Sporting Views

Lue: too few; Hue: overdue

When we last sat down and discussed the status of Cleveland sports, I expounded on how the Browns had won back the hearts of Cleveland sports fans and how exciting the Browns were. I also suggested that it would be quite some time before the Cavs were relevant again and to get ready for a prolonged stretch of losing.

Well, at least I was right about the Cavs. Hey, nobody's perfect. Besides, 50 percent accuracy ain't bad. Heck, it's almost half.

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Volume 10, Issue 21, Posted 9:56 AM, 11.06.2018

Dramatic power shift in Cleveland sports

This just in: Browns playing .500 after five games; now the most exciting team in Cleveland ...

Yeah, right. That'll be the day. In a city where the Cavs went to the NBA Finals last spring and the Indians have made three consecutive trips to the postseason? What are you smoking, dude?

My, how quickly things can change. At first, it doesn't seem possible that the Browns – the most pathetic excuse for pro football over nearly two decades – are now the apple of the city's eye? How could this happen? Well, let's take a look:

Take the Cavs (please): Do we really need to go any farther than to say LeBron packed up his basketball and headed west? This on the heels of their second-best player, Kyrie Irving, leaving for greener (as in Celtic green) pastures in Boston? Even in the horrifically weak NBA Eastern Conference, the Cavs will struggle to win 30 games this season.

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Volume 10, Issue 20, Posted 10:01 AM, 10.16.2018

Browns fans buy in despite marginal record

Observers have long been fascinated by the hold the Cleveland Browns have had on the sports fans of Northeast Ohio. This, in spite of being one of the most poorly run franchises in the history of the NFL for a two-decade stretch.

For most of my life, and being a baseball purist at heart, I have dismissed that notion as the result of the Indians being one of the worst-run baseball franchises in the history of MLB from the late 1950s up into the 1990s. The Cavs didn't join the party until 1970-71, and they were often one of the worst-run franchises in the history of the NBA, especially during the Ted Stepien era.

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Volume 10, Issue 19, Posted 9:49 AM, 10.02.2018

Things starting to break (down) in Tribe's favor

Have a seat my friend, since I already know what's troubling you ...

You tell me that the Cleveland Indians are falling apart at the worst possible time – virtually as we speak – with the playoffs just over the horizon. Tough to argue with that, pal.

You say that Andrew Miller is hurt – again – and without him, our chances go from slim to less than none. Yeah, losing Miller hurts big time (although I'd like to see you explain how you arrived at that "less than none" figure, Einstein).

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Volume 10, Issue 17, Posted 9:12 AM, 09.05.2018

Huey, Louis, and the news

As much fun as it’s been so far – and seriously, folks, watching the Browns for the last two decades has been nothing but one big, continuous belly laugh – it has become abundantly clear that I have a few questions that require some answers. 

First and foremost, how did Jimmy Haslam ever persuade John Dorsey to come on board as the Browns GM with Hue Jackson remaining as head coach? Even with the significant talent upgrade Dorsey has provided Hue for the upcoming season, the deer-in-the-headlights persona that has defined Jackson in his tenure with the Browns remains.

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Volume 10, Issue 16, Posted 8:44 AM, 08.21.2018

Antonetti key to Tribe’s success

Whenever anyone talks about the Indians' run of winning baseball over the last five years, the guy who invariably draws the most praise is skipper Terry (Tito) Francona. No question, it’s deservedly so, as the Indians manager has amassed an impressive resume in his 18 years managing in the big leagues.

Just the same, it would be foolish to downplay the impact Tribe President Chris Antonetti has had in shaping the roster of Francona’s Indians. Let’s take a look at the three biggest moves Antonetti has orchestrated which positively impacted Francona’s Indians as they experienced their half-decade of winning baseball:

1.) Antonetti's first may have been his worst, but it wasn’t all that bad in retrospect. He took a lot of heat when he traded prized prospects Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Matt McBride and Joe Gardner to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez in June 2011. This showed a marked contrast between Antonetti and his boss, Mark Shapiro, as Shapiro never wanted to trade highly regarded prospects. And although Jimenez never did much for the Indians, he did have a good 2013 season when he went 13-9 and helped the Tribe make the postseason in Francona’s first year as Indians manager.

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Volume 10, Issue 15, Posted 9:52 AM, 08.07.2018

Sometimes you just gotta mail it in …

You know what’s fun about being a writer? Fan mail.

