Saturday, December 31, 2016

What CST thinks about Ohio State-Clemson today

                                               Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Clemson Tigers

December 31, 2016

Actual result: Vox nails it. Well, the Clemson number at least. Ohio State scores nilch. Uggh.

Ohio State 42, Clemson 20

I am obviously a homer but can't see the Buckeyes scoring less than 40 or giving up more than 20.
Ohio State 42, Clemson 34

This game has a little bit of everything. All eyes in Cleveland will be focused not on the Buckeyes, but on potential Browns QB Deshaun Watson.
Ohio State 38, Clemson 28

A slow start by JT Barrett and the Buckeyes offense could mean trouble for Ohio State's championship hopes. But with a month of preparation, I trust Urban Meyer to concoct a game plan that will send his squad to its second title game in three years.
Ohio State 34, Clemson 24

Last time the Buckeyes and JT Barrett were insulted, they destroyed Oklahoma. I'm hoping for a similar result here. Plus Urban Meyer is nearly unbeatable when he has this much time to prepare for a team.

Clemson 31, Ohio State 30

I would set the over/under on the amount of times Chris Fowler, Herbie and the sideline reporter emphatically say "Dabo Swinney" at 950. Then bet the over.
Ohio State 42, Clemson 30

I re-watched the Alabama and Oregon games from 2015 this week, so I am running on blind faith. Counting on JT to channel his inner car deal and pull it out for us.

Ohio State 30, Clemson 28

Urb finds a way.

Ohio State 42, Clemson 5

Buckeyes triumph in matchup as lopsided as the 2016 election, as long as you ignore the popular vote! Ohio State will be covered in glory in 2017, much as our new Master will when he delivers on every single one of his campaign promises, which will definitely happen!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Tower City redface murals (updated)

Update on the murals.

By 12/7/16 the redface Indian fan photos have been removed from Tower City.

Whether it was this blog's small voice, or someone else in a more influential position that forced the change, we'll probably never know. Hopefully in the future they will replace them with more decent memorable fan photos, like this one.

Selby is God sign Opening Day 2016
See my original post below from 11/22/2016

While taking walking through Tower City at lunch time today, I noticed they have recently adorned the empty storefronts with new photo murals highlighting some of the history and sites of Cleveland. Very large prints of the West Side Market, Old Arcade circa 1905 and 1966, The Q during the playoffs, aerial shots of downtown etc. are displayed for everyone who walks by. I actually found myself stopping to look more closely at the details to see what’s changed, and what's still the same over the years. For what amounts to an easy change it’s really impressive, and great idea vs the plain painted black windows.

I continued on my walk then I came across this gem of Progressive Field on Opening Day 2012, flanked with of life size photos of Indians fans….in redface.

No matter where you fall on the debate of Chief Wahoo (for the record I’m all for keeping him with an appropriate redesign) it’s a little surprising and shocking that Tower City would okay the use of these pictures, when there are thousands of non-controversial Indians fan pictures to choose from. Given all the bad publicity surrounding Chief Wahoo, and fans dressed as indians during the Playoffs and World Series it was shocking to say the least when I came across the window*. 

*The redface window coincidentally replaced the seasonal calendar/toy store I frequented this time of year to grab last minute/hard to find items which were sold out in similar stores in the suburbs. So not only was I shocked at the photo, but also shocked that my favorite last minute Christmas shopping/oh shit I need a gift store closed. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

What CST Thinks about Browns-Giants today

New York Giants at Cleveland Browns
November 27, 2016

Giants 27, Browns 13

This is the one game Sports Illustrated picked the Browns to win. I'm gonna guess they were wrong. As you can see from the number of predictions here and the blue jerseys in the stands, interest in the Browns is at a lowwwww point.

Giants 34, Browns 6

It's a sunny, warm day for November here in Cleveland. Go enjoy the weather - this disaster doesn't deserve our attention.

Giants 27, Browns 10

The Browns are no longer even competitive these days, a sad fact made  more depressing by the lack of standout rookies on this roster. What do fans have to look forward to when this franchise seems so broken? Jimmy Haslam doesn't make me miss the Lerners, but future prospects under the current owner's regime look very bleak indeed.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

What CST thinks about Browns-Steelers today

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
November 20, 2016

Steelers 43, Browns 13

This November thankfully is 2/3 over. Can't end fast enough.

Steelers 31, Browns 13

Steelers are playing .500 football this year and yet still turn FirstEnergy Stadium into a home field, and blow out the Browns. Hue says he and the front office are in sync, and the team is headed in the right direction, but how long before the finger pointing begins for this disaster of a seaason that still has over a month left?

