Now everyone hates Cleveland sports

April 29, 2010

 

It’s not just God who hates Cleveland sports anymore.

Now it’s just about everyone.

According to a Nielsen Co. Internet algorithm, the Cleveland Indians are the most hated team in baseball. That’s right, the Indians finally ranked ahead of the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees, and every other team in the AL Central.

Predictably, New Yorkers are up in arms, claiming that the study doesn’t really rank which team is most hated. (We all know it’s the Yankees, unless Boston Red Sox fans count as a team.) It merely ranks “the correlation between positive and negative feelings generated by each team based on their starts to this season,” or something along those lines, Aaron Lewis, a communications director at Nielsen, told the New York Daily News. And who wouldn’t believe that a guy who could come up with a line like ““the correlation between positive and negative feelings generated by each team based on their starts to this season” is a communications director, and therefore correct?

The algorithm is a bit more complicated than the one Nielsen uses to determine how many people watched American Idol on a given night. It measures things such as online message-board posts about the Indians and the rest of Major League Baseball, as well as the stupid things former Indian Mike Bacsik says on Twitter, to determine which teams got mocked the most.

Most likely the algorithm just measured what the Indians’ own fans were writing about Jhonny Peralta. You can bet there’s not many other baseball fans talking about a team whose best player’s batting average has dropped four years straight. (That’s Grady Sizemore, unless Shin-Soo Choo has passed him.) There’s probably not much interest outside of the Cleveland area in a team whose designated hitter, Travis Hafner, is more of a designated whiffer with 17 strikeouts in 77 plate appearances. Who could imagine anyone west of the Mississippi – or heck, even the Cuyahoga – yapping it up about closer Chris Perez over beers?

During awards ceremonies there’s usually a moment for the winners to give thanks to those who helped get them to the top spot. So before the orchestra plays us out, let’s thank those behind the Indians’ hate ranking:

  • Thank you to dgeneral, who wrote on the Cleveland.com message boards “Dolan death spiral has reached fever pitch. The misery of a Dolan ownership is a cruel cross to bare (sic) for Indians fans.”
  • Thank you to skatingtripods, who on TheClevelandFan.com message boards wrote “Grady Sizemore blows.” Yeah, that probably scored pretty high on the Nielsen algorithm.
  • And thank you to the Cleveland sports blogger, who have come up with names such as Cursed Cleveland; Cleveland Frowns; Mistake By The Lake; and Wait ‘Til Next Year, Again. Oh, and of course, God Hates Cleveland Sports.
  • But most of all, thank you, Cleveland Indians. Thank you, Larry Dolan, for buying high when you should have been lying low. Thank you for not being able to afford to run a major league franchise. Thank you, Mark Shapiro, for trading CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee in back-to-back seasons while getting back a bushelful of players who don’t even look good on paper. (Lou Marson? Michael Brantley? Jason Donald? Really?)  Thank you for giving a three-year contract to a manager whose only previous experience was guiding the Washington Nationals to hundreds of losses.

Most hated team in baseball, and it’s not even a month into the season. Congratulations, Cleveland Indians! Looks like everyone else has finally caught up with God.


Be like Mike, but don’t be like Bulls

April 27, 2010

 
The Chicago Bulls are a lot more similar to the Cleveland Cavaliers than you might think.

Oh, no, not this year’s version. Not any version in the recent past, and most likely not any version in the near future. No, right now the Cavs are one of the NBA’s elite while the Bulls are a guest body on CSI. They’re just here to further the story along for our favorite characters, like LeBron James.

Yes, right now and for the foreseeable future, the Cavs are a 60-win juggernaut and a marketing dream. As long as LeBron James is here, that is.

Which is where the Chicago Bulls come in?

The Bulls are still viewed as NBA royalty. Because of Michael Jordan the Bulls are viewed as one of the NBA’s premier franchises, a team whose return to glory is only a matter of time.

Only problem is that outside of Michael Jordan, the Bulls don’t have a glorified past. Which means they probably don’t have a glorified future. Really, the Bulls have been an irrelevant franchise for much of their existence.

Consider: take out the Jordan era (1984-1998) and the Bulls have played 29 seasons. In only nine of those years did the Bulls finish over .500. Nine out of 29 years. With Michael Jordan? Six NBA titles. Without Michael Jordan? They haven’t even won six playoff series. The Bulls have posted a 4-14 mark in playoff series without Jordan, never winning more than one series in a given season.

Take out the Jordan era and the Bulls have a 1,027 – 1,318 won-loss record. That’s a .437 winning percentage. That equates to 35 wins per season. That’s irrelevancy.

What does any of this have to do with the Cavaliers? Well, before LeBron the Cavs were 4-13 in playoff series. Only once did they win more than one playoff series in a season. That was in 1992 when they lost to the Jordan-led Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. And, in the 33 seasons before LeBron James joined the Cavs they were 1,172 – 1,502.

That’s a .438 winning percentage.

The Bulls without Jordan and the Cavs without LeBron have exactly the same history.