At least, that’s what they tell me, since I’ve never actually received any fan mail myself. (A dubious record such as this sort of makes me the Hue Jackson of writing, does it not?) If you consider the notion that up to now, I’ve had to settle for profanity-laced tirades aimed at eroding the few shreds of dignity that still comprise my ego, I am pretty much a Hue Jackson clone, no?

But what the hey, at least I can say that because of those expletive-laden “suggestions,” I’ve added a number of new words (most of which cannot, since this is a family publication, be repeated here) to my vocabulary, right?

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Volume 10, Issue 14, Posted 9:55 AM, 07.17.2018

There’s always hope … even for losers

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (especially if you were walking), called Detroit, it was a period of market share war, and the Ford Motor Company wanted to inflict pain upon the evil empire (at least, that’s how Ford saw them), known as General Motors.

It was the late 1950s, and the deep thinkers at Ford decided to name a new car model they were introducing the “Edsel.” Edsel Ford was the only son of Henry Ford, and succeeded his father as president of Ford Motors until his death in 1943. It was fortunate for Edsel that he didn’t live long enough to see his vehicular namesake introduced, because the Edsel bombed – big time.

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Volume 10, Issue 12, Posted 9:24 AM, 06.19.2018

Comic relief a huge factor in Cleveland’s fall TV lineup

By now, pretty much everyone has seen the new fall lineups of the approximately one bazillion (or so it seems, anyway) TV networks operating out there nowadays, right? And, with all those choices, odds are there must be some really high-quality programming.

Oh yeah? Well then, how come in our household we still watch reruns of "Friends" most of the time? I think the answer lies in the fact that most of the programming lacks innovation. Seriously, they’re bringing back "Murphy Brown"? "Magnum P.I."? Did we by any chance get sucked into a time warp somewhere during the drive down the road formerly known as common sense?

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Volume 10, Issue 11, Posted 10:08 AM, 06.05.2018

Occupants of Tribe teepee can make one weepy

They start out by telling me, reassuringly, that it's a long season. Then they tell me there's still plenty of time.

Well, you can tell "them" for me that based on the quality of Indians baseball I've seen so far, it's already been a l-o-n-g season. And as far as that "still plenty of time" remark goes, I'd like to know: Still plenty of time for what? A lobotomy? In which case sharpen the scalpel and cue the anesthesiologist, because anything's better than this. I'm ready, doc.

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Volume 10, Issue 10, Posted 9:32 AM, 05.15.2018

Driver, please pull over … this is my stop

You know, maybe I should thank the Browns. Maybe the way the Browns handled the first round of the 2018 draft is the best thing that could have happened to me, because I now have come to realize that I simply can’t take it anymore. I’m done, baby. I’m up on the I-480 bridge, and there’s no talking me down. Forget the cops, the megaphones and the psychiatrists. And nope, not even the promise of a Snickers bar (which always worked in the past) will change my mind. This is my last Browns draft. Ever. Period.

I don’t know what it is about the Browns organization that transforms formerly clear-thinking, highly-trained football talent evaluators into incompetent morons. No, I’m sorry; I misspoke: It’s not fair to use the term “morons” here. It’s way too insulting … to morons.

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Volume 10, Issue 9, Posted 9:58 AM, 05.01.2018

2018: Can Cleveland once again be the 'City of Champions'?

A number of years ago – okay, a really, really big number of years ago – when we thought a microwave was only a modest ripple in Lake Erie, Cleveland was known throughout the sports world as the “City of Champions.” No, not Cleveland, Tennessee, smarty pants, Cleveland, Ohio. If you’re too young to know what an “I like Ike” button meant, you probably think I’m making this up. But I’m not. I deal in facts, baby.

Back in the 1940s and '50s, Cleveland was the envy of the rest of the nation because all of Cleveland sports teams won pretty much all the time. The Browns, for example, won championships with more regularity than MiraLax.

The Indians, although they didn’t have many championships to show for it because of the domination of the mighty New York Yankees, were the only team to consistently give the Yanks a run for their money year after year. Check this out: from 1947 through 1958, the only team NOT named the Yankees to represent the AL in the World Series was our beloved Wahoos. Not too shabby, eh?

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Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 9:46 AM, 04.17.2018

Unfinished business for Tribe

Although the wait has been, well, excruciating for some of us, by the time you get the next issue of the Observer, the Cleveland Indians will have opened the 2018 campaign. And after the topsy-turvy results the Tribe experienced the past couple of seasons, it is probably foolish to try and predict what the 2018 season will bring. But the threat of good sense has never deterred me in the past, so why start now?

