July 24, 2014

Browns screw job, hate watching The Sound of Music, Eric Wedge’s Mariners – JONCAST – WFNY Podcast – 2013-12-08

WFNY Podcast LogoIt’s a Joncast. What else is there to say?

  • Do the Cleveland Browns losses actually happen everywhere?
  • The great screw job of 2013
  • The referee already had the flag out
  • Should Chud have gone for two?
  • What is a catch in the NFL and how do you decide what is or isn’t?
  • Should the Browns have challenged Rob Gronkowski’s catch?
  • NFL referees are more capable than they’ve ever been
  • The rules themselves are really suffering
  • Losing hurts more than it helps make a draft better
  • What would Pierre Garcon have become if he played with the Browns?
  • What does today’s game say about Rob Chudzinski
  • The moneyball part of football with coaches
  • The first time firing the people you hired
  • The savior complex amongst sports fans
  • Relying on faith as a sports fan vs. looking for tangible results
  • The 2012 first round NFL draft and how far it will set the team back
  • Carlos Carrasco and how he belongs in the bullpen
  • Carlos Carrasco’s personality for closer
  • Can a fan base ever get to know Cody Allen?
  • It isn’t brave to be the Yankees. It is brave to spend like the Yankees in Cleveland.
  • Hate tweeting and hate watching The Sound of Music Live
  • Suffering through “How I met Your Mother”
  • The Eric Wedge Seattle Mariner storyline [Read more...]

Eric Wedge and others blast Mariners’ front office

Fresh off the Mariners signing Robinson Cano to a mammoth 10 year, $240 million deal former Mariners and Tribe manager Eric Wedge is one of many to offer their criticism of the Seattle front office. In a Seattle Times article this weekend by Geoff Baker, Wedge and other former members of the Mariners chastise the leadership of the Mariners franchise, more specifically Mariners’ President Chuck Armstrong and Mariners’ CEO Howard Lincoln.

It was 14 months ago, two days after the 2012 season, and Mariners president Chuck Armstrong unleashed what Wedge calls “a ferocious, venom-filled tirade” about the team, coaches and players. Armstrong told him the club “sickened” him and was “disgusting” and “disturbing,” while Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln agreed and added choice barbs of his own.

Wedge said general manager Jack Zduriencik had assured him earlier that the duo was pleased with the 75-87 team, winners of eight more games than in 2011 and 14 more than in 2010.

Now, he felt blindsided and let down by Zduriencik. He waited until Lincoln was done, then, unable to hold back, let him and Armstrong know how he felt.

Along with Wedge, the Seattle times spoke to two dozen former Mariners’ baseball operations employees who believe  “any manager — and the players under him — will fall short of success without a halt to ongoing interference from Lincoln and whomever succeeds Armstrong, who will retire Jan. 31.”

The Mariners have already been facing a public relations beating in Seattle over the last few years due to years of losing, high turnover rates, reluctance to raise the payroll, and failing to provide a fan experience that is anywhere close to that of the Seahawks or the Sounders.

Wedge left the Mariners at the conclusion of last season, leaving behind what h described “total dysfunction and lack of leadership”.

Alongside Wedge in the criticism is general manager Jack Zduriencik’s former number two Tony Biengino. Biengino who was recently let go by the Marniners also worked with Zduriencik in Milwaukee and is taking credit for preparing the package that led to Zduriencik’s hiring Armstrong and Lincoln — a move that Armstrong and Lincoln are still being criticized for.

“Jack portrayed himself as a scouting/stats hybrid because that’s what he needed to get the job,” Blengino said. “But Jack never has understood one iota about statistical analysis. To this day, he evaluates hitters by homers, RBI and batting average and pitchers by wins and ERA. Statistical analysis was foreign to him. But he knew he needed it to get in the door.”

The Seattle Times obtained a copy of the package, which talks of rebuilding with minimal pain through shrewd drafts, undervalued free agents and a “vast pipeline of young, homegrown star-caliber talent.” Advanced stats charts ranked every major-leaguer and top minor-leaguers, while computer spreadsheets depicted each team’s positional depth and payroll commitments.

Zduriencik declined to speak about his stats knowledge or Blengino’s role in the package.

