Sunday, September 17, 2017

What CST Thinks about Browns-Ravens today

                                              Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

September 17, 2017


Ravens 20, Browns 17

An ugly-but-not-embarrassing second game of the season. This is starting to look promising but the W's aren't there yet.
Ravens 24, Browns 13

Kizer took a lot of extra hits last week. Lets see if he learned anything over the course of the week. It's a long Sunday for the Browns. I will be enjoying the day and sunshine watching the Central Division champs at Progressive field this afternoon, a much more enjoyable experience. 
Ravens 23, Browns 16

The Browns put up a surprisingly gritty and hard-nosed effort against the Steelers, but all that hard work still resulted in a loss. While there's cause for optimism in the early going, I don't expect a breakthrough against the Ravens this afternoon.

Ravens 24, Browns 23

I missed the game last week. The rumor around town is the Browns have rejoined the NFL. I'm not above spreading rumors.

Browns +10, 2 Dimes.


Browns 20, Ravens 17

The Browns have once again suckered me into believing they are a competent football team. The defense looked tough last week against Pittsburgh, and may keep us in some games this year, if healthy. Of course, my opinion could change after today, as it tends to do after week two with this organization.






 
Not picking this week.

Still celebrating 22 straight for the Windians.


Not picking this week.

Feels like too easy a pick.











Sunday, September 10, 2017

What CST Thinks about Browns-Steelers today

                                              Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns

September 10, 2017

Actual result: Steelers 21, Browns 18


Steelers 17, Browns 13

An ugly-but-not-embarrassing start to the season.
Steelers 28, Browns 10

The Browns lose season openers every year and this one is no different. Kizer gets a rude awakending to the NFL. Hopefully he can stay upright and learn on the job. It's a long day on the lakefront though.
Steelers 27, Browns 14

It's season's beatings once more as a Super Bowl-level Pittsburgh team comes into Cleveland for the opener. Expect Kizer to show enough flashes to get fans excited for the future.



Steelers 17, Browns 9

Joe Haden's INT seals it for Pittspuke, underscoring the haunting and hellacious incompetence coming out of Berea.

Look, I understand the Browns' rebuild is colossal and Haden wouldn't be a contributor on our potentially competitive 2022 team. But if you even have the faintest notion that the Stillers are interested, you hold on to Haden. Or else your MoneyBall becomes FunnyBall. And all of our front office regimes since '99 have been funny. Now you funny too.




Steelers 47, Browns 3

Browns start by going the wrong way and getting their punt blocked for a TD.










Thursday, June 29, 2017

Corey Kluber's grip on the ball and the game frightens me even

The Indians beat Texas today, 5-1, to win 3-of-4 from the Rangers and make the best of a homestand that started off being swept by the Twins. Corey Kluber continues his post DL tear.


All I know is that when I see Kluber's two fingers on the ball like this, even I get frightened of being embarassed on national television, like so many hitters.

(Courtesy Tony Dejak, AP)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Cavs might as well not even show up; a look at the media previews of the NBA Finals

Everyone predicted a rubber match between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers since, well, basically 5 minutes after Kyrie Irving drove a dagger into Warriors fans' hearts in Game 7. Or at least since the best team in the league, the one that one an NBA-record 73 games, who had the unanimous MVP, added the second best player in the world to its roster.

Now that the inevitable is upon us, let's see what the experts are saying. (Spoiler alert, nearly everyone believes the same thing.)

Zach Lowe, ESPN.com: (clickthrough to a great, lengthy analytical breakdown.) If Cleveland regresses to somewhere between its current form and its desultory regular-season play, this is a walkover. If the Warriors have another gear in reserve, this is a walkover. If neither of those things prove true, this is not a walkover. The Cavs have a fighting chance....The bet here, though, is that the Cavs fall short in a competitive series. Warriors in 6

Sam Amick, USA TodayWarriors in 6. "Curry, Green and Kevin Durant are playing at their peak, while Klay Thompson is the slumping shooter who's surely about to blow his top any minute now. The greatness of LeBron James, the continued ascension of Kyrie Irving and the better-than-ever comfort level of Kevin Love will be enough to help the Cavs put up a good fight, but this Warriors group is just too good to be beat."

SI's Lee JenkinsWarriors in 5. "[Durant] doesn’t need to be sensational. Neither does Steph Curry nor Klay Thompson nor Draymond Green. If they simply play well, Golden State wins. The dynamic is different for James, just as it was in ’11. He has to be superhuman."

