August 26, 2014

Rex Ryan and the Jets poke fun at the Browns, give ALS ice bucket challenge

Rex Ryan challenged the Browns to an ALS ice bucket challenge today. He also seemed to be taking a typical, fun Rex Ryan swipe at his former underling Mike Pettine. About a minute in…

“The last challenge is to the Browns. Let the Browns take a page out of our playbook, if you will. Play like a Brown, so to speak.”

As to why Rex Ryan might have called out Pettine for copying him, see this. “Play like a Jet” has apparently been a Ryan motto for a while.

Johnny Manziel completes bomb to Travis Benjamin

Training camp stats are for the birds, but I recently noted that I didn’t feel as if the Browns were successful going long in camp. Between Hoyer and Manziel, I just haven’t seen a lot of long completions challenging the back of the defense. When the Browns do toss those kinds of passes, it’s a host of overthrows and passes defensed.

Not yesterday when Manziel found Travis Benjamin on this bomb.

Surprise! The state of Texas thinks Johnny Manziel should start Browns opener

Sometimes polls produce interesting results. Sometimes not. Sometimes even when they tell you exactly what you might have thought they would, it’s a source of comedy.

It appears the nation overwhelmingly supports the idea that Brian Hoyer should start the Cleveland Browns’ opening game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road. All except the state of Texas, of course.

Maybe this map will become more (or less) interesting after the Browns’ next pre-season game against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football. Of course, maybe that map will also include Rex Grossman?

Baseball isn’t dying, but is it kind of like Microsoft?

MLB Microsoft

This morning Mike and Mike talked to Fay Vincent about the future of baseball and the next MLB commissioner.1 In that interview Vincent said that “baseball is booming” and I’ve fought that thought for a while. Everything about how I feel about MLB is that it is not booming. Even coming off of a playoff appearance for the Cleveland Indians, it seems to me that the game isn’t actually thriving because my perception is that it’s not. There are constant talks about attendance issues, slow games, inequity of team payrolls and more. Despite all that, and despite comparisons of World Series TV ratings to the Super Bowl or NBA Finals games, I think it’s largely instructive to look at baseball’s successes, because there is plenty of evidence to counter my perception with facts. For example, the Dodgers sold for $2 billion. Here in Cleveland at the epicenter of MLB attendance debate, the Indians sold off STO for an estimated $230 million just last year. So, I do understand when Fay Vincent says that business is booming. So, how do I make sense of all this? I look for a comparison. Then it hit me. I think Major League Baseball is kind of like Microsoft. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Sometimes I watch Mike and Mike on TV when I’m riding my exercise bike. I’m getting that out of the way right now, because whenever I even mention the fact that I caught something on Mike and Mike, I’m deluged with commentary that amounts to, “I can’t believe you listen to Mike and Mike!” I’ll take it another step further. It’s true I only watch them when I’m captive to morning TV on my bike, but I like their show more times than not. []

Rex Grossman doesn’t make Brian Hoyer expendable

I was listening to Kiley and Booms this morning and Chuck Booms was entertaining the idea that Grossman’s arrival actually makes Brian Hoyer trade bait. It’s hard to believe that Grossman could be that ready considering his last regular season NFL snap came for the Washington Redskins in 2011. Then again, I didn’t really think that I’d be looking at pictures of Grossman in a Browns uniform a couple weeks ago.

Still, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Mike Pettine was asked by Tony Grossi directly yesterday if Grossman made Hoyer expendable. Pettine didn’t really take a lot of time when he said “No.”

The Cleveland Browns have needed more than one quarterback in a season pretty much every season ever. The idea that they could be so fickle as to pick up a guy who hasn’t played in the regular season in two seasons and get rid of the pre-training-camp incumbent starter, is hopefully a storyline from dysfunctional days gone by and not a realistic part of the Ray Farmer future.

Hopefully the trade talk is nothing more than the inane rantings of a comedian with nothing but a headline-grabbing take.

The Indians are slipping and sliding (during a rain delay)

The Cleveland Indians got rained out last night, but they looked like they were having about as much fun as they’ve had all season long. Turning the Progressive Field tarp into a giant slip’n’slide is never a bad idea.

Karlos Dansby appears to be as advertised: Training Camp Notes 08.12.14

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It wasn’t one of those really action-packed days at camp today. Not a ton of “oohs and ahs” in the crowd. Still, there were some things of note.

