Sunday, September 30, 2007

In Game Blogging

As exciting as the first half was, the second half has almost put me to sleep. I didn't make it down to the game today. With all of my travels for work and the fact that I am 100% dedicated to Tribe playoff baseball, Browns/Ravens was not going to be in my cards unless I wanted Mrs Cursed Teams to hate me for the next month for leaving her with the little man alone all day again. So right now, its Browns 27 Ravens 13 with 4:15 to go in the fourth quarter. Here are my random musings or as the great Terry Pluto calls them "scribbles in my notebook." (SIDE NOTE: its 4th and 21 for the Ravens. This is the ballgame. Lets hope they don't throw a screen pass. hahahaha)

1. Lets give Romeo Crennel and D-Coordinator Todd Grantham some credit. The much maligned defense shut down the Ravens offense all game long. Kamerion Wimbley absolutely abused rookie tackle Marshal Yanda all day long. Wimbley's speed off the edge is scary.

2. Is there any better feeling as a Browns fan than beating the Ravens and their arrogant prick head coach Brian Billick. Seriously, you can have the Steelers, give me a win over the Ravens any day. While Uncle Artie is long gone, as long as Billick is running that ship, I will always take more pride in beating them. The so-called "offense genius" still hasn't figured out that Steve McNair was washed up three years ago and Kyle Boller isn't the QB of the future. Derek Anderson was a 6th round pick of the Ravens the year after Boller was drafted in the 1st round. Who would you rather have right now?

3. Speaking of Anderson, other than his bad interception in the second quarter, he played well again. He managed the game well, going 10-18 for 204 yards and 2 TD's. It seems like every time out, he makes at least one big throw, today it was the 78 yard TD to Braylon Edwards putting the Browns up 14-0. You don't hear calls for Brady Quinn now, do you? With Anderson 2-1 as a starter and playing for the most part decently, it still boggles the mind that the long-forgotten QB Charlie Frye was handed the keys for game one.

4. Is there any more over-hyped team than the Ravens? Yes, they still have the great defense, but how good did they look against the Browns today giving up 27 points? Memo to Billick: Steve McNair is done. He was washed up three years ago. I don't care what your record was with him last year at the helm. The guy can't move anymore. You already know how I feel about Boller.

5. Props again must go out to the Browns offensive line who seem to be jelling as a unit every week. As good as the Ravens run defense is, Jamal Lewis ran like an angry man. 23 carries for 64 yards is nothing spectacular, but it was just enough to keep the defense honest. The left side of Eric Steinbach and Joe Thomas is developing into something special.

6. For the third straight week, Braylon Edwards is playing like the big play, game breaking Wide Receiver he was drafted to be. Kellen Winslow is an absolute beast, and Anderson seems to be the only Browns QB over the last two seasons who know that Joe Jurevicius exists. That's a good thing. Nobody has better hands.

7. Good thing I'm watching the Steelers/Cardinals game and Dan Dierdorf just said "Troy Polamalu just dropped a load on Edgerrin James." Nice.

8. The Browns are now 2-2 and in second place in the AFC North. Reality is that they should be 3-1 after the last second field goal debacle last week in Oakland. After the Steelers dismantled them at home in week one, did you think this was going to be possible? Yeah, me neither. Next week should be a reality check when the Browns must travel to New England. The good news is that the Indians will be in the middle of the ALDS and hopefully nobody will notice the Browns being abused in Foxboro.

9. I'll talk Tribe either later tonight or tomorrow, but they are leading the Royals 4-2 going into the bottom if the ninth with the following lineup: Ben Francisco, Luis Rivas, David Dellucci, Josh Barfield, Franklyn Guttierez, Andy Marte, Chris Gomez, Jason Michaels, and Kelly Shoppach. Lets see if JoBo can hold on to this meaningless affair in KC.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Enjoy

My travels have taken me to Chicago for the day (again), so I couldn't stay up late last night to watch Tribe ball. So they lost last night. (SIDE NOTE: Any particular reason that in a game of this magnitude, Asdrubal Cabrera was hitting third and Franky G hitting fifth?) Paul Byrd did his now routine Six innings, Four runs, and giving up the key long ball (actually two, two-run pizza's with two outs). Any one think he'll start game three over Jake Westbrook in the ALDS against the Yankees? Yeah, me neither. The Tribe must win these games in KC (starting with CC tonight) to lock in that one seed.

Interestingly enough, I heard ESPN's baseball genius, the Dali lama himself, Peter Gammons say this morning on Mike and Mike that he thinks the Red Sox would choose the shorter series if they finish with the best record. The reason being they would want one less day of rest for the Angels bullpen. He said no doubt the Indians would choose the longer series so they can start "the best one-two punch in baseball," C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona twice on regular rest. As I said to my friend Jeremy last night, if we can't win a series with CC and Fausto going twice, then we don't deserve to move on.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have lifted "the Joba Rules" for the playoffs, so we will see their fire-balling set up man Joba Chamberlain in back to back games for the first time this season. Between that, the fact that the Yankees strangely enough haven't faced C.C. Sabathia in three years, and the mystery of Roger Clemens' leg injury, there will be storylines aplenty come next week.

We will try something new here. To get you jacked for Tribe playoff action, here are some Tribe related youtube videos from past and present to enjoy:






Thursday, September 27, 2007

Joe Blow

I said it in my post last night - anyone else worried about Joe Borowski in the playoffs? He blew his second save in two nights in the Indians 3-2 loss in game two agains Seattle. The return of Jeremy Sowers (five scoreless innings) was wasted. Handed a 2-1 by Sowers, rising star Jenson Lewis, and The Realtor, JoBlow got the first two out in the ninth before giving up a solo, game-tying pizza to the one and only Jeff Clement. Who? Jeff Clement? You read correctly. It was his first major league homer. The game was lost in the 10th thanks to Jhonny Peralta's butcher job with two outs. Mike Morse (no, not the comedian who writes brilliant song parodies for the Howard Stern show including "Ralphy Cakes," and "Rich Nerd") was given a hit on the play, but major league shortstops make the play Peralta couldn't. The ball was hit right at him. With the spilt of the doubleheader, the Tribe and Red Sox are now tied for the best record in baseball with four games to play. Its also becoming almost a lock that the Indians will start with the Yankees coming to the Jake, thanks to the Angels four game losing streak and the Red Sox closing in on the AL East crown.

Lets talk facts and figures. All the credit here goes to my statistical guru, Matt G. MG - take it away:

Some of these have been discussed before or recently been written about, but it is nonetheless amazing:

No one on the team will hit 30 home runs

We might not have a player that hits over .300.

Our leadoff hitter is second in the league in strikeouts, while our shortstop with limited range is fifth

Our starting second and third basemen, two-halves of our outfield platoon, and two starters in the rotation at the beginning of the year were all benched or sent to the minors

Our current second baseman hit .250 last year in AAA

Our third baseman has four home runs since the All-Star break

Our left fielder is older than all of us

Our DH hit about 50 points lower than last year, with 19 fewer home runs despite 70 more at-bats

Our best pitcher weighs 300 pounds

Our second best pitcher is a busted closer

Our third best pitcher has a .298 BA against him

Our fourth, fifth, and sixth starters at the beginning of the year were a combined 12-23

Our closer has an ERA over 5.00 and .291 BA against him

Last year, we traded a .290-30-100-110-30 player for single A minor leaguer (sneaky could be good one day)

All that equals - the best record in baseball.

Meanwhile, espn.com has the Tribe at #1 in their Power Rankings, cbssportsline.com has them at #2. Rob Neyer from espn.com kills Borowski today in his column today. If you are an espn insider, you can read the full thing. Here is a snippet:

In October, though, Borowski's ninth-inning failures will be magnified far beyond anything that's happened already this season, to the point where it might become a huge organizational distraction. But at this point, there's nothing to be done about it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My Apologies



My real job and travel has put a squeeze on my blogging, apologize. Unfortunately for me, talking Tribe, Browns, Cavs, KU Hoops, and sports in general doesn't pay the bills (although if I wasn't such a pot-head in college, it could have). It's random thoughts time...