Sean Deveney, Sporting NewsWarriors in 6. "[The Cavaliers] can’t keep pace with the Warriors, winners of 27 of their last 28 games, in terms of depth. The Cavs and Warriors went seven games last year, and Cleveland returns much the same lineup this time around. Golden State has lost Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes, but they brought in Durant, and his playoff performance to date — 25.2 points on 55.6 percent shooting — has been exactly what the Warriors wanted when they signed him last July."

SI's Chris BallardWarriors sweep in 4. " ...the only way to see the Warriors losing this series is if they self-sabotage, and that appears unlikely...[LeBron will] go down as the best ever and it may not be all that close by the time he’s done. But he cannot overcome this level of talent, cohesion, and depth. Last year, Golden State intentionally chased history in the regular season. This year they’ll make it, becoming the first team to go undefeated in the playoffs.

Kevin Pelton, ESPN.com: Cites a couple sources, from RPM, "Golden State would be expected to win in four games about 20 percent of matchups and win the series 88 percent of the time", and from "market-based PredictWise," "an implied probability of 72 percent for the Warriors to win the Finals."

SI's Ben Golliver: Warriors in 5. "The Warriors lack the best player in this series, but they possess more overall talent, better two-way balance, more useful depth, greater lineup versatility, and more individual match-ups to exploit. That, plus home-court advantage and a renewed focus following last year’s catastrophe, should be enough to complete the redemption mission.  "

SI's Matt Dollinger: Cavaliers in 6. [editor's note: WAIT A MINUTE WHAT IS THIS DOING HERE?] " The Cavaliers have the mental edge. This shouldn't be underestimated. LeBron is in the Warriors' heads. They genuinely fear him after being pushed to the brink of seppuku in last year's Finals. And as for the newcomer who wasn't around last June, why do you think he left Oklahoma City? He's done underestimating LeBron, too."

SI's Rob Mahoney: Warriors in 5. "These Warriors aren’t unbeatable, but to beat them four times in seven games would require some dramatic turn of events beyond what we could reasonably expect. These should be competitive games, all in all. I just don’t expect there to be all that many of them, given that Golden State is better prepared to handle just the kind of counters that wore them down over the course of last year’s Finals."

SI's Rohan Nadkarni: Warriors in 5.  "...there’s no sane reasoning for picking the Cavaliers... The Warriors are the more talented group, and they are playing with a feverish motivation after the embarrassment of last year’s Finals. Frankly, I wouldn’t be shocked if this series was a sweep. But I’ll also happily accept my comeuppance if LeBron makes me eat these words."

SI's DeAntae Prince: Warriors in 6.  "[The Cavs]  don't have enough to overwhelm a motivated Warriors team with a hungry Durant leading the charge. I never feel completely comfortable betting against LeBron, but this is the one team with the talent to overwhelm his Cavaliers.

SI's Jeremy Woo: Cavaliers in 7. [editor's note: WHO PUT THIS IN, AGAIN??] "...his is the best edition of the Warriors so far, [but] jumping to sensible conclusions with these teams isn’t always worth the energy. The best version to date of an all-time talented team that hasn’t even lost once in the playoffs should win, right? After all, the only rational basketball argument here is LeBron James, still at the peak of his remarkable powers, with an ascendant sidekick, Jordan’s records in his rearview mirror and all the motivation to repeat he could ever need. And you know what? Somehow… it all sounds kinda reasonable. Screw it—Cavs in seven."

Scott Rafferty, Sporting News: It's hard to quote from Rafferty's piece, but the jist of it is that the Warriors have a worse-than-death-play with a Durant-Curry pick and roll that is much better than the Green-Curry pick and roll that the Cavs were able to counter last year, and that the league hasn't seen it much because they are holding it for these very Finals. (That's actually Chad Lowe's supposition.)

Chris Barnewall, CBSSports.comWarriors in 7. "I was so close to picking Cleveland. So very close.[But the Warriors] had the best offense all season. Their defense has been incredible all season. They've just been more consistent and they added Kevin freakin' Durant. Don't be surprised if Cleveland takes this the distance again, but Golden State just has too much incredible talent on its roster."

Tom Ley, Deadspin: "I mean, the Warriors are probably going to win, but I’ve managed to talk myself into believing that the Cavs can win. I will believe this up until Durant drops 40 points in each of the first two games and the Cavs go down 0-2. How about you?"

Maurice Moton, Bleacher Report: Cavs in 7. [Editor's note: OKAY THIS IS GETTING RIDICULOUS.] "Many feel Durant tilts the balance in the Warriors' favor for an early knockout, but Love's arrival on the big stage along with the Cavaliers' deep bench rotation evens the playing field."

