Sunday, October 28, 2012

What we think will happen vs. the Chargers today (Week 8)

altSan Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns

October 28, 2012

Browns 24
Chargers 20

I'm sick of people in other cities telling me how good Brandon Weeden is. Just get a damn "W."


Browns 17
Chargers 16

Weather drags the Chargers to a halt. Browns pull off the upset. 


Chargers 21
Browns 13

As bad as the Browns are, they've been in most every game this year. That trend will continue today, with the young roster learning another harsh lesson at the hands of the 'Bolts. 

Browns 20
Chargers 18

I'm the only CST 'capper to correctly pick every game this season, but I'm befuddled today. My imaginary friends at are backing the Brownies, so I'll play my hunch and eat Norv's lunch. 

Chargers 31
Browns 17
It's Sunday, so that means The Walking Dead returns for another heart-pounding episode. Oh, and that show about zombies is on again tonight. Coach Shurmur, not be confused with one of those emotionless flesh eaters, is Dead Man Walking. I see almost no scenario where he's coaching this team next year.


Chargers 27
Browns 24

Browns keep it close, but the rookies struggle to close out the game again.                                                                     


Chargers 17
Browns 14

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Indians' Shapiro opens up

Over at Fox Sports Ohio, a good interview with the Cleveland Indians Mark Shapiro was posted yesterday by Pat McManamon.

It's the first long interview I can remember Shapiro giving in a long time that touches on a lot of the topics fans want to know about.

One of the more interesting unsettling quotes...

On the belief from us fans that if more people show up to games, more money will be spent:

 "I think more people will come. But the challenge is 2.2 million instead of 1.6 million doesn't change the way we operate. Even that extra 500,000, 600,000 people, even if that's $10-to-15 more million in revenue a year . . . one win in free agency is $9 million. So you're not going to change the context. Again, I don't think people want to intellectualize baseball, and I don't believe you should have to intellectualize baseball . . . and we've made a conscious decision in most of our interviews not to get into these topics and just stay positive and talk about what our aspirations are.
But that revenue swing between 1.5 million in attendance and 2.2 million in attendance . . . meaningful dollars but not dollars that will have us plan dramatically different." 

You can read the full interview here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Browns' Jimmy Haslam is not Udonis Haslem's brother, it turns out

Not related, if you can believe that!
Well not that this blog (and this author) have not been guilty of the very same, but seems that "Haslam" is a hard name to spell correctly. In fact, until noon today I would have spelled it with an "e" near the end instead of an "a", even with a gun at my head. 

But I've seen the light. Sorry folks, Cleveland Sports Torture has fixed our errors, but as you can see below, misspelling the new Browns' owner's name is a pretty regular occurrence  Most of the misspellings, to be fair, are found on Twitter, where temperature, crowds, or alcohol can certainly impair typing and/or judgement. And to be fair, most articles got it right, especially in headlines and body copy. But some sneaked through, like the Beacon Journal's photo caption, or Andy Baskin's short piece for Channel 5's website. The Plain Dealer has it right, although some misspellings occur in cached versions; guess some editor finally spell checked everything. And Tony Grossi has been spot-on. 

Mea culpa, Mr. Haslam. 

Cavs top NBA power rankings...sort of

The English call it "taking the piss." In the U.S., we refer to it as "goofing." Wherever you hail from, Grantland writer Wesley Morris had some fun with the Cavaliers' new alternate uniforms, an eye-searing yellow-and-red concoction that reminds Morris of hot dog garnish. While Kyrie Irving and Co. may be a longshot for the post-season this year, Morris put Cleveland No. 1 in his 2012-13 NBA uniform power rankings with the following bit of snark: 

"If you're playing basketball in Cleveland, you should be the happiest player in the NBA. You should. For a decade, it was maroon, maroon, maroon — and what happened? You got marooned. It's been two years since you-know-who left. It's time for a new you, and here it is: French's mustard with Heinz script. It's young, it's exciting, and when I see it I immediately want to put the whole thing on my hot dog. It's only an alternate uniform, it's true. But it's one that says things are looking up: We've still got Kyrie Irving, and we just know he'll be thrilled to spend many nights for many years wearing this and not totally ripping our hearts out. Right, Kyrie?"

Had to mention That Guy in Miami (TGiM), didn't you, national writer guy? Maybe Cavs players can start wearing non-prescription nerd glasses to go along with the hip new threads. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, after all. 

