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.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tim Couch Return?

By John Miceli

You know it’s a slow sports period when our last three posts have been about Tim Couch, the Iron Sheik, and euro sensation Ime Udoka.

Tim Couch apparently is healed and is trying to make a comeback.

I have to say, part of me misses Timmy. I remember his first year with the Browns, when Jevon Kearse absolutely crushed him, flopping on top of him. Couch bounced right back up, talked some trashed, almost headed back to the wrong huddle, and then completed a pass. That was back when Browns fans were comparing Couch to Brett Farve because he was fiery and tough. That was back before Couch’s spirit was crushed and he started wearing blonde highlights in his hair.

I always thought Timmy got a raw deal. He was thrown in the fire WAY before he was ready on one of the worst expansion teams in history. He had one of the worst offensive lines in the league every year he played. He took a BEATING every single season, getting sacked 50 plus times multiple seasons. He threw the ball to great luminaries at wide receiver like Darren “token white guy” Chiaverini, Andre “this is the year I break out” Davis, and Quincy “I couldn’t catch or run a route to save my life” Morgan, and Kevin “I’ve killed more locker rooms then cancer” Johnson. (A side not on Johnson, a guy must be a real jerk when the troubled running back sleeps with your wife, and everyone in the locker room takes the running back’s side and your released. This is by far my favorite story of the expansion Browns.)

Timmy was the only QB to ever lead the Browns to the playoffs, not to mention he had somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 4th quarter comebacks, (although that is in part to his poor play in the earlier quarters). All this and he never had a running game except for half the playoff season when Willie Green “figured it out”.

He basically had nothing but the Cleveland fan base hating him because he was average with a way below average cast around him, and he was teary eyed during his famous post concussion syndrome interview (which is a main symptom of post concussion syndrome.) What he did he get for the beating he took? A torn up shoulder and an aging playboy model for a wife.

The Browns ruined Timmy. Tim Couch might not have ever been a Brett Farve, Boomer Esiason or even Jeff Hostler in a better situation, but I think he would still be a solid starter in the league today. I tip my hat to you Timmy, I hope you latch on somewhere and win a Super Bowl.

Iron Sheik = lunatic

Apparently the Iron Sheik has lost all his marbles, I don't know if this was his persona back in the day as I was too young to remember but this guy is nuts/hilarious. On the Howard Stern Show about a month ago they played a shoot interview he did where he displays his anger for Brian Blair, Sheik talks about "fucking him in the ass" after putting the Camel Clutch on him and many other homosexual slurs come flying out. When Howard Stern had him up to Sirius for an appearance the Sheik busted into the Sirius OutQ (gay/lesbian channel) studio and proceeded to go ballistic on gays, Jews and the Ultimate Warrior on the air. I cant tell if this guy is putting on a show or he's really just insane. Next week he'll be on Howard Stern participating in Celebrity Anal Ring toss against Artie Lange and Chubby Checker. I know this isn't really sports related but we all were/still are wrestling fans and this is just too funny.

Can We Really Get Excited?!?!?!?!?

As training camp nears this is usually the time that I have visions of the Lombardi trophy in my head and hopes that the brownies will have many home snow games as they make a long playoff run deep into the heart of the winter season. At this point of the year I am always “sure” that my brownies are about to turn the corner and are on the verge of having a ten win season. But I won’t do that to myself this year. I am not going to build it up just to have it all come crashing down. Instead I am just going to go into the season ready to bitch that the Browns gave up what is about to be a top ten pick in next year’s draft for a noodle armed quarterback that doesn’t have the accuracy to make it as a big time quarterback in the NFL.

I mean what is there really to get excited about besides the noodle arm and other cast of rejects at the quarterback position? A young left tackle and overpaid left guard?!?!?!?!? A broken down running back only a couple years removed from prison, coming off multiple surgeries, and in his thirties (running backs age at a similar rate to dogs….. not Mike Vick’s who have shorter life spans than most)?!?!?!?!? A receiving core that has an overall UN-sure handed number one in Braylon Edwards, an overall UN-athletic number two in Joe Jurevicious?!?!?!?!?!?!? And an overa…….. oh wait they still don’t know who their number three receiver is going to be.

And if that isn’t enough to get you pumped up for the new season they also have many questions on the other side of the ball when talking about the defensive line and the defensive backfield. Sean Jones was a pleasant surprise last year but can we be sure that Brodney Pool will make the same seamless transition to a starting role? And don’t even get me started about the cornerback position. We all know what a black-hole that was last year. All that needs to be said about the state of the Browns’ cornerback position is that they are waiting on a rookie who is headed for a lengthy holdout to come in and sure up the number two cornerback spot. And as for the defensive line….. why would we expect that the browns would have anything better than the porous run defense that they have been known for over the past few years. Did I miss the article that said Ted Washington found the fountain of youth, or that big Teddy taught Shaun Smith everything he knows during the OTA’s?!?!?!?!?!?

With that all said… there are a couple things to look forward to in the new season. One is that despite all of the player personnel shortcomings on the defensive side of the ball, I have faith that the genius trio of Crennel, Grantham, and... the Rodney Dangerfield of the Browns... Mel Tucker will make this defense at the very least respectable. I feel that our linebacking corps is above average and we have a young freak in “Killa” Kamerion Wimbley. And if Sean Jones improves as much this year as he did last year than we have two possible pro-bowlers in he and Kam. However; there is no way that I can put such a positive spin on the offensive side of the ball. The only real bright spot is Kellen Winslow Jr. and even he has questions surrounding his torn up knee. Even if Kellen is healthy; the offense is so putrid that they can’t even utilize this young star to his full potential. Unless “Chudz” is an offensive genius, I see no reason why this won’t be another long season full of three-and-outs. I can see it now..... Dave Zastudil ….. two time Cleveland Browns MVP….. 2006/2007.

