April 19, 2014

Video: SNL roasts Stephen A. Smith

Jay Pharoah was absolutely hysterical as he took a shot at doing Stephen A. Smith last night on Weekend Update. I even enjoyed when he lost his composure and cracked a small laugh and a smile. The only downside to this clip? It didn’t include last night’s host Louis C.K. who had some really hysterical bits.

Josh Gordon thinks Browns will draft a QB at No. 4

Gordon catch sm

Josh Gordon might not know a whole lot more about the Cleveland Browns’ draft plans than we do. That has to be stated first and foremost. Still, Gordon’s opinion on the matter is interesting just the same. On Thursday, the Pro Bowl wide receiver told ESPN that he believes the Browns will call a quarterback’s name with the fourth pick of the 2014 NFL draft.

We won’t go so far as to speculate that this is something that Josh Gordon wants as a receiver. I’m guessing the guy who was able to go for over 1,600 yards in only 14 games while catching passes from Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell feels pretty comfortable in his ability to get open enough for just about any quarterback.

[Related: Johnny Manziel will wear helmet and shoulder pads at pro day]

(Photo by John Cole/WFNY)

Who promotes sports analytics? Musings from Day 2 at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

photo

“So why are you here?”

“I’m here for the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s this annual sports analytics conference. It’s been happening for eight years. It was at Hynes this year; there were 2,000 attendees. It’s kind of a big deal. It had 2,700 attendees last year.”

“So it dropped?”

“Well, yeah. It was at Seaport last year. They moved it to Hynes this year and knew there would be smaller space.”

“So what sport did it focus on?”

“Well, mostly basketball. Because one of the co-founders is the GM of the Houston Rockets. But it kinda dabbled in other sports. And mostly, teams just supplied talking points and the value was in the hallway conversations. But please, keep asking questions. You’re amazing.”
[Read more...]

Indians ranked as baseball’s 15th-best team by ESPN and MLB.com

The Cleveland Indians, winners of 92 games a season ago, were ranked as baseball’s 15th-best team in two separate online articles this week.

Giambi walk off 2

MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince, formerly a Tribe beat writer, concluded his top-10 series with a look at the best teams in the game. Within the honorable mention section, he wrote this tidbit about the Indians and an AL Central rival:

15. Indians and Royals (tie): As far as I’m concerned, it’s a pick-’em for second-best team in the AL Central. The Indians have a really good offense that could be even better, and the Royals have several tantalizing players who have not yet reached their potential. Both have rotation questions.

The Detroit Tigers, despite the loss of star slugger Prince Fielder, were ranked as Castrovince’s No. 2 team in MLB.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday over at ESPN’s SweetSpot blog, writer David Schoenfield shared his No. 18-13 teams. He concluded the series with the game’s top six teams on Friday. Within Wednesday’s article, here’s a tidbit of what he said about the Tribe.

I’m just the messenger: The red flag for me in Cleveland’s run to the playoffs was that the bullpen was 19th in the majors in ERA and yet went 33-16. A few of those wins came after blown saves, but that’s still an impressive W-L record for a mediocre relief corps. The Indians also lost Smith and replaced him with the erratic Axford. While Cody Allen appears ready to step in as the closer, they also need Axford to provide quality innings in the setup role.

So yes, early reports are not too optimistic about these Indians. If you recall during WFNY’s 2013 predictions, we all were between 80-86 wins. The range likely will be much larger heading into 2014.

Pitchers and catchers report on Tuesday to Goodyear, Arizona. The team’s first game is on Monday, Feb. 17. SportsTimeOhio announced earlier in the week that it will air eight spring training games on TV.

[Related: Could Ubaldo have a Cleveland Homecoming?]

Patriots’ Josh McDaniels reportedly withdraws from Browns consideration

is this the last time I get to use this graphic?

Is this the last time I get to use this graphic?

I’ve assumed since the Browns fired Rob Chudzinski that Josh McDaniels was the favorite to be the next coach of the Cleveland Browns. Not to say that McDaniels is necessarily my preference, but his connections to Michael Lombardi seemed all the more indicative that he should be the favorite until I heard otherwise. Well, thanks to Adam Schefter of ESPN, I’ve now heard otherwise.

