WaitingForNextYear http://www.waitingfornextyear.com ...a tradition of hope, passion, and misery Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:05:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Carlos Santana…surprise, surprise….AL Player of the Week http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/carlos-santana-surprise-surprise-al-player-of-the-week/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/carlos-santana-surprise-surprise-al-player-of-the-week/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:05:45 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124588 carlos santana celebrationAfter tearing apart the Kansas City Royals this weekend, it was no shocker that Tribe first baseman/DH Carlos Santana has been named American League Player of the Week. Over his last six games, Carlos has had quite the run. How does 14-23, six homers, three doubles, 10 RBIs, eight runs scored sound to you? Pretty good. With his walking abilities in tow, Santana has reached base 20 of his last 29 times.

Not too shabby.

Think about where Santana has come from to get back to this point. It has been a steady rise since his brutal start. Carlos went .157/.318/.292 in April and followed that up with a .169/.343/.325 May. But with the warm weather came a new Santana. His post-DL hot streak essentially hasn’t stopped. His June was .308/.426/.590 with six homers and 15 RBIs, that spawned an even better month of July where ‘Los has been a stud: .314/.416/.651 with eight homers and 18 RBIs. His OPS has been over 1.000 for two months now. Last seasons 20 home run campaign has already been tied with two months remaining.

Carlos is the second Indian in a row to receive the AL Player of the Week honor, joining second baseman Jason Kipnis.

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Balancing competition and aggression… Training Camp Notes 07.28.14 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/balancing-competition-and-aggression-training-camp-notes-07-28-14/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/balancing-competition-and-aggression-training-camp-notes-07-28-14/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 18:32:10 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124575 Kirksey

Competition.

We’ve heard for months that the coaching staff and front office want to see competition for every position. Whether it is a high profile battle between Hoyer and Manziel, or a more subtle one between Kirksey and Robertson, this was going to be a camp marked by competition.

And it is. Sort of.

Last year, the tone set by coach Rob Chudzinski was a competitive one, but in a much different way. There were competitions between the offense and the defense. There were peanut butter sandwiches for dinner on the line. There was hooting and hollering. There were defensive backs jawing at receivers. It was louder. It was obvious.

This year the competition is more business-like. More internal. For the first day in pads, the team was pretty subdued. There weren’t many big pops or crashes. And that was by design. Coach Pettine stressed the importance of “being a good teammate” before practice. They don’t want to see anyone get hurt.

There is a difference between competition and aggression according to Pettine. While he wants the team to be characterized as tough, that doesn’t mean they beat up on each other. Other coaches have said they wanted a tough team. Will Pettine succeed where Shurmur and Chudzinski failed?

Bullet Points:

– With no Greco or Pinkston second year man Garrett Gilkey played left guard with the ones throughout practice. On the right side was rookie Joel Bitonio. In individual drills Bitonio held his own against the defenders he was lined up against. Alex Mack blew up Jacobi McDaniel, driving him back a dozen yards or so. He did not manhandle Rubin that way, nor did he have to go against his camp nemesis Phil Taylor who is still not participating in practices.

– Speaking of Rubin, I noticed early in practice that he would walk away from the group during drills when he had finished his rep. It seemed strange to me, but I noticed more and more throughout the day that the veteran players seem to get more freedom from Pettine’s staff than other regimes. Seems like they are trusted to know their bodies more and what they have to do to be ready. Several veterans are on what coach called pitch counts, meaning he doesn’t want them in every play at camp, but would rather they stay fresh.

– Andrew Hawkins has been getting a lot of praise early on in camp, and he most certainly seems to have the confidence of the quarterbacks who don’t hesitate to throw the ball in his direction. What I had forgotten is how small Hawkins really is. He is listed as three inches shorter than Travis Benjamin. He also had a ball taken away from him by rookie defensive back Justin Gilbert today. But he made some catches. He doesn’t appear to be afraid of the middle.

– The rumor wafting throughout the media today was about Josh Gordon having difficulty adjusting to coach Shanahan’s system and specifically the verbiage. In all honesty, would it surprise you to find out that Gordon was distracted by all that’s going on around him and not able to concentrate 100% on learning the new offense? Me neither.

– Rookie linebacker Chris Kirksey had a pick six in 11-on-11 drills today off Johnny Manziel. Manziel had scrambled out of the pocket and threw a ball towards the sidelines and obviously didn’t see Kirksey sit down in front of the receiver.

– After practice coach Pettine confirmed what everyone else has seen in regards to the quarterback competition. Brian Hoyer has been more consistent, and Johnny Manziel has had moments where he flashed, but has been less consistent.

– The team will work on goal-line situations on Thursday, and Pettine said that the restrictions on tackle ball carriers to the ground will be lifted. It will be a live practice for certain portions. Sounds like a good day to attend.

– Taylor Gabriel. This 5-8 rookie wide receiver made a few really nice grabs. Can the Browns keep three or four receivers under 5-10″?

– Speaking of height, seeing the cornerbacks together really highlighted the new philosophy behind grabbing taller defensive backs. Desir and Gilbert towered over the shorter veterans.

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LeBron James, Johnny Manziel, boring Tribe and more with Chad Zumock – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-28 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/lebron-james-johnny-manziel-boring-tribe-and-more-with-chad-zumock-wfny-podcast-2014-07-28/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/lebron-james-johnny-manziel-boring-tribe-and-more-with-chad-zumock-wfny-podcast-2014-07-28/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:54:42 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124567 WFNY Podcast LogoChad Zumock joins the podcast for the first time. Here’s what we talked about.

  • Chad talks about his relationship working with Jim Florentine
  • We talk about LeBron James coming home and Chad reporting sports
  • Johnny Football vs. Brian Hoyer
  • Cleveland Browns training camp and zip lines
  • The boringness of the Cleveland Indians
  • Is baseball boring in general now?
  • The steroid era
  • The Jim Thome Statue

And much much more.

[iframe style="border:none" src="http://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/2975085/height/150/width/590/thumbnail/yes/theme/standard-mini" height="150" width="590" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen]
Check out this episode!

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Internal Goals: Barkevious Mingo looks forward to his sophomore season http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/internal-goals-barkevious-mingo-looks-forward-to-his-sophomore-season/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/internal-goals-barkevious-mingo-looks-forward-to-his-sophomore-season/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:00:23 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124549 Mingo2 140726

With twelve minutes and twenty-four seconds left in the fourth quarter of a tie game against the Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson harnessed a hand-off from his quarterback, Christian Ponder, and took two quick strides forward, finding himself just inside of his left tackle, Matt Kalil. Peterson, widely considered to be one of the best—if not the best—running backs in the league since being drafted in 2007, immediately darted to his left where he would run past several would-be tacklers for what would amount to a five-yard gain. One of those defenders, a guy tasked with doing everything within his power to meet Peterson behind the line of scrimmage, yearning to beat him to the quarterback immediately following the snap, was Barkevious Mingo.

