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Archive for September, 2007

Another weekend is here

The weekend is here again and it’s time to highlight some of the best events. But before we do, let’s talk about LeBron James. He might highlight the weekend with his hosting of the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. He’s got some large shoes to fill after Peyton’s classic performance last season and past host like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Tom Brady and even The Rock had a good one back when he was still The Rock. But that’s not why I wanted to talk about LBJ. He was asked who would win a playoff series between the Yankees and the Indians and he said the Yankees. Come on, LeBron. You can say they may win, but as the biggest star in Cleveland you should at least say something like you want the Indians to win or it will be a good series. Instead you said “The Yankees. I know a lot of people might not like hearing me say that, but I think everyone knows I’ve been a Yankee fan my whole life. They have to deal with it.” Not a good answer. And why are you a Yankees fan? You’ve never leave anywhere other that Akron. The only reason you are is because they were good when you were young and the Indians weren’t. It’s the thing Girlfriend’s Brother ranted about in a comment the other day. LeBron there is no reason you should be a Yankees fan. Or least no reason you should root against the Indians. Damn you, LeBron. But you’re wrong.

On to the weekend…

**Oklahoma at Colorado** Remember when this game used to be important? You know, back when Colorado was good.

**California at Oregon** A chance for Oregon to prove they are for real. Two things should have the Ducks ready to go, the fans at Autaen Stadium, where it can get really crazy, and a combination of their uniforms they have never worn before. I’m hope for white helmets, green tops and yellow pants.

**Penn State at Illinois** Illinois is tough, Joe Pa is old, I think Illinois can win this game and make a statement in the Big Ten for the first time since Jeff George. Wait? What’s that? Ron Zook is their coach? Oh, forget what I just said about them winning.

**Michigan State at Wisconsin** The best game in the Big Ten this week. MSU the surprising upstart team while Wisconsin has struggled to beat UNLV, The Citiadel and Iowa. If JP Hill didn’t weight 450 pounds I’d pick MSU but too much of the big guy will beat Michigan State. Then all the Wisconsin students will hug each other and sing along in the stands like they were on the set of Barney.

**Now two three Big Ten games that should be blow outs**

**Ohio State at Minnesota** Minnesota is second in the Big Ten in total offense. Ohio State is first in total defense. Ohio State is sixth in total offense. Minnesota is last in total defense. Usually when the best offense goes up against the best defense the saying is “well something has to give.” For some reason, I think I’ll take OSU.

**Notre Dame at Purdue** Notre Dame is just the next powderpuff team on Purdue’s schedule. They’ve already beat up on Toledo, Eastern Illinois, Central Michigan and Minnesota. You think they would schedule one tough game before having to play Ohio State and Michigan in back-to-back weeks.

**Michigan at Northwestern** Sure, you would say this should be a blowout win for the Wolverines, but isn’t that what we were all saying against App State (I hate that any time I, or anyone, mentions Michigan, you have to mention App State). It is also Michigan’s first (of only four) road games this year and NW runs a spread offense which is Michigan’s kryptonite. Scaring stuff adding up against the Big Blue. But on the upside, we just switched from Time Warner Cable to AT&T and now get the Big Ten Network and NFL Network.

**Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns** So if we look at this mathematically, or I guess more of a pattern, the Browns played horrible, then played great (for them), then played bad, so now they should play good. The good news, I’ll be at Cleveland Browns Stadium for this game. The bad news, of all the Indians (four) and Browns games (one) I have been to this year, they’ve lost. I haven’t seen a Cleveland team win in person since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. For that matter, the Browns have never won when I’m there. That better change Sunday.

To beat the Ravens, the Browns need to take a page out of the Arizona Cardinals book. Yes, the Cardinals. They had success against the Ravens defense when they went no huddle and threw the ball around. I hope Romeo noticed that in his scouting report. But he probably didn’t. He probably skipped film session to go to an all-you-can-eat-buffet. And even if he did notice it, when he was speaking to his coordinators about it, they probably fell asleep since Romeo is about as exciting as Kurt Warner’s wife.

(By the way, help me come up with a nickname for Romeo. There’s got to be something good out there. He’s fat, monotone, boring and his name is Romeo. Help me please.)

All right. That’s all I feel like writing about for now. But don’t forget about the President’s Cup, the NL pennant races, and the Cleveland Indians going for the best record in baseball. Go Tribe! Go Browns!

