April 21, 2014

Trevor Bauer could be in line for first start of 2014

bauer acab

With Monday’s game against the San Diego Padres washed out by Mother Nature, Tribe pitching prospect Trevor Bauer could be in line for his first start of 2014 when the two teams lock up in a traditional double-header on Wednesday. Zach McAllister (who wound up with a no-decision last week) is scheduled to start one of the games of the doubleheader, with the Indians expected to promote a pitcher from Columbus to start the other. Bauer, who fresh off of a two-hit gem late last week, would be in line to take the bump.

In his debut for the Clippers, the heady Bauer frequently saw his fastball settle in around 95 miles-per-hour, fanning nine and walking just two in six innings of work. The kid’s struggles are well-documented, but at just 23 years old, things may finally be clicking for the former highly touted prospect.

The Indians could certainly use some clarity at the bottom of the rotation as Carlos Carrasco was anything but solid in his 2014 debut this past weekend. Similarly, Josh Tomlin had a debut to forget, allowing five hits and four earned runs (walking three) in just six innings in a loss to Indianapolis.

Nate Burleson hopes to mentor Josh Gordon

Nate Burleson

Coming over to Cleveland for at least the next year,  veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson is well aware of the off-field issues that have plagued Josh Gordon’s two-year-old career—and he wants to help.

Pro Football Talk has some anecdotes from a story surrounding Burleson and All-World receiver Calvin Johnson who praised the young Browns pass catcher. The Akron-Beacon Journal takes things a step further, discussing how Burleson sees himself mentoring the highly-discussed Pro Bowler.

“If I can take a guy out to dinner, hang out outside of the locker room, then I’m definitely going to do that because that’s one of the more important times when the lessons are learned, when you’ve got the jerseys off and you kind of unveil yourself and it’s not all football,” Burleson said. “That’s how I got so close to the receiving corps in Detroit. That’s how I was able to really get to know Calvin on a personal level because we spent so much time with each other off the field. That’s the plan. I’m going to continue to do that. That’s part of my nature, though. That’s just who I am. I’m a social butterfly, and I feel like positive conversation, positive reinforcement is always going to supersede anything else.”

Those who have played with Burleson speak very highly of his talent (when healthy), but more so about his character. A lot has been made about surrounding young Browns players with veteran leadership—D’Qwell Jackson spoke similarly about Gordon just a year ago, saying the receiver was “running out of lives.” The Browns, in attempt to do the same for Gordon in 2013 swung and missed (perhaps the understatement of the season) in acquiring Davone Bess, who was released earlier this year after multiple off-field issues.

Despite Bess’ shortcomings, Gordon had one hell of a season in 2013. Hopes are that the Burleson acquisition can only make matters that much better, perhaps starting with having No. 12 eligible for all 16 games.

(Photo: Gary Wiepert/AP)

Browns linebacker may be better than Brandon Weeden at baseball too

Brandon McGee Arizona State

When the Cleveland Browns hold their voluntary workouts on Monday, reserve linebacker Brandon McGee won’t be in attendance. Not because he’s a diva, or because he’s injured, or feels he just doesn’t need the work—he’s going to be in South Carolina, doing his best impression of Junior Griffey for the Greenville Drive, a Single-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. An outfielder in the Boston Red Sox’s minor-league system, the 5-foot-11-inch, 225-pound McGee plans to fully commit to football once the Browns’ first minicamp starts April 29, and he’s also ready to report to Berea earlier if need be, but he’s going to put in as much time he can on the diamond in the meantime, with hopes of being multi-sport professional athlete.

As a rookie in 2013, McGee, a reserve inside linebacker, played special teams in eight games before he suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle in the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Since then, McGee has reportedly been hitting in batting cages, lifting weights and running—he isn’t allowed to throw. Perhaps the most encouraging fact: He has been using agility drills recommended by the Browns and studying film of new coach Mike Pettine’s defense in between taking southpaw cuts at the plate.

