Sunday, September 29, 2013

The joy of one good day

Oh, how happy, you have made me..
Stephen King once wrote about the rarity of truly good days. That is, days completely free of stress, anger or unpleasant thoughts; where it's green lights all the way from the time you're eating your Wheaties until you situate yourself under the covers and click off the light. King posits there is less than a month of those genuinely good days throughout the course of any natural person's life. The horror master's theory begs the question: 


How many days like this has there been in all of our years of Cleveland fandom? Four hours of an otherwise ordinary late-September Sunday were a happy confluence of events where everything came together for us like a once-a-century alignment of the planets. 

What we think the Browns will do vs. the Bengals today...

altCleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals (Week 3)

September 29, 2013

(Due to a technical glitch, the predictions for Week 3 didn't post on time. )

Actual Result: Browns 17, Bengals 6









Browns 23
Bengals 20

This bandwagon jumping is going to wear out my ACL. But seriously, the team Hoyer led last week was the offense I expected from Weeden. A running game would obviously help but I think this is a winnable game.


Tom 





Browns 27
Bengals 24


Brian Hoyers homecoming is a success. The running game is still non existent, but somehow the Browns pull the game out. 


Doug 



Bengals 24
Browns 14


Last week was fun, but I'm not ready to drink the sugar water just yet. Browns have to prove they can win at home against division foes, and Cinci will be coming off the high of a huge win against Green Bay.






Browns 24
Bengals 21
After last week's win, 92.3's Daryl Ruiter tweeted "If Joe Banner & Michael Lombardi are high 5-ing and screaming 'I told you so' right now I wouldn't blame them one bit." Please!! Our front office tried to tank the season for the top pick, and Coach Chud fed them a shitburger instead. 






Bengals 17
Browns 10

The tomfoolery and skullduggery were cute last week against a sorry Vikings team, but the shenanigans aren't going to work every week. This team still needs to prove it can win with legitimate football plays.


Ryan 



Browns 27
Bengals 17


I started the Homers for Hoyer bandwagon last week in Minneapolis and drove it back to Cleveland for this game.  I think he will need a lot of help but I think hope we can pull this one out.


Sean 




Bengals 21
Browns 17




I hope it's a blowout either way so I'm not tempted to switch over from the Tribe game.


Vox Lox: Quick Quiz

Possible question from the City of Cleveland Citizenship Test fifty years from now...

In 2013, which beloved figure broke the Cleveland Curse?

B) Brian Hoyer       
D) Both A & B
E) None of the Above

You can't blame me for penciling in D. I mean, yeah, I'll go back and double check my answer...but I'm flying pretty freaking high this week. We're talking Mark McGrath-in-1997 or Maverick/Goose-need-for-speed--high. Playoffs, glorious playoffs are here for the first time since LeBron stripped off his jersey in the Boston Garden tunnel. Our Tribe is baseball's hottest club heading into the postseason and, if we can squeak by Cincy this afternoon, the dangerously dysfunctional Browns could play for the division lead on Thursday night. Call your boys, get the patron and tell 'em that it's on.

---

Today's plays:

Falcons (-2) over Patriots, 3 dimes
Browns (+4) over Bengals, 2 dimes
Buccaneers (-2.5) over Cardinals, 1 dime

Last week: 0-2-1 (-4 dimes)
Season: 3-4-1 (-4 dimes)


Saturday, September 28, 2013

What we think Ohio State will do the rest of the 2013 season

altOhio State 2013 Season

September 28, 2013




Now that the powderpuff (i.e. non-Big Ten schedule, so hold your Big Ten jokes, SEC honks) schedule is over, let's have a look at how we think Ohio State will fare over the Big Ten slate and the postseason, now that the scarlet and grey are welcome, again.







Ohio State: 13-0 in reg season


(Including Big Ten championship game)
I can't do anything different here than pick the Buckeyes to run the table. Wisconsin, Michigan, perhaps Northwestern, could be potential stumbling blocks, but the firepower that lives in the Ohio State offense is hard to beat.

