Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hollinger: Cavs won't have homecourt in playoffs

I know it's mandated that ESPN writers hate on Cleveland, but 5th? In the East? Really?:

The Cavs aren't really built to be a good regular-season team, and if James misses any time they're going to rapidly slip in the standings -- they lost all seven games that he missed last year.

But they should be better than they were last season. Having Varejao around for a full season will do wonders for the defense, and Williams is a major upgrade at the point. Plus, there's the possibility of doing something much more grand with Szczerbiak's expiring deal and really remaking this team into an offensive force.

Too many holes remain for this team to outlast mainstays like the Pistons and Celtics for a top seed. The frontcourt is counting on two aging warhorses in Ilgauskas and Wallace, the shooting guard situation is dicey at best and, other than Varejao, the bench offers decent role players but little real quality.

Fortunately, they have James, and in a playoff series that makes them a threat to beat anyone -- even Boston, as we learned last spring. The problem is they're going to have to do it on the road, because they aren't built to handle the 82-game grind that precedes the playoffs.

Prediction: 47-35, 2nd in Central Division, T-5th in Eastern Conference

What kills me is that he mentions that the Cavs lost every game James sat out last year... like he was the only one hurt (Z, Varejao, Pavlovic, Hughes and Gooden all missed time).

5th? Please give this team a reason to have a chip on its' shoulder. Please.

[UPDATE] Well, Marc Stein has 'em ranked 6th.... overall:
Although trading for Michael Redd was a nice fantasy, getting Mo Williams off the Bucks is hardly a consolation prize. He's a younger version of the Mike -- Bibby -- Cleveland tried for years to add and should give Bron help.

So can everyone STFU now?

I'm sure ESPN will run this quote just as often as they ran the 'favorite borough is Brooklyn' quote:
"I never gave an indication I was leaving Cleveland," he said. "I never gave any indication I didn't like being here. Every time I'm asked that question, [I answer] I love being here, I love playing in front of these fans. My family's here. I grew up 30 miles away from here. I never gave any indication I did not like playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. I like the Yankees and Cowboys, but it has nothing to do with the Cavaliers."

In other Cavalier news, James said he's "five times better than I was in Game 7 of the Boston series." Now, I don't believe his math (though I'd love to be wrong), but the Cavs are in a really good spot this year. They're talking championship- and they should be.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pluto: Hey, at least the Cavs won't suck

And he's right:

I was thinking about how Cleveland sports fans desperately need a reason to cheer, after the Indians dropped from World Series contenders to the dreaded spoilers. And how the Cavs can be some medicine to discouraged Browns fans who have watched their team slip from 10-6 in 2007 to 0-3 and in serious trouble, especially if they lose Sunday in Cincinnati.

I was thinking about how I'd be stunned if this season became the same sad story for the Cavaliers, as it has been for the other two local franchises.

I was thinking that as long as LeBron James is healthy and in uniform and as long as Gilbert is paying the bills, these guys should give fans reason to dream that a championship is possible.

"As long as James is healthy and in uniform and as lon as Gilbert is paying the bills." Gilbert is, far and away, the best owener in Cleveland sports. He's always been willing to pay top dollar for everything (the practice facility, the fire spewing scoreboard and, of course, the Cavs have the second highest payroll in the NBA).

Plus, he says shit like this:

Gilbert said all the talk of James opting out of his contract in the summer of 2010 was generated by bored reporters.

"I'm not aware from his or his camp the feelings or things that have been bandied about or thrown about or speculated. It's an insult to Cleveland, in my opinion."

and honestly, if the Browns lose this weekend, the race is on to see which franchise wins their first game.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wait, what?


The Baltimore Ravens accused certain Cleveland players of intentionally gouging the eyes of tailback Willis McGahee on two occasions in last Sunday's 28-10 victory against the Browns.

The Ravens reported the incidents by sending tapes to the league office earlier this week.

"We talked to the league," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said during his weekly news conference Wednesday. "We asked them for their opinion on what happened, and we're waiting to hear back on it."

The Ravens are withholding the names they reported to the NFL. But in reviewing the tape, Cleveland middle linebacker Andra Davis is one of the players in question. Davis can be seen reaching under McGahee's visor and poking him in the right eye during a tackle near the goal line midway through the third quarter.

