Late Opening Night, Joe Banner’s Office, HIMYM, and Cloud Nothings: While We’re Waiting

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I had a dream last night that the Cavaliers got into the playoffs and beat the Pacers in the first round of the playoffs. It was one of those ultra-realistic dreams, too. Like, the kind where even when you wake up and you know it was a dream, you still think it might have been real and you check your phone to see if was actually reality. Well, it wasn’t reality……yet? I guess it depends on what time the dream took place. If it was before midnight, it was still March 31st and I think it was a prophecy. If it came after midnight, though, it would have been April 1st and thus just a cruel April Fool’s prank my body and mind played on me. I guess in a couple weeks we’ll find out if I am a prophet or a fool.

Oh, hey, there was Indians baseball on last night! Too bad I missed most of it….

It’s completely ridiculous for MLB to make an EST team open the season at 10:00 pm – I am absolutely furious about this. I can’t remember the last time I missed an Indians’ opening day game, but I had to miss last night’s opener. My alarm goes off at 5:00 am and there’s just no way I can stay up after 1:00 am on a Monday night. I realize some people can and do, but it just seems like an absolute slap in the face from MLB to make the Indians play their first game at 10:00 on the east coast. If you’re going to make an east coast team open the season on the west coast, at least have the game played at 1:00 or 4:00 local time so all fans can enjoy the game.

Now, having said all that, there’s really nothing like opening day in baseball. Yeah, I love opening night in the NBA, and the first NFL games are always fun. But there’s just something special about the start of the baseball season. It announces the arrival of spring with authority and the romanticized nature of the sport lends itself perfectly to the pomp and circumstance of the moment.

***

So who gets Joe’s old office? When Joe Banner was let go by Jimmy Haslam, it obviously opened a huge office vacuum. It’s kind of like in nature, when one dominant species leaves an area, there’s a power struggles as competing predators try to exert their dominance over everyone to stake their claim to the territory. So the fight for Banner’s office was probably especially brutal, right? Well, maybe not. From an interview with Jimmy Haslam by Mary Kay Cabot in the Plain Dealer:

It’s very clear and I’m very happy with those three. They’re very smart, and here’s the most important thing: they work extremely well together and what I really like about these guys is they’re driven, they want to win, they don’t care who gets the credit. It’s all about turning around the Cleveland Browns and that’s all we talk about and that’s all they talk about and semantics are a small thing, but when Joe (Banner) left the building, Mike Pettine came to me and said, ‘what are you going to do with Joe’s office?’ I said I hadn’t thought about it and he said, ‘do you mind if I move in there?….that will put me right by Ray, right across from the draft room, right next to you and I’d rather be back there than kind of back in that hole.’ You’ve all been around a lot of football coaches. Most of them like to be back in the hole and I think that shows how important Mike views working with Ray. It’s a small thing, but I think it’s a big thing.

I guess that’s a good thing. I have no problem admitting that I like the current setup of the Browns’ front office. I loved what Marla Ridenour wrote back in January about why the Browns should get rid of Mike Lombardi and promote Ray Farmer from within. I really like Alec Scheiner. I think Jimmy Haslam got rid of some of the chaos when he cleared the front office. But still, at the end of the day, you just gotta win football games.

***

One man returns, another takes his place. Kyrie Irving has been fully cleared to return to practice for the Cavaliers. Meanwhile, Anderson Varejao was diagnosed with a right AC joint sprain and will miss at least the next game (and with AV injuries, you know it’s probably going to be more).

Injuries are frustrating in all sports. But man is this getting old. Whenever someone comes back from injury, another Cavalier goes down. This team just cannot get everyone healthy at the same time. While I still feel the playoffs are a pretty big long shot (but certainly not impossible), it would sure be nice to just once finish out the season at full strength and make as much of a playoff run as possible.

But playoffs or no, injured or healthy, I just continue to be thoroughly impressed with the way the Cavs are finishing out this season. With the big win over Indiana on Sunday, the Cavaliers finished 6-9 in the “Month of Death”. I thought 3-12 was very possible, but the team regrouped and played so well in March. Yeah, sure, the Cavs shot themselves in the foot in November and December, but for a young team, this is the kind of development I had been begging for the last couple years with Byron Scott. Those teams more or less gave up in the final 2 months. Mike Brown’s team is competing and playing hard, and it’s just nice to see.

