Thursday, January 23, 2014

All we are saying is give Pettine a chance

It took twenty-five days, but the Browns finally found their coach.

This man awaits your blind acceptance. 
That's three weeks and change of looking like the lonely 8th grader at the school dance, hands in the pockets of his freshly pressed Dockers as the ballad-y strains of Extreme's "More Than Words" echo through the crepe paper-strewn gymnasium. (Author's note: I'm not projecting here, just offering a very specific metaphor. Lay off, damn ya!) 


Six-hundred hours of poisonous whispers regarding a head coaching position that's allegedly viewed by as "radioactive" by league insiders. Thirty-six thousand minutes of Twitter filling up with easy jokes (some made by yours truly, admittedly) taking shots at the low-hanging fruit that is this clown show of a franchise. It got so bad that national scribes were writing pity columns defending the downtrodden denizens of Cleveland from mean old outsiders dogging the city and its awful football team.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The ridiculous backlash against Richard Sherman

The fact that there was so much backlash against Richard Sherman after his epic post-NFC Championship Game-interview rampage against the vanquished Michael Crabtree strikes me as utterly ridiculous.


Obviously, the interview was shocking. Every interview with a frigging sports figure reminds me of the most aggravating thing about Jim Tressel. Saying nothing at all and doing it snidely. The last thing you expect to see in an athlete interview is candor, raw emotion, or screaming about how you just dominated your opponent.

"When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you're gonna get." Let's be real--that line is awesome.


You really don't expect to see such amazing interviews, of course, unless you're watching boxing, MMA, or pro wrestling. The best description of what I think happened came in the form of "sports-entertainment" type analogies, such as the following:


And that I think best sums it up. Richard Sherman, by all accounts, is a great cornerback. He is also, by all accounts, a kind, decent, smart dude. Forbes magazine clearly noted that Sherman specifically did not curse, walk off mike, or break eye contact with the camera. Come on, the guy knew what he was doing--and he did it so well he got a solid chunk of America hating him. That's called a heel move, and can make you rich. Sherman pulled off an epic interview, with "professionalism" (in a sense) to boot, and did it expertly. Whether you think it was the time and place for it is another story.

Maybe this would be a better time for it (the first 16 seconds or so):


The sanctimonious reactions to Sherman from some were just idiotic. I could see the knee jerk reaction from some fans being that Sherman (or his actions) were "classless" or "unsportsmanlike", but unfortunately what will be remembered are not only the holier-than-thou sportswriters calling him out, but also the too many racist assholes who took to Twitter immediately to show the dark side of too big a part of this country of ours.

As you can see by the postgame press conference--after Sherman took a shower and let the adrenaline fade a little bit, you can see what kind of interview he is--a superb trash talker and a funny interview subject that I'm sure any sportswriter would love to quote. That's "mediocre"--in case you didn't get it the first time. In the same minute that he thanks both Seattle and San Fran fans, and calls his own fans "a-holes" for throwing things at an injured opponent.


My favorite reaction is any--ANY--Browns fan or writer who could possibly criticize Sherman. The freaking Browns sell officially NFL-licenced merchandise and name sections of the stadium in homage of a couple of trash talking cornerbacks. And those cornerbacks are revered to this day in Cleveland.

Some final thoughts. 

Using trash talk to get an advantage over your opponents isn't anything new, breakthrough, or particularly offending. See "Ali, Muhammad", or "Jordan, Michael". But of course, see "board, chalk" for what happens if you can't back it up. Sometimes getting under your opponent's skin is a good strategy. Sometimes it's not. Let's see if Sherman tries to raise the ire of a certain Denver quarterback before the Super Bowl, because I am doubting he wants Peyton Manning to get any additional incentive.

If you say the criticism has nothing to do with Richard Sherman being a dreadlocked African American, you're full of it.

If you say that trash talking Crabtree isn't as unsportsmanlike as the cocky spin of the ball Tom Brady did after his touchdown--with his team down only 10 with 3 minutes to go--think about yourself. 

If you say it's nothing like Aaron Rodgers' belt-move--which also pro wrestling derived and earns him millions in endorsements-think about yourself.

