Sporting Views

Leading the good life ... in prison

He hasn’t played a down in a game that counts. He may not play at all this year.

Yet, we hear or read his name daily, and that is not likely going to end anytime soon.

In fact, you may hear Deshaun Watson’s name for several years regardless of whether his career as an on-the-field contributor for the Cleveland Browns lasts 10 years or 10 weeks.

Personally, I’m already sick of it, and not simply because of the charges against Watson – but that’s certainly a part of it I cannot ignore. As many of my faithful reader(s) are aware, I’m sick because Jimmy Haslam has done a real number on the Browns’ future with his handling of the whole Watson "deal", his bungling of Baker Mayfield’s trade value, and, well, Jimmy just being Jimmy.

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Volume 14, Issue 15, Posted 10:05 AM, 08.02.2022

The Art Modell HOF debate lives on, despite his passing a decade ago

I don’t know about you, but I was surprised to see that Art Modell is eligible to be on the ballot for the 2023 NFL Hall of Fame voting.

I thought that the good ship “Uncle Arty” had sailed some time ago, and I really wish it had, because every year Modell is mentioned as a possible candidate for induction into the HOF, the Art Modell hate-fest resumes, and we are reminded once again that Cleveland sports fans – and Browns fans in particular – are unfamiliar with the concept of “moving on.”

Don’t get me wrong: There are many things Modell did as owner of the Browns – in particular, during the later years of his ownership – which left me and many others scratching their heads.

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Volume 14, Issue 14, Posted 10:25 AM, 07.19.2022

What's in a name?

So, if you’ve been reading any of my recent Observer columns, not only are you in the minority, but you’ve probably also noticed that I’m rather excited by the play of the ballclub formerly known as the Indians.  

And if you’ve been following the team with any regularity, you’ve probably picked up on something else as well: there are a lot of guys on the team whose names are either vaguely – or totally – unfamiliar.

Not to worry, friend. Typically, the fans of teams that are the youngest in the majors typically suffer from the same general affliction, and I believe the medical term for this is “nameous unfamiliaritis.” 

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Volume 14, Issue 13, Posted 9:36 AM, 07.06.2022

Can history repeat itself? Don’t ask.

I knew it was only a matter of time before it would happen. Just a couple of days ago a co-worker asked me the inevitable question – the one I just knew would be asked sooner or later. You know, the one question that is always asked in sports when a team that’s not projected to be very good gets off to a surprisingly good start.

The question was, “Are these guys for real?” The “guys” in question are, of course, the Cleveland Guardians who, as of this writing, boasted an impressive 32-27 record and trailed the division-leading Minnesota Twins by only a couple of games.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 10:00 AM, 06.21.2022

The youngest team in MLB isn’t half bad

We knew going into the season that the Guardians wouldn’t be great this year. Frankly, you don’t exactly need to be a Nostradamus-type when you see that the Guardians have been in (what feels like a perpetual) salary dump the last few years.

And when you consider that the Guardians are ranked 28th in MLB salaries out of 30 teams – the two franchises below them are the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates – it's kinda depressing, especially when you realize that the franchise parted with many Dolan dollars (at least from their perspective) to keep Jose Ramirez. But before you start popping prescription sedatives like M&M’s, ask yourself one question:

“Self, what’s the big difference between the Royals, Pirates, and Guardians?”

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:07 AM, 06.07.2022

Hey … we were only joking!

It was the late 1980s, the Browns had just suffered a third heartbreaking AFC Championship game loss in four years to John Elway and the Denver Broncos, and my brother-in-law Randy and I were trying to pick up emotional pieces of our broken hearts that were strewn – coincidentally enough, in the form of adult beverage cans – across one of our living rooms.

One of us said, “We’re never going to get to the Super Bowl, are we?”

Although this clearly had to be one of the ultimate rhetorical questions in the history of sports – at least in Cleveland – the other deep thinker in the room nodded without hesitation, and replied, “Nope.”

It’s hard to believe that this profound in-depth conversation took place almost 35 years ago. It’s no longer hard to believe that we actually knew what we were talking about.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 9:48 AM, 05.17.2022

Hangin’ with Mr. H

It’s not every day you get to rub elbows with royalty, especially when that royalty also happens to own your city’s football team. Who would have thought that by stopping for gas at a Flying J Travel Plaza would lead to an in-depth, sit-down conversation with the owner of one of football’s most storied franchises?