Bill Reiter, CBSSports.com: Warriors in 7. "The back-and-forth series is punctuated by LeBron James again rising to another level with a championship on the line, and Curry asserting himself and looking again like a unanimous MVP comes down to the final game. This time, the Warriors win at home at Oracle and the confetti falls for them and their revenge tour." (Editor's note: this prediction wasn't really worth anything, as it didn't say anything.)

Ethan Skolnick, CBSSports.com: Warriors in 7. "While James will be spectacular, and while we saw he can steal a seventh game at Oracle, that home court edge has to count for something at some point. This time, the fortified Warriors, with lessons learned from their sloppy finish, close stronger."

SI's Andrew SharpWarriors in 5.  "... LeBron is why I'm giving the Cavs a game here. But the Warriors are probably too good to make this any closer. Golden State has a better chance at sweeping this series than the Cavs do at winning it. They are too explosive on offense, and too relentless on defense, and too good at creating fatal mismatches.  All of that was true even last year, and that was before the third-best player in basketball joined the second-best player in basketball on the best team in the league. I won't overthink it from there. This seems like it may be a more interesting matchup on paper than it will be on the court. It's great that both teams are healthy and rolling, yes, but when this year's Warriors are rolling, nothing else matters. Not even LeBron."James Herbert, CBSSports.com: Warriors in 6. "I would have picked the Warriors in five before the playoffs started, but the Cavs' run through the East makes that seem disrespectful."

Matt Moore, CBSSports.com: Warriors in 6.  "Durant's just too much, he's just really such a great player and when you add him to this team, there's just too much there for the Cavs to handle. The Warriors will overwhelm them with talent, will stay focused, will find enough offensive answers to outlast LeBron James,.."

Jack Maloney, CBSSports.com: Warriors in 5. "Last year's meeting between these two probably would have ended in five games if a certain...um...incident hadn't happened, and now the Warriors have Kevin Durant."

Brad Botkin, CBSSports.com: Cavs in 7. "You can call up all the advanced stats you want, but basketball, when you really get down to to it, particularly in playoff situations that often come down to winning a few crucial possessions, tends to be pretty simple: Best player wins. Give me LeBron in another epic series."

Jeff Zillgitt, USA Today: Warriors in 6. "The Cavs have enough offensive power to win games in the series, but do they have enough defense to win the series? The Cavs’ defense has been questioned all season, and it improved during the playoffs. But Cleveland didn’t face an offense like Golden State’s, nor did the Warriors face an offense like the Cavs’...in this series, the burden of proof is on Cleveland’s defense.]

Michael Singer, USA Today: Warriors in 7. "The Warriors are a devastating group that not only have last year's collapse still lingering in their minds, but also an inherent motivation in Steve Kerr."

AJ Neuharth-Keusch, USA Today: Warriors in 6. "This is a Cavaliers team that struggled mightily on the defensive end in the regular season. Sure, they've been significantly better in the playoffs, but their first three opponents couldn't hold a candle to Golden State. Simple as it sounds, the Warriors are just too strong and talented on both ends of the floor to end another campaign without the Larry O'Brien Trophy."

The ESPN gaggle:


ESPN's Basketball Power Index93% chance of the Warriors winning the series (at the end of a large statistical breakdown of the players and teams.

ESPN's FiveThirtyEight90% chance of the Warriors winning the series.

ESPN's Fan Panel70% chance of the Warriors winning the series.








Friday, May 5, 2017

LeBron James' Game 2 was rare as hell

Sometimes, what LeBron James does on the court defies description. All the talk about the MVP, or even the best player in the league, virtually shelves LeBron as a "yeah, him too" while focusing on Curry, Harden, Westbrook, or Leonard. Yet when you watch this man play, imposing his will on teams during the playoffs, it is amazing to behold. All James did on Wednesday was score 39 points on only 14 (!) field goal attempts. That sounds good in a vacuum. But then consider, it has only been done five times before Wednesday night!

Courtesy basketball-reference.com:link here
The only playoff game in this set was by Terry Porter, who was marvelously efficient one night in 1992. And besides Rolando Blackman, the other games were all done by big men-- all time greats Mourning, Shaq, and Dwight. Note that LeBron is older than anyone who has done this before, by two years. Just, wow.

Of course, he did other things beside just rack up stats on Wednesday. Like this, which I'm pretty sure has never been done before in an NBA game.


And that led to this piece of Twitter perfection. As has been said before, the Simpsons have done it already. No matter what it is.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Worrying about the Cavs on the eve of the playoffs

Image courtesy of @elliotgerard and @graphatick
Cavs roar into the 2017 postseason, or so we hope
 In this the Year 1 ATC (After The Championship), Cleveland fans may have gotten complacent, maybe even a little bored, watching the Cavaliers slog thorough a long regular season before the only season that matters cranks up in earnest. 

