Waiting For Next Year http://www.waitingfornextyear.com ...a tradition of hope, passion, and misery Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:43:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Brian Hoyer: Regression to the Mean http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/brian-hoyer-cleveland-browns-johnny-manziel/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/brian-hoyer-cleveland-browns-johnny-manziel/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:43:53 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132607 Will the real Brian Hoyer please stand up?

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Too often, it seems, Cleveland sports fans pine for the next hero to lead them to a championship.  And, I’m not talking about any bandwagon fans who only root for the Browns because the Johnny Manziel Show came to town. I’m looking at the hardcore Muni Lot-tailgating, Bernie Kosar jersey-wearing, season-ticket holders who have endured the pain of not only losing games, but the team as well.

At the slightest hint that Brian Hoyer had the ability to lead the Browns to a winning record, he instantly became immune to criticism and garnered enough fan support to earn a local endorsement from Mr. Hero. After the dominating win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, even talk of a contract extension for Hoyer cropped up. Yet, after one bad performance, many fans seem ready to move on from him completely, either immediately or when Manziel is ready to take over the reigns. Just compare the comments on my post after the Steelers game where I cast some doubt into Hoyer’s abilities to Craig’s post-game article after the Jaguars game. The beauty of Cleveland fans is that they will hold players who win for their city in the highest regard and fight for them against any doubt. But, the curse of Clevelanders is if players don’t live up to the lofty expectations, they are immediately pushed out.


The curse of Clevelanders is if players don’t live up to the lofty expectations, they are immediately pushed out.

Maybe Brian Hoyer is who he has been for his entire career: A competent quarterback with strong mental fortitude, high football IQ, toughness, accuracy on shallow routes, and a workman-like attitude. He has been an underdog since he stepped foot into an NFL locker room as an undrafted free agent who managed to make the New England Patriots roster, backing up Tom Brady for three seasons, from 2009 to 2011. Released by the Patriots as one of the final cuts of training camp in 2012, he was not picked up until November, by the Steelers. He spent a month backing up Charlie Batch, then was released in December and picked up by the Arizona Cardinals who gave him an opportunity to play in weeks 16 and 17, replacing the one and only Ryan Lindley. The Browns picked him up six months later, after Arizona released him, and you know the rest.

Prior to Sunday’s game against Jacksonville, his record of 5-2 as a quarterback in Cleveland was good enough to make him seem legendary in light of performances from Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell, and Seneca Wallace. Now, a 29-year old journeyman quarterback from the suburbs of Cleveland, is seen by many as another quarterback who the town got too excited about too quickly only to be let down. And, they’re probably right.

The Jaguars finally exposed Hoyer’s lack of pocket passing ability by shutting down the running game and forcing the Browns into third and long situations. In the first five games of the season, Kyle Shanahan was able to call on his stable of three promising running backs to carry the offense and, then, run play action passes to take advantage of the linebackers and safeties creeping up to stop the run. The misdirection helped Hoyer who was able to move and find throwing lanes created by misdirection rather than using impressive arm strength and accuracy. He does not have the arm strength or accuracy beyond short routes to “throw receivers open” or fit the ball into tight spots despite good coverage. Therefore, when forced to make throws to average to below-average receivers standing in the pocket, Hoyer struggles mightily.

What I’m not saying is that Hoyer is a failure at quarterback and needs to be replaced. That is the furthest thought in my mind. My point is that, as former Cardinals coach would say, he is who we thought he was rather than what we hoped he was. Sometimes, teams think they find a quarterback out of nowhere, always desiring the next Kurt Warner to walk into the NFL and dominate from start to finish. That almost never happens, but the possibility that it does entices everyone.

Take a look at these four stat lines from seven game samples and guess who these quarterbacks are.

Hoyer

If you guessed Brian Hoyer was player A, Matt Cassel was player B, Ryan Fitzpatrick was player C, and player D was Josh Freeman, you are correct—and you need to seriously reconsider things you commit to memory. Of course, Cassel, Fitzpatrick, and Freeman each have followed up their shockingly good performances with less-than-stellar careers. This excercise is not meant to prove that Hoyer will follow their careers and end up as a career backup, but rather to show that this phenomenon happens. Average quarterbacks in a system that fits well with talented players and coaches around them can succeed in this league and even win games. The issue remains that if they are not surrounded by a combination of these factors, many quarterbacks regress to the mean and struggle.

While standing behind the best offensive line in football, Hoyer was able to take a luxurious amount of time to allow receivers to get open, never once worrying about the pressure. The same line gave the Browns one of the best running games in football which allowed Hoyer to get out of the pocket on play action passes, as I noted above. But, when any part of this machine known as Kyle Shanahan’s offense breaks down (Alex Mack), the quarterback is asked to do more. We learned that Hoyer will likely have issues with this increased responsibility.

Going forwards, pay attention to how Shanahan is forced to change up the offense due to defenses keying on Hoyer’s weakness, throwing inside the pocket. Can Paul McQuistan or anyone else who is, at least, a somewhat capable of playing like an NFL offensive lineman help shore up the right side of the line? If the run cannot rebound to the level it was before Alex Mack was injured, either Hoyer or Shanahan must find a way to overcome this obstacle. Much of the poor performance in Jacksonville can be attributed to the leaky offensive line or shaky running game, but at the end of the day, Hoyer is on the hook, whether fair or unfair.

Up next, the Browns face the winless Oakland Raiders who have allowed 218 yards per game on the ground, a welcome statistic to the Browns after last week. I fully expect Hoyer, the backfield, and the offensive line to look much better because the match-up favors everything Kyle Shanahan’s offense does well. But, if they struggle once again, expect the Johnny chant to get louder than it has been since the first pre-season game. This game is absolutely winnable for Hoyer and the Browns, but, after last week’s offensive performance, there are no guarantees

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Kendrick Lamar to perform before Cavs Home Opener http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/kendrick-lamar-perform-cavs-home-opener/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/kendrick-lamar-perform-cavs-home-opener/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:03:54 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132641 How big are the Cleveland Cavaliers? Not only will their October 30 home opener be televised on TNT, Kendrick Lamar will be performing before the game at a fan event held outside of Quicken Loans Arena. The Cleveland Cavaliers will tipoff the most anticipated season in the team’s history on Thursday night October 30th when

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How big are the Cleveland Cavaliers? Not only will their October 30 home opener be televised on TNT, Kendrick Lamar will be performing before the game at a fan event held outside of Quicken Loans Arena.

The Cleveland Cavaliers will tipoff the most anticipated season in the team’s history on Thursday night October 30th when they host the New York Knicks as part of TNT’s national broadcast of NBA Opening Week.

To commemorate the evening, Turner Sports and the Cavs will host a free fan event outside Quicken Loans Arena that will feature a musical performance by hip-hop recording artist Kendrick Lamar, as well as appearances by the Cavalier Girls dance team, the Scream Team hip-hop troupe and more. Once the Cavs game begins, the event will serve as a viewing party for fans with the TNT broadcast featured on the massive video boards that will be set up in the space.

The free event will be open to the public beginning at 4:00 p.m. in the Huron (Stark) parking lot (directly across the street from The Q). Turner Sports will feature footage from the event and Kendrick Lamar’s performance, within the hour-long TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by AutoTrader.com. With a special guest appearance by Kevin Hart and NBA TV’s Inside Stuff host Kristen Ledlow, the special will air at 7:00 p.m. ET before TNT’s coverage of the Cavaliers vs. Knicks game tips off at 8:00 p.m. ET.