1. You know the Tribe is rolling when Luis Rivas is 2-2 with a triple and a double so far tonight in game one of the doubleheader in Seattle. At this very second Fausto Carmona is rolling through six innings staked to a 9-2 lead.

2. Is it just me, or are you worried about Joe Borowski pitching with a one run lead in Yankees stadium in a pivotal playoff game? JoBo, an all around good guy and model teammate, can blow a save with the best of them. Tuesday night was his seventh such instance of the season. Luckily, Kenny Lofton's sac fly and Rafael Betancourt's usual stellar relief work won it in the 11th.

3. Very anxious to see how Jeremy Sowers pitches in the night-cap of the doubleheader. He was so masterful last year as a rookie and so horrible as a sophomore earlier this year. He earned the right to make this start with his hard work in both Buffalo and Akron. The same cannot be said for "Stiff" Lee and his bad attitude.

4. Make that 10-2, bottom six. It's very weird to see the Indians as the home team in Seattle.

5. Lets talk Browns - Their defensive line may be the worst I've ever seen. Their old. Their slow. Their soft. Not a great recipe for success. I love Orpheus Roye's heart, but his body is failing him and he isn't the player he was two years ago; and even then he was getting old. Ted Washington is stealing money. He is a fat slob who should have hung them up five years ago. He is supposedly in their to "plug holes," yet the Browns have allowed three consecutive 100 yard backs (Willie Parker, Rudi Johnson, Lamont Jordan). Only three games have been played! Shaun Smith? Robaire Smith? Simon Frasor? Ethan Kelley? That's quite the rotation GM Phil Savage set up.

6. Lets go from the front to the back - The Linebackers haven't been much better. Antwan Peek and Kamerion Wimbley are excused from this conversation. They are doing an adequate job on the ends. The middle linebackers have been atrocious. Andra Davis - has anyone's (alleged) star fallen faster? Yes, he may be hurt, but he has become real average, real fast. D-Quell Jackson hasn't impressed anyone and is losing reps. What about the supposed emergence of Leon Williams? So far he has been overmatched. Chaun Thompson has filled in. That's not a good sign. Willie McGinest should be back this week. Whoo-pee!!!

7. Make that 12-2. Luis Rivas is a double away from the cycle. No joke. Good thing he didn't win the utility job over Mike Rouse coming out of Winter Haven.

8. Now to the secondary. Wow has second round pick Eric Wright looked bad. Talk about overmatched. I feel for the kid. He is getting burnt to a crisp out there and could be replaced as soon as this week by Kenny Wright of Davon Holly. He continues to get picked on and exploited. When Josh McCown is burning you, it's not a good sign. The safeties have not helped one bit. Sean Jones has been a non-factor and Brodney Pool has been a serious disappointment, blowing coverages and missing tackles.

9. Thank goodness for Josh Cribbs.

10. Look up the phrase "lame duck" in the dictionary and you will find a picture of coach Romeo Crennel. I believe it was Bud Shaw who put it best in
his column Monday "Imagine if Romeo Crennel weren't so well liked in the locker room. As it is, this team seems to have his back in much the same way Brutus had Caesar's." The coin flip was laughable, but his defense is a bigger joke; and he is a defensive coach! He'll never last more than the season and will never get another head coaching job after this.

11. With all that horrid commentary on the Browns defense and coaching ( I didn't mention the false start and holding parade put on by the O-line), they still somehow almost won the game. The Raiders did everything they could to hand it to the Brown and Orange. Only the "New" Browns could make a kick that didn't count and then have the re-kick blocked.

Monday, September 24, 2007

More Tribe Celebration Links


I'll talk about the abomination that is the Cleveland Browns defense tomorrow. I'm actually at a trade show that is slower than slow, so I am able to put this post into action for my loyal subjects. What a day to read the internet articles about the Tribe. I leafed through them all. There is some great stuff out there. Click below and enjoy.

WATCH the Plain Dealer Video of the celebration here

A Feel-Better Story - Bill Livingston, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Shapiro's Work to Rebuild Rewarded With Central Crown - Jim Ingraham, Lorain Morning Journal

Indians Return to Postseason - Sheldon Ocker, Akron Beacon-Journal

October Baseball Returns to Cleveland - Paul Hoynes, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Cleveland Secures AL Central Crown - Tom Withers, AP (this has great quotes in it).

How about Tribe foe Curtis Granderson coming out with this gem on his espn.com insider blog:

Those of you who are fans of the American League Central just saw that Cleveland clinched the division last night. The Indians had our number this year, and they are really playing well at this time. As the Indians move into the playoffs, they will be a tough team to beat for a number of reasons.

First off, they have really good starting pitching. C.C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona and Paul Byrd have been very good in their rotation for the entire season. They bring power from both sides of the mound with Sabathia (a lefty) and Carmona (a righty), and then follow it up with the finesse and experience of Byrd.

Coming out of the bullpen, they have one of the best setup guys in the game in Rafael Betancourt, who has a 1.41 ERA. Following Betancourt is closer Joe Borowski, who leads the American League with 43 saves. The Indians' pitching is only a half of the puzzle that gives them a good shot to make a run for the championship.

Their offense is very balanced as they have speed, power and players who can get on base. At the top of the lineup they can use Grady Sizemore or Kenny Lofton, who both have on-base percentages higher than .370 and have combined to steal 56 bases. In the middle of their lineup, they have Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner and Jhonny Peralta, all of whom can drive the ball to the gaps and also out of the ballpark. Ryan Garko and Franklin Gutierrez can also hit for average as well as hit for power.

Trying to tame both the Indians' offense and pitching staff was a very difficult task for us this season. The team that faces them in the ALDS will find it just as difficult.

Oh it's a Tribe LOVE FEST right now...I cannot wait fot the playoffs to start.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

CELEBRATE!





Soak in in Tribe fans. Every second of it. Say it loud and proud. Your Cleveland Indians are champions of the American League Central Division and will be back playing October baseball for the first time since 2001. A mix of veteran leadership and youthful exuberance carried this club from the snowed out home opener all the way through today's clincher at Jacobs Field. The man who carried the bullpen all year, Rafael Betancourt fittingly closed it out, striking out Mark Ellis to set off a wild celebration. He won't get any votes, but the team's real MVP is Betancourt. Without him, no way the Indians winning the division, let alone competing.

For C.C. Sabathia, its a return he thought he may have never seen again. As a 20 year old phenom in 2001, Big C probably thought he'd see this every year. The man who set him straight was none other than Chuck "Kitaen" Finley. 38 and at the end of his career at the time, Finley told young C.C. not to take this for granted, it won't happen every year. Boy was he right.

Six years and one close call later, and C.C. is back. This time as the leader. He took the microphone on the field and thanked the fans for their support and said "we've got two more banners to raise, so stay with us." Victor Martinez, the team's offensive MVP grabbed the mic next and said "I'm at a lost for words...WE DID IT!" Even stoic manager Eric Wedge managed to crack a smile as the team raised the AL Central champs flag during an impromptu postgame celebration on the field, which continued back into the clubhouse.

This was so good for so many people. For the much maligned and all around good guy Casey Blake, the dues have been paid and now he'll be playing in his first playoffs. Jake Westbrook, a guy who has been with the Indians for seven seasons (do you believe he's been here seven years?), signed an extension with the Tribe for less than he could get on the open market, because he loves the organization and the city top to bottom. He may be your game three starter in the ALDS after his solid seven inning, nine K, two run performance to pick up the win. What about Paul Byrd? Another veteran loved in the clubhouse. He signed here last offseason because he wanted a chance to pitch in meaningful games late in the season and into the playoffs. Well he will get his chance.

But lets be honest, this season would be nothing without the kids. When Trot Nixon proved early in the season he was not the player he once was, there was Franklyn Gutierrez to step up and take his place. He provided gold glove defense in Right, and the knack for clutch hitting. His power stroke was something the Tribe brass hadn't seen in the minors, but he has begun flexing as a regular with the big club. When Josh Barfield went into a deep slump and Mike Rouse was, well, being Mike Rouse, out of Akron and a week in Buffalo came AC, Asdrubal Cabrera. Everyone knew of his soft hands and rocket arm, but did we know he would hit like this? Did we have any idea he would move into the two hole with such ease and provide the spark this team sorely needed?

