Sporting Views

Thankful during the Covid Era? You’re darn right I am

This has been one of the rougher holiday seasons for our family; in fact, my wife and I – after 43 and a half years of marriage – experienced our first Thanksgiving of no family get-togethers. No kids. No grandkids. No other relatives, either. And Christmas looks about as promising as Thanksgiving. Seriously, let's break open a new case of Kleenex, and let it all out, shall we?

And while you’re at it, you might want to stock up on the toilet paper. (You remember what happened about eight months ago, and keep in mind that we are supposed to learn valuable lessons from past experiences.) Don’t be caught having to use some of those leaves you never got around to raking last month. And yes, the neighbors will know exactly what you are using those leaves for – don’t try to play “innocent” because they're not as dumb as they look.

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Volume 12, Issue 23, Posted 9:59 AM, 12.01.2020

Tribe pitching depth already a curse

Before you say it, I'll say it for you: "Almost every team in the Major Leagues would love to have the Indians' pitching staff."

I can't argue with that. For the better part of the last decade, the Indians have sported one of the most consistent – and consistently deep – pitching staffs in the American League, if not all of baseball. They have been contenders year in and year out, and not had a losing season during Terry Francona's tenure as manager. And yep, there are a plethora of baseball franchises who would love to be where the Indians are right now. The winning culture. Annual contenders. Strong (obviously) farm system. A steady and effective front office with an excellent scouting staff – especially when it comes to drafting and/or trading for pitching talent.

So then what, pray tell, is the problem here? Am I just getting ornery in my advancing age? Can't I just sit back and appreciate what we have, while we have it? 

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Volume 12, Issue 22, Posted 9:21 AM, 11.17.2020

Faker ... or Baker?

I am often amazed by the fickleness of your average sports fan.

You know, like when the Tribe loses 8 in a row (as they did earlier this fall), and most of us nod in agreement that, yep, these guys just don't have the offense to hang with the big boys in MLB.

You know, like when the Tribe rattles off 8 wins in 9 games (as they also did earlier this fall), and most of us nod in agreement that, yep, this team just might go all the way with the pitching depth they have.

And those scenarios played out one right after the other only a little over a month or so ago. And then, when the Indians were taken back behind the woodshed and spanked – unmercifully, I might add – by the New York Yankees, I wanted to take Shane Bieber, Brad Hand, and the rest of that "deep" pitching staff and deep-six 'em. And, make no mistake, the wounds are still fresh enough that I haven't really changed my mind yet.

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Volume 12, Issue 21, Posted 9:28 AM, 11.03.2020

Season of great expectations: Year 22 (Part 2)

When we last met, I had predicted the Browns would boldly go where few Browns teams had gone before: a winning record after 8 games – albeit by the slimmest of margins.

The question becomes: will it continue? One can only hope so after the horrid post-season playoff showing by the Tribe against the Yankees, so let's focus on anything with a potentially happy conclusion, shall we?

Continuing with my picks from the previous issue ...

9.) Sunday, Nov. 15 vs. Houston: The Texans are not as good as they used to be, but probably not as bad as their record would suggest. The Browns had two weeks to think about their loss to the Raiders, and that creates some competitive fire in the Browns' locker room. They come out and play their best game of the season, beating the Texans, 30-10. At 5-3-1, Jimmy Haslam floats the idea of erecting a statue of himself. Dee accidentally fractures her hip when she doubles over in laughter.

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Volume 12, Issue 19, Posted 9:48 AM, 10.06.2020

Browns: Let the games (a.k.a. 'torture') begin...

Yes, I know it's a new season. And yes, we have a new coach (for a change, right?), and yet again, we have an influx of many new players.

Feel like you've seen this movie before?

The problem is, in the one vital area in which the Browns desperately need change, they have had continuity: ownership.

Ever since Jimmy Haslam took over as the Browns owner midway through the 2012 season, the Browns have won roughly a quarter of their games. (The chances of making the playoffs with that kind of "winning" percentage are not all that good, folks). The scary thing is that Jimmy keeps maintaining that he's going to "keep on trying" until he "gets it right."

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Volume 12, Issue 18, Posted 10:20 AM, 09.15.2020

On a scale of 0-10, how painful would you rate this column?

Before we begin this issue's foray into literary excellence, in spite of having spent the last several days in Fairview Hospital for a malady, the cause of which is yet TBD, there are a few things I need to get off my chest. As you will see, things some of which have been festering for a long, long time.

