Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Browns' Scott Fujita standing up for equality in the New York Times

If you've been on social media over the past 48 hours, you've undoubtedly seen the Human Rights Campaign symbol in people's newsfeeds. And you certainly may have seen other parodies, protests, or counterpoints to those. But like many, I'm sure you don't think the Supreme Court cases this week regarding gay marriage would resonate much in an NFL locker room.

Well, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita is no shrinking violet, on or off the football field. And he is using his fame to stand up for a message he believes in. I'll let his words do the talking, from Sunday's New York Times.

Acceptance by Example, on the Field and at Home

Crow/Plain Dealer

My three young daughters, like most kids, are curious and ask a lot of questions. My wife and I are as open and honest with them as possible. But there’s one question I’m not prepared to answer: “Why aren’t Clare and Lesa married?”
I don’t know how to explain to them what “inferior” means or why their country treats our friends as such. I don’t want to tell them that “Yes, our friends love each other just like Mommy and Daddy love each other, but that their love is considered ‘less than.’ ”
As my girls grow up, they will learn about a few of the more embarrassing moments in our nation’s history. And I expect they’ll ask questions. But for the most part, I’ll be prepared to respond because I can point to the progress that followed.

Siri commercial spoof by the Cleveland Indians

After the no personality business-like Cleveland Indians of the Eric Wedge and Manny Acta era, things seemed to have turned the corner with the addition of Terry Francona. First the Harlem Shake video from a couple of weeks ago, now this spoof on iPhones' Siri called TERRi. This year is shaping up to at least be a fun in terms of viral videos. What it amounts to in terms of wins and losses I don't know, but we'll find out in a little bit less then a week.

You can watch the full video below or watch it here.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Aaron Craft all over Ohio State's Sweet win (and thoughts on the charge)


That's probably how most of Buckeye Nation feels Sunday afternoon after watching one hell of a second third round game between Ohio State and Iowa State at UD Arena. What can you say? The leadup was all about the three point capability and dangerous shooting of the Cyclones. The game stayed pretty close through the first half, with leads changing back and forth, and to be honest, I was slightly nervous when Korie Lucious and the other Cyclones did hit a couple nice threes. Something like 40+% of Iowa State's shots are threes, and when a team can hit those in March, no lead is safe.

However, when Ohio State turned a one point lead with about 12 minutes left in the game into a twelve point lead with about 8 minutes left, I really did feel like the tide had turned due to the solid play by Ohio State on both sides of the court. Deshaun Thomas just kept doing what he does, and LaQuinten Ross started making plays. However, only about 10 seconds later, Lucious answered with a three right back.

And then it started happening. Every Ohio State fans' heart (or at least something on our bodies) started tightening up. And it looked like some of the players started getting tight too. Especially Aaron Craft.

Ross with a travel. A ridiculously bad foul call on Lenzelle Smith. A reach in foul on Aaron Craft. A nice take by Shannon Scott made it 10. But then a turnover by Craft, an unlucky-but-inadvised missed layup by Craft, and I'm pretty sure I tried to give Coach a little advice. Like he wanted anything from me.

Meanwhile, Iowa State made their free throws, and Aaron Craft didn't. Missed the front end of a one-and-one at 4:40, and another at 4:07, bookended around another Iowa State three pointer, and followed immediately by a Lucious drive and-one. So Aaron Craft left four points on the floor, and all of a sudden Iowa State punctuates a 15-2 run with yet another 3, and Craft turns the ball over yet again, and then he fouls Iowa State into the double bonus, and Ohio State is down. Uggh. And Craft looks like a disaster.

At or immediately before this point, it appears that
Craft's foot was on the line. (All photos
courtesy CBS, and my cell phone picture skills.)
And then it happened. Craft was absolutely unfazed. Drives to the basket for a great score and-one. Despite another ridiculous call (loose ball dive on Scott) and yet another travel at the three-point line by Ross, Aaron Craft came up huge. Will Clyburn drove to the basket with 1:41 left, and in a much-debated call later on the set of NBA Tonight, Aaron Craft drew a charging call.
But by the time contact happens, Craft's heel is
clearly off the line.
Right before contact, Aaron's feet "appear" outside the line,
and I'm sure the ref had an eyeful of his left foot.
Now, this call was very close. And Charles Barkley felt very strongly that it was a blown call, that Aaron Craft was "on" the line of the restricted zone, the semicircle where a charge can't be drawn. Here's what I saw. It did indeed look like Craft may have tapped the the line for a split second, and then off it. (Despite what the announcers seem to say on television. The clip they zoomed in on was started after he tapped the line, I believe.) When contact is made, Craft's feet are both touching the ground outside the restricted area. The front of his feet. Apparently, his heel is still "hovering" over the line, which is why Barkley (possibly rightfully) felt that the call saved Ohio State. (The basket did fall, and assuming Clyburn made his free throw, Ohio State would have been down four instead of only by a single point.)

What I think is that no way in hell can a ref make the call based on where the heel is "hovering", calling the infraction from 10 feet away on the baseline. The ref is looking to see where the player is standing, and he was technically standing, and by that I mean "touching the ground," outside the area.

Despite Craft missing yet another free throw, Ohio State had the ball with 45 seconds to go, and what happened? Craft (despite my sage advice above) shot a long range jumper. Brick, but somehow OSU retained possession.

Waving off Deshaun Thomas. Balls.
The rest, as they say, is history. Deshaun Thomas was cramping, but still is the most effective scorer on the floor, and had a look at the top of the key. But what did Craft do? Waved him off!

Then, our embattled hero took his three.


Ballgame. Ohio State survives and advances to dance in LA.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Browns' and Dawson take the high road

Dawson on the phone with Joe Banner
This past week saw the departure of another beloved special teams player. Last week it was Josh Cribbs, this week its Phil Dawson. The local rags/sports talk are up in arms because not only one, but two of the undoubtedly stand up guys are as of this week are no longer calling themselves Cleveland Browns.

Josh Cribbs was gone, he knew it and we knew it. By the end of the year it was obvious to anyone watching the Browns that Cribbs was a step slow (maybe knee issues?), and with the rule change relating to kickoffs, was no longer the impact player he was earlier in his career. Like Desmond Howard, and Devin Hester before him, Cribbs' time as the best returner in the NFL are over. Good move by the Browns is what most people would say.

Phil Dawson on the other hand is an entirely different scenario. Where players usually decline with age, he only seems to be getting better and kicking farther. He consistently gets touchbacks, 30 in 2012, compared to his next highest of 12 in 2008 (he only had double digits two more times in a 14 year career). In addition, his field goal kicking has improved, 14/15 in the last two years from 50+ yards.  If he played baseball, everyone would be screaming that he's on PED's, or some other performance enhancer, but players in the NFL wouldn't take those things.....

Anyway, I'm not hear to say Dawson isn't a good kicker or isn't a great role model, leader, captain, etc. I'm more curious about the dead silence from both sides when it comes to the contract negotiations between the Browns and Dawson.