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The Yankees celebrated for that? (and more thoughts)

A grab bag of random thoughts today on what’s going on in the sport world.

The Yankees are in the playoffs. Big deal. Like this wasn’t going to happen. They are the New York Yankees. They have a big pay roll than the NHL and MLS combined. They’ve been to the playoffs 13 straight years. That’s impressive. I hate it, but it’s impressive. Anyway, why were they celebrating last night like they won something? They made the playoffs. Congrats. But what were you celebrating? During a celebration like that what do you yell? “All right guys! Good job on that Wild Card slash AL East title!” or “Yippy boys. We won the Wild Card or the Division!” When the Indians clinched the AL Central, they got T-shirts and hats that said such. Did the Yankees get T-shirts and hats that just said “Playoffs.” Just plain stupid. Do the Yankees get another party when it’s determined if they are the Wild Card or division champs? What if they lose out, when Boston clinches the division, do they have a celebration for getting the wild card? Baseball celebrations are way to frequent, especially in New York.

– Ohio State’s backup quarterback, make that third string quarterback, Antonio Henton, was arrested for soliciting a prostitute. Really, Antonio? You needed to pay a prostitute for sex? You’re an Ohio State quarterback, granted probably no one knows who you are but I’m guessing at a college campus, you can find a girl who is willing. What does this say about you? Even the nerdest guy and hook up in college. No wonder you’re the third-string.

– Floyd Landis called cycling anti-doping system “corrupt.” Hey Floyd, go away!

– Is there any dumber than Mike Vick? Well, the guy who works at the animal shelter and allowed Mike Vick to adopt multiple pit bulls after Vick toward them they were birthday gifts for Travis Henry’s kids.

– Barry Bonds played is last game ever last night. Not just in San Francisco, but ever. Someone please tell him that. He doesn’t need to play next year. Go out now. It was a great ending and a great season to leave on. No other city will embrace you like the Bay.

– Anyone think the Suns would be interested in Anderson Varejao/Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes and Shannon Brown for Shawn Marion? Or is there any way the Cavs can get him? Please tell me Danny Ferry is at least exploring it.

– Great TV night tonight. The Office is back, Grey’s Anatomy is back (yes, I’m a fag, thank The Girlfriend for that one), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is on (if you haven’t watch this show, 10:00, FX, tune in, it’s fantastic. It’s like a non-cartoon version of Family. It’s that off the wall. In one episode, they found a baby in the dumpster, kept it, thought about putting it back in the dumpster, then tried getting it in commercials but the commercial agent said the market was only looking for Latino babies so they tried painting it with spray on tan and shoe polish. Just watch. You won’t be disappointed.)

Back tomorrow with a weekend outlook.

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The Cleveland Teaser that never was

Why back on April 2, I wrote a post called “The Cleveland Teaser.” I recommend you got back and read that before reading this post.

In it, I wrote about how I was trying not to get excited about the Cleveland Indians seasons because every time Cleveland fans get excited for something, we get disappointed. But after the first game of the year, I couldn’t help but be excited. Now, as we head into October baseball, I’m glad I allowed myself to be excited all year. It was an absolutely incredible year.

If you would have told me at the beginning of the year, Fausto Carmona would be our No. 2 starter, no free agent pickups beside Joe Borowski did anything at all, there would be five guys that started the year at AA Akron making a major impact and we’d still be the first team to clinch and division title, I would have called you an idiot. But that’s what’s happened.

The Indians have become the best team in baseball without anyone noticing. They never dropped below .500, were more than 2.5 games out of first place and never lost more than 4 games in a row all year. That’s consistent baseball.

They did it all without anyone have a great offensive year. Victor Martinez has been great but other than him, you could say everyone has had an off year. Grady and Hafner have had sub par years from their standards. Hafner’s driven in 96 runs and still it’s an off year. The thing about this team is they find ways to win. While no one may be great, everyone is good, and they do what it takes to win. Five guys have 20 or more home runs and Casey Blake is at 18.

Some of you (Graig) may say the Indians aren’t the most talented team in the playoffs and you may be right. But they are still the best team. They are built for the playoffs. If one guys is struggling, the others pick it up. Grady was batting something like 3-for-20 last week when the Indians were playing Detroit in a critical series and then Oakland. Even with their leadoff hitter struggling, the Tribe swept the Tigers and clinched the AL Central. When you leadoff hitter is second in the league in strikeouts, and you still are one of the top offensive teams and still win 95ish games, that says something about your team.