Seriously, how come it's called Fairview Hospital if it's located in Cleveland? Fairview's just on the other side of the valley, no? I'm way too lazy to verify this but I'll bet that long, long ago Cleveland annexed the hospital side. Why? Probably just because they could. I guess the city of Fairview should be happy the hospital still bears their name. Possibly one of the very first "naming rights" deals ever negotiated.

And what's with the asking of my name and birthday seemingly every 30 seconds? Heck, I was born in that hospital; shouldn't they already have that information? Or is the real objective actually to just keep asking away until I make a mistake and then using that as justification for throwing my rear out? A tricky bunch, I tell you.

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Volume 12, Issue 17, Posted 9:31 AM, 09.01.2020

No way to tame 'blame the name' game

With all the hoopla surrounding the (suddenly) inconceivable manner which this country has blatantly – and I might add, without my approval – named some of their professional sports franchises, I say… 

Bravo. 

It’s high time we saw all of the lowlifes and ne’er do-gooders for what they are: instigators of evil, and it all starts with the name of your local pro sports franchise. Yes, it took some time (I never go quietly) but I, too, now see the error in my ways in rooting for a team called the (cover your ears, children) Indians.

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Volume 12, Issue 16, Posted 9:15 AM, 08.18.2020

Sports in 2020: An absolute pain in the asterisk

Based on his first two starts of the season, Indians ace Shane Bieber should win the Cy Young Award. Think about it: 27 K's in two starts? That's the equivalent of striking out every batter for an entire game. And don't tell me my Cy Young prediction after seven games is premature. Simply because, my friends, seven games – this year – is 11.67% of the schedule. Conversely, in a normal 162-game schedule, 11.67% of the schedule would be 19 games played, with 143 to go. This year, seven games played means we have a whole 53 games to go.

That's right ... we're in the stretch run, baby!

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Volume 12, Issue 15, Posted 9:50 AM, 08.04.2020

A rose by any other name (in sports) is always profit-driven

Okay, I get the thing with the Redskins name soon disappearing from the NFL. “Redskins” is and has always been a derogatory term; and there is no way anyone can (or should) sugarcoat it. Bye-bye!

But “Indians”? When was the last time – if ever – you heard someone use the term in a derogatory manner? Can’t recall, can you? And that’s because you haven’t heard it used in that context. So, what’s the beef, Chief? (See what I did there?)

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Volume 12, Issue 14, Posted 10:05 AM, 07.21.2020

Don't do us any favors

They tell me that after 60 games last year, the eventual World Champion Washington Nationals were 27-33. Zowie!

The mighty, mighty Seattle Mariners, after 15 games, were 13-2. They didn't quite maintain the momentum, losing 94 games on the year. You don't say.

These little nuggets of baseball lore are supposed to get me pumped for the 2020 MLB season. Because, the story goes, in a shortened season, "Anything can happen." You gotta love sports cliches, right?

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Volume 12, Issue 13, Posted 10:01 AM, 07.07.2020

The dog days of COVID

We are now in week 112 of the sports lockdown and there are no sports to write about, which also means I am in week 113 of having a heck of a time dreaming up subject matter. (Yes, I know, not that it will make much difference, right?) I mean, there's writer's block, and then there's trying-to-imitate-a-legitimate-writer-who-has-writer's-block writer's block. I'll spare you the suspense and tell you up-front I'm in the latter category (like you didn't already know that).

Yes, I exaggerated – slightly – about the length of time COVID-19 has disrupted the sports scene in Believeland, but seriously gang, writing about sports when there are none is as about as difficult for me as finding something good to say about Jimmy Haslam. (If that doesn't put it in perspective for you then nothing will). Now I know why Dr. Acton decided to get out of Dodge: Nothing to report!

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 9:45 AM, 06.16.2020

Return to 'normal'? R-i-i-i-i-g-h-t

Now that we’ve shed our figurative “stay at home” ankle bracelets – at least, it’s figurative for most readers – many states are gradually re-opening businesses with the idea of getting the economy back up and running ASAP.

That includes sports. Perhaps not exactly as we recall them, but sports just the same. As of this writing, the plans for the four major professional sports return were changing quickly – seemingly at the rate of about once every couple of hours or so.

Let’s take a peek at the latest absurdities:

Hockey: The NHL continues to claim that the league’s fans want to see a champion crowned for the 2019-20 season. The league commissioner, Gary Bettman, says there will be a tournament starting the end of July (at the earliest) which will determine seeding (and get the players back into shape, theoretically).

