July 23, 2014

Les Levine talks about LeBron James, Johnny Manziel and local sports media – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-22

WFNY Podcast LogoI haven’t had Les Levine on in a while, but it’s always great to catch up. Here are some of the topics we discussed.

  • Reporting in the modern world
  • Chris Broussard and needing to be right a minute ahead of the next guy
  • Les’ history of reporting things and “being wrong”
  • LeBron James coming home
  • Johnny Manziel’s partying lifestyle and social media
  • Not living dangerously
  • Joe Lull’s report on Dan Gilbert’s plane

Check out this episode!

Joe Haden shoos away kid in a Hines Ward jersey

Joe Haden was (probably) kidding, but he shooed away a child in a Hines Ward jersey who was in line for an autograph. As we all know, you should report child abuse and I’m not talking about Joe Haden. To think that some awful father in Northeast Ohio would put his kid in a Stillers jersey for an event featuring Joe Haden is just criminal.

Jason Whitlock says Canadian players “don’t want it as much” as other players

Olbermann and Whitlock

Last night on Keith Olbermann’s show, Jason Whitlock was discussing his recent podcast with LeBron James’ partner Maverick Carter. He and Olbermann got to talking about – what else – Andrew Wiggins and Kevin Love. That’s when Jason Whitlock made some pretty wide sweeping generalizations while vaguely applying it to “smart basketball people,” while also specifically not attaching it to “LeBron’s people.”

“Andrew Wiggins is from Canada. And Canadian athletes among NBA players and NBA people perhaps don’t want it as much as even some of the Europeans and certainly the American players. I think they’re going all out for Kevin Love. I think that’s what LeBron James wants. I think that’s what they believe in. I think they will move Andrew Wiggins at all costs.”

Now, I’m not offended per se because I find the statement to be pretty ludicrous. A wide-sweeping generalization that the characteristic that defines Andrew Wiggins is his nationality and that that subsequently defines his fire and competitiveness is ridiculous. Jason Whitlock should know better and while Keith Olbermann challenged him and made a joke about Whitlock’s generalization, I’m a bit surprised he didn’t challenge him even more. I’m sure Olbermann was taken a bit by surprise though.

See the clip below.

Whitlock also follows it up with some talk about Maverick Carter’s client Johnny Manziel. Keith Olbermann circles back on the Canadian thing kind of mocking Whitlock and giving him a chance to get out of it. Of course Whitlock says he hopes he doesn’t get in trouble and then doubles down on the Canadian generalization.

MTAF’s Josh Flagner talks about women in sports media – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-21

WFNY Podcast LogoCleveland Kate set the topic for this one and Josh Flagner of More Than a Fan was happy to oblige. We took our seats as men in the independent sports media environment to discuss… women in sports media.

We talked about Erin Andrews, Suzyn Waldman and a host of other females in the game. We talked about the opportunities or lack thereof. We also discussed the fact that we can’t remember a single female sports talker in the history of Cleveland sports radio.

Lastly, I played the Kirk Minihane audio for Josh and we discussed the way he talked about Erin Andrews and her reporting.

Of course there was a lot of talk about the local sports media and local sports talk radio as well, including the 92.3 the Fan’s Fan Phenom competition.

Check out this episode!

Watch Dan Patrick discuss LeBron James’ return and Wahoo with Scott Raab

Scott Raab joined us on the WFNY podcast to talk about the return of LeBron James. He also sat down and talked to arguably the best sports talk radio host in the country when he went on The Dan Patrick Show recently.

In addition to discussing LeBron James’ return, Patrick got into the Cleveland Indians and Chief Wahoo.

The Top Five Most Intriguing Players in Cleveland Browns Training Camp

Browns helmets training camp building

As we’re on the precipice of Cleveland Browns training camp, I couldn’t be more excited to see who steps up. The Browns have a lot of question marks as any team should coming off a four-win season. The good news is that there are a lot of new faces to address many of the obvious holes we all complained about at the end of last season. Offensive line, cornerback, linebacker and running back were all areas targeted by the Browns’ front office1 Without further ado, here are my five most intriguing training camp players. [Read more...]