Mingo, a rookie at the time, started on the outside of the Browns’ defensive scheme, but was quickly met by Vikings tight end John Carlson. Carlson stood Mingo up, engaged him directly into his chest and contained him just long enough for Mingo to be forced to stare at the No. 28 on the back of Peterson’s jersey as the ball-carrier scampered away, later brought down by a handful of Mingo’s teammates. By comparison, it was a play that happens in every NFL contest. It netted just five yards in a game that the Browns would eventually go on to win. But it’s one that sticks out in Mingo’s mind, the result of post-mortem film study and the mental reminder that his teammates were forced to pick up the slack he left behind.

“It sticks out,” Mingo tells WFNY of attempting to bring down Peterson in what was just his second game as a professional. “You always remember the bad ones. It was my fault.”

Mingo, the sixth-overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, is a focal point of those watching Training Camp this summer, hoping to see more flashes of the guy who had three quarterback sacks in his first three games and a lot less of the one who managed to record just two over his final twelve. He will attempt to do so with what will be his third defensive coordinator in three years between Louisiana State University and the Browns who are now under the watch of the 35-year-old Jim O’Neil. Mingo will be the first to stand up for the SEC and the quality of talent that litters the high-end collegiate football conference, but he’ll also quickly admit that the transition to the NFL was one that can take the most athletic of defenders and make them appear lost once assignments and technique enter into the fray.

At 6-foot-4-inches with a frame that could best be described as lean, Mingo can explode off of the line with speed that rivals many defensive backs. The hand- and foot-work of NFL-caliber offensive linemen, however, have forced Mingo into being more than a quarterback assassin. As the outside linebacker in a hybrid NFL defense, Mingo is not only forced to drop in to pass coverage, but also contain the edge in the event an opposing offense attempts to stretch the field toward the sideline—the latter being an area that was not just limited to the play on September 22 against the Vikings.

QUOTE2One week later, as the Browns were facing the Cincinnati Bengals, rookie running back Gio Bernard took a second-quarter run for six yards to Mingo’s side, the linebacker being taken completely out of the play by a pulling right guard. Two weeks later, in the third quarter of a game against the run-first Buffalo Bills, the lightning quick CJ Spiller ran a counter run around the right side of quarterback EJ Manuel, only to plant his right foot and cut left toward the space that should have been occupied by Mingo. The result was a 54-yard touchdown run and a tie game. Mingo was once again corralled by a tight end. Against the Detroit Lions, his team up 17-7 with a little over 11 minutes left in the third quarter, running back Reggie Bush played copycat to Spiller, taking an off-tackle run for 39 yards down the left sideline, ultimately tackled by defensive back Chris Owens. Bush would later score on a screen pass and the Browns would not score again, ultimately losing 31-17.

The list could go on, but the patterns was well in place. Mingo stopped getting to the quarterback with ball-in-hand, but he never established himself as a force in any other facet of the game. ProFootballFocus listed Mingo as the fourth-worst outside linebacker against the run in 2013, his two worst games of the season coming against the Bengals.

In 2014, now weighing the most he’s every been—he’s in the “high 230s” per Browns head coach Mike Pettine, despite being listed at 240 a season ago—Mingo is looking to chalk his rookie season up as a learning experience. He’s a year older, a year wiser and will still be looked upon to help the Browns, despite having the highly discussed Johnny Manziel in a red practice jersey, win games through their defense.

“I have a lot of internal goals,” Mingo said. “Not necessarily stats, but just helping my team win.”

Mingo 140726

Many players who get caught in the whirlwind of transitioning regimes could have the added pressure of impressing a cabal of men who had nothing to do with his very selection. Mingo, however, has a fan in O’Neil who wanted the Buffalo Bills to trade up to snag the LSU product before the Browns could do so. But just as O’Neil is a fan of Mingo’s skill set, he is laying down a gauntlet of challenges for the second-year linebacker to accomplish—all of them related to the weaknesses he displayed during his first year in the league. During minicamp, Mingo dropped a series of what should have been easy interceptions, leading to some extended work and the thumping sound of a JUGS machine. On Saturday, in one-on-one drills against tight ends, Mingo stayed with his opposition step-for-step down the field, only to contort his body mid-air, extend his bear-sized hands and haul in a pass from quarterback Connor Shaw. The two bodies crashed in to the ground, but Mingo, with the ball firmly tucked under his arm, sprinted toward his line-backing teammates who leapt into the air in celebration.

“You could tell that hopefully the switch has been flipped,” said head coach Mike Pettine of Mingo. “His world was completely different than what we’re asking from him now. He’s out in space, much more involved in coverage. We’ll still take advantage of his pass rush ability. As far as a true radical position change, it’s right up there with him.”

Just like Mingo recounts the missed assignment against the Vikings, he can recall the exact play where he sacked Manziel when the two locked horns in college. Manziel was out of the pocket, as he so often was, leading to athleticism and speed being the deciding factor. While some of his Browns teammates are still on the sidelines, having yet to pass their conditioning drills, Mingo spent his offseason in the Louisiana heat, running 50-yard sprints with ease—Browns coaches say he could have passed the defensive back’s edition of said drills. “I surprised myself,” Mingo said with a smile.

There’s little denying that Mingo has done the work. Though 80 degrees and humid in Berea, he insists it’s nothing compared to the sweltering heat of the bayou. Spend five minutes speaking with him and the amount he has learned over the last 12 months is very apparent, recalling plays in his head like a towering, human film room. He may not catch every potential ball thrown his way, but he’s a linebacker—and not a tight end—for good reason. Mingo will head into the 2014 season still splitting time with veterans Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard, looking to make his mark when called upon. And if he has it his way, whether it’s rushing the passer, covering a potential receiving threat, or containing the edge from a big play in the run game, it’ll be the opposing play-callers—and those pesky running backs—who are left surprised.

(Photos: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

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Supporting cast, contract confidence yields Wiggins-Love answer http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/nba-trade-rumors-news-kevin-love-cavs/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/nba-trade-rumors-news-kevin-love-cavs/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:00:13 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124471 kevin-love

Kevin Love. Andrew Wiggins. It’s been exhausting, and we’re looking at four more weeks of it as the No.1 overall pick’s contract clock ticks. Granted, it’s not “LeBron James” exhausting. It’s more nervous excitement. The Cavaliers are going to have three REALLY good players one way or another. I’ve been quite outspoken in my desire to hold onto Andrew Wiggins, and I stand by that earlier sentiment. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not excited by the thought of James, Irving, and Love playing together in Cleveland.

But, if I’m reading the writing on the wall, Kevin Love will be a Cleveland Cavalier, Andrew Wiggins will probably be a Minnesota Timberwolf, and the weight of expectations on the Cavaliers will increase. They’ll go from Eastern Conference contender to supposed Eastern Conference shoe-in and maybe even title favorite. And that’s the scenario I want to talk about.