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:35 AM, 06.02.2020

What in the Snell is Matt talking about?

It’s been a weird year so far. Now, that shouldn’t come as a profound revelation to anyone out there who’s still remotely lucid (unless you’ve been getting carried away with the hand sanitizer or you made your facemask out of paper-mâché), but I learned a long time ago to never assume anything.

With that thought in mind, I, like most of you out there, revised my perspective on 2020 a couple of months back when that intrusive, absolutely uninvited party crasher (aka coronavirus – aka COVID-19 – aka the opposite of a Happy Meal) dropped in for a visit. And, just like the unemployed 40-year-old who still resides in Mom and Pop’s basement, we have no idea how much longer it will be before he packs up and leaves – provided he ever chooses to do so.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 10:39 AM, 05.19.2020

Sing Along: Take me out to the ball game, and tell me, what is a 'crowd'?

The last time we met, I think we talked about how the "sellout" crowd of 2020 or '21 will look far different than the sellouts of way back in, oh, say, 2019. We focused on how different things will be for Joe Fan when things return to quasi-normal. What we didn't cover (ostensibly due to lack of column space, but more accurately due to my lack of writing talent), was how all of this coronavirus stuff was going to impact the game itself. And will it ever, baby ...

Just apply today's social distancing rules to a Major League Baseball game when(ever) it returns to the corner of East 9th and Carnegie. I mean, ballplayers will have to live by the same rules the rest of us have to, right? Coronavirus is indifferent to dollar signs, right? That being the case, let's look at some of baseball's "norms" and how they soon will devolve into "abnorms":

1.) Dugouts: Hmmmmm. This year, baseball allowed the roster to expand to 26 players. With the coaches, trainers, clubhouse attendants, team physicians, and, oh yes, the players, all maintaining a minimum of 6 feet separation I calculated the Indians dugout starting right behind home plate and stretching to, well, to somewhere close to Lakeside, near City Hall. Lest we forget, we have the visitors' dugout too, which I estimate will also begin somewhere behind home plate and stretch eastward until it hits close to I-77. Heck, that might even be a new zip code. All I know is I'd hate to be the guy on the very end of the bench who realizes he has to make a quick dash to the restroom.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 9:40 AM, 05.05.2020

How sports life will be lived in the future

Unless you've been living under a rock of late (perhaps not such a bad option, come to think of it, as nobody can cough on you down there), you've no doubt heard our governor, Kentucky's governor, Timbuktu's governor, and every other state's governor talk of how things "won't be the same" when we return to life as we (sort of) knew it.

Okay, we get it: there's a change a-comin', and a hard rain's a-gonna fall, right?

Whilst we scurry for cover from disaster (either the next wave of COVID-19 or the presidential election: your choice as to what you fear more), wouldn't it be helpful if we knew what we were getting ourselves into? I mean, we have our gloves. We have our masks. We have a six-month supply of hand sanitizer and an 18-month supply of toilet paper. We are armed with a Louisville Slugger lest someone encroach upon that magical six-foot radius (and don't challenge me, bub, because I also brought a pair of recently calibrated yard sticks). Saddle us with any more protective gear to ensure our health and I boldly predict the next run on the hospitals will be for emergency hernia surgery from lugging all this stuff around.

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Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 8:59 AM, 04.21.2020

Let's play ball! (COVID-19 style)

You say they canceled your baseball season? You say they took away your American pastime of baseball, apple pie, and Cracker Jack? You say you miss it so much you don’t even recall the Dolans ever being “cheapskates?” Is that what’s troubling you, Bunky?

Well, we’re about to change all of that. We’re changing the rules just a bit to adapt them to today’s world, but you can still play ball and maybe even save your (and perhaps someone else’s) keister in the process. Here’s the deal:

You are your own team. First, make up a team name. Sure, you can go with Indians or Tribe or, yikes…Yankees, but this is your chance to be creative. How about the Vaccines, or the Social Distancers, or, if you’re feeling particularly frisky, call yourself the Charmins, and your tag line can be something like, “We’ll wipe out the opposition!” (Who knows … the trash talking might be more fun than the game.)

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 9:45 AM, 04.07.2020

Now, THIS is serious …

Okay, so I heard the NBA was canceling their season because one of their players tested positive for everyone’s new best enemy, the coronavirus.

