Friday, December 28, 2007

How to Rebuild the Cavs

by Ryan Plungas


The Browns have taken the playoffs out of their hands and put it in Tony Dungy's. The Indians (on paper) have been overtaken by the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central while GM Mark Shapiro sits on his hands and can't pull the trigger on that Dan Haren deal that would have helped nullify the Tigers offensive juggernaut. I get angry thinking about it...Adam Miller is destined for Tommy John any day now, tell me they weren't just asking for Miller, Aaron Laffey, and Ben Francisco. Tell me, please.

And the Cavs are maddenly inconsistent, with a team that obviously overachieved last year thanks to the best overall player in the NBA, LBJ. This team, as it stands now, cannot seriously compete for a championship. Some may argue with me about that, that's fine, but the fire is not there this season. And we're stuck in slary cap hell, until certain contracts come off the books after the 2008-2009 season. The main culprit is Larry Hughes' ridiculous contract which doesn't expire until after 2010 season, same year LBJ can bolt. We have no serious trade assets to get J-Kidd or Kobe (not that he'd fit here), or any other superstar that wants out. But we're stuck in purgatory, and need to find some light before 2010 wjen LeBron can look elsewhere.

My way to rebuild the Cavs....

These two moves.

The first is a way to shed Larry Hughes' contract, and at this point I want NOTHING in return.

Honestly, just to shed his ludicrous deal off the cap is enough. That's all I'm asking. So here's deal #1:

http://games.espn.go.com/nba/features/traderesult?players=3194~1718~739~356&teams=5~5~5~18&te=&cash=

Probably ask New York to throw in a 2nd rounder, too (Hell, maybe even ask Isiah for a unprotected 1st, it can't hurt and who knows what he'll say. There's a 55/45% chance that this could hapen). Again, asking for basically cap relief in return. Malik Rose's $7.5 mill comes off the books after next season (2008-09). And we'll clear the extra 3 mill off the cap with inheriting Fred Jones' contract after this year (very important based off the fact we would be trading way that cap space when we deal away Ira Newble's expiring contract in the next deal I'll suggest, so we'll basically be recouping that money). Wilson Chandler is a former 2007 1st round pick (#21, I believe) that is young, cheap player who may or may not turn into something. Basically the same as Cedric Simmons is to us, but at the 3 position. And relatively cheap.

This first deal improves us Long-term to build around LeBron before he bolts for Free Agency (essentially we'd be shooting for huge cap room for the 2009 offseason, a year before LeBron can bolt), by reducing our cap number for the next few seasons, and getting out of Hughes contract a year early (Rose's $7+ mill expires after 2009, Hughes' $13+ mill wouldn't be till 2010, the rest will be shed after this season with Fred Jones' expiring deal). Hughes is contributing next to nothing on the court, so it's enough for me if we can just shed his contract for next to nothing in return.

This second deal can improve us right now, possibly helping us win this season (by "win", I mean advancing to the 2nd round with an outside shot at the Eastern Conference Finals if things fall our way). It's not the blockbuster that will give us our #2 that my colleagues crave (and as I've said before, we're not getting that guy until we get cap room in 2009 offseason or maybe at the trade deadline in Feb. 2009 season when all those expiring contracts will be valuable assets), but its' a solid deal. It's actually been a strong rumor for quite some time, being reported by the great Brian Windhorst as a potential deal as the trade deadline approaches and Philly falls out of contention (surprisingly, they're still in contention).

Here's Deal #2:

http://games.espn.go.com/nba/features/traderesult?players=1828~557~2992~1711~406~601&teams=5~5~20~20~20~20&te=&cash=

Eh, how about that?

So here is where we would stand after these deals. Hypothetically, after the Feb 21st deadline this year (at the latest), here would be our rotation:
SF LeBron
PF Reggie Evans
C Ilgauskas
SG Sasha
PG Andre Miller

Bench:
SG/PG Boobie Gibson
PF/C Andy
PF Donyelle Marshall
G/F Devin Brown
SG Fred Jones
PG Eric Snow
PF Malik Rose

Inactive:
C Dwayne Jones
PF/C Cedric Simmons
SF Wilson Chandler

Competitive enough, and most definitely better than what we put out there now. But, and most importantly, we are set-up Long-term to really make some moves. With these deals in place, here would be our cap situation year-by-year:

Expiring deals after this season (2007-2008):
Fred Jones (3.3 million)
Devin Brown (1.2 million)
Dwayne Jones (770,000)
Boobie Gibson (687,500) **(Restricted)**

Total Cap Space cleared: $5.96 million

Most of that cap space will be attributed to the deal they'll have to give Boobie. But they'll also have their full mid-level exception (usually around 5.5 mill) to go after another Free Agent if they wish. I would save that to retain cap flexibility for the next offseason, which will be huge. Probably not a ton of action on the Free Agent front after this season, other than Boobie. But some major trades are a possibility, with the upcoming expiring deals after 2009. Speaking of...

Expiring deals after next season (2008-2009):
Andre Miller (10 million)
Malik Rose (7.5 million)
Eric Snow (7 million)
Donyelle Marshall (5.8 million)
Andy Varejao (5.7 million)
Sasha Pavlovic (4.4 million)
Cedric Simmons (1.8 million)
Wilson Chandler (1.1 million)

Total Cap Space cleared: $43.3 million

Yes. You read that right. 43.3 million of cap space would be coming off the books after next season. Take into consideration that a max player takes around 15 million (give or take) on the front end of a 6 or 7 year deal, that could be 2 MAX players plus another 13 million to sign other Free Agents. Not to mention that ALL these players, ESPECIALLY Snow/Marshall/Rose's of the world, can be MAJOR trade assets at Feb. 20th, 2009 aka next year's trade deadline. The Snow/Marshall/Rose triumphant is basically 20 million of free cap space shed for a team looking to clear money to go into the offseason to spend on the most coveted group of Free Agents possibly EVER assembled. I've mentioned this list before, but here goes again:

http://www.realgm.com/src_freeagents/2009/

Elton Brand, Shawn Marion, Kobe, Gilbert Arenas, Baron Davis, Al Harrington, Rasheed Wallace, AI, Danny Granger, Artest, Corey Magette & J-Kidd. Not to mention guys from the 04 draft who rejected extensions and can become Unrestricted Free Agents in summer of 09: Josh Smith, Andre Iguodola, Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, and Luol Deng.

True, we will attempt to resign at least one of our own...probably Andy, if he's not still asking for 8-10 million per. Maybe if Sasha comes on stronger by the end of 08-09 we sign him to an economical deal. Maybe even Andre Miller (I wouldn't). But these guys will take up a blip on the radar for our cap room. And true, since we're nearly 20 mill over the cap this year, the $43 million may not be exact (also consider that the salary cap is not set yet for the 2009 offseason, but will most likely be raised...which is a good thing)

The Free Agent market is great that summer. In that season, we can lure some team falling out of contention looking to unload a legit superstar in return for major cap space, ala like a Garnett or AI deal that recently took place.

Expiring deals after 2 years (2009-2010):
LeBron James (about 14 million)
Zydrunas Ilgauskas (about 12 million)

Total cap space cleared: $26 million

Will probably want to resign LeBron. We'll see if he's worth a max contract. Let Z walk, he'll be on one foot and will be 35. In fact, we'll probably use him as a trade asset the previous trade deadline (2/20/09) as another expiring deal.

So imagine, if we get a new coach OR Mike Brown morphs into a good coach (i.e. gets an offensive coordinator), and we decide to play more up-tempo considering we have the best open court weapon in the NBA (**ahem** sound familiar? The Browns and CHUD coming in...basically Mike Brown is the NBA equivalent of Romeo Crennel). What about this roster going into the 09-10 season:

PF/C Elton Brand (Max deal, or traded for and signed to an extension, he'll be 30 and still near prime)
PF Josh Smith (Near Max deal...although hsi attitude scares me)
SF LeBron James (Last year of deal)
SG Boobie Gibson (Resigned for like 4 year/22 mill after 07-08 season)
PG J-Kidd (signs for 1 year mid-level, to play with LeBron and win title...not ludicrous)

PF Andy Varejao (signs a 5 year/40 million after 08-09 season...it's frontloaded starting at 6 million in first year to save cap space for us)
C Zydrunas (still on roster, but limited minutes...trade bait)
SG/SF James Jones (leading league in 3pt% right now, will be a Free Agent after 08-09...if not too expensive, a perfect fit)
SG Anthony Parker (shooter from Toronto, another solid role player...Free Agent pick-up for veterans minimum--he'll be 34, but currently shooting over 50% from 3 pt, should regress a bit by then but still have value)
PF Reggie Evans (still under contract)
2007 1st rounder
2008 1st rounder
3 other minimum Free Agent pickups/roster spots.

Josh Smith is a bit of a risk. I'll admit that, but the talent is there and he's OK right now in ATLANTA! I mean 17 pts, 8 boards, and 3 blocked shots per game! From an uber-athletic 6'9 PF who will be 23 when he hits Free Agency. If not Smith, then Marion or Iguodola, maybe Arenas. You get the point. The money will be there if we make these deals.