It’s hardly unusual in the corporate world for trusted assistants to design job applications. But after initial success, Zduriencik had a slew of failed player moves — coinciding with his eventual decision to push Blengino out

Geoff Baker’s article is an eye opener and a public relations nightmare for a franchise for the Mariners’ franchise.

The Cleveland Indians and Pearl Jam are bringing back my youth

Pearl Jam and Swisher(The soundtrack for this post is “Sirens” by Pearl Jam. I listened to it on repeat while writing this.)1

The way I felt yesterday watching the Indians celebrate in the guts of Target field was overwhelming. I didn’t cry, but I also wouldn’t have dared speak aloud in those moments as the Tribe were bouncing up and down together on the field in celebration. This Indians team has brought me back to much younger days of being a Tribe fan. I’m back to my freshman year dorm in college when the Indians were battling through the playoffs toward an ultimate loss to the Florida Marlins. I’m back in high school as the halls were united in Tribe playoff runs, including girls talking about their crushes on Kenny Lofton and Omar Vizquel that would normally be reserved for cover stars of Tiger Beat magazine. All too recently, I also feel like I’ve been back to the 80′s when I started watching the Tribe as a pitiful club managed by Pat Corrales. But not this Sunday. That brought me back to the good days.

Those same time periods in my life – high school and into college – are lush with memories of music too. Upon entering college in the fall of 1997, I was obsessed with rock bands like Tool and Pearl Jam while also being fiercely protective of my home city and its teams as one of a very few Clevelanders at Boston University. Like most kids who go to college, that was just a jumping off point. You bring your experiences and favorite things in as precious little jewels of who you were before you left the safety of your parents’ house. You have no idea what the experiences are going to spit out at the end. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. I loved this section from “Sirens” by Pearl Jam
    It’s a fragile thing, this life we lead, if I think too much, I can get overwhelmed
    by the grace by which we live our lives with death over our shoulders
    Want you to know, that should I go, I always loved you, held you high above too
    I studied your face, the fear goes away. []

MLB Rumor: Eric Wedge on the hot seat in Seattle

After seven seasons in Cleveland, former skipper Eric Wedge wore out his welcome with his “grinder” approach and lack of sustained success. Now in just his third season with the Seattle Mariners, might the same thing be happening in the Pacific Northwest?

Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, one of the best baseball writers out there, dedicated the first segment of his online column today to Wedge and Kansas City’s Ned Yost. He called out both for their disappointing starts to 2013, but said the problems run deeper than just that.

“Why are the Mariners constantly failing to improve and why can’t they identify or develop good young hitters?” Verducci wrote. “Those questions must be answered by general manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Eric Wedge, both of whom should feel less comfortable these days than [Dustin] Ackley. … The Mariners have nothing of substance to show for trades of Cliff Lee and Michael Pineda. And, no, it’s not to be blamed on spacious Safeco Field, where the Mariners once built a 116-win team. Something is seriously wrong institutionally when it comes to identifying and developing talent in Seattle.”

Verducci proceeded to share how Wedge’s Mariners teams have often ranked at the bottom with some of the worst offensive statistics in franchise history. His overall record is 165-213 (.437) with no playoff appearances. The team improved from 67 wins in 2011 to 75 last season, but has regressed thus far in 2013. Most notably, several of their top hitting prospects — notably Ackley and catcher Jesus Montero — haven’t lived up their lofty potential.

The Indians swept the Mariners in a four-game series at Progressive Field just two weeks ago. Yan Gomes’ walk-off home run on May 20 bumped the team to season-high nine games over .500.

Of course, preceding Wedge’s tenure in Seattle, it’s also not too helpful when the Mariners organization has so often gift-wrapped up-and-coming to the Indians. Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo and Omar Vizquel are three All-Stars acquired for pennies on the dollar over the years in Seattle-Cleveland trades.

[Related: Indians 7, Reds 1: We Did It, You Guys. The Ohio Cup is OURS!]

WFNY Podcast – 2013-03-31 – Walking Dead, Byron Scott, and firing coaches

WFNY Podcast LogoWe crowned the winner of the contest from last week and also talked some TV and gruesome injuries before getting to real sports talk.