I mean, I was merely browsing through the clothing, as there seemed to be a pretty good selection of football jerseys – in particular some significant markdowns on jerseys that bore the name “Manziel” – and as I was checking the sizes, a voice behind me said. “Yeah, not one of my better moves.”

I turned around and found myself face-to-face with a man who looked to be in his late 60s and nattily attired in a brown and orange blazer with “Da Boss” stitched across the left pocket of the jacket.

As I was about to respond to the man, a woman appeared from another aisle. She was in a fancy brown and orange sweater which bore stitching like that on the man’s blazer, except hers read, “Dee Boss.” 

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 10:30 AM, 05.03.2022

Does the Ramirez extension signal an about-face in Dolanomics?

So where were you the day the Guardians announced the contract extension for Jose Ramirez? On a quest to locate the Loch Ness Monster? Tracking Bigfoot? Working on the next iteration of the Hula Hoop?

I ask because people tend to remember where and what they were doing when something of great historical significance occurs, and the idea of the Guardians owners parting with many millions of dollars that isn’t Monopoly money definitely qualifies.

I was at work, and several coworkers – who know all about my feelings regarding the Dolans and their Great Depression approach to spending on player salaries – told me that the Dolans had parted with big bucks (at least as is relative to the Cleveland Guardians) to extend the contract of Jose Ramirez.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 9:26 AM, 04.19.2022

How can you call Deshaun a criminal? Elementary, my dear Watson…

It was only a few years ago I criticized Jimmy Haslam for signing Kareem Hunt, a local kid who gained (well deserved) notoriety for becoming a star running back with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Unfortunately, Hunt later gained additional (again, well deserved) notoriety by going Will Smith on his girlfriend in a hotel elevator in Cleveland in February of 2018. Keep in mind, he was a member of the Chiefs at the time, so that makes it not so bad, right? I mean, Cleveland Browns don’t do that sort of thing, do they?

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 10:52 AM, 04.05.2022

'Cheer, here! Get your ice-cold cheer, here!'

After 99 days of the MLB lockout, comprised mostly of name-calling, subtle insults, and flat-out disrespect aimed at each other, the MLB owners and the MLB Players Association have kissed, made-up, and come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement. Okay, whatever, guys.

It’s like all the bad vibes disappeared when each side realized how much money each side was losing by acting like idiots in the media (and probably even bigger idiots behind closed doors).

Well, whoop-dee-flipping-doo.

I have a news flash, gents: Maybe the bad vibes have disappeared for the present between you guys (yet we all understand will quickly reappear when the present collective bargaining agreement expires), but I have a feeling that you may be overlooking (as you always do) one other area in which the bad vibes are still festering:

Your (shrinking) fan base.

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Volume 14, Issue 6, Posted 10:37 AM, 03.15.2022

Bengals’ rapid rise to greatness: just plain wrong

It was only a scant six months ago that Ohio writers were calling them a “juggernaut,” or “a dominant force for the next five or six years,” or the “team of the twenties.” Personally, I like the last one. Kinda just rolls off the tongue, much like the saliva of a rabid rottweiler, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, it was the Browns everyone was writing about. That’s the worst thing about the Bengals meteoric ascension to greatness: it was supposed to be our turn, remember? What the heck happened on our cakewalk to the Super Bowl? Super Bowl? Geez, now we’re not even the best pro football team in the stinkin’ state of Ohio.

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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 9:55 AM, 02.15.2022

Players/owners widen MLB strike zone

I remember the very first work stoppage in Major League Baseball history, during the spring of 1972. If I’m not mistaken, that means we are a few weeks shy of the golden anniversary of the first one. So, by all means, break open the champagne. Or better still, maestro, “strike” up the band.

Seriously, what better way to take away all the global concern over COVID and other worries in the world than with another baseball strike? As I always say, “strike” while the iron is hot.

The first one, believe it or not, in ’72 wasn’t that much of a downer, at least for me, anyway. Since there hadn’t been a strike ever in the history of baseball, I looked at it more with mild curiosity than disdain.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:12 AM, 02.01.2022

Have Browns 'peaked' under Haslam?