The main reason why the Indians will have a successful run in October is because of C.C. and Fausto. They are the pitching combo in the league. That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact. One will win the Cy Young and the other will finish in the top five. No one, and I mean no one, that includes you Yankee fans, can say you want to face these two guys in a five game series.

That’s why I’m not worried about who the Indians play in the ALDS. I was trying to think who would be a better match up and if I wanted the Yankees or Boston, but frankly, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care if the Tribe was 0-6 against NY and 2-5 against Boston. C.C. never pitched against the Yankees in those six games and only once against the Red Sox when he went seven innings, striking out seven and gave up one run. Those two will keep Cleveland in every game and every series.

A season that started with me trying to contain my excitement changed in the first game when Grady Sizemore homered in the first at-bat of the year in Chicago. Back on April 2, I wrote, “And just like that, my hopes for the season were elevated to new heights.” The Tribe never let “The Cleveland Teaser” happen. Thank you. Now those hopes and that excitement are brought to a new level as the Tribe makes a push to a title.

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The Browns took Oakland lightly? You got to be kidding me!

I avoided talking about the Browns yesterday because why talk about something bad when there was something so good in the Indians. But I have to say something about it now. Why is everyone so surprised at the Browns looked bad on Sunday? Did people really think they’d score 51 points every game? The defense is bad. That should have been obvious after the Bengals game only people didn’t want to talk about that because the offense looked so good.

My biggest problem is what the team was saying after the game. Numerous players said something like “we underestimated the Raiders” or “we took them lightly.” WHAT!?!?!?! How can the Cleveland Browns take anyone lightly? THEY ARE THE CLEVELAND BROWNS. The same Cleveland Browns who have won just 32 games since 1999 while losing 90 (after the Raiders loss). Are you kidding me?!?!?!? You took a team lightly?!?!?! Everyone should be fined and forced to run around every neighborhood in Northeast Ohio apologizing to us loyal fans.

You would think the coach wouldn’t let this happen. You think he’d have his team prepared to play. Especially coming off a big win the week before and with a very winnable game and a chance to give fans a real sense of hope. Does he do this? Of course not. He doesn’t even deny that HIS team took Oakland lightly. When asked about that, Romeo said, “yeah, I think so guys might have done that.” ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME, ROMEO?!?!?! HOW DO YOU LET THIS HAPPEN!?!?! Then how do you let them say it to the media? Then how do you agree with it? How do you not say something like, “I didn’t underestimate the Oakland Raiders, my team better not have underestimated them and if someone is saying that, I’ll speak with him and we’ll get him straightened out. We can’t take anyone lightly. We have to out work everyone on every snap. That’s what I stand for. Believe me, if guys took Oakland lightly, they’ll never take other team lightly because I will make their week a living hell they will be afraid to not give 100 percent even when drinking water on the sidelines.”

Romeo, I know your fat, emotionless and never going to win any contest that deals with speaking, but my goodness. Reporters are calling your team out and you take and agree with them? That’s awful. That’s why you won’t be back next year. Take a lesson from Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and show some passion. Stand up for your players and when you players let you down, be a man and let people know you aren’t going to stand for it. Don’t roll up into an oversized Milk Dud and hide in the corner.

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Awkward celebrations are the best

The Cleveland Indians are the 2007 American League Central Division Champions. How nice that is to say again after six years of nothings. I just wish they could have done it on Saturday night when I was there.

Watching the celebration brought back memories of the ‘95-’01 seasons. Only this time, I think it was more enjoyable. During the Indians run in the late ‘90s, it was almost like winning the AL Central was a given and, therefore, the celebration after the division title clinching game was forced. Sure, was a party, smiles, hugs and champagne being poured, but it wasn’t a celebration. (1995 and 96 obviously weren’t like that since it was the first time the Indians were relevant in the baseball world, besides Major League since 1954 but by the last few titles it was) Sunday’s celebration was full of pure joy. And that was great to see.