After all, the 2016 Indians were never expected to reach World Series – never mind play a 7th game – but they stunned baseball and did exactly that. Then last year, the 2017 edition, appearing far superior to the 2016 version and everyone’s choice to reach the World Series again, stubbed their collective toes (and that’s understating it a bit). The Tribe did a pratfall in the first round of the AL playoffs – losing a best-of-five series with the Yankees after being up 2-0 in the series.

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Volume 10, Issue 6, Posted 10:11 AM, 03.20.2018

Much ado about Wahoo a big boo-hoo

So now that we’ve all had a little time to digest the Tribe’s decision (due to major pressure from Major League Baseball) to “transition” Chief Wahoo (“transition” sounds much more palatable than “dump”), how do you feel about saying adios to the Chief?

I have to admit to being a little saddened, but probably not for the reasons you might think. I’m both saddened and puzzled by the Indians' decision, though not surprised. It’s just another notch in the belt for (misapplied, in my opinion) political correctness, right? Isn’t it the same “Happy Holidays” mentality that’s become the new (unrealistic) standard in our society as we move forward with the “everybody wins, nobody loses – ever” approach?

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Volume 10, Issue 5, Posted 9:26 AM, 03.06.2018

Potential and loyalty make strange bedfellows

I’m a big fan of Michael Brantley. He has virtually all of the qualities one desires in a major league ballplayer: He can hit, field, run; he’s a smart baserunner, has an awesome arm and is a good guy and (not surprisingly) a fan favorite. However, the one quality he lacks – durability – has an uncanny way of quickly negating all of the plusses next to his name.

In recent years, it’s been difficult to enjoy Brantley for any length of time since he can’t stay on the field very long before he’s injured again. To say that the Indians went out on a limb in counting on Brantley for the 2018 season while letting Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce walk is a huge understatement. The Tribe might end up paying Brantley $12 million to be an expensive cheerleader.

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Volume 10, Issue 4, Posted 9:35 AM, 02.20.2018

The glass is half full ... until it freezes and cracks

I was talking to a friend of mine last week about the current state of our pro sports teams. I was feeling pretty upbeat about the Tribe and spring training, the new Browns management, and the Cavs (remember, they’ve been to the Finals the last three years). 

My friend, who I shall call “Jim” – primarily because that’s his real name – was complaining about not one, not two, but all three teams. Just what one needs on a cold winter day, right? 

I started out our conversation espousing my excitement about the Tribe starting spring training in a few weeks. It quickly became clear that Jim did not share my enthusiastic mindset.

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Volume 10, Issue 2, Posted 9:17 AM, 01.23.2018

Making an extra point after 'Perfect Season' parade

Can’t anybody in this town take a joke? Two whole decades of football ineptitude and suddenly people are afraid that holding a "Perfect Season" parade (after the Browns bucked the odds and went winless for an entire year) would make the city of Cleveland look … bad? Seriously now, could a silly parade possibly be any sillier than what the Browns accomplished – or more to the point, not accomplished – in the Jimmy Haslam ownership era?

Actually, I’m reluctant to answer my own question, because every time I think they cannot possibly get any worse (and I’ve thought that many, many times since 1999), the Browns – bless their hearts – go out and show me just how wrong a guy can be. And, let’s be honest here, I never thought I’d look back at a record of 1-15 in 2016 and think of those as the “good old days.” Come to think of it, coach Mike Pettine’s record of 7-9 in 2014 should automatically qualify him for a Vince Lombardi award … or something. I’m sure he’s having a good laugh somewhere.

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Volume 10, Issue 1, Posted 9:32 AM, 01.09.2018


I have a bit of a dilemma. The last two columns that I’ve written have pretty much been trash pieces about the Browns. That unto itself is not a problem since I rather enjoy regularly taking shots at those yokels. However, three similar articles in a row would make me appear either angry and/or vindictive, or egads: every writer’s worst nightmare, which is being accused of lacking in imagination.

We all know that if anyone exudes the Happy-Happy-Joy-Joy persona, it’s me. We also know that for me to write the previous sentence, I have to be pretty comfortable in the fabrication department. 

