Waiting For Next Year http://www.waitingfornextyear.com ...a tradition of hope, passion, and misery Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:17:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Where’s Johnny? http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/johnny-manziel-cleveland-browns-tv/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/johnny-manziel-cleveland-browns-tv/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:15:24 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129586 You thought Johnny was in for just three plays, didn't you?

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In light of Brian Hoyer leading the Browns’ game-winning drive and Johnny Manziel’s three plays leaving us with a very “…that’s it?” feeling, it would be easy to assume that the Johnny Football attention train is losing steam.  Hoyer is the starter, the Browns’ D is playing well, and Mike Pettine is the coach we’ve been looking for.  It’s easy to forget about Johnny for a minute.

Easy, and wrong.

The Johnny train will never lose steam. We’ve never known any force in the world like Johnny Football. The kid’s a star, and that’s just the way it is. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t play or can’t play or whatever—he is our sun, our moon, our stars, our shining light. He could totally disappear tomorrow and it would only burnish his legend. He’d be like D.B. Cooper, only more mysterious.

It is with all of this in mind that we look at the game tape.  Not just to look at Johnny’s runs or his (dropped even though it was just perfect) pass, but every time he was on the TV screen. Every. Time. It doesn’t matter if the camera caught him in passing or he was the focus of the shot. We need to know how much Johnny was on camera, because we are all Johnny. Johnny is why LeBron came back. Johnny pitched the stadium renovations to Haslam. Johnny was Haslam’s chief legal adviser during the whole Pilot Flying J thing.  Johnny drafted West and Crowell. He got Andrew Hawkins some illegal meds to make him taller. The kid does it all.

Without further adieu:

Johnny 01

1st quarter, 12:21

Johnny’s first appearance on screen. For some reason the stupid FOX people allowed nearly three minutes of game time and like ten minutes of life time to pass before showing the most important person on Earth. Here we see Johnny’s laser focus as he uses mind control on Terrance West and tells him where to run.

Johnny 02

1st quarter, 11:34

Johnny is obscured and in the background, but those half-sleeved arms are unmistakable. Look at the presence. The panache. The Browns were just forced to punt, and Johnny was polite enough not to put himself in the game and just run for the touchdown. A true team-first kind of guy.

Johnny 03

1st quarter, 9:41

ANYONE ELSE: “Hey Johnny whatcha doin’?”

JOHNNY: “Oh not much just being the consummate teammate and inspiring Travis to get the most awesome two-yard punt return in history.”

Johnny 04

1st quarter, 9:37

After said awesome return, Johnny pulls the rare double move of adjusting his man region while trying to stare a hole clean through the FOX NFL logo. The camera guy smartly cut away before their whole production was blown to hell.

Johnny 05

1st quarter, 8:39

Johnny just “happens” to be in the replay of Brian Hoyer’s wounded duck into double coverage. Here the FOX people are trying to use subliminal messages to make us believe that Johnny should be in. Like, Fox, we already know, take it easy. This shot also dispels the notion that Johnny is in HD no matter what.

Johnny 06

1st quarter, 7:34

The first shot devoted solely to Johnny. Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston say something about Tom Brady and that Johnny needs to learn fundamentals. Those dudes are such dinosaurs. Fundamentals are lame. Remind me again, how many NFL touchdowns has Tim Duncan scored?

Johnny 07

1st quarter, 1:51

Johnny must have watched the World Cup, because he has quickly made the arm fold the must-do NFL sideline thing. Do you think it’s a coincidence that Pettine and that other coach are folding their arms too?

What, you do? Well you’re wrong. Remember J.R.E.A.M.—Johnny rules everything around Mike.

Johnny 08

1st quarter, 0:15

I probably don’t even have to circle Johnny anymore because your eyes are smart enough to find him. Little known fact: Any time Johnny is in your field of vision, you see him like a cat at nighttime, if that cat was an astronaut crossed with the Terminator crossed with Vin Diesel from Pitch Black.

Johnny 09

2nd quarter, 15:00

Johnny pretends to listen to Hoyer and Shanahan while confirming to himself that, yup, he could bag every single chick and probably half the dudes in the stadium.

Johnny 10

2nd quarter, 10:54

Johnny nods knowingly at Andrew Hawkins after he picks up a first down. He also wonders, Does the Horseshoe have a pool and/or inflatable swans?

Johnny 11

2nd quarter, 10:05

At this point I start to wonder if Johnny’s hands are stuck to his arms like Hot Hands’ hands got stuck together in Little Giants.

Johnny 12

2nd quarter, 5:16

Johnny subtly positions himself near the Browns’ score to remind us that he is the reason for all Browns’ success. This is unusually insecure for Johnny, because, I mean, we know, obviously he’s the reason for all Browns’ success.

Johnny 13

2nd quarter, 4:50

Johnny covers his earhole so A) he can hear the play call; or B) Drake hacked into the Browns’ system and is asking where to get good sushi in Toronto EVEN THOUGH DRAKE IS FROM TORONTO. Johnny is better than Yelp.

Johnny 14

2nd quarter, 4:41

The cameras cut away for some reason but smartly go right back to Johnny. Jim Dray is trying to absorb some of Johnny’s cool but it isn’t really working.

Johnny 15

2nd quarter, 4:12

Johnny and Hoyer are talking about stuff on the bench but are relegated to the smaller frame while Reuben Randle does something less awesome in the big frame. Randle actually screwed up on this play, because you can see that he isn’t pointing directly at Johnny. He will be punished for his crimes, because the NFL is really good at that kind of thing.

Johnny 16

3rd quarter, 14:07

HE’S IN! Johnny’s first move—first move!—is to quiet down the crowd, because he’s like a hypergiant star and most people don’t know how to react to seeing that sort of thing.  He’s like an experienced comedian waiting for the applause to die down before hitting his next joke. Man, what a pro.

Johnny 17

3rd quarter, 14:07

Johnny’s first real life regular season NFL play comes out of the pistol formation. He probably told Pettine that he plays out of the pistol or he doesn’t play at all. Johnny actually invented the pistol after watching that episode of The Wire where they shoot target practice holding the guns sideways and everything, and now it’s dominating the NFL. Just another day in the life of a legend.

Johnny 18

3rd quarter, 13:45

While we’re all saying, “…That’s it?” after Johnny handed off to Isaiah Crowell for a three-yard gain, Johnny’s thinking about that time in the Super Bowl when he’s going to throw a game-winning 100-yard pass to himself.

Johnny 19

3rd quarter, 12:49

After that Earth-shaking debut play, Johnny realizes that everyone in the crowd might spontaneously combust. To give us a reprieve, he finds shelter behind the scoreboard overlay. This shows that Johnny is courteous, and that you could absolutely take him home to your parents.

Johnny 20

3rd quarter, 12:49

We get a replay of Johnny’s first appearance going into the commercial break, because the FOX people are no dummies.  People want—nay, need!—to know what Johnny is doing. Look at all the cameramen on the sideline, just hoping to get a piece. Johnny is the world’s meal ticket and will single-handedly end hunger in like three months, tops.

Johnny 21

3rd quarter, 8:49

HE’S BACK IN!  Pettine calls Johnny’s preferred pistol formation again. Johnny hands off to Crowell again. Crowell gets stopped for a three-yard loss. It’s his fault, really, because he got caught in Johnny’s gravitational field and couldn’t generate any speed up-field. Silly rookie doesn’t know what’s what yet.

Johnny 22

3rd quarter, 8:29

HE’S STILL IN! He rallies the team back to the line after Crow’s gaffe, ready to take control.

Johnny 23

3rd quarter, 8:10

“Oh crap these dudes are big and fast what do I do?  Bail!”

3rd quarter, 8:06

Johnny 24

Johnny throws the most perfect pass that has ever been thrown by a human or non-human hand. Ray Agnew is rightly in awe of this. He does his best to haul it in, but then he gets drilled and God gets mad at him for ruining what could have been a beautiful moment.

Johnny 25

3rd quarter, 7:53

Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston discuss Johnny’s cameo appearance, and compare the Hoyer/Manziel duo to Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III. They conveniently forget to mention that Johnny is capable of walking without his leg exploding.

Johnny 26

3rd quarter, 7:33

Psst. Hey coach. Coach? I did good on those plays, right coach? I’ll be right here if you want to put me back in coach. Coach?”

Pettine doesn’t do it, severely diminishing the Browns’ chances of victory and the chances of finishing the game without a Biblical flood.

