Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Indians keep us entertained...

...until the Cavs play again! 9-8 win tonight on an error in the bottom of the ninth. DeRosa hustles around from second on a chopper to the hole at first, and the pitcher takes his eye off the ball!

Closers can't close it

Oh well, tonight Kerry Wood busted open a 0-0 game in the ninth by giving up a 3-run homer. Jonathan Papelbon wasn't much better, but the go ahead run died at the plate and the Red Sox won their 11th game, 3-1 over the Tribe.

Ever since that 22 run outburst against the Yankees, the Indians have been averaging less than 3 runs a game.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bye bye Pistons...

...and not just the four-game sweep we just "witnessed." LeBron James, in what might pass under the radar given the lack of competitiveness of this series, put up a performance for the ages, equaling only Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird with 30+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 7+ assists in the series.

ABC ran a retrospective on the Pistons, and to me it seemed like the clipshow of deceased stars shown at the Oscars every year. You had a good run, Detroit.

Now time for a few days of R&R until the Heat or Hawks come to town. Who would you rather see?

Summer vacation

Remember that story about Nick Van Exel chanting "One, two, three Cancun!" in the pre-game huddle before a playoff elimination game? I'm thinking that's got to be the Pistons' mindset before today's Game 4. Does Detroit really want to make the roadie to Cleveland on Wednesday? What's the bloody point? It's games like this that make me believe the NBA should return to a best-of-five format for the first round. Regardless, I want to see a stomping from our Cavaliers, then a nice rest as the Hawks and Heat hash it out in a series that has all the makings of a seven-game tilt.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Not pretty at all, but 1 more to go

Game 3 to the Cavaliers, and it wasn't pretty. Started slow, with only four points about halfway through the first quarter. The entire game, I thought Delonte West looked just off his game. You know those mornings when you drip coffee on your pants, bump your head on the cabinet, and then toothpaste drips on your shirt when you're about to leave? Then you forget your sunglasses and have to go back to get them? That's what I thought Delonte was playing like. He lost his handle a ton of times, couldn't make a shot to save his life---0 for 7 with four turnovers. But he never stopped trying. Neither did Mo, who went 1 for 11. That's the Cavs, they don't stop trying. Unlike the Pistons who still seemed like they weren't all there.

But the story tonight was Joe Smith's huge plays. In the second half he was everywhere, grabbing rebounds (he had 10, including 4 offensive dogs) and using his size to just pull the Cavaliers up (he was 6 for 8 for a total of 19 points, including a huge three pointer that seemed to deflate the Pistons some.) Speaking of threes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas hit a three, too! Maybe they were trying to teach the guards some stroke!

LeBron was his normal fabulous self, finishing one assist short of a triple double. That, of course, had a lot to do with all the blown assists by his teammates, including at least four during a stretch of the third quarter. The highlight of the game was when Mo Williams threw a HIGH alley-oop (reminiscent of a too-high one in the first quarter) to LeBron and he came out of the rafters to slam it down. Made me pine for Michael Reghi!

Some notes: Sacha and Wally are virtually nowhere to be seen in Coach Brown's rotation tonight...some feedback about the second team's performance on Tuesday night? Add in Ben Wallace's ineffective performance, and the Cavs are playing a virtual seven-man rotation tonight.

Brian Windhorst (@PDCavsInsider) twittered about a huge brawl between fans between the third and fourth quarter tonight, he said one fan got jacked in the face and fell down two rows, and all the players were watching. The AP said that one fan (landed) the hardest punch at The Palace since the infamous 2004 brawl in which the Indiana Pacers tussled with the Pistons and their fans...."

Credit Paul Sancya of the AP for that photo of LeBron after the alley-oop!

Seems like there are lots of seats for the taking for Cleveland fans in Detroit on Sunday. Should we make the drive?

And although I know there's "13 more to go", I'm holding off and taking it one game at a time!

If possible, we'll send in-game tweets at @CleveSpTorture. Follow us there!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Just don't do it again

Another take on Cavs-Pistons Game 2:

I can’t say I’m overly upset by the fourth quarter of last night’s win over the Pistons. However, Detroit's 20-2 last-ditch barnstorming certainly takes some of the luster off what should have been a big-time chalupa giveaway starring Tarence Kinsey and the rest of the reserves.