  • Walking Dead finale…
  • Faces of Death
  • Daniel Pearl and gruesome video
  • Game of Thrones and the soft core additions
  • The Sopranos and how sex shaped Tony’s character
  • David Chase and unlikeable characters
  • Chasing Amy and Banky being anti-gay
  • Byron Scott’s trashing by anonymous sources
  • Manny Acta’s trashing last year
  • Byron Scott and the ever-younger Cavaliers fan
  • Eric Wedge and Mike Brown
  • Putting your name on criticism

Check out this episode

Francona, Scott, and Gruden? Could You Imagine?

Think back to 2008. It was a year removed from one of, if not the best year in the history of Cleveland sports. The Browns were coming off a 10-win season. The Indians had just won the AL Central and finished a game away from the World Series. The Cavaliers still had LeBron James and were one of the best teams in the NBA. We probably took for granted just how great that year was. It seems like a lifetime ago when you consider the sad state of affairs that we are currently subjected to.

Just a year later, the Tribe was beginning their downward spiral. The Browns proved to be a one-year, schedule-aided fluke. The Cavs were still great with LeBron, but we all knew his contract was just one year away from expiring.

In 2008 the three major sports teams in this town were led by Eric Wedge, Mike Brown, and Romeo Crennel. Let that soak in for a moment….. [Read more...]

Indians 6 Mariners 5: Beating The Grinder With Some Progressive Field Magic

When Eric Wedge was the manager of the Indians, I have to admit, I was a fan. I know I was in the minority, but I always liked the fact that he never got too high or too low. He was the same guy, win or lose. I look back at his time here now differently. He made the playoffs just once (2007) and had a winning record twice (2005, 2007) in seven years. He wasn’t exactly Rex Ryan with the media, and Indians fans never really took to him. So when he returns to Cleveland with his Seattle Mariners, it is always fun to watch him squirm.

Let us put it out there – his team is not good. Between the Minnesota Twins Monday and Tuesday and the Mariners Wednesday and Thursday, the Tribe has seen the soft underbelly of the American League and they have liked it. Actually, they have loved it. But torturing their old manager is twice the fun.

Just a quick 14 hours after dispatching King Felix Hernandez, the Wahoos took their shots at Hector Noesi. It seemed like a relatively easy task, considering how they handled Hernandez a night earlier. For the first six innings however, the Tribe offense looked like they normally do on these getaway day, putrid. Since the beginning of last year, the Indians had lost nine of their 10 weekday afternoon home games and were outscored 65-26. Their lone win was a 1-0 shutout of the Red Sox last April. [Read more...]

Masterson finds run support as Tribe bats heat up

Justin Masterson, the Indians’ offense is sorry. Not sorry as in pathetic and inept as they’ve been for stretches in the past two months, especially with him on the mound. No, I mean sorry as in apologetic. At least, that’s what it seemed like in last night’s game, as the Tribe finally gave Masterson the run support he so desperately needed and deserved. The Tribe put up more than enough O for Masterson, who shut down the Cincinnati offense for eight innings in the 8-2 victory.

With the win, Masterson was victorious for the first time since April 26th. In those 11 starts in between wins, Justin gave up more four or more earned runs just three times. However, the Tribe was shut out four times with Masterson on the hill and only gave him 8 total runs in that stretch. If anyone could handle that adversity the right way, though, it’s Masterson.

The Indians actually (gasp) got power from the middle of their order in this one. I would say it started with Grady Sizemore, but in truth, it really starts with Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo had given up 21 homers coming into this game, and it was more of the same for the struggling Red. Grady was the first to draw blood, sending a fastball to the third row of the right-center field seats in the second. Grady added a two-out RBI double in his next at-bat, and hopefully that will get the Tribe centerfielder on track, because there’s been a whole lot not to like coming from #24 lately.

[Read more...]

Milton Bradley’s Tumultuous Career Could Be Over

On March 17th when all pre-season stories are still exceptionally rosy, I wrote about Eric Wedge having to, once again, deal with Milton Bradley since signing on to manage the Seattle Mariners.  At the time, the quotes were all positive from both sides of the equation.  As the Seattle Mariners leave town after this weekend’s rain-soaked series in Cleveland just under two months later, Milton Bradley is gone.  He was designated for assignment on May 9th.   The Mariners, meanwhile, face the very real possibility of having to cough up the roughly $10 million remaining on Bradley’s gaudy deal.

