July 23, 2014

“Smoke and Fire” or “Smoke and Mirrors”: While We’re Waiting

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My favorite time in the otherwise excruciating pre-NFL Draft season is the period where wannabe GMs and 140-character analysts attempt to read between the lines of coach and general manager quotes to decipher just who their favorite team is going to draft. This stage is in full swing now that Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer have gone on the record to say very little about their draft intentions, leading others to attempt some form of jerk-off Pavlovian deconstruction—if Coach X says Y, he must mean Z!

The latest comes from Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk1 who, in a psychoanalysis that rivals Dr. Phil, attempts to turn Ray Farmer’s open praise of Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins into some cat-and-mouse shenanigans that—somehow—lead the Browns to coveting an offensive lineman.

In the same interview, Farmer heaped praise on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (“Exciting, electric. He’s dynamic”), Khalil Mack (“I would say he’s a physical anomaly”), Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans and Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles (“Both of those guys are talented players.”). Of course, none of these players drew a “wow,” but to extrapolate smoke from such quotes is a fools errand. Next Monday can’t come soon enough. 

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The collateral damage from the Chief Wahoo debate is starting to drip over onto apparel companies. The Associated Press reports of a Pacific Northwestern plea for Nike Inc. to stop selling MLB-licensed merchandise emblazoned with the Indians’ secondary logo. Nike would not be printing (and, thus, selling) merchandise with Chief Wahoo on it if the logo were not among the bevy of MLB-licensed images provided to the company for distribution. It’s realistic to assume that the company could also choose to not produce apparel with said imagery on it (the Washington Redskins are mentioned in the report as well), but this would also assume that Nike didn’t just decide to do away with the abuse of overseas labor.

This isn’t to say that the Swoosh won’t catch on eventually. But it is to say that the corporate inertia in Washington County is among the slowest in the entire sports world. And this includes Major League Baseball.

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Those of you able to stomach the NBA Playoffs have been blessed with one of the better first rounds in recent memory. Five of the eight series went seven games with each of the five being completely up for grabs. San Antonio was on the wire. Toronto’s bid for the second round was blocked at the final second. And this doesn’t even include the issues in Los Angeles with Donald Sterling and the Clippers. I mean eight (EIGHT) first-round games went into overtime—more than the last four seasons of playoffs combined.

The most compelling series, at least from a Cleveland fans standpoint, should have been the Houston-Portland series, if only because of the play of one Damian Lillard. If you missed it, Lillard sank an incredible buzzer-beating three pointer off of a simple curl that vaulted his team into the second round while simultaneously forcing some Cavalier fans to debate whether or not they would rather have Lillard over Kyrie Irving. For your viewing pleasure:

damian lillard three-pointer

I think the way the fans’ arms raise in unison may be my favorite part of the whole gif, but I digress. If you recall, Lillard was one (of the many) point guards to terrorize Irving this season, hitting a game-winner in one of the Cavaliers’ best games of the 2013-14 season. He has a huge cult following of NBA fans, has his own massive sneaker deal (Adidas) and is an All-Star in his own right. And now his team (though surrounded by talent that dwarfs that of Cleveland) is heading into the second round of the playoffs. The debate isn’t without merit. Who would you rather have?

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Speaking of Kyrie Irving and shoe deals, Jordan Zirm over at Stack Media discusses the 2014 free agency landscape on the sneaker front, doing so with legendary sneaker business analyst Matt Powell. While Powell couldn’t confirm the rumor, he’s under the impression that Kyrie Irving will in fact be getting his own line of shoes this coming season. He’s had two consecutive years of PE (Player Exclusive, for the out of touch). His own shoe would put him in rarified air with guys like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant. Does Irving deserve to be in that company? Given his commercial appeal with Pepsi MAX and Foot Locker, it appears that Nike believes so.

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Only three more episodes of Mad Men left, you guys. Is this season living up to your expectations?

***

And just because: That’s just isn’t fair, Ronaldo.