Fantastic. If they're gonna suck, why not be dirty too?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Time for Quinn?

Terry Pluto thinks so, the PD says Romeo is considering it and SI has a story...

On one hand, I think it makes sense. DA hasn't looked good, the team is in disarray and they could use some kind of shake up. However, it's only Week 4 and I'm not sure you can bench DA after three weeks against three pretty good defenses (he hadn't had reps for Week 1, the wind was nuts in Week 2 and Week 3 was the first time he didn't have a legit excuse).

But at the same time, Anderson didn't exactly finish strong last season. Could teams be picking up on his tendencies? I dunno.

One would think the most logical thing would be to have DA start this week, give him one more chance, and if he sucks, install Quinn as the starter during the Bye Week. But their first game after the Bye is against the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants on Monday Night. Do you really want Quinn's first start to be against the champs, on MNF in front of a national audience? I'm not so sure.

Which is why it's sort of making sense that they're considering putting him in against Cinci. Let him get his feet wet against a bad team, then let him face the Champs...

[UPDATE] Maybe Romeo flipped another coin, cause he's made a decision (and won't give any reasons):
Crennel refused to give reasons for sticking with Anderson.
"I'm not getting into the what ifs, the whens, the wheres, how long or anything like that about this decision," Crennel said. "The decision is made and that's what it's going to be."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Where's Waldo

Do me a favor, find the W's on the Browns schedule.
Week 1 - Dallas - L
Week 2 - Pittsburgh - L
Week 3 - @ Baltimore - L
Week 4 - @ Cincinnati
Week 5 - Bye
Week 6 - NY Giants
Week 7 - @ Washington
Week 8 - @ Jacksonville
Week 9 - Baltimore
Week 10 - Denver
Week 11 - @ Buffalo
Week 12 - Houston
Week 13 - Indianapolis
Week 14 - @ Tennessee
Week 15 - @ Philadelphia
Week 16 - Cincinnati
Week 17 - @ Pittsburgh
Which games are sure things?

I guess you can count the home game against the Texans.... and the Colts haven't looked like world beaters (they should be 0-3). If the Browns lose next week, I'm not sure they win a road game all season (well, if the Steelers rest their starters in Week 17...).

I mean, do you trust them at Washington? Nope. At Tennessee? HA! At Philly? I don't think so. At Jacksonville? Heh. At Buffalo? Eh...

Maybe I'm a pessimist, but this season is very close to getting very ugly (if we arent' there already). You know what's sick? I'm agreeing with Bill Simmons opinions about a Cleveland team (from his NFL preview column):

I'm not a big fan of this formula: Artificially high expectations + too many nationally televised games (five in all) + brutal schedule + too much luck last season (what are the odds of them getting 32 games from Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards again?) + brewing QB controversy + horrible preseason = Yikes.

Also, their two biggest offseason moves were fundamentally illogical: Trading for Shaun Rogers and keeping Derek Anderson. In the salary-cap era, you can't keep Anderson (who had two good months and tailed off) after dealing a future No. 1 and committing all that money to Brady Quinn. It's like drafting QBs in the first two rounds of a fantasy draft -- yeah, you can do it, but it never works. Why not trade Anderson for two draft picks and back the guy who you loved so much a year before? And why compound the error by trading your 2nd and 3rd round picks plus a valuable cornerback (Leigh Bodden) for expensive and possibly shaky defensive linemen (Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers). That's a swing of four draft picks plus Bodden! Didn't they see what happened with the Giants last year? If you made a "How to win the Super Bowl" formula, would "Pay two quarterbacks big money" and "Don't get anything from your draft" be two of the pieces? OF COURSE NOT!!! On the bright side, "taking the Browns to the Super Bowl" remains my favorite euphemism for making a doody.

I can't find much to disagree with. Sure, I like the Rogers trade (I'm actually OK with the secondary and wasn't that high on Bodden) but their lack of depth is really showing right now. I'm with him on trading/letting go of DA.

But of course it looks good in retrospect... but I really didn't expect there to be an actual QB controversy this season... I expected Anderson to play so-so but have the Browns to stick with him out of loyalty/consistency/general stupidity. But he's been awful. He was absolutely dreadful throughout the second half today.