Peter King also had a quick reaction…

At least they had an “awesome” meeting though, right you guys?!

So, what does this mean? Does this mean that the Browns lost their number one candidate coming into the interview process? The Browns have never admitted missing out on Chip Kelly, so we’ll likely never know for sure. What this means is that the Browns will continue to scour ranks of coordinators and position coaches like Ben McAdoo of the Packers and potentially Adam Gase of the Denver Broncos.

Plenty of successful head coaches have been hired from those ranks, so it’s not necessarily a disaster, but you’ll have a tough time convincing me that one of the Browns’ presumed top options is now unavailable, having followed down the unavailability path of Gus Malzahn.

[Related: Marla Ridenour on the state of the Browns, plus the Luol Deng trade – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-08]

We need controversial shows like “Friday Night Tykes”

Friday Night Tykes 595

The Esquire Network—recently launched in September 2013 as a multimedia arm of the national men’s literary magazine of identical namesake—has a new show coming out that caught my attention. The show is called “Friday Night Tykes” and it is a new reality show that is giving viewers an inside look at what is likely the epicenter of football culture in America: The Texas Youth Football Association. The promo video shows all the same screaming football coaches and big hits that you’ve come to expect from trailers from Hollywood football movies like The Waterboy. Except now, 15 years after Adam Sandler gave us a cartoon character named Bobby Boucher, we have a different understanding about what those hits really do to the people playing the games. And yet down in Texas, this TV show catalogs the beginnings of that brutal path for children ages eight and nine years old. [Read more...]

ESPN’s Chad Ford calls Cavs one of NBA’s biggest messes

Dan Gilbert, Mike Brown, Chris GrantAt 10-20, it’s undoubtedly been a disappointing start to the season for the Cavaliers. But are they the NBA’s biggest disappointment?

ESPN Insider’s Chad Ford has posted a weekly “Tank Rank” article about the leading worst teams in the league. The Cavs have been occasional entrants into the top-10 listing so far. In Monday’s article (subscription required), they gained premium real estate at the No. 4 spot.

Here is how Ford began his comments on Cleveland this week:

I’m not sure there is a team in a bigger mess than the Cavs are right now. Owner Dan Gilbert wants the playoffs. The team he’s fielding is disjointed and filled with several players that are more interested in their daily stat line then the win-loss column.

Ford also noted that the Cavs are in the “worst sort of space” when it comes to trying to contend, yet actually failing. They have no intentions of actually tanking, per everything that’s been said by Gilbert and the front office. But as of now, they’re one of the NBA’s eight worst teams.

Sure, I believe it’d be preferable for the organization’s long-term future to actually tank and get another top draft pick. I don’t necessarily think a draft-pick core of Sergey Karasev, Anthony Bennett, Tyler Zeller, Dion Waiters Tristan Thompson and Kyrie Irving will ever be good enough on its own. Ideally, more firepower would come from the draft.

But that’s probably not what the Cavs see at the moment. They’ve been rumored in multiple trade conversations. The Andrew Bynum suspension has placed an odd shadow over the season. It’s unknown what’s coming up next. Ford’s comments seem to hit the nail in the coffin over the terrible status of the team’s failures.

[Related: Cavs at NBA’s one-third mark: How much patience is left?]

(AP Photo/Jason Miller)

NFL News: Ravens say Greg Little is “trying to be a tough guy”

So, is Greg Little the next Kevin Garnett? Is he just trying to be a tough guy? Is he faking it? Little didn’t shy away from the chippiness in the Browns’ 24-18 victory on Sunday afternoon, getting into skirmishes and picking up two personal fouls in the process.

It didn’t go unnoticed in the Ravens locker room.

“He’s trying to be a tough guy,” Ihedigbo said. “Some guys who aren’t tough try to prove that they’re tough.”

Meanwhile whether or not Little is trying to be a tough guy, he was tackled into the pile when he earned his first personal foul and was given an extra shove after already being out of town when he earned his taunting penalty. So the jury is out on who, exactly, was attempting to be a “tough guy.”

