Waiting For Next Year http://www.waitingfornextyear.com ...a tradition of hope, passion, and misery Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:59:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Jordan Cameron out, Karlos Dansby doubtful for Sunday http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/jordan-cameron-karlos-dansby-doubtful-sunday/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/jordan-cameron-karlos-dansby-doubtful-sunday/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:59:24 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135186 The Browns will most likely be without two of their best players for this Sunday’s game versus the Atlanta Falcons. Tight end Jordan Cameron has been ruled out for Sunday, while linebacker Karlos Dansby is doubtful to play and linebacker Jabaal Sheard is listed as questionable. Cameron has been out with a concussion since getting hit

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The Browns will most likely be without two of their best players for this Sunday’s game versus the Atlanta Falcons. Tight end Jordan Cameron has been ruled out for Sunday, while linebacker Karlos Dansby is doubtful to play and linebacker Jabaal Sheard is listed as questionable. Cameron has been out with a concussion since getting hit versus the Oakland Raiders on October 26. The good news coming out about Cameron on Friday is that he returned to practice and that coach Mike Pettine is hopeful that the tight end could play next week. The Browns’ offense will once again be without one of the biggest playmakers on Sunday, but thankfully the Browns will have their other offensive weapon, wide receiver Josh Gordon, back for the game.

Linebacker Karlos Dansby is also listed as doubtful to play on Sunday. Dansby injured his knee last week in the loss to the Houston Texans. The immediate reaction to the injury was more dire then what has come out in the last few days. Many feared he could be out for quite a bit of time, but this status of doubtful shows that it could be not as bad as previously thought. Without their leader in the middle of the defense, the Browns will need their defensive line and fellow linebackers to step in for his absence.

Linebacker Jabaal Sheard is listed as questionable for the game versus the Falcons on Sunday. His foot injury suffered last Sunday was also feared to be a serious one. But over the last couple of days, the news has gotten better for Sheard, including today when Pettine said the linebacker could be a game time decision on Sunday. The Browns are already most likely without Dansby, so the loss of Sheard will really make the front seven very thin. The Browns also reported that receiver and kickoff returner Marlon Moore is out and special teamer Johnson Bademosi is questionable for the game against the Falcons on Sunday.

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Josh Gordon can have second hand impact on Browns’ offense http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/josh-gordon-can-second-hand-impact-browns-offense/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/josh-gordon-can-second-hand-impact-browns-offense/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 17:27:50 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135177 At long last Josh Gordon is free from Roger Goodell’s clutches and the Browns’ offense now has a player the opposing defense must game plan for. Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, Miles Austin, and Travis Benjamin have all shown themselves as adequate NFL receivers — something hard to come by in Cleveland the past decade —

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At long last Josh Gordon is free from Roger Goodell’s clutches and the Browns’ offense now has a player the opposing defense must game plan for. Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, Miles Austin, and Travis Benjamin have all shown themselves as adequate NFL receivers — something hard to come by in Cleveland the past decade — but with Gordon’s return comes the chance for Cleveland’s offense to go from a silver Honda Civic to a camouflage Porsche.

How many snaps Gordon will be on the field and how frequently he’ll be targeted are anyone’s guess, but as long as number 12 is out there then the Browns offense will benefit.

Imagine for a second the Browns are facing a 3rd-and-3 midway through the first quarter in Atlanta. The Browns come out in a 12 package with one back, two tight ends, and two receivers out wide. With Dray and Barnidge on the field this is a package fit for that little zone toss to Crowell, allowing him to read the line, make one cut and bust up field for the first down yardage. Atlanta, having seen the Browns run this play multiple times in the previous weeks, is sure to sneak a safety up into the box for extra run support, leaving their corners one-on-one on the outside. In games past, Atlanta would have liked their chances in this situation, knowing that even if Hoyer could connect with Hawkins on a quick route, the Falcons would likely be able to corral Hawkins to the ground. Yes, they’d give up the first down, but damage would be minimal.

Insert all 6-foot-3 inches and 230 pounds of Josh Gordon. Leave a corner alone on an island with Gordon and that quick pass that may have gone for five yards, now has a chance with all of Gordon’s size, strength, and speed to go the distance. Atlanta and any team lining up against the Browns’ offense must account for this with either a safety or an outside linebacker providing some help for their lonely corner. Move one of those defenders out of the box to help on Gordon and now Kyle Shanahan has the numbers he likes to run the ball for that first down.

“I know it makes it easier when you have guys who can make plays and not only just catch the ball and get open but have chances to take it the distance. It makes it easier on everyone.” – Kyle Shanahan

I expect the Browns to target Gordon early, not necessarily because Josh needs to get in rhythm or get a feel for the game, but to keep Atlanta honest. Hoyer showed last week he was able to throw the quick hitch even on a designed run play when he recognized coverage was playing off. Hit Gordon with one of those, take a shot deep, and now Atlanta is thinking. There’s no need to force feed Gordon the ball, just simply make his presence known, and take what the defense gives you. Mike Pettine spoke to his fear about overemphasizing Gordon in the offense following Thursday’s practice.

“We just have to careful with Brian when Josh is out there so he doesn’t develop tunnel vision, that the ball goes to where the read takes him because, obviously, I think Atlanta’s well aware of Josh and his ability and will set their plans accordingly.”

While Pettine spoke to his concerns about Hoyer locking onto the Browns’ All-Pro receiver, quarterback Brian Hoyer doesn’t seem to think it will be an issue.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been a quarterback that’s like that. I think the moment you do that, especially when you have a guy as talented as Josh, they’re going to try to take him away. You’ve kind of got to just let it come as it is. We saw last year with Josh; you just give him a short pass underneath, and he has the ability to take it the whole way. You don’t really try to force it to him. Now, in the same sense, I’m going to know where he’s at. There’s no doubt about that, but you have to see what the defense is doing.”

Atlanta is arguably the worst defense in the league, ranking last in yards per game and second to last in yards per play. Even before Gordon enters the picture, the Browns offense has the edge. Kyle Shanahan needs to continue to ride the horses that got him this far, dishing out heavy doses of Crowell and West behind Bitonio and Thomas. Gordon’s presence alone should allow for Shanahan’s offense to wear out Atlanta’s defense with plenty of jabs, and if they dare sleep on The Flash outside that’s when you hit them with the overhand knockout blow.

Josh Gordon Celebrates 80 Yarder

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Ohio State Preparing for Indiana, Not Looking Past Them http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/ohio-state-preparing-indiana-looking-past/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/ohio-state-preparing-indiana-looking-past/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:00:58 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135174 I’m a college student. While I don’t attend Ohio State, my weekends are frequently spent driving from Philadelphia to various campuses to watch the Buckeyes. So it was only natural that I received a text this week from a friend who is a student at OSU asking me if I’d be interested in heading to

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I’m a college student. While I don’t attend Ohio State, my weekends are frequently spent driving from Philadelphia to various campuses to watch the Buckeyes. So it was only natural that I received a text this week from a friend who is a student at OSU asking me if I’d be interested in heading to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game as I did last season.

Was I interested? Certainly, although I know it’s not the best decision for me financially or academically, with the game falling just before my final exams begin. But then I took a step back and thought about the offer. How could I agree to drive 10 hours or more in a few weeks when it’s not yet guaranteed that the Buckeyes will even be there?

I don’t blame my friend for jumping the gun a bit. College students are wont to do so. Urban Meyer and his staff know as much, and that’s why the mantra in Columbus this week is simple – “Beat Indiana.”

With Ohio State up to number six in the most recent College Football Playoff committee’s rankings, it’s fun to lay out scenarios that would allow the Buckeyes to move into one of the top four spots. But Meyer knows that his job right now is to prepare his team rather than lobby the committee.

“Not right now, no, because I don’t want to make ignorant comments,” the OSU coach said when asked if his squad was one of the four best teams in the country. “We wake up every November or we wake up every day to compete for championships in November. It’s at the doorstep now.”

Those championships can begin this weekend. With a win over lowly Indiana (3-7, 0-6 Big Ten), the Buckeyes will claim the inaugural Big Ten East Division championship (their third straight division title) and return to the title game in Indianapolis for the second consecutive year. In spite of their less than impressive record, Indiana can be frisky if they’re on their game. Remember two years ago when the high-powered Indiana offense staged a furious comeback in Columbus that fell just short in a 52-49 defeat? Even more recently, this year’s version of the Hoosiers went into Columbia and defeated then number 18 and defending SEC East champions Missouri by a score of 31-27.

The Buckeye defense will have to show up again. Indiana running back Tevin Coleman is a legitimate stud. He’s already racked up almost 1700 yards on an average of 7.8 yards per carry to go along with 12 touchdowns. As Meyer said, “The tailback is ridiculous. He’s definitely an NFL running back.” After allowing Minnesota’s David Cobb to rack up 145 yards and three touchdowns last week, the Ohio State defense will need to handle their assignments and tackle better to avoid giving the Hoosiers any hope of making this a game.

While it would be preferable to keep Coleman and the Indiana offense in check, it’s likely that the Buckeyes will be able to simply outscore them no matter how many the Hoosiers manage to put on the board. IU’s defense is allowing 33.6 points per game this season, good for 106th nationally. J.T. Barrett’s Heisman campaign could get another boost this weekend.

Still, Meyer won’t look ahead to what lies beyond this Saturday’s matchup. He knows exactly what is at stake against Indiana and has no problem remind the media. “I’d make the comment that we’re one win away from representing the East in the Big Ten Championship Game, because I do know that.”

If the Buckeyes can take care of business this Saturday and earn the right to represent the East in Indianapolis, only then will I be able to give my buddy a solid answer on whether we’ll be joining them at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Image Source: Marvin Fong, The Plain Dealer

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Five Things Paul Brown Was Not – Reliving Yesteryear http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/five-things-paul-brown-reliving-yesteryear/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/five-things-paul-brown-reliving-yesteryear/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:00:35 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135169 You know some things to be true. That they may technically only be your opinions is just noise. You’re right, and when others disregard or disbelieve you, a certain amount of frustration builds. At least if you are like me, anyway. Not to mention when you encounter resistance to demonstrable facts. Twenty years ago- when

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You know some things to be true. That they may technically only be your opinions is just noise. You’re right, and when others disregard or disbelieve you, a certain amount of frustration builds. At least if you are like me, anyway.