Up until a few years ago, there was always one constant upon which we could depend when talking football in Cleveland: The Browns were hideous. And I don’t mean just plain old everyday hideous. I mean money-in-the-bank hideous. Hideous to the point of being comical.

The primary reason they’ve been the train wreck they’ve been is, without question, the ownership. For the greater part of the last quarter-century, the primary owners have been Randy “I’d rather watch my soccer team” Lerner and now Jimmy Haslam.

Randy Lerner was pretty much an imbecile running the Browns, but at least he had an excuse in that he never wanted to run the Browns. Randy merely inherited the task when his father, Al, passed. Randy spent a lot of time and money trying to make the Browns competitive, but with little success.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 10:06 AM, 01.18.2022

Happy new(?) year

I don’t know about you, but I’m sure happy 2021 is now in the rearview mirror.

I mean, now that we have that COVID-19 thing under control, at least we don’t have to worry about our health anymore.

What’s that? You say that overall, we’re worse off than we were a year ago?

I’ll have to check on that, but with all the excitement surrounding the Browns’ playoff run and all, I haven’t had time to worry about a trip to the emergency room. I mean, come on, man, we’re talking about the playoffs … the Super Bowl, for Pete’s sake!

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 9:58 AM, 01.04.2022

Covid: When making a list – and checking it twice – doesn’t really matter

So, where are we now with this COVID thing, something like two years and counting? And, if we’re not there yet, we’re close, so we won’t quibble about the overall time invested. I think we all can agree that it feels much longer than it’s actually been.

Thanks to COVID, it’s been a wild ride for the NFL of late, and sports in general the last couple of years. While any similarities in income most certainly wouldn’t apply to most folks, the recent dip in the overall general health in the NFL is an accurate microcosm of that impacting the overall population with regard to COVID. The last I heard, Cuyahoga County was near the top in cases per capita for all of Ohio. (And if that doesn’t make your chest swell with hometown pride, then I really don’t know what will.)

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Volume 13, Issue 24, Posted 9:47 AM, 12.21.2021

'Cleveland Got Run Over by Some Bad Luck'

So how about we all join hands and sing a Cleveland version of that sentimental old Christmas Classic, "Cleveland Got Run Over by Some Bad Luck" with apologies to Elmo 'n' Patsy for basing my song on their hit, "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer."

(And I would venture to guess this is the first time anyone has apologized to them).

And a one, and a two, and a...

Cleveland got run over by some bad luck
The likes of which we find hard to believe
You can say that you don’t mind our record
But most of us in Cleveland would like to heave

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Volume 13, Issue 23, Posted 10:31 AM, 12.07.2021

There is plenty to be thankful for

With Covid dominating the lives of many for the better part of the last two years, it can be difficult for us to be thankful now that Thanksgiving 2021 is here. But we do have some bright spots:

In sports, we finally have a football team worth talking about, after decades – yes, I said decades of horrid football.

Think about that: someone born right around the time Art Modell shuffled the Browns off to Baltimore – and then reincarnated them as the Ravens – would not have seen any stretch of decent NFL football unless they decided to root for another team. A solid quarter of a century of consistently putrid football is tough to do, but the Browns answered the call.

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Volume 13, Issue 22, Posted 10:15 AM, 11.16.2021

Oops! The Dolans let their Guard(ians) down

It was something like 3 months ago that the (then) Cleveland Indians shocked the baseball world (not to mention a certain roller derby team) when they announced they were renaming the baseball team the “Guardians.” I didn’t like the name when it was announced.

But now that I’ve had time to think about it, well, I like it even less. The Dolan party line was that the poster boy for the logo (yes, I am, of course, referring to Mr. Stoneface himself, the guardian – get it? – perched with his pals on the Hope Memorial Bridge) brought some imaginary illusion of grandeur and class to the baseball team.

I didn’t buy the implication that the team was regarded as a bunch of hobos running around the diamond, because that’s exactly how the team tried to sell the name change – by making the name appear much more dignified than anyone cared. It was like they were trying to overcompensate for the use of “Indians.”

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Volume 13, Issue 21, Posted 10:23 AM, 11.02.2021

Browns: Don't look back; they may be gaining on you

As of this writing, the Browns have completed 29.4% of their season, so you know what that means, right?