“[Pettine] thought it was awesome,” Magee said of the desire to play two sports. “It kind of surprised me coming from an NFL coach, but he was fully supportive of what I was doing. It felt great because growing up, you have a lot of people that say don’t do this, don’t do that. To have a new coach who hardly even knows me say, ‘Congratulations on playing in the NFL and playing pro baseball, that’s a huge accomplishment,’ that was huge for me.”

A pure athlete, the Tampa Bay Rays claimed McGee 863rd overall in 2008, followed by the Oakland A’s at No. 646 in 2011 and Boston at 721 in 2012. According to FOX Sports Arizona, Magee called baseball his “first love,” but he batted .103 in 27 collegiate games, collecting just three hits. Coming out of the Arizona State University, he went undrafted in the NFL’s selection weekend in 2013 despite racking up 112 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 2 interceptions, 1 pass deflection.

“If a team told me it’s time to focus on one, I would really sit down and consider that. But right now, I have the blessings of both organizations to do what I like to do. It’s a dream come true. Who else can say, ‘I just went to training camp, I played in an NFL season, and right after that, I went to spring training with the World Series champs, with the Red Sox? I’m in the cage talking to David Ortiz and [Mike] Napoli, you know, legends. I’m living the dream.”

Are the Browns jerseys going grey? While We’re Waiting…

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Could the Cleveland Browns new uniforms be less Brown? A discussion in the Browns sub-Reddit sheds some light on what 2015 may bring in the way of the new look Browns.

The design that looks like it’s going to be chosen can best be described as a happy medium between Minnesota and Seattle.

Let’s start with the helmet. A flat matte finish in a color I can only describe as “candy orange” with a matching color facemask and sublimated striping enhances the look of the helmet without sacrificing it’s iconic image.

The Jersey is candy orange with silver accents and brown trim. A custom block font is meant to invoke a blue collar feel. The stripes are subliminated and higher up on the sleeve, kind of like large spaghetti straps.

There are three different pairs of pants, Orange, gray and Brown. There is no Brown jersey, but rather a gray with orange chrome accents and white with the same. The pants have the same sublimated striping as the helmet and jerseys.

While this can only be classified as rumors to this point (as the official uni is supposed to be kept “under tight security”), we know for certain that the Browns will be getting their new uniforms for next season and will be unveiling them before the 2015 NFL Draft. We also know that Nike is in charge these days and that matte helmets are all the rage. Jimmy Haslam said that he will not be altering the logoless lids, so this corroborates such. Where things get interesting are with the jerseys which are orange and…silver? If the brown jersey does in fact disappear, this would be a tectonic shift for Cleveland, but one that’s in line with the rest of the new-wave NFL uniforms. They’d also be in line with what the Tennessee Volunteers, Haslam’s collegiate ties, have unveiled for themselves. There’s plenty of smoke here…

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Chris Grant, Sour Grapes? In what may be the strangest angle to come out of the Kyrie Irving “unhappy in Cleveland” story from late last week, FOX Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico pieces the puzzle together to tie things back to since-been-fired general manager Chris Grant. While he rightfully slams Bleacher Report for their nonsensical rumor surrounding Dion Waiters earlier this year, he pegs Grant as a potential source of some of these new negative stories.

I am being told by executives and insiders around the NBA that former Cavs GM Chris Grant has been spinning stories. Grant, of course, was fired in February. I’ve always really liked Grant personally, even if I didn’t care for the way he refused to make himself regularly available to local media. But one insider told me Grant “is considered a buffoon around the league: Dishonest, incapable and full of (beans).” It wasn’t the first time I heard something like that, and I still often get that vibe about Grant when talking with other GMs.

Grant now has a reputation as someone who is attempting to tell the world the Cavs will be one huge disaster without him. I have no clue if he’s talking directly to national writers — but he at least talks to people who talk to those writers (and, obviously, to me). I’m not saying Grant had an influence in Windhorst’s comments. I’m not even trying to imply that. Brian is certainly dialed-in and intelligent enough to form his own opinion on things. But beware of other yarns involving the Cavs. The one thing I learned long ago in this business is that, sometimes, sources have agendas. The key is to pay attention to what takes place on the floor and in the locker room, and don’t get too caught up in the “he said, she said” stuff.