As great as Betancourt has been, where would the Tribe pen be without "Raffy Left," Rafael Perez? His emergence as a viable option to pair with "Raffy Right" stabilized a shaky pen. Fellow Rookie Jenson Lewis has taken the role most thought the long-forgotten Fernando Cabrera would have had. Did I forget to mention the rotation's co #1 starter Fausto Carmona; he of the 18 wins and AL leading 3.03 ERA. Having a legitimate ace in a pitching staff is a rarity; to have two is almost unheard of. But thanks to the Carmona and Sabathia, the Tribe has just that.

GM Mark Shapiro got the ceremonial pie in the face after today's division clincher, and rightfully so. He has loaded up the farm system with so much young talent that in a league where $100 million payrolls rule the day (Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Tigers). That young talent blended with the experienced holdovers has done something amazing. In the face of high expectations and arguably the best division in baseball, they have defied the odds and brought home a division crown.

Here's hoping it doesn't end here.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Who Would You Rather Face?

So I think we are way past the point of jinxing the season. Not even a Cleveland team could blow this lead. So we can start to look ahead to the playoffs, which are less than two weeks away. We have all heard the storyline by now; the American League team with the best record gets to choose their playoff schedule. Starting on Wednesday October 3rd would give the two teams an extra day off in the series, and with the schedule the way it is, it would allow said teams to use only three starters in the best-of-five series, should they please. The other series begins Thursday the 4th. After Friday night's action, the Indians were in the driver's seat at 91-62, a half game ahead of both the Angels and Boston who stand at 91-63.

There is no team that would like to start on Wednesday more than the Tribe. With two top of the rotation studs in C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona potentially starting four of the five games, they would be extremely tough to beat. As we all know (thanks to the 90's era big bat, average pitching Indians teams), pitching wins championships. The other team this favors is the Angels. Both John Lackey (17-9, 3,13 ERA) and Kelvim Escobar (17-7, 3.46 ERA) are having superb seasons and are power pitchers. Luckily for the Indians, the way things are shaking out, there is no possible way they will meet the Angels in the ALDS.

So this means the Tribe will have to face one of the two teams that has owned them this season - The Yankees or the Red Sox. As of Friday night, The Sox hold a 2.5 game lead in the AL East, but the way they are playing of late, it would surprise nobody if they ended up choking the division away to the smokin hot Yankees, the team with the best record in baseball since the All Star break (45-22). These same Yankees swept six games frpm the Indians this year. Lets assume for argument's sake the Red Sox hang on to win the East. For the Indians to avoid the Yankees in the first round, they would have to finish with the third best record behind both the Angels and the Red Sox. They would meet Boston, but start on the road and not have home field advantage. If they finish first or second, they will face New York and start at the Jake. Follow?

So whom would you rather face? To me, its a no-brainer, The Indians would LOVE to see Boston. While the Red Sox boast Cy Young candidate Josh Beckett (MLB's only 20 game winner) at the top of the rotation and one of the league's premier closer's in Jonathon Papelbon, everything in between on their staff is a giant question mark. They traded for Eric Gagne to pair with Japanese rookie left-hander Hideki Okajima solidify the seventh and eight innings in front of Papelbon. When the trade was made, I wondered aloud if they would ever lose a game where they held a late lead. Well as they say, the best laid plans.....

Here we are in late September and Gagne has been a disaster, giving up runs in seven of his 13 appearances. He cannot spot his once masterful change-up, his unhittable out-pitch. Okajima, who was so brilliant most of the season, has been shut down because of a tired arm. He hasn't been able to get anyone out over the past three weeks, but the Sox expect him to be ready for the playoffs. After Beckett, its anybody's guess what they are going to get out of an inconsistent Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-5 in his last seven starts, walking 23 and giving up 40 hits in 36 IP). Curt Schilling is still Curt Schilling, but does he have any more October magic left after missing a major portion of the season with shoulder pain? 4th starter Tim Wakefield doesn't scare anyone, especially in the colder weather where his knuckle ball doesn't dance the way it does in the heat and humidity of summer.

Their lineup is another story. Manny Ramirez missed his 22nd consecutive game Friday night with an ailing oblique muscle. Some think this is classic Manny, while others think the sub par by Manny standards season is due to the injuries. David Ortiz hasn't been himself all year either with a hamstring injury that hasn't allowed him to get his lift for a big power year. His 32 homers are down from the 54 from he crushed last year. Their spark-plug Kevin Youkilis hasn't played in a week with a sore wrist. This is a banged up squad who is playing probably their worst ball of the year at the wrong time.

The Bronx Bombers on the other hand are steamrolling every team in their way. Alex Rodriguez has having a once in a lifetime season, hitting over .300 with 52 Home Runs and 143 RBI in the face of opt-out talks. Derek Jeter is the most clutch player in baseball. He leads the league with an astounding .445 batting average with runners in scoring position and two out. They are deep, experienced, and peaking at the opportune time. Despite the age at the top of the rotation, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens are as battled tested as they come. Chien-Ming Wang is the Yankees answer to Carmona; a double-play inducing machine. While their bullpen is suspect, it still ends with maybe the best closer of all time in Mariano Rivera, and young fireballer Joba Chamberlain, who has been untouchable since being called up in August. The kid has given up just one earned run in 20.1 innings, striking out 28 and walking six.

The funny thing about all of this is that the Angels want the Yankees - they have had their number in the playoffs over the last five years. The Indians want Boston, as the Yankees seem to have their number. Something tells me this won't happen. In a short series, anything can happen, but give me the struggling team over the streaking team any day of the week.

Down To Two

Is it just me or is it becoming too easy? Once again your Cleveland Indians win at home and keep streaking towards the playoffs. Thanks to the long ball and the right arm of Fausto Carmona, the Tribe took down the A's 4-3 and moved their magic number down to two. Ryan Garko and Jhonny Peralta hit back to back solo pizza's in the sixth and Asrdubal Cabrera followed with a sac fly which proved to be the difference in the one run win.

Pitching for the first time in six days, Raffy Perez didn't have it. He allowed his first two extra base hits to left-handed batters all year. Daric Barton hit a one out double off the wall in right and the infamous Jack Cust crushed a two run pizza over the high wall in left. It was Cust's sixth homer off the Tribe in eight games this year. He also has 17 RBI. He is Russell "The Love Muscle" Branyan redux. He stepped back up with the tying run on first and two outs in the ninth. I was sweating bullets - It was mostly because I had just spent the last three innings on the treadmill. Joe Borowski struck him out to polish off the A's for his league-leading 43rd save. I still cannot believe JoBo has 43 saves.

The Indians are now 13-2 in their last 15 home games and 22-5 in their last 27. Since moving Grady Sizemore back to the leadoff spot and starting AC as the regular second basemen, the Tribe is 25-8. They went from a one game lead to a seven and a half game lead. Its a beautiful thing all the way around. I don't know how many more bouquets I can throw at them. My most important issue now becomes how to split my playoff tickets with my group.

The clincher could come as early as tomorrow if the Tribe wins and the Tigers lose to Kansas City. The Browns go to Oakland's Black Hole to visit the Raiders. The Cavaliers still don't have a point guard. Should be a solid sports weekend in C-Town. Tomorrow if the mood strikes me, I'll give you an update on the KU basketball offseason and recruiting targets.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Three...Is the Magic Number


Isn't this fun? The Central division is can be wrapped up this weekend after the Tribe swept the Tigers out of town this afternoon 4-2. Not that I saw it. I was in a conference for work all afternoon and was relegated to getting calls and text messages from my brother with updates. From what I gathered, C.C. Sabathia was in full control during his seven innings of work. Casey Blake hit another solo pizza in the third off of Nate Robertson. Fake owns him - that was his eighth career jack off of the lefty. In the fifth, Jason Michaels and Franklyn Gutierrez delivered RBI doubles to give the Tribe the lead for good. Asdrubal Cabrera singled home Franky G for the fourth and final run. Rafael Betancourt and Joe Borowski closed it out for CC, who picked up his 18th win, further solidifying his Cy Young resume.