One would have to think that this might finally signal the end of a tumultuous career for Bradley.  At 33, he would seemingly have enough gas left in the tank physically.  Mentally, it’s a completely different story.  I don’t say that lightly or with humor, either.  The lasting impression of Bradley will probably be of him getting ejected, fighting with umpires, or his actions when the Indians visited Seattle earlier this season. [Read more...]

Eric Wedge and Milton Bradley Co-existing Fine in Seattle (So Far)

One of the strangest parts of Eric Wedge getting hired in Seattle was the reunion between the mustachioed grinder and the volatile outfielder, Milton Bradley.  Bradley and Wedge’s history began in Cleveland in 2003 and spring training 2004.  After a reported altercation during that spring, Bradley was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Franklin Gutierrez and Andrew Brown.

The major problems that Eric Wedge and Bradley had were over things like running out fly balls.  You will remember that Eric Wedge was like a little league coach – not that he was wrong – in that regard.  Bradley was also reportedly seen wearing a t-shirt that said “<blank> Eric Wedge.”  So, yeah.  He was traded. [Read more...]

Vetting the Indians’ Bullpen

It seems to be fairly accepted wisdom that the Indians were not good last season.  There’s an advanced sabermetric statistic that does a nice job of conveying this.

It’s called “losses”, and the Indians had 93 of them.

But, for whatever reason, the Indians actually had some pretty good results out of their bullpen in 2010.  In an otherwise pathetic campaign, we were treated to a breakout performance from Chris Perez (2-2, 1.71 ERA), respectable bouncebacks from Raffy Perez (6-1, 3.25 ERA) and Jensen Lewis (4-2, 2.97 ERA), and reasonably effective showings from Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano, Frank Hermann and Justin Germano.  And, in case you forgot, Andy Marte flat-out dominated. [Read more...]

Eric Wedge: Unintentionally Hilarious Quote Machine

Mike Brown was in the media this week for being the strong favorite to land the Indiana Pacers head coaching job.  Eric Mangini, an attendee at the recent Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, was in the news this week giving his thoughts on analytics and how that could have helped him with the Browns.  The other Eric, Wedge, had to be feeling left out.  Thankfully, Paul Hoynes caught up with the former Tribe skipper after the Mariners-Indians spring training game yesterday.  And while not specifically citing “the grind,” Wedge did deliver a few classic lines which require mockery.

Hoynes sought comment on his days with the Tribe, prompting Wedgie to respond thusly: [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Braxton Miller, Skyenga, Browns Running Backs

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

About that next Buckeye star: “Insert freshman quarterback Braxton Miller. Like Pryor, Miller was the top rated quarterback of his class. He’s considered by most as the best dual-threat quarterback since the Pennsylvania bound Buckeye.” [Joe Dexter/Buckeye Battle Cry]

This nickname has made it big, and a WFNY writer deserves a ton of credit for that: “Earlier today Skyenga confirmed on his verified twitter page that he does indeed like the nickname of Skyenga. That was good to hear.” [Brendan Bowers/Stepien Rules]
[Read more...]

While We’re Waiting…Patriots QB Coming Home, Belichick Takes a Shot at Mangini , Week One Cavs Thoughts

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

Hoyer returns home tomorrow:  “Anyway, I remember we were at [Municipal Stadium] for the last game. People were ripping out seats and that’s what I really remember. It was the last game there, they were going to get rid of the stadium, the Indians had already moved, so everyone already knew (they were gone). Those are the memories I have of the Browns.”  Yikes. Not really what you want to remember from the team you rooted for growing up. And, make no mistake, Hoyer did root.  “I’m sure if I went back home and looked at my closet,”  Hoyer said, “I have a bunch of old Bernie Kosar jerseys.”  In an odd twist, the coach Hoyer grew up watching was — wait for it — Bill Belichick. Strange.”  [Ian Rapoport/Boston Herald]

[Read more...]

The Mariners Love Wahoo Sloppy Seconds

First they hired Mike Hargrove. Then they dealt for the first base duo of Ben Broussard and Eduardo Perez. Next they got their hands on Franklyn Gutierrez. Cliff Lee made a half season stop in Seattle in ’09. Then they actually took Russell Branyan off of our hands. And now, the coup de gras….The Grinder, Eric Wedge, has been hired by the Seattle Mariners as their new manager. He comes to Seattle with seven years under his belt, and a mustache!