***

People really seem to hate the How I Met Your Mother finale. I stayed with the show out of loyalty. I wanted to see how it ended. But I haven’t really enjoyed the show in years. The most annoying aspect to me was that despite their obvious chemistry, we already knew Robin wasn’t the mother. But as season after season went by with Ted Mosby telling his kids how much he loved “Aunt Robin” and all the things he did for her and how hard it was to let her go and move on from her, it just seemed more and more clear that (***SPOILER ALERT***) even if Robin wasn’t their mother, she was the one Ted was destined to wind up with.

So why is everyone so mad that more or less that’s exactly what happened? My biggest frustration was that after wasting the entire final season on Barney and Robin’s wedding weekend, the writers threw that marriage away in about 5 minutes. Nothing meaningful came out of that relationship. The first post-wedding thing we saw of Barney and Robin was Barney complaining that Robin was never home. So we knew right away what was coming.

But still, other than that, I thought it was a decent finale. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been emotionally invested in the show for years. But whatever the case, I just find some of the anger and outrage I’ve seen to be confusing. I really don’t know what people wanted. The reaction of the kids was obviously filmed sometime very early, in the first couple seasons. So the writers obviously knew all along where the story was going. It is what it is. I guess maybe I’m just glad I don’t have to watch the show out of a sense of duty anymore. I’m free!

***

Album of the week? What do you expect here? cloudnothingsToday is a really, really good week for music. You have to check out the new Manchester Orchestra album, “Cope”. Kaiser Chiefs have a new album out today called “Education, Education, Education & War”. Band of Skulls’ newest album “Himalayan” is out. For those looking for a classic album re-issues, you can get the re-release of the amazing 90s album “Rubberneck” by the Toadies. If you’re a fan of more mainstream rock, there are new albums from Chevelle and The Used.

But the most important release today is the new album from Cleveland’s own Cloud Nothings, “Here and Nowhere Else”. Just yesterday Pitchfork reviewed the album and gave it the coveted “Best New Music” tag. The album certainly deserves it.

The first time I listened to this album, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I didn’t love the production, first and foremost. But the biggest thing is that Cloud Nothings are such a jarring band. They do things their own way and when listening to their music, it can sometimes take a few listens to come to grips with what they’re doing.

So I listened again. I liked it a little more. I listed again. I liked it even more. By about listen number six or seven, I was in love. The production, under the watch of indie producer John Congleton, may not have the same visceral feel of Steve Albini, who produced Cloud Nothing’s previous album, my favorite album of 2012, “Attack on Memory”. But the ferocity of these songs lie in the songwriting, the vocals, and perhaps above all else, the drumming. But no matter how vicious of a sound the band achieves, there’s simply no way to hide or to contain the infectious pop hooks of frontman Dylan Baldi.

And that’s maybe my favorite thing about Cloud Nothings….that dynamic struggle between the band’s primal sound and Baldi’s unrelenting hooks. The more you listen to the album, the more the hooks rise to the top of the mix without diminishing any of tireless energy of the band’s unforgiving rock sound. Quite simply, this is a brilliant band making some of the most impressive rock music in the world right now. This album at first felt like a step backwards for the band, but the more I listened the more I realized this was forward trajectory. This is a band moving in the direction they were always meant to, making the music they were born to make.

  • JNeids

    My HIMYM outrage comes from my feeling that the entire premise and title of the show was a sham. (They shoulda called it [SPOILER ALERT] “How I Met Your Mother…Even Though I Never Loved Her Half as Much as Robin and I’m Gonna End Up With Robin Eventually”) Sure, the mother had her moments throughout this final season, but her and Ted’s marriage seemed as meaningless as Robin and Barney’s.

    I understand your confusion – if most people wanted them together, then why are they mad that they got what they wanted? It’s because once we realized Robin wasn’t the titular mother, we came to grips with them not getting together…only for them to get together in the last 30 seconds?!? The way the finale went, I wouldn’t have been as upset (I still would have been upset over the sucktitude that was this last season) if it had just ended with Ted’s line “And that’s how I met your mother.” But they couldn’t just leave it at that, and the last 30 seconds just feels dirty and stupid.

    Ahhhh, I feel better. Thank you, I needed that.
    P.S. The best thing about this final season was Billy Zabka.