The Cavs just didn’t have Detroit beat; they had them demoralized. What’s disappointing is the Cavs essentially took their boot off Detroit’s neck and at least give them a small spark heading into Friday’s Game 3.

There is no excuse for the second unit’s loss of focus and energy that allowed the Pistons’ bench to storm back, forcing the return of the starters in a matchup that was a laugher for three quarters. The comeback won’t make a difference in the series, but yesterday’s head-scratching finish was avoidable and unnecessary.

TNT’s announcers compared last night to Game 2 of the 2006 Eastern Conference semifinals when Detroit relaxed on a double-digit cushion and allowed visiting Cleveland to get within a possession or two of the lead. That contest, although a loss, served as a catalyst—what should have been a five-game coast for favored Detroit ended up a seven-game battle the Pistons were lucky to win. (See Murray, Flip and the Rebound That Got Away.)

That won’t happen this year: Like Pucky said, the 2009 Cavs have just too much firepower for the aging Pistons to deal with. Detroit has some nice up-and-coming players, but those young guns are not enough to offset the dearth of overall talent. The first quarter of Game 3 will be telling; the Cavs have to come out fast and set the tempo as they have over the first two games. Win on Friday, and everyone will forget about yesterday’s half-dozen minutes of atrocious basketball.

LeBron James - More Than a Game Trailer

A trailer for the upcoming documentary about St. V-St. M and the LeBron James team.

Closing it out

Well what can be said about Game 2. The Cavaliers played so flawlessly the first three quarters that the Pistons appeared as if they had given up, rented a vacation cottage, and would be (barely) playing out the string over the weekend in Detroit.

The Cavs, as projected, weren't fazed at all by the Detroit defensive strategy. LeBron's line was incredible--29 points on only 14 field goal attempts. When that is happening, you know the Cavs are rolling. Delonte, Z, Mo all picked it up.

The unbelieveable fourth quarter run, however, when the Pistons cut a 29 point lead to 7, will undoubtedly lead to more chatter from the uninformed about the "lack of Cavs depth". But the truth is that the Cavaliers are not only a much stronger team than Detroit, but that they have a much stronger "team"--in that they want to win, and will bust their asses to do it. The only evidence of that with the Pistons last night was from the bench players, and that's not going to get it done.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oh, so THAT'S how you do it??

Seems like the Pistons have a new trick up their sleeve for Game Two tonight--or at least they think they do. Stop LeBron from driving to the hole. Of course! Who knew it was so easy? From Ohio.com:

''Either we have to get the ball out of his hands a little more or make sure perimeter-wise we're keeping him in front of us and making him be a contested jump shooter,'' Pistons coach Michael Curry said. ''If we do those things, we'll be much better off with our overall defensive game plan.''

While Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince will continue to guard James, Cavs coach Mike Brown suspects the Pistons will blitz, hit and double-team James in an attempt to get him out of sync. The Pistons also might focus on speed, putting a smaller guard on James in an effort to keep up with him.

Prince knows what to expect.

''It's tough and that's why we have to continue to put different guys on him, move some things around and see what works,'' he said. ''Obviously, the last few times that we played them, dating back to the playoffs, we stuck with the same scenario going into each game with the things that we did. We're going to try some different things and hopefully it works out.''
So, they will be "much better off" on defense if they "get the ball out of his hands" or make him "be a contested jump shooter". Genius.

Pretty much like any player on earth. Of course, we've all seen LeBron get frustrated with defense some times, and settle into ill-advised jump shots. (In fact, some national columnists who shall remain nameless think the Cavs should fine LeBron every time he takes a three-pointer.) But one of the obvious huge reasons that the Cavs have won 66 67 games this year is that there is another couple scorers available, and lots of shooters to spread the floor. Teams can't contest LeBron enough to get the bal out of his hands. And of course, go ahead and double- or triple-team him. I'm reasonably certain he'll find one of those scorers who's open.

The Jordan Rules of fouling him hard every time he looks at the rim seem to be the only chance. And fortunately, I don't think that can stop him either.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Congrats Coach of the Year!