So, the biggie here is …? The Cavs canceled a few games at the tail end of their season, and, let’s be honest: given the quality of play from the Cavs this year, wasn’t their season actually over before Christmas?

At least they didn’t take my baseball from me. After all, the Tribe opener is only a couple of weeks awa…WHAT? Say it ain’t so, MLB! No baseball until – in all likelihood – May at best? You’re telling me no Frankie? No Clev? No Beibs? Now you have my attention.

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Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 9:41 AM, 03.17.2020

A 'totally anonymous interview' with Himmy J.

WBVO: Well, sir, let me first thank you for agreeing to meet with me for a "totally anonymous interview," per your request.

HJ: You're welcome. I thought meeting in the parking lot of a Flying J truck stop would not only be discreet, but also ensure my anonymity.

WBVO: Don’t you think mentioning Flying J might tip your hand?

HJ: Quite candidly, no. It’s not like we’re saying which one we’re at, now are we? Besides, Dee said that as long as I didn’t say anything stupid, I’d be fine.

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Volume 12, Issue 5, Posted 10:00 AM, 03.03.2020

Frankie's Hall of Fame future fractures frustrated fan base

A glimpse into the future ...

July 2020

Cleveland Indians fans worldwide mourned the arrival of the day they had collectively prayed would never come. The Indians announced today that star shortstop Francisco Lindor had been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for an array of young talent which team executives hope will keep them competitive for the next decade and beyond. It appears that it had better be the case.

Although the team was only four games behind the Twins at the time of the deal, owner Paul Dolan said the Tribe had to "maximize Lindor's high market value," and that the hoopla regarding Lindor's trade rumors had become "a distraction and was impacting the clubhouse." None of the current Indians players wanted to be quoted directly about the trade, but one said off the record – and on the condition of anonymity – that the only thing that was a distraction was "the cheapskate owner." Others questioned whether the team could recover from losing a player of Frankie's caliber.

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Volume 12, Issue 4, Posted 10:03 AM, 02.18.2020

Swimming up the waterfall with Jimmy

At one time or another, I'm sure everyone's seen the video in which a toddler kicks a ball, then bends over to pick up the ball, but in doing so kicks it a few feet farther in front of him. It's hilarious for a while, but you soon wish someone would just go over and show the kid what he's doing wrong, and call it a day. Nevertheless, it goes on, presumably, until sometime in the future when the kid eventually sees the light and solves the problem.

It reminds me very much of Jimmy Haslam's ownership of the Cleveland Browns: Jimmy's the toddler in the scenario above, and the Browns are the ball. The difference? Eventually, even the toddler figures out what's going on. Jimmy? Well, let's just say he's still kickin'.

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Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 9:42 AM, 02.04.2020

What the Browns need from Santa: veteran leadership

The year was 1994. The Cleveland Indians were in the midst of the massive rebuild that would transform them from perennial losers of the '60s, '70s and '80s into one of MLB's better franchises moving forward. Owner Dick Jacobs had invested heavily in the farm system and it was beginning to pay dividends, turning out promising talent such as Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez and Charlie Nagy.

Jacobs' young GM, John Hart, added to the farm system's yield by trading shrewdly for talent such as Kenny Lofton. The team was exciting, and any serious fan who followed the team at the time knew things would soon change for the better.

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Volume 11, Issue 24, Posted 10:09 AM, 12.17.2019

The worst IN us usually brings out the worst OF us

Just as the NFL season was beginning, I joined a few of the Browns Facebook groups, because I thought we were in for a particularly fun season, and I wanted to share some of my highbrow humor with fellow fans to, you know, promote my “brand."

Man, could I have ever been this wrong before? (Before you even think about answering, my friend, be advised that this is a rhetorical question and, as such, means you may respectfully remain silent. Please.)

Anyway, the thing that really rots my socks is that Browns fans, bless ‘em, couldn’t leave well enough alone with the whole Myles Garrett fiasco. They should have accepted that fact that he was an idiot who did an idiotic thing – no, what he did was beyond idiotic – and let him serve his suspension for the rest of this year and hope he’d keep his nose clean and be reinstated for the 2020 season. That goes for Myles Garrett, too.