Therefore, a BCS Championship game appearance is in the cards. I'm hoping they stay tough with whatever SEC team everyone picks to win. My guess: NATIONAL CHAMPIONS.


Tom 




Ohio State: 13-0 in reg season

Including Big Ten championship game


Ohio State is to strong for the relatively week Big Ten. If they were in the SEC they might not run the table, but it's almost a given for the Big Ten season and Championship.

See you in the BCS Title game. Finish: #2



Doug 



Ohio State: 13-0

Including Big Ten championship game


Ohio State is the cream of a bad conference. The Buckeyes should be able to take care of Michigan on the road and beat whatever team they face in the Big Ten championship game. Whether or not the weak schedule will keep OSU out of the nat'l title picture will be this season's biggest story.





Ohio State: 12-1

Win the Big Ten Championship game

One loss, only to Michigan.






Ohio State: 13-0

Including the Big 10 Championship game

Beginning to think Urban Meyer is the best football mind in the country and maybe one of the best college has ever seen. I don't see OSU being tripped up in the regular season. But until there's a real playoff system, Division 1 college football will always be a cheap gimmick to me.


Ryan 



Ohio State: 13-0 in regular season 

Including Big Ten Championship Game

Plus tonight: Buckeyes 40
Wisconsin 20

The Big Ten is a joke. I don't know if the Buckeyes can hang with the very top teams in the country, but we don't play any of them so it doesn't matter. In the Big Ten, I don't see any team that can hang with the Buckeyes. Urban Meyer is on a mission that I think ends at 25 straight wins, ending in a loss in the National Championship game.


Sean 




Ohio State: 13-0 in regular season 

Including Big Ten Championship Game




Run the B1G Ten table and knock off a non-Alabama SEC team in the National Championship. In my dream.


MLB.com's error page is Carlos Martinez' home run off Jose Canseco's head

In general, I love MLB At Bat. When it works right, I can watch out of market games on my phone, tablet, computer, or connected TV. Of course it doesn't always work right. For instance, it seems to think my laptops (work and home) are mobile devices, so defaults to the mobile page, which doesn't let you easily pull up the Indians game. Meh.


But, in all the action as I try to fire up today's game vs. the Twins, I came across an error page on mlb.com which had this fantastic GIF. The famous day during the last season of old Municipal Stadium when Carlos Martinez hit a ball which became a home run, off Jose Canseco's steroid infused dome. 

Awesome. 

By the way, kids who were born on the day this happened will be able to legally buy a beer in about 8 months. Ugh.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Peter King tries to out-haiku me??

Well, well.


Mr. Peter King, of Sports Illustrated and new site TheMMQB, today sang the praises of Browns holding-punting-sometimes-kicking-once-in-a-while-touchdown-throwing machine Spencer Lanning. In King's Monday Morning QB column today, he writes a haiku to Lanning:
Yo, Spencer Lanning:
What a day you had v. Vikes.
You sell popcorn too?

Ann Heisenfelt/AP
Not too shabby, but hell, I thought haikus were my thing. I liked writing them so much that our very own Ryan threatened me with bodily harm if I didn't quit writing them. But I won a haiku smackdown once. (True story.)

Anyway, let me lend my own two cents worth of haikus about the Browns, Buckeyes, and Tribe today.

It's homeboy Hoyer
Game winning drive for the Browns.
Fans mouths still agape.

Scene Magazine
Indians streaking.
Only one more week to go.
Smelling October.

Powderpuff weekend.
Kenny, superstar backup.
Bucks just scored again.

Bonus Cavs haiku!
36 days and counting.
No sleep till Brooklyn.
(Photo courtesy Jeff Gross)

Tribe puts on a weekend show, primes for the last week

Well, in my humble opinion, September is one of the best months of the year, with the return of football, baseball pennant races, and some of the finest weather you can hope for. And for once, the sports teams of Ohio really put on a display. (Yes, I'll include the Bengals in that overarching statement.)