You also have to wonder if the Cavs themselves feel the same, considering this tremendously talented team has complied a 26-24 record since January 1. This season's squad has cycled through two dozen players as well as numerous lineup changes, while displaying an exasperating inability to stop opposing teams at the point of attack.

Call it a championship hangover or frustration at not having a consistently healthy lineup from night to night. For a postseason shoe-in like Cleveland, the regular season is an 82-game lab experiment of rotations and schemes leading to a two-month meat-grinder where all that preparation pays off. But the Wine and Gold appeared to still be figuring things out as Coach Ty Lue eschewed seeding for resting his top stars.

So if there's a switch to be flipped, the Cavs better be flexing their, uh, flipping fingers as they prepare for this afternoon's first-round opener against the Pacers. Nobody needs to be reminded of the all-world talent on this roster. Just as critically, the Cavs won't have to deal with back-to-backs or long road trips. Logic tells me that LeBron and Co. will be focused, rejuvenated and ready for another lengthy playoff run.

Or are those optimistic adjectives just me whistling past the graveyard? It's freaking hard to repeat, and even getting out of the East is no longer the near certainty it was at the beginning of the year. If last year's beautiful championship dream hadn't happened, I'd be grimly waiting for the hammer to fall. As it stands, I'm willing to see how things play out.

Ideally, the next week will lay to rest stories about injuries and lackadaisical play, and reintroduce the intense, fun-loving group that brought Cleveland so much joy one year ago.

note: credit for the image of Lebron used above goes to @elliotgerard and @graphatick

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Indians win a feel-good Home Opener, and a look at Edwin Encarnacion's past Aprils

In a true feel-good ending on Opening Day in Cleveland, Michael Brantley--who had to painfully watch the 2016 pennant run by his teammates--doubled in Francisco Lindor to win on the Home Opener 2-1 over the White Sox. As thrilling as it was for the play itself, seeing Brantley get the hit was just amazing as well, for his teammates even more than Michael himself, I bet.

Photo courtesy PD/Chuck Crow
The Indians' offense promises to be dangerous from top to bottom, and Brantley is hopefully going to be a huge part of that.

The other, even bigger addition to the Indians' lineup, unfortunately, had an extremely rough day at the plate. Edwin Encarnacion grounded into not one, but two bases loaded double plays in the sixth and eighth inning when a base hit--or more--could have been the game winner. It's not every day when your two strikeouts are the most productive at bats of the day, that's for sure.

Encarnacion has not come out of the gate strong so far--opening day bomb aside. But that's not particularly unusual, or the least bit alarming. As of today, he has a negative WAR, and is batting .185 with a .600 OPS, and only the single (but majestic) home run and RBI to his name.

The good news, of course, is that this slump could be any 7 game stretch. It just happens that it's the first week of the season. And on top of that, his career monthly stats suggest that he's a bit of a slow starter. His OPS in March and April is .757 for his career, the lowest of any month, and nearly 11% lower than his career OPS.



As the weather warms, I'm sure Edwin's bat will too, and that will be something to behold.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What CST Thinks about the 2017 Indians on today's Home Opener

Cleveland Indians 2017 Season

Hey, today is the home opener! Feels like a good time to finally get our predictions on the record. Better late than never. Good motto for Cleveland sports, actually.


Cleveland Indians record: 92-70
Finish: First place in AL Central
World Series: Indians over Cubs in an epic rematch

I gotta say, I'm never EVER going to get over the 2016 World Series. The memory hurts enough without me living in Wrigleyville and having to see championship gear and W flags everywhere I look for the past five months. This year, if the wubbas can stay healthy, they will be another tough out. It's not every year the team that loses Game 7 in extra innings, in effect, adds a #4 and #5 hitter and #2 and #3 starter. It's an embarassment of riches, and I hope they take advantage of it.


Cleveland Indians record: 95-67
Finish: First in AL Central
World Series: Indians over Giants

It's a long season, but the Tribe will lock up the division early, given much needed rest. Once the playoffs start, anything can happen but this year the breaks in the World Series go the Indians' way.
Cleveland Indians record: 99-63
Finish: First in AL Central, beating Boston for pennant
World Series: Giants over Indians in 7

This is a very, very good club that added a nuclear weapon of a
right-handed power hitter in Edwin Encarnacion. Injuries will be the
only thing that stops this team from making a deep push into the
playoffs.
 
Cleveland Indians record: 95-67
Finish: First in AL Central
World Series: Indians over Cubs in 7

Great starting rotation, unbelievable bullpen, best power hitter since Albert Belle, in Tito I trust.