Not to mention when you encounter resistance to demonstrable facts. Twenty years ago- when the internet wasn’t nearly as widely used- this was more common than it is today. I’d occasionally find myself mired in a fruitless discussion with someone who was simply ill-informed. For instance, I recall needing to spend way too much time defending the fact that Cleveland is an international shipping port. I mean, come on. Of course, some (like, oh, I don’t know…maybe my wife?) might remind me that it isn’t always others who are ignorant.

Regardless, I recall, probably twenty five years ago, being absolutely convinced that there was a large, untapped market for bobblehead toys. When I was a youngster, we had the old-school bobbleheads, which were made out of papier-mache. Bright, white chip marks on their oversized heads were the price they paid from being mishandled by kids. They were just too irresistible to avoid being played with. The spring holding the head may have become stretched and exposed, causing the head to slump to the side. The finish on the spring may have grown dull with oxidation.

Well-preserved bobbleheads were nerdy-cool. But by the late 1970s, their availability trickled to almost nothing. I was a lone voice in the wilderness- people still loved the smiling little guys!

Another opinion of which I was certain: authentic replica professional sports jerseys would be a sure-fire seller. Why couldn’t consumers purchase these?

Still yet another truism I held- and continue to hold- involved the patriarch of the Cleveland Browns, Paul Brown.

***

If you, like me, are too young to have watched the Cleveland Browns during the Paul Brown years, your understanding of the man may resemble mine. Ohio born and bred; brilliant coach; began sharpening his legendary coaching techniques and skills as the high school head football coach at Massillon. He eventually coached the Ohio State Buckeyes and won a national championship. He stepped up to professional football and led the Cleveland Browns to several championships. He was forced out as the Browns’ coach by owner Art Modell in the early 1960s during a less successful era . This came amid some turmoil between Paul Brown and players such as Jim Brown. He had become seen by many as a man whom football had passed by. He resurfaced as the owner and coach of the expansion Cincinnati Bengals, and oversaw their initial rise to prominence.

You know the litany of innovations Paul Brown pioneered. He turned football into a science, and many Browns fans can dutifully recite: he invented the facemask and the playbook. He was the first coach to call plays from the sidelines and was the first to try radios in the quarterback’s helmet. He was the inventor of the draw play and the zone pass defense. He established the concept of the practice squad, known then as the “taxi squad” because he arranged for those players to be employed by then-owner Mickey McBride’s cab company. He created the concept of sports booster clubs. He was the first to use practice and game films, classroom techniques, the forty-yard dash, and IQ tests as coaching tools. He invented the concept of ‘position coaches.’

So, much is rightly made about what Paul Brown was. Here are some things he was not.

1) Paul Brown was not the first owner’s first choice to coach the new team in Cleveland.

Mickey McBride’s taxi-cab business thrived in several cities across the country. He also owned a radio station, a printing company, and a race wire syndicate. He knew business- but he really didn’t know football, other than knowing he wished to own a franchise. (He’d actually tried to purchase the NFL Cleveland Rams at one time.)

McBride, however, knew Frank Leahy, and he knew the coach of the powerhouse Notre Dame Fighting Irish would be a quality hire. Leahy had won 5 National Championships between 1943 and 1949 while coaching Boston College, then Notre Dame. McBride had a handshake agreement with Leahy, to coach the new professional team in Cleveland. The university approached McBride, asking him to back away from Leahy. McBride had two sons who were enrolled at Notre Dame, and he didn’t want them to suffer any derision that might result from the pilfering of their football coach. McBride consulted with a sports reporter in Cleveland, asking for some other names to consider. The reporter told the owner he needed to hire Paul Brown.

2) Paul Brown was not interested in receiving input from his players.

It was the coach’s role to think- not the players’. His innovation of using messenger guards to send in plays was an extension of that concept. As was Brown’s eventual experimentation with helmet radios. Some observers derided his insistence to call each play, and his quarterbacks chafed as he disregarded their opinions on game strategy.

Regardless, his messenger guard model was state-of-the-art in the NFL, and by the mid- 1950s, several head coaches were similarly calling plays for their quarterbacks (a notable exception was Vince Lombardi, who took the Green Bay Packers job in 1959. Lombardi maintained if he couldn’t get his game plan in place during the week, he wasn’t an effective coach).

Paul Brown’s relationship with star fullback Jim Brown is an interesting study. Jim Brown was well ahead of his time with his on-field exploits, but also with his off-the-field interests. He had strong opinions and was perfectly comfortable with speaking about them publicly. His outspoken nature paved the way for others, including the media giant that Muhammad Ali soon became. Add Jim Brown’s predisposition for self-expression to Paul Brown’s disdain for players’ opinions… a schism was inevitable.

I once spoke to a Paul Brown biographer about this. He didn’t think the Jim Brown/Paul Brown friction was a racial thing. Jim Brown simply represented a problem for the coach due to his role as a team leader, and to his insistence that his thoughts as a player mattered.

3) Paul Brown was not interested in receiving personal credit for helping to desegregate professional football.

In 1946, while he was in baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers’ front office, Branch Rickey famously announced the signing of Jackie Robinson to a professional player contract. Robinson was going to become the first black ballplayer in Major League Baseball. While his heart certainly appears to have been in the right place, it also seems clear Rickey never tired of patting himself on the back.

Tension had been building within MLB to accept players of color. An underrated influence was the Mexican League, which posed a threat to MLB as it began to ramp up the signing of MLB-quality players – both black and white. Several contracts compared favorably to those in force north of the border.

The new All America Football Conference, with Paul Brown in the forefront, integrated professional football. Brown had coached African American players at Ohio State and at the Great Lakes Naval Academy during World War II; he knew several who were available and who were good enough to help a team win games. In 1946, a year before Jackie Robinson’s Dodgers debut, defensive lineman Bill Willis and fullback Marion Motley were the first African Americans to play for the Browns. Interestingly, it had taken about a year for the moves to occur; Paul Brown is said to have maintained the delay occurred in order to ease the pressure on the players. Some do wonder if it also eased the pressure on Paul Brown…

The two players were assigned as roommates. During that inaugural 1946 season, the coach took some heat for not taking them on the road for their game in Miami. As if the malicious verbal and physical abuse from opponents on the field during games weren’t enough for Willis and Motley to endure, Florida state law forbade the mixing of races in sporting events1. What was not made public at the time was the ominous death threat Motley received by mail. Brown discussed the issue with the two players, who agreed they’d prefer not to make the trip.

Anyway, racial integration was Paul Brown’s choice. Unlike Branch Rickey, he insisted it was not a social statement. His goal was to win football games2.

4) Paul Brown was not of the opinion that the Cleveland Browns was his “dream job.”

Paul Brown’s “dream job” was at Ohio State. He loved the energy of the campus, and leading his team onto the field in The Horseshoe…

When the United States was finally drawn into World War II, Paul Brown was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. He’d enjoyed a successful run as head coach of The Ohio State University, and now found himself as coach at the Great Lakes Naval Academy.

As the war was ending in 1945, Brown accepted Mickey McBride’s generous offer to become the new professional coach in Cleveland. Apparently, Ohio State was upset over his decision, as they had assumed he’d be returning.

By 1951, the Browns were such a dominant NFL team that it seemed to dampen fan interest. The franchise was profitable, but some wondered about the long-term viability of professional football3. Coincidentally or not, rumors began to circulate that Paul Brown was considering leaving the team. Colleges such as Minnesota4, USC, Stanford and Ohio State were said to be interested in him.

Publicly, the coach demurred, until he admitted being “willing” to talk with the USC athletic director while he was in town running practices for the American Conference Pro Bowl squad. Negotiations did not develop.

Meanwhile, Ohio State’s interest grew. An Associated Press editor served as the coach’s mouthpiece, and expressed the interest he had in returning. Privately, a huge obstacle for Brown was removed; he and athletic director Lynn St. John never got along, and now St. John was gone.
A backdrop to the drama were the Kefauver hearings on organized crime, led by Senator Estes Kefauver from Tennessee; this was the first time the Mafia entered the consciousness of mainstream America. Mickey McBride was called to testify in those hearings in 1951, and at the time, there were whispers that he might be implicated in criminal activity (ultimately, he would not be).

Ohio State was split on whom they wanted to hire. The alumni and the high school coaches in Ohio were solidly behind Paul Brown. In retrospect, it is obvious the selection committee at OSU did not want him to return. He did not get the job, and later spun it as though he never really campaigned for it. After the job was offered to and accepted by Missouri coach Don Faurot (who rescinded after two days), the university turned to Miami University coach Woody Hayes.

5) Paul Brown was not the father of the West Coast Offense.

So many Browns fans consider this to be true. After all, Paul Brown was the Father of the Modern Offense, right?

The 1940s/1950s Paul Brown/Blanton Collier offense featured the fullback running the ball up the middle, or the halfback or quarterback running sweeps with the offensive line pulling ahead of them to block. The Browns also liked to throw, way more than traditional football teams. They were derided by the older guard of football, who considered the running game to be ‘real’ football.

But when those early Browns teams threw, they looked downfield. Check the highlights on YouTube.

A fascinating story: when the Browns entered the NFL, they were the four-time defending AAFC champions. The very first game on their NFL schedule in 1950 was in Philadelphia against the defending NFL champion Eagles (being set up to fail?). Eagle coach Greasy Neale had scoffed at the Browns’ willingness to pass, calling them “just a basketball team.” In that game, Otto Graham threw for three touchdowns, and after the game was well in hand, the Browns ran for two more scores as the Browns clobbered the Eagles. When the rematch in Cleveland approached, Neale again had some disparaging words for Paul Brown’s team. On a rainy day, the Browns won again, this time without completing a single forward pass. Paul Brown would later admit, “It was a grandstand play, but I wanted to prove we could win the hard way.” He later commented that Greasy Neale never really forgave him for that.