Johnny 27

3rd quarter, 7:12

Johnny hangs out with Terrance West, hand on the shoulder and all, while making snide comments about Pettine’s dorky sunglasses and those weird marks on his head.

Johnny 28

3rd quarter, 7:07

Kenny Albert says that Hoyer says “Johnny and I get along better than most people would guess.”

That’s because most people wouldn’t guess that you two get along, Brian. You are simple while Johnny is advanced. You are meatloaf; Johnny is molecular gastro-foam. You’re a station wagon; Johnny is a Segway hovercraft. You are yellow; Johnny is Volt.

Johnny 29

3rd quarter, 6:31

Johnny might legitimately be pooping on the sideline right now, hence the towel at the ready

Johnny 30

3rd quarter, MONTAGE

We finally get treated to a montage that includes some other stuff but is mostly about how the Browns drafted Johnny and became a million times better than the Draft Day version of the Browns. It might even be two million times better, but I don’t know because I never saw Draft Day and given what I’ve heard, I probably never will.

Johnny 31

3rd quarter, 3:30

We see Johnny on the screen, and Terrance West scores on the next play. If you’re a teacher and ever need an example of cause and effect, that’s the best one ever.

Johnny 32

3rd quarter, 3:19

Johnny expresses disbelief that Hoyer has never used a giant stack of money as a phone. Like, not even one time just to try it out. Lame.

Johnny 33

4th quarter, 12:12

The announcers tell us that Johnny’s pass should have been caught, making them more right than they will ever be about anything in their lives. They also remark on how he has “his chinstrap on and everything.” Guys, I know this is Johnny we’re talking about, but the chinstrap thing is the same for everyone. It’s not like the helmet just fuses with his skull. Study science.

Johnny 34

4th quarter, 12:12

Johnny and Terrance are officially BFFs and Gerell Robinson (the guy wearing Evan Moore’s old shirt) is super jealous.

Johnny 35

4th quarter, :38

The game gets tight, and Johnny sticks by Kyle Shanahan in case he wants to put him in and make this whole thing way easier. Johnny also thinks it’s crazy that he used to play at Kyle Field and now he plays for Kyle Shanahan. Whoa.

Johnny 36

4th quarter, :06

As the Browns position themselves for the game-winning field goal, Johnny gets his cap straight so everyone will recognize that he’s the freshest cat in the league.

Johnny 37

4th quarter, :03

Johnny continues to get his cap straight. He smiles at Mike Pettine. He gives a knowing nod to Hoyer. He gets ready to hop into the stretch Escalade that he ordered three months ago in anticipation of this victory.

4th quarter, :00

After that game, I think we all feel this way.

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Week 2 Film Room: The Defense http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/wfny-cleveland-browns-film-room-defense/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/wfny-cleveland-browns-film-room-defense/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:30:45 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129597 The Browns defense stood out in Week 2. Here are some of the better (and not-so-good) plays in their win over the Saints.

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The Cleveland Browns defense versus the New Orleans Saints had a pretty good performance when you consider that it was up against one of the most dangerous units in the league. The Browns won their first game of the season on Sunday with a dramatic 26-24 win over the New Orleans Saints large in part to the defense being able to hold the Saints to only 10 first-half points. The pass defense held quarterback future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees to 237 passing yards and forced a big interception. The secondary played well against the Saints receivers, allowing at game-best 37 receiving yards to one receiver. The only player who had his way in the passing game was tight end Jimmy Graham—a mismatch for everyone. The Browns tried playing man, zone, and the kitchen sink against Graham, but he was just too good to control. The run defense was the area the Saints took advantage of, tallying 174 total rushing yards in the game.

In this week’s film room of the defense, I am going to highlight three plays from Sunday. The first one will be the good, the second the bad, and the third will be the game changing play of the game by the defense. So take a seat and grab some popcorn for this week’s film of the defense!

***

The Good

Gipston Pick Six 140914

This play was one of the biggest plays of the game because the Browns went up 16-3 and it slowed the momentum of the Saints offense. Here is how the play went down.

Coverage assignments

The Saints line up with an empty backfield with five wide, including tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Travaris Cadet. The Browns are in single-man coverage on every receiver. Inside linebacker Chris Kirksey is in zone coverage over the intermediate middle of the field. Safety Tashaun Gipson is the deep man who is assigned to the middle of field in zone coverage. Gipson’s job: Read Brees’ eyes and rotate to wherever he throws the ball.

Pass rush

The Browns rush four on the play with two defensive linemen and two outside linebackers. The Saints just have five linemen blocking with no other help.

Everyone Covered

As the play develops, the Browns have good coverage on every target. Joe Haden, Buster Skrine, and Justin Gilbert blanket the three receivers on the outside running downfield. Cadet is covered by safety Donte Whitner with help from Kirksey in the inside. The only slightly available receiver is tight end Graham running the seam and cutting over the middle at the 10-15 yard mark. Inside linebacker Karlos Dansby covers him underneath with Gipson behind him reading Brees’ eyes. Dansby is making it difficult for Brees to throw to Graham because of good coverage underneath. This is key in helping the pass rush have time to get to the quarterback.

Kruger rush

Because of the good coverage, outside linebacker Paul Kruger has enough time to slip by the left tackle and force a throw from Brees. Brees is hit while throwing so he does not have the accuracy to place the ball to Graham. Kruger is key in causing an overthrow by Brees that was intercepted and taken to the endzone by Gipson.

***

 

The Bad

cooks-end-around-compressor

This is one example of a couple runs that exposed the Browns defense on the outside. Rookie wide receiver Brandin Cooks runs for a 28-yard gain in this end around. The Browns had problems on a multiple plays toward outside, including the previous play of 26 yards by Mark Ingram. On those plays the edge defender loss contain on the line of scrimmage and allowed the runner to go outside. Here is the breakdown of what went wrong on this Cooks run.

Cooks play design

Wide receiver Brandin Cooks motions to the left to receive the hand off from Drew Brees. Running back Pierre Thomas will pretend to take the handoff from Brees and run toward the right side of the line.

players destracted

This fake handoff to Thomas really fools the Browns defenders. The three defenders who are circled are still focusing to the right side of the line. They do not know that Cooks took the handoff and that he is headed their way. This slight hesitation by Jabaal Sheard at the edge of the line allows the speedster Cooks to speed by and break contain.

Edge Gone

As you can see here the edge is completely gone and Cooks has an open lane downfield. Sheard is seemingly the only one of this side to know that Cook has the ball. Safety Tashaun Gipson and linebacker Chris Kirksey are completely fooled by the fake handoff and so they both are not even facing Cooks.

Saving tackle

Luckily, Buster Skrine is able to break away from this block and make the tackle after 28 yards. Skrine is the last man in front of Cooks and so he has to make the stop or the Browns are looking at a 45-yard end around for a touchdown.

***

The Game Changer

dansby-sack-compressor

This 3rd-and-12 play ends the Saints drive and allows the Browns to gain the ball back for their winning drive. Karlos Dansby makes the game-saving sack that pushes the Saints out of field range and forces them to punt on fourth down. Here is how the play happened.

game changing design

The Saints are in a shotgun with a running back to the right of Brees. On the left side is a three-receiver bunch (or “trips”) at the end of the line. The right side is a receiver out wide. The Browns have four down linemen with two linebackers in the middle.

blocking scheme

The blocking scheme for the Saints is what causes the sack. The five offensive linemen are the only blockers available because the running back leaves the backfield on a route. The main problem of the blocking scheme for the Saints is center Jonathan Goodwin (55) and right guard Jahri Evans (73). They both end up blocking Armonty Bryant and leaving a major gap in the middle of the line.

Gap open

This gap allows Karlos Dansby to slip right up the middle on a blitz. The gap is enormous—even Trent Richardson would’ve seen it—and it gives Dansby a straight line to Brees. Armonty Bryant wont’ get credit in the box score, but he is a huge factor in this play because he is taking on two blockers allowing Dansby a lane to the quarterback.

Coverage on sack

The final piece to the sack is the coverage. As Brees tries to flee Dansby to the right, he looks downfield for a target. But there is no quick safety valve, resulting in the huge sack. The left side of the field is cut off because of the roll out to the right by Brees. The three other targets (circled here) are all shadowed by a defender resulting in no clear throw.

***

Defensive Standout

My defensive standout this week is safety Tashaun Gipson. He is shaping up to be one of the best free safeties in the league with another great week. His biggest play was obviously the pick six he had in the second quarter off of the overthrow by Drew Brees. But this was not the best part of his game on Sunday. According to ProFootballFocus, he only allowed four yards in coverage this week. On the day, he had eight tackles, a pass defended, an interception, and a touchdown.