Steelers 31, Browns 12

Pittsburgh desperately needs a win while the Browns continue their nearly 20-year-long search for an identity. You do the math. Expect the Steelers to visit the end zone frequently and the Terrible Towels to take over FirstEnergy Stadium once more.
Steelers 27, Browns 26 (editor's pick)

It's not because I didn't tailgate hard enough, that's for sure.

Steelers don't care, Browns don't care

I don't care and that's the best thing about it.

Steelers 24, Browns 10

Now leave me alone so I can try and enjoy my Sunday. All credit to Ryan who no doubt was at the Muni Lot before sunrise and will stay until the bitter, windy end today.

Steelers 50, Browns 3

I'm blurbed out on this team

Steelers 3, Browns 72

Making America Great Again.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What CST Thinks about Browns-Ravens tonight

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens 
November 10, 2016

Browns 279, Ravens 228 (not fully counted)

The Browns are running a joke of a campaign. Nobody thinks they can win. Their heads are bright orange. They insult the intelligence of their own fans with every action. It's an embarrassment to their supporters and humiliates the country. And gives the Ravens an 81% chance of winning.

Ravens 42, Browns 14

This game certainly doesn't help the NFL ratings problem. I feel bad for the people who are still drinking the kool-aid being made in Berea these days.

Ravens 26, Browns 10

A super-duper ding-dong week of wonderful good times gets even better with Thursday night Browns action! Watch our brave boys try very hard and inch ever closer to that elusive first win of the season. Have whiskey on hand. Lots of whiskey!
Browns 24, Ravens 23

Just two short years ago, Brian Hoyer led the Browns to a Thursday Night victory and a 7-4 record. Since that night, the Browns are 3-27. Looking for Kessler to bring back some Thursday Night magic and in my dreams we go on a 27-3 run over the next 2 years.

Ravens who cares, Browns who cares

Worst November ever continues.

Ravens 8, Browns 7

Browns actually stage a late comeback but lose it after a brief rain delay.

Ravens 34, Browns 10

Thanks Obama!

Browns 29, Ravens 0

The Browns sink the haters hope at a winless season.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Tribe gives Cleveland a reason to be proud

First thing's first. 

This isn't a moral victory post, or some sad epitaph talking about how glad I am the Indians made the World Series, by golly. I'm very unhappy the Tribe now stands on the wrong side of history, in particular the fact they, dare I say it, blew a 3-1 lead to catapult Cubs Nation into conniptions of curse-breaking joy.
A moment of joy

There's no participant ribbon here, folks. Fox could should me another hundred little old ladies in blue and white, and I still wouldn't have felt sorry if the Indians had completed their Game 7 comeback.

Still, those uglier feelings can't take away how proud I am of this 2016 Indians squad, blown series lead and all. Here was a roster hamstrung by injuries to the point where the Tribe's own beat writer called the playoffs over before they'd even begun. A franchise with a payroll dwarfed by not just the "lovable" Northsiders, but by their ALDS and ALCS opponents as well.

The 2016 Tribe, put very simply, was fun, delivering some of the most exciting moments I've every witnessed as a Cleveland sports fan. Think Tyler Naquin rocking out after his walk-off inside-the -park homer against Toronto. Think Adam Miller acting as a lanky angel of death against opposing batters. Think Tito Francona cobbling together a playoff gameplan that squeezed every ounce of talent out of what he had available.

Ultimately, the Cubs got hot and the Indians ran out of bodies. I can't get mad at Miller, Corey Kluber and Josh Tomlin for succumbing to workload and a murderous Cubs' lineup. I cannot even get upset with Bryan Shaw for taking the "L" after a momentum-sapping rain delay. Maybe I can be little perturbed at Mike Napoli for not hitting his weight during the post-season, but let's not go there now.

Even when the Tribe looked dead during the deciding game, they still almost shocked the world. Rajai Davis's eight-inning home run wasn't enough, but the team's comeback in the highest of high-pressure situations somehow makes me feel better about the depressing finish.

A part of that attitude stems from the Cavs winning in June - without that to hold onto, this column probably doesn't get written  - but it was gratifying to see the Indians not skulk quietly away into the night, as so many Cleveland teams have before them.

You could also say the Indians are ahead of schedule, what with the pitching injuries and the year-long absence of Michael Brantley. The Tribe's young hitting core will return next year, as will Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco. Given baseball's volatile nature and how freaking hard it is to reach the sport's pinnacle, there are no guarantees the team will be in this position again. Even so, the Indians gave fans more than they could ask for this post-season, and that is a joy in and of itself.  

