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With the addition of a fullback in the draft, Vickers uneasy about his chances of coming back to the Browns- “But with the Browns switching to a West Coast offense under rookie head coach Pat Shurmur, they appear ready to move in another direction by drafting Marecic. Vickers, who is training in his hometown of Houston, Texas, told ESPN.com’s AFC North blog that he was shocked by the news.
“Honestly, my first reaction was ‘Wow,’’” Vickers said in a telephone interview Sunday. “I’m amazed. I was amazed I was still a free agent and wasn’t signed [by the Browns] before the deadline. I didn’t understand it. But at the same time I do understand because nothing has ever come easy to me. So I was prepared for it.
“If they want me, they want me. If they don’t, they don’t. As a man, you have to be prepared for anything. But in the back of my mind I thought I would be in Cleveland.” With free agency on ice due to labor uncertainty, Vickers said he’s still not 100 percent certain he won’t return. But it’s sure looking that way. According to Vickers, he was never tendered a contract before the lockout. Cleveland has been unwilling to speak on player contracts since the lockout began in March.” [Walker/AFC North Blog]
Too early to judge the Tribe? Maybe not?- “Not counting 1995 (since the strike-shortened season started in late April), 49 of the 90 champions were in first place on May 1. That’s just a 54.4 percent success rate, so the numbers suggest the Indians may want to hold off just a little bit on printing playoff tickets.
But if you go a little deeper and look at the Central Division, the Tribe may be in a better position than the other division leaders. Five times in the past seven years, the team leading the Central Division on May 1 has gone on to win the division. The two times it didn’t happen, the Twins beat out the White Sox, in 2006 and again in 2009.” [Red Right 88]
A recap of the Tribe’s amazing April- “The Indians wrapped up April with an 18-8 record — just like we all predicted they would, right? The previous club mark for April wins was 16. “To me, you remember the teams of the ’90s and all the success here,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “And in 111 years, this is the first time this club wins 17, now 18, games in April. To me, it’s pretty amazing.
“I told my coaching staff [Friday] night, ‘No one can take that from us as a team.’ It’s amazing if you look back at the great ballclubs that have been in Cleveland for 100 years. It’s historic.
“We’re always going to cherish that. The season’s not over, but what a month.” On top of that, the Tribe entered May with the best mark in the American League and the team was tied with the Phillies for the best record in baseball. Cleveland’s 12-2 ledger in front of the local fans? Best in the business. The team’s attendance ranks last, but that has not affected the performance so far.” [Major League Bastian]
Looking back on Dick Jacobs’ time as owner- “As an astute business man, Jacobs probably saw what was coming in the future for the franchise with declining attendance and revenues with the return of the Browns, the changing Cleveland economy, and the stadium itself no longer being the draw it once was when it was brand new. He also saw an aging roster with several star players and fan favorites becoming free agents who would be tough to resign. Most of all he probably saw a blossoming inequality in the economic structure of the game.
By selling the team in 1999 and getting out just in time before any potential rebuild on his watch, Jacobs saved his image as a “hero” in the Cleveland area. He capitalized and struck at the right moment and passed a rapidly depreciating team onto the Dolan family. The Dolan’s bought into the team without having a true idea what they were getting, and they soon discovered that they were not inheriting the money machine and guaranteed yearly winner that Jacobs enjoyed for most of the 90s.
By getting out when he did, Jacobs saved face and made a truckload of money at the same time. The guy knew business, and it showed with how he knew when to sell the team and how he went through the sale process and eventually got the Dolan family to overbid for the team.” [Tony/Indians Prospect Insider]
Browns aiming for 2012 run?- “The draft is much simpler for teams that already have players and are trying to take that next step. The Browns have blown too many drafts to be in that zip code, but Heckert’s moves should give the Browns a much-needed boost in overall talent, toughness and athleticism. What it comes down to with the Browns is if Colt McCoy is good enough, they’re a tad closer to being able to compete than they were at the beginning of the week. Add in a few free agents, a year in the new systems for everybody and another year of growth for a young core Heckert started to assemble a year ago, and in March and April 2012 the Browns will be pointing toward a playoff run.
As for 2011? It’s about getting there. Ahtyba Rubin and first-rounder Phil Taylor form a young and interesting wall up front. Defensive end Jabaal Sheard, the first of the Browns’ second-rounders, is aggressive but is facing a learning curve. The other second-rounder, Greg Little, didn’t play at all last year due to NCAA sanctions. Depending on what happens whenever free agency does begin, they might all start — and the Browns might also start a rookie at fullback and play another in their nickel and dime defenses, too.” [Jackson/FSO]