Outside of my liking to do simple math, it means nothing, really.

All kidding aside, it’s time we looked at some of the concerns I have with the Browns after the first five games of the season (because this was written before they played game 6), in order of importance:

1. Defense (?): Alas, there was none. In the game against the Chargers, I’m not sure what Kevin Stefanski trotted out in the second half against L.A., but it was not an NFL defense. Until game 5, I had never witnessed a second-year quarterback do a “hot-knife-through-warm-butter” beat-down like the one that Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert laid on the Browns.

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Volume 13, Issue 20, Posted 10:12 AM, 10.19.2021

Like son, like father

Anyone who reads me with any regularity is probably all too familiar with my rants about how the Dolans appear to be happy with mediocre baseball – if the Indians draw enough fans to make whatever the Dolans consider being an adequate profit.

I have given ownership credit on several occasions for putting together one of the best front offices in all of baseball. Year in and year out, the guys who make the player personnel decisions have kept the Tribe competitive with an ever-shrinking budget.

This year, in spite of the two best starters on the team out for extended periods, the Indians remained competitive, revealing some outstanding young pitching that suggests that the Indians/Guardians could be a team to be reckoned with as early as next season.

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Volume 13, Issue 19, Posted 9:57 AM, 10.05.2021

Dream a little dream with me (and the Browns)

It’s that time again, folks.

“And exactly what time is that?” you query, in an impatient and clearly accusatory tone. (Obviously, you’ve read previous columns of mine. And BTW – you’re welcome.)

It’s the time of year when I boldly predict the Browns’ final record after they finish up against the Bengals on Jan. 9. (I’ll also make another prediction: If you’re going to that game, dress warmly, as it will be cold.)

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Volume 13, Issue 17, Posted 10:44 AM, 09.08.2021

Tribe incomplete-o moving forward sans Tito

As we try to shake off the memory of that recent 17-0 thrashing at the hands of the Oakland A’s – capping a humiliating 3-game sweep under the guidance of acting manager DeMarlo Hale – it got me to thinking about the future of the Indians/Guardians without Terry Francona as manager. And it’s not a pretty picture. 

For those of you who may not have received the memo, the Indians manager stepped down recently due to health issues. After lengthy absences in 2019, 2020, and now this year, it’s difficult to envision a happy ending to Francona’s managing career. He’s only 62 (which looks quite young from where I’m sitting), but his issues are serious.

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Volume 13, Issue 16, Posted 10:10 AM, 08.17.2021

'Stand Guard' more like 'Caught Off Guard'

So, now that we’ve gotten that whole new Indians name thing out of the way, I only have one question:

What?

The Guardians. Much like a Tristan McKenzie curveball that didn’t, I did not see that one coming. Now, I will be the first to admit that I would have been a tough sell on just about any name after 60-some-odd years of Chief Wahoo and the “Tribe,” but I have to say I am still a bit miffed at the name choice.

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Volume 13, Issue 15, Posted 9:55 AM, 08.03.2021

A little bit of optimism is good for the soul

You know, I was thinking about sports – specifically, Cleveland sports – the other day and it occurred to me that the general malaise which has enveloped my expectations for the Browns, Indians, and Cavs (with some notable exceptions) over my lifetime has – much to my surprise – spilled over to other things in my life, and frankly, it’s more than a little disturbing.

Take the Indians (please). I mean, I was really on the bandwagon when they were something like 10 games over .500 and then they did their Hindenburg imitation and went poof right before the All-Star game.

I mean, I was all grins and giggles even when the weather was lousy, because I was like, “Hey, man, cheer up, because the Tribe is on a roll.”

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Volume 13, Issue 14, Posted 10:24 AM, 07.20.2021

It is time to give the Cleveland Baseball team their due (reluctantly)

I was watching the local major league baseball team a few days ago – at least I thought I was but wasn’t entirely sure until I saw Jose Ramirez – and it occurred to me how far off I was with my gloom and doom prediction for this baseball season.

To be sure, they have had so many debilitating injuries this year with an already shaky roster, that the wheels indeed may soon come off this year’s baseball party bus, but all the same, it will be difficult to fault the organization for that.

I was thinking about last year’s opening day lineup, and I recall not being especially enamored with that group, but when compared to this year’s collection of questionable talent, last year’s talent level approached the ’95 Tribe.