The problem lies in the fact that I can’t really write anything about the Indians, because those wounds haven’t healed yet (which probably makes me appear angry and/or vindictive, but let’s not go jumping to conclusions – it’s probably just coincidence), and the Cavs season is merely in its infancy, since they don’t start their real season (a.k.a. the NBA playoffs) until the Indians season is underway.

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Volume 9, Issue 23, Posted 10:31 AM, 12.05.2017

Browns to be winners soon? Don’t bet on it …

On the other hand, perhaps betting against the Browns is exactly what you should do. I heard a Vegas gambling expert on the radio the other day who said that if you had bet a grand every week against the Browns versus the spread – for the last two and a half years – you’d be up something like $20,000 right now.

Wow. Losing hurts, but a few extra bucks would certainly help ease the pain, wouldn’t it? (This by no means an endorsement for gambling; I’m just making a painful point here). Personally, I could never do it – I feel stupid enough on the rare occasions I buy a Mega Millions ticket – but it puts in perspective just how pathetic this organization has been for the last couple of decades.

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Volume 9, Issue 22, Posted 9:52 AM, 11.21.2017

Take the Browns ... please!

Where’s Art Modell when you really, really need him? Yes, it’s obviously a rhetorical question since we all know Art has gone from that luxury box up in Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium to the more basic pine version considerably lower (and undoubtedly much quieter).

Remember how upset everyone was when Uncle Artie skedaddled with the franchise back in ’95 and shuffled off to Baltimore? All things considered, how big of an outcry would there be if Jimmy Haslam moved the franchise to oh, say, Tennessee after the season? Relatively minuscule, I’m guessing.

You know the old question, “If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” That mentality applies to Haslam’s Browns, because I’m thinking that this time around, there’s a good chance there’d be a boatload of fans who might actually might help the Browns pack! And once that was accomplished, it would be followed by the resounding screams of former Browns fans, to the tune of “And don’t let the door hit you in the (you-know-what), Jimmy!”

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Volume 9, Issue 21, Posted 9:54 AM, 11.07.2017

Waiter, there’s a fly (ball) in my soup

Have you ever become so invested in something that you became so confident, so sure about a given outcome that you never considered the possibility of anything other than what you expected?

“It’s a short series …. anything can happen,” they said.

“Ha ha ha,” was my knowing (and un-mistakenly arrogant) reply.

“A year ago, we blew a two-game advantage against the Cubs,” they chided.

“Yes, but that was with an Indians team decimated by injuries to the pitching staff, and they almost won the whole thing anyway!” I exclaimed, angered by their utter lack of baseball knowledge. They didn’t realize who they were talking to: me, the all-knowing, utterly infallible omnipotent one. Morons, I thought. All of them: morons!

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Volume 9, Issue 20, Posted 9:47 AM, 10.17.2017

Indians: Hot. Browns: Not. Cavs: What?

Okay, so tell me if I understand this correctly: The Cavaliers think they are a shoo-in for the NBA Finals with the signing of Dwyane Wade? The same guy who LeBron played with for a few years down in Miami – that Dwyane Wade? The guy who’s – in terms of relative ability – a mere shadow of his former self?

This comes on the heels of the Cavs acquiring Isaiah Thomas from the Boston Celtics, the same Isaiah who has a chronic hip injury and is – in terms of relative ability – a mere shadow of his former self? And this comes on the heels of the Cavs signing Derrick Rose, the same Derrick Rose who’s been a mere shadow of his former self since a devastating injury took his quickness in 2012 – that Derrick Rose? Nope, can’t see anything wrong with that pipe dream.

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Volume 9, Issue 19, Posted 10:00 AM, 10.03.2017

2017 Indians are simply amazin'

A little more than a half century ago, after New York City was blessed with an expansion baseball team known as the Metropolitans (a.k.a “Mets”), veteran manager Casey Stengel was asked to summarize his new team’s talent. Casey paused for a moment and then dead-panned, “Amazin’. Simply amazin’.” He was trying to take the high road, of course, but the message was clear. Especially since earlier in the season – after surveying his roster – he’d already uttered the infamous, "Two hundred million Americans, and there ain't two good catchers among 'em" line.

Oddly enough, I thought of Casey’s description when speaking with friends about the Indians recent – maybe you heard about it – winning streak. In just the last year and a half, the Tribe has totally redefined what constitutes a significant winning streak – at least in Cleveland. Not too long ago I thought 10 consecutive victories was a pretty good run, and I still do, in fact.

