Sunday, January 22, 2012

Vox Lox: Championship Sunday 2012

To be honest, I don't even need the championship to be happy.

My CST bio claims I'll never find contentment until Cleveland reaches the promised land, but that's a bit of the Vox shtick. Truthfully, the long playoff runs sustain me. Yes, the gut punch/death grip in the final act is tragic and demoralizing, but the weeks of victory and anticipation leading up to the inevitable fall are my drug of choice. Of course, I want the ring to validate our suffering: for my town and my Mom, for Earnest Byner, Craig Ehlo, Mike Hargrove and my damaged psyche, but some of the happiest moments of my life have occurred May 1984, January 1990, May 1992, and October 2007-- when the dream has become a half-reality, and we're practically shaking hands with the demons we've longed to exorcise. Insert any half-ass cliche about the fulfilling journey here, and I'll buy in.

What I won't buy is hype, future promises, and the acceptance of losing day in and day out. As a Cleveland Sports Fan approaching three decades, I'm only interested in meaningful games and I'll hibernate until they happen. Fuck progress. Fuck the rebuild. Fuck the NFL draft. Fuck your combine and your mini-camp. Fuck the pre-season. Fuck "pitchers and catchers report." Fuck your trip to Goodyear. Fuck your pitching prospects mowing 'em down in AA. Fuck the NBA Lottery. Fuck the trade deadline and your exemption. Fuck Harrison Barnes and RG3. Fuck Fausto and his fake ID. Fuck your cap room and your coordinator. Fuck the D-League and your farm system. Fuck your OTAs and time to implement your offense. Fuck patience. Wake me up on game day.
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Today's Plays:
Pats (-7) over Ravens, 4 dimes
Giants (+3) over Niners, 2 dimes
Last week: 1-1 (even)
Season: 29-27-3 (+3 dimes)
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Who is the Vox?
SamVox is not a professional handicapper, but a premier one. He has been gambling his entire adult life and has experienced every sickening turn and nasty twist of fate that occurs during a football season. What distinguishes the Vox is his amazing intuition, astoundingly long memory, attention to detail and preparation, aversion to propaganda and access to the industry's sharpest bettors. He is a two time Pick'Em champion and went 85-71-8 against the spread with his Vox Lox over three seasons. His critically-dismissed Vox in the Box column also appears here at Cleveland Sports Torture.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's Arbitration Avoidance Winterfest!

(Chris is a long suffering Tribe fan, guest writing here for CST. He can be seen on Twitter at @Cheech99.)




As the winter starts to press through to the back half of January, and that small speck of light on the horizon may well just be Tribe pitchers and catchers in Goodyear, AZ, the Cleveland Indians continue to sort through roster management to put their best foot forward in 2012.

As of this writing, January 17th clearly represents Arbitration Avoidance Fest as the Tribe has already agreed to one year deals with Joe Smith ($1.75MM), Jack Hannahan ($1.3MM), Shin Soo Choo (4.9MM) Justin Masterson ($3.825MM), Chris Perez ($4.5MM) with only Raffy Perez and Asdrubal Cabrera the lone unresolved cases.  With the Tribe having avoided formal arbitration since the Governor (Jerry Browne) and the Flounder (Greg Swindell) in 1991, it would be a pretty big shock if Cabrera or Raffy P actually went before the arbitrator.

What this does is begin to cement the 2012 opening day payroll which, by my math, would seem to shake out around $65MM (not including various incentives like the Sizemore escalators).  If the Dolans have given General Manager Chris Antonetti a budget ceiling, he obviously knows what he has to work with to augment the team via that oft-discussed first baseman/left fielder/ideally right handed stick, one of the more amusing off-season pursuits in recent memory.

The Chosen One has company


Kyrie IrvingComparing current Cavaliers rookie and overall #1 pick Kyrie Irving to another certain Cavalier #1 overall pick may be as unfair as comparing WWE's diminutive but lightning-quick Rey Mysterio to the muscular, larger-than-life legend Hulk Hogan. So I did it anyway, comparing their first twelve professional games. I knew Kyrie was having a very good start to his career and it would be at least worth looking at the stats next that Guy in Miami's, but I was shocked by how comparable the stats are - particularly the points per game (PPG), considering Kyrie is averaging thirteen LESS minutes per game. Ultimately, there is one stat that matters when comparing Kyrie to LeBron in a Cavaliers uniform: Championships.God willing - Kyrie will be on the plus side.