So, let’s put Wiggins and Bennett (along with picks and expiring contracts and a nice fruit basket) in Minnesota and look at how the Cavaliers are constructed:

PG – Kyrie Irving – Matthew Dellavedova

SG – Dion Waiters – Mike Miller – Joe Harris

SF – LeBron James – James Jones

PF – Kevin Love – Tristan Thompson – Dwight Powell

C – Anderson Varejao – Brendan Haywood

The Cavaliers would potentially have three open roster spots following the trade (assuming Lucas, Murphy, and Thomas either get included in the Love deal or get released). If the Cavaliers push all of their chips into the middle of the table, Ray Allen is likely to claim one of those three spots one would think. Then, that leaves a need for a third point guard and a backup center that’s a little more reliable than the veteran Haywood that missed all of last season due to a foot injury and is soon-to-be 35 years old.

Above all, the question that keeps me up at night is not whether Andrew Wiggins will end up being a perennial All-Star talent, but instead, “Is that team above good enough to win it all?” The cynic in me implores to further clarify the question to “Is that team above good enough to win it all NEXT SEASON?”

QUOTELeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh didn’t do it in their first season. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen did. Three stars coming together has its hurdles associated with it. To complicate matters, the Cavaliers will have only five players from last year’s team returning. FIVE! Irving, Waiters, Thompson, Varejao, and Dellavedova. That’s it. LeBron has of course played with Varejao, Miller, Jones, and Allen if he comes. Still, when matched up against Indiana, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City, three teams that will have been largely the same core for the past three seasons, it’s likely to play a factor.

Normally, not winning the title in year one wouldn’t be the end of the world. But, that’s all we’re going to be guaranteed with Kevin Love when the Cavs pull the trigger on this deal. Sure, we’ll have Love’s Bird Rights, and we have two players he likely wants to play with in Irving and James. Still, I’m very uneasy about Love’s reported desire to play on the West Coast. Would he bolt to the Warriors or Lakers? Trust is a hard thing for me to have with regards to LeBron James this early in the process, but I do believe beyond a reasonable doubt that James intends to play the rest of his career in Cleveland. Is that enough for Love to take the five-year max deal when it’s offered to him by the Cavs? If it is, then the Cavaliers have Irving and Love locked up long-term and the loss of Wiggins is merely a matter of preference rather than an inequality of team control.

What if the team as currently constructed is not enough? Can the team add what’s necessary with its cap limitations? Being left only a first-round draft pick every other year near the end of the round and the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions, the Cavaliers will have to make additions. This team should not have any problems scoring or shooting or rebounding. What it may struggle with is getting defensive stops. While James, Varejao, and Delly are plus defenders, Irving, Waiters, Thompson, Miller, and Jones are below average to awful. Love is said to be an average defender. Without Wiggins and the recently-traded Carrick Felix, it would be nice to have another long athletic defender to pair with James as well as a shot-blocking center and a guy to bang down low with the Howard, Duncan, Lopez, Gasol, and Hibbert types.

So, for me, it really comes down to three burning questions. First, are Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson good enough to be the fourth and fifth best players on this team for the foreseeable future? Second, are the Cavs confident that if traded, Kevin Love will sign a long-term extension to remain in Cleveland? Third, can this team adequately defend at a championship level? If the answer to all three is yes, then fire away.

The part that isn’t a question for me is trading the future for the here and now. If Wiggins for Love allows the Cavaliers to win even just one title, it will not have been a failure, regardless of what Andrew Wiggins eventually becomes. But, the notion of one guaranteed year of Love, coupled with the expectations and short-term nature of much of the Cavalier core is more than enough to give me caution if I were David Griffin. Big moves have to be made sometimes, but they cannot be irresponsible and reckless. If it goes wrong, the Cavs could be left with Kyrie Irving and not much else in a couple of years.

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Jerry Jones almost drafted Johnny Manziel http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/nfl-news-jerry-jones-cowboys-johnny-manziel-draft/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/nfl-news-jerry-jones-cowboys-johnny-manziel-draft/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:20:46 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124538 Manziel Haslam 140726

Johnny Cleveland was this close to being Johnny Dallas. We know that the Dallas Cowboys selected guard Zach Martin with their first-round pick, but team owner Jerry Jones says that that almost wasn’t the case. Jones went into detail on how tough of a choice it was during Sunday’s edition of NFL Network’s Inside Training Camp Live, saying that Johnny Manziel was very close to being a Cowboy.

“I want you to know that almost as I was handing in the card, it was that close to putting that Manziel card in. It was that close,” Jones told NFL Media’s Rich Eisen and Michael Irvin from Cowboys camp in Oxnard, California. “I looked over to my son, Stephen, our chief executive officer, and I said ‘I took the right pick.’ … He was the top player by three players on our board at the time that we were sitting there looking at him.”

The Cowboys have Tony Romo in place and may have made the better move in finding him some protection, but there’s no denying that Jones’ penchant for flash matches that of the player who ultimately went No. 22 overall to Jimmy Haslam and the Cleveland Browns. Since arriving to Cleveland, Manziel has been a mixed bag of hard work and off-field headlines. He’s firmly entrenched as the No. 2 quarterback in Browns camp, but occasionally shows flashes of the player he was at Texas A&M.

Listening to Jones, it appears that he’s anticipating much more in the way of growth and that Browns fans will have a special player to cheer for over the course of the next several years.

“Manziel is special,” added Jones. “I know him personally. I know that he is going to be a success in the National Football League. And it was a hard decision. And it is one that I will probably for the rest of my career think about.”

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

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Johnny Manziel, Ben Tate and more – Craig on “Browns Insider” http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/johnny-manziel-ben-tate-and-more-craig-on-browns-insider/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/johnny-manziel-ben-tate-and-more-craig-on-browns-insider/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:01:11 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124520 Browns Pads 140726

It’s always nice to be asked to do different radio and web shows. Dan Labbe hosted Browns Insider for the Northeast Ohio Media Group / Cleveland.com last night and I called in and chatted with him about Day 2 of Browns Training Camp.

Other guests included Mary Kay Cabot, Tom Reed and Bud Shaw. If you just want to listen to me, forward to the 45 minute mark.

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

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Tribe Weekend Recap: Santana streaking, rotation turning, and opportunities blown http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/124458/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/124458/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:00:21 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124458 Carlos Santana

The Indians couldn’t have picked a worse week to wet themselves. I’ve said this before and I will say it again: The only consistent thing about this team is their inconsistency. Just when you want to believe after they take three of four in Detroit, they come out and lose two of three to the Minnesota Twins in front of losing three of four in Kansas City to the Royals. You just had a bad feeling about this series when Corey Kluber’s Thursday gem was wasted in a 14-inning loss. Things just spiraled from there with bad losses both Friday (6-4) and Saturday (7-5). They salvaged the series finale with an offensive explosion in Sunday’s 10-3 win, but it seemed like a hollow victory. The weekend in Kansas City was disastrous.

“Any time that you’re able to do that in Detroit against a team like that,” Tribe starter Zach McAllister said, “you always get in good moods. Sometimes, you can get overexcited about it, a little bit too happy, and take the foot off the gas pedal. But, you know what? We’ve played extremely close games here. Kansas City is a good team.”