Justice was served with Mike Brown being named Coach of the Year.  Just look at the team chemistry, the new offensive looks, the defensive intensity, the 9th best record of all times, a good 12 games better than even the most optimistic observer would have gotten them.

Well deserved.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

You make the call...

Looks like the fans reached over...of course camera to HDTV to iPhone to Twitter isn't the clearest evidence ever!

Tweeted first! http://twitpic.com/3m3md

**Update--after further review I am definitely thinking that this should be interference and the Indians got jobbed out of the lead.

First replay of the year

Umpires just reviewed a "home run" by Jorge Posada.  Looked to me that the fan definitely reached over, definitely hit Trevor Crowe's Glove, and knocked Crowe off his path.  At the same time, it's not clear that Crowe could have gotten to that, it might have been just over his glove.  Regardless, I want to know what the umpires decided!

What a Saturday!

What a Saturday for Cleveland sports--and yet here in Chicago I'm being overwhelmed with Facebook statuses and tweets about how great a CHICAGO sports day it was! I guess I can't argue--Blackhawks and Bulls win playoff games, Cubs beat St. Louis in extra innings, and the Sox won too. Only the Fire ended up with a tie. (Great rule, soccer. Remind me why nobody cares?)

First, let me remind you to follow our new Twitterfeed at @CleveSpTorture.

If you had told me the Indians and Cavs would both win on Saturday, I'd be happy. If you told me they would both win by the same margin, I would be nervous for the Cavaliers. If you told me (accurately) that they would win by 18 points/runs each, I would call you delusional. That's how good a day it was for the two teams.

Let's start with the Indians...man, Buster Olney might be right. Yankee Stadium's new layout might vastly promote home runs--right now they are on pace for a 250% increase in home runs over last year. With the way some of the Yanks' pitching is going, that is a very bad omen. Wang--wow. The Indians put up a record 14 runs in the second inning Saturday, and tied their old record of 22 runs against the Yankees. Nice. The Indians may be perfoming a bit sub-par so far, but they've shown signs of life. And nothing is better than the fact that Travis Hafner seems to have somewhat found his swing, after a rough spring training.

The Cavs, on the other hand, played a hot-shooting Pistons team by matching them with their own shooting, and made it seem easy at the end. Both teams were shooting near 60% for a while, and so the game appeared close, but soon the Cavaliers' dominance exposed itself. It's hard to put a finger on the specific aspect of the game that made the difference, but the overall hustle difference was apparent. And the inability of the Pistons to contain LeBron or guard easy hoops for the Cavaliers was just too easy. Game one to the Cavaliers, 102-84.

Was it just me or does Rodney Stuckey blatently travel most of the time he drives to the hoop? Maybe he's got a move that is deceiving, but at least on three separate occassions I figured he traveled for sure.

So one thing to comment on. Gregg Doyle on CBSSports.com wrote a whole article on how the Cavaliers struggled without LeBron on Saturday. Look, Gregg, have you watched the first 82 games? The Cavs far from shrivel when LeBron is on the bench. They have a deep, talented team, and this hypothetical column after one game (in which they did struggle a bit) is ridiculous. Struggling for material?

..call it irrelevant, meaningless, silly -- unless it becomes so relevant that it means the end of the Cavaliers' season. Because that could happen....

Twice Cavs coach Mike Brown took out James for a long rest, at the end of the first and third quarters, and both times the Pistons mounted such a charge that Brown nearly sprained his shoulder waving James back into the game. If you're a Cleveland fan, that's a problem....

...I'm thinking about the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference finals, or the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. Both those teams also are reliant on a superstar, Orlando on Dwight Howard and the Lakers on Kobe Bryant, but the Cavaliers aren't even recognizable when James is off the floor.
Seems to me that the writer is suggesting that the Lakers and Magic suffer less if their superstar is missing in action. Ummm, maybe, because LeBron is the best player in the league. But I would conjecture that a LeBron-less Cavalier team would kill a Howard-less Magic team, and squeak past a Kobe-less Lakers team. Let's hope we never have to find out.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The NEW Yankee Stadium

Glad to see the Tribe go insane in the seventh inning on Friday to crush the Yankees in their home opener on Friday.  Now another afternoon game--time to go to MLB.com to listen to the game (can't watch because my company's servers are in New York and so I'm blacked out!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Anybody worried about having to face Detroit in the first round? Be honest. Is there really any reason to be concerned?