My favorite part of the celebration is how bad it went. After the final out, everyone was hugging and what not on the infield, then C.C. Sabathia wondered off by himself. I didn’t know where he was going but he was walking to the outfield. He kept looking back as if to say, “OK fellas, I think I’m suppose to walk out here and you’re suppose to follow me, right? I think so? Maybe not? I’ll just walk out slowly and see what happens.” Then someone started raising the 2007 AL Central Division Champions banner. So I thought that must be where C.C. was going. He wanted to see the banner raised. Well, it turns out, he was suppose to be the raising the banner. Only for whatever reason, the two guys out in centerfield did it with out him. It was probably two stupid interns who thought it would be sweet to say, “I raised the Indian’s 2007 AL Central Division Champions banner, which it is sweet to say.

While the flag was going up, the team was still making their way out to centerfield. Once they got all the way to centerfield, the banner had been up for a few minutes. The team stood there, did some more cheering and hugging, then didn’t know what to do next. So they turned around and walked back to the infield. The whole thing was awkward but it was only about to get weirder.

Someone handed C.C. a mic and he addressed the crowd like he was talking in public for the first time. Then he passed the mic on to Victor Martinez. I don’t know if C.C. just gave it to him or if Victor asked for it but someone should have stepped and not allowed this to happen. Victor, in broken English, thanked the crowd, said something like this is for you, then after a few seconds of silence, just screamed “Yeah!”

Sensing the moment was about to be ruined with more crowd thanking, the guys working the sound system saved the day by quickly turning on music and played “Shout.” A perfect song for the situation because everyone can sing along and dance to it and forget what was just said to them.

Other than those awkward moments, the party was genuine and a welcomed sight. I thought it was great when Dolan, Wedge and Sharpio got “pied.” I love the old pie-in-the-face thing this team has going on but it was starting to get old. Then, just when you think you’re done liking it, they go and do something like this and you realize it still fantastic. Nothing like a 70-year millionaire getting a whipped cream pie to make you appreciate comedy. Well done.

Of course, I didn’t get to fully enjoy the game and celebration because of a personal problem. I was at grandma’s eating dinner when all of a sudden I felt my lip getting swollen. Before I knew it, my top lip was the size of four lips. I took some medicine and was so tired during the post game party I struggled to fully appreciate it.

That may sound like a minor problem but let me try to make appreciate the situation even more. It looked like I was frowning the whole time. At first it was just the left side of my lip and it made for one crocked lip. Then it expanded all the way across. I looked in the mirror and I looked like a duck. My girlfriend said I looked like a Simpsons character. That comment was later echoed by Girlfriend’s Dad, even without knowing The Girlfriend had said it earlier. Anytime you can see your upper lip in your normal line of vision, something’s not right. Luckily, the lip is back down to normal size this morning.

As for the Browns, they should have won that game. They didn’t deserve to win because they played awful and sloppy but the should have. How does Phil Dawson say, “I didn’t hear the whistle. I thought we had won the game.” Who didn’t know Oakland was going to call a timeout before he kicked the ball? Denver had just done the same thing to them last week. A team always calls a time out. Dawson, you should have known that and you should have been ready for it. Your second kick was awful. The guy who blocked it didn’t have to even raise his arms. It basically hit him in the face. Awful, but typical Browns.

Oh well. The Indians are back in the postseason and it doesn’t even matter who we play. Boston or New York. With the way they are playing and chemistry they seem to have, plus C.C. and Fausto going 1-2, I like our chances.

One more note. You know how at games they always put the dance weirdo on the jumbotran, well I’ve always wanted to be that guy. On Saturday, at the Indians game, I was that guy and I wasn’t even trying to. It was after the game and there was a party at the bar at the Jake, I was walking up the steps to get there and just started being an idiot and dancing. Little did I know, the camera was filming me and put me up on the screen. I’m so proud of myself.

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Thoughts heading into the weekend

The weekend is just hours away and again it should be a fantastic sports weekend. Before we get to some of the highlight to look forward to, let’s review a few things in the headlines, and some that didn’t make the headlines.

Congratulations Floyd Landis on your second place finish at the 2006 Tour de France. Floyd is the most determined, never say die kind of guy in the world. Did he let claims that he doped stop him from winning the Tour? No. Did he let those same claims stop him from enjoying his victory? No. Did he let a court ruling that upheld that claim and stricken his victory at the Tour from the record books stop him? No. He still claims his innocent even though he never turned in a clean test. Ummm. Right now he’s kind of like that guy who hooked up with the fat chick on a drunken night and all his friends know it because they saw them making out but he still denies it. Come Lloyd. Admit it and accept. It’s just funnier when you do.