It's time for this city to stop talking about the below average Browns and notice the team that has the city's best chance at a championship. That's right - better than Lebron and his bad of merry Cavaliers. Take the Cavs out of the East and they are lucky to get out of the first round. Meanwhile, your Cleveland Indians have the best record in baseball. I just love this team. Talk about peaking at the right time; how about 21-5 down the stretch? They have hit 13 Pizza's in the last six games. They took down their toughest division foe, the Tigers, 12-6; there's your division right there. It's all about the infusion of young talent. Not coincidentally, when the Tribe went to Franky G and AC as regulars, moved Casey Blake to the nine hole (where he belongs), and promoted Rafael Perez into a key bullpen spot, the team took off. GM Mark Shapiro is the favorite to win AL Executive of the year and you tell me who is going to beat out Eric Wedge for AL Manager of the year. It's just been an unbelievable season.

You know what the best part is? They Indians are still under the radar. Today on Sports Center, espn.com's senior writer Tim Kurkjian said the Angels were the team to beat. CBSsports.com has the Yankees #1 in their power rankings. Boston is struggling, but even they get more credit than the Tribe. I have scoured the net for some uplifting Tribe news on the national side. Foxsports.com's Ken Rosenthal is giving the Indians their due. He wrote a great piece about the best 1-2 punch of any AL rotation, CC and Fausto Carmona. John Donovan of si.com has an even better piece on The Raffy's. See the links below.

Facing Indians' Aces Twice as Scary - Ken Rosenthal - foxsports.com

Tribe #2 in Power Rankings - Eric Mack, cbssportsline.com

Double Trouble - John Donovan, si.com

And for those Howard Stern fans, here is a si.com one on one interview with the Stern show's resident comedian Artie Lange -
Artie Lange - Q&A - Richard Deitsch, si.com

Homer Happy Tribe Down to Five

I was at Jacobs Field last night. It felt like a time warp back to 1997. The crowd of over 41,000, mostly clad in Red, roared all evening. The Tribe bats hit four Home Runs while its starting pitcher struggled to get through five innings. Then the bullpen pitched four scoreless innings and everyone went home happy. Indians 7 Tigers 5, Magic Number Down to 5.

I'm telling you it was like the good ole days at the Jake. It was great to see a packed house. On dollar dog night, starter Jake Westbrook pitched like a dog, yet somehow, kept the Tribe in the game. You will never see a pitcher have a tougher five innings than Jake did last night. He gave up 12 hits and walked three, yet escaped the fifth with a tie score at 4-4. Eric Wedge's club was in counter-punch mode all night. The Tigers scored one in the second, the Indians countered with a Ryan Garko solo pizza. The Tigers scored three in the third, the Tribe answered with two walks and a monster (and hopefully slump-busting) blast from Travis Hafner. Pronk's shot to right-center was such a no-doubter, my boy Jeremy almost ejected me from my seat the second it left his bat. In the bottom of the sixth, Victor Martinez's solo pizza the other way gave the Tribe the 5-4 lead. With two down, Kenny Lofton walked and up stepped Franklyn Guitterez. Franky G ended Tiger Ace Justin Verlander's night with a titanic blast about 20 rows up in the left-field bleachers to put the Tribe up 7-4. The stadium rocked as Verlander exited stage left. It was a thing of beauty. "This was a very tough loss," Verlander said. "I had a lot on my shoulders and I wasn't very good. Every mistake I made got hit. I've got six losses and three are to them. I don't know if it is something they're doing or something I'm doing."

Speaking of beauty, how about the relief work of Jenson Lewis? The rookie who started the season in AA Akron pitched three perfect innings, striking out four, and got his first major league win. It was well deserved. He came in with the score tied and was handed a three run lead and the Tigers couldn't touch him. His extended work gave Wedge the opportunity to rest The Raffy's (Betancourt and Perez). Joe Borowski finished off the Kitties with a 1-2-3 ninth for his league leading 41st save. Lewis's work cannot be overlooked. His deceptive, herky-jerky delivery gave the Tiger bats fits. He fed off the emotion of the crowd, got the win, and the subsequent pie in the face from fellow rookie Aaron Laffey.

Man it was fun last night. I look forward to more games like this come October.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I'm Off His Case





I've killed him all year. I've been killing him for years. But this morning, I think I am officially getting off of his back. The man I have dubbed "Fake" and "Casey the Dog" came up with the biggest hit of the year and if his career. On Friday, he capped off a comeback win with a walkoff pizza off of our boy David Riske. Almost on cue, Casey stepped up to the plate in the 11th inning and did it again, this time against the hated second place rival Detroit Tigers. His second walkoff pizza four days may be the straw the broke the Tigers back. The Tribe roared back from a 5-1 deficit to win it 6-5.

What was so satisfying about last night's win was that it came at the expense of Kenny Rogers and Joel Zumaya, two kitties are are so easy to paint as villains in this rivalry. Rogers, the crafty (cheater) lefty has always had success against the Tribe, and Zumaya, the flame-throwing rookie, is a loud-mouth fist-pumper whom the Detroit media have dubbed "the savior."

Rogers stymied the Tribe bats all night, save for Jhonny Peralta's solo pizza in the fourth. In came Zumaya in the eighth with the Tigers leading 5-2. Grady Sizemore walked, Asdrubal Cabrera singled, and the rally was underway. After a Travis Hafner ground ball moved the runners into scoring position, Victor Martinez also grounded out to score Sizemore to make it 5-3. Up stepped Peralta. He took Zumaya's 1-0 pitch the other way and deposited it into the Tiger bullpen. And we were tied at five. The crowd exploded. Jacobs Field Magic was in full effect.

Under the radar last night was the solid pitching of Paul Byrd, Aaron Fultz, Joe Borowski, and Rafael Betancourt. Yes, Byrd gave up 5 runs, but he went seven 1/3 innings and retired nine in a row before a walk and a hit chased him with one out in the eight. Fultz got out of Byrd's jam in the 8th before turning it over to JoBo for a scoreless ninth. The Realtor was spectacular, strking out four in his two innings, picking up the win along the way. Tribe pitchers held the Kitties scoreless over the last seven innings.

My brother is the biggest Tribe fan you will come across and he is stuck living in Detroit. When we were down 5-1, he sounded like someone shot his dog. He said to me "you don't understand, if we choke this lead away, I will have to move." Last night was for him. Last night was also about all about forgiveness for me. I forgive Peralta for his brutal error that allowed a run in the fourth. His two home runs may have helped that a tad. But most of all, I forgive Casey Blake for all of his unclutch moments throughout the last three years. Last night went a long way with me. Most importantly, the magic number is now seven.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Congratulations, Gentlemen Jim



On Sunday in Chicago, Jim Thome hit Home Run #500. It was a walk-off game winner to beat the Angels 9-7. His father Chuck and his wife Andrea were in attendance. Big Jim is the 23rd member of the 500 Home Run club, and the first to enter the club with a walk-off homer. He is a class act, an all around good guy, and my all-time favorite player.

As you all know, Jimmy started his career with the Tribe and played 12 years in Cleveland and left as the Indians all-time Home Run King with 323. He started as a third baseman and made the move to first in 1997. He was always our guy. A home grown talent, with the aw-shucks personality and demeanor. Yet nobody wanted to win here more than Thome. When he left via free agency in 2003 for Philadelphia, the bitter fans of Cleveland seemingly turned their backs on him. He was a guy who said he would never leave Cleveland. He met his wife here, he loved the community, and the community loved him. But a guaranteed sixth year for an additional $16 million was too much for this payroll to handle; and rightfully so. To this day, not matching the Thome contract Philly was offering was the smart play. Thome's deal would have hamstrung this franchise and he would have assuredly been dealt within two years.