The Grammy-nominated Lamar, widely accepted as one of the best hip-hop artists making music today, and his song “I” will serve as the theme song for the entire 2014-15 season. The song “I” has had some mixed reviews, but this is to be expected from someone as decorated as Kendrick Lamar has been—the bar is indeed high.

In 2014, Lamar took to the iHeartRadio stage to perform “California Love” in a Cleveland Indians hat. The intersection of his music and the NBA isn’t new as he and Clippers point guard Chris Paul were on the cover of the recent “Music” issue of ESPN The Magazine. As a fan of his work, if his upcoming album (Complex’s Most Anticipated album of 2014) is half as good as 2012’s Good Kid Maad City (released two years ago today), pairing Lamar up with the Cavs for this stretch run could prove to be one hell of a year for all parties involved.

For those of you who haven’t heard the track yet, we got you covered, ya bish. (Note: Some lyrics are potentially NSFW.)

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NBA GM Survey: LeBron James, Cavs should be pretty good http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/nba-gm-survey-cleveland-cavs-lebron-james/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/nba-gm-survey-cleveland-cavs-lebron-james/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:41:54 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132634 This LeBron guy is pret-ty good.

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The annual General Manager survey was released by the NBA and, as to be expected, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a fairly good showing. Though the majority of GMs think the San Antonio Spurs will repeat as NBA Champions, more than 70 percent of respondents believe that their opponent will be the Wine and Gold.

Cavs forward LeBron James received plenty of accolades, garnering the majority of the MVP vote (67.9) in addition to being named the player most GMs would choose to start a franchise (despite turning 30 this year) as well as the one who forces the opposition to make the most adjustments. James also brought home “Most Athletic” and “Best Perimeter Defender,” just ahead of San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard. He was far and away the “Most Dangerous in the Open Floor” and “Best Finisher at the Rim.”

Interestingly, James received votes for “Best Small Forward in the NBA” as well as “Best Power Forward in the NBA.” While he won the former by a landslide, he and teammate Kevin Love came in fourth and fifth, respectively, among power forwards. Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, and Los Angeles’ Blake Griffin were ranked ahead. Love came in second for “Best Offensive Rebounder,” giving up the top spot to Detroit’s Andre Drummond.

Perhaps most newsworthy (outside of Shawn Marion’s multiple mentions), there were actually general managers who felt that the Cleveland Cavaliers did not have the best offseason—the Chicago Bulls pulled in just over 10 percent of the votes. Seventy-five percent of GMs said the Cavaliers were “Most Improved.” The Cavs were also not listed among the top five “Most Fun to Watch.” Good one, GMs. At least Grantland got it right.

As Zach Lowe said best, “I can hear Austin Carr cackling from 500 miles away.”

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Game Illustrated: Matthew Dellavedova http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/game-illustrated-matthew-dellavedova-cleveland-cavaliers/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/game-illustrated-matthew-dellavedova-cleveland-cavaliers/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:27:42 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132563 If you know me personally or have read more than 50 words I’ve written, then you already know that I am an unabashed sucker for players who hustle, especially on a basketball court. I paid tribute to Anderson Varejao’s hustle in the previous edition of Game Illustrated. Today, that honor goes to another foreign Cavalier

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If you know me personally or have read more than 50 words I’ve written, then you already know that I am an unabashed sucker for players who hustle, especially on a basketball court. I paid tribute to Anderson Varejao’s hustle in the previous edition of Game Illustrated. Today, that honor goes to another foreign Cavalier I hold near and dear: Matthew Dellavedova.

Matthew Dellavedova Game Illustrated

A pair of anecdotes to help illustrate—pardon the pun—my affection for Outback Jesus and those of his ilk:

My high school basketball coach stood about 5-foot-7.1 In his playing days, he was a classic, plucky point guard. He moved the ball on offense, got up in your shirt on defense, and collected floor burns like Beanie Babies circa 1998. If we were hoping to get any minutes as his players, that was the identity we needed to embrace. As a team, we could barely shoot a lick, and I was our biggest guy at 6-foot-5. We were loaded with talent in the way that Skip Bayless is loaded with subtlety.

But we could run, dammit. If we couldn’t win on talent, we would win on effort. We had entire portions of practice devoted to diving after loose balls. We practiced taking charges. We had no-rules rebounding drills. We took masochistic joy in running those practice-ending suicides. If we were going to win, it was going to be through attrition. We had to go hard until our foes got sick of it.

It’s all terribly corny, I know. But it resonated with me then, and it does now. To me, this is what basketball is about. If you’re going to be out on that hardwood endeavoring to win a game, why wouldn’t you go as hard as you can? Why entertain the possibility of thinking that you could’ve done more? When I see a person not sprinting back on defense, I see a person whom I probably would not get along with on a personal level. Ipso facto, Delly and I would be best friends.

Another tale, from a different time and place:

I taught English in South Korea for about three years. I taught dozens of students over that time. Some had a knack for English, some struggled, and some didn’t really care. Some roused rabble, while others were as rowdy as a cup of Earl Grey. Each was outstanding in his or her own way.2

The student of whom I was and am most proud was a third grader with the English name of Judy.3 She was not outgoing—in any language. She wasn’t an outcast, but she wasn’t mega-popular either. She mostly kept to herself in those in-between moments of class when the aspiring comics tried out their latest fart jokes.

But that girl worked. She worked her ass off. She took extra notes in class—as a third grader. When most kids only worried about whether or not this would be on the test, she was jotting down asides about idiom usage and appropriate situations in which to employ the present progressive tense. She took better notes in elementary school than I did in college.

Lo and behold, as the months passed, Judy got better and better at English. She was always shy, but her little hand went up more as she improved. You could see confidence in how she held her Hello Kitty mechanical pencil. She read aloud faster. She guessed the meanings of words she’d never seen. She grasped fully what nouns and verbs and adjectives and adverbs were. She stuck her neck out there and answered questions that everyone else assumed impossible, winning impressed glances from other students when she turned out to be right.

And she did all of this because she tried so damn hard. It was a joy to watch her at work. My eyes are moist as I write this.

This all brings me back to Delly. Delly is like Judy. He isn’t that big or that fast or that good, in the conventional NBA senses of those ideas. He’s a solid ballplayer, mind you, and there’s no doubt in my mind that David Blatt is happy to have him on the roster. There isn’t a coach in the basketballing world who would refuse effort like this:

Young Matthew probably won’t play more than 18 minutes a game this year, and that’s okay. He’s a decent ball-handler and he can at least initiate the offense and get out of the way.

He can knock down jumpers at a decent rate, too. He shot 37% on threes last year, including a combined 44.8% from the corners. You could do a lot worse than sticking him in the corner while one of the Cavs’ more ball-dominant stars is on the court.

Most importantly, Delly will be a pain for opposing point guards. He’ll draw charges and harass enemies for 94 feet. It’s not fun for a player to catch an inbounds pass and immediately have a defender on him like Vegemite on toast. It may not result in a turnover, but burning an extra few seconds off of the shot clock is valuable, especially if LeBron, Marion, and some of the Cavs’ other pterodactyl defenders are on the floor. You can even talk yourself into the idea that facing Delly in practice every day is making Kyrie a better player.