What CST thinks about Browns-Cowboys today

                                              Dallas Cowboys at Cleveland Browns 

November 6, 2016

Cowboys 41, Browns 20

Cody Kessler said he would not want to trade places with Dak Prescott. WHICH IS INSANE. Do not ever take financial advice from Cody Kessler.

Cowboys 30, Browns 17

After a thrilling few weeks of baseball playoff action, it's back to our regularly scheduled programming of boring Browns beatdowns. Kessler and Corey Coleman may make this game worth tuning into for Cleveland fans, but expect a repeat of the last eight weeks, just without the laugh track.
Cowboys 27, Browns 17

I hope Zeke fumbles three times and gains zero yards. #CityofBasketballChampions

No Pick

I've been locked in my basement since 2 a.m. Thursday morning with a pail, a jumbo-sized jar of animal crackers, and six bottles of bourbon. 

Cowboys 34, Browns 17

Cleveland's consecutive run to championship games may be over if the Browns don't turn things around quickly.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What CST Thinks About the Indians in the World Series!

2016 World Series
Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago Cubs

Indians in 7

The night of the All-Star Game, I was picturing how cold it will be in early November in Cleveland. I think we will get the chance to find out. Cubs are an all-time great team, loaded top to bottom at the plate and at the mound. The Indians, however, are a team of destiny. 2016.

Indians in 7

Six months ago, I would have never imagined we would be in this position.

Indians in 6

While the national sports media understandably - if annoyingly- focuses on the "lovable" Cubs and their long title drought, the Indians have overcome a spate of injuries to bring the new City of Champions to the brink once more. Led by Tito Francona's managerial magic and a game-shortening bullpen, the Tribe closes out what has been a wondrous four months of Cleveland fandom.
Indians in 7 

The Tribe has the best bullpen in this Series, if the starters can get us a lead into the 6th inning, then Ball Game! Kluber must be special in each game he pitches so we can lean on the bullpen in the other games. Looking for Lindor to continue to shine and Napoli, Kipnis, Santana, and Ramirez to hit in the clutch. The City of Champions is alive and well!!!

Indians in 7

And when our history-making rally in the bottom of the 9th is complete, we will spill out on to the downtown streets as children of a new dynasty- celebrating the Golden Age of The Land.

Indians in 7 

In Cleveland, nothing is easy, everything is earned–so why wouldn't it come down to a nail biting 7th game? This time around, however, I'd prefer not going down 3 games to 1 thank you very much. The Tribe caps off one of the greatest sports runs in any city's history.

   Indians in 7

                                                One parade leads to another as Tribe continues the party.

World Series Thoughts from the Cubs' Side

Note: This guest column is from Dave Wischnowsky, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, a Wrigley Field bleachers season ticket holder and a former Chicago Tribune reporter and CBS Chicago sports columnist. He believes there is in fact crying in baseball, and proved it after Game 6 of the NLCS. He tweets from @Wischlist.

I like you, Cleveland.

Much like country music and going to the movies alone, I think you’re much better than your rep. In past years, I’ve gotten the opportunity to visit your ballpark (it’s quite nice), your Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame (ditto) and a sizable swath of your local drinking establishments (same deal).

This past June, I particularly enjoyed watching your Cavaliers knock the smug look off the faces of the Golden State Warriors faces and slap smiles on those across Ohio. In fact, back in 2010, just a week after LeBron infamously took his talents to South Beach, I was at my buddy’s condo in downtown Cleveland when I told him that I believed that once LBJ got Miami out of his system, he’d eventually return home to win a crown.

Without a doubt, after 68 years with anything to celebrate except perhaps the retirement of Michael Jordan, your city deserved that championship that LeBron finally earned.

But, I’m sorry, you’ve already filled your title quota for 2016.

Because here on North Side of Chicago, this one is ours.

Now, I know that my pal Brian of Cleveland Sports Torture – the biggest fan of The Land that I’ve ever met – doesn’t think that Chicagoans have truly suffered when it comes to sports, what with those six NBA titles, a Super Bowl ring, a White Sox World Series trophy and all that recent Blackhawks bling collected over the past 30 years.

But, here’s the thing, while Brian may now be a Chicagoan, he isn’t a Cubs fan. And, trust me, for those of us who are, we’ve suffered.

In spades.

I’m 40, and in my lifetime I’ve endured the ground ball through Leon Durham’s legs in 1984, Greg Maddux’s and Andre Dawson’s vanishing act in 1989, and every tragic thing that unspooled during Games 6 and 7 of the 2003 NLCS (both of which I attended at Wrigley Field), along with oodles of other painful moments. And I’m not even old enough to have been one of the Cubs fans that lived through 1969.