Defensive Lowlight

My defensive lowlight was the Browns run defense especially on runs on the outside. According to ProFootballFocus, The Browns gave up 90 rushing yards on runs to the outside of the left tackle, including 31 yards from receiver Brandin Cooks on two end arounds. They gave up 27 yards on the outside of the right tackle. The main cause of this was the lack of contain, allowing the runner to get around the edge. The outside linebackers and sometimes defensive ends need to improve their ability to keep the edge and push the runner inside for the inside linebackers and defensive linemen to make the play.

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“C” is for “Cookie”, Good Enough for Me http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/carlos-carrasco-cleveland-indians-astros/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/carlos-carrasco-cleveland-indians-astros/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 13:45:51 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129624 I hate to be this guy, but I cannot wait to watch this pitching staff next season.

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8:11 PM – I was about to suggest that if the Indians hadn’t given up on this season, neither should we. After all, I was just reminded of a recap I wrote last year that prematurely declared the Indians’ playoff hopes dead.  Anything can happen when you’ve got a team fighting for its life, and no one should know that better than we, especially after the 10-game winning streak that ended the 2013 season.  If the Indians haven’t given up on this season, neither should we.

But they just put the lineups up and Chris Gimenez is playing first base so I guess you can do whatever you want, really.

This is likely my last live recap of the season, so I’ll probably be negligent of the actual game, choosing instead to opine on whatever shiny objects or stray thoughts might pass in front of my consciousness.  You are free to point out that this is basically the same thing I always do.


Pitchers don’t pull 180s like this very often, and it’s a little interesting that another truly remarkable turnaround came from the guy whom we traded for Carrasco five years ago.

Anyway, Chris Gimenez.  He’ll probably hit a home run or something.

8:22 PM – A quiet first inning from both Carrasco and Oberholtzer, and we’re scoreless after one.

Let’s talk about Carrasco a bit, shall we? I’ve been on the record pretty much since we acquired him that he belongs in the rotation and not the bullpen. So you might think that I’ve taken some delight in his recent success. You would be right. I am delighted. It’s great to see a young pitcher learn to harness his talent and develop into an effective rotation option. I actually look forward to his starts, which is something only a masochist would have admitted to last year.

But I’ve also tried not to gloat, because it’s certainly not as if I believed that this turnaround would happen. The smart money was always going to be against him turning things around. Pitchers just don’t pull 180s like this very often, and it’s at least a little interesting that another truly remarkable turnaround came from the guy whom we traded for Carrasco five years ago.

Pitchers don’t normally go from being awful to good for long stretches of time, and we still don’t know if this is going to stick in any permanent sense. Carrasco has thrown 88 innings since being removed from the rotation at the end of April, and while his ERA is sterling (1.84), the point remains that lots of fluky things can happen in 90 inning samples. It may still all go away. God knows we won’t be surprised by anything.

So yes, the point was never that I expected this to happen.  It was just that when you’re choosing between crummy options (e.g. Tomlin, Carrasco, McAllister, et al) you go with the guy who has the best raw stuff. Carrasco’s fastball touches 100 with arm-side tail. His slider is literally the best slider in baseball this season.

#WHIFF

And his change-up is above average.  These are the guys you bet on, when you have the chance. Not because you’ll always win, but because when you do, the sky’s the limit.

8:43 PM – Chris Gimenez struck out looking and I just thought that you might want to know that.

8:55 PM – Through three innings, still scoreless. Hell, still hitless.

Speaking of which, let’s talk offense, and how woeful it’s been of late. So far this season, the Indians have averaged 4.19 runs per game (632 runs over 151 games). Over the 2013 season, that was 4.60. That extra .41 runs might not sound like a lot, but spread over a season it’s the difference between 680 runs and 750. That’s a massive swing, and one that will likely ultimately cost the Indians’ a chance at a playoff spot this year.
But we know it’s much worse than this, of course. Because in the first half, our offense was competent-ish. Check this table out:

 Month Runs Scored
April 3.79
May 4.86
June 4.42
July 4.69
August 3.74
September 3.25
Grand Total 4.19

Things seem to be ticking along nicely for the first four months of the season. April offense is typically suppressed by poor weather, but May through July put us right back on track for 750 runs or so. Then almost a full run drop in August with another half run drop in September. That is not how you win a playoff spot.

The question, of course, is why? Swisher? Kipnis? Chisenhall? Sequencing? Murphy? Probably a little bit of all those things and more yet. For what it’s worth, Fangraphs attempts to model how many runs a team “should” have scored based on base runs, and have the Indians about a tenth of a run higher than they currently are (4.28 RPG), but that’s still not going to be good enough without some really stellar pitching. Where did the other .3 runs per game go from last year? And more importantly, can we get it back?

That last one is the most important, obviously. It feels silly to say, but I honestly don’t know what position I go into this offseason trying to improve via free agency or trade.  The outfield feels set, especially with the ridiculous Raburn deal. Hard to hold this season against Lonnie, as it’s been something of a break out. Jose Ramirez has handled short wonderfully, and we know his replacement is in-house anyway. Kip signed a big deal, and Santana should be the incumbent at first with Gomes’ great season locking him behind the plate. That leaves Swisher and his untradeable contract at DH. You could bench him for the next two years, I guess, but that’s about as likely as trading him.

I think we just hope. Hope it gets better.  Hope they stay healthy. Hope this is temporary.

I honestly don’t know what position I go into this offseason trying to improve via free agency or trade.

9:22 PM – There have now been hits, and even a run!  Heading to the bottom of the fifth, the Indians lead 1-0 on a Carlos Santana double and a Yan Gomes single.  The good news is that we are winning; the bad news is that we are below even the execrable pace of run-scoring we’ve established over the last month.

9:41 PM – This is going to be two game-related posts in a row, which just doesn’t feel right, but the Indians take a 2-0 lead on what has generously been scored a two-out RBI triple for Yan Gomes to drive in Michael Brantley from first.  The Indians have five hits, two runs, and their problems are solved. So long as they bat against Brett Olberholzer every night and don’t need to score more than three runs per game.

9:46 PM – Ho Hum. Carlos Carrasco just struck out his tenth Astro through six innings pitched. This is the upside. This is why you’re patient. So that literally dozens of people can enjoy starts like these.

I actually want to take a moment to talk about the other half of tonight’s battery. Here is where Yan Gomes ranks among the 19 AL catchers who’ve had at least 200 plate appearances this season:

WAR 1st
OBP 8th
SLG 1st
ISO 2nd
OPS 1st
AVG 2nd
HR 2nd
wRC+ 2nd
BB% 15th

That’s a lot of 1’s and 2’s. If you want to get anxious, you might point out his inability to take a walk or his abnormally high BABiP for a slow-footed catcher (.334), but I think it’s fairly hard to argue that Yan Gomes isn’t in the conversation for best catcher in the league. In fact, that’s just what TJ Zuppe argued yesterday, and in fairly convincing manner.

10:00 PM – Carrasco just retired the Astros in the seventh on eight pitches; Good Guys still up 2-0

Just expanded that table from earlier—a more thorough reckoning of how not to win a playoff berth:

Month Runs Scored Runs Allowed DIFF
April 3.79 4.71 -0.93
May 4.86 4.68 0.18
June 4.42 4.46 -0.04
July 4.69 3.69 1.00
August 3.74 2.93 0.81
September 3.25 4.38 -1.13
Grand Total 4.19 4.13 0.05

In case you need tabular evidence, September has been a nut-kicker of epic proportions. But at least we have endless winter to look forward to.

10:11 PM – Indians take their 2-0 lead to the bottom of the eighth. Carrasco coming back out.

10:16 PM – The bottom of the eighth takes five more pitches, which brings Carrasco’s total to 84 on the night. Only two Astros have reached base against him.

Once, when the Indians didn’t trust Carlos Carrasco, they signed Brett Myers, the closest thing baseball has to Guy Fieri. Which is to say, a man who attempts to hide his gross lack of proficiency with “personality”, “flair” and “attitude”, all of which make you despise him even more.

10:24 PM – The Indians go down in order in the top of the ninth, and Cookie is coming back out for a shot at a “Maddux”.

10:26 PM – Strikeout 11; pitch 87. Thirteen pitches to get two outs. THESE GO TO ELEVEN.

10:29 PM – Uh oh. A 3-0 count to start, but Carrasco fights back to get Presley to fly out to left on the 92nd pitch of the night. One more to go.