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. I made the decision to just skip quarterback, by the way. Everyone knows that situation all too well and I think we’ve beaten the Hoyer vs. Manziel camp battle directly into the ground. []

Indians Twitter account gets defensive of ownership’s cheap reputation

The Cleveland Indians ownership has taken a lot of bullets over the years for being “cheap.” While that’s a relative term in a game that is notoriously unbalanced in terms of payrolls, if nothing else, it’s fair to call it a facile and slightly lazy dig at this point. I’m not saying you can’t make the argument that the Dolans are cheap, but it would take far more than 140 characters on Twitter to make that case.

All that said, it only took 140 characters for the Indians’ official Twitter account to fight back a rather trollish tweet directed at Indians ownership.

Indians twitter Account longer

And there at the bottom of the screenshot you can see the follow-up response to the guy who was so swiftly repudiated.

Maybe you’ll think twice the next time you tweet straight at the @Indians account with a smart-alec comment.

All you need to know about trading for Kevin Love: WFNY FAQs

kevin love cavs

So the Cavs are willing to trade Andrew Wiggins now for Kevin Love. Maybe. LeBron wants Love on this Cavs roster. But even that’s easier said than done.

Why would they make the deal now? Why wouldn’t they just wait? Who counts as what? Is Wiggins even signed? How is the Collective Bargaining Agreement involved?

As the questions pile up, we here at WFNY have compiled a bit of an FAQ of sorts to help guide you through the process. Enjoy.

[Read more...]

LeBron James, Johnny Manziel, Cleveland and the concept of home – Casual Friday – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-18

It’s been a while since I chatted with Denny, but he had some time this evening so we did it up on the following.

  • LeBron James coming back to Cleveland impacting Denny
  • The vague, but unmistakable feelings of “home”
  • Cleveland and the generational preference for city living
  • athletics impact on cities
  • Raising a family in a city
  • Johnny Manziel and the negative obsession with his partying

Check out this episode!

Andrew Wiggins, Kevin Love, Snowpiercer, and Sunday Ticket… While We’re Waiting

WFNYBanner www

The last time I wrote a WWW it was the night before LeBron made his decision at noon. It became completely dated by lunch time. Wonder what I can write about this week to make it dated again…

*****

We’ve officially exhausted the Wiggins for Love trade debate, but it rages on. I’m always looking for agreement across the board between we fans. We’re supposed to be on the same team, so I figured I would just attempt to summarize our position.

1. It would be much more preferable to keep Andrew Wiggins while also acquiring Kevin Love. That way the Cavaliers would have Kyrie Irving on a max deal, Kevin Love on some kind of max deal, LeBron on a year-to-year max deal and a rookie contract under control for five years with Wiggins. That’s the goal. Everything else can be traded.

2. If you need (like really need) to trade Wiggins for Kevin Love, then you do it because you have the best player on the planet and you wouldn’t want to waste any years waiting for players around him. It would be so very Cleveland to wait and then have LeBron start to fade as a player by the time some lesser players are ready.

3. But really if you can do it without trading Wiggins… (go back to #1.)

So that’s our position. Got it? Cool. See how easy that was?

But how about this chase-down?

*****

And seriously let’s just forget about Andrew Wiggins. He’s got an unfair advantage because he’s tall. I’d much rather watch highlights of a 5’7″ Japanese player named Yuki Togashi playing for Dallas and bombing threes.

I could do without bad jokes about “toga parties” but that’s alright.

*****

Big news for you out of towners and cord cutters. NFL Sunday Ticket might soon be available to you without a DirecTV subscription.

This changes the whole world for me. I really do like DirecTV and my service, but it’s undeniably expensive compared to bundling cable TV and Internet. Sports is the last hurdle to jump over in order to really stop paying for the hundreds of channels that I really never watch. I’m thinking really really hard about this now.