And finally, that idiot Bob Frantz posted a video on his site of Richard Sherman "(getting) the taste smacked out of his mouth". I have zero problem with you wanting someone to smack a trash talking player. But don't try to judge someone for talking smack by using a phrase made popular by a smack talking athlete. It just makes you look stupider than normal. Not that Frantz would ever understand this or any irony.

Seahawks fans should love Sherman. Opposing fans should hate him. That's what he wants. But don't think that you're better than him--or that what he's doing is all that different from a ton of other athletes. He just took it to the next level.

WWE style.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Vox Lox: Championship Sunday 2014


Back off, Warchild. And bet both road dogs today!
Those who write on bathroom walls
Roll their shit in little balls
Those who read these words of wit
Eat those little balls of shit

It was 1991, at a Columbus watering hole, when I first read such illustrious bathroom graffiti. For all intents and purposes, I lost my virginity to that rhyme. I walked into the John as a teenager with a full bladder and walked out a fucking trash poet. At a college bookstore, I bought a small black book with blank pages and a felt pen (before Vincent Vega made 'em famous), and I wrote hundreds of shitty poems. Years later, the internet proved that anonymous couplet was scribed on thousands of bathroom walls and there was nothing special about me reading it. That's the real letdown of our online culture...the marginalization of every authentic thought and experience. We're always just one click away from finding out how common we are. I feel sorry for today's young writers and artists. Where will they find their kickstart? Every idea has been exhausted or tweeted before they've even thought it.

That same year, Point Break was released. At the time, it was mocked and under-appreciated thanks to an unintentionally parodic script and a few goofy deliveries from Keanu Reeves. But, for counter-culturalists, Patrick Swayze's performance was a gift from the cinema gods. At every turn, the mystical surf criminal Bodhi tore down the mainstream myths of Dirty Dancing's Johnny Castle and Sam from Ghost. Kathryn Bigelow was a filmmaker with guts and vision, but, more importantly, the movie was made at a time when studios weren't afraid to fail with a medium-level-budget flick that was dangerously flawed and co-starred the unconventional Lori Petty. Of course, now that Point Break has achieved cult-classic status, Hollywood has ordered a remake. Like the money-grab reincarnations of Willy Wonka, Superman, Star Trek, Bad News Bears and Karate Kid, it's sure to be a middling, muddling and mechanical pile of crap. And even if it's not, I won't see it on principal. Just because it's harder than Dirk Diggler's cock to have an original concept nowadays, doesn't mean the film industry needs to stop trying. 

Vaya con dios, brah.

---

49ers (+3.5)  over Seattle, 2 dimes
Patriots (+5.5) over Denver, 2 dimes

Last Week 3-0-1 (+5 dimes)
Season: 16-14-3 (+5 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 141-121-14 against the spread with his Vox Lox over six seasons for a net profit of over 35 units. His critically-dismissed Vox in the Box column also appears here at CST.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Vox Lox 30 for 30: Counting Down My Favorite Plays as a Cleveland Sports Fan, 1984-2014


30. Pronk ends the midge game, beating the Yanks in eleven innings.




26. The Catch.

25. Joe Germaine's TD toss to David Boston completes a Rose Bowl-winning scoring drive.





20. Greg Oden's block caps comeback win over Tennessee in Sweet 16.

19. Doc Gooden belts a two-tun homer at Riverfront Stadium and the Indians edge the Reds, 8-6. Shut up, this is my list. Make your own.

18. Landon Donovan's goal vs. Algeria. Give me a break...it's a World Cup year, plus coming up with thirty positive plays for Cleveland was no easy task. Anyway, I believe it was John McCain who said "country first."


16. Bernie Kosar finds Webster Slaughter on the first play of overtime, and the Browns end the Three Rivers jinx.

15. Before Brazilian wild thing Andy Varejao, there was Rick Vaughn of the California Penal and the biggest K in franchise history.

14. "Ehlo will inbound. He gets it into Nance. Gets the ball back, drives to the hoop. Lays it in with three seconds to go!." Aaaaaaand we'll stop there. Nothing here to see afterwards, nope.