I mean seriously….. look at the Browns schedule…… if you can make a strong case for them winning more than 4, 5, maybe 6 games this year then I wanna hear it….. because I don’t see it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What About Ime?

by Ryan Plungas

I just don't understand why the Cavs are not pursuing G/F Ime Udoka from the Blazers? He's a unrestricted Free Agent, who is a young 29 because he is still developing his NBA skill-- he is entering only his 2nd full year in the league. It's "diamonds in the rough" like this that help shape a championship roster. Take a look at all the great teams right now: Spurs -- Bruce Bowen, undrafted out of Cal State Fullerton; Suns -- Raja Bell, toiled in the old CBA league and overseas until finally getting his shot; Pistons (up until this past year) -- Ben Wallace, undrafted Free agent; Lakers (during dynasty years) -- Derek Fisher. The list goes on.

I am not saying Ime Udoka would be the Scottie Pippen to LBJ's MJ, but I am saying he would be a productive role player who would fit in perfectly with Mike Brown's system. Defensive minded stopper on the wing with long arms that could swipe some thefts (averaged about 1 SPG). And the guy is a solid outside scorer. In about 28 minutes per game in Portland last year, Ime averaged 8.4 PPG, shooting 46% from the field and 76% from the foul line (a stat that would be welcomed). Plus, this guy can shoot it from the outside hitting at a 40% clip from downtown last year. He's like a rich man's Ira Newble.

Now let's get the great John Hollinger involved (who is like the Peter Gammons for stoner stat geeks, if there is such a ridiculous sub-culture…which I believe I can prove there is with the way my buddy JJ operates in his day-to-day life):

Ime's stats translated per 40 minutes:

11.7 PPG; 5.7 RPG; 2.2 APG; same FG% and FT% (i.e. about what Larry Hughes gives us on a nightly basis in 40 minutes) (oh, but Hughes happens to make 13 mill per season, and it will only inflate in the remaining 3 years of his contract…excuse me as I rewatch the bottle to the face scene in Pan's Labyrinth over and over)

Speaking of Larry Hughes…

What does Hughes' stats per 40 minutes translate to?:

16 PPG; 4.1 RPG, 3.9 APG; 40% FG (compared to 46% for Ime); 67% FT (compared to 76%)

Not too far off, eh?

But then take an even closer look. Let's take a look at each players TS%, Usg, and PER (the big one). Here's an Explanation:

TS% True Shooting Percentage calculates what a player’s shooting percentage would be if we accounted for free throws and 3-pointers. True Shooting Percentage = (Total points x 50) divided by [(FGA + (FTA x 0.44)]

Usg Usage Rate is the number of possessions a player uses per 40 minutes. Usage Rate = {[FGA + (FT Att. x 0.44) + (Ast x 0.33) + TO] x 40 x League Pace} divided by (Minutes x Team Pace)

PER Player Efficiency Rating is my overall rating of a player’s per-minute statistical production. The league average is 15.00 every season.

TS%/ Usg/ PER
Hughes 48%/ 20.7/ 12.17
Ime 56.9% / 12.8/ 12.09

So in conclusion to this little comparison, Ime shoots a higher percentage than Hughes, does not have a need to dominate the ball as much as Hughes (a grossly high stat for Hughes, who incessantly needs a touch nearly every possession, one of the main reasons he doesn't mesh well with LeBron), and he has the same overall PER as Larry.

My point? Just to show how much of an inexpensive asset that Ime Udoka could be for this roster as we make our push to the promise land. He (and guys like Matt Carroll) are the type of players (relatively young, entering their prime) we need to surround LBJ with. The fact that we do not have much cap room for the near future means we have to find inexpensive players who we can expect to get better throughout the length of their contract, not older vets that give us 1 season and sit on some cash the remainder (**ahem** Donyelle Marshall and Damon Jones**ahem**). Ime would probably attract less than the full mid-level exception.

And, I also wanted to point out how horrendous Larry Hughes has been.

Point Guard

Not that I am backing off my affection for Jose Calderon, but I may have found another intriguing option for us at PG. No, it's not Beno Udrih.

Jarrett Jack.

Portland, for some ungodly reason, decided to bring back FA Steve Blake (a guy who can't score, but "runs the team well"). I am just ecstatic that Steve Blake is off the market, because I had a terrifying premonition that Danny Ferry was going to throw a 5yr/30 mill deal his direction. But now that Kevin Pritchard left the Portland fan base scratching their heads, they have a logjam at PG with Blake, Sergio Rodriguez, and Jarrett Jack. By all accounts, Jack has the most value and would be the guy to ship out.

Rumor has it that the Blazers have an interest in Sasha Pavlovic. Hmm…definitely a sign-and-trade possibility.

Sasha would demand at least 4 million per season, so the contracts do not match up (Jack makes about 1.2 million). But, and again I may be wrong about this (an increasingly alarming trend), I believe in a sign and trade deal the contracts do not have to match up. If I'm not mistaken (and I know I'm not), didn't Rashard Lewis just go to Orlando in a sign and trade? And didn't Seattle get a Magic 2nd rounder back in return? And the Magic signed Lewis to that ridiculous max contract? Since when was a 2nd rounder worth 126 million over 6 years? Not sure what to make of that.