Let's talk Tribe. Despite a summer of streaks, punctuated by untimely collapses against that team up north (of Toledo), the Tribe woke up on Saturday in an actual, honest-to-God playoff spot and haven't done anything at all to mess that up. Two weeks ago, we all knew that the Indians had the easiest remaining schedule, and all they did this weekend was win four games against the hapless Houston Astros, to find themselves 1.5 games up on Texas for the second wild card spot (yes, that's a real thing), and only .5 games behind the Devil Rays for the first spot. The other three teams in this wild AL wild card chase, the Royals, Yankees, and Orioles, appear to be fading out of contention. (And for the record, the magic number for Detroit is two as of Monday morning.)

An amazing run by a scrappy group of players this year, and punctuated by the lights-out pitching of Ubaldo Jimenez this second half. Ubaldo is pitching exactly like the Indians' brass thought he could when they traded two "top" prospects in 2011. Now, Jimenez is in line for a giant payday this offseason, which will likely put him outside the Indians' budget. But no matter for now. The Indians trio of Justin Masterson (returning soon from an abdominal strain), Scott Kazmir, and Jimenez all have over 150 strikeouts--which is only the third time in Tribe history that has happened. Add to that some timely hitting and a mostly non-ulcer-inducing bullpen, and the Indians look like October can be a reality.

Finally, despite already getting the Astros off the schedule, the Indians still have the weakest opponents remaining:

Remaining Schedule:
-Indians: vs. White Sox (2), at Twins (4). Weighted winning percentage: .411
-Devil Rays: vs. Orioles (1), at Yankees (3), at Blue Jays (3). Weighted winning percentage: .508
-Rangers: vs. Astros (3), vs. Angels (4): Weighted winning percentage: .420

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What we think the Browns will do against the Vikings today

altCleveland Browns vs. Minnesota Vikings (Week 3)

September 22, 2013

Actual result: Browns 31, Vikings 27









Vikings 17
Browns 10



Oh who knows. What time is the Tribe game? 


Tom 





Vikings 31
Browns 13

I thought about giving up on the picks in the rest of the year a la the Browns, but that wouldn't be fair to our loyal fan base.

It's going to be a long, long day in the Twin Cities.


Doug 




Vikings 17
Browns 9




The battle for Bridgewater begins today with another dispiriting, boring loss.






Vikings 24
Browns 13


This could be the first time in the history of Las Vegas that an NFL team could start their first, second or third string QB and the line would barely change.






Vikings 28
Browns 7

So ESPN is now reporting that the Browns are looking to trade Little and Gordon and already have a "quality offer" for Gordon. Why don't we just sell the team to L.A. and start over?


Ryan 



Vikings 20
Browns 10


I don't think the Browns offense will be any worse today, but it won't be any better either.



Sean 



Vikings 31
 Browns 3

Indians 6
Astros 2





Indians win, Browns lose.

Vox Lox: Trust?

I try not to write about the Browns. Best to leave that to Tony, Mary Kay and CST's own Senior Writer and Browns beat reporter, Doug. Also there's a legion of orange & brown blogs sprouting commentary on every angle, from next year's draft to this week's matchup. In Cleveland, almost everyone knows something about football. Everyone but the jackasses running our team, it would seem. Because here we go with Rebuild 6.0. The first five varied in size and scope, produced one playoff game, and were led by architects with resumes more substantial than Browns President Joe Banner. To Banner's credit, he knows he hasn't won the benefit of the doubt: "We have to earn (the fans') belief and trust in the decisions we're going to make as a group, " he said. "I don't expect them to trust that until we prove that the trust is well placed. So I understand the skepticism for now."

So Joe knows press conferences, I guess. Joe certainly knows economics. Joe even knows his fan base has been abused beyond all recognition for nearly a generation. But does Joe know football? Specifically, quarterbacks? That's why we're stockpiling picks, right? Unlike most Sunday mornings, I'm not armed with an opinion, or even a confession, and I won't be taking sides on the Trent Richardson trade. I'll leave that to Bill Simmons, Bill Barnwell, LeCharles Bentley, and Mike Holmgren (I'm usually not analogy-guy, but this interview is like being critiqued on fire-resistant building materials from the man who burned down your house nine months ago). I'm only here to write what we already know. Serve up some facts with your Lucky Charms and let you draw your own yellow moon conclusions. Now that we understand each other, read on.