  • Paul Marsh

    Fantastic record. Seems like it’s over way too soon. He’s playing in NC later this month, hope he still has a voice by then. Kind of surprised when I saw the tour dates. Hip venue aside, Mahall’s 20 seems kind of small for that show. I wonder why they booked there and not a larger venue like Beachland.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Good point about Tracy and Ted’s marriage. It was glossed over pretty quickly. Here’s my thing. They could have, and perhaps should have, had all the events of the finale make up the final season. Like, each jump in time could have been its own episode. Then this outcome would have felt more fleshed out and realized. But why make us suffer through an entire season taking place over 3 days, and then rush through 20 years of stuff in the finale? That would be my issue with the finale.

    But overall, I guess I just didn’t mind it that much. I mostly took it for what it is.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    I’m not familiar with Mahall’s (I live in Columbus and don’t see too many Cleveland shows), but I’m heading up there to attend the show with @WFNYCraig. Pretty excited for it.

  • Paul Marsh

    Great place. Multi-level with a vintage 20 lane bowling alley upstairs. I would guess the main stage capacity is somewhere under 300, so it should be be a cozy show. Very jealous.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    I thought this summed it up perfectly (and if you haven’t watched the last two seasons, it’s understandably why you’d be less annoyed).

    http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/series-finale-review-how-i-met-your-mother-last-forever-how-they-conned-us-all/

    “And as I thought of that quote, and as I remembered that they shot the kids’ reaction to the end of Future Ted’s story way back in season 2(*), my anger over this terrible, misconceived, ginormous middle finger to the fanbase very, very briefly turned into sympathy for Bays and Thomas, because I realized they had become victims of their own damn cleverness.

    I can imagine Bays and Thomas back in 2005 or 2006 trying to figure a way out of the narrative straightjacket they created for themselves in the pilot. Back then, maybe it was a great plan. But stories change. Characters change. Shows change. And plans have to change to accommodate that.”

  • Ezzie Goldish

    I thought this summed it up perfectly (and if you haven’t watched the last two seasons, it’s understandably why you’d be less annoyed).

    http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/series-finale-review-how-i-met-your-mother-last-forever-how-they-conned-us-all/

    “And as I thought of that quote, and as I remembered that they shot the kids’ reaction to the end of Future Ted’s story way back in season 2(*), my anger over this terrible, misconceived, ginormous middle finger to the fanbase very, very briefly turned into sympathy for Bays and Thomas, because I realized they had become victims of their own damn cleverness.

    I can imagine Bays and Thomas back in 2005 or 2006 trying to figure a way out of the narrative straightjacket they created for themselves in the pilot. Back then, maybe it was a great plan. But stories change. Characters change. Shows change. And plans have to change to accommodate that.”

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Agreed 100% on Opening Day. It’s fine to open up on the West Coast… for a classic Opening DAY game, which I can listen to at work/on the way home/watch when I get home. Not a 7pm game which is 10pm here.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Agreed 100% on Opening Day. It’s fine to open up on the West Coast… for a classic Opening DAY game, which I can listen to at work/on the way home/watch when I get home. Not a 7pm game which is 10pm here.

  • saggy

    MLB sucks. Think about it: why are we having night games in New York in April? It’s 35-degrees here. oh wait….E$PN.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    There’s absolutely no reason not to have the following schedule structure:

    64 – 8H/8A vs. every team in your division
    60 – 3H/3A vs. other two divisions in your league
    30 – 3H/3A vs. one interleague division

    That gives you 154 games, with just over 40% against your division.

  • Harv 21

    The fact that the Cavs are finally playing like they care hopefully makes it impossible for Gilbert to fire Mike Brown, if he was ever contemplating that. Which is fine by me. For all his warts, both Kyrie and Dion would benefit from a consistent, strong voice demanding that they improve deficiencies and play together. Bringing in a third coach in 3 years would send the opposite message: that it’s the coach that must make them better.

  • saggy

    i’m confused by that statement but i think you mean to say that Brown should stay, and get tougher with the young backcourt?

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Yep. If Oakland needs to open at night for some reason, let them play the Angels.

  • WFNY_DP

    This touches on what I suspect was part of the problem. You can never know in the first season or two of a show how long it will run if you aren’t Vince Gilligan and have every meticulous detail mapped out at the beginning. Lost suffered from the same problem: they suffered from their own success. I remember hearing a podcast with Michael Emerson (Ben Linus) and he said the original Ben arc was supposed to be three or four episodes only. Things change; the audience likes what they like, and you build off of that to keep the show on the air and making money.