Kudos to Amico for going Inside Baseball on this one. As someone who has been pen-and-pad deep in the Cavaliers locker room this season, reading something like this—something that doesn’t look like a robotic lede-quote-supporting stats game recap that often comes out of the local beat—is refreshing. Beat reporters have the tireless job of following the daily minutiae and can fall into the trap of regurgitating the same quotes we all hear in the post-game airing. Whether Grant is spinning stories or not, Amico is reporting things that aren’t reformatted from a press release.

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Drake is essentially a teenage boy without guidance. I like Drake, the musician. I think Nothing Was the Same was one of the better albums of 2013, especially when it comes to hip-hop. I think this Michael Paterniti profile from last summer was insightful. But Drake the person? Man…

If you hadn’t heard, Drake was spotted celebrating with the Kentucky Wildcats following their win over the Wisconsin Badgers this past Saturday night. Drake is Canadian. He’s never lived in Kentucky. Yet, when asked about his Kentucky fandom, he said he has “always” been a believer in the big blue. Thankfully, the kind folks at SBNation called Aubry Drake out on his bullish—, linking him to the Miami Heat, Johnny Manziel, Manchester United and countless other front-running gobs of nonsense. You know how LeBron James was a fan of the Yankees, Bulls and Cowboys? Well, he may have met his match. I was fortunate enough to witness Drake’s All-Star weekend antics live and in person. He’s the kid at the local library in a Steelers jersey. Never be that kid.

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And just because: More Drake.

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The drama continues: Kyrie Irving calls out Josh Gordon

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The drama permeating from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ locker room has officially transcended over to Berea. All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving has shot back at Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon for comments the NFL receiving yards leader made about the Wine and Gold. From Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:

“Guys like Josh Gordon need to stay in his sport and mind his own business. Does he still play for the Browns? I’ll continue to root for the Browns, but in terms of this stuff here, what goes on in this locker room, he needs to stay out of it.”

Earlier this week, Gordon, speaking in an ESPN interview, said “I talked about it with Dion [Waiters]. He’s my neighbor in my building so we hang out all the time. I’m aware of the rift in the locker room. That’s just alpha males and supreme athletes trying to share the spotlight.”

In a move that isn’t likely to do much for his Q Score amongst Cleveland fans, the receiver already responded to Irving’s declaration, doing so via Instagram.

In his attempt to stay out of the middle of a war of words between two of Cleveland’s most popular athletes, Waiters said that “[Gordon] can’t put words in my mouth. That’s his opinion. That’s what he thinks. I can’t stop a man from saying that. That’s what he thinks.”

While Irving’s “does he still play” comment is a bit empty given Gordon’s recent barrage of national media attention, the message is very clear: Gordon should be staying in his lane. As if Cleveland’s trench of sports-related issues wasn’t deep enough…

Silver lining: At least Kyrie Irving roots for the Browns.

Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY

Alex Mack wants to play for a passionate fan base, visits Jacksonville

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Cleveland Browns’ transition tagged center Alex Mack has finally garnered some interest in the free agent market, reportedly making a visit to Jacksonville to meet with the Jaguars’ front office. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport cites two sources that say an offer sheet is very much possible. According to Rapoport, the Browns and Mack have continued to negotiate since the March 3 tag date, but no deal is imminent. The team would have the ability to match any offer he receives, but would receive nothing in the way of compensation if he would walk.

For the Browns to pass, the Jaguars would allegedly have to make the first three years of any offer pay out somewhere between $22 and $25 million guaranteed loaded with roster and workout bonuses. While Cleveland has plenty of cap space, he issue for the Browns begin in 2015 and 2016, when some other players (Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard, etc.) are in line for new deals.

Mack, who is reportedly unhappy that the Browns are willing to pay him $10 million this coming season, has been the focus of one of the more bizarre free agency story lines wherein the Pro Bowl center’s agent came out swinging, only to find out that the stands were empty and no one was willing to pay to watch the show. In discussing Mack’s desires for future employment, his agent Marv Demoff said that the one thing Cleveland has in its corner is the passionate fan base.