Fortunately for Cleveland fans, the teams don’t have the same present or the same future. We hope.

Where Jordan and LeBron differ is their connection to their cities. Jordan had nothing to do with the Bulls before joining them in 1984, and virtually nothing to do with them since leaving in 1998. He was really nothing more than a hired mercenary.

Jordan was born in Brooklyn, grew up in North Carolina, and attended college at the University of North Carolina. He joined the Bulls only because the Portland Trail Blazers made the mistake of drafting Sam Bowie over Jordan in the 1984 NBA Draft. After retiring from the Bulls for a second time in 1999, Jordan came back to the NBA for a second time a year later, this time as part-owner of the Washington Wizards. Then he made his return to the court as a member of the Wizards for the 2001-02 season. After Jordan retired as a player for good after the 2002-03 season, he was fired from his management position with the Wizards. Now he’s back in the NBA as head of an ownership group of the Charlotte Bobcats.

Meanwhile, LeBron was born and grew up 40 miles south of Cleveland in Akron, has built a home between here and there, and has surrounded himself with his family and high-school friends since the day he arrived in the NBA. The only thing anyone can find to criticize LeBron about are his sports allegiances – he roots for the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys, not the Indians and Browns.

Maybe the Cavs weren’t much before LeBron crashed the party. But they stand to be a whole lot while he’s here. That’s the other reason Dan Gilbert will do everything short of locking LeBron in the Q basement in order to keep The King here after his current contract expires. The Cavs are back to irrelevancy if LeBron leaves. The Cavs are back to being the Chicago Bulls if LeBron doesn’t sign a contract extension this summer.

And who wants to be the Bulls?


Scoreboard no longer just a word for another loss

April 22, 2010

 

Cleveland sports fans can’t stand prosperity, mostly because we’ve seen it about as often as Halley’s Comet.

Which is why we’re getting caught up in the drama of the Cavaliers’ first-round series with the Chicago Bulls rather than the games themselves.

We all know the Cavs are going to beat the Bulls. The real challenge awaits in the form of the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals. Then hopefully after that in the NBA Finals. So it gets a little boring beating the eighth-place team in the conference. Will the Cavs win in a sweep, or will they lose a game in Chicago? It might not be edge-of-our-seats drama, but being Cleveland fans every time we look ahead we get whapped upside the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. Considering our past, it’s no surprise we are loathe to look to the future.

That’s why we get caught up in manufactured drama. Joakim Noah says our city sucks and there’s nothing to do. Well, grab those pitchforks and torches. We’re going to burn the man down. We’ll boo him while he puts up career-high playoff numbers in the second game of the series. We’ll write mocking articles about him. We’ll make him Public Enemy No. 1, or at least No. 6 after Art Modell, John Elway, Michael Jordan, Albert Belle, and Jose Mesa.

In reality, there’s only one thing we need to do — point at the scoreboard.

Scoreboard.

It’s a foreign concept in Cleveland. It couldn’t be harder to get from here to there if a layer of volcanic ash hovered over the city. Usually when we point at the scoreboard it shows another Cleveland loss. Top that with the fact that we worry LeBron James will be leaving us in a couple months and, well, scoreboard’s just another word for something more to lose.

This time, sports fans, you can say it with confidence.

Scoreboard. Score. Board.

Point at it. Puff out your chest. Don’t get caught up in the drama.

Joakim Noah provided both the drama and his best effort in Game 2. All it got him was another 10-point loss for the Bulls and a 2-0 series deficit. No way Chicago wins four of the next five against Cleveland.

But we’ve got LeBron James. And scoreboard.


Pig Ben could start season against Browns

April 21, 2010

 

NFL rumblings Wednesday morning have Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger receiving a four- to six-game suspension.

It sounds like he’ll get six games for being a douchebag, which could be reduced to four games if he stops being a douchebag. So the jury’s still out on if Pig Ben will actually be able to get that suspension reduced?

What’s it mean for Browns fans? Well, it means the Browns might entirely miss Roethlisberger when they visit Pittsburgh on Oct. 17 for the Steelers’ fifth game of the season. Or it means they could be returning for the very beginning of the Pig Ben Reunion Tour.

If you take a look at the Steelers’ schedule, it’s set up to accomodate both a four- and six-game suspension for Roethlisberger. In their first six games, the Steelers play all 1 p.m. games. Without Pig Ben, one would assume Pittsburgh won’t nearly be the national draw they are with the two-time Super Bowl winner at the helm of the offense. But if the six-game bans goes through, Roethlisberger comes back in a Halloween-night game against the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints on NBC’s game of the week.

That one won’t hurt for ratings.

The Steelers two games following that are primetime affairs as well: Monday Night Football at the Bengals on Nov. 8 and a return to Sunday Night Football the next week against at home another premier team, the Patriots. Pittsburgh also has a Sunday night game at Baltimore scheduled for Dec. 5 and a Thursday night game on the NFL Network against Carolina two days before Christmas. Throw in a 4:15 p.m. game on CBS on Dec. 19 against the New York Jets, and you’ve got six out of the Steelers’ final 10 games set for national broadcast vs. zero of their first six.