Joe Banner is a former clothing store owner with a passion for children and philanthropy. His first job in football did not come until age 41. By all accounts, he is an efficiently-ruthless executive; a highly intelligent, cold-hearted negotiator and salary cap expert. Under Banner, the Philadelphia Eagles business model was the envy of the NFL. Coach Andy Reid, however, had final say on all football matters. Banner never scouted, identified quarterbacks, or made draft-day decisions. Joe Banner will be selecting the next Browns QB, presumably on May 8, 2014. 

Mike Lombardi has worked as an NFL executive for four different teams, overseeing personnel departments in Oakland and Cleveland. Lombardi advocated cutting Bernie Kosar, mid-season, in 1993 when the Browns were in first place and back-up QB Vinny Testaverde was injured. From 1992-95, Lombardi made five first round draft picks selecting Tommy Vardell, Steve Everitt, Antonio Langham, Derrick Alexander and Craig Powell. From 1998 to 2007, Lombardi presided over the Raiders drafts with owner Al Davis and picked Derrick Gibson over Drew Brees and Fabian Washington over Aaron Rodgers. JaMarcus Russell was taken with the top pick in 2007 instead of Adrian Peterson or Calvin Johnson. Lombardi was subsequently fired and spent five seasons out of the NFL. He will assist Joe Banner in selecting the next Browns QB.  

I would normally call this inexperience leading incompetence, but I'm not offering any opinions today. 

---

Packers (-2.5) over Bengals, 2 dimes
Falcons (-2) over Dolphins, 2 dimes
Raiders (+16) over Broncos, 1 dime

Last week: 0-2 (-3 dimes)
Season: 3-2 (even)

---

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 125-109-11 against the spread with his Vox Lox over five seasons for a net profit of over 30 units. His critically-dismissed Vox in the Box column also appears here at CST.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Browns seeing their relevancy for a generation slipping away

These thoughts have been going through my tortured mind since the end of week 1, when the Browns looked like a Division I-AA team, losing at home yet again on Opening Day, this time to the Dolphins.

Well done, Brokaw. That was fast.

Week two had my hopes still a bit inflated, as I was thinking that Weeden's rare flashes were going to be put together sooner or later. By week two, it was apparent. Not only was the Indians season more relevant at this point than the Browns, but the Tribe also outscored the men in orange-and-brown on Sunday. Absolutely pitiful.

And yet this is what a new generation of Browns "fans" is growing up with. A sad team who has run through enough quarterbacks to field an entire offense plus kicking team in only fourteen years (as immortalized by the fantastic Brokaw jersey) is about to start yet another one this Sunday, this time hometown boy Brian Hoyer from St. Ignatius. Purportedly this is because Brandon Weeden hurt his thumb week 2 against the Ravens. But evidence tells us otherwise.

Before this season, I honestly thought the Brownies could finish anywhere between 4-12 and 11-5. And they still might. But there is a greater chance now that they might not even make their normal 4 wins this year. This was all cemented on Wednesday night, when my phone started blowing up with tweets and texts mocking me with the news that the Browns had traded Trent Richardson.

Fairwell, Trent, it was nice knowing you.
Yes--traded the best player on the team. (Although Trent is disappointing in his own ways, I think he averages about 1.8 yards on 90% of his runs.) For what apparently is a single first round pick next year from the Indianapolis Colts, Browns head Joe Banner has decided to blow up the season. And Brandon Weeden better just keep a bag packed, just in case. Not that there will be much of a market for a 30 year old QB with no bona fides, but that might not stop Banner and the Browns' staff.