I wrote a piece about this for The Cleveland Fan website, now owned by Sportstime Ohio, when Big Jim made his initial return in '06. It sickened me to watch fans boo the man they once cheered the loudest for. People still boo him here to this day. Anyone who boos Jim Thome in Cleveland should have their tickets revoked. When he goes into the Hall of Fame, it will be wearing an Indians cap. He gave this city everything he had. The team was going into rebuilding mode. He deserved a chance at a title and big money, two things he wasn't going to get here. What would you have done? I have linked below some articles and the video of his postgame press conference. Just watch it. You tell me there is a better guy in baseball than Jim Thome. He is as real as they come. Congratulations, Big Jim. You deserve it.

Defending Jim Thome - Todd Dery, theclevelandfan.com

Nicely Done - Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune

Mr. Incredible - Mlb.com full page

Thome Likely Needs 600 to Reach HOF - Rob Neyer, espn.com

The Bizaro Browns


The late Browns play by play man Nev Chandler famously said before the 1986 AFC Championship game "fasten your seat belts, its gonna be a shootout here at the Lakefront." I never thought the "New Browns" would ever be involved in a game like this. I took my father in law and my boy Ags to the game today. After Derek Anderson's forth TD pass, Ags, a usually excitable guy, was stoic. I looked at him and said "what's with you? why are you so quiet?" He said "I'm just absolutely stunned. Who is this team? Its like the Bizaro world." That was a great call. How is it that the Browns were able to score 51 points against the Bengals, a team that looked very good in beating Baltimore a week ago?

All you have to do is look at the QB - Derek Anderson showed why the Browns brass was so intrigued by him. He threw for 320 and 4 TD's. He was throwing darts all game long, spreading the ball to Joe Jurevicius, Braylon Edwards, and Kellen Winslow. The offensive line was phenomenal, allowing no sacks and giving DA time to exploit the weak Bengals secondary. Braylon abused his former Michigan teammate CB Leon Hall on several occasions, but none was better than the pump and go TD from Anderson in the third. His stutter step along with Anderson's pump had Hall looking for his jock.

So lets get this straight, the Browns scored 51 points; had a 300 yard passer in Anderson; had two 100 yard receivers in Edwards and Winslow; and had a 200 yard rusher in Jamal Lewis. Again, did this really happen? I wish every Browns fan could have been there yesterday. The stadium was as electric as it has ever been. It was by far the most entertaining game I have been to in the new Browns era. The fans deserved it. Now it was all roses yesterday. The defense allowed Carson Palmer to throw for over 400 yards and six touchdown passes. Chad Johnson abused Leigh Bodden to the tune of 11 catches for 2o9 yards, two TD's, and one Dawg Pound leap. Rudi Johnson ran for 118 yards. The Bengals offensive line seemingly pushed the much maligned Browns defensive front back all day long. It seemed as though which ever team scored last would win the game. Luckily for the Browns, Bodden intercepted Palmer on the final drive to preserve the improbable 51-45 win. The teams combined for 96 points and over 1000 yards of offense.

There were no chants of "Brady, Brady." There was no need for them. Anderson was spectacular. His big time performance should silence the Quinn lovers for a few more weeks. What's most upsetting after watching Anderson yesterday is the fact the the Browns brass actually trotted Frye out there last week at all. You think Frye could have ever had a game like this? Not a chance. But he's gone now, and the DA era should last a little longer. Only in the NFL can a team look so bad one week and put up 51 points against a Super Bowl contender the next.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fausto Time and a Browns/Bengals Prediction

He is a flat out dominater. His stuff is filthy. He is the same guy who went 1-11 out of the bullpen. I cant believe it either. Fausto Carmona joined C.C. Sabathia as a 17 game winner tonight after pitching a three-hit, no walk, eight inning, scoreless outing.

To have a one-two punch like Sabathia and Carmona is astounding. They give the Indians perhaps their best-ever chance to erase the Cleveland Curse once and for all and give the city its first championship since 1964. In two starts this week, Carmona went 15 innings; he is 2-0 with 12 K's, a 0.60 ERA and a 0.60 WHIP. The guy just isn't allowing base runners, let alone runs. His 3.07 ERA now leads all AL pitchers, which unlike the National League, means something. He doesn't have to pitch to seven and a half batters every time through a lineup the way John Smoltz or Carlos Zambrano do.

An assist must go to the KC Royals bad outfield defense for allowing the Tribe to get the extra four insurance runs in the eighth. Travis Hafner hit a solo HR in the 4th to join in the fun. The Magic Number is now down to single digits - nine. With The Tigers coming in for three, that number could dwindle by two with each Indians win. It's a beautiful thing.

I'm off to see our pathetic excuse for a football team in a few hours. The Clowns take on the Bengals. Lets see, the Browns D- cannot stop the run and Rudi Johnson is a beast. They have trouble stopping the deep balls and the Bengals have arguably the best deep ball thrower in the league in QB Carson Palmer. WR Chad Johnson has vowed to jump into the Dawg Pound when he scores a TD. The Clowns just spent a week looking even more amateurish than they truly are after the Steelers game and the Charlie Frye drama. This is a recipe for disaster. Something tells me they will play better and keep in close, but the talent gap is too great. Bengals 34 Browns 14.

Jacobs Field Magic is Riske Business






I'm sick. That's why you haven't seen much in the past few days. Somehow I managed to make it to the game last night (I'm feeling it today though). The first six innings were a rainy, cold, bore. Than came the 7th. A picture essay of what ensued is above. All you need to know is that a 4-1 deficit was erased thanks to an old friend (David Riske!) and the Tribe's magic number is now 10. Franky Guitterez deserves as much credit as Asdrubal Cabrera gets for sparking this team. It was his HR in the 7th that started the comeback.

With the Angels loss last night to the White Sox, the Tribe now is tied for second for the best record in baseball at 86-61, just two games back in the loss column of Boston. This is significant because a second or first place AL finish would pit the Indians against the red-hot Yankees in the ALDS. Finishing third would have the Tribe facing the Red Sox. I have completely changed my stance - i'd much rather face the Red Sox who's bullpen all of a sudden looks vulnerable. Hideki Okajima has never pitched this many innings or this late in a season. Manager Terry Francona, as evidence in last night's implosion against the Yankees, clearly has no faith in Eric Gagne (he went to closer Jonathon Papelbon for a full two inning save); Mike Timlin is still Mike Timlin.

Who knows. Lets just close it out and get there.

Linkage:

Late Longballs Save Tribe - Paul Hoynes, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Blake a Hero in Comeback Win - Sheldon Ocker, Akron Beacon-Journal

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Indian Express and Frye Fallout Links


Can't say that I'm upset that Charlie Frye is gone, but what makes me the most ill is that the Indians are steamrolling through the league and are basically going unnoticed, thanks to the circus in Berea. It's almost as if other than the die-hards, nobody seems to care. Well I do! Another 8-3 win im Chicago last night, coupled with a day-time loss by the Tigers, and the Tribe's magic number is 11. Two nights ago, dodging raindrops, the Tribe took down the Sox 6-2 behind the man, the myth, the legend, Asdrubal Cabrera. After the Tribe tied it at two on a Ben Francisco RBI single, AC lined a Mike Myers pitch into the Sox bullpen in left to put the Indians up for good.

SIDE NOTE: I love how Trot Nixon literally doesn't sniff the field anymore. Against a rookie right-hander Monday night, Eric Wedge went with the rookie Francisco instead of Trot. It worked.

SIDE NOTE #2: Nice of the umpires to make the team sit through a two hour, 23 minute rain delay after the 7th inning and the Indians leading 4-2. The game probably shouldn't have even been played. There were literally puddles in the infield.

Last night's win was the Byrd Man's 15th of the season. The Indians now have three starters with 15 or more wins: C.C. Sabathia (17), Fausto Carmona (16), and Byrd (15). I love looking at these numbers: The Indians are 13-3 in their last 16. Since being tied with Detroit on August 15th, The Indians are 20-6. They are 7-2 on the current 10 game road trip which was the biggest of the season. They are 41-21 against the AL Central.