“The thing that Cleveland has most going for it is Alex really wants to play in a place where football is really important,” said Demoff. “He’s loved that about Cleveland. And he’s always been excited about being a part of building something that eventually wins.”

In 2013, the Jaguars were 28th out of 32 NFL teams in terms of home attendance. Also: This.

Jaguars Relocation

So yeah…Jacksonville.

Photo: Candice Vlcek/WFNY

“Growing sentiment” that Browns could nab Carr at No. 4

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Buried at the bottom of a glowing column about Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr from ESPN.com’s Ashley Fox is a report that the “growing sentiment” throughout the NFL is that the Cleveland Browns are not just fond of the precise passer, but could use the fourth-overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft to obtain him.

Carr is gaining steam because, unlike Manziel, Bortles and Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo, he ran a pro-style offense for a year in college. As a redshirt sophomore in 2011, Carr was a starter for then-Fresno State coach Pat Hill. He learned the skills a quarterback needs at the next level: timing, footwork, and accuracy, among them. He threw vertical routes with precision and displayed a strong arm. […]

Which is why there’s growing sentiment around the league that Cleveland could decide that Carr is its guy and use the fourth overall pick on him despite owning three picks in the top 35, including No. 26 overall.

At the NFL owners meeting last week, new Browns coach Mike Pettine talked about the positive attributes Bortles, Manziel, Bridgewater and Carr possess. He said Bortles has all the measurables, Bridgewater is “very cerebral” and Manziel is a “gifted playmaker.” Pettine said Carr was “the best natural thrower as far as arm strength … in the draft.”

Where Johnny Manziel is “competitive” and Teddy Bridgewater is “cerebral,” Carr is being tabbed as “mature” with an exceptional character1. He used his pro day wisely, throwing all vertical passes as opposed the bubble screens which were common in Fresno State. There is also an increasing amount of “it factor” rhetoric being attached to Carr, and plenty of it being used in Fox’s column.

Naturally, this is the exact same “factor” used by Pettine to describe his ideal quarterback. When the first batch of mock drafts were released following the conclusion of the NFL season, Carr’s name barely found the first round. For him to shoot up to No. 4 would not only be a bold move by the Browns, but one that would once again show that draftniks only have so much intel.2

Image: Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports

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Footnotes:

  1. Read: married with a family. []
  2. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much this sounds like what we heard regarding Geno Smith a year ago. One month to go… []

Kyrie Irving takes to Twitter to defend himself against reports

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Cleveland Cavaliers point guard took to Twitter following his team’s brutal loss to the Atlanta Hawks and shot back at reports that he, once again, wants out of Cleveland.

ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst, in an interview with Cavs: The Blog, stated that Irving’s “camp” has been leaking desires of the player wanting out of Cleveland “for years.” Windhorst stated that the All-Star point guard is not a fan of head coach Mike Brown and was not a fan of Chris Grant—the latter who was fired mid-season.

There has been smoke billowing out of the Irving rumor mill for most of the 2013-14 season. Unfortunately for the player and fans alike, the true “clarity” can’t come until July if or when he signs a contract extension.

WFNY Book Review — Jacobs Field: History and Tradition at The Jake

Jacobs Field BookJust in time for the Indians’ 2014 Home Opener comes an image and story-filled book from author Vince McKee that provides Cleveland fans with a time capsule of words and wisdom. Jacobs Field: History and Tradition at The Jake is 124 chronological pages that take us from the day Dick Jacobs purchased the franchise all the way through the 2013 AL Wild Card Game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Fans of historical photographs will love the image of the last remnants of Municipal Stadium that graces the book’s opening chapter. There is a shot of a ticket stub from the 1994 Opening Day, several photos of Jacobs/Progressive Field over the years, and plenty of player images, from Albert and Omar to Carlos and Tito, spread throughout the book’s landcape.

The book reads well, telling important stories in vivid detail—the main players, the ultimate outcome and the impact each moment had on the 20 years that have been the Jacobs Field Era. It comes with forewords by legendary Tribe outfielder Kenny Lofton as well as former ace pitcher Charlie Nagy. McKee does a magnificent job of reaching into the history books, some times understandably better than others, providing a reminder to fans that this team has made the postseason eight times since the Gateway District venue opened it’s doors 20 years earlier.

