August 26, 2014

It’s time to kill these lazy comedic sports references

we're not funny nfl

Sports and comedy don’t always have a comfortable marriage. As a rule, sports guys think they’re funnier than they really are and there’s one particular tool in the Sports Guy arsenal that I think needs to be melted down and buried. I could be talking about the incessant forced laughing that sports guys do to pump up all their bad attempts at jokes like on NFL pre-game shows. I could be talking about mis-guided skits wherein a former athlete dresses up like a woman for mild comedic effect. (I’m looking at you Larry Johnson.) I’ll save those for another day. Today I’m attacking the lazy reference.

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Tribe “Deep Tracks” Trivia Vol. 2: Reliving Yesteryear

Bob Feller Bob Lemon Early Wynn

As a born and bred Clevelander, I am all about the Rock ‘n Roll. Specifically, Album Oriented Rock (AOR), the 70s radio format featuring longer, more obscure, and less-repeated songs than the ‘ Top-40.’ (In its heyday, AOR stations were even known to play bootleg recordings of local concerts. Complete with muffled coughs and hushed comments, these surreptitious versions were spirited out of concert halls in a manner worthy of Cold War espionage. The popularity of some bootlegs spurred the commercial release of live tracks, such as Cheap Trick’s Budokan.)

Into the latter part of the decade, WMMS carried the banner. They announced the weekend with their weekly, 5pm Friday broadcast of the “Friday on my Mind”, “Switchin’ to Glide”, “Born to Run” troika. A heavy dose of Murray Saul was slathered on, with his gravelly narrative on why he was ready for “FRRIIIIDAYYYYY. FRIIIIIIIIII-IIIII-IIIIIIII, DAY.”

Of course, most of my musical tastes remain rooted in that era. Someone recently asked me if I had heard the “new Bowie”, because it’s really good. I assumed they were talking about the “Let’s Dance” album from the mid-1980s. (Sure, I have that vinyl record. It’s in one of my alphabetically-ordered peach crates. It’s in the rotation- with Beatles and Blondie albums- in the first position. Need to keep that Abba album covered up.)

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Cavaliers 3-team trade officially announced

new Cavaliers Primary Logo

The reported deal between the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brooklyn Nets, and Boston Celtics was official announced.  The biggest part of the trade for the Cavs was for cap space.  They cleared enough room to give LeBron James a max contract of about $20 million a year.  Their cap space is estimated to be around $22 million after this trade.  Along with the cap room, the Cavs acquired Boston’s 2015 second round pick (top 55 protected), the rights to Ilkan Karaman, and the rights to Edin Bavcic.  The 2015 second round pick will not extend into future years even if the Cavs do not receive it in 2015.  In the trade, the Nets received Jarrett Jack and Sergey Karasev.  The Celtics received Tyler Zeller, Marcus Thornton, and the Cavs’ 2016 first round pick (top 10 protected).  The Cavs’ 2016 first round pick sent to Boston is top 10 protected in 2016, 2017 and 2018, but will be unprotected in the 2019 draft.

This trade was all about cutting big contracts and making cap space for the team to be active in free agency this offseason.  According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the trade was not done for the sole purpose of making room for LeBron.  The Cavs received rights to Ilkan Karaman and Edin Bavcic in this trade, too.  Ilkan Karaman, 24, was selected by the Brooklyn Nets with the 57th pick of the 2012 NBA Draft.  He most recently played in the Turkish Basketball League for Fenerbahçe Ülker.  Edin Bavcic, 30, was originally selected by the Toronto Raptors with the 56th overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft.  He currently plays for KAOD in Greece.