It is well-known that Bill Walsh was the master of the West Coast Offense. The expansion Bengals had drafted Greg Cook out of the University of Cincinnati, and he had a tremendous arm. Walsh described him as the most talented quarterback he ever coached. Unfortunately, he injured the rotator cuff in his shoulder early in his rookie season and would never be the same. The Bengals’ backup, Virgil Carter, did not have a strong arm. However, he was bright, and extremely accurate. Necessity being the mother of invention, the WCO was born.

That offensive scheme features horizontal routes by the receivers, with the quarterback using pre-snap reads depending on the alignment of the defense (typically, the safeties). It is a quick-hitting offense, with the QB favoring three-step drops. Ultimately, the aim is to set up longer runs and pass plays.

Another offensive assistant in Cincinnati was Lindy Infante, who would eventually become the coordinator in Bernie Kosar’s most effective offense in Cleveland. Infante’s scheme featured up to a seven-step drop, with options to throw to specific receivers on the third step, the fifth step, and the seventh step. The quarterback – and the receivers – were responsible for both pre-snap and post-snap reads. Interestingly, the tenures of Walsh and Infante in Cincinnati did not overlap. There was a four year gap in between the two.

Infante has noted that he was influenced by Don Coryell’s use of tight end Kellen Winslow in San Diego. During film study, he noted that Winslow’s pass routes seemed to depend on what the defense was doing. Infante expanded that approach to include other receivers.

Bill Walsh was an assistant under Paul Brown when he developed the WCO. But that offense was not an extension of the PB offense. Not only was it largely a horizontal scheme, but it relied on players using their brains and making decisions.

***

So whether we’re talking twenty years ago, or today – that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Folks love bobble heads; they can’t get enough of jerseys, and Paul Brown did not invent the West Coast Offense.

Can you prove me wrong?

  1. This, by the way, was a huge reason MLB began using Arizona as a spring training destination
  2. Conversely, the NFL found itself under pressure to employ black players. For instance, the Los Angeles Coliseum authorities began to threaten to deny the NFL the use of that venue to any segregated teams
  3. Baseball was king; boxing was still bigger than football. Also, football fans favored the college game
  4. Minnesota was perhaps the top football rival of Ohio State, back then

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Sea World, Blue Jacket bankruptcy, and Indy Browns… While We’re Waiting http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/sea-world-blue-jacket-bankruptcy-indy-browns-waiting/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/sea-world-blue-jacket-bankruptcy-indy-browns-waiting/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:30:38 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135127 Hey everyone, I’m on vacation this week, but I’ve still found bits of time to write, mostly during kids’ naptime on days when we weren’t chasing Mickey Mouse around some really expensive theme park. Also, I hope you enjoyed the Dimoko experience podcast with Dave Sterling and Brian Spaeth talking about a variety of topics.

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Hey everyone, I’m on vacation this week, but I’ve still found bits of time to write, mostly during kids’ naptime on days when we weren’t chasing Mickey Mouse around some really expensive theme park. Also, I hope you enjoyed the Dimoko experience podcast with Dave Sterling and Brian Spaeth talking about a variety of topics.

We are not visiting Sea World this trip and I’m sad about it…

The moment of truth has arrived and in the end I just couldn’t get myself to buy tickets to go to Sea World. I absolutely love that place. I grew up about 15 minutes north of the one we had in Aurora as a kid. I remember when they added the penguin exhibit and all the advertising that surrounded it. I remember going to Sea World and just wanting to sit and watch in amazement at the sheer size of the killer whales. This is rather instructive in hindsight, of course. Giant salt water creatures that live in bodies of water called oceans don’t have a lot of business hanging out in Aurora Ohio, regardless of the size of the tank.

Blackfish CoverIn fact, after seeing Blackfish, it would seem that killer whales just don’t belong in any kind of captivity, at least with regard to the versions of captivity we’ve seen executed so far. It’s still all really sad for me to not go to Sea World though. I’m just very conflicted about the whole thing.

My not attending the park keeps my dollars out of their pockets, but it’s a long way to go before that leads to any kind of change. In the meantime, I’m denying myself a chance to see something that will be there for the foreseeable future whether or not I pay my money and go or not. I really do understand the idea of making a difference, but it’s hard not to wonder how big a difference I can really make by choosing not to buy tickets.

Also, aren’t I just a giant hypocrite anyway? We went to Animal Kingdom, jumped on a “safari” bus and paraded around lions, elephants, rhinos, zebras and giraffes yesterday. If it’s so wrong to go stare at whales and dolphins at Sea World, isn’t at least in the same realm of unacceptability to go do the same thing with land creatures that don’t belong in smaller environments in the middle of Orlando? Where and how do you draw lines while also not living your life as some sort of constant activist?

I’m not expecting answers here. I’m not expecting anyone to give me a free pass to go ahead and go to Sea World either. I’m just saying it’s a difficult road to try and set acceptable boundaries based on principles. This time, my wife and I have decided that it means saying no to Sea World. I’m still not really happy about it though. Selfishly, I just want to go and say that it won’t make a big difference anyway.

Maybe instead, we’ll head on over to Gatorland… oh wait. Is that O.K.?

Gatorland

Columbus Blue Jackets player files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy…

This is one of the weirdest stories I’ve read in some time

According to the Dispatch story, before Johnson signed his seven-year, $30.5 million deal in 2011, he granted power of attorney to his mother, Tina Johnson, that gave her full control of his finances.

Jack Johnson claims that Tina Johnson and his father Jack Sr. bought a house in Manhattan Beach, California, with his money but without the player’s knowledge, according to the report. In addition, Johnson’s parents borrowed $15 million against their son’s future earnings. Many of the loans carried high interest rates, according to the Dispatch. The mortgage on the house carried a 12 percent rate, while a loan for $3 million was at 24 percent, leading to huge fees and, ultimately, default.

First things first, who signs people up for a 12-percent mortgage? I didn’t even know one of those existed. Secondly, who signs a customer up for that based on the future hockey earnings of a person’s son? I mean, do you just walk into a bank and ask for a branch manager? I know that any financial planner worth their salt wouldn’t work with anyone to do this, let alone lead anyone down this path. Additionally, what loan shark offered them $3 million at 24-percent? The story in the Dispatch discusses “nonconventional lenders,” but I don’t know that I’ve seen an example of one other than in some car dealerships that offer some interesting financing on auto loans.

This is one of those times where I wonder if everyone forgets that player contracts are described in pre-tax dollars. Their agents make three to five percent as well. I know we’re playing with huge sums of money, regardless, but these loan values are even bigger and as a finance major, I find it all so very astonishing. I wouldn’t want to be at his family’s Thanksgiving this year… you know if he hadn’t cut off all ties to his family.

No jokes about that. That’s really really sad. Money is important because we’ve created so many systems around it, but when you get with your stoner friends or get in a “Joe Rogan Podcast” kind of conversation to really break it down, it really is kind of an arbitrary thing… money.

If the Colts had gotten Ben Tate, it would have been weird…

NFL player movement is nothing new and we’re used to former Browns littering NFL rosters all over the rest of the NFL, but it’s getting downright weird in Indianapolis.

Last year the Browns traded Trent Richardson to Indy. This off-season they signed D’Qwell Jackson after the Browns cast him off. They have Mike Adams playing safety. This past week they signed Josh Cribbs to help their special teams. Then after the Browns cut Ben Tate, they put in a waiver claim on the running back. The Colts missed out as the Vikings were ahead of them in the waiver wire, but it doesn’t stop there. One-year wonder Rob Chudzinski found a landing spot as a “special assistant” for the Colts. These Colts also make an appearance in Cleveland on December 7.

None of this is to say that the Browns should be specifically afraid to go against these castoffs. While the narrative around notorious good guy D’Qwell Jackson is that he escaped the losing conditions in Cleveland, it’s important to remember he was a key component to those conditions. That’s not to blame the guy completely, but when the Browns let him go, we all kind of agreed that he was a ceiling type of player. As the “quarterback” of the defense, it can be the kiss of death to have a player who is simply solid.

And I’m not saying Pro Football Focus is the authority on everything about everything, but it’s at least a decent indicator of what kind of games a guy is putting together. Here’s D’Qwell Jackson’s season.

D'Qwell Jackson PFF

Here’s Karlos Dansby’s.

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 3.03.33 PM

It just reinforces what we think we’ve seen with our eyes so far this season and what we saw out of D’Qwell Jackson in the past few years. I still love D’Qwell Jackson, but you know, I love watching Dansby on the field a whole lot more.

Your weekly moment of soccer zen…

This isn’t a new pass, and I know I’ve done a “thread the needle” pass before, but I’m nearly positive it wasn’t this one. Love seeing this kind of ball make it through though.

More from Pompeii because they played live…

I know I’ve told you about this band two times already, but they just released their live session on Audiotree, and I think it really puts their abilities in perspective. It’s true to the recording, but it also is illuminating to see how they pull off all their parts to make those songs sound so huge with so many layers.

That’s it from me this week, and maybe even for next week. My day next week would be “Black Friday” or whatever. I’ll leave you in unending suspense as to whether or not I’ll be doing WWW next week. See if you can even stand it! :-)

Also have a nice weekend and an even nicer Thanksgiving.

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Joe Haden set to open shoe store in Cleveland http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/joe-haden-set-open-shoe-store-cleveland/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/joe-haden-set-open-shoe-store-cleveland/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:14:20 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135135 Browns star cornerback Joe Haden has really taken to living and being a part of the city of Cleveland. Besides playing at a Pro Bowl level for the Browns, Haden has become a big fan of the Cavaliers and can be seen hanging out around the city of Cleveland on many nights. Haden also loves

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Browns star cornerback Joe Haden has really taken to living and being a part of the city of Cleveland. Besides playing at a Pro Bowl level for the Browns, Haden has become a big fan of the Cavaliers and can be seen hanging out around the city of Cleveland on many nights. Haden also loves fashion, especially shoes, personally owning a huge collection of shoes. Now he has decided to merge both of these interests by starting up his own shoe store in Cleveland. Haden announced on Instagram that he has partnered up with his two business partners to open his own shoe store called the Restock.