Man do the Mariners love them some Wahoo sloppy seconds.

In all seriousness, Seattle GM “Trader” Jack Zduriencik has completely butchered this organization. How he still has a job is a mystery to many.

He handed a four year, $36 million contract to an aging Chone Figgins, then moved him from third to second. He moved second baseman Jose Lopez, also past his prime, to third. Both moves tanked. He traded for the cancer of all cancers, Milton Bradley, to be their cleanup hitter, and handed Gutierrez $20 million before he had proven that he was worth the money [Read more...]

New Grind in Seattle; Milt Bradley Packs his Bags

After one year out of the game, Eric Wedge has landed on his feet and will be bringing his grindy style of managing to the Pacific Northwest.  Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated reported last night that the Seattle Mariners had chosen Wedge to be their new manager.  With an emphasis on defense and UZR, the Mariners were a trendy preseason pick to win the AL West in 2010 but finished with the worst record in the league at 61-101.  Wedge’s name had come up throughout the season for other positions with fellow cellar dwellers in Pittsburgh and Baltimore.  While no official announcement has been made, it appears the Mariners have the man that they believe can lead them out of the abyss.

[Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Cavs Preview, Leon Powe, Eric Wedge Interviews

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com

Previewing the rocky situation for the Cavs this season: “The question of whether the Cavaliers are worse off after losing LeBron James is not debatable. Of course the franchise is worse off — today, tomorrow and possibly forever. The question is how far will Cleveland fall, and how long will it take to recover.

The latter is a bit misguided in the sense that Cleveland’s recent performance (at least in the regular season) is so rare it’s hardly regularly achievable. The Cavaliers won 66 games last season, becoming only the fourth team since 2000 to do so.” [Bethlehem Shoals and Tom Ziller/FanHouse]
[Read more...]

A Faustian Bargain: To Pitch or Not to Pitch?

Let me take you back a few years, to a time before the trades of CC, Cliff, or Victor.  We still had Jhonny at SS, and the Bearded Blunder at third.  We looked like a reasonably talented, if young, team.  The promise of the 2007 playoff team was starting to emerge, though it still felt a long way off.  It was late July of 2006, and Mark Shapiro had just traded Bob Wickman to the Atlanta Braves, leaving the Indians with a hole in the back-end of the bullpen.

In all of his Wedgian Wisdom, the Grinder turned to a shy, 22 year-old rookie who barely spoke a word of English and had been with the team all of three months to assume the interim closer duties.  And in a span of seven days, from July 30th through August 5th, Fausto Carmona recorded four losses and three blown saves, shattering an otherwise promising young pitcher’s confidence for the remainder of the season.  I still haven’t forgiven David Ortiz or Pudge Rodriguez for their roles in this debacle.  But above all, I remember blaming Wedge.  After Carmona’s fourth loss–the one that put Tom Mastny (!) in the closer’s role–I think I even remember watching Fausto do something worse than cry: he stood precariously on the mound with his arms hugging his head, looking very much like a kid who wanted to give up pitching forever. [Read more...]

Better 2010 Winning Percentage: Acta vs. Mangini

Manny Acta Eric Wedge_med

Manny Acta is inheriting a team that went 65-97 – a .401 winning percentage.  The 2009 Cleveland Browns went 5-11 – a .312 winning percentage.  Many anticipate the 2010 Indians do be considerably worse than the team that took the field a season ago.  Some feel that the Browns should be able to improve off of their four-straight wins and take steps towards actually being a respectable football team on a consistent basis.

So, with that said – which coach experiences more success in 2010?

Eric Wedge Speaks About 2009

wedgeIn what was likely one of the toughest two-year periods for any manager, former Tribe skipper Eric Wedge invited Fort Wayne’s Ben Smith into his Richfield, Ohio home to discuss the downward spiral that took place since being one game out of the World Series in 2007.

From the trades to the backroom issues, Wedge discussed most but hinted towards the rest. 

“I know what happened the last couple of years,” he says, as Merle Haggard plays softly in the background. “I don’t broadcast it just out of respect to everybody that’s involved. Plus, you can’t really talk about that, because then it makes it look like you’re making excuses. And that’s the last thing I want to do.” [Read more...]