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Volume 9, Issue 18, Posted 10:06 AM, 09.19.2017

Coach, Hue can’t be serious

Okay gang, let’s hop into the Way-back Machine and return to a simpler time. Like a few weeks ago, when the Browns were still taking the “Let-the-rookie-sit-and-learn-before-we-throw-him-to-the-dogs” approach. You know, stuff that actually made sense.

I don’t know if it’s pressure from above (by a guy who goes by the name of “Jimmy”) or Hue has simply been caught up in the euphoria of winning all four exhibition games (note to Hue: these games don’t count when the real season begins). I mean, for the last year and a half or so all we have been hearing from Sashi Brown et al is that the Browns were/are “Going to do it the right way” (for a change), which included not rushing the quarterback in to play before his time. 

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Volume 9, Issue 17, Posted 9:41 AM, 09.06.2017

We'll return after these messages ...

I love sports: be it watching them, playing them, talking about them, and yes, even writing about them. I have one problem, though. The recent revelation of the fall lineups by the major television networks are essentially bereft of any quality sports shows on the tube. I suggest we put an end to that malarkey right now, and – after an untold number of sleepless nights brainstorming – I’ve come up with some suggestions for sports-related programming. Consider the following:

1. "Game of Drones": Hosted by Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer, he examines the finer points of miniature aircraft aviation, including safety tips to avoid bodily harm (all purely hypothetical, of course, and not remotely related to any real-life events). Trevor will also share some of his irrepressible wit, the likes which have made him such an iconic “funny guy” figure with Cleveland fans.

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Volume 9, Issue 16, Posted 10:07 AM, 08.15.2017

When egos collide

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (which is fortunate in my case, because I’m not one) to figure out that most pro athletes today are a bit on the, um, “spoiled” side. Which is no surprise either, considering the millions of dollars athletes are paid annually to do things that most of us grew up doing (for free, BTW). That’s not a knock on these guys and gals either, because to really make it in professional baseball, football, basketball, hockey – as well as a few other “major” sports – you literally have to possess one-in-a-million type talent.

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Volume 9, Issue 15, Posted 9:27 AM, 08.01.2017

José being Manny?

A couple of decades or so ago, the Cleveland Indians had a young outfielder who went by the name of Manny Ramírez. Manny was a gifted athlete who came up through the Indians’ farm system and went on to have an illustrious career, hitting 555 home runs, including 236 during his eight years with the Tribe.

Indians fans who remember watching Manny play baseball may recall that although Manny quickly became one of the most feared hitters in the game, his fielding – and his base running in particular – also evoked fear in many who were watching the game. Especially his managers.

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Volume 9, Issue 14, Posted 9:54 AM, 07.18.2017

Gilbert's ego eliminates possibility of additional NBA championships

It’s funny how history always seems to repeat itself when it comes to sports in Cleveland. Okay, maybe not double-over-in-hysterics funny, but more like it-could-only-happen-in-Cleveland, ironic kind of funny. Some people even refer to it as “sick” humor – especially folks who’ve spent their entire lives here. But enough about me.

From the early 1960s up until the mid-'90s, the Cleveland Browns had an owner who went by the name of Art Modell. Maybe you’ve heard of him. After Modell purchased the Browns, he decided to use his expertise in advertising (where he made the bulk of his money) to help in promoting not only the Browns, but the entire NFL. The thing is, he was pretty good at it.

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Volume 9, Issue 13, Posted 9:31 AM, 07.05.2017

Will Tribe learn from Cavs’ mistake?

It was only a year ago that the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the sports world by coming back from a 3-1 deficit to wrestle away the NBA Championship from the Golden State Warriors. Slightly more than four months later, the Cleveland Indians took the Chicago Cubs to extra innings in the seventh game of the World Series before falling to the boys from the Windy City.

This past NBA season, the Cavaliers looked like anything but NBA champs, stumbling their way to a 51-31 record, despite playing in the competitively challenged NBA Eastern Conference. And they looked downright awful at times in the process. Many commentators, and fans alike, spoke of the Cavs “flipping the switch” once the playoffs began – that the regular season was merely a warm-up for the playoffs.

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Volume 9, Issue 12, Posted 9:19 AM, 06.20.2017

Be afraid: The Browns listened to me

Boy, did it get scary on draft day! It was being reported that the Browns were going to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the first pick in the draft and go against all of the advice I had provided to them in this paper. As that day went on, I was thinking of all of the failed first round picks and the obvious choices that were bypassed. Julio Jones and Khalil Mack readily come to mind.