Alright, I'm done.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

TURKEY BOWL 2008


Whoaaa Nellie...its that time of the year once again...For all of you who don't know, my birthday was in September and there was only 1 thing on my list...and guess what, I was lucky enough to get it....Lets just say, its safe to say you know what I have been doing on my lunch breaks, after work, and 3 hours a day on the weekends....
After missing last years Main Event, I have bulked up to my ideal playing weight that will enable me to be an anchor at LT and a gap stopper going both ways at DT. Unfortunately, this may prohibit me from flanking out at TE and catching my usual 6 passes for 73 yards and TD that ALWAYS goes quietly unnoticed. I think once I get a hold on the line, I will move over to my natural TE spot and block down and then escape into the flats where my big sticky paws will give me some more touches. I forsee this being an absolute battle. I'm beginning to get to the point where I dread walking up the 12 stairs to my apt. after work and find myself praying that I can snap the button on the Levis every time I put them on. Its safe to say by best days are behind me, but that does not mean my heart is gone. Nothing can take away the passion that a man who has 1 day of of competition a year has when he digs deep into the trenches. Its going to be cold, dark, snowy, wet, and muddy but I can't wait to throw on the '01 LCHS practice jersey, put on my long johns, and go to war....I'M A SOLDIER.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Not About the Cavs

by Ryan Plungas

Since most of the national pundits seem to be telling us we should be dreading this upcoming Cavs season (I'm looking at you Bill Simmons...not even making the playoffs? In the East? You know we still have LeBron, right?), I will not be discussing that "horrible" team any time soon.


However, something very interesting came out today. Curt Schilling, on his blog, stated the teams that he would view as possible destinations as a Free Agent. The 1st team mentioned on the list? Yup, the Cleveland Indians.

At first I was like, "Nah, no need for him. He's gonna be too expensive, and not what he used to be." But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. He's basically like a "rich man's Paul Byrd" (without the HGH) at this point in his career. Will cost a lot more than Byrd, but just imagine his clutch performances in the postseason…it's worth it.

You can slot Schill in as our #4 starter, for chrissakes. How solid would that be? I'd imagine he'd cost us 9-10 million a year, so sign him to a 2-yr deal with a Club Option for a 3rd. Would he do that (2 yrs/20 mill)? We decline Byrd's option, trade away Lee, and that will save us around 6 million, so really its 4 Million that we'd be extending to Schill. Dolan said that when we show we can contend, and the fans come out, he'll open up his checkbook. Let's walk the walk, Mr. Dolan.

Not only would Schill be a better option on the field but he's so outspoken as a clubhouse leader, that he would be comparable to the type of influence that Byrdie was. Schill, to me, is one of those guys that you hate when he's on the opposition but absolutely love if he's on your team. There's no denying the media impact he'll have, notably in the national spotlight…this guy could single-handedly get us the respect and attention we've been looking for from ESPN & FOX. You know FOX would just love to talk about Curt Schilling & the Cleveland Indians next year in October. ESPECIALLY if we're playing the Red Sox, or even the Yanks. Ok, only if we're playing the Red Sox or the Yanks. But I could see them making parrallels to Schilling helping break the Red Sox curse, and now breaking the 60-year "Curse of Rocky Colavito". Schilling would revel in the spotlight.

Just imagine this starting rotation:
CC Sabathia
Fausto Carmona
Jake Westbrook
Curt Schilling
Jeremy Sowers/Adam Miller/Aaron Laffey

Shorten that up in the postseason to the top 4, and that's a better rotation than this year's version. Add to that the calming effect & postseason experience/confidence that Schill could attempt to instill in CC & Fausto, and that'd be worth the 10 mill right there.

What about a Schilling injury? Isn't that inevitable? Sure. Probably would happen in late-May and be out till late-July. That would be great, because in that time we'd finally call up Adam Miller to see what he's got, and then hopefully help groom him for a long-relief role for the playoffs ala Jon Lester & Phil Hughes thsi past October.

What do you guys think about Schilling?

The other move I'd make is that deal for Jason Bay. Preferably I'd like to trade a Cliff Lee (no way Pirates are doing that deal) or Jeremy Sowers (possible, but not sure I'd give up on him quite yet) plus a position player like Ben Francisco. I'd also like to shift Jhonny Peralta to 3rd, use Casey as the ultimate utility guy, move Drubby to SS, and give Barfield a chance at 2B. But that makes waaaay too much sense. So, the answer may be to package Jhonny in that deal for Bay. Jhonny & a middle tier pitching prospect (David Huff?) for Jason Bay? Is Jhonny & Ben Francisco too much for Bay?

We also need to sign a middle to late-inning relief guy. Octavio Dotel comes to mind.

Monday, October 29, 2007

An American in Paris...err...London

********************************************Disclaimer*******************************************
What follows is an absolute cornucopia of ignorance and non tolerance, the writer is a well known idiot in many circles throughout the midwest. Please read with caution if you choose to proceed.


"What the fuck? The NFL in London, England? You have to be fucking kidding me" This is a direct quote taken from myself last week when I realized that the event was finally going to happen over the weekend. First off, let me say...this absolutely sickens me. It is a slippery slope here my friends, and it is all part of the good commissioners plan to make the NFL a global commodity. Teams from everywhere and games everywhere. Give me a Goddamn break.

First off let's start with England. They were and are a great ally to this country as far as wars go, and we thank them by backing their global campaigns as well. However, this is AMERICAN football, a sport that is surely the second if not becoming are preeminent national pastime. Especially in England where the game of cricket (yes thats right cricket) is a favorite of locals, they drink tea and eat crumpets, they gave us: Simon Cowell (who may have been one of the worst dictators in the history of the world if he had been born in any of the previous centuries), the Spice Girls, and of course David Beckham...who they conveniently dumped on the U.S. David Beckham is damaged goods and yet I am forced to see this wash up on adidas commercials almost daily.

In England, the most revered sport is their football which of course in this country is referred to as soccer. Watching soccer is like a mixture of watching the grass grow and your Uncle Ned tell his favorite stories of boyhood while growing up on the banks of the Mississippi River. In this country, soccer is played until you are about the age of 7 or 8. At that point you realize one of two things: (1) you are ready to commit yourself to a life of heterosexuality or (2) other sports exist. I'll admit it, I played roughly 4 glorious years of soccer and then an amazing thing happened...I discovered football and basketball...two sports grinded out in American playgrounds all over. Ask yourself, when was the last time you witnessed children playing a pick up game of soccer. I am not willing to share one of my favorite sports with a country who will label it as a second form of football. If any of you are willing to do so...I ask that you promptly renounce your citizenship and seek refuge in another country.

Now, to the slippery slope argument. No sport is seriously considering giving Vegas a team, and there are many other deserving American cities that could use an NFL team before we go abroad. First London...then what. How about Tijuana, Mexico...so when I go to visit I can bang a hooker, catch a donkey show, do some blow thats been cut roughly between 13-14 times, and then maybe catch my beloved Browns take on the Tijuana Banditos...and if we win, maybe leave the stadium with a butterfly knife sticking out of my throat. Or maybe we can go even further abroad. How about trading for that wonderful receiver El Hami Ramel Ketal Khaminjiad from the Pakistani squad? It will be a cold day in hell when I tune in to watch the Super Bowl live from the banks of the Nile in Cairo, Egypt at 5:30 a.m. on a monday morning.


While on the subject I am still angry that we commissioned MLB and NBA teams in Canada. I have met several Canadians through going to Bowling Green and playing online poker. Most of them are quick to tell me that they have a problem with U.S. foreign policy, and that we are cowboys. Damn right I am a fucking cowboy, like a Dallas Cowboy not a Winnipeg Cowyboy, like Yankee Doodle fucking Dandee riding on his pony not Sasketchawan Sam riding on his Moose. Why give these countries a chance to embrace something we hold so sacred that they may in fact reject? I understand from the media that London had a fairly good turn out for the Dolphins-Giants but there is a simple answer to that...it is exotic...it is like the first time you ever ate Greek food, or the first time you spanked it to transsexual Indian Porno (Williams...) after a few times you go back to a good old hamburger or a little Bangbus.com. It is not b/c you are mot willing to try new things, but it is because it whats you know, what you are used to, a custom, you love it.

The U.S. already sticks our nose into enough problems that we don't need to (and we are ultimately resented for it). Why create another failure (see NFL Europe) that never needs to happen? Let's keep the
NFL where it belongs: in the United States of America...and while we are at it build a gigantic wall around the whole country so we don't "oppress" our values on others and reduce the chance of absorbing values from another country.

Hows that for the melting pot theory? Hey, I am a ham and cheese kind of guy.


This is not the views of this blog. It is a paid advertisement for drunken and vicodin fueled ramblings. The Wire takes no responsibility for the views of this post or any other post in the future that may contain similar theories. This is pure satire...although to some it may seem like a fountain of wisdom.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

ps my keyboard is a little messed up so excuse the typos

Finally, the Circle is Complete

To Whom It May Concern:

My story is a harrowing tale of both courage and strength. I was born on the border or Ashtabula and Geauga Counties on a stormy day in a manger. I was wrapped in swaddling clothes and visited by three wise men that bore gifts including cigarettes, kamchatka vodka, and a quarter pounder from McDonalds. At the tender age of four I was moved from my comfortable surroundings and forced to live in tough and rumble streets of Timberlake, Ohio (nestled conveniently between Willowick and Eastlake). Finally, I was enrolled at St. Justin Martyr and became the third greatest athlete in school history behind (1) Jason Battung and (2) Joe Jurevicius. At last I had developed into a CYO legend, and was a big part in the 7th grade upset that drove Jeffrey and Algirdas Budrys to tears.Thanks to the Cleveland Catholic School Voucher program I opted to use the welfare system to attend Lake Catholic High School on the upper east side of Mentor, Ohio. There, I flourished as an amazing power forward under the tutelage of the brothers Benek as well as Toys R’ Us favorite son Robert Forrai; Had it not been for the dazzling talents of Luke Smrdel, Damian Blakely, and ever so smooth Patrick Kearns (let’s goooo!) as well as some untimely ankle injuries, I might be writing this post as a 5th year NBA veteran. Unfortunately, instead I write this as I enter my 19th straight year of education.