I'm a bit in shock about the Richardson move. Was there an attitude problem? Was Trent not on board with the direction the Browns were headed? (Like anyone is?) Was it just facing reality that this 2013 season is a total waste of time, and the Browns need to rebuild (yet again) during the draft, with two picks in the first, third, and fourth round next year?

Uggh. I feel sick. On the other hand, maybe I can learn Mandarin on Sundays for the rest of the fall.

PS. I didn't even know trades were allowed during the NFL season. Or off-season for that matter--the last trade I remember was Herschel Walker for like 87 Vikings players and picks.  

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Vox Lox: Playoffs?? PLEASE!!

Fall 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of my first relationship with a pro ball team in Cleveland. I fell quickly, without fear or expectation. That's how nine year olds do it, you know. I'm not even sure I knew how newly-fangled indoor soccer actually was, or that the club names and orange ball were considered uncoventional. Purists called it "human pinball" and the league's demise was always just around the corner, but, in these parts, Kai Haaskivi and Keith Furphy were household names along with Andre Thornton and Brian Sipe. And the playoffs were a foregone conclusion for each of the five seasons I obsessively followed the Force. The MISL tournament was always filled with magic and heartbreak in Richfield, and the drama was my childhood drug. But it wasn't until I latched onto the Browns, Cavs and Indians that I realized just how rare playoff excitement can be in Cleveland. Well into my adult years, I'd drop everything for "meaningful games" or schedule vacation days months in advance even at the faintest future whiff of postseason play for any of our teams.

The chart below reveals a special stat from CST. If the Tribe falls short of a wildcard birth, it represents the only time in our collective lives as Cleveland sports fanatics that three calendar years will pass without a playoff appearance from either the Browns, Cavs or Indians. So just in case you were wondering about the most torturous era...it wasn't the Drive-Fumble-Shot trifecta or the three years without the NFL or LeBron leaving amidst the painful Indians rebuild and Browns coaching/QB carousel. Nope, the hardest times are right fucking now. Save us, Tito.

1983 
1984 
1985 Cavs
1986 
1987 Browns
1988 Browns, Cavs
1989 Browns, Cavs
1990 Browns, Cavs
1991
1992 Cavs
1993 Cavs
1994 Cavs
1995 BrownsCavs, Tribe
1996 Cavs, Tribe
1997 Tribe
1998 Cavs, Tribe
1999 Tribe
2000
2001 Tribe
2002 
2003 Browns
2004
2005
2006 Cavs
2007 Cavs, Tribe 
2008 Cavs
2009 Cavs
2010 Cavs
2011
2012
2013 ???

---

49ers (+ 3) over Seahawks, 2 dimes
Saints (-3.5) over Bucs, 1 dime

Last week: 3-0 (+3 dimes)

---

Who is the Vox?
SamVox is not a professional handicapper, but a premier one. He has been gambling his entire adult life and has experienced every sickening turn and nasty twist of fate that occurs during a football season. What distinguishes the Vox is his amazing intuition, astoundingly long memory, attention to detail and preparation, aversion to propaganda and access to the industry's sharpest bettors. He is a two time Pick'Em champion and went 125-107-11 against the spread with his Vox Lox over five seasons for a net profit of over 30 units. His critically-dismissed Vox in the Box column also appears here at CST.

What we think will happen for the Browns vs. Ravens today

altCleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens (Week 2)

September 15, 2013









Browns 17
Ravens 10

Trying not to let the disillusionment that Brandon Weeden and the Browns started in me last week carry over. Hoping the offense can find its way a little bit to help out the defense, who should pressure Flacco quite a bit.


Tom 





Ravens 27
Browns 10

I can't think of a worse situation for the Browns to be playing in today. Super Bowl champs that were humiliated in game 1 against Denver return for their home opener against a team coming off a bad loss to a middle of the road team. It's gonna be a long day for Brandon Weeden, especially if Cousins hasn't learned how to block in the past week.



Doug 



Ravens 16
Browns 10

The Browns have lost 10 in a row to the Ravens, and will make it 11 the same day Baltimore raises its second Super Bowl banner. Cleveland usually plays close games against their ex-selves, but until this franchise gets a QB under center, wins against division foes will be hard to come by.