WFNY on the World Cup: Germany/Portugal and what it means for the USMNT

WFNY’s World Cup Diary: The Arrival
WFNY on the World Cup: Group G Breakdown
WFNY World Cup Diary: The Departure
WFNY in Spain, champs thumped by Netherlands
WFNY on the World Cup: Group F Breakdown
USMNT win leaves questions looming
WFNY Podcast: Breaking down the roster
Klinsmann opts for potential on final roster
Landon Donovan left off World Cup roster
WFNY on the World Cup: Group A Breakdown


Four hours before Clint Dempsey was slotting the USMNT into the lead against Ghana via a shot deftly placed against the far post, Portugal was walking off the field against Germany with more questions than answers. The Germans were always favorites to take the top spot in Group G, but Portugal appeared to have the pedigree to challenge them for supremacy headed into the day. That perception couldn’t have been more wrong as the Portuguese camp could potentially be in shambles.

Portugal didn’t do themselves any favors and it is hard to believe they are actually as poor as the 4-0 score line handed to them by Germany suggested, but it definitely doesn’t portend a long World Cup run either. Already down 2-0, one of Portugal’s central defenders, Pepe, succumbed to frustration of what he perceived to be a flop from Germany’s Thomas Müller, and lightly head-butted him while he sat on the pitch resulting in a justified red card. Any remaining hope for a comeback from Portugal died at that moment. Preceding the red card, Portugal pushed the ball forward well, but their attacks often fizzled as the Germans made sure to keep Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo closely watched by two men at almost all times, daring another forward to beat them. They could not get it done. [Read more...]

Dissecting Dan Gilbert, While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday everyone!

I know everyone hates hearing about other people’s fantasy teams, and I’m not going to try to bore you with too many details. But three weeks ago my team was in 11th place (out of 12). I had high hopes for my team this year, but it just absolutely sputtered out of the gate. However, after huge wins of 15-3, 13-5, and 14-3 over the last three weeks, my team suddenly finds itself in second place.

In many ways, my team is like the real life Cleveland Indians. On May 19th, the Indians stood at 19-25. They were dead last in the division and 10.5 games behind the Tigers. As of Tuesday morning, the Indians are now 33-31 and just two games back. It’s been a remarkable turnaround, and a welcome one at that. I don’t expect the Indians to catch Detroit, nor do I expect them to make the playoffs again. But summer is just so much more fun when your team is playing good baseball, both in real life and with your fantasy teams. And if the Indians can keep riding this hot streak, who knows, maybe they will even exceed expectations for the second year in a row.


Are we still with Dan Gilbert?

withgilbert-237x300There’s been a lot of weird news coming out of the world of the Cleveland Cavaliers lately. First we heard from media out of New York that the Cavaliers might be giving second thought about offering Kyrie Irving a max extension next month. Then Terry Pluto reported that not only are the Cavaliers going to offer Kyrie the max, but they never even hesitated for a second. Then we heard about Dan Gilbert offering a monster contract to John Calipari to become both coach and President, despite already hiring David Griffin as full time GM. But then later Monday the Akron Beacon Journal’s Jason Lloyd had a rather confusing report with conflicting information about the timing of Gilbert’s discussion with Calipari. There have been wide-spread reports about Gilbert’s overbearning and heavy-handed approach to this coaching search, yet there are other reports that he didn’t even talk to candidates in the first round of interviews and that he will be meeting with Tyronn Lue and Alvin Gentry this week for second interviews.

Did you get all that? It’s a lot to take in. So what’s going on here? Is the franchise really this dysfunctional that nobody is on the same page? Or is this just some misinformation being spread to protect the secrecy of the team’s plans? I have no idea. I’ve stood with Dan Gilbert since the night of The Decision. As I’ve said on many occasions, while I understand why people took exception to the infamous letter, as a Cavs fan, I loved it. For the most part Gilbert has been exactly what I want an owner of my team to be. He’s passionate, ambitious, willing to spend money on the team, and above all else, is desperate to win. But is that desperation starting to become a problem?