Here is my summation of Cleveland Sports: I grew up on the shores of Erie...in the land of Cleveland. The home of the catch, red right 88, the drive, the fumble, the shot, the 95 world series, the 97 world series, the dennis northcutt drop, the grady sizemore drop, the 4-0 sweep by the spurs, and now...the epic series of events we can only call "The Collapse" in the 2007 ALCS.Thanks for nothing Cleveland sports teams...nothing but heartache and pain.

My name is James Szorady and my card is American Express. On this blog you may refer to me as former Mayor Michael White.

With me as a member of the this post all the planets of finally come into alignment. Much like Earth Wind Fire and Heart created Captain Planet...adding a Szorady to this already dazzling line up of wordsmiths and gurus assures us a chance at world domination. As far as sports contributions I am a certified college sports experts...I'll leave the pros to you all....

Friday, October 26, 2007

LCHS REVISITED...again

by Ryan Plungas


How embarrasing, and unprofessional that last diagram in my post was. I forgot to preview it. I may have single-handedly lost all credibility for this site.

Lets' try this again.

OFFENSE
WR Mark Watson/ Jason Timothy/Mike Dodge
WR Matt Matteucci/ Sean Saari/ Steve Eppich

LT Nate Berry
LG Skeegs Sullivan
C Kevin Bowers
RG Rich Stopniski/Dan Williams
RT McPat Coyne

TE Grant Savelli

QB Jeff Brunner

FB Josh Pearce/Dave Cvelbar

HB Justin Scholes/ Ryan Plungas


DEFENSE

LE Nate Berry/ Rich Stopniski
NT Skeegs Sullivan
RE McPat Coyne

OLB Grant Savelli
ILB Justin Scholes
ILB Mike Gibbons
OLB Josh Pearce/ Mike Tennyson

CB Sean Saari
CB Ryan Plungas
NCKLE Mike Bernot
DIME Mark Watson

SS Rey Catania
FS Todd Runyon

Todd Hall is still 8th on depth chart.

LCHS Class of 01 Revisited

by Ryan Plungas

(This was originally intended to be a simple response to Dan’s column. But I got really into it. And it just developed from there, into this blog post. I’m sorry, I never intended TWO columns on the 2001 LCHS Football Class).

Not bad, Dan. But fairly inaccurate. They say the mind is the greatest editor of all. This is true in this case. Thelma Schoonmaker, eat your heart out.

1) We did not open up the season against Perry. That was the 3rd game of the year. I remember, because I had a deep knee bone bruise (similar to what JAX's MJD is currently going through) and sat out a week of practice leading up to the game, then decided to give it a go for game time. I thought I was heroic, and giving it my all for the team. Ed Caldwell had other ideas. When I told him I was gonna try to play as he was passing out our game jerseys for the week, he said, "I don't think so. No way, you haven't practiced all week!". I reiterated that I could contribute, and he responded by asking if I was really injured (which I was, no joke...I was on crutches the majority of the week for Chrissakes). And then Ed Caldwell did something that most likely soured my LC football career: He threw my #7 jersey in my face, and said get tough and get on the bus. Then I let loose a bit of my infamous attitude I had managed to bundle up so far that year, and gave him some lip back.

I told Coach Soria bout the situation, and he single-handedly saved what little hope I had left in LC football (at the time) by saying "Don't worry about him, that guy can be an idiot sometimes. I only saw the field for one play that game. We lost 24-7.

2) We opened up against St. Ignatius on the road, btw. Lost 21-0. I got kicked out of the game late in the 4th because the ref thought I unleashed the F-bomb. While the coachers berated me on the sidelines, fellow DB Mike Tennyson admitted it was him that said it, and was laughing his ass off. I did not find it all that funny.

3) 2nd game was against Trinity, at home. I remember, this was the game I got the bone bruise.

4) We did have that 3rd down back: Myself. No joke. I don't mean to get egotistical here, but I was a pretty good back coming out of SGS. From day 1, they slotted me at WR, and never gave me the chance to compete at RB. I never figured this out. I could see Scholes, because he was a flat-out beast. But Sereleje? Come on! I was faster than Dave, quicker then him, tougher than him (Remember, he would come back to the huddle out of breathe complaining about a knee or an ankle after EVERY run, and I would look at McPat & Brunner and just roll my eyes), and the more elusive runner. PLUS, he would always run straight-up...a cardinal sin for a RB. It wasn't until Sereleje missed that Elyria Catholic game later in the season due to injury, that I got my opportunity to start at HB (they moved Scholes to FB). I responded with a virtuoso performance. 100+ yds running, with a 60+ yard TD catch out of the backfield (a wheel route), and a punt return for a TD. Plus an INT on Defense. More on this in a minute. Then, when Sereleje returned the next week against NDCL, agreat week of practice allowed me to lock the down the starting HB position by the end of the year. I ran for a tough, gritty 60+ yds against NDCL in a victory. Great finish to my career. I wish I had stuck with it. One of my greatest regrets in life.

5) My LCHS football career did spawn my greatest pimp moment ever. It was during that mid-October game against Elyria when I was dating that bombshell Jackie Farina. Her birthday happened to fall on the same day (a Thursday) as out game. I was getting the start, and promised her before the game a TD. After I hauled in that 60 yard TD pass, I ran directly to the sideline and told her that was for you. She loved it. But, it was not over. I still had a 50 yard Punt Return TD in me. Immediately after, I ran down the sidelines, ball in hand, handed it to her, and told her “Happy Birthday, baby!” Her friends were shouting with glee, and I could see how embarrassed Jackie was by this embarrassment of riches. But she loved it. Much like football, I screwed that thing up…another regret of mine. But on that day, I was King Shit.

Epilogue:

We had great talent in the Class of 2001 (2000 season). To this day, I will always argue that we had more talent on that team than we did on the State Championship team the following 2001 season (Class of 2002). Imagine if the majority of the players had stayed in the program, and put in the full 4 years. It would have been a dominant squad, one with true State Championship aspirations. Just take a look:

OFFENSE

WR LT LG C RG RT TE WR Mark
Nate Skeegs Kevin Rich McPat Grant Matt
Watson Berry Sullivan Bowers Stopniski Coyne Savelli Matteucci
Jason Sean
Timothy Saari
QB
Jeff
Brunner

FB
Josh Pearce/Dave Cvelbar

HB
Justin Scholes

3rd Down Back
Ryan Plungas



DEFENSE


LE NT RE
McPat Skeegs Nate
Coyne Sullivan Berry

OLB ILB ILB OLB
Grant Savelli Justin Scholes Mike Gibbons Josh Pearce

CB CB
Sean Saari Ryan Plungas
SS
NICKLE Rey DIME
Mike Catania FS Mark Bernot Todd Watson
Runyon


5th LB would be MIKE TENNYSON (can't depend on hm to start, for obvious legal dependecies).

Good depth at DB. And I didn't even mention Todd Hall, who would be 8th on the Depth chart.

This team was loaded with talent...if we stuck with it, and worked our asses off in the program, we coulda been something special.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

10 Year Reunion

Ahh yes..how quickly time flies. Ten years huh? Goord Lord, ten years ago this fall embarked the beginning of the most over hyped freshman class in LCHS history. This 300 plus class was not only the biggest to step thru the doors, but also had some lofty expectations to live up to. (Holy shit, I can't believe VA Tech just lost this game, how did they lose this? What happened? Rolling left and throws across his body/field for a game winning touchdown? Sweet Jesus)



Ugh....Anyways, the local CYO scene was just stacked with talent. Too bad this team turned out to be full of busts. The highly recruited Jeff out of Madison (where did Soria find this kid?) never lived up...The smashmouth offense football led by the running game of Scholes/Sierleja/ and that other big kid who soon transferred to north never could get the tough yards when we needed them. This team lacked the change of pace 3rd down back to catch the defense off guard and out putrid 4-6 record was one of the biggest disappointments in history.



Amongst the other BUSTS of this class was big John K. Good God was he a monster, 6'8, 320 lbs and couldnt even see a down on the JV level. Coulda had every big 10 school knockin at his door but spurned the NFL to work at a local auto body shop in Willoughby. Another bust I thought was the tough, gritty, and absolutely dirty Mikey T. I projected him as a Big East Strong Safety with his good size and speed. Could have probably moved into a Mike Linebacker if he chose to go D2, but nonetheless had the ability...Too bad he got in the wrong crowd and spent more time behind bars than he did on the field. As mentioned before, the 3 headed monster at RB never produced. Everyone thought this team was gonna grind it out week in and week out but nothing ever happened. Scholes was the only one to make it out of the high school ranks which led him to a disappointing 1AA career. OLB Savelli made the most of his size, nobody even knew this silent asassin was on the field but yet he was all over the ball all the time. My dad always said this kid had the instincts needed, but the 5'11 frame only game him a short lived career at Mount Union.