The store will be a re-branding of the Lakewood shoe store United Sneakers. The Restock will sell consignment shoes at discounted prices in their new Prospect Ave store location in downtown Cleveland.  The address for the new store is 645 Prospect Avenue Cleveland, OH 44115. If you are interested in visiting the store, the grand opening will be on Black Friday (November 28), just in time for Christmas shopping.

If you are a shoe fanatic, this store could be just the place for you. Haden is a huge shoe collector and probably knows as much about the hot kicks as anyone. Another cool thing about this store will probably be the big name customers who come in and check out the shoes Joe Haden is selling. The Restock looks to be a shoe heaven for people who love unique consignment shoes at very affordable prices.

 

Screenshot 2014-11-20 17.19.30

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Indians announce Tribe Fest 2015 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/indians-announce-tribe-fest-2015/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/indians-announce-tribe-fest-2015/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:06:57 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135132 The Cleveland Indians have announced details for Tribe Fest 2015, to be held at Progressive Field on January 24 and 25. The annual fan-centric event — the third bearing the Tribe Fest name — will offer the opportunity for Indians supporters to meet and get autographs from current players as well as Tribe alumni. From

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The Cleveland Indians have announced details for Tribe Fest 2015, to be held at Progressive Field on January 24 and 25. The annual fan-centric event — the third bearing the Tribe Fest name — will offer the opportunity for Indians supporters to meet and get autographs from current players as well as Tribe alumni.

From the press release:

The third annual event will feature Silver Slugger Award winner Yan Gomes, Cody Allen, Carlos Carrasco, Nick Swisher, Jason Kipnis,Mike Aviles, Trevor Bauer, Michael Bourn, Lonnie Chisenhall, TJ House, Roberto Perez, Jose Ramirez, Marc Rzepczynski, Danny Salazar, Carlos Santana, Bryan Shaw and others.

Tribe coach and alumnus Sandy Alomar will be on hand, while alumni including Charles Nagy, Dennis Martinez and Paul Assenmacheralso will appear. Indians President Mark Shapiro, radio broadcasters Tom Hamilton and Jim Rosenhaus, drummer John Adams and more personalities will be on hand as well.1

As was the case last year, the event will be conducted in three sessions. There will be two on Saturday, January 24: one from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and one from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be one session on Sunday, January 25, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Some $3 parking spaces will be available in the Gateway East Garage, but they will be limited due to a Lake Erie Monsters home game on Saturday and a Cavaliers home game on Sunday.

The Indians boast that fans can be guaranteed autographs, but that guarantee comes with some stipulations:

Like in 2014, autographs can be guaranteed by purchasing an autograph ticket bundled at the same time with the general admission ticket online at Indians.com/TribeFest. ALL FANS in attendance are required to purchase an autograph pass if they would like to be guaranteed a spot in the autograph session line.

  • $20/ticket for Indians Major League roster player sessions
  • $25/ticket for Indians Alumni player sessions

Each Tribe Fest event features multiple autograph sessions, for which 250 tickets will be sold. Autographs for specific players are not guaranteed, just a space in line.  If autograph sessions are not sold out, fans will be allowed to wait in line for autographs, time permitting and on a first-come, first-serve basis.

In order to maximize the amount of fans able to experience each autograph session at Tribe Fest, the purchase of autograph tickets has been limited to four per autograph session per transaction. Additionally, only one autograph session ticket per person will be honored at each autograph station.

Tickets sans guaranteed autographs are available for $10, exclusively at Indians.com/TribeFest. They go on sale Tuesday, November 25, at 10 a.m. Children age 12 and under get in free with the purchase of an adult ticket. Twelve year-olds who attend without a parent — or who have parents that make them buy their own ticket — can get in for $5.

Other activities will include hitting in the Progressive Field batting cages, tours of the home clubhouse, Q&A with Indians players and broadcasters, and concessions for sale in the Club Lounge.

  1. All appearances subject to change.

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Cleveland Indians add five minor leaguers to 40-man roster http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/cleveland-indians-add-five-to-roster/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/cleveland-indians-add-five-to-roster/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 20:34:06 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135131 Each November, Major League Baseball teams are faced with the difficult task of protecting certain players from the consequences of the Rule 5 draft. On Thursday, the Cleveland Indians were one of the first teams to announce their protected players. In total, the Indians are protecting five prized minor leagues by adding them to their

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Each November, Major League Baseball teams are faced with the difficult task of protecting certain players from the consequences of the Rule 5 draft. On Thursday, the Cleveland Indians were one of the first teams to announce their protected players.

In total, the Indians are protecting five prized minor leagues by adding them to their official 40-man roster. The five players are third baseman Giovanny Urshela, reliever Shawn Armstrong, starter Cody Anderson, catcher Tony Wolters and lefty Ryan Merritt. The first four were expected additions while Merritt is a bit of a surprise. Let’s dive into each player specifically.

Urshela, 23, injured his knee in the Venezuelan Winter League last week. He had a breakout offensive season in 2014 between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, batting .280/.334/.491 in 128 combined games. He is viewed as a talented defensive infielder too, so he had a chance to make waves in Cleveland next year. Hopefully his injury isn’t too serious, but it’s nice to see the Indians still value him despite that concern.

Armstrong, 24, was a 18th-round selection in the 2011 draft. He had sensational numbers for the Akron RubberDucks the past few years, but struggled in five games for the Clippers at the end of 2014. In 91 career appearances in Double-A, he had a 2.50 ERA, 18 saves, 11.5 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9. The walks obviously are a concern, but the high-end potential was tantalizing. Expect him to be in Columbus all season with a chance at a September call-up.

Anderson, 24, remains the organization’s No. 10 prospect in Baseball America despite a tough last season in Akron. The 14th-round pick in 2011, he was a disappointing 4-11 with a 5.44 ERA in 25 starts, allowing 17 home runs in only 125.2 innings pitched. He was much, much better in 2013 for High-A Carolina — including a 3.61 K/BB ratio, compared to 1.80 last year. He might start again for the Ducks in 2015, but he needs to be in Columbus soon.

Wolters, 22, is a really odd prospect in that he was drafted in 2010’s third round as a somewhat speedy middle infielder, but was later moved to being a 5-foot-10 catcher. That made him repeat a stop in High-A Carolina in 2013. He then batted .249/.319/.314 in 94 games in Akron in 2014. His upside isn’t that high anymore it appears, yet he should remain a valuable organizational guy because of his versatility.

Finally, the 22-year-old Merritt is the biggest climber in the system among these five. He was a 16th round pick in 2011. He was 13-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 25 starts for the Carolina Mudcats, posting a 7.1 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in his 160.1 innings pitched. The lefty should be a highlight of Akron’s starting rotation this coming season and remains a guy to watch to see if he can repeat that success.

The Indians roster now stands officially at 40 men. Certainly, they’ll be snatching up more players for non-roster spring training invites, but they’d have to make a roster move in order to add anyone of significance this offseason.

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Houston Rockets leading race to get Corey Brewer http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/houston-rockets-leading-race-get-corey-brewer/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/houston-rockets-leading-race-get-corey-brewer/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:27:17 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135120 The Houston Rockets may be the leader in the race to acquire Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Corey Brewer, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein. Brewer, a rangy, athletic wing defender, has been rumored to be the apple of the Cavaliers’ eye, but Stein says that the Rockets are ready to act now while the Cavs are debating whether

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The Houston Rockets may be the leader in the race to acquire Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Corey Brewer, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein. Brewer, a rangy, athletic wing defender, has been rumored to be the apple of the Cavaliers’ eye, but Stein says that the Rockets are ready to act now while the Cavs are debating whether to acquire a wing player or a big man. Rockets GM Daryl Morey is one of the most active and creative deal-makers in the league, and the Cavs’ hesitation may be enough for him to swoop in and snag Brewer, a 6-foot-9 University of Florida product.

The Cavs are far from fully-formed, especially on defense. That said, it is reasonable for GM David Griffin to be cautious before making a deal after just 10 games. While Brewer would certainly help on the defensive end, the Cavs’ decision-makers may value a rim protector–like the Denver Nuggets’ Timofey Mozgov–more than a wing.

Brewer is averaging 10.2 points in 23.5 minutes per game this season, his seventh. He is also averaging 2.1 steals per game, and his steal percentage of 4.5% leads the league.1 Brewer is not a particularly threatening outside shooter, but he is a whiz in transition and was on the receiving end of bushels of Kevin Love outlet passes in Minnesota.

Brewer is making $4.7 million this season, with a $4.9 million player option for next year. Both Cleveland and Houston have a trade exception large enough to take on Brewer’s salary without dealing players of their own. It is unclear what Minnesota is looking for in return, but odds are that they want draft picks or young talent to add to their rebuilding project.

The Cavs own the rights to Memphis’ first-round pick in 2015, as well as three second-rounders. They do not have a first-round pick in 2016 or 2017, per RealGM.

  1. Steal Percentage is an estimate of the percentage of opponent possessions that end with a steal by the player while he was on the floor.

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Josh Gordon shows maturity, perspective returning from suspension http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/josh-gordon-shows-great-perspective-maturity-returning-suspension/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/josh-gordon-shows-great-perspective-maturity-returning-suspension/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:00:01 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135054 Speaking for the first time as a reinstated member of the Cleveland Browns, Josh Gordon spoke candidly and thoughtfully to the media on Wednesday. Headlines were made earlier in the day when news broke of Gordon’s comments to former teammate Nate Burleson stating that he was ready to “tear this league up“, but the Gordon answering questions

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Speaking for the first time as a reinstated member of the Cleveland Browns, Josh Gordon spoke candidly and thoughtfully to the media on Wednesday. Headlines were made earlier in the day when news broke of Gordon’s comments to former teammate Nate Burleson stating that he was ready to “tear this league up“, but the Gordon answering questions from the media Wednesday afternoon was not brash nor cocky, but instead showed signs of maturity and perspective.