Jacobs Field features exclusive interviews of players and front office personnel, taking readers inside the dugout and into the minds of the men who made the decisions that ultimately led to what was known as “The Era of Champions” as well as those who litter the team’s clubhouse today. It’s an easy addition to the shelves of fans of the Indians as well as Cleveland-based history.

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Jacobs Field: History and Tradition at The Jake is published by The History Press, is available in e-book formats and can be purchased on Amazon or wherever books are sold. McKee is also the author of Hero and Cleveland’s Finest. He is holding author events on April 10 (Books-a-Million, Westgate) from 6-8 pm, 11 (Visible Voice, Cleveland) from 7-9 pm, and 12 (Barnes and Noble, Westlake) from 2-4 pm.

Kyrie Irving mastering the art of “The Return”

Kyrie Irving Orlando Magic 20140402

It was just three years ago, almost to the week back in 2011, when an 18-year-old Kyrie Irving took to the basketball floor for the first time in what was a three-month span. Having sustained multiple torn ligament in his right big toe, Irving, one of the college game’s most heralded prospects, rejoined his team during the men’s Division I tournament, one of the most celebrated win-or-go-home stretches of play in all of sport. As Irving’s teammates filled in admirably in his absence, lifting the Duke Blue Devils to the top seed in the region, questions surrounded his decision to return—team chemistry notwithstanding, with an NBA paycheck in his not-so-distant future, was Irving risking too much by lacing them back up?

[Read more...]

Browns brass becomes bystanders for Blake Bortles’ ballgame

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There’s just not enough time in the day. A few hours after we catch word that the Browns’ “Big 4″ snubbed Jadaveon Clowney’s pro day, we hear from multiple reports that the team is simply busy conducting a private workout wwith Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles.

Bortles has become the sexy No. 1 pick in many mock drafts, meaning that he would not be available at No. 4 when Cleveland was officially on the clock. Holding the No. 26 pick as well, however, could allow the Browns to move up in the event they felt the need to secure a specific player—whether that player is the 6-foot-5-inch Bortles or not.

Keeping in line with their thoughts on not having to take a quarterback with the fourth-overall pick, the team recently worked out Fresno State’s Derek Carr and are expected to do their due dilligence on several other quarterbacks before the 2014 NFL Draft rolls around this May. Carr’s potential (along with others like LSU’s Zach Mettenberger) would makes sense in the event the Browns go another direction with their first first-round selection. Say, an offensive lineman?

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

 

Browns are equal-opportunity haters; team skips Clowney’s pro day

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When it comes to pro days, the Cleveland Browns aren’t just saying “no thanks” to the quarterbacks. As South Carolina’s Jadaveon Clowney shows off his freak athleticism in front of the masses, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock reports that the Browns front office was not present.

As the 2014 NFL Draft approaches, the Browns have made more news for what they haven’t done more so than what they have. When Lousiville’s Teddy Bridgewater was one-hopping passes to receviers, only Ray Farmer was on hand; head coach Mike Pettine, offensvie coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains were elsewhere. The entire contingent was absent from Central Florida’s Blake Bortles’ pro day as well as Texas A&Ms Johnny Manziel’s—the latter being one of the more-anticipated pro days of the entire pre-draft process.

The Browns have been on record all off-season, slamming the importance of pro days—”Being in charge of that workout is different than being at a Pro Day where it’s orchestrated and scripted,” Farmer recently stated. So, what’d the they miss?

Skipping the pro days may prove to be a non-event; the Browns may prove to be trailblazers in the information-dodging, expense friendly approach to what has otherwise been an annual event for media and executives across the country. But given the Browns’ track record of futility, to continually be one of the only teams to avoid the highly discussed events—while the rest of the NFL is represented—is certainly newsworthy.