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Volume 11, Issue 23, Posted 10:08 AM, 12.03.2019

First the helmet came off ... followed by the wheels

I remember "Beer Night" at Cleveland Stadium. It was June of '74. Nobody was paying to watch a marginal Indians team play baseball, but the deep thinkers who ran the Tribe's promotions department figured folks just needed a little encouragement, so they came up with a 10 cent beer promotion. Unfortunately, 10 cent beer provided too much encouragement, a riot ensued, and, well, let's just say things didn't go as planned.

I remember "Bottlegate" at Browns Stadium. It was December 2001, only a couple of years after football returned to Cleveland after Uncle Artie shuffled off to Baltimore with what would become the Ravens. The Browns with a very un-Browns-like record of 6-6 were trying to make the playoffs.

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Volume 11, Issue 22, Posted 9:24 AM, 11.19.2019

What's scarier: Halloween or the Browns' season?

The recent Browns meltdown against the Patriots – a mistake-prone atrocity which none of us thought was even possible given the "advantage" of the bye week, making the results even more mind-numbing – left me searching for something good to ponder in the aftermath. Obviously, the level of play was so poor that it took me quite a while to find something to grab onto, but eventually it did bring a smile to my face – and a big smile, at that.

My daughter Leah was married 9 years ago this past August, and as her way of saying thanks to me for participating in her wedding (I should state for the record that it wasn't like my wife and I were going to pull a "no-show" or anything) Leah got tickets for her and I to attend the Browns versus Patriots match-up on Nov. 7 that same year.

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Volume 11, Issue 21, Posted 9:23 AM, 11.05.2019

The 4-1-1 on the 9-1-1

"9-1-1. State the nature of your emergency."

"Yes, I would like to report a kidnapping."

"Kidnapping? That's serious, sir. The name of the victim?"

"Actually, it's more than one person ..."

"What? Okay, then how about you tell me the names of the victims?"

"I'd like to, but actually, I can't recall all of the names."

"Listen pal, are you aware that prank calling this number is a serious crime? We have more serious things to attend to here ..."

"Oh, did someone just arrive with a box of donuts?"

"Okay wiseguy, now you are in serious troub–"

"I'm sorry, I'm just distraught about the kidnappings."

"Then give me some names, and pronto."

"Like I said, I can't recall all of them, but I do know most of ..."

"Sir, are you calling from a retirement home? Mental institution?"

"Just hear me out. I'm calling about the Cleveland Browns."

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Volume 11, Issue 20, Posted 9:20 AM, 10.15.2019

Moving forward: The Tribe's M.O.

As we put the 2019 season to bed in Tribe Town, the Indians' season appears – at first glance, anyway – to have been a disappointment: no division title, and not even a wild card for a team that's been in the playoffs the last three seasons.

And not only that, but the team's best player – Frankie Lindor – has two (count 'em, two) more years in Cleveland after this one, and after that he, without question, will be playing elsewhere. Add to that the idea that most scouts insist the Twins won't be going away any time soon, plus the White Sox and Royals have a lot of young talent which suggests they will be very competitive sooner rather than later. (Feel free to gulp and swallow hard here if necessary.)

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Volume 11, Issue 19, Posted 9:11 AM, 10.01.2019

The brews shall ever outweigh any bruise(s)

Maybe you saw the footage of the Browns fan who poured his beer on a Titans player who jumped into the stands during the Browns home opener. Or maybe you watched the video of the fan who was playing with his cell phone and stepped off the top of a van (and broke the fall with his head) while tailgating in the stadium parking lot. (The man's son later came forward to say that his father is epileptic and a seizure caused the fall, but the video had already gone viral as an example of the drunkenness of tailgaters.)

Maybe you, like myself, noted the outrage of other Browns fans aimed at the idiot who dumped his beer on the player, as well as calls for action against the powers-that-be who allow such foolishness as exemplified by the swan-diving van texter to occur at or outside of Browns games.

This just in: It doesn’t just happen at Browns games, people. It occurs regularly at all NFL football games whenever the home team’s in town. And just for the record, all the screaming in the world will not change the reality or the impact of alcohol consumption at football games.

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Volume 11, Issue 18, Posted 9:11 AM, 09.17.2019

Can the Browns make the ultimate leap? 2019 season predictions

Okay, gang, now it’s time to (why am I getting a “déjà vu” feeling suddenly?) break down the Cleveland Browns’ 2019 season. (Strange, I used the term “break down.” Perhaps – subconsciously – part of me knows something the other part doesn’t.)

