Charlie Manuel and Belicheat, but they both went on to feed me shitburgers. I fondly reminisce about John Lucas, even though I always knew he was more mascot than coach. I love Manny Acta's PR skills, but we all know he was hired to be fired (sooner, rather than later). I miss Marty's "gleam" and love Gary Waters' mid-major dream. Bottom line, I know who I'm down with and who I want to run outta town.

But damnit, I don't know what to make of Eric Mangini. He's a bit too practical (like all Capricorns) and secretive to energize a fan base, but his methodical and selfless approach is too disarming for the Vox to truly criticize. We see shades of the Mangenius with brilliant game plans in blowout victories, and then he quickly turns into a slave for field goals during indigestible losses. I never know if I'm riding with Mangini, or if I want to derail the tracks. I couldn't jump on the bandwagon when he shredded the News (Orleans & England) the same way I couldn't jump off of it when he found ways to lose to the Bengals and Bills. I'll admit I like Coach Mangini, and not just because my middle name is Eric. He listens to Biggie and 2Pac, counts Tony Soprano as a friend, and seems to understand the religion of Browns football in Cleveland. Also, unbeknownst to each other, we were simultaneously working off our pot bellies in early 2010 (consequently, I can't disqualify Eric with my recent theory that fat coaches can no longer win Super Bowls. Bill Parcells, thanks to Scott Norwood in 1991, will go down as the last out-of-shape HC to win a championship. How do you sell the virtues of sacrifice and work ethic to your players if you don't have the discipline to trade your doughnuts for a few minutes on the treadmill?). The team always plays hard for him, even if it's for a coach that had a heavy hand in their awful start. Yes, the Bucs and Chiefs ended up being much stronger than anticipated, but the Browns made no second-half adjustments in either loss. And, at some point during week 3, Mangini had to realize that Eric Wright had no business trying to cover Anquan Boldin. At 0-3, our season was essentially over before it began.

Nevertheless, I dare any Browns fan to give me a better alternative and explain why? Jon Gruden, playing to the camera with his cartoonish faces and football bravado, is now a product-personality of ESPN. Because he's demonstrative, affable and won a Super Bowl with Brad Johnson at QB...well, he's currently billed as a potential savior. I'll argue Chucky inherited Tony Dungy's team just as they blossomed into one of the great defensive squads of the modern era and won the title in what was a down year for the NFL, team talent-wise. John Fox? Reunited with Delhomme? Over my dead body; you might as well bring Romeo and Trent Dilfer back. Mike Holmgren? He was the only head coach with a winning record to actually lose to Crennel's Browns in 2007. And the Big Show may have lost all three Super Bowls he coached in had it not been for Desmond Howard and clueless Pete Carroll on the opposite sideline. See, the problem with most fans trying to talk football is that their perceptions come from ESPN's reality. The perception is that Mike Ditka was a great football coach. The reality is that all he had to do was get out of the way and watch one of the most dominant teams in the history of pro sports fulfill their inevitable destiny (for my GenY readers: the '85 Bears were so unstoppable, they made a video letting you know they were headed to the SuperBowl three months beforehand. Could that ever happen now? Live forever, Jim McMahon). Coach Ditka would eventually do his own version of Katrina on the New Orleans Saints franchise. But he was immortalized by an SNL skit and that unsightly sweater vest, and ESPN is selling you on those memories every time they let Ditka pretend to provide intelligent analysis.

So, yes, it's no secret I like substance over style when it comes to my football coaches, but at what point do I tire of this "process" Mangini so often speaks about? He strikes me as patient. But I'm out of fucking patience. Sixteen years without a playoff victory will do that. And, yet, if this were a town hall meeting...I'd be Barbara Hershey on my way to the podium to bury the coach, only to change my mind at the last possible moment. Regardless of the result this afternoon against Pittspuke, you'll hear Vox's voice bellowing in the back of the church: Coach stays!

--

Giants (-4) over Redskins, 2 dimes
Chiefs (-3.5) over Raiders, 2 dimes
Browns, Pittspuke under 37.5, 1 dime

Last week: 2-2 (-2 dimes)
Season: 30-30-3 (-1 dime)