Oh, and that Browns game on Oct. 17? It follows the Steelers’ bye week, giving them extra time to prepare for life with Roethlisberger once again.

So ladies, if you plan on going to the game in Pittsburgh on Oct. 17, don’t get drunk in a bar, or anywhere else Pig Ben might be. The NFL’s set it up perfectly for the Steelers. Roethlisberger can return after six games to a flurry of nationally televised broadcasts which will bring in boatloads of money for the NFL. Or, if he starts eating his dinner at home and praying before he goes to bed every night, he’ll get to return after a bye week at home against his team’s most bitter rival.


Here they come, Steelers, here they come

April 20, 2010

 

The NFL schedule comes out Tuesday night. If you’re here before then, you know two things:

The Browns visit Pittsburgh on Sunday, Oct. 17, and the Browns play host to Pittsburgh on the season’s final day, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011.

(If you’re here after Tuesday night, you probably know more.)

That is, if Pittsburgh radio station WDVE is correct. The Steelers’ flagship station posted the schedule on its website earlier today. It was removed, but not before the Steelers’ part of it was memorialized by ProFootballTalk.com.

So fortune smiles on the Browns. A sure-to-be bitter cold final weekend of the season will now be soldout thanks to a post-New Year’s Day game which features the team’s biggest vial.


Noah’s bark

April 19, 2010

 

So Chicago Bulls forward Joakim Noah thinks “there’s nothing going on” in Cleveland.

(Except lose basketball games.)

Plenty of people think Joakim Noah is wrong. Ask any of them and you’ll find there’s all kinds of things for athletes to do in Cleveland.

Just ask current third-string and future ex-Browns running back Chris Jennings just found something to do the other night. At The Velvet Dog in the Warehouse District in the early hours of last Saturday morning, he allegedly punched a bouncer in the mouth. Maybe Noah can hook up with Jennings for a night on the town.

And it was just a year ago that Cleveland native and Buffalo Bills safety Donte Whitner had a big night out at Cleveland’s House of Blues, just a short jog from Quicken Loans Arena. At 3 in the morning on a Saturday last October, police used a Taser to subdue Whitner and break up what was termed a “near riot.” Whitner was celebrating his former Glenville High School teammate Ted Ginn Jr.’s birthday that day. Maybe Noah was upset that he was a week late for any Ginn birthday celebration this time around.

Noah might be in luck tonight. TNT is broadcasting Game 2. If the network sends Charles Barkley to town, he’ll certainly be able to show Noah a good time. He found one in 1996 at The Basement nightclub in The Flats when he got into an altercation. Jeb Tyler sued for damages he alleged were suffered during a fight with Barkley. A jury acquitted Barkley of all charges a year later. Noah and Barkley could at least commiserate about what a boring town Cleveland is, since Barkley spent most of last season cracking on the city.

If that doesn’t work Noah could track down former Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards. The now-New York Jets wide receiver always seemed to find something to do in Cleveland. That included a night out at The View nightclub — even closer to the Q than is the House of Blues. Last October Edwards allegedly assaulted a friend of LeBron’s after a night out. Not long after, Edwards was shipped out of town. But if he’s back in town he can show Noah around.

Who knows, maybe they’ll run into a Playboy Playmate of the Year. Former Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia enjoyed plenty of nights out with Playmate Carmella DeCesare, now his wife in 2004. On one of those nights out (fittingly named?) Tramp nightclub, Garcia and DeCesare ran into one of Garcia’s old girlfriends, Kristin Hine. Oops! A catfight ensued, the results of which were sorted out in court. DeCesare was acquitted of assaulting Hine, but has a fine story to tell. Maybe Noah’s just looking for his own story to tell.

It’s not just athletes that find things to do in Cleveland, either. Sportscaster Gary Miller, then with ESPN and currently an anchor for radio stations in Los Angeles, had a big night out during the World Series in 1997. Visiting the same club as Barkley had a year earlier, The Basement, Miller was arrested for peeing out an upstairs window. He pleaded no contest a couple months later. Noah most likely didn’t encounter any long bathroom lines anywhere he went in Cleveland, making him think there’s nothing going on here.

Then there’s former Cleveland State basketball coach Kevin Mackey, who found something to do in the summer of 1990 even though it wasn’t downtown. That’s when he was filmed leaving a crack house in the company of a prostitute. Certainly Noah isn’t looking for this kind of excitement, but Mackey’s just another example of a sports figure who had no trouble finding something to do in Cleveland.

Noah might not know it, he might think Cleveland sucks, but there’s a long history of athletes finding something to do in Cleveland. He’ll probably fit right in if he ventures out on the town. One thing Noah can be assured of, though, is that after Monday he won’t need to find something to in Cleveland until next season. The Bulls ain’t coming back here ’til then.