13. Cavs vs. Bulls; Unheralded SF Mike Sanders drains an ill-advised trey to help even the 1992 Eastern Conference Finals at four games. I screamed NOOOO and YESSS in the same breath. Even with the internet, I can't offer any proof that this play actually happened.

12. 4th & 1.

11. LeShot. Look, it choked me up. Do I feel silly now? Yeah. But it was a moment. Come back, 'Bron. I mean, fuck you, don't come back.


9. Clay Matthews intercepts Jim Kelly at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, giving the Browns their third trip to the AFC Championship Game in four seasons.

8. Albert Belle rescues Game 1 of the 1995 ALDS with a monster blast, then credits right bicep.

7. Marquis Grissom steals home when Omar Vizquel misses a bunt attempt; Tribe wins Game 3 of the 1997 ALCS in extras.


5. Sandy Alomar's eighth inning HR ties Game 4 of the 1997 ALDS. First playoff earned run surrendered by Mariano Rivera. The second wouldn't come for another four years.

4. Dennis Mempham's Coliseum-erupting, empty-net goal, with the Force two men down on a power play, essentially eliminates the Blast from the 1986 MISL playoffs.

3. Damon Jones, cold off the bench, nails a corner three and the Cavs win their first playoff series in thirteen years. 

2. Tony Pena's walk-off jack wins Game 1 of the ALDS. A fitting, first taste of playoff baseball for almost three generations of Clevelanders.

1. Maurice Clarett wrestles the football away from Sean Taylor, post-interception. Biggest play from the lone championship of my lifetime. 

---

Chargers (+10) over Broncos, 2 dimes
49ers  over Panthers, 2 dimes
Saints (+8) over Seahawks, 1 dime
Patriots (-7.5) over Colts, 1 dime

Last Week 1-2-1 (even)*
Season: 13-14-2 (even)

* Although I recommended a 2-dime play on the Colts last week at -2.5, the line actually moved to a pick on game day. Most of my readers profited from the Colts one-point win and made four units of profit last weekend from my selections. However, because this column has always stood for handicapping integrity, I will take the game as a loss because the pick was published at -2.5.

---

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 138-121-13 against the spread with his Vox Lox over six seasons for a net profit of over 30 units. His critically-dismissed Vox in the Box column also appears here at CST.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Vox Lox: Wild Card Weekend 2014

Twenty years...where'd they go?
Twenty freaking fourteen. Maybe it won't be a milestone year, but it is undeniably an anniversary year in Vox's view...

50 years since Cleveland's last major championship.

40 years since I took a ride down the birth canal.

30 years since the greatest twelve months in pop culture history: The Making of Thriller, Born in the USA, Purple Rain, Van Halen's Jump, Hulk Hogan leg-dropped The Iron Sheik and won the WWF title, Saturday Night Live was at it's absolute peak, MTV launched the VMAs and Madonna took over the world, Gremlins, Ghostbusters, Karate Kid, Revenge of the Nerds, Beverly Hills Cop, The Cosby Show, Family Ties & Cheers, the L.A. Summer Olympics, Where's the Beef?, Michael Jackson's hair caught fire while shooting a Pepsi commercial, the other MJ entered the NBA, Doug Flutie's Hail Mary, and, on two very personal notes- Alex Tarnoczi, at the Richfield Coliseum, headed home a game winning overtime goal to knock the Spirit out of the playoffs and Bono called you out for giving thanks you weren't starving in Ethiopia. And I only scratched the surface, friends. 1984 was so seminal and phenomenal, I remember nothing of my life before it and virtually every moment after- because it marked the year I would devote the rest of my existence to devouring and deflowering popular culture.

20 years since the opening of Jacobs Field and World Series cancellation, OJ fleeing in his Bronco, The Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, Kurt Cobain's suicide, Nancy Kerrigan, the Crunch's first championship, did I mention OJ in his Bronco?

10 years since I married Mrs. ExVox. You know, before we unmarried.

---

I ain't much for resolutions anymore. Even the most well-constructed plans will blow up in your face like you were Gus Fring. But I do start every calendar year with the same goal: pick all eleven NFL playoff point spread winners.