Little also had 122 yards receiving on the Ravens defense which (Jamison Hensley’s post also notes) mostly skipped out on talking to the media after the game.

[Related: The Cleveland Browns begin beautiful bye by beating Ravens 24-18]

Cavs’ Irving listed as “most overrated” player in NBA in recent ESPN column

Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving is listed as the Most Overrated Player in the NBA by ESPN.com’s Kevin Pelton in his most recent PER Diem column.

Per Pelton, Irving drawing an #NBARank of No. 8 in the league, while conceivable based on potential, is “premature” due to health concerns and a lack of overall accomplishments.

The #NBArank panel placed Irving eighth in the league this season, and though Irving undeniably has that kind of talent, putting him in the top 10 is premature because of defense and durability. Last season, the Cavaliers — never a defensive juggernaut under the best of circumstances — allowed 1.7 more points per 100 possessions with Irving on the floor, per NBA.com/Stats. Adjusting for his teammates, xRAPM (a version of adjusted plus-minus) found that Irving gave back two-thirds of his offensive value at the defensive end, making him only a slightly above-average contributor.

Of course, Irving doesn’t have any value when he’s on the bench, and he has missed a combined 38 games in his first two NBA seasons — that after being limited to 11 games in his lone college campaign. To justify a top-10 ranking, Irving will have to stay healthy and effective at both ends of the floor.</blockquote>

Irving’s ranking among the annual ESPN list was a topic in a recent edition of WFNY’s “The Diff” column. “By the ever-controversial Wins Produced/48, Kyrie Irving was right around average last season” writes Jacob Rosen. “Only a handful of guards are viewed that favorably in general. But even in the context of those, Irving was sandwiched in between DJ Augustin and Jeff Teague, nowhere near the highest echelon.

Naturally, there is a bit of a debate regarding the importance or weight of ESPN’s annual #NBARank list. If anything, this edition of PER Diem, when reduced, is a column about a column.

Others receiving the ‘overrated’ tag are the New York Knicks (East), Golden State Warriors (West), Doc Rivers (head coach), Andrew Wiggins (draft prospect) and Marco Bellinelli (newcomer).

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

Video: WFNY referenced on ESPN’s Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable

A URL has never been so transcendent. Less than a day after having Waiting For Next Year mentioned in Cleveland’s WKYC Channel 3 news, ESPN’s own Bomani Jones give WFNY a mention in the opening segment of Thursday’s edition of Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable which, of course, discusses the impact of the Trent Richardson trade on Cleveland.

Verb conjugation is overrated. Sort of like honesty with a fan base.

[Related: Joe Banner’s Browns have not earned the benefit of the doubt]

NFL News: Brandon Weeden’s thumb won’t require surgery

Good news for those who still have included Brandon Weeden in their plans for the Browns going forward. Adam Schefter reports that Brandon Weeden’s sprained thumb will not require surgery and he could be ready as early as next week. Ready for what, you ask? You’ll have to ask Joe Banner, Michael Lombardi and Rob Chudzinski that question.

This news will obviously be overshadowed by the news of the Cleveland Browns trading Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts. As we’ve also heard, it isn’t like Brandon Weeden is definitely going to be in the Browns’ plans going forward as he’s not been guaranteed his starter spot if and when he returns.

For now, though, we’ll have to assume the availability of the number one quarterback on the depth chart sooner rather than later is a good thing.

[Related: Joe Banner’s Browns have not earned the benefit of the doubt]

Browns slot 30th in Week 2 ESPN Power Rankings

It could be worse: The Cleveland Browns will enter Week 2′s contest against the Baltimore Ravens slotted 30th in ESPN’s weekly NFL Power Rankings.

Down two spots from their preseason placement, only the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars are keeping the Orange and Brown from the cellar of the National Football League.

ESPN cites Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden’s abysmal Week 1 performance, second only to the Jaguars’ Blaine Gabbert; he was also the only other QB with a completion percentage under 50 percent on short throws.