The 11-game road trip to start the second half had some much promise, but as the Indians leave Kansas City to come home, more question marks surround them. Why does the offense sputter the way it does and then get smokin’ hot for a game or two? What do we make of a starting rotation that has essentially become a revolving door? What is with Terry Francona and his odd lineup changes and infatuation with certain individuals?

This much is known, entering Monday’s off day, the Indians are 52-53, six and a half games back of the Tigers in the AL Central and three and a half back of the second Wild Card spot. However, there are four teams they would have to jump. I see fools gold in that second Wild Card. I hope I am wrong, but this team is playing .500 baseball and they are what they are. Let us look deeper at the weekend that was in Wahooland.

Winnable games given away. You could look back in October at these last four games in Kansas City and shake your head in disgust. They very easily could have taken three of four. Corey Kluber’s stellar Thursday was wasted. The Tribe battled back after trailing 4-1 in the sixth to tie the game Friday night. Only Francona’s right-left-right eighth inning waltz blew up when John Axford hang a high fastball to Billy Butler, who crushed a game-winning two-run blast.  While Axford had been better of late, it is so tough to trust him in a tie-game late. The second Butler made contact, both men knew it was gone.

“It’s obviously tough after the last two nights,” Axford said. “It was just a bad pitch. I let it stay out over the plate. It was supposed to be away and it ended up in the seats.”

A night later, McAllister blew a 5-0 lead. “Whenever you get a five-run lead in a game, you expect to win,” reliever Nick Hagadone said. “When that doesn’t happen, it’s disappointing.”

The feeling in Tribe Nation would be so much different had they turned those two games around, something that could have and should have been done.

Carlos Santana, have a week. Remember a couple a months ago when everyone complained that Carlos Santana couldn’t hit? Those whispers have all been silenced, especially after one of the best weeks you will ever see. The capper was a weekend that was so special, he could win AL Player of the week in these three games alone. After Sunday’s 3-3, two homer, four RBI day in the 10-3 Tribe win, Santana’s season all of a sudden doesn’t seem so bad.

“I feel strong,” Santana said. “The first two months, I wasn’t hitting well and I was struggling. But now, like I keep saying, I’m staying focused, playing hard, and that’s happening now.”

In three games this weekend, Santana was 7-10 with five homers, five runs scored, eight RBIs, and three walks. Here are some other numbers to chew on:

But go back to April and May. Santana was still a walking machine, but that seemed to be the only way he was getting on base. The shift was giving him problems and the old pull happy Carlos was back. Things weren’t going his way. The adjustment to third base was good enough in the field, but it hurt his stick. The DL stint for a concussion may have been, pardon the pun, just what the doctor ordered. Since his activation, Santana has literally been a new man, the type of hitter we had become accustomed to. Take a look on the tear he has been on in his last 49 games:

Now if they could get anyone going around him and Michael Brantley (who is in the worst skid of his All-Star season, 5-27)….

[Related: Animated: Carlos Santana’s 5 HR weekend]

What to do about Asdrubal Cabrera. This week was a big week for the Indians. I won’t go as far as calling it a make or break type of time, but it certainly would go a long way towards determining which direction the team will be going in terms of trading off assets. The Tribe shortstop missed five games this week with back spasms, but returned Sunday with two hits. Everyone knows that this is more than likely the last season of Cabrera’s tenure in Cleveland. The non-waiver trade deadline is this week. So what will the Indians do with their free agent to be shortstop?

They have a few options. I look at this team and don’t see one that is going to peel off another 10-game winning streak and make a run to October. But who knows how Chris Antonetti views this particular group. If Antonetti is sharing my opinion, then he would be a fool not to send Cabrera packing for the best prospect package he can find. Should Kid Chris think this squad is primed to turn it on, then he will keep Asdrubal and essentially watch him walk for nothing.

You can stop your qualifying talk offer right here. There is absolutely ZERO chance the Indians tender him the offer after the season, despite how many outside of Cleveland view Cabrera. The QO next season may reach $15 million. Do you honestly think that the Indians would risk Asdrubal accepting the offer, paying Cabrera, Nick Swisher, and Michael Bourn a combined $43.5 million next season, while keeping stud prospect Francisco Lindor down for another year? Not a chance.

The Detroit Tigers were in a similar position with Jhonny Peralta a year ago. With Jose Iglesius ready to take over at short, they did not tender him the qualifying offer and the St. Louis Cardinals signed him to a four year, $53 million deal. I see the Indians following the Tigers lead and letting the younger, cheaper, and superior defensive player handle shortstop next season. It would be an absolute stunner to see Asdrubal in an Indians uniform next season. Couple that with the qualifying offer that he should not be given, that all adds up to a potential trade. Holding onto Cabrera with the slim chance of a playoff run is just not smart. Deal Cabrera, see what Jose Ramirez can do while mixing in Mike Aviles, and head into 2015 with Lindor.

As for why I can’t see a playoff push happening….. This starting rotation is a mess. I seem to be talking about this every Monday. Essentially the Indians are using eight guys and using the DL, minor league options, and even the “26th man rule” to figure out who can and cannot deliver. Other than ace Corey Kluber, Terry Francona has no idea what he is going to get every other game.

After Kluber’s Thursday gem was wasted, Josh Tomlin looked to get the Tribe back on track. Instead, we saw more of the same from him; lots of strikes, lots of fly balls, and home runs that killed him. Tomlin has made 14 starts and has now allowed 16 home runs. The Little Cowboy is what he is; there isn’t much upside there and he is the quintessential fifth starter. You could live with what he brings to the table if the two, three, and four guys in front of him delivered.

Saturday saw a return of Zach McAllister, who has bounced back and forth from Columbus. The offense came through with a five run second and gave the Zach Attack a big cushion. It took a whole three innings for that lead to evaporate. He lasted just four innings, giving up six runs on eight hits and two walks. By the end of the fifth the Tribe trailed 7-5 after Butler’s second monster home run of the series (he now has five all year) off of lefty Nick Hagadone. It is hard to tell right now if McAllister can be trusted.

Sunday gave fire-baller Danny Salazar another chance to show he belongs back in the rotation. This was his second start in a week after spending the last two and a half months in AAA. The 2013 Salazar showed up for seven strong innings. His last two pitches – numbers 111 and 112 – touched 97 and 98 miles per hour. The command issues that had killed him most of the season, were not to be found, believe it or not. Danny struck out seven and didn’t walk a single batter. This was a far cry from the guy who just five days earlier walked the bases loaded and walked in a run while striking out the side in the same inning.

“I thought early on he made good adjustments,” Francona said, “because they were covering away and then he started making them be honest in, and he threw some real good breaking balls, and he threw some real good changeups. Not every one, but a lot of good ones. They had to earn everything.”

While Salazar looked terrific, despite giving up three on seven hits, who knows what his next start will look like or even when it will come. As of today, the only things that are known are that Kluber and Trevor Bauer will take regular turns. After that, it is a crap shoot. Tomlin will likely stick around as well, but it is not as if he is lighting the world on fire. Since shutting out Seattle a month ago, Josh has given up 16 earned runs in 22.1 innings of work. Justin Masterson, who walked a whopping six batters in six and two-thirds Friday night in a AAA rehab start, will be activated to start Friday night against the Texas Rangers. Judging by his two starts for the Clippers, who have no idea what he is going to give. Lefty T.J. House will remain in Columbus for now, but for all we know, he could be back Thursday in McAllister’s spot.