But Sasha for Jack would be an ideal deal. If we need to get a 3rd team involved making this work, San Antonio is itching to shed some cap space and are dangling Beno Udrih. We send David Wesley (and his $1.75 million contract, 250,000 of which is guaranteed) to the Spurs, who they immediately cut and clear their desired cap space. Spurs ship Beno Udrih to the Blazers. Blazers ship Jarrett Jack and a mystical 2nd rounder (which apparently holds an infinite numerical value) to the Cavs. And the Cavs also ship out a freshly signed Sasha Pavlovic to the Blazers. Maybe we can even throw in a 2nd rounder, I just don't know.

I am almost confident that a sign-and-trade with Sasha for Jack would work under the CBA. And I thought about it (throwing in Newble's expiring deal and Wesley directly to the Blazers), but no, I do not want anything to do with Joel Pryzbilla and his ludicrous contract in return.

If this went down, we'd be getting a 3rd year PG (only 24 when the season starts), who can dish it (5+ APG), drive the line with ferocity (12 PPG), good FT shooter (87%) and is a straight-up lock down defender. His only drawback is he is an average outside shooter (35% 3pt.FG). We would be trading away an above average outside shooter in Sasha (although a little inconsistent at this stage in his career). But the Cavs are hoping that Boobie Gibson steps up to fill that role full-time this season.

With these two moves, the Cavs 07-08 roster would shape up like this:

Jarrett Jack, Hughes, LBJ, Gooden, Z

Core Role Players:
Boobie Gibson, Andy Varejao, Ime Udoka, Shannon Brown

Plus, you'd still have the corpses of Eric Snow and Donyelle Marshall.

Not to mention, you still retain your bi-annual exception to sign an inexpensive FA outside shooter/scorer ala Jarvis Hayes.

And, you'd have Ira Newble's expiring deal as an asset to fill a need at the trade deadline.

Oh, and we get to keep Damon Jones and his antics. And we'd be keeping hope alive that some channel will pick up the option on the reality show "A Day in the Life of Damon Jones: The Self-Proclaimed World's Most Handsome Athlete".

Monday, July 16, 2007

As the Ink Dries...

Fresh off of a dozen hot wings and a couple of tall cold ones, I have some takes on the recent contract extensions made by the Tribe...

Let me start by saying that I do not agree with the contract extension for Eric Wedge at this point in the season. Wedgie is a great character guy (which I admire), and I think that he has the respect of his players and assistant coaches. I love how this team gets along well with each other and always seems to be having fun (i.e. pies in the face). Travis Hafner was on the Jim Rome Show today and admitted that this team has great chemistry and always has a good time, whether it is on the plane, or on the bench in the dugout. I think that this team unity stems from the manager. There is never any drama leaked from the clubhouse, and what happens between the team, stays between the team. Another aspect of Wedge's managerial style that I like is how he preaches to all of his players to take it one at bat at a time, and one game at a time. The baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint, and it is for this reason that I disagree with the wedge contract extension. Eric Wedge HAS NOT WON ANYTHING YET! Even though the Indians have got off to their best start since he has been manager, I think they may have jumped the gun here. I believe they had team options for the next two years, which means that Wedge wasn’t going anywhere anyway. What if this team chokes down the stretch and fails to make the playoffs? You don’t think that the manager should be held partially responsible for this?!?!?!?! I think that in the very least the Indians should have at least waited until the end of the season to be sure that this team was AT LEAST competitive, and in the hunt for the playoffs down the stretch. My only saving grace is that I understand that Shapiro and Wedge are a team. They work extremely well together and really trust each other. And I have no reason not to have faith in any move made by the Indians GM.

Mark Shapiro has done a great job of making sure that the core of the Indians young talent will be here for years to come. Grady Sizemore is a terrific offensive and defensive player who has taken his game to a new level this year. Victor Martinez has done the same, and should get some serious MVP consideration this year. Both players have very club friendly contracts when you look at the numbers they are currently putting up.

Now on to the Hafner deal. First off you have got to love the fact that the Dolan family actually loosened the purse strings and spent some serious cash to retain Hafner and Westbrook. Hafner is having a down year (which I believe did drive down his price a little), but in my opinion he is still one of the best hitters in the American league. Though his average and power numbers are down slightly he is still managing to drive in runs. Hafner also has tremendous plate discipline as evidenced by him being near the top of the league in walks. I look for T Haf to have a HUUUUUUUUUUGE second half and help carry the Indians offense.

The last piece to the puzzle is CC Sabathia. Don’t hold your breath. CC is going to be nearly impossible for the Indians to sign. He seems intent on playing out his current contract and becoming a free agent. If CC pitches the rest of this year and next year, like he did the first half of this year (Cy Young caliber), then he is going to command AT LEAST “Barry Zito Money”. A loooooooong contract of about 7 yrs. at almost 20 million per. And that is a huge investment to make in a starting pitcher who could blow his elbow out at any time. This leads to an interesting question though. CC… or… Hafner AND Westbrook??????? My initial reaction was that “pitching wins ball games” and that I would have rather had the ace. But when you figure that CC should win about 16-20 games, and that Westbrook will win about 12-16 games, that is a difference of about four to five wins. So if you sacrifice those four to five wins and put that extra money towards a huge bat like Hafner who could have a large impact on about fifty wins a year if not more it seems like a no-brainer. The time you will really feel the loss of a true ace is in the postseason when you should be able to chalk up a for sure win from your number one starter.