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Volume 13, Issue 13, Posted 10:32 AM, 07.06.2021

Cleveland Indians (there, I said it) are a conundrum

So, here’s the deal: The local professional baseball team, soon to be formerly known as the Cleveland Indians, has succeeded in confusing the bejeebers out of me.

You’re familiar with the old idiom, “Caught between a rock and a hard place,” right? That’s where I am right now with our beloved – soon to never again be referred to as – our Tribe.

After a lifetime of living and dying on every pitch and every out of every game I could catch in person, on the tube, or on the radio, I doubt I could ever turn my back on them completely. Just the same …

The methodology of the current ownership is testing my loyalty – big time.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 10:01 AM, 06.15.2021

The 1971 Tribe in a word: Unbelievable

You know, it seems like only yesterday the Cleveland Indians were getting ready for the 1971 season. Okay, that statement is obviously a stretch. It really feels more like the day before yesterday.

There was a lot going on in my life at the time. I graduated high school, although I’m sure there were many in the school system who took issue with the wisdom of setting me loose in society. Then again, not pushing me through meant having me around for another school year, which had to be terrifying (especially for the English Dept.). I was like the Freddie Kitchens of academics.

Regardless, after I was given my own walking papers in the form of a diploma, I’m pretty sure the school system completely re-designed their evaluation process. In an ironic twist, it pretty much mirrors what the Indians organization did during the 1971 season.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 10:18 AM, 06.02.2021

LeBron’s 'outburst' not surprising

You probably heard about LeBron James’ now famous “You’re next” tweet from a couple of weeks ago. If you haven’t heard, it’s pretty clear you’ve been living under a rock or something (and I’m surprised I didn’t run into you down there).

For those of you not as media-savvy as the rest of us, it went something like this: Columbus, Ohio, police shot and killed a 16-year-old Black girl who was thought to be attacking other people with a knife.

Keeping in mind that this happened shortly after the Minnesota cop was convicted of murdering George Floyd, James sparked considerable outrage when he posted the photo of the Columbus cop who shot the 16-year-old with the caption of “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY” which also included an hourglass emoji, presumably implying that the “clock was ticking” on the Columbus cop getting the same fate as the guy who killed George Floyd.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:11 AM, 05.18.2021

The long ball in a long season

As I watched Franmil Reyes hit two monster shots against the Twins on April 27, shortly after the Tribe had been brutalized in 3 of 4 against the Yankees, it got me thinking about the home run and the psychological impact the “long bombs” have on the game – including its participants.

From a fan’s perspective – let’s use me as an example – I was pretty down after that Yankee series. Not only because we lost (although that was certainly a contributor), but the way we lost. It felt to me as if for about 90% of that series, we didn’t deserve to even be on the same field as New York, and for me, that’s a bitter pill to swallow.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 10:02 AM, 05.04.2021

Send in the Clown(ey)s

If you listen to the reaction of some folks around town ever since the Browns signed star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year contract, then we might as well skip the regular season, along with two or three playoff games, and plant them firmly in the Super Bowl.

Now, I get the excitement and all, but wasn’t it just a couple of years ago we were getting all teary-eyed and emotional about the signing of Odell Beckham Jr.?

Remember, we were going to have the greatest offense in the history of the NFL. We were going to score 50 points a game, and that would only happen when our offense wasn’t in sync. Heck, on good days, we’d probably put up 60 or 70.

What in the name of Braylon Edwards happened?

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:39 AM, 04.20.2021

Tribe 2021: It’s not in the cards

“Hi pal, what can I do for you?”

“Your sign outside says you buy, trade, and sell baseball cards.”

“That’s correct, friend. What cards are you looking for?”

“Well, I really want a Francisco Lindor card and …”

“I have to be honest with you, big guy. You’re buying Lindor cards when the guy is at his absolute peak. It will take quite a bit to pry a Lindor card out of my hands. He’s a sound investment.”

“Yeah, tell that to the Dolans.”

“Who?”

“The Dolans: Larry and Paul. They own the Indians.”

“Oh yeah, I remember now. They are the reason I stopped following the Indians – what’s it been – years ago?”

“Yeah, that’s about right. Feels longer, though.”

