Are you richer than a Cleveland Indian?

May 5, 2010

 

Nineteen of the 25 players on the Indians active roster as of Wednesday make less than a million dollars. (And this most assuredly won’t change if Luis Valbuena is shipped out before the Tribe plays again.) Meanwhile, this guy you never heard of just made more than each of those 19 players by playing a baseball video game. He did it by pitching the first perfect game on 2K Sports’ Major League Baseball 2K game. No word on if he did it against the virtual Indians.


Perfect embarrassment

May 4, 2010

 

When Asdrubal Cabrera meekly grounded out to Blue Jays pitcher Brett Cecil to start the seventh inning Monday night – the 18th straight Indian to head right back to the dugout – who knew that the most embarrassing performance in downtown Cleveland Monday night would take place not quite 100 yards from the Progressive Field bleachers?

That’s what happened after the Boston Celtics opened a 25-point lead en route to a 104-86 victory over the “Hey, but we won 61 games this year, that’s got to count for something, right?” Cavaliers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conferernce semifinal playoff series at Quicken Loans Arena.

Not long after Grady Sizemore walked to ruin Cecil’s perfecto, and right about the same time Jhonny Peralta singled Sizemore home to make both the no-hitter and shutout disappear, the Celtics opened up a double-digit third-quarter lead against the Cavs. The home team never got closer than 10 the rest of the way, falling behind by as much as 25 with nine minutes to go.

Celtic point guard Rajon Rondo pitched his own version of a perfect game at the Q, dishing out a Boston-record 19 assists. So did washed-up forward Rasheed Wallace. He got up off the couch and turned in a nearly perfect shooting night, hitting 7-of-8 shots for 17 points in 18 minutes. In his first six playoff games this season, Wallace had scored just 21 points total. Yes, Cleveland fans, you still have to muster up the hate for Rasheed.

The Indians having a perfect game tossed against them, or a no-hitter, or even the combined two-hit, one-run effort Cecil and Kevin Gregg turned are expected outcomes in this season of 3½ runs per game.

But the Celtics shooting 47% on 3-pointers? Six Celtics scoring in double figures, including all five starters? Kendrick Perkins scoring 10 points and grabbing nine rebounds while missing just one shot against the Cavs’ big men? Mo Williams making just 1-of-9 shots? LeBron James playing as if he were more worried about lifting his right arm over his head than playing for an NBA title?

All perfectly atrocious.

A beer bottle thrown onto the court after Boston’s Paul Pierce rassled Williams to the ground will probably be the least amount of gripping Cleveland fans will do while waiting for Friday’s Game 3. There’s already caterwauling at Real Cavs Fans, a Brian Windhorst article advising fans to calm down (like that’s going to happen with nothing but the Indians between now and Friday to distract us), and a practice on an off day for the Cavs.

So enjoy the next couple of days, Cleveland fans. Maybe the Indians will get no-hit. Maybe a Browns player will get arrested. Maybe Cleveland will end up atop another list that no one likes to see.

Whatever comes between now and Friday’s Game 3, nothing will be more embarrassing than what happened in The Q Monday night.


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.