And as a bonus, he gives us an excuse to watch Australian interviews (In the first 35 seconds, Austin Carr gushes over Delly almost as much as me). I love a good accent:

Ah, Delly. He seems like a good lad. He won’t be more than the ninth-most important Cavalier this year, but he’s going to be one of my favorites to watch. He plays the game how my coach played it. He plays how Judy would play. He plays how we should all aspire to live: all effort, full belief, caution to the wind.

The Cavaliers are a better team with him on it.

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Footnotes:

  1. He still does; he ain’t dead. Big shout to McGregor’s Militia
  2. Disregard this if you’re not a parent. Some kids kinda suck
  3. Most every student was made to take an English name. It was awkward

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Dion Waiters Named Co-Captain to the Triangle All-Stars http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/dion-waiters-grantland-triangle-all-stars/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/dion-waiters-grantland-triangle-all-stars/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:20:28 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132600 Buckets: They still don't lie.

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Dion Waiters has won his first and most dubious honor of the season: He was named co-captain, along with DeMarcus Cousins, of the Triangle All-Stars, which are described as “the people’s Dream Team — the crazy characters, untapped talents, and head cases who make the NBA our favorite thing to watch.”

The Triangle is Grantland’s sports blog, and it is nothing if not a fan of the intersection of pro athletes and social media. The folks over there do deep dives into Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and everything else, so that we can enjoy the very best that the internet has to offer. Dion won big points for his “Men lie women lie BUCKETS DNT” tweet, which the Triangle named the Tweet of the Summer. High praise!

The full list of this year’s Triangle All-Stars has yet to be revealed, but Dion made the starting lineup along with Cousins, Gorgui Dieng, Klay Thompson, and Reggie Jackson.

Cavs fans are unlikely to be surprised by Dion’s inclusion. He has been a lightning rod for conversation and controversy ever since he was taken with the number four pick, and he has only stepped his game up since the Cavs stepped back into the national spotlight.

The Triangle loves Dion for his innate wild-carditude. A portion of the writeup on him:

The Walter White of locker-room chemistry.1 Dion is the 100 emoji. Every team needs a wild card — the dude who is going to turn a boring Wednesday-night visit to Detroit into either a personal highlight film or a personal Alamo. Some night in December, Dion Waiters is going to do something extraordinary, whether that’s scoring 40 points in a half or suplexing Tristan Thompson at midcourt. Either way, he is the one big question mark hanging over the Cavs roster (aside from the lack of big men).

This all seems just about right. I’m disappointed and a little hurt that Grantland did not cite the Swag Matrix as part of its research, but that’s okay. We’ll just have to keep on…waiting for next year.2

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Footnotes:

  1. In the sense that he will probably kill your locker room, eventually.
  2. Synergy!

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“Yosted” Celebrity Friends, NFL Fan Behavior, Passing Over Sandy, and Bitter Bo: While We’re Waiting… http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/2014-mlb-world-series-nfl-fans/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/2014-mlb-world-series-nfl-fans/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132543 TD takes a look at Ned Yost and the behavior of certain NFL Fans.

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Good Wednesday morning ya’ll…. It is my “offseason” here at WFNY, but it is good to have this space each week to get some quick views out to the masses. The Browns let me down big time Sunday, the Cavs are about to begin their quest with LeBron 2.0 and to be honest, it is just not my thing. My beloved Wahoos will soon start their winter roster tinkering, but I don’t expect anything major. So what am I talking about?

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I will be the first one to admit it: Despite the fact that Ned Yost has his Kansas City Royals in the World Series for the first time in 29 years, he is still arguably one of, if not the, worst in-game managers in Baseball. His team is playing for a title in spite of him and his over-the-top love for the bunt. I can assure you that I am not alone in my evaluation. Don’t forget this was a guy who was fired with less than two weeks left in the regular season back in 2008 when his Milwaukee Brewers were battling for a playoff spot, led by their ace CC Sabathia,

After all, his brutal moves all season spawned a favorite hashtag in the Kansas City Twitter World: “Yosted.” As in when Ole’ Ned pulled James Shields after giving up a single and a walk in the sixth inning of the Wild Card, just 88 pitches in. Pulling him was bad enough, but instead of turning things over to his lock down seventh inning reliever Kelvin Herrera, or even a lefty to matchup with Brandon Moss, Ned called on right-handed Rookie starter Yordano Ventura. The book on Ventura is that he comes in wild at times before calming down, ala Trevor Bauer. The first two pitches he threw were balls. Ventura’s next one was tatooed to deep center for a three-run bomb.The 3-2 lead had evaporated and the Royals and their fans has been….wait for it…..Yosted.

That is just one of many examples of getting Yosted. But then again, the guy must be doing something right because his team, which trailed 7-3 heading into the eighth inning of the win-or-go-home Wild Card game, hasn’t lost until last night as his Royals rode into the Fall Classic as the Favorite.

One thing you can say about Yost is that he is an interesting guy. Here is something that our old friend Anthony Castrovince brought to our attention: Ned’s got some famous friends, which include Comedian Jeff Foxworthy and the late great Nascar legend Dale Earnhardt.

“Jeff is like a brother to me,” Yost said. “And Dale, I loved him like a brother.”

And no matter what you think of Yost’s strategy, no matter how much we might wish he was a little more media savvy, there is no denying, on the eve of this Fall Classic, that he has made that same ascension in his line of work.

“As the stakes have gotten higher, he’s gotten calmer,” said Foxworthy, who speaks with Yost daily and will be there Tuesday for Game 1 at Kauffman Stadium. “Ned would always say — even at the All-Star break this year — that this team was so close, that they just had to get it through their heads that they could win. And boy, they did.”

Collectively, we underestimated the Royals, and we underestimated Edgar Frederick Yost III. It’s OK to admit that now.

Kudos to the former Indians.com beat writer on another fantastic piece.

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Growing up here on the East side of Cleveland, I was lucky enough to have a father who had season tickets to the Browns. Home Browns games were a holiday in the Dery family. My Uncle had a suburban that 10 of us would pile in to go down to each game. My dad always drove because he the more aggressive of the two behind the wheel. His moves in and out of traffic were Eric Metcalf-esque.

We parked in the lot down the hill by the West side of old Muncipal Stadium. We brought sandwiches from Davis Bakery for half time and My uncle Kenny would get Hot Dogs before the game for everyone and my dad would get the programs. We parked the same place. We walked the same way. We sat in the same order in our seats in section 37 of the upper deck. Everything was very ritualistic. One of the things my older brother and I enjoyed doing was watching drunks fight in the Dawg Pound with my dad’s binoculars. Back then, it was funny to us. Now? Not so much.

Fan behavior at NFL games these days can be borderline appalling. I hate to paint everyone with a broad brush, so if it comes off that way, I apologize. I now take my two young kids to the games with me. The walk from the parking lot into the stadium and from the gate to our seats is an eye opening experience to them. They look horrified at times. Maybe I was the same way when I was their age going with my parents to games down at the Lakefront, but I have to believe things have gotten a lot worse.

I have no issue with anyone tailgating. What I don’t understand is the need to have 18 beers before walking into a game, then barely being able to stand up while acting like a buffoon during the game. Or the guy who wants to act tough and tried to pick fights all day long. This happens in every stadium every Sunday in the fall. The fan on fan fist fights pop up every Monday morning on youtube and get plastered all over the sports blogs. There were two horrifically bloody incidents in Arizona and San Francisco this season that caught National headlines earlier this season. Now comes this nugget out of Chicago:

A man is in critical condition after he was beaten up during a tailgate party in a McCormick Place parking lot before Sunday’s Chicago Bears game.