Though his sack total dipped in 2013, Clowney is widely considered to be among the most talented players in the entire draft pool. NBC’s Tony Dungy recently said that the Houston Texans, owners of the No. 1 pick, should take the dynamic pass-rusher. Clowney currently sits atop Scouts Inc.’s Big Board, joining Auburn’s Greg Robinson with 97 grades. The Browns used plenty of assets in 2013 to bolster their pass rush, but if Clowney is available at No. 4, it’s tough to envision any honest scenario where he isn’t the best player available.

(Photo: Dale Zanine, USA TODAY Sports)

 

Daniel “Booby” Gibson setting his sights on a return to the NBA

Daniel Gibson_LG

As the Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves fighting for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, one of their long-time guards is working on getting back in to the NBA after watching the entire season unfold from the outside. In an interview with Baller Mind Frame Gibson discusses his most recent injury, his desire to take a year off and his plans to get back into the league he had called home since being selected in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft.

BMF: How much does watching those kids play for your AAU team make you want to get back on the court?

Gibson: (laughs) Listen! I decided at the beginning of the year when I injured my foot again to take the year to get my mind right and see if this is still what I want to do. That’s what drives me. These kids look up to me like I’m their Michael Jordan. It inspires me to get back in the gym and get back out there.

Really, March Madness kind of put it over the top. I’ve been getting myself back in the right frame of mind to make a run at getting back in the league next season.

BMF: Do you think it will be a challenge getting back to the league?

Gibson: I definitely have to prove myself over again. These teams want to know why. Teams were contacting me at the deadline to see if I wanted to comeback for a 10-day contract. I was really hiding out. Nobody really knew what was going on with me. So I know I got to come back and prove myself. I know it will be difficult, but with the mind frame that I’m in, I know I can accomplish whatever it is I want to do.

To our knowledge, this is the first report of Gibson receiving calls regarding 10-day contracts. He’s been spending a lot of his time outside of the league working with kids in AAU formats, tweeting and uploading photos to Instagram, but there hasn’t been much in the way of his name being among the headlines.

Knowing what Booby is capable of, the fact that he’s received some interest from teams isn’t all too surprising. Between the personal problems and injuries that Gibson had dealt with during his tenure with the Cavaliers, he’s certainly one player Cleveland fans could rally behind if he were to make a comeback—especially if it’s another team making the financial commitment.

Photo: Scott Sargent / WFNY

Cavs front office comes in 27th in ESPN’s #FrontOfficeRank

Dan Gilbert, Mike Brown, Chris Grant

This seems like forever ago.

You’ve seen #NBARank. You’ve seen #CavsRank. Now, we have #FrontOfficeRank, ESPN’s version of the player-based project that pits all 32 NBA front offices against one another. ESPN scribes were asked to rank every team’s owner, chief decision maker and head coach from 1-to-10. The votes were tabulated, averaged, and listed in descending numerical order, one which found the Cleveland Cavaliers ranked 27th overall (3.75), bettering only the Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks.

To little surprise, the perrenial playoff teams litter the top of the list with the San Antonio Spurs (9.45) edging out the Miami Heat (8.56) by nearly a full point.

What will be interesting will be the details that will be provided later this week. Was the voting done prior to Chris Grant being relieved of his duties? It certainly appears that it was finalized before Phil Jackson was hired by the Knicks—or was it? What are the overarching feelings surrounding Dan Gilbert? Do they feel Mike Brown is going to be one-and-done? Does any of this even matter?

As Royce Young of DailyThunder pens best, the entire process seems a bit arbitrary, filling space between now and the end of the regular season. Discussion for discussion’s sake. Stay tuned.

(AP Photo/Jason Miller)

 

 

Browns “aggressively” pursuing DeSean Jackson

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Well this is a pleasant surprise: Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson is being pursued “aggressively” by the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns, per NBC Washington, are joined by the San Francisco 49ers as teams who covet the recently released three-time Pro Bowler. As Mike Florio reports, the timing of this news is interesting given that Jackson is reportedly nearing a deal with Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s former team, the Washington Redskins.

