Welcome to “Keepin’ It Real (and sometimes funny),” our new weekly column highlighting relevant events in Cleveland sports, and how we might feel about them; the brainchild of the man behind Twitter’s @NotSCCleveland. We will take a dive in to the good, the bad and the downright head-scratching moments that have been the last week in Cleveland sports. Do enjoy, and please do not hesitate to provide feedback.
First up, your flame-throwing, DJ-hiring Cleveland Browns:
So, the Browns are 1-0 in preseason play. That’s nice. We all enjoy winning, and watching competent football is a plus, too. Here are the positives and negatives of the Browns’ 27-19 victory over the Rams last Thursday at FirstEnergy Stadium:
• Positive: Norv Turner’s preseason play-calling, where the playbook is anything but open, is still more exciting than if Pat Shurmur got the chance to call plays in a Super Bowl. Side note: that’s a 15-yard penalty on me for mentioning Pat Shurmur and Super Bowl in the same sentence. The next time I’ll just go ahead and eject myself from the game.
• Positive: One (preseason) game into this new regime, and you can already sense the aggressiveness. Believe it or not, these guys believe in throwing the football past the first down marker on third downs. Crazy. Also, for the first time in what seems to be the history of Cleveland Browns football, we actually witnessed a third-down draw play work. Bottom line, it was the first time in a long time that it seemed like the Browns were making the other guys adjust. What a concept!
• Positive: Travis Benjamin. Enough said.
• Positive: Barkevious Mingo. Started the game on special teams and thrived. Was inserted into some specialized pass-rushing situations with the first team defense, and looked good. There’s just a different kind of athleticism with Mingo, and the thought of him and Kruger rushing the passer for years to come is a thought that tends to make me smile.
• Negative: The Browns are 1-0 in preseason play. Why is this a negative? Pat Shurmur started 1-0 in both of his preseasons. So, you know, let’s not expect the Lombardi Trophy quite yet.
• Negative: Lack of depth on defense. This will most likely be the Browns’ biggest problem throughout the season, especially in the secondary. If the Rams’ backup receivers could catch, there might have been a different end result to the game.
Browns Quote of the Week: “I’m extremely impressed with Greg Little, his work ethic, and doing (extra work) every day after practice.” – Rob Chudzinski, when asked if he’d like to see Josh Gordon put in extra time after practice with Brandon Weeden, like his counterpart Greg Little.
So, umm, keep up the good work, Josh!
Browns Tweet(s) of the Week:
— Stacey Vayo (@staceyvayo) August 9, 2013
Cleveland Browns Superbowl. Its our year.
— Brad Smith (@bradsmith0) August 9, 2013
Cleveland Browns. Super Bowl champions. Don't be jumping on our bandwagon in the dawg pound.
— Matt Knight (@M22Knight) August 9, 2013
Yes. Because nothing says “Super Bowl!” like a preseason victory over the St. Louis Rams.
Next up, your…Cleveland Indians:
The Indians are 3-7 since the beginning of the crucial Detroit series on August 5. They’ve been outscored 55-34. The offense has been struggling, starting pitching is faltering, and the bullpen is the bullpen. Positives and negatives from the Tribe’s last ten games of baseball.
• Positive: Danny Salazar. He’s impressive. He pitched a great game against the Tigers, and was solid for the most part at Minnesota. He’s a bright spot and a guy who the Indians should be able to count on for quite some time.
• Negative: Everything else. The offense was bad, the bullpen was bad, and the fans were sad. (I’ll be here all week, Dr. Seuss).
• Positive: There’s plenty of baseball to play.
• Negative: There’s plenty of baseball to play. This is August, and these are the Indians, so the term “thin ice” doesn’t quite give this situation justice.
• Negative: The Indians don’t think they’ve got the talent to really contend, yet. Make no mistake, they think they’re close, but the players, the coaches and management feel like they’re a few pieces away. The only problem with that is that the team is still contending. If they’d like to continue to contend, they’re going to have to somehow believe that they can do it.