What is wrong with people? Whether it is in the parking lot or inside the stadium, like the two incidents I spoke of earlier, I just don’t understand why people feel the need to get all liquored up, mouth off to people, then start throwing fists. Has the NFL even taken any steps to try and curb all of this violence? It is no wonder than people now prefer the at-home HD viewing than the live in-game experience.

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Back to baseball. It looks as though Hall of Famer Paul Molitor has become the leading candidate to become the next manager of the Minnesota Twins. This isn’t that much of a surprise, considering Molitor’s Minnesota ties and familiarity with the current roster. But what is interesting to us is who is not getting the job:

Reports have suggested that with DeMarlo Hale, Joe McEwing and Sandy Alomar Jr. having been told they are out of the running and with no evidence of additional candidates coming in now, the derby may be down to Molitor, a Twins coach this past year, Class A Fort Myers manager Doug Mientkiewicz and Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo.

Our man Sandy Alomar Jr. can’t seem to catch a break. Had the Indians not landed Terry Francona two years ago at this time, Sandy would be the manager of the Tribe today. He has been rumored for several jobs over the past three years – Arizona and Minnesota interviewed him this offseason while he was passed over for jobs in Toronto and Chicago (both White Sox and Cubs) – yet can’t seem to close the deal.

We all know that Sandy is one heck of a guy and his work with Yan Gomes over the past two years has helped elevate him into one of the best catchers in the AL. But maybe Alomar Jr. just isn’t a great interview. Not that it has ever been mentioned or is even any sort of problem, but Francona inherited Sandy and moved him from bench coach to First Base coach this past season. There is no rift there whatsoever and Sandy is an Indian as long as he wants to be, but I was just pointing that out. He will be a manager one of these days, I am just surprised it hasn’t happened as of yet.

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A Big Ten guy, I am not. But living in Northeast Ohio I obvious am dialed in. This is not news to anyone; the conference is once again horrific in 2014. Adding Rutgers and Maryland makes things worse. You can point to Rutgers 5-2 record and tell me that I am wrong, but anyone who watched Ohio State destroy them 56-17 this past Saturday knows that is not a good Football team. Right now, the leader of the Big Ten West is Minnesota at 6-1 (3-0) and their best win to date is at Michigan, who we all know is the biggest dumpster fire West of Florida.

It is a two-team, one-game league at this point. Anything that happens before and after November 8 doesn’t and won’t matter. November 8 is when Ohio State visits East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans. The Bucks are an offensive juggernaut with QB J.T. Barrett getting better this week. Then again, who exactly have they played? Their four game winning streak where they have averaged 56 points per game has been against Kent State, Cincinnati, Maryland and Rutgers. While the offensive explosion has been impressive, call me when they play anyone worth talking about.

As for the Spartans, they had their one chance to put themselves in the top of the playoff conversation earlier in the season when they travelled to Eugene to take on Oregon. The game was close for a half before the Ducks overwhelmed Michigan State 46-27. Both Nebraska and Purdue came on late to keep things close when they got their shot at the Spartans, but in the end, both came up short.

Nebraska coach and known Red Arse Bo Pellini, who wants to believe this is a three-team race (except it isn’t), spouted off some interesting/bitter rhetoric about ESPN’s relationship with the SEC, the clear best conference in the sport and the place Pellini had come from before getting the head coaching job at Nebraska:

“I don’t think that kind of relationship is good for college football. That’s just my opinion,” Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini said Monday. “Anytime you have a relationship with somebody, you have a partnership, you are supposed to be neutral. It’s pretty hard to stay neutral in that situation.”

“They play good football, and I know there is some good football played in some other conferences, too,” Pelini said. “It’s hard to say because you just don’t see, unfortunately, in this day and age, a lot of crossovers. So you don’t get a lot to make that decision on, to be able to compare and contrast. You have to go off what the media says to a certain extent and what some people say.”

The truth? As of today, The SEC West has four of the top five ranked teams in the AP poll. Is ESPN supposed to just ignore that fact? Should they be talking about the Maryland/Iowa game that means so much? Come on Bo, you are better than this. Pellini is an Indians fan and for that, I like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but that was not the smartest thing he has ever said.

****

Your classic Old-School Hip Hop of the week: Big Daddy Kane never gets the respect he is due as an MC. His staying power wasn’t to the likes of BDP, Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim, and others of his time, but he was still “silk smooth.” Enjoy his greatest cut: “Ain’t No Half Steppin.”

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Indians ask fans about Wahoo, popular players in survey http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/cleveland-indians-survey-fans-players-wahoo/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/cleveland-indians-survey-fans-players-wahoo/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 19:04:59 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132576 Survey Says!?

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It’s that time of year again and the Cleveland Indians want to know what their fans and season ticket holders think. Not a lot of surprising questions, per usual. The Indians once again asked about all their various uniforms and Chief Wahoo himself. They also asked for a ranking of the top five Cleveland Indians, which makes sense. One slight wrinkle though: They included manager Terry Francona.

Lastly, they put a grid together with Cody Allen, Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, Jason Kipnis, Corey Kluber, Carlos Santana and Nick Swisher and asked which words applied to the players. Description words that were options included, boring, community-oriented, gritty, uncommitted, blue collar, resilient, passionate, fits character of Cleveland, star, and more.

It’s logical exercise, but I admit I did get a chuckle feeling like I was on an online dating profile with “Down to Earth” being one of the options.

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Kyrie Irving falls to No. 23 in ESPN’s #NBARank http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/kyrie-irving-espn-nbarank/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/kyrie-irving-espn-nbarank/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:21:07 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132562 He's going down, we're yelling TIMBER.

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ESPN surprised plenty of fans when they placed Kyrie Irving at the No. 8 spot in last year’s #NBARank, just one year after being No. 22. This time around, after a year of ebbs and flows and no real growth on the defensive end, the two-time All-Star slots in at No. 23.

Despite the fluctuation in “rank,” Irving’s 2013-14 numbers were right in line with his career averages, tallying 20.8 points, 6.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game (20.14 PER) while suiting up a career-high 71 times. Irving’s leadership has always been a question, but outside of a decreased field goal percentage, this move is either ESPN realizing that they were a little too high on the point guard’s skill set or there were actually a handful of players to leapfrog the 22-year old who is almost assuredly to take on a support role this coming season.

Per ESPN Stats & Info, Irving, in averaging at least 18 points per game and 5 assists per game in each of his first three seasons, matches only Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Grant Hill and Steve Francis in his accomplishments.

[Related: Did #NBARank actually overrate Kyrie Irving?]

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La Canfora: Browns could “juggle” offensive line again this week http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/nfl-news-cleveland-browns-alex-mack/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/nfl-news-cleveland-browns-alex-mack/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:24:20 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132544 You know who else juggles? Clowns.

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NFL insider Jason La Canfora joined Baskin and Phelps to talk about the Cleveland Browns after their big loss to Jacksonville. La Canfora mentioned that he doesn’t think Brian Hoyer’s job depends on the Oakland game. He also said that he didn’t think injuries to Alex Mack and the defensive linemen would catch up to the Browns as badly as it did on Sunday. Then he dropped this little nugget about the Browns’ continuing plans on the offensive line in light of the Alex Mack injury.