Kyrie vs. LeBron - the First 12 Games

Averages LeBron Kyrie
Minutes per game 40.75 27.75
Field goal % .444 .482
3 pt. % .355 .419
Free throw % .620 .867
Assists per game 6.7 5.3
Rebounds per game 6.5 3.2
Steals per game 1.3 .8
Blocks per game .8 .6
Turnovers per game 3.67 3.25
Points per game 17.5 17.7
Team Record 4-8 6-6

Monday, January 16, 2012

Are the Cavs too good for their own good?



2011 is a rebuilding season for the Cavaliers, the first real attempt at repairing the destruction of the "Decision" tsunami. Last year's wrong-headed stab at quasi-contention could have set the franchise back years, but a 26-game losing streak, a moronic dance partner willing to trade an unprotected lottery pick for Mo Williams, and a rare piece of good luck that landed the Cavs a No. 1 draft spot all combined to set the foundation for the future.
Not much was expected much from this year's Cavs, however. Kyrie Irving was a clear-cut top pick in an on-paper weak draft, but a toe injury had limited him to 11 games the year before at Duke. Tristan Thompson, the Cavs' second lottery pick selected fourth overall, was a larger question mark, with many fans wondering why the team took the relatively unknown Texas center/forward tweener over a couple of high-ceilinged European prospects.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Frozen Faceoff is over; could hockey work in Cleveland?




On a giant sports day Sunday, many eyes in Cleveland were on an unusual event taking place at Jacobs Progressive Field. While the Packers dream season was crushed by the G-Men at Lambeau Field, the Ravens unfortunately won (hopefully their last game of the season), and the Ohio State (Basketball) Buckeyes paid Indiana back in spades in the Columbus rematch, the Ohio State (hockey) Buckeyes faced off at Progressive Field against their archrivals--at least on the football field--in the form of the Michigan Wolverines.

Vox Lox: Divisional Pick

On playoff weekends, it hurts the most.
Wide screen HD TVs everywhere, flashing the colorful pageantry of the NFL dance. But brown and orange suits are nowhere in sight, as we are dateless going on a decade. Pro Football is constructed to intermittently share the post-season wealth with all 32 franchises, but their formula doesn't work in Cleveland. I'm freaking frustrated, friends. I mean, even Cincinnati got laid.
Referencing the 49ers stupendous home victory yesterday, Browns safety TJ Ward (@BossWard43) tweeted "Cleveland will have that feeling real soon." I actually appreciated that ambitious sentiment as more than just lip service to desperate fans, especially from a determined, hard-hitting player who isn't prone to hyperbole or Twitter propaganda. But the truth is the Browns aren't even close. 3-13 is my early, penciled-in prediction for next season, a setback that I believe will benefit the Browns long-term if it leads to the removal of Coach Shurmur and President Holmgren.
But this won't be another column indicting our front office. Been there, wrote that. I've got a house to clean, a road to run, and a game to bet on. So I'll leave you with this to ponder: when told that San Francisco's favorite rock-and-roll sons would be singing the national anthem to celebrate playoff football's return to Candlestick, Niner fans were surely primed for the Grateful Dead. Except it was Huey Lewis & the News that got the party started. The Cleveland equivalent would be Michael Stanley Band giving way to Beau Coup. Cue up this fantastic parody, and memories of better north coast Januaries.
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Today's Plays:
Giants/Packers Under 53, 1 dime
Giants (+7.5) over Packers, 1 dime
Last week: 1-2 (-1 dime)
Season: 28-26-3 (+3 dimes)
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Who is the Vox? SamVox is not a professional handicapper, but a premier one. He has been gambling his entire adult life and has experienced every sickening turn and nasty twist of fate that occurs during a football season. What distinguishes the Vox is his amazing intuition, astoundingly long memory, attention to detail and preparation, aversion to propaganda and access to the industry's sharpest bettors. He is a two time Pick'Em champion and went 85-71-8 against the spread with his Vox Lox over three seasons. His critically-dismissed Vox in the Box column also appears here at Cleveland Sports Torture.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dreams of the playoffs running through my head...