The biggest gainer goes to the Chip Kelly-led Philadelphia Eagles who jumped 11 spots after their electric win on Monday Night Football. The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets both leapfrogged the Browns after impressive outings from their rookie quarterbacks. Things do not look to be improving for the Browns anytime soon as they will enter this Sunday as touchdown underdogs.

[Related: Tracking the Browns defense: How many times did they blitz?]

Casual Friday talking college football, cable TV, rice cookers and education with Denny – WFNY Podcast – 2013-08-30

WFNY Podcast LogoThe Casual Friday podcast continues for another week as Denny and I talked about sports for once. Doesn’t usually happen on the pods with Denny, but when college football starts and Denny has to deal with cutting the cable cord, there’s definitely something worth exploring. Sports is one of the last true impediments to severing ties with a cable or satellite provider.

  • Bulleit Rye Whiskey for Denny and decaf for Craig
  • Watching a high school soccer game with my son
  • Are any of the high school parents at games drunk?
  • Doing calisthenics with Ben before bed
  • Am I too old for 162 games of MLB baseball?
  • MLB app for baseball fans
  • MLB data centers for hosting video and cutting it up
  • Watching highlights on the MLB app could be a replacement for actually watching the game
  • Paychecks breed responsibility
  • The start of college football for Denny cutting the cord to TV
  • [Read more...]

ESPN predicts the Cleveland Browns to go 6-10, finish last in AFC North

The Cleveland Browns are likely a much improved team, but will still not gain ground in the standings of the AFC North. That’s the prediction by Jamison Hensley of ESPN.

The Cleveland Browns will end up being the most improved team in the AFC North and will still finish in last place. That’s how tough this division has become. The goal would be to reach .500, but there’s still too many holes on this team for the Browns to achieve that. This has the look of a sixth straight double-digit-loss season, even though this team will be better than the previous ones.

Of course predictions are tough in the NFL with so many rosters looking like shells of what they were in August by the time the season is over.

Additionally, this time of year everyone seems to think players will produce at their best levels from the year prior. So Joe Flacco is clearly the guy who threw no interceptions in the playoffs with a QB rating of 117.2 as opposed to the guy who averaged an 87.7 rating for the entirety of the regular season while also having Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta in his arsenal. Hensley has predicted that the Ravens will win the AFC North title and go one win better during the regular season than they did a year ago to finish 11-5.

ESPN Steelers reporter Scott Brown, meanwhile predicts a 9-7 record for the Pittsburgh team while grasping at straws to justify an improvement over the 2012 season. “The Steelers slipped to mediocrity in 2012,” writes Brown before wondering, “and it is fair to ask whether they will be good enough to be even an eight-win team this season.” In the end, Brown must have been convinced by producing “evidence” about how the offense “could” be better in Todd Haley’s second season. That’s a stark contrast to the words of warning that ESPN’s Jeffri Chadiha used in training camp indicating that Steelers fans could be in for a long year as the team could be “less competitive” than they were in going 8-8 in 2012.

Hensley finishes off the AFC North predictions by complimenting the Bengals, sending them to the playoffs for a third straight season with a 10-6 record.

It’s not totally different than predictions that we had here at WFNY for the division. A couple writers predicted the Bengals would take the top spot and a couple more predicted the Ravens would remain in the driver’s seat.

[Related: Ranking the teams in the AFC North: Cleveland Browns Roundtable]

Cavaliers listed as “biggest riser” in ESPN forecast

Despite all of the work put in by other lottery teams this past offseason, the Cleveland Cavaliers are given top billing among the league’s “risers” by Bradford Doolittle of ESPN. Using scoring margin as a basis for determining who made the best moves this offseason, Doolittle gives the Cavaliers a 5.7-point increase of the 2012-13 team which managed to win just 24 games.

With so many quality young players on hand, the Cavaliers would have been poised for improvement even if they had brought back the exact same roster as last season. Instead, Cleveland buoyed its talent with the No. 1 draft pick in Anthony Bennett, one of the top incoming rookie shooters in Sergey Karasev, one of the league’s top reserve guards in Jarrett Jack and the ultimate low-risk, high-reward free agent in Andrew Bynum. Anderson Varejao is due back from injury, and up-and-coming combo forward Earl Clark was signed to further bolster the Cavs’ depth.