RONALDOGIF

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Footnotes:

  1. This type of nonsense is certainly not limited to Florio. You could throw a rock at a Clevelander’s Twitter feed and plunk someone who thinks they’re in tune with NFL wisdom. It’s an epidemic, really. []
  • nobody

    Without a doubt, Lillard is the better PG of the two…with Wall also seemingly better than Irving, I wonder if it’s worth it to give Kyrie the max contact rather than the four year one.

  • Pat Leonard

    That goal from Ronaldo is really tamping down my excitement for USA in the World Cup. I’m still very excited overall, but man that group is going to be murderous.

  • thenoclist

    I’ve come completely full circle on Irving since before the ’13-’14 season began. Last fall I was ready to say if every team in the NBA had to do a complete redraft, Irving had a chance to be the number one overall pick. Now I feel like I would much rather have Lillard. He actually cares, he lives for the moment, he seemingly makes his whole team better, AND he is flat out cold blooded. So disappointed in Kyrie.

  • RGB

    Yeah, I think is WC is going to be ugly for us.
    Ronaldo is licking his chops watching our D. And Germany…when they’re On, I consider them the favorites.

  • Pat Leonard

    Yep… and Ghana is a team that we just cannot beat for whatever reason. You’d have to think that the smart money is on the USA going 0-3-0. BUT HEY THERE’S ALWAYS THAT SLIVER OF HOPE.

  • RGB

    Another dead last place, like 1998?

  • vespo09

    ’90: 0-3, last in the group
    ’94: 2nd round
    ’98: 0-3, last in the group
    ’02: Quarterfinals
    ’06: 0-1-2, last in the group
    ’10: 2nd round

    There seems to be a pattern…

  • RGB

    98 was DEAD last out of all 32 teams. 0 points, -4 goal differential. That team was dreadful. Sampson played a single striker up top and failed miserably.

  • Pat Leonard

    That’s too frightening to even think about.

  • Pat Leonard

    This week is going to be the worst for NFL draft rumors. The Browns are going to be linked to Manziel, Bortles, Bridgewater, Mack, Clowney, Watkins, Evans, Matthews, Robinson, and Derek Carr among others. Oh wait, that’s already happened… so who jumps into the mix now? Odell Beckham to the Browns! Farmer hates Watkins and Evans… you heard it here first!

  • Hopwin

    I am super-excited about the World Cup even though I expect the US to finish last. I am also super-annoyed that our uniforms are so hideously bland. I was looking forward to buying a jersey but I have enough white polo shirts.

  • RGB

    I don’t like this team at all.
    Klinsmann is learning what Bradley already knew…we’re just not that good.

  • Hopwin

    This is just plain stupid

  • Guest
  • RGB

    I still rock the 1995 away kit…

  • Pat Leonard

    What about the Astro-pop away jersey? That one certainly isn’t bland, but do you have the guts to rock it?

  • Hopwin

    I can’t rock it at work without a collar.

  • Hopwin

    I could roll with that.

  • Hopwin

    Check the Australian away kit:

  • Kunal

    Then tomorrow they will be linked to Cody Latimer because Farmer mentioned Beckham in passing once which means he actually hates him.

  • RGB

    The home white as nice, too.

  • boomhauertjs

    And a loss to Iran…which was their version of Lake Placid.

  • Pat Leonard

    I think the only reason I’m really down on this team is because I don’t think our defense can hold up. Gonzalez and Besler are a very weak pairing at center back and I have no idea how Brad Evans is the de facto right back.

  • Harv 21

    Lillard is totally cold-blooded. Talk about a guy who aches to take the shot with the game on the line.