The Eagles were attempting to trade Jackson for a good portion of the offseason before releasing him outright following reports that the wide receiver had strong ties to Los Angeles-based gang members. Immediately following the news, a league source told ESPN that at least nine teams reached out to Jackson’s agent, Joel Segal—one of which, we now are led to believe are the one-time conservative Browns. This is the same team that traded a wide receiver days after he punched a friend of LeBron James and wanted to release another wide receiver as a means to “send a message” to the rest of the roster.

Cleveland has been linked to several wideouts during the course of the offseason as they continue to seek out an upgrade over Greg Little. While Ray Farmer and his team may not end up inking Jackson to a deal, one thing is apparent: This ain’t your father’s Browns.

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Indians (once again) among best values in MLB

The 2014 Fan Cost Index was officially released and the Cleveland Indians are, once again, among the best values in all of baseball, coming in third-lowest with an averge cost of $162.24.

The annual Fan Cost Index, as run by TeamMarketing.com, compiles the average cost of four tickets, small sodas, two hats, small beers, programs and parking. The average in Major League Baseball comes in this year at $214.46, a 2.3 percent increase over last season. The Indians’ mark of $162.24 represents a mere 0.3 percent increase over the 2013 season, one which saw the team win 90-plus games and make the postseason for the first time since 2007.

While the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks continue to be below the Indians in average cost, the Tribe continues to be well below the game’s average in ticket price ($21.31 vs. $27.93) as well as average premium ticket price1 ($54.33 vs. $93.41). The cost of a beer in Progressive Field is over $2.00 less (33 percent) than the average stadium brew and parking is roughly $3 less (20 percent) per automobile.

Last season, the Indians were among the league’s worst in attendance, with many fans pointing to dynamic ticketing policies as a point of contention. While this policy will not be going away any time soon, the team has added additional values this season, including “Carnegie Tickets” as well as Kids Value passes.

The Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies top the list as most expensive. The Detroit Tigers find themselves among the top 10 while the Twins, White Sox and Royals fill in between the AL Central’s most expensive and it’s best value.

Image via TheWeek.com

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Footnotes:

  1. Either defined as premium or come equipped with one added amenity []

Ever wonder how much it costs to propose at Progressive Field?

Ever wondered how to go about proposing to a loved one within the confines of a sporting event? Ever wonder how much it costs to go about such an endeavor? Well, the kind folks at Swimmingly charted out the costs and details of all 30 Major League Baseball teams and it turns out that our beloved Cleveland Indians are among the most expensive in the league.

In the event you want to drop to a knee at Progressive Field, the only time you can do it (apparently) are during one of the team’s 15 post-game firework nights (a romantic option, per Swimmingly) as no in-game proposals are allowed. While this appears to be a change for the Tribe given all of the jumbotron jubilation of years past, these restrictions are at least more lenient than the Blue Jays, Angels, Royals, Orioles and Mets—all teams which do not allow promoted in-game proposals of any kind.

Some teams offer multiple price points, lest anyone need to place a value on their impending proposal. Some teams offer multiple tickets; others offer tours. In Detroit, you can do it alongside “Paws,” the Tigers’ mascot. All proceeds allegedly go to charity.

Yan Gomes and Miguel Cabrera get paid; Josh Gordon wants Johnny Manziel: While We’re Waiting

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First and foremost: Baseball!

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First and foremost (Part II), if you haven’t cast your votes yet, now is the time to do so. WFNY is nominated for Best Sports Blog and Best Podcast in Cleveland. We do this for free and count on you all to show your support through the ballot box. It’s Opening Day…why not start things off right? Thanks in advance, folks.

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Josh wants Johnny. Not long after discussing quarterback Johnny Manziel on Radio Row at the Super Bowl, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, once again, puts his Pro Bowl vote behind the Texas A&M quarterback for the Browns at No. 4 this May.

“To bring that spark to a team—that play-making ability—would be huge,” Gordon said of Manziel. “I’d love to see what he can do.”