10:31 PM – Booo. A soft grounder to short from Altuve puts the pressure on Jose Ramirez, who throws the ball away. Carrasco to face Dexter Fowler as the potential tying run.

10:32 PM – BALLGAME! On the 98th pitch of the night, Cookie Carrasco strikes out Fowler for the complete game shutout. That’s the Indians’ second Maddux of the year (Kluber), and it ties Cliff Lee’s team record of 12Ks in a CGSHO with fewer than 100 pitches.

I hate to be this guy, but I cannot wait to watch this pitching staff next season. The lineup has been a huge disappointment, which feels odd to say, given the breakout years from Gomes, Chisenhall, and Brantley. But this rotation… My goodness: you could dream on group like Kluber, Bauer, Salazar and Carrasco. I already am.

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Joe Banner discusses Brian Hoyer and trading Trent Richardson http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/joe-banner-discusses-brian-hoyer-trading-trent-richardson/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/joe-banner-discusses-brian-hoyer-trading-trent-richardson/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 13:30:32 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129644 We’ve already discussed Joe Banner’s Twitter account on these pages. Many still won’t even believe it’s the real deal, preferring to assume like many other accounts that @JoeBanner13 is a fake. Anyway, this morning Mr. Banner recounted what it was like one year ago today when he traded Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts. a

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We’ve already discussed Joe Banner’s Twitter account on these pages. Many still won’t even believe it’s the real deal, preferring to assume like many other accounts that @JoeBanner13 is a fake. Anyway, this morning Mr. Banner recounted what it was like one year ago today when he traded Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts.

I’ll never try and tell you that Joe Banner isn’t a smart guy. He clearly is and he got a great many things correct. He might not have gotten anything more correct in his time with the Cleveland Browns than the trade of Trent Richardson. Even as the deal infuriated me, I’ve had to adjust that anger in hindsight and awkwardly redirect it to the fact that the Browns didn’t do any better than Willis McGahee after making the deal.

That sums up Joe Banner in so many ways in my mind. I don’t disagree with how smart and savvy he is. I just think that he’s also ruthless and his reputation for creating an undesirable working culture – whether real or not – has reverberations and is anything but warm and fuzzy.

After that, a fan decided to ask Joe Banner what he and his staff liked so much about Brian Hoyer.

It’s funny how many people seem to like Joe Banner significantly more now that he’s not in a position of power at the Browns. When I spoke to notorious Joe Banner fan Joe Lull on the podcast last night, I think I came up with the perfect solution. If I ever owned a professional football team, I’d hire Joe Banner as an outside (and probably off-site) consultant.

There’s just no doubting his smarts, but he’s probably better off as a guy who is telling you difficult things you might not want to hear… over the phone… hundreds of miles away. It’s really good to have a bad cop, but you don’t want him in charge and as your mouthpiece. It’s tough to stomach the truth and reality when it’s delivered so easily as Joe Banner seems to deliver it.

Check out the whole conversation with Joe Lull in case you missed it.

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Generous Cavs Fans, LeBron’s Hairline, and Reading Recommendations… While We’re Waiting http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/lebron-james-hairline-cavs-zine-5/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/lebron-james-hairline-cavs-zine-5/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:30:03 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129622 LeBron James' hair had it's very own Homecoming.

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Good morning, Cleveland and Clevelandphiles! I hope all of you in The Land have a wonderful Thursday.

So. You’re aware of Cavs Zine, yes? The Bible of Cavs Fandom? Of course, of course. No doubt you’ve heard that, for our fifth zine, we’re taking it up a notch and 3D printing championship rings.

Hubris? Perhaps. But not for nothing, this is the first time we’ll have a Cavs Zine in which LeBron James is employed by the Cavaliers. We’re pretty excited and clearly have not taken any lessons from Cleveland sports history to heart.

In order to pay for these rings (and really, to up our distribution), we turned to Kickstarter for crowdfunding, a first for any Cavs Zine. We set a goal of five thousand dollars, which would pay for 300 championship rings and 5,000 copies of the zine (ten times more than any previous printing).

After two days, how close are we to our goal of five grand? Well. At the time of this writing, donations stand at…

$5,421

That’s right, we met and surpassed our kickstarter goal in less than two days! TWO DAYS. You people are insane. Seriously, a couple of you even gave your own money in order to go disc golfing with me. Insane.

Speaking of…

***

I moved out to the Lakewood this summer and that means I had to find new courses to lose my discs. The Westside doesn’t offer a whole lot in the way of disc golf courses. There’s nothing as nice as Sims, Roscoe Ewing, or Hudson Springs Park out here.

In terms of distance, Bay Village’s Cahoon Creek is the closest, followed by the course on the campus of Baldwin-Wallace, but neither of these offer a full 18. Plus, the courses aren’t worth your time. Cahoon Creek is just nine (short, poorly designed) holes and while BW clocks in at sixteen holes, you spend your entire time on the course trying literally throw around buildings and, more problematic, students.

There’s been a few times this summer that I’ve made the nearly hour drive west to play Great Blue Heron in Norwalk, a monster of a course with twenty-four fairly challenging holes. Blue Heron has multiple tee pads, multiple tee positions and the course gives you multiple opportunities to chuck your disc in their beautiful lake.

However, despite all it has going for it, playing Blue Heron is an event. I gotta plan ahead in order to play twenty-four holes in Norwalk. For my casual disc golf needs, the course located at Tri-C’s West Campus has been perfect. There are no tee pads (which could become an issue as the weather turns) and the hole signs are hand drawn, but the course is a full 18 and the holes are all challenging. Be prepared for a hike, as the course walks you around the entire campus but, unlike Baldwin-Wallace, you’re rarely throwing through student traffic.

C’mon, you know you want to.

***

Did you know that the waters of Lake Erie have healing and restorative properties? No? Well, how do you explain this:

Not sure how I feel about LeBron magically growing his hair back. One one hand, this means LeBron’s headband should return to normal headband sizes. Which is good. And I think I speak for all of us when I say that I’m glad he didn’t go full-Boozer.

But man, I wanted LeBron to go the other way and fully embrace his baldness. We haven’t had a balding superstar since Kareem. Both Jordan and Kobe preemptively shaved their heads to combat their hair loss, but that’s not an option for LeBron at this point. A clean shaven LeBron would just be too weird.

But LeBron with old-man hair and no headband? Yes, please. Plus, since he’s not changing his number, a receded hairline and a cul-de-sac dome would make it easier to identify pre-2010 pics from post-2014 pics.

***

The Indians’ starting pitching scares me. I’m not sure what to make of it.

***

I tend to read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi books, both for pleasure and for my job (I’m a librarian, gotta stay up to date). For those of you tend towards the Game of Thrones section of the book store, I can’t recommend enough Daniel Abraham’s Dagger and the Coin series, a medieval-esque fantasy which incorporates economics into the story (which, if you’re familiar with the genre, is quite rare). I’m a sucker for this stuff, but Abraham is a pro and the story is tightly written with no fluff (which, again, if you’re familiar with the genre, is quite rare).

On the other hand, Kameron Hurley’s Mirror Empire is nothing like the standard sword+quest+medieval Europe fantasy. Mirror Empire is the “it” book in sci-fi and fantasy circles and, after plowing through roughly 600 pages in little over two days, I can understand why. It is great and nothing like anything else I’ve read.

The book I’m currently reading is much less dorky, but much more nerdy. In Virtual Unreality, author Charles Seife discusses how information, especially bad information, spreads in our digital world. I find this stuff super interesting. I don’t think our generation full appreciates how much of a game changer the internet really is.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Seife’s new book, “Virtual Unreality,” is about how digital untruths spread like contagion across our laptops and smartphones. The author is unusually qualified to write on this subject, and not merely because his surname is nearly an anagram for “selfie.”

A professor of journalism at New York University, Mr. Seife is a battle-scarred veteran of the new info wars. When Wired magazine wanted to investigate the ethical lapses of its contributor Jonah Lehrer, for example, it turned to Mr. Seife, whose report pinned Mr. Lehrer, wriggling, to the plagiarism specimen board.

Cleveland fans should have a lot of experience in this area, given our summer full of shirtless trainer twitter reporters and online plane tracking software.

***

If you like instrumental rock and dance music, I’ve really been enjoying local band Broccoli Samurai. I caught them at Werkout and was immediately smitten when I saw one of their members rocking a Kyrie jersey. Done. I’m all in. When they aren’t melting your face, they’ll do fun stuff like cover the Trailer Park Boys theme.