Sunday Ticket

Last but not least, I recommend everyone rent Snowpiercer. I really liked the movie starring Captain America. It’s available in theaters and on demand in your house. It has a similar tone to Pacific Rim, has some really amazing action sequences and is actually pretty suspenseful and fun. It’s a little weird, I’m not going to lie, but I really liked it.

Have a great weekend everyone!

LeBron James and the moral dilemma of free agency

WFNY_roundtable

Obviously, most everyone in Cleveland is elated with the return of Lebron James. Equally obviously Heat fans are bummed and feel let down. LeBron didn’t have another “The Decision” and he didn’t have a pep rally to tally up expected championships in front of Cavs fans in The Q. Both of these things are massive improvements since 2010, but did LeBron James still cause some unnecessary injury to the Miami Heat? Are Heat fans justified in feeling upset at all with how LeBron handled his business this time? One half of Dan LeBatard’s show in Miami, Stugotz, does think so. He wrote an interesting perspective on it and I felt it was a worthwhile discussion for the WFNY crew. [Read more...]

The Heat fans are mad, express it via t-shirt

Here in Cleveland we know all about expressing ourselves on t-shirts. We have a few very good designers including our personal favorites at GV Art. So, it’s not totally shocking that some of Miami’s talents would be used to make statements against LeBron James’ departure from the city. This one in particular came to my attention via @WayneEmbrysKids on Twitter.

I don’t know about polishing any crowns, but if a ring happens to show up in Cleveland at any point in the near future…

 

Heat Fans are Mad

 

Originally via @Novaburn on Twitter.

David Blatt didn’t know LeBron was coming until it was official

628x471-2Zach Lowe has a really great interview with David Blatt over at Grantland. It’s well worth your time to read the whole thing, but I was pretty surprised to hear just how little Blatt knew about the LeBron James situation before it became official in Lee Jenkins’ post at SI’s website.

For one thing, Blatt tells Lowe that they didn’t even use LeBron’s name when discussing him internally, instead referring to him as “the guy.” I guess if treating LeBron James like Beetlejuice resulted in him coming then it was a good strategy.

The most interesting part of the interview to me was when Blatt was talking about his coaching style.

There are two schools of thought in coaching, and neither one is more right than the other. There are coaches that have their system, and they are gonna use that regardless of what the team makeup is. And there are coaches that are adaptive, and take their roster, and play according to their skill set.

I’m more from the adaptive school, with a few principles that are consistent throughout my career. But we have to see what the team looks like before I can tell you exactly how we’re gonna play.

This is good to hear. Across all sports, I’ve grown to despise “system” guys that aren’t adaptable. Whether we’re talking about the NBA or even former Browns honchos like Mike Holmgren with their “West Coast Offense,” I’m sick to death of talking about systems. Even if the Cavaliers run some form of the “Princeton” offense, I hope they don’t actually call it that. Call it “The Offense.” Just please keep the memories of Byron Scott’s statuesque arms-folded sideline stance out of my brain.

When pressed for details about how Blatt would run his version of the system, he answered in a way that got me really psyched. It really gave me insight as to why a super-positive, philosophical guy like David Griffin would want to hire him. Blatt said, “I got hired to find solutions. You know what I mean? I’ve been finding solutions my whole life. We’ll figure it out.”

That’d be so much more refreshing than leaving fans to wonder where the next fatal flaw in the roster might be. It’s nice to know that the new head coach of the Cavaliers will attempt to be at least as adaptable as Cavs fans have had to be over the last two coaches.

Busted Coverage discusses their site, and sports media culture – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-16

WFNY Podcast LogoI’ve been a follower of Busted Coverage for a while. Even though they do things far differently than we do at WFNY, that doesn’t mean I don’t read and enjoy a site like Busted Coverage.

Joe Kinsey was kind enough to come on and tell us about the site. He told us about what it was like to start it back in 2007 and what it was like to be acquired in 2011. He told us what it was like to get sued by the Big Ten.

The athlete wedding registry bit is one of my favorites. I talked to Joe about what it’s been like to run that hysterical gimmick over the years. He recounted buying a wedding gift for Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries.

Check out this episode!