There’s been a lot of talk about Gilbert on Twitter lately. People are losing their patience with him and feel he’s becoming a burden on the franchise. For many, the tipping point was the playoff proclamation last year. On one hand, I totally get it. The last thing we want to see is the team sacrifice long term success for short term meaningless gratification. But I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a small part of me that feels conflicted about killing a guy for wanting to win. The Cavaliers have been atrocious for four straight seasons now. I’m tired of it and I’m ready for playoff basketball again. But what’s the best way to get there?

There’s some talk that the Cavaliers very well could draft Jabari Parker and hire someone like Vinny Del Negro or Lionel Hollins to chase that short term gratification. VDN and Hollins are coaches with playoff experience who have experience turning around long-term losing franchises. Jabari Parker is considered the safest of the top three prospects and the player who can probably help the most in year one.

But on the other hand, VDN and Hollins have their issues and there’s a reason they were let go from moderately successful teams. Nobody think Parker’s ceiling is as high as Joel Embiid or even Andrew Wiggins. Perhaps the better route is to get a young, fresh, hungry coach like Lue and to draft the player with the highest ceiling of all in Embiid, and let everyone develop for a year or two before the franchise can become a perennial playoff threat. And that’s where the consternation with Gilbert comes into play.

We all want to win. That goal is in complete alignment. But most fans don’t want the team to chase a year or two of low seeded early playoff exits. Most of us want to see the team build something that can last several years and have a chance at real contention.

It’s unfortunate to see Gilbert, by default the most popular owner in town, begin to lose the fan base. But even more troubling and unfortunate is the persistent talk of Gilbert’s ever growing influence on basketball decisions. When David Griffin held his press conference after being given the gig full time, he said that Gilbert had given him full control of basketball decisions and that he would be carrying out the coaching search. But if the things Adrian Wojnarowski and Jason Lloyd have written are true (and there’s no reason to think otherwise), then it seems Gilbert is running his own coaching search separate from what Griffin is doing. And that is a huge (HUGE) problem.

When coaches and GMs screw up, they can be replaced. But there’s no replacing an owner1. For better or worse, Dan Gilbert is the owner of the Cavaliers and he’s free to do whatever he wants to make as many mistakes as he cares to. And I’m not even saying I want Gilbert gone. For the most part, I’m still supportive of him as an owner. I’ve seen what lethargic, disinterested, absentee owners look like. I’ve seen what happens when an owner is hesitant to spend money. Gilbert is the kind of owner I want, I just want him to trust his basketball people to make their own decisions.

And maybe he will. Nothing has been done yet. Perhaps the Cavaliers will allow Griffin to name his own coach and the Cavaliers will pick the best player in the draft who gives the team the best chance at long term greatness. After all, this year’s coaching search is already about a million times better than last year’s. There’s nothing wrong with Gilbert doing his own due diligence. This is his team and that’s his right as an owner. Everything will come down to the degree to which the basketball folks get to make the basketball decisions. That will be Gilbert’s real test.


Hey Donald Sterling, please just go away

Late last night, word broke that Donald Sterling has changed his mind (for about the 800th time) and now is going to pursue his lawsuit again. Whatever, Have fun suing yourself. When Shelly Sterling took control of the Clippers after two neurologists deemed Donald unfit to conduct his own business affairs, any leverage he had was gone. It was made even worse for him when Shelly indemnified the NBA against any lawsuits, including from Donald. So, if Sterling were to win the lawsuit2, it would be the Sterling Family Trust who would pay.

This is all just a lame attempt for Sterling to keep his name in the media and on the front page. He’s clinging to the last bit of relevancy he has left, and it’s both sad and annoying to watch. Even if he somehow succeeded in winning his lawsuit and blocking the sale of the team, he’s still banned for life. This is just a bunch of noise about nothing.


It’s about time someone put FIFA in its place

Ok, while I may be a pretty big fan of soccer, I’ve always found it hard to get too excited about international soccer. I love watching the various professional leagues throughout Europe, and in my opinion, the Champions League offers some of the best drama, passion, and excitement in sports. But I’ve just never been as big on international cups. Of course, the one exception is the World Cup. Everyone who cares about soccer whatsoever gets excited for the World Cup. But one of the reasons why I have always been less interested in international cups has been because of FIFA, one of the worst sports governing bodies in existence. I knew they were bad, but I didn’t realize just how bad they truly were until this week’s episode of Last Week Tonight.