With all of that said, the future of this rotation lies with Kluber, Bauer, and Salazar. As for who else fills out the rotation long term? Well, that is anyone’s guess.

Up Next. The Seattle Mariners, a team the Indians are chasing for the second Wild Card spot, come to Cleveland Tuesday for a three-game set. It will not be an easy task as the Mariners will send out Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez in the first two games of the series.

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Kevin Love may not opt in, Cavs may not care http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/nba-news-rumors-trade-kevin-love-cavs-contract/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/nba-news-rumors-trade-kevin-love-cavs-contract/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:30:34 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124512 kevin love cavs

While many continue to debate the merits of players involved in a deal for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, the great unknown continues to be how long Love would call Cleveland home. There are rumors that he’s demanding a trade to Cleveland and wants to play alongside LeBron James; Cleveland would be the only place he would commit to in the way of a long-term deal, starting with an opt-in for 2015-16. But The Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto says not so fast:

Love is guaranteed $15.7 million this season, with a player option for $16.7 million in 2015-16. I wrote a column insisting the Cavs should demand Love pick up his option before making a deal. Talking to some NBA executives, that could be a problem. One executive explained how the best move for Love may be to come to the Cavs on the current deal — no changes. He becomes a free agent in 2015, then signs a five-year deal for the maximum (could be more than $100 million) to stay here. …

If Love picks up his option for 2015-16 this summer, the most that a team can immediately add is a two-year extension. I’m hearing Love will not pick up his option… I’m hearing the Cavs realize they may have to accept Love’s current deal and gamble on him enjoying playing in Cleveland and with James. Then they will try to sign him for a maximum deal in 2015. So don’t be shocked if a deal is made with his contract situation staying the same.

There has been plenty of Twitter angst surrounding this aspect of the deal. On one side is a group saying that you can’t gamble with a No. 1 pick in Andrew Wiggins if you’re only going to get one year out of Kevin Love. On the other side are those saying that Cleveland team’s have gone decades without swinging for the fences and have wound up empty-handed. The Collective Bargaining Agreement certainly only muddies the waters even more.

Do the Cavs trust Love? Does Love love Cleveland? Stay tuned. We’re about to find out, one way or the other.

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

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LeBron’s mind and Kluber’s cutter: While We’re Waiting… http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/lebron-james-corey-kluber-hall-of-fame/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/lebron-james-corey-kluber-hall-of-fame/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:15:13 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124456 WFNYBanner www

Browns camp is under way, LeBron chose his jersey number and the Indians finally won a game. Happy Monday, kids. Let’s dig in.

LeBron James has always had a way to recall certain instances of his on-court life. Having covered him during his final year in Cleveland back in 2010, I was always intrigued by the way he would seemingly flash back to certain second-long frames in his mind—certain plays, specific floor placement, time, date, location, you name it. If you haven’t read Brian Windhorst’s extremely well-reported piece on this very characteristic of the four-time MVP, do so—now. (I had considered using this in this week’s #ActualSportswriting, but it’s too good, and too pertinent to just quote.) While cynics may attempt to poke holes in the video game anecdote, the details that James can recall years after they occur are astounding. James already came pre-packaged with an insane physique, possessing an adult’s body as a teenager. The fact that his basketball IQ is through the roof as well—well, it’s almost unfair. The story about the game-winners in Golden State? Incredible.

***

If you haven’t been following along, Grantland has been rolling out some high-quality work on MLB’s best pitchers. It was only a matter of time before Corey Kluber received the “PitchCraft” treatment, getting his due just hours after dominating the Kansas City Royals late last week. I mean, we know Kluber has been downright filthy this season, but just how filthy? His most thrown pitch, his sinker, isn’t even his best pitch. Kluber’s cutter is currently the fourth-best in all of baseball, providing almost a foot difference in movement when compared to his fastball. His slider? Well, that’s held opponents to a .079 batting average this season thanks to nearly 11 inches of horizontal break—an MLB best. Only the Padres’ Tyson Ross has more strikeouts with his slider (84 to Kluber’s 72), and he’s thrown the pitch twice as often.

The Grantland piece also reiterated what we said earlier, Kluber has been this effective despite having a higher BABiP than many of the other pitchers ranked in the top 10 in WAR. Kluber, following his outing against KC, was third in wins above replacement, having been worth 4.3 additional Ws.

***

Hey, did you guys hear about that one really good take? Yeah, me neither. Here’s this week’s edition of #ActualSportswriting:

An Idiot in Exile” by Pat Jordan (Sports on Earth): “Johnny Damon was a major league baseball player for 18 years. He won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2004 and another one with the Yankees in 2009, which is why he once said, “Being a baseball player is so great.” He said the game “was fun,” and winning championships was even more “fun.” He learned how to have “fun” with the A’s and then taught his teammates with the Red Sox and Yankees how to have “fun.” His concept of “fun” was mostly that of a young boy. … He dropped water balloons from the upper floor of hotels on passing pedestrians below. He and his teammates held down other teammates and poured ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard all over their clean uniforms, which he thought was hilarious. In the clubhouse he performed pull-ups naked, his penis dangling in his teammates’ faces. He liked to “party” after games with his teammates, drink booze, smoke pot. He collected women as if they too were toys. Some might say that his sense of “adult fun” was a lot like his sense of childlike fun.”

The Passion of Roger Angell” by Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated): “Writing well is hard. It requires constant thinking. The gears, flywheels and levers of the mind click and clatter nonstop. Writing is flying an airplane without instruments, almost always through the dark storms of doubt. It is new every time. There’s an added difficulty with writing about baseball: The writer ages but the players do not. They are perpetually young, replaced almost imperceptibly by younger versions of themselves. Every season is like a summer-stock version of Bye Bye Birdie. Then one day a ballplayer with $100 million banked calls you “sir,” and you realize the chasm has grown Olduvai Gorge–wide.

Playground Basketball is Dying” by Myron Medcalf and Dana O’Neil (ESPN): “If there is a holy ground of playground hoops, it is the space here near 155th Street, just off the Harlem River Drive. The Harlem Garden, old-timers used to call it, and it is hardly hyperbole. If Madison Square Garden is billed as the world’s most famous basketball arena, this is its outdoor cousin. This is where Julius Erving shucked the nickname given to him by a Rucker announcer — The Claw — and argued to be called The Doctor. This is where Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury, fresh off being selected as the No. 1 and No. 4 picks, respectively, in the 1996 draft, partnered for a dream backcourt; this is where Rafer “Skip to my Lou” Alston went from local legend to NBA player; and this is where Kareem, Dominique, Wilt, LeBron, KD, Kobe and so many other first-name-only star players have dropped in for at least one game in their respective careers.”

