Spring training Wiffle balls and other Cleveland sports predictions

The WBV Observer is excited to kick off the new year with a new columnist: Jeff Bing, a lifelong Westlake resident and long-suffering Cleveland sports fan. Jeff will offer readers a lighthearted take on the teams that break our hearts but always have us coming back for more. A frequent contributor to Bud Shaw’s Spin column in The Plain Dealer, Jeff will provide much-needed comic relief to carry us through the ups and downs of Cleveland sports.

Doesn't it bother you when, every December, some self-proclaimed expert in his field of choice goes back and recounts, month by month, the highlights of the year? You know the drill: He acts as if we were all living under a rock or something the past year, and we had no idea what had transpired over the preceding twelve months.

Isn't that just about the easiest column to write? And to simply reiterate and rehash all the negative stuff that happened with our professional sports teams over the past year? As Cleveland sports fans, don't you think we've suffered enough?

I considered writing an article just like that described above, as I am inherently lazy and tend to shoot for the shortest path to my goal whenever the opportunity presents itself. However, this being Greater Cleveland, a.k.a. the pits of professional sports, I decided to take the high road for a change: I will clue you in on the highlights in Cleveland sports for the coming year, ahead of them actually occurring. How so, you ask? It's a gift, my friends, it's a gift.

So sit back, kick your feet up on the sofa, take them down when your wife yells at you, and be amazed at what I'm about to reveal, on a month-to-month basis. In the interest of space, I’ll dispense my predictions in quarterly installments, beginning here with the first three months of 2012:

January: Browns head coach Pat Shurmur, after announcing he would hire an offensive coordinator who "spoke the same language," hires the beer guy from section 541 of Browns Stadium. I can't argue with Shurmur's logic, as I personally have witnessed the vendor speak English many times when he shrugs and tells a customer, "I can't break a twenty."

The secret, Shurmur explains, lies in who can yell the loudest at practice and command the players' attention. The fact that the new hire cannot count out correct change will not be an issue, Shurmur adds. "It's not about the money."

February: Early in the month, the Tribe's equipment truck leaves for spring training headquarters. Apparently, there is an old Mapquest printout of directions to the former spring training site in Florida, and the confused operator proceeds to Winter Haven rather than Goodyear, Ariz.

President Mark Shapiro and GM Chris Antonetti vow to take punitive action against the daffy driver, until it is revealed that the driver was Tribe owner Larry Dolan, who supposedly decided to take the wheel in a "cost-cutting" measure.

March: Since the equipment truck was late in arriving due to the aforementioned snafu, the equipment manager places an emergency order for balls and bats for the players to use until the regular stuff arrived. Unfortunately, he orders plastic Wiffle balls and bats by mistake.

Manager Manny Acta, unaware of the "foul"-up (no pun intended), comments on how much he was "impressed with Matt LaPorta's bat speed" and the "break in Ubaldo Jimenez's curve."

So there you have it, the first quarter of 2012. Keep your eyes peeled in the weeks ahead as I continue to gaze into the future and provide the insight that you, the fan, deserve.

Jeff welcomes all feedback and suggestions, pro or con, which may be sent to editor@wbvobserver.com.

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Volume 4, Issue 1, Posted 12:36 PM, 01.10.2012