I don’t think (John) Greco will be at center this week. They’re talking about juggling their offensive line a little bit and I expect that to happen.

I don’t know what it means for the Browns to “juggle” their offensive line. Greco could go back to his guard spot leaving a hole at center, but who jumps in?

The Browns signed Ryan Seymour off their practice squad, but he’s a guard. He played LG, LT, RG and RT in starts at Vanerbilt before becoming a seventh rounder to the Seahawks in 2013. There’s a guy named Vinston Painter (sounds like a Bond villain) who’s on the list of Browns offensive linemen. He was signed early in September off of Denver’s practice squad. He was the 173rd overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. He’s described as a tackle.

The best bet? The Browns’ official roster page shows Nick McDonald, who is described as a guard / center. The 27-year-old went undrafted in 2010 and has had bits of time with the Packers, Patriots and Chargers. He played four games at center for the Pats in 2011 and 12 games at right guard for them in 2012.

It sounds like a decent enough plan. Rather than take a good piece of your offensive line that was working and creating two holes, why not leave four of the five spots intact? Of course the center is kind of an important spot and the Browns are now faced with potentially filling it with relatively unknown Nick McDonald.

Of course, that’s if La Canfora’s sources are correct and the Browns are actually going to shuffle the offensive line. I’m sure he’s right that they’re talking about it, but unless we can see the potential candidates in practice, we can’t possibly know if they’ll actually do it… until Sunday against the Raiders, that is.

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GIF: Mike Miller steals LeBron’s ovation http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/gif-mike-miller-lebron-james/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/gif-mike-miller-lebron-james/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:15:08 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132545 Thank you, thank you...

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The great folks of Columbus, Ohio gave LeBron James a standing ovation in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s preseason win over the Chicago Bulls. James’ teammate and long-time friend, Mike Miller, decided that he would intercept the applause and tip his own cap to the scarlet and grey-clad crowd.

They’re not posing for pre-game photographs, but basketball is once again fun in Cleveland.1

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. Miller was 0-1 for zero points and three rebounds in eight minutes.

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LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love make this week’s Sports Illustrated Cover http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/lebron-james-cleveland-cavaliers-si-cover/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/lebron-james-cleveland-cavaliers-si-cover/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 15:50:19 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132532 A DOUBLE ISSUE no less.

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While ESPN The Magazine went with Chicago’s Derrick Rose as the cover of their NBA Preview issue, Sports Illustrated wasted no time in putting LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love front and center on theirs.

In the Eastern Conference, all eyes will be on Cleveland with its new Big Three of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving andKevin Love, all of whom appear on the national cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated.

Just like Cleveland, almost every team improved in the East, setting up for what could be a particularly eventful season.

“There are questions. We want the pressure. We want the focus,” says Love, a three-time All-Star who averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds for the Wolves last season before coming to the Cavaliers. “I’m going to be a sponge. I know I can get a lot better.”

By the looks of things, it appears that Lee Jenkins nabbed himself yet another LeBron story, one that will now feature a few of his teammates, complete with money quotes from power forward Kevin Love. The Cavs also topped SI’s “League Pass Entertainment” list.

ESPN The Magazine forecasted the Cavs to win 56 games this season (two below the Las Vegas over/under), but does add that they could get that total to 62 by merely playing league average defense. What SI has in store remains to be seen, but between this past July, ESPN last month, and the impending SI issue, it appears that Cavs fans will get to see Cleveland on plenty of national covers over the next few months.

Case in point: The upcoming SLAM.

Buckle up, Cavs fans. It’s about to get fun.

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What Did the Browns Lose Sunday? One Game. http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/cleveland-browns-jaguars-commentary/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/cleveland-browns-jaguars-commentary/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:30:11 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132477 Though tough to qualify, the Cleveland Browns' loss to Jacksonville only counts as one loss.

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One game.

The Cleveland Browns lost this one game.

That is all that happened Sunday. They played terribly, no doubt. They were road favorites and embarrassed themselves long and hard in Jacksonville. They put the kibosh on all of the optimism that came with defeating the Steelers. They raised every demon that resides within Browns’ fans, uncomfortably familiar ideas of inferiority and self-loathing.

But it was only one game.

Brian Hoyer was flagrantly awful against the Jaguars. He completed 39% of his passes. It was his first full game as Browns starter without a touchdown. He missed open guys. He was unable to lead the Browns to a touchdown despite the Browns’ D thrice intercepting Blake Bortles. Fair or not, Hoyer’s fingerprints were on the botched fourth-down conversion attempts. He made me regret purchasing a Romanburger last week.

But it was only one game.

The offensive line was a shambles, barely a shadow of its former self. The Browns O-line without Alex Mack was like Halloween without candy or Christmas sans cookies: an incomplete institution. Browns runners managed just 69 yards on 30 carries. The offense gained a yard or less on 48 of 74 offensive plays. The line allowed seven tackles for loss, three sacks, and seven more hits on Hoyer. I wish Paul McQuistan the very best, but he inspired a generation of matadors Sunday.

But it was only one game.

The run defense showed precious little progress. Denard Robinson had the day of his professional life, running for 127 yards and a touchdown. The former Michigan quarterback did things that we once wished of Josh Cribbs. Blake Bortles ran for 35 mostly unmolested yards as the defense paid him no mind. Paul Kruger had a solitary tackle on 60 snaps.

But it was only one game.

The special teams continued to disappoint. As the fourth quarter punt bounced off of Jordan Poyer’s facemask, the Browns’ chances of winning bounced away with it. We could see a path to victory but it kept escaping us, a mischievous rabbit always out of reach.

But it was only one game.

There were some bright spots if you squint, sort of how you notice the brightest parts of a cave once your eyes adjust. Joe Haden and Justin Gilbert played borderline well. Tashaun Gipson had two legitimate NFL interceptions, giving him four for the season. Andrew Hawkins was at his slippery best.

But still, it was only one game.

This isn’t to say that we should only try to look on the bright side. Believe me, I get it. Having waxed poetic a week ago about how this team won me over with its hustle and heart, I feel betrayed. It’s dumb and immature, but a football team can make you feel things normally reserved for your parents’ divorce. The things that I thought to be true were not on Sunday. My worldview was shown to be inaccurate.

The Browns were not tough. They were not smart. They were not opportunistic. Au contraire: They were meek. They were boneheaded. They were wasteful. No matter how many times the Jaguars slid the door open, the Browns rammed headlong into the wall.

Any and all worries about falling in a trap game were validated Sunday. The Jaguars defense was described early in the week by Joe Thomas and others as the best the Browns have faced. It certainly looked that way. If the victory over Pittsburgh was a 10, this game was a zero wrapped in putrid Lake Erie perch.

This team is still 3-3. They have at least six winnable games left on the schedule, if you’re silly enough to think that the Browns ever function predictably. We’re in the thick of this season now, and now we will see what the Browns are made of. They probably aren’t as good as we thought last week or as bad as we think now.

We should listen to Joe Thomas.

“It’s the nature of the league. You win one game and you’re crowned as Super Bowl champions. You lose one and you’re announced as the worst team in the league. I hope that we have the perspective on this team to understand that that’s the way it goes in the NFL.”

I hope so, too. After all, it was only one game.