***

My cousin the math teacher shared this video on Facebook and I gotta say, it be way more fun that “Weird Things All Couples Fight About” video that refuses to leave my feed.

***

That’s all from me, folks. Ushering you into this beautiful Thursday morning has been my pleasure. Oh, and don’t forget to swing by here—only eight of ten remaining!

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Local radio, and Joe Banner love with Joe Lull – WFNY Podcast – 2014-09-17 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/local-radio-joe-banner-love-joe-lull-wfny-podcast-2014-09-17/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/local-radio-joe-banner-love-joe-lull-wfny-podcast-2014-09-17/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 00:40:28 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129591 I’ve been a guest of Joe Lull’s (@lullonsports) on his radio progrum on 92.3 the Fan and for whatever reason I never asked him to come on the podcast. I sometimes feel like guys who talk sports for a living would be doing me a favor to come on the podcast. Anyway, that ended today

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I’ve been a guest of Joe Lull’s (@lullonsports) on his radio progrum on 92.3 the Fan and for whatever reason I never asked him to come on the podcast. I sometimes feel like guys who talk sports for a living would be doing me a favor to come on the podcast. Anyway, that ended today as Joe came on to tell us a little about where the hell he came from and his perspective as a host here in local sports radio.

We talked about how much national stories have been talked about here locally. We talked about Cleveland as a one-station sports talk town. We talked about the ill-fated DSN and finally the launch of 92.3 the Fan.

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Spencer Lanning drives a Toyota Tundra, appears on Men in Blazers http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/spencer-lanning-drives-toyota-tundra-appears-men-blazers-soccer-podcast/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/spencer-lanning-drives-toyota-tundra-appears-men-blazers-soccer-podcast/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 18:37:59 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129573 Spencer Lanning has had an interesting couple of weeks on the football field with the Cleveland Browns. He found himself kicked in the face against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then, he accidentally became a running back hurtling through the air and getting crushed by the New Orleans Saints’ defensive line on a botched extra point. Things

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Spencer Lanning has had an interesting couple of weeks on the football field with the Cleveland Browns. He found himself kicked in the face against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then, he accidentally became a running back hurtling through the air and getting crushed by the New Orleans Saints’ defensive line on a botched extra point. Things are looking up for week three, as Lanning was an invited guest on the famous Men in Blazers podcast.

Here are a few things we learned about Spencer Lanning in the interview (about 44 minutes in.)

  • Spencer Lanning pulls over and parks to talk on the phone
  • Spencer Lanning drives a “gas-guzzling” Toyota Tundra
  • Despite the end result of the punt, Lanning was happy with his kick
  • Lanning was a “cocky, arrogant” striker who played a little bit outside the rules
  • Lanning left the “brutal” sport of soccer to play football
  • Spencer Lanning is a Chelsea fan
  • Lanning talks about how high school soccer has worked against the progression of U.S. soccer
  • Johnny Football is not “well-versed” in “real football” or soccer
  • Josh Gordon is a really big soccer fan

It was an awesome appearance by Lanning on a very good podcast, so I recommend you go listen to the whole thing.

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Nike LeBron 12 officially released http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/nike-lebron-12-images-release/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/nike-lebron-12-images-release/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 18:30:19 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129541 The Twelve is officially here, just in time for LeBron's return to Cleveland.

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The long awaited official release of the LeBron 12 finally took place. After months of speculation and leaked images, Nike invited a slew of people out to their campus at Beaverton where they would all raise the curtain on the 12th edition of LeBron James’ signature line.

Designed to enhance LeBron’s explosiveness while combining three key benefits—superior cushioning, harnessed support and natural flexibility—Nike Basketball teamed up with the science-led Sports Research Lab for in-depth analysis on athletic performance and scientific testing. The result of their tests and design concepts: The LeBron 12, designed to, as Nike puts it, “advance the game of basketball’s best player.”

The LeBron 11, while a big seller in retail, was not worn often by James last season. The 12 aims to right that ship. Five visible, hexagonally-shaped Nike Zoom Air bags in the outsole of the LeBron 12 are said to enhance natural motion while providing accelerated explosiveness with each step. Nike Zoom Air (the visible air pockets that have been prevalent in Nike basketball shoes since in 1995) are now the hexagonal pattern that will highlight The Twelve. It’s mapped similar to the first Kobe Bryant shoes released by Nike, focusing on the pressure points of the foot where it’s most needed for basketball performance.

In addition to the hexagonal sole, the shoe comes equipped with breathable Megafuse, which is a one-piece sleeve for support, a phylon midsole for stability and (surprise!) a flywire upper.

During the release, Nike dropped a handful of mind-blowing stats: James runs approximately three miles per game; while the average player takes 13 strides to get down the court, James can do it in nine; many of James’ dunks pack more punch than that of a boxer—you get the picture. The first seven colorways of the Nike LeBron 12 scheduled to release (the best of which is easily the red and white “Heart of a Lion”) are allegedly inspired by LeBron’s game, physical attributes and the analysis that went into the developing his latest signature shoe. The first colorway, known as the ‘NSRL’ the Nike Store as well as select Nike Basketball retailers on Saturday, October 11. They will retail for $200.

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T-Wolves to hype Andrew Wiggins with “Midnight Madness” dunk contest http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/andrew-wiggins-dunk-contest-wolves/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/andrew-wiggins-dunk-contest-wolves/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 18:00:43 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129427 Dunk on, young man.

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Someday Andrew Wiggins might be little more than the answer to a Cleveland Cavaliers trivia question, but not yet. A quick Summer League stint with the Cavaliers after being drafted first overall, and he was off to Minnesota for Kevin Love, as you all know. The T-Wolves, for their part, seem to be reacting pretty well to the trade and are making the most of their presumptive star, Wiggins. They’ve planned a really fun event for Wiggins Monday September 29th, that will also be featured on NBA TV.

Their “Dunks After Dark” extravaganza will be held late Monday night, September 29 in Mankato after the team conducts its traditional media-day activities at Target Center that afternoon.

Doors at Minnesota-State Mankato’s Bresnan Arena open at 11 p.m. and the program that will feature a scrimmage and a dunk contest between Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine begins right after midnight.

Will any Cavs fans be tuning in or have you all pretty much moved on from anything and everything related to Andrew Wiggins? It’s so weird, even in the face of nothing but good news for the Cavaliers, the feelings of joy when he was drafted were very real at the #CavsTwitter draft party.

The NBA really does change on a dime, like a wicked crossover. Poor Anthony Bennett used to be Andrew Wiggins in a way, and he doesn’t even get a mention. Probably because he’s never done a 360-degree, behind-the-back windmill. Probably

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Is a LeBron James banner returning to downtown Cleveland? http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/lebron-james-cleveland-banner-cavs-nike/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/lebron-james-cleveland-banner-cavs-nike/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 17:28:55 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129562 The Sherwin-Williams Co. and Gigantic Media have reportedly asked the city of Cleveland to approve a new 10-story banner of LeBron.

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It feels like just yesterday that Clevelanders were standing outside of the Sherwin-Williams building while construction workers dismantled the giant LeBron James banner that adorned it’s side for years. Not long after, we all celebrated the arrival of a brighter, more city-focused banner that replaced that which only praised one man. But times, they apparently change.

The Sherwin-Williams Co. and Gigantic Media have reportedly asked the city of Cleveland to approve a new 10-story banner of LeBron James, who graced the side of the Landmark Office Towers until he left Cleveland for the Miami Heat in 2010.

The new image is almost a reversal of the old banner, which showed James from the front and carried the tagline “We Are All Witnesses.” Images submitted to the Cleveland City Planning Commission on Tuesday show James with his arms stretched, once again, across the eastern face of the Landmark Office Towers, the Sherwin-Williams headquarters complex at the back of Tower City. But rather than focusing on James, the image doesn’t even show the four-time MVP’s face—it’s his back, and above the No. 23 is the word “Cleveland.”

No Witnesses. No script. No scowl. Just a simple swoosh in the upper, right-hand corner.

There is plenty of red tape when it comes to multi-story billboards in Cleveland, but it’s tough to envision any scenario where this one isn’t on the corner of Ontario and Huron in the not-so-distant future.

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Indulging in the spoils of a Cleveland Browns win http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/cleveland-browns-tailgating-muny-lot-saints/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/cleveland-browns-tailgating-muny-lot-saints/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 17:00:34 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129422 A 12-hour day and still hungry for more.

