The US team brought the hammer down on Lithuania 111-88, LeBron scored 13, Wade had 14 and Carmelo lead the Americans with 19. I find it amusing watching Jay Marrioti on Around the Horn saying the US won't win the Worlds. Marrioti also said that it doesn't matter what they do in the Worlds, they'll win the gold in the Olympics in Beijing. Really? First of all, the US should win the Worlds, they look ready to go. Second, international players value the Worlds more than the Olympics. It's true, just ask Bill Walton (in a great article by the ABJ's Tom Reed about the US sucking in international play- in all sports, not just basketball):
Walton said international players take a different view of world tournaments. American-born basketball players consider winning an NBA title the pinnacle. No so for some foreigners.
"Toni Kukoc (of Croatia) always has said winning the world championships is the most important thing to him, followed by the Olympics,'' Walton said.
For the US (and writers like Mariotti), the Olympics are all that matters, but for the rest of the field, these are the games that truely count. I think the US players are aware of this and should be just as focused on winning the Worlds as they are the Olympics.
Varejao's strong play in the Worlds may not be a good sign for restricted free agent power forward Drew Gooden. Personally, I'm getting sick of talking about Gooden and I'm pretty sure Brian Windhorst is as well. Nothing has happened on the Gooden front and Windhorst, needing a new way to explain why the Cavs aren't going to pay Gooden $10 million a year, went into detail on the Cavs salary structure pretty (even went into the luxury tax, sexy). In Pluto's bit about the Cavs, he again mentioned Gooden wanting 'Nene money' and that the Cavs aren't going to give it to him.
Both writers touched on the Cavs offseason being boring, especially after last year. And it's true, there's been no free agent splashes or big trades. However, Pluto mentions how the Cavs only had Larry Hughes for 43 games last year (and he missed some playoff games). Getting Hughes for a full year (fingers crossed) is like a free agent pick up. Also, Varejao got hurt in international play last offseason and missed some time. If the Cavs have Varejao and Hughes for the whole year, they should improve on their 50 wins. Plus, maybe this training camp coach Brown will install an offense, that'd be neat. (Not that I blame him, the Cavs couldn't guard a pick and roll before Brown got here.)
Now we get to my favorite Sunday ritual, no not church, being pissed off at Roger Brown. Brown always likes to throw negative news and opinions at the Cleveland fan and today is no different. He starts off his Sunday column with this:
While Ohio State has college football's preseason No. 1 ranking, opinionated ESPN "College GameDay" analyst Lee Corso doesn't believe the Buckeyes deserve it.
"Is Ohio State a top-10 team? Sure," Corso says. "But no way are they the No. 1 team. It's very difficult to win a national championship and rebuild a defense at the same time. And that's exactly what Ohio State is doing [this season]."
Corso notes that Ohio State's defense is missing nine of its top 10 tacklers from last season. "That's a huge hole to fill," Corso says. "You just don't do that overnight."
Thanks Roger, just in case OSU was enjoyign a week of being number one, lets take 'em down a peg. Then, in his most insane moment of the column, Brown takes on the Indians:
Here's some numbers to ponder for the Indians:
Number of AL Central Division titles by Indians since 2002: 0.
Number of the four remaining AL Central teams who have won - or likely will win - the division since 2002: 3.
Number of AL pennants won by Indians since 2002: 0.
Number of AL pennants won by other AL Central teams since 2002: 1 (the 2005 Chicago White Sox, who also won the World Series).
Number of playoff appearances by the Indians since 2002: 0.
Number of winning seasons by Indians since 2002: 1.
Number of winning seasons by the now-visiting Kansas City Royals - long considered one of baseball's worst-run organizations - since 2002: 1.
All of the above lead to some intriguing questions about the Indians:
Has any other franchise in baseball rushed to lock up so many players to long-term deals - six over the past 16 months - before it ever actually won a single thing?
Why can other teams, like this year's Los Angeles Dodgers and the 2005 Atlanta Braves, quietly have six, seven or eight rookies play key roles on their playoff-caliber teams - while the Indians, who brag incessantly about their minor-league system, play prospects only after this season has been lost (and there's less pressure on them to quickly back up the organization's self-serving boasts)?
At the moment, doesn't the real evidence suggest the Indians current "blueprint" is a clear failure - and may continue to be one? And not that it's some genius plan that just needs one more (and one more . . . and one more) season-- before it blooms into multiple division titles, pennants and World Series appearances?
Wow, where to start... First of all, lets tackle the Dodgers and Braves shit. The National League sucks. End of story. Sure, the Indians are under .500, but the Twins (3rd in the AL Central) would be winning the NL West by 6 games (which the Dodgers currently lead).
Grady Sizemore - 144 hits, 54 RBI, .303 BA, .919 OPS, 39 2B, and 18 HR
Travis Hafner - 119 hits, 83 walks, 100 RBI, .300 BA, 1.052 OPS, 27 2B and 34 HR
Victor Martinez - 131 hits, 66 RBI, 49 strike outs(!), .313 BA, .843 OPS, 27 2B and 12 HR
Jhonny Peralta - 108 hits, 48 RBI, 21 2B, .252 BA, .701 OPS and 10 HR
CC Sabathia - 8-8, 3.29 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 8.15 K/9
Cliff Lee - 10-8, 4.64 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 5.94 K/9
Of the six players signed to long term deals, Peralta and Lee could be the ones to bitch about. But come on, Peralta was badass last year (and even in a down year, he's not gawd awful) and Lee is an above-average-to-good left handed starter. Could the long term deal and trade of Brandon Phillips have made Peralta too comfortable? Maybe, but this looks like a sophmore slump and it's a little bit early to call Peralta a bust.
As for calling the rebuilding a failure and comparing the Indians to Kansas City (despite winning 93 games last year), the Indians have two absolute studs in Sizemore and Hafner, something KC does not. Sizemore is leading the league in extrabase hits with 66 and Hafner is 3rd with 62 (Big Papi is second with 64). Hafner is also 3rd in the AL with 100 RBIs and 3rd with 34 HRs.
The reason the Indians failed this year is not because of these signings, it's because of these signings: Danny Graves, Steve Karsay, Scott Sauerbeck, Guillermo Mota and Jason Johnson.
Here's the Tribe's 5 man rotation for next year: CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Jason Westbrook, Jeremy Sowers and Paul Byrd. That is not a bad rotation. And here is their lineup: Sizemore, Hafner, Martinez, Peralta, Choo with Marte, Garko, Blake, Luna and Michaels rounding it out. Could the Indians use a right handed bat? Of course (*cough* Carlos Lee), but hitting and starting pitching isn't the problem. The bullpen is.
If Larry Dolan and Mark Shapiro actually spend money to get competent relievers, (not guys off the scrap heap), then there is no reason why this team can't compete next year. However, this doesn't convince me they will: Do tell, the Tribe renews interest in Dotel.
Despite all this nonsense, Brown does provide on tidbit that makes me happy:
No, the Cavs don't plan to hire John Mason, the Detroit Pistons' extremely loud, colorful and popular public-address announcer, to replace Ronnie Duncan, dumped last week as PA man.
Last month, the Cavs fired longtime TV voice Michael Reghi and replaced him with Fred McLeod, a former Pistons play-by-play man.
I think we can all agree that no one wants Mason here.
Last but not least, the Plain Dealer has a great article about how LeBron James is HUGE in China. It just makes me sad knowing that LeBron could be much a bigger star if he only played for the Knicks.