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An infamous kiss, closing windows, and YIELD: While We’re Waiting… http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/infamous-kiss-closing-windows-yield-waiting/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/infamous-kiss-closing-windows-yield-waiting/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:34:25 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132512 Happy Tuesday WFNY! It’s mostly happy, anyway. The Browns remembering how to be the Browns again was awfully frustrating, and pessimistically it was perhaps enlightening. Because really, does anyone know who the real Browns are? This has to be the most bipolar football team I can recall. You have the first halves of the first

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Happy Tuesday WFNY!

It’s mostly happy, anyway. The Browns remembering how to be the Browns again was awfully frustrating, and pessimistically it was perhaps enlightening. Because really, does anyone know who the real Browns are?

This has to be the most bipolar football team I can recall. You have the first halves of the first Steelers game and the Titans game, and then you have the second halves of those games. You have a bitter loss to Baltimore, but you also have a nail-biting win over the Saints. They absolutely crushed the Steelers in the second game, only to follow that up with a loss to a previously win-less team. So yeah, go ahead and figure this team out.

I don’t know how to explain the Jaguars game. Some of it was clearly the absence of Alex Mack. Those of us who thought maybe the team would be ok without him might have been premature in that assessment. Some of it was complacence. Coming off an enormous win, the team thought they could just show up in Jacksonville, enjoy the weather, and go through the motions to win the game. And some of it was just learning what it takes to be a good NFL team and to win the games you are supposed to win.

And, some of it might just be that the Browns aren’t quite as good as we thought in the wins, nor quite as bad as we think after the losses. The Browns, to me, seem like the kind of mediocre NFL team that is capable of beating almost any team, but also of losing to any team. And you know what? Even just being that is still progress. And if the Browns can still come back and win these next two games, this season still has the potential to be something great. We’ll see over the course of the next month which Browns is the real Browns.

*****

The kiss heard ‘round the world

So, I’m sure everyone has seen this by now, but in a recent pre-game interview with FOX Sports Ohio’s Allie Clifton, Cavaliers PF Tristan Thompson jokingly referred to Allie by the wrong name, then winked to the camera and gave her a kiss on the side of the head.

There has been so much discussion on this event. Much of it has been highly critical of Tristan Thompson. And I guess that makes sense. If I just saw video of, say, Taj Gibson doing this to a sideline reporter, I would probably be extremely uncomfortable with it. But when I saw the video of Tristan doing it, my genuine reaction was a shrug of the shoulders and I said to myself “Eh, I guess that’s kind of funny, but not one of Tristan’s better pranks with Allie”. I then went about my day without thinking about it again. It was actually my dad who first told me this was becoming a national story.

So I’ve been thinking about this the last couple of days and really struggling with it. I know why my initial reaction was so nonchalant. I’ve seen practically every single Allie Clifton interview. I know the rapport she has with these guys, especially Tristan. I’ve seen the team try to prank her before. I remember Jarrett Jack’s April Fools prank when he pretended to be extremely angry and frustrated and kept giving Allie short, one or two word responses to her questions. I get the context around this team and why what Tristan did was ultimately harmless. It’s the context that matters.

But it’s that context that everyone nationally is missing. And not having that context doesn’t make them wrong. And this is part of the problem with omnipotent connectedness of our society. We see everything, including fun little inside jokes that maybe weren’t meant for us. In our day to day lives, we all have a certain way of talking and joking around with our closest friends. I call my friends all kinds of things I would never call other aquaintences. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong. It’s not a justification of many things that are said or done publicly, but it’s an understanding of context.

There’s something deeper here, too. Tristan and Allie have a great working relationship. That much is obvious to all of us who watch Cavaliers pregame shows on FOX Ohio all the time. What Tristan did was a playful joke, calling her by the wrong name. Then the kiss was just sort of a sign of affection. A way saying “I’m just messing with you, I still love you”. But what if it was a male reporter. Would Tristan still have kissed him on the head? Maybe, maybe not. It’s more likely he would have give him a playful shove or a punch to the shoulder. And that difference matters here. That’s the gray area.

What are we trying to achieve as a society? We crave diversity, but it seems like we also want to soften our differences as people. Does that fact that many of us treat women differently than men mean that we are failing as a society? Or is that difference between how we behave around men and women something we should embrace? I mean, if Tristan had given Allie a playful shove or a punch to the shoulder, the outrage would be a lot different and a lot louder, no?

And that’s the crux of my struggle. How do we celebrate and embrace diversity without becoming homogenized? Is it really so bad for Tristan to joke around with Allie? Did he cross the line by kissing her on the side of the head, even if it didn’t mean anything? Does it matter that Allie seems to have had absolute no problem whatsoever with what Tristan did?

I don’t have answers to all these questions. I just know that I don’t fully grasp the outrage on this one. I see the ambiguity here, I totally get why eyebrows were raised. As I said, if it was (random NBA player) kissing (random local sideline reporter) on the head, I would probably be a little more uncomfortable with it.

We’re at a strange point as a society today, one where everything lives under the microscope and nothing is sacred. Perhaps context matters more today than ever before, but I can see an argument where context is being marginalized. We, as a society, seem to be at some kind of crossroad. We’re trying to elevate discussions and to be a better society, but we’re also trampling on a lot of our differences and the things that make us all unique. The outrage mob demands we all be of one mind. There’s something a little uncomfortable about that. I just want us to not leave context behind.

*****

What if LeBron gets hurt?

You know, this has been a time of celebration for Cavaliers fans. Yep, in Cleveland, the city where things always go wrong for the sports teams, many Cavs fans are celebrating LeBron’s return and rejoicing in this Championship window that suddenly opened. And I don’t blame them. Heck, I share in the enthusiasm. As much fun as the first LeBron era was, this next one should blow the first away. LeBron, Kyrie, Love, Dion, Andy, Tristan, a coach with a fun basketball philosophy. It all seems too good to be true.

But there’s a funny thing about windows in the NBA. They often close before you have a chance to climb through. The Cavaliers, when healthy and at full strength, have the potential to be a juggernaut of a team. But with so many aging and injury-prone players on the roster, everything is hanging by the smallest of threads. The margin for error here is miniscule. And what happens if LeBron gets hurt a la Kevin Durant?

I found this conversation between Paul Flannery and Tom Ziller on SB Nation to be extremely fascinating. They are discussing Durant’s injury and how it impacts the Thunder this year, and eventually they touch on what this means for the Oklahoma City window.

ZILLER: That’s the rub. To survive in the absence of KD, Westbrook needs to be WESTBROOK. If that happens, there’s really little more room to grow for guys like Lamb and Jones than there’s ever been. And that’s what can make the Thunder better in the long run: confidence among and in the younger guys.
I’m of the opinion that the Westbrook Show will be thrillingly entertaining and that the Thunder will eventually only be so good as the KD-Westbrook offense and the Ibaka-led defense are. It’s good enough to win a title, but not by acclamation. I’d love to be proven wrong though.

FLANNERY: Well, they’ve had five years to convince us and each year it’s something. They were too young, then it wasn’t their time, then it was LeBron’s time, then Westbrook got hurt, then the Spurs happened. We’re almost at that point where we look at what the Thunder have and what they’ve accomplished and ask ourselves: Is that all there is? Because it hasn’t been enough.

We have to be patient as the Cavaliers try to find their way, but we can’t be too patient. Life has a funny way of catching up to us quickly. Nothing should be taken for granted. The Cavaliers need to capitalize on this opportunity as quickly as they can.