Another big question mark coming up for the Indians is what to do with the trade deadline looming? Do they make a move or don’t they? I think that this team could use some more speed and seriously needs to upgrade at least one of their corner outfield spots. How great would Carl Crawford look patrolling the outfield next to Grady while stealing 50 bags a year easily. I have coveted him for a long time because he is a five tool player much like Sizemore who is still young and improving. Then you could slide Grady down to the three whole to take better advantage of his power and allow him to drive in more runs. Just think of what kind of problems that much speed at the top of the order would cause for opponents. With that said though I think the Indians need a right handed bat (Crawford is a lefty) to hit in the two whole behind Grady, so that they can move Casey Blake down to sixth or seventh where he belongs. Ben Francisco and Franklin Gutierrez have shown promise, but I’m not sure that they can be counted on during a pennant race late in the season and in the playoffs, and they are deffinetley not readt to hit at the top of the order at this point in their careers. One guy I’m very interested in is Jermaine Dye who was a legit MVP candidate last season and has lots of power. He is also a free agent after this year and since it doesn’t look like Chicago is going to attempt to resign him he could probably be had for decently cheap. The only problem with this is that the White Sox would probably be reluctant to trade him away to a division rival. The other name being thrown around everywhere is Griffey, but the Reds would probably want the world for him, and he’s also a lefty. All in all I would not be disappointed if the tribe just stands pat, though there are some interesting names out there available for bullpen help as well (Otsuka, Lidge, Gagne). Then maybe I wouldn’t have to see that bum Fernando Cabrera ever pitch again. I am convinced that it is never going to happen for him in an Indians uniform. He is a young kid with nasty stuff, but he can not learn how to pitch at the major league level with the tribe in a pennant race. I don’t even care if he goes somewhere else and excels a la Brandon Phillips or Jeremy Guthrie. I believe he is out of options so they can’t send him back down, and I just want him GONE!

Falling Through

by Ryan Plungas

The more I look at this thing, the more I become frustrated at what could have been. The Cavs could have shook things up, and in my opinion in a very positive way. Apparently, they were on the verge this past week in Vegas, to the point that Gooden and Amon Jones were meeting w/ the creepy Maloof brothers at the gym apparently ironing out the deal. Then, for some reason either Sacto or the Spurs backed out.

We would have given up Drew Gooden and Jones (and maybe David Wesley or our Luke Jackson 2.5 million trade exception) to Sacto for Mike Bibby and the rights to Luis Scola from the Spurs. The Spurs would have also sent Jackie Butler to Sacto.

Now, I am not the biggest Bibby fan, and I think there are other, much more savvy and efficient routes we should go (um, Jose Calderon, for example). But giving up only Drew Gooden and Damon Jones' contract in return for a two year rental of Mike Bibby sounds good to me. Although DJ and his comedic value will be a big loss for me personally, I hold out strong hope that either David Wesley & his 5 piece suits and/or a jovial Zydrunas Ilgauskas (because get ready folks, he will spend the majority of his remaining time on the bench in the twilight of his career…think Bill Walton circa 86' Celtics) can step up their games and do their best Cobra Kai impersonation.

Just as long as we don't sign Bibby to an extension, which was the apparent rumor that I heard once the rumblings began last week. My lord would this be stupid. As soon as I heard that the only way this trade would go down was if both sides mutually agreed to a long-term extension for Bibby, I immediately had the same look on my face as Brad Pitt at the end of Seven when Kevin Spacey broke the news about his wife and his unborn baby. Between this and the earlier Aundray Blatche full mid-level rumors, I wonder about Danny Ferry. Really I do.

But the key to this deal (besides the refusal of an extension for Bibby, including Jones' contract, oh and, immeditaely locking up Varejao long-term) was this Luis Scola fella. From everything I have heard, he was of the same make-up as Anderson Varejao, just with offensive skill to boot. A 6'10 ball of energy, with strong rebounding skills, a decent touch, and excellent passing skills for a big man. Low salary as well. And he is foreign. And this would take us one step closer to my ultimate dream of surrounding LeBron with all foreign guys -- the sight of them prowling the streets of W 6th after a huge victory over the Pistons brings a twinkle to my eye. Boobie Gibson and his smirk can hang as well.

As constructed with this deal going through, the Cavs would have had a starting lineup in 07-08 of:

Mike Bibby, Larry Hughes, LBJ, Andy Varejao, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Coming off the bench, you would have a core rotation of:

Boobie Gibson, Sasha Pavlovic, Luis Scola, and a further developed Shannon Brown

Add to that the corpses of Eric Snow and Donyelle Marshall to give you some spot minutes if necessary.

Plus, you have Ira Newble's expiring deal and, potentially, David Wesley's contract (but keep his 7-piece suits) to use as assets to go get yourself another piece (probably a productive big man) either prior to training camp or at the February trade deadline.

And (I could be wrong about this) but I think since Andy and Sasha are restricted, we can go over the cap to resign both…and STILL have our mid-level exception PLUS our bi-annual exception to flesh out our depth chart. For Sasha, the market looks as thin as Miceli after a round of naked pushups in front of his mirror, alone, at our old College pseudo-animal house at OU. Probably would take only 3-4 mill a year to sign him. Let's say a 4 year/$15 million deal.

For Andy, it’s a little more complex. His agent is looking to cash in at around $9-10 mill per year. Quite the hit for an offensively challenged big man. But with all these questionable (putting it very kindly) GM's in the Association right now, someone will pony up the cash to ink Andy. Hopefully, there is a common ground met between Ferry and Andy's agent Dan Fegan. Somewhere, oh say, around $8 million per. Would a 6-year/50 million dollar deal, with the 6th year being a team option, be acceptable? We can't let Andy accept the 1.3 million qualifying offer and become a free agent after next year, because on the open market he's as good as gone. And if we're trading away Gooden for Bibby, well, that would leave us a bit thin with our big man.