• Positive: Mark Reynolds is no longer on the active roster.
• Negative: Mark Reynolds is no longer on the active roster, which means the Indians have given up on Mark Reynolds. Those of us holding out hope that he could somehow right the ship in the last two months will now need to come to grips with the fact that he’ll no longer be someone who can contribute.
• Negative: Chris Perez. Chris Perez has had a really, really bad week.
• Positive: The Minnesota series, especially the last win, which took guts to not only come back the first time, but to survive giving up the lead in extra innings and still find a way to win.
• Negative: Asdrubal Cabrera, who looks like a whole different player from the All-Star shortstop of yesteryear. Not only has Cabrera’s play – especially offensively – been disappointing, but his in-game attitude has been equally troublesome. Francisco Lindor … We’re waiting.
Indians Quote of the Week: “Our ability to (contend) is us playing to our potential and the Tigers not playing to theirs.” – Team president Mark Shapiro.
Fantastic. So where can I buy my Tigers tickets to go root against them?
Indians Tweet of the Week:
Ryan Raburn loosening up for Cleveland in the bullpen (not a typo). Score is 10-2 #Tigers in the bottom of the 8th inning
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) August 9, 2013
It would be a little less funny if Ryan Raburn didn’t instantly look like a better option than 75 percent of the Indians bullpen.
What To Watch For:
The Lions are in town tonight, and the giant Great Lakes Barge Trophy will be distributed to the winner. Can the Browns keep their undefeated hopes alive? Or will there be a bump in the road to the Super Bowl? We’ll see on Thursday night at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Photo of the Week:
The world stopped for a minute last week when LeBron James was summoned to jury duty in Akron. Shocking, I know … an American citizen was asked to appear for jury duty. Somehow, this was headline news.
Anyway, LeBron tweeted the above photo (nice selfie, man!) for his 9.4 million followers. Note the Indians cap. I have one thought about this, which I’ve already expressed on twitter: If the man does not return to Cleveland in 2014, he is the biggest Cleveland sports troll ever.
Reader Questions (submitted via twitter):
1. “Does Travis Benjamin have a shot at being a legitimate deep threat, or is he going to be a one-trick pony a la Josh Cribbs?” – @JCUStreaks10
Josh Cribbs never got the opportunity to showcase his talent on offense, because of the ineptitude of the various coaching staffs he was forced to play for. At the very least, Travis Benjamin should get that opportunity.
2. “Realistic expectations of Brandon Weeden? What type of year would it take to secure the job for him for the future?” – @whereskitkat
My personal expectations are for Brandon to vastly improve his deep-ball accuracy, and protect the football in the red zone. What does he have to do to secure the job in the long-term? Show that he can be a quarterback to take the Browns to the Super Bowl. That’s seriously what the front office is looking for. It’s a tall task, but it’s supposed to be that way.
3. “How many pieces of bubble gum does Tito (Francona) chew each game?” – @tjayhunt7
That’s impossible to answer. The real question is this: Does Francona chew more pieces of gum per game, or did Mark Reynolds swing-and-miss at more baseballs per game?
4. “Why can’t the Indians beat the Tigers?” – @J_Spisak
Please see Mark Shapiro’s quote above.
FUN FACT OF THE WEEK:
The Browns have not lost a football game in 223 days.
DEPRESSING FACT OF THE WEEK:
The Indians have blown 21 saves this season. That’s tied for third-most in the majors. I don’t need to tell you where they’d be if they could just cut that number in half.
Until next time…
Adam is a lifelong Cleveland sports fan who has witnessed his share of heartbreak along with the rest of Northeastern Ohio. A Browns season ticket holder who also attends several Indians and Cavs games each year, Adam has developed a mentality that it’s better to laugh about it than cry. It’s in that spirit, and through his love and devotion to Cleveland, that he’s developed a comedic outlook toward our sports teams. Adam is a journalism/mass communications graduate of St. Bonaventure University. You can follow him on Twtter at @NotSCCleveland.