I don’t want us to, three years from now, suddenly be looking back and saying “where did this all go wrong?” It’s possible everything will turn out great and the Cavaliers will contend for the next five to seven years with Kyrie and Love still in their primes and LeBron still one of the game’s best players. But there are many possible outcomes much scarier than that.

So my advice is to enjoy this season, be patient with the team as they go through all their ups and downs. But don’t take them for granted. And don’t rest on the future. This team is a contender today, and winning the Championship this season should be everyone’s goal, because who knows what next year will bring.

*****

Pearl Jam did WHAT???!?!?!?

Those of you who have been following the site for a while and have listened to any of the music podcats I have done with Craig probably know that Pearl Jam is my favorite band of all time. And you may or may not know that their fifth album, YIELD, is my favorite album of all time.

Well, Pearl Jam, YIELD, and I have had a bit of a rough relationship over the years when it comes to seeing them play those songs live. Sure, Given To Fly is a staple and Do The Evolution is played a lot, and sure I’ve seen some deeper cuts that I love like Faithfull and In Hiding. But I’ve never seen my favorite song, No Way, live. In fact, the band has hardly ever played it live. I’ve never seen Brain of J, or All Those Yesterdays, or Pilate.

Anyway, back in 2006, a group of fellow YIELD fanatics and I decided we were going to see Pearl Jam play in Cincinnati. And we decided to formulate a campaign where we would provide postcards for fans to send to the band, asking them to play YIELD songs at that show. So postcards were sent, signs were made, and off to the show we went.

And Pearl Jam didn’t play their first YIELD song until late in the set, and that night they only played two YIELD songs total. I’m not saying they did this to spite us. I’m sure they never even got the postcards. But still, it was a letdown.
Anyway, fast forward eight years later, and last night in Wisconsin, Pearl Jam played YIELD in its entirety, from start to finish. Man. I am insanely jealous of those fans, but also beyond excited to get my hands on the bootleg for this show.

Anyway, I’ll leave you guys this week with this homemade music video someone did for my personal, all time favorite Pearl Jam song, “No Way”. Enjoy, and have a great rest of the week!!

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Mike Pettine discusses failed running attack against Jacksonville http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/cleveland-browns-mike-pettine-jacksonville/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/cleveland-browns-mike-pettine-jacksonville/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:15:25 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132481 Whither Isaiah Crowell?

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The Cleveland Browns’ offense has been well paced all season long large in part to their rushing attack. Even after Ben Tate got hurt during Week 1’s game against Steelers, it just led to the emergence of the “baby backs,” Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell. That feels like a long time ago now. Terrance West was a healthy scratch, having been benched for a game. Isaiah Crowell put the ball on the turf three times (losing one) in a game, and now fans and media are questioning the Browns’ use of Terrance West in a pretty key moment on third and one and going for it on fourth and one in an embarrassing loss to the Jaguars.

On why RB Terrance West was in there for short-yardage situations, specially the fourth-and-1:

“That was the decision we went with. We have three good backs, and Terrance was the guy we had in there. We didn’t execute, and I know he was hard on himself yesterday and today about it, knowing that he shouldn’t try to hit the home run there, that he should just, ‘Hey, if it’s blocked for zero get one. If it’s blocked for two get four.’ That’s the decision we went with.”

On if making the most of his limited reps has to do with trying to get West and RBs Ben Tate and Isaiah Crowell all carries:

“It’s something to look at. I see it as a rookie that’s still learning the game, but we’ll have discussion this week as to how to best rotate those guys. You could make the argument it’s a good problem to have, but you’re still dealing with the word ‘problem.’ It’s something that we have to plan for.”

None of this is to minimize the loss of Alex Mack, which also coincides with the downturn in the rushing attack. Still, the Browns are going to struggle mightily if they can’t find a way to restore much of the productivity they showed when the offense was averaging about three touchdowns per game on the scoreboard.

It’s going to take a team effort, but the whole offense depends on it. The Browns need their offensive line to do better. They need individual backs to not dance, put the ball on the ground or otherwise squander what little opportunities they have. Finally, they need Brian Hoyer to get some timing down with his new center John Greco so that the offense doesn’t look so disjointed from the moment the ball is snapped. The Browns can’t just line up in shotgun and throw the ball. This team is predicated on running the ball and setting up manageable downs and distances to set up the play-action.

I know I’m a broken record on this, but it’s really obvious.

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FOX Sports ranks Browns uniforms No. 32 in NFL http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/fox-sports-cleveland-browns-uniforms-nfl/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/fox-sports-cleveland-browns-uniforms-nfl/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:45:10 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132493 When the actual football team is 3-3, you have to dig down pretty deep to disparage. Nevertheless, the Cleveland Browns are ranked dead last in a recent listing of all uniforms in the NFL as done, in slideshow form, by FOX Sports. This team hasn’t won anything in decades yet this uniform is out there

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When the actual football team is 3-3, you have to dig down pretty deep to disparage. Nevertheless, the Cleveland Browns are ranked dead last in a recent listing of all uniforms in the NFL as done, in slideshow form, by FOX Sports.

This team hasn’t won anything in decades yet this uniform is out there every Sunday. Granted, you can’t do a lot with brown, and it’s hard to give a team named after a surname a helmet logo, but this has been the ugliest thing going on in sports for decades.

Roughly a year ago, Paul Lukas (ESPN.com’s resident uniform expert) ranked the Browns 16th due to the mutual love-hate that exists throughout the league. This ranking was in lockstep with his 2012 list that discussed the potential for modernization.

Somewhere in the Nike offices, there’s probably a high-ranking executive whose entire job is to persuade the Browns to adopt a helmet logo and an alternate jersey. “Vice President for Browns Modernization” or some such (good luck with that). The team’s plain-Jane look tends to be polarizing — some folks love it, some hate it — but the truth lies somewhere in between. Docked a few notches for not wearing their brown jerseys even once last season.

While it wasn’t exactly a crystal ball, it’s widely expected that the Browns will adopt some form of “modernization” in 2015, though team owner Jimmy Haslam has been on record saying that the helmet will indeed go untouched. Sorry, FOX Sports guy.

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Allie Clifton responds to Tristan Thompson kiss “controversy” http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/allie-clifton-tristan-thompson-kiss-twitter/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/allie-clifton-tristan-thompson-kiss-twitter/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:20:25 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132483 The debate over the Tristan Thompson controversy has been a hot topic among various media outlets. In case you missed it, Thompson took part in an uncomfortable interview with FSO reporter Allie Clifton. In the interview, Thompson called Clifton “Tina” and then subsequently kissed her on the cheek. This exchange caused a stir in the media, especially

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The debate over the Tristan Thompson controversy has been a hot topic among various media outlets. In case you missed it, Thompson took part in an uncomfortable interview with FSO reporter Allie Clifton. In the interview, Thompson called Clifton “Tina” and then subsequently kissed her on the cheek. This exchange caused a stir in the media, especially from Yahoo’s Kelly Dwyer who  called the interview’s kiss “sexual harassment” and called Tristan Thompson out on this inappropriate act. This kiss was definitely inappropriate, but it probably happened with some context.

We got the answer on Tuesday, when Clifton tweeted her response to the controversy.