But alas, this is all a moot point. Truth is, somewhere along the way San Antonio or Sacto pussed out. Either the contracts didn’t match up for the Spurs, or the Kings just got cold feet. But this roster shake-up didn’t go down. And unless we get a big guy in return (or somehow include Larry Hughes in the deal…which in turn, would permanently change my outlook on life for the next 6-8 months, I honestly would not get upset about anything anymore, I promise—oh man, please allow this to happen) we should not trade for Bibby.

Now, Jose Calderon…that is a different story.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

2007 - Fall Fiasco Itinerary

What a day, what a day...

Working from my new destination, I drove home from work along the Bay only to see the 4 fighter jets fly over me only moments before they hit AT&T Park for the National Anthem..I then went back to the hotel over looking the subperb Bay Bridge, I enjoyed the game over some pizza across the street...and then returned to the hotel for a couple stiff drinks courtesy of Bob from "The Grill" down in the lobby...(Whatever happened to Larry Beil, why is he now a local sports anchor for the SF news station? Did he suffer like the once legendary Chuck Galeti and get a DUI and had to start from ground zero and work his way up from 19 Action News in hopes of one day making it back to the big 3?)...Anyways, It all came to me that this was the perfect night to follow up my '05,'06 recap with a tentative schedule for 2007...There are a few options available due to the financial situation that we will all be facing...

FRI - I anxiously await the visitors as they all come in by the early afternoon...After a few hours of R&R, we get ready to paint the down red. We hit McCovey's for happy hour (A brand new restaurant/sports bar that mimics AT&T park, and obviously named after Willie McCovey) for a couple of Heffe's/Sierras and talk about the local news tidbits....After there, we hit up the rest of the illustrious Walnut Creek nightlife for a good time...(Unfortunately I can't name any of the bars or anything about them due to the fact I've never been there yet)....

SAT-We wake up Saturday morning and everyone puts on their Omar Vizzzzzzzzzquel jerseys as we hop on the 10:30 BART and head to the city...After a 35 minute ride, we get to Momo's for a great pregame spot for the Giants games...The babes will be out and the beers will be plentiful as the Reds come into town and we talk about how we wish that racist dummy Wedge never would have traded B. Phillips...after an hour pregaming, we scalp some tickets for $15 and head into the gorgeous AT&T park...By this time in the season, Bonds will have broken the record and visiting this stadium this year will be a story in itself for all your kids and grandkids...After about 2 hours at the game (once 7th inning comes around the beer sales stop) we head back to Momo's to find several hundred drunkards celebrating life and the great city of San Francisco...we continue the all day party / college football watching until whenever we feel like hopping back on the BART to Walnut Creek...Here the remaining soldiers that can still walk can head out to the bars, or can pass out amongst 6'x3' blocks of carpet space in preparation for a big day that lies ahead...

SUN - Wow, the time has come.....biggest day of the year...Browns/Raiders, hellooooooooooo! We get up bright and early and make some cocktails in the fully stocked bar in my apartment..Ok, not fully stocked bar, but maybe I'll buy a bottle of Colonial Club for you lushes...we make some ample cocktails that will get the blood flowing for the 35 minute BART ride to the stadium...We arrive at Oakland Coliseum nice and early for some tailgating with the locals...I'd advise you to wear neutral colors in the parking lot as they are no rules out there...People will stab you....no, seriously they will...Once you get into the stadium you will be fine though bc the Raiders fans are seriously the most overrated in the NFL...but being game #3 and their brotha JeMarcus, they will be fired up and in turn extra-gangster...But we head to to tailgate and sip on some Sierra Nevada (nothing more brutal than being hung over and drinking dark beer) and eat from a wide array of platters....We eventually head into the stadium and head to the top with the fellow Browns Backers...gotta love seeing all orange/brown in one section at an away game...We then watch Jamaal Lewis rush for 14o yards as the Browns win an easy one, 24-10 in Oakland.....We hit the BART ride on the way out and cheer "Here we go Brownies, here we go" for the entire 35 minute ride....We then arrive back at Walnut Creek where most likely people will be departing back to their flights or passing out and never waking up....

- The sleeping arrangements will be scarce, so prepare to be sleeping in very awkward positions with other grown men.
- The other idea to being in Walnut Creek friday is to head to SF for the night, I know Ricchino is dying to get his hands on those ladies at the Garden of Eden...but that just means money on hotel/parking/etc etc....

Any questions? Comments? Please let me know!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

CLE vs OAK RECAP - '05,'06


***First off - Please send in $$$ ASAP, we are still NOT guaranteed tickets at this point ***

Assuming you clowns do send in the money though, I have rekindled some memories to get the wheels turning for the 3rd annual Bay Area Browns Bash. A 2007 itinerary will follow shortly...

Way back in '05, the tradition started with Terry making a solo mission out to the West Coast. Being a complete newcomer in SF and having no idea of where and what to do, we still managed to find some good bars and enjoy the sights and sounds of the big city life. We joined the local Modesto crew at the tailgate where we sipped on Sierra Nevada's and some week long marinated tri tip pre game...We then strolled into the stadium on a cool fall day to watch the Browns win a thriller.