It was a tough coaching staff that year. Franky S. tried to keep the fun atmosphere alive but was over taken by Caldwell who somehow got confused and thought he was coaching at the Naval Academy and not freshman football. This egotistical coach single handedly was responsible for half of the team quitting folliwng freshman year. Also on the staff was Coach Massey who still to this day has never spoken a word. Our bonding on the B-team game though really brought us together. Then there was crazy Kucsma (more to come on him later) who had to balance his football coaching gig btw is shady insurance company and the demise of the LCHS softball team. And you can't forget the fiery Sammy DeVito (also more to come) who never let anyone sleep without having nightmares.



Practice was brutal this year...you could never really get comforable because every day betweein 4:05 and 4:15 everyone just waited for the lanky Joe Varanase to come stumbling out of detention and give us the opportunitiy to do about 100 "up-downs"..Or maybe if we were lucky, we would get to do about a half hour of dive bombers...(good lord, im going to have nightmares tongiht)...Then there was always the fun blocking drills where I would spend the entire time in line kissing Gruber and Lytles ass in hopes of not getting my ass kicked on the field....this never worked. If I got lucky, I would get to go one on one with the great wall of china, big john Krepenia. It literally was like trying to push a bus over, it was impossible. I hated that...I really did.



The best 2 weeks was when I completely babied a wrist injury (to this date I think I broke it but never got it checked out), and prohibited me from doing up downs, instead I had to do sit ups in which I did with a huge grin on my face. This worked for about 2 weeks until the fiery Devito finally caught onto me and completely punked me out and made me do up downs...damn, that sucked. I was really starting to get abs of steel too. My favorite Devito moment had to be in the midst of a grueling set of up downs when someone under their breath whispered "Ugh this sucks"..(my money was on Hess, who happened to actually go to practie on this day instead of skipping to go work out)..But Devito heard this comment and flipped a lid...I remember it like it happened this morning ..(with viens popping).."YOU THING THIS SUCKS? YOU SPEND ONE DAY IN MY F'N LIFE. ...YOU SPEND ONE DAY AS A CLEVELAND FIRE FIREGHTER AND SEE THE SHIT I SEE...YOU WOULDNT BE ABLE TO HANDLE THAT FOR A SECOND"...(good god, why am I doing this to myself? theres no way I will sleep tonight)...Or the one time during one on one blocking drills where everone was bitching about about how big Big John was and Sammy got so fired up, he got down in a 3 point chance ready to challenge Big John...I still dont think Big John got those shit stains out of his jock from that day...Kucsma blew the whistle and Devito just straight out pancaked the shit out of Big John....I think Soria immediately cancelled practice after that as nobody could function after seeing a human knock over a freight train....Ricchino, does the CFD test for HGH yet? Will your uncle be next to Travis Hafner once this list is published???

Another Big John moment...(do I have a secret love affair with Big John? Why am i writing so much about him..this is weird)....but nonetheless...Kucsma must have had a client who lost their house to a flood or seomthing, bc he came in very fired up...Big John didnt say one word, and suddenly, Pauly flipped a lid, went bezerk and reached up and got his facemask, brought it down eye to eye with him, and completely tore him apart. I still to this day don't know what was wrong with Paul that day. I am shocked that Big John did not pick him up and eat him.

(This is becoming much longer than I thought, I have no life)

On to the only 2 games i remember..the third one was mentioned today in the emails. Opening day, at the beautiful Perry stadium was great. Everyone had their turf shoes on and butterflies going around like crazy for the first game. I was very happy on the bench knowing I wouldnt see a down all year long but I made my parents happy for playing...The fourth play of the game, Ed Oger O got whistled for his 2nd false start penalty and Caldwell lost it. For some reason, and til today I have no idea why he chose me, he must have been going in reverse alphabetical order, but he told me to get in there. I remember a roiding Scholes screaming "LETS GO MAN, STEP IT UP!!"...he would have said my name but he had no idea who I was so he couldnt...I thought to myself as I got in the huddle, this is it..this is my shot to step it up...This is the break i needed to get coachs attention and begin my career as an anchor on the left tackle position...Actually..no, thats not how it was. I was scared shitless and wished more than anything I was up in the stands with my dad crying on his shoulder. I think I lasted about 3 plays before Caldwell came to his senses and realized that I was actually playing....I never saw a down after that.

UNTIL....the grand daddy of them all, the biggest game of the year...the B team game. ..How embarassing wsa that? To have a game for strictly B teamers and no starters were allowed to play? Ugh, what a kick in the balls....Anyways, I started and played both ways. Me and the 5"11, 110 lbs Chet the Jet Hoynes held down the D-Line and I was accounted for 9 tackles, 4 for loss and 3 QB pressures. Coach Massey kept trying to pull me out, but I kept saying "No, I want this, this is MY game, MY chance"....It was a classic defensive battle, the intensity was up on both sides of the ball...Another time I remember like yesterday was the time that Jeran got the nod at tailback. Massey said "Jeran, get in there"...And I remember a silenece went over the sidelines...Everyone had seen JJ's elusiveness in practice but he never got the shot in the game...Everyone got as close as they could to see this kid get in the lineup. We were all waiting for JJ to break a tackle, make a spin move, and pull off a 40 yard scamper to show the coaching stafff that he needs to be in the lineup and he could change this dismal season around....So JJ gets in....and the snap....and the hand off...and here we gooooo....ohhh shit, no, this didnt happen, no way, this cant be happening, please, please say it aint so!!...ohh, yes it did happen...fumble...no way...jeran fumbled...and that was the last carry Jeran saw in his tenure. I think that play took the heart out of the entire team, and to this day that class has never recovered from that fumble.

Fast forward to the 4th quarter...its 0-0 in a battle of who wants it more..No team has shown any signs of life this far but we still had 3 minutes left and 98 yards to go to win this game....I've been pan caking a guy half my size over at RT but the guys in the booth didnt see this. They kept trying to run it to the left behind the gritty Leben but never seemed to get the chains moving...So here we are, 98 yards to go and who do we have for this heroic 2 minute drill in the backfield? None other that Nick "the white Mike Vick" Ricchino. Nick had been dreaming about this chance since the day he was a little boy, just like every other kid tht dreamed about leading him and his scrubby B-teamers to a heroic victory....But alas it all came crashing down...The opposing teams coaches had scouted Nick well. They knew he had a cannon of an arm but once you got him out of the pocket he didnt have what it took. he was very immobile, and the DL had been flushing him out of the pocket all day long and unfortunately Nick wasn't known for his throws on the run across his body...So here we are...I get down in my 3 point stance, ready to maul over this 87 pounder in front of me...About 3 seconds later I look around and theres nobod around me...NOOOOOO, this didnt happen...SAFETY...noooo, ricchino got smacked in the endzone for a safety...How did he not pick up the safety blitz??? Why didnt he audible at the line and make the necessary changes??? Why didnt he call a TO and talk it over???UGHHH Nick, why, why???...After the 9 person pileup, Nick finally got up and limped off the field in defeat...2-0 final score...and a tragic B-team loss...ughhhh what a shame...what a shame...

And here I am...ten years later...a bust in my own sense of the word..Never lived up to the historic Williams football blood and have to sit by myself at all family gatherings as everyone reminicses about their college ball while I am telling my 4 yr old cousin that I once played in a B-team game and lost 2-0 because of the slow footed Ricchino couldnt scramble and get a pass off...thanks Nick.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Random Notes

by Ryan Plungas

Random notes:

I will not be watching the World Series this year.

Do you pick up Byrd's option (my vote is no)? What about JoeBo (At 4 million? Possibly)? Casey Blake is up for arbitration…does this guy even have a contract, or does he just keep showing up to Spring Training every year with a handshake agreement with Wedge that'll he make the team? He's FINALLY up for arbitration, it's been like 7 years. What about Fultz' option (Ha! Um, no)?

Free Agent Position Players

Free agent class is not that strong. Obviously, we're not gonna go after any of the Big guys (ie Andruw Jones, Torri Hunter, etc). But there are some intriguing options out there. Mike Lowell at 3B? Great RBI guy, but most likely out of our price range (plus, he's 32 or 33). And it would be too mmuch of a reminder of what happened.

Aaron Rowand for LF? Good possibility. Perfect Wedge/Shapiro guy…tough, gritty, grinder, white, good clubhouse guy. I, personally, am not a big fan of this guy, but he's someone I could see this organization go after.

A guy under the radar…LF Geoff Jenkins. I know, I know, doesn't sound all that promising. But he's a productive bat vs. Righties, and would be a great platoon guy out in LF. Just take a look at these numbers:

.292 BA, 18 HR/60 RBI, 23 2B, .363 OBP & .503 SLG.

Those are his numbers vs. RHP averaged out over the last 3 years. Those are not bad, at all. If Jhonny Peralta is finally moved to 3B ( a move that should be made), then we can slot Casey Blake in LF and platoon him with Jenkins. It would be a very productive platoon. I do not think Jenkins would break the bank, and in that instance, he would be a good sign. It would be necessary to trade David Dellucci this offseason, for a prospect or two. Or for a subsciption to US weekly. Just get him off the books. J-Mike could roll as our 5th OF. Or trade him as well.

