Thursday, June 30, 2011

Quick thoughts and top 10 video of new Cavs SF Omri Casspi

The Cavs today traded one of their most valuable young pieces, JJ Hickson, to the Sacramento Kings for Omri Casspi and a future (protected) first round draft pick.  I don't know much about Casspi, other than he is the first Israeli NBA player and apparently dates Bar Rafaeli. Perhaps Cavs GM Chris Grant felt left out when he didn't draft a foreign player with one of his lottery picks this year.

I found this "top 10 Omri Casspi plays" on YouTube, and let's just say they I have to think there's at least one play "better" than a fast break wide open putback layup.  Nevertheless, a few things are sure...Casspi is tall, relatively quick, a good ball handler, and gets up in the air quickly.  He also apparently can shoot the three.

JJ Hickson showed some promise, but not quickly enough, and future contract issues (and some possible attitude issues) probably sealed his fate in Cleveland. But it was nice knowing you, JJ, and I liked your game too.  Good luck in Sacramento.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tough decisions loom for Tribe brass

From a PR position at least, Indians' management is in a somewhat unenviable position as the All-Star break looms. You have a team that got off to a blazingly hot start, sparking excitement in a fanbase for the first time in four years, only to come crashing down in a June swoon that's yet to let up.

All the good of that 30-15 start has evaporated in a red mist of an 11-21 freefall. With injuries wracking an already punchless offense, Tribe fans want to see a proactive front office cooking the phones to bring in a bat, or perhaps another arm if Fausto Carmona continues to so generously give up the big inning.

And here's where you have that uncomfortable spot between a rock and a hard place if you're a member of the Tribe brass. For a team probably one year ahead of schedule in the rebuilding process, an ownership group that like as not pinches pennies until they scream may not be so willing to make any major changes to the roster.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Looks like Cavs #1 pick Kyrie Irving had fun on draft night...

No word on whether Tristan Thompson had as much fun...

via Sporting News

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Love is a wonderful thing

We love what we love. Reason does not enter into it. - Patrick Rothfuss

Joe Haden, lover of fun
Fan-love can be a misunderstood concept, and perhaps no more so than when it comes to perceptions of the North Coast. When LeBron James went south, Clevelanders were portrayed as orphaned children who lost a piece of their souls along with their best hope for a championship celebration.

Writers trying to capture the regional zeitgeist suggested that James, the hometown kid with a global reach, essentially "completed" us, and like any spurned paramour with little else to live for, we filled the vacuum of our severed adoration with anger, jealousy and hatred.

Even Cleveland media got caught up. As the downtown "We Are All Witnesses" banner came down, local columnists and radio talk show hosts alike warned against future instances of such singular affection, and by gum we had all learned a valuable lesson, hadn't we?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Greg Oden mistaken for That Guy in Miami (TGiM)?

Okay, TMZ may say they don't endorse the usage of racial stereotypes, but how does any red-blooded American male (as I assume this cameraguy is) not recognize that Greg Oden is not LeBron James...errrr...TGiM?

We know how this (dunk and season) ended.
Sure, maybe they both look like they are 20 years older than they really are.  They both led my teams to the brink of greatness, but fell short. They're both Midwesterners. And of course, they're both giant African-Americans.  Which I'm sure is why the cameraman was so woefully ignorant confused.

But--only one of them still dresses like a Midwesterner. Only one didn't stab my team in the back (we all knew Greg was at Ohio State for one year, and it was a great one). Only one wouldn't act like a total prima dona jackass if a cameraman mistook him for someone else.

Only one wouldn't be out in public not surrounded by a sycophant jackass posse. Only one of them wouldn't be decked out in giant diamond earrings and a self-branding t-shirt. Only one of them has a self-effacing sense of humor, as you can see in the video.

Only one of them am I wishing long successful NBA years ahead of him. And only one of them would I welcome to the Cleveland Cavaliers with open arms.