Although Cleveland might not have the same realistic shot at a title as some other upgraded teams, such as Houston, Brooklyn and Chicago, the Cavaliers are nevertheless in a strong position to become this season’s most-improved team. In 2012-13, Cleveland finished 22nd in offensive efficiency and 27th on the defensive end. I have the Cavaliers climbing five spots on the offensive end and a whopping 18 spots on defense. Part of that is Varejao’s return; part of it is a projected half-season from Bynum. A whole lot of it is the return of Mike Brown, who coached four straight top-10 defenses in his first Cleveland stint and even got the aging Lakers up to 13th in his only full season in L.A.

Though rife with question marks, Doolittle puts the Cavaliers above the Detroit Pistons who added fringe All-Stars in point guard Brandon Jennings and forward Josh Smith to an already budding roster that includes center Andre Drummond and forward Greg Monroe.

This corroborates a recent forecast put out by ESPN which has the Cavaliers as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs for 2013-14, pitting them against the Miami Heat in the first round; this, with the caveat that a sixth or seventh seed is attainable in the event that Andrew Bynum can produce at his previous All-Star caliber levels. The Pistons, per ESPN’s forecast, will be on the outside looking in.

In a vacuum, a 5.7-point increase off of last season’s results would have resulted in 17 additional wins for the Cavaliers.

[Related: Behold: Tristan Thompson 2.0]

Former Cleveland Brown Scott Fujita to join new FOX Sports 1 network

Former Browns and Saints linebacker Scott Fujita announced via twitter Monday that he would be joining the new FOX Sports 1 channel.

According to another tweet, Fujita will be appearing on the FOX Football Daily program, along with former NFL players Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher and Ronde Barber.

FOX Sports 1 is a new national 24-hour multi-sport cable channel being launched by FOX on August 17, 2013. According to the network, FOX Sports 1 will cover seven “pillar” sports: college basketball and football, MLB (in 2014), NASCAR, NFL (ancillary programs), soccer and UFC.

The network will use FOX Sports Live as it’s 24 hour sports news program. Think of it as FOX Sports’ version of ESPN’s Sports Center.

[Related: Bernie Kosar, Peter King and our broken culture]

 

Scott Raab on LeBron James, “The Block,” Josh Gordon, Chris Perez and more – WFNY Podcast – 2013-06-10

WFNY Podcast LogoScott started off the day making fun of my Keurig machine. After that we talked a lot about sports and a bit about neckties and contrived fashion.

  • Keurig machines and how communist they are

  • Neckties and bow ties

  • The idea that the necktie is a marker at all is strange

  • The band concert uniform

  • Suspenders vs. belts

  • Gallagher and an impromptu balloon animal show for porn stars

  • Dwyane Wade and his short pants

  • LeBron James and “The Block”

  • The Beatles were New Kids on the Block before they were

  • Brody Baum and the Chris Perez debacle

  • It’s hard to lose this many baseball games in a row

  • Bullpens are the most volatile things in baseball

  • Rafael Perez and Betancourt fell off year over year

  • People feeling alienated from baseball

  • The Gus Johnson effect and whether it could hit baseball

  • Bruce Buffer and his brother Michael Buffer

  • Owen Wilson’s alleged suicide attempt

  • Josh Gordon and his problems

  • The two game suspension and what it means

  • Codeine and whether or not you could know about it

  • The cultural awareness of codeine and how it’s tough to claim ignorance

  • The marijuana culture and how we’ll look back on it

  • Dehumanizing the opposition

  • National service and if we could really implement it

  • The ESPN-ification of sports

  • Esquire.com for sports commentary with Scott Raab

  • The Raab Factor [Read more...]

Cavs ranked eighth in ESPN’s NBA Future Power Rankings

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been slotted in the eighth spot within ESPN’s annual Future Power Rankings. These rankings are based on forward-looking items such as age, salary cap flexibility and core players. The 2013 ranking represents a four-spot jump for the up-and-coming Cavs.

