Saturday, October 31, 2015

Grantland Gutted: Examining ESPN's Proud Embrace of our Microwave Culture

While ESPN flails and flexes, even flummoxing their critics and supporters in a late-Friday takedown of Grantland, they continue to be peculiarly frank in their press releases. Official statements from mammoth organizations are typically synonymous with propaganda, but that's when you'll find ESPN, surprisingly, at their most forthright. Consider the following sentence, point-blank from the World Wide Leader:

 "Grantland distinguished itself with quality writing, smart ideas, original thinking and fun.” 

That’s about as direct and detailed as twelve words will allow, and yet ESPN has no problem admitting their ambivalence to those concepts. They played their hand, earlier in the statement, with this admission:

"We have decided to direct our time and energy going forward to projects that we believe will have a broader and more significant impact across our enterprise.

In other words-- an enterprising, artistic, thought-provoking venture like Grantland only offers niche-appeal, and we can’t figure out a way to monetize brilliant articles and podcasts, See, our company’s mission is to extract as much revenue as humanly possibly from millions of common-denominator humans. Humans that can be click-baited into half-honest headlines about a very select group of humans with obscene Q-scores called LeBron, Tiger, LeBron, Brady/Belichick, Serena, wait, did we mention LeBron? And we want HOT TAKES, perfect for retweeting, with the bombastic, brutal, and dumbed-down finesse that you’ve come to expect from Skip Bayless and Stephen A Smith. We’ll continue to cultivate our bottom-line content by staying married to the NFL and mainstream radio hosts like Mike & Mike, reinforcing stereotypes and catch-phrases made famous by our own Berman-infested television personalities .

In fact, ESPN’s communication style has evolved into such a high degree of blunt efficiency that some of Grantland’s staff learned their fate on Twitter, of course. Same for Grantland founder and former espyn-legend Bill Simmons. The public dismissal of Simmons last May by network president John Skipper, via The New York Times, was an unprecedented level of speech-directivity in the industry:

"I decided today that we are not going to renew Bill Simmons’ contract.

Read that again. If it sounds like he woke up, took a leak, let the dog out, made an omelet, and then scratched an itch to fire the most important figure at ESPN, well, that's exactly how it was supposed to sound. Skipper had no interest in massaging the message. Ruling the world from the MotherShip is succinct business, and ESPN can't be troubled with an expectation for class journalism. Moreover, ESPN doesn't even have time to pretend to be interested in it. The separation with Simmons and suspension destruction of his greatest achievement was a blind and naked testament to the power of a 21st Century media monster with eight channels in over 200 countries. Simply, the four-letter network boasts an unapologetic, disgusting confidence derived from pure size, scope and an unyielding belief in the 48-hour news cycle.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cavs' ball movement beautiful so far this season

The Cavaliers of Cleveland bounced back nicely in Game 2 with a back-to-back roadtrip trouncing of a 50-win Western Conference team in the Memphis Grizzlies last night 106-76, including a TON of production from the bench.

(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
The best stats, however, are the number of assists. Assists are always the sweetest stat, of course, but the Cavaliers have 55 assists so far in two games. And are assisting on 69.6% of their field goals.  

The Cavs only averaged a higher assist-to-field goal percentage six times last season. So this could be a start of not just a winning season, but a beautiful one as well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What CST thinks about the Cavs and the NBA this year...

NBA 2015-2016 Season Predictions

Cavs record: 61-21
Cavs playoff finish: NBA Champions
NBA Finals: Cavaliers over Clippers
MVP: Mr. LeBron James

Even if the first three lines don't come true, LeBron can't get jacked out of the MVP again. This season may start out a little rocky, but let's not forget they lost to the damn Knicks opening night last year, and weren't exactly coasting along in January. The regular season doesn't matter, and finally the 2015 Champion Warriors* should just never EVER forget the active roster of the team they beat.

Cavs record: 56-26
Cavs playoff finish: NBA Champions
NBA Finals: Cavs over Thunder
MVP: Anthony Davis

I'm glad the Cavs are back, not just because the NBA season starts tonight, but for the whole team as well. It's nice to have a team to root for who says #ALLin, and nothing less than a championship will satisfy them. While the other teams in this town are looking for a way to just get to the playoffs, it's refreshing to have a team that legitimately has a chance to win it all. It should be a fun ride.

Cavs record: 65-17
Cavs playoff finish: NBA Champions
NBA Finals: Cavs over Spurs
MVP: LeBron James

If this team was to remain healthy, and granted that's a big if, and they don't purposely rest key guys (the big three), they could win 75 games. Frankly, it doesn't matter what their record is as long as they're rolling going into the playoffs. With losing last year in the Finals in 6 games without 2 of the big three and a far weaker bench, I don't see how the Cavs aren't the favorites to win it all this season.