Sumlin brushes off Manziel questions at Texas A&M media day

Johnny ManzielJohnny Manziel questions aren’t all that relevant to Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin now that Manziel has been drafted by the Browns. Of course, that didn’t stop him from getting some Manziel questions just the same.

I’m not surprised at all that Sumlin got the questions and good for him for not entertaining them. What Manziel does right now is not his concern anymore for the most part.

Sumlin’s done his time under the Manziel microscope. I’m not saying he didn’t benefit from Manziel’s time at the school, but remember he had to answer for every little body-language “incident” over the past few years like this one when it was suspected that Manziel wasn’t minding his coach’s instructions on the sidelines.

“For people to say ‘You know what, he’s not listening to his coach and there’s no discipline on this team,’ they’re not around this football team,” Sumlin said. “They’re not around this program. A lot of people who have made statements about that weren’t anywhere near the sideline. I haven’t heard one guy or any person who was near that sideline, who heard (what) was said, speak up about what happened. So, you can get different perspectives sitting in a studio or behind a television than you would have gotten live. That’s where we are with that. “

With that in mind, you begin to understand why he might relish the opportunity to pass off all the Manziel questions to the Cleveland Browns from now on. Coach Pettine, the media would like a word or 200 with you.

Brian Windhorst talks about LeBron coming home – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-15

WFNY Podcast LogoI talked to Brian Windhorst a year ago when the Cavs re-hired Mike Brown and I was taken aback when I started to think about all the things that have changed since then. Brian was gracious enough to join me for about a half hour to talk about LeBron coming back to the Cavaliers. Here are some of the things we discussed.

  • The free agent market shakeout after LeBron signed
  • The Houston Rockets’ bad off-season (so far)
  • LeBron’s relationship to the player’s union and being involved with the CBA
  • The culture of the Miami Heat vs. the culture of the Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Reporting on a story that directly impacts your home town
  • LeBron’s visit to Cleveland for the Zydrunas Ilgauskas number retirement
  • What’s next for Brian


Check out this episode!

Is LeBron James worth $500 million per year to Cleveland?

lebron-jerseys_med

Update: Apparently Cuyahoga County never meant to indicate $500 million per year at all. We used a Bloomberg report for our info that indicated $500 million per year in both the headline and the text. Cuyahoga County officials meant $500 million in total and think the annual number is closer to $50 million or so. I’m still wary of “economic impact statements, but some faith has been restored.

*** Original Text ***

The simple and obvious answer to the headline above is a resounding “NO!” Look, I don’t want to inject some negativity into the positive story of LeBron James coming back to Cleveland because there’s pretty much no downside. Still, I think it might be important to temper expectations of what the actual upside might be, especially if we start talking about half a billion dollars per year. County Executive Ed FitzGerald said today that LeBron James’ financial impact on the local economy will be $500 million per year.

The return of the star forward to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers will have a $500 million a year impact on the local economy, with a boost from additional ticket sales and other spending, County Executive Ed FitzGerald said today.

Obviously when politicians make proclamations like this, there’s no real way to figure out exact figures. Still, I’d like to put some math to it just for fun.

From a ticket standpoint, the Cleveland Cavaliers had attendance in 2013-14 of 710,522 fans. Back in 2009-10 when LeBron was still here that number was 843,042 fans. Let’s assume LeBron brings all those fans back, that’s an additional 132,520 attendees. That’s really good, but that means each additional fan would have to generate $3,773.02 per ticket sold to reach FitzGerald’s $500 million mark. That’s an awful lot of LeBomb James’.

LeBron brings economic contribution based on other factors like nationally televised games, but you’d have to do some funky, unsubstantiated economic calculations to arrive at $500 million.

Anyway, LeBron is back and it’s great. Government should be happy. Maybe not that happy. Still, this is a vast improvement over FitzGerald’s last sports initiative, the “Win Tax.”