Ravens 16
Browns 9

Let me know what happens in the second half. Indians on at 2pm.






Ravens 28
Browns 14



It's amazing - the players, the coaches, the regimes can all change again and again, yet the team looks exactly the same every Sunday. How's that possible?


Ryan 



Ravens 23
Browns 17

Browns can't be as bad as they looked last week, but they aren't better than the Ravens. Manning threw for seven TDs against Baltimore; I'd settle for just four from Weeden. 


Sean 




Ravens 28
Browns 13


These predictions are way too easy.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Definitely boycotting Chick-fil-A now...

As if the chain being blatantly homophobic wasn't enough reason to choose Popeye's or KFC, Chick-fil-A sticks a finger right in the eye of Browns fans with this signage.


Not that it's not true--but HEY, THAT'S OUR TEAM TO COMPLAIN ABOUT!



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Parody shows how Browns fans are Les Miserables, indeed

Stop me if you've heard this before: After the Browns performance in their opening day loss, the fans are again just miserable.


So it's quite fitting that Cleveland-area comedy troupe The Laughter League had created this fantastic cover of "One Day More" from Les Miserables, entitled, appropriately, "One More Year." Maybe not the tightest lip syncing job ever, but amazing nonetheless.

(Plus, I personally can relate to that Green Bay story, as I walk out of the Red Ivy Browns Backers Club in Chicago every Sunday with a glum look on my face, past Bears fans who have had a much better afternoon than I have had.)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Agenda for the Browns practice today

1. Explain to the offensive line the subtle techniques of blocking.

2. Introduce Norv Turner and Trent Richardson
3. Make sure everybody on offense understands the concept of getting to the yard line that you need to.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Until they prove otherwise, Browns don't deserve our respect, patience

Unrelated photo of a taco. Why? Why does anyone do anything?
We all know the Browns aren't making the playoffs this season, but is relevancy too much to ask for?  How about...what's an antonym for rampant, soul-sucking incompetence? Damned if I'm digging out the thesaurus right now. And don't tell me to Google it! That's a conversation killer. 


Point being, only the Browns know how to deflate a fanbase in such depressingly workmanlike fashion as they did today. It doesn't matter if the owner's an in-over-his-head soccer fan or a glad-handing Tennessean with curious business practices. Switch up the front office and the guys patrolling the sideline. Slap new name patches on the players' backs. Nothing seems to matter. The new boss is the same as the old boss.

What we think will happen for the Browns vs the Dolphins today

altCleveland Browns vs. Miami Dolphins (Week 1)

September 8, 2013

Actual result: Dolphins 23, Browns 10









Browns 27
Dolphins 10

Despite Bill Simmon's claim that the Browns will trudge to lots of 13-10 victories, I think Norv Turner will spark Weeden to (relatively) great things. Browns don't continue opening day woes with a completely new looking gameplan.


Tom 




Browns 32
Dolphins 14


The Browns jump out to a lead and never look back. The shiny new offense and defense look great for week one.


Doug 



Browns 21
Dolphins 16



The Browns are on an even playing field with the Dolphins, just the kind of game you'd expect them to tank in front of a pumped up home crowd. If this team wants to move forward, the 1-13 mark to open the season must be the first thing to change.






Browns 17
Dolphins 13



Weeden throws three INTs, but Miami can't consistenly convert on third down.






Browns 24
Dolphins 16

Every year I get sucked into the excitement that this year, opening up at home will be different... and every year, I vow to never be tempted again. With that said, the sports muses have puckered up and I've been lured into the abyss yet again.


Ryan 



Browns 31
Dolphins 17

Norv Turner's offense shows promise and Ray Horton's attacking defense creates turnovers. We will be chanting "Super Bowl" in the 4th quarter in the Dawg Pound.



Sean 




Dolphins 27
Browns 21





Browns do what they do best. Disappoint on Opening Day at home.