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 10:36 AM, 04.06.2021

This team was Michael Stanley's team

I never considered the notion that one column after writing about the death of a local radio personality, Les Levine, I’d be writing a similar column about Michael Stanley.

But here we go again, ironically, navigating a similar path for a local rock hero/disc jockey. It’s particularly ironic for me, personally, because – as was the case with Levine – I wasn’t much of a fan of Michael Stanley either (at least the on-stage version).

In Cleveland, Stanley’s reputation was more legend than substance, probably because he arrived on the rock scene at the tail end of the rock explosion of the ‘60s and ‘70s, in which a stretch of incredible rock talent made it difficult for the “merely good” talent to make much of an impact. And, make no mistake about it, Stanley’s gig as the afternoon talk show host on classic rock station WNCX didn’t hurt his visibility throughout the city, and undoubtedly contributed to the growth of the Michael Stanley “legend” over the years. As a result, I found him much more entertaining as a radio jock than a musician.

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Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 10:27 AM, 03.16.2021

They talked the talk

The recent passing of local sports talk legend Les Levine got me thinking about many of the area sports talkers I’ve listened to, from the early ‘60s all the way through today. (Yes, folks, if you do the math, that’s 60 years of listening to others talk sports).

Ironically, I never caught Les Levine that often. It wasn’t an intentional omission, but it always seemed his show would air while I was unable to listen, like during Indians, Cavs and Browns games, or he was up against a show I already had taken a liking to, or I was at work.

I thought I’d make a list of those whom I remember the best, and why I ranked them in the order I did …

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Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 9:46 AM, 03.02.2021

Dolans’ possible sale of Tribe is rife with serious consequences

I don’t know about you, but I'm getting pretty tired of the “Larry and Paul Show” (otherwise known as “How to ruin a good thing in an effort to make a buck”). You know the drill: 1. Acquire baseball talent via the draft or trade; 2: develop said talent into quality baseball player(s); 3. claim you are losing money and trade talent to (see step 1). Lather – rinse – repeat.

Kinda like a gerbil on a spinning wheel, right? Except the problem is, we – the fans – are the gerbilious yo-yo’s on the Dolans’ spinning wheel (of fortune). “Losing money”? Get serious, now. These guys are in their third decade of “losing money” as owners of the Cleveland Indians. Do you honestly think they’d stick around for that long if they were really in the red all those years? Think about it: the only money actually being “lost” is ours!

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:09 AM, 02.02.2021

Browns and Indians stories inversely related to a quarter-century ago

Wow. Who woulda thunk it? The Browns playing football more than halfway into January … and meaningful football, at that. With Covid and all, the timing really couldn’t have been much better for the city. The holidays were in the rearview mirror, the Cavaliers were capturing the imaginations of, well, no one, and more than a month until Indians spring training, we needed something to get us through these cold winter nights, right?

With Baker Mayfield looking like the real deal, the best running game in the NFL, and a defense that – well, okay, as Meatloaf once sang, “Two out of three ain’t bad” – the Browns are actually fun to watch.

It did get me to thinking, though (which in my case, is always dangerous) about the situation in Cleveland in the mid-’90s, just over a quarter-century ago, when Art Modell announced on Nov. 6, 1995, that the Browns were indeed moving to Baltimore.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 9:58 AM, 01.19.2021

'The night before playoffs'

‘Twas the night before playoffs, and throughout Jimmy’s house, not a person was stirring, not even his spouse. A space had been cleared on the mantel with care, in hopes that a Super Bowl trophy soon would reside there. The executives were nervous all; (most likely on prescription meds), knowing an early playoff exit would likely be akin to “Off with their heads!” With Dee in her kerchief, and Jimmy in his cap, one could not help but wonder if this was some sort of trap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, Jimmy sprung from his La-Z-Boy to see what ‘twas the matter. But soon, in his haste to ID the noise in the snow, he tripped over Dee and down the stairs he did go. When, what to his tear-filled eyes should appear, but Baker in the doorway, doing Jello shots and beer. Overcome by the sight, Jimmy again nearly fell, but gasped a sigh of relief, for no, ‘twasn’t Baker, ‘twas Johnny Manziel!

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Volume 12, Issue 24, Posted 9:52 AM, 12.15.2020

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