Also, what else does Jerome Harrison have to do to get playing time? Did he even touch the ball in the second half? And do the Browns have linebackers? I never hear their names called...


Patrick McManamon (emphasis added):

It's hard to remember a time when the Browns' season seemed to hinge on such early games.

But at 0-2 with two road division games ahead, the Browns' fate seems to rest on the first month of the season.

The remaining schedule is brutal.

Games against the Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills that might have seemed winnable prior to the season now seem very, very iffy.

But let's be honest about today's game: If the Browns are a good team, and if they are to be a good team, they should beat the Ravens.

The Ravens have a first-year coach, a rookie quarterback and an offense that scored on a wide-receiver reverse and Joe Flacco's scramble.

It's time for the Browns to quit whining about problems and start focusing on winning a stinking game.

It's time for them to make a statement about what kind of team they are, and are going to be.
Does the season rest on this afternoon's game? Well... kinda. Starting off 0-3 would not be a good thing. Both DA and Romeo need to have a mistake free ballgame. If we see more clock management mishaps and blown two-minute drills, this season could get really ugly, really quick.

They better beat the Ravens today, they should beat the Ravens today... but then again, they should've beaten Pittsburgh last week (hey Browns fans, if I told you the defense would hold the Steelers to 10 points, Shaun Rogers played out of his mind and the Browns were at home, how would you guess that game ended up?).

I know they have injuries (Steinbach is out, Edwards looks like he's out) but even an injury depleted Browns team should be able to steal a game in Baltimore against a team with a rookie QB.

And yet, I have no confidence at all.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Too Hard"?

ESPN writers think that James is most likely to stay in Cleveland in 2010, but many believe he'll bolt (and someone even picked Detroit- seriously, wtf? Is he also a Red Wings fan?).

I really like this post by Cleveland.com blogger Dan Labbe:
Enough about 2010.

We know all about 2010. We know LeBron James can opt out. We know teams are scrambling to clear cap space. We know the Cavs, at least for now, have plenty of cap space. We know the Cavs can offer more money and more years. We know Cleveland doesn't offer the gargantuan marketing and merchandising opportunities, fan-base size and mystique some other cities may have.

But who cares about 2010? Are we so paranoid as a fan base that we're losing sleep over something two years away? Are national sports writers (and me...) so bereft of ideas that all they can do is churn out the same thing we've read 100 times or more?

For the Cleveland Cavaliers, the time is now.

Not only do the Cavs have the best player in the NBA (even if talking heads don't want to admit it), they now have a legitimate second scoring option in Mo Williams. They have two small guards in Delonte West and Daniel Gibson that can shoot in transition and allow this team to spread defenses and push the basketball. They have a 7'3" center that can score in double figures. They have a coach that, for all the moaning about his offense (and I've been amongst the moaners), knows how to instill a strong defensive mindset, understands his success is dependent on LeBron James and knows how to win in the playoffs.

And most importantly, they have the ability to get significantly better at the trade deadline thanks to Wally Szczerbiak's $13 million expiring contract.

He's exactly right. The Cavs are in a great spot heading into this season and they should be in great position heading forward (I mean, look at their salary for 2010-11).

He's also exactly right about Wally. The Cavs could go either way, if Szczerbiak can regain the shooting touch that has made him his money, the Cavs will be in a very very good position. If he stinks? Well, they have the biggest trade chip for the deadline and it gives them the potential to pick up one or even two impact players.

Finally, Steven Aschburner has a column on LeBron's 'loyalties' and it's mostly standard stuff except for this:

But then, the superstar's people reportedly are already unhappy with the Cleveland media, believing that they are too hard on, and demand too much from, their guy. On that one, LBJ might want to seek out another out-of-towner and see what Alex Rodriguez thinks about that. There's one superstar who might wish he were wearing anything but a Yankees cap.

Too hard? Really? Are you serious? And they want to go to New York?