There’s few things the media loves more than a headline-making wide receiver opening his mouth, saying something perceived to be audacious, and running with it. Millions around the country will see that headline, know Gordon from his marijuana suspension, and lump him into the diva wide receiver label which many are quick to slap on after the Chad Johnson’s and Terrell Owens’ of the world ran wild in the league. Gordon may be flashy by name and by the camouflage cover that used to wrap his Porsche, but at his core, he is just a 23-year old kid finding his way in this world.

When asked how the suspension had changed him, Gordon spoke about patience, a rare thing to find in the mind of a kid his age.

“As a person, it gives you more patience, I would say. With certain things, you’ve just got to be more patient. Everything takes time. Then, when the time comes around, hopefully, you get the opportunity to produce. When the time presents itself like right now, hopefully I can do that for us.”

Gordon continued, not dwelling on the past but instead expressing gratitude for where his life has taken him.

“Life is great right now. I can’t complain about anything. I’m blessed to be in the position I am. I’m not mad either way.”

When asked if he though his suspension was fair, Gordon said all the right things.

“Considering the rules and that the prior rules were broken, they had every right to do exactly what they did.”

When asked the loaded question of if he “feels a responsibility to repay the Browns for the faith and support they’ve shown him”. Gordon of course answered ‘yes’, but the Browns’ wideout made sure to mention the real people in his life that matter, and not just the millions of strangers who cheer him because he wears an orange helmet.

“Definitely. There are a lot of people that I feel I owe that to: family members, friends, people that felt more embarrassed about it than the city of Cleveland. As much as they are, the people close to me feel it harder than anybody. I feel as though I owe them, as well as the Browns. I’d like to do that by performing well.”

However, Gordon did make a point to show his gratitude for all the Browns fans who have stood by him.

“To the fans, I just want them to keep on supporting us like they have been. They’ve been definitely the most dedicated, most loyal fans out of any team in the NFL. That’s for sure. Wins and losses my first two years here, we didn’t do as good, but the fans remain consistent. More so than any player, the fans remain consistent. They could just keep doing what they’re doing, and I’m just trying to pick up the slack where I can and trying to make it easier for them to be a fan.”

He then added his thoughts regarding Browns’ fans believing he wouldn’t have any more suspensions.

“Honestly, people are going to just believe what they want to believe. I can say it until I’m blue in the face, and people still might not believe it. Until it’s done, until it happens, that’s the longevity out of it that I’m trying to make. Three years down the line, hopefully, they’ll see it, but it won’t happen, I think, until years down the line. That’s just where I’m at right now with my past and what’s going on now.

And what did Josh think about the whole “tear this league up” story? No surprise, the comments were just a tad overblown.

“We might have a misquote (laughter). I told him I definitely wanted to outwork everybody at my position or anybody opposing me, just to put that effort out there and that leadership role through showing what I could do on the field as a sense throughout the entire league. He probably took it and [spun] it, but it’s cool. Nate’s my guy so in that context, sure.”

 

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Toward an Indians Off-Season Strategy http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/toward-indians-season-strategy/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/toward-indians-season-strategy/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 16:00:48 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135108 This is the first off-season I can remember in quite a while that doesn’t seem to carry with it a somewhat obvious imperative for the Cleveland Indians front office.  Typically, it feels like we enter the winter with a hole that requires filling.  Last year, for instance, the team had to address right field, as Nick

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This is the first off-season I can remember in quite a while that doesn’t seem to carry with it a somewhat obvious imperative for the Cleveland Indians front office.  Typically, it feels like we enter the winter with a hole that requires filling.  Last year, for instance, the team had to address right field, as Nick Swisher transferred to a 1B/DH role.  Some years we’ve needed to add some rotational depth (Brett Myers, Derek Lowe).  Other years have required a stopgap third baseman (Jack Hannahan, Mark Reynolds). This is not to say that the front office always fills the gap to our satisfaction, or even that they address it all.  But normally we know the holes that need plugged to improve the team.

This winter has me a bit stumped though.  On the one hand, almost by definition this team needs to improve this offseason from a personnel perspective.  They didn’t make the playoffs last year despite (aberrantly?) good seasons from Brantley, Kluber, Gomes, Carrasco, and Chisenhall.  To count on each of them doing it again and to have bounceback seasons from Swisher, Bourn, Kipnis, Salazar et al seems like a bit of wishful thinking. There’s a cliché about the definition of insanity that belongs in here somewhere.

On the other hand, I don’t really see an obvious move they can make just yet.  Looking around the diamond, what position do you upgrade, and how do you do it?  I’m tempted to say third base, but Lonnie Chisenhall is coming off a season with a 121 wRC+ (the same as Yan Gomes) and a .427 slugging percentage (the same as Carlos Santana) and he made the league minimum.  I’d say maybe right field, but we already have two of those under contract for next season, and that’s not including Swisher.  Oh, right.  Swisher.  This team has no track record of cutting bait with a player they owe that kind of money to, so the DH spot might be locked up.  Where does that leave improving the much-maligned offense?1

What about the pitching? As I’m sure is no surprise, I love our rotation, and I think it’s at least seven deep.  Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar, Zach McAllister, TJ House, and Josh Tomlin are all likely better than any veteran back-of-the-rotation guy we can get off the scrap heap in what have been annual cash bonfires for this front office.  In the bullpen Cody Allen seems to be growing into a reasonable backend guy, while some combination of Shaw, Scrabble, Atchison, Adams and Lee leaves me feeling like we have a pretty nice base to build from out there.

So the question comes back to me: how do we improve, if there’s no real position where I can envision something actionable?  Here are the ideas and nuggets that have been kicking around.

  1. Swap bad contracts (i.e. Swisher for someone else’s albatross) There’s something interesting about this strategy, first reported to be a possibility by Ken Rosenthal late last week. The theory goes that the Indians could get out of the two year commitment left on Swisher’s deal by essentially taking on someone else’s bad deal.  The name Ubaldo even came up, which got me thinking about those three good months he had once with Callaway.  Maybe he’d thrive in the bullpen?  Maybe?  The other names I’ve heard in a deal like this are Ryan Howard (what’s the point, really?), BJ Upton (I guess?), and Edwin Jackson.  Again, while all these names are a little interesting, I don’t really get how it fixes the problem of having a bad, overpaid player who’s past his prime.  You’re basically just swapping jerseys.
  2. Move a young starter in a trade. I have to think that beyond Fransisco Lindor (who, by all accounts, the team has no interest in moving) our next biggest asset has to be the seven starters listed above. Each has something appealing to most teams in the league, and depending on the player we might give up, we may be able to send along Swisher’s awful contract with it.  Think about a deal that sends Trevor Bauer and Nick Swisher as a package deal.  The Indians could get some decent return (likely a position player/DH type) along with the financial flexibility to invest in some other upgrade.
  3. Move Lonnie Chisenhall and add an impact 3B. I’ve never known what to do with Lonnie. He has shown, at times, that he belongs in the Major Leagues, and while he’s cheap (can go to arbitration for the first time in 2015), he’s clearly an asset.  But he’s only going to get more expensive, and the only tool that looks like it can really play at this level is his power.  He’s still not walking enough, still has oversized platoon splits, still struggles with the glove.  At what point do you cut bait on a guy like that, especially coming off what may have been a career year?  The Indians may have the pieces to pry Adrian Beltre away from Texas, and if they can get out from under Swisher’s $30 million commitment, they could entertain taking on the one year, $18 million left on Beltre’s deal.
  4. Deal Bryan Shaw. Bryan Shaw has one year of control left with the Indians. Bullpen arms are notoriously unpredictable. The Indians have a great track record of finding overlooked, decent right handed relievers for cheap.  In other words, sell high on Bryan Shaw.  I like what Shaw has done here a lot, but we’ve put some serious miles on his arm these last few years, and if some rich team that can’t cobble together a bullpen (Hi Magic Johnson! Oh hey there Texas Rangers!) wants to give up a more projectable player, I’m all for it.

The thing is, I don’t think any of this is going to happen, or at least not how I’m envisioning it.  I remember being totally blindsided by the Choo trade that brought Trevor Bauer to Cleveland.  I was so certain they’d be moving Asdrubal or Masterson that winter that I’d never even considered that Choo would be the one to give us good value, and I certainly couldn’t have foreseen the three-way deal required to satisfy everyone involved.

I tend to think that Antonetti knows that he can’t come back to the table with the same team he had last year and expect things to improve.  I also think he’ll be creative, given the circumstances both from a roster and a payroll standpoint; he certainly has the resume for it.

In other words, the only way I’ll be surprised this winter is if we get to March without a big surprise.

  1. Among the 15 AL teams, the Indians actually ranked in the top six in wRC+, wOBA, OBP, slugging, and total offensive runs above replacement. There is some reason to think our position player problem has more to do with crummy defense than crummy hitting, but that’s for another day.

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Extra Sloppy For Ya: Cleveland State Beats Jacksonville State http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/cleveland-state-beats-jacksonville-state/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/cleveland-state-beats-jacksonville-state/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 15:30:47 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135080 The Cleveland State Vikings improved to 2-1 Wednesday evening, defeating the Jacksonville State Gamecocks 60-46. Junior guard Kaza Keane led the Vikings with 13 points, while Anton Grady scored 12 and Marlin Mason added 10. Cleveland State won the rebounding battle, 39-24, including 15 offensive boards. The Vikings forced 12 Gamecock turnovers, although it felt

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The Cleveland State Vikings improved to 2-1 Wednesday evening, defeating the Jacksonville State Gamecocks 60-46. Junior guard Kaza Keane led the Vikings with 13 points, while Anton Grady scored 12 and Marlin Mason added 10. Cleveland State won the rebounding battle, 39-24, including 15 offensive boards. The Vikings forced 12 Gamecock turnovers, although it felt more like 21.

Head Coach Gary Waters summed it up with his opening remarks at the post-game presser: “That was an ugly game. Really ugly game. I thought it was ugly coaching it, and watching it while I was on the sideline, and then when I look at the stats…I know it was an ugly game.”