Those poor souls.

Goats, black cats and Bartman are undoubtedly part of our city’s lexicon – and Cubs fans’ collective identity – although we took a big step towards finally washing those wounds clean last this past weekend when the Cubs finally captured the NL pennant for the first time since 1945.
I was in the Wrigley Field bleachers with my brother for that epic, emotional, ecstatic clincher on Saturday night, and I hope to be there again when the Cubs win the World Series for the first time since 1908.

For a wide variety of reasons, I think that happens this month. Among them is the way the Cubs are now hitting after snapping out of their two-game slump against the Dodgers. Another is the Cubs’ defense, which is both as solid and spectacular as any that I’ve ever seen.

I’m also a fan of the Cubs’ bullpen, and smitten by the fact that Kyle Schwarber will likely be in the lineup (and not as a novelty but as a legitimate weapon). But most of all in this World Series, I’m a fan of the Cubs’ starting pitching, which I think is almost always the key to October success. From my vantage point, the Cubs’ starters – Lester, Hendricks and Arrieta, in particular – hold the dominant hand in every matchup against the Tribe’s Rx rotation.

Now, that isn’t to say that Cleveland’s scrappy bunch isn’t dangerous. The patchwork rotation has proven plenty plucky this October, the lineup and team speed is indeed formidable, and that bullpen is truly fearsome. But I think the hot-hitting Cubs will be able to score early on the Indians’ stretched-thin starters, which will greatly mute the impact of the dominant relievers. And I think that will prove to be the key to victory.

Like I said, I do like you, Cleveland.

It’s just that I like the 103-win Cubs a lot better.

And, remember, when it comes to my reputation for predictions, I was right six years ago about that whole LeBron-will-come-back-home-to-win-a-title-for-Cleveland thing. I’m right about this one too.

Cubs in 5.

The World Series in a Year of Cleveland Redemption

2016, man.

This year has changed the sports landscape. Not just the Cleveland sports landscape--the entire sports landscape. Not a single “most tortured sports city” or “most tortured sports fanbase” was complete without Cleveland at the very top. Shoot, this very blog was named Cleveland Sports Torture over a decade ago, and it was a cliche long before that.

Those of us older than say, 7, know what it has been like to be a fan of Cleveland teams. My friends and I used to cheer that the “Tribe’s Alive in ‘95.” They were indeed alive in 1995, in fact one of the best regular season teams of all time, winning 100 games and losing only 44 in a strike shortened season. That said, when we made that comment, we were like 9 years old and it was 1985. And somehow we were cynical already. It was bred into us, by nature and by nurture. Being from Cleveland meant being the underdog.

The underdog with a lifetime of sports heartbreak, our wounds rubbed raw by ESPN every time one of our teams got close. That was ended in glorious fashion this June when the Cavaliers vanquished a billion demons and sent a city into a summer of orgasmic celebration when they wrote the greatest comeback in sports history and beat the 73-win Golden State Warriors--yes, the one with the unanimous MVP--in 7 games after they blew a 3-1 lead.

Damn, that was fun. And the Indians never took their eyes off their own prize. Fourteen wins in a row immediately following the Cavs’ mammoth parade virtually put the AL Central away. What had been a relatively sad offense for a couple years somehow came to life, finishing only behind Boston for most runs in the American League, and that was without anything from their best hitter, Michael Brantley. Corey Kluber shook off a slow start to exert his dominance, and even added an All-Star Game victory that will come in very handy in October (and November.) The Indians pitching staff was the best in the league in advanced metrics, better even than the vaunted Cubs’ starters, despite everything you are reading this week.

I live in Chicago now, have been here for nearly 9 years. I live half a mile from Wrigley Field, where the crowd’s cheers in June flow into my window and make me switch to WGN to see the (delayed broadcast) home run. This team is fun, special, amazingly talented, and has completely captured the imagination and hearts of so many Chicagoans. You can’t walk thirty feet without seeing a W flag hanging off a porch or in a storefront. Yes, the “Go Cubs Go” song is annoying and illogical (“Cubs are gonna win today”?? They just did!). But it’s also tradition and endearing.

And of course, Wrigley Field is an absolute gem. The first time I was lucky enough to visit, nearly twenty years ago, I was amazed. My very first weekend after moving to Chicago I hopped on the Red Line to explore Chicago; Wrigley Field was my first stop despite the ten degree January temperatures. The ballpark still hints at yesteryear despite the incredible overhauls it has gotten recently, new scoreboards and new seats and a new clubhouse and new ads in the ivy (and lights!). Sure, the concourse is a still dump. But a nice dump. (And troughs instead of urinals are actually quite a bit faster, for what it’s worth. Because Cubs fans can drink like Clevelanders.)