I love watching Karlos Dansby play linebacker…

There wasn’t a specific highlight or anything, but I’m enjoying watching first-year Brown Karlos Dansby play. He seems to always be in the right place at the right time. We’ll know soon if he’s still young, athletic and explosive enough to be a difference-maker for real, but everything I’ve read about this defense says that like G.I. Joe, “knowing is half the battle.” Dansby really seems to have that instinct to be in the right place and at the right time where he occasionally blasts into the backfield to get a runner behind the line of scrimmage. I don’t know if that’s just practice or whether that’s an advantage for real, but I’m looking forward to seeing him suit up this Monday against the Redskins to see. [Read more...]

The importance of what Donte Whitner said about Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer

Manziel and Hoyer

Everyone’s talking about what Donte Whitner was quoted as saying to Peter King’s MMQB this morning. The quote was this.

“It’s been fierce,” Whitner said. “Two guys fighting for their lives. It’s close. I’d say [the locker room] is split about 50-50. We know they both can play.”

While I think a lot of the focus has been on the split within the team and the report cards comparing the two quarterbacks, what Whitner said last is most important to me. If Whitner’s accounting of team sentiment is accurate, then there’s legitimate belief in the locker room that the Browns have not one, but two quarterbacks who can actually play the position.

As I said on Sunday, I’m intrigued by Manziel’s performance and I can’t wait to see more. Maybe I’ll even get to see him with the first team this week on Monday Night Football. I welcome the opportunity to see it. In the end, with the way the Browns have set up their team this year, the quarterback looks to be helped by the running game and not vice versa.

That being the case, all I need is a guy who can perform somewhere close to the middle of the pack of NFL quarterbacks. I don’t need Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. I need something approximating Alex Smith, Carson Palmer or even Andy Dalton plus a great defense and running game.

It seems like Donte Whitner is saying the Browns’ locker room thinks they might have two guys capable of that.

[Related: Johnny Manziel ahead in QB race? I want to see more, but I’m patient]

Johnny Manziel ahead in QB race? I want to see more, but I’m patient

johnny manziel podium

Saturday night’s pre-season game against the Lions wasn’t really anything to write home about. The excitement over Browns football carried me through and I really only want to see the good things. I want to ignore the Browns giving up chunks of yardage to Matthew Stafford and the great field position they gave up on special teams. It’s a pre-season flaw most of us have. Because “it doesn’t mean anything,” we only derive what we’re pre-disposed to want to derive.

All that said, the real takeaway for me from the game is that I’m excited to see more of Johnny Manziel, but just like I was going into the game, I’m willing to wait a bit.

[Read more...]

Johnny Manziel’s first action comes late… Browns vs. Lions Halftime Report

Manziel and Hoyer

Johnny Manziel’s career in the NFL started today… but only after Brian Hoyer was finished. The Cleveland Browns only put up six points in the first half of their pre-season game against the Lions, but that was good enough for a tie heading into the locker room.

The Browns moved the ball pretty well. Brian Hoyer was the first to get the call at quarterback for the Browns. He ended his night shortly into the second quarter completing six passes for 92 yards on 14 attempts. Hoyer struggled a bit with accuracy on some of his longer balls, but the Lions didn’t make him pay for his overthrowing ways. It was just an alright performance by Hoyer as everyone was really waiting for their first look at rookie Johnny Manziel.

When the rookie hit the field for the first time, the stadium came alive with anticipation. Johnny Manziel was streaking upward on the depth chart according to many who have been closely watching training camp. Yes, Brian Hoyer’s name is still a fixture in the number one slot, but it is the first real quarterback competition in Cleveland that I can remember. How did Johnny Manziel fare in his first chance?

Well, on third and one, Johnny Manziel ran head first into two defenders on a pistol option run. In fairness, Johnny completed his first pass in rhythm for six yards to Anthony Armstrong. For Armstrong it might be the moment he became an answer for a Johnny Manziel question on Jeopardy! For Manziel it was a very small amount of first-half action. Manziel wouldn’t get back under center for the Browns until there was under 20 seconds to go in the first half. With a single kneel, the Browns ended the first half.

The Browns defense looked very good in spurts. Barkevious Mingo showed up well. Donte Whitner got one of his signature “Hitner” hits in with a vicious shoulder. Desmond Bryant and Armonty Bryant were causing havoc, although not at the same time. Still, the Browns were a bit of “bend-don’t-break” for much of the first half. Even after Matthew Stafford gave way to Dan Orlovsky, the Browns weren’t exactly finishing as a defense. In the end, they only gave up a pair of field goals.

We’ll have much more on this game later, but that’s your halftime report.

Meanwhile, it’s tough to maintain perspective on Johnny Manziel. He’s already such a bigtime national figure.

WFNY Exclusive: G.L.C. Song 2014

This year’s Great Lakes Classic is happening tomorrow night and it’s a pre-season all about Johnny Football. My friend is the creator of the original GLC song and he gave me the newest iteration today.