Mean Girl” by Kelefa Sanneh (New Yorker): “In M.M.A., more than in most sports, athletes must be promoters, too. Rousey is smart enough to know that one of her promotional assets is the way she looks—she has appeared on the cover of not only ESPN the Magazine but alsoMaxim, which called her “Badass & Blonde,” and photographed her in a garment that seemed highly unsuitable for combat. Of course, this asset can be a liability, too, especially for a female fighter seeking the same respect given her male counterparts.”

***

Calling my shot now: That Tom Verducci profile of Roger Angell will be discussed in nearly every year-end “Best of” piece when it comes to sportswriting. It’s the pen-and-paper, modern day equivalent of Mozart covering Beethoven. Verducci is easily one of the best sports writers working today; Angell is a legend, currently 93 years of age and still plugging along. He’s not in the BBWAA—which is simply fantastic given how antiquated and unnecessary the BBWAA is—and is the first to ever win the Hall of Fame’s award for baseball writing to have not been a member. Independent writers (or “bloggers”) could learn a lot from Angell who almost always wrote as a fan. Good news is, The New Yorker unlocked their entire archives for the rest of the summer, so you can catch up on any of his pieces that you may have missed. I recommend starting here. Then go here.

***

You all obviously listen to the great work that Craig does with the WFNY podcasts. But as radio continues to loose steam, pandering and forcing senseless debate, I continue to listen to more and more podcasts by national types. Playing off of the success of Bill Simmons’ BS Report, ESPN has rolled out podcasts for Grantland’s Zach Lowe and ESPN.com’s Jason Whitlock. A few that I recommend: Lowe and Lee Jenkins, talking Cavs; Whitlock and Scott Raab, talking Cavs and Cleveland; and Whitlock and ESPN’s rock star reporter Ramona Shelburne, who spoke candidly about reporting and women in sports.

***

And just because:

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Browns issue statement on status of Jason Pinkston http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/browns-issue-statement-on-status-of-jason-pinkston/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/browns-issue-statement-on-status-of-jason-pinkston/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:03:18 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124499 Pinkston

Jason Pinkston was not in camp yesterday with the Browns. As the day wore on and as media asked media relations folks first, coach Mike Pettine second and GM Ray Farmer third with very little comment, it turned into a small issue. Pinkston is one of the nicest and most outgoing Cleveland Browns on social media and in person. Fans were deeply concerned about him when he was dealing with a blood clot in his lung a couple years back. And it made sense that there’d be more concern today when he wasn’t there and there weren’t any answers as to why.  Today we have a bit more clarity as the Browns say Pinkston “has not been medically cleared.”

That comes on the heels of Pinkston’s own statement via Twitter yesterday after the Browns basically issued “no comment” across the board.

I don’t fault the Browns for saying “no comment” by the way. This group that currently runs the Browns has been far more giving and open than previous management groups. They don’t seem to want to pretend that they’re running hyper-secret military operations. All that said, when it comes to health-related things governed by the actual law, I don’t blame them. Even today as they haven’t given us any detail, at least we know that Pinkston hasn’t been medically cleared.

[Also See: WFNY's profile of Jason Pinkston from August 2013]

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Animated: Carlos Santana’s 5 HR weekend http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/animated-carlos-santanas-5-hr-weekend/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/animated-carlos-santanas-5-hr-weekend/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 01:19:38 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124459 The Indians lost three of four to the Royals this weekend, which is the bad news.

Carlos Santana is doing this to baseballs though, which is the good news.

Los Weekend

 

That would be five home runs in three games–the first two off fire-baller Yordano Ventura. Santana now leads the team with 20 home runs. Despite an awful first few months of the season, Santana’s combination of patience and power have made him one of the most valuable hitters in baseball since June 1st.

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Photos of Browns Training Camp from 2014-07-27 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/photos-of-browns-training-camp-from-2014-07-27/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/photos-of-browns-training-camp-from-2014-07-27/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 21:12:39 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124444 I’m not a good photographer by any means, but in case you couldn’t be there, here’s the way things looked from my vantage point. Look out for the “bro bump” between Paul Kruger and Karlos Dansby. Plus a few shots of Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel.

Dansby and Kruger smaller

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The Browns have some veteran confidence… Training Camp Notes 07.27.14 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/the-browns-have-some-veteran-confidence-training-camp-notes-7-27-14/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/the-browns-have-some-veteran-confidence-training-camp-notes-7-27-14/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 20:38:16 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124396 Gordon2 140726

Sunday’s camp practice was kind of boring. I’ve been to enough of these now that I think I can get a sense of when the intensity is at a pitch and when it’s not. Maybe Day 1 was something of an energy dump, like a fighter who punches himself out in the first round and day two was a bit more relaxed, but the intensity just wasn’t totally there. It’s early though, so I’m not drawing any conclusions from that. The thing that I can’t help but come away from my first day covering camp is to notice the veteran confidence they have this year.

Ben TateAfter practice, Ben Tate spoke, and his confidence is well known by this point. Tate thinks he’s one of the best running backs in the league, and he’s more than happy to talk about it, but he’s also quick witted. Whether he’s being sarcastic at a question about what it’s going to be like to put pads on tomorrow, or whether he’s talking about his abilities, he just exudes confidence. He does get serious when he talks about his teammates and what they’re showing on the field and the fact that he thinks the Browns might need three capable running backs this year, but it’s just a different feel from many personalities I’ve seen in camp with the Browns over the years.

In the same vein, we also heard from Nate Burleson. Now, when people think of him, they think of him getting injured with a pizza. He’s the first to joke about it as he did today, but he also talks very eloquently about what it means to be his age in the league. He talks about how he’s told rookies that if they perform up to the level they’re supposed to he’ll be out of a job because a second rounder, like Titus Young was in Detroit, is younger, cheaper and could have more of a future. Obviously wide receiver is a question mark and the Browns have an odd mix of questionable veterans and totally unproven young guys, but Burleson is unlike any personality I’ve seen the Browns bring in.

Now, obviously Ben Tate has more of an inside track on a position than Nate Burleson, but it’s still good to see this kind of vibe from these two guys. It’s similar to what I think guys like Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby likely bring to the team as well. Obviously attitudes and experience are only worth so much and these guys need to make plays as well. But assuming they can still play and do so at a level higher than the guys they’re replacing, the leadership and experience are much-needed bonus for a team that was still a little on the young side a year ago.

Nate Burleson talks to media following day two of Browns training camp

Nate Burleson talks to media following day two of Browns training camp

Now some other notes…

Donte Whitner cracked up the sidelines. A fan yelled to him, “Welcome to Cleveland!” Whitner gave him a glance and scolded him a bit. “You mean welcome BACK to Cleveland. I’m FROM here.”

There were two small fights during today’s practice. The one that I saw up close was between wide receiver Willie Snead and Browns corner Buster Skrine. There was some grabbing on the sidelines and all of a sudden, neither wanted to let go of the other. It was broken up quickly and didn’t seem to be all that big of a deal to either as practice went. Plus, there isn’t even 400 pounds between the two of them. That being said, Coach Pettine talked about it after practice saying that he went out of his way to talk to anyone who was involved in a skirmish to talk to them about being “competitive” as opposed to “combative.”