Now, I promise, I’m not going to post a John Oliver clip every single week. I hesitated posting this one since I just posted a clip last Tuesday, but with the World Cup starting this week and with WFNY’s World Cup coverage this just seemed too topical not to share. Enjoy:


Forget about new music releases this week

This may be the one and only time that sentence is ever written by yours truly, but this week there is a much more important new release – the first season of HBO’s True Detective on Blu-Ray and DVD. If you missed the show on HBO, or if you don’t have HBO or access to HBO Go, this is your chance to catch up one of the absolute best seasons of a show in TV history. While I have no reason to doubt future seasons of this show, I also cannot fathom any way it will ever be able to top the epic performances of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in this first season. The story telling was phenomenal both in method and execution, the acting performances were great all around, and the directing and cinematography were insanely great for a TV show.

And in truth, this show sort of transcends the idea of television. It’s not the first or last to do this, but there are things being done stylistically in TV shows that we never could have imagined even just ten years ago. Calling True Detective a “TV show” somehow seems disingenuous. It’s not really anything. It’s not a TV Show, a miniseries, or a movie. It’s a self contained story, told in the best way possible.

Anyway, that’s all I have for you guys this week. Hope you all have a great Tuesday, and here’s to the Cavaliers hopefully making the right coaching hire and the right draft pick for the right reasons!




  1. well, ok, Donald Sterling probably disagrees….but you know what I mean []
  2. which he probably won’t, considering the sale was conducted by the sole trustee of the Sterling family trust []

WFNY on the World Cup: Group E Breakdown

(This breakdown is brought to you by Stepien Rules blogger Alex Raffalli, who is also a native of France.)

Group E might be the least competitive group of this World Cup. France, who came into the World Cup draw with absolutely no reason to be hopeful given their recent past, ended up the favorite of a group that seems very much theirs to take control of. But they will have to compete with Switzerland and Ecuador for the first place which will be the only way ensure they don’t face one of the pre-tournament favorites Argentina who boast the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, in the round of 16. [Read more...]

FitzGerald’s proposed “Win Tax” can’t create real accountability

ed_fitzgeraldEd FitzGerald got in front of the media today and suggested a “Win Tax” for distributing a portion of Sin Tax money. What is a “Win Tax?” FitzGerald described a way to allow our three major sports franchises to “compete” for Sin Tax money based on winning and economic contributions among other less specific ideas. While FitzGerald admitted that this was all a start of the conversation, it was harder and harder to figure out what he was really trying to accomplish with this proposal other than getting his face in the news as he campaigns for the Ohio Governor’s office. For my money, this might be about the dumbest meeting point between sports and politics that I’ve ever seen. [Read more...]

WFNY’s State of the Browns: RBs and FBs

 NFL: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans

The next positions that will be examined in our series, State of the Browns, are the running backs and fullbacks. The Cleveland Browns were sorely lacking in these positions last year causing a poor run game throughout the 2013 season. So, the Browns were in need of huge overhaul and influx of talent at the two backfield spots. This offseason the Browns did just that by adding a group of young talented players. The Browns used free agency, the draft, and the undrafted free agency to find players to fit these needs. The Browns started in free agency by adding running back Ben Tate formerly of the Houston Texans. Then the team selected Terrance West of Towson in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. They finished off the additions with the signing of running back Isaiah Crowell of Alabama State and fullback Ray Agnew of Southern Illinois. These players are part of the huge revamp at the back positions. [Read more...]

Phoenix Rising

The barriers to entry are very real, but in a business dominated by one, giant manufacturer, Phoenix Bats—a small baseball lumber company located in mid-Ohio—looks to turn the tide.