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I woke up Sunday morning with a strong hunger in my belly. For starters, it had been nine months since the Cleveland Browns hosted a meaningful game at FirstEnergy Stadium. Nine months is a long time. Ask all of those fans who got prematurely excited when the Browns sat at 4-5 during last year’s bye week just how much can happen over the course of nine months. Nonetheless, the day was finally here, opening day, a fresh start to a new season at home for the Cleveland Browns. The previous week in Pittsburgh was an appetizer into the 2014 season, with a first half that made me question why I continue to come back to this rundown restaurant every fall and a second half that reminded me just how much I love jalapeño poppers. Still, no matter how many of those decadently fried, cream cheese stuffed peppers you eat there is always room for the main course.


So I set out with a band of degenerates I call my friends at 7 a.m. to meet up at our tailgate spot in the Muni Lot, dreaming the day at hand would satisfy my hunger.

 

So I set out with a band of degenerates I call my friends at 7 a.m. to meet up at our tailgate spot in the Muni Lot, dreaming the day at hand would satisfy my hunger. The hosts of the tailgate had been in line for a spot since 2 a.m. and we arrived just in time to do some light lifting and help set up. As the first beers were being poured and the speaker system was being assembled, a catastrophe arose: The generator for the sound system would not start, and our tailgate neighbors were blasting Metallica accompanied by what can only be described as the strip club DJ horn-ruining song after song with the DJ putting his own “spin” on classics. But out of dire situations rise great men. So at 7:30 in the morning our hero took an Uber from the Muni Lot to Home Depot, bought a new generator, and Ubered back in less than an hour, saving us from four hours of music hell.

Thank you, Uber.

Two hours and six beers later it seemed almost unfathomable to think that anything other than a victory would be coming the Browns way. The good times, they were a’flowing. If the league handed out Super Bowls based off of vehicles converted for tailgates per capita, I’d be hard pressed to think Cleveland wouldn’t have a fistful of jewelry by now. Long busses. Short busses. Limo busses. Hearses. Hitched trailers. Driven trailers. You name it, there was at least one, and it was painted orange and was packed full of enough people to make that price-gouging price per space more reasonable.

With the tailgate in full swing, our feast began. Rarely do I dine on lobster, but when I do there’s no better place to consume then on the curb of a parking lot surrounded by thousands of sophisticated friends wearing shirts that range from “Free Josh Gordon”, “Browns. Just Do it. Please.” or a shirt fit only for someone who is a huge fan of Karlos Dansby, Joe Haden, Paul Kruger and co. which reads “She Loves the D”.

Lobsters

Sausage and Pizza

After some lobster, clams, chicken, beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin, JALEPENO POPPERS, and Italian sausages with pizza as the bun, I was warmed up, but still not quite satisfied. Shoveling food and beer in your mouth all morning as if you’re the new host of Man vs. Food is all good and fun but if your team gets run off the field, you feel a little less like a medieval King and a little more like Elvis the King circa 1976.

Being the dutiful fans we are, my buddy and I managed to leave the tailgate plenty early and marched ourselves to our seats with time to spare before the national anthem—a burden and a responsibility for all the ticket holding tailgating faithful. Thanks to the Browns winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half, I immediately found myself out of my seat and on my feet, working off some of the thousands of calories I’d inhaled throughout the morning. The crowd, champing at the bit to make an impact on the game let Brees hear it as the powerful Saints offense made their way onto the field. With barks and whistles to go along with hands being clapped and seats being pounded the South endzone fed off the play the Browns’ D and the Browns’ D fed off the crowd. Back-to-back three-and-outs to start the game, Brees not being ready for a snap, two burned timeouts, a false start, and Paul Kruger hitting Brees like the hammer of Thor had the whole stadium feeling like the Dawg Pound in the first quarter.

Drew Brees

As the game went on, you knew Drew Brees wouldn’t be held to one passing yard forever, but the way the team was flying around on defense and special teams and the way in which Hawkins and Barnidge embraced after a big third down made it evident that like the fans, this team was hungry. Kudos to Mike Pettine, who deserved a chunk of the blame for not having his team ready out of the gate against Pittsburgh, because the team’s energy level was night and day different than it was in Week 2 in Pittsburgh.

The game traveled back and forth, but as the end drew nearer as a Browns fan you couldn’t help but feel as if you were grasping at sand being poured between your fingers. The thought that a botched extra point would be just another chapter in the Factory of Sadness was inescapable. As the Saints marched into Browns territory, up a point with the clock under six minutes to play, it felt all to familiar. Then, Karlos Dansby sacked Brees, driving the Saints back out of field goal range, forcing a punt, and all of a sudden everything seemed serendipitous.


When the kick went through the uprights, I found myself in the middle of a three-row group hug.

 

The Saint Ignatius kid, in front of all of his friends, family, former classmates, and all of us who are just a degree or two of separation from knowing him had the ball in his hands with a chance to send his city into a party like it was 1989. He delivered a strike to Gary Barnidge on fourth down that would make Chuck Kyle and all other “Men of Ignatius” proud. He found Miles Austin on the sidelines with the cool of a kid lighting up Shaker Heights on his way to a USA TODAY prep player of the week honor. And most importantly, he willed a 28-yard completion into the stumbling arms of Andrew Hawkins to set up Billy Cundiff with a chip shot for the win.

When the kick went through the uprights, I found myself in the middle of a three-row group hug. It was only Week 2 of the season, but it felt like we had just earned a trip to play for The Lombardi Trophy. Exiting the stadium, strangers high fived, at least one couple was swapping spit, and my buddy had zero problem convincing me to continue our celebrating onto West 6th Street.

Twelve hours after I sprang out of bed, I found myself in an Uber (thanks again!) with my belt now two notches looser and my B.A.C. level surely a tenth or so higher. I was full and I was satisfied. However, once you throw a dog a bone, he’ll surely come back for more. Now that I’ve had a couple days to digest the victory, my belt is back to it’s normal length, and all I can think about is how beatable Baltimore is.

I’m still hungry.

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Cavs Zine 5 is printing championship rings http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/cleveland-cavs-zine-5-kickstarter/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/cleveland-cavs-zine-5-kickstarter/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 16:00:23 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129512 Want a championship ring before the season even starts? Here's your chance.

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The Cavs Zine is something that we here at WFNY have long been behind. Several writers at the site have contributed work to previous Zines and overall, I think I can speak for the site when I say we just love the whole project.

This year, however, like everything else in Cleveland Cavs-land, the stakes are much higher. The Zine is fixing to release it’s fifth edition, aptly titled “Cavs Zine 5″, and is looking to raise money via Kickstarter to ensure “The Bible of Cavs Fandom” can not only be produced on a whole new level, but also include championship rings. Like, for real, there will be printed Cavs Zine championship rings.

Carrying on the theme of old school hip-hop covers, this year’s De La Soul-inspired cover art may be the best yet. As of this writing, the Cavs Zine 5 Kickstarter has raised $3,025 of its $5,000 goal and I’m sure they can reach that by the deadline on October 8 with our help. I hope to see it surpassed.

I recommend committing $35 or more for the Kickstarter reward, “CHILL OUT WITH BEN COX.” Better hurry though, only eight of ten are still available.

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Ric Bucher predicts Cavs will finish fourth in the East http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/nba-video-cleveland-cavaliers-eastern-conference/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/nba-video-cleveland-cavaliers-eastern-conference/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:34:05 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129459 Fourth. At least that's home court advantage, right?

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It’s prediction season for the NBA. The offseason is largely decided, so now everyone’s slotting teams. So do the Cleveland Cavaliers take the top spot in the East? Long-time New York Times scribe Howard Beck gives them 57 wins. Ric Bucher, however, says that despite having three of the top 20 players in the league, they’ll finish fourth behind the Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors.

I guess it’s better than last year. The Bulls appear to be the smart money non-Cavs team at the top of most Eastern Conference previews. There’s no doubt that Washington and Toronto improved from two seasons ago to last. That said, I’m glad they play the games.

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The Browns final drive, and hoping for momentum http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/nfl-news-cleveland-browns-saints-ravens-steelers/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/nfl-news-cleveland-browns-saints-ravens-steelers/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:00:41 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129509 The Cleveland Browns have plenty of momentum heading into their Week 3 contest against the Baltimore Ravens, but is it enough?

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It would be great if the Cleveland Browns could be a dominating force that never trails in any game they play, but that’s just not the way the NFL works. Football in the NFL is a game of inches, seconds, leverage, pounds and temperature. Oftentimes, whichever team finishes a game or season hottest will win it all. Over the course of two straight games, the Browns have shown an ability to get hot; they’ve shown an ability to come back in the face of adversity.