The Cavs are another team making a significant leap in our rankings, and landing the No. 1 pick in the draft for the second time in three years has something to do with that. While they might not be able to find another Kyrie Irving in this draft, they can pick a significant player (most likely Nerlens Noel) or trade the pick for immediate help.

Cleveland’s biggest jump came in the Players section, as Irving looks like a potential superstar. Tristan Thompson also started to develop, and Dion Waiters looks like a lethal scorer. Add in the No. 1 and No. 19 picks this year, as well as a plethora of future selections, and the Cavs will be loaded with young talent for the foreseeable future.

The team will also be flush with cash this summer and could add a significant free agent this summer or in the future, giving it even more roster flexibility. While all of this doesn’t totally make up for the loss of LeBron James, it shows the dramatic strides Cleveland has made in just three years. With the right draft picks or free-agent signings, the Cavs should start a long run of playoff appearances soon.

Current players, managament, salary cap projections, market appeal and draft positioning are all provided with numerical values. The Cavaliers currently rank as the best in the league in draft positioning and third in salary cap flexibility. Both players (12th) and management (13th) fall in amongst the top half of the league. The team’s biggest detractor was market appeal with Cleveland ranked 20th among its peers.

The Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls are the seven teams presently ranked ahead of the Cavaliers.

[Related: The Diff: The stats behind drafting Nerlens Noel at No. 1]

Hooray! NFL Network and ESPN agree not to tip draft picks via Twitter

2013 NFL Draft LogoI was extremely happy to learn that NFL Network and ESPN have decided that they won’t be tipping draft picks via Twitter this week during the NFL draft. Adam Schefter will still be working to break extraordinary news like trades or bold moves, but if there’s just a team sitting in a slot and selecting a guy, Schefter will not be reporting it a minute ahead of time, for example. They’ve also agreed to avoid showing potential draftees on the phone in New York City in order to try and get the pick to the TV audience before it escapes the lips of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. I don’t know if this will work completely to keep from spoiling picks as ESPN and NFL Network can’t control other guys like Jay Glazer who are as plugged in as anyone in the NFL world, but it’s a good idea, I think.

So am I really just advocating for the death of reporting? I don’t think so. I’ve taken the same stance with the NBA draft too, by the way. I just think that while uncovering potential trades and free agency moves is a valuable bit of reporting there’s something really worthless about scooping a live event a mere minute or less before the thing actually happens. If information is measured in value where the amount of time of relevance is determinant of actual value of the piece of info, then info with mere seconds or minutes of “useful” life is decidedly of low value.

All this comes in the same time period where I discussed the value of information on Twitter against the backdrops of the cable news networks with regard to the Boston bombing and subsequent man-hunt. In that case, I prefer the truth and immediacy of Twitter as the events are unfolding. Even taking into account the sheer difference in gravity of the NFL draft and the hunting of a terror suspect, it would seem that what I’m displaying is a hypocritical stance. I guess I’m alright with that in this case. Yes, it takes some work to report on a draft pick before it actually happens, but clearly the entertainment angle is of importance on draft night and shouldn’t be ignored. [Read more...]

Bill Simmons Twitter suspension, First Take, ESPN and more – WFNY Podcast – 2013-03-15

WFNY Podcast LogoScott and I decided to talk about the Bill Simmons twitter suspension and ESPN’s lack of comment on it. Not necessarily the normal topic of conversation on the site, but one that we both cared to touch on.

Here’s what else we talked about that I can remember…

  • First Take and the battle of Richard Sherman and Skip Bayless
  • Skip Bayless’ history as a journalist
  • Stephen A. Smith staying out of trouble
  • Rob Parker getting “fired” from ESPN over RG3 comments
  • Numbers Never Lie
  • ESPN as a behemoth corporation that has no singular editorial voice
  • Grantland and how it kind of lives on an island
  • Chris Fedor and his new gig at 92.3 The Fan
  • How hard it is for radio guys to fill four hours and not be hated
  • People taking media personalities too seriously
  • People are humans who should have beers together

[Read more...]