August 16, 2014

While We’re Waiting…Josh Gordon’s roller coaster, and home town kid starts vs. Browns

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Hudson High School alumni Brian Winters starts at guard today for the New York Jets against his home town team.

“Growing up 45 minutes outside of Cleveland in Hudson, Ohio, the 320-pound guard said, “I was kind of suckered into becoming a Browns fan. That’s just kind of how it worked. I didn’t really have a favorite team growing up, but if there was a team that I watched, it would be the Browns.”

And if there was a player that he watched, it would be seventh-year veteran T Joe Thomas.

“I was a big fan of Joe Thomas and grew up watching him,” Winters said. “I always, obviously, watched the offensive line, so that was big. I liked the way he played.”

The 6’6”, 312-pound tackle has been both durable and reliable for the Browns, having started all 110 games since being drafted third overall in the ’07 draft.Of course, Winters only has to turn his head to the left to find another player who’s accomplished that feat – T D’Brickashaw Ferguson, the leader among active NFL players in consecutive games started since Week 1 of their rookie season.

Brian Winters will not be fortunate enough to share this impressive accomplishment with his childhood team’s left tackle and his current team’s left tackle. A third-round pick out of Kent State, he was injured during much of training camp and ultimately missed the first two preseason games. He replaced Vladimir Ducasse as our starting left guard back in Week 5 of the regular season and has held the position ever since. Two more games mean two more chances to prove he belongs as a starting guard in the NFL. The fact that one of those matchups happens to come against one of his favorite teams is just an added bonus.

“My friends and family are messing with me a little bit because it’s pretty important going up against my hometown team,” Winters said, “so it’s obviously going to be awesome playing against people that I grew up watching. It’s going to be fun.” [Frankel/NewYorkJets.com]

“It’s not often that you hear one of the NFL’s best receivers refer to his season as a “crazy roller-coaster ride.”

Then again, it’s not often that one of the NFL’s best receivers breaks franchise and league records even after being suspended for the season’s first two games.

It’s not often that one of the NFL’s best receivers posts his most impressive numbers while his team racks up a five-game losing streak, or while catching passes from three different quarterbacks. Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon’s description of his season, heading into Sunday’s game against the Jets, could just as easily refer to his entire football career.

There have been the highs: Gordon has 74 receptions in 12 games this season, good for a franchise-record 1,467 receiving yards and nine touchdowns for the Browns (4-10). He leads the league in receiving yards, ahead of Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, who has played in one more game (13) and has 1,449 receiving yards.
And the lows: an arrest for misdemeanor marijuana possession and two failed drug tests as a sophomore at Baylor that effectively ended his college football career, a two-game suspension issued in June for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, and distracting trade rumors during the first half of this season.

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski firmly believes that the 22-year-old has made a “complete turnaround” from the player and person he was last spring. Gordon has learned how to deal with accountability and the responsibility that comes with higher expectations.” [Ratkowiak/Newsday]

“More specifically to Choo’s situation, there have been 15 free-agent contracts handed out to position players worth at least $100M. Their return-on-investment has been similarly unimpressive. The players saw their WAR drop from 5.9 in the year prior to signing the deal, to 4.3 in year one, declining steadily to a paltry 1.8 WAR in year six.

Combining position players and pitchers, there have been 10 free-agent contracts of at least $100 million issued to players 30 years or older at the time the contract began (Choo is 31). The results are startling.

This crop of players produced an average of 6 WAR in the season before signing their new massive contract. In the first year of the deal, that dropped to 4.9, and the group’s average permanently dips below 3 WAR per season by year three.

In the sixth and seventh years combined, none of the eight players posted at least 3 WAR. (As a point of reference, some players who had a 3 WAR this past season were Mark Ellis,Francisco Liriano and Norichika Aoki). [Haven/ESPN.com]

“Even Detroit, which seems like it should have a market similar to Cleveland, generate $238M in revenue with a market size of $269M and a $26.36 average ticket price. Average fan cost for attending an Indians game is $157 (third lowest in MLB) while the average fan cost in Detroit is $207. Average fan cost comprises the prices of four adult average-price tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, parking for one car, two game programs and two least expensive, adult-size adjustable caps. Under the same rules, the average fan cost of attending a Browns game is $286.

One may wonder about the other American League Central teams and their stadium prices. In Kansas City, the average ticket price is $19.83 and average fan cost is $172. In Minnesota the average ticket price is $32.59 and the fan cost is $221. Finally, in Chicago the average ticket price is $26.05 and the average fan cost is $231. The Indians are the lowest ticket price and fan cost in the AL Central, and one of the lowest of any team in all the Major League.

Let’s go back and look at the comparison between Cleveland and Detroit. The Indians finished the season with 92 wins, while the Tigers finished with 93. The Indians drew 1.57M in attendance, while the Tigers drew 3.08M. Just taking into account average ticket prices, and leaving out the stadiums operating income, this translates into a $50.2M revenue advantage for the Tigers over the Indians. Calculate those numbers using total average fan cost and that gap widens to a $97.7M advantage for Detroit. This is why they are able to afford a payroll that is about $70M more than the Indians.

Some point to the Browns and the Cavs and wonder why they are able to make the same moves every other team in their league can make. The NFL and NBA are set up completely different from MLB. While there is revenue sharing in MLB, it is not nearly to the extent it is in the NFL or NBA. The NFL revolves around national broadcast agreements while the MLB teams are forced to mostly generate their own revenue within each individual market. The NFL will produce about $5 billion in revenue, of which about 80% is shared amongst the 32 NFL teams, making the markets pretty equal across the board. By contrast, only 25% of the MLB national revenue is shared between the teams, leaving about $300M to be divided up among 30 teams. In this way, each team is left to generate its own local revenue, which decides its economic value.” [Tellalian/DidTheTribeWinLastNight.com]

“Lenzelle Smith Jr. has received a lion’s share of the praise for the win after scoring nine points in the final minute. However, he wouldn’t have been able to close the deficit without an assist from Scott.

Shannon Scott was instrumental to Ohio State’s comeback. Without him, Ohio State loses to Notre Dame. And yet, Scott is constantly overlooked.

Last night, Scott showed glimpses of how good he could be. He drained back-to-back three-pointers early, more than the rest of the team combined across the entire game. He led the team with seven assists against only one turnover, the only efficient player in a game where everyone else struggled with Notre Dame’s zone defense.

When Ohio State was down eight with less than a minute to go, Scott facilitated a LaQuinton Ross layup to cut the lead to six. He stole the ball, and fed Smith for a layup; he stole the ball again, drew a foul and sank two pressure free throws to bring the Buckeyes within two. With some luck, good pressure from Scott, and a hot streak from Smith, Ohio State turned a near-certain defeat into victory.

Shannon Scott has not always been held in such high regard. For the last two seasons, fans pined for Trey Burke and resented that Scott’s scholarship sent Burke to Michigan.

Shannon Scott was Mr. Georgia Basketball coming out of Milton High School, the #12 point guard in the country, 53rd overall. Trey Burke was the Ohio Mr. Basketball coming out of Northland, the #26 point guard, 142nd overall. Going into their freshman year, Scott looked like the better prospect.

That changed with Scott’s miserable freshman season. Scott shot 28% from the field, 22% from the free throw line, 5% from three point range. Meanwhile, Trey Burke tore it up at Michigan, becoming the Big Ten Freshman Player of the Year and showed an explosiveness everyone had missed. [Jervey/Eleven Warriors]