This is my fourth year covering a camp and my third year with a different head coach. Yes, all teams run practice in a somewhat similar way, but it’s odd to see yet another slight variation on that largely homogenous theme. I thought Chud was an improvement over Shurmur in terms of the way he carried himself in camp. I would say in my initial observations that Pettine is very similar to Chud. He looks and acts the part in and around the drills. Chud looked beaten down by the end of last season, but his training camp demeanor was a breath of fresh air from Shurmur who was first a rookie and then “dead man walking” in my two years seeing him.

This team has a whole lot to prove and a long way to go. I mean, really, they haven’t even worn pads yet in camp. Every year is a new scene though with the Browns in Berea. Ray Farmer spoke today as well and while he didn’t give much detail about much of anything, he’s a different kind of guy too. He is the first GM I can remember going out to interact with fans and sign autographs. Then, after he spoke to the media, I overheard him say he had to go back over to the fans to meet with someone who had a résumé for him.  Let’s just say I never saw Mike Lombardi and Tom Heckert or any of their bosses do anything like that.

Buster Skrine

Despite getting in a fight on the field with Willie Snead, Buster Skrine didn’t have a mark on him.

(Photos: Scott Sargent and Craig Lyndall / WFNY)

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Report: Cavs could host Spurs on NBA’s Opening Night http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/report-cavs-could-host-spurs-on-nbas-opening-night/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/report-cavs-could-host-spurs-on-nbas-opening-night/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 19:06:14 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124407 Danny GreenThere has been plenty of discussion about when and where the Cavaliers will have some high-profile matchups on national television, something that’s been sorely lacking for the last four seasons. There’s no doubt that LeBron’s return to Miami will be one of those signature games, but that’s more likely to be on the Christmas Day slate. At some point, LeBron will face his nemesis in the Spurs, and that moment could come as soon as Opening Night in the NBA on TNT.

Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe is reporting that Spurs at Cavs could be on the slate.

“Rumor has it that the NBA’s season-opening game on TNT will be San Antonio at Cleveland, the first home game for LeBron James in his return to Cleveland and the first game for the defending NBA champion Spurs. The NBA schedule is expected to be released next month”

The NBA’s recent tradition has been the defending champion opening up on national television at home to receive their championship rings, often in a Conference Finals or NBA Finals rematch. I’d be just as pleased to see a high-profile Eastern Conference and division rival to start the season in either Indiana or Chicago. The first home game in Cleveland will be a truly special game and moment to be certain, regardless of who the team plays. The Cavaliers were 3-1 in Opening Night games during James’s time in Miami, but they lost their last three seasons openers with James (2 vs. Boston, 1 vs. Dallas).

Related: Mike Miller signing and some Dion Waiters thoughts

(Photo: Eric Gay/AP)

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LeBron James will return to wearing No. 23 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/lebron-james-will-return-to-wearing-no-23/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/lebron-james-will-return-to-wearing-no-23/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 17:48:25 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124395 jamesnumberAfter much debate that included the numbers 23, 6, and 32, and an Instagram post where James asked fans “23 or 6?” nine days ago, LeBron James has, err, decided. James will return to the number 23, which he wore for all seven seasons in Cleveland. James changed to No. 6 when he left Cleveland for Miami in the summer of 2010.  This announcement came via James’s Instagram account.

The choice to return to his previous number is one that will undoubtedly be a popular one in Northeast Ohio for those (like this blogger) who held onto their James jerseys from the previous era just in case. It also prevents the Cavaliers from potentially having to retire two different numbers from James someday (not that they wouldn’t be willing).

No. 32 was being rumored because he wore the digits his freshman year at Akron SVSM. There was also some thought that he would continue with No. 6, the number that brought him four straight Finals appearances and two titles in Miami. James had announced prior to his departure from Cleveland that he would be changing numbers from 23 regardless of where he ended up that following year. James still believes that 23 should be retired around the league in honor of Michael Jordan, but perhaps he decided it didn’t hurt to get grandfathered in even if the NBA would decide to make such a move.

Now, we can turn our attention to what number Kevin Love fancies with Nate Thurmond’s No. 42 retired, right? Right?!

Related: Mike Miller signing and some Dion Waiters thoughts

(Photo: LeBron James’s Instagram account (kingjames))

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Kevin Love withdraws from Team USA, demands a trade to the Cavs? http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/kevin-love-withdraws-from-team-usa-demands-trade-to-the-cavs/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/kevin-love-withdraws-from-team-usa-demands-trade-to-the-cavs/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 21:09:59 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124218 kevin love cavs

Amid all of the trade rumors surrounding his status with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Love has decided to not play this summer with Team USA. Love was supposed to report to Team USA’s training camp for the FIBA World Cup in a couple days. He has been the topic of the biggest NBA news over the past few weeks.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, and Golden State Warriors are the strongest suitors for a Kevin Love trade. According to ESPN, The Cavs are said to be very optimistic that they will acquire Love from the Timberwolves. Reports say the Cavs are offering Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and a first round pick. There have been conflicting reports about what the Cavs offer is and if they have even offered Wiggins yet. Another possible advantage the Cavs may have is the report by FOX Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico. According to his sources, Love has conveyed his desire to be traded to Cleveland. Amico goes on to say that it is unclear if Love has formally asked the Timberwolves for a trade. If this happens, Cleveland could get him at a cheaper price.

The Bulls have reportedly offered Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott, and Nikola Mirotic for Love. The Warriors have supposedly offered Harrison Barnes and David Lee, but it still remains to be seen if they have also included Klay Thompson. The Timberwolves are insistent about getting Thompson from the Warriors. But even with him in the trade, ESPN reported the Timberwolves, more specifically their ownership, prefer Wiggins rather then Thompson. It is still unknown whether Cleveland will acquire Love, but it seems almost certain that he will not be with Minnesota for much longer.

(Photo by: AP Photo/Jim Mone)

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It’s Hoyer’s World… We just live in it: Training Camp Notes 07.26.14 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/its-hoyers-world-we-just-live-in-it-training-camp-notes-07-26-14/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/its-hoyers-world-we-just-live-in-it-training-camp-notes-07-26-14/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 18:05:08 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124370 Haslam Hoyer 140726

BEREA, Ohio — The sun was shining. A smattering of hip-hop—2 Pac, Birdman, Drake…of course—and classic rock echoed through the speakers. Thousands of Browns fans poured into the Cleveland Browns practice facility, all with hope in their back pockets, each of them getting their first look at the 2014 squad.

There were Superfans. There were signs. There was a little rain, but just enough to get some reporters to close their notebooks for a few minutes. There was Johnny. There was Brian. There was Josh and Jordan and the Joes. Some players rode bikes, others took part in what would stand to be the first day of two-and-a-half weeks of practice time before the collective is forced to synthesize all that’s been provided to them and turn it in to a product worthy of all the fan fare.

And boy was there fan fare.