Browns looking at Terrelle Pryor?

Well, well.  The Plain Dealer reports that the Browns are taking a hard look at Terrelle Pryor. We're all aware of the positives and negatives of Pryor, but this would be fascinating at the least, to put him in a situation where the pro fan base is also made up overwhelmingly of Ohio State fans as well.

I'm not going to be one of those who says that he can't be an NFL QB.  Of course, I'm not running him through the battery of tests that NFL experts would be know, the experts who never make a mistake drafting quarterbacks. He certainly is tall enough and he does seem to have a strong arm. He made plenty of great throws for the Buckeyes; it wasn't just his legs that got him yardage. His running is so spectacular, that's what people remember.

Alas, I don't think the Browns can pick him. There is going to be enough bad blood among Buckeyes fans who blame Pryor for the current Ohio State problems, that it would be very tough for him to be successful in Cleveland.

I don't think Pryor is a bad kid. Maybe a bit cocky and apparently self-entitled. But there's a thin line between confidence and cockiness. Pryor straddles that line, and it's not a terrible place for a quarterback.  But Cleveland would be a terrible place for Terrelle Pryor.

I guess I'm just hoping the Steelers don't continue their habit of drafting Buckeyes.

Monday, June 20, 2011

MLB asks for the top All-Star game moments, but one is missing is asking fans to vote, tournament style, for the top moment in All-Star Game history. As meaningless as the game is (despite the home-field-advantage wrinkle established as a knee-jerk reaction to the tie a few years ago), to me, it's still a fantastic Mid-Summer Classic.

When I was a kid, I used to look forward to that July Tuesday every year. I remember distinctly staying up at a sleepover until extra innings during the summer of 1987, waiting for the lone Tribesman, Pat Tabler, to come up to bat. Not sure we all were awake for that, but yes, he struck out.

1997 All-Star Game logo.Image via Wikipedia
Looking over the list, there certainly were some great ones. Tony Gwynn's slide into home for the winning run in 1994 was particularly exciting. But by that time, the strike was looming, and the fact that the Indians had awoken from their slumber was overshadowed by the dark cloud of labor strife that was not over the horizon any more, it was almost directly overhead.

My vote, naturally, would for the only All-Star Game I've ever been to in person.  I was lucky enough to get tickets to the 1997 All-Star Game through Ticketmaster over the phone. (Also landed 1994 Opening Day tickets that way too--something that basically never happens now...) We scalped second row tickets for the home run contest the day before for peanuts, and sat right behind someone sporting a giant 1996 World Series championship Yankee ring.  (If you ever think about buying tickets for those HR derby days, don't spend a lot of money--it is incredibly boring.)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Oh, Canada, Cleveland should understand your plight

Fun Fact: Canada is a country of 35 million people.

Let's start a fire, let's start a riot...

Fun Fact # 2: Half of Canada's population, apparently made up of white males ages 18-24, boiled up from underground like Morlocks clad in Trevor Linden jerseys to descend on the heretofore laid back and eminently livable city of Vancouver on Wednesday night in a fit of Stanley Cup-cheated rage.

Those wacky Canadians, eh? Good thing those Prius-driving bong-tokers get all that free health care, amirite folks?

Such seemed to be the sentiment this week after the Canucks' Game 7 Stanley Cup defeat led to riots in Vancouver. There's nothing us humans like to do more than to group other humans into neat little boxes. It's our nature, and for a couple of days at least the actions of a brazen group of dumbasses got a fanbase, if not an entire city and country, labeled as barbaric idiots.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Harry Doyle, summing up Indians batting frustrations from 1989 to forever

Well although yesterday I figured the Indians' debt had been paid, and they could get back to scoring runs again, Justin Verlander had different ideas on how Tuesday's Tigers-Tribe game should go.  Alas, that guy is good.