Up to this point, we have not heard any comment from Tristan Thompson or Clifton. Clifton tweeted that the incident was an inside joke between her and Thompson and that this was no big deal and that the two have a “good working relationship.”

As with most things, context really sheds light on what actually happens in certain situations. This kiss may not have been a good move by Thompson, but to call this sexual harassment without knowing the whole story seemed to go a little overboard. Many local team reporters have close relationships with players and might have a rapport with certain players. Stories can become blown out of proportion and taken too seriously without knowing all the facts. I am not saying what Thompson did was right or smart, but it does not deserve the words sexual harassment attached to it.

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LeBron: Bulls are better than Cavs http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/lebron-bulls-better-cavs/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/lebron-bulls-better-cavs/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 20:26:54 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132469 Chicago better than Cleveland? James says that's no bull. (Get it?)

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It might be hedging his bets. It might be setting expectations. It might be a way to motivate his own teammates. But one way or another, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James says he thinks the Chicago Bulls are a better team than the Wine and Gold as presently constructed.

“[The Bulls] are a team that’s much better than us right now just off chemistry,” James said. “They’ve been together for a while, we’ve got a long way to go.

“You’ve got to go through something to create a bond; that means for the worse. We’ve got to lose ballgames that we think we should’ve won, we’ve got to get into an argument every now and then just to test each other out.”

The Cavaliers have undergone a slew of highly discussed changes over the last 12 months while the core of the Bulls carries into this season from last. Add in a healthy Derrick Rose and the acquisition of veteran forward Pau Gasol and you have a roster that many put right up there with James’ Cavs.

The two teams play Monday night in a preseason game at Ohio State University. The Cavs are calling it their most important preseason game as James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving will start together for the first time against an NBA team.

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Browns lose to Jags – Craig on Dawgs on the Run http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/browns-lose-jags-craig-dawgs-run/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/browns-lose-jags-craig-dawgs-run/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 18:18:25 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132456 This morning, like I always do, I spoke about the Browns’ loss with Andy Baskin and Andre Knott on the WEWS web show Dawgs on the Run. My appearance starts a couple minutes into this clip. As always big thanks to Andy, Andre and Eric the Referee for having me on.

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This morning, like I always do, I spoke about the Browns’ loss with Andy Baskin and Andre Knott on the WEWS web show Dawgs on the Run. My appearance starts a couple minutes into this clip. As always big thanks to Andy, Andre and Eric the Referee for having me on.

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LeBron James bringing new leadership style in return http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/lebron-james-bringing-new-leadership-style-return/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/lebron-james-bringing-new-leadership-style-return/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:01:17 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132430 LeBron James went off to college and came back to Cleveland having learned a few things. According to Yahoo’s Marc J. Spears, James held a players-only meeting before the first practice this season in which he specifically laid out expectations for each and every player on the Cavs. “I was looking like, ‘Wow.’ That’s crazy

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LeBron James went off to college and came back to Cleveland having learned a few things. According to Yahoo’s Marc J. Spears, James held a players-only meeting before the first practice this season in which he specifically laid out expectations for each and every player on the Cavs.

“I was looking like, ‘Wow.’ That’s crazy that he broke down every individual thing he wants guys to do,” Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters told Yahoo Sports. “He wrote down every player from the guy in training camp who may be here or may not be here. …It was unbelievable. It was great.”

Said Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao: “He used to talk individually to the players before, but not like that.”

These are the kinds of stories that seem funny later (to outsiders) when a team fails to live up to expectations. You can file them away with the “best shape in his life” pre-season baseball stories that never seem to get tired when the Indians are in Arizona.

Still, with a situation like Cleveland and LeBron there’s a pretty distinct before and after comparison that is meaningful to us. That was a long four years and things changed a ton both with LeBron and here in Cleveland. Who can blame us for looking for each and every little positive sign along the way?

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It’s not time for Johnny Manziel to take over… yet http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/time-johnny-manziel-take-yet/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/10/time-johnny-manziel-take-yet/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:34:39 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=132422 Despite an awful showing in Jacksonville against a really bad Jaguars team, it’s not time for Johnny Football. Brian Hoyer and the Cleveland Browns offense had a miserable day, but there’s little reason to think it would have been better with Johnny Manziel under center. His mobility might have helped at times, but it’s silly

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Despite an awful showing in Jacksonville against a really bad Jaguars team, it’s not time for Johnny Football. Brian Hoyer and the Cleveland Browns offense had a miserable day, but there’s little reason to think it would have been better with Johnny Manziel under center. His mobility might have helped at times, but it’s silly to think that the Browns were one player—even a quarterback—away from winning that game. Anyone could look at a few Brian Hoyer plays and imagine a scenario where Johnny Manziel might have done a better job, but consider the rest of the things that went wrong for the Browns on offense.

The Jacksonville defensive front gave the Browns’ offensive line fits yesterday. They overpowered Paul McQuistan—frequently. John Greco had a pretty mediocre day at center for the Browns as well, highlighted by his snapping of the ball on a play designed merely to draw the Jags off-side or take a delay penalty. The offensive line had its worst day of pass protection (three sacks, seven QB hits) and didn’t offer many holes to running backs either.


As much as I like Johnny Manziel, he wouldn’t have fixed the Browns on Sunday.

Speaking of the running game: Terrance West and Browns running backs had an awful day. Ben Tate and Isaiah Crowell ran hard, but there just wasn’t any daylight to be had in Florida yesterday. When Terrance West had his chances, he decided to look and look and look for daylight by dancing and wasting steps laterally. The young back has to learn to take what the defense gives him even when it’s not a whole lot. Terrance West consistently turned bad plays even more negative.

Which leads me to the coaching staff yesterday. I don’t dislike Terrance West, but he wouldn’t have been my choice in what the staff deemed four-down territory in need of a yard. I think Terrance West has potential to be the Browns replacement for Ben Tate down the road, but he’s clearly third on the depth chart right now and probably shouldn’t have been in the game much at all yesterday.

None of this is to defend Brian Hoyer. He was bad. He threw balls into the arms of defensive linemen. He was off target on all sorts of routes including anything that could be considered deep. He was even missing when the Browns escaped pressure by moving the pocket, which is particularly frustrating to watch. If Brian Hoyer is a rhythm passer the the Browns were a band without a drummer.

As much as I like Johnny Manziel, he wouldn’t have fixed the Browns on Sunday. It’s always possible that a player like Manziel could have given the team a spark, but we’ve seen Brian Hoyer lead comebacks as well. The Browns still had a very solid chance to win the game, even as poorly as Brian Hoyer had played, pretty deep into the fourth quarter.

The Browns easily could have won it after Hoyer’s 65-yard completion to Andrew Hawkins down to the Jacksonville 29-yard-line. The Browns might have been in position again with the score 10-6 if Jordan Poyer gives Hoyer the ball at the 20 instead of muffing it at the 1-yard-line. That was another game-winning drive opportunity that we’ve seen Hoyer thrive in this season that was ripped away from the offense.

I’m recounting all of this to simply say that Brian Hoyer still gives this team a very good chance to win. We all watched that game into the fourth quarter thinking there was still time for the Browns and Hoyer to take advantage of a team that might start thinking about protecting its lead on defense. But maybe someday it will be obvious that Brian Hoyer is a limiting factor for this offense and this team. When that day comes, we’ll all be looking for Manziel. It will be pretty obvious. This past Sunday afternoon against Jacksonville just wasn’t that day.

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