Enjoy!

Watch these Timberwolves fans “burn” Kevin Love’s jersey

Hat tips to Deadspin for posting this, but it’s far too good to not share here as well. Plus, it’s kind of a reaction to the ESPN portrayal of Cleveland fans burning LeBron jerseys en masse on the night of The Decision even if it was a couple of isolated fans. Anyway, it appears that Minnesota fans are far too nice and understanding when it comes to Kevin Love’s predicament to set fire to his jersey.

Are the Sixers involved in the Kevin Love trade?

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The Daily News in Philly is reporting that the Cavaliers’ deal with the Timberwolves might not be exactly as Adrian Wojnarowski reported yesterday.

A source informed the Daily News that the Sixers will be sending veteran forward Thaddeus Young to Minnesota for a package that will include Bennett, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft.

If that’s true, then I guess technically the Sixers are involved in the trade, but from a Cavaliers perspective, not really. The Cavaliers would still seemingly have a discrete deal with the Timberwolves. The Timberwolves would then have a subsequent trade in place with Minnesota sending Thaddeus Young to Minnesota for a package including Anthony Bennett. And even if it’s all technically part of the same deal, assuming what the Daily News is reporting is true, it doesn’t seem to impact the Cavaliers’ portion of the trade.

Breathe a sigh of relief Cavs fans. The Cavaliers are still presumably trading exactly what was reported yesterday for Kevin Love. The only difference being, when the Cavaliers play Philly, they’ll have to face their former No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Bennett, Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel.

(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

Home improvements, ultrarunning with booze, Zillow and Sports on Earth – WFNY Podcast – 2014-08-08

WFNY Podcast LogoDenny texted me to podcast last minute and despite my beverages, we did it. Great time talking about a whole host of topics including…

  • Home improvements and Denny’s new kitchen
  • Babies and missing them
  • Ultrarunning with alcohol
  • Running 5Ks and shorter runs
  • Trulia, Zillow
  • Sports on Earth

Check out this episode!

The Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron and Kevin Love, Browns thoughts and Death Cab… While We’re Waiting

WFNYBanner www

Happy Friday folks. Here’re my weekly week-ending sports thoughts. Enjoy the GLC tonight!

Results aren’t guaranteed but…

Last week while on vacation I was a negative Nelly. Coming off what I consider to be a pretty miserable MLB trade deadline, that’s just where my head was. This week, things are very different. I’m still disappointed in the Tribe’s general direction, but I just finished looking at pics of LeBron James at Browns camp while soaking into the Woj bomb that Kevin Love is joining the Cavaliers soon via trade. Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but it’s time to really start enjoying these uneniably good things. Say it out loud a few times. “LeBron James and Kevin Love are going to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers this year … with Kyrie Irving.”

I was reading an article by Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune in Minnesota where he was talking about all the winners and losers in this Kevin Love situation. He took a small shot at Cleveland sports fans, calling us “whiners,” but that’s not important. The fact is that there’s a perspective out there that Cleveland fans have become giant whiners on the level of pre-World-Series-winning Boston. That perspective exists because at least some outward-projecting version of Cleveland sports fans do come across that way.

In this scenario, fair or not, like the burning of LeBron jerseys back after The Decision, perception is reality. We don’t have a ton of control over that, of course. Except that I think we do have at least a modicum of control. We can keep repeating what we know to be true. Cleveland Cavaliers fans have been absolutely treated in this off-season in a way that is so non-Cleveland that it might be time to start rejoicing in it. I know it’s easy to slip into woe-is-me Cleveland tropes, but what did all that worrying do for the pre-Decision Cavaliers?

In the end, nobody can guarantee results. All anyone can do is guarantee the effort of the attempt. This forthcoming attempt by the Cavaliers is a good one. Don’t be afraid of it. It’s a fact. Go ahead and say it out loud.

“LeBron James and Kevin Love are going to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers this year … with Kyrie Irving.” You’ll feel better.

I was down on the Browns a bit last week too but…

I haven’t been quite this geeked for a Browns pre-season game in quite some time. I’m always a bit geeked because I’m a Browns-first kind of guy, but this year is far more exciting. Here are a couple of reasons.

  • I’m not wishing on a star that Brandon Weeden is better than what I thought he already was. I’m wishing for a new superstar rookie named Johnny Manziel – who unlike Weeden, I actually wanted on the Browns – while also rooting for a potential starter with experience and a decent track record.
  • Instead of hoping for Trent Richardson to not get hurt while also hoping Brandon Jackson still had something left in the tank, I’m rooting for Ben Tate and Terrance West while being cautiously optimistic about Dion Lewis, Edwin Baker and Isaiah Crowell.
  • And those guys will be running behind Joel Bitonio and John Greco at the newly cemented guard spots that were question marks a year ago.