Chargers (+7) over Bengals, 3 dimes
Colts (-2.5) over Chiefs, 2 dimes
Eagles (-2.5) over Saints, 1 dime
Packers (+3) over 49ers, 1 dime

November 17th: 3-2 (+1 Dime)
Season: 12-12-1 (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 137-119-12 against the spread with his Vox Lox over six seasons for a net profit of over 30 units. His critically-dismissed Vox in the Box column also appears here at CST.

Friday, January 3, 2014

What we think Ohio State will do in the Orange Bowl Tonight

altBuckeyes vs. Clemson Tigers

January 3, 2014










Ohio State 45
Clemson 27

Even with a shorthanded and somewhat nervewracking defense, the Buckeyes take care of business. For the record I feel they would still beat MSU 7 of 10 times, and Florida State and Auburn at least half the time. Damn.


Tom 




Clemson 41
Ohio State 34

               
After being stomach punched in the Big Ten Title game Ohio State falls behind early and fails to rally in time. Next year with a new playoff system finally gives meaning to these somewhat meaningless bowl games.
            .          


Doug 



Ohio State 
Clemson 











Ohio State 
Clemson 


Handicapping meaningless bowl games is not in my CST contract, sorry. But I'll happily use this space to lobby for KG to see the majority of tonight's snaps and...JT to be the next HC of the CB!!!!

@






Ohio State 
Clemson 





Ryan 



Ohio State 41

Clemson 31
Every time I see Braxton Miller I can't help but think of Terrell Pryor 2.0. Each game, each year I expect(ed) to see them improve in passing the ball. Each game, each year I am dissapointed. Woody will be looking down smiling as Carlos Hyde legally punches Clemson in the mouth with a 200 yard performance.


Sean 





Ohio State 44

Clemson 42


That's because I care.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 comes in, goes out, like a kick in the balls for Cleveland fans

What can be said about 2013 that hasn't been said already? In some ways (looking at you, Indians and Buckeyes), it was a fantastic, yet utterly disappointing year. The Indians stormed to the playoffs on a nine-game winning streak, setting downtown Cleveland (baseball) afire like hadn't been seen in 6 years, on a hot pitching staff and despite some flops in the offensive free agent class. The Buckeyes continued their winning ways, sweeping through the regular season, until they didn't continue that winning way in the Big Ten Championship game, with a BCS title spot within reach.

All-in-all, 2013 turned out to end leaving Cleveland fans with that familiar, post-NYE celebration, bile-taste in their mouths. Consider this jolly stat: between the Browns, Cavaliers, Indians, and Buckeyes, the teams are on a combined 15 game losing streak. Not a single one of those teams ended with a victory. Easy enough to say about a playoff team like the Indians who was in the playoffs, but we're including the Browns stumbling their way to their familiiar space as the laughing stock of the league, and the Cavaliers showing a level of disfunction (on the court) that would be notable if it weren't for the previously mentioned NFL franchise.

The top sports story of the year, however, became the one which just transpired a couple days before the end of 2013, the unceremonious firing of Browns coach Rob Chudzinski after the Browns season-ending loss to the Steelers. I think the general feeling is that nobody is sure whether Chud was the right coach for the Browns, or even a competent NFL coach at all. But it is crystal clear that the Browns--through actions (trading away picks last year, trading Trent Richardson) and inactions (not finding an actual QB to execute the somewhat important position of touching the ball every single offensive possession)--were playing for 2014. With a multitude of draft picks and a few young stars, even fans could grudgingly accept that. And yet, Chudzinski was fired for the sins of the team on the field, leading to an angry coaching staff questioning ownership, a testy media firing questions/three stooges questions at team leadership, and fans alternating gnashing of teeth and disavowing of fanship.

In the meantime, the Cavs parting ways with experiment-gone-wrong Andrew Bynum, the Indians' run likely to be tough to repeat with a dismantled roster, and the Buckeyes playing in yet another BCS bowl without the word "Championship" in it, means 2014 is starting off cloudy, and the sun is not peeking out quite yet.