August 1, 2014

Vinny Del Negro and Net Neutrality, While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday folks! I had a weird thought this weekend as the calendar turned to June already. I realized that we are basically a month away from the 4th of July, which I always consider the halfway point of summer. Because after the 4th, it’s just a month until August, which means the start of training camps for football, both college and pros, which thus means the start of the NFL season and autumn is just around the corner.

So yeah, on the first day of June, I found myself reflecting on how summer is basically over already. Anyway, we are 22 days away from the NBA draft. We are less than 100 days (93, to be exact) from the start of the NFL season. It’s a bittersweet realization because while I’m more excited for this Browns season than I have been for any in a long time, it also will mark the end of summer. Life can be funny like that sometimes. But the beautiful thing about sports is that they always give us something to look forward to. The only downside is that it seems like they always make the seasons pass on by so much quicker, because we are always looking forward to the next big event.

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Hey does anyone remember Kaz Tadano?

For those who don’t, he was a Japanese pitcher who played a couple seasons for the Indians back in 2004-05. He was known for his ability to throw some of the craziest pitches you would ever see, until he became known for something different. It led to one of the more awkward and unfortunate press conferences you could ever see. It may have only been ten years ago, but society was a lot different just ten years ago, and nobody seemed to quite know how to handle the situation.

Anyway, this isn’t about that. Tadano has since moved on and is back pitching in Japan. And man can he still throw some of the most bizarre pitches imaginable:

I realize the ump is caught off guard by it, but how is that not a strike?

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What to make of Vinny Del Negro?

The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to interview candidates for the vacant coaching seat. Last week the Cavaliers interviewed Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue, and apparently it went well.

The Cavaliers followed that up with a talk with Alvin Gentry. The also talked with Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin, and apparently that one went well too.

This weekend the Cavaliers also interviewed Vinny Del Negro. I haven’t seen any tweets saying how that one went, but VDN is an interesting case study. He sometimes seems like one of the most star crossed coaches in the NBA. He began his career with the Chicago Bulls. In his first year the Bulls improved from 33 wins to 41 wins. It was Derrick Rose’s rookie season and in the playoffs, the Bulls came incredibly close to knocking off the juggernaut Celtics. They lost in a seven game series that featured four overtime games.

In his second season, even though the Bulls once again finished 41-41, Derrick Rose was blossoming into a superstar and the Bulls played LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs. The Cavs won, but the Bulls gave the Cavaliers all they could handle, with LeBron having to work extremely hard to help the Cavs gut out the four wins needed to move on. But it wasn’t enough for Chicago, and VDN was fired.

He was quickly hired by the Clippers, who went 29-53 the year before his arrival. In VDN’s three seasons he the Clippers won 32, 40 (in the 66-game lockout shortened season), and 56 games. Despite the Clippers having the best record in their entire franchise history in his third season there, VDN wasn’t offered a new contract.

He would be an incredibly unpopular hire with the fans in Cleveland, but there’s no denying he’s had some regular season success. He has a 210-184 record in five seasons. But he’s also coached Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, and Chris Paul. Despite having some success, he’s been widely criticized for his coaching wherever he’s been. There’s a perception that his teams win games in spite of him thanks to the star players his teams have had. He clashed with Chris Paul in LA and it’s hard to believe he wouldn’t also clash with Kyrie Irving in Cleveland.

VDN is one of those coaches that look good on paper. You can look at his successes and how tough his teams play, and you can convince yourself he’s the right guy to turn around the Cavaliers. But there’s a reason he has the reputation he has and why the thought of VDN coaching the team makes so many of us uneasy. Hopefully David Griffin can resist VDN’s siren song.

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Sometimes a silly segment can spark a serious thought

I’ve mentioned this before here, but I am a huge fan of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”. The show is topical, witty, sharp, and downright hilarious. John Oliver is absolutely killing it in this new platform.

On this week’s episode he dedicated the meat of his show talking about Net Neutrality. As Oliver points out, we’ve all heard of Net Neutrality, but how many of us really know what it is and what the repercussions of it are? So in the way only he can, Oliver brings everyone up to speed with a brilliant 13 minute rant about the future of the internet.

**Please note, the video contains NSFW language**

Again, WFNY does not have a singular editorial voice, so I am only speaking for myself here, but as someone who co-owns a moderately successful website, the issue of Net Neutrality has long been important to me.

What if ISPs relegate WFNY to a slower speed unless we pay a premium to get access to the faster service? We certainly don’t have the revenue to pay for it. And while I know that small sites like this aren’t the target of this issue, I’m worried about someday becoming collateral damage.