Cavs record: 57-25
Cavs playoff finish: Finals
NBA Finals: Spurs over Cavs
MVP: Kevin Durant

The marathon that is the NBA season begins tonight, and as a Cleveland sports fan sick to death of hearing about the mess in Berea, I cannot wait. The Cavs enter the season with an improved bench and a couple of key players coming back from injury. The process will be slow, and it's likely the Cavs will drop a few back-to-backs as the roster coheres. The most important thing is getting Love, Irving, Shumpert and of course #23 fully healthy and ready to go come late April. To quote Robert Carradine in                                                  Revenge of the Nerds,' it's gonna be a great year.    

 Cavs record: 55-27
 Cavs playoff finish: NBA Champions
 NBA Finals: Cavs over Warriors
 MVP: Steph Curry

Is there anything in sports more pointless than the NBA regular season? I  could pretty much tell you right now at least 14, 15, and maybe all 16        playoff teams. The Cavs will win the East easily even as a 3 or 4 seed; the only question is will the West be won by the Spurs, Thunder, or Warriors? With Kyrie out, Love just getting back, and Lebron likely resting some games, I see this season playing out much like last year... slow start, strong finish. But this year, if healthy, we finally win it all.


Cavs record: 52-30
Cavs playoff finish: Finals
NBA Finals: Warriors over Cavs
MVP: Russell Westbrook

The actual games are often just a footnote during the NBA regular season. As Cavalier Consumers, we are barraged with stupid-ass Facebook clickbait from, snarky tweets and commentary from jealous national media snobs, and speculation about Coach Blatt's relationship with our other Head Coach, who also happens to play Small Forward and control every nuance of the sporting universe. All the while it's snowing and seemingly dysfunctional on the North Coast, and it's easy                                          to forget how freaking fabulous life will be when June walks in and                                                    we've strutted through to the Finals. I just wish there was a way around                                                  those sniping, swashbuckling Delontes from Oakland.

Cavs record: 55-27
Cavs playoff finish: NBA Champions
NBA Finals: Cavs over Warriors
MVP: James Harden

One of my fellow prognosticators once put his johnson on the shoulder of another fellow prognosticator. Please put your guesses in the comment section below.

Cavs record
: 82-0
Cavs playoff finish: NBA Champions
NBA Finals: Wine over Gold in 7
MVP: Richard Jefferson

The Cavaliers' undefeated dominance scares off the Western Conference paper champions, and the NBA Finals are elevated to seven Wine vs. Gold Scrimmages at the Q! In the deciding game, the mighty Jared Cunningham blocks a midrange jumper from Juggernaut Joe Harris and Cleveland wins yet another Championship! Saving your confetti = saving a tree, thank you. We're getting tired of parades!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

What CST thinks about Browns-Rams today

Cleveland Browns vs. St. Louis Rams

October 25, 2015

Browns 27, Rams 16

Ah, a matchup of a team that was jacked from it's hometown to be replaced by a sad imitation of the original, versus one that was jacked from its home, likely soon to return. The Browns are are as frustrating as ever. They're good, right? Or at least a good bad team? Well even a good bad team has to win some of the time.

Rams 33, Browns 21

Coming off a bye week the Rams come out and basically run the ball down the Browns throat. I'd like to think the Browns have a chance, but all I feel is "blah". Yeah, they might win some games here and there, but what are they playing for really? A journeyman QB, and a highly paid, highly drafted, disappointing defense. After this week, the heat turns up on both the GM and head coach, one of whom won't be around next year.
Rams 20, Browns 16

Rams RB Todd Gurley may get 30 carries against the Browns crepe paper run defense. Though Sunday's matchup is a winnable one for Cleveland, the defense as a whole cannot be trusted to make stops when it counts. I've had a lifetime of 'The Browns could be be (insert record here) if they just did this and this.' The cream rises in the NFL and the Browns have proven once more that they're not the cream.
Browns 24, Rams 20

The Browns aren't exactly winning games but a 7 point underdog to a 2-3 team?!  Todd Gurley will likely get his yards but Nick Foles blows. I look for McCown to continue to make plays and this time make a play at the end of the game to win!

Rams 28, Browns 23

Always a bit of a letdown for me when the Browns play indoors. It means Mike Pettine, unable to hide behind his Oakley Monster-Dog wrap-around shades, loses a bit of his 7-9 mystique.
Rams 21, Browns 20

Donald Trump just called the Browns a bunch of losers. Driving up his poll numbers in Ohio ten percent, and the rest of the country twenty percent.

Rams 24, Browns 20

Luke is mysteriously absent from the new Star Wars trailer and promotional poster, leaving fans to speculate what it all means. One theory is that he's simply "playing like a Brown".

Sunday, October 18, 2015

What CST thinks about Browns-Broncos today

Cleveland Browns vs. Denver Broncos

October 18, 2015

Broncos 31, Browns 17

So what is going on here is that the Browns quarterback may actually be better than the Broncos'. Who would have guessed that 2, 3, 6 weeks ago? And on the flip side, the Broncos' defense is amazing (despite some injuries this week), and the Browns should be lucky to even call one of their units "defense." So McCown, as good as he has been playing, will struggle but put up 17 points in a decent offensive game, and Manning, as much as he has been struggling, will still gash the Browns D.