Golf adopted an anti-doping policy. Does it even really matter if golfers are taking ‘roids? The clubs are titanium, the balls are bullets and all the equipment is juiced but let’s make sure the players aren’t. All this because Gary Player wanted some attention.

NHL preseason is in full swing. What you didn’t know the NHL had a preseason? Why have a preseason if you don’t even have a regular season?

Anyone else of this Women’s World Cup? I just want my morning SportsCenter back.

Now on to some college football.

*** Michigan vs Penn State – The second season for Michigan starts here. They can still win the Big Ten and go to the Rose Bowl. I think last week’s Notre Dame game was exactly what they needed to give them the confidence to turn the season around. Penn State looks good but they haven’t really played anyone yet. They’ve played Florida International, ND and Buffalo. It could be a homer pick but I think Michigan pulls the upset. Mike Hart’s guarantee win over ND got everyone pumped up and it will carry over to Saturday. I just hope when Ryan Mallett throws a TD pass he makes the leap on the pile.

*** South Carolina vs LSU – The Old Ball Coach goes in to Baton Rouge and shocks the world. Not with an upset win but with how many excuses he can come up with for why his team lost by 35. He hasn’t felt this overmatched since his days with the Redskins.

*** Northwestern vs Ohio State – Not saying it’s going to happen but, if Northwestern wins, and they just lost to Duke, would this loss be worse than Michigan losing to App State? I say yes.

*** Michigan State vs Notre Dame –
It will be interesting to see how the announcers find a way to still praise ND after their first 0-4 start ever. This will lead into another week of “Should Charlie Weis be fired?” and “What’s wrong at Notre Dame?” I almost home the Irish win just so we don’t have to hear that anymore.

*** Kentucky vs Arkansas – UK’s stay in the top 25 last as long as it takes Darren McFadden to run and throw a touchdown pass.

*** Iowa vs Wisconsin – Really? This game gets ESPNs primetime slot? Really?

Expect an awesome post either Sunday or Monday about being at the Jake when the Indians win the AL Central on Saturday night. Should be a great time. Let’s go Royals! We need one from you. Let’s go Tribe!

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Sweep into October

It’s all over but the crying. And the champagne pouring, beer drinking, lots of man love celebration. With the Indians sweep of the Tigers, only a historic collapse will keep the Tribe out of the playoffs. I guess as Cleveland fans we shouldn’t count our eggs before they hatch. Or our touchdowns before we score, our World Series titles before the final out and our upsets until the final shot, but come on. It’s over. The magic number is three there’s no way they don’t clinch at home this weekend. Detroit might just fold the rest of the season. I see the Royals taking two of three from them and the Tribe winning two of three from Oakland. At the worst, the means Sunday will be the division title clincher, but we’re still hoping that it comes Saturday so I’ll be at the Jake for the party.

There’s something about baseball playoffs and pennant races that’s different from other playoffs. I was listening to the game at work and was generally excited when Cleveland scored three in the fifth. I was even more excited when Joe Borowski closed the game out. It reminded me of the time, I think back in 1995, I was at basketball camp at who knows where. In the dorms we were staying in, everyone was in the hallway listen to a game. The game ended on an Albert Belle walk-off home run. Everyone went nuts. Everyone was so excited then because in our lifetime the Indians had never been good.

This year, that same feeling is coming back. The Tribe hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2001. After the disappointment in 2005, the fans are ready to explode for a postseason appearance. They showed that in the Detroit series. The Jake looked like it did in the mid-late 90s and that was awesome. Expect that to continue well into October.

A few more Indian notes…

… Charlie Manuel, former Indians manager and hitting coach and current Philadelphia Phillies, said his current team is the best offensive club he’s been around. Lumped into the clubs that aren’t the best are the Indians teams from the mid-late 90s. Teams that had Kenny Loften, Carlos Bearga, Albert Belle, Jim Thome, Manny Rameriz, Eddie Murray, Robbie Alomar, Sandy Alomar, even Paul Sorento, Omar Vizquel, Matt Williams for a year, Jeff Kent another, and so forth. Manuel must be crazy. There are four for sure Hall of Famers there with case to be made for three more. No wonder Manuel’s teams suck. He’s an idiot.

… How good is Grady Sizemore? Since he was put back in the leadoff spot, the Tribe is 20-5 and picked up six games on Detroit.

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