Cleveland Indians record: 88-74
Finish: American League Wild Card
World Series: Indians over Cubs in 7

The only way I truly find any peace is an extra inning victory at Wrigley Field in a legendary deciding game, where I am standing in right center, mocking those nescient, flaky, front-running CubFan dolts. For good measure, Trevor Bauer is permanently sent to the minors in June. Soon after, Bauer's vehicle is randomly keyed by an angry mob of Trumpkins...which leads Trevor to confess on Twitter that none of his old major-league teammates supported Trump. In fact, the only Trump supporter in all of MLB is Kyle Schwarber, who ends up striking out to end the 2017 World Series.


Cleveland Indians record: 92-70
Finish: First in AL Central
World Series: This year they get it done.

2017 makes up for the pain of 2016.




Cleveland Indians record: 18-3
Finish: 18-3
World Series: It's played in October.

Sent from my Windows 10 Phone, which is obviously a real thing.

Cleveland and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Weekend

Last Wednesday was one of the better days in Cleveland sports. The Cavs limped into Boston and proceeded to put an absolute whupping on them. And the Tribe roared back to cap a sweep against Texas on the back of the great Francisco Lindor.

Remember that? That was pretty fun, wasn't it? We were living high. Whoo boy!

Because since then, it's been ugly as can be. Seven runs in three straight losses for the Indians in Arizona. But more troubling, especially this late in the season, the Cavaliers with three of the ugliest games in four days that you will ever see.

Friday night, Atlanta rolled in with a D-League team, without all five starters they played against the Cavs in early March. And yet the Cleveland defensive woes continued and the Hawks blew out the 9-of-36 3-point shooting Cavs by fourteen points.

Sunday's rematch had the Cavaliers looking much sharper, destroying the Hawks to cruise to a 26 point win fourth quarter lead that they proceeded to choke away. The fact that the officials just blew call after call that made a huge difference in the game does not overshadow the fact that the Cavs were gutted after this one. LeBron's incredibly heavy, and many say short-sighted, workload was just exacerbated with a whopping 47 points on Sunday. I, for one, nearly flipped the game off to concentrate on The Masters, but was stuck watching the game in horror as the lead shrunk and eventually disappeared.

After that game, Coach Lue decided that the #1 seed might be all but gone, so sat Kyrie and LeBron Monday, and against the Heat, another blown lead, this time of 11 points as Miami won in overtime. Despite not one, but two four point plays for the good guys in OT.  Looks like LeBron is going to be shut down for the last game of the season as well.

The bench looks horrible, the team has ridden LeBron way too hard in 2016 (and somehow it hasn't shown up in his still-amazing quality of play), and team defense is a myth. There are these mysterious clues that Tyronn Lue has a magic defensive remedy up his sleeve, and we can only hope that is the case. Iman Shumpert looks to be far from the answer. And Tristan Thompson's thump needs a very quick rehab.

The Indians open today at home, and their season is long. Hopefully some home baseball cooking can make us all forget about the four day weekend we just witnessed.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Royal Rumble 2017 Live Blog!


Image result for royal rumble 2017

Welcome to the 2017 Royal Rumble, with coverage from your friends Kayfabe Kevin and Bodacious Doug. This is what's called a 'live blog' in which we will cover each match AS IT HAPPENS, save the few matches we missed.

Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship:

This is a no DQ contest that we're about 15 minutes into. Back and forth contest with chairs and other hellacious implements of destruction involved. Jericho as advertised as hanging 20 feet above the ring, yelling invective at the former Shield member.

Jericho has thrown down some brass knuckles which will be used for nefarious purposes. Owens clocks Reigns with the knucks but Reigns kicks out. Owens sets up a chair in the ring but Reigns drops him on the chair via samoan drop. Table time for Reigns, in one of the corners. Superman punch gets a near 3-count.

The match has slowed, and there's a pyramid of chairs waiting outside for a terrifying final spot. Reigns reverses a suplex from the turnbuckle and punches Owens into the tower of chairs. Owens may be dead.

Reigns is eyeing the announce table, which is not good for anyone involved. Power bomb through the table, Owens in trouble. Spear set up but here's Braun Strowman to interfere! Power slam through a table set in the corner. Owens drags himself over for the three count!

Owens retains, which is a surprise. Lots of scuttlebutt about Reigns winning to set up a possible Strowman vs. Reigns championship match at Wrestlemania. Looks like we'll still get that, just without the gold on the line.

Pretty solid match between two guys who've had multiple matches over the last months. Keeping the belt on Owens through Wrestlemania could set up a 'best friends' battle between the champ and Jericho. The build up would need to start now, what with Jericho reportedly leaving post-Mania to tour with his band. I've listened to Fozzy and trust me when I say Jericho would be better off staying on the show.