Broncos 34, Browns 24

This week brings to town a defense that the Browns were advertising the whole off-season. Strong pass rush and solid to great across the board. Unfortunately what we have isn't close to that. Except for some outstanding play by McCown last week, the defense was gashed repeatably by the Ravens running game. I expect more of the same today.

Broncos, 28, Browns 17

For all the woe heaped on the Browns offense before the year, Josh McCown is showing the kind of poise and accuracy he displayed in Chicago for a half-season in 2013. Guys like Travis Benjamin, Duke Johnson and Gary Barnidge (!), meanwhile, have emerged as the playmakers this team was thought to lack. Still, you can't expect to win consistently with a defense that gets carved up every week. Even with an aging Peyton and virtually non-existent running game, undefeated Denver should have enough to take down Cleveland today.
Browns 24, Broncos 14

Age has caught up with Peyton Manning and the Browns are poised to tease us with their potential. And picking against the Browns doesn't sit well with me.

Browns 23, Broncos 21

Nearly three decades of obsessive fandom under my Browns belt, and nothing has shocked me more than the emergence of Josh McCown. Then again, I haven't watched any games this season. So if McCown plays well and I'm not there to see it, does it actually happen? Whatever the case, trees and Broncos fall today.

Broncos 34, Browns 24

Peyton performs a little surgery on the Browns secondary.

Broncos 34, Browns 18

Do you think the Browns wish they would've kept T.J. Ward considering their current defensive issues? The "Boss" returns to Cleveland, with the best defense in the NFL, to answer that question. Peyton Manning may not be what he was even a year ago, but even Jonathon "Mox" Moxon could carve up the Browns defense like Lady Gaga does to unsuspecting sex partners on American Horror Story: Hotel.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

What CST thinks about Browns-Ravens today

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
October 11, 2015

Ravens 38, Browns, 24

The Browns' horrible defense removes any hope of actually winning in Baltimore.

Ravens, 24, Browns, 13

The great passing games from McCown run out and the Ravens shut down the Browns offense. The Browns lack of game-changing plays on defense results in another loss. Start watching other teams, folks. We'll be looking for a new hot coordinator soon, or maybe Urban Meyer?

Ravens, 31, Browns, 21

Joe Flacco is 13-1 against the Browns over the course of his career. Even with the Ravens struggling, Cleveland's lack of impact players on defense will give Flacco another mark on the left side of the ledger. It's early and yet I'm already to the point where a Browns' loss does not bring down my day. I'd rather be depressed than feel nothing, and I don't have the constitution for nihilism, Mr. Lebowski.
Browns 23, Ravens. 17

I'll be listening to the Browns first road victory while at Disney World. The defense can't be this bad, can it? I think they step up this week and McCown does enough to win.

Ravens, 24, Browns, 21

Cleveland sports radio goes into full-on new coach discussion and GM bashing. Draft talk put on hold for another 22 days.

Ravens 34, Browns, 21

I've got nothing. Browns lose. I can promise you America will also lose should it vote another Liberal sock-puppet into the White House next year. Which is why I'm electing Donald Trump in 2016. It's my Sacred obligation and it should be yours too.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

What CST thinks about Browns-Chargers today

Cleveland Browns at San Diego Chargers
October 4, 2015

Browns 17, Chargers 15

I am an unabashed homer it seems, as I am now picking the Browns to win their fourth game in a row. It's now or never for the season. If the wide receivers, defensive backfield, run stoppers, or offensive line have any pride, they will play their asses off. Because it sure isn't Josh McCown's fault they lost last week.

Chargers 24, Browns 17

Don't worry folks, Dwayne Bowe healthy, and is ready to show off why the Browns invested heavily in him this off season. Donte Whitner is also ready to show he hasn't lost a step (or 2 or 3). I'm sick of all the talk with little to no backup. I don't know if it's me, but I find it annoying and a huge reason to not continue reading the interview, or it makes me change the channel on the radio/tv. The Browns might win today, they also have a very good chance of losing, I'm guessing they come out firing on all cylinders the first quarter but San Diego wins in the 4th quarter.

Chargers 27, Browns 23

The QB position is always a hot topic in Cleveland, but it's poor line play that's resulted in two Browns' losses so far this year. San Diego may be missing three starters on its own OL, which you'd think would be to Cleveland's advantage. But this team's inconsistency on both sides of the ball is too much to overcome, and the seat under GM Ray Farmer is about to get a little bit warmer.
Browns 21, Chargers 20

Super Bowl hopes still alive, as are the Presidential hopes of one Donald John Trump, Sr., whose clear Vision for our country will lead America into a new Millennium of Prosperity!

Chargers 30, Browns 10

Kate Winslet turns 40 tomorrow. And you probably figured out the iceberg analogy even before you finished reading this sentence. Remember, in 2000, when Chris Palmer publicly likened the Browns season to a runaway train? Well, after today's loss, Ray Farmer and Coach Pettine will be third-class on a sinking ship.

Chargers 31, Browns 14

Even the San Diego weather wouldn't have made this road trip worth it.

Chargers 27, Browns 17

San Diego missing 3, maybe 4, offensive lineman should be a huge advantage to any team. So...