Things started to pick up in '06 when Terry was joined by the likes of Nicholas Ricchino, Crazy Big John, and Danny Weiler (who we told we were going to Lost Nation to golf as there was no way he would have left his home.) We were also joined by Ben from SoCal and hit the town pretty hard Friday night. We got up just in time to catch some pregame Heffe's over next to AT&T park and enjoyed a nice Giants game at one of the best ball parks in the country. Following the game we herded over to a sports bar and completely dominated half of the bar watching the Buckeyes steam roll the Hawkeyes. We had the whole place getting involved in the CLE action and after about 20 pitchers later and 200 racial slurs later (thanks Big John) we headed back to the hotel yelling out "Here we go Brownies, here we go" for a good half mile. We had to often hold Big John back from screaming in 5 yr olds faces, but all in all it was a good time. We then headed out for the night and ended up at the prestigious Larry Flint strip club. Although the girls there were the hottest we'd ever seen, it wasn't as trashy as the Just Teazin we were used to so we headed over to the infamous Garden of Eden for some hardcore business. At this point Terry had stumbled out on his own (god only knows how he made it to the hotel) and me and Nick were the only white people at the Eden which resembled a filming of a Lil John video. I can't get into all the details of the Eden since we lack a secure site, but lets just say that there was nothing that money couldnt buy behind closed doors. I still have nightmares of the infamous Ricchino quote that his lil lady told him behind the curtain...Sunday morning finally came and we managed to fight off the hang overs and head to the lot for some tail gating action. I remember walking into the parking lot thinking that this was more of an NWA concert than a football game, so keep that in mind for 2007. We met up with a bunch of the Modesto people again and enjoyed some cold brews and friendly banter with the Raiders fans....Okay, I lied about the friendly banter. One of the guys there is a loony and threatened every single one of our lives on multiple occasions. I actually saw Weiler crying at one point and am pretty sure that guy is the reason Weiler won't come out again this year. (I've called him 3 times to see if he's coming and every time he asks if that dude will be back)....We then strolled into the stadium where I witnessed one of the bravest things I've ever seen in my entire life. Some big brotha was wearing all Browns gear and was talking major shit to everyone in line. I don't mean like, "you suck, yadda yadda" I mean like spitting out facts left and right and completely tearing them all apart without regards to all of the "Real TV" highlights of people getting stabbed at Oakland Coliseum. I was completely silent as I was right behind him in line and didn't want to be involved in the melee that I envisioned coming, but once inside and in the presence of Oakland PD, I told him how big of a bad ass he was and threw him some dap on top of it.... Once we got into the Browns Backer section, we enjoyed another thriller of a Browns victory over the Raiders...After the game we headed back to the Sheraton for some dinner and I left the CLE crew and headed back East to Modesto....

It looks like 2007 will be the biggest one yet. And it better be as it's the last time they will be out here for a long time. So far we have 8 comitted Browns fans..well I'll say 7 because Plungas' word is as good as Boozer's verbal contract to Gordon Gund. We have Terry and socal Ben returning for their 3rd annual, Ricchino/ Big John making their 2nd annual, Petriella/Plungas aiming to make their 1st annual, and a lil lady will be making the trip up as well. (No choo choo trains gentleman). We may have a Michelly sighting as well, but that would mean that he would have to be a real person, so we will see what comes from that.

I got a little carried away with my recaps, but the 2007 tentative itinierary will be following shortly.


Thank you,
Bay Area Browns Coordinator

Friday, July 6, 2007

Brief Transformers Comments.

I saw Transformers last night. Like everyone else who grew up in the 80s I was a big fan. Going into the movie I was pretty tentative. I'm not a big fan of Michael Bay as his movies are pretty superficial and corny. This one was no different. Transformers was extremely corny, it was too long, and a lot of the "human" parts needed to be chopped out as it only cluttered up the story.

None of this matters though. The transformers are so cool and the fight scenes are so cool it is worth seeing. I am not the type to ever reccommend a movie just to see the action, but this is the rare movie where it is actually worth it. The movie actually does somewhat of a decent job capturing the nostalgia of the cartoon series, although it coud have done a much better job. Hopefully in the sequels they go with a better director who knows how to create 3 dimensional characters, and they focus more on the robots and the interaction between them.

Again, let me reiterate this: the robots are EXTREMELY cool. My only beef is almost all the Deceptacons are metallic (except Brawl;why no colors?) so they all sort of look similiar and there isn't nearly enough interaction between them. My only other beef is in some of the fight scenes the camera jumps around really quickly and its really disorienting and annoying. This is the type of movie you want to see on the big screen, just don't get in expecting a movie with the depth of The Godfather or even Terminator 2.

Ok so now I'm two for two in writing articles on a Cleveland sports website that have absolutely nothing to do with Cleveland sports.

MLB All-Star Game Moments

On my way home from seeing Transformers (decent movie, honestly I expected more from a Michael Bay film) I was listening to Sirius Sports 123 Mike & Murray Show and they were talking about their favorite MLB All-Star Game's which got me thinking about my personal favorites. On a quick side note, one of the trailers before Transformers really caught my attention, it's a J.J. Abrams film that looked like Blair Witch mixed with Godzilla, they never gave a title for the movie or who is in it, just the release date 1-18-08. I seriously hope it's a Godzilla movie, hopefully done right this time. Paramount is pulling trailers off of YouTube and such but check it out. OK on to business.

3. 1970: National League 5, American League 4

Now let me be the first to tell you I HATE Pete Rose, he's a scumbag liar who doesn't belong in the Hall, but that's another blog for another day. What I loved about this 1970 thriller was Rose going balls out to win the game for his team. The AL was up 4-1 headed into the bottom of the 9th, the NL scored 3-runs to send the game to extras. Fast forward to bottom 12, Jim Hickman slaps a base hit and Rose tries to score from 2nd base, without slowing down a step he barrels into Cleveland Indians catcher Ray Fosse, which jars the ball loose and the NL wins. Fosse was taken to a local hospital where it was discovered he had a separated shoulder. Fosse would go on to play nine more years but many say this play ruined his career.