Consider the game-winning drive they executed against New Orleans at home this past Sunday.


Football in the NFL is a game of inches, seconds, leverage, pounds and temperature.

 

What were the chances that the Browns were going to move the ball into scoring position from their own four-yard line with under three minutes to go? Advanced stats say about a 34% before the drive started. But advanced stats don’t take playing style into account. The Browns are a team built on defense and running the football, yet after two running plays before the two-minute warning, they were left only with the option to throw. Advanced stats based on wide swaths of data are useful, but knowing the Browns had to rely on the pass, it seemed unlikely the Browns were on that average. And despite having a ragtag bunch of receivers and Brian Hoyer – whatever he is or isn’t this week – at quarterback, the Browns defied the odds and won the game.

All it took was an impossible series of completions. The tight windows Brian Hoyer was working with on passes to Miles Austin were terrifying to fans at home who were forced to watch replays. It was like a horror movie because even though you know the hero makes it out at the end, it still makes your heart race. Let’s be honest here, though: Nobody in their right mind would have bet on the Hoyer-to-Barnidge connection that conquered 4th-and-6 at the Browns’ 38. At that point in the drive 34% chance of success would have been a dream.

Nobody I know in Cleveland would have bet on the refs who not only properly reviewed Miles Austin’s 13-yard catch along the sidelines, but also restored seven seconds that had improperly run off the clock. I still don’t want to talk about the pass play to Andrew Hawkins on broken coverage where Hawkins got turned around and the pass was probably in the wrong spot. See? Now I’m talking about it.

As the Browns’ sideline was celebrating the field goal and the Browns’ two-point lead, I was feeling a little too Browns-y yet again. Mike Pettine was holding up three fingers to remind everyone there were three seconds left to go and there I was staving off not-so-fond memories of Dwayne Rudd. The percentages I saw were 97% which is probably true, but I still saved my sideline-like jubilation for the final moment when the Saints finished running all over the field and were officially finished.

The Browns have been on the downside in a disproportionate number of games since 1999, so nobody blames us. But this is the NFL. I know that seems like a really lazy statement, but I have to remind myself sometimes what “normal” actually looks like. All around the league, every single week, wins and losses are decided by one or two plays. The Browns of the last 15 years have taught us to be scared because things just never seem to work out for the better. The 2014 version of the Browns was seemingly teaching us the same thing Week 1 in Pittsburgh. But maybe this is a new lesson plan.

Maybe this is finally proof of parity in the NFL and the Browns can win about as many games as they lose. Think about what that really means. It’s not even about “winning” games because it seems like the Browns actively lose a few games every year, whether by helmet toss or coaching decision blunder. Forget winning. Just cut the number of losses in half and Browns fans will mostly be good. In the end, for this season with yet another new coach and while we figure out who Brian Hoyer is, I think that’s all Browns fans are really pining for.

I couldn’t have bet on the Browns to do it heading into last Sunday, and I might not even bet on it if they were to line up and play it again this Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, but they can change that. Momentum and belief are powerful factors in the NFL. Then all of a sudden all those inches, seconds, and degrees seem to be in your favor.

There’s one thing that I actually believe after seeing the Browns come up short in their comeback attempt in Pittsburgh and their willingness to trade punches for four second-half lead changes with New Orleans: These guys believe they’re capable of doing it. We don’t know tons about this Browns team or coach Mike Pettine, but two games is a trend and maybe, even momentum.

Depending on where you look this week, the Browns are even or 1.5-point underdogs against the Baltimore Ravens. I’m not sure if I’m there just yet, where I’d feel comfortable betting on the Browns to win a game as an underdog, but I am pretty confident Karlos Dansby, Donte Whitner, Joe Haden, Terrance West, Brian Hoyer and Mike Pettine would.

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Is Tristan Thompson a “skilled NBA mooch?” http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/nba-news-tristan-thompson-lebron-james/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/nba-news-tristan-thompson-lebron-james/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 14:20:11 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129439 Is Tristan Thompson about to be one highly-paid reserve power forward?

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I don’t know if you noticed this summer, but Kyrie Irving got paid—handsomely. The man selected three spots later at number four is still waiting. Zach Lowe decided to look at potential bank breakers in the NBA and Tristan Thompson made his list.

No single player will benefit more than Thompson from this summer’s wild roster movement. Thompson’s third season was a depressing plateau, one that pegged his ceiling on offense as “skilled NBA mooch.” He is not a post-up threat and probably should not be allowed to even try it now that three of the world’s 20 best offensive players are in Cleveland. Thompson shot just 41 percent on post-ups last season, per Synergy Sports, and has one go-to move: a righty jump hook he lofts after a quick one-dribble attack from the left block.

The Tristan Thompson story is an interesting one because of who he’s aligned himself with, sharing an agent with LeBron James. Once upon a time, that was viewed as a bit controversial among some Cavaliers fans. Back when Tristan came into the league this city wanted nothing to do with LeBron or his representative Rich Paul. As it turns out, nothing could have been smarter for Tristan Thompson now that LeBron is back in town and Thompson’s game can benefit from playing alongside him.

But back to Zach Lowe’s description of Thompson as a “skilled NBA mooch.” I kind of hope that’s an accurate statement. I hope the somewhat underwhelming Tristan Thompson becomes a rich man’s Drew Gooden finding comfort in a defined role among the stars. And who cares what he’s paid as long as he’s worth keeping on the team? This team will be over the cap regardless, so one of the best ways for the team to actually improve is organic improvement of the talent that’s here.

Whether that’s real, actual improvement or a mooching osmosis effect of playing alongside LeBron James, I don’t think it matters.

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Corey Kluber makes Cy Young case with 14 strikeouts in win http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/corey-kluber-makes-cy-young-case-14-strikeouts-win/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/corey-kluber-makes-cy-young-case-14-strikeouts-win/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 14:00:07 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129483 Corey Kluber is a machine. That is all.

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This just in: Corey Kluber is good a baseball. While Opening Day starter, Justin Masterson, was a complete and utter flop and later traded to St. Louis at the deadline, the Tribe’s number two turned himself into not just the ace of the staff, but a Cy Young candidate in the process. Kluber is flat out special. What we have seen from him this year may be even more impressive than Cliff Lee’s dominant 2008 season.

Just three starts ago, there were concerns that Kluber had worn down by going way over his previous career high in innings-pitched. Hogwash, I tell ya! After getting a tad testy with media members who asked the question, Corey let his pitching do the talking. He pitched a complete game in a win over Chicago then followed it up with an eight and a third, two earned run performance to beat the Twins. So what did he do for an encore to those two starts? How does 14 Ks through seven innings of one-run ball sound to you?

“There were times tonight we needed strikeouts, not just outs,” Terry Francona said. “He looks as strong as ever.”

The punch outs came in pairs. Incredibly, he struck out two Astros in each of the first seven innings. He got them with his fastball, his cutter, and his slider. He got them up in the zone and down, away and in. You name it, Kluber baffled the Astros with it. His 14 whiffs set a new career high. It was his 10th game with 10 or more strikeouts, which is the first time that has happened for an Indians pitcher since 1970. Look up “dominant” in the dictionary, and there should be a picture of mean face Kluber.

The offense did just enough against something called a “Nick Tropeano.” They received some help from bad Astros defense. First inning singles from Michael Bourn and Michael Brantley spawned an RBI ground out from Carlos Santana to put the Tribe on the board first. The Astros tied the game in the bottom of the frame on a two-out RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez. After that, it was nada for the ‘Stros.

The Tribe took a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in the fourth. With two outs and Lonnie Chisenhall on first, Yan Gomes sent a slicer to left for a single. Outfielder Robbie Grossman booted the ball which allowed Lonnie to come around all the way from first to score. Two innings later, it was Gomes who once again put the game away.

With first base open and the left-handed Jason Giambi on deck, interim manager Tom Lawless thought it was a good idea to let lefty Darrin Downs pitch to the Yanimal. It wasn’t. Gomes sent a laser over the high wall in left for a two-run homer. Terry Francona should send Lawless a thank you card.

Kluber? With a three run lead the way he was going? Houston had no chance. He would depart after seven innings and 110 pitches with those 14 strikeouts.