And the Indians, right now, aren't.  Something's gotta give.  But I know how you feel, Harry Doyle.  Not exactly right for this occassion, but close enough.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Minor League team to give away LeBron replica championship rings

Peoria ChiefsImage via Wikipedia
What I wouldn't give to be in charge of minor league baseball promotions for a team whose owner is the single-A equivalent of Mark Cuban, and there's no David Stern to slap our hands.

In the latest case, the Peoria Chiefs will be holding a LeBron James 2011 NBA Championship Replica Ring Giveaway to all fans this Thursday, June 16. This will take place to help their "Salute to the 1990s Chicago Bulls Championship Teams" night.

Normally, a night of baseball centered around the six championships that the Bulls won would make me want to vomit up the three or four hot dogs I'd just inhaled at the ballpark. But in this case, the Chiefs have made it worth attending.

Some highlights:

  • The team is looking to see if the league will let them skip the fourth (inning, in this case)
  • One lucky fan will win a replica of James' 2011 Finals MVP Award, which he "earned with his clutch fourth quarter play"
  • Heimlich instructions will be given to fans, for those situations where they're needed
Naturally, like TGiM's ring, it doesn't really exist.  It will weigh, look like, and be worth precisely as much as air. But at least $2.00 draft beers will get you plenty primed to think of some more jokes at LeBron's expense. Big ups to Nathan Baliva (@nbaliva) and the entire organization for this stroke of genius.

As VP of ticket sales Eric Obalil said, "Really this is just us getting back to the real world and waking up today and trying to solve our own personal problems."

Related articles

Indians deal with the devil is over, look to score vs. Tigers

Well now that the vindication villification of LeBron James is finished, the attention of Cleveland (hopefully) returns to the Indians (at least until the NBA draft next week.)  The Tribe, of course, steamrolled to an amazing and spirit-lifting run through April and most of May, jumping out to a huge early-season lead in the AL Central.

I had surmised that this might have been God's way of distracting Clevelanders from what was looking more and more inevitable, That Guy in Miami (TGiM--thanks Doug) winning a ring with his gang of jerks in their very first year.

But then, maybe something changed.  On May 31, the Indians beat the Blue Jays 6-3, and stood 12 games over .500.  And that night, the Heat, led by insane shooting by TGiM, took a 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals.

Mavs deliver King's justice

I woke up this morning and the world was the same as it had been from the day before, and for that matter my 36 years prior. When my alarm buzzed at 7:30 a.m. on June 13, 2011, a major Cleveland professional sports franchise still hadn’t won a championship.

That cold, hard fact didn’t seem to matter when That Guy in Miami(TGiM) dejectedly walked off the floor on Sunday night. Local news broadcasts displayed tape of half-filled bars downtown where Cleveland fans righteously cheered the Heat’s demise.

I have a bad feeling about this..
Miami losing with LeBron James wilting under a blazing Finals spotlight was about all vengeance-minded Clevelanders could ask for. Still, now that it’s over, I can’t lose sight of the fact that this isn’t Cleveland’s championship to commemorate. Giving the Mavericks a standing ovation at The Q next season, an idea that has been half-jokingly bandied about on Twitter and Facebook, is a little tacky and more than a little pathetic, and I hope it doesn’t happen. Co-opting Dallas fan's joy doesn’t do a damned thing for me, either.

Monday, June 13, 2011

In Real Life, You Get What You Deserve

Eleven months ago, the Miami Heat organization held an infamous WWE-style celebration following The Decision, complete with dancing, pyrotechnics, smoke, and gloating. And with that, the Heat became the biggest heels (wrestling jargon for villains) in the sports world. And if there's one thing I've learned from my years of studying the male soap opera that is sports entertainment (besides how hilarious, insane, and frightening Vince McMahon can be) is that the heel ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS (eventually) gets his comeuppance.