What about some national love? espn.com's Peter Gammons said the following about our boys in his insider blog on Monday:

Right now, the Indians have a lot going for them. They have been able to win against their rivals' best pitchers (Sabathia and Carmona went 6-1 against Johan Santana and Justin Verlander, the pitchers the Tribe had to beat). They have put '06 behind them with their response to the 23 straight games, the emergence of Asdrubal Cabrera and the promise that Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner will get hot sometime. It seemed a given that their starters would lead the league in innings and quality starts, but watching the finale in Anaheim against the team with the best home record in the game was even more reason for optimism. Seeing Aaron Laffey (16-5 between Double-A, Triple-A and the AL), rookie Jensen Lewis and arguably the best left-handed reliever on the planet, Rafael Perez (one extra-base hit by a lefty in two years with a slugging percentage under .140), handle the Angels.

Gammons was even more complimentary in Saturday's entry:

Look at Cleveland's lead over Detroit, then think about how they got where they are this weekend. Two-fifths of their opening day rotation -- 18-game winner Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers, who was second in the American League in ERA in the second half of last season -- ended up in Buffalo. So did Andy Marte. Josh Barfield didn't hit the way everyone thought, Trot Nixon and Dave Dellucci have been hurt and both Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore haven't approached their 2006 levels.

The Indians made one trade, for Kenny Lofton, using Max Ramirez, whom they got out of the Seattle organization last summer for Ben Broussard. Then, at different points of the season, they reached into their farm system for Fausto Carmona, Franklin Gutierrez, Rafael Perez, Ben Francisco, Jensen Lewis, Aaron Laffey and Asdrubal Cabrera. Carmona has been one of the league's premium starters (twice beating Johan Santana), Perez has been one of the best left-handed relievers (his .316 OPS against lefties going into the weekend is the best in the majors), Gutierrez is a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder with power and Cabrera has been an impact second baseman, hitting .300 with John McDonald hands.


The national press gives us props, yet this city is INFATUATED with the Browns QB carousel? For you Browns honks out there, here are some links from today reaction to the Frye trade:

Seattle Trade is Stunning and Baffling - Patrick McManamon, Akron Beacon-Journal

Helping Clear Path, but Not Cleared Up - Terry Pluto, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Frye is Better Off in Seattle - Jeremy Green, espn.com

Is Randy Watching? - Gary Benz, theclevelandfan.com

Anderson Starts and Quinn Waits - Tony Grossi, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The End of the Frye Era

Oh Charlie....What a ride it's been. Remember a short three drafts ago, Browns GM Phil Savage drafted his "QB of the future" Charlie Frye in the third round? Scouts and experts weren't crazy about his arm strength, but LOVED his mental toughness, smarts, and mobility. As 2005 starter Trent Dilfer struggled out of the gate, Browns fans chanted "Charlie! Charlie! Charlie!" They wanted to see the kid from Willard, Ohio who grew up a Browns fan idolizing Bernie Kosar (is this sounding familiar to you?). On December 4th, 2005, Frye got his first start in Jacksonville and was a very solid 13-20 for 226 yards and 2 TD's. The organization had its man. Or did they?

He was named the starter from Day one for the 2006 season, but with no veteran to mentor him, Frye regressed. In 13 starts, he threw 17 INT's compared to just 10 TD's. His decision making, supposedly his strength, made us all scratch our heads. He too often tried to make plays with his legs, thinking he was in the MAC conference and not the NFL. Fast forward to the 2007 draft and the Browns were trading their 2008 first round pick (which could end up being the #1 pick) to grab Brady Quinn. Quinn the new savior, while Frye became an afterthought.

But the Browns didn't want Quinn to play right away, so Frye and Derek Anderson were to battle for the starting job in 2007, to keep the seat warm for the Notre Dame phenom. While Quinn held out, eventually signed and lit it up during his preseason games, the Browns clearly wanted Anderson to win the job. Ah, the best laid plans... Anderson played so poorly that Frye beat him out for the opening day starter job, essentially by default.

We all know what happened Sunday - Frye was so bad he was yanked midway through the second quarter. Anderson was average but at least showed his strong arm off. The crowd spent 3 and a half quarters chanting "Brady! Brady!" I spent Monday listening and reading national reviews of the Browns performance. Abysmal and pathetic were too often used in those accounts. By Tuesday afternoon, rumors swirled that Frye was going to be released. Fortunately for the Browns, the found a trade partner and sent Frye to Seattle reportedly for a sixth round pick.

So Frye goes from Golden Boy to starter, to afterthought, back to starter, to traded in two and a half years. Charlie was a good soldier here, never complained when Quinn was drafted and never said a word to the media about being booed constantly over the last half of last season and the first quarter and a half of this season. There is only one man to blame for this - Phil Savage. Allowing Frye to dangle last season with no veteran QB on the roster was a disservice to both Frye and the rest of the team. He didn't learn his lesson this offseason either. With the free agent pool chock full of veterans such as Daunte Cullpepper, Kerry Collins, Aaron Brooks, Byron Leftwich (recently), and Trent Green available for trade, Savage instead went to camp with only Ken Dorsey to mentor Frye, Anderson, and Quinn. Dorsey isn't exactly a veteran with a lot of game experience. Frye's 18 starts (going into this year) almost double Dorsey's 10. There was ZERO contingency plan in place. Essentially for the last two years, the Browns have had four QB's:

Anderson - a Sixth round pick of the Ravens (who have a serious eye for talent, let him go while keep bust Kyle Boller) in 2005, claimed on waivers.

Frye - a Third round pick of the Browns from Akron with a popcorn arm who flamed miserably last year.

Dorsey - a Seventh round pick of the 49ers (there are only seven rounds in the NFL draft) whose arm makes Frye's look like John Elway's, acquired via trade for Trent Dilfer in 2006.

Quinn - a First round pick whom the Browns have mortgage their future on; trading next year's #1 to get him.

Not exactly Montana and Young in the 80's in San Francisco. Rumors are that the worst owner in the NFL, Randy Lerner, was so upset during the first half that he demanded Savage get rid of Frye. Whether that is true or not is debatable. What isn't up for debate is the lack of direction of the current administration. This is now essentially regime #3 since 1999. In a league where parity is king and it seems that every team can turn it around in a year or two, the Browns continue to flounder and are the laughingstock of the league. There's one constant; RANDY LERNER. He's clueless, Savage and Crennel seem to be in over their heads, and the fans are still selling out the Stadium week in and week out, starving for a something to cheer for. I've seen this all before; it doesn't end well. Luckily for Frye, he is out of this black hole and can carry a clipboard for a Super Bowl contender.

BREAKING NEWS: BROWNS TRADE CHARLIE FRYE

Well, that took long. According to Jay Glazer at foxsports.com, The Cleveland Browns have traded QB Charlie Frye to Seattle for a sixth round draft pick. Frye lasted a whole quarter and a half as the Browns starting QB and two days later, has been dealt.

Lets see, Charlie Frye was named the starting QB and got 50% of the reps during mini-camps and all of training camp. We all heard that he was the right man for the job, more so than Derek Anderson. After a pathetic 4-10, 1 INT, 5 sack 20 minutes of action, GM Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel had apparently seen enough. Ken Dorsey, dropped at final cutdown time, is back in the fold as Brady Quinn's mentor. Anderson is most likely in line to start this Sunday against Cincinnati. I cannot wait to see the fall out and quotes from Berea on this one.

Has there ever been an organization so clueless from top to bottom than the "New" Browns?

Browns Trade Frye To Seattle - Jay Glazer, Fox Sports

Monday, September 10, 2007

Showing Some Love For the REAL Team in C-Town


I blew up the Browns earlier in the day, but I glossed right over a huge win for the Indians last night. After losing two straight in Anaheim, the Tribe took the last two, including last night's 6-2 win. With Rookie Aaron Laffey giving up two runs in five innings, fellow rookies Jenson Lewis and Rafael Perez took over the three innings before turning it over to Joe Borowski to preserve the win. That's four scoreless from the bullpen if you are counting at home and eight innings of two run ball by rookies who didn't make the club out of Spring Training.