2. 1994 National League 8, American League 7

This is probably the first All-Star I can actually remember every little detail of, the Indians were actually good that year and two of my favorite players were All-Stars, Kenny Lofton and Albert Belle. Fred McGriff hit a two-run homer off Lee Smith in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game. In the bottom of the 10th with Tony Gwynn at 2nd base, Moises Alou smashed a gapper to left, with Kenny Lofton frantically jumping and pointing toward home Albert Belle rifled a strike to Cal Ripken who in turn made a perfect relay throw to I-Rod but Gwynn just beat the tag. Until about a week ago I always thought Pudge had the plate blocked and the ump blew the call but replays I saw recently on the All-Star Selection show showed he was indeed safe.

1. 1997 American League 3, National League 1

Now, this has to be every Cleveland fan's favorite All-Star Game, played at Jacobs Field and of course hometown hero Sandy Alomar winning the MVP. Alomar's eventual game winning HR came in the bottom of the 7th off of Shawn Estes, it was Sandy's only at-bat of the game. This game can also be remembered for two more reasons. Randy Johnson vs. Larry Walker, earlier in the season Walker refused to play in an interleague game in which Johnson was pitching. Walker came into the All-Star game hitting a ridiculous .398. Johnson, pulled a 1993-esque John Kruk in which he threw the ball over Walker's head. Larry put his batting helmet on backwards and jumped into the right handed batters box, in one of the most comical moments in All-Star Game history. Next, what Cleveland fan doesn't remember Albert Belle REFUSING to enter the game. Belle had signed with the Chicago White Sox, leaving Cleveland and was elected to the Mid-Summer Classic, when Joe Torre tried to insert Belle into the game in left field, the slugger refused to enter stating "I'll save myself the hassle, then I won't have to deal with the village idiots for a few innings."

Thursday, July 5, 2007

UFC 73: Stacked Predictions

Alright first of all let me introduce myself (properly). I am not sure how many people are reading our fledgling webpage and if this is even necessary yet, but I might as well write this now and copy and paste it in some sort of proper "profile" later. Just so all of you know, this webpage you are currently reading while in its blog stages now, will someday be a Cleveland sports empire. You are a WITNESS.

First off, my name is John Miceli. Not Michelly or Michelly or however Williams is massacring my name, pissing on the grave of my entire family and all my dead relatives who came over on rafts to Ellis Island. I am currently in lawschool, clawing and scratching my way to a law degree. After I graduate, I plan on immediately drinking (heavily), and then getting out of debt and then doing whatever it is I have to do to break into the sports world that doesn't involve me losing my anal virginity or fire bombing any small villages in Africa.

My dream is to be the GM of the Cleveland Browns (lord how they need me), and I am absolutely certain I already know more then 70% of the GMS in the big 3 (MLB, NFL, NBA) only using my meager sources for information (the internet). I have this thing called passion, that would prevent me from doing something stupid like drafting Marvin Williams over Chris Paul, or being afraid to "reach" on Shawn Merriman; I would never put myself in a position where "I didn't know enough" and do something completely backwards and crappy like lets say a Billy Knight or a Matt Millen would. I spend most of my day surfing the internet reading about sports, reading scouting reports, and looking at stats. I just love this stuff for some reason, its the only thing the ADD lets me focus on without interruption.

Anyways, thats who I am, and I'm sure I'll be copy and pasting that to some sort of profile eventually just in case you want to read it over and over and think warm thoughts about me. I'm specifically talking about you "Richhino".

I'll be using our baby super sports Cleveland website/empire not only to write about Cleveland sports, but also the sports world outside of Cleveland (occasionally), MMA (my new favorite sport), and the occasional movie review (I watch a ton of movies.) Now, that i've acquainted myself with the denizens of the internet, onto business.

This Saturday's UFC 73 is the most loaded card UFC has put on since probably the Ortiz/Lidell Card. An argument could actually be made that UFC: STACKED is actually the most STACKED UFC card they have put on to date. I guess it just might be appropriately named then.

This all being said, UFC stacked still is not even close to the stacked PRIDE cards of yesteryear. IF your new to MMA, PRIDE is the japanese MMA organization UFC just bought that used to put on cards like UFC: STACKED every month, except they were 4-8 fights deep. Stacked seems to be UFC's first foray into putting on deeper cards in America, as opposed to cards that have one title fight, and maybe one other fight between top contenders on the cards. STACKED is 4 fights deep, with one fight I deem to be interesting on the undercard (Bocek v. Edgar.)

For the purposes of this article I will be focusing on the top 4 fights. I would do the entire card, but I am in class right now writing this and I don't have a whole lot of time write a coherent MMA article right now. I have to at least appear I am paying attention occasionally as not to bruise my professors most likely fragile ego (a common trait amongst lawyers, although he doesn't seem to be that type of guy. I just wrote this last sentence just in case he reads this.)

Tito Ortiz v. Rashad Evans: I am of the belief Tito Ortiz has been overrated his entire career. I would go into why, but I'll save article for later for aforementioned reasons. I was not high on Rashad Evans, but with each fight he comes closer to working his way into my good graces. A dominant win over Ortiz might be the start of my crush on him. He is a very good wrestler, and he seems to be developing a pretty solid striking game. Ortiz is pretty one dimensional, if he doesn't get the takedown on you he is not going to kill you with strikes, although his boxing has improved (as evidenced by the Lidell fight.) He is pretty good on the ground and a very good wrestler, but I think Rasad Evans is slightly better.