Paul Ryan fuzzy on details on Cleveland Browns, tax cuts

New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam brought some high powered political friends to Browns training yesterday. I guess now we know what end of the political spectrum Mr. Haslam falls on! (His brother is, after all, the Republican governor of Tennessee.)

The more legitimate guest was lifelong Browns fan (and former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.) Rice is long on record supporting the Browns since her childhood in Alabama. Many a Browns fan was raised by parents who loved watching (or listening to) Jim Brown run during the Browns' Glory Days.

More recently, Rice was featured in a print campaign for the NFL's line of women's gear, rocking a Josh Cribbs jersey. No matter what your politics are, it's pretty cool to have someone that powerful as your team's supporter. Not that it did a hell of a lot of good through the disastrous Bush administration. (For the record, I mean a disastrous eight years for the Cleveland football world.)

On the other hand, Vice Presidential nominee and Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan showed up and made a fool out of himself. First, he referred to how much he liked watching Colt McCoy play at Oklahoma State. Naturally, this mixup of McCoy with Browns QB (and former OSU Cowboy) Brandon Weeden caused a lot of laughter with the players, and was summarized nicely in a tweet by Scott Fujita.

Later, Ryan asked Haslam if the Browns were an expansion team. Now one may excuse some mixup over 2 quarterbacks on team with limited, if any, national exposure. But to not know that the Browns have been around, since when, 1946? This attention to detail by the man conservatives think of as the brain trust of the right wing is quite revealing. 

Ryan did make friends with Joe Thomas, a player that Congressman Ryan can at least legitimately claim to have watched during Thomas' college days in Wisconsin. No word on whether the potential Vice Presidential nominee would share with the Browns offensive line any of the details of the tax cuts and offsetting details the Romney-Ryan team plan to implement, like he won't with the national media or the electorate. I guess this "unspecified tactics" thing goes pretty well with the Pat Shurmur school of coaching.

Chances are that Paul Ryan will pretend to root for the Redskins, Broncos, Jaguars, and Dolphins before this election cycle is done. Just hoping Condi doesn't likewise sell out the Browns. I'm guessing she won't. 
Details? Who needs 'em?
(Picture courtesy Chuck Crow, Plain Dealer)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Browns' Jimmy Haslam wastes no time giving Holmgren the boot

Apparently there are repercussions for utter failure and disgraceful performance. And I guess new Browns owner has seen enough by looking over the Browns' roster and their play over the last 2-1/2 years, becuase Jimmy Haslam's first act as new owner today seems to be giving Browns team president the boot.

Holmgren's strength certainly seems to be in coaching, not "general managing", so hopefully the naming of former Philadelphia Eagles president and Denison (Ohio) University graduate Joe Banner as CEO/President brings a change in fortune to the north coast. And this seems to spell good things for GM Tom Heckert, who worked for years with Banner in Philadelphia.

(Courtesy Fox Sports)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Top Ten Tom Cruise Films

I take summers off from writing. Believe me, it's for the best. CST gets a break from Vox vulgarities, and I focus on rejuvenating activities like running, reading, swimming with the kids, the NBA Finals/Draft and chasing skirts. Tbh, I rarely miss my column. Except when something culturally significant happens. Like on June 28, when Katie Holmes filed for divorce from Tom Cruise. Now, typically, celebrity splits never phase me- as long as Kevin Bacon & Kyra Sedgewick stay together- I couldn't care less about Hollywood couples. Until the relationship starts fucking with art, which is exactly what happened when Katie and Tom began dating in 2005...cue Cruise's couch jumping and career decline. See, for nearly two decades before Katie, Tom's cinematic prowess was unmatched. He had a run of films that are so incredibly important to me, I must consider him the most influential actor of my lifetime even if my heart belongs to Ethan Hawke and Eric Stoltz. So when Katie cited "irreconciable differences" four months ago, I felt more reconciliation than my usual indifference. She can finally go back to Dawson (or Pacey?) and Tom can start making movies that matter again. Roll his top ten, please:

10. Jerry Maguire
Hard to believe it's been over fifteen years since Jerry Mafuckinguire; it had mass appeal thanks to Cameron Crowe's script and direction. Some rapid fire questions: Does it feel a bit dated now? Of course. Did I ever buy Cruise's relationship with Zellweger? No, no, no. Is Bob Sugar still one of the great white collar villains in recent history? Yes! Did the catch phrases "Show me the Money" and "You had me at hello" get old after ten minutes? Hell to the yes. Did the Cardinals overpay for Rod Tidwell? Definitely.