And if you have paid any attention to sports media for the last two or fifty years, you have been reminded of Cubs fans’ own suffering. Shoot, it’s a big reason why they are so lovable, it’s been since 1908 since they’ve won a World Series* (in case that hasn’t been told to you in the past twelve minutes.) But trust me, no Chicagoan can say with a straight face that they are tortured. Six NBA titles, three Stanley Cups in the last six seasons, MLS Cup in their first year, a World Series title for their neighbors 70 blocks south. If I had a nickel for every time I rolled my eyes listening to a Cubs fan pretend to have a hard sports life in their Patrick Kane jersey. But yet so many of my close friends are Cubs fans, and they want this championship more than anything. Grown men cried at Wrigley Field Saturday night.

What they forget is that Cleveland fans have had tears of joy all year. (Browns notwithstanding). And that the Indians have also been winless since 1948.  So close, yet so far. And play in front of a fan base who has reached the pinnacle just months ago but hasn’t forgotten the pain of the previous 40 years.

The Indians are on the precipice of greatness. This isn’t just any team. This isn’t just any year. Crushing injuries to Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar were somehow overcome by the playoff brilliance of the Tribe bullpen and managerial genius of Terry Francona. The Indians’ young superstar Francisco Lindor is about to be known to the National League. Wrigley Field may have its goat problems, but the Indians have the GOAT cheering them on with teammates and Larry O’Brien in tow.

216. The area code.
2016. The year.
Stipe Miocic proved it was the year.
The Block, the Shot and the Stop proved it was the year.
The Lake Erie Monsters proved it was the year.
The fact that even the GOP Convention couldn’t stop the city proved it was the year.

The Cubs are a great team, and look due. But the fact is that this year, the edges in the bullpen, baserunning, and managerial excellence, the utter disrespect they have gotten since Carrasco’s and Salazar’s injuries, and the spirit of the city means Indians in 7.

Monday, October 24, 2016

What if everyone dressed old-timey for the World Series?

I love old crowd shot photos of sporting events past. Everyone dressed up in suits or dresses, the gents all with fedoras on, such a uniform crowd and the old sped up film making them cheer in spastic ways. This shot is from the 1948 World Series:

(Plain Dealer file photo)

Unfortunate demographic uniformity aside, the photo is pretty cool. Made me think, with two teams with such rich and title-lacking history as the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians in the World Series, what if everyone just dressed up for Game 1? Or even better, Game 3 at Wrigley Field. No garish "alternate uniforms". No out-of-place Browns or Bears jerseys. Definitely no racist face paint.

Eh, just a thought.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

What CST thinks about Browns-Bengals today

                                              Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

October 23, 2016

Bengals 31, Browns 16

Don't ruin it for us now, Browns.
Bengals 34, Browns 13

Browns struggle all day again on both sides of the ball. With a chance to tie the worst start in franchise history at 0-7, the Browns don't disappoint. When fans say they are close, turning the corner, adding good young players, they forget all that matters is wins and losses. Right now their talent isn't anywhere near good enough to overcome the seemingly weekly coaching mistakes..
Bengals 26, Browns 20

The best I can say about the 2016 Browns is they're solidly coached on the offensive side of the ball for being so overmatched talent-wise. Cody Kessler's poise and solid play lends some credence to Coach Hue "Trust Me" Jackson's Quarterback Whisperer reputation, even if the QB everyone wants is taking snaps under center for the Eagles. Meanwhile, the defense is terrible, and the already inexperienced roster is banged up beyond recognition. Covering the spread is the best we can hope for our Browns, a theme likely to last the rest of the season.
Browns 24, Bengals 21

I'm at the road game today, and I have an extremely good record on the road. Kessler shows poise again and Hue knows the right strings to pull against his former team. What the fuck does "Who Dey" mean, anyway?

Bengals 33, Browns 17

At my next CST contract renewal, remind me to tell my agent that I have no interest in picking Browns games every week.
Bengals 27, Browns 13 

My only concern about the forthcoming Trump Presidency is the possible demotion of the Browns to an NFL sub-league, something akin to the relegation rules of Premier League soccer. Donald expects Greatness in all his Works, and the Browns have been far from great since the franchise's return. Something to think about as our new Overking claims his throne in a couple of weeks.

Bengals 35, Browns 12

The organization's stranglehold on this city is loosening by the day as championship week begins. Tuesday evening will be one of the proudest moments in Cleveland sports history. Today, not so much.