It was a huge relief when the name of the consensus numero uno pick, Myles Garrett, was announced and not Trubisky. Do you realize that not one of the Browns' six first-round picks from 2011 through 2014 is on the team? These selections: Phil Taylor, Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden, Barkevious Mingo, Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel should be making up the heart, if not the soul, of the team now, but they do not exist. Most fans believe that the Browns got this pick right by simply not screwing it up.

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Volume 9, Issue 10, Posted 9:39 AM, 05.16.2017

The three faces of Cleve(land)

I was thinking about the owners of our three major sports teams recently, and how the perception of at least two of the ownership groups has changed significantly over the past year or so – at least from my perspective. The third was never all that good to begin with and remains that way five years later.

Let’s begin with the most obvious of the three: Larry and Paul Dolan, the father-son team who own a majority interest in the Cleveland Indians. Anyone out there who has read my column for any length of time certainly knows I’ve spent a great quantity of ink bashing the Dolans over the fiscally-cautious manner with which they’ve run the Tribe for the better part of the last two decades. In fact, I think I can attribute the nasty case of carpal tunnel syndrome I’ve acquired largely to the columns I’ve written about those guys over the years.

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Volume 9, Issue 10, Posted 9:35 AM, 05.16.2017

Garrett an obvious choice, but Browns still Myles away

Okie dokie, someone needs to explain something to me.

First of all, why did all of the Browns faithful go berserk (with euphoria, presumably) when the Browns made Myles Garrett the first choice in the first round of the draft a few days ago? I mean, this guy was consensus pick numero uno in the NFL for the last three months at least, right? So let's tone it down with the pats on the back of the Browns' "brain trust" (sorry, I have to put those words in sarcasm quotes until proven unnecessary – if indeed that ever happens). Who else could the Browns have drafted at No. 1? Seriously. Giving the Browns credit for choosing Garrett with the first pick would be like crediting the Cavs for drafting LeBron. Or Kyrie.

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Volume 9, Issue 9, Posted 9:30 AM, 05.02.2017

Is the Tribe better than last year? The Sequel

When we left off last issue, I believe – and trust me, at my age nothing is a “given” anymore – we had examined the Tribe’s infield and were about to look at the outfield and pitching when – alas – I ran out of column space. Fortunately, I haven’t been canned yet and have a clean slate this issue, so let’s kick things off (since the Browns can’t) with the outfield.

Outfield: Having given this some serious thought, I don’t see much reason to attach a name to a particular position in the outfield, since the way the outfield is constructed so “fluidly”, most guys play multiple positions out there anyway. Some of those guys – most of whom are not (or at least weren’t most of last season) household names – were Tribe outfielders last year.

In 2016, guys like Abraham Almonte, Marlon Byrd, Lonnie Chisenhall, Collin Cowgill, Coco Crisp, Rajai Davis, Brandon Guyer, Michael Martinez, Tyler Naquin and Jose Ramirez somehow combined to form one of the most productive outfields in the American League last year. Since Naquin was recently sent down to the minor leagues, the only guys who remain who had an impact on the team last year are Chisenhall, Almonte, Guyer and Ramirez (who is now an infielder).

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Volume 9, Issue 8, Posted 9:51 AM, 04.18.2017

Could the Tribe really be better than last year?

Opening Day in the Major Leagues has finally arrived. We can now get down to the business of enjoying Indians games that count. While discussing (with some friends at work) this year's Tribe and how they compare to the 2016 version, a co-worker said I made it sound like the 2017 version will be far superior to last year's almost-champion.

So let's take a look at the infield for 2017 version (or at least what I presume it to be).

First base: Edwin Encarnacion has to be considered – at the very worst – as good as the departed Mike Napoli. But Edwin shall be platooning with Carlos Santana, whom I can't see duplicating his 2016 season. Regardless, Encarnacion is an upgrade, and even if Carlos slips a bit as anticipated, the worst I see is a wash, because Encarnacion is the real deal, folks. But I truly think overall production at first will be a plus over last season.

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Volume 9, Issue 7, Posted 9:15 AM, 04.04.2017

Injuries can be a real pain

What attracts us to sports? The magnetic effect which draws us to sports is its inherent unpredictability; hence the ever-famous “Wait ‘til next year” phrase, probably repeated more in this city than anywhere else in the civilized (and uncivilized, for that matter) world. The sport doesn’t really matter; for after every contest in any sport, there is a winner and there is a loser. (And yes, I know about “ties” in football, hockey and soccer, but stay focused here or you’ll miss the point). 