ESPN had a tent propped up in the corner where a suited Bob Holtzman was forced to wipe his face off after every segment. NFL Network was streaming Browns Training Camp live on their television station as former Browns linebacker Willie McGinest stood by and soaked it all in. USA TODAY and Yahoo! Sports had representation. And don’t forget the typical array of local folks who showed up in droves.

Here are some quick notes on what the fans—and media members—were treated with in what was 2014′s maiden voyage.

• To little surprise, the defense clearly outplayed the offense through much of the intrasquad play. Early in the morning, second-year linebacker Barkevious Mingo made a terrific play in pass coverage, going full extension and hauling in an interception in the end zone. The play drew several hip-bumps and was the first play-drawn roar from the crowd on hand. The defensive backfield disrupted several passing plays and the pass-rush was well-timed.

• Safety Donte Whitner told WFNY that the defense was handed 21 new plays Friday night, each of them having roughly three new terms, that the defense was to learn by Saturday morning. They’ll be getting 21 new ones soon, but Whitner was impressed that the unit was able to learn all of these calls over night.

• Though signed an in camp, first-round draft pick Justin Gilbert ran with the second unit this morning with Buster Skrine starting opposite of Joe Haden. Skrine played very well, drawing some raucous applause when he chased running back Ben Tate down from behind and popped the ball loose toward the far sideline. Skrine, it should be noted, is also no longer the smallest player on the field as newly signed cornerback Isaiah Trufant is liberally listed at 5-foot-8.

• Skrine, when placed in the nickel, rushed the passer on more than one occasion. If you were excited about Mike Pettine’s defense before, this should only lead to increased anticipation.

• On the offensive side of the ball, Jordan Cameron, Miles Austin and Terrance West were the clear standouts. Cameron toasted would-be defenders in one-on-one drills in addition to hauling in a nice seam route pass from Brian Hoyer later in the morning which, in many instances, would’ve gone for six points.

• Terrance West drew several rounds of applause for his work in the passing game, making several tough catches out in the flat. The kid is a bowling ball and appears to have what it takes to transition smoothly to the NFL level. I’m excited about Ben Tate being a Brown, but this West kid could be special.

• It was tough to watch everything, but Miles Austin caught every pass I saw thrown his way. Pettine made sure to verbally applaud Austin following the practice, saying that the veteran receiver not only breezed through the conditioning drills, but did a great job in what was his first team activities since being signed. Nate Burleson, conversely, dropped a few passes and looked to be a bit rusty.

• Speaking of the conditioning test: Several Browns players, including defensive tackle Phil Taylor and tight end Gary Barnidge, have yet to pass it in multiple attempts. Each test is catered to the specific positions—Barkevious Mingo reportedly did so well in his that he would’ve passed the defensive back’s version—but they’re difficult. While Eric Mangini was big on running, Pettine appears very focused on making sure his players are up to snuff in the way of passing these sprint-heavy, timed exams. While there may be exceptions, it appears that players will not get to practice until they pass.

• If it wasn’t clear enough heading in to this weekend, Brian Hoyer is the Browns’ first-string quarterback. It took roughly 90 seconds for “Let’s go Hoyer” chants to permeate Berea as the St. Ignatius product walked on to the field. Not only is he running with the first team, he’s getting more repetitions, he’s throwing more passes, is the first to the podium following practice, and spent several minutes with team owner Jimmy Haslam. Following practice, Haslam iterated that while everyone is excited about Johnny Manziel, they should stop and smell the roses with Hoyer who is a great story in his own right—local kid, a quality guy and a class act. Hoyer was asked to put on weight this offseason and he was able to do so. Barring any injuries or unforeseen issues, it’d be a shock if Brian Hoyer was not under center come Week 1. Conversely, Hoyer also noted that “no one will cheer for a good guy if he’s 4-12.”

• Manziel looked good early, rolling primarily with the second unit and looking comfortable in doing so. He did appear to get a bit winded toward the end, frequently taking a knee when not taking snaps—”taking mental reps,” as he would call them. He addressed the media after practice, answering the same line of questions he has over the course of the offseason. In one of the more fan-friendly quotes of the day, when asked about his jersey sales, Manziel said that it’s not just his name or his number, but also the Browns.

• On the injury front, there is some growing concern about defensive lineman Billy Winn. Wynn failed his conditioning drill and was said to have pulled his hamstring. There were some concerns as rumblings grew about a potential tear, but Wynn was later seen jogging off of the field.

• Josh Gordon was on the field once again, but was transitioned between the starting and second units. Thinking may be that the team wants to get as many reps for players like Austin, Burleson and Andrew Hawkins alongside Hoyer as those will be the guys who will be playing come Week 1.

• I’ll be interested to read about and watch more of wide receiver Charles Johnson over the next few weeks. The kid—who was picked up off of Green Bay’s practice squad only to have a torn ACL—looks like an athletic freak on the field. In speaking with him, he seems humble and very appreciative of having an opportunity to make a difference for this team. The job could be his for the having given the impending Gordon news. We’ll see if he can be this year’s surprise.

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

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See how to make a Johnny Manziel jersey out of your old Tim Couch http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/see-how-to-make-a-johnny-manziel-jersey-out-of-your-old-tim-couch/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/see-how-to-make-a-johnny-manziel-jersey-out-of-your-old-tim-couch/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 16:27:46 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124363 Cleveland Browns fans are ready for football, and apparently in the recycling mood. One fan decided that the best way to show his support for Johnny Manziel was to convert an old Tim Couch jersey with a bunch of pasted on money signs. I love the enthusiasm and can appreciate a bit of creativity, but this is a bit embarrassing, I think.

[Also see: Brian Hoyer won’t be held back in training camp]

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Brian Hoyer won’t be held back in training camp http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/brian-hoyer-wont-be-held-back-in-training-camp/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/07/brian-hoyer-wont-be-held-back-in-training-camp/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 16:18:06 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=124356 In the talk about Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer, the one thing that has been talked about the least is Brian Hoyer’s ACL injury. With all the excitement that Johnny Football brings and with there not being any news of “setbacks” for Brian Hoyer – at least so far – it’s easy to sometimes forget that he needed a major surgery last year after being injured in Buffalo. The injury non-story will continue to be just that, it seems according to head coach Mike Pettine.

That’s great to hear of course. Whether Johnny Manziel beats out Brian Hoyer or not, it’s in everyone’s best interests if he’s forced to beat out a healthy, ready-to-compete version of Hoyer. Then again, if quotes are any indication, Brian Hoyer is always ready to compete. On Friday, Hoyer talked a bit about his confidence and what this competition will be like for him.

“I am confident that I am that guy, but in the same sense, I know that if it comes down to the fact that Johnny does beat me out, I will have given everything I have and he will have totally earned it,” Hoyer said. “That’s what you want, and like I said, for me, all you want is and opportunity and a chance to earn the job. That’s what I’ve been given, and for me, it’s about going out every day and proving that I can be that guy because I believe that I am.”

The fact that he believes he can be that guy should be bolstered by the fact that he won’t be held back due to his surgery last year.

[lso See: Browns think Johnny Manziel has regressed in practice, worry about partying]

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