----

A Royal Rumble video package treats viewers to highlights from the last 30 years. I recently watched the '95 Rumble, which took place in that dark time post-Hulkamania and before the Monday Night Wars. The match contained such luminaries as Kwang (aka Savio Vega), the Mantaur and the Blue Brothers, and I ain't talking about Dan Akroyd and John Belushi.

Back to live-ish action, another video package in the run-up to the Cruiserweight championship match between newly heeled Neville and Rich Swann. The division is coming along decently enough after a slow start. They're actually building characters, though the crowd reaction to the matches has been tepid at best. It will take some time to build interest, and new WWE isn't great about letting characters build at a moderate pace that allows fans to, you know, care about them.

Neville vs. Rich Swann for the Cruiserweight Championship:

Neville is rocked up, and if I were a betting man I'd bet he comes out of this the winner. He's been built as a monster heel of the cruiser division and a championship chase with Swann or someone new (I'd pick Jack Gallagher, who's very entertaining) would set things up for WM.

Domination by the challenger thus far, though the crowd is more or less non-reactive. Rest hold rear chinlock on Swann, and a few experimental pin attempts by Neville on Swann. Crowd is quiet. Though just don't feel these CW matches.

Rally by Swann, superkick, standing frankensteiner and twisting 450 splash has stunned Neville. Another spin kick by Swann, complete with a resounding smack. My colleague Kayfabe Kevin is convinced the move is real. Neville superplex transitition into some form of crossface, and Swann taps out to make the heel the literal King of the Cruiserweights, as he's styled himself since his debut in the division.

Kind of odd to end a cruiserweight match with a submission move. Neville is not a traditional cruiserweight, but traditionally these matches are fast-paced and spot heavy. Anything to differentiate itself from the rest of the show, where many of the matches play out the same. Give me Jack Gallagher as the new challenger to Neville. He's unique in presentation and move-set, and funny in his fussy English guy way.

----
Another video package hyping Cena vs. Styles. With Owens retaining, one of the big belts has to switch, meaning a good chance Cena take the duke. Further meaning that Undertaker wins the Rumble to set up that battle at WM. My colleague Kayfabe Kevin is dubious, as his "sources" claim that Taker vs. Cena is off. No reason give other than Vince McMahon changed his mind. Taker's health could play a part as well, as Mr. Calloway has hip issues that need addressed. We shall see, WWE Universe.

John Cena vs AJ Styles for the WWE World Championship:

Styles and Cena make their entrance, Cena wearing Florida Gators colors and getting his usual mixed reception. Being a loser smark I'd like Styles to walk away the winner, but Vince wants that big ticket for Wrestlemania.

Hot crowd to start with Styles in control. The smart crowd loves him, and it does make me miss the days when fans actually booed the bad guys. Think Piper, think Iron Sheik, think Andy Kaufman. Cena seizing the momentum, setting up a superplex which Styles reverses into an "Argentina backbreaker," not to be confused with Chilean backbreaker.

Attitude Adjustment gets a two, and let me take this moment to say I don't like guys kicking out of finishers. Regardless, Styles is stunned. Cena misses a cloethesline, and the champ hits pele kick in the deltoid. I just report what I see, folks. Two count for Styles on a Phenomenal Forearm, and we're probably heading toward end game here. War of attrition between the two Superstars as they trade punches.

Calf crusher on Cena which the challenger reverses into an STFU! Figure 4 by Cena, an unusual move for Mr. Thuggenomics. Cena then powers out of an armbreaker to drop Style on the small of his back. Cena dives off the top ropes but Styles blocks him. Styles Clash hit, but Cena kicks out to the surprise of exactly nobody. PPVs are finisher kick-out city.

Another near fall, and this War of Nutrition continues. AA off the top rope and by God Styles kicked out. That one fooled both myself and my colleague Kayfabe Kevin.  Another Styles Clash but Styles to shaken up to make the pin. Styles springs off the ropes, Cena catches him and delivers yet another AA, then rolls Styles up to deliver a deadly AA coupe de grace. 1, 2, 3 and Cena has tied Ric Flair in championship wins.

Not unexpected, but a pretty neato finish. I'm standing by my Taker Rumble win for the big headline match at Mania. I don't love it, but that's how McMahon thinks.

----
Royal Rumble is next! Long video package sharing the history of the match. Last Rumble I saw was two years ago when Roman Reigns came out the winner, to the anger and disappointment of fans. Good Rumbles bring surprise and Reigns winning certainly was not that. But that's the past, man.