But as users and consumers, I hope we all realize that while the likes of Comcast and Time Warner will insist to us that this isn’t about charging us more money, it’s about charging the likes of streaming services like Netflix more money, the reality is that Netflix’s increased costs will be passed on to us, the consumers. Once again, there are enormous companies in Washington spending millions of dollars to influence legislation that will eventually force the average American citizens to have to pay more money.

If you don’t care about this issue, or if you are against Net Neutrality, I’m not necessarily trying to change your mind. But if you support Net Neutrality and want to see the Open Internet protected going forward into the future, I would only ask that you consider filing a comment with the FCC in support of Neutrality and the Open Internet by going here: http://www.fcc.gov/comments and clicking on Proceeding 14-28.

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Finally, the new music releases of the week

After an off week, some really, really great music comes out today for fans of punk-influenced rock.

Have a great rest of the week everyone, see you next Tuesday!

Brian Shaw Close To Becoming Next Coach of the Cavaliers?

It hasn’t been easy.

There was some belief that the Cavaliers might have made a mistake by not having a replacement ready when they fired Mike Brown. Well, in many ways, they did have their replacement lined up. It was supposed to be Tom Izzo. However, once Izzo turned the job down, the Cavaliers were stuck back at square one.

It appeared for a while that Byron Scott was the front runner and would likely be the next guy offered the Cavs job. When rumors of Phil Jackson pondering retirement began to spring up, though, things were once again brought to a halt as two of the Cavs’ candidates, Byron Scott and Brian Shaw, were also candidates to be Phil’s replacement.

This is pretty much the story of how the Cavs’ offseason has gone. The whole thing has been one massive tangled web. [Read more...]

Izzo To Cleveland Doesn’t Have To Be Just About LeBron James

By now, it’s well established that Tom Izzo is Dan Gilbert’s prime target to be the next coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. When most people heard this, present company included, the natural first reaction was to think that there’s no way Izzo would take this job without LeBron James already being locked up.

It’s a unique conundrum, because there’s a popular belief that LeBron won’t play for just any coach. If true, there’s a peculiar “chicken v egg” dance going on in Cleveland. It’s not unlike the famous Bill and Ted circular logic of needing Eddie Van Halen in the band to make a triumphant video, but not being able to make a triumphant video unless Eddie Van Halen is in the band. To quote the supreme brilliance of MTV’s Jersey Shore, “It’s a situation”.

Rather than worrying about the details of who would blink first, Izzo or LeBron, it’s probably more worthwhile to consider the reasons why maybe, just maybe, Tom Izzo would consider taking this job without a guarantee from LeBron. [Read more...]

Mike Brown Getting A Bit Of A Bad Rap Perhaps

Mike BrownI’m not sure there are many more thankless jobs in American popular culture than NBA Head Coach. Yeah, sure, in society there are plenty of jobs where people are overworked, underpaid, and taken for granted. But in terms of sports culture specifically, being an NBA coach can be a brutal task. Coaches are forced to meld a virtual cornucopia of eccentric personalities into one collective and functioning unit for any chance of success. The very nature of the sport where any individual player can have a greater impact on his teams’ success than other team sport makes such coherence indispensable.

And yet for taking on this task, NBA coaches are expected to deliver immediate results and are quickly cast aside when such immediacy is not met. The turnover rate of the NBA coach is staggering. The average tenure for NBA coaches as of last season was 2.64 season, but the median tenure was 1.3 seasons (you can thank Jerry Sloan for that difference).

Which brings us to current Cavaliers coach Mike Brown. [Read more...]

For Your Morning Coffee…

Coffee

Good morning, folks.  While we all gear up for another day of Cleveland-based fun, I just wanted to point you in the direction of a few blog posts worth reading.  Rick typically has a Friday post in similar fashion, so I’ll do my best to keep his work rolling. 

Without further adu:

- In honor of the 80th running of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, The Ball Don’t Liehas a pop quiz of sorts regarding some NBA players of yesterday and today.  It shouldn’t surprise you that three of the eight ballers are currently playing in Cleveland.  If anything, the hair on “Number Six” is worth the visit alone.

- The answer to this problem?  A one-way ticket to Cleveland, and a pair of season tickets to Progressive Field.  We’re just more accepting of things like that.  Hence “Progressive.”

- Doug Collins is back in Chicago.  Now who’s going to come in down the road to win the championship?  Even more important, will Eric Snow be asked to join the staff?

- To splash in a little Cleveland football, former Browns tight end Aaron Shea has hung up the cleats.  He was a solid option in what was a slew of un-solid seasons.  He’ll be missed.

- And finally, if the Padres decide to start selling in the near future, would any of you consider bringing Brian Giles back?  Some statistical work done by Dugout Central shows that there may be some pop left in that old bat.