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The New Cleveland

Welcome to Cleveland, Johnny Manziel

Are the winds changing in Cleveland? The mood and spirits of this lakefront town are at an all time high because of the recent happening with the sports teams. The national media has all eyes on Cleveland, but this time they are watching the city because of the prospects of good news rather then the horrible events that have littered its past. The Browns, Cavaliers, and Indians are all producing exciting moments for the its sports fan. The wins have yet to be accumulated, but could Cleveland (finally) be entering an age of professional sports success?

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The Ground in Cleveland

Jason Kipnis

Frustrating and underperforming at the plate, are the Cleveland Indians the unluckiest team in the majors thus far?

In 2013, the Cleveland Indians exceeded expectations, winning 92 games and earning their first playoff birth since 2007 thanks in large part to a pitching staff that performed far better than anticipated.

In 2014, thus far, the Cleveland Indians have disappointed some, already 5.5 games back of the Tigers with the fourth-lowest winning percentage in the American League. This has been thanks, in large part, to an under-performing lineup.

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Reflecting on Lary Doby—while on a run through the park: Reliving Yesteryear

 Lary Doby Heading To First Base

I need to unwind. And maybe only peek at the Tribe game now and then, tonight. Enough said, in light of the way they’ve started the season.

I feel lazy, but with a couple hours left until twilight on this gorgeous day, I think I’ll get out and run over to the park. T-shirt and running shorts? Check and check. Glasses strap and shoes? Check and check. iPod dialed up to Gov’t Mule’s By a Thread? Oh, yeah. My stretching ritual behind me, I lean into a brisk walk down the driveway and onto the sidewalk. I am trotting to the pounding rhythms in my ears before my legs can procrastinate any further.

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A Thank You from WFNY

scene award horizontal

We have long joked about the veritable cemetery of websites, or “blogs”, that has grown exponentially since the summer of 2010. Ask anyone who has opposed the advent or proliferation of web-based properties over the years, and—after some dullard comment about basements and underwear—they would likely point to the fact that anyone can start a blog. This claim is unequivocally true. Anyone with access to the Internet and the wherewithal to land on a Blogspot or WordPress page could, with a few minutes of their time, start a blog. But that point, the moment in time where your URL is officially live, is simply the beginning. The doors may be open for business, but only through dedication, hard work and a little bit of luck will you find people willing to walk through them. And getting them to come back for more? That’s a whole new ball game.

By now, you may or may not have noticed the slight, more colorful change to our sidebar. Gone is the “Vote for WFNY” advertisement; replacing it is the word that WFNY has officially been named the Best Sports Blog and Best Podcast in Cleveland for 2014 by the kind folks over at Cleveland Scene Magazine. This isn’t our first “Best of” award, and it (hopefully) won’t be the last, but I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t the most important.

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Who promotes sports analytics? Musings from Day 2 at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference


“So why are you here?”

“I’m here for the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s this annual sports analytics conference. It’s been happening for eight years. It was at Hynes this year; there were 2,000 attendees. It’s kind of a big deal. It had 2,700 attendees last year.”

“So it dropped?”

“Well, yeah. It was at Seaport last year. They moved it to Hynes this year and knew there would be smaller space.”

“So what sport did it focus on?”

“Well, mostly basketball. Because one of the co-founders is the GM of the Houston Rockets. But it kinda dabbled in other sports. And mostly, teams just supplied talking points and the value was in the hallway conversations. But please, keep asking questions. You’re amazing.”
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While We’re Waiting… Crashing Z’s party?

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to

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“I keep hearing that LeBron James will be attending Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ jersey retirement ceremony on March 8 at Quicken Loans Arena. So much so that I felt obligated to write about it.

According to multiple sources I’ve spoken with, there is a very good chance that James will be attending the Cavaliers game against the New York Knicks on Saturday to show support for his longtime teammate and friend. It is not believed that James will have any role in the ceremony, but there is an expectation that he’ll be in the building as Ilgauskas’ No. 11 jersey is raised to the rafters.” [Bowers/Stepien Rules] [Read more...]