Relievers

Depending on if we pick up JoeBo's 4M option (something I am scared to death to do, but at 4M it's not a bad deal), we are in the market for a (shut-down) Closer. Really, there's only 1 guy out there (my apologies to Eric Gagne & Trevor Hoffman): Francisco Cordero.

There will be a strong market for this guy, but he's a quality Closer who does not scare the bejesus out of you every time he takes the mound. The opposite of the Joe Bo/Bob Wickman School of Closing. He actually can be viewed at as a weapon out of the pen. Someone who wouldn't make us mutter to ourselves in the 8th "Alright, if we can just get 1 to 2 more runs and stretch this out to a 6-2 lead, we won't have to see Borowski in the 9th." Never good when that's the thought process. If Cordero isn't asking for a 4 year contract, I think we should make a run at him.

Still need to add a quality arm that can pitch the 7th & 8th innings, or else we might as well schedule the Raffy's for Tommy John concurrently right now. You could obviously tell that Perez completely died down the stretch and was useless in the Boston series because of his dead arm. At least Raffy Betancourt waited till Game 7 to shut down. We can't have that again. Jensen Lewis will be counted on for a full season, so there's another strong arm. But we need other options (all apologies to Aaron Fultz & Tom Mastny).

One guy is Octavio Dotel. He actually pitched well this season coming of a shoulder injury, outside of a terrible series (2 straight BS) against Colorado late in the season. The Tribe brass has had an on-again off-again affair with Dotel going on 3 seasons now. Why don't they just seal the deal this offseason, and sign him up to lighten the Raffy's workload.

Two other options (although not as enticing) are Rockie FA LaTroy Hawkins and RHP Scott Linebrink. Hawkins was, shall we say, effective as a Reliver this year. Linebrink was once one of the best relievers in the game (and a Fantasy stallwort as a Holds guy), but inexplicably lost it the 2nd half of the year. Both are NL pitchers prone to the long ball, and frankly, that scares me in the AL. They're like a rich man's Rick White.

Trades

Hey, Coco Crisp may be available. I heard, somewhere (not too sure which station, maybe FOX brought this up), that the Red Sox have some up and coming kid who can play Center. Oh, what's his name? Jared, Jacob, Jason…no Jacoby. Jacoby Ellsbury. I think? Anyway, I heard about him.

One can still dream about Carl Crawford roaming Left Field at the Jake. Or Miggy Cabrera eating Cheeseburgers at 3B. But for all intents and purposes, that won't be happening anytime soon.

But these deals could. One of which has specifically been rumored about:

SP Cliff Lee/RP Tom Mastny (or Edward Mujica, or Juan Lara, or any quality Reliever prospect we have not named Jensen Lewis or Raffy Perez)
For
OF Lastings Milledge

Buster Olney may have single-handedly created this rumor, but its been talked about. Jeremy Sowers has been substituted for Lee in some circles, but the belief is that one of these pitchers (along with a young quality reliever) could net us Milledge. The Mets are desperate for pitching, and the Tribe would welcome their potential LF of the Future. I would do this in a heartbeat. Maybe even throw-in a middle tier position prospect ala Brad Snyder.

Another option:
SP Jeremy Sowers/OF Ben Francisco/maybe another pitching prospect
For
OF Jason Bay

The Pirates are in rebuilding mode once again. Jason Bay may not fit into those plans. He is 29, afterall. He struggled last year, but is only 2 years removed from a 30+ HR/100+ RBI season. Call him the Travis Hafner of the NL. The reason the Tribe may be a destination? New GM Neil Huntington, obviously. The former Assistant to Mark Shapiro is very familiar with the Tribe's farm system and may feel most comfortable making his first big deal in his Pirates tenure with the organization he has spent the better part of 10 years with.

One can only hope.

Meanwhile, I'm still dreaming about Carl Crawford & Miggy Cabrera.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Tribe's 07' Offseason Plans

by Ryan Plungas


I know I'm getting ahead of myself, but usually at this time of year I post my Tribe offseason plans. It has become an annual tradition here at the end of September. It is the only thing us as Cleveland fans have…HOPE. It has become such a habit. I simply cannot get through the work day without gazing out the window, or up at the STERIS half burnt out light above my desk that has me slowly turning into Travis Bickle in "Taxi Driver", and thinking about what the future holds for me Cleveland sports teams (and on occasion, my beloved WWE-- how could they let HHH/Vinnie Mac stroke their egos on live TV every Monday, why is Shelton Benjamin not a bigger star, why do they not push Mr. Kennedy more…he's got that Stone Cold "it" factor going on, he's ready for the "LEAP"…, why do they destroy the Tag Team division, why was Great Khali champion, how does Bob Holly still have a job, how could they let Brock Lesnar walk away and NOT come back, same for Kurt Angle, why do they bury ALL their young talent, etc? Oh, and I think about my Buckeyes. This is literally 93% of the things that pass through my mind on a daily basis…that's all I have going on up there). But what does the Tribe do? They go and make the playoffs! Single-handedly rendering my annual "What the Tribe should do in the Offseason" column useless. The future is now! Hope is Here! Thanks a lot, guys. But you know what? Fuck it, I'm doing the column anyway. So here goes…

Would any of you be in favor of going after 3B Miguel Cabrera in the offseason? He has about roughly 9 million left on his contract that runs through 2009. He has top 5 talent (I'm talking overall in MLB), but some weight issues. Questionable attitude. He may clash with Wedge (**Ahem**considering Wedgie doesn't like Dominican/Puerto Rican/Venezuelian or Black guys**Ahem**). However, there is no doubt in my mind that Miggy and Victor Martinez may be related in some way, possibly brothers. Just imagine the wacky handshake they'd implement after every HR and victory walk. It would be amazing, something that can have its own baseball tonight segment covered by an ecstatic Orestes Estrada (just NOT Fernando Vina, ok). There is always a possibility for a reality TV show covering their day-to-day misadventures in the City (their restaurant adventures would be particularly intriguing, as I'm curious to see what plump Miggy eats). "Latino's Lives in Cleveland"...tell me ABC wouldn't pick this up for their summer lineup--at the VERY least STO would (imagine Al Palowski, in a suit, following them around with a TV crew). Who wouldn't watch this? Anyway...

Would you do one of these two packages :

SP Adam Miller (who I'm cooling on…A LOT), SP David Huff, OF Ben Francisco & OF Nick Weglarz

OR

SP Jeremy Sowers, SP Chuck Lofgren, OF Trevor Crowe, & 1B Stephen Head (or 1B Matt Whitney)

Remember, you do still have 3B Wes Hodges (23 yrs old) who just hit .288 BA/15 HR/71 RBI/186 Total bases/ .367 OBP with a 44-90 BB-K ratio in just his FIRST full season in minors in Class A Kinston (actually, not even a full season, just 393 AB's). Ideally, he's our 3B of the future, and should be up in the big leagues by 2009, 2010 latest…

So, maybe we rent Miggy Cabrera for 2 seasons (2008 & 2009), 1 season AT LEAST with CC in the rotation (on a side note, I'm getting real real giddy about 2008--its gonna be special as well), and then let Cabrera walk after the 2009 season. Hopefully, we can just slot Wes Hodges into that 3B slot then, and use the money we let from allowing Miggy (and CC) to walk and allocate it to other area of needs to fill a few spots via FA (ex. Starting Pitching, Power OF).

2008 Lineup would look like this:
CF Grady Sizemore
2B Asdrubal Cabrera
DH Travis Hafner
3B Miguel Cabrera
C Victor Martinez
1B Ryan Garko
SS Jhonny Peralta
RF Franklin Gutierrez
LF Casey Blake/David Dellucci

Pretty badass.

Rotation:
SP CC
SP Carmona
SP Westbrook
SP Lee
SP Sowers/Adam Miller…whomever you DIDN'T trade away

Then, we would just have to spend offseason FA money on a Closer & Middle Reliever (maybe a #4 or #5 starter if Lee doesn't return to form)

If not Cabrera, maybe we can net Adam Dunn to put in LF this offseason? I hate that he strikes out so damn much, but he also walks a ton. And his power #'s cannot be ignored. 40 HR's is 40 HR's.

Would a package of:

SP Chuck Lofgren, OF Ben Francisco, Of Brad Snyder (and/or 3B Andy Marte) be enough?

But the big shark out there for us would be Carl Crawford. But Tampa has repeatedly said thy're not selling on him. For all intents and purposes, it seems to be true. But damn, would Crawford look PERFECT in LF. Right next to Grady in Center and Goot in right.

Check this out:

LF Carl Crawford
2B Asdrubal Cabrera
CF Grady Sizemore
DH Travis Hafner
C Victor Martinez
1B Ryan Garko
SS Jhonny Peralta
RF Franklin Gutierrez
3B Casey Blake

What I would do, is try Barfield again at 2nd, move Drubby to SS, and slow Peralta to 3rd. Use Casey as your ultimate utility guy, a PERFECT role for him (he can fill in at 3rd, LF, RF or 1st). So many options.

Holy god am I excited for 2008. DO NOT stand pat, Mr. Shapiro. 2008 is our year for the taking, a great opportunity to nab a World Series ring.