Here we go, with Cass and Jericho kicking things off. The Fozzy lead singer is taking his sweet time getting out there. Kalisto in at #3, going at it against Cass. #5 is Jack Gallagher, who low blows Jericho with his umbrella. As one does.

No eliminations yet, though that may change with the arrival of Mark Henry at #6. Gallagher, umbrella in hand, is tossed by the World's Strongest Man. Next is Strowman, who promptly dumps three guys with the quickness. Strowman and Henry face off, and Henry is a goner. Sami Zayn comes in to face his nemesis and the two trade blows as Jericho hides out. Big Show, who's in stupendous shape, comes in to face the Mountain Among Men. Show is bigger than Strowman, which makes for an odd visual cuz Strowman's a beast.

Fifth elimination by Braun is Big Show. Perfect 10 Tye Dillinger of NXT is #10, which I'm sure is on purpose. Ellsworth is next and won't come in to face Braun. Dean Ambrose arrives, and the remaining Superstars are doing their best to team up on Strowman. Not working, and Dillinger is tossed like a sack of rocks. But Baron Corbin enters the fray rids the world of Strowman.

The action continues with the Miz, from Parma, who was eliminated in a past Royal Rumble match by a midget named Hornswaggle.  Things slowing down here as more Superstars enter. Kayfabe Kevin are waiting on some surprises, though those may be few and far between at this point. Samoa Joe? Angle? One can only hope.

Instead, it's Caesero, giant swinging everyone that moves. #20 is Xavier Woods, putting all 3 members of New Day in at once. No eliminations for some time now as Bray Wyatt enters. But Caesaro and Shaemus get rid of New Day, and Jericho sneaks in to knock out the  the former tag champs.  Dolph Ziggler and Randy Orton are up next, with Orton RKOing a few guys to hell. #25 is the third member of the Wyatt clan, Luke Harper, who turns on his family members Bray and Orton. I believe this is called interstitial storytelling, but it's late.

Things perk up a bit with Brock Lesnar, who promptly cleans house, eliminating Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler. Kayfabe Kevin is getting impatient for surprises but we're running out of road here with only a few entrants left. Put a pin in that negative Nelly thought cuz here comes Goldberg! Spear, clothesline and goodbye Brock. Upon his elimination a fan holds up a 'Warriors blew a 3-1 lead' sign, so you know that was legit.

Taker #29, appearing as is from nowhere. Goldberg is eliminated, and the surprise entrant is no surprise...it's Reigns. Dammit! Jericho out and it's Reigns vs. the Wyatt family. Wyatt gone, and Reigns and Orton are your final two. Reigns readies a spear and Orton hits an RKO out of nowhere. Clothesline on Regins and Orton is your Royal Rumble winner.

Yeah, not ideal. No surprise entrants and a lackluster finish. Kayfabe Kevin and I are disappointed by this outcome. The Rumble is supposed to be unpredictable, Orton winning is the absolute symbol of a predictable winner, though Reigns woulda been worse.

Let that sink in, wrestling universe. We will meet again. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Testing (and living with) with Google's Project Fi

Note: The people at Cleveland Sports Torture don't only sit around and dwell on the fact that the first thirty-something years of their lives were spent in sports misery--nope, they also have families and careers and hobbies and so forth. Some of us really like tech, and so you may periodically see one of us get off the couch to give our opinion on something we've tried. Or sit on the couch and do it. Whatever. 

So even though I work in the media business, I'm annoyed by my high bills. Particularly from my
MVPD (that's media speak for cable company) and my cell phone bill. See, I get a bit of a stipend from my company for my phone bill, but it doesn't come close to covering my bill I had with Verizon, no matter what I tried, M-L-XL-XXL, etc. in their never ending changing plan system.


So one night in January 2017 I figured, what the hell, I'd give Google's Project Fi a try. For those who don't know, Project Fi was launched by Google a while back to give people an alternative from their wireless carrier. (The "Fi" is for "Wi-Fi".) Basically you get a new SIM card for eligible phones (*a big caveat), and your phone uses either Wi-Fi, or an available cell network (Sprint or T-Mobile) to route your voice calls, texts, or data. The best thing is the no risk billing.

(Let me be perfectly upfront and transparent--I am not being paid for this at all, I signed up like any other person would.)

The gist of it is, you pay $20 per line, and then $10 per GB of data you use. If you use more, you pay that percentage of the $10, if you pay less than you signed up for, you get a credit on next month's bill. Simple, right? In addition, Project Fi tries to connect you to Wi-Fi as often as possible, secured by VPNs as much as possible, to save that data. And it is meant to switch between wireless networks and Wi-Fi seamlessly. And it works overseas as well at the same rate.