    My beef wasn’t that they ended up together; I frankly never wanted them to. Why should Robin be so crappy to Ted for all those years and then get what she always wanted in the end? But, that’s secondary to me.

    For Ted, I always tried to hold on to the notion that he had to go through the hell of getting over Robin to meet the person he was supposed to be with (I went through a similar situation in my early 20’s), and they clearly set up Tracy to be the perfect complement to Ted. And then they pissed the whole setup away by having her be dead.

    Honestly, even if Tracy was dead all along in the Future Ted story, I would have personally rather gone through the emotional downer of that and having him adopt the “it was all worth it” stance. To me, that’s what Ted The Romantic would have actually done, anyway.

  • Harv 21

    I think he has been tough on the backcourt. And I think they will benefit from another year of the same voice pushing the same things. Frankly, not sure how much it’s changing Kyrie so far, whether he’s improved defensively from a turnstile to below average or whether he’s still fairly disinterested. But the other guys are exerting defensive effort, first I’ve seen in 4 years, and as his teammates internalize it they’ll call him on it.

  • Garry_Owen

    At the end of the day, however (no pun intended), had it been a scheduled day game yesterday, it wouldn’t have been played until 10:00, anyway, due to the rain.
    The point stands, though. Scheduled night openers on the West Coast are ridiculous.

  • Steve

    Absolutely agree. You bring in a new coach and you set the precedent that you care more about Kyrie and Dion’s feelings than getting them to play some defense. Brown may or may not be the right coach, but this team will never get anywhere without getting a serious kick in the rear.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    My outrage today is focused on the kits Nike has apparently chosen to outfit the USMNT with in Brazil. The home one is more or less tolerable (minus our ClipArt badge), but the bomb pop look of the away set? If they were looking to go even more ridiculous than the ‘Where’s Wondo?’ nonsense of the previous set, then mission accomplished. Pro Combat ruining the Buckeyes look, now this? Nike is quickly becoming the worst. Please let this be an April Fools gag.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Exactly (and it’s worth reading that article in full, I cherry-picked quotes).

    I get that the kids say “it’s been six years”, etc., but that doesn’t work for a viewer in the five seconds of the show after you’ve fast-forwarded through 20 years in one episode like that, never giving viewers a chance to really appreciate Ted/Tracy’s actual marriage and mourning her. Like he writes in this piece, the Ted/Robin storyline was killed already, and just because they’d filmed something nine years ago doesn’t mean they had to keep to it. They should have let the Mother be the Mother and that’s it.

    Let the lesson to the kids be that don’t give up on love, just like Ted didn’t, because even tragedy doesn’t negate it. Or let her live with him happily ever after. Just don’t spend two seasons having Robin marry Barney only to end that twenty minutes into the next episode, or have Ted finally get over Robin to come back to her.

    FYI great way to redo this last episode: Remove any scenes with mention of Robin, and it’s awesome.

  • JNeids

    Ezzie – THANK YOU. This article seriously brought me a lot of peace of mind. I admit

  • mgbode

    and thank you to all who commented here. i can now skip the finale. that is a ridiculous way to end and the writers certainly were victims of their desire to be clever. they just fell on the wrong side of the line:

    http://24.media.tumblr.com/633f4ec53821b56083ca6d6ccf085caa/tumblr_mslql1zNKC1sqv808o1_500.gif

  • mgbode

    completely agree on the ridiculousness factor here.

    http://www.reocities.com/petsburgh/yard/2071/sleeping.gif

  • RGB
  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    There is a reason: American sports leagues hate logic. NBA and NHL don’t need 82 games, MLB doesn’t need 162, NFL wants to mess with perfection and go to 18 games and expanded playoffs. Too many teams in every league but the NFL.

    No one knows when to quit. Sometimes more is not better.

  • Kildawg

    Last year I came up with something similar, but I kept the 162 games and only have 24 interleague games. 2 ideas really, one more division based and one more overall league based. Bit complex at first, but simple overall. Even factored in those teams that don’t have a true interleague rival. I would have the Tribe locked in to face Cincy home and home plus a series w Pit annually (including a chart). Would have to do some editing to modernize it though.