He could have just played this clip and everyone would have gotten the idea:

I would write about the flow of the game, but there was no flow to speak of. Every time play opened up, a whistle blew. There were media timeouts and team timeouts and injury timeouts. There were 39 total fouls, 21 called against the Vikings. The refs performed a symphony with their whistles, and it was as enjoyable as a class of third graders honking into their recorders.

So, in lieu of cobbling together a narrative with the misshapen bricks that comprised this contest, here are some notes about the people who put their stamp on the evening.

Trey Lewis and Anton Grady were both in foul trouble and sat for much of the second half. Grady scored 12 in limited minutes, but shot 4-of-11 and scored just four points after halftime.1 Lewis had six points, four rebounds, and three assists in a very-poor-man’s-Jason-Kidd type effort.

If only for one night, Terrell Hales was the Horizon League’s Russell Westbrook. The 6-4 freshman guard scored just two points, but he played with a beautiful manic energy and provided CSU with a vital boost. He had three steals, two assists, and six (!) offensive rebounds. His elevator went up to the fifth floor while everyone else’s stopped at the third. Coach Waters calls him “a gain possessioner,” a Rodmanesque player who cares about little more than snatching the ball away from anyone fool enough to handle it. Excellent effort from the rookie.

Kaza (KAY-za) Keane bounced back after going 0-for-8 from the field Monday. The Ajax, Ontario native scored his 13 on 5-of-10 shooting, including 2-of-5 from beyond the arc. He played solid defense and took over some of the ball-handling duties when Lewis was in foul trouble. Keane also provided the highlight of the night when he swished a seventy-footer to beat the halftime buzzer—an appropriately nice game for a Canadian.

“My Cousin” Vinny Zollo played well—at least offensively and in the first half. He scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting in 15 first half minutes, including two triples. The 6-8 transfer from Northwest Florida Junior College can shoot it from deep, and it would behoove him to develop into a reliable stretch four-type. Alas, his rebounding and defense were Bargnanian Wednesday,2 and he found himself nailed to the bench for nearly the entire second half.

On the other hand, it is a joy to watch Andre Yates play defense. He’s all outstretched arms and wide eyes, constantly searching for a way to eliminate his man’s will to live. He gets so low in his stance that it looks like he’s trying to make a certain part of his anatomy touch the floor. Marvelous stuff.

The Jacksonville State roster is laden with fantastic names. Among those who saw the court against the Vikes were JaQuail Townser, Darion Rackley, Joe Kuligowski, Undra Mitchum, and Malcolm Drumwright. Those monikers made the game at least six percent more fun. Thank you to all of their families.

Last but not least, I learned Wednesday that Coach Gary Waters and Mrs. Coach Gary Waters are high school sweethearts. That is adorable, and I immediately motion to nominate them for Cleveland Prom King and Queen. Do I hear a second?

The Vikings are on the road for their next three games: at Savannah State (11/22), at Louisville (11/26), and at Marshall (11/28). The latter two matchups will be among their toughest of the season. Their next home game is December 3rd against Toledo.


 

  1. Grady came down on another player’s foot in the second half and limped off the floor. It looked to be a minor tweak, and he came back late in the second half.
  2. Not that bad, but you get the idea

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What is wrong with the run defense: Browns Film Room http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/wrong-run-defense-browns-film-room/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/wrong-run-defense-browns-film-room/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 15:00:04 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135063 The Cleveland Browns were in first place coming into the game versus the Houston Texans, but were beaten soundly by the Texans 23-7. The loss sunk the Browns to last place in the AFC North and ended the team’s three game winning streak. The Browns were outplayed in every phase of the game. On the

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The Cleveland Browns were in first place coming into the game versus the Houston Texans, but were beaten soundly by the Texans 23-7. The loss sunk the Browns to last place in the AFC North and ended the team’s three game winning streak. The Browns were outplayed in every phase of the game. On the defensive side of the ball, the Browns gave up 424 total yards of offense. This was against a Texans offense that was without star running back Arian Foster while starting quarterback Ryan Mallett, making his first career start.

But the defense’s biggest problem was their recurring inability to adequately contain the running game. The Browns allowed 213 rushing yards on Sunday, due in large part to the play of the front seven, and specifically the defensive line. The absence of penetration and push, a lack of discipline, an inability to keep contain, and the injuries in the front seven all contributed to the team’s poor showing on run defense. It has been a huge weakness for the Browns for pretty much the whole season, and we’ll explore in detail some of these factors below.

So please take a seat and enjoy this week’s defensive film room. After you have read through my thoughts on the run defense, let me know what you think is wrong with the Browns run defense by commenting below. Roll the tape!

Cleveland Browns Film Room

Absence of Penetration and Push

The Browns defensive line has been especially lackluster this season with regard to getting push and penetration into the backfield. This deficiency has allowed opposing running backs to have space and time to gain positive yardage. Here is an example of this problem.

full-push-compressor

This play is a clear example of the lack of push and penetration the Browns defensive line has had this year. This eight yard gain by running back Alfred Blue was midway through the second quarter on a 2nd and 6 play. Here is how it happened.

preplay penetration

The play for the Texans is a designed run up the middle by Blue from a shotgun formation. The Browns have two defensive linemen down and two outside linebackers on either side of the line. There is also two inside linebackers in the middle of the line, a couple yards back from the line.

penetration no hole

From this shot, the Browns are shutting down all of the gaps inside and have Blue waiting to find any available space. The defense is in position to hold Blue to a short yardage or no gain stop.

no-push-compressor

The Browns are in position to stop this run, but as you can see here, none of the Browns defenders are getting any push or penetration to backfield. This allows Blue to wait patiently in the backfield till he finds the hole open up. The lack of penetration was key to Blue finding the hole and gaining the eight yards.

The Browns defensive line has struggled all year with their inability to make plays in the backfield–a key factor in disrupting the offensive play and making a stop.

Lack of Discipline

The Browns defense has also struggled with consistently maintaining discipline on particular assignments. A huge part of stopping the run is staying disciplined so as not to get caught out of position. Each defender must stay with his assignment. Here is an example of the lack of discipline on the defensive line and how it results in poor positioning and positive gain for Houston.

full-undiscipline-compressor

This 11 yard gain by running back Alfred Blue was a 1st and 10 play late in the second quarter. Here is how the Texans gained these yards against the Browns defense.

preplay lack of discipline

The Texans design a draw play from the shotgun formation. The Browns are lined up with three defensive linemen down and outside linebacker Paul Kruger lined up on the left side of the line. The Browns also have two inside linebackers in the box.

out-of-position-compressor

The key players in this play for the Browns are two defensive linemen in the middle of the line. Billy Winn is crossing in front of Desmond Bryant who goes over to fill in where Winn just left. This is a typical pass rushing move, but both players are too aggressive on the play. Both Winn and Bryant go too far outside, vacating the middle of the line. These two needed to just fill in where each other were vacating. The two players lost gap responsibility because of their move to the outside. This allowed the middle of the line to become wide open for Blue to run for a big gain.

The Browns defense has been undisciplined on many occasions this season. The next big reason for the lack of run defense is another form of being undisciplined.

Inability to Keep Contain

This has been one of the biggest weaknesses of the Browns defense. They have struggled keeping contain on the runs to the outside for most of this season. Here is an example of this problem.

full-contain-compressor

This 14 yard gain by running back Alfred Blue was a 2nd and 10 play early in the third quarter. Here is how the play transpired.

Preplay contain

The Texans design a run play from the shotgun formation where Blue runs toward the middle of the line. Blue cuts it back outside to the right when he sees the space. The Browns have two defensive linemen down and two outside linebackers on either side of the line. The Browns also have two inside linebackers in the box to defend the run.

loss-of-contain-compressor

The key to allowing this run was the loss of contain by outside linebacker Paul Kruger. Kruger goes inside immediately at the snap and subsequently gets blocked. He is unable to get back into position to keep contain because of this move inside.

contain gone

As you can see here, the contain is gone and Blue has a lot of space on the outside. Kruger getting caught inside placed the edge responsibilities on his teammates, but they were too far away to make a play on the run. Kruger had the responsibility to prevent (or at least delay) the runner from getting outside. He did not need to make the tackle, but if he had stayed outside in his lane, Blue would have had to find another place to run.

Contain is a huge part of stopping the run. If a team can keep contain, it cuts the field down for the running back to find a lane to rush through. The Browns have struggled this season trying to keep contain. This problem has caused the Browns to be gouged by the running game pretty much all season.

Injuries on the Defensive Line

The Browns have suffered considerable injuries on the defense, particularly on the defensive line. Phil Taylor, John Hughes, Armonty Bryant, Billy Winn, and Ahtyba Rubin have all missed time or are done for the year because of injuries. This has caused the Browns defensive line to become very thin. The lack of depth has caused the team to put in players who quite frankly should not be playing. Defensive lineman Sione Fua has struggled in his limited playing time and would probably not be on the team if the line were healthy. The defensive line has not been able cohere because of their inability to stay healthy and all play at the same time. It has been a mishmash on the defensive line because of all these injuries.

Defensive Highlight

The Browns defensive highlight of the week is linebacker Barkevious Mingo. The controversial first round pick has not played up to his pre-draft billing, but he hasn’t been as bad as most people think. Mingo has been pretty good versus the run, including this week when he graded out with a positive grade on his run defense by ProFootballFocus. He was given the highest grade of all the Browns defenders for last week’s game versus the Texans. With the injuries to Jabaal Sheard and Karlos Dansby, Mingo should be getting more playing time and can really show if he can be a good player for this team going forward.

Defensive Lowlight

The Browns defensive lowlight of the week is the injury to linebacker Karlos Dansby. Dansby is the leader of the defense and has played very well all year. He has played well in all phases of the game, both in run and pass defense. His loss will leave a void in the middle of the defense and could cause a huge gap in the defense. Dansby’s injury will put more pressure on the players up front to play better and make up for his loss.