Winter seems finally to be approaching (and none too soon, as there's supposed to be an ice hockey game at the local ballfield this weekend, and last time I checked, ice was needed for that.) Christmas may be long gone, but I know that poem has something about kerchiefs and caps and long winter's naps, and dreams of point guards running through their heads.
Or something.  But that's what I'll be thinking about, Kyrie Irving led the Cavs to a huge win Thursday during a very tough road trip, in Phoenix. This team is nothing like last year's. At least not like last January's.
Opinions differ here at CST on what is the best outcome to the season for the young Cavs. And I sure as hell don't know. But I'm rooting for the playoffs.
Here's a link to a disgusting move by Irving, since NBA.com doesn't allow embedding.
http://www.nba.com/video/games/suns/2012/01/12/0021100157_cle_phx_play4.nba/index.html


Kyrie Irving

Thursday, January 12, 2012

25 years after "The Drive", Browns still have the better quarterback song

The Broncos may be flying relatively high this week, especially compared to our (un-)fair team, but even now, 25 years after "The Drive", the Cleveland Browns have one clear advantage over the Denver Broncos.
"Tim Tebow's Fire" is not even in the same league as "Bernie, Bernie."
I refer, of course, to the longtime (and some had thought, lost) tradition of football songs. When I was a kid, I distinctly remember sitting with my tape recorder NEXT to the radio on playoff Sundays, recording songs from WMJI and WMMS such as "Bad, Bad, Cleveland Browns" (hold your jokes, please,) "Return to Denver," "Bernie's Back", and of course, the song that will live as long as Cleveland does, "Bernie, Bernie." Even now, sports bars play that during Browns games, and only those early 20's fans look confused, as all of us 30-and-above sing at the top of our intoxicated lungs. There had to be 20-something songs played every Sunday, over and over, and I wish I still had those cassette tapes around here.


Well, John Parr has rewritten his only #1 hit "Man in Motion (St. Elmo's Fire)"  into an homage to none other than Denver quarterback Tim Tebow. I suppose the song is about the Broncos' quarterback--after all, his name is in there. But to be honest, there not too much reference to the sport of football. The whole world is talking about Tebow this week, so Parr must have felt there's no time like the present to try to get some pub. Hell, wish I had thought of it first.
Let's compare, and then you can judge for yourself:

Parr ("Tim Tebow's Fire"):
I can see a new horizon
Underneath the blazin’ sky
I’ll be where the eagle’s
Flyin’ higher and higher
Gonna be a man in motion
All I needs my Broncos team
Take me where my future’s lyin’
Tim Tebows Fire
Bleacher Bums  ("Bernie, Bernie):
Takes the snap, drops back, looks down the field...
Brennan breaks open the victory seal...
Cody and Baab keep the blitz at bay...
Give Bernie some time to make the big play.
As you can see, Parr's lyrics are just a mishmash of metaphors, with some Broncos and Tebow references in there, although he does mention "down on one knee, tryin' to break free." Bonus points for that. Too bad he didn't work "gut punched a rapist's team, sent him home a few weeks early...."
To compare, the Bleacher Bums are virtually writing up an offensive gameplan for the Browns. Very specific, not that Bernie needed the help.
"Enjoy" the two songs, but as you're watching Tim Tebow most likely throw for 4 touchdowns and run for a couple more against the Patriots this weekend, just keep humming "Bernie, Bernie" to yourself. You know you want to.
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We gotta go, Super Bowl. We gotta go now, Super Bowl.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Vox Lox: Wild Card Sunday