Anyway, before I run out of words prematurely (you should be so lucky) let’s get to the 2019 Browns schedule, and the predicted results …

Game 1: Tennessee Titans. Remember the Titans? Emphatically, “No!” which is precisely why the Browns will clobber this nondescript collection of nobodies in the home opener, 37-17.

Game 2: at New York Jets. Remember the first-ever Monday Night Football game? Well, the Browns played the Jets because the Browns and Jets were good a half-century ago (and it only seems like it’s been that long since the last time the Browns were good). The Jets are improving, but not as much as the Browns. Simply stated, the Browns are “gooder” by a score of 31-24. Record now 2-0.

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Volume 11, Issue 17, Posted 9:49 AM, 09.04.2019

Are the Browns good enough to make the ultimate leap in 2019?

Well, I’m so excited to talk about the 2019 Browns, I can’t wait to get star–

Hang on a microsecond, there’s something I need to get off my chest before we get to my Browns predictions ...

We interrupt this column to bring you a more pressing topic (in the eyes of your columnist, anyway, but NOT so much in the eyes of this publication) …

So there I was, sitting in my easy chair, watching the Indians demolish the Yankees this past Thursday evening, accomplishing something that hadn’t happened in baseball in 113 – count ‘em, 113 years – when … oh wait, that’s not true, my TV provider no longer carries Fox Sports Ohio, who in turn, carries the Tribe games. I guess I imagined that part about “watching” the Tribe’s record-setting annihilation of the Yankees, so what you want to take from this is that I’m just a teensy-weensy bit annoyed.

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Volume 11, Issue 16, Posted 9:18 AM, 08.20.2019

A tale of two enigmas: Bauer and Salazar

Sports can be very puzzling at times – even for a deep thinker/philosopher/humble by any measure/borderline genius such as myself.

Take the case of former Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer and current (oops-he-went-and-got-hurt-again) pitcher Danny Salazar. Two immensely talented pitchers – one, who was so confident that he shunned any attempts (from professionals, by the way) at helping him perfect his craft (Bauer) and the other, so lacking in confidence (in my opinion)  that he is far more comfortable in the security (and relative anonymity) of the disabled list (Salazar) that it’s likely he’ll never realize his true potential.

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Volume 11, Issue 15, Posted 10:09 AM, 08.06.2019

The days when nicknames ruled baseball

I was having a heated discussion with a friend the other day about the merits of the 2019 Indians. He was ranting on and on about how good the Indians were, but  – now don’t get me wrong, I’m excited at the level they’ve played with all the injuries, too – I was trying to be ever-so-realistic in pointing out that the competition hasn’t exactly been “world class” the last month or so.

Not to be swayed, he continued babbling about our pitching and the “potent” Tribe offense. Seriously, when a marginal (at best) hitter like Roberto Perez goes Johnny Bench and has 16 dingers at the All-Star break, that’s great – but let’s not anoint him MVP just yet, okay?

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Volume 11, Issue 14, Posted 10:07 AM, 07.16.2019

Tito’s streak with Tribe one of team’s best

Sometimes I’m accused of being too hard on Cleveland teams. It’s either, "The Indians don’t deserve your criticism," or "The Cavs don’t deserve your criticism," or "The Browns don’t deserve your criticism." Wait. Come to think of it, I’ve never heard that last comment. Sorry, Jimmy, I got carried away.

Anyway, while listening to the Tribe games on the radio during recent seasons, Indians announcer Tom Hamilton has talked of how the Indians haven’t had a losing season since Terry “Tito” Francona has been manager, starting in the 2013 season.

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Volume 11, Issue 13, Posted 9:51 AM, 07.02.2019

The positive aspect of negativity

To the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers, it is time for me to issue a long overdue message: “Thanks, guys. I never could have made it this far without you.”

Not that I’ve actually “made” it all that far, to be honest. Then again, I do have a terrific wife, 3 great kids and 7 fantastic grandchildren. Oh, and I’m still vertical, which counts for something, no? And to what do I attribute all of this to? In truth (and don’t tell any of them – especially my wife – that I said this) I’m (to paraphrase Lou Gehrig) the “luckiest man on earth.”

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Volume 11, Issue 12, Posted 9:40 AM, 06.18.2019

The great collapse of 1969

For the last two years – and the first quarter of this season – the Indians have been trying very hard to make us forget 2016.

There is no arguing that we have been taking large steps in reverse ever since we took the Cubbies to 7 games before falling in the Fall Classic, and it got me to thinking about other times our hopes were raised, only to be dashed by a huge dose of what we shall lovingly refer to as "Indians reality."