There are plenty of other reasons too, but most of all, I can’t wait to see what the jumping off point is for a Ray Farmer-built team. It’s been a painful time in Browns history, but even before they log a single real NFL play in the pre-season box score, this team has exorcised an awful lot of demons.

I still believe the process might be a bit painful in the W category this season, but my conversation with Zac Jackson this week made me feel safe to believe what my eyes are telling me. The Browns are finally on a realatively healthy organizational path. Just because I feel a residual distrust of anything orange and brown doesn’t mean that my eyes are lying to me when I see a night and day improvement in organizational leadership with Farmer, Scheiner and even Pettine.

I started watching this season of Hard Knocks and Thomas Dimitroff looks like the third Corey

Enjoy the rest of this season of Hard Knocks now that I’ve made this comparison!

Thomas Dimitroff is a Corey

And now a Death Cab for Cutie playlist…

This is “a” playlist. It’s not “the” playlist. It’s not a list of the best DCfC songs ever. It’s simply what I would consider a really cool Death Cab compilation for this fine summer August day. I’ll have to make one this winter too. Anyway, I hand-picked it specifically to be a little bit more upbeat and free from sorrow and angst than the Death Cab possibilities might normally create.

Could the Timberwolves change their mind and ask for more from Cavs?

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at New Orleans Pelicans

NBA trades are complex and so are the league’s rules regarding tampering. Now that Woj has dropped his bomb, more details about how things have been coming together are leaking. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune indicates that the Cavaliers have been negotiating with Love via a Timberwolves permission slip.

Zgoda goes on to point out that the leaked details put pressure on both teams in a lot of ways to consummate the deal as reported. That pressure aside, the deal might be agreed upon, but it cannot be officially official until August 23. Depending on the public’s reaction or other variables within the league’s trade market, could Minnesota change their mind? Could they demand more from the Cavaliers at the last minute?

You wouldn’t think that’s a good way to do business and that if those are the details that have been agreed upon, that the deal will end up looking almost exactly like the one Wojnarowski has reported. Cavaliers fans know though. The NBA is a wacky platform for transactions. This one won’t be done until the ink dries.

Photo: Crystal LoGiudice/USA TODAY Sports.

LeBron James attends Browns practice, takes photos with Joe Haden, Phil Taylor and Buster Skrine

LeBron picked a day to come to Browns camp when fans wouldn’t be there, but he took some photos with fans, just the same. It turns out that those fans are also professional athletes.

Cleveland Indians unveil new ballpark amenities (with artist renderings)

The Cleveland Indians announced today that they’ll be doing massive renovations to Progressive Field. Scott was on-hand for the announcements.

And also, for those who are upset about the Thome statue…

Here are the artist renderings.

The view of the right field seats is going to be dramatically different. Gone are the usually-empty upper decks for new facilities like an expanded kids club and a two-story bar. Additionally, the Tribe is moving the visiting bullpen.

Tribe New Right Field

 

Tribe New Bullpens

 

The new concourse in right field will try to pull in the character of the city by drawing inspiration from local neighborhoods like Ohio City and Tremont. Tribe New concourse

Similar to what the Browns did, it appears the Indians are making great efforts to improve entry to the ballpark for nights when there are larger crowds. Tribe New Gate C

And remember when there were complaints about the center field bar? Now the Indians will have a two-story bar for younger (legal drinking age) fans to congregate and party at the park.

Tribe New in-park BarWhat do you think?

 

Watch highlights of soon-to-be Cavalier Kevin Love

Now that Woj has dropped his bomb, I finally feel it’s appropriate to see some Kevin Love highlights. I have admitted numerous times that even as I know Kevin Love is good, I haven’t actually watched him play a ton of games. Hopefully his buckets come far easier when he’s playing alongside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.

No Art Modell, LeBron James front-running and sports movies with @dimoko – WFNY Podcast – 2014-08-06

The fine people at the Anything to Add Monty podcast were kind enough to have me on to discuss Draft Day a few months ago. I’m a disorganized fool and never reciprocated, but I was more than happy to have Dave Sterling on. When I did that podcast there was really good chemistry as we went from liking Draft Day to nearly despising it as we talked about it.

Here’s what else we talked about…

  • Dave decides to become an Uber driver
  • Anything to Add Monty and sports movies like Ladybugs and Goon
  • Art Modell doesn’t belong in the hall of fame ever
  • Being a Cavs frontrunner now that LeBron is back
  • How to root between Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer
  • General bitterness from Craig
  • Other Pleasantries

Check out this episode!