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Josh Gordon on a pitch count against Falcons http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/josh-gordon-pitch-count-game-vs-falcons/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/josh-gordon-pitch-count-game-vs-falcons/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:30:58 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135052 Josh Gordon is back, Josh Gordon is ready to “tear this league up”, and Josh Gordon may have his plays limited on Sunday. Gordon’s return has been an underlying current of the Browns’ season ever since news broke on draft weekend that the NFL’s leading receiver in 2013 may be suspended. It’s been a long eleven weeks, and ten games

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Josh Gordon is back, Josh Gordon is ready to “tear this league up”, and Josh Gordon may have his plays limited on Sunday. Gordon’s return has been an underlying current of the Browns’ season ever since news broke on draft weekend that the NFL’s leading receiver in 2013 may be suspended. It’s been a long eleven weeks, and ten games without Gordon, leaving fans anxious for the star wide out’s return, but just because he’s eligible to play doesn’t mean he’ll automatically be plugged back in and play seventy snaps.

Browns’ head coach Mike Pettine spoke in his Wednesday press conference on Gordon’s return and the plan for Sunday’s game in Atlanta.

“See where he is. We’ll have him on a bit of a pitch-count. I met with [head athletic trainer] Joe Sheehan and [strength and conditioning coach] Paul Ricci and then [wide receivers coach] Mike McDaniel, and we just kind of got on the same page as far as getting him his individual work and seeing where he is. There needs to be a progression through the week. I think the trap to fall into is, hey, he’s back; let’s just go ahead and throw him out there for a bunch of plays. There is certainly danger inherent in doing that. We have to be smart with how we do it and have a plan to progress through the week.”

The Browns are taking a metered, pragmatic approach with Gordon, making sure not to lose their top playmaker for even more time by throwing him out there for more than his body is ready for. Gordon has been working out in Cleveland during his suspension and told media his weight was down from 240 to 230 pounds which is about where he wants to be. While his body and mind may be more fresh than the rest of his teammates, it’s hard to come off the street and jump right into mid-season shape.

Aside from being in playing shape, Gordon will need to be up to speed with the playbook to stay on the field. Pettine continued on in his press conference regarding Gordon and the playbook.

“I think a lot of it is he’s familiar with the terminology and the plays and he gets it, but it’s one thing to be able to look at it but then also to process it whether it’s in a no-huddle situation or whether it’s breaking the huddle quickly and recognizing defenses. I think a lot of it – it comes back in time, but it’s not their instantly. I know it’s a lot of information. We’re aware of that, and we’ll deal with it accordingly.”

Few players in the league can change a game with one play like Gordon can and even if number 12 just sees limited reps on Sunday it’s a massive boost for Kyle Shanahan, Brian Hoyer, and the Browns offense.

 

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The Cavs are mediocre, but let’s still have fun: While We’re Waiting… http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/cavs-mediocre-lets-still-fun-waiting/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/cavs-mediocre-lets-still-fun-waiting/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:00:40 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135098 Today should be a good day at WFNY, folks. We’ve got some of the new kids and infrequent writers in charge with Craig on vacation and Scott on a work trip. Hope you can put up with us for the day. Assorted Cavs-Spurs thoughts: The Cavs, a currently mediocre team, lost by two points to

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Today should be a good day at WFNY, folks. We’ve got some of the new kids and infrequent writers in charge with Craig on vacation and Scott on a work trip. Hope you can put up with us for the day.

Assorted Cavs-Spurs thoughts:

The Cavs, a currently mediocre team, lost by two points to the defending champions last night. That’s pretty much what I would focus on with any recap. There’s not that much to say, in my mind. I’d have trouble writing much more than just a few sentences.

The Cavs are flawed right now. LeBron James had some boneheaded offensive plays. Kevin Love’s shooting is off and he needs more touches. This is a bad defensive team that was mostly OK yesterday in that department. All things considered, there were some positives.

For more takes besides just that abbreviated commentary, here are some links from around the web about last night’s affairs:

“At the beginning of the second half, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called a timeout after just one possession, 19 seconds in. The message? This one matters. Ultimately, it won’t matter anymore than any of the other 82 games. But the world champion San Antonio Spurs wanted this one, and the Cavaliers hung tough.” – Fear the Sword’s David Zavac

“Sometimes, the difference between where two teams stand can’t be captured accurately by the scoreboard or even the standings. Sometimes, it’s about the expectations. It’s about what each side perceives as a sign of success, and what isn’t even the slightest bit satisfying.” – Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick

“It is inherently unfair to compare what has been, for the past half-decade or so, the best pure offensive system in the league, run by coaches and players that have been in San Antonio together for years and years, to the Cavs’ system, which is helmed by a brand-new coach and players who are just getting to know each other.” – Cavs: The Blog’s John Krolik

“A big part of the reason the Spurs were able to pull off this road victory was the play of their frontcourt. … This is pretty much where you have to hurt the Cavs if you’re going to beat them. They have talent in the frontcourt but they can’t exactly play together just quite yet. They’re still working on forming a chemistry and trust with each other. You don’t really have that luxury of patience against the Spurs’ frontcourt.” – CBS Sports’ Zach Harper

“It’s no surprise that Anderson Varejao led the Cavs in scoring as much of their offense serves to open up shoots for the big guys after screening and rolling, plus tip-ins.” – BBall Breakdown’s Coach Nick

Assorted other non-Cavs sports links:

— August Fagerstrom, a friend of the site and occasional Akron Beacon Journal writer, wrote at FanGraphs about how the Indians are baseball’s most “valuable” team. He showed that their starting rotation, perhaps the best in the game, is one-third the price of any other team’s rotation.

— Great feature from ESPN’s Pat McManamon on the made-for-Cleveland Joe Thomas. With Alex Mack’s injury, Thomas has been that much more important for the Browns. I know he’s only in his eighth season and the Browns are the Browns … but he seems like he’s on his way to a Hall of Fame career, no?

— USA Today’s Nicole Auerbach shared that the college basketball world is looking at the hype of the College Football Playoff weekly rankings with envy. Would this be something exciting to you if the tournament committee released updates throughout the year? I wouldn’t be necessarily opposed to it. Although the Twitter debate wouldn’t be too much fun.

— I’ve shared before that I’m a huge fan of Fox Sports’ Katie Nolan, who does her No Filer skits. There’s a great interview with her in Sports Illustrated this week, with Jack Dickey. The fact that Nolan wants to be the Jon Stewart of the sports world is really, really awesome. You should be following her.

— On the personal side of things, I wrote at the Oregon MBA blog about why studying math is sexy. I wrote at the Sports Analytics Blog with my usual analytics roundup. And I wrote at the Nylon Calculus site about why the Milwaukee Bucks are surprisingly good. It’s been a busy week of blogging, folks.

— Finally, I’ll end with some positive thoughts for Tallahassee, Florida today. They had a very stressful and chaotic night yesterday with a reported shooter on campus. Hoping that campus can find peace in the coming days.

Wednesday’s top Cavs tweets:

As usual, I like to end WWW on some tweets that I liked for various reasons. Let’s go back to yesterday’s Cavs day for more.

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Spurs’ Rules: Cavs vs. Spurs Behind the Box Score http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/cavaliers-spurs-behind-box-score/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/cavaliers-spurs-behind-box-score/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 05:43:51 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135057 San Antonio Spurs (7-4) 92 Cleveland Cavaliers (5-5) 90 Box Score On the eve of tonight’s showdown with the San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers star and prodigal son LeBron James spent some time gushing over the team that, other than maybe the Boston Celtics, has been the biggest foil of his career. The Spurs, the

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San Antonio Spurs (7-4) 92

Cleveland Cavaliers (5-5) 90

Box Score

On the eve of tonight’s showdown with the San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers star and prodigal son LeBron James spent some time gushing over the team that, other than maybe the Boston Celtics, has been the biggest foil of his career. The Spurs, the defending NBA champions, swept LeBron’s Cavaliers in the 2007 Finals, lost a heartbreaking Finals against LeBron’s Miami Heat in 2013, then avenged that loss by routing LeBron’s Miami Heat in the 2014 Finals.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a rivalry, I would say it’s a mutual respect,” James said on Tuesday. “It’s great competition and they definitely help me grow along the way, and hopefully I push them too.”

Mere moments before tonight’s contest tipped off, LeBron even went as far as to go over to the Spurs bench to give coach Gregg Popovich what was probably a very beard-y hug (both men have grown some healthy winter whiskers), an unusual gesture before a professional basketball game. After tonight’s performance against the Spurs at home in a loss, many will probably again wonder aloud if LeBron’s nemeses (but not his rivals) are in his head.

Here are the numbers:

10 of 29 - Those were the combined shooting numbers from LeBron James and Kevin Love, two of the Cavs’ best three players. That’s a dismal 34.5 percent from the field from what are historically virtuosic players. Two weeks ago, I wrote that Cavs fans should be optimistic because James and Love’s career numbers dictate that they won’t continue to struggle from the field. Tonight was another step back from their career averages.

23 - No, not LeBron James’ jersey number, but Anderson Varejao’s point total for the game. Rarely does Varejao’s relentless and high-energy play translate into something quantifiable in the box score. But tonight, Varejao’s effort was rewarded with a bounty of buckets. This was Varejao’s first 20-plus point night since December 18, 2012. Other players need to pick up the scoring when a team’s top scorers aren’t productive, and Varejao was up the task tonight. It seemed most of his points came from aggressive rolls to the basket after setting picks. His telepathic link with LeBron that has somehow immediately reactivated after four years apart is one of the bright spots for the Cavaliers, and something for the rest of the team to emulate as they perfect mind-reading capabilities characteristic of great basketball teams.

19, 6, 7, 3, and 1 - That was Boris Diaw’s box score from tonight’s game, as the Spurs forward totaled 19 points, six rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and one block. Casual basketball fans may not be familiar with Diaw, the Frenchman who spent most of his career as a doughy bench player. But attentive basketball fans know that Diaw was the most impactful role player in last season’s NBA Finals. Tonight, Diaw was unquestionably the best player on the floor for three quarters, and had the best game of anyone. Like in the Finals, his offensive vision was masterful and his passing surgical. In the first quarter, he caught a pass from the strong side, then threaded a right-handed rocket of a bounce pass back to the opposite side of the lane to Duncan, who laid the ball in with ease. He shredded the Cavaliers defense all night, killed rallies, and knocked down the occasional three just as gravy. He’s the ultimate role player, and the Cavs need their second-tier players to contribute in inventive ways like Diaw, who Jalen Rose called a “stretch mark four,” has for the last several years.