Any uneasiness may stem from the fact that the Pistons have much better talent than their 39-42 record indicates. They are also a team used to the grind-out style of playoff hoops, and Rasheed and the boys would love nothing more than to spoil our good times before they even got started.

The Pistons just don’t have that eighth-seed “cannon fodder” feel, even if they couldn’t hold a 10-point lead at home against Chicago to stay out of that final spot. Perhaps you'll be calmed by the words of Detroit Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg, who doesn’t think Cleveland fans have much to stress about come Game 1 on Saturday:

“You don't want any part of Cleveland,” Rosenberg writes. “This could easily be a sweep, and it is hard to imagine it going past five games. LeBron James will turn this team into playoff witnesses, and sooner rather than later.”

I mostly agree with my fellow landsman. I have little doubt the Cavs are going to win this series. I’d just rather see Chicago when the opening bell sounds. Yes, the Bulls have actually played very well since a trade with Sacramento that brought them the talented John Salmons. And Derrick Rose is immensely quick- the type of point guard that has given the Cavs fits in the past.

However, the Bulls are mostly a perimeter team with virtually no playoff experience. (Doesn’t that describe most every eighth-seed in NBA history?) The Cavs would have eaten Chicago alive.

The Pistons skew that comfortable equation, do they not? They’re like an old grizzly bear that may just have one good swipe left in its ragged claws. Fellow CST blogger SamVox, who has been known to make outrageous claims, so take this next with a grain of salt, insists he would be “surprised, but not shocked” if Detroit found a way to win the series. He points to Detroit’s defensive mindset and the nerve-shattering possibility of a 78-75 Game 7-grinder at The Q.

This series won’t be easy, but I don’t think it’s going to come to that, Sam. The Cavs really are that damned good: They have home court advantage, the best player on the floor, a solid surrounding cast and their own defensive mindset that only seems to tighten as the post-season goes on. This is not the soft-bodied Dallas team that lost a steeplechase to eighth-seed Golden State a few years ago. These Cavs have a history with Detroit; LeBron and friends will treat this series as such.

I implore my fellow Cleveland fans to enjoy the ride. We have an honest-to-God chance to win a championship here, which naturally fills us with abject terror. We cannot fear success. The Cavs are likely going to lose a game or two in the forthcoming weeks and (hopefully) months…we cannot lose our minds when that happens. Please, CST contributor Froms and other nervous wrecks, let’s keep a cool head, and by all means have fun. I will very much try to practice what I’m preaching…Lord knows I will try.
Much love to Plain Dealer columnist Mary Schmitt Boyer for making the most disingenuous statement I’ve seen in the sports pages for some time. In an April 15 article, “Finale for fans just the start,” Boyer maintains that LeBron knows how much a championship would mean to Cleveland.

“James knows what you want. He suffered with you through John Elway, Michael Jordan and Jose Mesa.”

No soap, Mary my dear. First, LeBron was a freaking Jordan fan. LeBron is also a well-known Yankees honk, and was strolling the Dallas sidelines when the Cowboys came to Browns Stadium last season. So, his handlers coached him up on a few sentimental terms (I think LeBron mentioned “The Drive”) and now he’s “one of us?” Mind you, I think he knows about our sports history, I just don’t think he cares.

Which is fine: I don’t care if LeBron is a frontrunner. I’m way over the Yankee hat thing. But Mary…did you actually believe what you were writing? A better question: How did such a cockeyed declaration get through your editors? That’s just sloppy journalism, kids.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sit 'em down, Coach Brown

The Cavaliers clinched homecourt throughout the playoffs tonight, rendering Wednesday's regular season finale against the Sixers meaningless. Or is it? A win against Philadelphia would give the Cavs an unbelievable 40-1 record at home, an accomplishment matched only once in NBA history. It's also Fan Appreciation Night: the guy who spent two grand on courtside seats to impress a client would not appreciate seeing LeBron wearing his stylish sweater vest (with crest)/sunglasses combination on the sidelines while Jawad Williams and Tarence Kinsey played 30 minutes a piece.