The promise (often confused with hope: see Cleveland Browns) that this year will be much better than the previous one is what compels a typical sports fan to continue following his/her team(s) even after a year (or years) of “entertainment” that is usually more easily equated to excruciating torture. Just the mere chance of players improving upon their previous season’s performance is what gives that fan the inner strength to soldier on, no matter how depressing the odds might be. And in reality, those odds are pretty long, because generally, when one player improves, another one struggles, which typically results in a “wash” anyway.

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Volume 9, Issue 6, Posted 10:09 AM, 03.21.2017

Could it be déjà vu for the Tribe?

"So buckle up, Tribe fans, it's going to be special."

Those were the final words in my column a year ago when I predicted good things for the Indians during the 2016 season. And sure enough, the team delivered with a trip to the World Series – its first in two decades. 

There’s an old adage in sports – and baseball in particular – which states that even though it’s hard to get to the top, it’s even harder to stay there. Baseball fans in Cleveland will be quick to agree with that argument, as the Indians have – over the last 116 years – never appeared in consecutive World Series.

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 9:28 AM, 03.07.2017

Letters from a dwindling fan base

Okay, gang. While the Indians are unpacking their gear in Goodyear (that has sort of a poetic ring, doesn’t it?), the Cavs are playing and Browns fans are praying (I know, I should have quit while I was ahead), now seems like a good time to look in the old mailbag and see what my loyal reader(s) have on their mind(s).

Let’s start with one from a “J.B.” in Westlake.

“How come you always rip the Browns, dude? Cut Jimmy and his boys some slack. Don’t blame him for all of the team’s problems. Lighten up – you depress me.”

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Volume 9, Issue 4, Posted 9:48 AM, 02.21.2017

Want to recall special sports memories? It’s all in the cards

I made a surprising discovery recently, quite by accident. With my son – who lives out of state – turning 40 next year, I wanted to do something special to celebrate the big 4-0, and I also wanted it to be a gift he might want to hold onto and (hopefully) treasure for many years to come. 

Jason became a father recently, but it wasn’t without some scary moments. I will spare the details of my grandson’s birth out of deference to his family’s privacy and the space limitations for this column. The important thing is that my grandson is now 5 months old and getting stronger every day – the little dude is a fighter – and appears to have left the worst behind him. 

After trying to recall things my son and I did together when he was a boy, it dawned on me that there was one thing he really enjoyed as a kid: collecting baseball cards. I’m pretty sure he also dabbled some in the other major sports too, but baseball cards were the runaway first choice. We spent a lot of time going to baseball card shows, card shops, and the like in our never-ending pursuit of whatever the “hot” card at the time was. We had a blast chasing those mutual goals together, which I will always treasure.

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Volume 9, Issue 3, Posted 9:56 AM, 02.07.2017

Checking in on the local sports teams

With the Browns having recently completed their season, the Cavs halfway through theirs, and the Tribe’s equipment truck about to embark on its annual pilgrimage to Goodyear, perhaps now is a good time to give the three franchises a good look.

The Cleveland Browns: Well, don’t look too hard at these guys; it might trigger a migraine. Unfortunately, the jury is still out on the latest management team, since their first draft has brought mixed reviews. And while it appears they have drafted a few guys who might actually become serviceable NFL players, my guess is that the majority of them are destined to be nothing more than the answers to trivia questions a few years from now. And that’s not good. Another lackluster draft this spring and Jimmy Haslam will have no choice but to call in the demolition boys to blow up yet another front office.

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Volume 9, Issue 2, Posted 9:36 AM, 01.24.2017

Browns successful at one thing this year: lowering the bar

After nearly two decades of horrific football (which equates to 140 years in dog years; no, make that “dawg” years) the Browns in 2016 decided that a new approach was necessary. I mean, after the seemingly annual replacement of head coaches and front office personnel bore little fruit, Jimmy Haslam and company finally decided to go in a different direction.

This year, they decided to go “cerebral.” In other words, since they couldn’t beat the opposition with the talent on the field, maybe they could beat ‘em at the brain game. You guessed it: we’re talking “analytics,” baby. 

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Volume 8, Issue 23, Posted 9:36 AM, 11.29.2016