That's not to say 2007 is over. Yet. I'm just prepping myself for the inevitable (a 2007 World Series ring?)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cavs 07-08" Offseason Plans

by Ryan Plungas


Anybody catch "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" on FX last night? Just a terrific, wacky show. Last night's episodes may have been a little too over the top wacky, but still much better than most crap on TV. Its been often refered to as "Seinfeld on crack". Pretty accurate.

Really, really bored at the office today. Until this thought crossed my mind within the last 10 minutes, and I don't know what to think…

Well, if Danny Ferry is going to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING this offseason, might as well look forward to next offseason with the hope for change (that is all Clevelanders have nowadays). But first some things need to fall into place during our 07-08' season. Bare with me.

I'm kind of secretely hoping that LeBron James has a nagging injury this year (nothing serious or long-term), but just enough to make him miss 40 or more games and sabotage the 07-08' campaign and get us into the lottery. Call me crazy, but here's my rationale:

We haven't done diddilly-poo this offseason, including not signing Andy or Sasha (we still haven't done this, do you think Danny Ferry forgot that their not under contract? You would think Lance Blanks would bring this to his attention by now). We are so cap strapped for the next 2 years, the ONLY ways to improve our roster is through trade or the draft. Well, we didn't have a pick this past year (thanks Jim Paxson) and we don't have nearly enough tradeable assets (sorry Ira Newble, and the Contract of David Wesley, not even him as a person, but his ACTUAL contract...that's what's being floated around to tempt other teams) to land a top tier Impact player (ala KG)…although I think we can still net a Jose Calderon type player if Danny Ferry got a bit creative. So the draft is our only option. And our biggest need is PG…

So, let's "tank" the season to get into the lottery. By "tanking", I mean struggle to a 24-22 record at the outset, have LeBron then go down with a Seperated (Left) Shoulder, ala D-Wade, have him miss the next 22 games, have us rip off a nice 6-16 stretch to firmly entrench us in the lottery, LeBron battles back to play the final 14 games and have us make a run at the #8 spot which we are only 3 games back of a struggling Knicks team, LeBron plays 3 games but realizes he's not 100% yet (we lose all 3), LBJ makes the executive decision to shut it down the rest of the season, and we finish out the season at a 2-9 clip giving us a solid 33-49 record and ensuring us a top 8 pick, w/ an outside shot at 1.

In the meantime, Shannon Brown avg. 10 ppg taking many of LeBron's minutes, Boobie avgs.a solid 16 PPG, becoming the team's leading scorer in LeBron's absence, Sasha's defense continues to improve as his offense stays solid, and Larry Hughes misses 30 games and is still useless. The young guys are continuing to improve, but the main reason we're losing all these (close) games is because of lack of bench depth (w/ LBJ and Hughes out).

On the brightside, we get a lottery pick and a realistic shot at 3 potential franchise players in a Lottery-HEAVY draft with PG Derrick Rose (from Memphis), SG (and all world scorer) Eric Gordon (from Indiana), and PF Michael Beasley (from K-State). He!!, maybe even we take a look at highly touted PF Kevin Love (from UCLA). We have LeBron's future #2 guy, to go along w/ Shannon Brown and Boobbie Gibson who made great strides in the season, and he realizes this and will sign another 6 year deal w/ us after the 09-10' season. Not too mention, that E-Snow, Z, and Damon Jones' contracts will be coming off the books after the 08-09' season, and Hughes' albatross contract after the 09-10 season, which will allow us to sign an IMPACT Max player to be LeBron's 2A (preferable a Big man…Amare Stoudemire or Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum will finally be coming into his own?) and a SOLID Starter as well (maybe a defensive stopper or 3pt shooter, but both at an all-star type level considering the Cap room we will have).

So there you go, its not all "stuck in the mud" with the Cavs. We can look forward to 2010-2011 season when the Cavs will begin their Championship run, w/ a mature LeBron at the wheel, just like Jordan's Bulls circa 96-98.

We just need LeBron to have a season-ending Injury! And all will be good.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Why I will dominate the fantasy football league

By John Miceli

1) Ladian Tomlinson is DUE for an injury. Hes coming off a huge year, hes getting towards 30, its going to happen. Sorry "Ricchino." Better take Stephen Jackson first (snicker.)

2) I rule.

3) I hate Ime Udoka.

4) The 6th pick is the best in the draft. Ignore my pleas to trade down, its a smokescreen, unless of course I actually trade down, in which case it is brilliant.

5) I rule a lot.

6) I won't be splitting my time between dominating 2 different leagues. What a disaster that was. Cheering against your own players when you need them to succeed in the other league can only be termed as "awkward". You won't be hearing this anymore: 1k. 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k 1k league.

7) I won't be taking that fraud Peyton Manning.

8) I rule a ton.

9) Plungas's self esteem is hurting badly after his debacle of a season in fantasy baseball. He will be sweating bullets on draft day, second guessing every pick right after it happens, all while chain smoking clove cigarettes while pounding the table in anger, until later in the night he stares at himself in the mirror, begins to sob uncontrollably and then breaks it with his fist.

The police will come and he will be tossed in a concrete cell (somewhere in Dade County in Florida). He will then put his hands on the wall and start banging his head into it while screaming "why" while occasionally punching it with his fists. A few years from now he will resurface 200 lbs heavier in a seedy comedy club in North Jersey telling jokes to a surly audience. He will accidentally run into his brother who will begrudgingly forgive him for beating him up in front of his family. He will then declare himself the champ.

See ya later top competition! Say hi to Chuck Knoblauch for me! You guys will be attending the same meetings! I smell a panic first draft pick. I hear Priest Holmes is a real sleeper there Plungas. Seems like a good fit at 8, or maybe Adrian Peterson!

10) I've had the joy of seeing Superbad. Its not enough to restore crushed fantasy confidence though unfortunately, sorry Plungas.

11) I'm not a CPA. CPA = Instant fantasy failure. Just accept your limitations and drop all your players right after you draft. Save us the trouble of pitying you. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

12) I'm not in Vegas, just near it. Good luck juggling the fantasy team AND Vegas their Bob. Its cool though ---I hear listening to 50 cent has the same effect on your brain as classical music, well.....except it makes you stupider as opposed to smarter.

13) I realize Barry Bonds is a doushebag and fail to recognize his career after 1996 (or was it 1997?), therefore this means my IQ is above 70. I also haven't gone turncoat and pissed all over my Cleveland heritage by cheering for Bonds. If Bonds came to the Jake, he'd have his head on a stake in left field for all to see by the 5th inning.

14) I rule fantasy football. Last year was a quirk, say hello to this year.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Off the strip.........

Fresh off of my trip to Las Vegas, I think I need to rant a little bit here. The ink is still drying on the lease papers, found a great place directly across the street from the greatest hotel and casino in Vegas......The Hard Rock. Any pool that is 18+ to enter has to be solid, if you don't like thongs and skimpy bikinis then stay away.

Anyways, due to the heated Common debate I decided to swallow my pride and actually download the Common CD and put it on the iPod for the long flight. It's not as bad as I thought but it's still not my type of rap at all, although track #2 is a very solid song. If you want to talk rap, I know Ricchino will appreciate this one, let's talk about this 50 Cent vs. Kanye West. 50 challenged Kanye, both dropping their CD's on 9/11, 50 Cent said he will quit making music if Kanye out sells him. I enjoy both of these guys but we all know 50 is the better man here, he will slaughter Kanye's sales without question, and I'm willing to put money on that. 50 has already leaked 5 songs to the radio while Kanye has only put out 2.

With the three hour time difference it was hard to catch SportsCenter or Baseball Tonight so I was stuck with the local news sports cast of Las Vegas 51's highlights and UNLV football practice, probably one of the worst teams in Division I-A, they have arguably the best WR duo in the MWC but with one week until the opener, still haven't picked a QB, what a joke.

I think the Excalibur has become my new favorite sports book, I went 0 for 3 on all my parlays but whats new. It was great to see on three different TV's, almost simultaneously, Ronnie Belliard hit a 2-run jack, Brandon Phillips get his 4th hit of the game and Plungas's hero Josh Barfield strike out with a runner on third. But his defense makes up for his .240 average????

Getting excited for this Fantasy Football season, hopefully I can once again dominate like last year until Ricchino gift wrapped the title for Jeran. Last year was very exciting with all playoff seeds being decided on the last day of the season. Should be another fun year.

God bless, Fire Wedge!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Brief Browns v. Chiefs Review

by John Miceli

Despite the sloppiness, the first preseason game was a step in the right direction for our beloved Browns. It left me with a feeling they are moving in the right direction. This feeling is one I haven't had in any of their other preseason games for the last several seasons.

Quarterbacks: Charlie Frye came out and looked exactly like the Charlie Frye of old--- at first. He didn't look down field and continually hit the first receiver without going through a progression. There were a LOT of screen passes in the first half, it is difficult to tell whether they were designed as screen passes or Charlie just kept going to the first receiver he saw while ignoring everyone else. As the game progressed, Frye seemed to get more comfortable and on the aborted touchdown drive, he threw a few passes down field that were impressive and showed that just MAYBE he has learned a little bit from last year.

Unfortunately he also made two AWFUL mistakes, but if you take those away he had a slightly above average performance. If Frye stops making ridiculous mistakes, and he continues to improve and starts looking down field more, then he has a shot to be like an unwealthy man's John Kitna. Not exactly high praise for Frye, but he may be able to be someone that is nice to have as a backup. Carrying two quarterbacks who can play in the NFL is requisite nowadays.