And boy did the Heat, and LeBron, get theirs. Like a well-booked feud, the arrogant, cocky heels kept getting over and built momentum leading up to and through the playoffs. Seemingly unbeatable, it would take an incredible and heroic effort to stop the world dominance about to unfold. Like LeBron, the legendary Andre the Giant turned his back on his fans to take the easy road to a title... and like Andre the Giant, LeBron (and his Heat teammates) got a Hulk Hogan Wrestlemania III bodyslam for their efforts. Oh hell yeah... The heel ALWAYS gets his comeuppance.

Dan Wetzel (@danwetzel) on Cleveland, LeBron, the Cavs, and being a Cleveland sports fan

Dan Wetzel pens a great column on Yahoo on the emotions that have gone through Cleveland Sports fans over the past 47 years, and particularly the last 11 months.  A couple key points about the pride and wounds of being a Clevelander, and a Cleveland Sports fan.

LeBron James, the local kid from Akron, the one who claimed he understood your heartache, the one you defended for years, the one that was finally going to deliver sporting glory. He bails for some fair-weather sports town and an arena full of white-covered chairs with pretty people who can’t even be bothered to watch the game while it’s going on.
So, yeah, when LeBron James’ dream gets delayed, you bet you’re going to get regional schadenfreude like nothing we’ve ever seen.
Yet LeBron’s take, the same one that too often has been bandied about nationally, doesn’t begin to understand the emotions in Cleveland.
It’s too trite and small to view Cleveland as some bottomed-out, post-industrial postcard to the past. These aren’t all people trapped in awful times or terrible circumstances or living small lives in jealousy of LeBron’s big one.
There’s money here. There is success in Cleveland. There is contentment. As sure as there are poor in Miami, as sure as the VIP area of the Mansion Nightclub isn’t the full reality of South Florida, neither is some boarded-up East Cleveland warehouse the story here.
There are doctors and lawyers and entrepreneurs and financial planners and artists and teachers and dreamers and, yes, insulation installers. (“In the column can you mention the company, Pure Seal Inc.?”)
There are happy families and neighborhoods and the American Dream in full view. There are plenty of people who don’t have any personal problems who are quite content to keep their talents in Cleveland, a place they love just the way it is.
Original link:

What's German for "schadenfreude"?

There's a time and a place for celebrating like you've won it all. See if you can pick the right ones.

Annoyed bloggers be damned. Like I've said, it's not just Clevelanders enjoying this today. But you can be damn sure we are.

A little too much celebrating after beating Boston...

And here's my celebration...cheers to the Mavericks. Beers on me.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cavs fans don't have to be ashamed of who they root for tonight

The storylines of this NBA Finals have been ridiculous.  Nearly overshadowing which, in the absence of such a huge team of villains as the Miami Heat, would be seen as one of the great basketball series in recent memory.

First, the Heat victory over Chicago was "the vindication of LeBron James".  The media, which had by and large seen the Heat as underdogs in the previous two series, now seeing them as inevitable champions. And saying now that LeBron was vindicated for his "decision," if not the way he conducted it.

Then there was the huge game two collapse/comeback that tied the series 1-1.  All of a sudden the whispers came back about LeBron not being able to finish.  And the Mavericks ripping home court advantage.

Game three, of course, gave home court right back to Miami, as Dirk's last second shot fell short.  As so it began again, the "three of four best players on the court will win 4 out of 7 every time" argument.  (One that many Clevelanders have been fearing throughout the playoffs, mind you, and one that is not hard to logically arrive at, either.)

Game four, in an eerie replay of Cavs-Boston last year, had an ineffective and often apparently disinterested LeBron James just standing around as the Mavericks win.  The volume of criticism now was deafening, and LeBron knew it. He tweeted "now or never" before Game 5, knowing that he screwed up yet again--for reasons unknown, but unfortunately tawdry rumors arose again.  Some rumors were that he was mad at Dwayne Wade.  Some were much worse.

Game 5 however, was not to be for Miami.  Although they had a perfect stretch in the fourth quarter that siezed the lead, Dallas refused to let that become the gut punch it could have so easily been.  And with a flurry of drives and miraculous shots, they pulled away from Miami and now stand one game from the championship.