I'll be testing this all out.

*The big caveat is that unless you are a big Google nerd, you may not have a compatable phone. Basically if you have a Pixel or a Nexus 5x or 6p, you are good. All other phones dont.

Now, I've had Project Fi for approximately 27 minutes, it's January 27, and I will let you know how I like it. I can confirm that I can get a call on my phone still. And that Verizon has not send a team of goons to rough me up after porting my number. Yet.

Guess what--if you want to try and use this link, I get like $20 credit on my bill. I didn't even know this existed when I started randomly writing this, and it was not why I wrote this, but give it a try! (And if you don't want to click on creepy links, I get it, maybe give it a try anyway. You can always go back to big Telecom. That's what I'm figuring. https://g.co/fi/r/A5E57V

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Vox Lox: Counting Down My Top 40 Plays as a Cleveland Sports Fanatic, 1984-2016


40. Steve Colter tips in the game winner at 0:00:2 of double OT. If you think a Cavs regular season victory from the mid '90s is too insignificant for this list, then why does Joe Tait consider it one the top 5 moments of his storied career?

39CSU over Syracuse, at the buzzer

38. Louie Nanchoff; left, right, left for the hat trick at the 22:00 mark. Nev Chandler and Jack Corrigan on the call.

37. 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.

36. Greg Oden's block caps off a twenty point Buckeye comeback in the 2007 Sweet 16.

35. May 1, 1984. Unlikely Hungarian hero Alex Tarnoczi heads home the series clincher in OT, at approximately the 33:00 minute mark, and your Cleveland Force eliminate the Spirit.

34. 2015 Sugar Bowl. Steve Abracadabra Miller's pick six vs. Alabama.

33Pronk ends the midge game, beating the Yanks in eleven innings.

32KennyG saves our perfect season.

31. Eric Metcalf punks Pittspuke with two punt returns for touchdowns at Pandemonium Palace.

30Jason Giambi puts the entire city on his 42-year-old-back for one AB.

29The Catch.

28Aaron Basketball.

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

26Phil Dawson, in then out.

25Landon Donovan's goal vs. Algeria. Give me a break...coming up with forty positive plays for Cleveland was no easy task. Anyway, I believe it was John McCain who said "country first."



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

214th & 1.

20. 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.

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

18. "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.

17Ron Lewis. Gus Johnson. And we're going to overtime in Lexington!

16. You'll have to scroll to the 1:58:00 mark of this video, and listen to the deafening noise when Zoran Karic casually chips it over the sixth attacker to ice the Crunch's 2nd title.

14LeShot

12Clay Matthews intercepts Jim Kelly at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, giving the Browns their third trip to the AFC Championship Game in four seasons.

11Marquis Grissom steals home when Omar Vizquel misses a bunt attempt; Tribe wins Game 3 of the 1997 ALCS in extras.

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

9Kenny Lofton scores from 2nd base. Enough said.

8. 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.

7Sandy 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.

6Damon Jones, cold off the bench, nails a corner three and the Cavs win their first playoff series in thirteen years.

5Tony Pena's walk-off jack wins Game 1 of the ALDS. A fitting, first taste of playoff baseball for almost three generations of Clevelanders.

4Maurice Clarett wrestles the football away from Sean Taylor, post-interception.

3. The Shot.

2. The Block.

1. After the Cavs triumphantly took the Torture out of CST and changed all of our legacies last June, it seemed unimaginable that we'd have another transcendent moment just 14 weeks later. But Rajai's Game 7 blast was a memory and a call to action. When it cleared the wall, Cleveland was reminded of her new identity. The Curse was over; this was part of the poem that LeBron had started, and the Tribe's contributing verse was even more gripping and emotionally volatile-- while we celebrated our sudden 6-6 affair, I watched in section 551 as the carnival of CubFan faces went from flush to ghostly white. Someday I'll tell my grandkids that, right before the rain came, the earth shook during Rajai's trot around the bases and I'm sure I left my body for an instant- except that I can still recall the feeling of elation-vomit burgeoning up my chest. I would fight to hold it down during a stranger's embrace and then endure a choking sensation that could only be born from nerves, joy and disbelief. I soon caught my breath, and so would Chicago during the unfortunate delay. But the bottom of the eighth on November 2, 2016 will never be in vain. Because we're Cleveland, and this is our story.

---

Raiders (+4) over Texans, 2 dimes
Seahawks (-8)  over Lions, 1 dime
Dolphins (+12) over Pittspuke, 2 dimes
Giants (+5.5) over Packers, 1 dime

Last Play: 3-Dime Winner on Super Bowl L
Career: 153-125-14, +45 Dimes