2 to 2 - Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving had two assists and two turnovers tonight, breaking a streak of five games where Irving had more assists than turnovers. During the streak, which began after his (gasp!) zero assist game against Utah, Irving had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.38. While James has been hot-and-cold all year, and Kevin Love has been somewhat underwhelming, Irving has been mostly stellar. He has carried the team for stretches, his 60.2 true shooting percentage entering tonight was the best of his career, he had a crazy eight secondary assists tonight, and he seems to be much more patient waiting for the flow of the game to dictate when he asserts himself. His signature play of the night came halfway through the fourth quarter, when he used a right-to-left crossover to lead Tony Parker into a Kevin Love pick, giving him space to pull up for a jumper. Using the crossover like that to conjure a split-second of separation out of thin air was just a filthy move, one that Kyrie pilfered from Tony Parker’s own playbook.

25 to 13 – That was the game’s disparity in free throw attempts, where the Spurs exceeded the Cavs by a 12 attempt margin. Free throw attempts is one stat the Cavs have dominated this season, and their inability to get to the line hurt them tonight. It was part lack of aggressiveness, part lack of opportunity, and part lack of officiating. LeBron and Kyrie shot a combined five free throws despite being forceful all night. But the refs did call a foul on Tony Parker reaching after Kyrie Irving when LeBron was about to rise up for a wide open three and the Spurs had a foul to give (thus leading to no free throws) with forty seconds left. So thanks for that.

7 - The number of words Gregg Popovich said to Chris Broussard during the contractually-obligated interview between the first and second quarters, and here they are in all their glory: “He played well,” (In response to a long-winded question that was basically, “Tim Duncan’s 11-point quarter was good, wasn’t it?”) and “No, we just played,” (on whether it was a concerted effort to get Tim Duncan 11 points). If you don’t love Gregg Popovich in all of his curmudgeon-y curmudgeon-iness, then I can’t help you and also get the hell off my lawn.

0 percent - The amount of time fans should spend blowing smoke over LeBron’s game-ending turnover. With less than seven seconds to go off a rebound, LeBron had to go the entire length of the floor and sink a bucket as all-timers Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan turned into giant moving traffic cones. Yes, it would have been better had he not dribbled it off his foot. Yes, LeBron is not the Cavs’ best ball-handler. Yes, LeBron’s career numbers aren’t great on last shot opportunities. But if you want to act indignant about a fluke turnover in the throes of desperation while people dive at our ball-handler, I have five hours of Skip Bayless broadcast footage to show you.

Courtesy ESPN broadcast.

Courtesy ESPN broadcast.

It was a disappointing loss for the Cavaliers, but it was a near victory playing by the Spurs’ Rules: defensive effort, team involvement, and ball movement. The Cavaliers had 23 assists, only narrowly trailing the Spurs’ 26, and the Spurs are the big dog on the block right now. The Cavs were the Macho Man Randy Savage to the Spurs’ Hulk Hogan. If the Cavs only lost by two at home to a team that dismantled the 8-2 Golden State Warriors at home just last week, and when the Cavs’ three greatest scorers had a combined 45 points, then I feel good about the finished product that should emerge from the oven in a few months.

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Minnesota Vikings claim Ben Tate from waivers http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/minnesota-vikings-claim-ben-tate-waivers/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/minnesota-vikings-claim-ben-tate-waivers/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 22:25:22 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135048 There were some well-fitting jokes about the Indianapolis Colts pouncing on Ben Tate shortly after the running back was waived by the Cleveland Browns. Unfortunately we may never know if a claim was made as Tate is now a member of the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings opted to add Tate in the wake of the

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There were some well-fitting jokes about the Indianapolis Colts pouncing on Ben Tate shortly after the running back was waived by the Cleveland Browns. Unfortunately we may never know if a claim was made as Tate is now a member of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings opted to add Tate in the wake of the news surrounding suspended running back Adrian Peterson. Though rolling along with Matt Asiata and rookie Jerick McKinnon following the Peterson fallout, both backs are dealing with injuries that could severely limit their ability to play this Sunday. (McKinnon has been dealing with a low back injury, and did not practice on Wednesday. Asiata also missed practice with a concussion.)

Indianapolis was recently dealt a huge blow following the leg injury sustained by pass-catching extraordinaire Ahmad Bradshaw. The fracture placed Bradshaw on the IR, forcing the Colts to lean almost exclusively on former Brown Trent Richardson. Not only did the Colts cough up a first-round pick for Richardson, but the team recently added long-time Browns return man Josh Cribbs. Add in the signing of D’Qwell Jackson, the Pacers picking up Andrew Bynum last season and CJ Miles this season, and the addition of Tate seemed to be destined. Unfortunately for Indy, there was a worse situation on a team with higher waiver priority.

And fortunately for Tate, it appears that there will be less competition. Expect a Twitpic of a Twins hat and a Prince album in the not-so-distant future.

 

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Josh Gordon plans to “tear this league up” upon return http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/josh-gordon-nfl-return-quote-cleveland-browns/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/josh-gordon-nfl-return-quote-cleveland-browns/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 19:21:56 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135044 This Sunday will mark the return of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. While his quarterback, Brian Hoyer, has said that the Pro Bowl wide out will not be the team’s savior, Gordon himself apparently has other plans as told through former teammate Nate Burleson. “He told me, one, ‘starting on practice this Wednesday, I’m

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This Sunday will mark the return of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. While his quarterback, Brian Hoyer, has said that the Pro Bowl wide out will not be the team’s savior, Gordon himself apparently has other plans as told through former teammate Nate Burleson.

“He told me, one, ‘starting on practice this Wednesday, I’m going to outwork everybody on the field. I’m going to try to evoke a pride in Cleveland that can hopefully lead us to the playoffs. He’s excited about coming back. …

“When I was with the Cleveland Browns and he knew that suspension was coming, I said, ‘What’s your plans? What are you going to do when you get back?’ He said, ‘I plan to lose 10-15 pounds and when I come back I’m going to tear this league up.'”

Earlier this week, Browns head coach Mike Pettine indicated that the team will ease Josh Gordon back into the offense as the team, 6-4, continues their quest for the NFL postseason. In 2013, in just 14 games, the incredibly talented receiver hauled in 87 passes for a league-best 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns, including multiple record-breaking performances at the expense of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pro Bowler was suspended for the first 10 games of the season following an off-season violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, but has been able to spend this time in Berea thanks to a revised version of the rules. This proclamation has a substantially better chance at happening than the similar one allegeldy made by Browns back-up quarterback Johnny Manziel during the NFL Draft — at least in the short term.

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WEWS to be Browns TV and digital partner http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/browns-tv-partner-wews/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/browns-tv-partner-wews/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 18:47:56 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135024 There will be a new home for Cleveland Browns’ preseason games starting next year. ABC affiliate WEWS will take over the preseason broadcasts and provide year-round Browns content, both digitally and on TV. NBC affiliate WKYC has carried all of the Browns preseason games since 1999, save for the 2005 season, when CBS affiliate WOIO took

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There will be a new home for Cleveland Browns’ preseason games starting next year. ABC affiliate WEWS will take over the preseason broadcasts and provide year-round Browns content, both digitally and on TV. NBC affiliate WKYC has carried all of the Browns preseason games since 1999, save for the 2005 season, when CBS affiliate WOIO took the reins.

From Rich Heldenfels’ Akron Beacon Journal story:

WEWS NewsChannel 5, the ABC affiliate of The E.W. Scripps Company (NYSE: SSP), has announced a new media partnership with the Cleveland Browns beginning with the 2015 season.

NewsChannel 5 will broadcast all of the team’s preseason games and provide innovative year-round programming that will satisfy the hungriest of Browns fans.

“Our consistent goal is to continually communicate with our fans and connect with them in unique ways,” said Alec Scheiner, president of the Cleveland Browns.

“We are excited about this partnership with WEWS and this new opportunity to give our fans inside access to the players and organization throughout the entire year. Along with their talented production team, we look forward to continuing to produce exceptional preseason game broadcasts and year-long weekly programming that will offer our fans in-depth Browns content.” 

“As the first TV station in Cleveland, NewsChannel 5 is incredibly proud to partner with one of the most iconic sports franchises in the country,” said Ed Fernandez, divisional general manager of Scripps. “As the new official TV and digital partner of the Cleveland Browns, we promise to provide our audiences with a 52-week, multi-platform experience so they can get closer to the team they love the most.”

It will be interesting to see what the programming actually looks like, but this seems like a boon for Cleveland fans looking to read and watch more about their favorite football team. More details of the multi-year deal, including the broadcast schedule and on-screen talent, will be released after the 2014 season.

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ESPN back on East 4th Street for Cavaliers-Spurs game http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/espn-east-4th-street-cavaliers/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/11/espn-east-4th-street-cavaliers/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 18:22:44 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=135030 The SportsCenter set is back in Cleveland in advance of the Cleveland Cavaliers game against the San Antonio Spurs tonight. Just as it was for the Cavs home opener against the Knicks on October 30, SportsCenter is broadcasting live from East 4th Street. Today’s temperature is roughly 40 degrees colder than it was for the last go-round,

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The SportsCenter set is back in Cleveland in advance of the Cleveland Cavaliers game against the San Antonio Spurs tonight. Just as it was for the Cavs home opener against the Knicks on October 30, SportsCenter is broadcasting live from East 4th Street. Today’s temperature is roughly 40 degrees colder than it was for the last go-round, and the crowd is much smaller than it was in October.

The ESPN personalities manning the set — Chris McKendry, Jay Crawford, P.J. Carlesimo, and Brian Windhorst — look downright miserable:

ESPN personalities Lindsay Czarniak, Stephen A. Smith, and Bruce Bowen will also contribute throughout the day.

If you can brave the conditions, go on down and join the party.

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