Did anyone have more fun this weekend than Ryan Garko? "It was fun," Garko said. "I don't get a chance to play in front of my parents very much." The man they call Fred Flintstone came home for the first time as a major league regular and had a blast. Two of them actually. Last night's three-run pizza off of the very overrated Jered Weaver gave the Tribe the lead for good. All of his family and friends from Diamond Bar, California were there cheering him on. That was all well and good, but the highlight of the weekend, maybe of the year, for Garko was his in-studio appearance on the Jim Rome show last Friday. Garko, a self proclaimed "Jungle legend" was joined by C.C. Sabathia, Jobo, and Garko's former high school teammate and current Indians teammate and Rome fan Ben Francisco. They were so good, they were in studio for an hour and 15 minutes. It was a joy for every Indians fan to listen to, and brutal to the rest of the Rome-listening nation.

SIDE NOTE - How amazing is it that Garko and Francisco were high school teammates now playing in the majors together?

SIDE NOTE #2 - Someone needs to tell Jered Weaver to cut that hair. It makes him look like his equally over-hyped brother Jeff, who has been stealing money in the majors for the last 10 years on agent Scott Boras's hype machine. As my brother said to me last night, "we will get to this guy, remember, he's a Weaver."

Last night's game may have given the Tribe nation a reason to exhale. With 19 games to go, The Indians hold a six game lead over Detroit. A 12-7 record gets them to 95 wins. The schedule is advantageous with three against the sad-sack White Sox in Chicago, before coming back home for the final homestand of the year; a nine-gamer which sees Kansas City, Detroit, and Oakland coming to the Jake. They close on the road with four at Seattle and three at Kansas City.

Can you smell that? It's not the stench coming from 76 Lou Groza Drive in Berea, it's October baseball in C-Town.

Some Links From Yesterday's Abomination

Its interesting to see the takes on how pathetic the Browns were yesterday. I never listen to local sports talk, but I may have to at some point today. Nationally, the Browns are getting skewered as well. The best NFL writer in the business, SI.com's Peter King, wrote the following in his Monday Morning Quarterback column:

Teams that have to feel ridiculously depressed after Sunday: St. Louis, Buffalo, Kansas City, the Jets and Cleveland. Wait -- give me a separate category for Cleveland. What I wonder after watching chunks of that game is, how can you work for an entire training camp and look like that? "If the gamut runs from A to Z,'' GM Phil Savage said last night, "that was a Z.'' Maybe a letter doesn't exist for what that was.

A Very Rickety Quarterback Carousel - Bill Livingston, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Excuses Getting Old for Browns - Patrick McManamon - Akron Beacon-Journal

Scribbles in My Notebook - Terry Pluto, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Another Crushing Blow - Tony Grossi, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Frye's Finished, it's Quinn Time - Bob Finnan, Willoughby News-Herald

Sunday, September 9, 2007

It's Gonna Be a Looooooooooong Season

Here we go again Browns fans. The calendar year may change, but the results stay the same. Clunker is too kind of a word to describe the Browns performance on the Lake front this afternoon. Pathetic and despicable or more like it. I've been to some bad openers, but I don't ever remember seeing a start worse than this one. There were many goats. Starting with head coach Romeo Crennel who had his team so unprepared it's mind-boggling. What about QB Charlie Frye? He was good....good and terrible. Just look at the first quarter blog by Plain Dealer Browns expert Tony Grossi:

Browns go 3-and-out on first possession ... First punt by replacement Paul Ernster is a disaster. He drops the long snap, picks up ball, is chased, gets off punt of 15 yards ... That's what they get for being coy and pretending Dave Zastudil was fit to play ... Browns commit 3 penalties on the play and holding is assessed.

Pittsburgh's first possession is at Browns' 22 ... Perfect Ben Roethlisberger fade to Hines Ward over Eric Wright and great footwork in the end zone for the TD.

Charlie Frye's second possession: Scramble for 1 yard. Interception ... Browns defense holds Steelers to 26-yard field goal, 10-0 Pittsburgh ... Can you think of a worse start for the Browns?

Frye gets something going on completions of 15 yards to Kellen Winslow and 6 to Lawrence Vickers ... Drive disintegrates on Winslow interference call and another Frye sack ... Jamal Lewis loses fumble ... On next play, Roethlisberger play-fake freezes both safeties and he lays it in to Santonio Holmes for 40-yard TD.


Nice start to the season huh? The Ernster dropped punt was just a microcosm of what was to come. That was vintage new era Browns action right there. Frye looked like a deer in headlights in getting sacked FIVE TIMES before getting pulled mid-way through the second quarter. That's right, Frye was so bad, he didn't even make it to halftime of the first game of the season before getting the hook; and rightfully so may I add. Of the five sacks, I'd say four of them were due to holding the ball entirely too long in the pocket. It was as if he had never taken an NFL snap before. Frye acts as if he can still use his legs to get away from pressure. Well Chuck, this isn't MAC conference football, it's the NFL where the defensive end run 4.8 40's. Romeo had to take him out of his misery, he had no choice. Frye was booed unmercifully by the crowd as one pass after another was behind the intended receivers. I marked it down; the game clock read 10:34 in the first quarter before the first chants of "Brady! Brady! Brady!" rang through Cleveland Browns Stadium. Frye's day was done at 4-10, 34 yards, and 1 (real bad) INT.

Romeo didn't bite - he went to Derek Anderson, the man who played so poorly in preseason that he couldn't even beat out Frye. Give Anderson a little credit, he did move the team when he had the ball. He was 13-28 for 184 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. But as he showed today, his rocket arm isn't enough. He too was often behind his receivers and threw a few passes to players wearing white, rather than Brown. Luckily, the Steeler defenders had as good of hands as the Browns WR's. RB Jamal Lewis never got a chance to get going since before you could say boo, it was 17-0. He only carried the ball 11 times for 35 yards with one costly fumble.

Then there's the defense. Truth of the matter is the offense put the defense behind the eight ball from the first three and out. Rookie cornerback Eric Wright was targeted by Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger for most of the day. He did his best to hold his own, but Hines Ward took advantage of him. The crossing routes the Steelers ran confused the Browns defense all day and Big Ben continued to find the right man. The TD pass to Heath Miller was brilliantly drawn up by Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians. Hines Ward took his man and the safety to the corner of the end zone, leaving Miller one on one with a linebacker cutting across field. Roethlisberger hit him in stride and he took it 22 yards to the house.

There was major confusion in the Browns secondary one play after the Lewis fumble. Big Ben hit Santonio Holmes on a deep post for a 40 yard TD. Safety Brodney Pool ended up one on one with Holmes and was burnt to a crisp. A visibly angry Sean Jones was two steps to late in coming over to help Pool, but it was all for naught. From my vantage point, it was typical - the defense spent so long on the field that they wore down. Leon Williams had some nice moments at MLB, as did Antwan Peek, the defensive line was pushed around by the Steeler offensive front, and Kamerion Wimbley was a non-factor most of the day. There were essentially no positives to speak of.

Towards the end of the third quarter, the skies darkened, almost to signify the black cloud that resides over the franchise. We knew what was coming - a downpour. So we headed for the exits and by the time we left, it was torrential. Oh, did I mention when we left it was 34-7 with a minute left in the third quarter? Now Romeo and Phil Savage have to decide when is the time for the QB of the future, Brady Quinn to take the reins. It was clear after a quarter and a half that Charlie Frye is a mental midget and cannot be the man to lead this team. Derek Anderson should start next week against Cincinnati and for the next few weeks. The way the schedule is, there is no way you can send Quinn out there against the Ravens in week 4. Week 5 the Browns travel to New England. Week 6 at home vs. Miami is the game to move forward with the future.

My 5-11 prediction may be off. The Browns will be lucky to win five games the way they looked today. It was disgraceful to all loyal Browns fans who year after year shell out their hard-earned money for this inferior product. Detroit sports talk callers like to use the phrase "one constant" in describing their decades of failure; that "one constant" being bad ownership. You can very easily use that phrase to discuss the Browns. Randy Lerner has stood by and watched a once proud organization turn into the laughingstock of the NFL. Congratulations Randy! You are starting to make David Modell look good.