9. Cocktail
For a mega-talent like Cruise, it's almost mind-blowing that he never has chemistry with his female lead. Even when he co-starred with his real life wife in Eyes Wide Shut, the love scenes felt manufactured. Unfortunately, Cocktail is no exception and rates with the majority of critics and moviegoers as the worst film in the Cruise cannon. I disagree. Waterfall. Elizabeth Shue. Enough said.

8. All the Right Moves
If Craig T. Nelson isn't cast to play Nickerson, does the sitcom Coach ever air? If the ABC sitcom Coach doesn't exist, do I watch NBC's In the Heat of the Night on Tuesday nights in 1990? If I watch In the Heat of the Night, do I naturally start watching Law & Order which immediately followed Heat? If I start watching Law and Order, do I develop a respect for that soulless, contrived drama that Mrs. ExVox and I could never agree on? If Mrs. ExVox and I start agreeing on shit, do I let her convince me to stop gambling? If I stop gambling, does Vox Lox ever exist? Thank goodness Craig T. Nelson played Coach Nickerson.

7. Top Gun
Top Gun is the story of a man struggling with his sexuality.

6. The Firm
Underrated thriller from the enigmatic Sydney Pollack. Gene Hackman gives a multi-layered, memorable performance but the real crime here is that his name does not appear on the release poster. Cruise had an agreement with Paramount that only his name will show above the movie title.

5. Interview with the Vampire
Cruise has been called a raging lunatic and a controlling misogynist (played out onscreen in Magnolia). Some extremists have even suggested he's actually a robot. But, like the landlady said to George Thorogood, that don't confront me. I support the artist, long as I get my rent, and Cruise pays in full with his chilling portrayal of Lestat.

4. Vanilla Sky
I wrote in Vox 22 that Crowe's adaption is a morality play about a playboy's mortality, and that Cruise's life-changing date with Penelope Cruz before the car wreck that deformed his face reminded me of the vibrant yet forever-unattainable Girl6. But I've since changed my mind. I now consider Vanilla to be a less violent, more romantic, and psychological companion piece to Total Recall. Which reminds me of Sharon Stone in her 80s leotard. And then Arnie clocks her like an RTA driver.

3. Born on the Fourth of July
Sitting in the theatre, this was the first time I realized how powerful a film can be. In 140 minutes, 14-year old Vox became anti-war, fell in love with Kyra Sedgewick, questioned our government, and declared Cruise's depiction of wounded vet Ron Kovic to be the most phenomenal acting since the ancient Greek Thespis of Dionysos invented the damn thing.

2. Rain Man
Cruise's coming out party as a serious thespian. It happens often in Hollywood. Hot young actor gets no respect from critics, then takes on challenging, dramatic role and feeds Variety a shitburger. Also see Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights, Brad Pitt in Fight Club and Ben Affleck in, never mind.

1. Eyes Wide Shut
The password is fidelio.


Today's Play:
Chargers over Broncos, 1 dime
Season: 2-2 (+3 dimes)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Francona Hire - Cleveland Paranoia Edition

Something wicked this way comes...
The most enjoyable aspect of being a Cleveland fan is wondering just how things will go tits up this time. It could be a player acquisition or ownership change, a trade or a new manager. Whatever the move, no matter how positive at first blush, Cleveland fans are always sneaking glances into the corner where the shadows are. There hides the Paranoia Monster, an insatiable beast with yellow eyes and sharp claws waiting to unzip our collective guts for the umpteenth time since 1964. 

The Terry Francona hire should defy such unreasonable behavior. The Tribe's new manager comes in a shiny package of two World Series rings, earned through successful massaging of the egos that came with a heavily bankrolled Boston Red Sox team. Hell, Francona should get a banana sticker just for dealing with Manny Ramirez's antics. 

What we think will happen vs. the Bengals today (Week 6)

alt Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (Week 6)

October 14, 2012

Bengals 31
Browns 24

If the Browns could just put all the phases together. And if I had a nickle...anyway, I'm hoping the left coast changes my luck. I'll be watching with the Bay Area Browns Backers.