This humble blogger would be fine with Jawad and Tarance getting major PT. Hell, start Darnell Jackson and Lorenzen Wright in the frontcourt. Pull McLeod from the booth and let him suit up, too. I just don't want this team getting caught up in meanigless record-chasing when there's a risk, however slight, that a starter could twist an ankle, sprain a knee, get hit by a falling baby grand piano, etc. There's just no reason to take the chance when we're so...damn...close to something truly special. All of the individual accolades - MVP, Coach of the Year - mean nothing to me as a fan. A team accomplishment such as tying Boston for the best home record in league history is similarly hollow if you don't win the ring. 40-1 is nice bauble, true, but the real treasure for the Cavs and the city of Cleveland will be sought in June. That's why I say, Sit 'em down, Coach Brown!

Man-Ram an Indian Again?

Cleveland Reader reports that Manny Ramirez might want to play for the Indians again. And bring Jim Thome with him?

Hmmmm...not too sure Cleveland would welcome back Jim Thome, the man who could have a statue in center field right now if he didn't just chase the dollars.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

It's not football season, so it's a good Sports Sunday

Sunday rundown--I'm stuck in Chicago, and balancing the sporting events by watching the Indians on MLB.tv (which is great by the way), and the Cavaliers (and Masters) DVR-delayed. Whew, my brain hurts!

I'm not sure what we just watched with the Cavaliers today. A 31 point victory that wasn't in question after about four minutes into the game. Firing on all cylinders but I guess defense is the lead story today. Grabbing rebounds, tipping balls, all-out hustle just blew the Celtics out of the building.

The fourth quarter had Mike Breen and crew discussing that all-of-a-sudden, none of them thinks LeBron is going to leave in 2010. Quite a turnaround from all the buzz at the beginning of the season. But you have to think, watching the amazing chemistry that the Cavaliers have, that he must absolutely love playing for this team. It's been said repeatedly that this team is closer than any team people can remember. Even Anderson got a tattoo to celebrate his standing on the team! (Thanks to Shaver Sports.) Adding to that the fact that Lebron is close to home, a home that he loves, and I gotta pray that they're right about him staying.

Earlier they were debating which Cavaliers team is better, this year's 65+ win team, or the 56 win team of Price-Daugherty-Nance-Williams-Harper-Sanders-Ehlo. I guess it needs a look through the stats sheets, but as I've said before, this team is far from a one man team. It's just that one man on this team is other-worldly. Z is a Cavs Legend and one of the better centers in the league. He may not dominate the game--but he doesn't have to, and he knows it, and he does exactly what is needed. The backcourt of West and Williams is outstanding. And the Smith-Varajao-Wallace combination at F/C just play hard and do the little things. The bench is always there. It's hard for me to say that any Cavaliers team has been this good--or well rounded. Then again, this is just top of head.

And...the Indians won as well! We'll take it. And three home runs for Pronk through the first week? Could he be...back??

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tribe Time?

Well it's 5 games into the season and the Indians are 0-5, somewhere they haven't been in 20-something years.  I gotta say I am (NOT was) expecting a big season from the Tribe--so can't give up hope yet.  Not the best way to get out of the gates, though.

On the other hand..the Cavs clinch home court through the conference finals, and still have a 1-1/2 game lead over the Lakers (really a 1-game lead, since they win the tiebreaker) for overall record.

Interesting stat:  "(Lebron James) is about to join Kevin Garnett (2002-03), Scottie Pippen (1994-95) and Dave Cowens (1977-78) as the only players in the game's modern history (since 1973-74) to lead their team in total points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals" according to Mark Stein on ESPN.com.  Yet nobody who has watched the Cavs play all season long think this is a one-man team, not by a long shot.  Very interesting.

Of course, Stein also doesn't even put Mike Brown on his coach of the year ballot.  Really?  Raise your hand if you thought the Cavs were going to win more than 55 games before the season started.  Thank you.  That deserves a look at Coach of the Year.