The criticism of LeBron James, nearly universal, is so tough, that even should Miami pull out two wins at home to win the trophy, I don't think it will go away.  Charles Barkley is on record saying that many hall-of-famers can't stand the way the Heat threesome basically threw a championship party before training camp even began, talking about 7 championships "like it is that easy."

Throughout the entire Finals, however, a small but vocal chorus has been telling Cleveland to "get over it". Thursday night after Game 5, ESPN actually had a reporter in some Quicken Loans Arena-area bars, polling fans and *shockingly* finding that most of them, if they are rooting, are rooting against the Heat! Nevermind that "rooting against the Heat" is about as common in any city in the US as "complaining about the weather."  Except, in both cases, in south Florida. Stan Verrett, the B-team Sportscenter anchor, came right out laughing at Cleveland and told us we need to get over it. And Buzz Bissinger, in Newsweek/Daily Beast, was quoted:

The fans in Cleveland in particular have to seriously get a life. They were right in feeling terribly shunned. But it's over now. The continued whining has become noxiously pathetic.
Really?  Whining? Is that what's going on?  Not cheering against LeBron?  Is anger not to be expected?  And if not anger, don't you think Cleveland fans deserve to have--nay, SHOULD HAVE a rooting interest here?  Our homegrown star, who was worshipped here, and who vowed to bring a championship here, decides to handcuff the organization for years, then for a final three weeks, and skip town leaving the Cavaliers high and very dry.  So I think rooting for that pompous ass to lose is entirely expected. How exactly, is it "over now"? One could argue that many other parts of the country shouldn't have a rooting interest.  But that's not true either.  What he's done, what the Heat have done and how they've acted before they've deserved it, have given ample reason for fans to hate them. Even this week, when LeBron and Wade were caught on camera mocking Dirk Nowitzki's illness. And hate them, fans do.  The same scene can be found in bars from coast to coast. But you won't hear about that on Sportscenter tonight.

But through it all, Clevelanders in particular have obvious license to root.

Sure, it's not our championship.  Not our Super Bowl.  And winning a game in Miami is far from a foregone conclusion for the Mavericks.

But I'll be watching.  And so will most Cavs fans.  And we'll be rooting.  And there's nothing wrong with that. But I'm sure ESPN will whine about us, no matter what happens on the court.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dallas' announcer introducing LeBron

There's home court advantage, and then there's home court advantage.  From the Jimmy Kimmel show (obviously...)

Monday, June 6, 2011

'Forgiving' LeBron is not the issue

If nothing else, the Mavericks' Game 2 comeback against the Heat gave Cleveland fans a temporary respite against moral arbiters in the media who think its past time we lay down our armor and "forgive" LeBron James.
Even Buzz Bissinger, a vocal critic of the calculated dog-and-pony show that was "The Decision," said that while #6's superlative play this postseason won't completely wipe clean the schmutz from last summer's exercise in noxious douchebaggery, James's on-court greatness should be the lone standard on how he's ultimately judged.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dirk knows how many more...

After one of the biggest collapses in NBA history last night, to the delight of millions billions of people across Cleveland the world, the Heat now find themselves tied 1-1 instead of up two games to none.

What a game.  The anxiety I felt during that game rivaled some of the Cavs deep playoff runs.  Amazing comeback, perhaps spurred by Dallas' anger over the Heat over- or early-celebrating.  But then again, they had a party last July, and nobody has been angry enough to stop them yet.  And it should be mentioned that the Mavericks aren't the least-demonstrative team out there, especially Jason Terry, who was the one particularly sore at Wade for his posturing in front of their bench.  Nevertheless, it was sweet.

All we can hope now is that Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks can stay in Dallas and enjoy the beautiful Texas summer, rather than have to return to the disgusting weather back in Miami.

Three more! Mark Serota/Getty