Bengals 27
Browns 17

Joe Haden in his return from suspension, looks like he hasn't been playing football for 4 weeks. The Bengals have no trouble putting up points on the Browns. The offense for the Browns just doesn't score enough this Sunday.


Bengals 23
Browns 17

With a new owner officially on board, the Shurmur death watch begins in earnest. It won't be this week, but the bell will soon be tolling for Mr. Personality. 

Browns 24
Bengals 20

If not now, then when?

Bengals 28
Browns 27

The Shurmurnator strikes again, killing all hopes of a victory. But Judgement Day may be coming soon for this machine of destruction as a new owner rolls into town to provide salvation to our once proud franchise.


Browns 27
Bengals 17

I know the Browns are 0-5, but I see improvement. I hate to say it but wins aren't that important this year. We need the young players to get some experience so we can make a leap next year. Weeden and Richardson show us why we should be excited and deliver our first win of 2012.


Bengals 24
Browns 23

It's a Roadhouse Sunday. The Browns play the role of Ben Gazzara's "Brad Wesley". They just can't beat the philosopher/bouncer known simply as "Dalton".

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Oh no she didn't! Browns first lady calls Cleveland "basement Mecca."

"It's basement Mecca."

That's what the wife of new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said about Cleveland. I can't believe she went there. Does she not know the pain Cleveland has gone through? She needs to resort to labels and name-calling?

That ain't mud you're smelling down there.
Sure, the Indians haven't been in "absolute dead last place" in a while. (Thanks Minnesota and Kansas City!)  But the Cavs were in the cellar only two years ago. (And of course in first place only three....) And there's a certain team on the lakefront that would miss the smell of the musty basement if they ever got a scent of first place, they're so used to it. I bet the Haslams could even see the lights from the stadium where that orange-and-brown team plays, if they step out onto their giant deck overlooking Lake Erie....

...what? Oh, my bad, apparently Dee Haslam was just talking about the great basements that houses have in the Cleveland area. You can see why I had the knee-jerk reaction to such a statement. I thought "Cleveland: It's basement Mecca" was the next episode of ESPN's 30 for 30. It turns out that Mr. and Mrs. Haslam are celebrating their purchase of a fat pad overlooking Lake Erie, just minutes from Cleveland Browns Stadium. Complete with a basement that includes a 1600-bottle wine cellar and a home theatre.

I hope the patio is close enough for Jimmy Haslam to see what is going on with the Cleveland Browns. And figure out how the hell to fix it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

TBDBITL geeks out for Ohio State-Nebraska

The Ohio State University Marching Band put on a hell of a videogame-inspired performance at halftime of the OSU-Nebraska game Saturday night, a game which coincidentally featured a videogame like score of 63-38.

I'm not one to wax poetic about the band, especially since a couple of self-important band members tried to start a fight with us way back in Columbus with the epic, ironic, angry words "What have you done with your life? I've dotted the 'i"!" But the pregame march down the field is a can't-miss for me. And I wish I had been at Ohio Stadium Saturday night for this halftime performance.

It includes tons of throwback references to Pac-Man, Zelda, Tetris, Space Invaders, and Mario, most of which the 19-year-olds in the band have no frigging clue what they're talking about. I guess Halo is in there for good measure.

Some highlights include:
Kicking off with Space Invaders at the beginning.
Tetris at 1:25.
The greatest theme in videogame history, Super Mario, starting about 1:50, with some question mark blocks.
The horse galloping down the field about 6:00.
Pac-man to Game Over at about 8:20.

I can't imagine how much practice this must have taken. Congrats.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

What we think will happen against the Giants (Week 5)

alt Cleveland Browns at New York Giants

October 7, 2012


Giants 28
Browns 27

Browns the only team in town now without an inspiring coach .


No Pick


Giants 23
Browns 13

The Browns only chance against the champs is old school ball-control offense starring T-Rich. However, with Shurmur in the director's chair, this movie's almost certainly going to be a flop.

Giants 26
Browns 16

After watching Cleveland 95, I'm inspired to watch the game while I'm on the exercise bike. Never knew that Belichick had such nice legs.

Giants 27
Browns 17

I saw some crazy stat that the Browns have won the last three times they've played the defending Superbowl champs. Two words: Pat Shurmur.... make it three out of four.


No Pick



Giants 24
Browns 14

Younger brother Eli continues his quest for respect...tonight on Boardwalk Empire. But first we'll watch the Browns do what they do best.