What’s up, Sloan? Thoughts from Day 1 of sports nerd heaven

sloan picThis weekend, I’m hanging out at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston. It’s an annual nerd heaven. I’m in nirvana. I’ve been dying to go for years. I sincerely wish my colleague Craig Lyndall could be here again this year with me too.

Friday was Day One of the jam-packed two-day conference. It’s overwhelming. It’s exhausting. It’s terrific. SSAC is now in its eighth year of existence. Although its purpose and future is debatable — Paul Flannery had a great look in Boston Magazine — it remains a hell of a lot of fun.

To provide an additional insight into my constant live-tweets from the first day, here are some quick thoughts related to the status of analytics in sports and this sensational conference: [Read more...]

The Lakefront Pipeline


Who knew that a tiny Division III Jesuit school nestled in Cleveland, Ohio’s east side would become one of the NFL’s most prized factories of coaches and general managers? Well—everyone who was fortunate enough to witness it all unfold.

On an early August evening in 1995, the John Carroll University football team gathered at the 50-yard line at Wasmer Field. The 5,000-seat stadium in University Heights, nestled among tall trees at the eastern edge of campus, corralled the day’s humidity. Head coach Tony DeCarlo congratulated his team of 100 or so guys for good work during the season’s first set of two-a-days.

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While We’re Waiting… Revisiting the Indians huge comeback against the Mariners

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to

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A must read on the Indians’ epic comeback win over the Mariners. “That’s Kenny Lofton getting tagged out at home with one down in a five-run game. What you don’t see is that Lofton hesitated before breaking for the plate. We know now how the game ended, but at the time, this was a terrible mistake. There would’ve been very little benefit had Lofton been able to score. His getting tagged out lowered the Indians’ win expectancy from about 6% to about 1%. The break-even rate on the play was about 99% — that is, for Lofton to go, he would’ve had to be 99% sure he’d make it safely. Maybe he could’ve made it if he didn’t hesitate. This was just a player getting over-excited, and as part of the Mariners’ late-inning collapse, they were given a very fortunate break. They still gave the game away.” [Sullivan/FanGraphs] [Read more...]

NFL needs to examine its proposed method for cleaning up language

Browns QBert Swearing 595

I fully support the NFL’s initiative to clean up it’s language and reform their (ahem) unorthodox workplace. We’ve seen some of the strange and destructive side effects of allowing such a “unique” culture to persist around the game of football. We have a better view of it than ever before thanks to the information age. From Richie Incognito in the professional ranks, all the way down to Steubenville, it’s been an interesting couple of years for the culture of football as it stands trial in a great many courtrooms – both real and of public opinion. Seeing it all up close and personal, the NFL is right to change their ways, but that’s not what I want to talk about. While I support the NFL’s common sense initiative, I’m scared of the way they are proposing to eradicate this language from their game – namely via 15-yard penalties.

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While We’re Waiting… Mike Brown’s future is ?

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to

WFNYBanner www

“Last, but certainly not least, is everyone’s favorite veteran pinch-hitter Jason Giambi, the man responsible for several clutch hits, including a two-run walk-off home run against the White Sox in late September that I and many other Tribe fans in attendance at Progressive Field that night won’t soon forget. That was last year.

Now heading into 2014, Yan Gomes has, in a sense, graduated to the starting lineup, creating an opening in the Squad. Mike Aviles will most assuredly return to the same role he filled last season, as will Ryan Raburn, but he is projected to share time in right field with newcomer David Murphy. That leaves two or maybe only one spot open on the bench up for grabs depending on how many pitchers Terry Francona will choose to carry on the roster to start the regular season. But for the sake of discussion, let’s just go with the traditional four players for now.

Sounds like no big deal, right?” [Dungan/Indians Baseball Insider] [Read more...]