Pilot Flying J reaches $92 million deal with government

Pilot Flying J

The good news in Cleveland sports continues into another week as Pilot Flying J has reached a deal with the government that includes an avoidance of criminal charges against the company. From the Knoxville News Sentinel out of Tennessee:

Under the deal made public on Monday, Pilot must pay a $92 million penalty over two years and cooperate with an ongoing criminal investigation into diesel fuel rebate fraud.

Federal prosecutors said in a news release that the Criminal Enforcement Agreement “expressly states that it provides no protection from prosecution to any individual” in connection with the case.

We, as a company, look forward to putting this whole unfortunate episode behind us, continuing our efforts to rectify the damage done, regaining our customers’ trust, and getting on with our business,” CEO Jimmy Haslam said in the release.

This is undoubtedly good news for Pilot and its CEO Jimmy Haslam. While it doesn’t appear that anyone’s completely out of the woods just yet, it’s a step in the right direction. Haslam could still be found worthy of prosecution depending on what the investigation continues to uncover. That being said, it would appear that the government is getting at least something of a desirable outcome.

U.S. Attorney Bill Killian is quoted in a news release detailed at the Knoxville News’ website. His quote sounds very much like a conclusion of sorts when he says, “The terms of this agreement, including the significant monetary penalty and the very serious consequences if Pilot fails to comply, demonstrate quite clearly that no corporation, no matter how big, influential, or wealthy, is above the law.”

And regardless of other details this is good news for Browns fans. As the owner of the Cleveland Browns, it is much better for Browns fans if the team’s owner isn’t in jeopardy of being imprisoned. With that in mind, this deal with the feds might be another good sign for Browns fans that the renewed focus on stability might actually be achievable.

It seems reasonable to assume that the government has been working hard on this case and uncovered huge amounts of details with ten previous guilty pleas obtained from former Pilot employees. If they were going to catch the biggest of all fish at Pilot, I’m guessing charges would have been filed for Haslam before a settlement agreement was reached.

Cleveland Browns ranked 22nd in PFT’s preseason power rankings

I have a tendency to obsess on power rankings when they’re out of whack in a bad way. That’s why I felt it necessary to talk about ESPN ranking the Browns dead last in their power rankings from May after this year’s NFL draft. It’s not that I think the Browns should be favored to win the Super Bowl, but my hyper-realistic expectations are simply to demand that they get in the range of going .500 in a season. And as I always say, that’s not a prediction. That’s just a minimum level of standard that I’m willing to accept on an annual basis, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable. Anyway, I focus too much on the negative, so today I’m focusing on the positive.

Pro Football Talk is rolling out their preseason power rankings and I have been waiting (and waiting) for the Browns and it feels good. PFT has decided right now that the Browns are 22nd. This puts the Browns ahead of the Redskins, Cowboys, and Texans. The Browns are chasing the Lions, Rams, and Jets.

We know all the parts about the Browns’ roster, but PFT has a somewhat optimistic view of the schedule.

The Browns begin their season at nemesis Pittsburgh, then host top-class New Orleans and stout Baltimore before the Week Four bye to end September. However, October and November could be more favorable for Cleveland. Though the Browns play five road games in this stretch, three are against the Jaguars, Titans and Bills. The Browns also have home contests against the Raiders, Buccaneers and Texans. If Cleveland is ready to take a step forward, it will make the most of these two months before closing out the season with home games against tough Cincinnati and Indianapolis and road matchups at Carolina and Baltimore.

While the schedule doesn’t necessarily come into play when making up power rankings, the info is instructive. The Cleveland Browns are a team with lots of question marks, but they retained center Alex Mack, seemingly improved the defense across the board and added one major X-factor in Johnny Manziel, should Brian Hoyer relinquish his position atop the Browns QB depth chart.

That’s just enough promise for the writers at PFT to vote the Browns 22nd.

Watch: Scott Raab discussing LeBron James on MSNBC

I’m buddies with Jamil Smith on Twitter and he’s a producer on MSNBC for Melissa Harris-Perry’s show. She decided to talk about LeBron’s return on Friday and it’s a fun segment, but I loved watching Jamil run around behind the host with Cavs gear and a flag. Check it out.