One down, only 15 more to go. At least we have the Tribe and Lebron.

The Big C, Clowns vs. Stills, and Lloyd Carr's Death March


This is why C.C. Sabathia is going to make himself a lot of money next offseason. With the Tigers winning earlier in the day, the pressure was on the big lefty to step up and stop the two game skid. He did just that and more. How does a complete game five hitter sound? Pretty good I'd say. Not only was he thoroughly dominant, but he saved the bullpen as well. Any night The Realtor and Raffy Perez can take off after pitching the night before is all good. Tribe bats got to Ervin Santana, who is now 0-3 against the Tribe this year. Kenny Lofton and Jhonny Peralta had big RBI singles and Travis Hafner delivered a two RBI double in the 6-1 win.

But last night was all about the big man. His complete game was done in just 103 pitches; he struck out just three, but received the help that normally his rotation-mates Fausto Carmona and Jake Westbrook get. The double play ball. C.C. induced four double plays, all brilliantly turned by Asdrubal Cabrera, who impresses more and more each day. The win brought the Tribe's magic number down to 16 games. Of course, of all night's to finally be on national TV for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, the Tribe closes the four gamer against the Angels at 8 PM EST. Aaron Laffey goes for his third win. Meanwhile, the Tribe has to play in Chicago tomorrow night and most likely won't get to the Windy City until sometime tomorrow morning after flying all night. Thanks go out to MLB and their TV schedule.

In about and hour and a half I will make my annual pilgrimage down to the Lakefront to see the Cleveland Browns open their 2007 campaign against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. I will be at all the home games as usual, listening to my mom's commentary on one side and my Uncle Kenny's on the other. Nobody loves his Browns quite like my Uncle. But I digress. I broke down the team earlier in the week, but as for today's game: I expect the Browns to keep it close, but the front three of the Browns is so poor against the run, that Steelers RB Willie Parker should run wild again. Last year, he rumbled for 227 yards in the Stills comeback win at the Stadium. The Browns have one thing going for them; Bill Cowher no longer roams the opposite sideline - he flat out owned them. Another is that Bruce Arians is the Stills offensive coordinator. That's right, the same man who once ran the Browns offense (into the ground that is). Jamal Lewis must have a big game and QB Charlie Frye has to be smart, something he struggles with. It will be close, but 0-1 they shall start. Steelers 24 Browns 14

Oh those Michigan Wolverines. Last week they were exposed. This week they were embarrassed. What more can you say about the lack of speed and lack of heart shown by Lloyd Carr's crew over the last two Saturday's? Did you see the Oregon speed on offense? I'm no Pac-10 honk, but that conference is showing they are no joke, unlike the Big Ten and ACC which are complete frauds. Oregon QB Dennis Dixon put on an absolute clinic yesterday. Mike Belotti's offense was the same one Appalachian State used, only their players are bigger and faster. Before you could blink, it was 25-7. Im watched in shock as Dixon and RB Jonathon Stewart abused the Michigan defense seemingly every play. On top of the fact that they were abused on defense, the offense failed to show and is now banged up with QB Chad Henne missing the second half with a lower leg injury. The good news is that RB Mike Hart guaranteed victory next week over 0-2 Notre Dame. As if anyone cares anymore.

Here are some links of writers in Detroit piling on Lloyd's corpse.

Face it: Wolverines are Just Terrible - Rob Parker, Detroit News

Carr Wreck - Coach Should Offer to Resign - Drew Sharp, Detroit Free Press

Maize and Boo - Michigan's Nightmare Worsens - Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press

Carr Takes Loss with Held Held High - Jim Carty, Ann Arbor News

Meanwhile, I live in Big Ten country and I am not blind, like many Midwest football fans are. The real power and speed are elsewhere. The days of power, smash-mouth, slow-footed football in the college game are becoming extinct. Spread offenses, athletic defenses. and speed dominate the landscape of college football. Look at the top. USC, LSU, Florida, etc. The one common denominator is speed. Florida exposed Ohio State in the National Championship game last January. USC obliterated Michigan a week earlier. Look at what LSU did do a very overrated Virginia Tech team last night. 48-7? That was a major ass kicking. It spoke volumes. As did Oregon going into the Big House and toying with Michigan. To quote Sam Malone "speaking on sports," "that's just one guys opinion."

Saturday, September 8, 2007

OK...I'm Officially Worried


It took a whole two games out west to make me see the light - this is Cleveland. I stated earlier that it would take a monumental collapse for us not to see October baseball. Maybe it's because I've seen it all before, but I'm now officially worried. Two straight losses in Anaheim coupled with two Detroit wins have pushed the once seven game lead to five just like that. John Lackey stymied the Tribe bats over the first seven innings, allowing just one run on six hits. Justin Speier pitched a scoreless eighth and a five hit 7 2/3 inning performance by Jake Westbrook seemed all but wasted. In front of his family and friends, Ryan Garko, who struggled all night, hit a solo pizza off of Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth to tie it at two. The Tribe had a shot to win it loading the bases with two out on an error and two walks. In came Scott Shields to strike out Asdrubal Cabrera to end the threat and their best shot was done. The Realtor, in his second inning of work gave up a leadoff double to Chone Figgins in the 10th, who was on base all night long it seemed. Kendry Morales singled him home with one out for the 3-2 win.

There is no shame in losing to the Angels, the best home team in baseball, but the Indians struck out 12 times (the Angels on 3) and left nine men on base. That reeks of a June/July loss for this team. On top of that, the Angels have taken both games without star OF Vladimir Guerrero. That's the bad news. The good news is that C.C. Sabathia goes tonight against struggling young Right hander Ervin Santana whom the Indians have owned in the past. These are the games that you are glad you have a horse, losing-streak stopper like C.C. More good news is that following this four game set in Anaheim, the Tribe gets three with the sad sack White Sox and three more with Kansas City at the Jake before the big series with Detroit.

Quick Hits:

Casey Blake got the night off last night as he is 1-15 lifetime against Lackey. Can't say I complained about that. he was replaced by Chris Gomez, who went 1-4 with a run scored. AC got the night off before, giving professional pinch runner Josh Barfield a start at second........... I just looked, after last night's game, Rafael "The Realtor" Betancourt and Rafael Perez have 1.59 and 1.54 ERA's respectively. That's pretty sick considering they pitch in front of a closer who carries a 5.50 ERA...........The Mariners are allegedly battling for the Wild Card spot, yet have lost 12 of 13. It would be nice if they decided to show up this weekend in Detroit, where they got smoked last night 6-1. Its amazing to me that they have hung around this long with that weak starting rotation. Outside of Felix Hernandez, what about Jeff Weaver, Jared Washburn, Miguel Batista, and Horacio Ramirez scares anyone exactly?.........ESPN's finest scribe Peter Gammons wrote a great piece completely stroking our boy C.C.:

Granted, it is only Sept. 4 and the Cleveland Indians are in the midst of a stretch of playing 23 days in a row. They're presently in Minnesota, will then travel to Anaheim and then finish up their road trip in Chicago. And I see Dan Haren's earned run average (2.87) and his quality starts (25) and appreciate that he may well be the best pitcher in the American League, in many ways.
But as you appreciate that the Indians beat Johan Santana five times this season and further realize that C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona won all five of those games between them, not only should one think about what the Indians may be like in a short series in October should they get there, but realize what Sabathia has done to help put the Indians six games ahead of the Tigers in the AL Central.
Click down the list of pitchers Sabathia has faced. He beat Santana three times. He was matched up with Justin Verlander twice in five days on May 26 and 31, and won both games. He has also lost to Verlander and dropped a 1-0 decision to Daisuke Matsuzaka.
He's first in the AL in wins (16) and innings pitched (211), second in complete games (three) and fourth in strikeouts (182).
Think what having the Indians go 5-1 in his starts against Santana and Verlander means to the Indians in the standings, and right now Sabathia also has to get consideration for votes in the top 10 in the AL MVP balloting.