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.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The sky isn't falling, but Indians' bats must start making some thunder

What do you make of .071, .212, .142,  and .222?

.142, .454, .250, and .333?

1, 4, 2, and 2?

Those numbers are the batting average, slugging percentage, and runs scored in Games 4, 3, 2, and 1 of the 2016 ALCS by the Cleveland Indians.

That does not look like a team still in the series.

This is a team whose best hitter hasn't played virtually all year, whose second and third starters have a broken wrist and what I presume is an amputated leg, and another starter who tried to fish a fork out of the garbage disposer, or was playing with a drone, or something.

Let's just say they are a bit short-handed, especially in the starting pitching area. If it wasn't for the wizardry of Tito Francona and the mastery of Andrew Miller and the Indians' bullpen, we could be looking at a sweep to the bad guys and blaming the offense for not showing up.

But instead, after a Game 4 loss, the Indians are still in a commanding place with a 3 games to 1 lead over the Blue Jays, with three more shots to make the World Series. This despite the Tribe starting a guy named Ryan Merritt in Game 5 Wednesday afternoon. Merritt is apparently a pitcher and not an equipment intern traveling with the team.

If it wasn't 2016, Clevelanders would be Chicken Little-ing all over the place. But we've seen the summit with the Cavs. We've seen these Indians show their mettle.

However, any time they want to start hitting would be fine by us. This tightrope Tito is walking would be a lot thicker if the offense could start delivering their side of the deal.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

What CST thinks about Browns-Titans today

Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans
October 16, 2016

Titans 37, Browns 13

This was a great weekend for sports. Was.

Titans 24, Browns 10

This is a "winnable" game for the Browns, but the banged up offensive line will have trouble all day. This past June and October have been so much fun sports-wise with the two other teams in town excelling. I wish it was Monday (Game 3 ALCS), 'cause Browns Sundays aren't my FunDay.

Titans 27, Browns 17

Looking at the schedule, this week's game stacked up as one of the few the Browns had a chance at winning. But an injury-decimated roster full of young, inexperienced players can't handle the Titans' strong running game and solid pass rush. The only thing to look out for is QB Kevin Hogan possibly taking some snaps, which would give the Browns six quarterbacks in six weeks. So that's something!
Titans 24, Browns 20

I originally thought this was a game the Browns could win, but the injuries are just piling up. After last week's blow-out loss, I think we return to Browns football and blow a game we could have, should have won.

Titans 26, Browns 20

Brownies are winless, the Las Vegas Vox is 1-4 and maybe the worst fantasy team in CBS Sports' history, my favorite player- Tony Romo- is injured, and I've moved on from handicapping Pro Football in order to properly focus on the EPL. I'm officially that rare, red-blooded, heterosexual American male that has no fan or financial-investment in the NFL. Ok- heterosexual was a stretch, but you get my point.

Titans 27, Browns 13

Andrew Miller may be our quarterback by mid-November, and I am okay with that.

Titans 28, Browns 12

The Browns...as they've been known to do...ruin a perfect sports weekend.

Browns 56, Titans 3

The Browns' dominance ensures the game is basically over by halftime, which gives me more time to distribute and install TRUMP/PENCE signs for my entire neighborhood!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

What CST thinks about the Browns-Patriots today

New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns

October 9, 2016

Patriots 38, Browns 20 

I have a feeling the visiting team will win both Boston-Cleveland match-ups today.

Patriots 42, Browns 10

The game you need to watch today against a Boston team starts at 4. With the two other teams in town excelling in their sport, it makes me wonder how long Browns fans will accept the losing ways. The idea that this team shouldn't be 0-4, or is a good  team for 0-4 is nonsense. We are 0-4, soon to be 0-5 for a reason.

Patriots 28, Browns 20

The Browns are due to get blown out and you'd think Tom Brady's return would mark that occasion with a vengeance. However, the Browns coaching staff has prepared this young roster well all season, and I expect nothing less today. So the Browns cover a 10.5 spread and give Cleveland another Moral Victory Monday to celebrate. (Damn, that reads even sadder than it sounded in my head)
Patriots 30, Browns 13

I wish we were talking about the return of Josh Gordon today. At least we are better at baseball.

Patriots 33, Browns 20

Welcome to CLE vs. BOS Day, 2016. Bostonians may have 9 championships since 2001, but, in my career as a sports fan, we are deadlocked at 5-5, head-to-head in the playoffs. Wins: '92 and '15 Cavs, '95 and '98 Indians, '94 Browns. Losses: '85, '08, '10 Cavs, '99 and '07 Indians. Tonight, we break the tie, but not before we sacrifice another meaningless Browns game for the return of Messiah Brady.

Patriots 33, Browns 10 

The Patriots may beat the Browns today, but the REAL Patriot will be on stage tonight to thrash a certain corrupt legacy candidate with his unparalleled temperament, classiness and political acumen!  The Trump campaign continues to roll on with the momentum of a thousand semi-trucks with their brakes cut!!

Patriots 34, Browns 17

I'm sure we'd all trade a loss in Cleveland for a victory in Boston today.

Browns 24, Patriots 10

New England strikes out again in Cleveland. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

What CST Thinks about the Browns-Washington today

Browns at Washington
October 2, 2016

Browns 27, Washington 13

To paraphrase "Major League", "this team ain't so f*cking bad." I'm not sure if the Browns are going to win a game or two this year, but if they do, it might as well be this one.

Washington 24, Browns 13

I've been out of town, so I'm not plugged into the pulse of local sports talk radio. All I know is Gordon is out, and the Browns barely have a chance to win this week.
Browns 24, Washington 20

The Browns are a miserable pile of bad luck and trouble, but they're also due to give their fanbase a glimmer of hope beyond moral victories. As talent deficient as this roster is, they're playing hard under Coach Jackson, and this is the week they finally break through with a win.
Washington 20, Browns 17

Hoping for one week without a DUI, someone going to rehab, or another injury.

Washington Professional Football Team 24, Browns Amateur Football Club 23

On the game's final snap, a two-point conversion attempt for the win, Coach Jay Gruden calls for the unstoppable Omaha Right 42 Trumped-Up-Trickle Down. I can't tell you too much about the play, but it involves Kirk Cousins ramming the ball down America's throat. Everyone wins but Cleveland.


Washington 23, Browns 14
I love that someone on the Browns has confidence (Pryor), but I don't think that translates to 13 wins, including in today's contest.

Washington 28, Browns 12

I have to admit, the Browns have shown more fight this year than I expected, They're just a really, really bad team.