The idea that the Cleveland media is too hard on LeBron James is laughable. The only guy who could even be considered tough on James is WTAM's Mike Trivisonno, and if you're worrying about what that racist asshole thinks, you got too much time on your hands.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Random Thoughts from the Weekend

1. The Buckeyes... god damn... just.... god damn

2. Hey James Laurinaitis, maybe you should've gone into the draft last year, no? Think you're still a top 10 pick? Don't get me wrong, he's a good/great player, but the Buckeyes need him to step it up in games against the likes of USC.

3. It was almost like Tressel was trying to use the same plays that beat the Hurricanes in 2002. Hey, Todd Boeckman draws! Awesome. Sure, maybe using Boeckman in option would catch USC off guard... but it's Todd Boeckman running, USC is full of freak athletes, they may be fooled, but they'll still stop it.

4. Terrelle Pryor should be allowed to share the backfield with a running back. He should also be allowed to throw the ball. If he's in there with an empty backfield, opposing defenses will just expect him to run... which is what the Buckeyes did. Some creativity please.

5. The best part of the USC game was the fact that Maurice Wells didn't get the bulk of the carries. I could not have handled that.

6. Now they're 13th... awesome. That's about where I expected them to fall, but damn...

7. Some emailer to the Jim Rome Show made the case that Tressel is now Lloyd Carr. Won a championship early... started losing big games... beat their rival early on... I don't care for the comparison, but it does kinda worry me...

8. I don't trust Todd Boeckman at all. Pryor should at least be getting half the snaps and I'll be honest, I wouldn't mind the Pryor era starting this Saturday. Might as well let the kid start.

9. Troy isn't an easy team, I'm a tad worried that the Bucks might over look them. I could their post USC reactions go either way. They could get embarassed, come out focused and just lay the wood to people... or they could be completely devastated and roll over.

10. Obviously they missed Beanie Wells, that much was certain. But 35-3 is 35-3. One player won't make that much of a difference. USC has more talent and they're better coached. I won't lie, I'm not surprised that OSU lost, but I'm a bit surprised that they got blown out (again).

11. The Browns... dear god.

12. Early on Sunday I asked a friend when he thought the Browns might fire Romeo (he's not a Browns fan). He said maybe after the season, but he thought it was early to speculate. I then mentioned that I meant which week the Browns would can him. He answered that he'd be surprised if Romeo got canned so close after a 10 win season and that NFL coaches rarely get fired mid-season.

13. After Sunday nights game, my friend looked at me and said, "you know, maybe they will let him go mid-season."

14. Do the Browns ever miss in the endzone? Meaning, they don't throw the ball to the endzone, they always throw to a guy a few yards out and have him run in. Like the INT to end the first half... I'm OK with them taking a shot there, but you have to throw the ball into the endzone. Anderson threw to a guy 3 yards out... and got picked. Even if he completes that pass, they don't score any points.

15. Anderson's first pick was terrible as well, but it was also the fault of the coaches. The pick came on the offense's first play with the wind. They switch directions at the quarter break, have no experience going the other direction and decide to throw the deep ball right off the bat. Awesome. No getting used to the conditions? Maybe it would've been prudent to get used to the wind before throwing the ball 30 yards.

16. Too many penalties. Everyone was at fault. Dumb holdings, dumb false starts, really dumb offsides... hell, they even fucked up their fake onside kick by not having enough men on one side of the field. How the hell does that even happen?

17. Braylon Edwards has to step up. The Browns aren't going to beat good teams without Edwards playing well. They just aren't. Yes, he was hit early on his last drop and ya the conditions weren't great (even Hines Ward dropped a few) but Braylon MUST play better if the Browns want any shot at the playoffs.

18. The coaching... On the Browns last drive of the first half, they got a first down right before the two-minute warning and tried to get another play off before the clock stopped... Well, they rushed up there and got that play off... for negative 3 yards. Well played. I'd much rather have 2nd and 13 than 1st and 10.

19. More coaching... why the FG late in the fourth? It's 4th and 7 on the 20, if you go for it and miss, you'll need to stop the Steelers, get the ball back and score a TD. But they kicked a field goal... and still needed to stop the Steelers, get the ball back and score a TD. Brilliant. Oh, and if the Browns had simply missed on 4th, they would've had the Steelers on the 20... rather than the 30 (where they started after the terrible kickoff).