If RGIII is our savior, then I'm your Irish uncle. Yeah, I'm part Mick and it's possible that my brother, RonVox, has some illegitimates scattered around central Ohio, but they'd be too young to read. So it's safe to say that you and I are not related, and I barf up a lung every time I read some mediocre sports blog or hear an ESPN-influenced, uneducated super-fan with a Parma accent pine for a college QB exhibiting none of the skill sets owned by the NFL's elite pocket passers. Never mind that defense is an ugly rumor in the Big 12 and that Baylor had no interest in preparing their signal caller for a pro career; what in the Sam Hill makes you believe that the Cleveland Browns can develop anything besides a disgruntled fan base and their affinity for handicapped PR hopscotch? The joke is on Cleveland, with our silly, unconditional passion, our PSLs, our penchant for $8 beers, and our orange jerseys pimping defunct players. Fucking Mike Holmgren saw us coming.
We had a weak schedule and arguably the top pass defense in the AFC, but Big Show made certain we wouldn't be playing meaningful games in December by not signing a capable wide-out and letting an unqualified, offensively-impotent rookie HC call plays. The result was a 4-12 regression, featuring a winless campaign against our North rivals, that actually could've been much worse. The season's only signature moment was provided by Colt McCoy's super-clutch, game-winning drive against a very formidable Dolphin defense. And speaking of signature wins, we've had just two in the past decade that were true testaments to the Browns' ability to compete with the league's juggernauts: the blowout victories versus the News: Orleans and England, anchored by McCoy, a power running game, and smart coaching. The proof is somewhere on DVD in Berea. Maybe in Holmgren's office, in between his Bill Walsh books, bottomless carton of dougnuts and whatever else he owns. But one thing he doesn't own? His failures. He blames the media. You blame the QB. If you've read me since week one, you know where I place the blame. And, until Mr. Lerner makes the correct hire, ain't nothing gonna change in these parts. Now go jerkoff your mock drafts. I've got a 4-3 basketball team to worry about.
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Cavaliers (+11) over Portland, 1 dime
Falcons (+3) over Giants, 1 dime
Denver (+8.5) over Pittspuke, 1 dime
Last week: 3-2 (+1 dime)
Season: 27-24-3 (+4 dimes)
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Who is the Vox?
SamVox is not a professional handicapper, but a premier one. He has been gambling his entire adult life and has experienced every sickening turn and nasty twist of fate that occurs during a football season. What distinguishes the Vox is his amazing intuition, astoundingly long memory, attention to detail and preparation, aversion to propaganda and access to the industry's sharpest bettors. He is a two time Pick'Em champion and went 85-71-8 against the spread with his Vox Lox over three seasons. His critically-dismissed Vox in the Box column also appears here at Cleveland Sports Torture.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First and foremost, the Browns need a QB

With the 2011 Browns season at a merciful end, those with the strength to look ahead to next year should realize that Coach Pat Shurmur is not going anywhere. Reports that the Browns intend to hire an offensive coordinator to take some of the pressure off Shurmur all but ensure Cleveland's first-year coach isn't going to be one and done.  


Whether or not fans equate a potential OC hire with shuffling deck chairs on a doomed luxury vessel, there's a bigger iceberg floating out there in the dark, and it's hard to believe that some people can't see it. Say it with me, now: The Browns need a top-flight quarterback, or they're never going to win. 

To borrow a meme that all the kids are using these days, Obvious statement is obvious. I'm not trolling, either. Even so, there's a reluctance among some fans and media types to use a high draft pick on a quarterback. This hesitation is coupled with a curious insistence that a mid-range talent like Colt McCoy will somehow blossom with the help of a true No. 1 receiver and some sturdier bodies on the offensive line.

What we think will happen vs. the Steelers




alt Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns

January 1, 2012










Brian
alt
Browns
Steelers

No Pick
Tom
alt

Steelers 21
Browns 6
The Browns end their season with another crappy game. Many issues loom in the offseason. Next year they have to show major improvement or the Browns will once again probably be starting over with yet another new front office.
Doug
alt

Steelers 20
Browns 10
The only interesting aspect of this game will be the percentage of Steelers' fans in the stands. Take note, Lerner.
Kevin
alt
Steelers 28
Browns 10
Don't screw up our draft position Shurmur! Just keep doing what you've been doing.
SamVox
alt
Browns 12
Steelers 10
Going Terry Pluto on you today.
Ryan
alt
Steelers 20
Browns 14
Browns go down fighting.
Sean
alt
Browns
Steelers
No Pick

Vox Lox (17)

Go fuck yourself, Penguin.
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Cavs (-3) over Nets, 3 dimes                                                                                    
Buckeyes (-2) over Gators, 3 dimes
Dallas (+3) over Giants, 2 dimes
Chiefs (+3.5) over Denver, 2 dimes
Chargers (+3) over Oakland, 1 dime

Last week: 0-2 (-2 dimes)
Season: 24-22-3 (+3 dimes)
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Who is the Vox?
SamVox is not a professional handicapper, but a premier one. He has been gambling his entire adult life and has experienced every sickening turn and nasty twist of fate that occurs during a football season. What distinguishes the Vox is his amazing intuition, astoundingly long memory, attention to detail and preparation, aversion to propaganda and access to the industry's sharpest bettors. He is a two time Pick'Em champion and went 85-71-8 against the spread with his Vox Lox over three seasons. His critically-dismissed Vox in the Box column also appears here at Cleveland Sports Torture.