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Volume 11, Issue 10, Posted 10:28 AM, 05.21.2019

The three faces of fan

The one thing I hate most about sports is the lack of real fan loyalty. Today's fan is mostly of the "I'll-follow-them-if-they're-good-otherwise-I'll-be-playing-video-games-in-my-basement" mentality. In other words, part of the problem is that there are a bazillion more entertainment options nowadays compared to back when I was a kid (admit it, you had to see the "back when I was a kid" lament coming, right? Not to worry, it just means you're probably an old curmudgeon yourself. If not, seek help).

Professional sports franchises themselves have helped build this monster. Free agency has resulted in the pro athlete staying in the same city for a relatively shorter duration, which erodes loyalty among fans who become enamored with particular player(s). Not to the extent that restraining orders are necessary, but you get the idea: We tend to distance ourselves from players we suspect will be leaving soon. It's sort of like when you sense that your significant other is ready to dump you; you start to think up reasons you should dump him or her first. Sort of like a preemptive strike (or strike out, as the case may be).

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Volume 11, Issue 9, Posted 2:11 PM, 05.06.2019

Sometimes it’s better to say nothing

Do you ever read an interview with a high-profile personality and catch yourself scratching your head, wondering why on earth that person felt compelled to comment at all?

Case in point: the recent comments by Indians owner Paul Dolan, particularly the one where he said the Indians “lose money almost every year” had me – as well as many Tribe fans, I imagine – rolling my eyes in disbelief.

I mean, I simply do not understand the motivation in making those comments. Were they said as means of justifying the trading of several of the Indians' higher-priced players for relative question marks?

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Volume 11, Issue 7, Posted 9:42 AM, 04.02.2019

It could never be me, so it must be you

A couple of issues back, I wrote an article expressing my anger at the Browns’ signing of running back Kareem Hunt, currently under suspension by the NFL for knocking around a 19-year-old woman. I went on to suggest that the Browns could potentially damage their image and their lofty status among Cleveland sports fans if they kept Hunt instead of releasing him.

Apparently, the Browns didn’t get the memo, because somehow interest is even greater now that they went out and acquired Odell Beckham Jr., a moody but talented wide receiver who, by all accounts, should mesh well with Baker Mayfield and make the Browns offense one of the better squads in the league.

So, I started thinking about the so-called “sports mentality” that allows us to conveniently set aside our morals, or at least our good judgment when it comes to sports. I mean, seriously, what gives with that?

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Volume 11, Issue 6, Posted 10:06 AM, 03.19.2019

Tribe slamming shut their ‘window of opportunity’

Feel a draft? No? Neither do I. The reason we don’t feel any of that warm spring air (hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?) rushing in is because the Indians have apparently decided to pull the plug on their World Series hopes (and their fans' hopes as well) for 2019.

How else can you explain their rationale behind cutting payroll before a single game has been played?

We’ve been down this road before, folks: The talk of playing in a small market and the difficulties competing in same, the need to "play the kids," as if someone will call Human Services on them and file a complaint if they don’t.

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Volume 11, Issue 5, Posted 9:55 AM, 03.05.2019

Browns' 'win at all costs' approach should cost them fans

Well, that certainly didn’t last long, did it?

I’m referring, of course, to the lavish praise with which I bathed Browns GM John Dorsey after the spectacular job he did in his year-and-a-half on the job by making nothing but brilliant moves in bringing the Browns back to respectability. I mean, I went “all in” with these guys. I even started to give Jimmy Haslam credit for not getting in Dorsey’s way.

And then this.

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Volume 11, Issue 4, Posted 9:56 AM, 02.19.2019

Jimmy: Don't get in Dorsey's way

With the Browns season only a couple of weeks removed, I have to admit to being surprised at the level of excitement I still have for our (notice how they are now "our") football team. I mean, as many of my (handful of) readers are aware, I'm a baseball guy first, football guy second.

Maybe it's the sheer novelty of an almost .500 season. I mean, think about it folks: The second half of the season, we (notice I said "we") didn't stink! Not only that, but management is so high on this group that they didn't even retain the coach who, in eight measly games, won more than his predecessor won in two-and-a-half years. What it means is that this organization may now actually have – gulp – standards! And high ones, at that! Who knew?

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Volume 11, Issue 2, Posted 10:07 AM, 01.22.2019