20. And those timeouts... you know it's really bad when both Madden and Al Michaels are openly mocking your coach. I'm not sure I've ever seen that before, so well done Cleveland!

21. Joining everyone and their mother on the injured list is Robaire Smith, who's out with a torn Achilles. After trading away all those draft picks, the Browns aren't exactly a deep fooball team. Their starting units are fine, but I have no faith in the backups.

22. Shaun Rogers is an absolute beast. The man is a monster. He's making his presence felt out there, I can't say the same for Kamerion Wimbley. I was (and still am) hoping for a big season from the 3rd year pro. I figured the additions of Rogers and Williams would really open things up for him. Like Edwards, if the Browns want to beat good teams, Wimbley is going to have to make is presence felt.

23. Willie McGinist is done. Stick a fork in him, take him out back, do whatever... he shouldn't be playing. I know there's injuries and I know he's a smart player, but he almost commited a terrible offsides penalty (well, he did, but the Steelers called a TO just before it happened) and he got stood up on the lone touchdown of the game. He's just too old and slow.

24. Delonte West. I love this signing. Two years guaranteed and a team option for the third. Oh, and it's only worth $13 million. That is god damned awesome. Having West come off the bench (I guess he could start, but that'd be a small backcourt) will give Coach Mike some flexibilty to sub for whatever guard is having an off night (or is in foul trouble, etc).

25. Say what you will about Ferry, but he hasn't made many mistakes since his first month on the job. His trades have solid (never taking on long term salary), he drafts fairly well (Hickson looks like an absolute steal at this point) and he doesn't overpay for his own role players (which can cripple salary caps and flexibility). The Cavs are going to have a lot of money of their own for the mystical 2010 offseason.

26. At this point my money is on Wally Szczerbiak starting at the 2, with West, Boobie Gibson and Sasha Pavlovic coming off the bench. I think that having Wally around for a full training camp will really help him develope some chemistry with LeBron (and allow Wally to be a better shooter). With both Gibson and Szczerbiak around (plus the addition of Mo Williams) should allow the Cavs to stretch the floor quite a bit.

27. I'm so excited for this movie. I actually like the new poster a lot more.

28. Oh, logic...

29. Of course Eric Wedge will return, why not? You don't just toss away a guy who's gotten you to the playoffs once in the past six years.

30. The official soundtrack of the Europe trip:

The Kooks - Always Where I Need To Be

Saturday, September 13, 2008

This weekend

OSU-USC and Browns-Steelers.

I have no confidence in either game. I'm in Columbus as we speak and I am very worried about the condition that my liver will be in come Monday.

If Ohio State wants a shot tonight, they have to survive the first quarter (USC will be way pumped) and the defense has to live up to their "best in the country" persona.

As for the Browns... just don't lose 41-0. Please.


Never in a million years did I ever expect to read an article comparing Cliff Lee to Satchel Paige.

What the fuck, right?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My question is: Where's the "LeBron to Mavericks" rumors?

I don't care who he roots for. He's been consistent throughout his entire life, Bulls, Cowboys and Yankees (ya, like 90% of the kids I went to school with, he's a frontrunner, so what?):
LeBron James may raise the ire of local fans by wearing a New York Yankees cap or cheering for the Dallas Cowboys, but another of the city's biggest sports stars isn't bothered by the NBA icon's out-of-town loyalties.

As far as Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards is concerned, James can root, root, root for any team he wishes.

"I give him credit for being loyal," Edwards said Tuesday.

On Sunday, James, who last season showed up at an Indians playoff game against New York sporting a Yankees cap, was on Dallas' sideline during pregame warmups before the Browns' season opener against the Cowboys. In full view of Browns players, James, again wearing the Yankees cap and a blue-and-silver T-shirt, chatted with Dallas owner Jerry Jones and hugged Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens and cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones.

James has pledged an allegiance to America's Team since he was a kid.

If this shit bothers you, you're an idiot. And guess what, he roots for the biggest Ohio team of all, the Buckeyes. He's routinely spouting pro-OSU sentiments, so don't worry about it.

Again, if LeBron ends up leaving, it will be because of basketball reasons and nothing more. If the Cavs put together a team capable of winning 55-60 games, he's not going to bolt for a Nets team anchored by Yi Jilian.