There are some who wonder if Gordon is tipping the Browns’ draft hand, but those are also people who believe players are involved in the front office’s draft discussions. Earlier in the week, when he was on ESPN’s First Take, Gordon predicted a 10-6 record for the Browns in 2014 as led by one Brian Hoyer, so he’s nothing if not diplomatic. What Gordon’s words do signify is that (in addition to not being a scout) he’s a bit tired of catching passes from a different guy every week. The Browns continue to say that they don’t feel the need to draft a quarterback early, but the national pundits aren’t buying it. The question will come down to who’s there at No. 4, who does the team actually want (a lot of Teddy Bridgewater rumblings remain) , and do those stars align.

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Yanimal. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Yan Gomes news come across the wire this weekend as he’s clearly a guy who should be playing for more than the MLB minimum. It’s a team-friendly deal, and I’m all about the team. But I’m also all about said team locking up the only player who received MVP consideration a year ago in Jason Kipnis. This is the second offseason wherein the Indians and Kipnis were reportedly negotiating, and with Opening Day just hours away, it appears that we will head into another season without a long-term deal in place. Kipnis plays a premium position and is widely considered to be a player on the ascent. If another MVP-caliber season is on the horizon, the team is going to be in for a rude awakening once arbitration season rolls around. The Los Angeles Angels avoided such a mess by inking Mike Trout for the foreseeable future. If the Tribe wants to keep their word about locking up their core, they may want to realize the commodity they have and do the same. The benchmarks are already in place.

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Big Money Miguel. By now, you’ve seen plenty of opinions on the deal signed by Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers.  It was just a matter of time before Nate Silver gave his thoughts over at FiveThirtyEight, and given my personal intersection of sports and business, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the economic rationale of why the Tigers’ deal—while disgusting on the cover—may not be as bad as we think. As the value of the average MLB franchise increases at a rate better than that of the S&P 500, and the number of billionaires continues to grow, Silver says that the economic impact of signing Cabrera to such a lucrative deal may simply be akin to holding (and eventually selling) a basket of goods—and Cabrera is a good good. Of course, there’s also the chance that this is all a huge bubble (something our own Craig has been calling for years) and Mike Ilitch could be left holding the bag. He’ll also still be a billionaire.

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And just because: We’ll miss you, Dayton. Hell of a run.

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Browns schedule private workout for Derek Carr

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The Cleveland Browns will reportedly conduct a private workout with Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr on Monday. Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Mary Kay Cabot reports that Carr will merely be the first name on what is a “big list” of individuals slated to be the subject of individual scrutiny in Berea.

Bailing on pro days left and right, this will be the team’s first up-close look at a quarterback prospect heading into the 2014 NFL Draft. Browns head coach Mike Pettine reportedly called Carr the “best natural thrower” in this year’s draft class.

“(He’s) very physically gifted,” said Pettine. “A lot of times it’s hard to bet against the family history as well. You’re talking about like a Jake Matthews that it’s the old ‘don’t bet against the genetics.’ I think he certainly falls into that category as well.”

Carr, the brother of former No. 1 pick David, also has private workouts scheduled with the Vikings, Rams, Titans, and Raiders. The Browns own the Nos. 4 and 26 picks in the first round of May’s draft and continue to be linked to every essentially player who plays the position. Most analysts originally felt that Carr was more of a late-first rounder, an impressive workout at his pro day and increasing buzz could see him solidly land with a team higher up in the first round.

The 6-foot-3-inch Carr possesses a solid résumé and exceptional intangibles. The question marks surround his on-field production at the next level given below-average pocket presence as well as average arm strength.  Also: His name isn’t Johnny Manziel.

Image: Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports

Jason Giambi expected back sooner than later

Jason Giambi

Having suffered a non-displaced rib fracture in spring training, it appears that Tribe designated hitter (and late-season hero) Jason Giambi is now able swing a bat without experiencing any pain.

Papa Giambi is looking to start the upcoming 2014 regular season on the disabled list, but it appears that he will be able to take a hack at southpaws before too long.

It’ll be tough to replicate last season’s heroics, but the Tribe appears more than willing to allow Giambi to take up a spot on the 25-man as a bit of a player-coach1. The veteran slugger batted just .183/.282/.371 in 216 plate appearances last year, but was exponentially more than a slashline.

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(Image via Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)

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Footnotes:

  1. He’ll be accompanying the team to Oakland this weekend despite being placed on the disabled list []