    I can’t yet write off a guy of Kyrie’s age and talent, but these kids who turn professional and immediately emphasize their “brand” – the commercials, shoe deals, cross-market appeal – scare the crap out of me. LeBron was the once in a generation talent that could pull that off while seriously developing his game. Kyrie seems distracted. Like he thinks international attention gained from showing his game in an exhibition game where no defense is played is important. (Amazingly, local fans and writers desperate for attention on Cleveland think so too). Can’t forget the initial post-draft presser of Braylon Edward, announcing Team Braylon, and all the marketing things they planned. Much prefer we had the huge talent in a gym rat type: like Lilliard, or Mike Trout in baseball.

  • Pat Leonard

    Cold busted.

  • RGB

    That, and my shape isn’t very conducive to the new form fitting jersey cuts. lol

  • Pat Leonard

    Now that’s a great jersey… classic, but not boring.

  • Pat Leonard

    This is mine. And yes, I even bought the one with Altidore’s name and number. Currently regretting not going with Michael Bradley. I really like the faded sash though… thought it was a great throwback to the 1950s team that won it all.

  • RGB

    Eh? Best we’ve ever finished was 3rd…in 1930.
    Uruguay won in 1950.

  • Pat Leonard

    And by “won it all” I meant “beat England”… whoops.

  • DJ

    I remember watching some of Damian Lillard’s games for Weber State in 2012, and thinking he was going to be a terrific pro. At this stage, he is definitely the better overall player, easily the better defender, and runs a solid offense, rarely taking a play off. Consider me Team Lillard.

  • RGB

    I still poke my English friends with this every now and then. :D

    http://stream1.gifsoup.com/view2/1104879/robert-green-fail-o.gif

  • mgbode

    Guess I’ll be somewhat alone on this one.

    Lillard is 2 years older and has a ridiculously better team (Aldridge, Batum + Matthews, Lopez). I cannot even imagine how much better Kyrie would look with that frontcourt scoring and 3pt shooting. Lillard is a very good PG, but I don’t think he is or will be better than Kyrie.

  • mrdot

    We’re not making it out of the group. I think the best-case scenario is beating Ghana and stealing a draw from Germany or Portugal. I just hope they don’t get completely embarrassed by Ronaldo.

  • Pat Leonard

    Hahahaha… “It’s a howler!”

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    To bad the Cavaliers don’t have anyone remotely close to a second fiddle like LaMarcus Aldridge too!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    You are not alone you can’t compare the surrounding cast between the two teams or for that matter the coaching.

  • mgbode
  • Pat Leonard

    Interesting! I never noticed the subtle patterns in either jersey, but I agree, great looks.

  • Toddyus

    I think it’s the same thing in all lines of work. Whatever the trade, some people are really passionate about the work. All they ever wanted to do was cook, build things, program software, prosecute (alleged) criminals, whatever. They need to make a living like the rest of us and want to be paid commensurate with their ability, but it’s not their raison d’etre.

    If they had to choose between being paid poorly and doing the thing they love or being paid well and doing something else? The decision might be a mild internal struggle at worst because they can’t imagine not doing their “thing,” but a lot of money is nice, too.

    For the rest, they want to make a lot of money, because the “thing” even if they really like doing it, they love doing something else more. It might be a real pursuit, it might be cars or cheap women or travel or whatever.It’s a means to an end. The guy who is totally engrossed will always perform best, but you can’t fake it.

  • Guest

    Just gonna leave this here…

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    Um, guys? Missing the obvious here

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    It felt bad to be happy about that one. For a second anyway.

    The kit we are sporting here though is probably my favorite of ours.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    Collars forever on my soccer jerseys. Always classy.

  • RGB

    With the exception of the denim pattern in the blue, I actually like those.
    Lalas on the other hand, not so much.

  • RGB

    Those were sharp, but no collars.

  • RGB

    Croatia’s kits are always the best.

  • Pat Leonard

    I loathe those jerseys… burn them all, I say. Loved that team though.

  • Hopwin

    Like the socks, dual patch placements and color schemes, not sure how I feel about the checkerboard pattern though.

  • RGB

    They always incorporate the checkerboard in their scheme. It’s in their national flag.
    Check out some of their older kits. They are sharp.