Francona is one loyal guy. Loyal to a fault at times. Poor Bryan Shaw. His arm is going to fall off. He says he is healthy, but the last few weeks have been a real struggle for him. He made his league leading 75th appearance Tuesday night and again was not real sharp. Obviously, he has been the eighth inning guy all year and with a 4-1 lead, that’s who should be out there pitching. You want Shaw back out there, back on the horse, after his back-to-back blown leads in Detroit over the weekend? But there he was again, putting himself in a dicey situation.

A leadoff walk to Chris Carter and a two-out single by Max Stassi (my in-laws, by the way are Max and Stacey!) brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Alex Presley. Presley singled to inch the Astros closer and Francona finally had seen enough. On came closer Cody Allen for the four-out save. Pinch hitter Jason Castro was now the lead run with two on and two out. The catcher laced one to left, but Brantley ran it down to end the threat.
Exhale.

Allen would retire the Astros in order for his 21st save of the season. The win was badly needed and ended the Tribe’s four-game losing streak.

“We’re trying to finish the year strong these last two weeks,” said Francona. “We’re showing up every day to win and meet our goals, period.”

Game three of the series in Houston features Carlos Carrasco and lefty Brett Oberholzer.

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A trick play, an interesting fact and stepping aside …While We’re Waiting http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/waiting/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/waiting/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 12:30:14 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129472 Perhaps you’ve seen this making the rounds. Arkansas State tried a fake punt against Miami. It was one of the least successful fake punts you will ever see. The first time you watch it, you will of course follow the path of the ball and see what a terrible pass it is. After the first

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Perhaps you’ve seen this making the rounds. Arkansas State tried a fake punt against Miami. It was one of the least successful fake punts you will ever see. The first time you watch it, you will of course follow the path of the ball and see what a terrible pass it is. After the first viewing, turn your attention to the receivers at the bottom of the screen.

That was hilarious. What in the world was he doing? Well, someone found out

“Because of the formation we were in for that fake punt, Booker was covered up and couldn’t go downfield, or it would be a penalty,” Anderson told College Football 24/7. “So we said, ‘What do we want to do with him? Do we want to bubble him or peel him out?’ Someone said let’s just let him be a fainting goat. I loved it, so we just put that in. His job on that play was basically to not get a penalty by going downfield, because the fake was on the backside of the play. These kids have had five head coaches in five years, so we try to let them have fun.”

The best part is that after the interception, the WR was drilled.

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 Your uni-nerd news of the week.

Here’s a job I would love. Some may say it is boring. Not this uni-nerd.

Also, there was more scuttlebutt on twitter Tuesday that the Browns are going to go with a logo on the helmet. This would go completely against everything they have told us. I’m not buying it.

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Found this to be a very interesting stat-

“Not only did Colston go without a catch for the first time in 86 games, he was in on 59 percent of the Saints offensive snaps but not once did Drew Brees throw a pass in his direction. Though much was made of Jimmy Graham’s 10 catches and two touchdowns, the Browns secondary actually did an outstanding job of limiting the New Orleans passing game and holding them to just 24 points.”

In the second half, I would argue that Brees had no reason to go anywhere but Graham’s direction, but not even a target for the whole game? Does he have an injury that is slowing him down? Anyone watch the game again and notice Colston open but Brees ignoring him? Could the Browns have been that good against him?

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You should know Brendan for his work at Stepien Rules, and if you have been around WFNY for a while you will remember him as one of our weekend editors. Really happy to see Brendan get rewarded for his good work with SLAM, and can’t wait to see what he does with the opportunity.

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That leads me to my final item for the week.

Just about seven years ago now, I sent an email to Scott and Andrew. The three of us were writing our own individual Cleveland sports blogs. I asked them if they might be interested in collaborating on a new joint venture. At the end of January 2008, we launched WFNY. It has been quite a ride from that first month.

Today, I am stepping away from Waiting For Next Year.

Life situations and circumstances change, and I feel privileged to have been on this ride for so long. The site has given me more opportunities than I ever thought I would have. If you don’t already know, I have been working part time for FOX Sports Ohio.com since March, and am looking forward to increasing my opportunities there over the coming months. It has become too much for me to juggle jobs, family and WFNY. So I will be stepping away.

I know the site will continue to thrive. There are more writers now than ever, and I know Scott, Craig and Rock will guide the ship in the right direction. The door is open for me to contribute whenever I want, which I appreciate.

I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the success of the site, whether a writer or the community of readers and commenters here. It has been my honor. I treasure the relationships I have made through the site, and I know those will last long after I have typed my last on these digital pages.

Here’s to hoping next year happens soon. Until then- I thank you.

rick

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Chad Zumock talks Hoyer, Browns, Goodell, LeBron and Tribe – WFNY Podcast – 2014-09-16 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/chad-zumock-talks-hoyer-browns-goodell-lebron-tribe-wfny-podcast-2014-09-16/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/chad-zumock-talks-hoyer-browns-goodell-lebron-tribe-wfny-podcast-2014-09-16/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 19:30:05 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129416 I can’t even begin to tell you everything that Chad Zumock (@chadzumock) and I discussed today on the podcast. Chad is an obvious veteran to talk radio and the conversation just flows.  Here’s some of the stuff we discussed. Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson Roger Goodell and the NFL The Browns big win over the

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I can’t even begin to tell you everything that Chad Zumock (@chadzumock) and I discussed today on the podcast. Chad is an obvious veteran to talk radio and the conversation just flows. 

Here’s some of the stuff we discussed.

  • Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson
  • Roger Goodell and the NFL
  • The Browns big win over the Saints
  • Brian Hoyer and how Cleveland needs to embrace him
  • Why honoring Derek Jeter stinks
  • Bemoaning the loss of Victor Martinez and baseball love
  • More…

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Josh Gordon pleads guilty to DWI charge http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/nfl-news-josh-gordon-dwi-guilty-browns/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/nfl-news-josh-gordon-dwi-guilty-browns/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 18:20:00 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129408 Hey, look! More Josh Gordon news!

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Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has pled guilty to DWI charges in Wake County, North Carolina. As a result, he has been sentenced to 12 months of unsupervised probation and must pay a fine of $390.

Gordon was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence back on July 4. The league’s shiny new drug policy mandates a two-game suspension for players who are convicted or plead out in drunk-driving cases, but Gordon’s arrest fortuitously occurred under the old policy. Had Gordon been given an additional two-game ban, it would have bumped his free agency back another season. But as Mike Florio from Pro Football Talk reports, Gordon will only be subject to a fine, and won’t have his current 10-game ban lengthened.

NFL.com’s Albert Breer corroborates these reports stating that Gordon has been “assured” this the case. Gordon, as reported on Monday, will be allowed in the Browns facility during his current 10-game suspension and is still on track to return in Week 12. Gordon’s free agency, which would have been pushed back a season had he been forced to serve a season-long ban, will now come after the 2015 regular season. This, of course, is assuming he doesn’t sign one of the more surprising contract extensions in recent NFL history.

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Cedar Point announces partnership with LeBron James http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/cedar-point-lebron-james-foundation/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/09/cedar-point-lebron-james-foundation/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 17:37:12 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=129397 At least *this* contract is multi-year, amirite?

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When Cedar Point promised to name a roller coaster after LeBron James if he were to return to Cleveland, odds are they did not factor in the costs of placing the name of one of the world’s biggest personal brands on a plot of intertwined steel. Alas, roughly 10 weeks after The Essay was penned, the Sandusky, Ohio amusement park held to their promise—but with a slight amendment.

It’s time to make good on a promise – and it’s bigger and better than expected.

Earlier this summer, the park sent out a now-famous tweet stating that it would rename one of its coasters “King James” if LeBron James returned to Ohio. That outcome is now known. But the “ball” was back in the park’s court.

Today, Cedar Point announces a joint decision with the LeBron James Family Foundation on a multi-year partnership which includes benefits that go far beyond renaming a coaster.

The highlight of this new partnership will take place next summer when Cedar Point hosts all of the kids who are actively involved in the foundation’s “Wheels for Education” program and Akron I PROMISE Network for a day of fun with their families in the program’s annual “I PROMISE Family Reunion” event. Additionally, next spring, Cedar Point will hold a first ride auction with 100% of the proceeds benefiting the LeBron James Family Foundation.

Just a year ago, Cedar Point was named the World’s Best Amusement Park by Amusement Today Magazine. There was some speculation that the park would re-name The Mantis—a stand-up roller coaster that is being removed later this fall—as a way to live up to their promise, but only for what would amount to roughly five weeks. The route chosen by the path will not only last longer, but benefit way more people than any naming rights would have ever done.

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