Derek Anderson looked terrible. I was never sure why everyone got all excited over this guy. His college career was awful, and its not like he has the type of diamond in the rough talent where four years of college wasn't enough to bring it out. He is going to be traded or cut at some point.

Brady Quinn looked very good standing on the sideline. It seemed he feathered out his hair less and its slowly progressing toward a more manly buzz cut. A broken nose or two and a shaved head and he'll look like a pretty bad ass quarterback. Unfortunately I have no idea how well he played because of Romeo Crennel. Crennel, in his infinite genius, decided that playing player/coach and future NFL newtwork commentator Ken Dorsey for the last 1.5 quarters was a better idea then playing Quinn or giving Frye and Anderson more reps.

Running backs: Of any individual performance yesterday, Jamal Lewis's gives me the most hope. I watched him quite a bit last year (Direct TV + NFL package + fantasy team) and he looks MUCH IMPROVED. He has some of his explosiveness back, and he was getting to the line of scrimmage very quickly (a major problem last year), and he was even taking the ball outside effectively.

He is not the same type of runner he was during his pro-bowl days. It seems he is relying more on quickness and movement then the brute force of yesteryear-- not that he isn't a bulldozer still but you can see his running style is a little different. I know its a little early to say this, but considering his age and the way he runs now, maybe they might get more then a year out of him. This is high praise considering just a few weeks ago I thought he had no shot of recovering from leg injuries and figured him to average 3.0 yards per carry for the year.

Offensive line: The first unit looked OK, not great. Its going to be hard to judge the line properly until they get Steinbach back and have time to gel. Anderson and Frye had time to throw and the running backs had some holes to run through--for the most part. Thomas looked "ok". He had a few holding penalties but nothing to be alarmed about. The Browns line was not impressive considering they were facing a lousy Chiefs defensive line, but it was only the first preseason game.

Receivers: Edwards, Winslow, and Jurevicius hardly played so I can't really lay judgment on this unit. The backups made a few nice plays and had a few nice drops. Travis Wilson didn't look terribly impressive. It doesn't appear he is close to being a major contributor, although it is only the first game.

Defensive line: KC didn't have Larry Johnson, so again it is hard to tell how the D-line stacks up against the run. They got penetration a few times (causing a fumble) but weren't collapsing the pocket every single play against a suspect Chiefs O-line.

Linebackers: Wimbley was a beast, and Antwawn Peek got pressure a few times. Overall they weren't terrorizing the Chiefs but Todd Grantham isn't about to throw the kitchen sink out during the first preseason game. If Wimbley doesn't make the pro-bowl this year I would be very surprised.

Defensive backfield: This unit is going to have a big year. They had two interceptions in the brief time the starters were on the field. They were consistently in the passing lanes when the Browns blitzed and it paid off. Eric Wright looked good in his first start and had some nice man coverage. Sean Jones was out of position for a few tackles but nothing to get worried about quite yet. Bodden and Holley looked great. Again, this was vs. a Chiefs team with no quarterback or wide receivers, but I think it is ok to be VERY optimistic about this unit. Just a lot of talent and a lot of depth, and it is already showing.

Overall the offense looks like it needs a lot of work but you can already tell the system is VASTLY improved from last year. Chud's offense compared to Maurice Carthon's is like chess vs. "cup n' ball". I'd also like to mention their was not one fullback pitch during the entire game. The defense looked solid but not "attacking", more of a "bend but not break" type game for them.

Question: "What are you going to try to do in the 2nd half?"

"We need to play better in the second half. We need to score more points." Romeo Crennel, Brown's Czar.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

BARRRRRY, BARRRRY, BARRRRY !!

by The Commish

What a great day to be a Giants fan eh?? Let me take you in on my Tuesday evening..

I head out of work and am driving home and turn on the game to hear the best guy
in baseball calling the Giants game which is always music to my ears...And they were
already hyping up Barry from the top of the 1st. I'm not sure if they were being serious
or joking around, but they had a guy in the booth doing a "Barry Watch" every 2 minutes.
They were along the lines of this..."Barry is currently standing still in the outfield, it looks
like he debated shifting left for Belliards at bat but those thoughts seemed to have left his
mind because he is now standing still with his hands on his waist"...I mean it was absolutely
hilarious...

Then I get into Chilis and immediately order some Skillet Queso and begin to indulge myself..I am like a giddy school girl knowing that Bonds is due up next inning...So it goes to a commercial
and I grab some mroe queso, only to look up and notice the commericial is in split screen. They have one box of the commercial and one box of a camera on Barry as he grabs his helmet, and takes a couple swings...(I did notice they cut out real quick when he grabbed the needle out of his bag, but whatever!)...Anyways his first at bat I know he is on target tonight, I knew it was coming. He ripped that double in the alley like nothing. But what was better than that was the way he was seeing the ball so well...You just had this sense that it was gonna come...His second at bat was the same, even the balls he fouled off or took for a ball, you KNEW it was coming, you just knew that tonight was gonna be the night when history was broken...After he ripped his single I thought to myself, theres NO WAY they will pitch to him the rest of the night...This pour guy from the Nationals would NEVER give up a double, single, and then a home run to Bonds tonight...no way, never!....

But alas, they pitch to him, and alas he drops a bomb and the crowd goes crazy...You wonder why I like Bonds? Look at those fans going nuts at the park. They LOVE Bonds and how could you not?? That city would do anything for that man ans they damn well should. When he swung...you knew it, you knew it was GONE....(If only they were playing the Tribe and Underwood coulda called it would it have been better) And the way he dropped the bat and held his arms up in triumph was a sigh of relief for all of mankind...This guy did it, he finally did it. He didn't let the media ruin him, he didn't give up, he broke the record...It was hard to hold back tears as he gave his thanks to everyone over the loud speaker. And when Hank came on the screen, I just lost it...It was embarassing enough to be at a bar by yourself, but to be crying your eyes out was just hard to handle....Hank gave a great speech, granted you knew he was someowhere right now drunk as a skunk as he finished his 4th bottle of St. Ides and was cussing like a sailor knowing that his record has now been broken....

Regardless of the asterik or not, we saw history tonight gentleman, we saw it and I am so proud to call the Bay Area my home now and really look up to Barry the way everyone else in this world should...

So all of you steroid haters can go cry a river, but the bottom line is that Barry did it, Barry broke the record and Barry is the home run champion of the world.

My Take on 755

by Ryan Plungas

I am shocked and outraged by this latest development on this blog. I never, ever, never, ever would have imagined that we had 3 Bonds supporters on this blog (well, maybe I saw it in Petriella, but not the others). I just thought it was assumed that anyone that was SOMEWHAT knowledgeable about sports and had respect for the game of baseball despised Bonds. I just thought this was a certainty in life. Wow, this is really really really shocking.

So, just because he was in an age where an overwhelming amount of players supposedly took roids his accomplishments should be cheered and admired because he was the best of the bunch? That argument is ludicrous.

And when people say that he "never tested positive", its rendered immediately moot because when this guy was under oath in front of a Grand jury he swore that "I never KNOWINGLY took steroids". Are you kidding me? This from a guy who from all accounts (teammates, managers, friends, peers, etc) was OBSESSED and meticulous with anything he put in his body, an avid gym freak and workout hound. You think he would just put anything into his body without knowing what was going in? If you do, you are incredibly naive.

His personal trainer and close friend, Greg Anderson, has been closely associated with Balco--a company who was shut down by the Feds during a Federal investigation and was run by a man (Victor Conte) whose sole business practice was to specifically sell undetectable drugs HGH and its likeness to athletes!-- and is currently sitting in prison because of his refusal to testify what he knows against Bonds. If Bonds is clean, why doesn't Anderson say that? And why wouldn't the Feds let him go? Because they know he isn't.

But maybe the most telling sign that Bonds is dirty is his lack of action against the two guys who wrote "Book of Shadows". Put yourself in his shoes: if someone wrote a book on you claiming that 1) everything you accomplished in your professional career is tainted because you cheated at what you did to attain your status; 2) cheated on your wife; 3) was a horrible father that abandoned your kids; 4) a horrible teammate to your professional peers; and 5) cheated on your taxes and YOU WERE COMPLETELY INNOCENT what do you think the first thing you would do would be? Oh, I'd say, sue the goddamn shit out of them for Defamation of Character. Has he done that? Absolutely not.

You know the reason why prior to his inexplicable Power outburst (in his late 30's/early 40's no less, which in itself HAS NEVER BEEN DONE IN ANY SPORT...EVER, this is SO alarming) that this guy could never get airtime? Because he was a well-known prick who absolutely hated the media and, in turn, made them hate him. He's been often called the worst teammate ever. Just look at the lack of support he received from his teammates after he hit 755. It was so awkward to see them "forced" to get up and go onto the field to congratulate him. Barry didn't even acknowledge them, just his son. Mainly because they hate him. He has no friends in baseball. Think about it. Who has come to his defense? Crazy Gary Sheffield? Bottom line: this guy is a selfish prick who should not be celebrated for a record he cheated to get. The fact that the majority of other players in his era may have also cheated does not make it justifiable. He cheated, fellas.