I think this fight unfolds one of 2 ways: Both men are afraid to shoot on eachother and we get a weak striking match ala Diego Sanchez and Josh "I hope he dies in the most painful way possible" Kosheck. A lot of times when you have a fight where both guys actually have a grudge such as this one, and both guys are wrestlers, then whatever the opposite of fireworks is ensues (waterlays?). Both guys are so afriad to lose and take that ego hit that neither will engage to their strength (the ground) and we get the poorest man's version possible of Mezger/Silva.

The other way I see it playing out: Whoever has the better takedowns consistently takes the other guy down, does some ground and pound and wins on points. Either way I think this turns out to be a boring fight. Hopefully I will be wrong.

PREDICTION: RASAHAD BY DECISION due to better wrestling.

Anderson Silva vs. Nathan Marquardt: I'll be the first to admit I don't know a whole lot about Marquardt. In fact I'm relatively sure I'm spelling his name wrong. Once the Cleveland Sports Wire empire picks up some steam and we hire an editor and a fact checker, these are things you the reader will have to learn to live with. Send your complaints to golayintrafficyouanalsonofabitch@hotmail.com.

Anyways back to Marquardt. From the little i've seen of him, hes pretty good on the ground, decent standing, and pretty damn boring. Hes basically a "blanket" type of fighter, as in he takes his prey down and lays on top of them like a blanket, or if you need a more colorful comparison, lays on top of them like a dominant obese woman trying to have sex (sorry if your obese and your trying to have sex, by obese I meant 400 pounds or more. There can't be a lot of you out there. If you weigh more then 400 lbs, do yourself a favor and get the gastro-intestinal surgery.)

Anderson Silva is a deadly muay tai striker (for those of you new to MMA, that means he will grab your neck and try to knee you in the face repeatedly.) He is actually pretty good at jiu-jits, but his ground defense has not been very good up to this point. I do not think it is as bad as other sports writers out their would have you believe it is.

Marquardt (i hate this guys name) is the popular "upset" pick out their, but while he is good, I think he gets Silva on the ground the first few rounds and wins on points, and then Silva catches him late in the 2nd or early in the third once he wears down a little.


Sean Sherk v. Hermes Franca: I hate Sean Sherk. Hate. His style exploits the faulty UFC scoring system (this is another article for later), in fact it is perfect for it. Sherk is built like a fire plug. He has very quick takedowns and is a good wreslter, and thats about it. A typical Sherk fight (vs. someone skilled) is he takes the guy down and lays on top of him while throwing hammerfists, while the UFC ref takes about 3 mintes too long to stand the fight up (as Sherk is not doing any real damage) and the crowd watches on in horror, hoping for quick death. This is why I hate Sean Sherk.

Unfortunately though he is going to be the UFC lightweight champion for the foreseeable future until either: B.J. Penn stays at 155 beats the crap out of him, or UFC brings in the Pride lightweights, many of which would tool Sherk. That or Tyson Griffin and Frankie Edgar mature quickly.

Hermes Franca has knockout power (but is not what you would call a "technical" striker), and has great jiu-jitsu. Franca is going to get taken down this fight and he is going to be fighting off his back. If he is good at fighting/submitting off his back, he has a real shot to beat Sherk. If not, Sherk wins by decision, unless Franca can catch him with a wild punch. I do not see either of these scenario happening for Franca as Sherk, being 4 foot tall and 2 inches of walking muscle, is very difficult to submit (if not impossible), and he has good enough defense standing to avoid looping overhands. The most interesting thing about this fight will be who is the next #1 contender. Heres hoping its Penn before he moves up to 170 to tool Matt Hughes (I hate Matt Hughes.)


Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira v. Heath Herring: Big Nog is one of the top 3 best heavyweights on earth. For a time he was the 2nd best fighter on earth after Fedor. He has some of the best jiu-jitsu in MMA (I'd guess 2nd best after B. J. Penn). He has a big hole in his back he can hide a weapon in if he wants too and he is one bad-ass mother@$(*(%*(@*.

Heath Herring at one point (about 3-4 years ago) was thought to be an up and comer in the heavyweight division, before everyone discovered that he has no heart and he sucks. Hes just another hick from Texas (not that their is anything wrong with Texas, well, except the fact everyone from Texas is a cowboy hat wearing hick--- Hey its my article and i'll declare war Texas if I want too. I've been to the airport there....its not pretty.)

The UFC made this fight because it needs to introduce Nog to the American crowd (he will probably fight the winner of Gonzaga/Couture next for the title) and Herring is a big name (somewhat) who the crowd will recognize. That and Nog will be able to display his skills and kill Herring, again.


Sorry Plungas!

Thanks to my nifty news feed at the bottom of the page, I was able to view that
your boy Carroll is no longer on the free agent circuit...what a shame!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Welcome to the Wire - (Dan Williams)

Happy 4th of July everyone,

I have finally had a chance to put some time and effort into getting this site in working order. For the time being, we all have to log in under one name/password which will be sent via secure email to make posts so please put your name in the title so we are aware of the author.

I just had a nice Wednesday afternoon watching the Tribe go down to the Tigers. It really was a tough loss for the Tribe today, It seemed like the Tigers got every break in the world while the Tribe couldn't catch a break at all ! Nonetheless, they still have a 2 game lead and should head into the All Star break on a high note. It looks like Pronk has really been swinging the bat well and if he gets hot, look out!!