I agree to a certain extent that they may have put too much of the onus on Bonds during this Steroid era. I think its disgusting how much of a free pass that Roger Clemens gets. Also, McGwire (although he's starting to pay the price w/ the HOF situation) and Sosa have gotten off relatively lightly. And don't even get me started on the lack of attention paid to the NFL on this issue. But Bonds is the "cover boy" because he is the guy that is inexplicably breaking all these hollowed marks (first Maris' 61 HR's, now Aaron's 755) in the richest, most historical American sport. And he's taking them from guys who did it the right way (you know how I know...because HGH was not around in those days, and even the steroids were not as advanced--plus look at these guys body shapes compared to today’s players). So in many ways, the criticism is justifiable and expected.

If you want to cheer guys, cheer Tom Glavine for 300 Wins; Craig Biggio for 3,000 hits; Vlad Guerrero for his sick hot zone at the plate; Greg Maddux for still making people look silly at 55; Johan Santana for his brilliance on the mound; Mariano Rivera for being the all-time best at what he does; Jose Reyes' amazing ability to hit bases; Josh Beckett, Jake Peavy and CC Sabathia for finally coming into their own as a legitimate ace; King Felix, Cole Hamels, and Fausto Carmona for being on the cusp; the pennant races we are about sweat out in the next 2 months; Casey Blake for being on a major league roster; Travis Hafner for his plate discipline and power...wait, never mind; and the potential return of October baseball in crisp, atumn of Cleveland.

These are just some of the things that you can still cheer about in the game of baseball.

Barry Bonds' tainted record isn't one of them.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Dear ESPN

By John Miceli

Dear ESPN:

I would really appreciate it if I could exist in a world without a Barry Bonds update letting me know that he is on deck or he just hit a foul ball or he just hit a bunt single. This may come to a suprise to you ESPN, so I'll break it too you gently:

Barry Bonds is a doushebag.

Not one fucking person on planet earth other then Billy Wagner, who is also a doushebag, likes Barry Bonds or cares that he is breaking the most sacred record in all of sports.

No one considers his record to be legit because judging by the size of that boulder perched upon his shoulders, he just MAY have taken steroids. Please stop forcing a fucking popup on me when I'm TRYING to read Len Pasquerelli, letting me know that Barry Bonds just scratched his left ball or Barry Bonds is thinking about banging the groupie sitting on the third base line. No one fucking cares. In fact the only worthy thing regarding Barry Bonds, or for that matter, Terrell Owens, or Barbaro, would be if all 3 got in a plane crash and died. Oh wait I'm sorry, Barbaro is dead, I guess I can look forward to a fucking popup alerting me every 10 minutes how is decomposition is going or how some little kid is eating his remains in the form of paste.

Please do let us know if Ken Griffey Jr. approaches 756 because that would be a great story, not one that induces depression and anger.

Thanks!

John Miceli

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Holy Common!

by Ryan Plungas

I know D-Will & CPA aren't into "those people's music", but good lord the new Common CD is top notch. With Be and now Finding Forever, he is consistently putting out albums that you can point to and say THIS is what hip-hop should be.

Within a span of 2 years, Common (along w/ producer Kanye West) has produced 2 albums that I will keep in my CD collection until I see my kids grow old (For some reason, I always get a kick out of this…my grandparents played polkas and John Coltrane for me, I’ll be jamming to Common and Talib Kweli—I can’t wait to turn 70). There is a strong chance I will whip out Be and put on the track “It’s Your World” in 2052 to sample for my grandkids, who insist their current state of Rap music, or whatever gangsta sub cultural crap it has morphed into by that time, is the best its ever been. I will point out to them that their current form of “rap” is an offspring (an ugly one at that) of what used to be known as Hip Hop. And the art of Hip Hop has never been as perfected as it was on Common’s two early century classics. When the Hip Hop gods created this form of music, this is what they intended.

And the people are beginning to take notice. Common has always been a critical success from the time he burst onto the scene in 94’ with his jazzy, ultra-cool hit “Resurrection”. For the people in the know, he has always been referred to as one of the top lyricists in the game. “The Chi-town’s Nas” people referred to him as. Those same people saw his potential to be one of the best ever, the potential was that great. But the commercial success never followed. Common’s detractors always pointed to him being “dull and preachy” at times (which on certain albums, I tend to agree he regresses to that point on some tracks…but to me, that is an essential aspect of Common as an artist). People won’t tune into a hip hop album to be taught life lessons and preached to about lower class upbringing. Nope, they want blood, violence, Hennessey, and tearing the club up with a bitch on their jock. With that mentality, Common could never be a commercial success.

Along came Kanye as his producer. The mentor became the protégé. The tracks got leaner, the beats came tighter, and the lyrics were still Common. What we got was Be, Common’s most complete album. Not coincidentally, it was his best-selling…by far. On Be, Common and Kanye found that perfect medium that every artist hopes for: critical success and commercial success.

Now we get Finding Forever as the follow-up. It may not be better than Be, but it certainly can be considered on par with that album, which is high praise. Just as lean and tight as Be was (12 tracks, including an Intro), this album may exemplify, through its beats, Kanye’s influence on Common as a producer more than its predecessor. You can see, and hear, Kanye’s input on Common’s career.

And the album starts off banging with the hard-hitting “Start the Show” featuring Common rapping some of his finest lyrics.

Never has Common been as good as he is on “Driving Me Wild”. Great song about an “ideal couple” where each has their issues: the girl is obsessed with her looks and social status with others and the guy lusts for material things. That’s the great thing about Common; he weaves a story into entertaining and head-bouncing music. This will be a hit.

My personal favorite song on the album has to be “I Want You” featuring Will.I.Am. Even though it’s a track about lost love, its got an irresistible beat that I am predicting you will hear in the club for the next year while grinding on a hot, sweaty chick. This song has the most commercial appeal.

Common even gets a little experimental with the funky, and choppy, “Break My Heart". It is unique, and no doubt the results are positive.

Whenever I mention the new Common album, most say “yeah, I’ve heard that new song. It’s alright” or “it’s pretty good”. That song is “The People”, and truth be told, not sure why they chose it to be the first single. Don’t get me wrong, I like it. But its probably the 7th or 8th best song on Finding Forever. The track they should have went with is “The Game”, which features DJ Premier (of Gangstarr fame) doing a 1990’s boom bat beat backing up Common’s free associative lyrics. Freaking great track.

There’s other tracks that won’t be mentioned here, all being solid. That is the great thing about Be and Finding Forever: both achieve that all so rare “Dr. Dre’s The Chronic treatment”...just let it play on through.

The timing in our society couldn’t be more perfect for an album like this. With all the thug mentality that has come into the forefront in today's media (i.e. NBA All-star weekend in Vegas, Pacman Jones making it rain, and the Mike Vick dog scandal) the merits of rap music have been called into question. Never has there been more of a need for the Hip Hop industry to be able to point to an artist in order to contradict this negative backlash. To prove that Hip Hop can be a constructive form of music and art. Detractors have to look no further than Common.

It doesn’t hurt either that these two albums are genuine Hip Hop masterpieces.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Mark Shapiro is overrated

After a few cups of coffee (Dunkin Donuts blend of course) and stumbling across the replay of last nights Indians laugher, I've decided to go on my weekly rant about how much I hate Shapiro. First off Ryan Garko IS NOT and will never be a first basemen, this guy is a joke in the field, I would love to ship him out to Texas with one of our outfielders (Choo, Francisco, Goot, Van Every) for Teixeira, a real first basemen and some bullpen help, I really like CJ Wilson, lefties hitting under .100 against him. But of course Shapiro would never make this happen, has he ever parted with young talent to bring in veterans to help during the stretch run? No.

Shapiro is the master of scrap pile acquisitions, lets examine: Jose Jimenez, Scott Stewart, Scott Sauerbeck, Roberto Hernandez, Jason Johnson, Ramon Vazquez, Aaron Boone, Trot Nixon, David Dellucci, etc. Not one marquee free agent has come to the Indians since Juan Gonzalez, circa 2001, our last playoff appearance.

How long can he live off of the Colon trade? Why doesn't anyone look at his mistakes? Brandon Phillips for a 26 year old Single-A pitcher??? The Coco Crisp debacle? He let Theo Epstein push him around and settled for Mota when it was Manny Delclarmen who this organization really wanted/needed. Ronnie Belliard (who is having a MUCH better year than BARField) for Hector Luna who will never see the bigs with the Indians.

Sure you can talk about Einar Diaz/Ryan Drese for Hafner but you can find two or three of those trades on every GM's resume. You have to question the signing of Westbrook (I am a huge fan of his though) with all this talent we have ready to come up. We are stuck with J-Mike and Dellucci for two more years when clearly Goot/Francisco/Choo are big league ready.

Let's also look at Shappie's and Wedge's eye for talent. They clearly gave up on Brandon Phillips too early (they WILL NOT make the same mistake with Marte), Grady Sizemore was slated to start 2005 in Buffalo until Juan Gone pulled his hammy on the last day of Spring Training, are you serious?? Carmona starting the season in Buffalo until Lee got hurt and making him a closer last season, almost destroying his career. Once again this list could go on and on.

How about developing a closer in the minors instead of signing old, worn down arms for one season then scrambling for a closer at seasons end. I'm not impressed with Wedge and in no way did he deserve an extension, sure the players LOVE to play for him, just like Browns players love to play for Romeo and how the Cavs players loved to play for John Lucas, players coaches in Cleveland are failures. If the Indians don't make the postseason this year Dolan needs to axe Shappy and Wedgie.